Why I joined Dover - making the switch from a big corporation to tech

Megan Sullivan

  • 4 months ago, I left my role in sales and market development at Coca-Cola to join Dover, a recruiting tech startup

  • As someone who had never worked in the tech space, I had to do my own research to understand what to look for in my next role and how to approach applying to jobs in tech.

  • In this blog, I aim to document my job search process to shed some light on why I decided to join Dover, how I evaluated companies and the benefits of working in tech.

Leaving CPG to look for a role in tech

Right after graduating college, I got an incredible opportunity to join Coca-Cola in a sales capacity. Over the next eight years, I worked in various positions on the sales, business, and market development teams. Unfortunately, when the pandemic began, the food service branch of CPG was hit super hard. Although we were doing amazingly well in the grocery/convenience store space,  I knew I didn’t want to work in grocery to advance my career — I liked working with small businesses and grocery didn’t afford me that opportunity.

As my professional trajectory became more uncertain, I started to re-evaluate where I wanted to go in my career and what industries actually interested me. After consulting a few friends and doing my own research, I was constantly hearing about how tech was booming, even despite the pandemic. There were three other qualities about a potential move to tech that appealed to me too:

  1. Impact:  In large corporations, there’s usually tons of bureaucracy around big decisions. I wanted to be in the room where decisions were being made, and I knew startups would afford me that opportunity.  I also knew tech drove growth in businesses, which is something I’m passionate about.

  2. Ownership: At startups, you have so much more power to influence product decisions and company culture. I wanted to feel like I was making a difference at work, not just checking off boxes on my to-do list.

  3. Diversity: In the sales space, it is generally difficult to find diversity, especially in leadership positions. I wanted to join a company that valued gender and racial diversity across all departments, especially sales.

The more research I did, the more that joining a startup started to look like the right next step. That led to my ultimate decision to narrow down my list and start figuring out which company might be the right fit.

The right startup - how I researched companies

Despite my experience at Coca-Cola, I was having a harder time getting responses from startups because I didn’t have a tech background. I realized that sending in my resume wasn’t going to cut it — I was going to have to meet people, specifically women, in tech.

I found the site Elpha, a great resource for women in tech, and it helped me find community quickly. On their forums, I learned which skills to highlight in my cover letter, and how to articulate the impact I wanted to make at a smaller company. I treated each chat, interaction, and informational interview as an opportunity to collect more data points on the companies and crystalize what type of startup I wanted to work for.

My first interviews — asking the tough questions

When I got my first few interviews from bigger tech companies, I was thrilled and knew I had to put my best foot forward. At the same time, I really wanted to find a place that would value me and my contributions to the team and mission. I also knew that joining a startup came with risks, and I wanted to ask tough questions to help me make the best decision possible.

In addition to questions about work/life balance, expectations, and company culture, at each company I interviewed, I made sure to ask:

  1. What do you think your biggest problem is internally?

  2. What do you view as your biggest hurdle in the next five years?

  3. If your company were to fail, what would be the reason?

  4. Has anyone already left the company? If so, why?

  5. What’s the current runway and what are future funding plans?

  6. What’s the exit strategy/timeline look like?

  7. What’s current growth like?

I valued honesty. If interviewers ignored these questions or gave me surface-level answers, I knew it meant that they hadn’t thought through potential roadblocks or culture issues extensively enough.

Finding Dover

One of my favorite features of Elpha are their CEO and founder Q&A’s. Anvisha, one of Dover's cofounders, conducted an AMA and I really aligned with her vision for the company. As a hiring manager at Coca-Cola, I knew firsthand how difficult it can be to find great talent and how inefficient and outdated recruiting software is. Dover is solving an urgent and relatable problem: most people have had a bad interview experience on either side of the table. I found the way they were solving these pain points through automation and channel management to be unique and interesting.

When I received my weekly Elpha newsletter with new job opportunities, I was thrilled to see an opening a Dover for a role as an Account Executive. I was even more thrilled when, before I got a chance to apply, the hiring manager sent me an email and asked if I’d be open to speaking about the role; it was almost too well-timed. More importantly, it worked. I was impressed by how personalized their outreach was — talk about proof of concept!

Interviewing at Dover

Throughout the interview process, Dover checked all of my boxes. Here are some qualities I think are important to highlight that brought me over the line:

Exceptional team: Passion is a hard thing to fake and I felt that everyone I interviewed with was incredibly excited and genuine about their belief in Dover’s future. Harry, our Growth Lead, who I knew had worked at multiple other startups in the past, talked about how incredibly smart and capable the team was, and how truly remarkable it was to him how quickly Dover was growing and transforming. He also mentioned that he had never worked at a startup like Dover before.

Thoughtful recruiting process: At other startups without a recruiting team or strategy in place, I experience disorganized, and at times, unprofessional behavior. On two separate occasions, an interviewer simply didn't show up. Throughout Dover’s entire interview process, and thanks in part to the product, I received thoughtful and timely follow-ups and felt that everyone really wanted to get to know me.

When I got my offer from Dover, I knew I’d accept, but was even more on board when the team members I spoke to in my final interviews reached out to me personally to congratulate me. It was such a nice touch that really solidified the type of company and team I wanted to work with.

My first 4 months at Dover

Today, I’m four months into my role and really loving it. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever worked with more capable or talented people.

In December, I got to meet everyone face-to-face at our company offsite in Austin and it was awesome to learn that we weren’t only liked-minded in a professional setting, but these are people I could develop quick friendships with outside of work.

Similarly, our sales team is the most collaborative I’ve ever worked with. Sales can easily become cutthroat if folks are more worried about being a top performer than working together towards a common goal, and with that in mind, joining a team that was empathetic and helpful was very important to me. At Dover, I’ve been supported and empowered during the entire process. Harry and Bryant, my teammates, let me sit in on calls, offer generous constructive feedback and make space for new ideas or ways to improve our pitch.

This year, I’m excited about hiring more women and diverse candidates to our team and getting Dover into the hands of more hiring managers and startup founders so they can find the perfect fit.

If you’re curious about Dover, please pay our website a visit.

If you want to contact me, feel free to message me through LinkedIn!

Megan Sullivan