Nicole Fernandez-Valle has been in the recruiting space for the past 3 years. During this time she has placed hundreds of candidates in the hospitality space at Royal Caribbean to tech at Wix.com. Her passions include bringing data and diversity into recruitment as well as demystifying the recruiting process.
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– Experience recruiting for a global cruise line?
– Does having a side hustle help with recruiting?
– If you are recruiting for Wix, should you make a free Wix website?
– When and how often should you follow up with recruiters?
– Should candidates make a personal website in addition to a LinkedIn profile?
Connect with Nicole: www.linkedin.com/in/nicolefernandez-valle/
Follow our Host on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
Get 1-on-1 Career Coaching: www.careercoachingcompany.com/
*Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“I think that a lot of people, my past self included, would always think of recruiters as these gatekeepers to these companies. When in reality, if you look at how we’re measured, it’s the idea that we need to put the most qualified person in this seat as quickly as possible. So, we genuinely are rooting for every single candidate that makes it through the process. And I think knowing that really changes the mentality of what you may have around recruiters.” – Nicole Fernandez-Valle
Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition and land your dream job. My name is A.J. Eckstein, and I’m a recent college graduate, a strategy consultant, a five-time intern and the founder of the Career Coaching Company.
Have you ever wondered why only a few people get past the final round interview and land the job offer? Join me in the ring as I speak with recruiters at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked-out” and others are still standing after the final round.
The Final Round podcast is brought to you by Career Coaching Company. They offer one-on-one live tailored coaching from recent grads who work at leading companies across multiple industries like consulting, investment banking and much more. Now, let’s jump into the ring and get you past the final round.
Our guest today is Nicole Fernandez-Valle, a leader and talent acquisition at Wix.com and previously Royal Caribbean. During her time in recruiting, Nicole has placed hundreds of candidates into top jobs. Let’s bring Nicole onto the show. What is going on, everyone? Welcome to the Final Round podcast. We have such a special guest today. We have Nicole who is an amazing recruiter. Nicole, how are you doing today?
Nicole: I am doing great. It’s funny that this is a podcast. I almost felt the urge to wave because we’re on Zoom right now, but I’m doing pretty great and I’m excited for this.
Well, the video will get uploaded to our new YouTube channel so, feel free to wave to those subscribers who’ll be seeing the video.
Nicole: I’ll wave everyone
But it’s so great to connect with you. Like I was saying, I feel like you are someone who I’ve known for a very long time. It’s because we’ve been following each other’s content on LinkedIn for a while and I think that is obvious – we’ll get into LinkedIn in a second, but it’s so important to almost have that warm connection before you reach out to someone. And ironically you said that you actually knew one of our other guests we have on the show, Niki Woodall from episode nine, a Facebook recruiter. How do you know Niki, by the way?
Nicole: Absolutely! So, that I think is a prime example of the beauty of LinkedIn. I had seen her post about a webinar that she was doing, attended the webinar and thought that she had the most wonderful energy and I just shot her a cold message saying, “Hey, I think you’re really amazing. I love the content that you put out on LinkedIn and I would just love to be connected.” And ever since then I started engaging with her content and now, she’s honestly a really, really close friend and then all kind of started by just cold outreaching after I saw one of her posts and one of her events.
Out of curiosity, have you guys ever met in person?
Nicole: Yes. She came down to Miami at some point in the past couple of months. Now, she recently moved down to Florida, before she was in New York. But I did get to meet her, which was really exciting and kind of one of those weird things where you feel like, you know somebody online, you see them for the first person. But it was so much fun.
And it’s funny because I think we’re living in this virtual world, right? This virtual life where your work meetings, the podcast interviews, everything is virtual. So, it’s so nice to actually put a human face into the physical world. But I feel like we’re already great friends and I feel like I’m seeing you through a screen and hopefully we can meet in person, but I’m so excited to dive into this episode, Nicole. And I first want to start because I think that your recruitment experience is very unique and you don’t just work at a very large corporation, like a big four consulting firm or an investment bank but one of the earlier companies you worked at was Royal Caribbean. Obviously, one of the biggest cruise lines in the world. So, what was the experience like working and recruiting for a cruise line like Royal Caribbean?
Nicole: It was genuinely so much fun. At the time, I was recruiting both for some of the positions shore side, but also some of the positions on the ship. And so, me being a traveler at heart, I think that it was this really amazing opportunity to get to speak with candidates who were really all over the world. I know that I had some days where I would speak with somebody from Romania and the next call would be somebody from Brazil and then somebody from Texas. And so, that experience was kind of just this beautiful melting pot of ideas that kind of made the day-to-day really exciting because you never know what kind of experiences you get to learn from.
