Are You Making the Most of Your College Years?

After listening to the #InternPro radio show the other evening, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any college students taking notes. During this show, different Talent Acquisition Specialist and University Recruiters were able to provide some wonderful details in regard to internship and entry-level recruitment. Some of the tips and information were slightly surprising but honestly made sense. Being that I currently recruit for entry-level positions, I could confirm that I run into these issues regularly. More often than not, I hope that college students are taking the time to research the job markets that they will be entering soon. Also, I hope they are able to determine the things they need to do to make themselves an attractive candidate upon graduation.

It’s time to get real about your professional future:

  • College degrees are not enough: in some specialized instances, it may be. However, the college degree has become so common that it does not make a candidate special anymore. Think of it as if it were the high school diploma a few years back- a large amount of people have it. You need to be strategic and determine the best way to build soft skills, in and out of school.
  • Even entry level positions want some sort of experience: maybe your GPA is looking mighty fine but do you have any real world experience? It doesn’t necessarily have to be job related (even though that would be ideal), but recruiters are looking to see if you took initiative to build skills during college.
  • Don’t think you don’t have time: I get it, college class loads can be daunting to the point where you don’t believe that you have time to take on anything else. Maybe that’s true but getting a job isn’t the only way you can gain attractive experience. Join clubs, networking events, fraternities/sororities, volunteer, or intern. This can not only help you build skills but it could potentially help you network with people who will aid in your job search down the line.
  • Stop templating your resume format: I know that writing resumes from scratch is tough but using common key words and formatting will not do you any favors. Don’t use the common words to describe yourself on your resume, or if you do, make sure you have something to show so you can back it up (such as a portfolio).
  • Put your social media skills to good use: we all know how you’re an expert at social media but casually socializing on it isn’t its only function. Take time to build social media profiles that are professional and use it to build your personal brand. This can help you gain momentum before you’re ready to start your job search.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute: getting a job is really hard. It is time consuming, the interview process can be long, and you need to be strategic. Don’t wait until 2 weeks before graduation to look for job. Job searches can sometimes take several months (unfortunately, that seems to be more common than not these days), so make sure you start early so you aren’t left scrambling around graduation time.
  • Do your research: no one likes a job hopper and most candidates fall into that category because they are unhappy with the employer that they selected. To avoid making a bad choice or to avoid getting into a job-hopper scenario, make sure you take the time to research companies, their cultures, and so on. This can help you find out if it’s a good option and fit for you.

College is apparently some of the best years of your life but don’t let your fun and socializing stop you from keeping your eye on the prize. You need to make sure that everything you do during those years are going to help you when you are ready to enter in the workforce, so keep these tips in mind.

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Job Seeker: Don’t Rule Out a Phone Interview

The interview process has evolved over the last few years. I recall interview processes only being an interview or two before the company made a decision on whether or not they wanted to hire you. With the changes in the economy and workforce, recruiters are now overwhelmed with a large amount of candidates applying to their job openings and do not have enough time to interview them in that capacity anymore. Therefore, the interview processes have changed into a series of steps, with phone interviews typically being the first one.

Being in talent acquisition myself, I spend most of my week setting up initial phone interviews to determine if the candidates are: interested in the job; interested in the company; and meet the basic requirements. I’ve been a job seeker before and, trust me, it’s a full time job in itself. Surprisingly, I’ve come across plenty of candidates that have decided against doing a phone interview because they were either in the interview process with another company or holding out for a company to reach out to them about their application. In those situations, I can’t help but shake my head. As a job seeker, you should be exploring as many relevant opportunities as you possibly can, especially if it doesn’t require too much time out of your day. You never know what can happen during your job search (or what WON’T happen), so it’s best to have your feelers out as much as possible.

I’ve seen plenty of candidates who’ve waited on a company to contact them about their application just to find out a month later that they were never going to receive that call. I’ve also had candidates hold off on interviewing with other companies because they were interviewing elsewhere, only to be rejected by the company at the final interview stage. Putting off other interviewing opportunities not only wasted time, but they also ended up losing out on opportunities because other available candidates jumped all over it. As a job seeker, you not only have to be aggressive in your search, but you also need to ensure that you don’t make rash assumptions about things. For example, a phone interview isn’t going to land you a job within 20 minutes, so you still can buy time in case the other opportunity you’re waiting for comes through. Or just because the opportunity or company isn’t ideal for you doesn’t mean other opportunities that are more of a fit won’t be presented.

