Everybody's Doing Their Best... Even Tech Recruiters (and This Is How to Get Their Attention), with Parul Singh

Parul Singh (00:00):
Everybody deserves respect, every candidate, no matter what their background is, what their level is, where they've come from. And the same for people on the hiring side as well. I think some of the disdain against recruiters is completely warranted, but a lot of recruiters, especially like internal recruiters, are really overworked.

Alex Booker (00:19):
That was Parul Singh, a recruitment marketing partner who also worked as a tech recruiter. I wanted to speak with Parul, because her advice on how to stand out and land a role in tech isn't the same as everybody else's. This episode is full of refreshingly unique and honest insights and perspectives, and some new job platforms you can use to inspire or recharge your developer job search. It is hard to stand out as a junior developer, but we'll talk about some ideas about how it can be done. To wrap things up, we will learn from Parul why some recruiters don't advertise the salary range, and how we can gain more insights to better understand that compensation range, and therefore our scope to negotiates. Parul, welcome to the show. How did you get into technical recruiting, first of all? It's not the kind of thing that everybody grows up saying to their mom and dad, "I want to be a technical recruiter when I grow up."

Parul Singh (01:19):
Yeah. Do you know what, Alex? You're absolutely right. And I have a lot of recruiter friends and everyone will say almost exactly the same thing. We just fell into it. So I studied chemistry at university. I'm not going to bore you with the whole story, turns to be something that I tell people at the pub, but I was desperate for a grad job. I fell into agency recruitment and it happened to be tech.

And I remember in my first couple of weeks sat there in training and I was like, what is this .NET? What is it? I don't get it. Have I made a big mistake? Maybe I should do recruitment in another thing, but do you know what? I'm really stubborn and I stuck with it, because mama didn't raise no quitter, and I think it was the best accident that ever happened in my life, because I have pivoted my career a little bit, but I found so much fulfillment in technical recruiting. So I did do agency side for about four years and then I went internal just under two years ago. So all the software engineers roles, hired flight engineering managers and yeah, very happy accident.

Alex Booker (02:23):
Were you mostly hiring .NET developers? Was that your specialty?

Parul Singh (02:28):
I did start off doing .NET developers, but then I had an opportunity in my first company to do something a little bit different. I started doing JavaScript actually, and then yeah, that basically became my specialism for the rest of my recruitment career. I think it's really hard to be a generalist, even within software engineers, because I think you really need to know your market and you really need to know your tech. And I think some of the best recruiters know all of that inside out. So yeah, I've recruited right from junior level, to lead level, and recruited a few engineering managers as well. I really vibed with JavaScript people the most. I'm not saying that the rest aren't cool, because you're all amazing, but I don't know, I just think I was really interested in web development anyway, so it just worked out very well.

Alex Booker (03:18):
Is it safe to say your Java from your JavaScript?

Parul Singh (03:20):
Yes. And do you know, which is the way that I used to teach it to other people, is that Java to JavaScript is the same as ham to hamster.

Alex Booker (03:29):

Parul Singh (03:31):
They are different things.

Alex Booker (03:33):
Do you know how to code yourself?

Parul Singh (03:34):
Yes. When I had been recruiting for JavaScript developers for a little while, I'm a really naturally curious person. And then the first lockdown happened, and before that I've been learning on this really basic app on my iPhone, just a bit of JavaScript like HTML stuff. And I was like, okay, this is a really good time. I want to learn how to code, and I have a load of spare time just like everybody else. So when other people are learning how to bake sourdough breads, or focaccia, or I don't know, learning how to knit, I was learning how to code. So I hope this isn't blasphemy to say this on the Scrimba podcast, but I did start off with a course on Udemy-

Alex Booker (04:14):
Parul, it was so nice to have you on the podcast. Thank you for joining me.

Parul Singh (04:19):
Well, no wait, it's a compliment, because so I'm neuro divergent. Well, I actually didn't know it at that time, and I just didn't find, the course itself was great. The quality of content was fantastic, but that format of learning just didn't gel with me, and I found myself really forcing myself to do it once the initial excitement wore off. And then somebody, because I talked to candidates about it, and somebody told me about Scrimba. So I came across Scrimba almost like four years ago.

