Standing out at these 3 companies

A bit of a different format for this issue.

I’ve reached out to a number of emerging and high-growth startups to help you understand how key decision-makers think about the hiring process for remote candidates at their companies.

Three companies featured in this issue:

  • Severalnines a Kalmar, Sweden-based creator of advanced data management products for open source databases.

  • Evidation Health is a San Mateo, CA-based company that enables anyone to participate in ground-breaking research and health programs. Evidation announced a $45M Series D round in July.

  • Cedar is an NYC-based patient engagement and financial technology company. Cedar announced a $102M Series C round in June.

If you’re thinking about applying to any of these companies, go through their responses and take their advice to give yourself an unfair advantage.

The next issue will include Q&As with the following companies: DensityRoot Insurance, and Fast.

After that, I’ll step back to evaluate how to improve these Q&As. The format here will almost certainly morph. Perhaps we’ll focus on one question per issue. Or we’ll go industry or role specific. Send me your feedback on how these Q&As can help you grow your network, understand a specific company’s hiring process better, and, ultimately, get hired at your dream company/role.

Being remote sometimes means different things to different companies. What does being remote mean for your company?

Severalnines has never not been a remote company. Since its founding in 2011, we have followed the philosophy of hiring the right people no matter where in the world they work.

Forrest Lymburner, VP of Marketing at Severalnines

We have always prioritized creating a supportive and flexible work environment, and prior to the pandemic, the majority of office-based employees typically worked at least 1 day per week from home, and 30% of our workforce was totally remote.  Once the shelter-in-place orders took effect, we immediately closed our three offices and had all of our employees work remotely. Due to the nature of our business, we are fortunate to be able to allow our employees to continue working remotely indefinitely until it is safe to return to our offices. In the future, we will continue to develop our capabilities to support our distributed workforce, with options to work remotely and use our offices for team meetings, events, and desk hoteling

Bertina Yen, VP of People and Operations at Evidation

Being remote at Cedar means that you should expect the same level of inclusion, access, and opportunity as any other member of the team. When we moved into a new New York office space last year, we designed and implemented tech solutions and meeting habits with our non-office-based colleagues in mind. Those investments are a big part of what has allowed Cedar to so successfully transition to a fully distributed model while the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic. Having a sustained focus on inclusion, collaboration, flexibility, and autonomy no matter where our team is working from allows us to deliver a consistent experience to and empower our entire team to do their best work.

Liz Ratto, Head of People; Krysta KucinskiTechnical Recruiter; Grace Pennington Recruiter at Cedar

What does a stand out candidate during the application process look like? What most impresses you about a prospective hire?

Hiring for an exclusively remote position requires a particular type of individual. We do not have the luxury of being able to supervise constantly, so an applicant must be able to demonstrate discipline and self motivation. In some cases, employees might not be able to meet their boss in person until year two of their employment.

Forrest Lymburner, Severalnines

Standout candidates have done their research on the company and can clearly articulate their personal value proposition and why they want to join.  They explain how their unique set of experiences and skills enhance what we have built to date at Evidation.

Bertina Yen, Evidation

During the application process, one of the ways candidates can stand out from other applicants is by providing all the information and materials our recruiting team needs upfront. This includes sharing a clear and well-written resume (make sure to triple check your resume for errors, and if possible, include quantifiable achievements that show the value you could add as an employee). Candidates who submit thoughtful and personalized cover letters definitely stand out; we appreciate the extra time candidates take to share their excitement for the opportunity and who carefully review job postings to share how the role ties into their experiences. Also, please take the time to fill in all the application fields such as adding links to requested profiles like LinkedIn and portfolios. Another tip is to utilize your network -- if you know of somebody who works for us, use that connection! Our team is always happy to connect with people we know to discuss Cedar and point you in the right direction if there is mutual alignment.

Liz Ratto, Head of People; Krysta Kucinski, Technical Recruiter; Grace Pennington Recruiter at Cedar

What are some common traits amongst the most successful candidates after you've hired them?

The perfect candidate is skilled both technically as well as being a clear communicator. Working remote requires individuals to communicate at 2X the amount needed for a traditional, in-office, role.

