In this Team Spotlight, new hire Elle Spacek and Crisp Recruiter Minho Cho speak candidly about the job search process, offering advice for candidates looking to switch industries.
A unique recruiting story
We recently hired Elle Spacek, who switched industries from transportation and logistics to SaaS as a new member of Crisp’s sales team. Elle’s job search process wasn’t always easy, and I believe her story can give future job seekers encouragement and a clear sense of what it takes to successfully shift into a job that aligns with your passion and purpose.
What makes Elle’s story unique is that she actually applied to Crisp twice, originally by sending in her resume and cover letter for a Sales Development role about nine months ago. As a recruiter, the most we can do early on in candidate screenings is to make a call on the candidate’s relevance based on their resume. Looking at Elle’s experience the first time, I actually chose not to move her application forward. But the story doesn’t end there -- which is why I sat down with Elle to talk about how she handled this, and what she did next to ultimately land the job at Crisp.
When Crisp turned you down the first time, what went through your mind?
Elle: To be honest, I was bummed. I felt that I was really struggling to get past the first round of resume reviews and demonstrate I could bring value to a company. I wasn’t just sending my resume everywhere -- I had a targeted list of organizations I wanted to work for and I spent hours researching each of those companies, tailoring my resume to each application and carefully drafting cover letters that I hoped would be intriguing. Getting rejected from Crisp stung because I knew how badly I wanted to join the organization, how aligned my personal beliefs and practices were with the company’s mission, and how much value I could bring to it.
What did your job search process look like after that?
Elle: I always give myself some space to be upset after not getting a job. It’s really vulnerable to put yourself out there when applying for a position, and getting rejected can feel personal, at least for me. Sometimes I would go a month or two before sending out more applications, just because the emotional toll was real for me.
After getting rejected from Crisp, I revamped my strategy. I started looking at larger companies that would have resources to train someone like myself who didn’t come from a tech or SaaS background. I figured if I could get a few years of SaaS under my belt, I would eventually be able to pivot to an organization like Crisp. I specifically looked for tech companies that were in growth mode, understanding that these organizations are sometimes willing to take a chance on hires with less directly applicable experience.
Between my applications to Crisp, I had a few sessions with a career coach who worked with me to leverage LinkedIn. To get interviews, I started skipping the general “application” section on a company website and instead went to LinkedIn directly. I would look up the organization I wanted to work for, search their people, and find someone who was recruiting or managing the role I wanted to be in. I would then message them directly, telling them a little about me, the role I was interested in, and asking if they would be open to speaking with me or connect me directly with a recruiter. Having learned that tech companies were structured differently than what I was used to, I also used LinkedIn to research how each of them were organized. If I had friends at companies I thought were interesting, I would glean information from them. I asked them to connect me to other people they worked with so I could learn more about how the organization was structured and the specifics of each role.
After going through a couple more conversations with recruiters, I interviewed with a larger tech company starting in December 2020. The process was pretty daunting and intimidating. Although I got good feedback from everyone I interviewed with, I ended up not getting that role either. Again, I took some time to feel sad and frustrated and then decided to check the Crisp website again. I saw there was another opening for a Sales Development Representative and figured “well, what do I have to lose?” I spent several hours over the next few days re-researching Crisp and then sent Minho, the recruiter, a message on LinkedIn that I hoped would convey my passion, current skills, and desire to become part of the Crisp team. Through the course of my two applications, I spent probably 15-20 hours researching Crisp, but ultimately, it paid off when I got through to interviews.
I understand that spending almost 18 months looking for a new job is not a reality for a lot of people. I was in a position where I could still manage and succeed at my current full-time job and therefore be more targeted and picky when it came to looking for a new career.
I also became all too familiar with the angst that searching for a new career can bring. It almost feels like a second job, and every time I would sit down in the evenings to rest, or relax on a Sunday, there was always that voice in my head saying, “you should be searching for jobs right now.” The process is a grind and I feel so fortunate to have ended up exactly where I wanted to be.
What made you decide to apply to the role again?
Elle: I have been in sales for several years now, starting at the bottom with a basic hunting role. And I’ve learned that the worst thing someone can say to you in a situation like this is “no.” That's it. I had already built up a pretty large mental callous from hearing “no”' repeatedly, so I knew the world wasn’t going to end if that was the response.
I had observed that the same or similar roles at tech companies were always being posted, then taken down, then reposted again. I had one recruiter tell me that they always left their AE recs up, even if they weren’t actively hiring, just so they could have people in the pipeline. I applied to the same role twice because I knew I had the skills to be successful in that role. I wanted to be at Crisp, so I shot my shot.
Do you think the other roles you applied to helped you with Crisp the second time around?
Elle: I think having to go through an interview process is always helpful, whether you get the position you are seeking or not. I know that some people advise to just apply to everything and interview as much as possible -- but I don’t do that. I don’t believe in wasting my time or the interviewer’s time, so I only apply to jobs I really want. That’s why it took me so long to find another job, but that didn't matter to me. It was more important to land somewhere I wanted to be and work towards building something I could be proud of.
Lessons for future job-seekers
As a recruiter, it doesn't bring me joy rejecting candidates, and I know it can be hard for them to hear. Ultimately, after getting such a strong LinkedIn message from Elle the second time around, I did end up interviewing her, and she was one of the most prepared candidates I ever spoke with. I was delighted to extend her an offer at the end of the process.
I asked Elle to share her story to bring encouragement to anyone who is trying to make a career change or get into their dream company, to show that it can be a winding road but ultimately land you in the right place. Even though Elle’s experience was not a one-to-one match on paper alone, her character, persistence, and work ethic showed during the interview. Elle’s story of determination really showcases what it takes to make an industry change, and to be a strong candidate (not to mention a great salesperson). We couldn't be happier to have Elle on our team.
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