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Aspire to inspire: 20 questions with VernaLee

Find out how VernaLee helps people get jobs as a Senior Account Executive in our Foster City, California office, what it's like singing karaoke with Indeed's head of HR and her philosophy on inspiration and creativity.

VernaLee has been an Indeedian since 2016. Find out how she helps people get jobs as a Senior Account Executive in our Foster City, California office what it’s like singing karaoke with Indeed’s head of HR and her philosophy on inspiration and creativity.

1. How do you help people get jobs? 
As a Sr. Account Executive I do my best to deliver an authentic and enjoyable experience for my clients. This way employers get results AND enjoying working with me at Indeed.

2. What was your first job? 
Hot Dog on a Stick!

3. What’s the best thing about your Indeed team? 
When I was the hardest on myself and almost threw in the towel, every single last member of my team fixed my crown and never let me quit!

4. If you could work on any other Indeed team for one day, which would it be and why? 
The Senior Leadership Team. I’d love to be able to understand how they make business decisions and what/who all the stakeholders are. We forget they are people as well so I would love to understand their day to day demand and how they are able to lead with such grace.

5. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given? 
My dad told me: “The most important thing about your job, is yourself.”

6. What do you love about your office? 
The people. We are like a family in this office.

7. What would your superpower be?  
I’d be a muse. Be able to inspire people easily and spark their creativity.

8. What do you consider your greatest Indeed achievement to date? 
The year 2018. I was promoted to Senior AE, moved up to Co-Chair of the Black Inclusion Group, and made it to Top Gun Regional. Oh and I got to do Karaoke with SVP of HR Paul Wolfe‍, that was amazing!

9. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 
I used to sing in a children’s Christian rock band for five years and I mastered the tambourine!

10. What is your favorite thing to do outside the office? 
Hang out with my son — he is cooler than I am!

11. Who are your heroes? 
My son Leo, he literally saved every good part about me the day he was born. He came two months early and yet he was right on time.

12. Are there any causes you’re particularly passionate about? 
Black Lives Matter.

13. What is the last book you read? 
Sometimes I Lie’ by Alice Feeney.

14. What’s number one on your bucket list?  
I want to be a billionaire, mainly so my son will inherit it and be able to really chase his dreams.

15. Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party?  
Will Ferrell, Ellen Degeneres, Dave Chappelle, and Barack Obama.

16. Which talent would you most like to have? 
The ability to play the piano.

17. What is your most treasured possession? 
My son. I honestly don’t need anything as long as my son is with me.

18. Where was your favorite vacation? 
My son’s first visit to Disneyland. We rode every ride except Indiana Jones. He is too short. But soon!

19. What is your greatest indulgence? 
Cheese. I love Cheese

20. What is your motto? 
Aspire to inspire.

VernaLee and her Black Inclusion Group (BIG) co-chairs.

Learn more about VernaLee’s BIG experience at Indeed.



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3 takeaways from Indeed’s (BIG)gest Black History Month celebration to date

Indeed is not just a company that promotes inclusion as a buzzword, but genuinely puts actions behind its words. I am proud to say...

On the 1st October 2019 (Nigerian Independence Day!) Indeed’s Black Inclusion Group (BIG) hosted it’s biggest Black History Month celebration to date, with a focus on diversity and inclusion within the tech space.

The event was held at Banking Hall, a beautiful central London location and was filled with some of the most influential names within the BAME and tech space alongside over 180 guests. We had Rapman, Ava Vidal, Nego True and Bola Musoru on stage – all influential figures dominating the sectors in which they work. They were not just in attendance, but were involved in panel discussions and in the case of Nego True, captivating the audience through spoken word.

We strived to present an authentic representation of black culture, and highlight a sensitive discussion topic such as race and identity with a level of sincerity, honesty and insight. The speakers, performers, food and music (coming from none other than Mista Ologo) came together in achieving this goal.

I am beyond proud to say I was a part of organising such an impactful event addressing the meaty topic of “How does race affect employment?” At this event, Indeed declared its continued mission to help people get jobs, discussing areas and audiences that often face disadvantages due to both conscious and unconscious biases.

