Tech Hiring Insights in the Silicon Forest

by | Tech Employment

With over 75 techies in attendance, the co-sponsored tech hiring event on 10/23/19 drew technologists from all over the Portland area. Similar to other PDX meetups, we used red dots to indicate a person is looking for a job and yellow if you’re hiring!  

“Amazing turn out of local technology professionals looking to up their game in their job hunts.  Really valued the insight and perspectives shared by our HR/TA Partners at Vevo and Smarsh. Amazing space to hold the meeting, big thanks to Smarsh for hosting,” said panelist Neil Hefty from ProFocus Technology. 

portland tech hiring

As the Silicon Forest continues to grow, we turn to established hiring specialists in the tech community for answers on how to navigate everything from IT management struggles like retention and hiring, to the effects of the latest technology trends on your career path.


  • Neil Hefty, Talent Solutions Director at ProFocus Technology, an Inc. 500 Staffing and Consulting Company.
  • Chris Miller, VP of Human Resources at Smarsh, the leading provider of data archiving solutions. Helping organizations capture content, reveal risk and provide insights and opportunity for a proper response.
  • Lauren Shey, Talent Partner VEVO. VEVO The world’s largest all-premium music video provider, offering artists a global platform with enormous scale through its distribution partners.

With a combined 25+ years of experience in tech, the panelists shared their approach to talent acquisition in the Portland area.

portland tech hiring


  • Get back to the basics! Remember to send thank you notes, don’t be too early or too late (7-10 minutes early), and dress for the job you want.
    • Portland techies or people who typically work from home should remember that although the PDX tech scene is casual, you never know who is going to step in for your interview so dress business at least. 
  • Highlight your successes! Even if the story or success isn’t directly related to the role you’re applying for. Show off your problem-solving skills.
  • No matter what stage of your career (or what side of the table you’re on) first impressions are important.

How is talent management different in tech than in other sectors?

  • Trend Alert: Tech is moving away from panel interviews and technical assessments are on the rise.
  • Some tech companies don’t care as much about the number of years you’ve worked with a particular tech stack, they want to know how you collaborate and think critically about improving the business and how it functions.     

Trend Alert: Tech is moving away from panel interviews and technical assessments are on the rise.

Breakout Sessions

After introducing the panelists and getting the discussion going with the first two questions, moderator James Lund moved into the breakout sessions where job seekers and hiring managers alike were able to ask the panelists questions in smaller groups. These discussions covered a wide range of topics from work life balance, to behavioral based interviews, to writing and reading an effective resume.

portland tech hiring

Panelist Lauren Shey from VEVO discussed techniques for talking about work life balance in an interview. Her advice echoed the conversations of other meetup discussions in that this is a highly coveted criteria for job seekers but can be off-putting for hiring managers. Balancing it can be tricky but Lauren advised you should not use specifics about your personal life when initially asking about work life balance. Want to learn more about navigating diversity and equity in the hiring process? Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn!

Panelist Neil Hefty from ProFocus discussed how to use story telling in interviews, on your resume and even at a party! The STAR technique can help you articulate your experience whether you’re applying for a new job or even a promotion! STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Want to learn more about how you can leverage staffing and consulting services for your company or career? Connect with Neil on LinkedIn!

Panelist Chris Miller from Smarsh answered questions about behavioral based interviews and explained how he approaches hiring at Smarsh. He was somewhere around employee number 50 when he was hired ten years ago and since then he has watched Smarsh transform everything from their products to their hiring practices. Want to learn more about what keeps him around? Connect with Chris on LinkedIn!

After 45 minutes of rotating discussions with the panelists, the group came together to share out some of the most common struggles and solutions in the Silicon Forest. Although every manager and candidate had a unique experience with the hiring process it was clear that consistent communication and research is very important and often forgotten about. 

Couldn’t make it? Follow us for more local events, opportunities and career resources!

This special event is made possible by AgilePDX‘s platinum sponsor ProFocus Technology with space provided by Smarsh. To learn more about how to partner with ProFocus, contact our team or come chat with us at an event!

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About ProFocus

ProFocus is an IT staffing and consulting company. We strive to connect a select few of the right technology professionals to the right jobs.

We get to know our clients and candidates in detail and only carefully introduce a small number of candidates that fit the role well.