Sara Berkholtz speaks at Ladies DC event


Ladies DC is the founding chapter of the non-profit, Ladies America. Their mission is to build a network of professional women by arranging influential mentorship relationships, hosting exciting networking events, and providing access to experts in a variety of fields. On April 30, 2017, Sparks Group’s Sara Berkholtz had the privilege of speaking at the organizations’ mid-program Boot Camp event. The mid-program Boot Camp is an annual program that focuses on critical aspects of professional career development by bringing dynamic speakers that can offer fresh insight into the current employment atmosphere. As a subject matter expert in staffing, with Sparks Group, Sara spoke on the critical components of navigating the recruitment process by leveraging professional networks, tailoring resumes to suit the desired position, and best interviewing practices.

In narrative form and edited for print, below is a recap of Sara’s presentation at Ladies DC’s mid-program Boot Camp:

What do you feel were the critical key takeaways of your presentation at the mid-program Boot Camp?

The key takeaways that people took is that the best way to getur resume in front of the hiring manager is not to send a generic resume via a job board, but rather to leverage your network and have a trusted resource deliver the tailored resume directly to the hiring manager in order to maximize the chances of getting an interview. Additionally, every answer during the interview should be tailored to what the hiring manager is looking for, which can be learned through interpreting the job description and active listening during the interview process.

What specific trends are you seeing in the marketplace that is driving the need for candidates to think differently about their approach in navigating the job seeking and interview process?

Most people don’t realize this, but according to a recent study, recruiters and hiring managers feel that up to 75% of traditional applicants are NOT qualified (Workopolis). This means that when going through applications, the subconscious assumption that a recruiter/hiring manager has is that the applicant is not qualified, which stacks the odds against the pool of qualified applicants. However, when a candidate is referred from a trusted source, the candidate is subconsciously assumed to be qualified for the role because the referrer is essentially vouching for the candidate. We have some of the best technological resources to leverage our network (LinkedIn, social media, company webpages) to make personal introductions, but it is still an underutilized tool.

What were a few of the audiences’ top concerns and what solutions, may have been provided?  

Throughout the presentation, women asked some great questions about how to write compelling messages on LinkedIn to utilize their network, how to answer tricky interview questions, and how to tailor resumes. When discussing how to write a compelling introduction message to someone on LinkedIn, one professional asked me how long the message should be. My advice was to think about what format the reader will view the message on (smart phone, tablet, computer). We are in such a mobile era that most people are reading messages on their phone and people are less inclined to respond if they have to scroll multiple times to finish reading the message. I advised that you should write a concise “non-scrollable” message that includes a compelling reason WHY the reader should be interested (commonality, sincere compliments, why you need help) and a specific actionable request (i.e. time to chat, review resume, advice).  These steps will increase the chances that a person will actually respond.

Are there aspects of what you presented on that you practice in your role at Sparks Group and how have these practices guided you?

On a daily basis in my role as a Recruiter at Sparks Group, I am consistently leveraging my network to match qualified candidates with exciting opportunities from established clientele. We don’t blindly submit candidates to random positions. We truly take the time to get to know both the candidates and the hiring managers to understand what the best fit will be for both parties. I’ve seen many wonderful candidates who miss out on that personal introduction and struggle to get their foot in the door. That’s where we, at Sparks Group, can really help them.

For example, I was working with a candidate who was an Executive Assistant with previous experience supporting C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies, yet she was struggling to get past the interview stage and after 6 months of unemployment, really needed work.

We met multiple times in person and came to the realization that her struggle with interviewing was due to a high-level of anxiety caused by the high-stress environment of the interview.

One day, a manager at a multi-billion-dollar company, asked if I knew someone that could work as a Receptionist. They needed someone to start the next day and told me to select someone that I trusted. My candidate was very eager to work and was open to being a Receptionist (even though it was way below her level of expertise) to get her foot in the door.

A few weeks later, the company wanted to convert her into a permanent employee, even though the contract was slated to end shortly. After a few months, she called me to give an exciting update- through networking on-site; a Sr. VP asked if she’d be open to becoming her personal Executive Assistant. This candidate went from being a Receptionist to being an Executive Assistant, in a matter of months, with a salary increase of $40,000. She did not interview once. That is the power of networking. That is where we make a difference.

In her role as an Accounting and Finance Recruiter at Sparks Group, Sara is responsible for recruiting professionals and Accounting & Finance roles for a diverse client base throughout Northern VA, DC, and Maryland. To connect with Sara on LinkedIn click here. For more information on Sparks Group and its services, please visit

Written by Sparks Group

Sparks Group

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