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On the hunt: Here’s what Philly tech employers and job seekers are looking for in 2020

And why one marketing pro traveled all the way from Boston to seek work within Philadelphia's tech community.

NET/WORK Philly 2020. (Photo by Paige Gross)
It’s a refrain that’s been sung over and over: Tech companies hire not only for technical experience, but candidates’ interpersonal skills and enthusiasm for mission, too.

Last week, gathered about 50 area tech companies together for our annual NET/WORK tech jobs fair, and we heard plenty of the above. While you could also grab a free headshot, get a resume review and sit in on four professional development workshops (including on negotiating a salary as a woman or networking like a natural) at the event, the emphasis was on hiring — who has open roles and how to get top candidates into them.

We checked in with a handful of companies about what roles they’re looking for and what someone applying can do to stand out.

Sapient Industries’ CEO Sam Parks said the IoT energy management startup is hiring across the board for roles in sales, marketing and engineering and for the support team. The company has an office in Center City and team members across multiple contents.

Parks said that though it’s a tech startup, you won’t find ping pong tables in the office.

“A lot of our people are serious engineers, who maybe felt constrained on previous positions and we pull them into our atmosphere,” he said.

And of the hundreds of folks who were job hunting at the event Tuesday, two stuck out clearly in his mind: One man had just sold his company and was looking for something new to work on, Parks said.

The other?

“Someone came up and handed me a letter directly addressed to me explaining why he wanted to work at Sapient,” he said. That level of planning and personalization impressed him.

Advertising tech company Red Spark was hiring for senior sales and developer roles, said its head of HR, Alyssa Eagan. Some of the desirable hard skills the company is seeking include Java and Python, but Eagan said in general the company looks for “creative problem solvers.”

Because the company only employs about 40 or 50 people, Eagan said, each employee has to be eager to get a seat at the table.

That’s the mentality that gets one job seeker, Andrea Whitley, particularly excited about joining the Philly tech community: Whitley drove down from Boston, where she worked in tech marketing, for last Tuesday’s event.

She’s on the hunt here in Philly, aiming to relocate herself and her husband to the City of Sisterly Love to get closer to their hometowns and to join the tech community here.

“I’m so excited about the startup scene in Philly, and have been kind of waiting for the right moment to jump back here in my life and in the scene,” she said. “It’s exciting seeing all of the opportunities here.”

Whitley named a few growing companies — Guru Technologies and Wodify included — that caught her interest and said their company cultures made them especially desirable.

“You can get vibes from a website but unless you’re actually talking to people, you don’t get a sense of that culture,” she said.

Wodify, makers of Crossfit gym management software, is currently on a hiring spree, looking for about 15 people for its Center City office, mostly in engineering roles.

The company’s head of people ops, Ali Farrell, said that the company looks for candidates with a good mix of hard and soft skills. They’re obviously looking for some software development skills, but their people also have to understand the user and customer experience, she said.

“We look for people who can problem solve, and as cliche as it sounds in Philadelphia, people who are gritty,” Farrell said.

One of the most attractive things to candidates, Farrell said, is that Wodify continues to be a bootstrapped company, and that it’s in “hyper growth” mode.

As far as who the team had met at NET/WORK, it ran the gamut, she said.

“We’ve seen two ends of the spectrum,” she said. “There’s been some super hungry candidates out of Hopeworks [Camden] and bootcamps who have come super prepared, and then people who are really senior, or people who are really entrepreneurial.”

Companies: Red Spark / Wodify
Series: Hiring Trends Month 2020

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