Ask A Recruiter: Balancing Personal and Professional Use of Social Media

Q: What are your recommendations for balancing personal and professional information on social media?

A: It used to be easy to know which social media were for strictly professional use (e.g. LinkedIn) and which were for more personal use (e.g. Instagram), but the line has certainly blurred. Some job seekers leverage the social aspect of sites like Facebook and Pinterest to showcase a passion or talent that enhances their personal brand, and some job seekers are sharing more personal information on their professional profiles in order to differentiate themselves.

A simple answer is to create separate identities on the social media you use to keep personal and professional interactions separate. But that can be confusing to friends and followers and life today rarely has relationships that fall into such neat categories.

It’s important today to understand how social media is perceived by others. No matter how you regard and use social media, employers and recruiters will use it to help them do their jobs. Most will Google you and look up your LinkedIn profile. For many positions (not all) it’s considered a detriment NOT to have a LinkedIn profile. In addition, the social world is expanding every day. Whether they’re active users or not, your various family members and acquaintances from every imaginable aspect of life are on social media and can see your posts.

With that in mind, here are some tips for balancing personal and professional information and activities on social media:

Consider the impression you’re making – Take a look at your profile(s) as if you were a recruiter or hiring manager. What is the first impression you get from your photo (or lack of photo)? Do you share professional content on your profile? Does your online activity reinforce your resume? I.e. do you participate in online groups or blog about topics that demonstrate your expertise? Make sure your online presence is sharing the impression you want it to give.

Make sure you’re search-friendly – Just as there are certain conventions to follow for writing resumes, there are different criteria to consider when updating your digital bio. In this case, that means making sure your bio includes the right keywords to appeal to employers.

Remember the behavior rules for social situations – Poor social skills – think of party-goers who monopolize conversations, complain about everything, or take credit for others’ ideas – are just as bad when they happen online. Social media was designed for engaging, not broadcasting. With that in mind, consider posting updates that spark conversation or adding your comment to a retweet. Look for businesses and brands that you’d like to work with and follow them online. Engage with the thought-leaders in your industry.

Know the difference between personalizing and being overly personal – Sometimes we don’t know where the line between personal and professional is until we’ve crossed it. Negative comments, a spike in ‘unfollowers,’ or overall decrease in activity on your social media profile page can be signs that you’ve gone too far. Conversely, a lack of activity and engagement may mean that you’re not interesting enough.

Update privacy settings – If you don’t trust yourself to remember personal and professional boundaries, consider creating rules that will remember for you. Facebook and Instagram both allow you to choose who can see your posts and Pinterest gives you the ability to create secret boards.

 

 

About the Recruiter

Kristen Coppins has 10+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry.  As a Director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees the new hire training and development program. Kristen is also a member of ASA’s Continued Education Committee.  K-Coppins

Ask A Recruiter: Negotiating Salary

Q: What tips do you have for negotiating salary?

A: This is a good question, because there are lots of factors to consider when it comes to salary negotiations.

My first recommendation when considering salary negotiation is to do research so you understand the market and how you and your salary, or salary offer, fit in it. Salary.com is a good place to start to get a base salary range relevant to your position and experience, but then you have to consider the employer’s situation, the job market (demand) for that position and the economy overall in your area. If you are interviewing for a new job, the salary you are offered is based on these things, as well as how your interview goes and whether or not you are currently employed and, if so, what you’re currently making, as well as how your experience and education compares to current employees and their compensation within the organization. The employer will make you a salary offer based on all of these factors. They may make another candidate a different salary offer for the same position.

Understanding the situation is important so that you go into the negotiation (or not) with the right expectations. In my work, it’s common to see candidates whose expectations are out-of-line get stuck without a job because they don’t get offers or turn them down because they are below their out-of-line expectations.

Once you have vetted your expectations, here are a few ‘do’s and don’ts’:

Do:

Understand what you’re worth – Understanding your value will help you enter negotiations with a realistic outlook. A recruiter can help you understand what salary range is appropriate for your industry and experience levels.

‘Monetize’ your skills – Where it’s appropriate, frame your work in terms that show real monetary value. For example, customer support skills can be framed in terms of how much time or money was saved by resolving issues faster.

Remember why you’re doing this – Think about why you want the job and what it is that you’re looking for. It shouldn’t only be about the money. Even if that’s an important factor, keeping the other reasons in mind will help you focus on the big picture.

Don’t:

Don’t mention money too early – Let the employer bring up the subject first. If you ask about salary too early in the process, it will seem as though this is your primary interest. Focus on getting the offer first! Some interviewers bring the topic up early to use it as a screening tool. In that case, you can respond with an honest answer about what you’re currently earning and what your hopes are, but you should also stress how important it is to you to find a rewarding job.

