Gregg Stephens is a Search Quality Strategist in Search Quality (known internally as SQUALL), the team that helps ensure the job search experience on Indeed is relevant and of high quality to both the candidate and employer. He’s an avid traveler and awards points hacker, using points to travel the world.
In this installment of “How I Became A…”, Gregg shares his unlikely career journey from searching for oil and gas fields to helping candidates search for jobs on Indeed and how he’s continuing to learn and develop his career.
Gregg’s background makes him a modern-day renaissance man, having worked as an EMT in high school, taught scuba diving while earning a double major in Journalism and Geological Sciences from Ohio University, only to use his degrees to play as a classically trained finger-style guitarist.
He eventually worked his way back into oil and gas exploration before taking some time off to research geochemistry and earthquakes for the State of Texas and eventually joining Indeed in May 2018. So just how does a person with Gregg’s skillset end up at Indeed?
A career as a geologist on the rocks
In the spring of 2018, Gregg was a geologist looking to leave the top geoscience research institute in the world, with his resume detailing exactly how technical and data-heavy his work experience was. 200 job applications later without one single interview, he was stuck. Confident that he could do the job, but unable to even compete for it. His own miscalculation?
“I assumed recruiters saw geoscience data the same as tech data. A conceptual truth, but I missed the mark thinking that everyone saw the interchangeable skills that I saw,” Gregg said.
“I had all the confidence in the world that I could be a major contributor in tech, but it meant nothing without someone on the inside knowing what I knew how to do as well. There is no substitute for networking, and the best time to start is yesterday.”
He finally broke into tech when his now-wife made a post on Indeed’s internal social media page asking for advice on his behalf.
Ironically, It was seen by a fellow geologist who was looking to return to geology. Shortly after they forged their relationship, he broke his interview drought and interviewed with his future boss, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Picking up pebbles of information along your journey
While his journey to Indeed may be unconventional, the skills he picked up along the way have helped him tremendously in his role here at Indeed. He’s a product strategist, specializing in personalized advertising, so he needs to know jobseekers better than they know themselves.
He helps ensure that the ads and emails we deliver are relevant, high quality, and bring you back to Indeed.
This isn’t an easy task; on any given day, he looks at hundreds of thousands of data points in the past to a) figure out why individuals engaged the way they did, and then b) use that to predict what they’ll want to see tomorrow.
How does a background in geological sciences and journalism help with anything to do with job seekers?
“I’m a staunch proponent of three-dimensional thinking. SQL and python skills are great for mapping data, but the mapping concepts make more sense when I’ve also reverse-engineered outcrops by tying X-ray fluorescence & spectral gamma-ray signatures into spatially-adjacent drilling logs,” Gregg shared.
“Geology isn’t the roadside outcrop you’re looking at; it’s the physical, mathematical, and three-dimensional possibilities through time. It’s creating hypotheses from the probability of each outcome. It’s testing, learning, and adjusting to what works – exactly like my job here at Indeed.”
Be boulder and ask for help.
Gregg didn’t get to where he is now all on his own, and says that one of the best resources in professional development is a mentor.
“My mentor is not just someone who I can learn from as they grow; by speaking up and stating what I wanted to accomplish, my mentor was able to help mold my work philosophy into a leadership philosophy,” he said. “That knowledge, support, and belief in my aspirations to grow and manage that business is why I’m currently earning my MBA through Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.”
That said, working with some of the brightest minds is also an invaluable resource.
“There’s no better way to perform at the top of your game than to work with people whose brain power constantly pushes you to your limits,” Gregg shared. “Between my team, the product managers we support, commercialization, and operational leadership, there are no off-days. I have to bring my A-game every day because the standard of performance is simply that high.”
Don’t take hard work for granite
Lastly, and he cannot stress this enough, being dedicated to your craft is an absolute must.
“Being obsessive about my work is the passport that’s allowed me to move between industries. Prior to academia, my standard workweek was 96 hours on a drilling rig. This was great to capitalize on my ‘normal,’ which was how I became a published scientific author at the University of Texas in one year with no prior research experience,” he says.
“You don’t need to work 100 hours a week, but the opportunities that arose from always being the hardest worker in the office are how I get here today.”
The most rewarding aspect of his job is the jobseeker feedback and knowing someone has found employment via Indeed.com.
“I don’t say that lightly; we must have jobseekers critique our work. Alternatively, there’s no better motivation to get better than ‘Gregg, you missed the mark’. When the bar is set so high, there’s no better way to improve than to check your work against the real thing. Feedback gives us the ability to invest in our successes and fix our shortcomings.”
Read more Indeedian stories on our #insideindeed culture blog.