In this interview, Mariana, a Brazilian-born Recruiting Supervisor, explains how her bilingual skills helped her land a management role and how her positive attitude leads to greater rewards on the job.
What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
Recruiting Supervisor. I have more than seven years of experience in Human Resources, including four years of experience in recruiting and staffing.
What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I was born in Brazil, but I have European grandparents, so I would say I am a white Latina. When I worked in Massachusetts, which has a large immigrant population, I was always welcomed and never experienced discrimination. But I later moved to South Carolina, and since there is little diversity there, I did experience a certain degree of discrimination. I experienced some degree of isolation, and people tended to assume I was undocumented.
Speaking Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to fluent English, were extremely helpful in my initial career in the US. I went to school and became a certified medical interpreter, and worked for hospitals as such for many years. Later, when I became a recruiter, Spanish was essential for me to bridge the gap with candidates with little to no English proficiency.
How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I am now working as a recruiting supervisor for a regional aviation company. I supervise a recruiting team in a large international airport, including an administrative assistant and two other recruiters. We work on our staffing levels for this whole airport operation, which has more than 750 employees. I conduct large volume hiring sessions with the other recruiters, organize new-hire orientations, and collect specimens for pre-employment drug tests, among other duties.
The most common misunderstanding regarding what we do is that our employees think of recruiting as Human Resources, and they assume we’re the go-to department to complain about working conditions or disciplinary actions. Although recruiting is a specialty in Human Resources, complaints and concerns are directed to employee relations, which is a different specialty within Human Resources.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might your job need to change to unleash your full enthusiasm?
I absolutely love my job. I enjoy the daily interaction with our diverse workforce and pool of candidates. I enjoy my team and my manager. This position has constantly challenged me to implement and suggest continuous improvements, and I know I am accountable for my work. I would like to make my team become as passionate about our goals as I am.
If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
This job has fulfilled my desire to be recognized for my efforts, and it keeps me going. It absolutely moves my heart and my soul. I never have a boring day, and I love using my flight benefits to travel when I need a break.
Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I was a healthcare professional (Dentist) in my country. However, I got into Dental School very early in life, and I wasn’t mature enough to know what my vocation was. Later, I realized I didn’t have the skills to deal with someone’s body or life. I also realized that Dentistry tends to be very repetitive (I tend to get bored easily) and lonely (you’re talking all the time with a patient who can’t speak). Instead, I realized I had interpersonal skills that only came out once I embarked on the adventure of living in another country. Adapting to another language and another culture made me realize the great relationships I was able to build, and that led me to Human Resources.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I started by accident; because I was an independent contractor when I worked as an interpreter, I didn’t have any benefits. After many years doing this kind of job, I decided to move forward with other opportunities that could offer me vacation time and medical insurance, and when I saw an ad for a staffing agency, I decided to visit it and explore the openings. Upon meeting a recruiter, she told me agency was looking for a part-time, on-site administrative assistant. I was offered the position and started interacting daily with candidates and clients. Later I was promoted to a full-time recruiter because of my ability to speak several languages and ability to fit qualifications of candidates to the position and client requirements.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
Unfortunately, I learned that one can’t motivate everyone to be a great employee. A recruiter may give someone a great opportunity, hoping the job seeker will correspond to the employer’s expectations. If the employee can’t realize the value of the job or function for the company and doesn’t feel appreciated, he or she may never be engaged. Sometimes, however, even the most positive work environment won’t be enough to motivate someone. In this case, we need to set up expectations again, offer some training if needed, and keep the employee accountable for improving. If no improvement is made, it may be time for recruiting to find a better quality candidate. I learned this lesson by offering candidates opportunities in great companies because I believed that those people had the potential of being reliable and productive workers. Sometimes, however, I was unpleasantly surprised to find out their performance ended up being subpar.
What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
Positive impressions are the most important thing. I learned that by building a positive perception of my own image, I was able to portray an engaged and enthusiastic one. Therefore, I can recruit candidates well; people don’t want to work for an employer whose recruiter is unhappy, of course.
What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
People had stated I was the manager of the office even though, at the time, I was a recruiter. I realized candidates were getting the impression I was experienced and self-confident, and they frequently saw me giving advice or suggestions to my co-workers, so they thought I was responsible for the team. Even other managers in the operations referred employees to contact me because they thought I was in charge. Eventually, I was promoted to a supervisory position.
Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I go to work every day because I know the importance of my job: I need to keep my team cohesive and happy and staff our huge airport with good employees. Moreover, my benefits are great.
What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
Of course, not every day is a happy day. Sometimes, I have to address performance or behavior issues with my employees in the office. That’s never fun. However, we can only fix things if we know about them, so I need to make my team aware of issues that need improvement.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
My job is somewhat stressful. I multitask all the time, and I juggle recruiting and supervising responsibilities. Every time I get stressed out, however, I think to myself that nobody will die if we make a mistake. Usually, our mistakes can be fixed. That gives me peace of mind. I also travel a lot using my benefits, which gives me a good work-life balance.
What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
$45K to $55K per year. Considering the benefits I have in addition to my salary, this is a good compensation. I don’t have a lot of money left at the end of the pay period, but it’s enough.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I have three and a half weeks of vacation (one week paid by the employee is optional), but I wish I could have more.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
I suggest having at least a two-year certification in Human Resources Management. Also, having a PHR or an SPHR certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management definitely attracts employers.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
If you like dealing with people (and all kinds of people – annoying, pleasant, angry and happy) all day long, recruiting is your place, so go for it. However, if you like a position that deals with paperwork, details, and legislation, you may prefer the challenge of working as a human resources generalist or administrator.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would like to become an HR manager or director of a global company. Have I said enough that I love to travel?