Benjy Spiro is a seasoned recruiter who is currently an MBA Campus Recruiting Manager at Walmart and has previously worked in recruiting and Talent Acquisition at OVER 10 COMPANIES including Goldman Sachs, The Walt Disney Company, Accenture, Pfizer, Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, RBC Capital Markets, Christies, Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank, and more.
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– What have you learned after being a recruiter for 10+ companies?
– How have you been able to recruit across multiple industries (Consulting, Banking, Media & Entertainment, and more)?
– Importance of Gen Z on the job market?
– Why is helping candidates your passion?
– Are there certain qualities you look for in candidates?
– What would you say to people who are afraid to network because they feel as if they have nothing to give?
– Are candidates too casual with recruiters?
Connect with Benjy: www.linkedin.com/in/benjyspiro/
Follow our Host on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
*Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“One of the best ways to give charity is to help someone get a job, because I can write you a check for $25,000 and you’ll be on your way for a few weeks, but if I give you a career, you’ll really grow and you’ll be able to help yourself. And being on the receiving end of charity might be demoralizing for your self-esteem but if I’m able to help you get to the point where you’re a successful person in your career and I feel like I’ve done amazing work. So that’s what drives me and that’s what makes me proud.” – Benjy Spiro
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.
Before we dive into this episode, I wanted to thank you so much for your tremendous support thus far. We just hit 130 Apple podcast reviews which have all been five stars. If you haven’t already, please take a second to pause this episode, scroll down to the bottom of the Apple podcast app and hit submit a review. We’re trying to get to 150 in the next two weeks. Today, we’ll be joined by Benjy Spiro, who is a seasoned recruiter to say the least.
He is currently an MBA campus recruiting manager at Walmart and has previously worked in recruiting and talent acquisition at over 10 top companies including Goldman Sachs, the Walt Disney Company, Accenture, Pfizer, Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, RBC Capital Markets, Christies, Barclays Corporate & Investment Bank and more. Join me in welcoming him to the final round. What is going on, everybody? Welcome back to the show. I have such a special guest today. I have Mr. Benjy Spiro joining us live from the Final Round studio. Benjy, how are you doing today?
Benjy: I’m doing great. I’m so happy to relate to you. I’m doing this to go. We’ve talked for a long time over the last few weeks. I’m glad we’re here today and going to make a difference and teach some people some tricks to succeed in their job search in their careers.
Well, I’m so excited to have you and I know that our audience is going to gain so much insight from just learning about you and all that you’ve done throughout your career and what you’re currently doing and I thought the best place to start would actually be a quote that’s in your LinkedIn about section and the quote reads, “I’m a passionate, motivated and enthusiastic and driven campus recruiting and university relations expert who enjoys nothing more than being the person to change a student’s life and enable them to take the steps to begin their professional careers.” So, my first question I want to ask you, Benjy is where did this passion for helping others especially students stem from?
Benjy: It’s a good question. I think that I was always motivated towards working on the people’s side of it. I’m probably the only campus recruiter you’ll talk to who was interested in being campus recruiter before they even went to college. I was a debate captain in high school, and I was really fixated on finding who’s going to be the next captain after I graduated and was hanging up signs in the library, in the cafeteria and things like that. And my dad works in HR and until he retired, but he never did the recruiting side of things. He was much more of a compensation operation, logistics kind of person.
But I always found the people’s side interesting. When I was much younger, I had a chance to meet Richard Branson. Richard Branson is an eccentric, weird guy, but he’s super smart and he’s super successful and he said, “Having a great product is really nice, having good shareholder is important, but without great people, you’re useless,” and that really resonated with me because I think about all the different things that companies have to offer and really the people are the ones that drive it. I think about any company and the people are the brains behind the operation. And I’ve never been the type of person who craved attention, right? So, let’s say I worked for an investment bank, which I did in the past. A lot of investment banking professionals will be proud of the fact that they closed a multibillion-dollar deal, hundreds of millions of dollars, M&A, acquisitions, bridge financing, things like that. I like to sit back and be like, “I hired some of those people who closed those crazy deals.” So, I’ll never generate a company profit, but my indirect work generates a tremendous amount of profit. And I think when it comes to helping people, it’s always been inherent from my faith. I’m an Orthodox Jew.
We believe in helping the world and helping people in the way they can. And my monitor has said that there are several ways to give charity and one of the best ways to give charity is to help someone get a job because I can write you a check for $25,000 and you’ll be on your way for a few weeks. But if I give you a career, you’ll really grow and you’ll be able to help yourself and being on the receiving end of charity might be demoralizing for your self-esteem. But if I’m able to help you get to the point where you’re a successful person in your career and I feel like I’ve done amazing work, that’s what drives me and that’s what makes me proud.
