Category Archives: Indeed University

1233Data Science

Growing with Indeed: From New Grad to Experienced Data Scientist

What if — on your first day at a new job — you were given three months to build a product that helps people find jobs? At first I felt terrified...

A data scientist’s perspective on Indeed’s onboarding program.

What if — on your first day at a new job — you were given three months to build a product that helps people find jobs? (Something Indeed has spent 14 years developing!)

This is what I experienced when I attended Indeed University — Indeed’s onboarding program. At first I felt terrified. How could I contribute as a data scientist? Building a software product, especially during the early stages of development, might not yield enough data for most data science work.

Indeed expects full stack data scientists to help with the entire data science process, from collecting data and performing analysis to eventually deploying models in production. But writing React code and participating in discussions about how to build the logging infrastructure — expectations at Indeed U — is a whole different story.

Fortunately I was able to survive the program. In the process I gained valuable experience that otherwise I might never have had the chance to acquire.

What is Indeed University?

Indeed University (IU) is a three-month program for new Indeed employees who are fresh out of college. At the same time that IU gets new hires up to speed, it incubates new and innovative products for the company. Employees come from diverse disciplines, including Engineering, Product, Software Reliability Engineering, Data/Product Science, and Online Marketing.

At the start of IU, anyone can pitch their new ideas. All ideas are welcome, as long as they aim to solve real problems for job seekers or employers. People then form teams based on the problems they most want to solve. Diverse teams consist of 3–5 new employees and senior employees as team leads. With a shared vision and real marketing dollars (to access tens of millions of real users), the group builds and tests a brand new product.

Products that prove their value can continue and those who’ve launched them have the chance to create a formal product team.

What did I helped build?

Our team included two software engineers and me, a data scientist. Together, we built a product for job seekers facing career transitions. Our objective was to help these job seekers identify their next potential field. Our product asked users to name their current field, and then recommended new fields that were most relevant.

Users were also provided skill requirements, salaries, the percentage of job seekers who have made similar transitions, and related information.

What role did I play on the team?

While being embedded in Indeed’s product teams means data scientists have opportunities to impact the team’s product decisions, brand new data scientists don’t usually start leading discussions on designing a product’s framework — or deciding the product’s next big initiatives. We can more typically expect responsibilities like exploratory data analysis, building models and deploying them.

In IU, the roles are a lot more flexible. As I anticipated, I designed A/B tests, did test analysis, and helped the team make data-driven decisions. I also acted as product manager, marketing analyst, UX researcher, and part-time front-end engineer. As a product manager, I was responsible for defining and tracking product metrics, and prioritizing work within the team. As a marketing analyst, I owned the marketing campaigns of our product on Google and Facebook as well as Indeed’s internal ads system. I designed the ads, budgeted our spending and made sure that we used our budget on the most effective channels. As a UX researcher, I created and launched surveys to get user feedback on our product. At times I even went out of the office and interviewed people.

Why participate in IU as data scientists?

Having data scientists at IU brings value to all involved. Data scientists have unique experience to offer, and IU offers us valuable first-hand knowledge that can be hard to gain elsewhere.

1. Observing data-driven decision making in action

At Indeed we want all our product decisions to be backed up by data. Through IU, I got a sense of what it truly means to “A/B test everything.” As my team’s IU product rapidly iterated, we were constantly faced with the question: “What feature should we add to our product next?” The easy answer is “whatever we liked most,” but the correct answer is to “prioritize based on effort and do A/B tests”! We should identify which features give the largest potential impact for the least amount of effort. Only those features that show impact in tests should be kept in production.

Rigorous A/B tests require a lot of data science effort, such as defining success metrics, defining A/B test requirements, and doing A/B test analysis. As our product evolved and our user base grew from the data-driven decisions we made, I saw how building a solid product takes engineering effort AND scientific effort, working together.

2. Learning how works

Even though our product attracted more than 20K users, we ended up not continuing with it because it was not performing as well as Indeed’s job search. We wanted to keep adding new features and providing as much information as possible to the users, thinking that more is always better. What we found out was that with more features comes a more complicated product. This inevitably means more users lose interest, because they are navigating through an increasingly intricate system.

