00:13 Chris Ronan: Hi everybody, welcome to inside Geocaching HQ, from our office in Seattle. I am Chris Ronan, one of the lackeys here at HQ. My user name is Rock Chalk. Thank you for listening. This is an episode I have looked forward to doing for quite some time. We are talking with Eileen from the Human Resources department. When I meet other geocachers, some of the most common questions I get are, what’s it like to work at HQ, and/or how do I get a job at HQ? And I certainly remember what it was like for me before I came to work here. I was a serious geocacher and thought it would just be awesome to get a job at HQ. And so, I would scour the Internet for job information. I remember, for instance, reading about Geocaching HQ in Outside Magazine’s Best Places To Work edition, but there really wasn’t much more available at that time besides the careers page on geocaching.com, which is by the way much more robust today than it was five or so years ago when I was refreshing it every day hoping that a new job would come open that would be a good fit for me.
01:25 CR: So I hope this episode will be a good resource for people. And as we were beginning our conversation, Eileen got word that she had just earned an HR certification that she had been working on, so congratulations to her on that. When you hear us vaguely referring to an acronym that is what that’s all about. So, I wanted to explain that a little bit. Eileen is great, I know you will enjoy getting to know her. So here is me and Eileen talking HR.
02:00 CR: When would you like me to start?
02:00 Eileen: How about I’ll do one to three, but you don’t go on three, you go one, two, three, go.
02:06 CR: You’re gonna say go?
02:07 Eileen: Yeah, I’m gonna say, one, two, three, and then you’re like the silent four.
02:10 CR: And then start?
02:11 Eileen: Yeah.
02:11 CR: Okay.
02:11 Eileen: Okay.
02:12 CR: Okay.
02:12 Eileen: Alright, so I’m gonna say one, two, three.
02:16 CR: Oh, I thought you were just practicing.
02:19 CR: Is this really?
02:20 Eileen: Yes, we’re live.
02:21 CR: Okay, we’re really doing this now?
02:22 Eileen: Yes.
02:22 CR: Okay, go.
02:23 Eileen: Okay, I’m gonna count… Counting one, two, three. [laughter]
02:28 CR: And now, I’m nervous.
02:30 Eileen: See, this is what happens, now that I’m an official HR person, I have it in my head that everything needs to be so like…
02:41 CR: By the book?
02:42 Eileen: Yeah.
02:42 CR: Sure.
02:43 Eileen: Alright.
02:43 CR: So was everything you did before you got the acronym like, is it illegitimate now?
02:48 Eileen: Yeah, yeah.
02:49 CR: All the hires you made, you have to go and review everything.
02:50 Eileen: Yeah, I was Maverick, I was doing my own thing, I was going rogue, and now I’m real, yeah.
02:58 CR: Okay, okay. Well, Eileen thank you for sitting down with us and talking HR here on the podcast. A lot of people who I meet in the community know that I’m from Kansas City. And so, one of the things that I love about you is you have this weird fascination with Kansas City. And I didn’t tell you I was gonna ask you about this, but I have to because I’m so fascinated with it. So, you’ve never been to Kansas City?
03:25 Eileen: Never ever, not even once.
03:27 CR: Not even once. I just think it’s hilarious, it’s Santa Cali Gon Days.
03:30 Eileen: Yes.
03:32 CR: The first week I met you here and you heard I was from Kansas City, you asked me about Santa-Cali-Gon Days.
03:38 Eileen: Yup, yup, yup.
03:39 CR: Which is for everybody listening to this, a 100% of the listeners who don’t know what Santa-Cali-Gon Days is, it’s a festival. I think it’s in September, I’ve never actually been to. I’m from Kansas City, but I’ve never actually been to this festival. It’s actually one of the suburbs… It’s an independence, which is one of the suburbs. And so, first week that you’re here, you asked me about Santa-Cali-Gon Days.
04:05 Eileen: I did.
04:07 CR: And you’ve never been to that either?
04:08 Eileen: No. I’ve a wish list of things I like to do in Kansas City, like, I’d love to go to Santa-Cali-Gon Days. I’d like to hit up Waldo, the different bars there. I’d like to go to Lake of the Ozarks. I will say…
04:19 CR: That’s a drive. That’s not like next door, that’s like a three-hour drive, just so you know.
04:22 Eileen: That’s okay, that’s okay.
04:22 CR: I just don’t wanna disappoint you if you get there and you’re thinking you’re gonna drive 15 minutes from downtown and go to the Ozarks, it’s like a three-hour.
04:30 Eileen: Okay, that’s good to know. I will say that I claim KCMO versus Kansas.
04:36 CR: Okay, that’s fine.
