Office Hours: I’m Mary Jantsch, Head of Talent & Partner Success at Elpha. I previously led teams at Buffer, Hipcamp, Tuff and Nextmv. AMA!Featured

Hey-o Elphas!

I’m Mary Jantsch, Head of Talent and Partner Success at Elpha.

I began my career in tech as an early member of the Buffer team. As I learned the in’s-and-out’s of customer experience, I was also learning the value of remote work, transparent salaries, and creating a more human workplace. As I started the People team at Buffer, my obsession with People Ops and Talent also began and followed me through roles at Hipcamp, Tuff, a year-long consulting stint, Nextmv and, now, Elpha.

Head of Talent and Partner Success means I get to work with both job seekers and Elpha partner companies to navigate the hiring process. I’m really excited about what we’re building with the Elpha Talent Pool because of the opportunity to take a stressful, time consuming process and make it better for everyone involved.

Something I am great at: starting new functions at an early-stage startup.

Something I am working on: defaulting to self-deprecation when talking about myself (I removed a lot of ‘I think’s’ from my first draft of this! 😂)

Ask me anything about navigating your career, the Elpha Talent Pool, hiring, employer brand, transparent compensation, remote work, scaling People Ops + Talent, how to have hard conversations, what ingredients are most important in a breakfast burrito, or anything else!

