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Job Search Advice for the HR Crowd with Laura Mazzullo

Job Search Advice for the HR Crowd with Laura Mazzullo

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Chris Russell:
So, let's get to our guest here. Let me introduce Laura Mazzullo. She is the founder and owner of East Side Staffing based in New York City. It's a boutique recruitment firm focused on placement of experienced HR professionals. For the last 15 years, Laura's developed a successful career in recruitment and brings an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for building relationships. She's committed to, and passionate about the talent acquisition space and is always looking for new ways to innovate and support her HR network. So, I've followed her on the social medias for a couple years now and just love what she puts out there. She's very knowledgeable in the space and for today, we'll talk about job search advice for the HR crowd and get her take on what mistakes some of you guys are making out there, from her perspective, since she does police you guys all the time. And Laura, welcome to the show. It's great to have you.

Laura Mazzullo:
Thank you. It's great to be here and hello everyone, thanks for joining. We're excited to talk about what's going on in this market and how we can be most efficient and get the most results that you need to be getting right now in the pandemic. Obviously we know it's a difficult market, so Chris and I are prepared to have a very honest conversation to help you so that you can hear what you can be doing differently.

Chris Russell:
So, Laura, just before we start, though, tell me more about when you started East Side Staffing and what was the impetus to go work for yourself?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. I started my own business seven years ago, so 2013. I had been in recruiting for 10 years before that, which I do recommend to anyone trying to go off on their own, I think it's helpful to have a base and a foundation from a larger company, have a mentor, have a boss that you can really learn from. I was really focused on HR recruitment since 2007, so I'd been that difficult recession in 2008. And I think that really gave me the confidence to realize, if I could get that market, recruiting for HR. Because as challenging as it is this year, you can continue.

Laura Mazzullo:
It was really the week of Hurricane Sandy, which Chris, I know you're in Connecticut and you remember that [crosstalk 00:03:28] time. Whatever was swirling in the air that week with the weather and that other natural crisis we were dealing with then, I really felt ready. So that was the impetus, it was a strange moment of, "I think I can do this on my own." There was really a need in the marketplace for a boutique firm. No one in New York that I knew of was really doing it, especially in my age group as a woman. It was a specific niche. There was an executive search function for HR leaders in New York that was really boutique and there were a lot of large companies doing it. But I was hearing from clients that they really wanted somebody that was more consultative and more of a partner and that was the way I liked to work. So it was, all the stars aligned, which I think is true for most entrepreneurs.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. What have you learned in that time frame about working for yourself? Because you're a one woman business, right?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah.

Chris Russell:
What have you learned over these seven years or so since starting?

Laura Mazzullo:
You learn a lot about yourself. I saw a great tweet the other day, I need to give credit to whoever wrote it, so if they see this, please shout it out. It was basically saying that when you're an entrepreneur, you think you're not going to have a boss anymore and so you won't have any drama, or conflict, or stressors. But actually, you're your own boss, which is really challenging because you're forced to look inward, to be really self reflective and really self aware. So I think the learning is really around how I'm willing to evolve, and grow, and learn, and develop. And it's really about constantly being willing to pivot, and change, and learn and not feel like what you knew 10 years ago, or five years ago, three years ago is going to work today.

Laura Mazzullo:
And you're recruiting, which historically can be an arrogant space where, I don't know, we haven't really valued humility historically. I think that's hard and important to remember, it's one of my core values. So that's what I've learned. Just to stay humble, to stay open to learning, to know you don't know it all and that you're your own teacher really, when you're owning your own business.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. Awesome. By the way everyone, if you have a question for Laura, just throw it in the chat or just speak up. I've got a bunch of questions for her as well, so we'll go through some of those. And if you happen to think of something, just don't be afraid to ask.

Chris Russell:
So Laura, a lot of layoffs and furloughs happening in the HR recruiting space because of the pandemic overall. I just want to get your thoughts on what are you telling these folks about staying positive during these challenging times right now.

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. I mean, there are a lot of recruiters who will give you the positive spin, it's very sugar coated. I'm not one of those people. So I'm a realist, I'm an optimist and I'm very positive, but I also believe that we can both. We can be positive and realistic. The reality is it's a difficult time. So first, I think we really need to acknowledge that and I think that when I talk to people one on one and I mention that, it's almost like people are able to exhale. I'm not sure if, as a community, especially in HR and recruitment, we've allowed room for the negative feelings or the hard feelings. So, yes, I say we have to be positive of course, I give them hope for [inaudible 00:06:50] which we're going to talk about here. But I also just want to remind everyone, this is a pandemic, it's a difficult time. No matter who you are, where you live, what's going on in your life, I really want to acknowledge that. And I think that that's important when your job searching to not be so hard on yourself, that it's really challenging [crosstalk 00:07:08]. You will get there, you will find your next position, it's out there. Of course, there are better days ahead. But also just making room maybe for some [crosstalk 00:07:16] feelings, that's important too.