04:38 Eileen: But you know, I appreciate both.
04:39 CR: It’s fine for some people.
04:41 Eileen: Hopefully that’s not a polarizing statement and the listeners just stop now. But yeah, I don’t know where this fascination came from, but I tend to pick up just weird hobbies here and there. Like, I love magic, like illusions, magic tricks, I love watching just random YouTube videos. And I think it helps me relate to people on a deeper level, and I think having more well-rounded areas of interest, I think helps me relate to people here at Geocaching more too, ’cause we’re so quirky here and everyone here is encouraged to bring forth their authentic self, and I don’t want anyone here to feel like they can’t talk about a certain talent or hobby that they have because they’re afraid that…
05:21 CR: Or festival.
05:22 Eileen: Or festival, or weird fascination with Kansas.
05:23 CR: Or Midwestern festival, you want everybody to be able to feel comfortable talking about Santa-Cali-Gon Days, and I appreciated that.
05:28 Eileen: Exactly, Exactly. Awesome.
05:31 CR: Personally, I did. So, that’s good.
05:35 Eileen: It’s one of those things where, whether you were into Santa-Cali-Gon Days or not, I would have brought it up any way, ’cause that’s how much I just love talking about Kansas City, it’s very strange.
05:44 CR: Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, I really felt like I needed to address that. So what is your title here at HQ?
05:52 Eileen: Sure. So my title here is HR Generalist, it’s not as intuitive as other job titles here, but basically I just generally do everything in HR. Here at HQ, we have less than 80 people here all on site, so we play a lot of different roles here. So my role is a really healthy hybrid mix of recruiting, payroll administration, employee engagement, employee recognition, benefits administration, onboarding, all of that, all rolled into one. So I get to work with a lot of different people, all the different departments, I get to work on something different every day and it’s really fulfilling and rewarding.
06:31 CR: Well, this is an episode that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, because I was a cacher before I came to work here. I was really into it, and once I heard that there was a website and a place where people actually did this, I thought, “Oh my gosh, that would be amazing to actually work there.” And then I spent a long time trying to get a job here and I applied many times, and I would have loved to have had a resource, to be able to hear from someone who worked there. And so, that’s why I really wanted to have this conversation. Let’s talk about the different departments here, because there are a wide range of jobs at Geocaching HQ. So what kind of jobs are open from time to time here?
07:14 Eileen: It depends on who’s leaving or what business units need resources. Right now, we have a lot of product manager and product designer roles open. It’s not always because people are leaving, it’s not always a backfield situation. It’s really as we’re looking into each year hitting our company goals or objectives and we realize that the teams just need more help or more resources, we’re adding people on to the team, so it really just depends. We don’t have a lot of people leaving. Our turnover rate is about five years, which is double the average for our industry in our location. But yeah, we have software developer openings, marketing openings, product openings, we have an HR opening right now. We’re looking for a Guest Experience Coordinator, that really will create this wonderful experience for our visitors that come into our visitor center. So really all across the board at any given time in a year, depending on our business needs we’ll have an opening for the departments.
08:09 CR: So let’s say you see a job that you’re interested in on the job board, or you hear about it somehow, how does the process work from there? Are there any tips you can give people for applying for jobs here? Or things that they should be thinking about, is there, considering filling out that application and send in their resume in?
08:25 Eileen: Yeah. When we have open positions they’re very competitive, we get a lot of really good candidates, in the hundreds, depending on the role. Because people are really excited about our product, they’re really excited about the company in general. We’re famous for having this world-class company culture here and really good work-life balance, and just like the best people, most interesting, complex, quirky, smart people that you can ever work with. So we get a lot of candidates. And so, for the recruiter to sift through and source those resumes, it really helps to have a cover letter, especially if you’re a geocacher and you include your Geocaching username and you already have a leg up because you know our product so intimately. Geocaching is a game, there’s a little bit of a learning curve there, and that actually is part of the reason why we have such a strong onboarding here, it’s for people to learn about what geocaching is, and we can go into that, if you like. So it’s a very competitive process. Some tips is a cover letter that’s personal and really just shows your interest in the rule, interest in the company.
09:32 Eileen: And then also, it does help if you’re a geocacher. And we’ve actually had candidates come in for their interview and they were very technically qualified, but they actually hadn’t found a cache before coming. And even though we do give them prompts, and we do encourage them to find a cache. And it was part of the conversation amongst other things that were maybe a growth area for them, like not finding a cache, it’s a little bit of a mark against them, I guess. Because we do consider ourselves here at HQ to be geocachers. We wanna know the product, we wanna be able to relate to the users, and be able to speak to the game and be ambassadors of the game. So it’s really important for people here to be geocachers.