ElphaStaff's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us @maryjantsch!Elphas – please ask @maryjantsch your questions before Friday, December 24th. @maryjantsch may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
shaunalassche's profile thumbnail
Mary, thank you for sharing your time with us and I am excited to see a People Ops person on here! I am at a rapidly growing start-up and we are developing our People Team as well. Specifically, I am wondering your thoughts on building a recruiting team and setting KPIs and metrics that help us grow the business quickly but also keep diversity top of mind? Since diversity-focused sourcing and batch recruiting can sometimes interfere with time to hire and the number of hires. We want to make sure we do this right from day one! :)
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hey there @shaunalassche – thanks for dropping in! And, for sharing this question. I think a lot of people can likely relate to this challenge.I love that you are focused on doing it right from day one. That is one of the best ways to have an impact on the DEI efforts of your team. A lot of startups are comfortable with the idea of technical debt when building a product, meaning you might implement a quick or simple solution now that you know will have to change instead of the real solution that might take longer. I don’t recommend doing this with hiring or people ops because people debt is so much harder to pay back - and involves humans, not code! I hear you trying to strike that balance between moving fast and building a diverse team. This isn’t a super satisfying pointer but building a diverse team takes a lot of time and effort. It requires time to build relationships with people underrepresented in tech so that when you do open up a new role, you’re not cold sourcing people who aren’t familiar with you or your company. It is helpful to meet people where they are already spending time (i.e. Elpha is a community for women in tech and companies that hire through Elpha spend time creating content and participating in the community). If you are able to make that time and space for your team to build relationships, then you can move fast and build diverse teams. It takes a lot of care and nurturing in the earlier days but helps exponentially as your team continues to grow to 100, 200, 300+.Specific to metrics, I’ve found it helpful to have a few metrics guiding your team (rather than a north star metric). Time to hire pairs well with metrics like employee retention or employee engagement. Another way of thinking about this is that if a company has a strong time to hire metric, it doesn’t matter if team members are leaving after 6 months or don’t feel excited about recommending that company to other people. Especially if that person is from an underrepresented group and doesn’t feel a sense of belonging. Hopefully, that helps out a little bit. I’m always happy to continue the conversation!
Josefina's profile thumbnail
^ Hi Elphas - Just a heads up: @maryjantsch will be answering your questions on Thursday, Dec. 23rd - right before Christmas Eve! 🎄🎁
heidiatwal's profile thumbnail
Thank you for answering questions, @maryjantsch! It's been so valuable to join the Elpha community this year. I'm a single, working mother, and joining a company that has an empathetic, flexible culture is key to my success and the health of my family (i.e., a culture that understand the need to block off time for childcare drop offs and pickups; a company that understands the need to limit meetings and/or accommodate the need to get work done outside of a 9:00-5:00 schedule, in addition to having great family benefits). I struggle with how to gauge this during the interview process, and / or when to raise it with a recruiter or hiring manager. I'm currently in the throes of an active job hunt, and would love to find a fit that not only satisfies the above criteria, but also supports my professional growth as I take a step up in my career.A bonus if you have time!: Would you advise interviewing for a position that is more of a vertical move, and attempting to negotiate upward in pay or title in the process?
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hello there, @heidiatwal! Great question! Here is what comes to mind to me. Depending on the specific company's interview process, I would ask if I could speak to someone on the team who is a caregiver. For example, if a company does a recruiter screen, then a call with the hiring manager, then a virtual 'onsite', you could ask to add a 30-minute informational conversation to the virtual onsite with a team member who is a parent. Then, in that conversation, ask the same kind of behavioral questions about their culture that an interviewer might ask you (i.e. can you tell me about a time you had to balance work and caregiving? How did the team respond?). I know the interview process can have a complicated power balance at times but if a company has concerns with you speaking to a parent on their team, that would cause a pause in itself for me. For the bonus question, I want to make sure I understand! :) Are you curious about making a lateral move (i.e. taking a role that maybe doesn't feel like an advancement in title or is the same as your current salary) and then negotiating in the process?
heidiatwal's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for the thoughtful response, @maryjantsch! I truly appreciate it. Regarding your follow up: I'm curious about applying for a role that wouldn't mark a significant advancement in title or pay, but hoping that there might be wiggle room with either/both in late-stage interviews. I have a feeling this is tricky territory, and I certainly don't want to mislead a potential employer. That said, I recently saw a job at a company that looks like a great fit, but I really think I'd need to advocate for ~15% more than they've budgeted for the role as an absolute baseline. Any thoughts?
iynna's profile thumbnail
I am not Mary haha but if I can advise, I'd totally recommend you apply to the role! It doesn't hurt at all and just like dating if you move forward you will get to know the company more and what they're about (ie. figure out if the wiggle room you're looking for is even negotiable as it is hard to say without knowing for sure what they stand for, how they've worked in the past etc)And also as you navigate your career and the opportunities you see, make sure you fill out your profile here if you haven't yet! elpha.com/talent-pool
brittanyhawkins's profile thumbnail
Hi @maryjantsch I'd love to know what you think the top 3 types of benefits people are looking for in this new landscape of remote work? Also, on the other side of the table, what types of benefits are employers looking for in order to recruit and retain top talent? Thanks so much!
