Facebook's top recruiter: We want "builders at heart"

Every day more than 2 billion people use Facebook (FB), and yet it seems safe to say most will never meet even a single Facebook employee in their entire lifetime. That's the nature of software companies -- their products may be ubiquitous, but their employees are nearly invisible. Even harder to find are the people who actually do the hiring at these companies.

So meet Miranda Kalinowski. As vice president for global recruiting, she's responsible for Facebook's talent acquisition around the world.

Kalinowski recently agreed to speak with CBS News.com's Steven Greenberg and to share her insights and advice for landing the next job you really want -- at Facebook, or anyplace else -- with CBS MoneyWatch readers. 

Edited excerpts of their conversation follow:

Greenberg: Just how quickly is Facebook growing? How many new hires did you make last year? 

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Facebook's Miranda Kalinowski

Kalinowski: Facebook ended 2017 with more than 25,000 employees, which represented a 47 percent increase year-over-year. Last year was a huge hiring year for us, and 2018 will be no different. While we are growing in most of our locations across the world, we have by far the most open positions in the U.S.

People may assume Facebook has no trouble finding the right people, but you have literally hundreds, if not thousands of open jobs on your careers page now. And the openings are far broader than tech -- you have open jobs in communications, design, finance, marketing, HR, legal and community operations.

Exactly. We're always looking, and always looking for diverse teams.

Walk me through an actual hire. Do most start with referral?

Referrals is one of the channels we leverage, certainly. We also go to universities across the world, we host events, we have direct sourcing by [our own internal] recruiters and we post jobs on our careers site. We try to make the process as personal as possible. Most of all, we want to know, what are candidates' strengths? What are they doing when they're so engaged that they lose track of time?

Candidates for jobs at Facebook meet with cross section of managers, peers, team members. We want to get a 360 look, not just one interview.

How many resumes do you receive on average for each open job?

It depends on the job opening. Sometimes in the tens, sometimes literally thousands.

Any common resume mistakes that may be hurting a candidate's chances?

Yes! Some candidates send resumes with a long list of capabilities on top, and I think, "you have to be a superhero to have them all." Highlight just your greatest strengths -- that's more convincing and credible.

Have you ever seen a candidate do something really creative and inspired to stand out among thousands of candidates?

I've received my fair share of "stunty applications" -- a resume in an old gym shoe, a resume buried in a treasure box or one accompanied by a life-size laminated photo of the applicant. At the end of the day, we look for substance over style.

Standing out from the "crowd of applicants" can be done by how you demonstrate your authentic self, your voice and opinion even when it may not be considered the one of the most "popular" ways of doing so.  Shining a light on when in the past you have built something, improved something or shown teamwork, how you have collaborated to create something better than you would have on your own, or why you're passionate about Facebook's mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

These are all effective ways to stand out from the crowd.

Wow, a life-size laminated photo! Was the person applying for a job as a mannequin?

[Laughs] We actually had a hard time disposing of it in an environmentally friendly way.

I think the best thing to do is to follow up in meaningful and relevant ways. A candidate recently applied to a few positions, and in the meantime he sent me a link to an article that was relevant to our conversation. It was thoughtful, relevant and reminded me of the candidate in a subtle, mutually beneficial way.

What's the best question a candidate ever asked you in a job interview?

This is probably not too unique, but what would success look like in this role? It's a tried-and-true question. Any question that demonstrates that the candidate is interested in learning about what is important to the company.

Any specific advice for older jobseekers? 

Own it! It saddens me to speak with jobseekers who feel they have to separate themselves from their past so as to better "fit" what they think a company might be looking for. Personally, I've been working in recruiting for 27 years. I'm 48 years old and hopeful that my best work days are still ahead (and I've had some fabulous days).

I know that my professional maturity, the fact that I've worked across different industries, built teams and processes, seen technology and practices evolve (and some regress), worked with people from across the world with different styles and backgrounds are all assets not liabilities. My hope would be for jobseekers who have more experience see that as the asset that it is and own it.

Do you hire liberal arts majors? If so, for what roles?

We absolutely do -- we assemble teams with cognitive diversity in mind. This enables us to build better products, make better decisions and serve our clients better. People with liberal arts majors bring different ways of thinking to the company. We need people with a broad set of skills and experiences, not just tech skills, to solve complex problems that come with bringing our services to over 2 billion people across the world.

Roles that we hire liberal arts majors into include our product teams, like in creative roles or linguistics, policy and communications, operations, HR, marketing, management and the list goes on.

About 70 percent of Facebook's staff is male and primarily white and Asian. What major efforts are you making to create more diversity?

In order to serve the global community that uses Facebook, we need an employee base that reflects a broad range of experience, race, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and many other characteristics.

We aren't where we'd like to be, and we're taking a number of short-, medium- and long-term steps to improve. In the short term, we're focused on building a diverse slate of candidates and an inclusive working environment. We do this through things like our Diverse Slate Approach, Facebook Resource Groups and a clear path for advancement at all levels of the company.

Medium-term, we're focused on supporting students with an interest in both tech and business functions through programs like Facebook University and our commitment to organizations such as the Anita Borg Institute, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Long-term, we're creating opportunity and access for people interested in computer science and programming through things like TechPrep and a $15 million commitment to Code.org over the next five years.

A lot of people seem to agree that Mark Zuckerburg is a great CEO. What makes him so well regarded? 

Facebook's success as a company is a testament to Mark as a leader. He's very invested in learning, which is obvious from the yearly challenges he sets for himself, and this comes across in our culture, too. He's also committed to the community -- both the people who work at Facebook, and the 2 billion-plus people who use our platform every day.

How do you see the Facebook's hiring needs changing in the coming years?   

Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Through our family of apps and services, we're building a different kind of company that connects billions of people around the world, gives them ways to share what matters most to them and helps bring people closer together.

Whether we're creating new products or helping a small business expand its reach, people at Facebook are builders at heart. I can't see this changing in the years ahead.

We're seeing more demand for augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence given Mark's 10-year vision for the company. Computer vision, interaction design, 3D design, architecture, network connectivity, infrastructure, security, energy -- a raft of specializations that we'll need to establish our teams who are constantly iterating, solving problems and working together to empower people around the world to build community and connect in meaningful ways. We're just getting started.

What's the best piece of advice you would give to candidates that they may have not heard before?

Be vulnerable in an interview -- it's not a weakness. We want to get to know who you really are, what will inspire you, ignite you and terrify you. We're building a culture of learning fast, and that means there will be failures along the way.

In an interview, yes, you get to put your best foot forward, but that also brings with it the stories of times when stuff didn't go as planned. What are those things, what did you learn from them and do differently next time? Reflecting on those things before the interview is just as important as those you would categorize as raging successes.

If you weren't the global head of recruiting for Facebook, what would you want to do for a living?  

Recruiting is in my blood (my mother was a recruiter), so doing something other than that is hard to imagine. Having said that, I love cooking and writing. Making those into something I could do for a living would be interesting.

Steven Greenberg is the host of CBS News Radio's "Your Next Job," a daily feature offering career-related news and advice. He's also a consultant to HR tech company Traitify.com. Send him your career questions at greenberg@traitify.com