Finding opportunities in a recession & how to wow hiring managers with Evan Walden of Monday.VC

Today I talked with a founder who recently launched a free, community-driven initiative that helps people find new roles at tech companies that are hiring during COVID-19. We’ll chat about how this crisis offers an opportunity to re-evaluate how we spend our time and why spending thirty minutes researching a company before you apply will get you far.

Photo of Evan Walden

The CEO of Monday.vc which is on a mission to help people reveal the hidden potential inside their networks and do the work they love.

Maren Kate 0:00

Howdy folks welcome to Inde on air. My guest today is Evan Walden, who's currently the CEO at Monday.vc and recently launched to get tro.org, which is a nonprofit aimed at helping people find jobs during the COVID crisis at companies that are still hiring. So as I'm super happy to have you on the show, and just like looking through, you know, your experience, you and I have talked over the years, I was thinking it's kind of fair to say that you have been focused on connecting people with meaningful work most of your career.

Evan Walden 0:32

That's true.

Maren Kate 0:34

So, first of all, just like how, how and why, like, Why were you drawn to that?

Evan Walden 0:40

Yeah. Well, it's, I guess it's kind of a funny story to tell him in retrospect. But my first job out of college was selling pesticides. So I was a pesticide salesman for almost two years. And it was actually a great job. I learned a lot but what I realized is that meaningful work was so important to me, and I didn't feel it. where I was, and I started reaching out to all my best friends from college and kind of saying, Hey, what are you guys up to, and everyone was like, works about to suck, you know, deal with it. And for me, that was the first time I really realized that in my career, I would need to have meaningful work to be satisfied, and I wanted to help other people find it. And that was the spark the initial spark that led me to starting my first company, which was a recruiting agency to help people find more meaningful jobs.

Maren Kate 1:27

I love that I remember similarly, like my first office job, it was like the summer my senior year in high school, I was 18 or 17. And I was just like doing paperwork for some dude from my church. And I remember thinking this is the most unhappy I've ever been in my life. And it was because I was stuck at this desk. There were no windows. And I remember literally just being like, I there's no way I was like, I just I literally cannot. So it's interesting how that kinda what pushes you into that. So just quickly with what you're doing. Now, first of all, with Monday, just in 60 seconds or less telling our audience, you know, why you founded the company when you founded it and kind of what you guys do?

Evan Walden 2:10

Sure. Yeah, the company was founded around 2017. And then in a way, it came out of the work that I was doing in my first company. So we realized that it was challenging to scale, the recruiting business model, and we were inspired to help more people. We also started to notice that the best candidates, we were connecting to companies were coming through referrals. So we were wondering, why is it so hard for companies to find referrals and as a professional, you tend to go to your network first when you're looking for a new thing? So how do we help people do that better, and that was the initial spark for Monday VC. And we initially wanted to build a town marketplace and we asked ourselves how we were going to get started and why people would care about a little startup and for a marketing standpoint, how to launch the company. And we had the idea to work with investors, because investors tend to have strong relationships with their portfolio companies. And we thought that if we could help them solve their problems in connecting talent to the portfolio, then eventually we might be able to work with their portfolio companies. And that would be a great way to start the business. So that's how we got started. And today, our main focus is working with venture capital funds and other kinds of professional networks. And we build job boards and private talent networks that help them connect talent to the portfolio companies. So how big are you guys right now? We have 15 people full time on the team. So we're globally house remote.

Evan Walden 3:44

Remote training COVID

Maren Kate 3:45

remote though. Yeah, yeah. Nice. Okay, so you guys are already doing this before it was cool.

Evan Walden 3:52

Yeah, we started the company remotely. My co founder role was from Spain, and we had some folks in Spain that we really wanted to work. With and we realized that talent was all over the world. And if we wanted to be competitive in the future, we thought it would be important for us to be remote. And from a lifestyle standpoint, it was also something that we were interested in.

Maren Kate 4:13

Absolutely. So with the the VCs that you work with, are they all over the world? Are they in North America, Europe?

Evan Walden 4:21

They're all over the world. We, about 70% of our customers are in the US and the rest are international, Canada and Europe. I'd say the two, kind of the two biggest markets for us outside of the US. Okay, cool. So tell me about

Maren Kate 4:36

jetro.org. When did you guys spin that up? And what are you, you know, how are you helping people actually get work right now?

