Recruiter Interview – Adriane Schwartz
Adriane Lee Schwartz is CEO of Style Search & Consulting,
the leading recruitment firm specializing in expert placement of
superior talent in accessories, jewelry, beauty, gifts, novelty, home, textiles and apparel positions – www.stylesearchusa.com.
Feel free to send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adriane possesses 30 years of recruiting experience in the above sectors, which lead to the start up of a Resume Writing/Job Search Consulting Service. She offers the creation and revisions of Resumes, Cover Letters, Thank You and Follow Up Notes, Bios, LinkedIn Profiles, etc.– all documents that fuel a highly successful job search. In addition, she offers consultations about planning effective job searches, interview preparation, follow up strategies, compensation and negotiations, and other related topics. If you are interested in any of the above services, please email email@example.com.
Adriane holds a Master of Science in Management & Organizational Behavior, a Bachelor of Arts in Writing, and additional coursework in all the product categories for which she recruits. She is a published writer and speaker about career advancement, as well as the organizational development of companies to enhance productivity, efficiency, creativity and morale. She is currently writing a book that is a comprehensive guide about what to do – and not to do – to land a great position. If you are interested in acquiring a copy, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck with your search!
Tell us a little about yourself
AS: I’ve been a recruiter since the first day I started in 1989. The industry has changed remarkably over that time. I started out in NYC where I lived for many years. There was no email or internet, and recruiting took place on the phone and in person only. It is amazing we were able to do as well as we did.
Over time, I moved to Connecticut, New Hampshire and then Key West, Florida, and the business took on a new process over time — via email, phone, skype, face time and in person when possible. I now live part-time on a houseboat and part-time on a sailboat. I conduct business from these locations as the waves throw me about the cabin. But my business does not suffer at all; I have email and a phone, and during the year I visit different locations of the country – NY, RI, LA, etc. – to meet with clients and candidates in the industry.
Concurrent with my recruiting career, I received an MS in Management, with a focus in organizational psychology and human resources. I had a subspecialty of environmental psychology, where I conducted and published research about topics such as telecommuting, organization and improvement of work environments, increasing employee productivity, enhancing creativity and other related topics. I wrote for HOW Magazine, ID Magazine and scholarly journals. My work experience and education blended together to give me a 360 degree look at individuals functioning at the optimal level in the workplace, which in turn helps me recruit with a greater perspective.
How did you get into recruiting?
AS: I was in a design/copywriting position and knew I wanted to do something that involved sales. I was lucky enough to be approached by a contact to recruit designers and copywriters for a freelance placement agency. I was then recruited from that position by a recruiter of recruiters! I transitioned to a high caliber creative recruitment firm where I gained excellent experience placing permanent staff in companies at the top echelon of their industries. I trained with some of the best recruiters in the industry. I am lucky to have experience placing both permanent and freelance talent under my belt. It has led to my ability to provide my clients with both options, find optimal talent quickly, and see a wider range of hiring options for my clients.
I left the company to start my own recruitment firm in NYC specializing in placing all types of talent in the fashion, advertising, multimedia, industrial design and graphic design industries. From there, I moved to Connecticut and continued to recruit, but found myself falling into a new area – recruiting for the accessories, jewelry and fashion industries at large. I fell in love with this specialty area and decided to focus specifically on it. In 2008, I launched Style Search & Consulting, a search firm that would specifically focus on these industries, which is the present company I own and operate.
Tell us about Style Search & Consulting
AS: Our specialty areas include placement of fulltime, freelance, part-time, consulting, reps, interns and everything in between. We place staff from top-tier officer level down to entry level. Our ability to place at any level comes from our knowledge of each of our clients’ particular businesses. We are extremely well educated about our clients’ companies, cultures, needs, preferences, etc. and can sometimes guide our clients on the type of individual to hire, versus the other way around. This way, whether it is a Vice President of Sales or a Junior Jewelry Designer, we know the company and the person who is best for the role. There are times we don’t even need a full job description; a small amount of information is enough to find candidates.
Our relationships have been long term. We are not interested in making one placement with a company and moving on. We are interested in building a long term, honest, productive, mutually beneficial working relationship. The other difference in our company is that we are committed to placing every position we are assigned to fill. We don’t pick and choose based on potential fees and put searches aside – we work on all of them by carefully organizing our time and strategizing our efforts so we can successfully produce on-point high quality candidates for all of the openings on our plate.
Why would a fashion industry job seeker want to work at or with Style Search & Consulting?
