by Marissa Epstein

Getting Hired By Lullabot, a Distributed Company

I’ve been a 'Bot' for about two months now. Looking back on it, it seems to have gone by fast. Like one of those really awesome parties, you threw in college. It feels even shorter still because so far, I’ve spent almost as much time trying to get hired by Lullabot as I have actually working for them. Let me share a little bit about both phases of starting my career with Lullabot, over a series of articles.

Getting in Touch

I had learned about the company a few years ago from a good friend, then had the pleasure of seeing Jared Ponchot speak at Artifact Conference last year. I pored over the Lullabot site, learning more about the company, and of course, the open positions. After lurking for a while, I filled out the extensive application.

As a slightly obsessive person, I spent a lot of time writing my application answers. Though it was optional, they requested I include a two-minute video about myself— to help them get to know me and my personality better. I outlined what I wanted to say before shooting many takes for my video. I definitely got the impression that Lullabot was seriously weeding out those who send generic applications to every job post.

I threw my hat in the ring in July, and the excessive email checking began.

The Interviews

Over the next two months, I had a series of calls with the friendliest HR gal there ever was, the creative director, a development manager, and eventually the rest of the design team. We discussed the job expectations in general, company culture, design experience, and process, and even enjoyed a great tangent about what music we were into.

Between each call, there was just enough of a lull (and just enough time for self-doubt) to make me wonder if I was still in the running. At one point, I thought I must be getting close to the end. Instead, we started a trial freelance project that would help Lullabot in their decision. I was hired to redesign the homepage for one of Lullabot’s own projects. As it turns out, Lullabot often uses these trial projects as a way to work with potential applicants in real-world scenarios.

Trial Project

Yonder is a small, round-table conference put on by Lullabot, for owners of distributed companies. They had their first event last year, and we're gearing up for 2015. I designed a simple, one-page site to promote it and encourage people to request an invitation.

I did a little research, then shifted into my typical design process. I obsessively worked over the Labor Day weekend, posting progress online as I went. I created a mood board of pulls and inspiration and sketched out a wireframe of the layout on my iPad. After this phase, I dove into the Photoshop file from last year's site, to create a desktop-sized mockup.

yonder design

Some of the Lullabots posted suggestions and changes online, plus discussed options further on a few calls, and so I refined the design after each discussion. I got great feedback, with the CEO even chiming in, and felt challenged by the team to do my best work (which goes a long way in helping me actually do that work). I was proud of the result and felt that the team's input made the page much better. I think it showed in the work how much I had enjoyed the experience of a project with Lullabot. The project reminded me how much fun I could have with web design, fun I wasn't particularly having at my position at the time.

The Job Offer

As I wrapped up the Yonder design and handed off files, Jared sent me an award-winningly-vague note, that I proceeded to read a few too many times, to too many people: "You should hear some more from Esther soon as well in terms of an update on the process for you too."

The day I was offered a place on the design team (ten weeks after first submitting my application), I literally jumped for joy. Minutes after my significant other said not to expect an email until Monday (because who sends job offers at 5 on a Friday?), Esther sent me an email titled "Come Rock with Lullabot". Attached was a thorough, personalized job offer. They were very open to my adjustments and questions, and soon it was signed. I was officially a Bot!

tl;dr: Finding a Good Fit Takes Time

In total, this hiring process was the most exhaustive I have ever experienced. I'm not complaining, I swear—I just talk like this. I totally understand why Lullabot hires this way, and respect it. (Even if I did drive myself insane filming that silly video over and over, trying to get it in one take…) Sorry. Let me start again.

Leaving Lullabot’s reasons aside for a moment, the process was very exciting, refreshing and fun for me. I loved hearing Jared chat about his hopes for the design team, and it was a blast working on the test project for the Yonder site. And of course, hiring goes both ways. Lullabot gave me the opportunity to ask my questions and interview them until I was even more confident about the position and my chemistry with the team.

Previously I had worked at a studio that “went grocery shopping hungry”, so to speak, often hiring candidates after a call or two. It was driven by immediate need, so the process was too fast for either the company or the candidate to be sure about the fit. In contrast, I believe that Lullabot hires the way it should be done, really taking their time, being very upfront about this at the start, and making confident decisions.

After I received the job offer, I felt I had earned it. Starting work at Lullabot, I had instant confidence in and mutual respect for my team—every one of them had earned it, too. This concept was really driven home a few weeks later when I spoke to my Lullabuddy, Carwin (seriously, you get assigned a buddy!). When I asked him if there was anything he wished he'd been told when he started, he told me: “Don't feel like you have to prove yourself, because you're already here, and already accepted.”

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