On the night we had Indeed’s CEO, Chris Hyams, VP of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, LaFawn Davis, SVP of Marketing, Paul D’Arcy, and Head of HR, Paul Wolfe, all in attendance supporting this inspirational inclusion event.

Indeed is not just a company that promotes inclusion as a buzzword, but genuinely puts actions behind its words. I am proud to say that I work for a company that has raised its hands up to say “Yes, there is a problem. We know, we care and we will do our best to highlight and fix it”.

On the night, we hosted a panel of influential speakers sharing their own personal experiences with the audience. From LaFawn Davis highlighting her experiences within climbing the corporate ladder as a black woman to Rapman and Ava Vidal highlighting their own experiences within media and music, the panel represented a mixture of views and personal stories that the audiencefound extremely relatable. The panel was hosted by BBC’s very own Bola Mosuro who guided the conversation and brought powerful questions to the panel.

While organising and putting the event together, it made me think of my own career path and journey. The realisation that a lot of the things which I found relatable, also resonated with many members of the audience was overwhelming.


A few things really struck me during the event. I hope that these 3 key takeaways will also help empower others:

Never shrink to fit in – Change Your Narrative

During the panel, one thing that really resonated with me was LaFawn Davis’ perspective on how black women usually feel the need to shrink themselves. We can be seen as intimidating and angry. We may struggle with imposter syndrome. We may be told we are not good enough. However, it is left to us to change our narrative.

Examples: “You are intimidating.” “No you are intimidated, there’s a difference.”
“You are bossy.” “No, I am assertive.”

In your current role, believe in your abilities and know that you deserve to be there. A recurring message was that people of colour often have to work ten times harder to even be recognised.

Ending on a positive note, Rapman’s message was that your work will always speak for itself and patience is key. There will likely always be biases regarding traits such as name and race, but if you have a passion for something, this drive will help you get to the top.

You always have an ally or advocate

The event had over 180 guests in attendance. A question that I received constantly throughout the night was how did Francis Aremo and I put on such an incredible event?  More importantly, how did we get the support of our organisation? The answer is simple – our team is better than yours! I joke obviously…… 

It is about finding allies and advocates in your organisations. Within Indeed, it might be slightly different because having senior leadership who breathe and live this is a huge advantage.  Nevertheless, within an organisation there will always be allies.

It’s about not shying away from what you are trying to achieve, figure out who your allies and advocates are and take the bull by the horns in driving the vision or idea forward. I am a huge advocate of also showcasing the facts and figures on how being a more diverse workforce will impact your organisation.  It’s not just about the event, but also making an impact within the community. 

Thank you for making history with Indeed! 

This event has really set a challenge for other companies and organisations to look at their hiring processes.  I thank our senior leadership team, Chris Hyams, Paul D’Arcy, LaFawn Davis and Paul Wolfe in declaring (and continuing) their support so publicly.

I hope this encourages other organisations to do the same and make their working environments inviting for everyone. Everybody deserves an opportunity for a seat at the table and this event was in support of this mission. 



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2171Perks & Benefits

From Sydney to Tokyo: How open PTO helps Indeedians working abroad

“I recall telling my parents that I would be able to spend a bit of extra time in Sydney this year and they were absolutely thrilled at the idea. It demonstrates that the Open PTO not only...

Domenique Onishi is a Senior Talent Attraction Program Specialist, who works closely with the Talent Attraction Team in Japan and our Global Head Office in Austin. She looks at ways to enhance the candidate experience, identifies system enhancements and is the link between the Global team and Japan team for any new and upcoming Talent Attraction initiatives that need to be adopted locally. 

It only seemed like yesterday that Domenique joined Indeed Tokyo, yet it is already approaching her eighth month working here. She was born in Sydney, has Italian parents, worked in Singapore for close to 6 years and was excited at the idea to continue her HR career in the Indeed Tokyo office. 

“Working at Indeed gives me the opportunity to interact and work closely with the different teams in Japan and the US,” Domenique shares. “This has enabled me to continuously learn due to our innovative approach when it comes to the candidate, client and job seeker experience. 

“I also enjoy the diverse working culture, which gives me the chance to practice my Japanese whilst sharing my experiences working abroad.”

