Recruiting and Negotiating Tips for Returning to work with Ex-Google Recruiter, Aria Zhang


This episode features our guest Aria Zhang, who recruited for Google in the past, changed careers paths as management consultant and has recruited in various continents. This episode covers -

1. How to get into Human Resources and management Consulting? What it is like to work in each and how to change career paths?

2. How to talk to Recruiters?

3. What are some green flags and red flags in Resume?

4. How to effectively negotitate salary and levels while looking for jobs?

5. How to bridge the gap in your resume, if you have a gap in career from a Recruiter standpoint?

6. Difference in hiring in different continents - Asia and United States.

and some more golden nuggets of wisdom from a recruiter standpoint, what can be applicable to anyone looking for jobs.

More about Aria:

Aria Zhang got her MBA from Duke University and currently works as a Management Consutant at L.E.K Consulting. She has been a recruiter for Google in the past, worked for Amazon in the Retail Leadership department and has several years of Industry experience in Asia and United States.

Hi Everyone. This is not Benita Day and you are listening to another episode of the return to this podcast with Nabneta from the non profit initiative returnships dot or, helping people to go back to work after they have had a long hauling career. Today our special guest is Aria Zen. She has been recruited in the past. She has for Google and currently she works as a management consultant and she's gonna tell us about what generally look for when they are looking for candidates to return to work, and she's also going to talk to us about her journey about changing career paths from recreating to management consultant. So welcome Aria. Let's get started. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Sure. Thank you for having me. My Name is Ara JEM. I'm currently working at a management counsel in firms in Sandans the office. I started my career in recruiting and exactive search in Singapore and I spent five years in lessold including one years. Then I decided to get on my comfort zone go back to business gool. That is when I came to us as then, two years in business, go to pursue my NBA Den. I need to be here today to share my constructive as. That is awesome, the fact that you were able to like have this core transition. I think a lot of listeners listening today, I'm sure they're curious and you know what let to that transition. How did you do? The transition is too yeah, so the couple of steps. First, I need to make sure I know what I want. So I really planned to think about what is my vision for myself in twenty years, then work backward what I want to achieve in ten years time, in five years time. They really think about what are the career I want. Then I draw a circle of several job title or functions what I want. Then I need to join another circle regarding what I can do in terms of my background. For example, initially I also want to be a product manager and I realize a lot of this kind of rope they require engineering background and I do not have this kind of background, so I'm less qualified for this kind of position. So I show this two circle together and see what is the intersection to understand what are the roles are most qualified for for and what I really desired. At best, and many be consulting was one of the top list so this is step number one to understand what I want to achieve. The step number two is to connect with people who have done similar parts as me. Transitioning from recruiter to make my consulting. It's a pretty big transition. So I didn't find too many people have done this contrasition, but whoever I found, they were very open to talk to me because it's a very small group of people, and you share with me some teams regarding how to never how to prepare, I rather me how prepare for the interviews, the then eventually, yes, I successfully made a transition.

