Get the Inside Scoop on Hiring
The job market has been a rollercoaster over the past few years (to put it lightly.) First, there were furloughs and layoffs. Then the pendulum swung in the other direction as employees quit en masse (“The Great Resignation) and companies had to really compete for talent. But not, with rising inflation and the potential for another (!) recession, we’re seeing a new wave of layoffs, hiring freezes, and something we’d never heard of before…rescinded job offers.
So what the HECK is going on?!
Enter Ladies Get Hired: Ask a Recruiter, our new Instagram Live series where Ladies Get Paid founder and author Claire Wasserman, interviews recruiters, headhunters, HR folks, and staffing firms across the U.S., to get a better sense of what’s happening in the job market and ways candidates can stand out. For our kick-off event, we interviewed Dominique Farnan, the Founder of DotConnect.
LinkedIn and/or website
Where do you work?
What industry are you in/specialize in?
We hire for any/all functions for companies in Tech: startups, scaleups, enterprises
Have you seen the job market change since the beginning of the pandemic? If so, how?
Yes, very much. Roller coaster for the last few years and counting.
In March/April of 2020, we saw very quick and deep layoffs for several months. Many startups completely went out of business. The uncertainty of Covid led to a lot of those initial cuts. Towards the end of 2020, we saw some companies allocate budgets and begin to hire again, as the world started to lift restrictions and vaccines became available.
In 2021, we saw a massive increase in hiring across all of our clients and a large demand for recruiters. Recruiters became the new “software engineers” for a little while in terms of the skill set in demand. This growth continued on into early 2022, however, we’ve seen the war impact some growth, inflation, and threats of recession slow this growth down.
(Side note: a recession is defined as a temporary economic decline over two quarters. Which, considering the last 10 years we’ve seen, isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing. It’s unrealistic to think that the market would continue exponential growth at the rate it has.)
In terms of the rate of hiring in recent months, has your company increased, decreased, or stayed the same?
Increased. We’ve invested heavily in building out our internal operations, sales, and marketing.
As one of my coaches pointed out in his book, Double Double: “When your competitors are slowing down and grumbling about the recession, they start worrying their employees. When competitors start laying people off, the great employees fear for their jobs too. If you’re hiring salespeople when everyone is laying them off, the positive buzz that you’re still hiring will start to spread. What’s even better? Imagine hiring one of your competitor’s best salespeople.” – Cameron Herold
What about layoffs?
Big tech is laying off like they did in 2020 but it’s not nearly as dramatic. You are seeing big tech layoff 10-20% of their staff and lean their teams out a bit more. Which is generally OK, those companies tend to “overhire” whereas startups and scale ups might be a bit more frugal when it comes to headcount/spend.
What’s a common mistake you see when people apply?
They apply for “anything”. Be intentional about your job search approach.
If you’re looking to make a pivot, conduct the inventory of your own skills. This is where you list your own skills, education, and experiences. Then group them, and theme them.
An example of this might be a project manager may do a skills inventory and identify that they have many transferable skills to be a good recruiter (since essentially recruiters are managing multiple projects at the same time and working cross-functionally with a lot of disparate teams working towards one goal).
What’s 1-3 pieces of advice do you have for job applicants?
- Get aligned on your values. It’s going to be hard to figure out what you want to do or where you want to do it if you don’t know your values and what’s important to you as a human being first.
- Be targeted with companies. Make a target list of where you could see yourself and why. Then start working your network (via different associations like Ladies Get Paid, Linkedin, private slack communities, events etc.)
- Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t land something immediately. Good hiring is intentional and can take time. Vet the companies you’re talking to as much as they’re vetting you and if it doesn’t feel aligned…move on to the next one.
Why did you become a recruiter? What do you love about your job?
I began recruiting at the age of 17 when I graduated high school early and had some time on my hands. I didn’t want to go back to the pizza place and I really wanted “real-life experience”. Recruiting is all I’ve ever known in my professional career. I am a true super-connector. I’ve never had the same interview twice and I’ve always had a keen interest in hearing people’s stories. At this stage in my career, I love leading my global team of recruiters and watching them grow their skills and confidence in their craft. I love connecting talent with their dream jobs through understanding their values and aligning their professional lives with their personal passions so they can create a life that matters.
