Hello readers, this is Borui. I have been absent from the blog for a while, but I've saved up some good stories to tell! One of the most exciting ones is actually for our prospective Polarr hires. I'm now the maintainer of our newly designed career page at Polarr careers and I'm very proud to present it to the world. The purpose of this post is to share some insights on why and how this page redesign came about. First, I'd like to thank all of our Polarr employees as well as Polarr's friends that provided feedback, testimonies, and support in making this page a reality.
There is a certain beauty standard for early-stage startups in the Valley where most maintain a surprising homogeneity when it comes to presenting opportunities to potential hires – good compensation, exciting industry, impressive investor, smart founders, and interesting problem space. I believe this doesn’t happen because companies are inherently the same – they all have very unique cultures and individualistic personalities; it occurs because expressing uniqueness through a webpage can be very difficult in such a climate of comparison. For example, there are nuances within stories that cannot be easily described through words or even pictures. A story, if too long, can bore the reader, too short then it can fall short in communicating enough depth. You have to think about the medium of the story, a LinkedIn banner, AngelList profile or even Squarespace could completely fail to capture the subtle look and feel of a unique brand identity a team resonates with.
With this Valley environment and challenges in mind, I had always been disappointed with our former career page. So, I decided to give it another shot, this time with as little compromises as possible to these challenges. I worked with our now much bigger team to create a story as compelling and representative of us as possible. This means I invested time finding out what story most resonates with our team, as well as finding the right medium and format of the story and treating it with fuller Polarr branding and design elements. My goal is to provide our candidates with an experience similar to a career pitch: simple, straightforward, and capturing the virtual feeling of having a conversation, all the while immersing them in the vibe of Polarr's brand identity.
Prior data points.
Being at the series A stage, our startup has created plenty of materials for PR facing content. Our new career page could not be possible without these existing elements already being available:
- Great photographs of our team, gathered through years of team events, retreats, and art projects.
- Solid static and video assets of our projects, demos, and app highlights.
- A design system already developed and fully implemented on our homepage.
- An established candidate application and review process within the company and its teams.
- Positive data points from applicants giving great feedback on our long introductory blog post found here.
I especially want to stress the last point. I've long been an admirer of how Apple's product marketing page is super long but still manages to get the audience curious and engaged. I always suspected that the length of a career page isn't a problem as long as the content itself is interesting and informative. This is validated by our previous ~2k words version of an old career page on Notion. Our team found that candidates didn't mind the length and actually enjoyed reading long-form content about our company. Furthermore, this page was frequently brought up during our interviews as having left a strong positive impression. It helped them build a mental connection with our team prior to their first phone screen.
Although we had all these existing materials to work with, a few important elements were still missing:
- A clear outline of value propositions and narrative for candidates, as opposed to the generic what, why, and where of our company.
- Rich textual and visual content for the storyline.
- Quotes and testimonies from our team, plus additional social stats.
- Formatting, branding, layout design and coding.
Below are the ‘behind-the-scenes’ for each missing component.
I truly believe that when it comes to remarkable talents joining an early startup such as Polarr, it's really a decision between starting one's own company versus joining one. Thus, we need to have clear reasons ‘why?’ and value propositions of what's really "in it" for a strong candidate; illustrating why someone would delay their own venture and instead choose to join Polarr. With this in mind, pitching a company to a potential hire should be treated the same as pitching a product to a customer. The value propositions and user benefits need to be clear and precise with a single punchline with which our target demographics can deeply resonate. In our case, we have many ex-founders in the company and many members on the team with interests in how startups work. Working at Polarr, for them, is a learning experience where they can observe company growth and train modern and relevant skills for their future ventures. According to an anonymous internal survey a week before the new career page was composed, more than 50% of our employees expressed a strong preference for wanting to start their own companies.
Recent HR research indicates that companies lacking growth is the main reason why employees leave. Polarr's first cultural principle is specifically about enabling employee growth. During our company’s ‘1 on 1s’, the idea of personal growth repeatedly showed up as the most important contributing element of employee happiness at Polarr. We ended up choosing "Be part of a growth machine" as our slogan for the career page after a team brainstorming session. This slogan sets the tone and creates the flow for the rest of our career page's narrative.
