There are certain times that you can easily find yourself looking for a job and engaging in all types of recruiters. Some of them get back to you, some of them ignore you. No matter what, before we judge, we should try to understand their world. Recently I met with LinkedIn’s Recruiter Jennifer, I have blown away with her amazing energy and friendliness.
In this interview, Jennifer will direct a light to her world and share with us some tips and tricks about LinkedIn Recruiter Life.
Thank you for accepting this interview, Jen. It is truly honored to be with you today. Can you please tell me more about yourself and your role at LinkedIn?
Sure! I’m a Talent Acquisition front end recruiter/sourcer for LinkedIn’s Global Sales Organization. I mainly recruit Sales individuals across the United States of America as well as Canada.
I’ve been here for about 6 months at present. I absolutely love working here, it’s always been a dream of mine to work at LinkedIn. I know I’m not that old, but I would love to retire here as well. For me, LinkedIn has always been a huge passion of mine and I’ve been able to see that passion in everyone I work with here. Thank you for taking the time to learn a little from me, I’ll do my best to help out!
Awesome. Where did you live before? Were you residing in San Francisco?
For me, I love to work in San Francisco, I love the Skyline, the restaurants, and the people, they are truly interesting.
I moved up here almost 2 years ago from Southern California. I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life and have always been in Orange County. I was born and raised there, and I went to both High School and College there. For me, moving up here was a little out of my comfort zone. However, it’s far enough for me to be able to challenge myself but still have the ability to stay in touch with my friends, family, and hometown. I still visit them often!
How did you decide to pursue your career?
To be straight to the point with you, when I graduated College, I didn’t have a distinct idea on what to pursue.
For people who may have the same scenario, I share that same point in my life wherein after College, I would ponder on, “What can I do to best support myself, be challenged, and at the same time learn from it as much as possible?”.
I had to pursue a career that would be applicable to what I’ve finished in College and at the same time make me successful as the end result. For me, one of my favorite classes in College was Industrial Organizational Psychology, which is the study of motivation in the workplace that engages employees to become more productive and efficient with other co-workers and respective employers.
LinkedIn was a natural transition for me. It has always been a passion for me to be a part of their workforce to provide factors to motivate others in the work environment. Back when I first graduated, I was looking into Human Resources Jobs, specifically, any job opportunities that focused on Psychology. Unfortunately, most Psychology jobs require a Master’s degree. I decided to focus on jobs that did not necessarily need a Master’s degree, because I wanted to pay off my student loans from Undergrad first.
I decided to get into recruiting, because, it was one of the easiest HR/Sales entry level job opportunities that you could pursue out of college. In addition, I’d get exposure to all these different kinds of positions which could help me better determine my “Dream Career”.
My first job out of college was with ASAP Staffing, also known as Coding Aid. I believe they have closed down the ASAP Staffing side since I left. However, that was my first job out of college. I loved my team, my manager was amazing, and that was my first exposure to recruiting in general. Also, I actually had the opportunity to network with brilliant people and learn more about my strengths. I learned that having strict guidelines and autonomy over my schedule affected my motivation towards working. Numerous in and out phone calls, structured and strict guidelines weren’t a fit for me. However, I still loved working with the team and I decided to move to a different position as a Recruiting Coordinator.
In this position, I learned how individuals got hired and the logistics behind background checks and coordinating with Human Resources to be able to get people placed. I really liked that customer-facing part where it was up to me to effectively get candidates through the onboarding process in order to start. I was working on primarily contract or contract-to-hire positions, competing with my fellow recruiters and other recruiting agencies. It’s definitely a gut-wrenching industry.
After working at ASAP Staffing for about a year, I decided that I needed a different challenge to continue advancing and to help me get out of my comfort zone. I felt like I had the basic skillsets to be able to feel secure enough to venture out and pursue my career in a new environment. In addition, I had never been able to take a break and travel after I graduated college. As a result, I ended up quitting my job with nothing lined up and backpacking through Europe for a month with my boyfriend.
I knew that I wanted to move to the Bay Area. Before I left for Europe, I had actually applied to a few different positions in Northern California. A majority of the feedback that I received was centered around the fact that I would need to relocate to the Bay Area. I kept hearing, “You’ve got the right background, but you need to move up here first”.
When I was in Europe, I had a phone interview with my soon-to-be manager at my next role. He ended up becoming an amazing mentor to me and he has really helped me out with my career. He taught me all about working in San Francisco, and how much there is to learn about recruiting and the tech industry.
Once I touched back down in the U.S., I met with my soon-to-be manager, and was interviewed by the team. I ended up becoming the Onsite Recruiting Coordinator for Aerotek at Fitbit. My job was to help my manager work with the contractors and hiring managers as a liaison for Aerotek. I’d help out with any administrative and recruiting tasks as needed to help out my team.
Aerotek is a prestigious staffing firm that is internationally recognized under Allegis Group. Starting this role, I knew that I’d get the exposure to a corporate company that I wanted to learn, as well as the excitement and fast-paced life of being at a startup with Fitbit. About 2 to 3 months into my role, Aerotek recognized the natural friendliness that I had with candidates and employees. They were short on recruiters, and asked me to start helping out with recruiting efforts while still coordinating.
