Connie Wong and Susan Zheng are revolutionizing how people find jobs with their start-up Lynxsy, a mobile and web platform that helps companies hire non-technical, junior talent. They work with the companies and the candidates to ensure the right fit. Connie and Susan shared their insights on the future of the job process, the allure of working for a start-up, and the importance of hiring for a company’s culture. These amazing women are changing the face of the start-up world so read on to find out more about them!
How did your previous experiences in the workforce lead to the development of your own company?
Susan: I previously worked at Tough Mudder and we moved up from a small company of about 10 employees to a much bigger organization. I focused on strategy and business development to help grow the company to 200 employees in two years. So, one of the first projects that I had was actually helping them hire for a non-technical customer service team. It ended up being really difficult and challenging. In fact, it took me about two months and I still couldn’t find the right candidate. I think the worst part about hiring was that because I was looking for recent grads, I had to make sure the candidate would be the right fit for our culture. I also ran the risk of hiring someone who may not end up working out. In that case, I would have to start the process all over again. So, that’s where the idea for Lynxsy came from. I know Connie had a similar experience at her start-up as well.
Connie: I was Director of Product at a mobile dating app called MeetMoi. We were a much smaller company of about fifteen people and I had a lot of different responsibilities. One of them was recruitment because we didn’t have an actual dedicated recruiter on the team. As a start-up, it is very useful to take the time to really figure out who you want on the team and with such a large amount of potential candidates it can be hard to narrow it down. When you post a job, you will get a ton of resumes that you have to spend a lot of time filtering through to find the right fit.
A huge part of Lynxsy is its focus on trial periods where the employer and employee can test out if they work well together. What sparked the motivation to install a program like this?
Fundamentally, we think that the traditional interview is broken. With a trial period, you are actually on the job, doing the work and interacting with the people, so you really get a true sense of the company culture. Companies can really get a sense of the candidate’s work ethic and overall fit. We think that the trial period helps determine long-term fit on both sides.
How does the trial period work exactly?
It’s a three month trial period where candidates are working for the company as if they were hired directly. We work with a third party to handle all payroll administration and paper work on our end which removes the burden and hassle on the company’s part and gets the process going quickly. Throughout the trial period, there are checkpoints to understand feedback and to see how each side is feeling. At the end of it, if the mutual decision is that it is a good fit, then they can both confidently work towards establishing a permanent, full-term position.
Do you think that this will become the new way for employers to find their new employees?
We think it is the only foolproof way of knowing whether the candidate and the company is a good fit. What we noticed is that many companies are already doing it themselves. Companies often structure their own internal trial period but that could be a one day, one month or three month long trial. We see Lynxsy as a way to help companies standardize the process so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time in setting up their own trial periods.
For companies, it’s essential to hire employees who are a good cultural fit, especially with start-ups that work incredibly long hours and where the employees are always together. You can’t tell through an interview whether this person is someone you’ll want to drink a beer with at 2 AM while trying to meet a deadline! We believe that more and more companies are going to be using a trial period to ensure that the candidate is a good fit.
From the candidates’ side, we have also spoken to thousands of recent graduates and for them the priority is actually about the team and the culture that they are working with. They think that it is very difficult to tell what the culture of the company is from the outside or from an interview with the hiring manager or team. So, they also see huge value in the trial phase. They really get to take control of the situation as well and ensure that the company is going to be the right place for them for the long-term.
Company culture is incredibly important, but even more so with start-ups. Why do you think that atmosphere creates such a particular culture and why is a unique culture a good thing?
We think that unique cultures are created due to the extremity of situations and the obstacles that start-ups have to go through and overcome. In a start-up where the teams are generally pretty small and the hours are long, it’s comforting to at least know that you’re all in it together. Many people think that start-ups are glamorous, but they are really challenging. As an employee, you need to know that it’s something you are passionate enough to work on every day for however long it takes to get it off the ground. Not to mention that start-ups are constantly in flux. The product can change and the market could change, but what doesn’t change are the core values.
Recent graduates are more interested in start-ups than ever. Why do you think that is?
We think it goes back to what we mentioned before about how we have seen a change in mentality amongst recent grads and what they are looking for after they graduate. We found by really talking to some of these candidates that they are looking for a place where they can make a big impact, where they feel like their work is rewarding and they don’t feel like they are lost in a giant corporation.
This is a very different landscape even from when we graduated five or six years ago when finance and consulting were target jobs. We’ve even seen a lot of people graduating, starting a corporate job but then actually quitting before they even hit their one year mark. At a start-up, a recent graduate can make a huge impact on the business even if it’s their first job.
Many start-ups appear to be so technologically driven and need employers with those kind of skills, but Lynxsy focuses on the non-technical side. What made you both decide to do that?
We think one of the primary reasons is we are both non-technical founders and hiring managers so we really understand this market. By building Lynxsy, we’re essentially building a solution we were looking for as hiring managers and job-seekers. There are a ton of solutions targeted at technical graduates, but we see a gap in the market for non-technical job seekers and hiring managers. Even start-ups that are building a highly technical product need people to help sell and market their product, manage their customers and help them grow as a business.
The start-up world is so primarily dominated by men. Do you think that as female entrepreneurs that you had a different view when creating your company?
We definitely have a different perspective because we have our own set of experiences. Diversity and a different perspective is always beneficial in any industry or organization because they allow you to see the same problem from a different angle which is where innovation comes from.
What’s next for Lynxsy?
We are looking to expand to other cities and industries outside of the tech sector in the future. Although we still want to continue to focus on non-technical roles, we know that there are great companies in industries like media, healthcare and even in the non-profit space that have unique cultures but who don’t have the resources for recruitment.
What do you think are the biggest things that students should be aware of when they are applying for their first full time real jobs?
We think the biggest things are really the team and the culture of the company. One of the top reasons people leave their jobs is because they don’t get along with someone on the team or their manager, which is why the trial periods are so important.
We recommend candidates do their research and homework before their interviews. Download the product, use the product and see how the culture of the company translates into the products that they are creating.
What do you think it means to be a Smart Girl?
A Smart Girl has her own unique point of view and isn’t apologetic about it. It doesn’t have to be someone who has a huge impact from the start, but who, despite not having that, still goes after what she wants with a confidence that she will be able to figure out the answer and the knowledge that if she doesn’t figure it out the first time, she will the second time or the third time. After a setback, A Smart Girl will still get up and try, try again.
Love what Lynxsy’s all about? Check out their website here!