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The State of Recruiting Webinar

Our SVP and Director of Recruiting is joined by Planet Professional’s Sara Ferrailoi, Sabrina Flood-Wyle, and Alex Affanato to address the state of recruiting. Topics of discussion include remote work, contract and perm roles, and new pay transparency laws.


Moderator: Hello, and welcome to Planet Professional’s first webinar. We are here to address and discuss some trends that are happening in the workplace, and if you are not familiar. Planet Professional is one of the largest staffing firms, part of The Planet Group, helping thousands of companies from Fortune, 500 powerhouses to cutting edge startups in attracting and recruiting top professional with a focus on accounting finance, administrative and human resources as well as customer service fields.

In today’s discussion. We’re going to be covering a number of topics, from addressing trends in the marketplace to common myths. What to do if you find yourself impacted by a layoff, and how many are turning to consulting, also known as temporary or contract work.

I like to welcome our subject matter. Experts, Sarah Ferraioli, SVP of Recruiting with over 20 years in the staffing industry, who has built cohesive staffing teams nationwide and an industry expert to employers that are looking to hire.

Alex. Affanato, VP and Senior Recruiting Manager, who has been helping hundreds of candidates in the accounting finance and administrative fields with their job searches for the last 5 years. Thank you for joining us, Alex.

Alex Affanato: Thank you. Happy to be here.

Moderator: Yeah. And last, but not least, we have Sabrina Flood-Wylie, one of our top national recruiters, a connector between human resources and administrative talent in their next job. Search.

Sabrina FloodWylie: Thanks.

Moderator: Of course. Thank you everyone for joining us today.

Let’s get started with a first topic that’s become very alive in 2020 around remote work. So I feel like we’ve been seeing a lot of job seekers are asking, you know, do you have remote opportunities yet? There’s this push and pull between employers that are moving towards a hybrid schedule. we’re finding 41% here of our hires are transitioning back into an office versus spending this time at home. And so, while remote work continues to exist. It’s abundance has been on the decline as firms are moving everyone back on site.

So a question for this group. So Alex, for companies that are bringing employees back on site. What are some of the reasons that they’re doing this? And and what are the benefits that candidates should consider here

Alex Affanato: great question, and I totally agree. This is a popular one among a lot of job searchers, conversations, and I think the obvious answer that a lot of you know, companies are defaulting to is, you know, trying to regain company culture. As we know it’s very hard to maintain that remotely through virtual events. and just nothing like being altogether in an office.

A few of my own personal benefits that I find for myself, and in our office in particular. I think communication so improves when we’re all together, and you know there’s something to be said to show across cubes and say, you know. Ask a question versus doing it over a teams chat, or a slack chat. And also kind of going along with that, too. I love just being able to hear my colleagues. obviously, as we mentioned, there’s

great talent on the recruiting side within our company that I love to listen to and learn from. And I think that goes for all job seekers as whether you’re starting a new job or learning a new software, maybe just being able to kind of hear conversations, among others. and then, lastly, just getting to know people more personally, I think, when it’s a remote in virtual team setting. it’s very easy just to: email about work or call something about work and kind of end. The conversation there versus when you’re filling up your water bottle in the kitchen. You know you’re much more inclined to ask how someone’s weekend was, or ask if somebody’s kids are, for example. So I love just being able to kind of maintain those relationships. being in person.

Moderator: Yeah, I think that makes sense. There’s a lot of organic chemistry that tends to happen more when people are together in person versus an IM, or an email the connection is certainly not the same.

So for candidates who may say, Well, that’s great. But I I want to be able to still maintain some type of work life balance if they’re coming into an interview with the expectations that clients and companies are bringing people on site. How do you think candidates should navigate those conversations around Onsite during an interview?