Evan Walden 4:45

Yeah, so we started thinking about this pretty early on. Obviously, the health care element of COVID-19 was the thing on everyone's mind. But pretty soon after things were happening, my co founder and I wrote That this is going to have a huge economic impact. And a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. And we started wondering whether or not our software could support and help people get back to work when the time was right. So we started brainstorming that we ended up launching a few small projects. With this in mind, and then we ended up getting approached by a woman named Ashley, new wiki who had, she's a career recruiter and had built a pretty big community of people who were laid off and looking for opportunities, and asked if we could support the list that she had built and really just collaborate to launch a project around this. So we decided to do something bigger and launch schedule.org. And the intention really is to, in a way partner with our VC customers and other folks in our network to source companies that we know are still hiring. And we have our job board on metro.org that has hundreds of tech companies that are hiring and we have their jobs there. So that's a free resource for anyone to go take a look at and search and browse and go through and apply to those jobs. We're also working directly with hiring managers from those companies and holding talent newsletters so that they can see folks who have been newly laid off and are looking for work. We're also making direct matches between people who sign up on the website and the companies that are hiring.

Maren Kate 6:24

Okay, great. So and just to spell it out, it's GE t rr.org. For anyone who wants to go check that out. I was just checking out earlier. So one of the reasons we're connecting is I'm in the midst of writing this book, and it's called going remote and the one of the main themes is helping, helping job seekers in today's economy, not only find work but like stand out and land interviews and then that leads, you know, ideally to meaningful work. This is something you know, my one of my businesses I we have a boutique recruiting agency and we're focused Remote and one of the things we always saw is in before COVID, there was like, I would say, on average, depending on the rule anywhere from a few hundred to like up to 1000 applicants for remote roles. And now, the majority of them are not a fit for a variety of reasons. But often that just that level of you know, that kind of amount, it can break people's hiring process, it can overwhelm hiring managers. So from the from the candidates perspective, like you have so much experience in this what do you see the best candidates doing that most others are overlooking

Evan Walden 7:37

it? Great question. It's, it is really hard to differentiate, especially in a market like this where there is so much competition. There's a few things that I would recommend. I mean, one is trying to do enough research about the company so that you understand at least the mission of the company, why the company exists. And not only that mission, really aligns with what you're excited about. And it's it's not just because that will make you happier on the job, which it probably will. But when a company is evaluating a candidate, it's important that they have the skills. But it's also important that they really are bought into the mission of the company, especially for smaller companies. And that can really help folks stand out right out of the gate, as a hiring manager, if I believe that a candidate is really bought into the mission of the business that stands out to me compared to others. So that's a big one. And it's fairly straightforward to do. The second thing I see that I don't think many folks are doing is basically front loading the reference. So in other words, the resume is a document that we create about ourselves. And we are incentivized to tell the best possible story. And so as a hiring manager, I only have one point of information. But you have lots of people who you've worked with in your past Career, who may be willing to vouch for you, and even if it's just a paragraph or two, write about their experience. And if you include something like that in the application in a cover letter or at the bottom of a resume, to gives a little bit more context for the hiring manager about folks you've worked with, who's willing to vouch for you, and it ends up being one step beyond perhaps the recruiting, the recruiting manager, bring you further down the funnel in the way that they're thinking about you compared to other candidates. It's

Maren Kate 9:29

just social proof. It's so interesting. I, I actually did that when I was in between gigs and I was trying to figure out kind of what I wanted to do next. And I was like, you know, I'm an entrepreneur, I've had kind of a, an interesting nonlinear path, but I was like, I've worked with some really interesting people. So I reached out to a previous investor Jason Calacanis. I reached out to Alex at calm who I worked for for a while and I was like, Hey, would you guys mind like throwing together a sentence or two on like, what I'm good at and those two, just little Little pings at the top, especially since I'm in the tech industry made such a difference. And you know, I, that's something actually that you know what when I'm telling people about resumes, I'm like, think of it in terms of components. Some of us have more than like my, you know, if you've worked for yourself a lot, your resume whatever is going to look different than if you've been at maybe larger companies. But maybe you have phenomenal references. Maybe you have all these side projects. So it's really getting creative. I love that idea. front loading resume references and like putting it up front,

Evan Walden 10:32

before, you know before someone has a chance to kind of dq EU or whatever. Yeah, you could think of think of yourself as a product that you're essentially trying. Yes, yes, it was like your landing page. So you can take a lot of best practices from online marketing. In a lot of ways.

