Ask the Recruiter with Diana Gardner

by Gaby Gramont

We’re back with another segment of Ask the Recruiter featuring TorchLight’s Account Director Diana Gardner. Diana shared general trends she’s been seeing – both on the hiring manager side and the candidate side. Read more to see what she has to say about salary flexibility, how to get better opportunities and more!

What’s the biggest disconnect between hiring managers and candidates right now?

Diana: Salary. No question about it. I think what I’m seeing is that candidates and employers have differing expectations for positions that are less in salary. Candidates over the past two years have felt like they’ve been in the driver’s seat because of the influx of the marketplace and employment opportunities and as a result they have high expectations than what is consistent with an employer’s perspective.

How flexible have you seen hiring managers be with salary?

Diana: Hiring managers are very flexible with salary because they don’t want to lose talent. But I would say at the beginning of the search they come in probably 10 to 15 percent lower than what the candidate’s expectations are, but when they see a candidate who is very copacetic with their needs, their culture, their skillset then they are open to increasing their salary budget, is what I’m seeing. But I think this is going to change very quickly as the job market while it’s still thriving right now it’s gonna eventually sort of take a turn with the impending recession and budgets are going be cut back and won’t be what they are so there isn’t gonna be a lot of wiggle room for negotiation.

What have you seen in terms of salary expectations?

Diana: I would say that out of all the demographics in terms of experience we see younger candidates who have false expectations of what is an appropriate salary for junior to early career roles. I think it’s generational to be honest with you, a sense of empowerment a sense of being selective, and also a sense of being idealistic vs realistic.

They won’t find these salaries.

Where do you see a gap in skills? What are hiring managers struggling to find the most in terms of skillset?

Diana: I think it really just depends on the role, but I would say particularly for digital roles we are seeing a big gap in digital media, paid advertising, particularly. Most candidates cast themselves as digital marketers, they could be content marketers in the digital realm but they aren’t bringing to the table digital strategy and digital buying. It would be good to acquire that skill set to make them more well-rounded.

Are you seeing a change of perspective when it comes to in-person work?

Diana: There is a turn, compared to the spring. Now here we are kicking off into the fall and early winter and there is a change of the tide, candidates are much more flexible with deal breakers, more and more are preferring hybrid versus remote. Which is refreshing!

What other dealbreakers, besides salary, do you see candidates mull over?

Diana: Culture and commitment to DEI are becoming much more important across the board and across the caliber of demographics. A lot of candidates inquire about flextime, values, the commitment to DEI. I’m seeing more and more of that which is more refreshing because they are making decisions with what is in alignment with their values.

With the impending recession many are hesitant to switch jobs, what would you tell someone who is looking to move but is being held back by fear?

Diana: I would say look into the fiscal health of the organization that you are researching, look at annual reports if they’re available, look at trends in terms of what their hiring has looked like in the past months. I will also say this: if you are looking for a new role, you are looking for a reason and you should take the jump, the leap of faith. There is a reason that you are looking and therefore you should pursue what you want to do versus staying in a position that clearly is not fulfilling, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking in the first place.

Switching gears to the job application process, are there any resume mistakes you see most often?

Diana: I would say that as a recruiter we take much more time and effort to review resumes, we don’t use algorithms to weed in or weed out so we are actually taking the time. But there are employers who use different ATS systems that spit out and exclude resumes, so keywords are absolutely mission-critical. I think that keywords are absolutely mission-critical even WITHOUT AI.

I see mistakes where people are omitting different types of technical platforms, particularly if you are a digital marketer. If you don’t share which platforms you are experienced in, it’s very short-sighted, those resumes tend to be unnoticed, and they don’t stick out. Saying what you want, and having an executive summary or objective is important. Marketers often find themselves in a generalist position. So say it, don’t be afraid to put a stake in the ground and say “I am a generalist with deep experience in content marketing.” Indicate what you are passionate about to determine exactly what you are looking for.

What advice do you have to marketing professionals who are moving around in the industry, perhaps looking for a career switch to PR or comms, etc.

Diana: First, make sure it’s the change that you want to make. This is a very small community; reach out to people within your LinkedIn network and ask those who made a particular switch in marketing what they like about it. Find people with backgrounds that you want to emulate and do your due diligence and your homework and find out from them what they like about it, what they dislike about it. What are the pitfalls? When you feel absolutely certain that you want to make the change articulate this to employers and recruiters. What’s your ‘why?’ Be certain when you articulate the change you want to make.

Interviews can be very anxiety-inducing for candidates. What steps can they take to alleviate this stress?

Diana: I would say that 8/10 candidates tend to fall on the side of being nervous for interviews. I would role-play in advance, write down your answers and create a content outline. Raise your hand, if you’re nervous, say you’re nervous! I think breaking the ice and being human with the person you are meeting with, is only going to help you, and gives you the opportunity put your mind at ease and make yourself more comfortable. I would also – if you need accommodations – raise your hand and ask about that, perhaps exploring a different format rather than a panel maybe meeting one on one, depending on the role. If you do all of those things, you can set yourself up for success and feel a little more comfortable about the interviewing process.

What’s one way to set yourself up for success as a candidate?

Diana: I think that candidates who come into this process knowing their “why” and having the ability to tell their story and tell their “why” tend to succeed more than other candidates who just want to find a job. Identify why you want a new job in the first place, why do you want a role in PR or crisis comms? Being comfortable in wrapping your brain around that is only going to make you more successful in identifying the opportunities in alignment with your why, pursuing those opportunities, interviewing for those interviews, and ultimately getting those opportunities. We keep coming back to their why and it’s helpful to identify opportunities. It doesn’t matter how tenured you are in your career you can be a 2-year early career candidate but as long as you know your “why,” it’s only going to help you in your story.

There’s been a lot of talk about a disconnect between generations in the workplace, does any particular scenario come to mind?

Diana: I’m seeing the younger generation tends to be very short and impersonal in their communications in terms of following up with their employers. Some forget to send thank you notes thinking they don’t have to while more seasoned candidates want to send handwritten letters. Employers are expecting follow-up and initiative from candidates. I’ve seen younger candidates who choose not to follow up and send a thank you letter and not be elaborate tend to miss the opportunity and be selected out, so I do believe that thank you letters have been ingrained into my brain… it is a lost art form, and it still matters and is a level of personal connection that employers deeply appreciate.

Read our last edition of Ask the Recruiter with TorchLight’s Amy Tsuchitani.

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