Phone interviews don’t require too much time or effort and can benefit you:

  • It’s quick: phone interviews typically last anywhere from 15-30 minutes and will allow you to get started with the interview process without having to dedicate a ton of time to it. This is a way for you to determine if it’s something you would want to dedicate time to.
  • It gets your name out there: this is an easy way for recruiters and companies to get to know: you; what you’re looking for; and what you’re abilities are. Even if the job opportunity isn’t right for you, you’ll at least be on their radar for something else down the line.
  • You can learn about a company or opportunities: sometimes a job description or an “about me” section on a company website doesn’t do an opportunity justice. I’ve almost ruled out companies in the past based off of these two things but was pleasantly surprised to learn that my assumptions were wrong once I spoke to the recruiter. The additional details allowed me to determine if it was a right fit or not.
  • It can help you pipeline: Like I said earlier, sometimes the timing or the opportunity isn’t right for you at the moment. However, it can help you determine if it is a company you want to look into down the line. This can be a great way to build a relationship with the company so once you do feel like the timing is right, you can easily reach out to the recruiter and get the ball rolling.
  • Recruiters like to help: Let’s say you didn’t like the opportunity that the recruiter initially reached out to you about- that doesn’t mean it’s over. Recruiters often network with each other to see what each other are working on (internally and externally). If the recruiter you spoke to knew someone who is looking for a candidate with your talent, it is very likely that they’ll pass on your resume to the other recruiter.

Before you turn down a phone interview, think about all the benefits above. A thirty minute phone call can help you be even more strategic in your job search.

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Job Preparedness: What Employers Want

More often than not, I have job seekers approach me for some career advice. They ask me all sorts of questions, such as: how should I format my resume; how should I prepare for an interview; how can I display my skills to be attractive to employers; what skills do I need to build to be qualified; and so on. Of course, depending on the role, company, and situation, my responses tend to be different per each case. However, I do remind my candidates that certain skills can be taught but passion and business ethic cannot. So, I ask them what they’re truly passionate about and how they’re going about displaying these qualities to potential employers.

After speaking to employers and researching the topic, I’ve noticed that the skills that are most valued are actually pretty surprising. For example, employers value candidates who have strong business ethic and are accountable vs. candidates that have technical skills and can work well with others. Why? Because technical skills can be taught but accountability is an internal motivation factor that an employer can’t teach an employee.

To get a better idea of this, check out this infographic on The Undercover Recruiter Blog provided by Youtern.

This is a great visual resource for candidates to not only learn what employers are looking for, but to also see how their current experience level (entry-level, managerial, etc) can tie into this. Additionally, many hiring managers evaluate these skills through the interview process, so it’s important for candidates to be on top of their game. Review the top skills that employers are looking for and take the time to think of examples from your experience to display your competency in these skills. Thinking of these examples before an interview can not only help you be prepared with strong information, but it can also help you clearly show the employer that you have what it takes to meet their value expectations.

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Job Seeker: Maybe Your Online Personality is Killing Your Job Leads

The other day, a few of my peers and I were discussing our social media presence and how it’s evolved over the years. One of them had mentioned that they often Google themselves to see what the search results were pulling up. Of course, being that she was a consultant, I felt that this was necessary in order for her to gain client leads. However, as I thought about this topic a little more, I realized that this can also be true for job seekers.

I’ve been in a talent acquisition and HR role for a few years now and I’ve most definitely heard some stories in my day. One of the biggest things I’ve heard from other recruiters would involve their sourcing methods for candidates. Sometimes, when recruiters are in a crunch for candidates and can’t seem to get the contact information they need to reach out to them right away, they will do a Google search. This is an alternative method to find job seeker’s contact information. Sometimes it is an effective method and sometimes it’s just scary.

