EDIT: I have been now working at Smartly.io for 5 years. Going from 40 employees to more than 400 today. My mission today is to scale the way we do customer support to the next 1000 employees.
Our ways of hiring have changed a lot. The story below is not really a good reflection of how things are working nowadays. You can read it for your entertainment and some inspiration, but don’t try this at home…
What is Smartly.io
Smartly.io is a fantastic company. We’re the leaders in Facebook and Instagram advertisements. Our growth rate is through the roof and we keep innovating in order to delight our customers.
The Facebook ad ecosystem is built around a terrific concept. Facebook is providing Power Editor and Ads Manager in order to build ads. This is the baseline. If Facebook Marketing Partners (FMP) like Smartly.io want to exist they have to provide a service that is far superior to Power Editor for marketers to even begin to start considering to pay to use their product. If an FMP is providing a service that is too close to what Power Editor is doing for free, there is no reason to invest.
At Smartly.io we proud ourselves of being the first ones to release new ad formats. Our team of engineers is working their b**** off to stay ahead of Facebook. The rhythm at which new features come out is purely insane and it’s very hard for any company to keep up with that.
This is why we like to stay very humble. Aware that one day maybe we could lose our grip like some of our competitors have done already before.
At the same time, we want to grow. And we want to grow fast. There is an attitude in this company that is truly interesting. We call ourselves humble hungry hunters.
So if you want to get hired you need to prove that you have what it takes to call yourself “humble hungry hunters”.
Let me tell you my story.
In June, my dear friend Claudio one day told me about Smartly.io. Claudio was in Lithuania, struggling to make ends meet with a startup that we co-founded and from which I was already out. Claudio was asking me what I was thinking of this company and I very quickly understood that it could be the perfect place for me as well.
After 9 years spent at Nokia, it was time to go.
So I applied for the position of Technical Account Manager. The description suited me pretty well and I thought I had a decent chance of getting hired. I was genuinely interested in online marketing, being a former instructor for top mobile operator engineers I thought I was a fast learner and from a technical point of view, I was also pretty well qualified.
In the meantime, Claudio got hired which got me really excited.
I realized from the job posting that AngularJS was a cornerstone of the product (Edit: now it’s more React.JS) so I decided I should take an introductory course in order to understand what that was. I followed the course, took all the tests, and validated all the modules, one after another.
Let’s get started
I also had to solve a small technical puzzle which led to finding the email address where to apply. It was kind of a technical position so it was only normal to have at least a basic technical test… It took me a few hours, some loops, and some curl to figure out the result of the test and then I sent my application.
I got an answer from Joonatan and I was happy to receive homework to complete.
Having two kids at home and seeing the amount of work to be done to prove my worthiness was a bit daunting at first… but luckily my wife helped to make time for me to study.
The homework was an interesting case. An excel sheet full of statistics about an advertisement campaign. The task was fairly simple: optimize that. We want to spend more and stay below a specific CPA.
So here I go studying Facebook advertisement, the blueprint, the blog posts of Smartly, one after another, what’s a bloody CPA? CTR, that I know. I have an email marketing background, very helpful! Conversion? Offsite conversion… Remarketing? Facebook Pixels? Lots of stuff to learn. I submit my homework and Joonatan finds it good! 🙂
But now I have a big task ahead. Demo Power Editor to a bunch of guys who know it inside out since Smartly.io is constantly benchmarking against Power Editor and appear as if I would know it inside out as well. The next task right after that was to demo Smartly.io as in a Sales pitch.
I have done some Facebook ads before for the French version (yaentrainement.fr) of the very famous Finnish Website nimenhuuto.com.
After spending some money to direct some traffic from Facebook to my site, I realized I was not going to put myself in the best conditions for nailing the demo. I was supposed to demo an e-commerce website and all I had was an online service. So what’s the best way to learn? Probably by doing. So here I go set up a shop on my blog.