And if I’m a candidate and let’s say we go back in time to when you were recruiting for Royal Caribbean and I’m trying to get whether it’s a position on the ship or off the ship in their back office, is it really important to tailor what the mission of the company is to what I want to do. For instance, if you said that you love to travel, I guarantee you that a majority of people who work for a cruise line love to travel as well. Is that something you should bring up in an interview trying to go for one of these positions?
Nicole: It absolutely is. I think that so much of the interview process is obviously testing out your skills, but it’s also making sure that you’re going to be a fit for the team that you’re going to be joining. And so, any information that you can get about your interviewer is going to be pretty helpful because then you’ll be able to connect with them on that deeper level. And even if you do don’t know any information about the interviewer beforehand, sharing those aspects about yourself that you’re a traveler, earlier today we were chatting about our dogs, sharing those things about yourself is going to help the interview or get to know you on a personal level outside of what’s just on your resume.
And what was your all-time favorite experience recruiting for Royal Caribbean?
Nicole: My all-time favorite experience, this was kind of just a really fun experience. I, at one point in time, was contracted to help hire for the sommeliers on the ship. And for context, I was hired straight out of college. So, I didn’t know anything about one besides the fact that it was red, white, pink. I didn’t know anything and I had to start hiring for these world class wine professionals. And so, I think it was a really fun experience and a big learning experience for me to get to meet all of these super talented people from all across the globe and I learned a lot out of it. Now, I can make some pretty decent wine recommendations. So, I think that was just one really fun out there experience I had with them.
Well, that’s good to know. I now know who I can reach out to whenever I need some wine recommendations. But I guess you transitioned from being a global recruiter for Royal Caribbean to now being a recruiter for a completely different company in a very different industry called Wix.com. So, first of all, before we dive into what you do as a recruiter at Wix, can you share with our audience who may not know what Wix is?
Nicole: Yeah! Wix is a website building company. So, it’s a pretty massive platform with thousands of tools that really lets everybody from a small business owner who’s making a website for the first time to massive companies who are running multi-million in sales, really have the tools to be successful online.
Establishing your Online Presence
And it’s really funny that you work for Wix because actually our sponsor, Career Coaching Company, their website was built off of Wix.com. So, I’m pretty familiar as well with Wix. I think that we’re living in this age, the creator economy is booming and people are building their personal brands, whether that is with a personal website or they’re on Tiktok, LinkedIn, whatever it is, but they’re often going to sell something, whether that’s something digital, like an e-book or something physical, like merchandise that says, “Nicole is the best recruiter,” and it has a Wix logo on the back. So, if I’m a candidate and I’m applying for a position at Wix, is it helpful to have an online presence and already kind of understand how a consumer would work with that specific company?
Nicole: Absolutely! I always love it when someone I’m speaking to has a Wix website and I think it’s for a couple of things. I think such a large part of any interview process is showing that you’re invested in the company, showing that you’ve done your research. And for me, what better way to know that you already have this great product knowledge than if you’ve already built a website? So, I think that’s one part of it. And I think the other part of it is that there is that part of the interview process, that is how well that you connect with your interviewer.
And so, having this website kind of already bridges the gap for that. And I even remember just the other day, I was talking to somebody and she was telling me about her Wix website, and this is what I call my not-so-fun fun fact, but I actually have a gluten allergy and by chance this person was sharing her Wix website and she actually has a Wix website that is selling gluten free cookies. And so, this was really random, but just by her sharing that, it got me even more excited to talk to her before we even got to dive deep into her skills because I already felt like, ‘Yes, she understands a product.’ And on a personal note, it’s something that I connect with her as well.
And I totally agree because I think that as you’re applying for a position, you get such a leg up on the competition, if you know what it’s like from the consumer standpoint, right? I mean, anything you can apply to if you can download the app or if you can listen or try that, of course some things it’s not always possible. But oftentimes if the recruiter says, “Well, what is your experience or knowledge of Wix?” And maybe it’s not specifically Wix, but you have to do your research, right? And if you don’t do your research, then it’s just that blanket rapid-fire approach where you apply to a million companies and you don’t tailor anything.