Forrest Lymburner, Severalnines

We have put a lot of thought into defining our values: put individuals first, challenge each other and state your good intent, go fast while maintaining quality and integrity, and work to win together. Those who succeed at Evidation are curious and collaborative, have a growth mindset, and are accountable to one another.

Bertina Yen, Evidation

To find candidates who will thrive and be successful in our environment, we keep our company values at the forefront of our hiring process! We actively evaluate every candidate that interviews with Cedar for alignment with our values. Our core values include: 

  • Focus on our vision: Every individual, team, and the entire company should be passionate about striving towards our vision.

  • Be positive: To transform the industry and ourselves, we maintain perspective, learn from our setbacks, and strive for continuous improvement.

  • No mediocrity: We constantly raise the bar on our performance and hold ourselves to the high standards required to make a change in a complex industry.

  • Good judgment: Our daily decisions must be data-driven, based on our current and accumulating knowledge and the embodiment of our core values.

Liz Ratto, Head of People; Krysta Kucinski, Technical Recruiter; Grace Pennington Recruiter at Cedar

What do unsuccessful candidates didn’t make it past the initial resume screen have in common?

Most positions generally get hundreds of resumes. As someone who has screened resumes most of my career, I can tell you that no matter what people say no one reads them all. It’s critical to keep your resume short and concise and to introduce yourself quickly at the top if you wish to make an impression.

Forrest Lymburner, Severalnines

Submitting generic resumes that don't provide enough context on what a candidate did or accomplished at their past job(s). For example, roles like product manager or project manager are fairly broad and mean different things at different companies. If we can't tell from the resume and/or cover letter what a candidate's day-to-day responsibilities were and how they potentially match to the experiences and skills we are looking for at Evidation, then we most likely will pass over that candidate in lieu of someone who does a better job in helping us connect those dots.

Bertina Yen, Evidation

As Cedar focuses on inclusivity, we know that candidates will not all fit in a predetermined box of requirements. So we often will speak with candidates even if they don’t check off all the requirements on a job description. Candidates who speak with us in a preliminary call and do not pass the initial screen typically don’t ask questions about Cedar or our mission. If a candidate shows interest in Cedar, even if they’re not the right fit for the role, we’ll often suggest another path for them.

Liz Ratto, Head of People; Krysta Kucinski, Technical Recruiter; Grace Pennington Recruiter at Cedar

Does the company offer stock options to remote employees? And if not, is it that web of local regulations that’s holding the company back?

Our company is privately owned so rewarding our employees takes other forms. For example, our team has met annually (every employee from around the world) in a new city in Europe of the Middle East since 2015.

Forrest Lymburner, Severalnines

Our compensation packages are similarly structured across all employees regardless of location, including equity in the company.

Bertina Yen, Evidation

We offer stock options across geographies and are not limiting the opportunity to be granted Cedar stock options to those who are office-based.

Liz Ratto, Head of People at Cedar; Krysta Kucinski, Technical Recruiter with Cedar; Grace Pennington Recruiter with Cedar

What timezones/geographies do you hire in?

At last count we had employees from 20 different countries. We hire across the world and across all timezones.

Forrest Lymburner, Severalnines

We have employees in 5 countries (including the US) and 19 states (including California).

Bertina Yen, Evidation

We currently have team members in all US time zones.

Liz Ratto, Head of People; Krysta Kucinski, Technical Recruiter; Grace Pennington Recruiter at Cedar

Qs for you:

What do you want more of in terms of Q&As?

What questions do you want asked?

What companies do want me to speak to you?

How I can I help you get your foot in the door at your dream role?

A big thank you to: Forrest LymburnerBertina YenLiz RattoKrysta KucinskiGrace Penningtonas well as Jenny Fiegoli (Content and Communications Director at Cedar) and Amy Puliafito (Marketing and Communications Consultant working with Evidation).


Our members include engineers, product designers, marketers, and account executives with experience at companies like Amazon, Google, 1Password, and BetterUp. Members join because they’re frustrated with the job hunt, looking to grow their networks, and to give themselves an edge in a competitive job market.

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Talk soon,

Chris ️

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