Job Doc chat transcript

About Our Guest

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is Principal of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm. Pattie works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience. Pattie has a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MBA from Babson College.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Welcome chatters to our chat. I see we have a question waiting already so let's get right to it.

Brit_abroad: I am a British citizen who married an American and moved here almost two years ago. My problem is that my British qualifications are not recognised by anyone over here (I hold a STEP qualification Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners which is like the American Certified Trust and Financial Planner). I can not seem to get my foot in the door for even an interview. I have a job but it has nothing to do with Trust work and I am not happy in it. If I don't find suitable work soon my wife and I are going to leave the States (which we would rather not do). Any advise for a Brit abroad?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Great question.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I find this is a common situation esp. with those moving to the US after holding a certification or some sort elsewhere.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: It sounds like you have a bit of research ahead of you. And I would start by researching professional association and certification websites.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: What may be helpful is to talk to the certifying body in the US.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I would talk to them about which of your credentials are carried over and recognized for the similar certification in the US.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: It may be that they would "credit" you for much of your UK work and then you could hold a certification that is more well known here in the US.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Interviewers may not have the time and patience to do the legwork on their end. So it would be up to you to make it more recognizable in the US.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck and hopefully you will find overlap between the 2 certifications.

Just_wondering: Where on a resume would you list volunteer experience and how would you list it?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Another good question.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: It really depends.... one factor is how relevant it is.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If your volunteer experience is relevant to your career path, then absolutely include it. Most commonly it is found toward the bottom of a resume -- near education and/or professional certifications.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Volunteer experience can be helpful to showcase skills that you may have acquired too.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: For example, if you were working for a non profit and managing a large scale event, that would be a good skill to showcase if you were applying for an event planner position.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Or if you were involved in fundraising at a non profit, that is a good skill to showcase if you are applying for an inside sales role.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: But be careful with some volunteer experience -- esp. if it is a political organization or deals with a potential controversial issue.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: You want to have an interviewer focus on your skills, experience and not throw you out because you worked on political campaign that is contrary to their beliefs.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: I hope this was helpful. Skills acquired through volunteer experience can certainly give you an edge.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck with your resume writing.

brc17: How long, on average, does it take a good worker in a "temp-to-perm" position to land a full-time job? I'm thinking about exploring this employment opportunity but don't want to be a temp forever. Do "temp-to-perm" positions generally, you know, turn into permanent positions?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Great!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Many companies now are looking at "try before you buy."

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: They want to test a person out before they offer the person a full-time, payrolled position.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Usually the company will let you know up front if this could evolve into a "permanent" position.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Ninety days is a good period of time for both the employer and the temp to use as a guideline.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: And often the longer the temps stays with the company, the fee that the agency charges is reduced.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: So if you are temping thru an agency, the company may want to wait for a period of time so the fee that they would pay would be reduced.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: But for most positions, 90 days is a reasonable period of time. And it is perfectly fine to ask if the position would convert to a permanent position.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Thanks for asking.

Ace: I am wondering what the standard is for a cover letter? Should you only include one when you are asked for one?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Ah cover letters.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Some think cover letters have gone by the wayside with all the electronic communicating that we do.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: However, I disagree.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Cover letters can be helpful. The purpose of a cover letter is to link your background to the required skills and experience of the position.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Sometimes in lieu of a cover letter, you may do an email with your resume attached. But that email should be written as if it was a cover letter.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: You can absolutely showcase your skills, add a bit more detail about a specific area of your background or mention something else that may put you in the "to contact" bucket.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck.

WMcG1220: I just graduated from college and am having a hard time starting my job search. What is the best first step?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hi -- great question for this time of year!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, start with your career services office at your college!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Get to know the office if you haven't already. They likely offer resume writing services/workshops and other job search assistance. These offices are a great place to start.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Many colleges also will email you opportunities or post opportunities that get sent to them. So make sure the people in this office know you, how to reach you, where you are living, etc.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: One additional piece of advice --- start jumping on Monster/BostonWorks and other sites. It will give you a sense of entry level opportunities, requirements, etc. It is free knowledge about the job market.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: You should also start sharing your resume with friends, relatives, etc. These contacts can good sources of job openings.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Thanks for your question.

LK76: Hi Pattie. I'm trying to get out of the non profit field and have considered a one year program in graphic arts / web design. What are your thoughts on job availability / outlook for that field in the next year or so? Thanks.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: How exciting!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Web design is a growing field for sure. Graphics is growing but with an electronic "bent."