So, I think that’s such a good point about if you can maybe experience Wix and I know they have a free version where you can do that, Nicolefernandez.wix.com and try it out and talk about that experience for the interview. And then how about a personal website? So, I know that a majority of people, a lot of our listeners and if they don’t, they definitely should create a LinkedIn, optimize it and make it as up-to-date as possible so amazing recruiters like Nicole can find all of our listeners. But do you think people should go a step further and have a personal website for instance, your name, Let’s say ajeckstein.com? And how is that different from LinkedIn or is it more impactful?
Nicole: I think you should do it. I think that the job search process is hard and one of the polls that I recently put up was what people think is the toughest part about the job search process. And a lot of people said that it was getting that initial interview. I think that a large part of that is that companies are getting thousands of resumes. Even on LinkedIn, people are getting thousands of just messages that have resumes in it. And so, things like a personal website are a great way to stand out and get that first interview or get that first connection to some sort of network. And so, I think that things like that really help you stand out whether it’s a personal website or a video, I think that those things are really, really impactful and I found them even impactful on my own job hunt because I remember something that Madeline Mann actually taught me was to make those video resumes and that was something that I made and sent it out to people instead of my resume when I was networking and my response rates skyrocketed when I started doing that because it was something that was different, something that was intriguing and didn’t have that same feel as, ‘Here’s my resume, read this document and tell me what I should do with it,’ or a video or a resume or that online website is a lot more fun and impactful.
And it’s ironic that you mentioned advice from Madeline Mann because she was actually another guest on our podcast a few episodes ago. So, again, I’d love to see Niki, Madeline, full circle. But I think that it’s not really if I don’t have a personal website, I won’t get the interview, but it’s if I have the website and someone can learn a little bit more about me and they can see that I care a little bit more about my personal brand that I think that little, little extra will go from ordinary to extraordinary. And I think that having more is just always going to be better than having less and you beat people out who don’t have that personal website.
So, for everyone out there listening, if you need a website hosting tool or a custom build, Wix.com is an amazing, amazing tool. And they have a free version as well. And then going back to the topic of having an online store, I know drop shipping is very common or selling socks or hats or mugs or e-books online, whatever it may be. Would you consider that as work experience on your resume? If you work for yourself, you’re a one person show and you’re working with the marketing, the sales, the website building especially applying to a Wix?
Nicole: Absolutely! I think that if there’s anything that you’ve done that’s taken up a considerable amount of your time, it’s work experience, even volunteer experience. I think it’s something that people oftentimes are quick to discount but the skills that you learn doing that sort of activity can absolutely transfer over to a job. And I remember even when I was doing my own personal search, I had started helping a friend run a travel blog and it was something that I put on my resume. I honestly wasn’t even sure if it was worth it at the time. I didn’t know if it was ever going to be talked about.
And a lot of the times when I was interviewing for these tech companies, they were really interested in that specific experience because it showed that I had this inclination towards this sort of more technical aspect when I was working on the backend, where I was working on some of the coding of it. And then it’s funny that I ended up at a website building company. But that was one of the things that I was able to chat about. And so, to your point let’s say your drop shipping, there’s so many aspects of that based on the graphic design and marketing that you have to do, the selling aspect of it. Maybe even the operations of running that site, that are all transferable skills that you can definitely use and apply in that job search.
Doing More than Other Candidates
And I think also it goes back to the original point of just having more interest and being able to connect with people because if I have a travel blog and we’re talking and I say, “Nicole, where are you tuning in from?” You’re like, “Oh, I’m in Miami. “Oh, I love traveling to Miami,” and you talk about travel and then you just instantly build that relationship before you can dive into the interview, whether it’s with a recruiter or hiring manager. So, I do think that those little one-off things that might seem that they’re not really supposed to talk about in a job interview or a conversation with a recruiter, but those can be such an integral part of your personal brand that gives you an extra flair to jump out.
And then we finish the conversation, you remember, “Oh, that’s AJ, the travel blogger who has his own Wix website and he’s traveled to Miami,” versus just someone who’s very bland and worked a few internships or jobs. So, I love that idea of doing a little bit more, whether it’s a personal website or a travel blog, whatever it is. And you previously mentioned that you posted a poll recently on LinkedIn about what’s the hardest part of the job process for candidates and it was getting that first interview. So, can we dive deeper into why people think that that’s the hardest part and maybe some best practices to make sure that that doesn’t happen, they can actually land the interview?
