Gray Scalable Spotlight: Eric Tenety


A little more about Eric, Gray Scalable’s Lead Executive Recruiter…


Eric’s role at Gray Scalable

 Eric joined the Gray Scalable team earlier this year to help build our Executive Search function.  He joined Gray Scalable from an international boutique that was also serving early and growth stage tech companies, and he brings over 15 years experience leading executive and board-level searches for clients like Atlas Obscura, Oden Technologies, Plated, Farfetch, Refinery29, Squarespace, Spotify, TransferWise, and many other innovative and disruptive companies.

 Eric finds that executive search, developing new business, and building new relationships all go hand in hand - he’s constantly meeting new founders, investors, and executives, and always looking for ways to help his clients grow by introducing top performers or by helping them better understand the markets in which they operate.

“I love the variety of clients and variety of projects I’m fortunate to work on. I’m always learning about new companies, emerging models, and newly established functions within companies,” Eric expresses. “Also, being able to reach out and access people, and build a relationship with a complete stranger in a way that helps advance their career is something that I have always found to be very rewarding.”


How he got into tech and HR

 Immediately after college, Eric worked in film and production. He started a production company with one of his roommates and was eventually introduced to a father & son team who had a crazy idea to be first time filmmakers. Neither had ever made a movie and, as Eric shared, they were actually looking for a way to improve their relationship, and felt making a movie was a good cover story and much needed distraction. To everyone’s surprise, the film did really well. It won every festival where it was shown, had a major theatrical release, and was nominated for an Academy Award.

 “I had moved to LA for about 6 months to help wrap-up this project and, during this period, I came to the realization that the film biz was just not for me. I was gravitating towards doing something a bit more corporate, and my plan was to move back to New York and begin a new chapter in my life, but I wasn’t quite sure how this would take form. During lunch with a friend who was a very successful Search Consultant, he shared that he felt I had the right disposition and aptitude for this type of work, and suggested I look into areas of Executive Search that intersected with my interests. I was fascinated with New York’s emerging tech scene, felt this might be a good fit, and found and successfully approached a retained search firm that was very active in this area. The first project I was asked to help with was with a start-up that, for the first time, was trying to stream live content over the internet and then sell ads against this content. Not a big deal today, but ground breaking at the time and helped get my foot in the door.”

Eric is really excited about applying his expertise to Gray’s existing client base, and feels the addition of Executive Search to the Embedded Recruiting function is a very powerful combination.

 “Every C or VP-level executive I’ve ever placed has invariably asked for assistance in scaling their teams, or for compensation or market-based banding data as they build the team. I’m thrilled that I can now offer such a seamlessly delivered and highly integrated solution that provides these services and more.”


Eric’s favorite part of working at Gray Scalable

“When I made the decision to transition from my previous firm, I had a pretty good understanding of what was most important to me - people first, platform second. It was important that I align myself with a good group of people who actually live the values they promote, but were also highly capable and effective at what they do. I knew coming in that the Gray team is a very friendly, vibrant, collaborative group; the culture here is amazing and it facilitates great work on the client side.”

“Also it doesn’t hurt that our SoHo office isn’t too far from my favorite healthy place to grab lunch, Hu Kitchen.”


What he’s up to now

 Eric is recently married and enjoying life as a newlywed. He and his wife reside on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and both enjoy a full life consisting of family, friends, and two mini dachshunds. When not in the city, they pack up the pups and head upstate or down the shore.


Not Enough Experience on Your Resume? Rise Above 'Requirements'

You’re looking online for open jobs and your eyes light up -- you’ve found one that seems exciting! But then you scan the (so-called) requirements section and realize you don’t have every skill listed. Even though you believe you’d be good at the job, you feel you might not be qualified. I’ve written hundreds of job descriptions and reviewed thousands of resumes, and take it from me: While this can be a discouraging situation, you should absolutely still apply.

The elusive unicorn.

Given the choice, an employer would love to hire someone who has every single requirement listed, but job descriptions are written very broadly in order to cast a wide net. Employers are usually looking for a candidate who has some of the skills, not all of them.

In fact, it’s so rare to find candidates who fit every listed requirement that recruiters use the term unicorn to describe them. There are a number of ways to be qualified for a job, and checking every box on the “experience” list is just one of them -- there’s also your ability to communicate well or your proven experience picking up on things quickly, for example.

Still, if you don’t fit all the base requirements, it’s important to present yourself in your best light. There are a few key things you can do to help battle the perception that you’re not fully qualified for a role.

Create a unique resume for the job.

While you likely have a basic all-purpose resume, you should edit it for each job for which you apply. Highlight experience that directly links to what that particular company is looking for, and always list your most relevant experience at the top of your resume. Match your descriptions of what you’ve done in past roles with the job description, and it will catch any recruiter’s eye.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good cover letter.

This is your opportunity to tell a compelling story that fills in the gaps on your resume. Find friends whose writing skills you respect and ask them to help review and edit your cover letter and make sure you’re discussing everything you can bring to the company. Avoid talking solely about why you’re interested in working at a company, and focus instead on why it should be interested in you. Be confident and clear and lead with your strengths, no matter if they exactly match the job description.

Focus on personal projects.

If you are interested in a field but haven’t yet formally worked in it, it’s important to show that you’re passionate and have a basic understanding of the field. Blog posts, projects and online courses are a great way to fill in holes in your work experience and provide evidence of your skills that your work history may not be able to show.

Highlight your core skills.

Companies are always looking for employees who can grow and stretch with a role if it changes, and hiring managers generally look for some fundamental skills in addition to the requirements of a specific job. Examples include writing and communication skills, presentation skills, project planning experience and experience working in a fast-paced environment.

Google, for example, conducted an internal study that found that technical skill was the least important skill of their top employees -- above it was being a good coach and communicator, being open-minded and intuitive, being empathetic and being a critical thinker and problem solver.

More and more frequently, recruiters are being asked to assess these core skills; showing you possess them is of growing importance and can balance out other qualifications you may not meet. Employers know it’s a lot easier to teach someone how to use a tool than to teach them to be a problem solver.

A good general motto when it comes to applying for jobs is If you don’t enter, you can’t win. Never take yourself out of the running by not applying, and have confidence in yourself and your broader skill set. There are a lot of ways to be the “right” hire, and employers often don’t know exactly what they’re looking for until they find it. Play up your strengths, show you’re up to the task of learning quickly and always highlight what value you can bring to a company, no matter the job.


written by Lucia Smith, Gray Scalable HR Consultant 

This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur

How Data is Evolving Human Resources

The field of People Science is transforming the way that HR is practiced in progressive companies, and changing the perception and expectations of HR along the way, by showing how the responsibilities of HR can be quantified, improved and most importantly, correlated with business results.  Any competent Chief People Officer will have their own set of key metrics to monitor as well as preferred methods and platforms for integrating data into all aspects of their function.  Here we’ll take a look at three examples—recruiting, compensation and company culture.

Recruiting. Strong recruiting leaders led the way with use of analytics to drive success, for a couple of reasons.  First, the nature of recruiting is measurable in several obvious ways (from traditional measures like time-to-fill and cost-her-hire to more sophisticated data such as candidate pipeline progress, interview scores, and experience/performance correlations).

Second, business leaders will frequently recognize the value of a strong recruiting function, and fund it accordingly, earlier than they will put significant budgets on other strategic HR initiatives such as organizational planning or leadership development.

When it comes down to it, you can view recruiting as really a pure application of good data—if a company sets a goal of increasing certain hires by x amount, they can measure past performance, apply those metrics, and simply set the necessary resources against it almost by formula. The challenge is first just creating a system and process that collects this data reliably, but once you achieve that the rest should follow.