We really learned to appreciate Indeed’s simple yet effective “what+where” job search interface. It turns out that Indeed really knows how to do its job well! As a more general rule, we found it is often more effective to focus on one feature and make it shine as opposed to building a large variety of different features.

3. Learning about the big picture

Data scientists’ work often starts with gathering data. Sometimes we might not get to look closely at what is behind all the data. How is it stored? Where does it come from? What architecture is in place for the data to be readily available? Building a product from scratch gives data scientists a chance to view the design and development process from a more holistic level. We are thus able to think about data science questions that derive from this process from a more critical point of view.

4. Building empathy

As data scientists, a lot of our work involves effective communication and collaboration with software developers, product managers, and other members of the team. Having been in their shoes, I have a much better understanding of what their work is like, and how a data scientist can make everyone else’s work easier.

5. Having fun!

Lastly, we got to have lots of fun! You might spend some late nights in the office — but this hard work is often accompanied by a variety of fun activities. No matter which city hosts IU, you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the area. IU schedules all kinds of activities for the teams throughout the entire program. Cruises, room escapes, fancy dinners, Go-Karts, VR challenges… you name it!

Just as in formal academic universities, in IU you get to meet and build close relationships with a group of people coming from all over the world. You get to see your ideas transform into real products and benefit real users. You get to go out of your comfort zone and practice skills that are outside of your expertise. If any of these sound interesting to you, check out our open positions for Data Scientist and Product Scientist at Indeed!

Learn more about Data Science at Indeed.



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1235Indeed University

Indeed University: Creating WOW Experiences

Indeed always strives to put job seekers first. One way we encourage our tech teams to focus on the job seeker is through [...]

Indeed always strives to put job seekers first. One way we encourage our tech teams to focus on the job seeker is through Indeed University (IU), our program of onboarding new hires into Indeed’s development culture.

Who ultimately benefits from IU? You do. Experiences that help job seekers are also good for employers. And we train our new hires to always consider job seekers during IU’s product brainstorming and development sessions.

Indeed University’s 12-week program follows a startup business model. Participants have the freedom to innovate in creating and selecting product ideas. They form teams to start developing the strongest possibilities, all of which are eligible to eventually become Indeed products. Teams test, analyze, and iterate with coaching by senior leadership, including Indeed’s CEO, CTO, and president.

IU participants learn the value of data-driven decision making. They create measurable goals to monitor their project’s impact on job seekers. Teams have the opportunity to fail — we cultivate the ability to recognize and admit failure, learn from mistakes, and strive for positive user impact.

Teams that demonstrate value and are excited to pursue their idea can pitch to our Incubator Investment Committee for funding. The JobsNearby project from IU 2015, for example, ultimately became Job Spotter, a successful and popular Indeed app in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.

By creating innovative solutions based on job seeker needs and verified by data, Indeed creates WOW experiences for our customers. We believe it’s vital to instill this principle in our new hires from the beginning, which is why Indeed University is so important to us.

Interested in learning more about Indeed’s technology and Engineering culture? Check out our Engineering blog.




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A Year in the Life of an Indeed Associate Product Manager

I grab my morning coffee and check my product dashboards. User traffic? Normal. A/B tests? Still logging [...]

I grab my morning coffee and check my product dashboards. User traffic? Normal. A/B tests? Still logging new data. Budget? We’re still within it. I double-check my schedule for the day to affirm what I already know; Yup, today’s the monthly check-in with my team’s executive sponsor. Maybe I should put down the coffee to calm the jitters in my stomach.

As an associate product manager (APM) on Indeed’s Incubator team, I get to build out new product experiments with the resources and support of a large company. Influenced by lean and agile methodologies, we move quickly and simply to validate or invalidate new products. Once a month we meet with our sponsor, the senior leadership team member who funds our product, and every few quarters we re-pitch our vision to the entire senior leadership team.

But let’s go back a year. Let me show you how my first year at Indeed brought me to Incubator and taught me the most important lesson so far: Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

The Indeed Job Fairs team, Indeed University 2018

From one university to another

One year ago, less than a month after graduating, I began Indeed’s three-month training program, Indeed University (IU). Acting more like an innovation lab than a training program, IU brings together new hires to build new products from the ground up.