10:15 CR: I don’t know, it’s hard. And I’m sure you get to hear this from people or you see so many resumes that people obviously take it really seriously. They want it to be right and the people are trying to think of ways to stand out, but it’s not as easy as it…
10:26 Eileen: Right.
10:27 CR: It’s not as easy as it seems. And I’ll bet it’s pretty fascinating, some of the ways that you’ve seen people try to stand out from the crowd, as they’re playing for jobs.
10:35 Eileen: Yeah. Yeah, it’s hard, because I think the hiring process and the finding employment process, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. And it’s even more difficult when you take into account that HQ, Geocaching HQ, we’re not like other companies. You’ll never see someone walking around a suit here, unless they’re going to a board meeting or something.
10:58 CR: Well, we did have…
11:00 Eileen: Oh, that’s right.
11:01 CR: What do we call that day? We called it…
11:03 Eileen: We had Corporate Day, yeah.
11:04 CR: We had Corporate Day.
11:04 Eileen: Which is such an endearing thing that we do every year. Because we like to laugh at ourselves, we have something called Corporate Day every year, where people dress up in suits, in pant suits, and pencil skirts, and basically, it’s just the opposite of who we are. People here wear jeans and t-shirt, a hoodie, some hiking boots or something. And so, when you take into account that we are that type of company, it’s hard for the candidate to really assess, like, “Oh, how creative should I be with this resume?” The recruiting philosophy here is that we look at candidates on a holistic level. And so, we don’t look for just one particular thing, or even three particular things, and we realize that the resume is just one component of the candidate as a whole, just the same way that we look at employees here. We accept and embrace their whole selves here, not just the good parts, right?
11:55 Eileen: So let’s say that we do get a really creative resume, that’s really informal, or not the standard and one that would maybe get rejected at an enterprise company, or a super corporate company. We would think that that is just one part of the whole picture of this candidate, and we would probably be delighted that they took that innovative approach to the hiring process. So it’s something that we definitely appreciate.
12:22 CR: When we talked before, one thing that you had mentioned was that there are no trick questions here.
12:26 Eileen: Yeah.
12:26 CR: As you’re going through the process, can you talk a little bit about more about what that means exactly?
12:31 Eileen: Yeah. I don’t like trick questions. And it’s not something that we prep the interviewers here with. Because one of our core values is authenticity, and I feel like trick questions, to me, they’re equated with… There’s only one answer or there is no right answer, and it’s almost like you’re setting up the candidate to fail, and that’s not what we’re trying to do. We respect all of our candidates. We are so humbled that people will want to work here and they would spend half their day visiting here, if they have an on-site interview or something. And so, it’s really just to show respect to the candidate process, and the candidate as a human, someone that’s looking for a job. We’ve all been there. It’s hard, it can be demoralizing.
13:09 Eileen: So the more respect that we can show and the more authentic that we can be, so that we can provide to them an accurate picture of who we are and what we stand for, and how we operate here. It’s really important to not have things like trick questions or to make a candidate wonder where they stand, ’cause really, at the heart of it all, we have empathy for our players, we have empathy for the community, we have empathy for our candidates, our outside vendors, our fellow employees. So it really is just a part of who we are.
13:40 CR: So if you do get hired here at HQ, you don’t just come in on the first day nose to the grindstone. There’s what we call the onboarding process, which has really expanded since I started. I think it’s really great the way that it works. Can you talk about that process a little bit?
13:57 Eileen: So our onboarding process is about two weeks long. Normally what people are used to is on their first day, they maybe get their computer, they have meeting with their team, they get lunch and then, yeah, they just kinda hit the ground running with their day-to-day. While that’s a fine approach for some, we really wanna make sure that new hires get a really good understanding of the game as a product, who we are as a company with our core values and our competencies, and also feel really embedded and integrated to the team itself. So for those two weeks, they’re almost not really doing their day-to-day work at all. What they’re doing is, we’re setting up geocaching excursions for them, so they can learn the game if they haven’t already, and really fall in love with the game. They’re learning about our community and the different types of events that we have and the different forums and different channels in which the community really relates to each other. And then the new hire gets to meet with the different departments here, so that they understand how their role connects to the larger company and the objectives. The intention of the onboarding really is to get the new hire integrated into not just the company, but to really fall in love with the game as well and the community.
15:07 CR: Geocaching HQ tends to win a lot of different awards from places like Thinking Outside Magazine and different publications and outlets who recognize this company for being one of those “best places” to work. I know back when I was trying to get a job here, that the first time I really understood that there was a place like this was when I saw it in a magazine like that. And what are some of the things that those magazines tend to point out, some of the neat things about working here, and some of the things that we’re proud of?