What is the best answer when recruiters ask about salary expectations? I don’t want to pigeonhole myself and low ball / high ball so I try to avoid giving a specific number but sometimes recruiters will get pushy and aggressive with this question.
In certain states, recruiters cannot legally ask for current or previous compensation. As a general rule of thumb, I have my team ask for an expected “range”. It’s important for recruiters to get a general sense for the talent’s range during the early stages of the process, so they can ensure the talent is aligned with the role’s compensation. Usually our clients (companies) want that information early on in the process. If the talent is outside of the range, oftentimes we will still present them to the hiring manager just making a note that they are outside of range. Usually the hiring manager will decide if they can get more budget to accommodate the talent’s range, if they’re a strong candidate.
I do recommend you share your expectations with an absolute bottom line number. If your bottom line is still higher than the range for the role you’re applying for, chances are the role might be more junior that it is defined on the job description.
How to stand out without being generic? How much time do they spend looking at my portfolio, resume, cover letters? What is the wisest use of my time?
For roles that you’re really excited about, I recommend writing your resume to match the verbiage from the direct job posting. Using the same words or phrases on the top half of your resume to catch the reader’s attention.
For portfolios, that will vary by recruiter. For example, a Design Recruiter may review your resume but leave the portfolio review up to the direct hiring manager or interview team. That is generally how I’ve seen it done.
My personal opinion is I am not a fan of cover letters, so I wouldn’t spend too much time on one unless the role you’re apply for requires it.
Another way to stand out is to follow the company (and/or people on the team from the company you’re targeting) on LI and comment on their posts or share their posts so they can engage with you a bit more. I actually found my Program Manager from us being interested in the same things and leadership styles on LI.
I am new to my role and haven’t had as much supervisory experience as I’d like: please discuss navigating this barrier in an interview or promotion.
Not all companies do a good job of preparing people managers to actually manage people! You can be great as an individual contributor but once you have a team reporting to you, that could change. I’ve put all my people managers through a great online course by one of my coaches called “Invest in your leaders”. This is a great foundational tool for new managers and non managers alike. There are also other free resources like GitLabs “Managing Remote Teams” course. If you proactively do something like that, and mention it during an interview and possible promotion that will show that you are aware of your skill gaps and proactive to grow your skills/confidence.
How, as a seasoned professional in government and management consulting for rapid engagements, do I show new clients that my skills are domain agnostic and I’m used to working in a fast-paced and intensely engaged team environment? I’ve been told my 20 years of engineering and problem solving may be discounted because “everything in government moves at a glacial pace”. I’m starting my own business and can either be W2 or 1099. Thank you!
I would use data to highlight the projects you’ve worked on, talking through your ramp time (45 days or less as an example) and how quickly you contribute/ make an impact on the projects. High end/specialized consultants are often brought in to make an immediate impact. If you can show you’re a quick study through outlining your best projects that will help.
Would love to hear her thoughts on the Open to Work Profile Banner being used on LinkedIn? There’s a lot of controversy around using it.
Some employers may not be happy with employees openly posting this. You’re free to consider new opportunities at any given time, even when you are employed, so it’s really your choice if you want to use the banner or not. As a recruiter, and when having access to a full LinkedIn recruiter seat, this is of great help to streamline a search process and target candidates actively looking. As a job seeker it is also good to advertise your availability to get noticed by recruiters. It is a good tool but should only be used under the right circumstances like current employment status. If one is unemployed, on a contract that is nearing its end, instability in the company or if you are an independent contractor who has the ability to work on multiple projects/clients
How do address the fact that you’ve been fired in an interview?
Don’t volunteer that you’ve been fired but do speak to it if directly asked. I would never bad-mouth a former employer or boss. You can be honest about being fired and share what you learned from the experience.
