Job search questions answered by an Executive Recruiter
Episode 166 - A former Google executive recruiter answers my most popular job-search questions. Interview with Ginny Clarke.
Ginny Clarke has extensive experience recruiting senior leaders for Google and other sought-after employers. So, given we had her for a whole hour for this episode, I collated a range of questions from podcast listeners and clients, and I asked her those questions. There's nothing like learning from the expert!
Listen to this episode if you:
Want to learn how to answer the infamous salary question
Have wondered: "Can I apply multiple times for the same organization?"
Have been the internal candidate up for promotion
Need to explain a career gap
Worry about your references
And much more!
About our guest Ginny Clarke
Ginny was most recently Director, Executive Recruiting at Google, from August 2016 until November 2020. In this role, she led the Diversity, Non-tech Recruiting, and Leadership Internal Mobility teams. Before Google, Ginny was a Partner at Spencer Stuart, the global executive search firm, where she co-founded and led the firm's Global Diversity Practice. Currently, Ginny runs Ginny Clarke, LLC, her own talent and leadership consulting business. She is also an active keynote speaker, host, and creator of the podcast Fifth Dimensional Leadership and the author of Career Mapping: Charting Your Course in the New World of Work (2011). Click here to learn more about Ginny.
Resources mentioned in this episode
The conversation I had with the two recruiters mentioned in this episode is now episode 149 of The Job Hunting Podcast
Wendy Metter is the former NorthWestern University Coach who now works independently, providing career consulting services to young professionals
Podcast episode with Sacha Koffman: 122. Overcoming career setbacks
Book mentioned by Ginny: The Heroes Journey, Joseph Campbell
Timestamps to guide your listening
4:04 Ginny's Career
19:35 Question 1: The salary question
22:09 Question 2: Applying multiple times for the same organization
26:32 Question 3: The internal candidate - the Google experience
30:12 Question 4: Explaining a career gap
37:23 Question 5: References
41:42 Question 6: Social media presence
47:16 Question 7: Career advancement - applying for a role above yours
Transcript of this episode
Renata: There is nothing like learning from the expert and our guest today. Ginny Clarke has extensive experience recruiting senior leaders for some of the most sought-after employers in the US. Given we had her for a whole hour for this episode, I collated a range of questions from listeners, you, and also from clients.
Renata: And I asked Ginny those questions. So listen to this episode if you want to learn how to answer the infamous question about the salary, if you've wondered if you could apply multiple times for the same organization if you need to explain a career gap, if you're worried about your references much more.
Renata: Ginny was most recently director of the executive recruiting at Google from 2016 until the end of 2020. In this role, she led the diverse non-tech recruiting and leadership internal mobility teams before Google,, Ginny was a partner at Spencer Stewart. One of the most highly sought-after global executive search firms where she co-founded and led the firm's global diversity practice.
Renata: Currently, Ginny now has her talent and leadership consulting business. She's also an active keynote speaker host and has a podcast called "Fifth Dimensional Leadership." And you should go and listen to it. She's also the author of career mapping, charting your chorus in the new world of work. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Ginny.
Renata: I really, really enjoyed chatting with her. This podcast is such a wonderful opportunity for me to catch up with recruiters and experts all over the world. And it's my pleasure to share those conversations with you. Have a great time listening to the seven job set questions answered by an executive recruiter.
Renata: Ginny Clarke.
Renata: So you, you are in Chicago. And you've lived everywhere. Did you, or were you working from Chicago at
Ginny: Google? No. I lived in California when I was at Google, but I was born and raised in Southern California. And so when I went to Google, my son had been in college, out there for a couple of years.
Ginny: And so I was closer to him. I was still 500 miles away, but closer,,, I was in the same state. So that made it nice. It's a very long state. So very long state people think somebody said to me, I'm gonna be in Los Angeles. Is that close to you? I'm like 500 miles away. No, I mean, look at a map. Come on. No, I know.
Renata: I remember I've done the highway one trip a few times. So pretty. It's so pretty. Isn't it? And one of these times was from my honeymoon. So we started in San Diego. My husband forgot his glasses in San Diego, and we had reached Santa Barbara, and he's like, I need to go back, and I'm like, please don't. And did we get to that?
Ginny: What was that? Four or five hours?
Renata: I don't know,
Ginny: that's a long
Renata: 26. Oh my gosh. 30 years ago. But yeah, I was very annoyed with him.
Ginny: Yeah. Yeah. I would've been too, but anyway.
Renata: And now you're in Chicago. What took you to Chicago?
Ginny: Well, I was originally here for graduate school in the eighties. And that's why I do, to go to Kello.
Ginny: That's right. And then, I had my, most of my career here until Google called, and I kind of went, I don't know. I mean, I wasn't. Most people like, oh, Google. And I was kind of like, eh, I mean, I was in my fifties at that point. It's like, you know, but I figured if I could help them with diversity,,, in particular, that was part of the expertise that they wanted me to help with.
Renata: It has been a big hallmark of your career to help organizations implement. I mean, I read your bio, and it shows that you co-founded the diversity at,
Ginny: at Spencer Stewart. Mm-hmm
Renata: That's fantastic. And that was the early days of diversity.
Ginny: It was. Yeah.
Renata: But were we already using the word diversity?
Renata: Yeah. How sometimes, we get used to words, and it's only been a minute.
Ginny: Well, and then to me, and we can get into this if you want, but I, now it feels almost dare I say comical that, you know,,, we still haven't solved it yet. We just keep adding all these words. It's, you know, it's inclusion, it's belonging.