Very happy about it. That is amazing. So we know, you said, I heard this, not all jobs in technology will like it's one of the highest en call users. snology currently needs coding background or doesn't need you no computer science as such. Correct. Yeah, I was just trying to give example. There's a lot of jokes I want. I need to analyze whether I'm really qualified for them. If I'm less qualified than it's harder for me to get into that than. kind of know that I probably need to prioritize other rose that are still won't and still qualified. Phone. Yeah, I mean I definitely know that there are so many jobs currently in the market which does not need specially engineering backgrounds but still are very high paying, and I would recommend air listeners listening to this podcast to let figure out even if you're not somebody who has a computer science of background, you can easily get into take a lot of jobs around that. So the second thing you mentioned this like having mentors, like you said that you were able to reach out to mentors and ask them about their career transitions and let help. Could you expeak looking but about what kind of questions to ask lose mentors? Yeah, so Tute from people ask you from questions. I feel the very important firstep is to understand what is the purpose of the conversation. Nowadays, a lot of people know they need to network. I also receive a lot of link the message asking me whether they can have a conversation with me. I noticed some really, really outstanding candidates. They know what is the purpose of the call. The interesting some specific job or other, getting some teams, but some other people they keep the same agenda. To ask for everyone and some questions was not very relevant to me. So my recommendation or really think about what is the purpose, for example, at the very initial stage of the career to search for job. Maybe the purpose of the call is to really understand whether this career path is suitable for you and at later stage of your job search it's very targeted. You should understand what is their company, what is the application process? So I would say the first step is to understand the purpose of the conversation, to make it more relevant and to get the mental more interesting the conversation. Then the second the kind of question I ask really depends on what is the stage of my application process. However, I feel some killing question include I always ask them if they were in my shoe, what would they do in at this stage? And I always ask them whether there's anyone else in their network I should talk to, because when I was in business school I was new to you, as I don't know a lot of people, and if someone willing to talk to me and willing to help me, very likely they can help me introduce to some other people to expand my network. So this out the two questions I fail help me most so far. Absolutely, I do what like what famous code? It's not what do you know about it is who you know. So you have to like me work and get around the right sort of people. So something back... the facil in the past, right, and you know you have a different companies like Google. So do you have any generic tips for people who are just starting job start, especially with somebody who has a gap in called you on you? How should the approach the conversation with the what do you do as in looking for with somebody without experience? Yeah, definitely. The first I wound clarify the role of recruiter in advocating process. You typically recruiter. We have the first conversation with candidate in the promise of call. Are Three things. One is to introduce the role and understand your situation and second to make sure you're qualifying for this job. The third is very initial screening to make sure your good cutterfit. So regarding the first introduction of the role and understand your situation, you should make the point clear although you have a career gap, you're very ready to get to go back to the workforce. Now letting recruit. I have have any doubt regarding does he or she really want the foot time job or do they still have some personal issues so they can alt per job? Make sure you clear on that. Point. And second regarding whether you're qualify for this job. My recommendation is to really focus the conversation regarding why you're a good condidia for this position. My recommendation is to read the job description at least three times to understand what they're looking for and tie the job description back to your resume, your experience and said out loud to the recruiter to kind of like bringwash them you're already having relevant experience, although it might be two years ago or five years ago, but you do have the relevant experience. The third in terms of counterfeit. For this recruiter will only do a very, very initial screening. I'll just make sure you don't sound any reflect to the recruiter. Then you can pass. So I know some recruited during the first call when they saw your resume. If you have a gap, sometimes they are. What's happening in the gap. To make sure you drive the conversation to professional side, not personal side. Always supply the twenty eighteen room. Make sure eighty percent of the timely of three a question is towards professional and twenty percent is only twelve personal. You don't need to explain any personal issue. More than one sentence. Toy Recruiter, for example, if it's because you need to take care of the family, just say like that. You don't need to explain further, but drive the conversation to however, at the same time, why I was having a gap. I try to learn x Yz knowledge and try to strengthen my skills in X Y Z field. So this is the very first conversation. The afterwards a lot of decision making will go back to higher manage and interviewers. Recruit ever make minimus t station returning, but that to hire you. So only need to do it. Just stayed professional with a recruitter as long as... have to, for scleaning the specuitter. Then you fresh face. Much Tim stage. I think you've got to be very valuable points, like the first one that they captured was being very clear and what you expectations look like when you are actually doing their job. Like is a part timer is full time, and I definitely agree that, before even applying for a new job, I would recommend, like if if somebody listening to this podcast today is turning back to work from after a gapping career, like figuring out what it would look like when you do return to work, will you be working for? How many hours you looking for and you know, do you? Are you actually ready figuring that part out? Is it's extremely important. And I think the second thing that you mentioned about keeping in strictly professional and basically showing how how you are the right fit for the job, I think that was also like a very valuable point, which I have also noticed a as a candidate applying to various jobs is like I try to make sure that I point out how, like the experience that the company is looking for is very relevant with my experience and I kind of drive the conversation around that. So I can definitely like relate to that, being somebody who has been continuously in the workforce and have looked through various jobs and interactive various recuters. So you mentioned that, you know, when somebody applies some jobs, you have the first conversation and mentioned some peoples around that I know possibly that you have poble funkys and different compliments. So do you see any difference between hiding huge hiding other contents? Yeah, I do. Several things. I could think of exam who in us is very unlikely recruited. What are so what's happening during the gap here, because it's kind of illegal. It is your privacy, but I know it's very common. Astion are was happening during the gap here and something I noticed very interestingly about ancient canny days as well. I'm Omn I can totally relate to that. A lot of times I feel guilty if I have a gap here, so I try to explain I had a gap year that was sick because of this, because of that. You need to keep in my your gap here is definitely not your fault. You don't need to explain it to anyone recruited here. They're just trying to understand why they're Houlli part on this job. No need to explain further unless they really want to prove further. So this is one difference between regions. Another difference is on salary. I know for you as especially California, the law does not allow recruited to ask for your current salary, but in Asia, I think every ancient country, recruited is allowed to ask what is your current salary or what was your most recent salary? So that is the difference. Regarding severn negotiation, yeah, I think definitely one for the thing that I personally noticed is even when I have had conversations, I think I particularly struggle sometimes. It... like, what are some of the things that probably food to start board looking for in the asume? And I know, Leagal, I was back in school, but I think that's one of the questions I almost everybody asks. You know that what kind of things are be looking for? So idly green flags that do you feel that you spotting me when you see it as you me yeah, so first also question was recruiters are looking for. A Fun fact I noticed very few recruited really spend more than three minutes on the resume. Really when I was a recruiter. When I screen their resume I will look at what are the company that used to work for to make sure they have the relevant industry skills if that's needed, and look at the job title to make sure they have the right functional knowledge if needed. For example, if I'm recruiting for Google and I'm recruiting for financial role because someone comes from maybe an automobile industry and they were used to be in sales, then no matter how relevant the job stop they wrote, it's unlikely I will select them for the interview. So the most recent company and job title matters, and regarding job details it matters as well. So the two kind of company. Yearly a lot of big company. They have recruited dedicated to certain position. They will look for Kenya's and they were really reading resume, read the job details. In terms of that, my recommendation is to tie that back to the job, to the job description. If the job is Pibil is saying this show you need to do a lot of cross functional coordination and make sure, if you have this kind experience, highlight I am resume and I know also some small company or some some other companies they have this kind of system. They will use a system to filter. For example, if I'm looking for a finance person who has some accounting knowledge or have some certain certification, that I can type in the system to filter for some keywords. So again, make sure you read the jobs, good job description. If there's any key certification or key things, make sure you're highlighted on your resume. Otherwise there's a chance recruited won't even see your resume. And to also your certain question regarding some Red Flag Green flag, I wouldn't say I have seen any red flag. But I would say sometimes when I saw a resume, example, the person hasn't worked since two thousand and fifteen and there's sixty year gap that I know if I contact this person there's some opportunity calls. I I need to maybe spend ten minutes or certain minutes to understand the situation. So it's a quester mark. I was like, should I spend this time or if this ending some other perfect can you date? I will probably prior has other candidates. So my recommendation if during the five years you have done any side projects or in or learn anything, make sure you put that on...