Encouraged to build simply and test continually, IU teams iterate on their products repeatedly to learn as much as possible. Teams receive mentorship from seasoned IU leads and attend weekly check-ins that, during my session, included Indeed’s CEO, COO, and CTO. At the end of 12 weeks, teams have the option to pitch their product to Indeed’s Incubator team. If funded, the IU team joins the larger Incubator organization and continues working on their product.

Find a problem worth solving

“Raise your hand,” IU participant Lane said to the room, “if you got this job at Indeed through the Indeed site.” Crickets. “Okay, now raise your hand if you got this job through a job fair.” About half of the audience obliged. “Exactly. I’d like to pitch an idea — Indeed Job Fairs — that helps job seekers find career fairs so they can meet with employers face to face.”

After a week of UX panels and brainstorming sessions, IU participants pitched product ideas to one another. Teams then formed around those ideas and presented them to the Indeed senior leadership team.

During early brainstorming sessions, I realized I was passionate about the problem of limited human interaction in the recruiting process. I didn’t know much about how job fairs worked, but I was excited to learn. I joined forces with Lane and two other IU participants, and our team hit the ground running.

Get out of the building

“Get out of the building!” we were told by mentors and executives, alike. So we did. On day one, we piled into a car and drove to a local job fair. We talked with job seekers, employers, event coordinators, and venue managers. We even collected email addresses of job seekers who were interested in using our Indeed Job Fairs product, a cohort that later became our first users.

The Indeed Job Fairs product we built aggregated recruiting events in ten major cities and presented them to job seekers on our site. We saw an encouraging number of job seekers searching for and RSVPing to events through our site. We decided to pitch the product to Incubator.

Here comes the pitch…

The first step of pitching Indeed Job Fairs to Incubator was research. We needed to know everything about recruiting events, such as market sizes, competition, and the number of job seekers searching for these events on Indeed. We also needed to know how our product fit with Indeed. Could we repurpose Indeed’s technology for event aggregation? What value could we bring to Indeed? True to Indeed’s data-driven culture, we investigated and extrapolated, when necessary, to put numbers behind each of these research items. We then combined this data into a compelling story laid out in a pitch deck.

After much anticipation for the pitch, the day itself seemed to whirl by. We shared our results, vision, and roadmap with Indeed’s senior leadership team and, by the time the day was over, we heard the exciting news: Indeed’s CTO, Andrew Hudson, would sponsor Indeed Job Fairs for a three month round of funding.

Graduating to Incubator

When our team moved to Incubator, we found that it ran on many of the same principles as IU: thinking simply, building quickly, and maximizing learning. We continued to expand our event aggregation, improve the job seeker experience on our site, and conduct rigorous user research to ensure that the job seeker was at the core of our product vision.

One of the biggest challenges of transitioning to Incubator was an increase in the number of people who had a stake in our product’s future. This experience allowed me to practice the critical product manager skill of absorbing many opinions, thoughts, and requests before building one cohesive vision. And — what I found was the harder part — convincing everyone to buy into it.

As the funding period ended, we shared our findings with senior leadership to inform their decision about continued Indeed Job Fairs funding. Although we did successfully increase the number of job seekers RSVPing to events, ultimately the executive team decided against another round of funding. After three great months in Incubator, we documented our learnings and sunsetted Indeed Job Fairs.

Getting closer to the solution

The sunsetting of Indeed Job Fairs was not the end of my Incubator career, nor was it the end of our quest to add more human connection into the hiring process. As a part of Indeed’s APM Rotation Program, I was able to stay on the Incubator team to complete my year-long rotation. I was excited to join what has been my team for the past eight months: Indeed Chat, a product that uses direct messaging to form meaningful connections between job seekers and employers.

After an eventful, challenging, and instructional year, my biggest takeaway has been the one brewing in my mind since the IU early pitches: Always start with the problem. Indeed’s ways of addressing the problem of missing human connection did not include our Indeed Job Fairs product. But I did stick with the problem and am building out a different solution today.

With that in mind, I can finish my cup of coffee in peace — maybe even grab another. Divorcing myself from the solution gives me the freedom to objectively look at the success of my product. I can walk into my executive check-in with confidence that my product is likely only one small step in Indeed’s mission to solve the problem at large.

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