Nicole: Yeah! I think that from my vantage point, I think it’s the toughest part because there’s so much ambiguity there. I think that a lot of advice that’s given is to just send out a lot of applications and just kind of hope that one sticks. I know that was the advice that I got, especially when I was coming out of college. I must have sent out hundreds when I was going through that first application cycle because you don’t know what else to do. But I think that the longer I’ve been recruiting, I think the longer I’ve learned that to get sort of 10 times the result, you have to put in 10 times the input. And what I mean by that is that applications are not the only way to land an interview. It’s part of it.
And I think that there are people who have the stars and the timing align so that they send out applications and that’s what gets in the interview. But I think that candidates also need to think about how many coffee chats are you having a week? What kind of networking, events or platforms are you on to expand your reach? Go in your network knows about the job search and the fact that you’re on the job hunt, I think those are all things and avenues that people can explore, but sometimes we don’t because we’re so focused on just submitting that application.
A Recruiter’s Day Job
I think to add on to that, you have to understand that most people in this process will do what everyone else is doing as in hit the easy apply on LinkedIn, which literally is very easy to apply, but it almost confuses candidates and that there needs to be a follow up, you need to reach out to the recruiter, you need to maybe add a more tailored cover letter if it’s optional, right? And I think that you need to understand what people are doing and then do a little bit more like you said, so if you want 10 times the amount of outreach, make sure that you tailor that outreach and you do ten times more than the next person.
So, I do think that getting that first interview is really hard, but once you can get your foot in the door then it’s about showing yourself off of just a plain static resume or LinkedIn profile and actually showing who Nicole is and this awesome person. So, I do think that hopefully our listeners will not have trouble with that first interview and get past the final round. The next topic I want to talk about for today’s episode is to learn a little bit more about a recruiter’s day job and how they are looked at to see different key performance indicators and metrics. So, can you walk us through, how does let’s say your manager or boss look at your work and how can candidates help recruiters both lift up each other?
Nicole: Yeah, I think that there’s a million different recruiting metrics and different companies measure at a different rate, but I think that there are a couple that are standard across all companies. The first would be the final efficiency and that’s typically what the pass rate of candidates that make it through the process. Second would be source conversion rate. And so those are finding out what sources we have the most applicants being hired from. So, am I hiring the majority applicants from LinkedIn, from referrals, from our career page?
And I think that the last one that we look at a lot is time to fill. So, from the moment that the role is open to the moment that somebody is sitting in the office, how fast did that time happen? And so, I think that knowing this information is super, super empowering to candidates because I think that a lot of people my past-self included would always think of recruiters as these gatekeepers to these companies. When in reality, if you look at how we’re measured, it’s the idea that we need to put the most qualified person in this seat as quickly as possible. So, we genuinely are rooting for every single candidate that makes it through the process. I think knowing that really changes the mentality of what you may have around recruiters.
So, if people do think and they now understand that recruiters are there as your champions, they’re to help you, they’re your friends, not your enemies, they’re there to push you through the process. How can candidates in turn help recruiters?
Nicole: I think be honest with your recruiters. There is so much that we can do to speed up the process, to sort of influence hiring manager decisions and even influence comp. And if you’re not being transparent about those things, then it’s really difficult for us to be your champion. And I’ve seen a ton of examples where somebody accepts another offer because they knew that in their mind, they had a couple more steps with us or they even declined an offer because comp wasn’t exactly what they were looking for.
When those things would have been talked about, there’s so much that we could have done on our side to fix some of those earlier issues if we would have known. So, being honest and transparent with your recruiters is absolutely crucial because we are there to help because genuinely our job is to get more people in the door and to fill with the best quality candidates.
So, let’s say that I’m applying to Wix and making a candidate and it’s my number one choice. But I’m also maybe a competitor to Wix, I’m recruiting with them and I have an active offer with the deadline. Should I go back to the recruiter and the recruiting team and say, “Hey, I have this offer,” like what’s the best way to approach having a pending offer but you want to go with someone else?
Nicole: Absolutely. I think that as soon as you get another offer and you’re really looking to go back to that other company, tell that other company as soon as you know. I know that I try to move mountains for candidates that I really was excited about and the team was excited about, but maybe it has three rounds. Typically, I might have to schedule a week out for an interview. But if I know somebody else has another offer, we can move things around to have it happen the next day.
So, being transparent with them while also letting the other company know, “Hey, is there any possibility of having any extended deadline,” help sort of manage the timelines but definitely going back and expressing that you have this other offer, but that your genuine interest does lie within, let’s say Wix in this case, I think shows that yes, while you have this other offer and we need to speed up the timeline, I’m still going to reiterate my interest and excitement about this company. I think it’s a really good way for the recruiter to try and help everything on their end. And also, for the candidate to really just re-invest in that company.