...your resume or you can explain in the cover letter. Don't let the recruit of film what's happening in this year's should I contact or should I try to save my time? Please have the recruiter. Let them cull this kind of dilemma. Let them be more straightforward. I want to contact this candy dates. So in case you really haven't done any side projects or learn anything in the gap year, which is totally fine, you can always always start to do now there's a lot of website you can start to do some projects. So, for example, eventually, if you have a gap from two thousand and fifteen to two thousand and twenty one, but you on your resume is shore you started to work on some projects since two thousand and twenty one. That's super helpful as well. And if you think of any style idea in two thousand and twenty one and you started doing that, you have definitely put the date a little backward. For example, if you only register your start up company two thousand and twenty one, but you thought about the idea since two thousand and eighteen and decent research, you can put the timeline since two thousand and eighteen. Just make sure everything around there is still too. So that's my recommendation. So one to my mind this let's see, I'm speaking to the and I realize that, like the job that you're hiding fall is not really my background doesn't quit with that particular job. So how do you naviget the conversation of asking them to coming to somebody else, probably where, mind just my life in a differently in the same company. Yeah, so I would say first really highlight your very interesting a company and become signed to say why you're interested. Maybe there's some culture that you're very interested or the new initiative the company has. Make sure the recruiter knows then, second just ask them things. I've not qualified for this position. I'm also interested in Xyz. Any test you know whom I can connect to or whether there's any openings regarding this field. The afterwards, if you have the recruited email, you know, always do a search on the company website of the career side to see whether it has any relevant opportunities. If so, it can send a thank you email to the recruited and say you're interesting this position. That is a very good tip. Definitely is like, you know, following off with the recruiter and then basically forwarding the job description of you're possibly interested in. So for somebody you mentioned who is returning to work, you know, like even getting started with the job hunting process can be really overwhelming and often times the cabinates applying what they're not heating that. So what does are best doing something in Jennal or just I the door of stopping process? Yeah, I know that letting stuff, but I want to emphasize although I didn't really...