Given Domenique is originally from Australia, she enjoys taking her summer vacation in December which perhaps isn’t the usual norm in Japan as summer vacation in Japan is typically taken within August or September, which coincides with the Japan Obon period. Working at Indeed allows her to visit her family in Sydney and work in the Sydney Indeed office. Pretty cool right! 

“With plans to travel back at Christmas and spend two weeks with family and friends, having an open PTO allows me to travel with flexibility and ease,” Domenique says. 

“I recall telling my parents that I would be able to spend a bit of extra time in Sydney this year and they were absolutely thrilled at the idea. It demonstrates that the Open PTO not only has a positive impact on the employee but for the employees family as well.” 

In June this year, she also had a friend’s wedding in Singapore and she took the opportunity to work out of the Indeed Singapore office allowing her to meet her team (including her direct manager) for the first time. The experience to work in other offices, meeting the different teams and learning about the endless Indeed Products all contribute to why Domenique loves working at Indeed.

“Having the opportunity to visit my direct manager and colleagues in person in Singapore, allowed me to get to know them better, continue to learn more about each of our roles and how as an APAC team we contribute to a larger goal,” Domenique says. 

Indeed’s open paid time off policy is designed to provide life flexibility for employees and combat overwork. A recent study estimated the effects of workplace stress are similar to those of secondhand smoke. The policy operates under the premise that as long as employees are in good standing with their manager and meeting key performance measures, they can take as much paid leave as they need.

Where would you go with open PTO? Check out our open jobs in Tokyo.




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Code first: How Indeed onboards new Engineering Managers

Many software engineers who take on management roles struggle with the idea of giving up writing code. But in a leadership position, what matters more is...

Why new Engineering Managers at Indeed start as developers.

I joined Indeed in March 2016 as an “industry hire” manager for software engineers. At Indeed, engineering managers act as individual contributors (ICs) before taking on more responsibilities. Working with my team as an IC prepared me to be a more effective manager.

Before my first day, I talked with a few engineering managers about what to expect. They advised that I would spend about 3–6 months contributing as an individual developer. I would write unit tests and code, commit changes, do code reviews, fix bugs, write documentation, and more.

I was excited to hear about this approach, because in my recent years as an engineering manager, I had grudgingly stopped contributing at the code level. Instead, I lived vicariously through others by doing code reviews, participating in technical design reviews, and creating utilities and tools that boosted team productivity.

Onboarding as an individual contributor

My manager helped to onboard me and directed me to self-guided coursework. I was impressed by the amount of content provided to familiarize new hires with the tools and technologies we use at Indeed. In my experience, most companies don’t invest enough in creating and maintaining useful documentation. Equally as valuable, fellow Indeedians gladly answered my questions and helped me to get unblocked when I encountered technical hurdles. I really appreciated that support as a new employee.

During my time as an IC, I had no management responsibilities. That was a change for me….and it was wonderful! I focused on code. I built technical competence and knocked the rust off mental processes that I hadn’t needed to use for awhile. I observed practices and processes used by the team to learn how I could become equally productive. I had a chance to dive deeper into Git usage. I wrote unit and DAO tests to increase code coverage. I learned how to deploy code into the production environment. For the first time in a long while, I wrote production code for new features in a product.

To accelerate my exposure to the 20 different projects owned by my team, I asked to be included on every code review. I knew I wouldn’t be able to contribute to all of the projects, but I wanted to be exposed to as many as possible. Prior to my request, the developer typically selected a few people to do a code review and nominated one to be the “primary” reviewer. Because I was included in every review, I saw code changes and the comments left by team members on how to improve the code. I won’t claim I understood everything I read in every code review, but I did gain an appreciation for the types of changes. I recommend this approach to every new member of a team, not just managers.

Other activities helped me integrate with people outside of my team. For example, I scheduled lunch meetings with everyone who had interviewed me. This was mostly other engineering managers, but I also met with folks in program management and technical writing. Everyone I contacted was open to meeting me. These lunch meetings allowed me to get a feel for different roles; how they planned and prioritized work; their thoughts on going from IC to manager; and challenges that they had faced during their tenure at Indeed. On-site lunches (with great food, by the way) allowed me to meet both engineering veterans as well as people in other departments.