Well, I didn’t know that you had a chance to meet Richard Branson and I love how you’re a people first person, and it’s not just about having a perfect product, but it’s about really focusing on your team and the family around you. I think that that’s kind of my mission and our team’s mission at the Final Round, it’s the same thing is that, obviously the Final Round is a completely free career resource, and the best thing is you can teach someone how to get a job and they can get jobs for their entire lifetime versus just handing them something, right? It’s the same analogy of giving someone a fish versus teaching them how to fish. It’s the same thing and it really pays dividends, especially if you get someone an internship that leads to a full-time job and then leads to an amazing career. I think the career development side is the best way really to give back.
So, I love seeing where that route really stemmed from your passion for helping. But I think the coolest thing about you, Benjy, is you’re not just a recruiter, right? And it’s not just that you recruited at over 10 companies, which is an insane number and it’s amazing how much experience you have, but you do so many things on top of your full-time job and some things include volunteering at various organizations, you’re a part time rabbi that officiates weddings, you’re a Coast Guard, your White House committee member, FBI InfraGard, former certified spinning instructor and have a two-year-old at home. So, I guess I must ask, do you sleep?
Benjy: I sleep very sporadically. There are points where people get messages from me and are curious what time zone I’m sitting in right now. It’s usually my home time zone. I feel that the world is ours for a limited time and there’s so many ways I can help people and that’s what really drives me. It’s very inherent with my wife as well. She works in healthcare outside of her job. She’s always helping people with advice and complicated medical situations and things like that. It’s just something that’s in our family values.
So, I served in the White House committee up until the end of the Trump administration. It goes back to really making a difference in the world. So, sometimes I’m able to speak on some of these White House calls about the importance of getting jobs out and making sure they’re good benefits, employers are driven to want to hire entry level talent, things like that. I partnered with Mayor Garcetti’s office before to really increase awareness in STEM education and STEM careers and things like that because one of the hardest things about bridging the gap in minorities and STEM is that when you meet students on campus, it’s too late. If you’ve ever had friends who studied engineering technology, those are four-year degree kind of programs.
If you decide you want to do that halfway through your sophomore year, you won’t graduate in four years and some people are on scholarships and some people have limited finances, so they really want to graduate college in four years. But if we start getting the word out earlier and earlier, like before they go to college, then they can think about what an engineer is and what a software developer is. People, especially first-gen students, don’t have the opportunity to really ask their parents, friends, what did you do? A lot of them don’t have college educated type roles, therefore they lack that network to ask people. But if we’re helping to bring the word out before they get to college, we can change the playing field of what a STEM college student looks like.
Well, first, I applaud you for all that you do for the community and we thank you for all that you’ve done giving back and what you’re currently doing. I think a lot of our audience, our students in school and they’re trying to figure out if they should focus on their GPA or if they should get involved, whether it’s in their community, volunteering, joining a certain organization, or maybe working in an internship. What would you say is the best way to navigate that decision when trying to balance between focusing on your GPA versus getting involved?
Benjy: I love that question. It’s a question I get asked occasionally, and I think I give a unique perspective. Your GPA is something you’ll never be able to change again and the rest of your life. Once you graduate college, there is zero ability to change your GPA. Sure, you could go to graduate school, you get a different GPA and things like that. Your college GPA is not eligible or possible to change once you graduated. So, I do think academics is important because so many employers look for a good GPA when you start. When I say good GPA, I don’t mean you need to get a 4.0 but get a good GPA, a 3 and above I think is a good benchmark. Two to three careers into your job, no one will ever ask you for your GPA again or ever ask you for your SATs. But getting involved in community activities, getting involved in extracurriculars is so important because there’s a lot of things you can learn in a classroom, but there’s so many things you can learn outside of the classroom, so I look at every student’s potential when evaluating their resume.
So, if you really like beer and you enjoy being a college student drinking beer, why don’t you just start the beer appreciation student group, then you’ll show me how you can manage a budget, recruit members, do marketing, keep your core group interested in what you do, show that you’ve had an interaction with your student government and still get to do your hobby. There’s such a difference between drinking beer and creating a beer appreciation society in college. Go get involved in student activities. I started on the university student judiciary. I adjudicated students who violated housing laws, plagiarism, cheating and things like that. It was not a deciding factor of the legal system. It determines your status in the university. I volunteered in prison when I was in college.