Alex Affanato: I think, trying to navigate those conversations. it’s it’s just knowing expectations between the 2 parties, right, the interviewer and the job seeker. And maybe you have that transparent conversation like, Hey, this is what I have going on in my personal life, and these are the reasons I need Xyz flexibility. And I think, of course, it has to be that right match and the right balance based on what the employer needs versus what the job seeker needs. and that’s all kind of goes into finding that right fit as a job opportunity as a whole.

Moderator: Should this be a a conversation they bring up during a first interview.

Alex Affanato: I don’t think for the first interview. You want to know the facts about the position right? You know we know some positions are fully remote, and some are usually expected to be on site. I think you’d maybe want to inquire about that in the first interview, and ask what the employers expectations are for their onsite versus work from home policy. and then, maybe, as those conversations continue into further rounds, that’s where you kind of bring up, maybe your rationale for your own personal balance. and again, maybe kind of trying to meet that meet somewhere in the middle figuring out that happy medium. about that work from home schedule.

Moderator: Yeah, I think that’s important to really kind of go into the conversation to your point, really understanding well what expectations were set in the job description, and just kind of using that as a starting point.

Sabrina, I know that you. You deal with this a lot, too, in your world, and if you are talking to someone who may feel reluctant in going back to an office. How do you approach or give that person advice in their job? Search.

Sabrina FloodWylie: I think one piece of advice,in terms of navigating that in the interview process, too, is, if this is really a line in the sand for you about working remotely, then be prepared to back that up in the interview process with examples of all the things that Alice and all the gaps are being filled by being in the office like, how are you making up for that working remotely? So, examples of how you connect with your teammates. How you participate in office culture, how you yeah, like, are a a contributing member of those sort of intangibles within the workplace. Not just your performance, because that’s what people are trying to fill by bringing people back to work. And I think it’s important to show how you contribute as a remote worker to the overall, feel and productivity is the team as a whole and not just as an individual contributor.

And then I think I also highlight that you know, a lot of companies are not saying goodbye to remote work forever. But they want people who are local, especially for that training portion to be on site, and that it’s we’re now, I think in a lot of places, going back to the model of seeing it as some sort of something that can be earned by people. And so if you. You know, the harder you work, the more you contribute and produce depending on the field, the more likely you’re going to be able to have that as something that’s given to you down the line. And you can make that clear at the beginning. But yeah, that’s often something that can come down the line. I have very few clients who are saying candidates need to be onsite 5 days a week now and forever. The door is open for more flexibility if you prove that that’s something you can handle for lack of a better phrase.

Moderator: I think that’s great advice, because, you know, you’re you’re saying, you know it. It really depends on the individual, and how they, so to speak, prove themselves once they enter a job. but a lot of companies are going through this training period of preferred people onsite. And I think it goes back to Alex’s point, where you know that organic chemistry, that ability to build relationships and and to change information more freely, kind of happens. in person a little bit more more seamlessly.

Sabrina FloodWylie: To build on that really quickly. One other I what I hear from a lot of the candidates is, they say I did this job remotely for the last 3 years. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to keep doing it now, like, I just hear that as a one liner, and that’s true of everybody. Everybody worked remotely during the pandemic. That doesn’t set you a part. Everybody knows that it can be done.

but not necessarily. That’s where the best work is done, or that’s where like companies are built in the most productive way. So I would say, candidates need something more than just. I did it before I can do it again, and I want to do it again. But how you did that really successfully set yourself apart, and why, that’s better for you than in the office.

Moderator: I think that’s great advice. And so, you know, being able to kind of speak about best practices that have worked for you, and you know what you would do. Going into a new company is kind of crucial and introducing this flexibility and this adaptability to be either in office or from home. And how do you adapt to it? Just changes like that.

You know. I see, I I think, between remote work for contract work and for direct hire work, that they’re both in this space. But I do find that with contract positions, that they might be a little bit more flexible in looking for candidates with a broader range of profiles. Sometimes we do see that with consulting opportunities are a little more flexible about bringing someone on remote versus direct hire.