And you mentioned compensation as well. And I know compensation is a very fine line to walk and it is always a difficult conversation whether you’re trying to put another company ahead of this company or you need more compensation because it’s maybe you’re moving to San Francisco and you need a relocation bonus. How do you have that conversation and maybe what are some best practices when discussing or negotiating compensation?
Nicole: Yeah, I think that if compensation is something that is going to be the make or break for you because of a couple of different reasons, because of to your point maybe needing to afford a specific location if you have a family to think of, I think that it’s perfectly acceptable to bring it up in the first conversation with the recruiter. Just to gauge, “Hey, this is sort of my range. Are we at least in the target?” So, that way you could be mindful and respectful of your own time. But if you do choose to get to the end of the process, I think that there’s always a good chance that you can negotiate something whether it’s the actual base salary, extra vacation, a sign on bonus.
I think that if there really is a lot of interest in you as a candidate. Typically, when we extend an offer, it’s because we want you to accept. And so, I think that keeping that in mind helps the negotiation process go a little bit easier. And I think some actionable steps to give you the most knowledge that you can before going into that discussion is looking at Glassdoor, seeing if there are any salary sort of comparisons there that you can look at, seeing market averages. So, if you know that you’re moving to San Francisco or one of those places that’s a little bit pricier, look at the market averages. Getting the majority of information can really help you go into that conversation, expressing your enthusiasm and your interest for the company of course, But then also sharing that because of this information that I have, can be potentially renegotiated or just chat about a different comp package. I think that helps the discussion as well.
And I’m glad you brought up Glassdoor because I think that there’s so much amazing content on Glassdoor, both with past salaries and reviews, both pros and cons of working at almost every company. I think there’s a lot of information or even some interview tips that could be really helpful. So, I think that’s definitely a great resource to use, Glassdoor, when you’re going through the recruitment process. But how does compensation work exactly and who identifies or chooses what that base salary is for a certain position and how much room is there usually? Because, again, myself and all of our listeners were not in that room when you meet with the hiring managers and maybe how does even that job description with that salary get created and who are the decision makers?
Nicole: Yeah, it’s a really complicated process. In a lot of companies, there’s full blown comp and benefits teams. So, it totally makes sense that it’s kind of this big point of mysticism around jobseekers because there’s really not a lot of information out there about it. And so, in regards to the job description, typically what will happen is that the recruitment team will meet with the hiring manager or manager of the team that’s looking to fill the seat and create a description of their ideal candidate. If the perfect unicorn walks onto the set, these are the qualities that they would have.
And so, this is important to remember because you don’t need to have 100% of the qualities to get the job. And then if you have an employer branding team, sometimes it gets sent to them to make sure that the writing is all nice and beautiful and typically that’s how a job description is posted. And then when it comes to deciding the salary range, typically that’s a conversation that will happen with the hiring manager, recruitment and our compensation and benefits team. And so, usually companies will be constantly doing analysis of what that position on average makes in that specific area.
So, let’s say we’re taking a financial analyst in San Francisco, typically, they’re constantly doing reviews to say, “Hey, this is on average what they’re making, on average for our industry,” which is also another important distinction as well. And then there’s also a lot of internal factors that they look at based on how good a company’s compensation and benefits are. So, a lot of companies say, “Okay. Here’s the average, we can match that,” but depending on the company, if they want to be really competitive, they can say, “Here is the average, but here is what we are going to give to make sure that we can attract the top talent,” and that’s why some companies may have higher comp than others because they’re looking to truly attract that top talent.
Let’s step out of the ring and talk about Career Coaching Companies. With all the valuable advice that you just heard from our wonderful guest, let’s take action on that advice with one-on-one live, tailored coaching from recent grads who now work at the same companies that you’re applying to. Schedule your free strategy call today by going to careercoachingcompany.com. Now back to the ring.
I love how you said that the job description is like trying to bring in that unicorn, that 10 out of 10 perfect candidate that meets every single part of the criteria of the job description. I remember when I was recruiting, I got afraid. I’m like, “I don’t meet all these requirements,” but I think the best way to think about it, like you said, is it’s like a wish list and this is the ideal candidate. But I also think if you meet 100% of all the qualifications, you’re almost overqualified, right? Because there has to be some room in that position for you to grow, to learn. And if not, then you’re just going to max out, it’s not going to be exciting and you’re going to almost plateau in your job.