...have a lot of gap in my career, I had a lot of rejection in my job education. So my first tip is when you're rejected, keep in mind that is absolutely normal. I know so many outstanding candidates. They still get tongue of rejection. And don't blame yourself and don't blame it's because we have a gap here. There's tons of reason why you're rejected. Maybe because you're a little bit late for the process, they already have a great candidate in mind or because eventually, if they decide to cull this head count. So never blame yourself, just keep going. Is always a number of game and second, regarding how to follow with recruiter, my recommendation two things. One is to be organized and second not to be desperate. So first regarding how to be organized, my recommendation is usually follow up after one week time. Maybe you can put a kind of reminder after the interview. Give recruiters some breathing room then follow with them after one week time. And the way you follow up, you can also say a big thank you and the thing you can do a sandwich thing. For first theme is thank you so much for the opportunity. You really enjoy the the conversation. And second point is regarding I want to follow up whether you have any update. At the same time, if you have any update from your side, for example you have some other final round interviews, you can definitely mention that. You can. That means you're helping recruiter to mention the times like from there end, and they will be very greatful as well. The last point is thank you again and why you're interested for this position. So send this kind of email. And second point regarding don't be desperate. I have seen this before and myself I have been the shoe before. If I apply for a dream job, I have a very first interview and every dam thinking did I to the interview right? Do I get the job? And I tend to follow with we could have very closely and in that way, sometimes they will have the wrong perception. Or maybe the candidates they don't have any any other job opportunities. He or she is not qualified for any other job. So make sure you don't sound desperate. You are still have your comments. You know you have this value in the talent market. A lot of company were desire you. So just don't sound desperate. Just think of yourself as a professional candidates the same as any other people. Obstinately on my tips walking. That's to me talking about forces, companies and others. So thats me. negould make once you know what are your seps to like. Shate offers are in generally do to say yes to the first thing that's offer to you or how you should we approach in the side of the negotiation? Yeah, so you really recruited will ask you for yourself expectation before they give you the offer, and...

...that is very important stage. So before that, my recommendation is always to do your research first. For example, if your interview is a rendom example, or product manager Amazon and it's a level for job, then you need to search on the Internet. What is a salary for product manager and amalon level? For Usally, Internet will give you a pretty good range and, especially if it's a big company, the range should be accurate. If you have that in mind your expectation or you say it's pretty salary, you can say a slightly higher side in the range to make sure later they can match. They can match that to to provide yourself negotiation room. And if recruiter ask you like why is it a expect a salary, especially if they already know your previous salary is much lower than that, then you can say commonly this. It's calling your research. What is the market average pay for this kind of job? Again, just always be confident. That was thinking, Oh maybe I have a gap here, I'm not as qualified as other people. Just be very confident. You definitely was that. So the first step is research. Then, after giving out the expected set, very later, recruiter may come back to you with a number or they may ask you for number again. If they ask you for a number and if you're really interesting the job, my recommendation is to say they expected story, again the higher side of the target range from your research. At the same time, you can say I'm super interesting in the position because of X, Y Z. That is why I'm relatively flexible. I'm open here. What is your your offer as well? Then, after recruiter comes back to you with a salary. If you're happy about it, of course you don't need to negotiate, but if you're not happy, feel free to negotiate the a couple of ways. So you rely my style. But mind negotiate as a candidate, because I was recruited. I usually I treat recruited very well. I'd like to come rate with them. I'm very open to them. I share with them my full situation, for example, whether they have some other interviews, which one was at final stage or if you already have some other offers. You can tell recruited honestly what is their offer salary. My recommendation. I know some people they were thinking, oh, should I need to lie about that? Should I need to say I got a huge offer from other company? My recommendation is never to lie, because recruiter, they will know the market really well. If you say your offer for a position for this amount of money from another company, recruited, they liking to know. But that's true or not. They know what is a salary range for Merrit when they should never life. But just be very honest open with them. What is your other offer? And don't say like a trade market because they offer made as much. I want this much saving of soft away. They offer me this position, but I like your company better because the x Y. See,...

