At Uber’s Dallas Office, These Twentysomethings are Recruiting Up to 30 New Co-workers a Week

The tech company has brought 150 employees on board so far with plans to expand the office to 3,000 by 2023.

On Wall Street, Uber Technologies is struggling to prove itself to investors. It’s gone through several rounds of layoffs as it matures into a company with annual revenue in excess of $11 billion.

But in Dallas, the company is in a markedly different stage: start-up mode. It’s hired the first 150 employees for its new Deep Ellum hub from about 1,000 applicants.

Uber’s two on-the-ground recruiters, Katie Gonzalez and Gianni Sesto, said no job candidates have asked about the company’s financial pressures. If they did, the recruiters said, they’d point to the nearby construction pit where Uber’s new 23-story tower is rising. Uber already leased and moved into a 16-story tower on the same site.

“We’ve made such a huge investment here, and it’s an exciting time,” Gonzalez said.

The San Francisco-based tech giant is ramping up its Dallas presence after announcing in August that it would open a major corporate office and breaking ground in November on a new tower. The hub is expected to grow to 3,000 employees by the end of 2023 and become Uber’s largest office outside of its headquarters.

So far, though, the company is running behind its hiring goals. Last fall, Uber officials said the company would have 400 employees in Dallas by the end of 2019. As of late January, it had about 150. Most new hires are from Dallas, but a handful are existing employees who wanted to transfer.

Uber spokesman Travis Considine acknowledged the company is behind schedule but said it’s unrelated to company finances. Uber reports its year-end results Thursday.

“We’re not at 400 yet, but that isn’t due to any change in strategy or expectations,” he said. “We clearly have no shortage of great candidates, but our recruiting process is a fair, deliberate process.”

The recruiters-in-chief

Gonzalez, 25, who’s based in Washington, D.C., and Sesto, 27, who’s based in San Francisco, moved to Dallas in early October. They’ll spend six months staffing up the new hub. They spend their days sorting through a virtual pile of résumés, screening candidates on the phone and searching LinkedIn for candidates for harder-to-fill positions, such as executive roles or ones that require rarer skills.

Both live in Deep Ellum, close to the company’s hub. For Sesto, Dallas is a familiar city. He lived here for two years when he worked for a finance and accounting company. To get to know the city and describe it to candidates, Gonzalez said she’s been “hitting a new grocery store every weekend.”

About 90% of Uber’s applicants already live in Dallas-Fort Worth, Sesto said. He said it’s a statistic that proves out Uber’s decision to plant its flag in the city.

“Dallas has the workforce to grow and scale an office of this size,” he said.

The other 10% tend to be from other parts of Texas and, in some cases, other parts of the country, he said.

Uber has 30 open jobs listed on its website for the Dallas office. They’re across business divisions from Uber Freight to Uber Eats and in different kinds of corporate roles. So far, most of the filled jobs in Dallas are in sales.

Along with sales, accounting and finance hires, the recruiters are looking for their own successors.

In recruiting calls, Sesto said they pitch the uniqueness of the Dallas experience: It’s a chance to join a giant global company with a “big reach,” but in an office with “a startup feel.”

“For a company the size of Uber, it’s pretty rare to be a part of building a second headquarters,” he said.

When they talk to candidates from outside of Dallas, the recruiters stress the city’s affordability and its cool neighborhoods. Sesto said cost of living is “the biggest selling point.”

Inside the Dallas hub

They also tout company perks: Four months of paid leave for new parents, unlimited paid time off, free catered lunches, a monthly Uber credit, a discount on all rides and food deliveries, and a monthly sum for wellness-related expenses such as massages or gym memberships.

If an applicant looks like a fit, Gonzalez or Sesto screen the candidate on the phone. For the ones who progress, a hiring manager sets up a video call. And if that goes well, Uber invites the candidate to the Deep Ellum office for an on-site interview and tour. The candidate typically does a case study, such as a mock sales pitch or financial model, to show how they work.

During the process, Gonzalez said Uber looks for clues to see whether the person is a cultural fit and has a strong background. To stand out, she said, candidates should “showcase what they’ve been able to accomplish in past roles” and ask their own questions.

“You’re interviewing us, too,” Gonzalez said.

Inside Uber’s office, employees work at long tables and can stop in the kitchen for free snacks. There’s a cereal bar, an espresso machine and typical vending machine fare like M&Ms and bags of chips. A fridge is stocked with hard-boiled eggs, fruit, soda, Topo Chico, Greek yogurt and more.

There are also some of the fixtures common to tech companes: white boards, a foosball table and cold-brew coffee on tap. Employees can work out at a free fitness center down the hall.

Along with filling jobs, the recruiters must help build the office’s culture. They’ve brainstormed Texas-themed names for conference rooms, such as Texas rivers and Texas icons. They started a new annual tradition by throwing a Friendsgiving celebration in November. And they have weekly happy hours and game nights with the office’s supply of free beer and wine.

Each day, there’s a free catered lunch — and that’s often where employees meet the 20 to 30 new colleagues starting each week, Gonzalez said.

Uber wants to expand the office quickly, but it also wants candidates who are the right fit. On a recent tour of the office, Sesto walked by empty desks and conference rooms.

“As you can see, we have a lot of hiring to do,” he said.

Source: The Dallas Morning News

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