Ginny: It's justice, this, it should be all that. Yes. But you know, adding more words to the acronym isn't making it any better.
Renata: So tell us, you know, let's tell the listeners a little bit more about your career.
Ginny: What happened at Northwestern that made you decide to, you know, go into HR?
Ginny: Was it at that stage?
Ginny: or was it oh, no, I, I never, and I still, in many ways, don't consider myself an HR, which is kind of interesting. Okay. I'll. I'll go back just because I think it's interesting too. I often want to share this part about. Interest early on because I've had a very non-linear career.
Ginny: So I went to the university of California Davis undergrad because I wanted to be a veterinarian. And I had gone to the university of California, Riverside, in my hometown, mm-hmm, so that I could get in and study animal science and become a veterinarian. Well, after two quarters, I just hated it. Change majors to French and linguistics, double major.
Renata: Oh, wow. That's a big change.
Ginny: Big change. But I had studied French all through high school. I had a great French teacher. And I loved language. I knew I didn't want to be a language teacher or be an interpreter, anything. I knew that mm-hmm, but I loved the fact that it was a system, and that's what I've learned many years later that I'm a systems thinker.
So I worked for a couple of years as a recruiter for the university of California and then decided to go to business school and chose Northwestern. I only picked three schools and got into Northwestern and it. Just the best thing ever. I just,
Renata: and you did your, what was it? An MBA?
Ginny: MBA. Yeah. MBA.
Ginny: Yeah. And it was great. Oh, well, I mean, I love
Renata: They still have blackboards, can you believe it? Like you go there now.
Ginny: I love it. I haven't seen any in, and I was up recently. I'm still very active there. In fact, I just interviewed the Dean. The current Dean, a woman Uhhuh who is, is going to be a guest on my podcast that launches tomorrow shameless plug, but I've just always had to finish for that school.
Ginny: And I worked as a recruiter for them. Yeah. Part-time as a student and got my MBA, and I wanted to, you know, my focus was accounting and finance. That's where I thought I was going to head. And I realized that the similarity, the linkage was that system's thinking accounting is the language of. Right. Oh yeah.
Ginny: And I had studied language, so that's kind of how I thought about it. And I went into banking. They were recruiting cuz I didn't want to be an accountant that much I knew, but I started it in banking at the first national bank of Chicago, which became chase. And then, I moved into commercial real estate for several years with what's now called Jones Lang last.
Ginny: It used to be local partners. Then I moved on to Prudential real estate investors. And then I decided my father passed away, and it was that seminal moment when I thought I didn't love this anymore. What have I always loved? And it was recruiting. And so I networked my way into one of the world's largest executive search firms and was there for 12 years.
Renata: Yeah. Well, that's fantastic. And now after that, you know, you decided recruiting was a passion mm-hmm you stayed there, you moved to, I think LH and then, and then that's right. In-house, with Google, what happened in 2020 that made you decide?
Renata: Okay. Well, before we go there, there was another little gap there where I left Spencer Stewart after I'd made partner and had, had continued on for several years.
Renata: To write a book. So I wrote a book called career mapping during that time in 2011 mm-hmm and did consulting and speaking and all of that on career management because of what I had learned. And I tried to put together this framework because I'd seen so many people inside of a search firm who came to me and said, you're going to help me find my next job.
Renata: And I. Probably not. Well, you, because you understand how that works, right? Search firms are not working for the person. They're working for the company that's hiring. And so the likelihood that I would have that perfect job for that person I was speaking to was very, very low. And I, I thought about it, and I was like, that's not a good strategy for the individual.
Renata: You should be more deliberate about what you want because I always believe that you can create what you want. You shouldn't just wait for the phone too. Right? Yes. That was the other thing before I went back into search because a single mom wanted to get on a regular cadence of revenue.
Renata: And so, yeah, that was, when Google called, I had met someone who had gone to Google after the firm we worked for sold. And a guy named Stuart Kaplan. And he said we need help specifically with diversity at the executive recruiting level. Wow. And I kind of went, do I wanna do that? I don't know, but if, but if I can crack the code, then it would help change, you know, Google sets the tone for the entire industry.
Renata: Right. So if I could help do that, that was the objective of going there. And I was there for about four and a half years in 2020. when I left, it just got. I was tired. Mm-hmm, so many things happened. I had three different teams while I was there. I started out with diversity, and then I added internal mobility.
Renata: And then I, this was simultaneously, so I had three concurrent teams, 30 people. Then I had the team of recruiters as well, and there was always, sort of a reorg and a change. And, and I finally said, you know, I don't think I can be effective under these conditions. And so I decided just. Say good luck.
Renata: Love you all. I gotta go. when
Renata: you left. Your career in mind has so many similarities. We could go on and have a whole episode just about that. When you left, did you know that you wanted to work for yourself again?
Renata: I did. Yes, you did. Okay. I did. And I had, been working with a speaking coach, interestingly.
It was funny because during my time at Google. Word got out that I had written this book on career management, not to mention the fact that I had created an internal ability program for the senior leaders at still sitting inside of the executive recruiting function. And the whole idea of that was to the extent that we can help retain some of the top talent, not determined by me, but by, you know, the hiring managers.
Renata: Yes then, we could, you know, that's what everybody wants to do. You wanna, that's what you retain top talent, yeah. And so the program was really focused on how do we help some of these leaders, because there aren't going to be other senior level jobs that are going to meet their professional needs necessarily, which is why they might have been looking outside mm-hmm can we help create new opportunities within Google for some of these senior folks?
