If this is the first post you read in this blog, I recommend you to read the complete guide first.
When I started working as a software developer more than 10 years ago, I was so focused on coding and the R&D team.
It was only 5 years later when I opened my own start-up that I learned how a company is structured – what are the responsibilities of each team and what are the required skills for each position.
As we all know, the tech industry changes fast, and together with that, some job positions disappear and new ones appear.
However, the main departments stay very similar, and I hope that after reading this post, you’ll understand better what each department is doing: Sales, Marketing, Product, R&D, QA, Finance, HR, and Operations.
Even if you think you already know what your next job is going to be, I highly recommend that you read the whole article to truly understand the role of each team in the company – it simply makes you a better employee.
A good sales team is crucial for the success of the company. A company can have the best product, amazing designs, and the fastest algorithms.
However, if they do not have people that sell the product and are responsible for getting paying customers, the company will not survive for long. Do you think a soccer team can become the champion without having a great striker?
The examples of companies like WhatsApp and Waze that were able to make an exit without even one paying customer are rare.
Any company is established to solve a problem in the world. This problem must be so important for someone else that they will want to pay whoever solves it.
And this is exactly what salespeople in tech are doing – they follow leads from the marketing team (more details in the next section), qualify them (decide which ones worth their time the most), contact them, and (hopefully) close a deal.
You need to understand – closing a deal is an art.
Being a salesperson in a startup requires communication and creativity (in mind) skills on the one hand in order to be able to convince potential customers that your company’s product is the right one for them and worth its price.
On the other hand, to succeed in sales job position, you also need some technical skills, for two main reasons.
First, you need to understand what the product is doing, how it is built, and why it is better than the competitors’ products.
Second, you track your progress with the leads using CRM (customer relationship management) software, contact them through (most of the time) LinkedIn, and analyze the characteristics of those you succeeded in closing versus those you did not.
If you decide that sales is the right job function for you, try to dig deeper and think if you prefer B2C (business to consumer), B2B (business to business), B2B2C (business to business to consumer), or B2G (business to government), or some other B2X.
You should also decide whether you prefer inside sales versus field (or outside) sales. The skills are different between the two, as inside sales frequently involves more cold outreach while field sales is more focused on relationship building.
If you are looking for a sales job position, please comment below.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR THE NEXT 5 DAYS: If you want to participate in a networking workshop we are doing next week, click here.
Remember how we talked about cold calls previously?
Since we want our sales team to have the highest chances of closing a deal, we need to give them good leads. This is exactly what the marketing team is responsible for.
Leads are contacts for a potential deal. The marketing team has various methods to get contacts that might result in revenue for the company.
The most well-known method is creating a “contact-us” form in the company’s website. If someone has questions about buying the product, they use this form to send their contact information to the sales team.
Other methods include sending newsletters (those weekly/monthly mails you get from a store you once purchased a shirt at), PPC (paid ads in different places), social media channels, and more.
Each marketing team adds unique methods depending on the company’s product and the way its users consume content.
Nowadays, each product has tens of competitors (if not more), and it requires a lot of creativity (in mind and in design) to make their company’s marketing (ads, social media, etc.) shine above the rest.
Clearly, it also requires a clear understanding of the product and what drives the users to use it. It is very important for marketing people to know what motivates their customers.
In addition, in recent years, the marketing function has been the subject of a lot of attention from startup companies and many tools were invented to help marketers become better at their jobs.
As a result, if you want to be in a marketing team, you should be prepared to deal a lot with data analysis and different metrics.
Metrics are quantitative goals you set – and marketers have lots of them. For example, the number of people who opened a newsletter sent to their emails (and your job might be to increase this number month over month) or the conversion rate from marketing campaigns to sales and revenue.
As with sales, the function of marketing changes a lot by the type of customers (B2B, B2C, etc). So, make sure you understand what interests you before you start applying to companies.
If you are looking for a marketing job position, please comment below.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR THE NEXT 5 DAYS: If you want to participate in a networking workshop we are doing next week, leave your contact info below (we won’t share them with anyone).
The product role is probably the only one where its name does not explicitly explain its responsibilities and goals. And yet, in today’s job market, product is the most wanted position by candidates, with more than 150 applications per open spot!
What does it mean to be in charge of the product?
It means you need to know everything about the product even though you are not the one building it, nor the one selling it.
Being a product manager means that you are kind of a middleman between the outside world and the employees inside the company.
In simple words, the product manager understands the market’s (potential customer’s) demands and wishes. To get this, she can use her own knowledge and research combined with insights collected by the sales, marketing, or user research teams.
Product managers also use analytics and usage data of current users to improve product functionality and define urgency of developing new features.
Then, they need to prioritize those demands by taking into account different variables based on the company’s status (for example, how many developers are available, new strategic directions, or legal/compliance considerations).
Lastly, the product team translates the requirements into fully defined and detailed features that the R&D team can understand and use to develop the product.
In essence, the product team defines Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on the business goals of the company.
Then, they use all of the above to meet these KPIs. For example, one of their KPIs might be to increase daily usage time (on average) of users by 5% over the next month.
