You and Your Recruiter

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Why what you wear on your interview can be almost as important as what you say

Candidates need to think very carefully on what to wear to an interview as this is an important part of making a good first impression in the face of the client. Clients obviously care immensely about candidates’ skillsets and evaluate them accordingly but the wrong outfit (especially when interviewing for fashion companies or agencies) can be detrimental. There are always exceptions to the rule based on the particular culture and vibe of the client but in most cases candidates should err on the side of toned down- not boring of course but not too loud either. The outfit should not be a distraction to the client and it should also show that the candidate is professional.

I have seen cases of a wonderful candidate being rejected because the outfit was too loud and showy and this made the client feel that his personality would follow suit! This wasn’t the case but the client only has certain elements to go on and forms opinions accordingly. Please ask your recruiter what to wear to the interview and more importantly, listen to their advice, as the recruiter will know the company well and will be able to guide a candidate on what would be or would not be appropriate.

A Breath of Fresh Air

I had a great morning today… Not only because Melanie and I made a wonderful match between a great candidate and client but because both were so easy and nice to work with! Both had a clear idea of what they wanted throughout the process and they were honest and forthright from the start. It obviously feels very fulfilling as a recruiter to “fill a role” but when it goes without a hitch due to both client and candidate cooperation and respect there is really no better feeling!

Why Candidates should keep their recruiter up to date with any salary changes

Candidates should keep their recruiters up to date regarding salary changes– either internal increases or a change made when transitioning to another job. I am working with a client to negotiate an offer for a candidate that the client really likes and would like to bring on board. Salary negotiations are very critical and often times tricky and challenging. In this particular case, the candidate is a bit out of the clients budget for the role and the client would like the candidate to potentially make a lateral move. When I asked the candidate if she was comfortable with making a lateral move (let’s say her salary was 75k), she told me she had received an internal raise and was now earning 80k. Thus the salary that the client had in mind for the lateral move was no longer accurate.

This is a great example of why candidates should always keep their recruiters up to speed regarding compensation changes as a client’s offer will be based on their current and desired salary… And obviously any changes in current compensation will affect the offer!

A Great Start to Thursday Morning

This morning was very nice as Melanie and I had breakfast with a lovely and talented candidate. She was really the perfect candidate—poised, polished, articulate, informative, and curious about what we do as well. She came to the interview totally prepared to speak about her experience in detail and asked all of the right questions. One of the things I appreciated most was her honesty. She was completely upfront about the fact that she was quite happy in her current role and had not actively been exploring new opportunities. She was, however, open to having conversations with different agencies and seeing if something struck her as a good fit (which emphasizes my previous blog to candidates- “The Best Time to Look Is When You’re Happy”. It was refreshing to meet with this candidate and it got my morning off to a great start and even reminded me why I love this job as much as I do. Because of how wonderfully she presented herself and her experience, I will always think of her when I am briefed on new roles that are relevant to her background and carer goals.

Why you should always do your “homework” before an interview

Last week at the Melanie Andersen Agency we finally settled into our new office in the Meatpacking District. Prior to last week we were in transition, moving from SoHo to Meatpacking. During the week I was able to experience the true atmosphere of our office filled with candidate interviews, new business development meetings, and research as well as sit in on my first weekly company meeting. This week we discussed candidate interviews.

Based on what I have gathered from my time at TMAA and from discussions with other professionals, I believe a key step in the interviewing process is sometimes neglected or taken for granted. All of our lives our parents and educators have told us to “do our homework,” the same applies in regards to interviewing. Research prior to any interview is imperative. As recruiters we will do our best when briefing you in the days before your interview with the company but it is up to the candidate to peruse the company’s website or other notable material/press releases. For example before you enter an interview, be sure to familiarize yourself with the company’s initiatives or goals, check out the latest media buzz/trends in their industry or the company’s direction over the past year. There are various reasons why research will benefit both you and the company you are interviewing with. 1) How can you express to the employer that you are the right fit for a role if you do not understand the company and and its values? 2) Research helps a candidate discern if the company and role are truly the right fit for their lifestyle, and 3) By researching, a candidate assures a company that in the beginning steps they have all ready taken a interest and value the opportunity.

I am very excited that Melanie has suggested that I sit in and observe interview training and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned next week!

Candidates and Counter-Offer Motivation- Not Cool

One of the worst and unethical things a candidate can do (to a client, especially) is to go through the interview process in hopes of receiving a counter offer from their current employer. It is wrong for several reasons (in no particular order): 1) it is a waste of both the search firm’s time and the client’s time, 2) it burns bridges majorly with the client and, since these industries tend to be small, tarnish the candidate’s reputation, 3) jeopardizes the client’s opportunity of finding a great person for the role (especially if the client proceeds with one particular candidate because it seems as if the candidate is truly serious about joining the company), and 4)  creates a really bad situation at the candidate’s current company as it becomes obvious that the candidate might not be loyal and is perhaps out for money only.

I worked on a senior role and the client had put all of their eggs in the basket of one candidate. Several rounds of interviews were involved, and the role was an immediate need so the client felt that they would have a great and much needed addition to their team after making an offer. The entire process lasted for about two months, and the candidate expressed a very strong interest throughout. When the offer came, she took several days to respond and even asked a very senior client in the company to make time out of their busy day to answer questions about benefits, etc.  All parties involved believed she would accept based upon all of the signs and actions. In the end, she declined the offer and said she had received a nice counter offer from her current agency. She gave some other reasons for her decision but it was clear that more money from her current employer was the primary motivation to stay put. To note, her original reasons for wanting to seek other opportunities were based on valid concerns regarding her current agency—which could not have gone away in a week’s time!