Eventually, I ended up falling back in love with recruiting for different reasons. I felt like I was able to make an immediate impact as an individual contributor. I could actually meet the candidates that I was placing, and I was so excited to help them find their dream jobs at Fitbit. In addition, it was an amazing recruiting experience to be able to help my hiring managers find “perfect fit” team members.
It’s been an interesting journey that has led me to this point, being able to speak about recruiting and how I got here and hopefully helping others figure out their career aspirations. ASAP Staffing and Aerotek are huge parts of why I do what I do today!
What type of classes did you take? Have any type of classes in your previous school somehow helped you develop yourself in your previous role or in your current roles?
The Industrial Organizational Psychology class helped me out with getting exposure to the workplace, as well as understanding motivation. Motivation is a huge part of recruiting! Whatever the motivation, recruiting is all about figuring out whether on not what we have to offer matches what you’re looking for in a new opportunity. Psychology taught me that everyone has their own motivators and drivers that cause them to make the decisions that they do.
In addition, I remember I had a high school teacher who said, “No matter what you decide to major in, try to take at least one totally random class that has nothing to do with your major”. For me, that was Yogalates! I would definitely agree with my teacher that taking a completely random class helps to expand your immediate mindset. In addition, you’ll meet all kinds of students that you might not have met if you didn’t take the class. Furthermore, it’s truly important to challenge yourself in different ways to learn outside your comfort zone. For me, Yogalates literally and figuratively helped me become more flexible. You never know where you might be inspired and find something that you’re passionate about, so try everything!
Nowadays, there’s so many online learning resources that there’s just no excuse for not trying new things. I do regret not taking any Computer Science classes in college, but, luckily there is Lynda.com (e-learning site)!
You never know where your next opportunity will come from. For example, I spoke with a candidate today with a computer science degree who ended up in Sales. How did that happen? She took advantage of the opportunities in front of her. Numerous people say they “fell into Sales”, which is highly possible. However, for this candidate, she identified that she had always been passionate about connecting with people, and Computer Science is a different venue for that. She actually used her Computer Science degree to do Technical Sales within Software as a Service companies. It was a natural transition, where she made her passions connect to become more efficient and productive. Opportunities are definitely a huge part of becoming successful including learning and challenging yourself correspondingly.
What is the biggest risk that you have ever taken in your career?
The biggest risk, for me, was quitting my role when I did not have anything lined up for me. I actually did that twice in my life. Once, when I moved up here, and again, when I left Aerotek. I loved my friends and mentors at Aerotek/Fitbit, but they ended up moving me to a different office and the commute wasn’t ideal. I was driving across the San Mateo bridge everyday and spending hours commuting for a job that I didn’t feel passionate about anymore. The best part of my job was my coworkers, but at the end of the day, I wanted to do a job that was going to contribute to my career growth in the way that I wanted.
The job was consuming you somehow then?
Exactly, it was extremely draining making that commute, and I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was tired from driving 2-3 hours everyday and I’d stay at work 10-12 hours to try to wait for traffic to die down. I was craving time to to spend on myself and spend it in the ways that I wanted, instead of waiting in traffic to cross the bridge.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was turn in my notice to my Aerotek manager. After everything that he’d taught me and done for me, I wanted to make sure that he knew how grateful I had been for the opportunity and that I needed to move on. Part of the difficulty was that I didn’t have anything lined up. I just knew that I needed to spend time on myself to figure out my next opportunity. As a friend and mentor, he was concerned that I didn’t have anything lined up, but he also understood how drained I was. I would have to say that leaving Aerotek was one of the hardest things I had to do, because I had nothing lined up and I was terrified not knowing where that next step would take me.
However, I had this urge to trust myself and my skillsets that I’d learned over the past few years. I was lucky enough to have a strong support system from my friends and family who wanted me to be happy in my career. Initially, I thought my parents would be mad or disappointed but they could see how unhappy I was and how much I wanted to branch out. My mom actually let me know that if I needed to, I could always come back home, which was extremely comforting to me.
In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to apply to LinkedIn. For me, LinkedIn represented the epitome of recruiting opportunity, and it made sense for me to come to the mecca of all recruiting activity. I actually applied for an employee referral recruiter role initially, but they suggested that I go into Sales recruiting instead, which is why I’m here! It’s been an amazing ride and it never would have happened if I hadn’t had the courage to go outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself.
Do you recommend this type of risk taking for young generations?
Everyone has their own situations, so I don’t want to pretend that my solution will work for everyone. However, I do think that it’s extremely important for people to have the self-confidence in themselves to trust that they’ll bounce back and be exactly where they’re meant to be. If you are feeling drained and unfulfilled in your work, trust in yourself and listen to what your heart is telling you to do. However, you have to be smart about it and consider the other people in your life who may be depending on you, or that you may need to depend on. I am a huge believer in people achieving their career aspirations, even though it can be scary.
