[AMA] How to Market Yourself, Remotely with Mary Hartberg, Director of People Ops, Close

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July 21, 2020

What's the virtual equivalence of walking into an office and proudly dropping off your resume? Ask Mary how you can stand out digitally and through your applications.

Connect with Mary:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryhartberg

Connect with Close:

close.com

https://twitter.com/close

https://www.facebook.com/close.io

https://www.youtube.com/user/closeio

How to join:

The AMA will be in chat form and take place in the private Member Slack community in #ama. There's no need to register ahead of time. Be sure to save the date and come prepared with your questions!

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Transcript from the AMA


Justine Shu
Welcome to our first official Members AMA, How to Market Yourself, Remotely :celebrate: I’m pleased to welcome Mary Hartberg, Director of People Ops at Close.

What’s the virtual equivalence of walking into an office and proudly dropping off your resume? As the Director of Ops for remote-first company + sales communication platform, Close, Mary knows first-hand what it takes to promote yourself, virtually. Here’s your chance to ask Mary how you can stand out digitally and through your applications. Thanks for being here, Mary! Let’s get started 😊

Mary Hartberg
Good morning / afternoon / evening ☀️

Question 1
Hi Mary, once upon a time you connected to me during my job search on LinkedIn. It’s a small thing, but for someone who was changing careers feeling like I was worthy of your connection there was really encouraging!

My question, what are some example sales organizations doing really well in a remote environment? Looking to learn.

Mary Hartberg Thank you! I appreciate the connection - always happy to be in community and help one another. Great to "see" you 🙂

Aside from Close 😉 - customer.io and teambuilding.com are two I'm familiar with. Let me ask my sales team and see if they have any insights!

Question 2
Hi Mary, My question is what do you think is the most important thing for developers to market ourselves both in tech and soft skills?

Mary Hartberg
Great question! Communication skills are essential in any work place and especially when working remotely. Being an active listener, proactive in your approach and clear in your messaging are some of the ways that you can be most effective in that space. As for tech or hard skills, I would recommend tailoring your application per position. For example, if a job is requiring experience X, highlight that specifically within your application.

Question 3
Hi Mary, I am very new to this remote job search. I worked in two different industries for eight companies in 9 years. Currently, I am into digital marketing space having experience in paid & organic media. While I apply to the jobs, mostly recruiters were asking B2B experience, which I don't have. How to overcome this issue?

Mary Hartberg
I hear you, this can be tough. Keep pushing! Being transparent with a recruiter can be of benefit, I would highlight the skills and experience that you believe is directly relatable and relevant.

Question 4
Thanks for doing this, Mary! Does Close only hire people who have remote work experience? If not, what do you look for in a candidate that indicates they'd be productive in a remote environment?

Mary Hartberg
Great to be on here thank you! Having remote experience isn't a hard requirement but it's very nice to have and the more we grow the organization we have come to realize this is something we need to evaluate within the hiring process. If someone doesn't have direct remote experience we look for instances and characteristics that might give us some insight:
  • Do they have commitments outside of work that they are dedicated to? (health, fitness, side hustle)
  • How well do they communicate throughout the interview process? This is key in a remote space.
  • What are their expectations around working remotely? We want to make sure this aligns with our team expectations.
  • Did they apply for the job only because it's remote or because the position/team/product excites them and they want to pursue this as a career opportunity? (we've learned over the years it's important to understand this distinction).


Question 5
What do you love the most about your job? What is your proudest accomplishment at Close?

Mary Hartberg
What I love most about my job is the people. I love building, growing and supporting such a fabulous group of talented individuals. The culture at Close is something I'm most proud of - and organizing 10+ team retreats! - which are my absolute favorite activities. Here's our recent culture video that I think displays well the amount of care we have for one another.

Question 6
Hi Mary, thanks for doing this. My question: what would you say is your biggest tip for standing out with remote work applications? I know there are lots of tips like “make sure you write a detailed cover letter”, etc, but I’m curious to know if you have a different take on this. Thanks!