...however, if you can mash that salary, I will be very motivated to take the offer and I can work in a company etc. And also, if you're asking for more yearly, if you provide more benefit for the recruiter, that's a tradeoff and what you can provide early is specimber. You can say, if you can offer me this amount, I can sign right away. I'll return of a letter within the day and I can even make the study earlier. By doing that, you're also doing recruiting favor and they likely to doing you a favor to check the story whether they have any space to increase that. So that is my tip of state sociation. These are like I'm using GPS like I could completely because you know, I haven't negotiated myself like I never what I have hired. I have trime negotiated like gold, like you see some of the things that I had done sub consciously, but I think once really nothing done, it makes a lot of sense. I would recommend listeners to listening is like some old resources to look for sality in industry with these a cycle levels to if I I which has a good salty rangers, then is also lost on also provides nowise like a sale reing just for reviews companies. So I think these are some of the good resources if you are wanting to do market research. Yeah, so all question do your pass so you don't know about some negotiation. These also live US negotiation right, like sometimes you might be offer the level that is world higher or maybe looking for the higher levels of how do you oppose those conversations when it comes to a negotiation or offers? Yeah, from my personal experience I feel leveling negotiation is much hot harder than selling negotiation because salary, the Sata structure, there's base, the bonus, seins dock. You have always negotiates certain power, but for leveling he really is decided by the interviewer, the herd manager from consensus. This is harder to negotiate specally for bigger company for smaller company. My recommendation if you if that's really important for you, again be very open to recruiter at least down what is a priority. If you negotiate one thing, my recommendation try to lower down other expectation. For example, if leveling is really important for you, you can tell recruiter this is your proper priority. If you get that, you're open to accept the current salary being offered to you. You can't be negotiate all of the location leveling story. That looks like you're just want everything. Make sure you voice over to the recruiter what is the priority. So recruited. Now which one to help you. Just keep me mind you really at all a stage recruited. They're totally under things. Guide as you is. They are keep you guys well, if they give you the offer they wanted, accept it. So make sure you share the information with him or heard your book. As a thin team, try to get offer as satisfying as possible. I think definitely, I...

...totally agree with these tips and I'm like really glad we're having this conversation because I'm sure there are so many listeners listening, you know, not just people who gap in care you bring in general. I feel like the sadly, negotiation is one of the biggest holdles that I possibly have had since in the industry. Who didn't know about these steps when we had just joined, so they just accepted whatever was given to them. But kind of knowing a little bit more than what needs to be done and what kind of research we need to do before going into jobs. In general, I think it helps a lot because at the end of the day, if the candidates is satisfied and along with like the hiding manage and everybody, so it's like much more productivity than usual. So definitely we be appreciated these tips. So I wanted to change years a little bit and ask you about the fact that you know, you have been a in HR and now you're a management consultant. So could you tell us a little bit about what management consultant does and you know what kind of job rules and it's hard and what kind of these two people need if they want to get into either of these fields? Yeah, sure, so first question. What the also the first question regarding what does minimum consulting do? I needed to know the answer of one year ago be by enter the industry, to be very honest, but now I know. So my job on the high level is to help business solve their problem, and the problem could be like how to increase the revenue, increase their market share in the profit, how to better do a better mergent acquisition, all kind of problem and what we really do on the day to day base. So first if there's a problem, we need to understand what is the root cause of the problem to really solve it. So we probably spend half of the pace time to really deep dives there financials or of the data, come down interviews to understand what is the root cause of the problem. After that we need to solve the problem and before that we need to understand what is the objective. Exam for example, if their revenue declines, maybe their objective is not to increase the revenue. Maybe what matters to them is more profit side. So it's creatable clear to understand what is the objective. A lot of client interaction and client alignment on that, because different positions within the organization could have different opinions. After that alignment, we can propose some solutions and a solution could be based on our power experience or based on some interviews. And when we least them all of the solutions, we need to see how to prioritize them, and it's probably based on another data analysis to see, within different scenario, which solution will provide the best outcome and also understand which solution is most feasible and eventually really to synthesize the entire thing into a death and present the information to the client. That's what we do day today basis. In...

