We continue our interview with Eli Garfinkel, owner of Placemint Agency, a recruiting agency in Lakewood, NJ.
Eli, I can feel how passionate you are about recruiting, and that you not only enjoy what you do, but you really care about people and enjoy helping them solve their problems.
Absolutely. I love doing this. That is probably why I get a lot of calls from candidates and companies every week asking me for advice.
For example, candidates often call me to ask me how to make their resumes better, or ask advice about how to negotiate salary offers. Sometimes candidates will call me to ask about whether they should take a new job or leave their current one.
Hiring managers often call me to help them get clear about what they are actually looking for, or for help determining the right salary range for the position they are looking to fill.
Sometimes, actually, a husband and wife will come in because they are not on the same page about the job one of them is applying for, and I help them sort it out.
That is dedication, Eli. I am impressed. Tell me something about your communication style that you makes you such a successful recruiter?
I focus on being very straightforward and brutally honest with people. If there are people who don’t like this style, we probably won’t be a good fit, and I try to refer them to others.
And I try to be a role model, which to me means doing what you say. When I say I am going to get back to someone, I do it. I always try to be very clear in my communication, to get straight to the point, and to focus on action. This helps a lot with time management. And also, to me, it’s also about caring for people, both the candidates and companies I work with.
Do you specialize in certain fields or industries?
No. It’s all about matching the right people with the right companies.
Besides working with kind of “standard” companies, I’ve worked with moisdos (Jewish institutions) and non-profits.
When it comes to candidates, I’ve also help people get entry-level part-time jobs (especially for people who are learning Torah part of the day), in addition to placing candidates in very high-level senior positions.
I’ve worked with many frum-owned companies, but also have done a lot of work with corporate “giants.”
It’s good to know that you can help most everyone, Eli. How do you source candidates?
I know a lot of people and have placed a lot of people, so it has to do with reputation and word of mouth. I do a lot of interviews, like this one, and I also have written a lot of articles on recruiting which have been published in local newspapers and online, so people who may have never heard of me also feel inspired to reach out to me.
So, you must get a lot of phone calls and emails every day.
Yes. It’s very satisfying and I am always working on growing the business.
Tell me about how much contact you have with candidates and companies.
I am in constant contact with all candidates and companies, mostly by email, WhatsApp, and phone. That’s very important to me. Companies and candidates who don’t get back to me tend to fall off my radar.
So, to work well with Eli, stay in contact with him.
That’s right. Recruiting moves quickly, so to be successful, I need to know what’s going on with the position or the candidate.
Good to know. How do you spot great candidates?
I look for candidates who are driven. If they looking to learn and grow, they are going to succeed.
Also, I want to work with candidates who are realistic about the skills they have and what skills they don’t have. There are certain candidates who have great skills and don’t know it. These are the “diamonds in the rough” and try to encourage them and help them gain confidence so they can realize their potential.
How important is a resume?
A resume is not only important—it’s crucial. I can’t stress that enough. In our fast-paced world, time is very limited, so a resume is what gets you in the door.
Sometimes, I meet very capable candidates with a lot of experience who feel, for some reason, that it is beneath their dignity to put together a resume. This is a big mistake.
No matter what level you’re at, if you are not willing to take the time and effort to putting your experience down on paper, it’s going to be very hard for you to get a job, especially if you are looking for a position that pays over $200,000.
Think about it. How do you expect to get an employer to believe that you are going to be able to a good job for them and be willing to pay you serious money over the course of years if you can’t put together a professional resume? Think of your resume as your first opportunity to show an employer the quality of your work.
It’s worth every penny to get a top of the line, high quality resume. Pay money to someone who is a professional to write your resume and never write your own resume!
Of course, there are some people who don’t have great resumes but they present well during interviews, and there are also some candidates who have great resumes but don’t do well in interviews and may not have the skills to back up what they have written.
But still, I tell everyone to get focus on getting a professional resume.
What is the “profile” of a company you like to work for?
I like working for companies that know what they are looking for and get back to me. When I start sending them resumes, I want a “yes”, a “no”, or a “maybe.” A “maybe” is also an answer. Employers don’t get that, and sometimes I don’t hear from them because they are still thinking about a candidate I sent them.
One of the phrases I don’t like to hear from clients is “it depends.” I need them to be clear about what they want. When they say “it depends” it means they aren’t clear about what they are looking for.
It’s important for them to get involved in the process and engage with me. Ask me questions, tell me they’re thinking about it, give me feedback—and to do it in a timely way. I’m so busy, that if I don’t hear back from them for a few days, I might not remember our conversation. Or the candidate may be gone.
Companies that ask for my advice and listen to my advice also get great results.
I have a great client, a director of HR, who is very clear in communicating to me the company’s needs and gives me yes or no answers quickly. We have built a relationship of trust and confidentiality and I do a lot of recruiting for them. They listen to my advice and always pay on time. It’s a pleasure to work with this kind of client.
Okay. Well, I should ask then, what kind of companies are difficult to work with?
When companies don’t know what they want, take a long time to get back to me, or don’t listen to my advice, well, it’s going to be difficult to get them great candidates, and I don’t like working with them.
Another mistake companies make is that they have a whole list of qualification in the job description, many of which are not necessary to perform the job. So, they end up losing out on great candidates that I could get them who would do a great job.
How about job seekers? What kinds of mistakes do candidates make?
Not being prepared for an interview is a problem I see. Candidates should practice with a friend or spouse so that they can anticipate questions and be ready with their answers. They should sound confident, but not overly confident. Practicing is really helpful.
They make themselves sound like they know much more than they really know and think that whatever they don’t know, they can pick up overnight. You have to be realistic with your skillset and know that companies expect you to have certain skills when you start a new job. Otherwise, the employee is going to fall on their face, and I don’t want that to happen. I also don’t want my business clients to go through this kind of experience, either!
What do you say to candidates who have gaps in their resume?
I would say that gaps in a resume can be problematic, but if you have a good answer at your fingertips during an interview, you can still get a great job.
It’s important to be honest. If you own up to your mistakes, then a potential employer can look past it.
Even if you made a mistake which caused a gap in your resume, you can actually talk about the steps you took to improve yourself. Your potential employer should see that you did things to improve yourself and deal with issues that you’ve had.
It doesn’t help for you to be in denial about any problems that you’ve had. Employers will find out when checking your references, so it’s good to just be honest.
To get in touch with Eli, email him at [email protected] or give him a call at (732) 278-6526. You can also contact him on LinkedIn ((linkedin.com/in/eli-garfinkel), where you can read his helpful recruitment-related posts.
Ron Elkayam is a writer and former business owner and HR professional. He now focuses on writing in the areas of health, business, technology, and personal growth.