Bret Feig:
No, I don't.

Chris Russell:
Hey Bret, do you want to go on mute there?

Laura Mazzullo:
So it's the hybrid of being hopeful and also, I think, really being realistic so that people don't feel bad when they're feeling down. I think that's actually sometimes what's happening is people feel like, "Why am I not finding a job, I'm crazy today, or I'm tired today, or I'm depleted today." We don't want to feel those feelings, because in recruitment and HR, we tend to be the life force, the positive ones, the empath.

Laura Mazzullo:
No worries Bret, it happens to us all.

Laura Mazzullo:
So yeah, I think it's just important to remember that. We can be both, right? We can be optimistic and positive and also make room for real emotion and real connection, especially as job seekers.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. So you sent me a question before the show about biggest mistakes you see among HR job seekers. And you mentioned networking and personal branding overall. So what do you want to say around that particular topic?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, no, I'm so glad, and for everyone who's on here, Chris and I have been talking about really where candidates are going wrong. And I'm trying to remove judgment from my vocabulary so you just asked me what I've learned in seven years, that's a lesson for me. I don't want to be judgemental that there's good behavior, bad behavior. But where I see room for improvement. Where I see behavior that I think, "Wow, if this was tweaked or improved, it would really mean something." It's coming in the introductory notes that I received. So, most of us aren't sending out cover letters anymore, right? I'm sure most of you don't even do that, it's not required, it's not necessary. So what you're doing instead is often sending out an introductory email to someone, whether it's hiring manager, a recruiter, an alumni group, whoever, you're probably sending an email.

Chris Russell:
Yeah.

Laura Mazzullo:
And I get about 20 introductory emails a day from HR [inaudible 00:09:12] and I would say two out of 20 are written really well. Where I would say, "Wow, this email is reflective of their personal brand, it's kind and empathetic in tone, it's clear in terms of content. Demonstrates who they are, why they're reaching out to me specifically." Those real content that is good, right? And I think, and again, not to say good or bad, but it's really just strong and makes them rise. The other 18, where I think people are struggling is that we assume these robots are reading our emails, right? So I've asked people, because I respond to all the emails and I try to talk to everyone I can. And sometimes if I think the email has room for improvement, I'll actually read it to them or I'll have them read it to me and say, "Just let me know why you wrote it this way, or what your tone meant, or what you were getting at." And a lot of the feedback I'm hearing, and it's interesting, even from HR leaders, is they'll say to me, "I assumed you wouldn't read it, or I assumed you'd delete it because most recruiters don't even respond, so I assumed it was a robot or just going to the garbage."

Laura Mazzullo:
And so the conversations that I've been having and the coaching I've been doing is always assume a human being is going to read that email, most of us do. And assume that you're writing it as a first impression. And I think that will change the email completely. So I just want to say I get the frustration of why people may be writing it that way, but assume positive intent. Assume that the recipient is excited to talk to you, is excited to meet you, I think it will change the tone and the content of that email.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. I don't know if you happen to have one of those handy but I'd love to hear one.

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, I actually, as you know, I launched a webinar on how to help job seekers and so one of the sections that we talk about is the email and they happen to be on my desk, these notes. There's four approaches I talk about in my course so I'll give you guys a sneak peek here. These are the four approaches people need to improve upon. And it's weird, I've been gathering the data, I know most of us love data and metrics. I've actually been really looking at all these emails and trying to categorize them in terms of where are they going wrong.

Laura Mazzullo:
The first one is really what I call the passive aggressive approach and this is an email I get that says, "I wrote you yesterday and haven't heard back yet", or, "I emailed you on LinkedIn on Tuesday and I haven't heard back yet." And it's making the recipient feel badly that they didn't reply quickly enough. And that's a tricky first impression too because now you've already set me up to apologize and now I feel guilty for something that maybe was just an issue of timing. So again, that's a tricky one.

Laura Mazzullo:
The second one is what I call a short sighted approach, which is when I think candidates feel like, I only should reach out to a recruiter, or a hiring manager, or a fellow TA or HR pro when I need something. So the email will say something like, "You wrote me two years ago but I never replied, I didn't need you then, I need you now." I get a lot of those and it surprises me when I get them, but it's interesting. I had one the other day that I loved where he said, "You wrote me three years ago on LinkedIn." And just for everyone's knowledge, I don't send business development emails, this is was actually just an introduction, "I'd like to connect with you, I'd like to know you", three years ago. He never replied. Happens to me all the time, most of us can deal with rejection, it's fine. But he wrote an introductory note to me, "You wrote me three years ago and I didn't reply then. At the time I didn't see the importance of networking and I do now. I hope your welcome to have a call with me and can forgive me for maybe not recognizing the power of a community then." I thought that was so profound and so great.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, honest.