Alex Booker (04:49):
You're kidding.

Parul Singh (04:51):
And just to clarify, for anybody listening, I am not being paid to say this, or this is not sponsored, or anything like that. And Alex hasn't bribed me in any form, but I love Scrimba, because of the interactivity element of it. So that was what I was missing from the other courses, because I really like to know why things work and how to break them. So I would pause whatever the session was, and then pause it, and then change the code and be like, oh, well if I do this then what does this do? And then run it. But that's how I basically taught myself. So I was learning functions, and erase, and objects, and all that kind of stuff. And I'm really gutted that I've kind of lost sight of it a little bit, but I was doing it solidly for a good few years now.

Alex Booker (05:35):
It's funny, because when I tried learning coding in school, I really struggled, because the teacher would present something on the whiteboard, and then you'd go into this group of 30 with one teacher, and you'd be expected to figure it out and cross-reference a book. And you'd often be doing something totally theoretical, or you might spend more time kind of wrangling with the tool, trying to get the editor to load up, for example, compared to actually focusing on the code.

When I finished school and I decided I wanted to teach myself coding, I started by watching YouTube videos and I found that work better, because I could find a teacher whose style and way of teaching resonated more with me. But it was still kind of annoying to have to copy over all the code, and sometimes they would be referencing a variable that wasn't currently on the screen, and you couldn't toy with it. And I totally identify with what you're saying. I understand things better when I can answer why a few times, why is it working this way, why is it doing that? And you kind of want to go a little bit deeper and Scrimba enables you to do that. I think that's a really interesting way of explaining it.

Parul Singh (06:36):
Yeah, I think it just makes it so much more accessible. I know that some of the courses are paid, but a lot of them are also free. And even after leaving, because they don't currently hands-on recruit, but I recommend for all recruiters should know to the basic level, the candidates that they're recruiting for, what do they do? Because what I found is that firstly I enjoyed it, because I'm like, well, I'm in this world day in and day out, and I really want to know what I'm talking about. I just found it really fun and the concept of I could go on and build my own website, my own apps was really exciting. I didn't, but again, the ADHD thing, I'm like, oh yes, I'm going to do this. And all of the graveyard of abandoned hobbies. So I didn't actually build a website, but the option was there.

And then, I think the other thing which was great is that it gave me so much more credibility with the candidates. So I know that the audience listening to this, you said a lot of them are generally newer developers who are looking to break into tech or maybe a few people at the early stages of their career. So you'll deal with tech recruiters maybe a little bit less now, but you definitely will in the future. There's a lot of great people who really take the time to actually learn their craft. So when you're actually looking for recruiters to work with, you want to pick the people who know what they're talking about, because they're going to understand you, they're going to understand the client requirements, and they're going to match you up the best site, the jobs that you're actually looking for. So basically it's like a win-win situation, because when I would then reach out to people, and my tagline was like the recruiter that codes, people would immediately, it would kind of catch their attention. Because they're like, "I've never seen this before." So it worked really well on like both sides.

Jan Arsenovic (08:28):
Coming up. Why job candidates need to be good negotiators.

Parul Singh (08:32):
It is a few minutes of what you feel is an uncomfortable conversation, an extra 10, 15, 20k for the next year or so.

Jan Arsenovic (08:42):
But before that, let's take a look at your social media posts about the podcast. Hi, I'm Jan, the producer, and in every episode I go through your LinkedIn and Twitter posts, as well as your reviews from Apple Podcasts and other podcasting apps, and highlight the coolest ones.

Roxana Rodbeck at Rox Learns Code tweeted, "Really enjoyed the Scrimba podcast episode with Cassie Lewis. It's always so motivating to hear someone with similar commitments make it into tech, because I can implement a lot of her advice. So grateful to have found her. Thank you, Scrimba."