I love the success stories when people have amazing moments of clarity where they are struck with inspiration and motivation. I like to think of it as more of an “awareness” where they realize what makes them happy and just go after it. It’s definitely difficult because you need to trust that you can persevere and you will get through it no matter what. Sometimes, you may need to take a step back or just start over entirely! However, success is specific to you and only you can define what that means.
What are the biggest challenges that you’ve encountered in your work as a recruiter?
There are a few challenges both internally and externally. Internally, the main challenges are working with your teams to make a streamlined process to create a perfect candidate experience for the thousands of people who apply every day. You want to make their job hunt as enjoyable and convenient as possible. Linkedin is an online platform where you go to find jobs. Therefore, applying to LinkedIn should provide you with the “best on planet” experience. However, we’re not perfect! There is always room for improvement to make the process more reliable, convenient, and enjoyable for candidates. You’re absolutely right about answering emails, but the pure volume of emails daily can be overwhelming. I think that people don’t necessarily realize that recruiters need to be super organized, reliable, and accommodating which is a difficult blend to balance.
Externally, I would have to say competing with other companies for the best talent is a major challenge. Of course, I know that LinkedIn is the best company to work for. However, it’s a different challenge to convince an external candidate who has their own motivation, fears, and financial situation to join LinkedIn. In addition, if they’re ideal candidates, then that probably means that there’s a number of other companies competing for that candidate.
Are there any blogs or websites on a regular basis?
I would have to say, there is nothing recruiter specific that I follow if that’s what you mean. I read articles catering to sales people or to the tech industry that I share with my followers on LinkedIn. To be honest, LinkedIn is my #1 source for news and social media.
Basically, people can get the information from their newsfeeds if they follow their potential companies?
Companies that I follow are the big software companies, Google, Facebook, and Apple to name a few. But, what I’ve recently done to make sure that I connect with my candidates are following different kinds of smaller software companies. Anything within the Bay area or across the United States of America just to keep in tune with how the market is moving significantly.
What do you recommend to recent graduate students in order for them to be able to achieve their dream job in the High Tech industry?
Location and being immediately available are the first basic steps to achieving a dream job. Right now, the job market is amazing and it’s all in the hands of the candidates to follow through with the different careers they pursue. I would also say, that being open to different types of opportunities is very important. If it’s your first job out of college, you really need to get any experience you can (even if it means something not necessarily related to what you studied). Don’t be afraid of hard work! The knowledge that you’ll gain is priceless and will help you get to where you want to be.
Another recommendation I think is important is networking, because it’s a huge part of recruiting. Our referrals program is amazing and I’ve gotten my last 2 job opportunities through referrals.
The last recommendation I would give to students is to hang in there, and be grateful for any opportunities that you have. Job hunting can be hard, but you’ll get the role that you want eventually! It is so important to be appreciative of your opportunities. Of course, you don’t want to be taken advantage of, but I can guarantee that having a grateful attitude will go much further than being entitled. One of the biggest stereotypes of our generation, is that we are entitled and ungrateful. I learned from my parents that being appreciative is respected by everyone, and I find that it helps me find the silver lining in everything!
Last question. What are the constant mistakes that you persistently observe in their resumes?
Resume mistakes actually depend on the roles that you’re looking into. There’s proper resume etiquette depending on the type of role you’re applying for. For example, Graphic designers typically have a picture in their resume and lots of decorative pieces. However, when candidate submit a sales resume, I don’t really think that putting your picture on a resume is appropriate. That’s why I love working with Linkedin profiles! There’s a universally uniform format despite the type of industry that you work in, and there’s tons of tips and opportunities to have an amazing stand-out profile. Typical mistakes I observe are related to spelling or dates.
Another aspect of what I’ve learned from resume proofreading, is that the best resumes make effective use of the space that they have on the paper. They don’t have borders that take up half the page, and I feel like I know more about the person’s responsibilities and how they might improve the team I’m recruiting for. I know a lot of people are really paranoid about how long their resume is, making sure that it sticks to one page. However, I don’t think that’s much of an issue with the more experience you get.
These are all my own opinions, so take it or leave it depending on what you can really relate to. I definitely recommend a concise and informative resume that indicates your responsibilities, roles, capabilities and skills. Another huge mistake is when people neglect their Linkedin profile. Make sure to update your profile as accurately as your resume! If I’m looking at your profile, that means that hiring managers will be too. I strongly suggest having an updated Linkedin profile (complete with a clear picture of yourself), with no spelling mistakes, and up-to-date information.
What about liars on their GPA’s?
I understand the need to change GPAs on LinkedIn profiles or resumes. However, once you get to a certain point in your career, you’ll find that GPAs don’t actually matter that much. It’s more about the fact that you graduated. Lying about your grades won’t necessarily improve your candidacy, but if an employer finds out that you lied, that’ll definitely reflect badly on your integrity. I will say, however, that campus recruiting will have different standards because they work with internships and graduate programs.
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