Laura Mazzullo:
Honest and showed growth.

Laura Mazzullo:
The last two that I really see a lot of is the boastful approach, which can be really grabby or arrogant which just, for me, is a pet peeve. They'll say, "I'm a highly gifted HR pro, best in the biz. If you want to place me..." I just feels disingenuous.

Laura Mazzullo:
And the last approach that I've found is what I call the robotic approach. And it's usually just see resume or maybe there's nothing in the body of the email, just an attachment. And again, when I ask people about those, that's when they'll say, "I didn't think anyone would read it, so I didn't put any effort in." And I remind people, just like we tell [inaudible 00:13:44], you can have a template of an email that you copy and paste if you need to and obviously tweak a few things. By taking some time to really draft an email that you can read and say, "I'm proud of this. Is this the best first impression I can make, is this representing my personal brand?" And thinking about it from the point of view of the recipient, "How would I feel if I received this email?" Is really the best place to start.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. Good stuff Laura. So, I was just thinking of a question.

Laura Mazzullo:
[crosstalk 00:14:16] something in from Bret. Yeah, I don't know if you've seen it?

Chris Russell:
Okay, let's see there.

Laura Mazzullo:
I'm happy to answer it now if you want.

Chris Russell:
So it says, living in this TIDR world, I'm not sure what those mean? Where's the line between the volume of your message hinders the chances of it being read at all, have you seen data on length of email versus opening responses?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, such a great question. I haven't seen data on that.

Chris Russell:
There is some data out there if you Google, how to write subject line, things like that. There is some generic marketing data around some of that stuff. Generally the shorter the better, is the general...

Laura Mazzullo:
I'll tell you as a recipient of so many emails Bret, I agree, it doesn't have to be so long, it actually just has to be polite to me. I know that sounds really bizarre to say, but actually, one of my students in my course made me this hat. It's called my empathy hat because at one point in the training I said, "Everyone put your empathy hat on", and I had no hat. So now she sent me one that I can wear. When I said put your empathy hat on when you send an email. I think about the reader. And I think it changes the tone. It doesn't have to be long, it can literally just be like, "Hi, my name is Bret, I'm also in town, in acquisition. I would love to connect with you, I was impressed with your latest blog, podcast", blah, blah, blah. "Are you open to the idea of a coffee or a Zoom, I would love to learn from you, I would love to network with you, I love to get to know you." It just, I think what happens is it can be really selfish these emails, because we're at a place of hunger, of wanting and needing something and we forget the other person is also a human being in pandemic. So especially in 2020, I think these emails are more important than they were even six months ago.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. Karla's asking, "What are the best job search sites for HR projects?" So, HR Lancers of course.

Laura Mazzullo:
Exactly, yours!

Chris Russell:
She told me her special needs son with autism [inaudible 00:16:16]. So it's HR Lancers number one. You can try Upwork, I've gotten some stuff off of there, but it's very spec focused and their HR stuff is... There is some stuff on there but its few and far between.

Laura Mazzullo:
That's why you built HR Lancers.

Chris Russell:
Yeah.

Laura Mazzullo:
I'll tell the audience that. That's really what it is. it's hard to find freelance, or contracts, or intern projects in HR on any of the big sites.

Chris Russell:
The other place is Facebook groups, the recruiting Facebook groups. I do see people posting in there, "Hey, I'm looking for a consultant for this." I saw one today actually, they're looking some kind of wage and an hourly log [inaudible 00:16:58]. But yeah, join the Facebook groups for recruiters. You will find stuff on there. There's also one called Jobs for Recruiters. That's [inaudible 00:17:08] one if you're looking for a lot of recruiting stuff. But check out those groups, I think they're a good source as well. You have to monitor them and keep abreast of what people are saying in there overall.

Laura Mazzullo:
What I would say to people like Karla, and I know this is coming from an entrepreneur saying this, but if you really have the flexibility to build something on your own, there is really a need in this market for HR consulting for a lot of companies, especially in the tech space which [inaudible 00:17:37] are so small, they may not have need for a full time HR person. And you could really be offering your services on a project basis on your own. So just keep that in mind, you may not be ready at the moment but just to have the confidence to know that I'm seeing a lot more of those people coming [crosstalk 00:17:55].

Chris Russell:
Yeah. Here's a question for you Laura. So if you look on LinkedIn today and you look at any kind of recruiting or HR job, there's literally dozens, if not hundreds of applicants. How do you break through that, in your opinion?

Laura Mazzullo:
First of all, let's just have a real talk that a lot of those jobs right now are not real jobs unfortunately. A lot of companies are pipelining right now. So I just want candidates to remember that that's one tool in the shed, that is not the only way you're going to get a job. So apply for some jobs everyday, but know that some of those might be pipelining, some of those might be something down the road, some of them might be out there so the brand looks good and they look busy and people say, "Oh, blah, blah, blah's hiring." All sorts of weird behaviors going on, obviously we don't agree with it but that's the reality. So I just want you to be really fair with yourself about that.