That was a really cool episode and I'll be linking it in the show notes in case you missed it. And Joshua Rowan tweeted, "Absolutely love the Scrimba podcast. Filled with advice that's as inspiring as it is practical. If your resolution this year is to break into a coding career, give this a listen."

Thank you, Joshua, and good luck on your coding journey. And if you're also enjoying our show and you want to make sure we make more of it, the best thing you can do is to tell somebody about it. You can do it in person, on Discord, or on social media, and if your tweets or LinkedIn posts contain the words Scrimba and podcast, we will find them. And you might get a shout-out right here on the show. And if you're feeling super supportive, you can also leave us a rating or a review in your podcast app of choice. But for now, we're going back to the interview with Parul.

Alex Booker (10:08):
Let's talk a little bit about how a developer can get recognized by a recruiter. In your experience, how and where would you source candidates and what made a candidate stand out if you came across their profile?

Parul Singh (10:22):
I didn't recruit for a lot of junior roles, but people still source for junior candidates. Where I would source for them would be LinkedIn. A really key thing which helps a lot of people that they don't think about doing, is you can find this online and people write articles about it, but know what LinkedIn recruiter looks like on the recruiter side. So obviously this is an audio podcast, so I can't do a screen share and show you, but when you understand how recruiters search for people, you'll now have to optimize your profile. So the first thing is that we're going to talk about is a LinkedIn presence a good thing or whatever, but the first thing is to be able to be found in the first place, and when somebody is searching through those. So having the key skills in your skill section, but then also in your About Me section, which is at the top, because you can either the search for skills and select them, or you can do what's called a Boolean search.

You want to make sure that you are actually making sure that you are going to come up in those searches. So that is the first step. But then, the other one is to explore the different hiring platforms. So a few which I used when I was hiring internally at X-Design. So a lot of these are actually only for companies, which is actually good for the candidates, because you know that they're actually credible people hiring for real jobs. Not saying that recruiter's on, but for debate. So a few of the really good hiring platforms are called hackajob, and then Otta.

Alex Booker (11:54):
We'll put links to all these in the show notes for easy reference.

Parul Singh (11:58):
Haystack is another good one, hired.com, angel.co. But I think they actually changed it.

Alex Booker (12:04):
They've renamed. Yeah, it's called Wellfound now, I think.

Parul Singh (12:08):
Those are the few big ones that I would make sure that you actually sign up, to make sure that your profile is up to scratch. They will ask you for what salary range you're looking for, you're looking for hybrid, et cetera. But that is what actually one of the more successful ways that I found candidates. My response rate was actually a lot higher. So for example, if it was going to take me six hours of sourcing on LinkedIn to get two candidates, but only two hours on the other platforms, I'm probably going to spend more time there. So that's one of the mistakes that people make, kind of thinking that LinkedIn is the only avenue, but there's other platforms and some of these are specific to tech as well, which is great.

Alex Booker (12:49):
I think there's some fantastic resources. Wellfound is mostly geared at startups basically. So it's a great way to find jobs at startups, sometimes really early stage. You see job ads for co-founders for example, when you get paid nothing, but you're a co-founder in the company. But there are also jobs on that for series A, series B type startups, who can pay a very generous salary if you're the right candidate. And then I think the other category of platform you described are the kind of platforms where the recruiter is supposed to come to you. It's a little bit like, what's that dating app where the girl has to swipe before the guy? I think it's Hinge, or is it Bumble? I can't remember.

Parul Singh (13:30):
Yeah, Bumble I think. Oh, it's been a long time. I'm in a long-term relationship now. Those days are far behind me.

Alex Booker (13:37):
Yeah, me too.

Parul Singh (13:38):
But yeah, so some of them are, so calls for example goes like both ways. So you can search for the jobs and send a message to a recruiter, or the recruiter, I can do it for you. Whereas hackajob only works the way that the recruiter reaches out to you. But the benefit of these as well, is that they have their own scheduling things. So anybody who's listening to this will know that sometimes doing the back and forth and waiting for people to schedule in, and then getting pushback is like, that's such a headache, right? Job hunting is a full job in itself, so if you can make it easier for yourself, that is a great place to look.