Compensation. This is the big game for HR professionals obsessed with data. The data itself is plentiful through comp surveys and data providers, and thoughtful experienced application of data can provide many also-quantifiable results for a company’s HR team, such as increasing retention and job satisfaction, rewarding performance, fairness of pay and commitment to diversity, hiring effectiveness, and more. The people scientists in most small-to-midsize organizations reside within the compensation team, but their expertise benefits the company and its employees in many ways beyond just compensation itself.

Culture. Most people will intuitively see this as the last quantifiable thing about a company—something important but also intangible, a set of qualities that can be surmised through a casual and unstructured conversation (often referred to as the “airport test” or “elevator test”). In fact, through tools like company surveys, manager assessments and exit interviews, coupled with basic psychology and a real commitment to authentic and values-driven culture, you can replace cultural bias with real facts, and develop a strong set of metrics that will drive your culture and your business results.

Smart use of data can impact every area of Human Resources, and enables HR leaders to represent themselves and their work in a quantifiable and results-focused way, just as marketing, operations, finance and other business executives do.   A strong data analyst is one of the best hires a VPHR can add to their team, but it’s also important to hire HR professionals that understand and embrace using data to measure and advance their work—that’s how the strongest people leaders are now building their teams.



Written by Charlie Gray, Gray Scalable President

This post originally appeared on HR Daily Advisor

Do You Know How to Negotiate Your Worth?

Dana Wilde, radio host and author of Train Your Brain, interviews Talent Acquisition Expert and Gray Scalable Co-Founder, Deb Feldman, about how to value your experience, skills, and talents and make sure you're getting paid what you're worth!

The video originally appeared on The Mind Aware, live with Dana Wilde .


More about Deb Feldman: 
As Gray Scalable's Principal Consultant and Co-Founder, Deb leads client engagements and manages internal operations for our team. She leads our business recruiting practice, helping our clients hire in sales, marketing, operations, HR, and recruiting. Along the way, Deb plays an internal People Operations role while on embedded, onsite engagements at clients, helping to build/optimize scalable people programs. 

Deb brings 15+ years of in-house HR and Talent Acquisition experience, having held leadership roles at startups and large organizations, including Google, Unilever, and Recyclebank. Deb loves to sing, run, and cook, and lives with her husband and 3 sons in New Jersey.

2018: Year Of The Employee? Why companies are stepping up their HR game


With the tumultuous events of the past year in government as well as several leading industries, trust in leadership in general is trending downward. At the same time, the uncertainties and risks in the coming year create low business confidence and seem to be leading many companies to plan for cautious growth, if not targeted layoffs or retrenchment. These larger trends, in addition to the current generation’s comfort level with changing companies regularly, mean that investments in critical talent will likely need to increase in order for companies to retain their best employees. 

Salaries have long been one of the largest line items in companies’ budgets, but many employees have not felt like they are treated with that same ranking of importance. The Year of the Employee means that a greater share of company attention and investment will shift to employee rewards of all kinds, and more focus on listening to employee needs, offering growth and development opportunities, and supporting employees as a whole person.
Investing in People Means Investing in HR
Those of us that work closely with the HR community, especially with startups, have noticed that HR is gaining influence at earlier stages, as Series A companies look for Heads of Talent and Series B companies look for Chief People Officers. Not only are they putting experienced people into these roles (v. promoting inexperienced people from within), they are giving them broader scope and a real “seat at the table” in many cases. The value of professional recruiting teams and people operations programs that focus on career development, leadership coaching and creative compensation are becoming more broadly understood by executives. It helps that the continuing advancement and awareness of “people science” or HR analytics is giving new credibility to People Leaders who embrace it, and helps leaders recognize that human resources isn’t just for welcoming new hires, planning company events, managing benefits and writing performance plans.  When well executed, good HR practices have a dramatic effect on retention and general morale, and this makes HR’s benefits as quantifiable as any other function.
Advancements in Salaries and Benefits
Salary competitiveness, as well as the range of company benefits, are essential ingredients in a comprehensive retention strategy. It’s likely that more companies will be subject to unscientific internal self-surveys and public releases of unfiltered compensation data, as happened at Google this year. Alongside this, more cities and states will follow the lead of California and New York and pass laws focused on gender pay equity. Actions such as these, and the efforts of some companies to get ahead of these issues, will lead to more generous (and more fairly administered) compensation practices.
Time off policies are also evolving. Many companies are embracing “Open” vacation plans, and Paid Family Leave is replacing the traditional “Maternity Leave+” policy structures. Gender and role-blind parental leave is becoming more and more common with companies and will find its way into more legislation as well, as it has very recently in NYC. The distinction between primary and secondary caregivers is becoming less distinct as “secondary” parents gain recognition, which dramatically increases the number of people eligible for these benefits.  
And in the modern workplace “soft” benefits are just as important as traditional ones (insurance coverage, vacation time.).  To compete, progressive companies must make sure they have spaces for employees to relax/refresh, offer regular employee touch points with leadership (through company meetings, open town halls, suggestion boxes, etc.), and options to participate in employee resource groups or mentorship opportunities. All of these perks and programs will continue to grow and to gain acceptance (or expectance) in a broader range of industries. And of course there is the strategically critical area of career development – which requires long term structural planning, robust L&D programs, versatile Business Partners, and a sustained commitment from management to the mission of advancing employees in their careers. These are quantifiable commitments to employee health and loyalty, and will require continued investments in HR.
We expect all of these benefits to continue advancing in 2018. Whatever the underlying reasons are, policies and practices that put more emphasis on employee growth and rewards, that evolve workplace cultures are a welcome trend. 



Written by Charlie Gray, Gray Scalable President

This post originally appeared on

Gray Scalable Spotlight: Darla Hornbjork


A little more about Darla, our first Los Angeles based Recruiting Consultant, leading Gray Scalable’s growth on the west coast...

Darla’s role at Gray Scalable:

Darla joined the Gray Scalable New York team in January of 2016, leading the growth of the sourcing team and managing recruiting engagements at NYC clients like Rocketrip and MM.Lafleur. As her family took on an intriguing, new adventure to Los Angeles, Darla used the opportunity to bring Gray Scalable’s services to the West Coast. The new location is the first outside of our Silicon Alley headquarters in NYC, and home to a growing team already in the greater LA area.

Darla began her career in HR as a Recruiting Researcher - as she recalls, “it was the first company out of college that offered me a job and rent in Brooklyn was due.” For the next decade and more, Darla has been working with tech companies to help them grow and scale. With expertise at hiring engineers, product designers, marketing and sales professionals, as well as partnering with C level suite to define talent strategy, she brings extensive experience building sourcing pipelines, developing process and internal tools, defining employer brand strategy and helping companies build their teams.

Proudest moment at Gray Scalable:

Darla fondly remembers many proud Gray Scalable moments, but two of them stand out:

“First, building the sourcing team from scratch and then handing it over to Bec, knowing that I took it as far as I could and she would do great things with the team. And also, hiring a CTO for MM.Lafleur. They were such a great client for us for so many reasons and I was happy to have introduced them to their first C-level tech leader.”

  Darla’s favorite part of working at Gray Scalable:

“The support of our team! We are a hive mind that helps each of us solve any problem on behalf of our clients. And, since the company is entirely made up of  HR or Recruiting professionals, there is a great deal of empathy for one another.”

What she’s most excited about:

As Gray Scalable’s first year on the west coast continues, Darla is looking the most forward to building the LA office! We’ve partnered with Native Instruments, the world’s leading manufacturer of software and hardware for music production and DJing - and we are working with them to help grow their the product and design team. With a strong commitment to agile development & culture, we are helping them expand their global community and we look forward to more exciting opportunities in California!

