Employer Spotlight: Paperless Post in Chelsea, NYC
Paperless Post is a unique company that lives at the intersection of technology and visual art. Their mission is to help people create custom online and paper stationery that reflects their personal style. They're also searching for a Visual Designer to join their growing team. I asked Lucia Smith, Head of HR & Recruiting at Paperless Post, to tell me why it's so great to work there and what she looks for when hiring new employees.
What sets Paperless Post apart from other companies?
Lucia Smith: At Paperless Post there's a true partnership between design and tech. Our visual and graphic designers get a powerful platform on which to showcase their work and our developers get to build something that's truly beautiful. Our company relies on both teams equallyâ€”and in turn the two teams rely on each other.
The work we do is rewarding because our product is both personal (people use our invitations for their most important life events) and organically viral (the very nature of cards and invitations is that users share them). It's fun for designers to track which designs are the most popular and which cards users have connected with the most.The company was started by a brother and sister and we're proud to be the rare tech company that has an even gender split. Culturally, we've been able to maintain an authentic "family" vibe even as we've grown.
Why is Paperless Post such a rare place to work?
LS: The fact that Paperless Post is a startup with a solid business plan (it's rarer than you might think!) has a really positive influence on our work culture. Our users pay us directly for a product they love, which means our user interface designers and developers never have to answer to advertisers or sacrifice their vision. People who work here get to dive deep into a single product and flex their creative muscle.
This kind of security on the business side helps pave the way for our company cultureâ€”we can focus on the things that matter without cut-throat internal politics. We focus on our successes (and setbacks) as a group: if something great happens, we throw ourselves a party; if something not-so-great happens we get together and talk about how to avoid that in the future.
What do Paperless Post employees look forward to the most each day when they get to work?
LS: Coffee, the projects they're working on, and seeing each other. Probably in that order :) We take our coffee very seriously and have multiple ways to make it, including a pourover station and a weekly delivery of cold-brew. A typical day revolves around hard work and animated gifs.
How soon into an interview do you get a hunch that someone is a good fit for the company?
LS: I usually start the interview process with a phone screen that I do myself. I'm not an expert in every job for which we hire, but talking to thousands of candidates has given me an eye for some underlying truths about what it takes to succeed here. By the end of the initial screening, I can usually tell if someone gets excited and cares about the same things we do.
What is your favorite question to ask candidates?
LS: I love asking asking candidates how they got interested in their current specialty. It's often a winding path that leads someone to visual design, software development, or product management. I also like asking what apps people love usingâ€”I've learned about a lot of fun businesses that way.
Tell me about the most memorable resume/application/approach you've ever encountered.
LS: It's hard to play favorites. People are passionate about Paperless Post and their applications certainly show it. I've seen video resumes and hand-drawn applications and have even gotten ornate packages mailed to me. Some candidates send their applications via Paperless Post cards, which is always fun.
That said, I'm a bit old-fashioned and prefer a well-written cover letter and solid portfolio over anything else. (But feel free to send a follow-up note via Paperless Post!)
Please explain the "field trips" and tech/design talks that happen regularly at Paperless Post.
LS: About once a month we host either a tech or design talk. This is our chance to invite artists and developers whom we admire to talk about their work and share their knowledge. They are free and open to the public, and we usually serve craft beer and snacks. Our guest speakers have included one of the early developers at Twitter, the designer Jeff Rogers, and the design studio Tag Collective. It's a lot of fun to have people who don't work at Paperless Post come into our office and experience a bit of what we're about.
Our design team also goes on "inspiration" field trips to anywhere from stationery stores to high-end clothing shops to trade shows and drawing classes. Our designers create beautiful mood boards and the rest of the company loves to look at them.
Who are the Paperless Post office dogs?
LS: There are several dogs that visit the office often but our true pup mascot is Pella, a black labrador who's been coming to the office since she was eight weeks old. She has her own bed here and we may have once thrown her a birthday party...
Tell me about the "Funtivities" everyone enjoys at Paperless Post.
LS: I'm a strong believer in funtivities. I don't know if I coined that term, but it's definitely one I've been using since I was a kid. It encompasses all the parties and events we have. Some highlights include a boat cruise, fancy beer night, board game competitions, a viewing of the new season of Arrested Development, a few epic nights of karaoke, and a wine tasting. There are quite a number of amateur chefs on staff so our potlucks are always amazing. A great company culture is all about hiring great people, so we're always looking for ways to make sure everyone gets to enjoy each other's company.
Lastly, tell me about the ideal candidate for the Visual Designer role you want to fill right now.
LS: Our Product Design team is small but passionate. We look for designers with exceptional taste levels, strong technical skills and commitment to their work. We value minimalist application design and intuitive workflows - someone whose past projects exhibits they care about the same things will really stand out. Our team is also looking for strong collaborators since we work closely with other teams across the company to ensure an excellent user experience. An ideal designer will be able to discuss and stand by his or her vision as well as be willing to incorporate feedback and adapt to feature changes.
If you want to join the Paperless Post team, apply now for the Visual Designer position in their Chelsea, NYC office. Don't forget to visit the Paperless Post Careers page to learn more about the company and other opportunities with this fun, dynamic company.