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Pratika

The people of Premier Talent Partners are our heartbeat. We had the opportunity to spend some time with Pratika, one of our recruiters here. Her philosophy on life really emphasizes the Premier spirit, and we know she brings it to work with her every day. Check out her inspiring Q&A:

Woman (Pratika) on a pink bike wearing a blue summer dress.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Okay, so I’m from India, I grew up in a city called Agra, which is the city of the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. My entire childhood has been influenced a lot by different cultures and religions. I studied in a convent and I’m a Hindu by religion so I definitely had a lot of exposure to different religions when I was growing up. 

But I think the biggest influence that I had is from my family. I’m an only child. Both my parents work in government services and they both taught me the most important thing in life is to be independent. That probably has stuck with me. I’ve been living by myself since I was 17 years old. So, you know, I’ve never been in doubt that I can do something, I just go back to what my parents would say: if you can’t do it, then nobody can. I moved to New Jersey in December of 2013, and that’s where I’ve stayed since. I have a husband, a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, two dogs, and a parakeet.

Could you talk more about your experience moving here and starting a career?

I think the US has been very welcoming. I am a living example of why they call it the “land of opportunities.” I have an MBA in Marketing and have found my footing in staffing. I never thought that I’d be growing a career in this space, but I was exposed to so many different opportunities and just carved my way in. I am a little narcissistic about what I do, but I think I feel confident that I’m one of the best recruiters out there. I know I give myself that pep talk every day. 

What motivates you in your career?

Our mission of changing lives is something so powerful as an individual, that you have the opportunity to design somebody’s future, you can connect them with opportunities that they don’t think they will be able to do by themselves. I think it’s the most fulfilling part of my job every single day. Yeah. 

Do you have any tips for someone interested in following a similar career path?

I would say consistency and being open to what’s out there. I’d also be transparent that if somebody wants to get into recruiting, it is not an immediately successful job. It takes time for you to build up your skills. It takes time for you to build a network. And it takes time for you to be successful. But when you get there, it’s the most fulfilling thing. I just closed a role that I’ve been working on for 266 days. And the result is sweet. Really, it’s the consistency of going back to your roots that kind of, you know, make you a better recruiter or staffing person every single day.

So, would you say that the beginner’s mindset is what makes you one of the best recruiters?

Yes, yes. Recruitment is not rocket science. But the one thing that not a lot of people realize is that there’s also a lot of sales that are involved in it, you are selling your candidate to the client. You are selling your job, or your client, to the candidate. So you’re essentially a salesman, and it’s going back to basics, connecting with people, getting on the phone. At the end of the day, it is a beginner’s mindset. 

Describe yourself in three words.

Well, I always think if I were to write in my autobiography it would be called something like, “Not so Normal Female” or “Not so Normal Girl” I think something like that. But three words? I think I’m a very driven, strong-headed, and empathetic person in life.

Could you share a recruiting success story?

Okay, yeah. So this is back in 2015, and we had an opportunity where we were supposed to find a very niche skill. I happened to connect with a female who was coming out of her maternity break after 10 months. I tried and tried and tried to find lots of candidates, but I kept running into her profile again and again.

I just connected with her. She was also an immigrant, and she said this to me, “if you can find me one opportunity to work to restart my career. I’ll be forever grateful.” And it just stuck with me. 

I didn’t have kids at that time. And I was like, Oh. My. God. like, why wouldn’t somebody get an opportunity because they took maternity break. And back in 2015, not a lot of organizations were open about that. 

So I dug up her profile, convinced my account manager, and there was so much pushback. “We’re not going to send her, she hasn’t worked in 10 months.”

I said, like, let’s just give it a shot. Let’s try it. I’m going to find more people, but let’s just put her in as well. 

She got the interview request from the hiring manager and she got hired after one interview. 

The day she called was the day she got the offer. She called me and she cried. And I still get so emotional thinking about it. She cried. And she said, “I wish there’s a world where we have an opportunity to give birth and not have to choose between being a mother and restarting a career.” And that just stuck with me. I treat that as the biggest success of my life. I gave her the confidence that she needed. And she just needed one opportunity in life to do that. And I was able to help give her that.

Would you say that kind of bias is a common thing in recruiting culture?

It is. It is. There’s a whole world outside of Premier where there are voids of women in leadership positions. We have a gender bias. It’s constantly coming up in some form whether we’re talking to hiring managers or to candidates. It puts you in an interesting position – I’m both a professional in this space, but I’m also a part of this workforce – and you can’t help but think “if things were slightly different, I could be up against this” – especailly when bias enters into the equation.

As long as I’ve built my career in Recruiting, I’ve had to defend my career choice. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been asked/told:

“Why are you working recruitment?”

“You should be working in a back office.”

“There’s more of a work-life balance in ‘office’ roles.”.

And, I’d love to say this is a thing of the past, but I continue to run into this on the job, too. I am a tech recruiter and I know my stuff, but there’s still an air of “oh, she wouldn’t know anything about tech,” and a tendency to only talk to me about less-specialized positions. This changes when I start speaking about the tech they use or are developing, and then suddenly we’re talking about more hard-hitting roles. They almost default, on face value, to discounting that I can be on par with them. Like I’m not knowledgeable about the staffing industry. Like I’m clueless about the technology that they use. And that’s a misplaced assumption that doesn’t really help anyone in the end.

You mentioned that you’ve always believed in yourself, do you have any times that you felt like people weren’t believing in you? 

Several times. Starting out in the US, it took me a while to – you know – it took me a few months to find jobs. So I got creative and did a lot of volunteer work/things of that nature. The first thing everybody would tell me was “Oh, you’re not working? Why don’t you just have kids?” – like, those were my only options – either to work cash jobs or have a family.

Knowing that I deserved and had access to more options made me even more determined to have my own career. Like many successful women out there, I consistently find myself shouting over a chorus of doubtful observers.

“Why are you investing your life in such a competitive space?”

“Your husband’s job is so demanding, why should yours be, too?” – this one is often followed up with, you guessed it, “maybe you should think about working in a back office”

Once I’m able to stop my eyes from rolling to the back of my head like a slot machine, my most common response is – if he can do it, why can’t I?

And I want to take a moment to give a special shout-out to my husband here because these gender biases don’t exist in our house. It’s so refreshing to build a life with someone where it’s not my job to do certain things because I’m a female. I mean, I still gave birth because I can, but nothing in our household is determined on that basis – we’re partners.

We both prioritize ourselves. We both are raising our daughter to be as independent as possible. She shares both of our last names, and we’re proud that’s part of her identity [Editors note: so are we!]. And you know, he also fights against the stigma of gendered roles. He hears things like “ why are you letting her work a demanding job?” His most common response? “She’s a different individual. That’s her choice. That’s her life.”

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

Since my husband has come into my life he has made me more compassionate towards animals. I used to be afraid of dogs when I was growing up, but thanks to him I just can’t think of my life without my two dogs anymore. And if I were to win a billion dollars, I would open a no-kill shelter and have all the animals living there. That’s like my ultimate goal in life. The best job that I can think of is I just want to become a dog groomer. That sounds like an absolute dream to me.

Let’s end on a silly note: If you had a warning label, what would yours say? 

“Do not touch when hot.”

Or…

“Do not approach when mad: contents are volatile.”