It’s a Tough Job Market. Match Your Fear With Grit and Determination, Says Hatch Founder
When the Vietnam War finally ended, Thomson Nguyen’s father came to America in the classic search for a better life. After seven long and arduous years waiting for visas, scraping together as much as he could, his wife and young daughter were able to join him; the Hatch founder would be born just a couple years later in California.
“It was incredibly scary and daunting for them,” Nguyen said. “No friends here, no family, no idea how to find work. But what choice do you have? Something can be scary but we still have to figure out a way to get it done. There’s no other choice.”
He sees parallels between his parents’ story, which ultimately included starting their own business, and the small and medium businesses his fintech start-up now serves. The Hatch team gives company owners a boost in the form of a credit line up to $5k, without requiring rock-solid credit scores or previous business history. “Right now, it’s uncertain and unsettling, but we will continue to see SMBs rise to the occasion,” Nguyen said. “There’s so much grit to build a better life for themselves.”
He sees those same qualities as necessary for job hunters in this turbulent economy. “There are a lot of engineers and tech folks who are unexpectedly on the job market,” said Nguyen. “If you’re job hunting, you will have to match your fear with determination. And remember that recovery might be slow but it is certain.”
Focus on Mutual Fit
He recommends being purposeful about fit, if possible, because it helps drive both performance and overall contentment with a job. “I really do understand the need to make rent and buy food,” noted Nguyen. “Sometimes you do just have to take any job. But if you can, spend the time to look at the mission and the purpose. See if the product resonates with you.”
At Hatch, he says, this is the way they run technical interviews. “We strongly emphasize that this has to be a mutual fit,” said Nguyen. “That approach inspires more organic conversations. I’m interested in learning what technical leaders want to try out, how they look at the time/space complexity tradeoffs, the edge cases they see, how they collaborate.”
Nguyen also notes that technical recruiting is most analogous to a lock-and-key fit. In other words, it just clicks. “It’s so important to remember that if you don’t get a technical job, it might not be because you’re not good at what you do,” he observed. “It’s really about where we are and what we happen to need in this moment. A junior engineer, for instance, competing for a slightly more senior role might be well served by going to Facebook (or another large company that can provide structured mentorship) first and getting some grounding there.”
Modify Recruiting to Fit the New World
Hatch’s recruitment process has adapted well to the constraints of the pandemic. “Communication has always been important, and that’s even more poignant and apparent now that our interactions are taking place on a screen,” said Nguyen.
The team is overcommunicating with their candidates, covering who the interviews will be with, what they’ll consist of, etc., to ensure they feel as comfortable and prepared as possible ahead of time. “We still need to do everything we’d normally do in a live, in-person interview,” said Nguyen. “All the human rules of interaction still matter, like building in bio breaks. We’ve even migrated the lunch we’d normally do onsite to a thirty-minute tea to buffer the intense coding exercises.”
Update Your Benefits for Today
He’s confident that Hatch can continue to lure some of tech’s best and brightest. “We’re still offering our platinum-level healthcare and 401K matching, just as we did before COVID,” he said. “We’ve changed our monthly transportation stipend so that employees can now use it for things that make their work-from-home setup nicer and more productive.”
Nguyen also noted that the team’s able to structure their own schedules, which makes good communication via asynchronous channels like Slack and email more important. “Some employees have focused time between 8 and 5, others are 11 to 8, and others are in Europe,” he said. “We find we’re using email more as a way to be in sync with each other without requiring everyone to be on a video call.”
Hatch has also been intentional about other ways of connection and wellness. “We’ve aggregated a list of insurance-covered therapists and mental health providers that work via telehealth,” he said. “And we’re talking to some companies that provide wellness support as well. More broadly, we’re leaning into virtual gatherings like 6 pm workouts of the day and happy hours where we play board games.”
“It was always organic for our team to reach out and rely on each other,” said Nguyen. “But I’m really happy that it continues to be core to our DNA.”
Most recently, the team launched a new SMB series focused on learning about different small businesses. Notable events included “visiting” a goat farm, checking in with a coffee roastery to learn about the four waves of coffee, connecting with a flower shop to learn the fundamentals of floral arranging, and discussing the art of drag with a drag queen.