March 30

Aline Lerner – Pro Chef Starts Tech Recruiting Firm, (#44)

Founder, Recruiting, Software Engineering, Startup

0  comments Referral Code for Develomentor Listeners!


Aline Lerner is the founder and CEO of, an anonymous tech recruiting platform where companies like Facebook, Uber, Dropbox, and Quora have hired great software engineers. Before that, she was a software engineer for 5 years, ran hiring at Udacity, and wrote a lot of stuff about hiring on the internet.

Aline’s data-driven posts about how typos matter more than pedigree, how resumes are a low-signal filtering tool, and how technical interviews aren’t deterministic have been read by millions of people. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and Fast Company.

Click Here –> For more information about tech careers

Episode Summary

“We now hire for a ton of great companies including Goldman Sachs, twitter, uber and a bunch of others. But about 40 percent of our top performers and by extension about 40 percent of the hires we’ve made to date are people that frankly don’t look that good on paper!”

—Aline Lerner

In this episode we’ll cover:

  1. What did Aline learn from working long hours in the kitchen?
  2. How important is spelling and grammar on a professional resume? (Hint: it’s very important!)
  3. Is technical recruiting more tech or sales?
  4. How helps candidates that don’t look great on paper?

Key Milestones

[1:55] – Aline graduated from MIT. She didn’t want to remain in academia and she also didn’t feel like coding. So she decided to become a chef!
[3:45] – After 3 years as a chef, Aline was burnt out and broke. She decided to get back into tech. Her first programming job was at ClickTime, where she stayed for 5 years.
As a manager, she always had trouble hiring new engineers. This is when she started to moonlight as a recruiter.

[5:20] – Aline started recruiting for startups. After making a few hires, she decided to leave her programming job to take a stab at recruiting full time. She landed a job as head of recruitment at TrialPay.
[6:05] – Writing and technical recruiting: The first popular article Aline wrote was about how after all of her research she found the most important thing in a resume was how many grammatical errors it had.
[7:35]- Aline decided to leave TrialPay to start her own recruiting firm centered on finding the best candidates, no matter how well they looked on paper. She also found time to run hiring at Udacity while starting her own business.

[8:47] – When running her own recruiting firm, Aline often had to interview her own candidates so she could fully vouch for them with partnering companies who needed talent. was started so candidates could get coaching but also so companies could get quality candidates who didn’t look great on paper.
[10:30] – How important is spelling and grammar on a professional resume?
[12:20] – Aline’s dad forced her to learn to code at an early age. They both took the same summer classes at the University of Wisconsin. Although her college degree from MIT was in brain and cognitive science, it involved a lot of programming.

[17:03] – Aline talks about becoming a professional chef after graduating from MIT. Why was she drawn to the chaotic and hedonistic restaurant life? What did she learn from working long hours in the kitchen?
[22:20] – Aline on being nervous and rusty while interviewing for programming jobs after working for 3 years as a chef. She bombed several interviews before finally landing a job at ClickTime. ClickTime’s hiring process was focused on skills rather than traditional interviewing.
[25:45] – Is technical recruiting more tech or sales?
[26:56] – How did writing articles help Aline with her recruiting business?

[29:00] – How has Aline’s role changed within over the past 4 years?
[34:44] – The hardest thing about interviewing is just getting your foot in the door. All the technical skills you can typically brush up on or learn. What are some tips to get your foot in the door? Why is it that usually your resume isn’t even read by a human being?

[38:01] – How to guess an engineering manager’s email with accuracy?
[41:15] – Aline loves building product and writing articles. Her least favorite thing to do is fundraising.
[44:31] – Aline is not a big reader but she recommends the book ‘Small Unit Leadership‘. In her entrepreneurial journey, mentorship has been especially important.

Additional Resources

Selected Links from the episode: Referral Code for Develomentor Listeners!

Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach – by Dandridge M. Malone 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – by Ben Horowitz

The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training For Climbers – by Arno Ilgner

Read Aline’s articles on Quora
Read Aline’s articles on Medium




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