Elena Cruz - Founder of Career Proz
With indoor and outdoor dining kicking it into high gear; the bright lights of Broadway ready to shine again and tourists once more posing for selfies amidst the iconic backdrop of Times Square, it seems like New York City is starting to look and feel like it's old dynamic self. And not a moment too soon!
Lo and behold, the corporate job market appears to be on the rebound, as well. Companies are actively starting to hire and prospective job applicants are polishing up their resumes, eager to put their best foot forward.
Despite all of the travails that society has gone through over the past eighteen months, this may, surprisingly enough, be an optimal time to be looking for that first job out of college. Or, why not do a career-180 and transition to doing something that you really love.
When the goal is trying to impress a corporate recruiter or HR chief; it's only smart to make sure that your resume is up-to-date and mistake-free. That's a given.
But, important as the classic resume may be, it is not the only key that unlocks the door to your future success.
Acing that face-to-face interview, whether it's on Zoom or in-person, is equally important, if not more so. The interview process allows the job-seeker to make a human connection and place a face, so to speak, on the resume.
And, don't forget about your Linkedin profile. Because the decision-makers who you want to impress the most, certainly won't neglect to check it out.
Linkedin is THE way to enhance your personal brand and separate you from the pack. However, please keep in mind that, your Linkedin profile has got to be professional and informative.
Let's be real; gearing yourself up to look for a job can be a daunting task, especially if you're a little out of practice, as most of us are with society has hit the pause button during the height of Covid.
It's only human to feel overwhelmed. But, it doesn't have to be that way. There's no need to venture out on this formidable journey alone.
One call or email to Elena Cruz, founder of Career Proz, will provide you with a valuable ally in your job search.
A true game-changer, Elena brings to the table over twenty years of experience as a corporate recruiter. A former decision-maker, Elena knows the ins and outs of the hiring process like the back of her hand.
Starting off on the agency side, Elena worked for industry heavyweights like Vance Staffing and Axion. After seven years, Elena then transitioned to major corporations,
doing the hiring for Wells Fargo Financial, Cypress Health Group and Sterling Talent Solutions, where she recruited for the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Ms. Cruz was kind enough to sit down with Aplez.com and talk about her years in corporate America as well as her brand Career Proz.
First off, Elena addressed the issue as to why the majority of applicant's resumes fail to make the cut. That's the number one question on most job-seekers minds.
"Back when I was employed as a recruiter, on any given day, I might have to review one hundred plus resumes and would end up passing on 90 % of them. It was frustrating knowing that some of those candidates might have been great fits if only their resumes had resonated with me more."
"I can help the applicant with crafting a modern-formated, accomplishment-based resume that will gain the attention of recruiters and hiring managers."
Elena went on to say that, "Above all, make sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors on your resume. In the past, I have seen the best of candidates who were under consideration for a job offer get eliminated because of these kinds of careless mistakes."
In business since 2018, Elena founded Career Proz with the mission to help job seekers navigate the murky waters of the hiring process and develop the skill set and confidence needed to achieve their goals.
"When my last firm merged and my role was eliminated, I decided that the time was right to leverage my recruiting experience and develop a partnership with job seekers.
My focus is on optimizing their search efforts by offering a wide variety of services, ranging from resume revision and Linkedin profile optimization to interview / career coaching and customized cover letters. "
Drawing on a wealth of experience behind the interviewer's desk, Elena knows exactly what recruiters are looking to see in a resume as well as what's going to catch their eye and spark them to call you and schedule that all-important interview.
The majority of job candidates have no idea what ATS is and how it can adversely affect your chance of having your resume be seen by the right people.
ATS, also known as Applicant Tracking Systems, is a filter used by most corporations that weeds out tons of resumes.
Elena advises that" Your resume should be keyword-rich, meaning that certain, important words that are in the job description are incorporated into your resume. If not, your resume may not make it past the ATS and won't even be read by an HR person."
Aplez.com was curious as to what Elena felt were the most common mistakes that job applicants make during an interview with a prospective employer. She had plenty to say about that, for sure!
"Without a doubt, the mistake that all too many applicants make is not being prepared. Most job seekers, from entry-level to seasoned professionals, approach the interview process thinking that they can wing it and will figure out the "correct" answer when they get to the interview".
That, to put it bluntly, is a big no-no. It's vital to remember this; you only get one chance for a positive first impression and the only magic word for how to have a successful interview is preparation.
This is where Ms. Cruz's interview coaching skills come in handy.
"The only way that you can exude confidence when you are in the interview "hot seat" is by doing your homework beforehand. "firmly stated Elena.