And so I want to move into the topic around contract work, which is synonymous with temporary or consulting work, which we’ve seen has been on the rise. We saw about 74% of our own job opportunities are starting off on a contractual basis, and many professionals are gaining this wide range of experience through contracting from building networks and skill set, and it’s become an entry way into a firm with a multitude of benefits. Yet it’s not a one size fits all. I know sometimes it doesn’t make sense for some individuals.

So I want to talk a little bit about who should be considering contract work. And what would you say are its benefits. So for Sara, you know, how would you describe the type of person that should go into contract work. And why should they consider contract roles?

Sara Ferraioli: You know, if you’re unemployed and you are anxious to get back into the workforce. I think contract work provides an opportunity to get working to fill gaps in your resume. You know you can look at, you know, a variety of roles that would offer out, you know, a different industry experience that you can add to your resume in a lot of time contract where can lead to full time. if you get into an organization, it’s a foot in the door. You are able then to prove your worth and your value and companies look to convert solid employees. And I think that could be, you know, one of the best benefits of exploring contract work, and you’re able to try out the firm as well right as a temporary Staffer you can then look to see. Is this the right organization for me, does it? Do I see myself here as a long term, fit with the corporate culture, with the organization, and with the role in general. So there’s a lot of value to considering temporary work. Especially, in a job market where you need to get back employed. So those would be the highlights.

Moderator: and it feels like contract work is a trial period. In some cases it can go to direct hire. And it’s so for some of the candidates and viewers out there who are thinking, you know. Gosh! You I might be open to contract, but direct hire is really the priority in my search. Are folks able to maintain this permanent search as well?

Sara Ferraioli: Yes for most part. For most temporary staffing employees, That’s true. You are able to continue your job search for full time work. that is acceptable unless you are then hired for a specific project, or for a leave of absence of some kind. So just be very clear, you know, either with the employer or with your recruiter that’s helping you with the search. You know, are you able to continue that kind of path to find full time employment, or do you need to, at least, hit the initial length of contract because it’s a project that has deadlines, or because it is a a leave of absence, but for the most part yes. The answer is, you know, you’re able to continue a search to find full-time employment, which is a benefit all in all.

Moderator: for someone who is on the opposite spectrum of that, I know we’ve encountered some folks that have also expressed, you know, I really do enjoy doing contract work, you know, it helps to build out my network. It helps to build out references and different varieties of skill sets. And this is a question for the group. But what advice would you give someone that wants to make consulting or career choice for them.

Alex Affanato: I think it’s a great choice for some people. For example, I actually just spoke with somebody that I work with this morning, who was expressing to both me and she had an interview today about how she really likes this kind of consulting role that she’s done. She’s had some great long-term opportunities with a variety of companies, small, large software, manufacturing. She likes to travel, so she was fortunate to do some of these remotely and then she can kind of travel in between some of these contract opportunities. So for her lifestyle and her goals, this works for her. And she says, if the right opportunity does when you convert into a full-time employee, I would be more than open to that as well. but again, I think it really comes down to kind of that transparency and communicating about each other’s expectations.

Moderator: Yeah, I think that’s so important to be able to kind of communicate that, and that’s a great story, Alex, that you shared too.

So for someone who may have done some contract work, I think it’s a common misconception or fear about doing contract work is they may be portrayed as a job Hopper. So for someone who has done contract work, but wants to eventually get into something full time, is there any advice that you would give this individual to avoid looking like a job hopper.

