In this interview, Mariana, a Brazilian-born Recruiting Supervisor, explains how her bilingual skills helped land her a role in management 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 7 years of experience in Human Resources, including 4 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 very welcomed and never experienced discrimination. However, 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 2 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, new hire orientations, collect specimens for pre-employment drug tests, amongst other duties.
The most common misunderstanding we have is that our employees think of Recruiting as “Human Resources”, and they assume we’re the to-go department to complain about working conditions or disciplinary actions. Yes, Recruiting is a specialty in Human Resources, however, 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 need to change about your job 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 health care 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 in 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 let me into 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 – due to the fact I was an independent contractor when I worked as an Interpreter, I didn’t have any benefits. After many years doing that kind of job, I decided to move forward with other opportunities that could offer me vacation time and medical insurance. I saw an ad for a Staffing Agency, and I decided to visit them and explore their openings. Upon meeeting a Recruiter, she told me they were looking for a part-time Administrative Assistant onsite. I was offered the position and started interacting daily with candidates and clients. Later I was promoted to a full-time Recruiter, due to my ability to speak several languages and fit qualifications of candidates to position/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 you can’t motivate everyone to be a great employee. In Recruiting, you may give someone a great opportunity, hoping they will correspond to the employer’s expectations. If the employee can’t realize the value of their jobs or functions to the company, and if they don’t feel appreciated, they may never be engaged. However, sometimes even the most positive work environment won’t motivate someone. In that 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 go into action again 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. However, sometimes, 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 about my own image, I was able to portray an engaged and enthusiastic image. Therefore, I can recruit candidates well – of course, people don’t want to work for an employer if the Recruiter is not happy there….!
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 supervisor 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: to keep my team cohesive and happy, to staff our huge airport with good employees, and because 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 multi-task all the time, and I juggle Recruiting and Supervising responsibilities. However, every time I get stressed out, I think to myself that nobody will die if we make a mistake. Usually, our mistakes can fixed. That gives me peace of mind. Also, I travel a lot using my benefits, and that gives me 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 – $55K per year. Considering the benefits I have in addition to my salary, this is a good compensation. I don’t have lots of money left in the end of the pay period, but it’s enough.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I have 3 1/2 weeks of vacation (1 week is optional, paid by employee), 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 2-year certification in Human Resources Management. Also, having a PHR or a SPHR certificate from Society from 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 – 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 for a global company. Have I said enough that I love traveling?