Maren Kate 10:51

Literally, that's exactly what me and my co founder have been talking about. It's like how do we build products? How do we have professionals understand they're the product And then build a product marketing suite for that, especially nowadays. Okay, so I guess another one would be, what are the biggest mistakes you see candidates making, especially when they're applying for remote roles. And like, obviously, everything's remote right now, some things are going to go back to an office, but there's gonna there's already a surge in, in companies shifting to remote. And as we already spoke about that, that adds more competition. But also, I think sometimes the mistakes people make are, are different, and especially because it's kind of new to navigate if you haven't done it before.

Evan Walden 11:34

Yeah, I mean, I guess in terms of we could talk about the mistakes in terms of how to position yourself well for our job versus actual challenges working remotely. If you have worked remotely before, I think it's really important to showcase that and be really clear about number one, the fact that you have worked remotely, what was the context of you working remotely? And did it energize you and why and I actually I think it's worth, you know, a whole paragraph around that in a cover letter or in an email to the hiring manager. Because most like as a as a company ourselves who's been doing a lot of hiring and looking for folks with remote experience, there actually isn't that many folks who have truly worked remotely for multiple years. So if you have that experience, showcase it, if you don't have that experience, and you think it's something you might love to do, but you haven't had a chance to do it yet. I would recommend thinking about the qualities that you have that make you think you'll be good at working remotely and highly always. So being it's like

Maren Kate 12:40

remote fluency, like how how can you show off your remote fluency?

Evan Walden 12:46

Hmm. It's like imagine someone asks you the question, why do you think you would be good at working remotely? And just answer that question up front? Because that's what the hiring manager is trying to figure out.

Maren Kate 12:56

You know, another thing that I've seen My agency over the years is when, you know, one of the filter questions will often have clients uses what draws you to this job, the specific position and this company, and it's a remote job. I wouldn't say nine times out of 10, people will say I really want to work remote. And it's just instantly kind of a deal killer. Because at the end of the day, you know, hiring managers like they don't care about you right now. They care about this pain they have and they need to fill. And if you're saying, I think it's the equivalent is like if you went on a date, and someone's like, so why did you asked me out or blah, blah, blah, and you're like, I really want a girlfriend. It's like, wait, no, that has nothing to do with me. You're saying you're making it about you. I think, for individuals to like, obviously, you want to work remote, you're applying for remote role, but don't lead with that, like lead with what interests you about the company and the job because that's what that is speak to the person like sell it a little bit.

Evan Walden 14:00

Totally agree, totally agree. And I mean, if you can, really like, the best way to do it is to try to frame your background as pieces of evidence that you can do, you can solve the problem that the company is trying to solve. So like a company hires a new person when they have a set of problems that can't be solved by reason, by the current team. So understanding what those problems are, and then positioning as much evidence as you can, ideally, quantitative data of things that you've done, that create evidence that you can solve that problem is a very concrete way to present yourself.

Maren Kate 14:38

What about referrals? I mean, obviously, referrals are such a huge way of getting a job. And if you if you have a strong network, the better but what if you What if you don't have a strong network? What if you're just starting out? What if you're getting back into the you know, for whatever reason, how would you go about how would you approach that if you were the one looking for work right now.

Evan Walden 15:00

Yeah, well, one thing that just blows my mind is that I think projection is really scary just for the human brain for everybody. Anyone who says it's not scary, as you know, they may not, they may be lying. Maybe they just figured out some secret, but I think it's hard. And so in thinking about reaching out to people who don't know, it can be intimidating, but because that's true, not many people are actually doing it. So there's actually a lot a lot of competition. And in other words, reaching out to people cold on LinkedIn, or over email actually has a pretty high response rate if you can craft an email that's personal, and that actually gets people inspired to help. So what I would recommend is thinking about where you want to be in your career three years from now, five years from now, and writing some qualities down and then just starting to search LinkedIn and trying to find people who are already there and reaching out to them just with like an inmail. or an email and asking them if they'd be willing to call and give you some advice about how they got to that place. And from there, you're starting to build your network. And once that person gets engaged with you, if you're asking really engaging questions, people love to help. And you start to board, new people with their networks onto your team to help you find a job. And that ends up being the kind of individual who could help you with a reference or a referral. If you don't have as big of a network as as you'd like to have.