Some fun facts about Darla:


Darla is an actor, a writer and a comedian. She’s also an adrenaline junky, who’s been skydiving five times! She played basketball throughout college, and loves being an amazing mama to her Gus, and wants to continue to grow her family!  

Just last week, Darla shared her experience and advice on Diversity and Innovation at a Tech Salon put on by the teams at Bixel Exchange and General Assembly in Los Angeles. Catch up with Darla on Tuesday, March 20, in Santa Monica, where she joins another team of experts to talk about Attracting and Retaining Superstar Talent. Register for the event here.


Are you interested in joining the Native Instruments team?

Click here to find out more about the roles and apply!

Today’s Generation is Changing Employee Benefit Packages of the Future

I try not to use the “Millennial” label. It feels wrong to generalize about groups that include millions of people and I can’t help but detect some age discrimination, even if subtle or unintentional, in pronouncements about behavioral differences in various age groups. Evolution took hundreds of thousands of years; I don’t think we’ve drastically changed in the past two decades.

However, there are some realities of the early 21st century that have a substantial effect in how people entering the workforce think about things like financial stability, health and wellness, and professional development—things haven’t changed much in the last century, but now have become much more pronounced in the minds of young professionals. The shift in priorities of today’s workforce requires employers to change their approach to benefit offerings, and while some benefits are “evergreen”—such as good health care coverage—there are other creative ways to attract and connect with people facing today’s economic challenges.

To start, college tuition costs have gotten out of control. This impacts the way young professionals consider prospective employers. While a professional just out of college might seek out the maximum salary they can earn to compensate for that investment, smart employers are realizing that matching contributions to their school loans could be the selling point to someone comparing offers from multiple companies.

Not only is that employer offering them a real benefit that helps solve a current problem, they are taking the time to understand that person and relating to them in a way that the other companies most likely are not. The direct benefit might not even have the same dollar value as another company’s higher salary or retirement plan—but it’s never just about the numbers; it’s about winning someone over to your company because in some way it feels more like home.

Another thing that has shifted a lot over the last couple of generations are the loyalties between employees and employers, which have become weaker. Employers are shedding workers more frequently and as a result workers are becoming more comfortable with moving to a competitor for growth opportunities.

The companies that are fostering positive, long-term relationships with their people are doing it by creating career development programs that promise upward mobility for their employees, and provide the management expertise and HR programs to deliver on that promise. Is this because the young members of today’s workforce are hungrier to advance and more opportunistic than previous generations? I don’t think so. But it’s logical for them to embrace these programs as they make choices about their careers.

Another major change is that having a one-income family is becoming a thing of the past except among the very fortunate. As a result, parents of young children are seeking more flexibility from their employers, so they can effectively balance their multiple weekly commitments. Studies show that 35% of Millennials would take a pay cut in order to work remotely.

Employers who offer flexible scheduling, remote work opportunities and generous parental leave policies will not only attract more “Millennials,” but also create a more diverse workforce as a result, since these policies tend to weigh more heavily  in women's career decisions than in men’s.

Here’s my advice to HR leaders that want to make their companies competitive and attractive to the best talent and want to be cutting-edge and appealing to young professionals:  Carefully consider the day-to-day concerns your employees have and offer benefits that speak directly to those concerns. Your entire team will appreciate it, and you’ll continue to attract the best talent today’s workforce has to offer.


Written by Charlie Gray, Gray Scalable President

This post originally appeared on HR Daily Advisor

Jumpstart your Company's Comp Strategy

Startups of all stages and sizes have to create, manage and often adjust leveling and compensation structure within their companies. It’s important that every company develop a comp strategy -  and although compensation is a topic central to every HR person’s role, it’s not one that every HR person has experience in.


Last week, we partnered with the team at Lifion by ADP to host a Roundtable Discussion on Employee Compensation Strategy. Led by Gray Scalable President, Charlie Gray, the roundtable turned into a large group conversation and open ended Q&A, with 20+ Start-up HR leaders from tech companies all over NYC.

If you weren’t among the HR professionals in attendance, we’ve summed up the key takeaways below. If you are interested in learning more about Gray Scalable and our future events, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook!


Discussing Employee Compensation

Think about your company’s current comp strategy... Typically, an initial compensation strategy that many companies have is “pay people what you need to pay them to accept the job, and pay them more when they ask for more” - and that often gets really messy as any company grows.

The most important factor to having any strategy is to get in front of it - be the initiator of the strategy.

As your company grows and ages what is the total rewards picture? Base pay comp is just one piece of this - when you’re hiring people, you’re offering many things besides just compensation. You’re offering benefits, equity, office perks - it’s important to understand what the whole picture is when you’re giving a candidate an offer. Most people will just assume that you want your pay to be strong and competitive. You don’t always have to be the top payer, but you need to decide where are you going to pay to be competitive in your field (in combination with everything else you include in your total rewards package). Comp is a very sensitive topic and lately we’re getting into a lot of conversations about transparency in compensation. If you’re in a company that competes for talent, and are just paying people whatever you need to pay them to accept the job- you probably can’t be fully transparent with all of your employees. But it’s important to figure out a way to have the conversation so people know that they’re being paid fairly. People generally think they’re underpaid, unless you educate them otherwise.


Q: How do you know if you’re paying fairly?

A: You as an HR person have to be able to tell your people that you’re paying fairly, and you have to be able to explain to them why. Some companies think being fair is being fully transparent, but that’s not true - figure out the fine line between being transparent and being fair.


Q: “What if you have been doing things that are not fair? An example, someone came to me and said, ‘I just found out that so and so got a bonus and I didn’t, what’s up?’ How do you fix that?”

A: If the management team is not with you on the principle of fairness, you’re not going to win. The management team needs to be on the same page when it comes to being fair. Correct things as you discover them, but create a annual or semi-annual cycle in which to review all compensation and test for fairness proactively.  The  anniversary thing is not sustainable past about 50 people. You’re making independent decisions without the grand scheme of things.



The best way to align yourself with the market is to know that there are ten levels. If you’re a company of less than 1000 employees, maybe less than 500, the number is generally ten.

Once the hierarchy starts becoming a growing pain and people are wondering how the company is growing within their own career, you have to think about leveling and how you can show people where they can go within the company and how they can get there.

Q: “At what number do you decide on ten levels? With my company of 110, ten levels seems excessive.”

A: I would say 70-100 people is the right time to differentiate the ten levels.



Q: How do you fix title debt (ie people whose titles need to be re-leveled)?

A: It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time. Once you make a determination about where you want your company to be and what you want the title levels to be, set it there - people can grow into that structure. Although it is important to recognize that it is easier to level someone up then it is to level them down.


Q: “How do you get the right data?”

A: There is a ton of information out there, but you need to look at internal data first before you just look at market data. You have to look at leveling and structure within your company before you can compare yourself to the market. Employees in general will be wildly misinformed about data unless you inform them -  they’re looking at this information, but it may not work for their stage within your company.


Paying for Performance


In theory, this works absolutely - but how are you going to do that if you don’t have performance reviews? And if you are using performance reviews, you have to have a way to quantify performance, like ratings.

Q: “Should the performance and comp conversations be separate? How do you tell people that there is a link/isn’t a link? We find that people fixate on the numbers when the conversations happen together.

A: I don’t think you need to separate the two things. Performance is going to affect how you pay people whether it’s clearly aligned or unclearly aligned.

Startup vs Corporate: Where do you fit?