Sabrina Flood-Wylie: I think, making sure to label any contract roles on your resume as contract is key to make that really clear that it wasn’t that you had 3 direct higher positions within a year, because that can lead to some assumptions about why, maybe you’re not seeing at places in the long term, I think, like, Sarah said. You know, often contract is project based or covering a leave. I think it’s helpful to include that on your resume as well, and the deliverables and deadlines that you met during that time, too, to show that actually, you are committed. You’re not just like, you know, bailing ship and going somewhere else, but that you stay through what you committed to and what you, and make it really clear what you accomplished in that short period of time. Because that’s a really valuable skill set to is somebody who is whether you’re a career contract or just has significant experience. There’s a skill set implied in that as well, which is that you can onboard really quickly, make connections quickly hit the ground running. without, you know, sort of a really long period of figuring things out. and that’s absolutely a skill set that can be developed. And you want to demonstrate that that’s what somebody’s looking for in a contractor.

Moderator: That’s great, because I think you know, to describe oneself as being a fast learner, to be able to back that up a good example through contract work, how you’ve been able to adapt so quickly. I think that’s a great story for interviewers to here.

Moderator: I noticed with the rise of contract roles happening. You also can’t help but notice articles and articles about layoffs from large firms and tech companies that are experiencing this wave of employees exiting a company. And so one other topic I want to cover is around this shift of the economic headwinds where you know it feels like almost we are in a recession but we do see certain growth in various sectors, and particularly accounting and finance we saw, you know, in this past year grew by 12% and is forecasted to continue to expand these next few years according to Staffing Industry Analysts.

So with that being the kind of a pattern that we’re seeing. How would this group categorize the seat of hiring right now, and any personal predictions going forward?

Sara Ferraioli: I do think that the job market has softened certainly this year. We have felt companies go through some layoffs, companies downsize. But hiring does still exist. I just don’t think it’s at the same frenetic pace that it was around a year ago. It’s much more, you know, deliberate, and certainly the accounting and finance side. We have continued to see job opportunities come through. You know. There are pockets of areas where it’s been softer than others. Recruiters are now, you know, more abundant in the job market because they have been let go, laid off due to companies not hiring as much as they were about a year ago. So, you know, hiring does still exist. But it is certainly softer than it was even last year at this time.

Moderator: Do you feel like with the ways that you know some industries are charting at towards kind of this state of freeze, and others are still grooming to grow. If you are a recent grad, or speaking to someone who is kind of entering this recessive time in this market, are there any particular types of sectors that you would advise this person to look towards? Because I know we saw in April, it seemed like government and professional services continued towards growth. But in general, any types of industries that you would recommend someone to explore?

Sara Ferraioli: Those 2 industries. For sure, I mean the health care industry will always continue to need staff, and we’ll always continue to need to hire. We’ve actually seen a bit of an uptick in the education space, and certainly even nonprofit. You know, if you think of a nonprofit, you might not think that they’d be hiring in a slower economy market. But the reality is that they continue to need talented staff. And so there are still opportunities. And I think that those are probably industries that you know, continue to hire. And even in the hospitality space, right? The leisure and travel, I mean, there’s a lot that these organizations are doing to get people back into the workforce because a lot more people are moving about and traveling more than ever since the slow of the pandemic. So there are definitely still industries that are looking to hire and are in, you know, some growth modes I would say.

Moderator: That’s great. So this myth of you know we’re in a recessive market. It sounds like it only applies to some industry sectors where we’re seeing this pattern. obviously, we’ve seen, you know, a lot in the news about big tech companies. but it’s not across the board. And so right healthcare government, professional services. All of those areas are worth exploring because they have not seen any declines really as a whole.

So let’s say you’re someone who has been impacted by this layoff. Or maybe you’re in a company that has laid off your fellow staff members.

And now you find yourself in a situation where you’re contemplating. Do I make a switch? I think many are turning to their own networks and professional recruiters to navigate the job search from creating an updated resume to polishing up their LinkedIn profiles and getting connected to companies that are hiring. So if you are talking to someone who’s found themselves directly impacted by a layoff Sabrina, any advice that you would offer that perspective candidate as they begin their job search.