Chris Russell:
What percentage would you say, if you had to put a number on there, that a pipelining?

Laura Mazzullo:
Seriously, a lot. The thing is, not everyone admits it, right?

Chris Russell:
Yeah.

Laura Mazzullo:
So if I have friends in recruiting at that company and I call them and I say, "Oh wow, I see your hiring a chief people officer." They're like, "Well you know, down the road, probably Q4, maybe Q1 2021." I don't know. But [inaudible 00:19:08], they have. Say 50% of the jobs that you see aren't really hiring right now. We will try and pull some real data if people want to be honest about it. But I would say, just keep that in mind.

Laura Mazzullo:
The other thing is, I was doing a one to one coaching yesterday with someone and they said to me, "Should I be sending invites on LinkedIn, should I be connecting with people?" And I said, "Of course." So all of you can literally open up a spreadsheet, or Google doc, or notebook, whatever you use and think about 20, or 40, or 60 heads of talent acquisition or heads of HR that you can email directly. Even if they're not hiring right now, you don't actually know because like we said, the data's so skewed right now in this pandemic. So it's hard to know, are these jobs [inaudible 00:19:55] real, are they not, are they urban, are they not? You're best bet is actually just to get to know some hiring managers in your world. So if you live in Seattle and you want to be an internal recruiter at a tech company, why not make a list of 20 heads of talent acquisition in tech, send a really well written, empathetic email and connect with them? And see if you can have a virtual coffee date. Don't ask for a job right away, just see if you can actually meet more people.

Laura Mazzullo:
I think that there's a little bit of job searching right now that's planting seeds, I feels slower than it should and it's annoying, because you're like, "That's not going to get me to the end result", but it will, it's just like, you talked to 20 heads of talent acquisition, or you emailed 20, and 10 get back to you. Maybe five of those know of a job, either in their company or their friends company, or whatever. Or if they get a job in October, you're the first person they think of. So applying for jobs, you have to think of it as one tool in the shed, not the entire toolbox. It's really about making one on one connections, especially right now, right? People want human connection, even hiring managers.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. How about resumes. How good are recruiters in HR writing their own resumes?

Laura Mazzullo:
It's an area for improvement, which, first of all, is totally understood, right? Resume writing is a skill, just because you read 100 resumes a day doesn't mean you're good at it, right? When I'm writing my own resume I have to have 20 people in the space look at it for me and the same should be true for you. They're just as bad as others, they're just as, kind of, in need of improvement. I know you and I are talking about this, what are the best resume tips? And there are just so many, because it depends really on what's going on with your personal resume, which is why sometimes it's nice to hire a coach or a trainer to help you with it. But the main thing I see, and this is the main tip, is the first few bullets of each job should be the things you're most proud of or reflective of the things that you're looking to do in the future.

Laura Mazzullo:
Don't put your biggest achievements as bullet eight and some administrative junior level task as bullet one if that's not what you're looking to do, because most readers of a resume probably only go down three or four bullets.

Chris Russell:
The top of the fold, they call it.

Laura Mazzullo:
That's right. And I find a lot, that's a big one with HR. For some reason, because they're probably doing it chronologically, they'll jot things in as they think of them. The ones at the top are when they first started at that job two years ago and the ones at the bottom are most recent. They just need to be flipped around. So it sounds like the simple thing, but I bet most of you if you look at your resume, you can be moving some bullets in different directions.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, totally.

Laura Mazzullo:
And verbs. I just want to say also verbs. Things like assisted, supported, acted as. They sound really subservient, I suppose, and most HR folks I know, most TA folks I know, want to feel like a leader, because they are. They want to be seen as strategic, they want to be seen a partner and so you have be very thoughtful about the verbs that you're using on your resume. We often undersell ourselves in this space, which is a whole other topic of why we're not as psychology strong and confident as other areas. But that's really a big issue with HR resumes, they're often underselling themselves.

Chris Russell:
Interesting. All right. What about interviewing tips? We're all doing a lot virtual Zoom interviews. Are you seeing any issues there with some of your candidates?

Laura Mazzullo:
Most HR folks are good at interviewing, I will say. It's probably a natural strength because they're actually good at interacting with people and making connections. I would say the difference in 2020 has to be that you have to make some room for an honest dialogue, even when you're being interviewed. This is not the market to be so formal, and so stiff, and so robotic. And again, I think it's having empathy for the hiring manager and making room to say, "How are you? I heard there was a power outage in your area, how is that going?" Or, "How are the school things going?" Whatever comes up in the interview, not feeling afraid of maybe some... It's unusual intimacy on an interview that you may not have had last year. So I think making room for some of that is good because we train our hiring managers to hire with competencies and obviously tons of skill. We would not say you're hiring just because you like the person. But as we're coaching hiring managers to evaluate a scorecard and be equitable and all of this, we also need to make sure that we remember it's still a conversation between two people and if you come across as really detached from this pandemic, I think it can be tricky.