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Jobseekers often go about their search with a general idea of what they’re looking for in their next role -- whether that’s an increase in pay, change in industry, or even location. But there’s another important question they should ask themselves before anything else: what kind of workplace fits me best? Even more specifically, corporate world, or startup?

Maybe you’ve been in the startup scene for a while and are wondering what the corporate world has to offer; maybe you’ve read one too many articles about the crazy “perks” of working at a startup (free snacks, anyone?) and are wondering if it really lives up to the hype. Or, maybe you’re still unsure about what the differences between these two concepts even are.

Throughout my career so far, I’ve been lucky enough to see the best of both worlds, and though I may be a little biased (after all, I left the corporate world for a chance to embed myself within some of NYC’s best startups as a sourcer), I’ve been able to get a pretty clear picture of the pros and cons of both. What’s good for me may not be good for you, so here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding between the corporate and startup environments.


The Culture

Depending on the size of the startup, it’s likely you’ll be able to get to know most people that you work with pretty well. The professional can often blur into the personal, because you’ll probably be a part of a really tight-knit, highly collaborative team, working long hours and essentially helping to build a company. For this reason, most startups are very selective about who they bring on--they need to make sure everyone is a cultural fit as they grow and evolve as a team.

By contrast, in the corporate world, it’s entirely possible to go years without knowing every single person who works there--whether that’s because they work on a different floor, or your department’s functions don’t necessarily intersect with theirs. You become much more accustomed to working only within your own department, and there may be less room for cross-functional collaboration. That being said, big corporations may often have the resources to throw large, company-wide events to make it easier to network internally.

In startup cultures, there's also usually a difference in the way people approach their work. You have a bit more autonomy in how you’re going to meet goals and complete projects. In fact, you’re often encouraged to be creative and present new ideas on how to make a process more efficient or to produce better results. You can work at your own pace, as opposed to the rigidity of a corporate environment, where things may be a bit more bureaucratic when trying to enact change.

Most startups nowadays are also fairly flexible about dress codes, vacation time, and can offer interesting perks like flex hours or the ability to work from home -- but don’t mistake a casual culture for a lazy one -- you may actually have more responsibilities because you’re required to wear many hats. That means you should be highly amenable to change, re-prioritize at a moment’s notice, and adapt quickly. And because you have more autonomy, you’ll have to be good at setting your own deadlines and managing yourself -- which definitely isn’t easy for everyone.


Career Growth Path

There’s a reason they call it the corporate ladder. In most corporate industries, there is usually a clear-cut way to get to roles of progressive seniority. You can actually see a definitive path to becoming VP/Director, because others have done it before you. There’s a sense of safety in knowing that if you put in the time, you’ll reach your ultimate goal. Plenty of people value the certainty and stability that comes with that.

In the startup world, however, since roles and career ladders are not as clearly defined, there’s a mentality that everyone pitches in, and there’s no such thing as “not my job”. While this means you can gain experience in a wide variety of roles, and can think about your career on a broader level, it could also add some uncertainty about career path, timing for promotions, pay increases, etc. For someone making the switch from a large organization to a startup this can be the biggest culture change of all.


Recognition and Transparency

Since I began working at a startup, I’ve really gotten a sense that my success is the company’s success. It’s great to feel the satisfaction of knowing that your impact is visible and valuable. On the same note, if you are unhappy about a decision that was made by leadership, you are encouraged to voice your opinion in a productive way, and offer ideas on how to make it better.

In the corporate world, while your success may be recognized by your immediate supervisor and may even help to move you up the org chart, you may be unaware of how your work is impacting the company as a whole. In fact, you may not even have a say in the decisions that are affecting you on a daily basis and there’s a tendency to feel like another cog in a wheel. For some, that’s motivation enough to aspire to leadership positions.

All in all, this decision really depends on the kind of person you are, and the kinds of skills you want to develop. Some may value the structure and resources of a corporate job, while others thrive in a more collaborative or casual space. I should also make the disclaimer that there are always exceptions to the rules, and it’s entirely possible for aspects of each environment to intersect. But generally, you should keep these points in mind if you’re looking to make a career change in the future.


written by Angelica Martinez, Sourcing Consultant 

Gray Scalable Spotlight: Drew Koloski


A little more information about Drew, or Drewski, our Head of Technical Recruiting...

Drew’s role at Gray Scalable:

Drew joined Gray Scalable in July of this year as the Head of Technical Recruiting. He oversees all embedded tech recruiting engagements and works hard to ensure that his team has everything they need to properly do great work for our clients.

In addition to managing his team, Drew looks across all of our Gray Scalable clients to find solutions to common problems and trends, to ensure they’re gaining access to what’s working in the insanely competitive race for hiring developers. Drew is excited to have earned Charlie’s trust in taking on responsibilities in scaling such an important part of the business.

“I look forward to the challenge and responsibility of managing a strong, smart, independent and eclectic group of recruiters, everyone has a very different style, experience and they come from different backgrounds. Our range of in-house talent helps us attack a variety of tough tech recruiting challenges constantly popping up across a diverse group of clients.”

How he got into HR:

After his first job in technology sales and some experience in a recruiting agency, Drew was eventually hired by a client on the corporate side. He spent time working and progressing through different companies and startups, and was lucky enough to build a career in the tech community as the tech scene in NYC really flourished.

Prior to joining the GS team, Drew spent 2+ years building his own recruiting-tech start up. After some time, Drew decided to move back to the human side of the HR business, “Being a founder was an amazing experience, when it was time to find my next challenge Gray Scalable was an obvious fit. Gray Scalable has the best business model in the recruiting business, period. We service clients as true partners in a way that creates lasting value that they appreciate. It’s not just about making hires, it’s about building a progressive, data-first culture of tech recruiting that lasts long beyond the engagement.

Our model allows our consultants to make an impact across the full recruiting life cycle of a client’s company. Tech recruiting consultants are viewed as experts, which empowers them to cut through the typical hiring gridlock that you might find as an internal recruiter. They care about technology and approaching the community, and developers the right way. We are patient, and listen to candidate’s goals to match them to the right the job, instead of trying to match a job to a bunch of key words on a resume.  We sit on site at clients, work with them throughout the entire process, and it makes the tech recruiting consultant job a fulfilling experience.”

Drew’s favorite part of working at Gray Scalable:

“The dedication and capability of our employees here that are earlier in their career - everyone is supporting the recruiting team, everyone is willing to take on more responsibility, which has allowed us to take on more as a company as we grow to find new clients. While we have an amazing group of folks on the tech recruiting team, we have a really strong team as a whole at GS. This is a very challenging place to work, you would think that we have a really experienced team, but it’s a great place to start early and then to grow and develop faster than your peer group, especially in the role that you have, and in the career that you want to build.”

What he’s most excited about:

Drew is the most excited to continue to build the tech recruiting team at Gray Scalable. Naturally, he is enjoying the challenge  of finding the absolute best tech recruiters in New York and LA, “because of the quality of our work and reputation that we’ve built at Gray Scalable, our clients present some very challenging projects that require an individual who is extremely passionate about technology and recruiting as a craft, someone who wants to work independently, and really push themselves to be an expert tech recruiter. They’re trusted with a lot of responsibility, leadership and have the latitude to help our clients make critical hiring decisions on their own.”

Some fun facts about Drew:

Drew has three amazing kids, and lives on the Jersey shore, just five minutes from beach. He is obsessed with soccer and plays about three times a week. He is proud of his experience building companies from the ground up, including his startup Upsider, and was the first ever employee at American Express’s first joint-venture, Vente-Privee USA. One of his weirdest and fun job experiences was working at Cheers in Boston during college...