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: One thought is to look current openings so you get a better sense of skills required, pay range, etc -- check out opportunities on That will give a realistic picture of what companies are paying and what skills are most critical.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: What is also good about web design is that you can cross industries with that type of skill. So you might start out in healthcare and then your next step might be a pharma company.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: There are also lots of marketing agencies looking for people with web design skills. Good luck!

beh: How long after starting a new job is it ok to start using vacation time?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: It is June so vacation is in the air!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If you have committed plans (a rented house already paid for, etc) it is best to disclose that during the hiring process. Your new manager does not want to be surprised by a request 1-2 days into your first week of employment.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Some companies have policies where they will state that employees can not use time off until they reach 90 days or 3 months of employment.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Other companies are ok with using it whenever as long as someone else isn't taking time off at the same time.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Most companies will use seniority if 2 or more employees request the same week -- like the 4th of July week.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: So if Jane has 4 years of service and Leah has 2 years of service and both want the same week, the manager will often give Jane the week off.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Some companies have written policies. Some do not. But it is better to be up front and planful and not make requests at the very last minute.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Enjoy your vacation.

JPdude: Should I accept the first offer from a job, or try to negotiate a higher salary?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Negotiating salaries. A big topic but let's talk about it.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, be gracious. Thank anyone and everyone for a job offer. Even if you are not interested. Thank them!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: You never know... it is a small world. You could be working next to them some day.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Look at the whole picture. Salary is one part of an offer but it is usually not the whole picture.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Look at the location, parking, bonus (if any), benefits plan, work environment. career path and....

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: stock options (if any), company culture, 401k, flexible work hours.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: There are so many variables -- and some are more important to others. And sometimes it depends upon your individual situation.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If you have 2 small children at home, flexible hours might be the most important.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If you are looking to return to school, tuition aid might be the most important.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If you don't want to sit on Rte 128 for hours on end, a flexible schedule might be the most important.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: So please look at the total picture. And in terms of negotiating.... get factual information before you ask for more money.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: What are competitors paying for this role? Is this an "in demand" role where few have this skill?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: It is ok to ask for more $$ but first look at the big picture and then be sure you have done your homework.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: And lastly always be gracious and polite even when asking. And be prepared for a "I am sorry that is the best we can do." That may be the response.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck. I hope I have given you some info to think about.

HollyB: Dear Pattie, I currently work in the technology field but am thinking of a career change but I don't know exactly what yet. Are there any books you could recommend to do some self searching on career changes? Thank you!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Hi HollyB -- A career change question!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, think about what you are passionate about. What in your current job do you love and what do you avoid?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: This introspection can sometimes lead to some helpful insights.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: One book written by a local author comes to mind LOVE YOUR JOB by Paul Powers. You may even be able to find it in a local library.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Second, think about getting some advice. Maybe a college alumni career services office?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Or maybe considering a career counselor. There are many helpful career counselors who will work with you to finetune what occupations are best suited to you and your workstyle and preferences.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Good luck.

chins: hi Pattie. I had a phone 'screening' interview last week with a recruiter who recruits for a large company. She asked me what my salary expectations would be. I said it would depend on what we discuss regarding the position when it is offered. She pushed me to give a number. How does one handle this? Is it ok since it was a recruiter, to give a number?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Yes, telephone screening is being used by almost every employer now.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Usually the recruiter wants to make sure that you are in the ballpark for the job (ie the salary range for the job).

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: The recruiter doesn't want to waste your time (or their time) talking to you if you need to make 75K and the range for the position is 50-60K. So usually they will push you.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: But one reply you might consider -- "I need to look at the whole package -- the opportunity, the benefits, the location, etc before I can give you a specific number." Now, they will still probably push.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: But truthfully there are lots of factors that go into the value of the job. So I would be honest but find out more about the opportunity first. Thanks.

newjobhopefully: What is the proper etiquette for asking a potential employer what their maternity leave policy is? If it isn't listed in their benefits, am I to assume that I can take the time off but without pay?

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Great question.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: First, any/all candidates should be asking about benefits overall. Start out with "Tell me about your benefits plan -- medical, dental, etc."

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Then, probe a bit further "do you offer short-term and/or long-term disability insurance?" Followed by "how do they work?"

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: The company representative may be able to give you an overview (and check their website too). Maternity leaves usually fall under the short term disability plans.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: So if you have info on the short term disability plans, you have info on maternity leave disability policy.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Additionally, there are both state and federal laws which guarantee most employees time off for the birth or adoption of a child. It depends upon the company size though.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: If a company has 50 or more employees at a single site, they are required to comply with FMLA (family and medical leave act). FMLA applies to some employees but not all. Hope this was helpful.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Time is up -- I can't believe it. Thanks for your questions. Talk to you next time!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole: Best, Pattie

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