Renata: And so my team and I worked with them kind of coached them. What are your competencies? And that's a word that you hear me say a lot because that, to me, is the essence of what people need to understand about what they're bringing. It's not just what you've done, and it's how you've done it. And how can you port some of these competencies? They are skills and capabilities and, indicative, demonstrated behaviors surrounding potential.
Renata: Yes. But how can you as an individual say, well, I've done all these things? I've deconstructed these activities and capabilities from different jobs. Mm-hmm, and now I'd like to bundle them and repackage them into something else. And I think there's so much power for an individual to be able to do that.
Renata: Mm-hmm, So that's what I did anyway, back to, you know, just back to me. Yeah. The word got out that, that I had this book and that I was really good at internal mobility and thinking, talking about careers. And so I ended up speaking to many employee resource groups, ERGs within Google, for women and people of color, and for different functional groups that might have a summit.
Renata: And so I thought, wow, you know, I probably spoke. Four or 5,000 Googlers during my time. Wow. And, I thought, I, this, I would love to be able to do this and take it to the next level as a professional speaker. And so that's mostly how I'm spending my time. These days, I work through a speakers bureau, and I've been booked quite a number of times in the last year.
Renata: Oh, oh, fantastic. Yeah.
Renata: And you've been doing live events, or has it
Renata: been, been live? Yeah, I did. Initially, it was virtual, but now I'm doing it live. I travel. You know, two or three or four times a month to different destinations. And it's a lot of, oh, what would I call them? Trade associations and other professional associations.
Renata: It's just been a lot of fun, but I've expanded my repertoire to talk mostly about leadership, which is what I observed while at Google. And during all those years as an executive.
Renata: Yeah. Yeah, no, that's fantastic. I wanted to use your time on this podcast to answer some of the questions I get, you know?
Renata: Yeah. Of course, that in-house experience that you have, mm-hmm, I mean, together with the external executive search that you've done, I think, gives the listeners such great insight on what they need to do. Couple of. Reflections on what you've said so far. You wrote a book quite a while ago and still, you know, this misunderstanding of the different roles between, you know, somebody that can coach or mentor you or somebody that can, you know, that you go to when there is a, a job opportunity when they have a briefing that suits you mm-hmm, which is the executive search.
A role people don't understand. No, the difference. Yesterday, I did a stream yard, but I did it live on LinkedIn and YouTube. And I saw that you saw that yes, with two executive search partners trying to workshop, you know, how can we educate? Mm-hmm. Their candidates, my listeners, are better prepared when they reach out to recruiters.
Renata: Yes. And even though you like to position that difference between EK search and, you know, normal recruitment, to me, it doesn't really matter. I think that career readiness, you need to learn from the get-go. Oh, for sure. Even though there is a level of sophistication when, Become more senior mm-hmm, there's still an etiquette about it that it's better, you know, as soon as possible.
Renata: It's really interesting. I am, specializing in more mature clients. So my clientele is, I kid you not, I have a client in his seventies. I love it—clients in their sixties and fifties and forties. And I have one client in her thirties, just one. So that shows, you know, that there is this really interesting second half of the career tail end kind of, focus of my work. Still, I've just finished teaching at university terrific hundred and 16 students and doing masters of public policy, international relations, international development. So a whole bunch of master students bit older, you know, in their late twenties, early thirties, some were older than that. Still, it's interesting that their questions and the things that I teach and the roadmap that I created as a coach, I mean, Develop the framework, each coach, you know, lost it, their own framework.
Renata: I can apply it to, you know, a wide range of. For clients and students, that's really, I think, important. Would you imagine somebody, going into sports or acting without knowing what their competencies were like, you, you know, yes, I have a strong backhand, or no, I don't have a strong backhand?
Renata: Right. That's not my forte. Let's avoid that on the field. Exactly. You know, exactly. You have to know. And I think that education is still missing, even from amazing universities like Northwestern. I remember I visited the MBA team there back in 2008, and they had an amazing career coach there.
Renata: Mm-hmm for her name. She's now not at Northwestern. So if anybody's looking for a career coach in Chicago, you can try to find her. I will remember her name and add it to the episode channels, and she taught me so much. Mm-hmm, and I think if you are smart while you're doing your professional development and you reach out to the teams in universities and business schools, mm-hmm, they can help so much, but not a lot of people reach out to them.
Ginny: Not until they need a job.
Ginny: And, and that, that point, you're not paying attention to some of the underlying reasons that might have.
Renata: I got feedback called the name of my podcast. It's called the job hunting podcast. Then somebody wrote to me and said, I know it's called the job hunting podcast, but I wish I were listening to this before I lost my job.
Renata: Not now. Yeah. You know, that's amazing that, where it's 20, 22, and now, it seems that there is an awakening of personal values and alignment ambitions. Am I, is this my ambition to work at Tesla? Mm-hmm, if I have to work there. You know, in Loco at, the office, I don't want anymore.
Renata: I've changed my ambition to the point. I don't care what my CEO says. I want to stay home. I think people are really starting to reassess their values.
Ginny: Indeed. I think that's a good thing. Mm-hmm
Renata: yeah, isn't it?
Renata: Yeah. All right. So now let's work on answering some questions from my audience. Yeah. These are questions.
Renata: I went back and found them, you know, in notes and things like that. And the salary conversation comes up time and time again. Mm-hmm. Because of the ATS systems, it's sometimes unavoidable if you hop online, even as a more senior candidate. Is it true that organizations like Google would still recruit old candidates through an online system, or is it still could be?