Alex Booker (14:15):
Those sound like some brilliant resources to get recruiters to notice your profile compared to LinkedIn, where frankly it's very, very vast now. Everybody has a LinkedIn profile. Sometimes the ability to surface your profile isn't the best, because it's not just a job searching platform, it's a social network. And even though I don't think this plays into LinkedIn recruiter so much, there is an element of if you are social on the platform, that might increase your visibility through the platform, and that's not something that everybody wants to do. It might be better to focus on your coding skills for example. Of course, the other way to get a job is to actually go and apply. I'm sure you had to comb through quite a fair few resumes and cover letters during your time. What do you think are some of the things that make job applications stand out?

Parul Singh (15:01):
I'm probably going to say piece of advice or response that a lot of people wouldn't actually really expect, but it's actually very difficult to stand out as an entry level candidate. A lot of the time people will think that they have to do things, which is not necessarily the best way to do it. Let's take the CV. You know that there are all these CV templates and they look really nice on Canva, et cetera, and I'm a big Canva fan, so no shade. But when you use those and you start to have all of the colors and the two columns, which are harder to read, that's actually having the opposite effect, because it makes it harder to actually look at the content. So the best way to stand out on a CV is not by the formatting, or the template or whatever. It's by having standout content.

And I appreciate it can be difficult to have that as an entry level candidate, because you don't have the experience, but a lot of the time it is how you frame things. You know that personal statement summary thing that people put at the top of the CV? I've read so many that are really generic and they don't add any value to the CV. Which is okay, because sometimes it's really hard to summarize things, and it's hard to pull something to the top when you don't have the commercial experience to pull people in. So if you read in your personal summary and it feels generic, and you can't make it sound better, just get rid of it. The purpose of your CV is to secure you an interview and that's it. So if that's not adding value to the CV, get rid, because that's the first impression that somebody is actually going to read.

Let them go straight to the things that are actually going to add the value. Another few things that like I see on people's CVs is the use of metrics. So by metrics I mean talking about where you've saved time, where you've reduced spend, or increased profits. The business world revolves around all of those things. People want to do things quicker, they want to make more money. So if you can actually bring stats into that and people say, "Okay, well what if it's a non-technical role?"

I say it doesn't matter, because it's transferable. So let's say for argument's sake, somebody who currently works in marketing is now applying for a junior developer role, because I've done all of the learning on Scrimba, and I'm now ready to apply for junior developer jobs. I'm going to talk about how I changed processes, improve job adverts so that I increased the job conversion rate by X percentage. Because as humans we're drawn to numbers. So that is a good very subtle way to stand out on your CV. And then, the final tip which I will give is, you need to make sure that it's the right recruiter, because recruitment teams can be huge, but don't send them a LinkedIn message chasing it up, especially after a day.

But send your application through the normal methods, apply online, but send the right recruiter, if you know that it's them recruiting for the role, send them a message afterwards, or a day or two after, and say that like, "Hey, I've applied for this role. I totally appreciate you'll be working for the applicants, but I just wanted to connect with you, because I saw this that you posted recently, or this that the company did recently and I saw it on the LinkedIn. And I thought it was really great and it really resonated with me because of X, Y, Z. Look forward to connecting and hearing back from you."

But that kind of follow up is really impactful. And honestly, 95% of candidates never did that with me. So the 5% that did, I was like, oh, this is great. It's not pushy, but it's kind of like it's a little bit forward-thinking. So that's my final take on how to stand out above all of the noise.

Alex Booker (18:38):
I heard, and is it true, that recruiters only spend a few seconds on each resume, because they have so many and therefore you really need to stand out quickly?

Parul Singh (18:48):
Oh, I love this question, because it's such a nuanced topic, so I'm going to try and give the short answer. Yes, there may be some recruiters that only spend like a few seconds, but if they do, they're not doing their job properly.