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hello @brittanyhawkins - It is lovely to hear from you!So, I am going to take a bit of a cop-out answer. I don’t love to generalize with ‘top of’ lists because what people want from a company or career varies so vastly. I think benefits are more or less relevant depending on the multiple identities someones holds. As a straight, white woman without kids - certain benefits might make my personal top 3 list but not even make the top 10 for someone with a different identity. Because of my work at Elpha and proximity to a specific demographic (women in tech), there are themes that come up (parental leave, fertility benefits, flexible work hours).I am going to borrow from a report we did at Elpha on Top Workplace for women (https://elpha.com/resources/workplaces-for-women-insights). I think it does a nice job highlighting two things that are foundational to offering inclusive benefits: Internal networking opportunitiesDiversity among leadershipI think with these two things, an employer can have a better understanding of the benefits that matter most to their specific employees and the talent they’d like to attract. I’d be curious to hear what you think on this!
Josefina's profile thumbnail
Hi Mary 😊👋 First off, I wanted to thank you for 1. taking the time to do this ♥️2. being such a wonderful person to work with. You've made it so easy for me to feel supported and welcome at Elpha!Now, my questions:1. What advice do you have for those of us who have made many career and industry pivots and are trying to explain our non-linear narratives to recruiters so that they make sense? Sometimes I feel insecure about my industry jumps (food industry to marketing/tech) in interviews because they can seem like two very disjointed worlds. 2. If you were a burrito what filling would you have and why?
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hi! 🤗This is a really fun one to respond to. I love working with you, Josefina! Okay, let’s see:1. Nonlinear narratives: Thank you for trusting me with this one and for sharing that you sometimes feel insecure about your industry jumps. I think acknowledging and sharing insecurities is so helpful to others. For people who are making a pivot, I would recommend finding your storyline and making it crystal clear. Generally, in tech, people are balancing long to-do lists and juggling priorities. If you can connect the dots for people and - most importantly - how your experience can help a company with its specific goals, you can relieve a big cognitive load. So, rather than approaching these conversations as 'I have a wide range of experience so I could help out wherever you need' shifting to 'my experience with A, B, and C makes me great at X, Y, Z things your company needs done.'For me, I’ve bounced back and forth between people ops (talent) and customer experience and the connecting thread is that I love figuring out what people are really saying with their feedback and turning that into actionable product insights. If there is a customer experience role, that means working with external customers on a product. Or, if it is a people ops/talent role, that means working internally on the product (team culture and processes). I've been able to use that storyline to make it clear to companies what value I can provide. Finding your storyline can be tough when it is such a personal experience but I've found journaling, talking to past coworkers and managers, or describing my work to someone in a totally different industry can be a helpful start!2. Potatoes! Potatoes are a necessary ingredient in breakfast burritos (my favorite kind of burrito).
Josefina's profile thumbnail
Ah you are amazing! That's such a great way to approach narrating career pivots. Thank you, Mary! And I'm taking note, from now on, if a burrito doesn't have potatoes in it, I want nothing to do with it!
iynna's profile thumbnail
I thoroughly enjoyed this!And Mary thank you for sharing how you've created your own narrative! I've bene in that boat and once you figure out your story, it gives you some sort of superpowers and change a lot on how you're perceived too!Haha re breakfast burrito - noted on the potatoes!
iynna's profile thumbnail
YES @maryjantsch we love to see it! I feel so lucky to work with you and thank you for all the amazing work you do at Elpha.I love that you like starting new functions when you join companies (at the early stage) because I feel the same way! With that I have 2 qsts for you: where does that love of building at the early stage come from? And what process do you like to build first when you start a new function? (Basically I am trying to hack your mind haha)
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hi! 🤗I hope you are having a nice break post-finals!1. Building at the early stage: I love this question because I have never tried answering this for myself before. Where does my love of building at the early stage come from? There are a lot of things that don’t come naturally to me: math, recalling memories, staying in touch with old friends. These are things I have to put a lot of effort into. One thing that does come naturally to me is taking in a situation, hearing each person’s point of view, and then turning that into a plan to help each area. In tech and early-stage startups, I think this leads to me being able to survey the scene and put together a plan that helps multiple functions grow and serve the customer. 2. I have two answers for your second question: “what process do you like to build first when you start a new function?” a. My ideal answer is a process that can sustain itself without active involvement on my part. Like, a really well-designed template that hiring managers or recruiters can then use on their own. A process that enables others to do their work better. b. My more honest answer is that I tend to try and brute force my way through things and ‘do things that do not scale’. So, I am working on being able to spot this habit earlier and recognize when it is time to create a process that can sustain itself without active involvement on my part.
iynna's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much Mary for this thorough answer! I am taking notes.Re 1: You're very introspective and I think we might have some similarities when it comes to "taking in a situation"! And re 2: tell me how we can get closer to answer a) ie. let's brainstorm and see how we can get there! :)
alisonbaldyga's profile thumbnail
Hi @maryjantsch - Thank you so much for all that you are doing at Elpha! I have two questions: - In this age of remote work, how would you recommend standing out as a job seeker in an ever-growing pool of competitors? - On the company side, how did you keep a pulse on the happiness of employees (especially in a remote environment)?