Ginny: Could be, it depends on theirs, there, the level. If you're senior, if you're talking age or status, mm-hmm, right. But at a certain. And that's why I was saying at, at, at a certain level director level and up it's we generally didn't take applicants. We weren't using the applicant tracking system. It was a separate; it was treated like an executive search firm.
Ginny: So we were going out. These were passive candidates. We went out and had recruiters who were identifying these folks and considered some internal candidates as well. But yeah, that's why it's different.
Renata: All right, but how do you address the salary conversation to
Ginny: the salary piece? Very often. And it depends on there are laws that, and that's, I think they emerge in certain states as a function of gender pay equity, where you can't ask mm-hmm.
Ginny: So if you're not, you know, you need to know the laws, for wherever you might be going, because you shouldn't have to share it. You want to know that there will be parody between you and someone else, regardless of their sexual orientation, you know, their, their gender, whatever, race, all these things, because there are, there's a lot of disparity, around compensation.
Ginny: So that's why those laws have been put in place in certain countries. If you're asked, I would just give a range. And I would actually, I would actually try to offer this is where I want to be, because this, I know where this is, where I see the market is mm-hmm right. Because a lot of women have been underpaid, chronically underpaid.
Ginny: And so they're not even at the market. So the answer should be, this is what I know the market is if they insist and wanna see tax returns or something. Well, you know, you're stuck telling the truth. Yeah. Yeah. But also, I would follow it quickly. But this is what I see the market to be. And this is where I would expect you to come in.
Ginny: I agree. And I think as part of your research if you are a candidate, if you are job hunting, you need to know what the market's saying. Best people. Yeah. Ask people; some people feel very awkward about asking about salaries. Since you mentioned women, women listening to this episode, go to a career that saws it's a subscription membership for ambitious women.
Ginny: And you can ask anything on that platform. It's run by three amazing women mm-hmm. And I think they have hundreds of women now on the platform. And, you know, you can use Reddit, Glassdoor, talk to people, but find out. I think it's important that you know what you should be paid before you go to market.
Renata: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's unavoidable that question these days and, knowing, it gives you power mm-hmm. Now, how about? I've recently had a client in the US who applied for a job at Google at a director level. And then that didn't; nothing happened. We analyzed the resume again. It was a perfect position for her, by the way.
Renata: Mm-hmm, but we analyzed it again using job scan to make sure the ATS working in her favor. We fixed a few things. There's another role at Google, right? We want to reapply. A lot of times, people ask me what happens when you apply multiple times with the same organization. This is not more as an ex search.
Renata: It's more like recruitment, but I was hoping you could give an insight if there is, like, some people think that there's a black mark against their name. They no, of
Renata: Of course not. No, there's, there's not a, there's not a black mark per se. Yeah. Against someone. I mean, if you see someone just keeps applying and applying and applying and being rejected, then you have a wonder what's wrong.
Renata: But if they've been reviewed and someone has reached out and expressed interest, and they were considered. Whether or not they were eventually interviewed, right? What is, they got a response that said we're interested and at least a recruiter had a conversation with them to know something about them; that information gets captured.
Renata: They'll often be considered again because of some reference points. But no, that, that shouldn't be, you know, shouldn't run away. I think
Renata: if somebody is applying, applying, applying and not getting through, there's a tendency to blame the organization and say, oh, I've been black. MAED I bet there's something, you know, in
Renata: the system, but you know what, you know, in that sense, move on, move on, look at another company, find another way knowing someone can.
Ginny: Yeah. If you know someone inside to say, this is a role that I'm interested in, do you know anybody in recruiting who might be able to look at my background? Mm-hmm,, to me, that can be advantageous. It's not always going to work in enormous organizations like Google. Yeah. But for smaller organizations in particular, if you've got someone who can give you some insight and maybe put in a good word for you, that can.
Renata: Yeah. And also, you know, instead of that, blame game, look at your application, you know, review it.
Ginny: Yeah. But at some point, you know, and this is my gripe with, the process, you know, there are people. These algorithms will spit out people who are highly qualified in a different sense because if you're only looking at experience, this is why I spent so much time talking about competencies, particularly in the context of trying to increase the number of underrepresented people.
Ginny: Right? So there's this whole, repeated thing, we know that women have been underpaid, under-leveled chronic. We know that, and I'm talking a lot about women just because there isn't a parody, at least not in the United States, there isn't right. No. And so we know. And yet we'll still look at a woman's we, you know, everybody can be accused of having done it.
Ginny: We'll We'll look at that resume and still go, well, they haven't done this, and they haven't done that. And my attitude is, have you had a conversation with them to understand the depth of what they actually know? Because if they've been under-leveled, you're not seeing the full range of capabilities, and that's why competencies are not the same as experience.
Ginny: and, you know, that's why I was trained to inter know how to interview for competencies and not just check the box and say, they've done this. They have this title they had. That means nothing. I've worked with plenty of incompetent people who had beautiful resumes, and I've brought in people who had not so great looking resumes.
Ginny: But when I met them, and often it was based on a referral, they were amazing. Which one do you want??
Renata: yeah, it's really funny. I don't say this to clients, but now that I'm here with you, I'll say this. A lot of people, a lot of men since the beginning of the pandemic, has had a lot of very patchy career.
Renata: They lost their jobs. They got a contract for six months. They, you know, became unemployed for quite a while. I got another little job. They worry about it so much. And I want to say, well, welcome to my world. Yeah. That the world of women, you know, we, we go into mater leave. We come back, and it's that level of anxiety that women often have about their careers, not being moved in there, as you know, compared to men's careers.
Renata: Now, men are starting to experience that more and more. Mm-hmm mm-hmm. It's really interesting.