Don’t ignore other parts of the compensation package – Salary is only part of an offer; it’s important to consider the whole package and the other benefits being offered, such as healthcare insurance, retirement investment programs, tuition reimbursement, etc. as well as other aspects of the work like the size, culture and reputation of the organization, the commute and more.

Don’t lose track of the big picture – When candidates become too focused on one particular aspect of the job search – getting a raise of a certain percentage, being offered a certain job title – they run the risk of missing out on opportunities that might be right for them.

About the Recruiter
ImageFrank Gentile is a 20+ year veteran of the staffing industry and an experienced recruiter. As a Director at Professional Staffing Group (PSG) Frank oversees the permanent placement division. 

 

 

Ask A Recruiter: Temp-to-Hire

Q: What does the term “temp-to-hire” mean?

A: There are several ways you can be employed when working with a staffing firm: as a temporary employee, a temp-to-hire worker or as a direct-hire.

A temporary employee is someone who is employed by the staffing firm, but goes to work for a client of the firm. The client company manages the employee while the staffing firm pays the employee. A temporary job can last anywhere from several hours or one day to many months. Temporary employees are sometimes called ‘contractual,’ ‘seasonal,’ ‘interim,’ or ‘freelance.’

Direct-hire means that the firm’s client hires the employee directly. The staffing firm is used to recruit and screen candidates for the role, but once the employee is hired, they no longer have an affiliation with the staffing firm and go directly on the client firm’s payroll.

Temp-to-hire is a middle ground term and it means that the employee begins as a temporary worker, but if the job goes well he/she may be offered a permanent position. Sometimes this is also called ‘temp-to-perm’ or ‘right-to-hire.’

Sometimes an open position is designated as a temp-to-hire position right away, because the employer knows they want to fill the position with a permanent employee, but wants to use evaluate temporary workers in the role to find the best candidate. Other times the position is advertised as a temporary position, but the employee does a great job and the employer decides they want to make that worker a permanent staff member.

Many of the candidates we meet with would prefer to find a permanent position. However, temp-to-hire opportunities can be just as beneficial to the candidate as they are to the employer. There’s only so much information that each party can learn about the other in one or two interviews. It’s only when you’re immersed in the job on a day-to-day basis and interacting with co-workers and customers, that you can truly understand whether the situation is a good fit.

About the Recruiter

K-CoppinsKristen Coppins has 10+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry.  As a Director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees the new hire training and development program. Kristen is also a member of ASA’s Continued Education Committee.

Ask A Recruiter: Signs It’s Time for a Job Change

Q: I’ve been on the fence for a long time about whether I should look for a new job. Are there any tell-tale signs that it’s time to move on?

A: The answer to your question is different for every person, but in our experience there are several legitimate signs that it’s time to change jobs:

Not being challenged – Workers who have been in their position for a long time can become frustrated if they aren’t challenged with new responsibilities over time. If the job becomes stagnant, it can feel like there’s no opportunity for growth and that it’s not worth staying. However, if you find yourself in this position, I recommend first trying to fix the situation by sitting down with your manager and explaining that you’d like to be challenged more at work.

Lack of growth opportunities – Employees also like to be recognized for their growth with promotions and higher-level titles at work. If there’s little room to grow – for instance, if a manager’s or supervisor’s experience level is close to your own or their own growth opportunities are limited – it becomes difficult to see a path forward or future at the company. However, again, before deciding to leave, it’s important to validate your perception by talking to your manager about your interests. Perhaps there’s a growth path within the company that you haven’t noticed yet.

Passed over for promotion – Being passed over for a promotion can make employees feel neglected. While such an event can be an opportunity to talk about your future at the company and what it will take for you to be selected for promotion, it can also (especially if it happens more than once) push employees to the conclusion that there’s not an opportunity or future for them at the company.

Company instability – It’s said that “change creates uncertainty,” and at the workplace changes like a merger or acquisition, a new outsourcing strategy, or lay-offs can cause workers to feel as though their job is at risk. The changes can also cause opportunity – if your job is not eliminated there may be lots of new opportunities for you. However, if the company really appears to be shrinking and heading in the wrong direction, that could be a good reason to make your move.

Supervisor or manager is leaving – Many times people look to their supervisor or manager as a role model and aspire to be in their position someday. If that person decides to leave, it can raise doubts about whether it’s wise to stay yourself, i.e. if the person you admire and aspire to be has found better opportunity elsewhere, perhaps you will too. Of course, their leaving can also open up an opportunity for you to grow and take on their responsibilities.

