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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2162Tech Jobs

What Is a Design Technologist?

There are people who design things, and people who build them — at least that’s the way it’s traditionally done. First, designers decide...

This hybrid role is finally getting the recognition it deserves

There are people who design things, and people who build them — at least that’s the way it’s traditionally done. First, designers decide exactly how everything should look and flow. Then they hand the work over to engineers, who figure out how to make it happen. That two-step process sometimes forces companies to choose between quality on the one hand or speed and complexity on the other. This can be challenging since users today expect both at the same time. They want easy-to-use digital experiences that perform complex tasks at scale.

At Indeed, we bridge this divide between engineers and designers in a new way — with the design technologist.

In simplest terms, design technologists are designers who see beauty in code and engineers who appreciate impeccable UX. This special combination of skills lets my team, Design Engineering, deliver sophisticated prototypes of interactive experiences much earlier in the design process than in the past. We build and test quickly to find solutions that work now and the next time and the time after that.

It’s an approach that works, and over the last two years, our Design Engineering team has grown rapidly. Here’s a deeper look at the skills we use and the work we do.

In a sentence, design technologists are designers with front-end development skills. They tackle front-end programming, design, and UX all at the same time. They care about the integrity of a product’s code and the quality of its look and feel. Through testing and research, they make sure everything works together.

A design technologist’s tool kit includes accessibility standards, responsive web design, site performance best practices, internationalization and localization techniques, native app development, core UI development, and modern front-end frameworks. A sensibility for the user journey and interaction design rounds things out. They can jump in at any design phase: wireframes, click-throughs, mocks, and prototypes at all levels of fidelity.

Design technologists embed or consult with product teams to implement ideas large and small. They build prototypes and run experiments. And they’re happy to offer design expertise to help fine-tune the appearance and UX of a product.

Once our design technologists validate a user experience solution, they hand it over to our UX developers for delivery. This part of the Design Engineering team handles fit and finish. They work with our partner teams to make sure everything we build gets put into production smoothly.

When we take on a project, we don’t look to fit into a fixed place in a product’s system. Instead, we think of a goal and work through all the stages of development to achieve it. We’re comfortable starting with ambiguity and then solving specific problems quickly. When we’re finished, we turn to the next project.

We like to stay flexible with time and resources. That way, if an engineering team we partner with hits limits like a backlog or ongoing maintenance we can easily change direction. Specifically, we focus on:

Prototypes for experiments
We build things to see if they’re viable and learn by trying. The ideas we test come from many people: developers, designers, product managers, researchers, content strategists. Sometimes we create something new. Other times, we experiment on a product or feature to support user research and testing. We can explore without constraints because the business benefit of what we do is clear.

Supporting design systems
At Indeed we’ve been implementing our first comprehensive design system. It’s a set of reusable components that work for all our products. It unifies the user experience while also saving time for individual product teams. Design technologists help create this library of ready-to-use elements. When new components are ready, we embed with development teams to see how they work, and then fix the parts that don’t.

Building tools
We help automate processes that teams use to build, design, analyze, and make decisions. For example, we make dashboards to track new metrics. We’ve also created sophisticated tools our partners use to map user journeys and see the big picture in new ways.

All of this technical collaboration makes us what we are — creative partners who raise the bar for Indeed’s design and for our users.

About the author:

Eddie Lou is a Design Engineering Director at Indeed. “I code web. I design web. Most importantly, I understand web.”

Want to learn more about UX at Indeed? Check out our design blog.



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Growing with Indeed: From Engineer to Leader

How do engineering leaders bootstrap themselves in their first leadership role? How do they grow their skills and develop a style over time? Most don’t do it all on their own. They take advantage of...
Senior Engineering leaders share their best career advice.

Formal headshot of authorLast May, Indeed Engineering VP Jack Humphrey spoke about his approach to developing a leadership style.

“There are many ways to lead, and your leadership journey is your own,” he says.

In this talk, Jack provides insight into his own guiding principles for being a useful leader.

He also shares the techniques he has used to understand himself as a leader and chart his own path.

Following Jack’s talk, senior leaders at Indeed joined him for a panel discussion. They talked about how they got to where they are in their career, what challenges they’ve encountered, and how they’ve developed their own leadership styles.​

Learn more about Indeed’s technology and Engineering culture at the Indeed Engineering blog.



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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...

Formal headshot of author

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.

Group photo of Indeed University students at Seattle office

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?

Screenshot of potential Indeed product homepageOur 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 Indeed.com 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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