Well, yeah, because you can't really effectively make a decision. And I know a few hiring managers who will categorically not be happy with that, because as humans you cannot consume, and process, and make a decision in such a short period of time.

Alex Booker (19:14):
Unless you're applying a huge amount of bias probably.

Parul Singh (19:18):
Yeah, if you are fixating on bias, and also we do have to remember that internal recruitment teams were some of the hardest hit with the layoffs. But what I would say is that we maybe spend 10 to 15 seconds scanning the CV, looking for key information to make sure that it's worth our time to read further. So with that, I mean basic requirements, scanning what roles where, when. So for a senior level role, I don't like to put a number on it, but let's say X years of experience roughly, we're looking for the basic requirements of let's say JavaScripts and typescripts, and I'm looking for somebody located in the UK, because remote first, but they need to be UK based. So once I've deduced that information, it goes in either the no pile, okay, doesn't meet basic requirements, or the maybe pile, and then I go through each of those in more detail. So that highlights the importance of having an easily scannable CV, clear headers, dividers, and do not use two columns.

Alex Booker (20:21):
Okay, so this actually reinforces your point about the Canva templates, because even though they're pretty to look at potentially, they will have a custom format compared to standard formats that makes things easier to digest for a recruiter. That's very interesting. Another kind of standard thing we see sometimes that I want to get your perspective on is a cover letter. Do you think a cover letter is necessary?

Parul Singh (20:45):
Again, I try not to talk in definitives. I mean, for some of them, yes. Job seeking, it's almost like a full-time job, so it's where you're going to spend your time effectively. Also, let's take it into the recent context. With the popularity and accessibility of a generative AI, it's so easy for somebody to copy and paste the blurb on a company, copy and paste the blurb on a job, and tell ChatGPT, "Write me a cover letter."

And we know when it's ChatGPT'd. I would say the cases where a cover letter is beneficial is to explain circumstances. So let's say I need to hire people in the UK, but somebody applied for a role who's based in Germany, but they were relocating back to the UK where they're originally from and their family is here, so it's set in stone. So they were explaining that on the cover letter.

Perfect, not really something you'd put on the CV. Somebody else, I don't like that they felt obligated to do it, but that's the world that they live in. But it was a lady who was applying for a role who had had an extended periods of time off of work to look after her children, and she felt that she just wanted to explain that on the cover letter. Again, I hate that that's actually needed, but that's where she used the opportunity. So a cover letter to explain circumstances? Yes. A cover letter to explain why you think you're a good fit for the role and that you've done your research on the company? No.

Alex Booker (22:10):
What about applying on the weekends? If you apply to a job on a Friday or a weekend, say do you think you are less likely to get notice, because you fall to the bottom of the pile or something like that? Maybe you'd be at the top of the pile because nobody else was applying over the weekend?

Parul Singh (22:25):
It honestly depends. What I tended to do, I reviewed applicants every single day. I think personally it wouldn't make a difference to me, but I can imagine for people who were getting hundreds of applicants every single day for high volume roles maybe. But taking it back to the individuals is that your circumstances may mean that you can only apply on the weekend, so don't break yourself and your mental health trying to do your applications on a weekday, just because you think that you're less likely to actually get a role. And you have to do what is best for you. And I think it's unlikely that people are just going to wade through the top of the pile, IE people who came in on Monday, and ignore the rest of the candidates.

Alex Booker (23:07):
Something else I wanted to get your perspective on, even though it might be a bit more nuanced than the previous questions, is this idea about jobs not necessarily listing the salary. That can make it kind of tough for a candidate to sort of filter out opportunities based on what they either need to earn to live, or want to earn to feel valued. What advice would you share with someone who's applying for a job that doesn't list the salary?