Every Thursday night, I went to a maximum-security prison and I taught English, Literature and Philosophy with a group of my friends to maximum-security inmates who had been in prison mostly before I was born. And then every once in a while at an interview they’ll be like, “Tell me a time you worked with a difficult client,” and I said, “I worked at a maximum-security prison, they were all kind of difficult.” It’s a thought-provoking question, and engages someone’s attention. I guarantee you no one else has the same line that I have. So yes, for maybe partially selfish reasons that worked out nicely for me, but you really get to learn how to deal with different people. It was not something I ever expected to gain from this position. I thought it would be something unique. I thought it was something to give back.
The idea of the organization I worked with to go to prisons was not to teach them English, Literature. It was to teach them how to interact with each other, how to effectively have a discussion, listen to people you don’t agree with, speak your part, articulate your feelings and thoughts, and listen to others and build on conversation. It had nothing to do with the literature. But that was a founding principle of the organization to help the inmates. And granted it helped the inmates and helped me to learn from people who had completely different lives than I do. I loved my experiences in college and I really believe that they helped me in my career. I was a campus tour guide. I think if you’re going to talk to 50 campus recruiters, probably more than 50% of them were campus tour guides. I’m trained to walk backwards. I’m trained to answer difficult questions. I’m trained to be passionate about my university. I cannot think of a better extracurricular activity for a campus recruiter, and I think that those were the experiences that shaped my life and that was how I got into campus recruiting when I was a sophomore in college. I got my first internship that was designed for people with a junior level, I got hired a year early.
Well, there’s so much there to unpack. But one thing that I think really struck a chord with me is that you can’t always go into an organization or volunteer or be a part of something just for the resume. Of course, like you said when you were part of the organization that helped inmates in prison, you could use it as something on your resume that would really stick out because not many people would do that. But I think that there are a lot of things as in future opportunities that could come about or people that you meet that you never knew were going to be there and you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
And I think if you are someone who puts yourself in a position for just opening different opportunities, whether it’s new people, new experiences. And you can use that in your interview right once a time that you experience leadership involvement, once a time that you had a difficult boss or difficult people, whatever it is and the more that you do, I think you kind of figure out what you want to do going forward. But if you’re someone who is just very narrow minded to only do one thing, it’s very hard to put yourself out there and to have opportunities come your way. So, on top of your full-time job, you said that you’re a part time rabbi and help with things like officiating weddings. And just for our audience, maybe who doesn’t know, a rabbi’s role is to act as a spiritual leader and religious teacher for the Jewish community. Can you share any insight that you’ve learned as a rabbi that you can then make very applicable for our audience whether they are recruiters or going for jobs that you’ve learned as a rabbi?
Benjy: I think both of those walks of life require you to be a great listener, to really listen to what someone is saying. I think humans inherently are thinking about the next opportunity they must talk about and while someone else is speaking, they’re really thinking about what they’re going to say next. If you really take the time to listen to someone and to understand them. Professionally speaking, let’s say a manager is saying to you, “Hey, I’d like you to do this project. These are the following things I need,” and you’re thinking of your follow up questions or your ideas and what you can contribute instead, try and separate those thoughts from your mind and then you’ll be able to really soak things in better.
As a rabbi, people come to you with different situations. I particularly deal a lot with funerals and burials, and have been part of an organization for 13 years called Chesed Shel Emes. We basically altruistically help people who have no financial means or no family, ensure that they have a ritual burial. And families at that point in their lives are extremely emotional, very fragile and it’s important to just listen to them and let them explain their situation, explain their story, explain their customs, explain their family makeup. So, listen first, compartmentalize as best as possible and will serve you for success professionally and in your personal lives as well.
Well, first, it’s remarkable all that you do at that one organization that altruistically helps people who maybe don’t have the financial means to bury a family member or friend. So, it truly is amazing. And obviously you are being a recruiter, would you say that that is a big issue with students or people that you work with as candidates and that maybe you are asking them questions and they’re not listening, and they ask the same question twice or as you’re asking them, they’re thinking of the next question is just trying to jump to the next thing. Do you think listening is something that could really be worked on with candidates?
Benjy: Yes, I think listening is something that could be worked on by candidates. We’ve seen the last few years attention spans are so short with candidates, which is unfortunate. So, it’s hard to shake human characteristics and things like that. But if you really listen to what the recruiter is trying to get, I often find candidates are trying to push something that they are excited to talk about whether it’s relevant to the conversation or not. And sometimes I’m asking the questions to really get into a specific detail that is imperative to the success of the role. So, if I’m asking you those questions, it’s good to think of those answers that are relevant to give short succinct but cover the topic well.