Some of the most interesting things I’ve heard in regard to this from other recruiters:

  • Blatant lies about work experience: Make sure your resume and your Linkedin profile match up because recruiters most definitely cross-reference. There have been times where candidates stated they had 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree, only for the recruiter to discover that this wasn’t the case.
  • Incriminating photos: it always baffles me when people (especially individuals who are 18 years old or older) find it ridiculously cool to post pictures of them with some sort of drug in their possession. It’s even more baffling if they have pictures posted of them using the substance.
  • Very bad posts on social media: discriminatory comments, racism, and the like are often found on social media. Whether the person is joking or not, the recruiter may never know. All they can do is take it at face value.
  • Police blotters: don’t mark off that you have no felonies or misdemeanors on your background check if there’s potentially an article about you getting arrested on the internet. With a lot of these publications becoming available online, it’s a lot easier to come across this information than if it was only in print.

It’s hard enough to land a job as a job seeker in this economy, it’s even worse if your online presence ruins chances before you can even get to do a phone interview. Do yourself a favor and Google yourself to see what kind of information is at recruiter’s disposal and do some damage control. This could help your chances.

More links:

Check out this Infographic about Social Resumes

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Recruiters: Are You Going Beyond the Call of Duty?

Last week, a group of recruiters and I were talking about some of the things we do to help our candidates make it through the interview process. We discussed tips, resume restructuring, and coaching. Some of us had success stories about how their tips helped a candidate land an offer. But I asked them: what about the candidates that didn’t make it through the interview process? What about the candidates that weren’t a fit from the start? Are we doing anything to help those candidates?

Maybe I’m overly empathetic, but I really identify with the job seekers and their daily struggles to find work. I’ve been the underemployed before. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve also been the employee that felt like my abilities were not being recognized or utilized for the benefit of the company. And even though I’ve been involved in Human Resources and talent acquisition, that advantage didn’t always help me when it came to securing my next job. Even with the knowledge of knowing what recruiters and hiring managers looked for, I still struggled. If I struggled, I can only imagine what it is like for people who don’t understand the recruitment processes or tricks of the trade.

As a recruiter or talent acquisition specialist, have you ever spoken to a candidate that you knew wasn’t going to be a fit for your job opening? Or have you talked to a candidate that had potential but needed some extra guidance? In those instances, what did you do? Did you simply send a rejection letter or pass them through the hiring process knowing that they might be rejected due to the areas that needed coaching? Or did you act like a consultant? Did you go above the call of duty and make it your job to help the candidate be employable and attractive to other employers even though you couldn’t offer a job?

I know that not all recruiters have time to do this. We’re overwhelmed and most of the time we don’t even have a second to breathe. But I often try to help out candidates as much as I can. I’ll give them tips on their resume, let them know what recruiters look for, coach them on their interviewing skills, tell them how to be easily found by recruiters, and so on. Most importantly, I let them know that they are always welcome to call me or email me if they need help or have questions. That extra time and effort feels rewarding especially when you hear the appreciation in the job seeker’s voice. I love it when I get emails and calls down the line from these individuals asking me for advice or when they let me know that they landed a job because of the tips I provided.

I remember wishing that someone saw the potential in me when I was a job seeker. I hoped that employers could see my passion and hear the conviction in my voice when I told them that I wanted to do great things for their company. Eventually, a company saw that and took a chance on me. Now, I want to be the person that returns that favor, even if I can’t initially provide a job to these candidates who honestly want a future for themselves. Maybe my assistance will help them get the interview they needed so they can sit in front of that specific manager who will see their intentions and give them a chance.

It shouldn’t just be about YOUR job opening that you need to fill. It should be about helping people get back to work. People have unnecessarily suffered the situations caused by the changes in the workforce. What are we doing to help them adjust?

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Sometimes, Culture Fit Overrides Job Fit

As some of you know, company culture is one of my favorite topics to discuss. So, in light of a current situation, I felt that today’s blog post should discuss this. Recently, an individual was referred to me for some career and job seeking advice. Of course, I jumped all over this because I absolutely love helping people figure out what they truly want and how to be proactive about getting it. As I provided some advice to her, I recalled some important lessons I learned while job seeking myself.

