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How to get a job at $34 billion cybersecurity giant Cloudflare, according to the company's chief people officer

Cloudflare Partner, Matthew Prince appears on stage at the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt Europe/London, at The Old Billingsgate on October 21, 2014 in London, England
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince appears on stage at the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt Europe/London.
Anthony Harvey/Stringer/Getty Images

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  • Cybersecurity company Cloudflare is constantly hiring, chief people officer, Janet Van Huysse, said.
  • Cloudflare has 200,000 applicants annually — Van Huysse told Insider how candidates can stand out. 
  • Every candidate will have a one-on-one phone call with a Cloudflare executive, Van Huysse said. 

As of 2020, the $34 billion cybersecurity company Cloudflare had over 1,600 employees, and now it's adding 540 more. 

"Through the last few years, a lot of companies were doing hiring freezes, layoffs, and other awful things," said Cloudflare chief people officer Janet Van Huysse. "And we've been really lucky that we've been able to continue to grow. So we have a ton of job openings right now." 

While Cloudflare is continuing to grow, the company often has 50,000 applicants a quarter, meaning it only hires 0.5% of candidates, Van Huysse said. The entire cybersecurity industry is seeing rapid growth — with 600,000 open jobs across the industry, many of which offer six-figure salaries. 

Van Huysse got her first taste of the tech world when she began working at her husband's internet radio startup, and went on to work HR stints at AOL, Sony, and Twitter, before joining Cloudflare in 2016. Speaking to Insider, she explained how candidates can be in that top 0.5% of Cloudflare applicants. 

Janet Van Huysse, Cloudflare SVP Chief People Officer
Janet Van Huysse, Cloudflare's chief people officer
Show personality and passion from the start

To nab an interview at Cloudflare candidates need to have a standout cover letter. 

"Resumes are kind of consistent no matter what company you're applying for, right? Because they're basically just an accurate reflection of the experience that you've had to date," Van Huysee said. "I love a good cover letter that tells me why Cloudflare? Why is Cloudflare a good fit for you? Why are you passionate about this job at this company?" 

A good cover letter should reflect that the candidate did their homework by reading the firm's blog, and by diving into the specifics of the job description. Van Huysse provided an example of a cover letter that used a vivid, personal reflection to grab her attention. 

"I'm not going to phrase it exactly how she did, but she said, 'It's midnight and I'm preparing for a job interview at whatever company. But I cannot shake the job description I just read about Cloudflare. It just so resonated with me for these very specific reasons. And I realize I don't want this job I'm interviewing at tomorrow. I want this job I just read about that's at Cloudflare,'" Van Huysse recalled. "The way she said it, I felt like I was there with her at midnight."

Candidates could also showcase how they use Cloudflare products to show their passion for the company, Van Huysse added. 

"There's nothing more exciting," she said, "than talking to someone who used our technology to build something for themselves, or they're using Cloudflare on their own website." 

Cloudflare cares about behavior and results 

Van Huysse has what she calls a "very practical definition" of company culture: Culture is defined by the behaviors that you reward. 

At Cloudflare, communication, empathy, curiosity, and the ability to get stuff done, are what's rewarded. To maintain this culture and find people who are a good fit, Cloudflare looks for these things in a candidate.

"The real secret sauce for us is we have this very simple equation that performance equals results plus behaviors," Van Huysse said. "And so you can't be a high performer if the behaviors aren't good and the results aren't good." 

Van Huysse and other interviewers will be looking for indications — through cover letters and interviews, including answers about past experiences — that candidates can stay curious, kind, and productive. 

"I'm looking for that in spades," she said.

The Final Call can change a candidate's course 

While most of Cloudflare's hiring process is "very standard," the final steps — from the last interview to the offer letter — are "special," Van Huysee said.

After a candidate goes through multiple interviews, they have a final one-on-one meeting with Mathew Prince, Cloudflare CEO; Michelle Zatlyn, Cloudflare president and COO; and John Graham-Cumming, Cloudflare Chief Technology Officer, or Van Huysse.

Prince used to make every phone call himself but as the company grew and hundreds were hired annually, the CEO compromised — he would share his executive interview duties with other members of the team as long as he got to continue to be the one to send out every offer letter, Van Huysse said. 

While candidates might consider the meeting to be a formality, Van Huysse said the interview is critical to see if a candidate should be hired. If they succeeded at every interview but didn't nail the final call, Van Huysse often asks the hiring manager to do another reference check or have another conversation with the candidate before hiring them. 

"I'd probably push back on a candidate that was like, 'No, I'm good. I knew I was scheduled to meet with you, but I have nothing to ask,'" Van Huysse said. "That's a flag for me."

Keerthi Vedantam contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

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