The Pomodoro Technique

I once heard there are two types of people in this world; those who need coffee and those who need more coffee. Well my issue has never been waking up or staying alert. In fact, I’ve always been 'too' alert (I notice everything). Dug, (the dog from “Up”) and I are similar in more ways than I’d like to admit, but especially in the “inability to stay focussed for long” category.

A former manager of mine introduced me to a technique that helped tremendously. The Pomodoro Technique, invented by developer, Francesco Cirillo, is essentially an interval system for your operating rhythm. Break down your large tasks into smaller, timed intervals and build breaks in between.

The idea is to zero-in on a singular task for 20-25 minutes then take a 5-minute break to go grab a snack, scroll thru social media or finally contribute to that group message with your friends who clearly aren't ever as busy as you seem to be (you should introduce them to this technique!).

Results may vary based on workload, so experiment until you find a work-to-break ratio that’s best. Since adopting the method, I have become much more organized and efficient in my day to day.

Check out this link for more info.



written by De'Nard Pinckney, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Gray Scalable


4 Reasons to Unplug from the Startup Life on Vacation

2017 was quite a year and we could all use a good break...

This post was written by Connie Ngo and originally appeared on the Planted Blog. Connie Ngo heads up Content Marketing at Planted. She studied marketing at Rutgers University and jumped industries a few times before realizing she was meant for the startup life. 



When you join the startup life, you do it for the thrill of getting sh*# done and growing   with  a company. The daily, weekly, monthly grind is fast, demanding, and tiring -- but only if you don’t take care of yourself.

The holidays are a great time to take advantage of to fit in some well-needed R&R, because, you know, it’s a vacation. A time to recharge. But it’s easy for people working in startups to think about vacations as a time to catch up on all the work they didn’t get to yet.

Before you open up that laptop to sneak in a few emails, hold up! The last thing you should do during vacation is work. Taking a well-needed break is healthier for you mentally, and when you do come back from vacation, you’ll be refreshed and recharged instead of wearied and miserable. There’s a reason why “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

Below are some reasons why unplugging from the startup life during vacations can be a good thing.

Reason #1 - Ideas and projects have time to simmer

If you’re   always  thinking about work, this one’s for you. We know it’s hard to completely disconnect all thoughts about all the projects and deadlines that you’ll have to wrangle when you return to work, but the longer and more intensely you focus on a project, the less productive you’ll be with the same amount of effort over time.


Reason #2 - It gives you time to reflect

When you’re constantly going, going, going, it’s easy to lose track of yourself in and out of the office. Taking time off (properly) will give you some time to breathe and think about what you’ve been doing and whether you’re happy with what you’ve accomplished.

Seriously reassess your situation. This is your time to do it without the pressure of having to return to the office too soon.


Reason #3 - You can focus on your non-work relationships

Chances are, you see and interact with some of your coworkers more than your family and friends on a daily basis. And chances are, some of your coworkers have driven you crazy. It’s normal, especially when the team’s super tight knit and there’s pressure to perform well.

Compartmentalizing is a helpful and healthy way of staying sane when working at a startup. If you’re visiting your parents’ for the holidays or having dinner with a few friends, give them your attention. Unlike with your coworkers (who you’ll see and interact with on a normal basis anyway), you need to exert a little more effort to stay in touch with family and friends. Don’t forget about your life outside of work!


Reason #4 - Because you deserve it

When you’re working hard all year round, you’re just going to need a break. Think of vacation as a reward for your good efforts at work. No one’s going to (or   should  ) punish you for unplugging from work at least once in a while, especially during holidays when other folks will be out of office too.

Go out to a cafe and enjoy that coffee “to stay”, or just stay in and catch up on a favorite show or book. Spend your time as   you  want it. It’s your vacation, after all! And when you start looking at time off as a reward, it can help you rationalize “doing nothing” or focusing on non-work-related things.


But sometimes you just can’t help it

We get it -- the startup life means the boundaries between your work and personal lives are kind of blurred, and sometimes you’ve just   really  gotta meet a deadline before you sign off for the holidays.

When it comes down to that, though, limit the work that you do during vacation to that one project or task. Because once you go down the rabbit hole and start answering emails and getting that   one last thing  done, you’re taking away time from yourself that you can’t get back.

Unplugging from work during a vacation or holidays is an important thing to do in the startup life, where longer hours and fast-paced work can add pressure and stress to your day-to-day. By giving yourself the opportunity to decompress once in a while, you’re maximizing your productivity for longer periods of time.

Welcoming Clubhouse to the Gray Scalable Community

Clubhouse is a project management platform that allows software teams to track their daily progress within the context of the big picture goals of your company. The product allows individual developers and teams the ability to filter all of the way down to individual tasks and it also allows the C suite to pull back and track high-level progress throughout the quarter and year, providing visibility into the engineering roadmap for all levels of the organization.

The story behind Clubhouse started at Intent Media, where Clubhouse co-founders Andrew Childs and Kurt Schrader watched the company scale from five to hundreds of employees. As they scaled, they saw their product management tools begin to fail to meet the growing needs of their engineering team. Andrew and Kurt set out to alleviate their team’s frustrations and improve the developer's experience with their existing tools, so Andrew built a UI layer to sit on top of their existing toolset. Tl;dr, it was a success and the team’s adoption made it clear that there was an opportunity in the market to turn it into a standalone platform.

“I think one big thing that we have tried to do from the very beginning is design the product so that every level of the organization can see what is happening. You can go from ‘what do I as a developer need to be working on?’ to ‘what are the 4-5 things we are building this quarter and how are we doing?’ We want everyone to be able to just do their work.” - Kurt Schrader

Clubhouse’s product has resonated so well with their clients that they have been able to scale to over 700 paying customers simply through word of mouth. Unsurprisingly, word of Clubhouse’s product reached the ears of Battery Ventures who approached the team to discuss investing in the product. Clubhouse announced earlier this week that Battery recently led a $10M series A.

Following their raise, Clubhouse approached Gray Scalable to help them grow. One of the most rewarding things about our model at Gray Scalable is getting to work with teams that haven’t yet had formal recruitment support. At Clubhouse, we get to work closely with Andrew, Kurt and the team to help build the recruiting function from the ground up. From sourcing & recruiting strategies to designing interview training, interview processes and hiring matrices, we get to do it all! To top it all off, the team is just as excited and eager to partner with us, and have proven themselves to be dream partners!

Right now, we’re working with them to grow out their engineering team. We’re on the search for a Senior Front End Engineer, Senior  Clojure Engineer, as well as a Senior iOS Engineer. As a Senior Front End Engineer, you’ll get to help do things like design and build out new features and data visualizations, help build out the front end architecture and help the team continue setting up a robust testing infrastructure. On the other hand, as a Senior iOS Engineer, you’ll get to work in React native as the second mobile engineer to help continue shipping new features, all the while helping the mobile app move closer to the functionality of the web app.

At Clubhouse, you’ll find that the team is incredibly down to earth, humble and friendly! There is a ton of collaboration, as half of the team works remotely - so being able to work effectively whether you’re at the office in Union Square or working from home is really important. The company is at a compelling point in their journey where their product has clearly proven itself, but they’ve got big goals for their future. Anyone joining the team has an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in their individual roles and on the company.

Our experience at Clubhouse has been nothing but positive and we hope to partner with them long term! It’s clear that in the world of project management tools and platforms, many have tried to solve what continues to be the same pain points, but it’s clear that Clubhouse is onto something remarkable, and we can’t wait to see where they’re at in a year!