Parul Singh (23:32):
I approached this conversation very much of the thinking that money is such a taboo topic and I'm a first generation immigrant. In Indian culture, we just don't talk about it. You just don't talk about how much you make or how much you want to make. So some people do actually come from those kinds of cultures like environments, but that also means that people end up getting underpaid. I understand why companies don't have the salaries on the job adverts. They might not want their competitors to know how much they like paying people, because people head hunt from each other's companies, and there's that whole kind of thing. And I understand that is frustrating to job seekers. It's actually almost never the recruiter's decision. A lot of us are trying to advocate for it, but the way that I would say to approach it is... Actually, going back to what I said earlier, there's job platforms like hackajob and Otta, et cetera.

A lot of them actually do show the salaries, because they match up the candidates based on what they're looking for. So sometimes you'll find the same role on LinkedIn without a salary, is on Otta with a salary. Like, it's wild. So if we see a role and you really like it, try and find it on another platform and you might find out. And another thing is, there's a small chance this might work against you, but if getting that salary is really important for you, just email the recruiter and ask them. So I've had people reach out to me and say that, "Before I book in for the first interview with you, can you just tell me what the salary band is?" And I'm like, yeah, sure, I can share that with you on an email. And they're like, "Okay, perfect. So that fits within my expectations. Let's talk."

So you can definitely ask for it, but one piece of advice I would share for anybody, no matter whether you're junior or senior, whatever, make sure that you ask in the first call. Nobody is entitled to hours and hours of your time, multiple stages of interviews, take home tests when you don't know what they're going to pay you. I think that is absolutely wild, but I know it happens. It's completely valid. If you get into the first stage interview and they still haven't covered it off by the end, and they say, "Hi, great, yeah, happy to proceed. Have you got any questions?" Please, for the love of God, ask them because it's just respectful on both sides, because if what they're offering does not meet your expectations, it's not going to be able to justify the cost of living, and your bills and everything.

That's a great time and a good opportunity to just part ways, but you're going to feel so much more resentful if you get to the very final stage, and then you get your offer and it's like 10, 15k lower than what you expected. And I think it's completely normal. We work for money, we don't work for good vibes and a pat on the back. We have bills to pay, we have families to support. Let's not skate around the fact that we need money to survive. So I really just want to try to remove some of the taboo around that conversation.

Alex Booker (26:23):
I really appreciate that and I've been trying to do something similar. Something that helps me is to think about it in pure economic terms. You are exchanging your labor for a salary. That's the transaction, and you are being paid not based on a worth that the employer gets to make up and pull out of thin air. In an established industry, you're being paid according to a market rate, which will vary. It is a fairly broad range a lot of the time, but then that's up to you and what you value. Maybe you get a certain benefits or certain flexibility that means you'll take less, or maybe it's to do with your geographic area, for example. So I do think thinking about it in economic terms, that does remove a little bit of the shyness from it maybe, because it can, you're right, feel like a slightly taboo topic to talk about money and salary, and you can feel greedy and all these things, but it needn't be that way at all.

Parul Singh (27:16):
And is a few minutes of what you feel is an uncomfortable conversation worth an extra 10, 15, 20K for the next sort of year or so?

Alex Booker (27:28):
Yes, please.

Parul Singh (27:28):
People should be paid based on how good they are at their job, not how good they are at negotiating. I would consider myself to be a fairly expert negotiator. I do it for other people, actually. A couple of weeks ago my friend called me and she needed some advice on negotiating her salary, but she was on the back foot already, because she didn't have the company's salary banding, so she didn't know what the top and the bottom end was, and she also didn't have any other offers to basically negotiate with. But I just kind of do this for fun, so I told you exactly how to approach what to say, and she got a plus 10% increase. But she had me to ask for that and me to bat in her corner. A lot of people don't have that and I think that's really wrong.

They had the extra budget to pay it, and you've paid her based on how well she negotiated, and you were more than happy to actually underpay her in the first place. So I really wish companies would stop doing that, because in my entire internal recruitment like career, I only had one person negotiate, because I made it crystal clear and transparent right in the beginning what the salary band was, the top and the bottom, how we determine where people sit within the band. I don't ask them the current salary.