Chris Russell:
Yeah.

Laura Mazzullo:
Bye Megan, we'll see you soon.

Chris Russell:
Following on Twitter Laura, you've got some great stuff up there. I saw a couple of tweets about a few of your successful clients. Can you give me a couple of stories as to how they went about finding a job and maybe tell us a success story?

Laura Mazzullo:
Absolutely. For sure. So a lot of people I know are starting to get jobs, which is great. People who have been laid off in March, now we're in August, people are starting to land. I would say the ones that are landing jobs are being really open minded and being really creative. So it might not be a company that they ordinarily thought they would look at, or the role might be a little outside their box. So for instance, they might be an HR business partner, or were a business partner in February and now they're landing something that's a little bit more recruiting focused, or a little bit more employee relations heavy, that, if I'd asked them in February, they might have said, "Oh I don't think I really want to do that." Now they're feeling a bit more open which is a good thing.

Laura Mazzullo:
This doesn't have to be your forever job, right? This job that you're landing in the middle of a crisis, don't put the pressure on yourself that this is the next move you have to stay in for five years. I think, nine months, a year max, and then you can move along. So the ones who are landing are being really flexible. I think they're being flexible, even with compensation. What I would say is those of us who have relationships with hiring managers, we're trying to remind hiring managers, do not lower salaries because it's a crisis. Do not lower value, people are still strong, they're still smart, they still know what they do.

Laura Mazzullo:
I just want to be realistic. Unfortunately, some employers are taking advantage of this type of a crisis. So the salaries that you're hearing about might be a little bit under what you're used to, the roles might be a little less sexy than they were six months ago. And again, I want to just really emphasize, it's not a reflection on any of you, it's really a reflection on the market. And we saw this in 2009 too. So, we're doing our part to education them but also I guess, be realistic.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, I saw one of your tweets there about lots of coordinator [inaudible 00:27:11] jobs out there, companies want cheap. In HR they think they can get someone junior to do it all, sigh. So yeah, definitely true there.

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, that was always the really tough part of 2009 was that all these companies stopped hiring directors and VP's of HR because they were too expensive. They would bring in coordinators, and analysts, and assistants. Which of course, there should be jobs for them too, but the problem was, they were hiring somebody in, in an entry level salary, expecting them to run the HR department.

Chris Russell:
Right.

Laura Mazzullo:
And then those people were so burned out and so in over their heads. It was just a disaster. I was looking just on Indeed the other day, just to get a sense of what trends I was seeing and I thought, "Wow, there's so many junior positions." It was really interesting. Again, it's something we're educating hiring managers on but in the meantime, if you can go back to that level, or if there's a level that's one step behind you, this might be the time to say, "Okay, how bad would it be to take a half step back?"

Chris Russell:
Yep. How you do feel about the, a lot of people are on LinkedIn putting those messages, "Hey, open to work, hashtag. Just got laid off due to Covid, send me leads." Do you think those types of activities are positive and work for seekers out there?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, but I want to share something I just learned from a candidate of mine which I did not know. Let's say you worked at ABC Company, we'll call it, and you were laid off in March. If you put March 2020 as the end date under your position, you don't show up on the top of a recruiters search. Very bizarre. So you have to have a present state, like it has to say, January 2019 to present. I literally did not know that, so if all of you know that, awesome, I was late to that party. I did have a conversation with LinkedIn about it. It was amazing, I tweeted about it, they called me which was very cool and I said, "Look, I'm really concerned that everyone out of work is now falling down to the bottom of the search." So they were going to play with some algorithms on the back.

Laura Mazzullo:
Exactly.

Chris Russell:
Oh, really?

Laura Mazzullo:
Bret's say, if you're connected with that recruiter, you also don't show up in the first page. Exactly. You're never on the first page, never ever, unless you have... It's so weird.

Laura Mazzullo:
So I had a whole talk with them and really tried to explain my thought that it was unfair, they defended why they did it, it was very convoluted. So then they created that little circle, which I think was probably their compromise algorithmically or something, to have that there. Point is, even if you were laid off, put until present, and then in the bullets, just say, "Laid off due to Covid March 2020."

Chris Russell:
On your headline or something.