Maren Kate 16:32

Yeah, and also, just like the world is so connected often, you know, there might be a few few layers of connection, you can actually get directly to that person. And you're right, people don't reach out. I mean, I doing a call with a woman later who reached out she's going to Oxford about some, some app she's building and I was like, I don't really know if I can offer a lot and she's like, yeah, this is why I would love your help. Oh, well, I was like, sure. Like, why not? I'll give you 30 minutes. Like it's, yeah, yeah. And it's it's authentic and If you can understand kind of the thought process.

Evan Walden 17:03
So

Maren Kate 17:04

cool, slightly random question. I'm just I'm asking this a lot because it's interesting. What costs have you cut personally or professionally since all this have started,

Evan Walden 17:14

if any?

Evan Walden 17:15

Huh? Interesting?

Evan Walden 17:19

Well, I mean, one natural thing is that I'm just eating a lot more at home. I'm not running around as much. And so it's crazy how much that saves. Yeah, that's been huge. That's definitely the biggest thing.

Maren Kate 17:34

Especially as New Yorkers, I'm like, I didn't realize how much money I spent on food,

Evan Walden 17:39

food, transportation, you know, Ubers and all of this, like, think the amount of traveling around that I was doing and I'm no longer doing. So yeah, it's funny. I don't have a lot of major expenses. One thing about professionally, yeah, professionally. You know, we've been We've been fortunate that right now, we're seeing growth. Oh, wow, we've been, we've been expanding actually. Try. Why do you think that is? Um, well, our major customer is our VCs. And so for them, they, from a budget standpoint, they tend to be locking in their operating budgets over, you know, six, seven years of the life cycle the fund, so they're not as an okay, the short term, and it's a really good time for VCs to help the companies that are not doing as well. And also to really throw some gasoline on the companies that are doing well. So if they're not doing as many deals, they have a little bit more bandwidth to be supporting with things like recruiting.

Maren Kate 18:45

Interesting. So even if their companies maybe aren't hiring as much as they were six months ago, they're planning for the next several years.

Evan Walden 18:53

We see it being really I mean, in the VC world if this is interesting to you, I guess. It's very polarized like I've heard folks say somewhere between 50 to 60% of their portfolio companies they think will fail because of this. But 10 20% depending on what markets you invest in, are just rocket shipping will explode. It's all exploding. Yeah, like telemarketing food delivery, healthcare,

Maren Kate 19:19

healthcare, anything remote or supporting the remote ecosystem.

Evan Walden 19:23

Yeah. So there's a lot of there's some industries that are that are growing really fast still. So what

Maren Kate 19:32

that's actually a perfect segue, what are the silver linings or opportunities that you see for for individuals specifically, you know, for professionals right now?

Evan Walden 19:46

Well, I think anytime there's a, there's a crisis, it's an opportunity to take a step back and evaluate what really matters. And when we see how easy it is and how fragile life is I mean, hopefully it becomes. It's It's sad, but it can also be a moment to inspire us to understand how we want to spend our time. Yeah, I think there's gonna be a lot of pivoting that happens career wise for folks after this. And right now, there's a lot of people who are feeling some really immense pain from what's happening. But we're going to get through it. And on the other side, I think there can be some really beautiful things that come from slowing down.

Maren Kate 20:33

What are the career like where do you see the like, the future proofed careers in the next 1010 years, where people are going to be shifting towards from where we have been?

Evan Walden 20:47

Great question. Well, I mean, in 10 years, I think we'll see the automation just continue around things that are easily repeatable. So I think that creative work that's challenging to automate will always be always be available but also will become more competitive in a lot of ways. So finding something really specific that you're really good at, and then doing that for yourself, I think ends up being probably the easiest way to future proof. Being on the edge cutting edge of technology, and where technology's going is also something that I think fairly reliable, but I think we'll just continue to see it, we'll see it get easier and easier to be a freelancer and easier and easier to source new gigs or manage healthcare, all the all the logistics that are just really challenging around being a freelancer, I think will get easier. And I mean, you know, you see platforms like Etsy, for example, where you can make things and build your own business. I think in the knowledge work world, we have platforms like up work that you could kind of say are doing that right now. But I just see that getting bigger and bigger.