I actively tell them not to tell me that, because I say it's actually really not relevant in this conversation. And then when I present them with the offer, I tell them why we banded them where they are. So within a senior band, there's like one, two, three, and I give them the justification, and they say which are the areas that we'll work with them on when they join, and when we do the salary reviews. So because of that level of transparency and this is how it should be, this is where the benchmark should be. So because of that, people didn't feel like I was taking them around the houses and just kind of low balling them, and see how low they get. They know that I've given them the best offer, why we've given it.

Alex Booker (29:25):
There's a rationale there.

Parul Singh (29:26):
Yeah, there's a rationale behind it and they're like, "Okay, this person genuinely has my best interest in heart." I don't have any financial incentive for low balling people or anything like that. And recruiters don't, by the way, just to clarify, they don't get bonuses based on these sorts of things. It's just not right. And the one person who did negotiate, it's because he had a competing offer, and what he was looking for was beyond the salary bands as well, but he really likes the role. So it wasn't because he felt like we had low balled him. And it was a market rate salary by the way, but he was just like, "Look, this company has come back with this offer. Can we talk about this?" And we were like, okay, we're pushing the sort of band there. We want to be equitable, but that was the only person, and I think that's the way that it should be.

Alex Booker (30:14):
You got to be careful there, I think as a recruiter or a company, because if you low ball and then the candidate negotiates and gets a significant increase, then you are kind of revealing to that candidate just how you're willing to treat them behind closed doors, which is to offer them the minimum unless they very strongly advocate for themselves. I am glad to say, and I hope that I'm not just wielding rose-tinted glasses when I say this, but I do think the industry is shifting in a sense, because obviously candidates are becoming more aware of these practices and they severely resent them. That's one thing.

So being aware means they might avoid them in the first place. Then from the recruiter's perspective, I think a lot of recruiters are realizing that their success in their role is dependent on building long-term reputation and maybe relationships with candidates. And if they're to operate in a manner that is dishonest or under the table, that's not going to help them succeed in achieving their hiring targets in the long run, because they will either get a reputation or they'll lack a sufficient network to connect great candidates with great roles.

Parul Singh (31:18):
Yeah, I think sometimes, especially in the corporate business world as well, I think what this really boils down to that everybody deserves respect. Every candidate, no matter what their background is, what their level is, where they've come from, deserves to be treated with dignity and deserves to be treated equitably. And the same for people on the hiring side as well. I think some of the saying against recruiters is completely warranted. There's some absolutely wild practices out there and it's a very unregulated industry, but a lot of recruiters, especially internal recruiters, are really overworked, as I was saying, with companies making the layoffs and they're having to hire the same number of roles with less people in the team. So I think when we look at job hunting in tech, and try and approach it with, I think there's actually a phrase for this, have you heard of the prime directive or something in retrospectives?

It says, regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available and the situation at hand. So what that basically translates to is that a lot of people are just trying to do the best that they can given the situation, and the more that we understand that on both sides, in the workplace and when recruiting, I think we start to stop seeing people as commodities and seeing them as actual human beings. And I think that does sometimes get lost in tech recruitment.

Alex Booker (32:53):
Yeah, I think it gets lost in business in general some of the time.

Parul Singh (32:58):

Alex Booker (32:59):
You sound very empathetic towards candidates and the people of which you work, and I've noticed you use language throughout the interview like equitable instead of equal for example. And in general, it sounds like you're giving someone listening a bit of confidence, like you're saying, "Hey, do that thing, it's okay. It'd be nice if there was someone to advocate for you just like I did my friend. I'm going to try and be that person to you in this interview." Why is it important to you to bring that positive message?

Parul Singh (33:31):
Probably just from my own personal background and experiences that I've had. So I mentioned earlier that I am a first generation immigrant. I mean, people can't see me right now, but I'm an Indian woman, I'm neurodivergent. so I was diagnosed with ADHD just over two and a half years ago. Had a lot of struggles in earlier life, and as of probably a few weeks before recording this podcast, I had finally come to times with the fact that I am also autistic. So I am self-diagnosed currently, there is no shadow of a doubt, but I'm had a referral for a medical diagnosis. So because of all of those things and never feeling like I belonged, and I spent a lot of time not really feeling like I had anybody fighting my corner, I think I really brought that passion into what I do in the work place. And I think it's taught me a lot of sympathy, but a lot of empathy as well.