And if you need a second and just be like, “Can I think about that for a second?” I have no problem with you taking 2, 3, 4, 5 seconds than giving me a convoluted answer that has nothing to do with anything. In terms of the way recruiting has changed in the last 18 months with Covid and the pandemic, it’s become virtual. I’m sure they’ve had healthier times. We would be sitting in the same room talking with each other and having a more natural conversation, although this is natural to be honest, but we really pick up on body language with students and we can tell their level of engagement, their level of interest. And that’s something that’s important because we’re going to spend 45 minutes with you interviewing you. Right? So, let’s say a maximum of six people interview and that’s a lot. We’re talking about just a few hours to get to know you. We’re talking about four hours of our time. We’ll throw you a very large salary, which is an investment from the company. We really hope that investment pays off.
So, really show us that you’re interested, show us that you’re passionate and show us that you’re not focused on other things. I know that life is hard right now, like we’re doing this interview while my son is sleeping, hoping that he doesn’t wake up and if he does, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I make sure that when I’m giving students my attention, that I have a comfortable place to sit, non-distracted place to sit, if I know that there are kids playing on my street and it’s going to be noisy, I’ll make sure to put in earbuds to block out those other sound because if they’re going to give me their time, they deserve my time as well.
Virtual Working World
So, I want to drive deeper on that part about the virtual world we’re living in and I think in the past you can get all dressed up, maybe wear a suit and tie, go to the actual company site, meet the recruiter or hiring manager in person, do a nice handshake and everything is in person. But now obviously living in a virtual world, there’s virtual networking, there’s virtual interviews and even a lot of work is virtual. You must be able to represent yourself in a very good light and there’s a lot of things that people don’t realize that could negatively impact them. For instance, your background, right? If you have a messy room, put on a virtual background that blurs everything out.
If it’s something where your roommates can be walking by coming in and out of class, it’s very distracting. And I think the biggest thing whether you’re an introvert and extrovert is you must really showcase your passion through the screen and you must almost go above and beyond what you would normally do in person because at times it seems like people are just not interested, their eyes can be going from screen to screen and you might think that they’re distracted. So, I think like you said, it is so important to really know how to maximize the ability to use the virtual teleconferencing or calls whatever it may be. What would be the biggest mistakes you see with candidates when working with you virtually.
Benjy: So, I always tell candidates and new hires even before the pandemic, never give people a reason to talk about you except for the quality of your work. You don’t want to be the person who dresses provocatively in the workplace, you don’t want to be the person who’s causing attention unnecessarily and things like that. And that goes the same thing in a virtual atmosphere. You want to have, as you said, a clean, clear working atmosphere. Also, be engaging because campus recruiters are human beings as well. We can get distracted also. So, if you keep me engaged, I have zero reason to get distracted and sometimes things do come up and I’ll get a ping and I’ll say to the candidate, “Just give me two seconds, I need to respond to this.” They were human beings as well and if the candidate is doing the same thing to me, I understand it. You know if mom says, “I need you to pick up your little brother from school.” I get it.
Life is weird. But on the flip side we talk about background, so you know when we think about a traditional resume and the very last line of your resume, people are interested, you know, I like skiing, cooking, baking, martial arts, whatever. Sometimes I’ve seen candidates put cool things in their backgrounds and I find it interesting, and I think it’s a great conversation story. There was a student I remember at a school in Texas who had these swords above his bed, and I asked him about it. He said they’re my I think my great grandfather swords for when he was in the marines and we’re a family of people who served in the military and I was like, “That’s really cool.” So, have a clear clean background but maybe I wouldn’t hate it if you threw something in the background that was cool or a great conversation starter or something like that but be natural about it. Don’t put a fresh cake in front of the screen and be like, “I like to bake,” because I’m not going to be able to try your cake as much as I want to.
I love that. No, I think that’s a great point and again, remain professional. But something where it just sparks your interest and I think a lot of times candidates will get branded throughout the recruitment process as if that candidate was X person, they were an athlete, they’re the football athlete or they are the leader in X organizations. So, trying to go above just a little bit and doing something a little bit differently than the next person will have the recruiter remember you and maybe the hiring manager, so I love what you said. And, you said that you want the candidate to keep your interest because everyone has short attention spans and oftentimes you might get a ping from a boss or another co-worker, whatever maybe. So, what are some tips to make sure that candidates can keep your interest or any recruiters interest?