While a candidate has any right to say “no” to an offer or ultimately decide that this isn’t the right next step, a candidate should really think things through before getting to the offer stage and should definitely not express an extreme interest in joining the company if he or she is only doing it to get a counter offer from his or her current employer.

Again this not only leaves the client in a bind with an incredibly bad taste in the mouth, but it also signals to the candidate’s current employer that he or she is actively seeking other roles—and this makes for an awkward and unstable situation ultimately.

LESSON: Candidates should pull out of the interview process at the right time (definitely before reference gathering and offer stage) if they know that they are only pursuing an opportunity to use it as leverage at their current company. It just isn’t cool.

Why you should never TEXT your recruiter- Reminder !

This is another reminder to candidates to NOT text your recruiter. This is so unprofessional and can lead to dangerous situations. If you are going to be late for an interview, for example, texting a recruiter to let them know is a terrible idea- as the recruiter might not get the text immediately and thus not give the client fair warning. Texting is for friends and, while some recruiters and candidates do become friendly, all professional correspondences must remain via phone or email. Please heed this reminder and remain professional for the sake of your relationship with your recruiter as well as your chances of getting a great job!

Why You Should Never Lie about your Salary

We all want to get as much money as possible when going for a new job… As you know, a client establishes a budget range for a role and then alters it on a case by case basis depending on a candidate’s current salary, levels of experience and targeted compensation. Part of a recruiter’s job is to guide both candidates and clients regarding salary- letting the client know the “going rate” for certain roles and levels as well as keeping the candidate’s goals and expectations in check when it comes to compensation.

More often than not clients will ask a candidate to submit paystubs as proof of annual salary to avoid any type of dishonesty. The worst thing a candidate can do is lie initially about current salary as a paystub doesn’t lie. This dishonesty will most likely lead to a complete loss of the job opportunity– and a recruiter will not want to work with you again. Also, aside from being dishonest, a lying candidate also wastes a clients time majorly as they have tailored their offer based upon an incorrect figure.

So be honest throughout the process. The end goal is to get as much money as possible in the move (while being realistic of course) but honesty is always the best policy and achieves the most favorable outcome in the end for all parties.

Candidates To Limit Their Client Contact

When working with a recruiter and just in general, candidates should really limit their contact with potential employers. I will give a good example so you can see what I mean. I sent a good candidate for an interview at a reputable agency. She was totally on point in terms of personality and skillset, and she was very interested in the role and the agency. She did the right thing by sending a “thank you” email after the interview. I have stressed in the past that thank you emails/notes are very professional, appropriate, and often make a candidate stand out from the rest (I know it’s difficult to imagine but some candidates do not think to send a thank you following an interview, and this does reflect poorly on them in the eyes of the client).

In this particular case, the candidate did send a thank you but then also sent a follow up email that was a little bit quirky in hopes of being funny and perhaps seeming unique or different. The note was sent to a very senior person at the agency, and it completely turned him off from the candidate. It was unnecessary and was not entirely professional as a candidate should not be superfluously emailing/contacting a potential employer in this manner.

As a recruiter, a critical part of my job is to manage the relationship between candidates and clients throughout the interview and hiring process. Candidates should leave it to the recruiter to act as the communication liaison during these stages and truly limit interaction with the client until (fingers crossed) they have gotten the job. It is the best, smartest, and safest way to go about it. And if a candidate has a point to relay that was not stressed in the interview, for example, the candidate should speak with the recruiter instead of the client directly- and the recruiter will handle this communication in a professional way.

In this case, the candidate literally put herself out of the running through one email. The candidate’s intention may have been great, but the end result was quite negative and unfortunate.

Proper Candidate Etiquette when Declining an Offer

Candidates have any right to decline an offer from a client. This is quite common and happens for various reasons. It is of course disappointing to the client, but it is a candidate’s right and personal choice to decline (even if he or she has expressed interest in the role throughout the process). As a recruiter, I obviously feel disappointed when a candidate declines as a lot of effort is put into the process overall and much faith is put into the candidate and the candidate/client match. The client has also spent a great deal of time and energy on interviewing (in most cases multiple times), discussing, offering, and negotiating with the candidate. I am writing this blog as I have seen candidates exhibit very poor and rude behavior upon declining an offer. It not only makes the candidate look bad from a personal standpoint but it really can burn a professional bridge with the client as well as tarnish the candidate’s reputation—as the creative industry is small, and people talk.  Below are some helpful and proper pointers for candidates when declining an offer—

1)     A candidate should call a recruiter to decline (rather than shoot off a quick email) and give an explanation as to why he or she has chosen to decline. With this information, the recruiter can provide the explanation to the client so the client does not feel as burned or rejected. Also the recruiter can uphold the candidate’s reputation by positioning the reason for the decline in the best light. It is our job to manage this part of the process.

2)     The candidate should not avoid a recruiter’s phone calls when the recruiter reaches out for a lengthier conversation as to why the candidate has declined the offer. Some candidates feel scared to connect with the recruiter but avoidance makes it worse.

3)     A candidate should send a nice email or letter to the client , thanking the client for the opportunity and closing the loop on a more positive note

4)     A candidate should be able to give an answer to the client in a 24 hour period. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it should not take much longer to make a decision. It reflects poorly on the candidate and instills a lot of doubt in the client’s eyes.

Candidates should realize again that a lot of effort has been put into the process by all parties involved, and it really doesn’t take much time to handle this type of situation with grace and class. Also a recruiter and a client will likely not want to work with the candidate moving forward if he or she behaves in a nonchalant, dismissive, or indifferent manner upon declining the offer.

Please heed the above as it really does make a huge difference. An offer declination is never a fun situation to face but it doesn’t have to be bad if handled the appropriate way.