It's made me incredibly hyper aware of a lot of the barriers that people actually face in the workplace, because of being like women, or neuro divergence, or of ethnic minority, or of a different socioeconomic background, being a bit older, there's so many different types of discrimination and a lot of the marginalized groups, which are actually impacted in the workplace. And I think as anybody with a position of power. So whether that's a recruiter, a hiring manager, an interviewer, a line manager, a HR person, even if you don't have manager and title, everybody's in a position to actually make a change. But if you're only doing that change for the people that maybe look like you or sound like you, I don't think we're doing or actually meeting our duty of care to everybody. So I think advocating for other people is very central to everything that I do, and I'm so passionate about it.

I could talk about this for ages if you can't tell, but I just hope that anybody listening to this just knows that it might feel like it right now, but there are people out there who are willing to support you. A lot of my mentor-mentee relationships just started from somebody reaching out to me and asking a question, which then turned into jumping on a call, which then turned into a call every two weeks, which turns into them helping them break inside the market. So there are people out there who understand you and who have your back. People are really nice actually. People are willing to help. You just have to know where to find them, and you just have to ask the first question.

Alex Booker (36:11):
Parul, I think you sound so courageous and eloquent while you talk about these things. It's really impressive. I think that so many people have their own, that they are... It is interesting, because the more I get to know people on a personal level, or the more I learn speaking to people like yourself, you kind of realize there's so many people have challenges, but they internalize them, almost convincing themselves that they're the exception. When actually, I think if everybody spoke their truth at the same time, you'd realize that they are the rule. Everybody is a little bit different in some way, and yet we all sometimes act like we have to be the same and conform, and that's a problem, but it's only when people speak up that this changes, and you do it in such a public way. You do it so freely on the podcast.

I just wanted to give you props for that, and I realized in talking to you about this subject and segueing the conversation a little bit, we need to do a whole episode about this. We need to learn your story. We need to learn a bit more about neurodiversity in tech. I'm sure you know this, but for the benefit of people listening, it turns out a remarkable number of developers have ADHD. There's a whole subreddit dedicated to ADHD, for example, and so there's something about this craft that attracts that type of person. I think we could talk a little bit about why that might be. So, what do you say? Instead of cramming too much into one episode, how about you join me again in a week or two to talk all about this?

Parul Singh (37:36):
Yeah, that would be absolutely fantastic. I think neurodiversity in tech is still quite an unexplored topic, but as we know, and anybody who works in tech will just know, and it's like there's a lot of neurodivergent people in here. Neurodiversity and neurodivergence is actually absolutely crucial to innovation, which is how we build tech products, which I think is why people are attracted to it. But like you said, it is a whole topic in itself, and I think I have a lot of my own lived experience as an autiHDer. I'm still getting used to that word actually, because it used to be ADHDer. I also started and run our internal neurodiversity community at X-Design. So I would be absolutely delighted to join you back in a future episode to talk a little bit about neurodiversity in the workplace, but then going specific into tech.

Alex Booker (38:29):
Of course. Parul, thank you so much for your time today.

Parul Singh (38:33):
Thank you so much, Alex. I really, really enjoyed this. And you are a fantastic podcast host and I look forward to joining you again in a few weeks.

Jan Arsenovic (38:42):
That was the Scrimba podcast. Check out the show notes for all the resources mentioned in this episode. If you made it this far, please subscribe. You can find the show wherever you listen to podcasts. The show is hosted by Alex Booker and produced by me. I'm Jan Arsenovic. You can find both of our Twitter handles in the show notes. Next week we're talking about the current state of React. Keep coding and see you next time.

Everybody's Doing Their Best... Even Tech Recruiters (and This Is How to Get Their Attention), with Parul Singh
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