So, knowing that you don’t have to meet all of them and maybe being able to talk about the ones that you don’t meet and how you’re maybe taking strides towards taking an Excel class online to improve the Excel skills or whatever it may be. So, I love the analogy of a unicorn and how job descriptions get made. And I think again, going deeper into the compensation question, how much power or leverage do candidates have? Is it a good practice to negotiate or see if you can get a little bit more compensation if you’re moving to a new city or if it’s a big step up in your career and you have to leave your current job? What type of approach should candidates take?
Nicole: Absolutely! I do always think that candidates have leverage and I always encourage negotiation as a best practice. I think that typically, a lot of companies will put out a target range because that based on their initial analysis was what they were looking to hire for a specific role, but that’s not knowing who that person that comes in is going to be. And so, I think that if you can demonstrate your value and demonstrate that “Hey, I know that this was the range for this kind of person. But I feel like I bring on XYZ skills,” and I can show this and demonstrate this by maybe a value proposition or even the specific knowledge or certification that I have that would add even more value than what you are perhaps even looking for.
I think that those are things that you can do to always advocate for yourself in that initial or that final negotiation process. And I think that eventually, once you get to that point, most of the time there will be some countering, there will be some negotiation, but there are sometimes where that really is the top of the budget and I think that’s when you as a candidate need to decide how badly do I want this? Is this compensation really fair? Because if I want this, but I feel like it’s not aligning with my goals financially then I think that’s when you need to make the final decision as to whether or not that comp package makes sense for you.
And is there any risk to ask for more compensation? Is it possible that I get the offer from Nicole. Nicole calls me and tells me the amazing news that I just got the financial analyst position at Wix and I’m going crazy. It’s so exciting. And I got the number for compensation and maybe I was expecting a little bit more or I have another offer and they are paying $2,000 more. Is there a risk that when I bring up compensation that it irritates you, the recruiting team, the hiring managers and the offer gets thrown off the table?
Nicole: I’m going to say the majority of times, there’s no risk. As a recruiter, I’m always prepared to have somebody negotiate. I’m sort of having that as sort of an expectation. But I think that the way that you negotiate is pretty crucial because I think that there is that portion of still showing your excitement and your interest whereas even if that initial offer isn’t what you were targeting, you never know what we can do on the other side.
So, as long as you still come with that initial excitement about it and just say, “Hey, I was looking for this number because I have another offer or because I did some more research and I realized that this might not be on par for this specific location. But I’m still really excited.” I haven’t seen any cases go wrong. I think sometimes when people come in and have a really negative reaction towards that number, that’s where I’ve seen the hiring team perhaps take a second thing around whether or not that person was really motivated to come to the company for the right reasons.
So, the recruiting team is almost expecting or knows that there is a chance that the candidate might bring up compensation. But at the end of the day, as long as you do it in a very respectful manner and the worst thing that happens is I asked for more compensation from Nicole and she says, “You know what? I did some research and we’re not able to do that.” Then it’s back up to me and what I want to do, but doing it in a respectful manner, not trying to be greedy and saying, “I want double my salary,” and going crazy and pinning two companies together.
Nicole: Absolutely. I can’t really see too many scenarios where that could go wrong.
Following Up with Outreach
I think another great approach for reaching out where there’s no risk is following up. And I know you had some content that you posted on LinkedIn about that there’s no risk in following up and that you always should follow up. And it really is astounding that most people either forget to follow up or they think that I’m annoying Nicole by emailing her again two weeks later because you didn’t respond. But at the end of the day, people are busy. I think the post went along the lines of I’m on a train and I opened the email and I saw that someone emailed me and I was about to respond. But I had to jump to my connecting train and I just forgot and it got lost in my inbox. So, do you think that candidates should follow up? And if so, when is a good time to follow up?
Nicole: I think candidates should always follow up and to your point, think about how many times in a day you might start a task and then something else calls your attention and you may not get back to that. I think the majority of times when recruiters or hiring managers don’t get back to you on LinkedIn, it’s not because we don’t want to respond back, it’s because maybe we were looking at it, something else happened and then we weren’t able to get back to it at that time. So, I think that if you’re in a networking scenario, I think that maybe a couple of days or a week just to bump your message back up, especially if you’re in a search where you need the answer in a little bit more timely manner. I think that a couple of days or a week is another good time to just send a quick bump just to say, “Hey, I wasn’t sure if you saw my last message,” maybe even add another piece of value. So maybe if since that message you created a personal website or maybe since that message something really exciting happened or you saw a post that recruiter wrote that you really love, feel free to add that new element and just bump that post up one more time. And it’s usually a pretty good way to get your success rate up for somebody responding to you.