Ginny: Yeah. They have to learn how to talk about the gaps. Yeah. There's a way to do it.
Renata: I loved it as part of your job at Google was to attract, but also maintain talent in-house, mm-hmm and try to find opportunities for them, that internal candidate applying for roles and going through promotions.
Renata: Give me an insight into what you need to showcase to be considered for internal opportunities.
Ginny: It's not easy because if you're talking about somebody who's been doing one thing for, let's say, 10 or 15 years inside the company, or maybe outside, you know, they have five years, someplace else, five years within the organization.
Ginny: The onus falls on them to be able to explain to a hiring manager who might be in a completely different group or function why this individual has not just functional or domain expertise but some of the leadership competencies to be able to lead and manage others in this area, because an intelligent hiring manager will say, wow, I'll take a proven leader over a domain expert in certain circumstances.
Ginny: Right. If I'm trying to build something, the team can support the domain expertise, they can help that person learn the business, but strong leadership is completely different. It can be different sets of competencies. And unfortunately, I think most companies don't make that distinction, and they promote people based on tenure and based on experience and not based on separate competencies and leadership behaviors.
Ginny: Yeah. Versus knowing the business. Those can be two completely different things.
Renata: As somebody who was trying to retain talent and support them, what sort of internal professional development do you think you can put in place in organizations that help?
Ginny: Yeah. Google had a pretty hearty learning and development organization.
Ginny: I forget exactly what they called it. And they have something called Google school for leaders. And I was a director there. So I benefited from some of the leadership programs offered, and I think those things are important because people need to realize that they're all. You never stop learning, no matter how senior you become.
Ginny: And there's an expectation that, you know, you get around other people who are trying to learn some of these leadership competencies because again, it's acknowledging the difference between, you know, you might be tenured and an expert, but that doesn't mean you lead effectively. And that's what the promotion is supposed to be about.
Ginny: Moving up the food chain. Yeah. Ostensibly means that you're gaining mastery around leading others, right? That's why you move up. You make more money. You have more and more people reporting to you because you're an effective leader. That's the premise. That's not always what happens.
Renata: Yeah. It's a hard thing to move away from being so good at what you do to being uncomfortable with, you know, the next level up, and that's right. Managing, spending so much of your time, not doing those things that you were good at, but letting others do it for you.
Ginny: You have to. That's exactly right.
Ginny: And some people aren't good at that. Right? They'll micromanage or, you know, they don't want to spend time. I think it was Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, who said something like if you're not spending half your time on people issues, you shouldn't call yourself a leader. That's what leadership is about.
Ginny: You're dealing with people. You're not doing the work, mm-hmm, nor are you necessarily overseeing it. Mm-hmm, that's that could be a manager, but as the leader, you're setting strategy, you're setting vision, you're making sure that everybody and you're communicating effectively. Those are leadership competencies.
Renata: Yeah, no, that's gold. And Ginny, I think I missed an opportunity to expand on what you said before about the career gap, you know, mm-hmm,, and to explain career gaps. Yeah. You may have, had. People came to you and had to present their career gaps. How open do you think employers are now to career gaps, you know, and career gaps these days? I mean, as a coach, I see people needing time out.
Renata: for mental health. Absolutely.
Renata: For carers reasons. Yeah. For, you know, in the old days, it would be just maternity leave in a couple of other things. And also because during the pandemic, there were no jobs. You know, If a senior EEC would normally take six months to a year to find a new role, mm-hmm, now it's taking longer because you know, there was no, no jobs advertising 20, 20, early, 20, 21 mm-hmm do you think there's more understanding now or people still very.
Ginny: oh, for sure.
Ginny: Oh, I think there's greater understanding. At the same time, I think the individual has to get comfortable in talking about why there's leave and not allow themselves to feel a sense of shame and apologize for it, which I think has been the tendency, you know, it's kind of like, whoa, I, what can I say?
Ginny: And to be honest, there's a fine line that you don't want to cross where you're sharing too much information. Yeah. But to say, you know, I had a sick parent mm-hmm. If that's true, then say that. Who can't relate to that? Yes. Just be sure you tell the truth. Mm-hmm right. It's not like somebody's going to go check up on you, but you just never know who knows who. You don't ever want to lie when it comes to anything about your background.
Ginny: So tell the truth, and you can just stop short of something that might be a little, little bit too personal. Yes. Right. And people aren't going to probe. If they know it was a family consideration, you know, you don't need to say mental health, you can say health mm-hmm mm-hmm because there are still some people who have an associate, a stigma with that despite how much we're learning about mental health.
Ginny: Yes. Despite this, I saw a statistic recently that said that 84% of, and this was in the us, I believe. 84% of employees and executives suffer from fatigue and poor mental health. This was a month ago.
Renata: There's a great number of sea level executives resigning. I don't know if you've seen that in the news here in Australia. We've seen it a lot, and I've read some articles from the UK as well.
Ginny: People are stressed out. So, you know, I think it's becoming a little bit more in Vogue to acknowledge that you've succumbed to stress.
Renata: Yeah. And look, you know, this has been happening for a long time. My dad, we lived in the valley, by the way. My dad worked in Palo Alto for a while.
Ginny: Okay. Uhhuh
and then we went back to Brazil, and I think, I don't know exactly when it was, if it was before or after our time in us, but he had five 400 people. Whoa. And you, you know, those restructure in the eighties, those that are really yes, of course. Hardcore stuff. And he did that, then he didn't go back to work, and he couldn't work for an entire year.