The product manager will need to decide which features are the most important ones to help with this KPI and to prioritize their development.
The main skills product managers must have are decision making and prioritization. Product managers have to excel at these two since they are doing them many times each day.
Moreover, product managers are people that know or can learn a bit (or a lot) of anything. They have daily communication with every department in the company and should understand the key responsibilities and work of everyone in the company.
If you are looking for a product job position, please comment below.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR THE NEXT 5 DAYS: If you want to participate in a networking workshop we are doing next week, click here
R&D – research and development department. For a tech company, this is the department that (usually) has the highest salaries and most number of open positions.
The R&D team takes the product specification from the product team, builds a development plan, assigns developers and engineers to each task, and eventually starts coding.
For people outside of the R&D team, it may look like everyone is doing the same thing – coding. However, this department is actually very segmented.
There are developers working on the core algorithms – the real secret sauce of the company, the unique technological innovation this company has to offer.
Other developer roles are dependent on the specific product of the company. For example, if the company has a mobile app, there will be mobile developers that translate the user-flow (created by the product team) into an app.
If, on the other hand, the company works directly with big organizations and have a unique web dashboard for that, the R&D team will have great web developers to implement it.
In either case, there are developers who are in charge of the front end (what the users see) and the back end (what the users don’t see).
Usually, backend developers have more complex tasks and more experience in the field. Full stack developers are ones that do both front end and back end.
There are lots more types of developers, but I want to focus now on a different point. Nowadays, there are many coding bootcamps which promise that you can become a software developer with a few months’ learning.
Although it is way easier to learn coding today than it was 20 years ago (when I wrote my first line of code), most of those coding bootcamps won’t really put you in a job with a real future in it.
Trust me – putting a website in your “experience” section of your resume won’t impress anyone in a world where I can build this website in 30 minutes using WordPress.
So, what I am trying to say? You need to make sure you understand what you get for your money. You get to be involved in interesting coding tasks if you have years of experience in this field. Or if you have a degree from a prestigious university.
I know that many people would tell you differently. But try to answer the following question. Assume you founded a company, gave it all your time, money, and heart… and you are looking for a developer.
Today, you interviewed two great individuals – smart, nice, and with no notable prior experience. Typically, you would have had only one hour with each of them and now you need to decide who you should hire.
One last thing – one of them studied in MIT and the other in a college you never heard of. Would you really take the one who studied in a no-name college? Would you let your competitors hire the MIT graduate who has lots of friends also looking for jobs, and who learned from the best professors in the world?
If you are looking for R&D job position, please comment below.
The Quality Assurance (QA) team is actually typically under the R&D department, but I decided to give it a different section as many people try to start here when they switch into the tech industry.
As its name suggests, the QA team needs to test the product, and specifically new features – check for bugs, broken buttons and links, etc.
Usually the salaries of the QA are on the lower end in the R&D team and sometimes even compared to other departments in the company (not that it is supposed to be your main consideration, but it is important to know).
The type of work done by this team differs a lot between companies. In some, it is a totally manual job in which you simply “play” with the app or website to find problems.
In other companies, it may be more sophisticated, involving developing automated tests.
In either case, it is very, very, very difficult to be promoted from QA to better and more interesting development roles. Therefore, don’t believe a coding bootcamp that tells you it is smart to start your career switch by joining a QA team.
If this kind of job interests you – do it! No question about it. However, don’t do it simply because you think it will give you a jump to a better position in a few years.
If you are looking for a QA job position, please comment below.
Now, let’s talk a bit about the department that has a reputation for being dull and boring.
While it may be boring, it is crucial: not only do they take care of our salaries and compensation, they help the management with their business strategy.
They plan investment rounds and make sure they are done in the best form for the company.
To get into finance positions, you usually need formal training and certifications.
Unfortunately, many finance people (e.g. accountants) who love their job think they need to change a job if they want to go into tech. Sometimes they even go to learn coding because they believe this is the only way.
That’s not true! There are great open positions for finance jobs (e.g. controllers).
If you are looking for a finance job position, please comment below.
Regardless of which position you want, someone from the human resources (HR) team will interview you along the way.
The human resources team is responsible for everything regarding the employees and culture of the company.
Their job includes, on the one hand, sourcing and recruiting of new employees.
On the other hand, the HR team works to keep the current employees engaged with the mission and vision of the company.
The HR team usually consists of people with a background in psychology, people who wish to understand what motivates people, and people who want to help others in their career development.
You must have exceptional personal skills in order to work in the HR team.
If you are looking for HR job position, please comment below.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR THE NEXT 5 DAYS: If you want to participate in a networking workshop we are doing next week, click here.
The operations team is more crucial in hardware companies than software ones.
This team is responsible for managing the inventory and tracking shipments from vendors and to customers.
Actually, when people consider a career change to tech, they usually don’t think about operations. However, it can be a great position in which to start your tech journey.
An operations manager is a good position for people that like to work under pressure and deal with shipments, tracking, and vendors.
If you are looking for an operations job position, please comment below.
Don’t forget to like our Facebook Page to be notified when new posts are published.