AS: Because we work quickly to find them employment and specifically discuss with candidates all positions that are on point with their background. We are also out of the box thinkers; we may see an opportunity that is different from someone’s background – perhaps one that looks like a stretch – but is instinctual and justifiable to us. Though we are particular in presenting candidates for roles matching their experience, we also don’t pigeonhole people – we keep our minds open to what their options could be. We are aggressive about finding new companies to work with and job openings to recruit for so that our candidates have many choices. For all of these reasons, we are a great resource to keep in touch with and refer people to.
We also offer a resume writing service and create resumes, cover letters, thank you notes, follow up letters, etc. and consulting services to improve job searches, interviews and preparation thereof, compensation negotiations and related topics.
I am very happy that after 30 years in the business I have knowledge and experience to help people in ways that are additional to the recruiting business.
Tell us about the hiring process at Style Search & Consulting?
AS: The process begins with my own hires. I choose people to work with me who are smart and have character. Those are my two requirements. They could come from any background, but if they are smart and moral, then they can have a career in recruiting in my business. So my team sets a high bar that our candidates must meet.
As for the hiring process of our candidates, each search is different, and therefore, each process is different. It all starts with our understanding of the searches we are working on, and the candidates we know and new candidates contacting us. We match up candidates who are well-qualified for our searches, locating those people from a wide variety of sources. From there, we ask for all of the information we need. It is their response that determines how I feel about them as a candidate. Are they easy to work with? Pleasurable to interact with? Accommodating and responsive, providing me with what I need in a short span of time? Are their emails positive in tone? Is there any resistance? Do I sense a certain attitude in their email that makes me feel like I have to work too hard to obtain what I need? From my own communications with a candidate, I discern how they are going to be in the workplace. Personality does not change, and if someone is not accommodating to a recruiter who can get them a job, I can predict with most certainty that they will behave that way in the workplace. I am also looking at the writing itself. Can they write properly with accurate grammar, spelling and verbiage? Is the email formatted nicely? Did they choose a tasteful font or one that looks like it belongs on a grammar school poster? I find emails with misspellings, grammatical errors, poor formatting and lack of aesthetic taste a turn off, regardless of level. It makes me question the potential of the candidate, because being detail-oriented and understanding that the fashion industry is a visual one are commonplace qualifications.
That being said, everyone in my book gets a second chance. So if my interchange with the candidate changes toward the positive, I will change my judgement of them based on the additional information I learn about them. I may give them advice on what to do and not to do to get a job. That is a very big piece as to how we work with our candidates. Though we work for companies in finding them talent as the focus of our business, and not directly for candidates to find them jobs, we will offer informed guidance about applying and securing employment that candidates can utilize throughout their job search.
We talk to our candidates by phone to not only hear their personalities, but their passion for their work, motivation to leave their job, concerns, flexibilities, etc. Calls bring us a deeper understanding and knowledge about our candidates that goes beyond just emailing. And it’s also very rewarding to talk to people. Sometimes we end up talking about non-related work topics that tells more about a person than a resume.
What types of fashion industry positions do you recruit for?
AS: Our Firm Places: Full-Time, Part-Time, Freelance & Consulting Professionals at All Levels & In All Capacities and service a wide array of product and job categories:
We place professionals in Sales, Design, Marketing, Merchandising, Product Development, Production, Planning/Buying, e-Commerce, Emerging Technologies, Store Design, Visual Merchandising, Operations, Administration, Hybrid, Challenging & all other typesof positions in the marketplace.
Product Categories we place talent in include: Bags of All Types, Jewelry, Belts, Small Leather Goods, Coldweather, Footwear, Watches, Gifts & Novelties, Beauty & Nails, Home Décor, Textiles, Apparel, & related products.
The most interesting position we ever placed was a jewelry samplemaker who had to be fluent in Spanish, so we had to speak Spanish. We used Google translate to learn the words for what we were trying to communicate to candidates, and found a number of qualified individuals by making a tremendous amount of calls. We made a few placements of this type. I truly believe there is nothing we can’t do.
What sources do you use to find fashion industry talent? (job boards, newspapers, social media, personal networking, colleges, etc…)
AS: All, none and in addition to the above depending on the search. We use the resources for each search that most efficiently lead to the highly qualified talent we are looking for. Sometimes this means coming up with creative, original, far flung, out of the box ideas for how to find people for particularly challenging searches. Essentially, there is nothing we won’t try as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or cross ethical boundaries. From the point of view of a candidate, they should be pursuing all of the above venues – job boards, social media, newspapers, etc. They need to be actively looking for a job through all of those channels, and make sure they monitor responses in live time, respond quickly and efficiently and answer every call and text they get. The market has shifted: there are very few openings relative to the number of job seekers, so they need to be one of the first responders. The more avenues they pursue work through, the more choices they will have.