Content and story preparation.
Each section of the career page was first written in a shared textual draft, broken up into smaller sections covering different aspects of working at Polarr. The final version was improved/revised a dozen times by the Polarr team. I would like to cover the elements I'm proudest of – our team, vision, product, technology and ‘work from home’ policy.
One particular section I want to highlight covers hobbies we share in our company. A bit of background, I ask candidates about their outside hobbies and obsessions when conducting interviews, as I believe it opens up interesting conversations regarding their passions and world perspectives. Our hobby section is meant to provide this same opportunity for our candidates to learn our team's characters. It took us a few days to survey and aggregate the top 25 hobbies within the company. It was a fun process for a couple of reasons. It revealed to our team a plethora of secret, hidden hobbies held by their colleagues. Furthermore, this exercise makes our HR's job even easier when it comes to planning future group events/retreats. We now know and understand people's interests better; which hobbies they’d like to learn or explore together. Some of the self-reported ‘hardcore’ hobbies were simply hilarious. We even asked people to do live demonstrations to prove their hardcore-ness in front of the team.
Visuals are an important element in the new design. Because Polarr has so many talented photographers on the team, it became really hard to select the most iconic photos for the career page. The current selection of visuals focuses on expressing the artistic spirit and social dynamic of our team. For example, you can see photos of our art experiments, us hanging out in different landscapes, us during daily routines such as having lunch/dinner. This selection of images is meant to translate the nuances of our team's energy, humor, passion, or simply what we look like. In addition to team content, I also wanted to add awesome visuals of our apps, research projects, interactive demos, as well as content created by Polarr users. This content demonstrates the high-fidelity of Polarr’s work and shows off the craftsmanship within our design, engineering, and research teams. I believe this mixture of ‘family photos’ and high-quality product visuals can render the feelings we experience day to day at Polarr – creative and passionate coworkers working on high-performance products with very demanding expectations from users.
Quotes and testimonies.
There were some real dilemmas as well as resistance when I was pitching the idea of bringing testimonies into the mix. On one hand, I feel that just as user reviews are crucial to any good product listing, so should a company's page have key stake-holder testimonies; on the other hand, because the testimonies are written by Polarr employees themselves, it's hard to be neutral given their obvious enthusiasm to sell the company. At the end of the day, all our employees want more talented people to join Polarr. The way I am thinking about it right now is: any candidate would understand that the purpose of the career page is to pitch and the testimonies are there to help facilitate a positive impression of the company. The diverse function and background of our employees can collectively provide a casual, diverse and authentic point of view to viewers. These testimonies are intentionally long to provide weight and depth to reflect the personality of their respective authors. Finally, we mixed our internal testimonies with those of customers and board members to add color to how other stakeholders think of Polarr, with direct reference to entities/names so that viewers can also do their own due diligence.
Formatting, branding, layout design and coding.
As CEO, one of my guilty pleasures in Polarr is that sometimes I still get to code and design webpages. These opportunities are extremely rare as I no longer understand the engineering behind our core products. The career page redesign presented the perfect opportunity for me to brush up some rusty skills in CSS and layout building. One of the main challenges in building the page was figuring out how to load 40mb worth of image and video content fast and making them autoplay in desktop and mobile browsers. Some browser environments such as WeChat don't display video inline content unless special tags are carried in video elements. I ended making all videos with: video(loop,autoplay,muted,autobuffer,preload="auto",playsinline,poster ="/img/homepage/careers/videoposter.jpg",x5-video-player-type="h5) to maximize playability with browsers.
I was also concerned about the lack of data and analytics for the former career page - we simply had no way to know if visitors finished the whole page and at what point did they decide to click "apply". This time, I discovered https://www.fullstory.com and added to our page which allows us to see heat maps, scroll analysis, and user replays for our new career page. Now we can track the most informative metrics of visitor behavior and can continue to improve our content flow overtime.
That's the "full story" behind our new career page concept and development. I'm relatively confident this might be helpful to those of you considering making something similar or have been having the same trouble of expressing your uniqueness. We might do a part II of this post to show what employees felt when making this page as well as more indepth discussions on expressing our culture to the world. If you have any questions and suggestions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.