Maren Kate 22:01

I hope so i think i think the other thing to think about exactly ties into your point on, on, you know, in times of crisis you we have, we have time to pause and think about what's important. A lot of you know what, what I think about is the idea of independence. And especially in the last 2030 years, we've we've gotten we've racked up so much debt as a society, we've lived beyond our means we've, you know, even I just closed up my apartment in New York, and I was like, I can't believe I pay this for the space. And, but it's like you think about if you're, especially with remote work, and with just technology, people have an ability to live in different places. You know, maybe after this people choose to save more or downsize or spend less or live more within their means. And when you start doing that, when you live under your means you you have a lot more freedom and independence, you know, versus a You're in the middle of Manhattan and you have to, you know, make a crazy wage just to keep up and you're always falling behind. You could live in Waxahachie, Texas, have, you know, some side gigs of freelance, you know, do your own woodworking and you could have a great life. And it's just like, it's recalibrating what really matters, like what drives us both personally and professionally, and then building our career from there, but no matter what, in terms of future proof, creativity, technology, and more than anything, like the ability to, to learn new things to constantly adapt, like that it's like adapt or die as professionals.

Evan Walden 23:39

Yeah, and I, I, I would add to that and say that believing in yourself is really the the currency. Nothing special about entrepreneurs, you know, people who decide to start things they just decided to do it. And there's like a, for folks who haven't had the opportunity to start something there can be a Have a mindset around like, well there, I'm not really someone who could do that. Like the only difference is that you haven't tried to do that yet. It's I don't think it's really like a special gene. I think that, you know, if you find something that really gives you energy that people you see people light up for, you know, follow that and double down on yourself. And that's how any of these things happen is just totally right. And that's any First up, it creates energy to which is

Maren Kate 24:29

great. Okay, final questions. Last minute. So really quickly, what does independence mean to you? When you think about it personally, professionally.

Evan Walden 24:44

To me, independence is the is like feeling the freedom of making decisions that are in alignment with my values. Do you feel like you've achieved that? I think it's a mindset Okay, so it's kind of a continual thing. Yeah, I think it's it's always something that I, that I try to check in on. But I do Yeah, I do feel like I've achieved that.

Maren Kate 25:10

That's right. What's your favorite book or podcast in the last six months?

Evan Walden 25:16

Oh, man, there's a there's this book called The Great CEO within them by an executive coach. I can't remember his name off the top my head but it was going it was circulating around Silicon Valley, in a Word document for a long time. And then someone finally made it into a book. You can buy it on Amazon. It's by far the best business book I've ever read. It's like 100 pages now. sighs just aggregating lots and lots of lessons that I'd seen in other places into into one little book, so I'd highly recommend it.

Maren Kate 25:46

Oh, awesome. Okay, what is a business tool you couldn't live without, but not when most people know.

Evan Walden 25:55

We have started doing all of our urgent communication over telegram we're using slack. And then we started using WhatsApp voice notes. And now we use telegram voice notes because you can play them at two x. So my co founder and I are constantly saying each other telegram voice notes as a way to just asynchronously move balls forward without having to do as much typing.

Maren Kate 26:19

Okay, I love that. I'm actually gonna try that because I definitely love. Love those notes. And lastly, how can people find out more about you? monday.bc? And Jetro?

Evan Walden 26:30

Yeah, so monday.vc is our website, GitHub. org, I think would be probably more relevant to folks who are listening if you're new to unity. You can always find me on LinkedIn or find me on Twitter. It's Evan Walden at seven Walden. drop me a note most happy to help if I can.

Maren Kate 26:46

Awesome, Evan, thank you so much. This has been awesome.

Evan Walden 26:49

Yeah, thank you. It's really fun.

Evan Walden 26:55

Indie on air is brought to you by indie.co. The first Remote focused professional network and sponsored by going remote the ultimate step by step guide to finding in landing a meaningful remote job in today's environment. pre order today, you'll get exclusive bonuses and access, just check out going remote book.com that's going remote book.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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