Coding chops, referrals, and competing offers. Poker skills probably helped, too.
This is Haseeb Qureshi.
He’s a former poker pro who last year enrolled in a programming bootcamp — a mainstay for aspiring techies hoping to break into a big-name Silicon Valley company like Google, Uber, or Airbnb. In Qureshi’s case, the 12-week program landed him a job as the director of product at the bootcamp he attended, App Academy.
Earlier this month, with just a year’s worth of programming experience, Qureshi received a $250,000 job offer from Airbnb. That Qureshi was able to land such a gig isn’t particularly interesting; “Tech Engineer Gets Huge Salary” is a story that could be written daily in the Bay Area. But the tale of how he came to receive the job offer, from beginning to end, is fascinating.
It’s a glimpse into how dizzying salaries are attained, something not often discussed publicly, let alone openly in Silicon Valley. And Qureshi has interesting plans for his salary. He’s an effective altruist who has pledged to donate a substantial portion of his lifetime income to high-impact charities.
Qureshi said you need referrals to even get your foot in the door at Silicon Valley tech companies.
Bootcamps like App Academy might teach you the coding skills you need to work at the big name tech companies, but their names don’t count for much in Silicon Valley’s highly competitive job market.
“I applied to the all the big hiring websites,” Qureshi wrote. “Hired rejected me from their platform. I got no bites anywhere on AngelList or LinkedIn — not even cold e-mails from recruiters. Nothing from WhiteTruffle or SmartHires. Not a breath of interest anywhere.”
Ultimately, over 50% of the companies Qureshi applied to rejected him outright. It wasn’t until he began using TripleByte, a technical recruiting/screening platform for engineers, that his job search gained momentum.
Essentially, TripleByte serves as a middleman. It tested and screened Qureshi for a variety of qualifications and then pitched him as available talent to companies like Stripe, Twitch, and Airbnb. Because TripleByte was founded by a former partner of startup accelerator Y Combinator, it is particularly successful at placing candidates at YC companies.
Seriously: You need someone who knows you to give you a referral if you want a call back.
Every single one of the jobs Qureshi was eventually offered came through referrals — none were from applying to a job blind. Many of the offers came from people Qureshi already knew at the companies he was applying to (most tech companies hand out bonuses for employees who refer someone that’s ultimately hired).
Tech companies compete for people — hard.
According to Qureshi, an offer in hand begat others — particularly if it was from a BIG Silicon Valley tech company.
“Just the whiff of the Google name got recruiters into a frenzy,” Qureshi wrote. “Companies that wouldn’t even look at me now bent over backwards to expedite me through their funnels.”
After receiving an offer from Google, Qureshi sparked interest at some of the hottest companies in the Valley; Uber, Twitch, and Airbnb all suddenly became much more interested in talking to him. What’s unclear is just how these companies kept abreast of Qureshi’s job search, and just how he became a seemingly hot commodity.