Benjy: I think the first thing a candidate can do is become really well researched in the company that you’re interviewing, know what the company does, know what the company has recently announced. If they’re a publicly traded company, google finance, seeking Alpha, Yahoo Finance, whatever your preferred method to track the stock market, see what’s trending in that company. You don’t see a lot of those platforms, Google News, look up what the company has announced, look up who their CEO is, maybe where the CEO serves a board position, some company outlook, things like that. Show me that you’re really excited about this position. Show me that you’re well versed in what the company does, what the company’s challenge and see how you can connect your background, your interest into what the company’s needs is, because I work for Walmart right now and if you’re telling me that you’re passionate about drones and how they can be changed in the e-commerce business and how we can improve last mile delivery and things like that.
That shows me that you really understand what the retail market is like. You really understand the e-commerce market and what emerging technologies are going to be. That’s a great way to show your interest level. And tell me a captivating story. Keep my interest. Don’t tell me I was a sophomore, and I was the treasurer of my Greek life. Like I’ve heard it, but tell me, “I’m a second-year student, I love my major. I just picked up a new concentration. I’m taking this really awesome class in government and politics with a focus on a bipartisan agreement in the 21st century.” Show me you’re excited. Tell me that you’re a treasurer in your fraternity and you just got a new certification from the national boards and really put your organization new level and granted you knew funding and you’re branching into a new type of philanthropy and student engagement and things like that, and community service and you’re really excited about that. There are so many ways to spin a boring life into an exciting life and there’s so many ways to take an exciting life and turn them boring but be that person who captivates your greatest interest. I know things will work out well for you.
Well, it’s so interesting what you said at the end. It’s not necessarily the content, but it’s the delivery, right? And not everyone can have 10 internships and be leaders of 10 organizations, but it’s showing that you are very passionate and maybe Benjy is not someone who’s super interested in robotics, but if I’m someone who’s obsessed with robotics and I can talk about it and then, and this is really the kicker, I can draw the parallel between what I’m doing and what you’re doing at your company. And if there is that bridge, make sure it’s obvious that there is that bridge and you show you’re very relevant for what you’re applying to, you did your research and you’re qualified.
So, I think some great tips for really keeping your audience engaged, whether it’s a recruiter, a hiring manager, maybe some of your networking with whatever it may be. So, thank you for those tips, Benjy. And I want to shift gears and talk about the 10 companies that you worked for and if our audience is may be tuning in a few minutes late, you’ve recruited for companies like Goldman Sachs, Disney, Accenture, Pfizer, Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, RBC Capital Markets, Christies, Barclays and more. And I know as I’m saying those names, you are probably trying to recollect all the experience you had across the board. It really is incredible how many companies you’ve worked for. So, I’d love to know first, why have you chosen to switch companies over the years?
Benjy: when I graduated, I started working three days before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and I know exactly how old I am, but financial services and the industry that I thought I was going to go into living in New York, having a family history in investment banking was at the worst point in recent history probably since the Great Depression and hiring was weird and now that the markets are at a higher point level, a 770-point drop is still pretty bad. But in times of 2008 was nerve shattering and I had hiring managers who were having anxiety attacks, watching everything turned red and things like that. And it was a really hard time for the market, but I loved what I did, and I started out doing PhD campus recruiting at Morgan Stanley for a group that focused on quants. So, people who have backgrounds in finance, math, statistics, and computer science, some combination of those and they made them into quantitative developers and they’re geniuses. They’re the ones who figure out if trades are viable and things like that. And I loved what I did. I knew that this is what I wanted to do, and the market then was very contract based.
So, I would do a contract, I would be very fortunate to be part of Birthright Israel and I would lead a trip to say for a few weeks, come back for another contract and do that for a while. And I got married and I was like, “Okay. We’re not going to do this anymore.” And I really shifted into staying at a company for a longer time, but I think there’s always exciting things that are going on and I’m never one to miss an opportunity. And I remember when a recruiter reached out to me and was like, “Hey, how would you feel about working at Christies?” I didn’t know anything about art. I didn’t know there were two people named Manet and Monet, both very different artists, but I really connected with the team and the work that they were doing and being exposed to a whole different industry and sitting in the room when $179 million piece of art was sold to some of the most powerful people in the world sitting there was like an awe-inspiring experience. So, all these different things in my life have brought me to where I am today, and they shaped me for who I am.
Some of these experiences were longer and some of these experiences were shorter, but I have memories from all of them and I’m grateful for every person I’ve met, every experience that I have working at Morgan Stanley with my head out the window, looking at people leaving Lehman Brothers with cardboard boxes because the company went bankrupt is something I’ll never forget. And I went out to Lehman Brothers across the street, and I handed out business cards and I said, “Give me a call,” and we met people that way and it was cool. We rescued people’s careers because as the great recession was starting, no one really knew what was going to happen. If we look back at the history books in September of 2008, the markets really started to take a tumble. We really didn’t hit rock bottom until March 2009 and took a long time to fall out of that. So, if I found someone a job in October 2008, they were lucky because if their company went bankrupt at a different point, then it could have been a lot harder for them to get hired because the market would have been that much more filled with viable candidates who have been laid off from other investment banks.