To learn more about the exciting opportunities at Clubhouse or to talk about how to join the team please reach out to Bec Bliss at or Elise Sun at

Pick your next boss - using Backdoor References

The Boss IRL.jpg

We’ve all heard the old adage that people don’t leave jobs - they leave their bosses. As an HR practitioner, I’ve observed that this is more often true than not. And as a consultant, I often help our clients create robust interview processes that evaluate candidates on many dimensions of compatibility, including how the manager and employee will mesh and work together, all to stave off turnover down the road.

It’s not just companies who want their new hires to stay for a long time - job seekers of course don’t want to be job hoppers. So, it’s equally important for companies and candidates interviewing to evaluate for compatibility on the front-end.

When I work with candidates - at all levels - I encourage them to view the interview process as a two-way street. Candidates should absolutely be interviewing their potential new boss and colleagues. There’s an art to it, of course - it can’t seem like you’re interrogating your new company, so you need to structure your own interview to ensure you’re finding out the things you need to know, in the right ways.

Start by making a list before you walk in the door. What do you want to learn from your conversation? What matters most to you? Your list may include finding out about what types of projects you’d work on, how your performance would be measured, what their general culture is like, and your potential manager’s management style. This might seem counterintuitive or even scary, to interview your interviewer - but it’s a worthy endeavor. Remember to know your value, and stay humble, and you’ll find that you’ll get a lot of the information you need.

But what about the things you can’t adequately learn about just by asking? For example, no manager, when asked about his/her management style, is going to respond, “So glad you asked. I’m a total micromanager!” You might be able to vibe if someone is extremely one way or the other on the micromanagement scale, but if not - you need another means to find out. This is where I recommend backdoor reference checking.

My team and clients know I have a healthy skepticism of companies doing backdoor references on candidates, unless conducted in the right way, and at the right time. The main reason I ask companies to hold on doing backdoor references is to preserve candidate confidentiality. But as the candidate, you’re in the driver’s seat. You decide whom you’d want to inform about your job search. This means you can do some backdoor referencing on the people you’d potentially work with and for. Here are some tips on how to do this right:

Do Your Research - and Choose Wisely

Use LinkedIn to see who in your network is connected directly to the people you’re talking to. You can then decide whom you’d trust enough to reach out to in order to learn about the company and team. Who you ask is at least as important as what you ask - remember to ask only those who would maintain your confidentiality. And ask people whose opinions you really trust - and who will give you an honest and fair assessment..

Time it Right and Keep it in Context

You’ll want to conduct your backdoor references late in the process - after you’ve had the chance to assess the opportunity for yourself, and when you feel like you’re pretty likely to get an offer. If they’re checking references on you, it’s a good indication they’re serious - and a good time for you to do your references on them.

If you do get a bad reference, make sure you keep it in context. Was the person who gave the reference laid off? Was their input colored by a personal conflict? Is the input years old? It’s good to take a trusted friend’s input seriously, but don’t forget to look at things holistically. A friend of mine reminded me that reference checking can be like deciding where to eat - you wouldn’t skip a restaurant you’ve heard great things about, just because of one bad Yelp review.

Speaking of Yelp...sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Fairygodboss can also be valuable tools, but definitely need to be taken in context (and I also think with a bit of a grain of salt).

Whether you’re an active or a passive candidate, remember that it’s not just about a company finding out about you. Trust yourself enough to evaluate the opportunity, primarily by what you learn in the interview process - and verify by leveraging your network.

What do you think about backdoor referencing for candidates? Let us know in the comments section! And check out my thoughts on companies conducting backdoor references the right way here.



written by Deb Feldman, Principal Consultant and Co-founder

Thinking About Diverse Teams as Systems

Overcoming Biases: Thinking About Diverse Teams as Systems


This post was written by Jodi Jefferson. Jodi is Executive recruiter with 10+ years experience specializing in Engineering and Product search, providing strategic consulting for high-profile venture capital backed startups, growth stage, private and public companies. Broad experience in new business development, relationship management, advisory, talent development and recruitment of software engineers and product executives. The post was originally published by Jodi on Medium. 



It’s been a busy year for diversity in the news. Since the Google Manifesto and the Uber debacle, it has become clear that even large, forward-thinking tech companies continue to struggle with diversity in the workplace. And yet there’s plentiful evidence that diversity is good for business, and most tech startups are eager to hire a more diverse workforce. But how do you accomplish this in a way that’s beneficial both for your company and meaningful for the people who work for you?

Understanding teams as systems

Diversity is a complex subject, and teams are complex systems. You need to understand all the necessary parts, why each layer is so critical, and how they all work together to achieve a common goal. In working to understand the diverse needs of your team, think of it as an operating system driving the function of a larger machine, in this case your company. In order for your machine to work properly, your OS needs to perform a diverse set of functions, such as scheduling tasks, executing applications and controlling peripherals. Similarly, a diverse team is like having a diverse set of tools that allows you to optimize for diverse problem solving, which will only make a system work better, be more resilient, with happier people and better products.

Building a better system starts with understanding why diversity is so important. Teams that comprise of diverse cognitive, gender, ethnic, age and socioeconomic diversity simply outperform those that are less diverse. HBS reports that “diversity can boost innovation and employee engagement. Companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity also financially outperform their peers. Diversity increases a company’s ability to attract and retain top talent, to better understand their users.”

Hiring for diversity

It can be tempting to immediately point to your recruiter or HR department and ask them to hire more women. In the last year, I’ve been increasingly asked what my “diversity initiative” is for nearly every executive search I embark on. As a recruiter who has specialized in building engineering teams for 10 years, this is not only my problem to solve. It’s all of ours; and this is not just about hiring more women (although that’s part of the solution). Take a close look at your team. How is it built out in terms of race, gender, LGBTQ, veterans, ethnicity, people with disabilities, income, education, and more?

As Uber head of diversity Bernard Coleman III notes, the first step to creating a diverse team is overcoming your own biases. “People often hire based off of familiarity and/or comfort, (i.e. someone who went to your program/college, looks like you, shares your interests or is a member of an organization you’re affiliated with).” Instead, consciously seek individuals with unique perspectives who come from different backgrounds. Find reasons to hire them. Make exceptions. This is not about “lowering the bar” to increase diversity — it’s about finding a different kind of talent for your team and honoring your differences.

Creating an inclusive environment

There is no shortage of stories (and hard evidence) that women and underrepresented minorities (especially in tech) experience bias and a general lack of welcoming environment. So once you’ve identified the gaps in your talent, consider what it takes to build it out accordingly.

Sure, I have a pipeline of female engineering leaders at my fingertips, but why would they want to work for you? What are you doing to prove your environment is diverse and inclusive? If you’re trying to attract a diverse subset of talent, start by asking yourself some questions:

  • Can you overcome your own biases?
  • What does your board look like? Is it ethnically diverse? How about your leadership team?
  • Can parents of all genders raise children and progress in their career?
  • What are you doing to create a more inclusive environment?
  • Do you have a non discrimination policy in place?
  • What part of your hiring process has diversity in mind?
  • What does the interview panel look like? Are candidates meeting with a diverse set of individuals?

Take a long, hard look at your answers to those questions. Do you need to take steps to make your company more inclusive? If so, consider making some of the following improvements to your company (in addition to my suggestions above):

  • Create gender neutral bathrooms
  • Design employee resource groups to include women’s mentoring and leadership programs
  • Support STEM initiatives and women in tech groups and events (e.g. Grace Hopper CelebrationWomen Who CodeBlack Girls Code)
  • Offer gender-neutral paid parental leave that include adoption
  • Add egg freezing services to your benefits
  • Offer child care options for all employees
  • Create breast pump rooms
  • Be open to flexible work arrangements

Also, remember that that the root of inclusivity considers all people. Take a page from Denise Young Smith, Apple’s first ever VP of diversity and inclusion: focus on everyone, not just minorities. “Diversity is the human experience,” notes Young Smith. Once you understand your team as a system in need of a diverse set of tools, identify the gaps in your system and work to create a more inclusive environment for all employees, then you’re well on your way to success. Are you ready for a change?