Laura Mazzullo:
That's right. You can be honest, but keep it until present so that you should up, because as Bret said, you don't want to show up on page 72 of the search. I don't mind the green circle thing, I know there's been a big debate on it, if it looks desperate, if it makes people look too active. I could talk for hours about active versus passive talent. For me it's never been an issue because why should it matter if you're out of work or working? However-

Chris Russell:
Some people feel a stig-

Laura Mazzullo:
That's right. I was going to say, there's a stigma. So it's a tricky one, it really is. The people who feel it's a stigma will probably judge somebody with a circle. But I suppose it's a personal choice if you want to have it or not.

Chris Russell:
Yeah.

Laura Mazzullo:
I'm very conflicted about that. It's sad that that's the commentary, but you're absolutely right, it's a reality.

Chris Russell:
Bert says, "If you're connected with a recruiter you also don't show up on the first page."

Laura Mazzullo:
Right. It's very bizarre.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. Interesting.

Laura Mazzullo:
They tried to tell me, "If you pay for a LinkedIn recruiter, it doesn't matter." It was some simple thing around, like, "Well if you're contacting candidates, there are work around in LinkedIn recruit to find those people." But in the premium or the basic plans, you couldn't. And I said, "This isn't really an issue, this isn't where you should be making money, right?" People out of work should be able to be found.

Chris Russell:
Karla's got another question for you. She's taken a couple of years off from her HR career after her son's autism diagnosis. She had 13 years of HR experience and she has a masters, she's SHRM certified. On her CV, should she add the caregiver during these two and half years or just list her last HR role?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. So my initial reaction is, of course you should add that because two and a half years is a solid amount of time and I'm sure people will be asking you on an interview what you've done during that time and there's no shame or guilt around what you've done. It's really an accomplishment, obviously a massive undertaking and emotional labor and all that. I think what I would say to you is if you want to work at a place that believes in empathy, compassion, family values, then of course you would put it on. If you want to go work at a corporate investment bank where they would shun you for it, then you have to leave it off. But knowing you and how you've brought this up, even on these chat talks is I imagine you're looking for a place that aligns with your mission and values, so I think you have to leave it on.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, I would agree. Bret says, "Do you feel the passive stigma has been relaxed by the massive amount of talent in the marketplace due to Covid, seems empathy would balance that out." I think yes, I think there is a much more empathetic tone to the job market overall.

Laura Mazzullo:
I know. I read that and my thoughts are of course, it should, right? But we still live in a country where there is a lot of odd behavior that can [crosstalk 00:33:09]. Again, it's the reality of, look, I live in New York City where the employers still think a year or two years is not enough time. They should be there three to five years, seven years. It's not 1997 anymore, that's not happening anymore. It's just an educational issue, is really what it is. Passive stigma is an issue of people not being educated. Actually, one bit of data that I would love, I just thought of this Chris, we should work on it at some point. You've been in recruiting longer than I have, or the space, you totally understand that.

Laura Mazzullo:
But if we went back five years, 10 years, people would say, "If you're in a job three to five years, you're considered a good tenure", right? When I ask executives now, or if I ask heads of people now, "What's the right tenure, how are you defining a good tenure?" They can't really answer it, they don't know, is it a year, is it two. We almost need a new definition of it because I think that would help us, as Bret's saying, to eliminate the passive stigma. If it was like, well if they stay with you nine months to a year and they produce well and were a strong employee, that's enough. And if it's enough, who cares if they move jobs every year. But there's a disconnect between how we're defining it, so that's part of the educational gap.

Chris Russell:
Yeah. The word of the year in HR is empathy Laura. I don't know if you've noticed or not? I just wrote a blog post on how to use the word empathy in a title, around the candidate experience, the application experience [inaudible 00:34:49]. But from what it sounds like, it sounds like people are trying to do, but maybe not in reality, it's not as widespread as we might think.

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, Bret just said, "Good tenure equals a hiring manager's average tenure", which is so... That's the problem, it's too subjective. We need objective information about it. Somehow three to five years, when we go back 10 years ago, was the norm. We need a new norm and we probably need it to be nine months to a year, truly, is what it is. And Karla, I just saw your note about lack of empathy and it really is interesting, as you said. Covid has brought out people's true colors and I could not agree more. You saw my empathy hat, and just soft skills in general, they're skills that we can all learn and develop. This is the time to do your own work, all of us, on reading, and podcasts, and journaling, or therapy, or coaching, or whatever you need. Because we all need to be learning how to better communicate and better interact with [inaudible 00:35:53].

Chris Russell:
Yeah, totally. I'll give a tip out there, and I've used this multiple times in the past. So back in the '90's when I graduated college, I had a marketing degree, and where I live here in Connecticut, there's a bunch of marketing consulting companies, and that's who I wanted to work for. So I went to the libraries, this is pre internet days, I'm dating myself. I came up a list of about 80 different companies, tried to find the name of the president and things like that.