I think our audience and I can agree that your work experience is unprecedented and there’s probably so many amazing memories and insights that you’ve gained over the years. So, you might talk about it. If we were to stop for a second and look back over your career path at these 10 incredible companies all very big name, I guarantee you our audience has heard of most of them if not all of them, what would be the biggest takeaway that you’ve learned, maybe your favorite memory or your favorite just overall insight taking away from all this work experience?
Benjy: I think having a strong moral compass is so important to the work that you do. There’s a lot of pressure to hire certain people, the right candidates, a lot of external people from the business are like, “You should really hire him, you should really hire her.” But really, having a strong moral compass and knowing what you’re doing and making sure you’re always doing the right thing, I think really set me up for success. And I just felt better about doing that because it’s so much easier to ask for permission than to beg for forgiveness. I ask so many more questions, perhaps questions that are not always 100% necessary, it’s just easier to do things the right way and to crawl backwards and do things and fix things and patch things up. I think efficiency is probably better because when you’re asking those questions beforehand, it probably takes two minutes of your time. But if you’re patching up mistakes and covering up things that you may have done, it could take hours of time and reversing things is just not worth it.
Yeah, I love that thought process of making sure you’re on the right track before diving in, making a mistake and then trying to rehash your mistakes. So, I think that’s a great way to think about it and you know, talking about the 10 companies for a second. I think the unique part about the 10 companies on top of just the sheer number of companies is that it wasn’t 10 companies in one industry, like banking. But it was across different industries including banking, consulting, media, entertainment engineering and more. So, when you were looking for those qualified candidates to join those companies, whatever company you were recruiting for at the time, does your criteria change across the board for the different companies or for the most part, would you say there’s one candidate persona that you’re looking for?
Benjy: I think there’s a foundation that I’ll always be looking for and then I’ll specialize based on that role. So, thinking back to my time working for a civil engineering, construction company, you obviously must have a strong background in engineering, in architecture and design. If you’re a psychology major, I will not trust you to build a stadium. It’s not a good idea for anyone involved, but agility, tenacity, passion, and a pursuit of excellence are all things that are inherently important in every type of position I’ve ever recruited for. I like people to think outside the box and think how they can be different and think about how they can contribute. A lot of old school people will tell me that, when you’re new at a job, you should just listen and things like that and it is important to do a listening tour and truly understand things before you start implementing changes. At the same time, when you’re hired straight out of college, people are looking for you because you’re the newest smart. You’re not necessarily the best smart, but you’re the newest smart.
You’re learning the most innovative ideas. And so, let’s say someone who is a senior manager or even a managing director in consulting or something, they’re a long time removed from school and they don’t necessarily know the most unique and exciting new ways that we’re teaching these days and different ways of thinking and different things like that. And I think as a new hire, you’re valued more than you may think initially. I think it’s an important balance to remain humble and learn from others. But also, people are looking to you to contribute because you have a unique skill set. A lot of companies are figuring out how you are marketing to Generation Z. So, you’re being hired right now, you are generation Z. We’re looking towards you to think about the ideas that are going to be best implemented into the company. We’re living in a changing world. We’re living in a changing country, adapting to change is important and humans in general are petrified of change because humans don’t like change.
And I think that when we learn as leaders and as future leaders how to adapt to change and new ideas and new perspectives, it helps us all. So, as a new hire, you’re thinking outside the box, your ability to think about how you can contribute to the company is really important. You’re not just an entry level employee, the new guy, the intern. We hire our interns and I’ve hired them wherever I work because they are smart and they are adaptable, they have a lot to give and I hope that they all get managers who respect that and understand that, but you have a lot to give and I think that’s an important trait to have, and I’ll always be hiring the same type of people with that core foundation and those core values.
Well, I think that’s a great way to think about how to frame your story and really set yourself up for success in the recruitment process. So, agility, tenacity, passion, and pursuit of excellence. Can you give a quick example from a student’s perspective? So, we’ll start with agility.
Benjy: Agility. So, I work at Walmart and Walmart is a company that has been known to the entire country, if not the entire world, as that giant warehouse where you can literally get everything, but the pandemic really changed for a lot of people, how they shop and Walmart.com became very, very popular and it was always heading in that trajectory and we’re seeing a huge boom in e-commerce. And I think that when we realized that people are afraid to go to stores for health reasons, safety reasons, things like that, we quickly pivoted faster and really built out Walmart.com and the delivery functions. And Walmart is the only company that I know of where you can order things on Walmart.com and have it put into your refrigerator. We have people who will deliver it to your house, which I think is cool. So that’s a good example of agility, how we’re going to adapt, how we’re going to do this. And we thought and we were strategic, and we probably changed paths differently. So, I think that’s a good example for you guys.