"Learn everything you can about the company where you're applying for a job. Write down some basic questions you think you'll be asked and practice your answers. The main thing you want to do during the interview is avoiding long periods of uncomfortable silence."
There are no judgments being handed down at Career Proz. You will immediately feel comfortable around Elena. She is super-supportive and easy-going.
But, like any good career coach or sports coach, Ms. Cruz will also give you the right approach to find the" winner within," as Basketball legend Pat Riley once wrote about in his acclaimed book.
"I always tell my clients to break the ice with me. Let's weed out any potential mistakes in a mock interview. I want them to walk away from an interview knowing that they gave it their best effort and are not saying to themselves "I wish I would have said something else. Why did I say that? " That is sound advice, indeed.
Earlier in the article, we touched briefly on the incredible impact that Linkedin has been having on the job market over the past few years.
Elena strives to make her clients aware that "Your Linkedin profile is your virtual handshake to recruiters and hiring managers. It should be a bit different from one's resume, though. Linkedin is less formal and allows for a person's personality to shine through, so be sure to take advantage of that."
When posting a profile on Linkedin, make it as compelling as possible so it will push recruiters to reach out to you directly, Elena advises.
Holding a BA in Sociology from Hunter College, Elena feels that her degree has helped her to understand and relate to people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds within both her professional and personal life.
"My degree and life experiences have proved invaluable in dealing with people in general as well as their career goals. I loved my years studying Sociology at Hunter and could not be prouder to leverage my degree in a field that has garnered me a career I am so very proud of."
Enclosing a cover letter with your resume and following up a virtual or in-person interview with a thank-you note has become something of a lost art.
"However, "Elena told Aplez.com, "These types of letters are still important and meaningful; even more so now because most candidates are not sending them. A brief, well-written note can make you stand out above other candidates."
And, get this; A seasoned HR/recruiter like Elena isn't the only successful professional who feels this way.
In his best-selling book, Finding My Virginity, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson talks about the value of sending thank-you notes and letters to people with who you are doing business. Yes, Sir Richard might be a billionaire several times over and his Virgin Brand is celebrated the world over. But, in the end, he realizes, as you should, that business is always personal.
Speaking of taking a more personal approach, let's get to know Elena Cruz a little better.
Elena was born and raised downtown in the East Village. But she eventually ended up in Astoria, living happily ever after.
"I moved to Astoria while attending Hunter College and have called this wonderful neighborhood home for nearly thirty years; living in the same apartment for all this time. Yes, that's a fact !" exclaimed Elena.
Wow! Sounds like her landlord is someone we should ALL get to meet next time we're looking for a place.
"I live here with my husband and two children, ages 8 and 10, who go to Growing Up Green Charter elementary school, a place we love so dearly."
Aplez.com wanted to know just what Elena loved about Astoria. She did not have to ponder her answer for very long.
"The things I like best are the diversity and sense of community as well as easy access to the Boroughs. During the years that I have lived in Astoria, I've seen so many changes. The one thing, though, that remains constant is the diversification and supportive community spirit. It's also a fun neighborhood. There is always someplace to go and something to do."
Elena and her family are strong believers in supporting local businesses. And that's easy to do in a place like Astoria that is simply teeming with one great restaurant, coffee bar and boutique after another.
When asked which businesses were her go-tos Ms. Cruz replied, "I have so many favorites that it's hard to choose. But, just to name a few; there's Napoli Pizza and Pasta, Bahari Estiatorio, Pye Boat Noodle, Tacuba, Lots of Bagels and Michael's Diner. And, besides places to eat, stores such as Lockwood and Side B Thrift & Gift Shop certainly deserve a mention."
There's no time like the present to get in touch with Elena and put together a plan of action. She even offers a complimentary consultation. How much easier can it get than that?
But, we'll let Elena take it from here.
"The first step in the process is a consultation which is on average between 15 and 25 minutes. We will start off by discussing career goals and why a client is looking for a particular service. Next, I'll talk a bit about my background and experience so that clients can understand how my career history can assist them at this point in their lives. After that, we'll chat about the process involved for each service as well as go over pricing, packages and discounts."
As a small business owner, Elena Cruz has weathered the storm of covid-19 as well as the challenges of marketing her brand and getting the word out, which is not as easy as one might think. After all, if potential clients don't know your business exists, they can't work with you.
But, Elena always keeps her eyes on the prize.
"One of the most gratifying things about owning a business such as mine is that I am able to help my community and clients with one of the hardest endeavors of a person's life......employment. It's all about helping clients confidently search for new opportunities that can be life-altering."
Elana Cruz and Career Proz have got your back when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. Just bring your resiliency and skill set. They'll supply the rest.
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