Renata, the only reason why dad, I think, got out of his, you know, mental health issues at the time, we didn't call it that. No. Sure. But I decided I didn't want to go to school, and then he, he briefed, said that was what made him think. Okay. I need to go back to work because I'm sending a bad example here to my children.
Renata: Mm-hmm mm-hmm, but you know, back then, it was a really, so I don't know how I need to ask him. I don't know how he explained it. Right. It's not something that we talk about. No, you know, and you know, people seem to think that now we're all fragile and have PTSD and this and that.
Renata: I'm like, no, mate, we've been having this all the
Renata: time. Indeed. Just people didn't talk about it. Right. That's. Yeah.
Renata: All right. So career gaps are something that I help clients with all the time as well. And they're still very uncomfortable about talking about you.
Ginny: You just must get comfortable practicing it. You know, I talk in terms of a narrative and telling your whole story, in a way you can give the highlights in 10 minutes. Yeah. Right. That's often what I would do, and I would interview candidates. I would have a 90-minute interview with executive candidates, and I would say, tell me your story. And they're like, well, what do you mean? There's. It's all on the resume.
Ginny: I'm like, actually, no, I read it, but there's a lot that's not on the resume. I want to hear your story. And in that story, you can weave in, and then you're giving it context versus just saying, and then I did this, and then I did that. And then I did that. It's like, but why did you do those things?
Ginny: What was your motivation for making that move? Did you choose to leave? Why did you decide to go? Okay. And no judgment. Right? So once, and so when you begin to hear yourself tell the story, now it doesn't sound so horrible, and you don't have to kind of mumble and cover your mouth and say, you know, I got laid off.
Ginny: Well, there's no stigma against getting laid off anymore. You know, what would impress me is if someone said I was fired, I was fired because I wasn't performing well enough compared to somebody else in the organization. That would impress me.
Renata: I agree. I have an interview on this podcast with my friend, Sasha Kaufman, and I've been, you, you are a speaker now.
Renata: He used to come to my events as a speaker since 2008 because of his amazing story of being fired and coming back from the ashes and using that as part of his pitch and the way that he presented himself because of that huge failure. You know, I've learned to do this, to do that.
Ginny: There you go.
Renata: You know, and I think that is a great way of addressing the elephant in the room. Mm-hmm. Because, especially in a small town like Melbourne, I mean, people that live here don't think it's small, but it's a much smaller, you know, business community than, let's say, Chicago. Right? Sure. So it's better that you address that because absolutely.
Renata: You are controlling the narrative.
Renata: Letting others make their assumptions about you.
Ginny: That's right. Yeah.
Renata: So that's really good. In terms of Storytelling, mm-hmm. I think that you were saying before that you're now a speaker and you're part of a bureau. I will put a link in the show notes about that.
Renata: There is such a great opportunity for executives to become better storytellers mm-hmm. And we've been talking about this, where is part of my program is, you know, teaching people, how. Tell stories. Mm-hmm, we go into Roland bath and Aristotles, and we look at, you know, how movies are put together, all films have failures built-in, you know, like those things that get your attention and your then paying more attention.
Renata: Not because everything is smooth and pretty,, and no. Perfect. No story is fun if it's written like that.
Ginny: That's right. Right. Yeah. It's not real. I mean, there's a, it's kind of the hero's journey, right? I mean, Joseph Campbell was known for writing that, and the hero always goes through ups and downs.
Ginny: What did you learn? That's always what I want to hear about.
Renata: Absolutely. Yeah, no, I love that.
I'd love to talk to you about references. Mm-hmm, I do something quite different. I add two regards to my resume at the bottom, and I say contact details.
Upon request, but I add the names, the reason why I do this, and I know a lot of people don't, I want to get your views is because I was new to this country when I first came here and I didn't know anybody and having two people in Australia that could, or, you know, it could be overseas, but two people that could vouch for me that had my back, that could advocate for me when the time was right. Yeah. It was necessary for the recruiter to know or the hiring manager to know.
Renata: And I add those two references to all my resumes, and my, clients tend to convert. So I think that there's something about that. Mm-hmm,, what do you
Ginny: think? I mean, I, obviously, I I'm used to taking references on candidates regularly.
Being in-house is different from being in an agency. Yeah. For these executive roles that I'm familiar with. So being in-house, legal would not allow us to reach out to anybody whose name was not given to us by the candidate.
Renata: Oh, okay.
Ginny: So they had to give us their list of references when we got to that point.
Ginny: And those were the only people we could call. Yeah. We often would have hiring managers who said, well, I know, so and so, and let me ask them,, and it's like, no, no. Do you realize that you could be compromising this person? They were usually still employed, right? and I've heard of horror stories where somebody just thought they were asking their buddy,, and it turns out well,, their buddy was the person's boss.
Ginny: Yes, right. Or, or it used to be or something, you know, it's just so you'd never, ever wanna do that. Yeah. Being in an agency. However, at Spencer Stewart, we were able to do what we sometimes called third-party referencing. Yes. So we would reach out to those people because we had a robust database. You could substitute LinkedIn these days.
Ginny: You can kind of see who they are connected to and, and ask around that way. But again, you know, word gets around that you're asking around. Yeah,, about someone. So as a recruiter, you have to maintain your integrity and respect the confidentiality of the references that were given. Yeah. But we were able to, often because of the the robustness of the database, find at least one person who knew this individual, because they might have worked in the same organization, you know, for a period of time. They could give us some additional, hopefully unbiased feedback on them.
Ginny: In addition to the the names that the candidate would've given us, make sure that you're giving names of people who worked with you, not just friends, right? They can attest with some specificity what it is that you're good at. Make sure that it's not too much time is lapsed ten years ago.