Really want to get hired? Here is the interesting bit
The blog is running on WordPress. I install woo-commerce, set it up, play a bit with Photoshop to make some fake products, mainly Nimenhuuto t-shirts (maybe I should think about selling these t-shirts), install some pixels.
Then I thought I should take it the extra mile and go for the advanced feature rather than stay safe and only hone the basic features. If I want to get hired I need to shine and I know for a fact that most people don’t go for the advanced features because they are 1) lazy or 2) afraid. Not afraid, lazy… maybe sometimes… but I’m working on it.
So I set up a product feed using a paid plugin that has a demo version. I set up my feed on Power Editor… but then comes the problem of fixing the pixels for DPA. a bit too tricky for me. I reach out to the developer of the plugin and ask him for an extension of the trial period and for some advice about the pixel. I get an extension and a piece of code in order to do the trick.
DPA is running on Power Editor. Now let’s see what Smartly.io can do for me…
I set up an Automated Ads campaign with a carousel and with my products. It’s working well. Very easy. I couple it with Dynamic Image Template in order to enrich the pictures of my product feed with data from the feed like a price, a description, a brand, etc. I need to ask Joonatan to turn on several features for me as many of them are advanced features that are only available to very advanced users and enabled by Account Managers.
D-Day is coming. Let’s get sharp and show that I master the topic and that I can do a good demo.
I meet Joonatan and Joonas, and I do my Power Editor demo. All good they like it and we proceed to the Smartly.io demo. Same stuff. (happy face)
I am invited to come back to meet Anssi, COO of Smartly.io. A couple of days later I am having lunch with Anssi and the interview is going pretty well. Then a quick interview with Kristo, the CEO. Culture fit detection: passed 🙂
Next step, interview with the technical guys. Otto and Arto. Otto is the VP of Engineering and the creator of the amazing tool Flowdock. I am a huge fan. Because of that I actually decided to include Flowdock in my CV. And Arto is the Product Manager of Smartly.io. Same stuff, good interview. I’m confident! 🙂
It’s Friday and there is the usual Friday demo. An open session where some externals are invited to come and discover Smartly.io a bit more.
I follow the demo as an external and I am actually just waiting for an answer… Are they going to hire me or not?
No answer yet. I get back home. Waiting for an answer. At this point, I have been visiting Smartly.io about 7 times, been to a few demos, met with plenty of people, spent days/weeks studying. The investment was consequent. But Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook once was told: “When you’re offered to get on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat, just get on”. That was my attitude all along. I said yes to whatever requirement. Invested all my energy into that hiring process.
Later during the evening, I receive an email from Anssi:
“We discussed internally, thought about your background and potential regarding the positions we discussed, and unfortunately decided not to move forward with you. As we have communicated, our bar is really really high. We really liked you and you presented good skills, but we’re looking for a “perfect match”. ”
I was disheartened.
But then I thought: Sorry but I don’t take no for an answer.
“I understand your decision but I don’t accept it.
You know I have a lot to give. Let me prove it to you.
Can we speak about it?”
Kristo answered me and we agreed to meet again in August after the July holiday was gone.
I came back. I demoed again. Got some help from Claudio to help me learn the roped. Fine-tuned my demo. I was supposed to be also a bit of a video guy, so I made a kick-ass education video. I literally worked my way through the meanders of the hiring process. I went there with a knife between my teeth. Pushing, pushing, I wanted so badly to get hired that… it eventually worked. Maybe I am a hungry hunter.
Anssi made me an offer which I accepted. And I know for a fact that he really wants to make many more offers… but the bar is really really high and we are looking for a “perfect match”.
Today I am not quite doing the job of a Technical Account Manager. I do a lot of Business Development for the French Market. I do videos for marketing purposes. I do support like everybody else in the company. We are all full-stack. I saw a Rocketship, got myself invited, and jumped on board.
This may not be the only way to get hired at Smartly.io. Everybody has a different story. But the common ground of all these stories is that the individuals hired have a solid drive and a humble hungry hunter attitude.
How about you? Do you have what it takes to get hired at Smartly.io?