Culture change – Workplace culture can be an important factor in job satisfaction, and if the culture of an organization changes and is no longer what it used to be, or what attracted you originally, it may be time to make a change. Workers’ needs change over time, too. For instance, working for a fast-paced, fast-growing organization can be exhilarating and rewarding, but it can also cause burnout and prompt an employee to look for a different job in a more stable environment.

Job Description has changed – As I mentioned earlier, workers look for change in their job over time, especially changes that give them the opportunity to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities. However, when a job changes in a way that minimizes the employee’s responsibilities or they feel their role at the company is being threatened, it could be a sign that it’s time to move on.

About the Recruiter

greg-menzone-pic1Greg Menzone is a 10-year veteran of the staffing industry who has made hundreds of successful placements. Greg and the team he manages specialize in direct hire placement of accounting and finance professionals. 

Ask A Recruiter: Deciding Between Multiple Job Offers

Q: After interviewing for a long time, I’m about to have more than one job offer to consider. Do you have any advice on how to make the right decision?

A:  Congratulations on receiving multiple job offers!

When it’s time to make a tough choice, I recommend creating pros and cons lists. I always tell candidates to make a list of the top three things they are looking for in a new job and it’s not too late for you to do this, too. Having a written reminder of what you’re looking for will make it easier to decide if a job offer is right for you.

For example, I recently worked with an HR professional who had told me that advancing her career was a top priority. We found an opportunity for her that would meet this goal– the new job opportunity offered more responsibilities and room for growth – but it also would mean a longer commute. The commute was a serious consideration for this candidate, since she has a young child at home, but she had prioritized her desires, and after careful consideration, she decided that pursuing career advancement was the most important objective for her at this time.

As you think about your priorities, here are some categories to consider:

Long-term career objective – It can be tough to take yourself out of the ‘here and now’ and imagine how a brand new job will develop over the long term. However, it’s important to consider how the role aligns with your long-term career objectives or how it can help your career in the long term. For instance, if you are a software engineer considering different types of work – perhaps one that involves a heavy amount of coding and one that is focused more on project management – if you are qualified for both positions, you might be tempted to take the one that pays more. But it’s important to consider what skills you’d develop in the different roles and how your responsibilities could develop over time in each position, as well as how much growth you’ll have in the position.

Your everyday role – Think about what you’ll be doing on a daily basis, including your role at the company, responsibilities and with whom you’ll be reporting to and working with.

Type of Employer – There’s a big difference between doing the same job at a startup and at a global corporation. Some people thrive on the culture at a small business where they can be exposed to a little bit of everything and other people prefer working in a more structured environment with access to larger networks. The type of company you work at will impact your professional development opportunities, the types of mentors you will find, your training and how many peers you’ll find in a similar role. Many times your career reputation is linked with your company’s reputation, too.

Location – For some people a short commute is a critical factor when considering new jobs. If it’s important to you, consider overall commute time, public transportation options, nearby amenities, parking and any other commuting factors.

Compensation – I don’t like to see candidates place salary at the top of their priority list, but it’s obviously an important consideration. Consider benefits and perks as well as salary when weighing an offer.

Everyone feels differently about these categories and feelings can change over the years. It’s important to consider what matters most to you when weighing your work options.

Jess-Salerno-photo1About the Recruiter
Jessica Salerno Incerto has 10+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry. As a director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees career placement, client consultation and management and training. Jessica is also a member of NEHRA’s Diversity Committee. 

Ask A Recruiter: Appropriate Office Attire for Interviews

Q: I’m new to the workforce (just graduated college) and not sure how to dress for interviews. What do you recommend?

A: First, congratulations on your graduation and on knowing that first impressions and appearances are important in a job search.

Sometimes new graduates don’t realize that they should invest in an interview suit or plan to have access to one. There are recruiters who will tell you never to put a mission statement on your resume and those that will tell you it’s an essential part of the resume. Similarly, there are interview experts who will tell you it’s important to match your outfit to the office style, i.e. wear business casual if that’s what current staff wear. However, I feel it’s important to always look as professional as possible even if you’re dressed more formally than the office norm when you interview. Even if the office where the interview will take place is laid back in style, I recommend wearing a suit. Playing it safe with your interview attire eliminates the chance that you’ll offend the interviewer.

For men, this means wearing a fresh button-downed shirt and a plain, conservative tie. For women, it’s important to wear stockings when wearing skirts and closed toe, heeled shoes.