Chris Russell:
So instead of a resume, I created what I call a personal marketing newsletter. It's like a three columned, like you did in Microsoft Word. Had my big name at the top as the title, and it was who, what and why of what I wanted to do. And mailed it out to 80 firms, I got 11 interviews and I got three job offers out of it. That's kind of a case of company hunting, where you go out there and find companies who you want to work for and then try to get in overall. And even back in 2015 when I had my last corporate job, I did the same thing on those. Instead of mailing it out, I used the two day USPS envelope, and I wrote up a little cover letter, threw my resume in there, made a little graphical tagline for an employer branding project they were looking for. Yeah, mailed it in and got an interview the next day. So offline tactics like that still work, is the...

Laura Mazzullo:
Exactly, being creative. But in that example, what's amazing is you're saying too, that you were thinking about what they wanted, you were thinking about what those hiring managers would have wanted to see from you and that's where empathy is important, even from the candidate to the hiring manager. And we always obviously talk about how important it is from the recruiter to the candidate. Of course, and that's why we all do training on candidate experience and we're so conscious of that. But actually, if you flip it the other way, that's really where there's a gap. So most candidates aren't thinking about it from the point of view of the-

Chris Russell:
Yeah, so if you're out there looking for a job right now, go look at the company's website, right? Here's a good tip, go find something they're doing wrong online and point that out, educate that on why they should change it. There's your opener, there's your intro to a company. Spot something they're doing wrong and you might get in the door faster.

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, you'd be surprised. Someone the other day said to me, "Well, I can't email the head of recruiting at Facebook, I'm sure they get a million emails." And I was like, "I bet they don't. I bet actually, most people feel like you and don't email them, because they're terrified."

Chris Russell:
Yep.

Laura Mazzullo:
Because we think of them as some kind of Wizard of Oz that we don't touch. And I think it's important to put yourself out there and to be more confident in your outreach, because you're absolutely right. And I love your data, because I tell this to people a lot too Chris. If you could email 80 people and get five interviews, and that's good data in my book. The ROI is whatever you get out of it and it's okay, right? You can't go into saying, "I hope I get at least 80% response rate." It's not going to work like that. It's going to work on just the connection.

Chris Russell:
Got you. All right, any other questions? We've got Laura for another 15 minutes here or so. Anyone like to talk about their job search journey, any highs and lows? Feel free to chime in. I'm curious to hear what you guys are up to and what's happening out there in the market.

Laura Mazzullo:
I'm also happy to talk about LinkedIn or social media, if any of you want to do that too. I've got, gosh, 90000 followers on LinkedIn now and so I don't like to think of my-

Chris Russell:
Do you really?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. But I often forget to mention that. Like, i kind of know a few things about LinkedIn if anyone wants to ask me...

Chris Russell:
Wait a minute, so how many connections do you have?

Laura Mazzullo:
I don't know, more than 10000.

Chris Russell:
Okay, I'm punching 7000. But you have followers too, right?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah, followers come from what you post and from what you blog.

Chris Russell:
Okay, here's a question for you. How often do you post on social media Laura?

Laura Mazzullo:
There's two schools of thought. So there are the people who plan it and know they're going to do two posts a day, or three posts a day. I just do it when I feel inspired. So I would say just start somewhere. I definitely post everyday on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. I'm not on Facebook actually, which is interesting because I know you talk a lot about it. I just personally have never liked Facebook, it's just not something I feel compelled to do. I think you do what's comfortable for you. LinkedIn's obviously the most comfortable for me because it's really recruiting and how it's focused, but I actually have a lot of fun on Twitter, for example. I've met a lot of friends around the globe, since March, there. Where we really lift each other up, make each other laugh, and connect, and share ideas. I would remind everyone too, it's not just about the quantity, it's also the one on one connections you make from those places.

Laura Mazzullo:
But anyway, if anyone had questions about LinkedIn, I figured that's a good topic too.

Chris Russell:
[inaudible 00:41:24] got some questions about salary, any tips on negotiating it, especially now? Could you also figure out the salary range for a position before interviewing?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. I mean, negotiating salary is an art that we would probably need a lot longer to discuss. I think the key is writing down your own data, so writing down what you really need and want. The good news in New York for example, is they can no longer ask you what you are currently earning, or what you were most recently earning. So you don't have to share that. So no matter where you live in the country or the world, if you're seeing this, just remind yourself that eventually you don't have to tell them, "Oh, I was making 70 and I want 90." You can just say, "I need 90." You don't have to let people know what you were on in the past, especially as women, and marginalized groups. Obviously we have a way to go to bridge the gap, so you don't always want to share that before number.