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hi @alisonbaldyga! 👋Thanks for being part of the Elpha community! On your first question, I'm going to borrow the things I shared with Charity: - Invest time in community building. Transitioning jobs can be a tough and isolating process. And, sometimes when we’re doing something new we tend to gravitate toward actionable steps that clearly define progress (like update my resume for the 78th time or apply to 10 roles today). Community building is harder to measure but so important for mental health in the job-seeking process AND people want to help. There is a cool post on Elpha where someone shared that they were transitioning into tech and feeling lost which then eventually resulted in a job offer. - Create a resume template and then customize it for each role you apply to. With this approach, you can make the bullet points of your experience as relevant as possible to the specific role. If you can make it really clear that you understand the unique challenges and stage of the company you’re applying to, that stands out.- Provide value. I want to be clear that I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time putting together a report or deliverable for a company you are interested in but I do think when transitioning industries it can be helpful to demonstrate your understanding. For example when I applied to work on the customer experience team at Buffer (my first role in tech!), I included a 1-minute video that was a walk-through of Buffer’s product. Later, the team shared that it was helpful to see that I understood the product and value props.And, your second question is a good way! When you're working in an office the visual cues are helpful for understanding the happiness of employees. On remote teams, you have to be even more proactive about measuring this. There are two things I have found most helpful:- Invest in manager training to give your managers the tools to spot warning signs, have tough conversations, and a shared language among themselves for learning from each other. LifeLabs Learning has some great workshops. - Running a quarterly DEI survey. This can be a DIY google doc (just make sure responses are anonymous) or there are some tools out there to manage the data. But, I like to use a DEI survey to measure team happiness and engagement because you can also segment the data to understand the experience of different demographics at your workplace (note: I wouldn't segment a demographic unless there are more than 5 people that fall into it so that you're not accidentally identifying someone).
alisonbaldyga's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for the insights! I hope you have a lovely holiday.
charityyoungblood's profile thumbnail
Thank you @maryjantsch for sharing your gifts with all of us! It is a pleasure to have you here! What guidance would you provide to those of us who are transitioning from another industry (Ecommerce, Hospitality, Administration, etc) to a non-technical role at a tech company (i.e. Product Marketer, Customer Advocate, Business Analyst, etc)? What are a few practical steps we can take to ensure our resumes don't get thrown out and we are able to position our past experience in other areas as assets instead of liabilities? Thank you in advance for your help!
maryjantsch's profile thumbnail
Hey there @charityyoungblood! On the first question, I’ll defer a little bit to my answer to Josefina. I think being able to tell a really clear story that is a light cognitive lift for recruiters and hiring managers is important. And, one of the best ways to do this is to proactively share how your experience uniquely qualifies you for the position you are applying for. You have, of course, already zeroed in on this with the heart of your second question. So, some practical steps!:- Invest time in community building. Transitioning industries and jobs can be a tough and isolating process. And, sometimes when we’re doing something new we tend to gravitate toward actionable steps that clearly define progress (like update my resume for the 78th time or apply to 10 roles today). Community building is harder to measure but so important for mental health in the job-seeking process AND people want to help. There is a cool post on Elpha where someone shared that they were transitioning into tech and feeling lost which then eventually resulted in a job offer. (I'm really happy you've joined us here on Elpha!)- Create a resume template and then customize it for each role you apply to. With this approach, you can make the bullet points of your experience as relevant as possible to the specific role. If you can make it really clear that you understand the unique challenges and stage of the company you’re applying to, that stands out. - Provide value. I want to be clear that I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time putting together a report or deliverable for a company you are interested in but I do think when transitioning industries it can be helpful to demonstrate your understanding. For example when I applied to work on the customer experience team at Buffer (my first role in tech!), I included a 1-minute video that was a walk-through of Buffer’s product. Later, the team shared that it was helpful to see that I understood the product and value props
charityyoungblood's profile thumbnail
@maryjantsch Thank you IMMENSELY for your careful, eloquent, thoughtful, detailed and ACTIONABLE response! I have attended sooooo many workshops, meetups, career groups, webinars, etc where those of us who are career transitioners feel lost, completely isolated, and don't receive any real, actionable "guidance" to move forward. I am a member of a few women-focused empowerment groups and women-focused career groups, and still I have yet to receive such a powerful perspective on this topic that can be applied to so many of us here! There are many of us, myself included, who have been "doing the work" for YEARS, which makes transitioning into a different career even harder. We've networked, offered our help, asked for help, provided value, asked the right questions, etc, etc, etc. That said, I don't know how to give up, so I keep at it! 😉 For me, 2022 is all about creating paid opportunities where I provide value to others while utilizing my innate gifts, talents and skills. A little shift in perspective has always led me to exactly where I am meant to be. Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU! Thank you for your time, thank you for sharing your wisdom, and thank you for allowing all of us to experience what it feels like when women genuinely and wholeheartedly help other women.