What are some of the misconceptions job seekers have about your job?
AS: That we work for the candidate. Unfortunately, that is not the case, although I sometimes wish it was. We work for the client who pays us to find them a qualified individual for their opening. Sometimes candidates look to us as their personal representative responsible for finding them employment, and that’s not what we do. We will do everything we can to find someone a position by matching them up with as many job openings and clients that make sense for both parties. But working for a candidate specifically is not the responsibility of a recruiter or business model of a search firm.
An important piece of advice: If anyone ever asks a candidate to pay them to find them a job, they should run far and fast. No one should have to pay someone to find them a job. And usually the people who offer that service do not have clients with whom to place them, or they would choose to be recruiters.
What should job seekers know about your job as a recruiter?
AS: Recruiters – like everyone else – have intense time constraints because of the complexity of the business. Typically, we do not have time to eat or go to the power room. We are processing hundreds of candidates, emails and calls a day. So sending us continuous emails, calling constantly and having a negative or demanding tone when communicating, actually pushes us away from wanting to work with applicants. Job seekers need to understand that if a recruiter has asked to jump off the phone or holds on replying to an ongoing email conversation, it has nothing to do with the job seeker and they should be patient and understanding.
Our not being back in touch right away does not mean that candidates are being ignored or that they don’t have good qualifications. It just means that our clients are driving us to find someone in particular, and/or we have urgent time-sensitive projects on our desk, at that moment in time. If we do not respond right away, rest assured we will when there is a specific opening for their consideration. If candidates want to leverage that possibility, the package they send us – resumes, cover letters, samples, account lists – should be highly impressive and extraordinarily well put together. They may end up compelling a recruiter to jump on working with the candidate, out of sheer excitement, intrigue and impression of value as a candidate.
The latter is particularly important. If someone sends us an extraordinary package about themselves, beautifully written letter of introduction, well-done resume, tasteful flair and compelling content (blow-you-away samples if a designer; alphabetized list of retail contacts if sales), and has qualifications that are in demand relative to our overall client base, their application will stop us in our tracks whether or not we are actively seeking that type of individual. We might end up taking a few moments to brainstorm on behalf of that candidate – reversing the process of recruiting for a moment. That is what every job seeker should aspire to happen with their employment documents – to compel the person reviewing their materials to stop and spend some time looking closely at one’s credentials. If you feel this is something you need input on or help putting together, then have a professional work with you. We offer that service because we have a bird’s-eye view of what the best kinds of documents a job seeker should have. Many times it is hard for job applicants to know how to put together the most competitive pieces possible, relative to the jobs they are applying for and within the market they are seeking to work. This is something I can do quickly and well, so I throw it out there in case someone wants the help.
Candidates also need to follow the protocol of the recruiter. If a recruiter has a process or makes requests, candidates should oblige without difficultly and as soon as possible. If a recruiter feels that there is a demand from the candidate in order to obtain what the recruiter needs, it is a big turnoff and the recruiter may determine that the candidate is difficult to work with. The recruiter should not be told what to do – it upends the relationship and the recruiter may end up not wanting to work with a candidate. Who needs to hire a prima donna or a rebel? There are plenty more talented and cooperative people out there.
What are some of the most common mistakes fashion industry job seekers make when looking/applying/interviewing/etc.. for a job?
AS: Unfortunately, there are many. Everything you do must be tasteful and professional. Understand that the interview begins the moment you schedule to meet someone. The next most important part of the interview is when you first greet the interviewer. The very basic mistakes are:
- Not taking the time to snail mail a resume in addition to emailing a resume. Choose a beautiful paper stock for the resume and envelope, and send one via snail mail with typed labels. This is a unique, classy touch in addition to sending your resume via email.
- Not accepting an interview. They should never turn down interviews. There is no saying where it could lead, even if the job is for a zoo keeper but the candidate wants to be a graphic designer.
- Maybe the zoo needs a graphic designer. And maybe the zookeeper knows just the person the candidate should talk to who is hiring for the type of job they are seeking
- Cancelling, arriving late or not showing up to an interview
- Arriving too early for an interview (it obligates the person you are meeting to rush to see you.0 Arrive 10-15 minutes early, no less and no more. They need to leave very early for the interview, getting to the address and then waiting for the proper time to arrive.
- Not finding the location – candidates need to MapQuest directions and keep the interviewer’s name, title, name of company, address and phone number with them.