Laura Mazzullo:
So, being clear on your own number, being clear on what you need and want. Again, recognizing that it's a pandemic, so maybe there's a 10K in either direction. You probably need a bigger range than you would have in January. And I think letting the conversation go back and forth is important. So what happens is a lot of people in HR, at least in my experience, they will say, "I'm looking for 90K." And then that HR hiring manager who might be really nervous and bad at negotiating themselves might say, "Well, that's too high, we can only pay 70, thanks, have a great day, bye." And the conversation is shut. As a candidate, you have to be able to bring that back in and say, "Well, hang on a second, talk to me about your budget. So you've said 70, is there any flexibility there?" You want to keep a conversation going. I think when both parties get nervous, it just shuts down.

Laura Mazzullo:
I mean, that's general tips. I think there's so many that I can give you, but that's where I see the biggest issue. And figuring out the salary range before interviewing is hard, because in my experience, a lot of HR leaders don't want to post it, because they don't want their current team mates to see what they're bringing someone in at. If everyone on the team is making 75, if they can bring you in at 90 and that team finds out that you're getting paid 15K more than them, it's really a pretty awkward dynamic. Obviously we're coaching hiring managers over here on equity and making sure that people are paid fairly. We understand the need for transparency, but that's what's still happening, so it's hard to get those numbers ahead of time.

Laura Mazzullo:
There's no magic bullet there. I would say be confident about what you need and want, be willing to make them a little more comfortable. Typically, an HR person's not a great negotiator, so they might freak out, you have tell them, "Hey, what a second, I would like to still talk about it." Especially for the job you really want. Gosh, if it's a job you really want, you want to make it clear, don't play hard to get either.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, totally. Jamie's asking, she's seeing jobs are related to TA popping up search despite filters. Has anyone else experienced this? I'm assuming she's talking about LinkedIn maybe?

Laura Mazzullo:
I see it on LinkedIn Jamie, so I know exactly what you're talking about. Yeah, I don't know what that is. It's like truck driving, and accounting. I don't know.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, job filters and job alerts in general just still aren't that very good across the job board space, and LinkedIn is no different. If it has the word recruiting in there, recruitment and it's mentioned in the truck driver job description, it's going to come up. They haven't figured out... To me, it's always been about job title, right? When you do these alerts and filters, start with the job title there, nothing else should appear after that.

Laura Mazzullo:
Exactly. And as Chris said, do recruiter, or recruitment, or recruiting, or talent. Any title that you think, just make sure you're doing title and then [inaudible 00:45:27] the ones that you want.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, let the alerts do the job for you, it will make you more efficient anyway, from a job search perspective. The other tip I have too is, I just saw some stats on this, I can't remember where I saw them. But it talked about being first to apply and that if you are in those first 10 people who apply to a job, you're more likely to get an interview out of that.

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. I love that because think about recruiter fatigue, right? By the 40th resume they're exhausted.

Chris Russell:
Right, exactly. You don't want to be 40, or 50, or 60, or 70, you want to be one of 10.

Laura Mazzullo:
And if you're going to be 40 or 50, then you email them directly and then you're going to stick out.

Chris Russell:
Totally.

Laura Mazzullo:
I know. LinkedIn's got a lot of issues. As I said, I was excited when they called me and I thought I could give them all my tips and tricks but you can only get so far. They've got a pretty big system there.

Chris Russell:
You can rally against LinkedIn for [inaudible 00:46:28] a post on it five years ago about 10 things LinkedIn should be doing but they're not.

Laura Mazzullo:
I know.

Chris Russell:
But, yeah. Well Laura, this has been great. Appreciate your time today as we start to wrap things up. Last chance for the audience to ask her a question here. I'll put the replay up on the next day or two and tag you in on the socials Laura, so people can re-watch this. I'll probably do a transcript of it as well, for the blog post on HR Lancers. But yeah, appreciate your time today and as we head into September, do you have any positive thoughts to leave us with?

Laura Mazzullo:
Yeah. So, just know you're not alone, right? You're a human being, living through a pandemic, this is wild and you're doing great, and I'm proud of you. And just remind yourself that you're planting seeds, you're doing little bits everyday to get the next perfect job, the next right thing. It takes patience, it takes perseverance. Try not to compare yourself to other people because sometimes you'll see them landing places but it might not be your dream job. So stay focused on what you need and want and we're always here as resources. Chris and I love connection and you can ask questions, you can just follow up, we're all here. You're in a community, you're not alone and a year from now, hopefully we're all going to be laughing about this insane time.

Chris Russell:
Yeah, I hope so.

Laura Mazzullo:
You're doing great, just know you're doing great. And yay, TA, and yay, HR, we need each other, this space is not going anywhere.

Chris Russell:
Definitely. Awesome, well Laura, put your Twitter up there on the chat and also your website, eastsidestaffing.com. On Twitter at eastsidestaff, definitely follow her. Good luck to everyone and thanks for tuning in. And again, if you need anything, just throw me a LinkedIn, hit up Laura, happy to help in any way we can.

Laura Mazzullo:
Sounds great, thanks so much Chris, sorry for the delay everyone and we'll see each other soon.