Ginny: You're a different person. That's not going to be a great reference. You know, go for people who worked with you and know you; ideally, it's someone who's been a direct report. Someone who might have been a boss and someone who's a.
Renata: Ginny. What happens when your immediate manager in your most recent job is not somebody you got along with, you know, you left, at odds with that manager? Many jobs require the future employer to do the due diligence and talk to the previous manager.
Ginny: Yeah. This is where I think, you know, employment laws are really different too, country by country, because a lot of times you can't most people in the states Uhhuh, most individuals would not talk to a recruiter. Right? So your boss wouldn't, they, they're not even allowed. You have to call H R, and they're not going to put you through to whoever that person was. Now,,, if you know the name of the individual and you can reach them well, to the extent that the candidate didn't give you their name, mm-hmm. That's not cool. Right? Because there are two sides to the story. Yeah. It could be that that person is a terrible leader and manager,,, and your candidate is great.
Ginny: Yeah. Or it could, you know, there's the true life somewhere in between. So you just, you really gotta be careful when you're doing these, but the recruiter needs to be careful. The candidate needs to be careful.
Renata: Yes. In talking about being careful. What do you think about social media activity? When you are going into recruitment, I've had some conversations recently. And this was a fascinating case study where it wasn't the client that reached out to me that was looking for work. It was his partner, but they were in conflict because his partner was in a very traditional work environment. Mm-hmm and, and this client of mine, social media was not very conservative, and you know, and, his partner was saying, this is not going to help my career. I'm very ambitious for my career in the end. You know, this was a couple of years ago. They're not together anymore. And I wonder, you know, if social media and that discrepancy between one wanting to become, to be private and keep things confidential. The other wants to have a very public lifestyle.
Ginny: Was program. You know, social media, you're putting yourself on the front street. So, you know, I would tell my son and everybody else it's like, what do you want people to see whether or not you're connected other people can see, into your behaviors. And so if you're hanging out on a beach, all the time, you know, I, I have a friend who God loves her. I mean, she's on social media constantly, and she has a pretty good, you know, relatively senior-level job. But once I sent it to her, I always see you just out to dinner with your girls on the weekends and on vacation. And, and when do you work? You know, when do you, I mean, it it's like, at some point you're not sending at least, show yourself at a, at an event, you know, I'm not big on social media, but I pictured myself at a speaking thing with some of the other attendees. And you know, me eating dinner at night after night. That's not interesting or hanging out with my friends. So if anything, I'm trying to demonstrate that I'm a well-rounded person with varied interests, but I don't always need to have a drink in my hand.
Ginny: I mean, it's a little bit of common sense, and this isn't even about conservatism. Forget about now; that's a whole other conversation, you know? Yes. When you're putting your views out there, you're asking for it. Whatever, whichever way you want to go. Mm-hmm, just be careful because not everybody's going to agree with you. And some organizations don't want to be caught in the middle of having, you know, particularly a very senior level person having strong political views. So be careful, yeah, this is my best advice. Tone it down. Just to be safe.
Renata: I think I'd like to, you know, to reflect on this because I think it's important for people to, again, with a coach or doing some self-reflection, understand that they have a
Renata: reputation, whether or not you are or not.
Ginny: You like it,, that's it. You'll have a reputation. Yes. And do you know what it is? Becomes a question.
Renata: Yes. One of the hardest work I do as a coach is increase equity in that reputation. Mm-hmm, if you burnt bridges, if you haven't taken care of it and nurtured it, and people don't know what to think about you or them, you know, I had a conversation with a client yesterday,, and she's like, I've just realized people think of me or in as why. I'm not, Y I'm X, you know, I need to change their perception. How do I do it? And I'm like, well, let's work on it. It doesn't happen overnight. No. Because you need that ongoing PR, you know, organizations have PR public relations. You need ongoing, consistent messaging over time.
Renata: And if you are constantly messaging that you're out and about having drinks all night, mm-hmm. I mean, even if you aren't, if that's what you're posting, that's what people see. That's right. Then you are sending that message. Think about the branding and how it will stick, you know, what equity you, you will have in your reputation as a senior executive or a professional, whatever level you are.
Renata: And it needs to be consistent. So when I work with clients, it's like, everything needs to be consistent. It's not perfect. It's just consistent messaging. Yeah. The message on LinkedIn, the news on your resume. What comes out of your mouth when, when you're on a phone screen or at an interview,
Ginny: What is your story? What's your narrative? How do you talk about yourself? Yes.
Renata: It's all consistent. And social media is part of
Renata: that. Absolutely.
Renata: Isn't it amazing what LinkedIn has done? Recruitment and selection.
Ginny: Yeah. I mean, I was around at Spencer Stewart before it existed. Right. So, it was a very new thing, but I think it's a fabulous tool that opened up a whole market for employers and would-be employees, too for candidates.
Renata: What do you think about LinkedIn as a tool to overcome some issues like diversity and inclusion? Do you think that that's possible as well? Yeah. Through that,
Ginny: I think it has. Yeah. Yeah. And, frankly, you know, I'm an African American woman, and I'm very fair-skinned; people don't always know that.
But there are things that I have in my bio that would suggest, and I very often speak it right when I'm talking. Yeah. And so, you know, there are pictures on LinkedIn, and sometimes you can see that someone has dark skin or that they're associated with a particular organization, you know, may, might not be their employer, but a professional organization or a sports organization or something.
Ginny: And so you can infer that they are a person who has, as we say, here from an underrepresented background.