- Not researching the company in-depth before the interview
- Not taking time to think through why they are qualified for the position before they meet with the interviewer
- Not being dressed or accessorized tastefully or reflective of current fashion (the basic black dress or suit is the best choice). Know the products and taste of the company and wear an accessory that reflects it. If you are meeting with Tiffany, wear a Tiffany piece of jewelry or something at that caliber
- Not being well groomed (candidates should take a nice shower in the morning, do their hair, make sure their clothes are clean and pressed and without pet hair, not go in smelling like cigarette smoke, perfume/cologne or mothballs, etc.) Deodorant/antiperspirant is a must because interviews can make people sweat!
- Wearing too much makeup, chewing gum, not making eye contact
- Speaking from the perspective of what the company and job can do for them versus what they bring to the job and how they can help the company
- Talking too much and talking too little (take cues from the interviewer and stay concise, on point and elaborate when appropriate. Not a soliloquy and not a three-word answer. An answer that is too the point but also conversational.
- Sharing too much personal information
- Speaking badly about companies and people they have worked with or know in the industry Speaking badly about the company they are interviewing with or the person with whom you are interviewing. (I once had a candidate tell the person interviewing them that their company’s website was really bad (insulting.) Similarly, I had a candidate tell an interviewer that they looked through social media platforms and could not find much on their backgrounds (creepy.)
- Not showing enthusiasm and interest (even if the candidate finds out it is the worst job in the world.) They should never make any interviewer feel badly about the company, job or themselves, especially because a lot of people are connected and word does spread in these cases
- Not thanking the interviewer for their time, giving the dead fish handshake and not sending a substantive thank you note beyond the usually “thank you for your time…”
Applicants need to use every means available to impress. And always be grateful and humble – if a company asked to meet with them, it is a compliment and probably a very appropriate meeting because why would the company want to meet with the candidate if there wasn’t a potential match in some way.
What’s the craziest thing a job seeker has ever said to you?
AS: Please remove me from your pool of candidates. They have just eliminated a potential source of employment.
“How old are you – no, let me guess – in your 60s?” I was 25 at the time. I could not figure out if this was a compliment or insult.
I also had a very odd conversation the other day with a salesperson and did not understand anything he said to me. Not because he was speaking a different language, was mumbling or was too quiet, but because he went down a number of tangents that had no relevance to my question, which was simply: what accounts do you have relationships with? He told me about the sports his kids played, why he moved to LA, his plans for retirement, what he lost in his divorce, his car collection, the presidential election…everything but the information I asked for. And he said all of this within 10 minutes. My head was spinning after the call. He was not presented as an applicant.
The craziest thing a client ever said to me was “make sure all applicants are not allergic to rabbits, and are willing to have their shoes or purses nibbled on occasionally.”
What’s the most inappropriate thing you’ve ever seen on a resume?
AS: Pictures of themselves.
What advice to you have for younger job seekers?
AS: In addition to the usually recommended sending out of resumes, be creative about your job search and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Network, network, network. Talk to as many people as possible about your search, including your next door neighbor at a barbeque; you never know if they might have a lead. Do informational interviews: that means asking someone, in the career you want to go into, if you can talk to them for a few minutes to ask a few questions about their career. Ask for “stand up meetings”: 10 minutes of those with hiring power to pitch yourself as a strong candidate for a job or the company in general. Volunteer for an industry function. Offer to work for free for a week, and then to be considered for hire based on performance. (This also gives you practical work experience.) And meet with every single person who asks to see you, even if the job is 1000% what you think you don’t want because – surprise – it might end up being exactly what you want.
What advice do you have for older job seekers?
AS: First of all, they need to get the word “older” out of their vocabulary and start seeing greater experience as an advantage not a hindrance. Truth be told: My 88-year-old dad just got a promotion at work. Age means nothing – experience is what is important.
Older candidates have a lot of options. They can stay in the same career and type of job, leveraging their experience as the reason they are more qualified than other applicants. But they need to be prepared to compete. In their job search documents, they should talk about their achievements – someone with more seasoning will have greater achievements than someone less experienced and that is an advantage. The older candidate has to stay current – be tapped into the industry, technology, the performance of companies and products in the marketplace, new products in development, etc. They can’t apply for a job simply based on their skills and experience to date – they have to think how those attributes can bring benefit to the current marketplace and know what exactly that marketplace is. But beware: Complacency has no place, especially in people at an older point in their life when they have the opportunity and bravery to pursue other avenues and true passions. They should not stick to the same role and routine they have had for the majority of their career unless they love it. Older applicants should take the time to do some soul searching and self-reinvention if they feel unfulfilled.