Mary Hartberg
Thanks for this great question. Biggest tip, here's a few 😉
  • Clean, concise resume - the effort you put into your resume shows. Check for spelling.
  • If there are application questions - take them seriously and invest in answering them as though they are the first interview.
  • Find out who the hiring manger is or see if you have any connections on LinkedIn - reach out directly with a quick messaging highlighting why you're a great fit for the role. (I get a lot of messages on LinkedIn and always share these with the hiring manager and add to their internal ATS profile). It shows initiative.
  • Be persistent and do something super creative. Sharing what our team member, Katie Fudge did to get our attention 🙂 She's been with Close for a year now.


Question 7
What are the top 3 common mistakes you see candidates make when attempting to market/promote themselves online?

Mary Hartberg
Let's see... a few come to mind:
  • Broken links within application, especially for designer type roles where we would like to see examples of work
  • Spelling errors or incomplete applications
  • Applying for multiple (potentially unrelated) roles within the same company


Question 8
What can a developer who has been out of swdev for a while do?

Mary Hartberg
I would say this depends on your interest/background/skillset and where you want to pursue a career. If you want to get back into development there are many courses, open source projects that you might want to tackle. If getting back into straight development doesn't seem of interest, having a developer background is a great asset to many positions, particularly within a software company. We have customer support engineers that get to interface with customers while using their technical skills. This might be a route you could explore.

Question 9
I'm currently unemployed and trying to build my own business in between applying for jobs. During all three interviews I've had, the employers have seemed concerned that I either a) won't be able to handle working both for them and myself at the same time, or b) will quit them once my business starts to make money. How can I say what I've been up to without seeming like an uncommitted candidate?

Mary Hartberg
This is a good question and really depends on how an organization views "side hustles". Some companies like to see the commitment and self-driven nature of people willing to take risk and build a business while others see this as a distraction or "problem". If you believe you will be available to a long-term commitment - keep pressing on that. Offer to engage in a trial period before a full time hire to make sure it would be a good fit.

Question 10
What components of a portfolio/personal website have stood out for you?

Mary Hartberg
Someone that is clearly passionate and dedicated to their craft is generally pretty obvious to see within their personal websites. We love seeing clever hobby projects and interests. Bringing people onto the team that have unique talents makes us all a little brighter. ✨

Question 11
Do you have an example of someone went about branding/presenting themselves that was particularly interesting or creative?

Mary Hartberg
I shared this above on another question but the one that comes to mind is from one of our team members. She also photo shopped herself into our team photo which I thought was pretty fun ❤️ . What was great about Katie is she had consistent friendly follow up.

Question 12
What’s the interview process like at Close?

Mary Hartberg
All positions have an interview process tailored specifically to the job but in general the flow is something like this:
  1. Application (we have questions on the application that we see as the first interview- because we're a remote company, we get a ton of applications and this helps us to determine who will get a first call)
  2. Introduction Call held by hiring manager
  3. Take Home project
  4. Technical/Skill set Call
  5. Culture + Company Call (mostly an opportunity for the candidate to ask me any questions they have at this stage)
  6. Founder/CEO Call
  7. Reference/Background Checks
  • Typically the entire process takes ~3 weeks
  • All interviews are held remotely and on video
  • In a non-pandemic world sometimes we would fly a late stage candidate to meet with someone from the team
  • We also offer trial periods before full time hires if that is available for the candidate's schedule and interest - gives both parties a chance to really understand if it's a good fit.


  • Justine Shu
    We’re at time now — I’ll let Mary answer the last couple of questions here. Thank you to everyone who participated. Hope you learned something new! I know I did :slightly_smiling_face:

    And, thank you, Mary, for providing your expertise here -- super helpful! Any last words?

    Mary Hartberg
    Thank you so much Justine - really appreciate the invite and for anyone I haven't gotten to yet, I'll respond here today otherwise please do feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or shoot me a private message here 🙂 Have a beautiful day, everyone!
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