What is sexual harassment in the workplace?

by Kate Le Gallez

This post was originally published on Culture Amp

Recently, we’ve seen a number of high-profile stories of pervasive sexual harassment at leading companies surface and gain media attention. These stories might only dominate the headlines for a little while, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The UN reports that 40-50% of women in EU countries and 30-40% of women in Asia-Pacific countries experience some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. In the US, a YouGov survey found 30% of women have been sexually harassed.

Women are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual harassment and so most of the stats we see relate to their experience. However, the limited data that’s available suggests LGBTQ people and people of color are also disproportionately affected. A smaller percentage of men are also harassed by women or other men.

While the victim’s experience of sexual harassment can range from uncomfortable to devastating, in the workplace there are also ramifications for the wider organization. The relationship between culture and sexual harassment is complicated, but with 98% of US organizations reportedly having sexual harassment policies in place, something is clearly awry in how culture is espoused versus how it’s experienced.

We need to talk about why this is the case.

Because sexual harassment claims are often settled behind closed doors, there’s little opportunity to understand and learn from what’s happened. Even if details are shared, people tend to focus more on the salacious detail than any lessons that can be learnt.

Privacy is essential, but organizations need to start having the tough conversations that can make change happen. We want to help start these conversations, so we’ve partnered with Nathan Luker from Your Call, a whistleblowing service provider, to deliver a series of articles on sexual harassment in the workplace.

We’ll cover the following questions:

The importance of defining sexual harassment

Before we even get to the definition itself, we wanted to start with why it’s important to have a shared understanding of what sexual harassment is.

Even when a definition is set out in black and white, cultural biases - particularly those stemming from a traditional view of the workplace as male-centric - can still impact how people interpret its meaning.

The Harvard Business Review tested this idea by asking a small group of individuals to read and then discuss a sexual harassment policy. They found that even though the policy clearly focused on specific behaviors of sexual harassment, the participants overwhelmingly felt that the policy focused on perceptions of those behaviors and therefore found it threatening. The participants believed it could cover any ‘innocent’ behavior by one employee (typically a heterosexual male) if an irrational person (typically a heterosexual female) perceived it to be harassment.

From a reporting perspective, being clear on the content of ‘sexual harassment’ can actually change how women self-report their experiences. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission examined the findings of a range of surveys and found that when a survey specifically asked respondents whether they had experienced particular behaviors, like unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion, rather than simply asking about ‘sexual harassment’, the level of reported harassment increased. In short, even women experiencing these behaviors as uncomfortable or offensive don’t necessarily label them as sexual harassment.

The point of these examples is that even when we think we’re on the same page, we’re often not. And this divergence can have major consequences culturally and individually.

Defining sexual harassment

The definition of sexual harassment in the workplace is the same as the definition for sexual harassment anywhere. The following definition is from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), but very similar wording is found in the US, UK and EU:

An unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which a reasonable person would anticipate would cause a person to feel offended, humiliated or intimidated constitutes sexual harassment.

It’s about behaviors

To really understand what the definition covers, we need to look more specifically at the types of behaviors covered. The AHRC gives these examples:

  • unwelcome touching;
  • staring or leering;
  • sexually explicit pictures or posters;
  • unwanted invitations to go out on dates;
  • requests for sex;
  • intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body;
  • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against a person;
  • insults or taunts based on sex;
  • sexually explicit physical contact; and
  • sexually explicit emails or SMS text messages.

These are just examples and they all look incontrovertible on the page. Other behaviors that still amount to sexual harassment can be less obvious, perhaps delivered in a more subtle way. In these situations, perpetrators may excuse their behavior as flattering or flirtatious, while victims worry they’re rocking the boat unnecessarily. The fact is, if behavior of a sexual nature reasonably makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, then it’s sexual harassment.

Connected to the workplace

Workplace sexual harassment laws tie these behaviors to the employment context - which generally means every employment situation and relationship. The prohibition covers not only behavior in the workplace itself, but also work-related activities (e.g. conferences and parties) and basically all the interactions between people who work together.

The environment itself can also amount to unlawful sexual harassment where it’s sexually permeated or hostile. This could include a workplace where pornographic materials are displayed, or a culture where offensive jokes, sexual banter and crude conversations are the norm.

Who’s responsible?

The person who sexually harasses someone is responsible for the harassment, but employers can also be held responsible for the actions of employees. Having policies and procedures to create a harassment-free environment, and make reporting effective will help limit an employer’s liability, and can help reduce incidents.

In the next article in this series, we’ll look at why many (up to 80%) of sexual harassment incidents go unreported and some of the cultural and contextual factors that might be to blame.

We made it to Los Angeles!

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Gray Scalable has officially started operating in Los Angeles, CA. The new location is the first outside of our Silicon Alley headquarters in NYC, and we are building a team to cover clients throughout the greater LA area and the west coast.

“We thought carefully about where to expand our business outside of NYC - and the southern CA area is full of really interesting companies at stages of development where we can provide services with real impact for them. It feels a little like NY a few years ago in terms of tech community and market opportunity. Plus, Darla moved there,” says Charlie Gray, Gray Scalable Founder.

Adding a Los Angeles location gives Gray Scalable a physical presence in one of the fastest growing tech start-up environments in the country and where consulting and recruiting services are in high demand.  The new location will be led by veteran talent acquisition professional, Darla Hornbjork.

For over a decade Darla has been assisting tech companies scale as they’ve grown. With expertise in hiring engineers, product designers, marketing and sales professionals to partnering with C level suite to define talent strategy, Darla brings extensive experience building sourcing pipelines, hiring, developing process and internal tools and defining employer brand strategy.

Darla is excited to get the ball rolling and says, “LA is no longer just for Hollywood! The tech scene is explosive and I’m so excited that Gray Scalable is going to have a chance at shaping this growth. I look forward to duplicating our reputation in NYC of being indispensable, respected and the in-demand partner for growth.”

For more information about the new Gray Scalable Los Angeles office, contact or our Head of Business Development,

Gray Scalable Spotlight: Sam Feldman


A little more about our people analytics manager Sam, or, as our teammates call her, “Spreadsheetz”, or  “sheetz” for short….

How she got into HR & people analytics:
Sam got into HR a few years after college. She started off as a conference event planner in financial services, which led to campus recruiting roles in both banking and media.  From there, she moved into recruiting program management. All the while, her favorite thing to do was the tracking, analyzing and reporting for each of these positions, which (with the help of some great managers and mentors) led to doing people analytics work full time.  

Sam rounded out her skills by getting a masters in analytics from NYU, which she finished this past spring (she’d like to also say thank you to her teammates for their support - and for celebrating heavily with her when it was finished!)

Any other jobs you’ve held?
Sam’s had a wide variety of jobs, starting in high school.  Here’s a select assortment in graph form!


How she got to Gray Scalable:
Sam also opted to hand draw her answer here -



Sam’s role at Gray Scalable:
Sam joined Gray Scalable in August 2015. As the people analytics manager, she focuses on helping clients make better HR decisions using data, primarily focusing on compensation design, recruiting reporting, and survey analysis. She also spends a lot of time on internal operations projects and writes many of our blog posts.