One way older candidates’ can open up options for themselves and view their experience and prospects differently is this: given all of their experiences, skills, knowledge, etc., how can they use them to help other people? How can they utilize and pass down information for the benefit of others? That will lead them down a very rewarding path to consider. It could be teaching, writing a book, managing a different kind of business, taking on a different role within the business they have a background in, and other pathways to provide valuable contributions based on the culmination of a long career. My dad was promoted from hands-on sales to overseeing and training the sales department at his company. It was the perfect next step in his career and he is happy with his new job. I think I mentioned he is an 88-year-old dynamo.
Older candidates can also think about what they really want to do and add together their accomplishments; past, present and new experiences; interests; hobbies; and most importantly, passions into the content of the job they really want. And flavor this recipe by taking classes – that is my #1 piece of advice for anyone at a career crossroads. They need to keep their minds open and do new, interesting, admirable activities they have always wanted to try. Travel, adrenaline seeking; watching a movie a day; going to art galleries, museums, concerts and lectures; redesigning their home; cultivating bonsai trees; and meeting and talking to interesting people. That leads to inspiration and a break in routine. They will find their way down a different path by marrying these new influences, closer to their heart, with what they have done in their past, and cultivate new career options for themselves. My mother went to clown school at 65 years old. She had a teaching background, and a fine and performing arts background, and now new experience as a clown. She ended up running the activity and entertainment program at a retirement community, and thankfully not running away with the circus (it was a concern.) Her previous background, coupled with her passion and training for being a clown, lead her to getting a job that she loved.
I have no idea what will follow recruiting for me later in life, if I ever leave the profession at all. It has kept me interested, engaged and happy for 30 years. There’s always a chance I might want to be a dog groomer (a real interest of mine:), but chances are, I will end up recruiting dog groomers if my theory holds true that previous experience + new interests and experience = new type of job.
What are some common mistakes fashion industry job seekers make during the job search process?
AS: Too much and too littles:
- Too much/not enough info on a resume. They need to go online, look at examples, and realize a resume does not have to contain everything they did at each job. It is meant to pique the interest of the reader, not contain every job, skill and responsibility they have ever held in their life. Summarize those and cutting a lot of unnecessary copy helps the reader sort out, right away, who the candidate is and what they have to offer. They also need to realize that a resume has to include the key parts of your experience.
- Not customizing cover letters to the company and job – a generic cover letter should never be sent
- Not making sure all correspondence is written and formatted well, and spell- and grammar-checked. It needs to say something substantive beyond “I am applying for the position of X. Please review my resume and let me know if you would like me to come in for an interview.” Candidates need to say why they are applying, why the company and job compels them to apply, how they feel their background fits the role, what else they bring to the table, etc.” Same with thank you notes: substantive, not just thanks for the interviewer’s time but why the candidate is good for the role, what they bring to the table, how they can help the company (vs how the company and job can help the candidate) and that the candidate is 100% on board if offered the job. Job applicants should offer to come in for a trial. Again, not long letters – to the point, professional, humble and nice
- Not following up. Candidates should follow up with one call and one email the week they sent a thank you note. Then they should check in twice a week until they get the job. A campaign that is persistent but not obnoxious will be remembered fondly.
I get a lot of correspondence with misspellings, poor grammar, poor sentence formation, etc. I believe everyone should take one good writing class in life. Make sure you have excellent writing skills for all types of job.
Is there anything you would like to add?
AS: When it comes to getting a job, you have to think outside the box. Many people think “I want this kind of job, at this kind of company, with this many employees, and this kind of dress code, etc.” They have a check list that will keep them from entertaining jobs that could potentially make them very happy. Really it is about: “What jobs are available that I would like to apply for.” You cannot dictate or assume for a minute that the perfect job is out there. But there are great jobs, different from what you had in mind originally. So keep your mind open. Think: “Where will I enjoy going to work every day.” The answer may surprise you.
You also have to be very creative in terms of securing an offer, and stand apart from other applicants on the market. Go beyond that emailed thank you. Choose a nice card and drop off a handwritten thank you note, touching base note and maybe flowers, artisan chocolates, a basket of fruit, a plant and a clever note along with your gift. Will the employer think you are crazy? No. They will think you really want the job, made extra effort to get it and they will remember you. And they will smell the flowers, pass out the fruit and put the plant on their desk. But they will keep the chocolates to themselves. Make sure you send only kosher products.
So take some chances, be creative, keep your mind open and fight for the job you want using the tips I have given you.
My last point is this: as a salesperson – and that is who we are when looking for a job – people are buying you not the product. They are buying who you are as a person before they buy anything you have to offer. So sell yourself!
If you would like to be a featured recruiter on StyleDispatch.com please contact: email@example.com