Renata: And in terms of candidates that you've dealt with that had potential to be at a more senior level, mm-hmm, and were competing with all the candidates that already had the experience at that more senior level.
Renata: How can you best present yourself as a worthy candidate? If you are going up in your career from, you know, job to job, and you may still be. have that lack of confidence that you can get a more senior role. I'll give you some examples. Sometimes I'm working, especially with women, and I say, okay, what's your ten-year goal?
Renata: Yeah. And they come to me and say, oh, my ten-year goal is to be a chief operating officer. And I go, why ten years? Right. Why not?
Ginny: Why does that have to take that long?
Renata: Like, I mean, look at, I look at your experience, you know, compared to my male clients, right? Mm-hmm. You can apply for COO jobs right now.
Renata: Mm-hmm, do you realize that? And I think people just don't understand that you can be hired for potential and you can advance..
Ginny: well, and I don't even think it's necessarily potential. It might not show up by virtue of the title of the role that you're in, but you have probably demonstrated your abilities in other roles.
Ginny: That's why I keep talking about competencies because, see, I, I say that education doesn't make you smart, and being smart doesn't make you competent. Right? So, plenty of people who have big titles and big jobs make lots of money who are not that good at what they do, or at least they're not good at leading others, which is, as I said, typically, what the expectation is when the higher up you go in an organization, your leadership potential, and yes, you, unless you were an individual contributor.
Ginny: It's your leadership that sets you apart. Right? So I think the candidate needs to reshape their thinking around it. You also have to understand this is not. I've not worked anywhere. There's been a perfect meritocracy. Relationships matter, right? And men are good at this. I will give them credit.
Ginny: They're going to talk to their buddy and say, Hey, you know, I want to check out that job. Will you put in a good word? You know, the hiring manager put in a good word for me. And I think women are much more, well, it says that I need this and this and this and this. I don't have those things yet. So I'm not going to apply.
Ginny: Men are like, I got 50% of it. I'm good here. I'm going after it. Yeah. And, but then, the relationships that you develop and cultivate, and I'm not suggesting that these are nefarious or, or scandalous kinds of really, I'm just saying you need people who can vouch for you. You need friends and sponsors and mentors who can say something good about you when you're not in the room.
Ginny: Yeah. And sometimes you must tell them that you need them to say those things on your behalf. Mm-hmm, so don't be shy. This, you know, I know in a lot of cultures it's self-promotion is taboo, but there are ways that it's not considered to be obnoxious or showy. You just have to tell people, look, I'm interested in this role.
Ginny: What do you think? You know, do you know anybody who might be able to help me get considered? That's what you're going for? And once you're entertained, once you're a candidate, you know, you will have practiced. You will have, rehearsed your comment, you to have built that narrative, and you'll go in confident and kill.
Ginny: that's how you do it, but just to sit back and wait and hope that your resume gets picked, it's not that straightforward. It just isn't. Yeah,
Renata: Absolutely. How many times do we have to say that?
Ginny: You know, that was my son calling me as long as he, yeah, he's 26 and he's, you know, he's in the entertainment world, and I have to remind him of the same thing.
Ginny: He's working for some, and worked for some great companies. But, I still have to remind them, you gotta learn how to play the game. It isn't just about showing up for work every day and doing a great job. It's building relationships with people. It's going out of your way sometimes and doing that extra thing, right?
Ginny: Yeah. It's having relationships outside of the company and being a part of a professional association. So you build a reputation that way. Right? These are things that people don't seem to understand if you want to move up, then you have to be, you know, sort of a citizen of your community, not just at work.
Ginny: So it doesn't have to be complicated. You have to want to enjoy it or stay in what you're doing. If, if you're comfortable in your tiny space, then stay there. But if you have aspirations for more, your world needs to expand.
Renata: Yeah, I like that. And I like the fact that today, because of technology, there are so many different ways that you can connect, you know, of course,,, could be a way that suits your personality and you know, then, how you feel most comfortable.
Renata: It doesn't have to be face to face. You can do, you can write, you can do a video.
Ginny: You sure can.
Renata: You know, there are so many different ways. So
Ginny: yeah, for all those introverts, right, who are just cringing at what I just described. No, there a lot of this stuff that I'm talking about is virtual. You know, you reach out to people, just to, and I watched my son do this.
Ginny: It's like, yes, he's been watching me. You reach out to folks, not when you're looking for a job, when you just want to learn more. He reached out to some, someone who had a similar title as he has at Netflix, mm-hmm, and I'm like, perfect. He said, she, I just wanted her to know what I do and where I work.
Ginny: Yeah, you know, compare, and she was fine with that. Well, don't, you know, she might think of him when there's an opening for someone at his. Oh, lovely. That's how that works.
Renata: Exactly,,, Ginny. Oh, it was so lovely to talk to you. Is there anything else you would like to share with listeners, you know, final words, words of wisdom, where to find you?
Ginny: Yeah, just, I guess a word of wisdom, you know, I'm big on passion and people doing what they love. I know it sounds trite, especially these days, but check yourself from time to time, you know, every two or three years, take an inventory of where you are and if your work is filling you because there's nothing worse. There's no slower death than you just, you know, grinding it out every day. You didn't come here to suffer. To find work that holds meaning for you. That's fun in some way. That's important. And I think there's room for that, even in these curious times we find ourselves. So please do that.
You can find me at https://ginnyclarke.com . And that's where my podcast, my speaking, all the stuff that I love to talk about and do is, is all there. So thank you.
Ginny: Oh, thank you so much, Ginny, for your time. I appreciate you being here with us.
Ginny: Enjoyed it.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
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