Career Tips From A Senior Recruiter
During our Out Of Office Series, we welcomed the discussion of work + career. We tapped Lauren Adams, a Senior Manager of Recruitment at Walmart. We sat down with Lauren + asked her a handful of questions around navigating a job search or career path during this time. She talked us through some tips for virtual interviews, how to polish up your resume, and advice for this odd time all of us are experiencing right now. . . Want to watch or listen to this conversation instead? Tune in here.
Aisle 9: What is your advice for those who are currently seeking new work?
Lauren Adams, Senior Recruiter, Walmart: It’s tough right now, and I feel for anyone in that situation. I think to sum it up in three things: be patient, be realistic, and be diligent. Be patient x understand the landscape of what’s going on right now. Many of you may be impacted by this or are in a transition phase + initial plans just kind of got blown off course. I know it can feel heavy + like a lot, but try to stay patient. I think things will turn around hopefully sooner rather than later. Be realistic in knowing the industries that you’re going after, or the types of roles that you’re seeking. Also watch the company you’re after and how they handle this crisis. I think it can be telling about the type of employer that you may be joining. From a diligent standpoint, now is the time to network.
A9: How can we network right now?
LA: Most people are at home, and they have time. There are very few business trips happening, everyone is in front of their laptops or their phone these days. I think screen time has gone significantly up, but the outreach x making the personal connection can still be delicate — never underestimate the power of your network. If you’re in this situation, go through your mental rolodex of the people that you know. This is the time to reach out. So take advantage of that.
A9: What is your advice for college graduates seeking employment during this time?
LA: This is similar to the class of 2009. I’d say, if you don’t have a job locked in x you’re still on the hunt, don’t get discouraged. Try to remain hopeful, but this is the time where you can lay the groundwork to be ready. Once positions open back up + become available again, you have done all the things + laid all the breadcrumbs to get the job. I want to reassure you because I know there is a lot of anxiety right now. There are so many resources that have opened up because of this. Learn a new skill, you’ve got some time on your hands now.
A9: What are your tips on making an impression with your resume?
LA: All of the most important information you want an employee to know about you should be at the top. I’m looking at resumes 90 percent of the time on my laptop. That means, when I’m viewing these resumes in PDF or Word Document, I only see above the fold [which is the top half of your resume if I’m on a screen]. You want everything that’s really important for me as a recruiter to be up at the top so I won’t have to dig. I would also recommend printing out + highlighting the job description, go to your resume, do a gut check on yourself, and make sure your resume shows the recruiter that you have done X, Y, and Z.
A9: So we’ve sent our resumes, we got some bites, and now we have the interview. How can candidates prepare for interviews in this weird time right now? Questions they should be asking, how to talk about themselves + be their own best advocate?
LA: I think it’s important to note that virtual interviews are not that uncommon. The unusual thing is that right now the entire process is virtual so that’s the part that’s taking some adaptation. Often, you might talk to a recruiter on the phone, then there would be a virtual interview, and then after that, you would come into the office at some point for the next step of the process.
In terms of ways to prepare: treat it like an in-person interview. Dress for the interview — it gets you in that mindset to be ready + put your best foot forward. Prep for questions like you normally would, anticipate what might be asked. . . The nice thing is that you can have notes that are sort of unseen in a virtual setting. You can have a little cheat sheet for prepping.
It’s going to get harder to read the room x get a sense of the vibe from the recruiter so it’s important to make sure you’re up to date on the softwares x resources. If a candidate reached out + said, “I’ve never used Zoom before, would you mind doing a quick 5-10 minute tech check before our interview?” I would say “Yes, absolutely.” Don’t be afraid to ask.
A9: What are things that stand out to you when recruiting?
LA: My favourite thing about interviews are the ones that don’t actually feel like an interview. It just feels like a discussion with a friend or you’re just getting to know somebody. I guess that’s not really a tip, but a sign of a good interview is one that you walk away going, “Wow, I could breathe through that.” If you felt peppered + attacked the whole time, it may just be the interviewer but that could be a sign of the potential culture + environment you’re walking into.
I’d also say, just as much as it is an interview of you x your fit for the company, you’re getting the chance to interview that company + that potential manager. It’s a two-way street. It’s like dating. I look for a fresh perspective. I like to also see candidates doing an activity that they might actually be tasked to do if they were on my team. Usually, I will give potential candidates a test project that they will present to me. That way, I get to see them think on their feet + what they’ve researched x put together.
Lastly, if you’re asked a question about how you have reacted to scenario x, y, z in the past, but you don’t have that experience or an example, pivot to “You know I’ve never been in that situation, but let me tell you what I think I would do.”
A9: Best questions to ask post-interview?
LA: If you can bring up an idea, that’s great. If you don’t have an idea or you don’t know the business as well, ask. You can at least ask an inquisitive question at the end. “How does X fold into your overall strategy?” Take a look at what’s going on in the space x ask the probing questions. I always recommend asking something about the company strategy.
Ask questions about team x company culture. It’s not only them interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing this company, so make sure you ask about the team + culture + managing style. It’s also a good segway into asking if your interviewer has any concerns about you in terms of the position. It gives you a pulse as to where you stand before leaving the conversation.
A9: What is the best advice that you have received in your career?
LA: If you’re early in your career, this may seem obvious, but never talk bad about your boss. You can [and will] have moments, but find a person outside of your workplace to vent to.
As you grow into your career, act in the role of the job you want not the job you have. Start taking baby steps toward that so that it’s a very obvious fit when you start to go down the path of promotions.
Lastly, state what you want x your intentions often. If you’re very clear about the direction you want to head in your personal + professional growth, it will help you in promotional conversations.
A9: What kind of experience do you look for from candidates when you’re recruiting? I know it’s mainly right out of college, but on their resume what are you looking for?
LA: It’s going to be tough to answer because it differs from job to job, but do something, right? Get something on your resume even if it’s taking on a leadership role in a volunteer organization. You need things to start bolstering your experience. So if it’s strictly academic, that’s tough to assess. Obviously, as you get more experienced in your career you really can start putting the building blocks together on your resume.
A9: A question from one of our readers: do websites + portfolios help set you apart? And what about them is most helpful?
LA: I don’t often hire for creative jobs where that is necessary. As I mentioned with bringing a copy of your resume, it can never hurt to submit that. . . maybe it goes unnoticed in the worst case scenario, but it would be worth it to include it.
A9: I definitely think they help set you apart. It helps give the person that’s hiring a glimpse into your style, whether it’s your writing, photography, graphic design. . . So much of what people are hiring for when they’re looking for a creative to join their team is does their fit with what we’re building? A lot of that comes back to aesthetic preference or a level of sophistication.
A9: What resources or recommendations to you have for women looking to grow during this time?
LA: There’s always no harm in learning a new skill set. For that I would urge you to check out fan favourite Masterclass or these online course options being offered free from top universities. As far as book recommendations go, some of my current go-tos are: Rebel Talent, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and Fierce Conversations.
Special thanks to Lauren Adams, for volunteering her time + offering up advice for us.
We want to encourage everyone with the hope that this will be in our rearview soon. We urge you to take this time to sharpen your skills + network, send someone an email, and be intentional with your time. For now, if you have any questions send ‘em our way or connect with us on the gram [@aisle9]. We would love to be in the know on what advice + ideas have inspired you in your own career journey.