Sabrina Flood-Wylie: Yeah, I mean, I think it probably sounds obvious, but I would say, talk to anyone and everyone in your network. In the past have worked a lot on HR positions which, as we as there alluded to have been, you know, perhaps disproportionately affected recently. And I think in those spaces the thing to remember is, they’re often the first to go, but they will be the first to come back, and so doing. All that networking right now because, you know, maybe those managers that you have connected with in the past aren’t hiring right now, but they will be, and to stay top of mind with them.

I think there can sometimes be shame around being laid off. People are hesitant to post on LinkedIn, or to update their like dates of employment. But how does somebody know you’re looking if you don’t do those things? And I think especially right now, there’s so much grace and understanding for the fact that so many people are being affected, and that it has often has nothing to do with job performance. So I would right away update your LinkedIn like you said, have that resume ready to go because it just takes one person. And I would, especially if you’re not working right now. advise against having to have a 2 or 3 day lag on sending somebody over a resume, have that polished and ready to go so you could send it to somebody right away. Have it on your phone, have it saved, and whatever device you have again, so that you can just send it to somebody if they ask for it without a lot of lag. Those are a few things.

Moderator: That’s great. I think that’s important to, you know, wanting to connect with others because it connections and referrals. You know, we’re seeing that that in itself is how majority of even recruiters

are tapping into perspective candidates and for folks that are lucky, you know, we are so interconnected, especially if you are focused on staying within a start industry or a certain type of job set. So it’s great advice to always be kind of ready to engage in conversations, and to really just put yourself out there.

I know a lot of this industry is speaking to recruiters and staffing firms like ourselves. So for a candidate who is working with a staffing agency for the first time, are there differences that you would describe to that person, and how they should work with an agency recruiter versus going directly to a company.

Alex Affanato: I think there is definitely a difference. My recommendation, when I’m speaking with candidates, I, of course, ask my school of questions, and you know sometimes their responses are you know, maybe there was a reason why they left their previous employer. And they say I don’t want to say anything bad. And it’s okay. I’m like, I can know the bad things because I want to help you avoid this in the future, of course. Like I need to know what didn’t work out for you before. So that way we can find this better fit in the future. And of course you’re not going to say that maybe to the direct employer. in an interview per se, right?  we’re going to frame that in a different light, of course. So I think that’s kind of the glaring difference. it’s just I keep going back to transparency and communication. But I think it’s so, so important on the recruiting side. But when I’m starting to screen roles for somebody that I’m working with. I want to know every little thing that’s important to you and everything that’s not. And you know what your experiences have been in the past, and that I can kind of continue to help improve those for you.

Moderator: And when candidates, Alex, when they talk about, you know, the transparency behind their search, I know compensation is always a big part as well as of the interview process. And so, you know, with talking to recruiters, being honest about communications around compensation, you know, is that something that they should talk to an employer about in the first meeting? And how does that sound when approaching topics like that.

Alex Affanato: It’s a great point. And as we know, yes, compensation is super important. Oftentimes it may be Why somebody is starting their search from the jump. And again, I think that it’s really, for me as a as a staffing agency recruiter, it’s really helpful for me to know those expectations again, so I can screen roles accordingly for candidates that I am working with. I think once we get to an interview stage with, said employer. you know, that’s where we want to really figure out the right way to approach that conversation, you know. Maybe you are asking what the compensation range is for the role that you’re interviewing. Or maybe somebody is asking you your range, and that’s where you want to give that range. If you if you close yourself in on one number that could maybe harm you, because maybe they’ll rule you out if it’s too high, or maybe they will stick on that number when there was upward mobility to that. So I think kind of giving that range and really again, knowing what’s the most important thing to for your search. Is it a work from home balance? Is it? proximity to your house or the hours? Whatever it may be, I think just kind of knowing where your sticking point is. and whether or not it’s a line in the sand, to use Sabrina’s quote from earlier.