...regarding how to enter this position, probably a lot of people know this case interview, which is pretty different from other interviews. So my recommendations to really reach them case interview books, to understand how to tackle the problem. I would say the taste interview is pretty similar to how we really solve a case in real life, and I do feel solving a case help me a lot in terms of other interviews. For simple now I know whatever I interview, I tend I always keep this framework in mind. If I'm giving a problem, I need to understand what's their root calls before solving that. If you don't really know what's behind the problem, you can never propose solution and always understand what it is the objective. I find as kind of thing to help me for Lifelock, lifelock time, not just for this particular industry. And regarding HR, how to enter this industry, the many different roles in hi, recruiter, compensation of some people analytics. So my recommendation just think about where you're interested. If you're interesting talking to people, the maybe recruited a good it for you. If you're interested in like, like legal related or the most maybe some labor relationship is more suitable for you. But is interesting data people, analytics is suitable for you. You can start from a cost, from maybe you do me or Cocara to really understand or what does the day to day job look like. My recommendation is not very hard. To enter it. How industry. You just need to take a cast and read a job description and link the job description to your resume. So it's sources and management. Obviously useful management on something that US. Yeah, for sure. So the first thing jump into my mind is people interaction. So when I was a recruiter, I need I probably talk to fifty people of day today basis and now, as amendment consultant, especially a lot of cases of global cases, I can easily navigate different culture. I can talk to anyone very easily. So that is one thing. Help me. Then the other thing is I feel I was a recruiter because I need to recruit for different function. So I roughly understand what is fine is, what is the ING, what is different functions? Why I compared to someone maybe just purely from finance background, he or she may only know, I guess. So you may consorting and parent related and think broadly. How does decision will different function? So these are the two things. Like properly think. Help me make that concision and to listener. My recommendation. If you want to do any transition, you can list down what is your current scales and what is the need is skills? I'm sure there's always a link between the two. Absolutely.

I think one of the advice, like one of my mentors back in that we had shared with me, is like, when you're trying to make the change, don't make too many says at the same time. Sometimes it's easier if you're in the same company that you can change into a different role when you're making that jump or even take up some of those other job rules are like leadership skills or projects. I help with that and I think often times, even when she, like court, set out Mer adets, these kind of platforms can also provide you with degrees that that necessary when you're especially like changing paths and changing careers. So I follow up questions to you with like now that you know, we have been talking about putting to work, and you know as from some point, like I know that I'll wishing down ships out, always totally based to help people who are trying to get back to work. So how do you think, like you you should love like this on website like this can help from the cruis stand form. Yeah, it was definitely super helpful. I feel sometimes if I relate to my time in business school and I know them. When people having a gap here, it's really easy to stay in your own bubble. I was I was really frustrated and I was penning a hack. What if I can find a job? And it's so important to find your own network, to hear other people's Voice. Some people are having the same problem and how they solve a problem as super important to connect with this kind of people. So I would say that's super helpful. Thank you so much for sharing these amazing gifts today, and I'm sure that you know the last few minutes of we talk like business. I've gotten so many important solutions, right from negotiating the changing careers to changing baths, from HR to management consultant, how to talk to recruiter, and I think all those amazing tips were like. I think this is listening on the thankful to you. So, in case somebody wants to reach out to you and ask you any follow up question or what is the best way to be talk to you should you can always stop your email. My email is my first name, all reight AIA underscore, my last name, the AGA G at hellmetal home. Awesome. Thank you so much are you for joining us today. Will listeners, thank you so much for listening to us. Well, I do more to ships podcast in the future. If you interested speaking in our podcast, out for us. Thank you. Thank you, a thank you.

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