I love that approach of not just saying, “Hey, Nicole bumping this up to the top of your inbox,” or “Hey, I’m following up,” but like you said, if you see that Nicole posted something on LinkedIn between the time that you initially reached out and the time you want to follow up or you see that Wix, their stock price after their quarterly earnings went up 20% and it’s the first time in history and bringing a little piece like that up and then at the end saying respectfully following up because I think that you become on top of mind of that person or even better is commenting on one of, let’s say Nicole’s LinkedIn posts and responding or talking about whatever her content was saying and that’s going to be like, “Oh, I remember this person, AJ. Yup, he was the one who emailed me about the financial analyst position. I need to respond to him.”
And I’ve done that a lot actually and it’s a great way to kind of indirectly follow up again and have you on top of mind. So, I think following up is so important and the biggest thing and I get that it’s nerve racking and you don’t want to waste people’s time or you don’t want to be too aggressive. But at the end of the day, the worst thing that happens is they don’t respond or they say, “No or I don’t have time.” The best thing that happens is maybe it leads to an interview, it leads to them saying yes to a podcast interview in the Final Round. You really just don’t know. And I think the pros really outweigh the cons there.
Nicole: Absolutely! The worst they can say is no. And I think that there’s so much fear before you do it that once you just pull the trigger, even if you have to close your eyes and click send again, once you start doing it, you realize that, “Oh, I was sort of psyching myself out about this. It wasn’t the other person who said, ‘No, I’m not going to respond.’ It was me almost not sending that message in the first place.” So, I definitely say, don’t say no to yourself, always put yourself out there and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But I think the reward absolutely outweighs the risk in that situation.
Exactly! Like you said, you shouldn’t be the one to count yourself out and say no to yourself. Let someone else, if that does come to it, let them say no and prove to them why they should have said yes, but don’t discredit yourself and then reject yourself because then you’re never going to get anywhere. So, I think having that power to be okay with being uncomfortable and putting yourself out there is so important. I think especially today and for the last year with the pandemic, it’s a tough job market. I think a lot more positions are opening up.
But I do think like you said earlier that a lot of power is now shifting from employers to now, actually the candidates. And companies cannot hire fast enough and they’re throwing perks and compensation and everything is increasing and they’re dying to get top talent. So, what would you say is the best way for a candidate to realize that power, that potential, that leverage to go out there and get a job?
Nicole: Yeah. I think that whenever a candidate is having that sort of imposter syndrome or not really sure about their own skills, I think that a great way to realize all that you’ve really truly done in a job or in school is just right down. Everything that you could possibly remember that you’ve accomplished. I think that sometimes we often forget when we’re in the day-to-day of our job how much we do and seeing a visual list of everything that you’ve done is kind of this stark reminder of like, ‘Oh wow! I really do a lot and I have all this value that I have to offer.’ I think something as small as that can really shift your outlook as well as doing this, talking to recruiters. I think that if you talk to any recruiter that we’re all open to saying that absolutely it’s a candidate market right now and we cannot hire fast enough. And so, I think that those are some things to remind yourself that it is a really great time to be on the job search and even though it’s scary, you’re absolutely full of value.
Updating your Resume
And that tip that you mentioned about having that let’s say Google doc, Word doc whatever it is, it’s almost like a brain dump of everything that you’ve done. And I think that people think that I have to have a one-page resume, which you should have a very concise resume. But when you go into a bullet point, and Nicole says, “Tell me more about this position at this company.” You have to be able to expound on that and talk much more about it. Let’s say you’re at that role for six months to a year plus. It’s hard to remember every little thing you did, the impact, the numbers, the results. So, I actually have two different documents for my personal resume. I have my one-page resume that’s concise to the point, high level really results and impact oriented and then I have a second document that’s probably now 5 to 10 pages and every bullet point is expounded into almost like a paragraph, an essay going into detail and maybe having some screenshots of what I was doing and I think having that weekly or bi-weekly check in with yourself and updating what you did and yes, it’s a little bit tedious if you don’t love to write.