Awesome. And I guess the last three are just summing it up. So, tenacity is really would you say going after what you want to get or to pursue?
Benjy: Yeah, I think, tell me you want to be a finance expert at the Walt Disney company because you believe in the concept that Disney is a multifaceted entertainment company that’s providing parks and experiences and apparel and streaming programming and new movies and books and things like that. You see it as like so much more than Mickey and Minnie. So, I think that being excited about the company and the work that you could be doing and understand what that really means, I think is good.
Amazing. I think passion speaks for itself. I think people cannot disagree with the fact that you are very, very passionate about everything you do both in your job as well as outside of work and I think pursuit of excellence, I think a great example is whenever you do something to your boss to really make sure that it is ready to go and that there are very few mistakes and you almost want so much trust with your team, your boss, whoever maybe that they don’t even have to check your work because they know that you are pursuing that excellence and you want the best out of yourself and really putting yourself to high standards.
So, thank you so much Benjy for outlining those four main principles for what you look for in a candidate. The last few questions I have, Benjy before we’ll end today, is when we were doing some deep dive research, myself, and our team. You were on an employer panel and you had a quote saying that age is a number, experiences a number. But if you have something you can give to someone else, it makes the world a better place. So, what would you say to people who are afraid to network because they feel as if they have nothing to give?
Benjy: Don’t be afraid to network because you feel like you have nothing to give because that’s 100% not true. Your experiences that have shaped you are like nothing another generation has had. So, when you think back to people who, let’s say graduated college in 2000, they were completely reliant upon teachers as their method of education, but I could sit in class and certainly most of your clientele could sit in class and google whatever their professor says and supplement their things. And we see so much entrepreneurship in today’s candidates, right? I see so many people who started a company or started a foundation because 25 years ago when you started a charity, you would have to go to the post office, get the right work, call in accounting and things like that. I’m sure now I could do it in an hour. So, we’re seeing that the current group of graduates are incredibly talented.
And they’re differently talented than perhaps someone who has 20 years more experience, but that person who has 20 years more experience is dying to learn about what you do and things like that. And the workplace consists of lots of different types of people, and we need all of them. So, if you’re afraid to network, think about something that excites you or if you really don’t feel like there’s anything you have to contribute, human beings love to talk about themselves. So, let them feel empowered about what they love about their career, what they love about what they do, what keeps them driven, what excites them, what are their challenges, you can ask them, and I think that naturally as the conversation flows, you’ll be able to connect it to yourself.
Working with Recruiters
I love that. Such great points, and I think the better way to frame it is what can you contribute rather than what can you give? Because I think giving feels very transactional, right? You’re giving me your time and maybe I’m giving you something, but I think what could I contribute to the conversation? So, I think that for everyone out there listening, all our audience, don’t be afraid to network because you miss the chance of meeting some amazing people, like the person I have right in front of me, Mr. Benjy Spiro.
On the topic of working and interacting with recruiters, I think it’s obvious that because a lot of people have tried and haven’t been successful, that recruiters are hard to get a hold of. I remember even getting you on the show, Benjy was not easy. It took a couple of weeks, hop on a couple pre-screened podcast interview calls and obviously today we’re very fortunate to have your presence. But what would be some tips with working with recruiters, maybe some things not to do, because I know we’re living in a world where things are much more casual, but when I spoke to on the phone, you said that sometimes candidates are almost too casual, and they treat it as if it was just a friend in school and that’s a turn off for recruiters.
Benjy: Yeah. So, I work for Walmart. Walmart is the top left corner of my paycheck. They pay me and I’m there to represent them. I’m not here to directly help my candidates, but it helps me to help my candidate. The pet peeve of mine is to get a message, “Hey, I’d love a job at Walmart. Do you have an hour to connect to talk about it?” Firstly, I don’t have an hour to interact with anyone. Secondly, we have a careers website. We have all our jobs posted. We’re not a secret company nor any of my company I’ve ever worked for has secret positions that we don’t publicly advertise. It’s hard to make yourself unique. How many times do I get a message? “Hey, I loved your presentation at whatever campus, would love to connect.” Firstly, if you understand the hiring process at all, I must capture information from a legal perspective, from a logistics perspective, you must apply for the jobs. Thirdly, there are a lot of you out there.