Some other tips:

  • No matter what you wear on your commute, change into proper shoes before you enter the building and have a bag to store your commuting shoes.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum and eliminate noisy bracelets, big earrings, eye-catching jewels.
  • Make sure makeup is conservatively applied.
  • Reduce odors by keeping cologne and perfume to a minimum and not smoking right before the interview.
  • Consider removing facial piercings for the interview.
  • Tie long hair back.
  • Have a portfolio or nice notebook to take notes in.
  • Invest in resume paper and have smooth, clean extra copies of your resume available.
  • Keep your phone out of site and be sure to turn it off completely so that vibrations or other notifications don’t distract from your interview.
  • Don’t bring your own coffee to the meeting. Feel free to accept coffee or water if it’s offered to you, but finish the drink in your Dunkin’ Donuts takeout cup before the interview.
  • Make sure anything that you wouldn’t wear while working in the office – such as sunglasses and hats – are stored appropriately out of sight during the meeting.

About the Recruiter
Katy-LeVeque-photo
Katy Leveque is a Senior Group Manager at PSG.  Katy learned the recruiting business from the ground up.  She joined PSG shortly after graduating college over five years ago and today Katy oversees the service teams that support some of PSG’s most valued clients.

 

Ask A Recruiter: Positioning Yourself for Management Roles

Q: I’d like to move into a management role. How can I position myself and convince my boss or a new employer I’m ready?

A: It’s a bit of a Catch-22 that employers prefer to hire people with management experience for management roles, making it tough to break into that level of employment. When candidates with non-management experience move into these roles, it’s typically after working in the same company for awhile, i.e. employers also like to cultivate managers from within their organization.

However, it’s not impossible to move into a new management position. To do so, I recommend:

Demonstrate mastery of your current role. If you haven’t been in your current position long enough, it may be too soon to be considered for management. Go the extra mile to get recognized and demonstrate consistency over time. This will earn you the right to ask for the next step, or it will prompt your employer to come to you.

Let people know of your interest. If you’ve been there a long time, have you expressed interest? Find out what you need to do to qualify.

Make sure you’re in line with, and that you support and reflect, the corporate culture. Reinforcing corporate culture is part of the management role so employers look for management candidates who are good examples of their company values.

Act like a leader. Demonstrate that you’re capable of managing others and look for leadership opportunities, e.g. managing projects, leading presentations and people. Ask for new responsibilities and show initiative.

Split your role. If you have an in-demand skill set, it may be possible to create a player/coach situation where you continue to perform your work, but take on manager responsibilities and oversee or assist other group members.

About the Recruiter
frank-gentile-2Frank Gentile is a 20+ year veteran of the staffing industry and an experienced recruiter. As a Director at Professional Staffing Group (PSG) Frank oversees the permanent placement division. 

Ask A Recruiter: Resume Tips for New College Graduates

Q: I’m graduating college this year and still working on my resume. Do you have any tips?

A: Congratulations on your graduation and welcome to the workforce!

We often help recent college graduates with their resumes. One of the most common mistakes new job seekers make is not providing detail on the jobs they held during school. For instance, a candidate who worked as a receptionist in the Dean’s office might list their duties as “answering phones,” overlooking and failing to mention other valuable office experience like: planning meetings, greeting important people and organizing events.

I recommend thinking about all the work experience you have from college – including part-time or unpaid jobs, internships, work study and extracurricular activities – and the responsibilities you were given in those roles. Then think about the special achievements you accomplished during each experience. Use bullet points to call out each item.

However, don’t succumb to the other common mistake new job seekers make of writing about every detail you can think of. Keep it relevant to the job you’re seeking or the kind of work you want to do. For example, if you worked as a lifeguard during school, it would be appropriate to include the details of that experience if you’re looking for new lifeguarding jobs. If you’re pursuing office work, you should think about the aspects of your lifeguarding experience that are relevant to office employers, such as record-keeping, managing schedules, etc.

Rather than providing detailed information about special events, trips or assignments, just list them and save the big story for the interview. If the employer is interested in your trip to China during your internship, they’ll ask you about it. Conversely, if they’re not interested, it doesn’t benefit you to include all the details on your resume.

Finally, I can’t stress enough how important it is to proof-read your resume. Print it out so that you can see what it looks like from the eyes of the recipient. Is it formatted correctly and is there enough ‘white space’? Employers aren’t likely to read every bullet, so you want to make sure your important information stands out. Ask a friend, family member or professor to proof-read it, too. They may catch a mistake that you’ve overlooked.