But by the end of the year, you’re going to forget everything that you did because there are so many little things and then reviewing that before you go into an interview, remind yourself, ‘I have this power. I’m a very qualified candidate. Look at all that I’ve done and I could do so much more. And now let’s not say no to myself but let’s have other people say yes and go get that offer.’
Nicole: Absolutely. And I think that then while you’re updating it continuously then it gets so much less intimidating when you’re actually looking for a job and you have to update your resume because I always remember that whenever I had to update my resume for the first time after working for a year and a half, I realized that it was a pretty big endeavor. I had to really search in my brain as to what things that I did and I probably didn’t remember all of it. So, I think that keeping that running doc or even something that I like to do now is just updating my LinkedIn with even just one bullet point here and there one sentence are ways that you can really keep track of your progress just for your own personal self-development but then also keep you sharp so that if you’re ever in that point in time where you need to be back on the job search, it will be a lot easier and smoother of a process.
LinkedIn vs. Resumes
Well, I do think like you said that your LinkedIn, your resume is a living breathing document and maybe it doesn’t need to get taken out for a walk. You don’t have to feed it like we both mentioned our dogs earlier today, but it’s something where you’re never done, right? It’s constantly getting iterated on, constantly getting updated on it. Resume, people know you have to update but for LinkedIn, I’ve heard people say, “Yup, I’m on my LinkedIn. It’s good to go,” and that’s it. But it’s all right, well what else? You were at this position for five years and you have one or no bullet points. What did you do?
So, I think it’s so important to update both constantly because maybe Nicole is looking for financial analysts going back to our example and if you don’t have your updated LinkedIn, then you’re never going to get found. So, I do think updating both is so important and a common question that I always hear from some of our listeners is what is the difference between your LinkedIn and resume in terms of content or maybe the similarity? Should it be word for word the same bullet points or should it be different and how should it be different?
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. I think that your resume is definitely something where when you’re submitting it to a company, it needs to be a lot more detailed because typically the resume is being used to say, “Hey, are we screening you out? Do you have the skills or do you not have the skills? Do you have these very specific accomplishments that we’re looking for or do you not?” And so, I think that it needs to be a lot more detailed in terms of the history and the story that it tells. When you’re looking at your LinkedIn, because it can have so many different uses aside from the job hunt being one of them, but one of them just being to work on your personal brand to share updates. I think it can be a lot more interactive and open. And I think that the information that you need to put is a lot less because what your LinkedIn is really doing is to just attract people to you whether that be for networking purposes, whether that be for a job. It’s sort of something to pique their interest rather than saying, “This is what I’m going to grade you on,” which is kind of what a resume is. So, I do think that the information needs to be a little bit different.
The Final Question
And I also think that your LinkedIn has so much more color. Right? Because you can’t go crazy with the resume. You can’t have a picture and the company logos and red and green and pink font, right? You have to stay for the most part by the book. Keep it professional, keep it concise, black and white and make sure all looks good formatting wise. But I think on LinkedIn, you can add those social links, you can add photos or a slide deck or personal website URL and there’s so much more there.
So, like you said, have it as that top of the funnel magnet to attract people. And then if Nicole reaches out, “Hey, can you share with me your resume? I saw you’re looking for an analyst position in finance,” then you can send it to her and it’s much more detailed. So, thank you for answering that question. It’s been a lot of questions on people’s minds. And as much as the conversation has been today, Nicole, we’re about to wrap up this specific episode and we always end with our final question.
So, what is the best piece of advice that you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land their dream job?
Nicole: I think that at the final round, they’re not really testing your skills anymore. By this one in this process, the hiring team typically assesses that you can in fact do the job, and at that point they’re just looking at all the qualified candidates and saying, ‘Out of all these people, who do we want to work with?’ So, at this stage the prep behind it needs to be different. The people who really nail the final round are the people who genuinely can show their failures and their successes. They can articulate what specifically about that company is really exciting them and who can show their true passion for the company and for the opportunity and for the work that they do? Those are the people who typically get past the final round.
And there you have it, all our listeners are now going to get past the fun around with your such amazing, impactful, actionable, insightful advice. Thank you so much again for coming on the show, Nicole. It was an absolute pleasure.
Nicole: It was so exciting to meet you in chat and definitely looking to continue sharing any advice.
Did anyone else love when Nicole said about compensation negotiation? There is essentially no risk to discussing compensation with your recruiter. So, why wouldn’t you ask after you receive an offer? If you loved this episode as much as we did, please show us some love by subscribing to the show and leaving a quick rating and review on Apple. Until the next episode of the Final Round podcast, keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.