So, I think you’re better served off as a candidate to connect with someone who’s in the business who probably doesn’t get overwhelmed. I do multiple presentations today to students all over the country. I would say that’s a nice perk of quarantine life and the virtual life is that I can be in a lot of places in a very short amount of time, but connect with a young analyst, a young entry level employee who would be so excited to pass along your resume. Recruiters rely on our business leads and depend on different companies. You know, we both worked for Accenture. We both know that Accenture has built out a campus team so that the recruiter is not always the be all and end all with campus and student interaction. But we have multiple people who are dedicated to each school, who would be a great resource for you because we look at a lot of different factors when shortlisting candidates and we look for politeness. I know it’s like an antiquated thing, but back in the day when people used to go in person, a lot of hiring managers would go to the receptionist and be like “Were they polite when they came in?” We hire people because they’re smart, they have good brains, and they have good hearts. It comes down to it. If you don’t have those, you’re not hirable and it’s not one or the other.
How about being too casual with recruiters? Does that exist?
Benjy: Yeah. I’ve had people tell me they’re hungover. I’ve had people tell me they have slept their interviews and they need to reschedule. We respect that life happens. We respect that you might have to pick up your baby brother from school or your parents are sick, and you unexpectedly had to take a parent to the doctor. Like life happens but be professional. I am the bridge between you and your career. So, maintain your level of professionalism because we’re here as an advocate for you, but we could also do the opposite and we really don’t want to do that ever.
The Final Question
And I think it goes back to the initial quote you said a few minutes ago, where you said, “Only give people a reason to say good things about you.” If there are any red flags, if you’re saying you’re hungover on a recruiter call or saying that you’ve missed five interviews and, “Oh, thank God that you didn’t snooze this morning.” I mean, yeah, it’s funny. It’s great. Maybe you say that to a friend, but you don’t say that to a recruiter and a professional. So, I think again, for our audience, yes, you want to be casual because you don’t want to be so buttoned up that you don’t share anything outside of your day-to-day. But at the same time, it’s a fine line between being too casual and too professional and always make sure that you can really balance those two things. And Benjy has as much fun as we’ve been having today, unfortunately, our time is coming to an end and we’re on to the final question: all our audience knows where we’re going with this, the final question that we ask all our guests.
So, what is the best piece of advice that you can give to our audience to help them get past the fun around interviews and land their dream job?
Benjy: Okay. I can’t remember if it was Michael Jordan or Shaq who said this. It’s something to the effect of being yourself because you can’t be anyone else. And I really believe in myself. Candidates ask me all the time, “What can I do to be a better candidate?” Just be yourself. Don’t discredit yourself to think that you’re not good enough who you are because you’re the only one of yourself. You had unique experiences that shape you as a person. So, do your due diligence, do your research, make sure you’re well prepared for your interview, and prepare with a friend. Practice with a colleague, seek out a mentor, but be yourself, tell the truth, be honest, be upfront, tell them your strength. Be honest, if they ask you about your weakness, the worst thing you can do is tell them I’m a good software developer and you’ve never done a day of software development.
I know a lot about software languages, I can talk the talk, I cannot program at all. But I’ll never tell someone I can program because it won’t serve me for success in the end. But being yourself is so important because I think that you don’t realize what you have to offer and people from all walks of life have all reached this point of graduating college or finishing up grad school and they’ve had an incredible experience and how they spend their summers, how they spent the winter vacation, how they spend their time outside the classroom, how they spend their time in the classroom and that’s super valuable and no one else has that experience.
So be yourself, own your story, be authentic, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and maybe you’ll get the chance to meet some amazing individuals like Benjy. So, Benjy, thank you so much again for being on the show. It was an absolute pleasure and I hope you had a blast on the show.
Benjy: Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m glad your perseverance paid off and I wish them all the very best in their careers and don’t forget to pay it forward because one day there’ll be a student who’s coming up to you for advice just like I did many, many years ago.
Have you ever met a recruiter that has worked for over 10 top companies? Benjy’s insight is truly unrivaled, and I found it fascinating when he shared how he selects candidates which includes looking for agility, tenacity, passion in the pursuit of excellence. This is a special episode because we are testing out a new way to interact with you, our audience. If you were listening on Spotify, you will be able to scroll down and see that we asked a question on the app. So, be sure to submit your answers. If you are not listening on Spotify, no worries at all, I added my LinkedIn URL in the show notes, so feel free to message me your response to the question. What questions do you want to ask our next guest from the Final Round? Our team will review all responses and select a few questions to share for the next episode and of course give you a shout out. Until the next episode of the Final Round podcast, keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.