About the Recruiter
Katy-LeVeque-photoKaty Leveque is a Senior Group Manager at PSG.  Katy learned the recruiting business from the ground up. She joined PSG shortly after graduating college over five years ago and today Katy oversees the service teams that support some of PSG’s most valued clients.

Ask A Recruiter: Human Resources Jobs

Q: Can you share advice for starting a career in Human Resources?

A: The good news for the human resources jobs market is that demand for HR workers is up and jobs that had been cut during the Recession are coming back.

Human Resources professionals contribute to business viability and success through the strategic management of human capital. Jobs in this field range from HR generalists to specialists in areas such as workforce planning and development, HR development, total rewards, employee and labor relations and risk management.

In the Human Resources industry, there are a few criteria that all employers look for:

Education – There are Human Resources professionals with a wide variety of educational backgrounds. However, many HR positions require candidates with a minimum of a four-year degree. Candidates with Bachelor’s degrees and a major in business, marketing and communications can be well-positioned for careers in Human Resources, especially if they’ve taken courses that cover topics such as management, recruitment, training and compensation. Internships during college or participating in co-op programs are a great way to break into the HR field, too. A master’s degree can be helpful, particularly one that specializes in a specific area of Human Resources or in a field that can be related to HR, e.g. an advanced degree in communications, marketing, sociology or education.

Relevant experience – It’s a bit of a Catch-22 and it can make it difficult to break into the Human Resources sector, but employers prefer to hire HR staff with previous experience. If you’re trying to transition into an HR role, or switch from one type of HR position to another, consider these tips:

  • Take on additional tasks in your current job that take you in the HR direction, e.g. take on payroll duties
  • Talk to your boss or your recruiter and let them know you are interested in an HR role and ask what you need to do to be prepared when an HR opening occurs. If they don’t know, they can’t help you grow your career in HR.
  • Investigate opportunities to work part-time in an HR role and part-time in another role until you gain experience
  • Take a good look at your resume, or ask a professional for advice on making your previous experience applicable to HR roles. For instance, a background in accounting can be desirable for certain HR functions if you can show a way to bridge that experience.
  • Consider taking time out for an HR internship
  • Consider getting an HR or business graduate degree
  • Network with people who work in HR and join online networks of HR communities.

Above-average communications skills – Good communication skills are necessary for all types of Human Resources roles. Since HR professionals handle confidential information, and must be comfortable interacting with employees at all levels, companies often seek people who are mature and experienced professionals—especially for higher-level positions in HR.

Strong track record – Employers look for candidates who can show a successful career track record, which includes demonstrating longevity or loyalty to past positions and employers, as well as good career progression with regular promotions and growth in responsibilities over time.

About the Recruiter
Jess-Salerno-photo1Jessica Salerno Incerto has 10+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry. As a director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees career placement, client consultation and management and training. Jessica is also a member of NEHRA’s Diversity Committee.

Ask A Recruiter: Finding Work You’re Passionate About

Q: Everyone says ‘follow your passion’, but how do I do that and earn money?

The advice to “find work you love and the money will follow” refers to the belief that if you are truly passionate about your job, you’ll give it your all and work hard to become the best you can be at doing it. It would naturally follow that you’ll be compensated for being the best. Whether or not this is realistic advice depends on your passion and what you hope to do with it, and also how important it is for you to earn money.

If you can afford not to have an income for a period of time, you may want to take a step back (from traditional work and paychecks), learn all you can and set yourself up to do work that you’re truly passionate about.

However, a lot of people come to us wanting to change careers, but not wanting to take a cut in pay. In these situations we try to find opportunities in organizations that correlate and connect to their passions. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Find work that you enjoy within an organization.
Some people are passionate about event planning and would like to pursue that as a career. However, without prior experience and references it can be hard to find steady work as an event planner. It may be more realistic to find work in an administrative role that often has event planning duties so that you can build your experience in this area and leverage it down the line.

Look for organizations in an industry you’re passionate about.
If you are an avid runner and passionate about the sport, you may find fulfilling work in an office culture that supports your passion at a company like Reebok in Canton, MA. We also work with a client that manufactures and sells equipment to the music recording industry and prefers to hire employees with music backgrounds. Although the jobs in these organizations might utilize traditional business skills, the organization’s values and support for outside activities you admire, as well as the ability to work alongside like-minded co-workers, may provide the stimulation you seek to stoke your passion.

About the Recruiter
frank-gentile-2Frank Gentile is a 20+ year veteran of the staffing industry and an experienced recruiter. As a Director at Professional Staffing Group (PSG) Frank oversees the permanent placement division.