15:41 Eileen: What those magazine articles and those publications show is our great benefits and our great perks. For example, we have unlimited lift tickets that employees can get reimbursements for. We also have two hours of geocaching a month that’s fully paid and usually people do that with teams. And then we have just great medical, dental, vision benefits that are very comprehensive. We offer FSA, we offer short-term and long-term disability, 401K and matching. So we have all those kind of basic benefits down. But what those magazines don’t encapsulate is… So last year, I went through a really hard time, my dog passed away and so I took some time off of work and it was the hardest point in my life, thus far. And my team was fully supportive of me taking the time off that I needed. There’s some self-consciousness there, like, “Okay,” not everyone’s a dog person, so they might not understand I just need this time, but I never felt any of that. My team was fully supportive, texting me every day, making sure I was okay. Letting me know that they can hold down the fort while I’m gone.
16:45 Eileen: I came back, I think, a week later and my desk was just full of cards and flowers and cakes and notes of just encouragement, and people sharing their own stories of grief. And it’s like, how do you…
17:01 CR: How do you put that in a magazine?
17:01 Eileen: How do you capture that in a publication, right?
17:03 CR: Right.
17:03 Eileen: And the thing is that story is, it’s so common here, it’s not just me. And I think Bryan would be embarrassed if anyone knew that… Well, not embarrassed, I’m just gonna share it. I came back and there was a note on my desk and he had… Bryan, our CEO, co-founder, President, he had planted a tree in my dog’s name.
17:25 CR: Oh, wow.
17:26 Eileen: And again, that is not an uncommon thing for him to do. And so, and that story is, it’s very special to me, but it’s also a story that a lot of people here have also experienced. And so, to me, like that’s the secret sauce, people here really, really care about each other. And we understand that we’re a business, but at the end of the day, we like each other as people and we are accountable for the culture that we’ve created here, and our friendships and working relationships. We take pride in that and I think that is what the magazines can’t quite capture. It’s this intangible thing. There are no words. It’s one of those things where every week I’m finding something that I love about this place, and it’s almost hard to believe. Like I have friends that almost don’t believe me when I talk about how great it is to work here.
18:16 CR: That’s really cool. So, there’s that neat stuff, and then for instance, there’s learning and development opportunity. We have a person who kinda…
18:25 Eileen: Yeah.
18:25 CR: That’s a big part of her job is to help people if they wanna pursue those kinds of learning opportunities, developing opportunities, she helps them do that. Which is really neat from a professional standpoint.
18:37 Eileen: Yes. We are a small company, we are again a little under 80 people, we’re all in-house, and we’re also a flat… We have a flat structure here, which is great, but one of the other sides of that is that, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to necessarily get rapid title progression, if that’s something that someone’s looking for. But what we can provide is this unrelenting path to growth and constant professional development, and even sometimes personal development, because people here are so passionate about their jobs. And so, we have our own in-house Learning and Development Manager, that really curates the content for people to grow in their career, but it doesn’t always have to be necessarily tied to your specific job. For example, I’m an HR, but maybe I wanna learn how to code. Like, I can talk to her about it, and she’ll be like, “Okay, well, we have this online resource. Let me get you into a beginner’s coding class.” Even if it’s just for fun, we understand that, again, we’re a small team, we play a lot of different roles, wear a lot of different hats and the more well-rounded we are in our skills, knowledge, and abilities and experience, it just makes a stronger team.
19:44 CR: So if people are interested in jobs at HQ, they go to geocaching.com/…
19:49 Eileen: /careers.
19:49 CR: /Careers.
19:51 Eileen: Yes. We also list our jobs on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, all those standard job sites.
19:58 CR: Well, I’m gonna go and check it out right now.
20:01 CR: See if there’s something…
20:01 Eileen: We have lots of openings, we’d be happy to have you join the company, Chris, in any capacity.
20:05 CR: Thank you. Well, thank you. I appreciate, though let us not speak too soon. I gotta take a look at those openings and see if there’s something that I might be better at than this.
20:18 Eileen: I think you got it down pretty well.
20:19 CR: Okay. Well, thank you very much Eileen and I think people will enjoy hearing this.
20:23 Eileen: Well, thanks for having me, I’m happy to be here.
20:27 CR: That was Eileen from the Human Resources department at Geocaching HQ. If you would like to learn more about working here and what jobs are available here, go to the careers page, at geocaching.com, there are several openings at the moment. And maybe you are the right person for one of them. If you have an idea for the podcast, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, we always appreciate hearing your feedback. Until next time, from all of us at Geocaching HQ, happy caching.