Her favorite office pastimes are explaining herself with whiteboard graphs, trying to make it warmer in the office without anyone noticing, and wondering how early is too early for lunch.

Her favorite projects:
Sam’s worked with over 25 companies at this point, and it’s hard to pick a favorite client engagement. In lieu of trying to name favorites… here are some superlative awards:

Best ViewIntersection and Cheddar
Best SnacksBuzzfeed (frozen yogurt machine!)
Best Swag: Harry’s
Cutest: Bark&Co (puppies everywhere)
Cool Factor: The Players’ Tribune and Livestream

One of her favorite projects is actually an internal one - the annual recruiter survey.  While procrastinating grad school assignments one weekend, she sent Charlie an email pitching the idea, and was off and running with it that week.  The annual surveys have become some of our most visited sites and have helped companies understand how start-up recruiting works. Check out the results to this year’s survey, here.

What Sam’s up to now:
Sam’s currently working with two great clients (The Players’ Tribune and Cheddar), helping out with a few other companies, and working on some of our internal business operations as well.    

When she’s not working, she enjoys exploring Brooklyn with her husband Steve, crossword puzzles, good bourbon cocktails, and anything produced by Ken Burns.

Cover Letters: Do or Do Not - There is No Try


Ahh the infamous cover letter (or "cover emails" in many cases)….We get a surprising number of questions from candidates and friends about them. Does anyone actually read them? Are they necessary?

Unless you’re pretty early in your career or an entry level candidate, cover letters really aren’t a must, but it's also true that they can make a difference in some cases. For every hiring manager who skips over them there's another that thinks it's lazy not to have one. There really is no right answer here - a good letter can either help or do nothing, but a poorly written one can do damage to your candidacy. So, at the very least, if you do write one, you should make sure it's really good. Even if the writing process is uncomfortable and slightly annoying, here are some tips to make it impactful:


What does your potential future employer hope to learn from your cover letter - and why do they even ask for them?

A cover letter is a short, typically single page letter that employers often ask for in the hiring process along with a resume. Some employers ask for cover letters as a knee-jerk reaction: "send us a resume and cover letter" gets copied and pasted from job descriptions year over year. However, some ask for cover letters specifically because it's another way for them to evaluate your writing and communication skills.

A cover letter should go beyond what someone can read on your resume, and offer further insight as to why you would be a strong fit for the position you’re applying to. This is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to an employer, to sell your best qualities, and to begin your argument as to why you would be the best person for the job. Use this as a chance to demonstrate your knowledge about the company and its products or services. Make it interesting, make it something that the hiring manager will read to the end.

In a cover letter you want to answer the big picture questions that tell hiring managers why you deserve that next step, typically an interview…


So what are those big picture questions?

A cover letter allows the writer to answer the question, ‘who are you?’ It gives you the chance to introduce yourself to the person reading it and it’s an opportunity to reach out as an individual, not just an applicant.

In a resume, you’ll share your skills and experience, and from that most people will decide if you’re actually qualified for the position. In a cover letter, you’ll answer ‘Why are you the best person for this job?’ Your answer should demonstrate what you know about the position you’re applying for and why you would be a great fit at that company. The resume is just about you; the cover letter is about you, the potential company and how you fit together.

The last question a cover letter can answer is simply ‘why?’ If you think anything on your resume warrants further explanation, or may make an employer question your abilities, (employment gap, lengthy time in school, etc.) you can use your cover letter to offer more detail.  


Formatting tips

Keep your cover letter short. You'll lose your audience if it's more than a few, short paragraphs. You also want to make sure you’re maintaining a level of professionalism. This may change and vary depending on what career field you’re looking to work in. Use language that you are comfortable with and if you’re not sure, strive to mimic the level of formality the company displays on their website and careers page.

Keep your contact information consistent with what you have on your resume and make sure to include that information on both documents.

If you are 100% sure you know who will be reading the letter, address them by name. There’s nothing more boring and impersonal than receiving a letter that’s addressed to “whom it may concern.” Avoid being vague and generic, and tailor your cover letter to the specific job and the specific company you’re applying for.

And after all that, proofread. PROOFREAD. Proofread - Typos and incorrect information in a cover letter can do a lot of harm - and it's easy to avoid this kind of thing. You're looking to have your cover letter be something that differentiates you from other candidates and makes you stand out - not something that could make you look inattentive to details.


Ok, so you’ve written the cover letter, now what?

If you don’t hear from the company within a few days or about a week after submitting your cover letter and resume, follow up with them. A quick “wanted to be sure you received my application” email is an appropriate follow-up, include your name and contact information should they need to get a hold of you.


written by Irene Courey, Marketing and Communications Associate

Gray Scalable Spotlight: Erin Jensen


A little more information about Erin, who joined us this year as Head of Business Development & Executive Search...


How she got into tech:

Erin holds a BA in English and Computer Applications from the University of Notre Dame. She remains adept with the you’re/your and they’re/their/there distinctions, and also became well versed in COBOL, AOL dial-up technologies and Friendster. She later continued her education at Harvard Business School, where she earned her MBA in 2007.

Erin’s earliest work experience (harking back to high school) spanned manning a flower shop and setting up floral arrangements for weddings, to giving birthday party pony rides and riding other people’s horses in horse shows. She moved into technology when she started her career in Sales & Consulting at FactSet Research Systems in NYC, and from there joined Google, where she led an AdWords sales team in the company’s Retail vertical, and then moved over to YouTube where she was the chief of staff for YouTube’s head of Sales and Marketing. It was there in 2009 where Erin met Charlie Gray when he ran People Operations for the advertising business. They worked together to create and scale up YouTube’s video and display sales team.


Erin’s role at Gray Scalable:

Eight years later, Erin joined the Charlie’s team at Gray Scalable. She manages two critical roles, leading our growing executive search practice, while also taking on the job of managing our development of new business.  

Before joining us, Erin had become a valued part of our partner network while at Riviera Partners. As Charlie said: “We’d been recommending our clients to Erin for exec search for a couple of years, because we knew she would be a great referral. But recently it became clear it would be better if she just joined our team instead!”


Best neighborhood find:

Erin’s favorite find since her start at Gray Scalable, has been her new favorite coffee shop, The Smile in Noho. “It’s the perfect place to meet candidates and clients, whether you want to simply grab a coffee or a longer breakfast / lunch bite!” She also enjoys frequenting an old standby, the Crosby Street Hotel, for their afternoon tea.


Erin’s favorite part of working at Gray Scalable:

“The team!! I joined GS because it offers a holistic way to fully serve our clients (from embedded recruiting to HR consulting, and now executive search) - it means so much to be able to be that true partner through different stages of a company’s growth, addressing people and growth needs for start-ups as well as mature companies.  But more importantly I also joined because the team here is fantastic - all of them at the top of their craft.  I learn new things every day.”


Who she’s crushing on as a potential client:

When asked who she’d love to work with next, Erin says she has a soft spot for Glossier, the digitally native beauty brand here in NYC. She loves what they’ve built in just a few short years, and continues to be blown away by their loyal customer base and fantastic products. “It’s clear they found product-market fit early on, which is so much easier said than done. I truly admire them.”


What she’s up to now:

Erin resides in Greenwich, CT with her husband and two sons. When she’s not navigating Metro North trains, subways, or flights to the west coast, Erin loves playing tennis, accompanying her sons on the occasional class field trip, or squeezing in a Greenwich Crossfit WOD at the beginning of the day. We also learned she has a passion for music and karaoke, and when asked what her go-to karaoke song was, to our surprise Erin shared a setlist on her phone and decided on “Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle.