Do you ever wonder what recruiters think when they’re looking at your resume? Are you unsure how to talk about your career break? Is the hidden job market real, and how can you break into it?
All these questions will be answered in my interview with Jeff Caskey, Recruiting Manager for Workforce Genetics. He is here to peel back the curtain on talent acquisition in the life sciences industry.
[02:26] Jeff Caskey introduces himself and his recruitment experience.
[04:01] Is the hidden job market a real thing?
[06:05] How do you get into the hidden job market? What do you need to do to access those resources and connections?
[12:36] Avoid this when applying new strategies to try to tap into the hidden job market.
[17:47] Job search strategies unique to the life sciences industry.
[23:34] How to best represent your transferable skills when you want to move into a new department?
[29:28] Are cover letters still relevant?
[32:04] Why your resume does not need to be one page.
[33:25] Is it important that your resume matches your experience on LinkedIn?
[35:43] The red flags that recruiters look for in screening interviews.
[38:32] What questions are appropriate to be asking at the recruiter stage?
[44:56] When and how to speak about compensation in the job application process.
[51:22] What does it mean when recruiters say that they’re looking for someone with “more diverse experience”?
[54:22] How custom does your resume need to be as far as matching the job posting?
[56:50] How to address a gap in your resume in a way that is beneficial to you?
[1:00:21] One piece of advice that Jeff wishes he had earlier in his career.
About Jeff Caskey
Jeff Caskey is a Recruiting Manager for Workforce Genetics, a life science-focused Talent Acquisition firm that is based in Maryland. Jeff has been recruiting talent for biotech clients for the past 7 years and works closely with executives and hiring managers to help them build out scientific, clinical, and operations teams.
Connect with Jeff
What you’ll learn:
Why the hidden job market is real and significant, and how to tap into it
Answers to the hot topics you wish you could ask a recruiter in the life sciences industry
Expert advice and practical tips on resumes and navigating interviews
Mentioned in this episode:
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[00:00:06.250] – Melissa Lawrence
Welcome to your worthy career. A podcast with me. Melissa. Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate cred and talent development and organizational psychology. And I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self-worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here, the one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critics. Each week you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts in the perfect amount of woo so you can run your career with ease rather than your career running you. You were born for more and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up-level begins now.
[00:01:18.810] – Melissa Lawrence
Welcome to your worthy career. This episode is so juicy, I cannot wait for you to listen. I have a special guest on the podcast today, Jeff Caskey. Jeff is a Life Sciences Recruiting Manager for Workforce Genetics, and he is sharing all of his inside information and secrets. Things you wish you could ask a recruiter around, how to get a job, how to navigate the job search process in the life sciences. And we are talking about everything from the hidden job market to red flags recruiters look for, to whether or not you really need a cover letter anymore, to how to have that conversation around compensation without giving your number away, and how to talk about gaps in your resume. We are digging into all of it and I can’t wait for you to give it a listen. So, without further ado, here is my conversation with Jeff Caskey. Jeff, welcome. I am so happy to have you here today. Could you just give everyone a brief introduction about your background and what you do with Workforce Genetics?
[00:02:25.870] – Jeff Caskey
Thanks, Melissa, and thanks for having me. Excited to talk about this today. So. Yes. I’m with Workforce Genetics. Workforce Genetics is a Maryland-based life science search firm and in my job as a recruiting manager, I work with leaders and hiring managers at biotech companies, mostly growth-stage biotech companies and mid-sized organizations that are looking to scale their organization. I help them to identify talent. And so, very simply speaking, we go out into the market and we are looking for individuals for these companies to help them further their mission as they scale their operations. And so I also work with the candidate side, so I actively recruit candidates for these roles. And so I work with tons of candidates in any given year and so I’ve been in this industry now for about seven years in total and have recruited positions from the very entry-level, research-associated lab associate position up into the executive suite, executive director, vice president level. Over the course of my career, I’ve probably placed people with about 40 or 50 different companies in total. So have a lot of, I guess, different perspectives on organizations, a little bit behind the scenes of what happens in the town acquisition process, and excited to sort of peel back some of the curves today for all of our listeners.
[00:03:43.770] – Melissa Lawrence
Yes, let’s dive right in. So we’re going to start by talking about the hidden job market. And I know some people don’t even think the hidden job market is real. They think it’s something that some people are very fortunate to have access to, that someone just hands them a job. But it’s not for everyone. It’s only for the elite. So can you clarify once and for all, is the hidden job market a real thing?
[00:04:08.190] – Jeff Caskey
It’s definitely a real thing. And I’ve seen it through my lens, especially the way that I would describe or classify the hidden job market. Is any job that’s getting filled out in the industry that you may not be able to just go and click a button and apply for or submit an application for these jobs may be posted in a lot of cases, and they are. But so many positions are filled through individual networks, really. And so when you think about that, a lot of positions when town acquisition, HR, hiring managers are going to put out a team, they’re going to talk to their current employees and they’re going to gain a lot of employee referrals. Who have you worked with in the past and who’s been successful would you recommend for this position? A lot of times its past colleagues, sometimes it’s friends and family. And then a big, big portion of it is the recruiting agencies. And so, like workforce genetics, there are a lot of recruiting agencies across every facet of the industry. But in life science, you have staffing companies, you have executive search firms, and they’re very closely tied at the hip with a lot of the biotech and pharma companies out there because so many of these skill sets that these companies are asking for are very specific.
[00:05:16.680] – Jeff Caskey
And so, our job is to go out and identify folks. And so we build networks of our own. We are constantly connecting with folks in the industry, maybe looking for new changes either now or in the future. And so when you think about the hidden job market, I mean, a big majority of positions are being filled by either folk that you know or organization or by recruiting agencies that are representing these companies. And with recruiting agencies specifically, we’re not always posting all our jobs. They may have a confidential aspect of it. We’re going out and we’re doing a direct search to identify the right skill sets that we need. And so the hidden job market is definitely a real thing, especially, I think, in this industry, it’s very prevalent.
[00:05:59.240] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay, so let’s peel back the curtain a little bit more because I’m sure everyone is dying to know how do you get into the hidden job market. Like, what do you need to do to access those resources and those connections?
[00:06:12.150] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, great question, Melissa. So you have to go beyond applying for jobs. Just applying for jobs is not going to be the hidden job market. You’re not going to be able to accomplish kind of tapping into that from that avenue only. So the best way to do that is to leverage your network to open up new opportunities. And you always want to start with someone you know very well, but you have to be able to get out of your comfort zone and expand that network through multiple different layers. And so some ways that you can join that, especially in this industry, is to be active in the life science community, join associations, and attend specific conferences that are towards your skill set or function or sort of region of science. Local biotech networking events are great as well, especially coming out of the pandemic. Now, getting out in front of people in person and meeting people in networking is a critical way to tap into that market. You’ll learn about new companies at these conferences and these associations when they’re hiring, what they’re hiring for, and what you’re still saying might fit into that timeline perfectly. Another way you have to do it, you have to do this in an appropriate way, are you got to be able to meet new people.
[00:07:20.940] – Jeff Caskey
And so you can lean on your current network. Depending on what that network might look like, it may not be super extensive or may only exist in your company if you’ve been in the same company for ten years. And so you have to be able, in an appropriate way, to go out and meet new people, but you don’t want to just be asking them for an interview or saying, hey, here’s my resume, please review this and let me know if anything is open. You want to show a genuine interest in what they do, and bring value to that conversation. And so I think the best way you can tap into this is to continue to expand your network. People that will advocate on your behalf, will help you get a foot in the door, or will introduce a kind of hidden job to you in some form or fashion. And leveraging your network is critically important. You can also tap into it, I think, by just digital brands as well. Your resume, obviously, is what you’re presenting to companies or applying for roles. But your LinkedIn profile, your publications, and your other social media profiles can be great tools to help organically draw some attention to your background and tap into this hidden market.
[00:08:25.490] – Jeff Caskey
Especially with recruiters and town acquisition folks. So I mean, make sure that you are up to date with your information on that. Make sure that it is detailed and searchable. And what I mean by searchable is that there are words, phrases, and information within your LinkedIn profile that will make you findable for particular roles that are of interest to you. I think LinkedIn is probably the biggest platform or tool for tapping into this market, both by meeting new people and also by just organically building out your brand so that you are someone of interest to prospective hiring managers. To recruiters to talent acquisition folks that may be looking for your skill set and you just aren’t aware that they’re looking for it yet. Those would be the biggest two areas, I mean, getting out of your comfort zone and networking and meeting new people. And then the second is building your digital brand so that people understand what you do, what you’re looking for, and what you’re passionate about.
[00:09:20.130] – Melissa Lawrence
Yeah, I love what you call that digital brand. Your LinkedIn presence. I think LinkedIn is somewhat underrated around its capability to connect with new people. So I always encourage people that feel a little uncomfortable about networking to start with people that they know, as you said. And then one thing that I suggest people do is when they’re having those conversations with people they already know, they already like they worked with them before, is to ask them who they think that they should know. Like who’s someone that they think they should talk to, and then help them make that mutual connection for you. And then that gives you one more person and it’s kind of a warmer introduction than just reaching out to someone and asking for an informational interview or reaching out to someone on LinkedIn based on mutual interest or a job posting that you might be interested in. Another way that I think you can use LinkedIn is if you’re not ready to kind of jump in the pool and do face-to-face networking, you could just engage on people’s content. So when people are sharing, like whether it’s BioBus or workforce genetics or contacts you have in your connection, when they’re sharing content to just put information in the comments, engage with them that way because I think that goes a long way.
[00:10:27.660] – Melissa Lawrence
You’ll be top of mind for people and it just helps nurture those relationships that you already do have. The other thing that I was going to mention as far as networking opportunities is women in Bio and ISPE are both global organizations and so they have, I think, a great opportunity for you to get involved from a networking perspective. There are women in pharma within ISPE, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity out there. You can also look at your professional associations or I was talking to someone recently about conferences and if you say your company won’t pay for you to go to a conference and you don’t want to make that large investment, you can usually get an expo ticket for less money than the actual conference. And even if you get a one-day expo ticket that’s sponsored by someone in the industry, there’s a lot of industry people that are going to be there and you can meet people there and talk to them about who you are and what you do. Because the more people that know who you are and what you do, the more you’re going to have a larger network of people to tap into to kind of get into this hidden job market.
[00:11:25.900] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. It’s a multifaceted approach, I think, and depending on, like you said, your comfort level, some people are better on the phone or virtually than they may be in person, and that’s perfectly fine. I myself don’t go and work in a room at a networking event. It’s not my comfort zone. But it certainly is advantageous to tap into what your strengths are in terms of networking. You brought up a point there too, about you starting out with your core network and then asking who they may know and who they may be able to refer you to. I think that if you build that trust with them, that confidence with them, they should have no reservations about other people that are in their network as well. I think that’s a critical point and even my approach to recruiting is very similar. So I start with people that I know and go out and search for a role for someone. I often ask them, who do you know in your network? Who might you recommend for this role? It’s the same thing as a candidate talking with your network. Who else is hiring for this type of role?
[00:12:26.740] – Jeff Caskey
This is what I’m interested in. Who do you think I should talk to? I think that’s a perfect point that you brought up also.
[00:12:33.030] – Melissa Lawrence
So is there anything that you think people should avoid when they’re applying these strategies to try to tap into the hidden job market?
[00:12:40.770] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, great question. You don’t want to come on too strong and just ask for any and everything. Like you mentioned before, if you’re coming in cold to a conversation, the first thing you’ve never met someone if you don’t know much about them is to say, hey, I’m looking for X, Y, and Z job. Here’s my resume. Do you guys have anything available like that? It shows a little bit of a lack of EQ. It also just shows a little bit of lack of research that you may have done on their organization. I think it’s much more advantageous to work on relationships versus opportunities. So work on building these relationships versus, hey, I’m just looking for a job, I’m looking to expand my network. I was interested in what you guys are doing at XYZ Company. Your role seems to be very similar to my background maybe even. And so I love to pick your brain sometime on what the culture is like at your organization or this particular project. The more granular you can kind of get with some of the areas to show you’ve done your research on the background and show that you’re not just coming in asking for a favor because at that point you really don’t have any rapport with the person.
[00:13:45.500] – Jeff Caskey
You haven’t really shown any value yet. I think that’s a big kind of node going out and just asking for interviews, asking for you for referrals before you get to know that person that you’re kind of targeting first. I think that’s probably the biggest thing that comes to mind when doing this. And then the other thing is just you want to avoid just staying in your absolute comfort zone sometimes to grow, things are uncomfortable. And whether that’s in your job or in your job search process, it’s a new skill that you’re developing. And so to just keep doing the things that you’ve been doing, if they’ve not been working for you, it’s time to kind of expand out of that and try something new and get out of that comfort zone. That’s the biggest thing I could think of. I love when candidates come to me and say, hey, I’ve researched your website, and it looks like you guys are really tied into this space where I see the clients that you work with, and I’d be interested to learn more about what you guys are doing and the types of roles versus someone just sending me a blind resume and saying, hey, please let me know about any jobs that come available.
[00:14:44.990] – Jeff Caskey
That doesn’t gravitate toward me as much as it’s definitely always a positive thing to come in a little bit lighter and then ask for more and more as you build a relationship.
[00:14:56.270] – Melissa Lawrence
Yes, I like the emphasis on relationships, that’s how I talk about it as well, that it’s not just your connections. I think sometimes when people think about networking they think of something cold and collecting business cards and LinkedIn connections. But it really is more of a relationship and I liken it to dating. And that is your example. You wouldn’t just reach out to someone and say hey, let’s get married. Let’s get this job, let’s get married without ever talking to them. Coming out of nowhere, right? You want to kind of make sure it’s a good fit, talk to them, get to know them, and right now with it being the beginning of the year, it’s a great time to just reach out to people you already know and like wish them a happy new year. It takes 2 seconds and I think if you’re thinking about it from the long game perspective if you’re looking to tap into the hidden job market when you need a job then it’s too late. You need to be nurturing ahead of time. And by doing that, just be genuine. Reach out to people you like, reach out to people that you’re interested in knowing and wish them well, offer value to them, and then you’ll have people there that will want to help you when you need it too.
[00:15:54.980] – Jeff Caskey
That point is great. Jimmy, and Melissa, nurturing that network before you’re actively or kind of desperately looking is a great thing to bring up. So brings one individual that comes to mind and I won’t mention names, but there’s an individual in my network that I’ve reached out to about a few jobs over the years. We didn’t always find the right role or he wasn’t looking for a new move at the time, but late clockwork, at least two to three times a year he’s in my LinkedIn box saying Happy New Year or My birthday is a Happy Birthday or hey, I see that you guys have been doing this sounds exciting. It’s just little things. And I promise that any time an exciting role comes up, he’s always top of mind for me because his name is just kind of repeated right there. And so anytime I start to search for something similar to his back room, I say I want to think of him first. I mean, that’s just a good example that this person is not coming in and saying he’s not even actually looking for a role, but he’s just constantly nurturing his network because there will be a point where he’s looking to make that next job change or he’s looking to make that next career stage.
[00:16:57.680] – Jeff Caskey
And I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s doing it because it is very much like clockwork. But it shows me that he’s got good sort of interpersonal skills. He’s got good follow-up skills. And overall, I think he’s just a generally good person. And so definitely is advantageous to start that network nurturing before time and make it a continuous thing. You never know when things may change or when it is time to make that next move. And if you got a lot of that already teed up and ready to go, it makes the job search and the career transition a lot easier.
[00:17:29.860] – Melissa Lawrence
Yeah. So this is your call to action right now when you’re listening to this is to go out and find three people on your LinkedIn and just wish them a happy New year. Right? That’s some actionable takeaway that you can take right now to nurture that network, whether or not you’re looking for a job. Now, do you think that there are any job search strategies that are unique to the life sciences industry?
[00:17:52.550] – Jeff Caskey
Yes, certainly I think there are some job search strategies, and we kind of COVID a few from a networking standpoint. But one that really comes to the top of my mind for me is that I think you have to be a little bit more hyper-focused in what you’re going after in this industry. And not to negate other industries or areas, but your accounting and finance or your It skills may apply to a lot of different companies in general areas. But within life science, there is some very specificity towards the type of drugs you’re working on, the phase that you’re working on, and the function within your organization. And so I think when you start your search strategy, you really need to hone in on companies. And what I mean by that is not just going out and searching job titles and open positions, but targeting in on the 510, maybe 15 organizations that you want to work for and focusing a little bit more on building networks and relationships and understanding those organizations. And that’s not always easy to do because I know we kind of have our blinders on with our current company. We don’t know what’s going on in the market but when I’m working with a candidate and they’re telling me hey, I want to look for a new job, one of the first questions I asked them is okay, well if I don’t have a position for you, what are a few companies that you’d be interested in?
[00:19:09.040] – Jeff Caskey
If they don’t know the answer to that question we take a step back okay, let’s understand the market, let’s understand geographically who’s in our space, the size stage of these organizations, what we can kind of understand about their company culture. Is my skill set going to fit into where their company is at this point? Do they already have my skill set in a lot of other areas? And so I think you need to really do your research and identify organizations that you’re interested in and then really apply that networking strategy to those particular organizations. You don’t want to get too wide, especially in the beginning because it’s going to be overwhelming and b you’re going to I think put in less quality work for each of those types of organizations. And so I think the biggest search strategy I tell people and I’ve told friends and family of the south side of that is to identify the companies that you’re interested in working with. You can add more and more as time goes on, as your research expands to start small work home building relationships in those organizations and then continue to expand out as organically you may find some other companies or opportunities that you just weren’t aware of prior to that.
[00:20:11.510] – Jeff Caskey
I think another search strategy is there are so many roles that are filled externally by agencies and recruiters in this industry. And like a lot of industries, but especially if you think about your more mid to senior level positions, manager, director, vice president, roles, a lot of times those are going to be handled by an executive search firm or by a recruitment company. And so building relationships with recruiters that are in your space I think is critically important. And like we just talked about, you don’t want to do that reactively, but proactively. I love when people that are in leadership positions say, hey, I’m looking for the next day, but I’m looking for that in six to eight months from now. Okay, well, that way we can kind of keep talking through the types of organizations that we’re tied into, what’s going on in the market, what companies are going to be scaling up, which companies are going to be kind of staying more stagnant. And so I think the biggest strategies are identifying your target list and then, especially if you’re looking for your kind of mid to senior level step up, is to definitely be connected within the recruitment field as well because a lot of those positions are coming through agencies like ourselves.
[00:21:18.290] – Melissa Lawrence
Yeah, that’s great advice. I think it’s really important to know. When I work with my clients, I tell them to know what they want, right? There are a lot of opportunities and the industry is very competitive. And so the more you know what you want, the more confident you are, the better you’re going to come off in the interview, and the happier you’re going to be because you’re going to be in a job that you actually want, not just one that you think that you should have. But part of that is looking at what is that short list of companies that they really want to work for, that is going to be a good culture fit for them, that they can focus their search on, so they can focus their networking. And then also to reach out to recruiters like you, like others, to really build those relationships. Because it is a very reciprocal industry and people, I think, genuinely want to help others. I think everyone that works in this industry has a passion for bringing medicines to patients, and about doing good in the world and in their life. And so I think if you kind of play your game right, play your cards right, and nurture those relationships and really care about people, know what you want, then that’s going to get you farther than just kind of casting your net and just saying, I just need to run out of this job.
[00:22:22.910] – Melissa Lawrence
I’m not happy. Just give me anything. I’m happy with anything. You won’t be as competitive or marketable that way. And because the industry is so well connected, that’s why we keep harping on relationships and networking. Because most of the jobs that are filled are either internal or through referral. And it’s like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, which I don’t even know is a relevant reference anymore. It’s so old, but somebody always knows someone. It’s very connected to the industry. So it’s really important to have those.
[00:22:51.910] – Jeff Caskey
Relationships versus other industries. And I’ve worked in some other industries. It’s probably more interconnected than any other industry that I’m aware of just because of the number of collaborations that take place, and the number of joint ventures that take place through academia, government, industry, biotech, and pharma. There’s so much collaboration that you don’t see that in software development as much, or you don’t see that in real estate. You don’t see that in the finance world. I mean, it’s pretty specific to this industry in a lot of cases where there is just a very close-knit and Cider web approach to all these organizations and companies and universities as a whole. I think that’s a great point.
[00:23:33.510] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay, so how can someone best represent their transferable skills when they want to move into a new department and industry? I see this relatively often where maybe somebody is in manufacturing and they want to move into QA, or maybe they’re in a specific therapy area and they want to move into another specific therapy area. Or scientists that want to move into project management or more business management or operations. How can they best represent those transferable skills where it’s authentic and honest but also demonstrates that they’re qualified for that other position as well?
[00:24:05.920] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, a great question. And I think that transferable skills into making that next job change. Like I said, whether it’s a scientist, a project manager, or maybe an individual contributor, even to people lead type of role, one of the biggest things I’m looking for when I see that there may be not that concrete skill in their background is I’m looking for a logical explanation of how they can bridge the gap between those two. Whether, hey, I’ve worked cross-functionally with these departments in the past, and I’ve gone out of my way to essentially understand what they do, what their function is, help them out in times where it’s not necessarily under my job description. But because I’m interested in this space, I took the initiative to get out there and do that with my colleagues. I think you have to get pretty specific with examples of how these transferable skills relate. So I’ll use the scientists in the project management aspect. And so it may be where when you’re talking with the hiring manager, recruiters say, hey, my job title is on project management and the scientists currently. But I’ve worked with X, Y, and Z collaborators, and I was able to run this study.
[00:25:10.020] – Jeff Caskey
And this is the timeline that we’re able to meet that in, and here’s how we were able to improve the over operational efficiency of it, or I was able to build out gain charge or timelines or whatever. So it may not be your job title, it may not be a job description, but it’s certainly a part of your role. One of the things I like too is if you can get even kind of qualitative with them, I was talking with an individual in this area capacity or the scientists that had a lot of project management experience, but it wasn’t a quote-unquote project manager. He spent 40% to 50% of his time in project management, time at the. Bench. And so he was able to really give me some concrete examples of where he managed projects, who else was involved in the project management capacity and what their kind of end goal was, and how they were able to accomplish that. And so you have to be able to bridge that gap and provide specific examples of how those skills have been utilized, maybe just utilize them in a slightly different capacity. Again, just drawing a correlation between the two.
[00:26:04.980] – Jeff Caskey
And so if you’re going out and you’re applying for these roles that are not exactly what you’re doing now, but you have some transferable skills, I’d advise you to sit down and write out lists of examples of what you’ve done in the past and how they correlate to this new type of role that you’re looking to get into. And so whether that’s, like you said, going from manufacturing to QA or from individual contributor to people lead or scientist to project manager, you definitely got some of those skills. But you got to be able to explain them, put them out on paper, and kind of logically get those out there. You got to practice ahead of time. Don’t wing it. Don’t wait until you get to the call to try to draw those correlations. Really kind of think logically ahead of time, and make it make sense to yourself. That way you’ll be more confident having those conversations moving forward.
[00:26:49.010] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay, so to clarify, then, you would recommend having those examples you can talk through, but to also list that on your resume?
[00:26:55.610] – Jeff Caskey
I think so. I think that when you think about the interviewed resume component of the hiring process, you hear things. But I think we want to see it kind of visually, especially in getting in the door. Often your resume, you may talk with a higher manager, but then it gets dispersed to other people in the team. If they were in that conversation with you, they may see a lack of that experience on your resume and say, well, I understand they talked about it alive and needle this year. So yeah, I definitely would recommend being able to verbalize it, but also being able to put examples of those transferable skills within your resume. The thing about a resume a lot of times is oftentimes we just want to list responsibilities, responsibilities, responsibilities, and we almost are reflecting a job description. But really what I think hiring managers want to see in areas where you’ve been able to impact the business, areas you’ve been able to impact the team and pack a process. And so trying to get qualitative with that as much as possible is important. And you can, I think, draw those correlations to a new skill set or a new type of function by getting specific with some of those examples both in your verbal presentation of it as well as your resume that’s being shared with the company.
[00:28:08.190] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay, that’s really good. So I have some rapid Q and A for you. Before we move on to that, is there anything that you want to mention about the hidden job market that we didn’t talk about?
[00:28:18.590] – Jeff Caskey
I tried to remember the status. We were talking about it earlier. But going back to is it real? I think it’s something 50% to 60% or above that jobs are being filled that are not being applied for. I have to go back and look at that stack, but it’s certainly prevalent. I think that you don’t have to when you think about the job market again, I think the biggest thing that comes out of this is doing it proactively. And so it doesn’t have to be a risk. You don’t have to go out and blast out a campaign of messages or anything like that. Start small and build on it and keep building on it organically over time. I think that’s where the genuine networking comes from versus the very just sprayed approach. No, I think we’ve got a lot on that, and certainly, an interesting topic to talk through.
[00:29:06.190] – Melissa Lawrence
Good. Okay, so for this rapid Q and A, these are questions that I collected from my clients and from people in my network. They were the burning questions people wish they could ask a recruiter. So we’re going to get through as many as we can. And so if you could give the simplest response to each one so we can hopefully get through with them all. Are you ready?
[00:29:26.650] – Jeff Caskey
Ready to go.
[00:29:27.480] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay. All right, the first one. Is a cover letter still relevant?
[00:29:31.910] – Jeff Caskey
I would say no. I would say at best, from a recruiter standpoint, if I get a cover letter and resume, I’m going right to the resume. I’m skimming the COVID letter, and I would say in most cases, not as relevant as it used to be.
[00:29:44.560] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay, so it’s not going to put you out of the running for a job if you don’t submit one.
[00:29:49.530] – Jeff Caskey
Unless you see an application process that, must submit a cover letter, then I don’t think it’ll put you out of the job. I’ve heard even hire managers to say, I submit a cover letter with the resume. Did you read that in the COVID letter? And they’re like, oh, no, I didn’t say that. The resume is much more important than the COVID letter. So only if a company is requiring that you put it, or requesting it, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.
[00:30:13.920] – Melissa Lawrence
Got it. What is your school of thought around resume format?
[00:30:17.820] – Jeff Caskey
Do you mean like in links or?
[00:30:22.070] – Melissa Lawrence
I can tell you what my perspective is, which is hiring managers all have their own preferences for how resumes should be formatted, how they should look, and the order that they should be in. If you should have a summary, do not have a summary however you like to format it. From my perspective, what’s important is that it represents your qualifications, your education, and your accomplishments and that it’s really clear the impacts that you’re making and that you’re qualified for the role you’re applying for. How do you decide to put that together? As long as the keywords are there, the information is there and accurate, it’s going to really be up to the recruiter or the manager and whether or not they find your resume appealing to the eye.
[00:30:58.380] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, you said appealing to the eye. I think that’s outside of just the content, the console is super important, but something that is easily readable, it makes logical sense. I mean, chronologically doesn’t leave a ton of area for questions. The more friendly a resume is to my eyes, the more easily I’m able to extract information from it and make a decision. Is this person the right candidate for me to spend 30, or 40 minutes talking with, or is the person behind the qualifications for this role? And so oftentimes when a hiring manager, three, or a talent acquisition person receives a resume, I mean, they may be receiving a lot of resumes or not very many at all, depending on the popularity of their role. It definitely needs to be able to look at that resume and extrapolate critical information within a good minute to a minute and a half. I mean, I think that to be honest with you, people are not taking 30 minutes to read everyone’s resume. Just don’t have time in the day for it. And so you need to be able to hit the high points quickly, be friendly, formatting. One question that always comes up for me is, like, does it have to be one page?
[00:32:04.200] – Jeff Caskey
No, absolutely not. If you have two years of experience, or if you’re coming right out of college, then, yeah, keep it one page. Keep it concise and to the point. But if you’re 1015 years, 20 years of experience and you’re trying to keep it to one page, you’re doing yourself an injustice. You’re not sharing a lot of the accomplishments that you find. There are a lot of impacts that you find in the organization. Now, does it need to be ten pages? No, it’s not an academic resume if you’re going towards industry, but I mean, two to four pages is kind of the sweet spot, I think, for some of this experience. But, yeah, it’s a big question I get all the time. Does it have to be one page just to have to convince 20 years of experience on one page? Absolutely not. I think that’s a bad idea. So that information is, I say, wrong, but it’s dependent upon it’s outdated, I think.
[00:32:46.290] – Melissa Lawrence
I think it’s something that probably many of us heard earlier in our careers and that no one ever corrected it and we just kept going with it as our experience group.
[00:32:53.610] – Jeff Caskey
Well, it’s when we always used to print out pieces of paper, so you get pieces of paper. Now it’s all digital. Like most times, you can pull up a resume, you have screen side by side and you’re looking at a full resume at once. Yeah, I mean, recruiter eyes definitely get trained to scroll for certain things, job titles and dates and companies and to make that kind of evidently clear, but make it also where we can get to the meat of that resume as well.
[00:33:19.710] – Melissa Lawrence
That’s really good. I’m so glad that you added that. And then when you were talking about LinkedIn and your digital brand, is it important that your resume match your experience on LinkedIn?
[00:33:28.710] – Jeff Caskey
It’s important that they are both accurate in the sense that we don’t have different dates or like if I look at LinkedIn, I get a resume and it’s like there’s like five different companies, and I get caught off guard because they come to a LinkedIn profile first and now your resume is saying all this other stuff. But your LinkedIn doesn’t have to be your resume. Like, copying and pasting your resume into LinkedIn isn’t as critical, I think. I think your LinkedIn is an opportunity to expand beyond your resume, to show a few personality accomplishments within that. And so it can be a little less formal, like, I mean, using I mean, I me that type of stuff in there where you may not use that resume. Got a lot of avenues on LinkedIn to say, hey, here’s my publications, here’s my certifications, here’s my volunteer work, here’s a picture of me, here’s sort of my headline. There are so many different areas that you can plug into the information so that people can kind of be drawn into your profile. Whereas a resume, honestly, it’s a little bit no punt and a little bit more black and white.
[00:34:30.300] – Jeff Caskey
So it’s just kind of more words on the paper. And so I think you can bring some life to your brand from your LinkedIn, whereas you may not be able to bring quite as much life to that and just your resume at all.
[00:34:42.360] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay, so is it a red flag if someone doesn’t have LinkedIn?
[00:34:47.610] – Jeff Caskey
Not necessarily a red flag, but if you’re active on the job market or you’re looking for a new role and you don’t have one, I think you’re missing a big area. I might think, okay, this personnel is recluse, or they just don’t necessarily focus on building networks and people and things like that. It wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me as a recruiter if somebody share their resume with me, hey, can I see your LinkedIn profile? But it is kind of a hint of scratch removal in this day and age, I think with just the prevalence of LinkedIn, the professional network. So if you’re looking for a job, if you’re looking for that next day in your career, I mean, definitely have a LinkedIn. I think it gives other people another area just to learn more about you. So it should be advantageous.
[00:35:32.970] – Melissa Lawrence
Okay. Are there any red flags that recruiters look for in screening interviews?
[00:35:37.620] – Jeff Caskey
Yes, definitely and I’ve learned these over the years because I see what I hear in the beginning, and then I find out what happened in the interview process. I’m like, all right, that makes sense. So this is coming out of my own mind. Data candidates that don’t ask me questions in a recruiting screen or a red flag for me. What I mean by that is I may do a great job or not so great of a job and explain the role and the company and the culture to you, but there’s going to be some areas that I probably don’t cover any 30, 2030 minutes call. I’m leaving ten minutes open purposely in the beginning, middle, or end for questions. And if you don’t have any questions, a, I mean, I don’t think you’re interested. B, I’m probably going to think that you’re not going to ask any questions to the hiring manager, and that’s going to be probably a big no-note in the interview process or kind of assembling block for you. And it just shows me that you don’t have a sort of curiosity about the role of the company, or the bigger business outlook of the organization.
[00:36:32.350] – Jeff Caskey
So when I say, hey, okay, I’ll walk through this information, what questions do you have? Well, I don’t have any questions. Sometimes there’s a red flag in my head to say, all right, well, I know I purposely didn’t include everything, or we have time to go through everything. There must be something there. So that’s a big one for me. Lack of questions or lack of kind of curiosity beyond what I just explained to you. Another one for me is surface-level motivation. And what I mean by surface-level motivation, we all want to make more money. We all want more flexibility. We all want the things that are for us. But if you are passionate about what you’re looking to do next, if you don’t have a real kind of something I can sink my teeth into, why, this next role would be a good fit for you? Or why? This company is of interest to you or why you might be stifled in your current career growth at your current organization? If you’re just saying, well, I’m just looking for a job change for the money or so that I can work one more day a week from home.
[00:37:27.420] – Jeff Caskey
That’s great. That’s part of it. I guess that’s what we need, but we need something on top of that. Hey, I’m really excited about their technology. I’m really excited about the opportunity to build a team from scratch. I really enjoy building processes for companies. So I want to join a start-up where I don’t have so much red tape and I can really put my footprint on something. That’s what recruiters want to hear. That’s what hiring managers want to hear. And so it’s not all about what’s in it for me, but what trials would bring to the table creek. And so I think that’s a critical thing that I’m looking for always is what’s your motivation? Is it legitimate and does it make sense for me to represent you to this organization? That is a kind of fun.
[00:38:03.720] – Melissa Lawrence
That was such a juicy response. Jeff, you said you purposely left some information out and that you’re looking at what questions the candidate is asking. Because I think some people have told me that they don’t ask questions with the recruiter because they assume the recruiter doesn’t have the answers and so they’re waiting to talk to the hiring manager to ask about those positions. And I think that’s just based on their experience with some of the people they’ve engaged with. So another question that I had was what questions are appropriate for people to be asking at the recruiter stage? And I like that you brought up also the work from home because that’s something people also will mention if they really want a remote position or they really want a hybrid position and they’re not going to consider it if it’s not. But they don’t want to necessarily asset with a recruiter, but they don’t want to waste anyone’s time. So if you could provide some insight into what questions people should be asking that would be great.
[00:38:56.570] – Jeff Caskey
I think when you’re working with recruiting, going back to the point you made, yes, not all recruiters are going to know everything about their client, their company, especially external. You don’t work their day to day, you represent them. You may have done site business and worked with their teams, but you’re not an employee of that organization. So you may not know every intricacy of the organizational structure or the strategy or the financial situation and you’re just not privy to it. So that is accurate in some areas, but don’t be afraid to ask recruiters questions. I think you also understand their knowledge and understanding and what sort of clear vision the company and recruiters have together, what the role is. Don’t shy away from asking questions and good recruiters will say I don’t know or I can find that out for you. They won’t try to make something up. So don’t shy away from that, even though may have had some experiences where people didn’t know too much about the goal. So back to the question what are appropriate questions that you can ask recruiters they can ask you in the recruiting interview stage? I think about this you definitely want to get deal-breaker things out on the table.
[00:40:01.530] – Jeff Caskey
And what I mean by deal breaker things are if you’re looking for a position that you can work from home and this position is 100 miles away, don’t spend 5 hours going through hiring, manager interviews, and all this other stuff. And so ask that question, hey, I’m really looking for a position that can work from home. Is this position allowed at this time? Get the answer if it says yes, then we can move forward. If no and not. It’s also appropriate if you’re working with an external emphasize external agency or career. It is appropriate to talk about compensation in the first call. I always get this question, I get a lot of candidates that shy away from this and the recruiter wants to understand where you’re looking for compensation-wise because they want to make sure they’re not wasting your time or anyone else’s time. If the budget doesn’t meet, the last thing you want to do is go through 6 hours of interviews probably and then find out where the job offer is going to be $30,000 less than what you’re looking for or what you’re making now. And so it is definitely appropriate to have conversations about compensation with an external recruiter, with an agency recruiter now with the internal town acquisition, they’re more HR, they’re tied to the company internally.
[00:41:10.030] – Jeff Caskey
You may want to kind of wait on that or at least ask, hey, do you have a compensation range for this position? I just want to make sure this is in the ballpark that I’m looking for. But it definitely is appropriate to talk about compensation early. You don’t want to do that with hiring managers. If your first call is with the hiring manager for whatever reason versus a recruiter, the first thing that comes out of your mouth shouldn’t be what’s the pay for this role? Because it’s not showing the hiring manager that you have a genuine interest in it. But a recruiter’s job is to be an agent. Just like if you were going to buy a house and you’re going to buy a house, you wouldn’t lock him and say, well, I’m very interested in this house, but I don’t know what the price tag on this house is because I don’t know if it’s in my budget, it’s not on my budget. So recruiter agents, kind of like real estate agents, we’re here to work with both parties, the buyer and the seller, to figure out a comfortable area for everyone and something that works for all.
[00:41:55.370] – Jeff Caskey
And so we should have this information, we should have these top ranges. It’s definitely okay to ask, I would say another question that is appropriate at this stage is just to understand the growth opportunity with the role. I think understanding where this position can go beyond the current position is certainly appropriate. I’m qualifying for the position of hiring manager. One thing I always ask is beyond this position of the project manager or director of quality or head of clinical development, what’s the next stage for this person? Where could this person expand within this organization? And so trying to get that understanding from fitness, they may be able to give you some ins and outs of the organization, what they’re thinking that they’re not putting on paper. I think finding out growth opportunities is something also that’s pretty relevant at this stage. Anything else you can think of?
[00:42:45.410] – Melissa Lawrence
Well, I love those things that you brought up because I think asking about growth opportunities has been kind of taboo to talk about during an interview process. Because I think candidates don’t want to come off as they’re already looking for the next step and they’re not happy with the role they’re actually applying for. So is there a way to have that conversation that leaves the hiring manager or the recruiter with a positive perception?
[00:43:09.610] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, you hit a good point there. If you’re applying for a direct role and you’re already thinking about a VP role right out the gate, there are your horses. We’re trying to recruit you for this right now. Yeah, I think it’s a good way to brief that subject, and it’s a little bit less direct, but it’s a little bit less aggressive as well. As, can you talk to me about what your process is internally for internal promotion? Can you give me some examples of other individuals that have come in and said this level when it had been moved to another level within the organization? So asking them, for example, is real-life data on other folks that have this experience with the company, and you can back it up by saying, hey, I’m very interested in this role and I think this provides me great growth opportunity. But as I look at the next three to five years of experience in my career, I feel like I want to continuously be challenged, and I’m looking to eventually. This is my end goal here. So does this exist in the organization? Have you had other folks that have been able to grow their careers within your company?
[00:44:09.460] – Jeff Caskey
So I think a way to do it a little bit later is just to ask what other examples can they share. A lot of times I talk to candidates about I mean, my clients, I’ll give them examples of so and so. And for a senior scientist, now they’re a director or whatever it may be. This is the timeline that it took them to go through. So this is what it could look like. It’s not guaranteed, but these are some examples of how individuals grow in the organization. So asking for examples, asking about how other folks have gone through that growth opportunity, I think is a way to say to ask about what the culture is like around that without saying, like, hey, am I going to be in this position in three years or not? Because that’s a little bit more of a make-or-break question or something. They can’t just guarantee at that point.
[00:44:51.870] – Melissa Lawrence
That’s a great reframe. I hope everyone wrote down those questions. Those were great questions. Okay, so you touched a little bit on compensation. So I’m curious, is your philosophy or perspective that a range should be made available to the candidate or I think some candidates, especially women, where there is a pay gap in some situations, are concerned about paying their salary. And then being kind of stuck in that same lower range and not really being brought up to maybe what their value is or what they’re contributing. So do you have any tips on how people can handle that in a way that is beneficial?
[00:45:28.590] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, first off, in a lot of states, including Malin, California, New York, and I think Massachusetts, a lot of states are gravitating for those companies that are no longer allowed to ask you your current compensation. It is against the law if somebody asks you if you do not provide that information. And so they cannot base future compensation on current compensation. I think it’s a great thing that’s being put into effect to close those gaps in a lot of ways. And so if you get the question whether it’s from a company or a recruiter or whatever it may be, I think the best way to approach it is either somebody says, hey, Melissa, what are your compensation expectations? The way I typically advise people to talk about this is to say, first and foremost, the role in the career opportunity is the most important thing. But beyond that, of course, I want to be financially compensated. I am assuming that your company has probably benchmarked this position and is competitive with the market. And so could you share with me the budget or the range that you’re looking for in this role? If they do share that with you, then you don’t have to kind of throw out your cards first.
[00:46:34.000] – Jeff Caskey
You can, based on your response, off of what the range comes back at in recruiting is called dropping the anchor. So somebody’s got to drop the anchor first. And if you’re a candidate, you want to drop the anchor first. You want to ask the question. So if you’re talking an inappropriate time about compensation, if they don’t bring it up early enough in the process, you can say, hey, we’re getting a little bit deeper in this process. I want to make sure that just financially, this can be. I mean, I’ve got bills to pay, I’ve got kids. Whatever it may be, you can make it a little bit more light-hearted, but did you share with me the hire manager, creator, and HR manager, compensation range so that I can make sure that we’re on the same page here? So essentially, if you get the question asked, it’s a simple flip saying, hey, I realize you guys have probably benchmarked this position, that you’re going to be competitive in this area for the experience and skills you’re looking for. Can you share this range of things? If anybody gets really hard-pressed on you giving them a number or you give them their current compensation, dope a little bit of red flag, say, hey, I don’t feel comfortable at this point sharing that.
[00:47:35.250] – Jeff Caskey
I want to make sure that I understand what your buddy did, and I don’t want to press myself down or press myself below it. Just tell me what you’re paying for that. I think you can draw a line of sin, say hey, I don’t feel comfortable doing this or it’s too early for me to say this or I don’t know enough about the job yet. Always I think if you can ask what the range is, they should have a range. They should be able to share that with you. There shouldn’t be any secrecy around that. Now with that being said, there are some startup companies, if you’re looking in the startup field that has not been smart to all their positions yet. They don’t have to go in your goal. There’s not this internal equity balance they have and they are a little bit more open. They may be saying well we just want to find the right person and I’ve had a lot of companies tell me that and so it makes it a little tougher because I don’t have a guaranteed range. I got to kind of figured you’re out with you and alongside you what your compensation expectations or your desired compensation is going to look like.
[00:48:27.350] – Jeff Caskey
Another thing that’s important is especially in this industry, don’t just get hunted in on a base salary. There are so many components to total compensation that you got to consider bonus equity time that takes equities to vest, 401 matching programs, long-term, and short-term incentives, education reimbursement, hybrid remote opportunities, and whatever it may be. Think about that. Holistically when I’m working with people, I work with certain companies that have a lot better stock packages and have base salaries but holistically if they’ve got some exciting tech that could be a lot more valuable. So I think a big thing too around compensation is you try to dig in when the conversation is appropriate to not only the base salary but the other components of that so that you can when it gets to negotiation time, you’re not only negotiating on one number but you’re negotiating on a lot of things. Kind of like buying a house. Again, you might say well I’m willing this compensation but I will X amount of PTO or willingness compensation but can we provide any more stock? Because I’m really interested in the equity component. So hopefully that’s helpful.
[00:49:32.070] – Melissa Lawrence
That is really helpful because I know just from my own clients, I’ve had clients in those negotiations where the employer will tell them we don’t have a pay range and that we don’t share that like they won’t, they won’t give it up. And they’re larger companies so they’re not startups. And that can be really frustrating for the candidate, right? Because they’re trying to navigate that process respectfully, but it’s also a little bit of a red flag for them. And that’s something that we work through, is that might be a red flag for some candidates if the company is holding that so close to their chest and not willing to be transparent about their numbers because that tends. To indicate some sort of problem internally. Not always, but sometimes. And so that’s just something to consider. So you gave some really good insights and tips for how you can kind of hold your ground and try to advocate for yourself in that process.
[00:50:20.660] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, I think over the next five to ten years, I think you’ll see a cultural shift from that. I think there’s just a lot of noise out there right now about more pay transparency. I think it’s critically important to not only our industry but every industry. I like certain states like Colorado, as you’re crying at all job postings and that’s compensation being posted on, it takes a little bit more of the guesswork out for people. I mean, again, we all work to live. We don’t live to work. And so obviously compensation is a critical component of any job. You want to be paid for your experience, you want to be able to support yourself and your family. You want to be able to do the things outside of work that you enjoy. It doesn’t bother me as a recruiter for somebody that’s home dental compensation. Now, if it’s only about compensation, compensation the whole time, you need to bring some other things to the table. But you deserve as a candidate to understand what that is before spending your time in their time going through. I think that the entire process.
[00:51:19.370] – Melissa Lawrence
Yeah. Okay, so let’s move on to another question. So what does it mean when recruiters say that they are looking for someone with more diverse experience?
[00:51:29.690] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, I don’t typically use that particular terminology because it’s very vague, but there are a lot of vague terms that get thrown around the recruiting field and hire managers as well when they’re coming back and letting someone know, hey, we decided not to select you. Essentially. It could be a catch-all. I think for any multitude of reasons, that’s why they selected someone else or didn’t select you and are continuing to look for someone else. So it could be just a catch-all, an easy out for them to say, hey, we’re moving in a different direction. But if it’s genuine, it could mean a couple of things. It could mean that they decided to move forward with another camp, somebody else that fit their company culture, and their job requirements better, and it brought some more diverse skill sets. They may be applying for a people manager position, and you’re not named people directly and someone else has that experience. Or you may be applying for a job in the industry out of academia, but you are competing with somebody that’s already got that industry experience, and that’s what the hiring manager wants. Another area is, I mean, you may have certain skill sets that are looking for, and they may have four or five boxes they’re looking to check off in terms of experience, and you have just a couple of those, but you don’t quite have the other ones yet.
[00:52:48.630] – Jeff Caskey
And so it’s a good opportunity if you get that type of message, if you get that response from a company to say, hey, I certainly appreciate you letting me know and feedback. Could you share with me what’s because I may have been lacking through the interview process or lacking to come to this decision, I like to better myself moving forward. Whether learning those skills, developing those skills, or just being able to explain them better. And so asking the additional question beyond that, just not taking that at face value and saying hire someone that’s more experienced, has more diverse experience, whatever it may be, find out what was kind of the breaking point. Was it if you didn’t have X three, didn’t have Y, like, what do you need to do moving forward to close that gap and other opportunities where you may lose out to someone else or lose out to an internal candidate or whatever you can? So again, it could be a catch-all, but it could have some meat to it where you’ve got part of the experience that you don’t have everything they’re looking for. And so it’s a good opportunity to self-evaluate, learn, and ask questions you may not always get a specific response to.
[00:53:49.990] – Jeff Caskey
I mean, there are some areas where from an HR perspective, companies aren’t always going to share every bit of their feedback. They’re not going to get real granular with you and everything you messed up in this part of the interview or you didn’t say this or we didn’t like this. There are some areas of risk there for companies that they have to be a little bit big sometimes. Just take it with what it is in some areas. It certainly has to follow up questions and see if they can provide some information to you to help you grow.
[00:54:18.900] – Melissa Lawrence
Yeah, I agree. I think that’s always a good idea. Okay, how custom does your resume need to be as far as matching the job posting?
[00:54:26.770] – Jeff Caskey
Good question. So I don’t think that you should be using one resume for 20 different jobs unless all those jobs are identical responsibilities, very similar companies, or anything like that, but you don’t have to completely rework it. And so the way that I look at it is if you have a good foundational resume, then you should be able to plug and play the summary part of the skills component aspect or some specific examples in and out for particular jobs as you may be applying for maybe a couple of different types of roles or different size companies or whatever. Maybe. And so I think you can have a pretty foundational resume and make some minor tweaks to each. But when you look at a job description or a job is explained to you by a recruiter or job description, provided you want to take your resume and that job description, put them side by side and start to say, am I explaining this point of the requirements in this way, am I explaining this? And kind of cross-check yourself on that and figure out where your gaps are if you don’t have certain experience because those might be the gaps that get brought up and interviewed.
[00:55:29.070] – Jeff Caskey
Hey, we like the fact that you have X, Y, and Z but you don’t have A, B, and C and so be ready for those by looking at these job descriptions and tailor your resume to us at the same time. You don’t want to be a liar, you don’t want to fill in stuff that you don’t have experience with because you probably come back to bite you later on. So certainly. Make it accurate. Make it honest. But you do want to have a little bit of customization. Because if I see a resume and a job description and I’m looking at it as a reader and I’m not super technical where I don’t work in your field, Ton, I need to see a pretty good correlation between the two to say this is worth some more conversation. This is worth 30 minutes to an hour of my time. And so I think that you definitely want to make sure that you are showing that in some capacity in your resume and taking a little bit of time to tweak you, but don’t reinvent the will every time. Okay?
[00:56:22.190] – Melissa Lawrence
And I like that you alluded to also that you don’t have to have 100% of the qualifications to apply for the job because you talked about interviewing even without that 100%. So I think that was a really good point that you just made within your answer. So how do you portray or talk about a gap in employment in a way that protects the candidate but also isn’t too vague? So if it’s a health diagnosis, family issues, or whatever reason that a candidate chooses to take a break from work, how can they address that in a way that is beneficial to them?
[00:56:53.750] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah, good question. I come across this pretty regularly as life happens to everyone. And so first of all, it’s not a career criminal to take a break, to take care of yourself, take care of your family, raise your children or if you just need a mental break from it all, I don’t see that as a recruiter as it is negative. It’s just part of life. And so as a candidate, you should only share what you’re comfortable in, sharing those situations. If it’s a delicate situation with a family member or it’s a delicate situation with your own health that you just don’t feel comfortable putting out there into a prospective new employee, you can keep it somewhat vague and say this time, this time I want to bring up I did have a break in my resume. I was dealing with some personal health issues at the time. I’ve made a recovery now and I’m really excited to get back into the workforce. It can stay as simple as that. If somebody is asking you, what did you specifically deal with, or what were you going through specifically for entertainment? That’s crossing an HR line.
[00:57:55.990] – Jeff Caskey
That’s crossing a line that you’re not required to share with them. But obviously, recruiters hiring age or see big gaps or multiple gaps and resumes, which brings questions to stability. And so I think if you can bring up what you were able to do or why you were out, in a very big sense, that’s good enough. We all, as we get older, have aging parents. Those of us that are lucky to have them in our aging years is a time when we need to step in and repay the favor. And so I think it’s okay to say that. And most people have been through some form or fashion of needing some time off or needing to focus on other areas outside their career. And so most people should understand another good thing if it’s just a career break if it’s kind of reset yourself if it’s to take time traveling, if it’s any of that stuff, bring up some things that you’re able to do or like to better yourself personally. Did you take some certification courses? Did you take some online courses? Were you able to learn a new skill? So if you just took kind of a personal break to give yourself a breather, talk to them about what you were able to learn and accomplish during that time, I think.
[00:59:01.150] – Jeff Caskey
So, again, you don’t have to overshare. You’re not required to share very specifically. You are allowed to be vague. And again, I think coming back to it, it’s not a crime for your crime to take a break to take care of what’s most important, which is yourself, your family, and overall your mental health. So I think more than ever, companies coming out of the pandemic are a little bit more aware of that. I think a lot of us have obviously had some struggles through that time period, more so than in the past. And so I think companies are becoming more and more aware of it. If you have a company that doesn’t understand that, honestly, it might not be the right place for you, if they can’t see you as a human and treat you as a human and not just look at it as negatives, then you’re probably barking up the wrong tree anyway for the type of company you want to be. Hopefully, that’s helpful. And I’ve seen it in a lot of cases. And for me as a recruiter, people share it, I don’t ask questions a ton. I just say, hey, let’s see, you’ve been out of work for a particular time.
[00:59:59.390] – Jeff Caskey
Can you explain the gap in your resume? Hey, I was taking care of your family. I had some health issues. That’s good enough. That’s all I need to know.
[01:00:06.930] – Melissa Lawrence
That’s really good insight. You provided a lot of really tangible insights and tips and takeaways on today’s episode. I know everyone is really getting a lot out of it. I have one more question that I like to ask all of my guests on the podcast, which is, what is one piece of advice that you wish you had earlier in your career?
[01:00:25.630] – Jeff Caskey
Oh yeah. What I’ve learned is that your manager, your mentor, is just as important as the name of the company on the door. And so the people that you put your trust in to work under and help develop, you are going to be the biggest career advocates or the biggest hindrances of your career meetings. So choose wisely for who you work for, not just the company that you work for. And so I think that’s critical. Good managers are great for your happiness. They’re great for your career development. They help you to achieve that next level versus holding you back. Be just as home did on the person that you’d be reporting to, the person that’s going to be your mentor just as much as who the company is and what their name is and what they do. That’s one thing I’ve learned. I work for a great boss now. It makes my life a lot more fun. I’ve had a bad bosses in the past, but I really enjoy searching for our CEO. I can speak firsthand on that. That’s a critically important thing.
[01:01:30.570] – Melissa Lawrence
It definitely makes a difference. So where can people find you if they want to connect with you after all of this great information you provided today?
[01:01:38.560] – Jeff Caskey
Yeah. So LinkedIn, as we talked a lot about LinkedIn, today I am on LinkedIn. And so connect with me, jeff Caskey. C-A-S-K-E-Y. That’s one way from a professional standpoint. I’m not on a ton of other social media, too much LinkedIn main Avenue. But also visit our email@example.com. We have a job board up and so we work with about 20 different companies around the region. We hire everything from early career employees to executive leaders. Feel free to connect with us or any of our colleagues if you’re looking for a new career change. We’ll definitely be able to hopefully tie you into some opportunities this year. And then we also have a sister company called BioBus. And BioBus is a DMV-specific networking and news events company for the BioHealth region in Philadelphia region. So we have events every month. Come out and check those out. They usually involve some good times, keynote speakers, free beer, and wine. I typically try to get to one of those a quarter. And so we’ll see you there. Or just connect with me on LinkedIn and reach out and always have to chat.
[01:02:47.230] – Melissa Lawrence
Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll provide links to all of those in the show notes so everyone can get connected, can practice their networking with you, and reach out. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today?
[01:03:02.250] – Jeff Caskey
No, I appreciate you having Melissa. It’s been fun to talk through this. I talk about a lot of talents on a day-to-day basis, but reaching a bigger audience is also a mess. I think it’s been a great conversation. Hopefully is helpful to some of your listeners out there. And like you said, if you got anything, that you need from me or folks in your network, just feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to give you my two cents on anything for some.
[01:03:33.510] – Melissa Lawrence
Oh, it absolutely has. I know I’m going to be hearing about this one for a while. All right, I’ll talk to you soon.
[01:03:39.450] – Jeff Caskey
[01:03:44.390] – Melissa Lawrence
Thank you for listening to this episode of your worthy career. Visit yourworthycareer.com for full show notes and additional resources to help you on your career journey. Speaking of resources, if you enjoyed today’s show, you will love being an email VIP insider where I share training tools and behind-the-scenes content exclusive to my VIP list. Become a VIP and join firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next week.