How to Get a Job at Cloudera

We’re doing a lot of hiring at Cloudera — we have jobs open in operations, sales, engineering and elsewhere. Hiring well is hard work. We spend a lot of time on it, and have learned a lot about the kind of people we want to bring in. One of the best ways for us to do a good job of hiring is to help you do a good job of applying for a job here.

I’ll begin the post, though, by telling you what doesn’t work. Several times a day, we get an unsolicited email or phone message from a contingency recruiter like this one:

I specialize in the industry and wanted to contact you to let you know that I have a strong candidate for your [deleted] position, and wanted to know if you would like to review the resume that I have? My candidate is interested in interviewing as soon as possible.

If you’re that candidate, bad news: Your resume goes straight to the bottom of the pile, and it’s a big pile.

Contingency recruiters get paid by the hiring company when the candidate they introduce gets the job. The amount they get paid varies a little bit, but is generally a quarter to a third of the annual salary of the person they place. That means that a software developer who earns $80K a year shows up with a $20,000 price tag, minimum, due and payable to the recruiter, up front. If you’re that software developer, you need to be not merely as good as the rest of the candidates we’re looking at. It’s not even enough to be a little bit better. You need to be so astonishingly good that you’re worth our writing a fat check to a third party on your very first day in the office. And, honestly, if you’re that good, how come we don’t know about you already?

Now, we do — occasionally, for a few positions that are especially tough to fill — work with contingency search firms. If a recruiter talks to you about Cloudera, you should ask: Do you have a signed engagement letter with Cloudera already? If the answer is yes, then you’re talking to someone we trust (but whom we’ll have to pay if we hire you, so we’d still prefer to hear from you directly). If the answer is no, or if they waffle, then you shouldn’t waste your time with them. They’re not going to help you get a job at Cloudera.

If you want a job with us, we absolutely want to talk to you. Here’s some advice on how to reach us on your own.

First, don’t just email us your resume with a cover letter. It’s not that we don’t read those; it’s that it’s very, very hard to stand out from the crowd that way. Every company that’s hiring and posts jobs on its web site gets a lot of resumes by email. Reading all of them is hard work, and (shame on us) we might be a little bit hurried or distracted when yours comes in.

It’s much better to come in by way of an introduction from someone we already know. We know all the people who work here very well, of course. If one of them sends your name and resume along to a hiring manager, you can bet that it gets special attention. It turns out that Cloudera people are easy to find: We speak at conferences, attend trade shows, hang out in IRC and browse public forums about topics that matter to the company. We blog here, and many of us post on Twitter regularly — see @cloudera/cloudera. Check out our events page. Look for us on-line or in person at shows. Reach out, person to person, in those places.

You should really try to engage with the Cloudera person, of course. Don’t just ask for an intro; talk to us us about the topics that you know matter to us. Show us, first, that you know a little bit about what we’re doing. If you’re a developer especially, making contributions to the open source projects we work on, or building cool applications on Cloudera’s Distribution for Hadoop, is a great way to show your chops.

We’ve got a referral program in place — when an employee brings us a candidate we hire, that person gets some extra Cloudera stock (we would much rather grant equity to our employees than write checks to recruiters!). As a result, if you’re a good fit for a position and can establish a personal rapport with one of our current employees, you’ll have an enthusiastic champion who’ll make sure we take a hard look at you. Everybody wins.

Before you reach out, though, do your homework. Figure out what we do. We put a lot of work into the web site — read the stuff there. Understand our products and customers. Know the role you’re interested in and why you’re a good fit. It’s really surprising to me how many people send us unsolicited resumes asking if we have any jobs open that would match their backgrounds. If you can’t do simple homework, you’re just not the kind of person we’re going to hire.

If you can’t get to us directly, take a look at our customers, partners and investors. Do you have contacts there? Personal introductions really do get noticed, and your effort in making them happen demonstrates, all by itself, that you’re motivated and clever and willing to do a little extra work.

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10 Responses
  • Salman / July 29, 2010 / 9:29 AM

    20K for providing leads, I’m sure working at cloudera is great but now I want to be a recruiter! :)

  • Eric Estabrooks / July 29, 2010 / 10:03 AM

    I agree on the recruiter bit: I typically look at recruiters as a last resort in the early stages of a company. As you get bigger or have a key hire that you can’t locate in your network the recruiters can fill the gap.

    The personal introductions are key. The question I always ask the referrer is whether or not they are willing to bet part of their bonus on this person. It tells me the strength of their confidence in the candidate.

  • David Kypuros / July 29, 2010 / 2:08 PM

    Thanks for this article. It seemed insightful on how people think about business view trust from a hiring perspective. Luv ur site UI too. The site seems very very snappy. The UI reminds me of the cuil blog. Maybe it’s just me…

  • Karan Vasudeva / July 29, 2010 / 7:55 PM

    I poke a bit of fun at recruiters in this little comic:

    http://blog.codeboff.in/2010/07/22/programmers-and-recruiters-are-from-different-planets-3/

  • Scott / July 30, 2010 / 9:55 AM

    Good blog. Great laugh for a Friday! (Thanks Jon for mentioning this.)

    I’m a recruiter and the most defining trait of a successful candidate is not just their technical aptitude but their passion for what they do. At start-ups just keeping up-to-date with technology is just a C-grade. Before we even begin a face interview with a candidate we want to know what projects they work on outside their work i.e. “I’m a programmer but like to do Real Estate on the side,” tells us that you’re just there to collect a paycheck. You may be very good at programming, but you definitely wouldn’t be a match for a start-up. Whereas the guy who’s a QA guy by day and Ruby-hacker by night had a higher potential to accerate in a start-up environment.

    Happy Aloha Friday!

  • Mona Masghati / July 30, 2010 / 10:07 AM

    Mike, thank you for a great post. I shared your post with my the 2011 class of MIT’s System Design and Management. Recruiting tips from a a hiring manager, better yet the CEO of a up and coming start-up resonated with my cohort.

  • Mike Olson / July 30, 2010 / 10:13 AM

    Scott, agree that good screening and an understanding of technology are critical for assessing fit. As I said in the post, we do use recruiters, we just try to put them on the tough projects, where we need the help.

  • Lonn / July 30, 2010 / 10:32 AM

    Mao, this is one of the best summaries on how to apply for a job in tech. By far the best way to get a job at my firm is to come in through a current employee referral. We also give bonuses to employees who refer. The recruiter route is rarely a good one.

  • Andy / July 30, 2010 / 1:54 PM

    Great article!

    This very much mirrors my experience – and I’m glad you’re honest about it – almost every single job (six out of seven) I’ve got from people I know. The difficulty, for a specific job you have in mind, is finding that link to the company, but I’m glad to hear it can be possible.

  • Ashish / March 03, 2011 / 1:14 AM

    Nice summary Mike !

    Can’t agree with you more on the point that, if a person is good, recruiter need not introduce him to you :) You would have already known about him.

    And BTW, someone looking to be at Cloudera need not be just very Good, he needs to be the best, coz for matching up with Doug, Tom, Aaron, Lars, Todd nd other, is not easy.. They are best of the best.

    Good Luck !

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