Saturday, October 24, 2009

Staff it up!

Hey all,

I'm over the flu and back with a vengeance! Here is an awesome interview with a very insightful recruiter named Debbie. I think it's super important to get as many perspectives as possible on this site. The more well rounded we are on this subject, the better chance we will have.

Enjoy :)


I'd love to hear a quick summary of what you do and how you broke into the staffing field.

I just fell into it (like most of us do). Back in 1988, when I was about 19, I went to a staffing agency in Los Angeles to find an Administrative Assistant position and they ended up offering me a job as a Recruiter to work for them.

What are the advantages of finding a job through a staffing firm?

Staffing agencies can help job seekers in a variety of areas:
  • They can give advice and tips about how to write the most effective resume.
  • They can give you advice about how to most effectively answer tough interview questions.
  • They can test you so you’ll know how fast you type, or what level of proficiency you are in a variety of software programs.
  • This is the biggest reason: They can provide insight about a company, job, supervisor, etc. to better prepare you for a successful interview. (Things you’ll never know just by applying to a job posting.)
  • They may know of a local company who hires entry-level candidates and can share that information with you, or possibly, they can try to get you an interview by contacting the company on your behalf (though this rarely happens unless the candidate is really, really “marketable” – READ: someone who they feel the company is willing to pay the agency’s fee to hire). I know, this is the ugly truth, staffing agencies are a business and are geared to assist companies to find employees who match their job criteria, not the other way around. Sorry for the brutal truth.

Do staffing agency's work with entry-level individuals often? Why or why not?

Yes, if they have a job requisition from a company which is seeking an Intern or Trainee, they are actively seeking entry-level candidate’s for the position. If they don’t have an open job for an entry-level candidate, or know of a company that will hire a great entry-level candidate, then they most likely will not be of any use to the candidate.

What is the biggest mistake you notice on a cover letter or resume?

Not clearly emphasizing their particular skills which match the job they are applying for. The one-cover-for-all-jobs just doesn’t work in a tough job market. Use your resume and cover letter to “sell” your qualifications for the specific job you’re applying for.

What is the biggest mistake you would say occurs during the interview process?

Hmmm, there’s so many. Here’s a few scenarios I’ve seen:

Inappropriately dressed. Ask what to wear at the time the interview is set…don’t guess…you’ll end up arriving either too casual or too professional. Not every industry/company expects someone to show up in a suit and tie – and some, will instantly disqualify you if you do.

How important is it to follow up with a lead?

Depends on the lead.

Where is the line drawn on following up too much vs. not enough?

This one’s kind of a common sense questions. If you sense that you’re bothering someone, leave them alone. Or, if you’re getting no response, move along.

As entry-levels, we are constantly hearing the importance of making connections. What do you think is the most effective way to make connections?

Sorry, there’s no “most effective way”, the best way is whatever is working for you. Try as many ways as you know of until you find some that work best.

  • Friends, Teachers/Professors, Parent’s Friends
  • Networking Groups, Internet, etc. the list is never-ending…wherever there are people, there are opportunities to make a connection.

Is there a wrong way to make connections?

Not sure what this question is asking. Obviously, if you’d want to be professional, tactful, and considerate of people’s time and interest in helping.

What is the biggest difference between the job searching process between an entry-level individual and an individual with a lot of experience?

No difference at all, both require research to find the right job, effort to know out who the right person is to get your resume in front of, and considerate follow-up. I constantly hear how difficult it is to obtain a position through online postings due to the high volume of responses received.

What are some of the best ways to stand out in these digital situations?

Not clearly emphasizing their particular skills which match the job they are applying for. The one-resume-for-all-jobs just doesn’t work in a tough job market. Use your resume and cover letter to “sell” your qualifications for the specific job you’re applying for.

Recruiters sift through responses in their Inbox by searching through the resumes using the most crucial keywords for the job. For example, if the job description says “SOX” is required, make sure that your resume has that keyword, too. If you have “Sarbanes-Oxley”, add a “SOX” somewhere in your resume, too, so that your resume will pop up in the recruiters search.

Any advice on using twitter, LinkedIn and facebook to land a position?

Yes, use them all. :) don’t have specific advice about what you should do, that would take a LONG time to write, and there are MANY websites out there with specifics on each site.