NextGen Collective spotlights clinical recruiter and social work pro Harleny Vasquez. Read on about her work, who inspired her the most growing up, the major milestones she met in 2022, and more.
Where are you from?
I am Dominican American, first-generation. I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. I am currently based in New Jersey.
What do you do today and where do you want to go in your career?
I am a social worker with over ten years of experience working in social services providing trauma-informed care to Latinx and BIPOC individuals residing in unserved communities. In my 9-to-5, I am a clinical recruiter for a mental health tech company on a mission to build effective clinical teams to deliver quality mental health care services for clients. I am also the CEO and founder of my consulting business yourevolvedmind, where I am a social work career coach, workshop facilitator, and podcast host of Social Work Insider. I help social workers in all stages. My areas of focus include resume and cover letter writing, personal branding, LinkedIn marketing, salary negotiation, and confidence building. I provide my clients the tools needed to secure their next opportunity using the LinkedIn platform. I’ve been featured in VoyageLA, The New Social Worker magazine, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the book Latinx in Social Work Volume 2.
Long term, I want to continue in my role of recruiting for the mental health profession to support communities in need. I want help 1,000 social workers secure new roles while developing an elective course that can be used in social work schools across the nation on personal branding and marketing yourself for success upon entering the workforce. It’s all part of my mission to uplift and elevate the social work profession.
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
My mother! She raised me and my younger sister as a single mother. Immigrating to this country in her early twenties from the Dominican Republic was not an easy path due to not finishing college and leaving her family and friends behind. She taught me the true power behind going after your goals and never giving up. She taught me how to overcome the consistent barriers that were put in place for our Latinx community. She was always and is still my biggest cheerleader. She is my why.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for Latinx professionals early in their careers?
I often come across many Latinx professionals who are dealing with impostor syndrome aka those limiting beliefs that are telling you that you will never be good enough. It’s one of the biggest challenges that anyone can face, because some may not have much of a support system or positive mentors that they can rely on to help them achieve their goals and achieve their highest potential. New professionals early in the workforce don’t see themselves as an asset therefore they don’t negotiate salary and seek other opportunities because of the fear of rejection.
How can Latinx professionals better advocate for themselves?
They can build their personal brand and remind themselves of how much of an asset they are. They can negotiate salary, ask for a promotion, and secure the position or the type of advancement they want. Heck, they can ask for a role to be created. Latinx professionals are truly valuable and have so much to offer. Remember, there is only one of YOU.
What do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
I wish I had known how to market myself for the current skillset that I have and not rely so much on what I will have in the future. I relied heavily on certain external factors to make me feel validated of the success within my career. In the field of social work, there is so much stigma around the type of success in ranking in relation to clinical licensures, and I firsthand know how devastating that feeling can be when you rely on a test to then make you feel successful. Therefore, I am on a mission to uplift and elevate the social work profession, especially for my Latinx community. We have so much to offer.
What major milestones did you meet in 2022?
In June 2022, I became a homeowner at only 29 years old, I turned 30 in July, and I am so excited to step into the next chapter of my life. On October 5, 2022 I also became a published author, as I am one of the contribution authors for Latinx in Social Work Volume 2. On October 28, 2022 during the annual gala, I received an award from the Latino Social Work Coalition and Scholarship Fund for the Emerging Social Work Trailblazer Leadership Award for 2022. I am so excited to share my story with my community on my journey to success. I am excited to see where 2023 will take me.
What’s been the biggest surprise or highlight of your career to date?
I feel the biggest surprise of my career to date is when I realized that I kept chasing the next milestone to make me feel validated, as in chasing job after job as a licensed social worker for no reason, because I then realized my true passion was lying right under my nose as a natural career cheerleader, which lead to me developing my own business as a social work career coach and becoming a clinical recruiter in mental health tech as a first-generation Latina. The moment you let go of expectations on where you should be is where you find that magic moment and define your own version of success.
What behavior or personality traits do you attribute to your success?
My huge extrovert personality, people often say my energy is contagious because I genuinely care and want the best for people. I often found positive moments in times of distress; I handle conflict very well. I was that shining light for others, as mentioned a natural career cheerleader.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As a clinical recruiter, I am building effective clinical teams to deliver quality mental health care to clients in the community and I am being a part of that everlasting impact to enhance the mental wellness of others on a national level. As a career coach, I am reminded daily that I am providing a life changing opportunity for my clients, besides helping them secure a new role, I am teaching them all the tools needed by helping them enhance their confidence and achieve their highest potential. All the moments are priceless.