Moderator: I think that’s great advice. I know navigating compensation, especially right now, can be, It’s always a tricky conversation in general but, especially now, during this period of inflation, I think people are thinking about compensation more than ever because of the rise of expenses. I mean, just even going to the grocery store. I can imagine, you know, seeing the price of eggs nowadays is shocking a lot of folks. So you know I’ve since this trend of job seekers, you know, asking for these increased requirements. You mentioned the range which I think is a powerful way to not pigeonhole you specifically to a target number. And so with the rise of inflation, to kind of combat this, I know, a lot of candidates are asking for adjustments related to that And are we seeing companies adjusting for inflation with compensation ranges? And how does that impact the hiring process?

Sara Ferraioli: Inflation typically doesn’t determine compensation structures. Typically, right? But I do think that employers are looking at. You know their staff, and they’re maybe getting creative, and possibly, you know, including incentive bonus. Or they’re including maybe more of a bonus for an employee. To help, you know, offset some of the inflation costs.

Again, it’s not like a hard and fast, I don’t think. And certainly companies can’t just, you know, input this and is what we’ll do for all employees. But there have been some creative tactics that have been used, and if it’s not monetary, I’ve also seen that some companies are really embracing learning and development. You know what is the opportunity for the person that’s currently in your department, and as a staff member for growth, for opportunity, for future upward mobility. And I think those things really have an impact. Certainly, if you’re in a company that you want to grow and develop with, and getting that opportunity to do so maybe sooner rather than later will help retain staff for sure.

Moderator: Oh, that’s great! And a lot of companies we’ve seen to have been releasing pay rages. I know now that pay transparency laws have been introduced to multiple states across the US. Including New York, Massachusetts, California where we do business a lot. Planet Professional as a whole, we have pay transparency on all of our openings which you can see clicking through our website. But when a salary range is provided, I think there’s this natural inclination for candidates to always want to get the best possible offer. And so what advice would you give someone when they do see a pay range? How should they interpret that in their mind?

Sara Ferraioli: The range is there to show, obviously the pay transparency of the position. But I think if you’re if you’re searching and you’re part of the interview process. You really have to take a deep look at the skills that you bring to the table. and not every candidate going into the interview process is going to have every single component of what the job entails. And I think you have to really be realistic. You don’t want to price yourself out. You also want to come in competitive, of course, and that’s where I think the range that Alex once was mentioning earlier doesn’t pigeon hole you into one, you know, amount, and if you’re at the higher end of it, you don’t want to be locked out of an opportunity. So I think, really, having a true, you know, realistic. Look at what you bring to the table in the organization, if you’re partnering with a recruiter, a staffing firm like anyone on this panel. I think you lean on them for advice, and you talk with them, and you kind of strategize around how do you feel you should go into the opportunity. Because again, the high end is the high end, and that that’s not, you know the no employee is going to want to look at the high end for every single candidate that they’re screening. That’s just not realistic. So I think you just have to be smart and mindful about the strategy, and you know, if you have a recruiter to work with, lean on them for the advice, and and come up with the right range going in.

Moderator: Recruiters will definitely, you know, be able to share with you what they’re seeing in the market. And I think you’re right, you know, leaning towards an industry expert who can tell you realistically, you know where other candidates are falling into line with that range and offering kind of suggestions for how they can be most competitive. Because I do agree, I think, getting your foot in the door is obviously one of the most important things, and then working towards getting the best possible offer based off your skill sets going to vary from person to person.

So as we’ve heard today, I think one commonality is that the future of contract work continues to be thriving and is steadily growing in this industry with experts forecasting, ongoing demands, certain departments like accounting and finance experiencing increase, and even further forecasts increase in 2024.

If you are considering exploring contract work as an option there are ample opportunities available, and we are here to help assist you in making a smooth transition in your career. So I’d like to close things off. And just thank all of our subject matter. Experts. Alex, Sabrina. Sarah, thank you so much for joining the conversation today and for spending your time with us and for our job seekers to please check out our career section or contact us if you’re looking to get connected with the right recruiters. So thank you so much, and thank you for tuning in.

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