Transitioning into a managerial role

By the time I was close to the end of my first full quarter, I had contributed to several projects. I had been exposed to some of the important systems owned by my team. Around this time, my manager and I discussed my transition into a managerial role. We agreed that I had established enough of a foundation to build on. I took over 1-on-1 meetings, quarterly reviews, team meetings, and career growth discussions.

Maintaining a technical focus

Many software engineers who take on management roles struggle with the idea of giving up writing code. But in a leadership position, what matters more is engaging the team on a technical level. This engagement can take a variety of forms. Engineering managers at Indeed coach their teams on abstract skills and technical decisions. When managers have a deeper understanding of the technology, they can be more effective in their role.

I am glad that I had a chance to start as an IC so that I could earn my team’s trust and respect. A special shout out to the members of the Money team: Akbar, Ben, Cheng, Erica, Kevin, Li, and Richard.

About the author:

Paresh Suthar is an Engineering lead for the Money Team at Indeed, based out of Austin, TX.

Learn more about Engineering at Indeed by checking out our Engineering blog.

Interested in joining one of our global Engineering teams? Check out our open roles.



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A veteran inspires Indeed’s UX team to think differently

Looking for work is not for the faint of heart. Bill is a man I’d be happy to have on my side in almost any dangerous situation. Seeing his vulnerability and fear in the face of...

How Indeed’s users inspire our fight to make it easier to find a job.

I got a call a few months back from a distant relative. I’ll call him Bill.

Bill and I had only ever met in person once, and when he called I almost didn’t pick up the phone since I didn’t recognize the number. Once he established how we were related, he got to the point: he had heard I was in the business of helping people get jobs, and he was looking for some advice.

I work for Indeed as a UX research manager. When people hear that, they often start telling me about how they found their most recent job or how they have struggled to find work in the past.

But the call I got from Bill was different.

Bill was looking for advice because he was a career Green Beret in the U.S. Army and was approaching retirement. He’d served many tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, training soldiers to perform military operations in war zones. He joked with me that he was completely comfortable jumping out of a helicopter with explosives strapped to his body, but was terrified of looking for work in the civilian world.

Looking for work is hard. For many people, it can feel like fighting a battle. It requires courage, strength, focus, and resilience. The stakes are high. The emotions are real.

When talking to Bill, I was reminded how daunting it can be to make yourself vulnerable. Applying for jobs means asking outright for other people to judge you. And they do it based on criteria you can’t see. The process can be confusing and lonely and full of uncertainty.

Bill was accustomed to planning for all possible contingencies. In the Army, his life depended on careful preparation, checking and double-checking that all rules are followed and uncertainties eliminated. Starting a new job search meant giving up that level of control and entering the unknown. It was a scary proposition.

He was completely comfortable jumping out of a helicopter with explosives strapped to his body, but was terrified of looking for work in the civilian world.

I chatted with Bill a few times over the following weeks. He looked at positions that were obvious (police SWAT instructor) and some that were a little less obvious (construction safety manager). He found direction and gained confidence. In the end, he landed a job as a handler for explosive-sniffing dogs. Mission accomplished.

Looking for work is not for the faint of heart. Bill is a man I’d be happy to have on my side in almost any dangerous situation. Seeing his vulnerability and fear in the face of a career change reinforced something I strongly believe: finding a new job is a critical moment in a person’s life, and there’s a lot that could be done to make the process better.

At Indeed we do help people get jobs. And the UX research team I lead helps Indeed’s employees develop the empathy to understand what people go through as they look for work. Last year, we ran over 200 studies, surveys, and site visits with users in eight countries to learn about their needs, wants, and problems. The insights we gathered have helped us improve our products in ways big and small. Most of all, they continue to remind us that finding a job can be one of the most stressful things people face in their lives.

So I ask myself and my coworkers every day: How can we reduce the fear, anxiety, and exhaustion that come with facing an uncertain future? And how do we help users reach past them? First to the resolve, determination, and hope that bud when their perseverance pays off and they get that interview. And then, at last, to the relief, excitement, and optimism that arrive when they land that new job.

About the author:

Dave Yeats is a UX Research Director at Indeed.

Learn more about Design at Indeed.

Check out our open UX roles here.



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