It’s not often that you meet someone with a background in technology, psychology and HR, but when you do, make sure to take them to coffee and ask a lot of questions. Mikka Geller, is one of these rare breeds and her insight on the way technology and work are colliding is fascinating for recruiters and job-seekers alike.
“The work world is becoming global,” Mikka says. “Looking for a [ company or candidate] aligned with your goals, that share the same values, is becoming more important.”
Mikka studied psychology at Tel Aviv University, gained technical training in the Israeli army, and then started a career in HR at 1stdibs, an antique furniture and arts marketplace. During her time at First Dibs, Mikka earned a Master’s degree in Industrial-organizational Psychology from NYU. After three years in HR, she transitioned to a QA engineering role at 1stdibs and recently took her QA skills to Stash Invest, a job she found through the Vettery platform.
“Being a QA Engineer is [like working in HR] because there’s a lot of people management. You need to understand the product managers, the developers, and how to figure out what the problems are and why goals aren’t met.”
This concept of understanding, or looking deeper into a situation, is one that Mikka talks about a lot. In a world where technology has opened the door to more job opportunities than ever before, it’s crucial for both recruiters and the candidates to learn how to invest in one another; to learn to understand what each other is looking for.
“There may be new opportunities that you didn’t even realize exist but that you could be really good at,” Mikka says, laughing a little in awe.
Looking for more than a time stamp
Yet, the more opportunities that are out there, the harder it is for people to make a decision and buy in. According to a LinkedIn report, in the last twenty years “the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled.”
“People don’t really care as much anymore about the 9-5, get my salary, go home and do my thing,” Mikka says. “People want to feel like they change the world. We all want to have this feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment.”
Understanding of our own goals as job-seekers or recruiters is crucial, but so is digging into those of the people on the other side of the interview table. It’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. This is where Mikka’s background in psychology comes in.
“People are really looking for culture, for a place they’ll fit in. And I think understanding the psychological foundations of it, of why as human beings we care so much about it, it’s just fascinating to me.”
Asking the right questions
If you’re looking for a new job, or passively exploring options, Mikka suggests taking time to figure out what matters to you most.
“Ask yourself, ‘what makes me happy at my workplace?’ Because the novelty of having a keg or having Summer Fridays sounds really exciting when you sign that contract, but then when the novelty wears off, it’s like okay, what else is there.”
To figure out if a company has what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask questions digging into what the title of your role actually means, the 30-60-90 plan for you, the actual day to day of working across teams, etc. If you ask specific questions during interviews and find a place that you can grow at, then you’ll be able to buy in and invest in the company, the process and the product.
“I think a candidate should aspire to be at a company for at least 2 years. So map those two years in your brain, what do you want to get out of it?”
A desire for personal growth
Mikka believes that moving forward, people will seek out companies where they not only fit in with the culture but will have an opportunity to discover, learn and grow. The same way equity is used to incentivize people, education stipends and growth paths could be used to recruit candidates and motivate them to stay as well.
For example, many companies are shifting towards offering rotational programs so employees can learn what they are drawn to in a career.
“I think companies need to shift their mindset to be more of a continuing education hub and not just a workplace,” Mikka says.
The prospect of finding a job or hiring a new team member is exciting, especially with the world of opportunity that awaits. As more doors open, we’ve got to remember to look for what’s important and invest in it.
“Don’t settle, looking for a job [or hiring new teammates] is hard. We spend most of our waking hours at work, it has to be a good fit.”