This woman told me about some of the job roles she was interested in and how a couple of the companies she interviewed with seemed to have great opportunities involving this type of role but the company in itself left her feeling uninspired. She also happened to know a few people that previously worked at these companies and she was able to determine that the company culture didn’t really seem to match what she valued.

Of course, the fact that she mentioned personal values seemed to pique my interest and we hashed out these details. After learning what seemed to be important to her and what she really was passionate about, it was easy to see why these companies left her feeling uninspired. The companies had nothing to do with any of that. And after thinking about it, I recalled the time when I was aggressively looking for work. I was so set to get my career going in HR that I accepted jobs with companies that didn’t match my personal values. Or what’s worse, I found that their culture and ethics were awful. Needless to say, I was happy to land a role in HR but I was miserable, I learned nothing, and I really felt like I gained nothing from working there. Before I knew it, I was looking for work again because I desperately wanted to get out of that less than ideal situation.

As I considered these situations, I realized that sometimes finding a job in a company that has a culture that matches your values could be more important than struggling to get your foot in the door for a role you’re targeting. I wanted to be happy and I wanted to find a company that made me want to stay with them long term. I realized that perhaps starting in a position that wasn’t necessarily what I was targeting might be the way to go. I knew that if I was happy with the company, I wouldn’t mind taking a little extra time to work my way up to where I wanted to be, career-wise.

Sometimes it’s not enough to just be involved in the role you desire if the company in itself isn’t ideal for you. If you’re a job seeker, it’s important to research the culture to ensure you don’t end up in a bad situation that leaves you scrambling for a new job and company that is better suited for you. Unfortunately, changing jobs so quickly doesn’t look great to recruiters.. It looks better if you stick with a company longer-term and progressively move your way up.

Spend that extra time to do your research and really dig deep to make sure the company you’re accepting employment with is going to offer you more than just a job title and a couple skills in your field. You spend a good portion of your time at your job so finding an overall fit might be the better choice when it comes to finding a long and lasting career.

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Is Your Lack of Responsiveness Killing Your Chances of Landing a Job?

I have worked in recruiting, HR, and talent acquisition roles throughout my career. Some of the job openings that I’ve filled in the past were roles that had a dire need to be filled right away. Other positions were roles that had an immediate opening, but could take a little extra time in finding that ideal candidate. Others  I’ve recruited were simply made for pipelining in preparation for a change or a need that would occur in the future. Regardless of the situation, I aggressively tried to contact individuals who would be great candidates of the openings. As you can imagine, it was very frustrating when candidates would not answer, take weeks to respond, or respond and then become unresponsive. For people who are putting themselves out there as passive or active job seekers, why wouldn’t they take the time to respond to an opportunity?

I understand that life is busy and sometimes you don’t have time or access to respond right away. Or, maybe you’re not even interested in the role. But I feel that as a job seeker, you must do your due diligence. As a talent acquisition specialist, we need to be able to connect with prospective candidates for our job roles; which means we’re aggressively trying to reach out candidates that seem qualified for the role. This could mean we’re reaching out to several people on a daily basis in order to find the one individual who is interested and a rock star for the job requirement needs.

If you’re a job seeker looking for your next role, it would be in your best interest to try and respond ASAP. This might mean having your emails forwarded to your phone so you always have access to whoever is reaching out to you. Or this may mean setting aside time each day to check voicemails or emails and respond. Even if you can’t speak to the recruiter that day, it would be wise to let them know that you’re unavailable and make the effort to schedule a time when you are. This can help the recruiter keep you on their radar as a potential candidate before deciding who to move forward with.

Additionally, if you have connected with a recruiter it is absolutely imperative to stay responsive. There are times where I’ve witnessed candidates who had started the interviewing/application process and then fell off in the middle with no warning. They were also unreachable. Then several weeks later they would contact me again asking if the position was still open. That type of situation could make recruiters consider you unreliable and would potentially assume that you would do that if you did land the job. This is never a good side.

So, job seekers, keep yourself available. Recruiters are working so hard to find you and are trying to present great opportunities for you. Sometimes our job opening needs move fast, so make sure you respond as soon as you can in order to avoid any situation where you may miss out on a dream job opportunity.

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