I am extremely objective individually and able to make a self-evaluation of a candidate or situation but many people are the same and from my many years of experience, know that unconscious bias exists in the majority of cases. I think every situation is different and one needs to vett/analyze the situation and variables at hand and then react accordingly. If you know that there will be reference checks done, then disclosure is important to create a good context to the situation but not bad-mouthing the employer. If nothing is going to circle back, then minimal disclosure is the better option. It is a known fact that many people leave managers and not jobs and I have seen poisonous environments where good people are strategically removed or forced to leave (constructive dismissal). Individuals should not be unfairly measured or assessed in these circumstances. Any good leader can read a situation and see potential in a person to see how best they can utilize them, being objective is key!
What is the best way to find recruiters for desired positions? Is there a better method than simply googling?
Target companies first, then search Talent Acquisition, Recruiter, Sourcer on LI from your target companies. Connect with them and also apply online instead of just submitting to the recruiter. Most companies have to get your resume via their ATS vs. recruiter directly
What makes a resume stand out to you?
This really varies by the recruiter. I appreciate a clean resume, with data and metrics that outline what the person owns in their role and what the outcomes are that they create.
Are two-page resumes acceptable these days, or should you still stick to one page?” thoughts on the newer more designed with color and photo type resumes?
Rule of thumb 1 page per 10 years of work experience. Also, for anything beyond 10 years, list the company and role but not necessarily the bullet points underneath.
What are some tips for finding out what the salary range might be for a position and/or what salary range to ask for?
In some states, the recruiter has to legally disclose the range if asked. I would always ask in the first conversation either what the range is or if you’re within the range. If you share your compensation expectations, it’s fair to ask if that fits within their defined parameters. If it doesn’t, don’t feel discouraged. Ask the recruiter if there are other roles that are more aligned to your expectations and see how they can help.
How can I make myself the most marketable? Do certifications matter?
How do you stand out when making a career transition or fill most but not all of the outlined job preferences? When you are talented and skilled but coming from another industry can you still leverage a competitive salary, and if so how?
We hire career pivots in my company. It’s OK if you don’t meet all the requirements.
I would share your desired compensation but also be flexible to the range, if the range is lower than where you are or what you’re targeting but you’re going to be learning a lot, you may consider taking the role and knowing that it’s an investment in your future. Sometimes you may go down in a comp for a year or two, only to increase your comp exponentially or more rapidly later in your career just due to learning the new skill set, in a faster paced industry.
When working with a recruiter who do I send the thank you note after an interview to? Do I send it to the recruiter and ask them to pass it along to the interviewer?”
Yes, you can do that! If you have the hiring manager or interviewer’s direct email, you can email them and CC the recruiter.
Do you have any more tangible tips around how to get that first interview? Between ATS, HR being swamped, etc. it feels like the hardest part is getting your resume even seen. And shotgun messaging strangers on LinkedIn for informational interviews is so much time for such a low response rate. Would love tips on how to get your resume seen/considered!
Be targeted and really only apply for roles that you are qualified for. Network, show up for the tech talks, the industry conferences, the webinars for the companies you are applying to and be engaged. Chime in, ask questions, get curious.
Is it possible to get genuine, post-interview feedback after not being selected for a role?
Many companies legally do not share post interview feedback and recruiters are told not to. As much as the recruiters genuinely do want to help, they’re often blocked by company legal policies.
I am wondering what questions should we not ask when talking to a recruiter?
I would not ask specifics around the day to day of the role. You might get a more detailed response on that from the later stages in the process. I would not ask specifics about growth beyond the role you’re interviewing for, the recruiter may not know but the hiring manager will.
Things I’d ask include:
- How does the recruiter feel about the company?
- What is the hiring manager like?
- What is the process like?
- Compensation range
- Anything that you need to know that is NOT listed on the job description (personality nuances, changes happening in the company)
- Company values
- Why the role is open
Learn more about our annual Ladies Get Hired Bootcamp, a 4-week intensive program that gives you everything you need to become the best candidate possible. Kicking off July 19th, all sessions are virtual/live but will also be recorded and available for access on-demand.