Don’t Give Up

Your #1 New Year’s resolution was Find a New Job. What you might be discovering is tons of people made that same resolution. And not just December grads. Many experienced people joined the January frenzy too.

You might not get the first job you pursue, but don’t be discouraged. Given the volume of applicants recruiters are receiving it might be more challenging and take more time before you get that coveted offer. If you are beginning to feel frustrated here are a few tips to keep in mind while you continue your search.

 Image by Stuart MilesDo some soul-searching

Be honest. Did you miss some offers due to your own errors?

Perhaps you came across as cocky instead of confident during the interview. Confidence is a wonderful attribute, however, overconfident body language and answers can be off-putting. This happened with a candidate who told one of our hiring managers, “When you call to offer me the job—and you will be calling me…”

This kind of attitude doesn’t make anyone feel warm and fuzzy. If the manager was rubbed the wrong way, how will customers and co-workers feel? If you want to convey you are the best person for the job simply reiterate your strengths.

“I think the leadership experience I gained as Vice-President of my sorority will be a real benefit to the Project Manager role. I’m looking forward to hearing from you regarding your decision.”

Did you walk into an interview without preparing? Maybe you went just for experience and the recruiter sensed that—despite the fact that you discovered mid-interview the job would be right up your alley. Even if you’re not excited about the opportunity when you apply, if you accept an interview take time to prepare and go with an open mind. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I applied for my company simply because it was in my home city where I planned to return after college. To my surprise, the person who interviewed me had such great things to say I was sold. I originally thought I’d stick around for 3 months then move on.

That was in 1994.

Have you been aiming too high? If you only have 1-2 years of experience (or maybe even less) and every opportunity you seek requires 5+ years, you are barking up the wrong tree. Commit to searching for entry-level jobs and you should see some doors begin to open. The same is true for more seasoned candidates. If you have a wealth of experience and your goal is to walk into a management role, cross entry-level opportunities off your list. They more than likely will not offer the compensation or responsibility you are seeking.

Remain Positive

Whether you are in the application stage or face-to-face interview stage, no one likes to hear the word no. When those no’s multiply over a few weeks, though it may tug at you hard, resist the woe-is-me mentality.

Do some things that make you feel good. Go to the gym, spend time with friends, participate in a sport or treat yourself to dinner or a movie—within your budget, of course. Give yourself permission to not think about your career search while you are out having fun.

If the negative thoughts come, replace them with good ones. 

Don’t lament because you got passed over. Again! Consider this: there is something out there that is a better fit for you. Had you gotten the other position(s) you would have missed out.

Years ago when my husband and I were looking at houses we found one we both liked and put in a bid. I was absolutely convinced it was the house—the perfect one for us. Imagine my disappointment when we didn’t get it. Then there was a second one I fell in love with. My husband, not so much. Yet I kept dreaming about that place. Finally we found yet another one that we both agreed on: open floor plan for him, attached garage for me and a bonus sun room. That was the one we got, and it is so much better than the others. Think about your job search in the same way. Even if the position seemed like the one that got away, keep believing something better is on the horizon.

Don’t cry reverse ageism. It’s the timeless dilemma: How can I get the experience required for the career I want if no one will give me a shot?  You are not totally devoid of experience. There are entry-level careers that only require the skills you were able to pick up at your high school and college jobs.

When my husband first began his career in IT no one was willing to give a young guy with no computer experience an opportunity. After a long search he was grateful to land a job in his field making less than minimum wage. He used that time to his advantage, learning as much as he could, proving himself and, slowly, other opportunities opened up. He eventually became a Senior Manager and a Director in his field. The moral of the story: don’t knock humble beginnings. Pay your dues and you will reap the benefits.

Don’t dwell on the interview that was an epic fail. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Prep for the next time. Brush up on interviewing tips or sign up for a mock interview at your alma mater (Bonus tip: recruiters who conduct mock interviews are hoping to find some leads).

Bitter is not better. I’ve seen it dozens of times. You don’t get the offer and then you lash out. The problem is, when you become bitter it can show in your interviews. If you get a rejection notice and feel a need to respond, keep it professional.

“Thank you for reviewing my application. Should any other opportunities become available for which you feel I am qualified, please keep me in mind.” This is a message that could score some points with the interviewer, so she just might give you a call when another position becomes available.

On the other hand, “I’d like to know why I wasn’t considered for the job. I meet every single qualification listed!” more than likely will not elicit a reply. Even if it does, it won’t be, You’re correct. I made a mistake. Your demanding email indicates you’d bring unity and harmony to our team. The recruiter will not be inclined to keep you in mind for anything except an example of what not to do during the interview process. What grandma taught you still rings true: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Walk into every interview as if it’s the first

It might sound odd, but if you have a fresh mindset it will show. If you are replaying rejections in your head you could come across as desperate, defeated, or both. Remember this when you ask for the job, emphasis on ask, not plead.

Don’t rule out a part-time gig. Yes, student loans are around the corner, but a few months might allow you some time to find direction now that you don’t have fifteen things going on at once — classes and projects and meetings (oh my). Even if you begin your new career in April, you’d still beat the May/June grads and have a few months before you have to face the loans.

Remember, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it (Charles Swindoll), so choose wisely.

Make it a great day!

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Where the Jobs Are 2013

You visited all the top job sites, prepped your resume—and had someone review it beforehand, thank you very mucJob Searchh—and applied for some jobs you came across that first day. There are tons of them though, and it turned out to be a grueling day. You posted your resume so now all you have to do is sit back and wait for those employers out there to find you, right?

Actually, you couldn’t be more wrong! Remember what I’ve said in the past—with so many people seeking work, it’s all a recruiter can do to keep his head above water at times. Between the career fairs, job postings, phone screens, interviews, coordinating the interview process, running background checks and, for some, generalist duties (benefits, legalities, unemployment claims, trainings…)

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. We recruiters are swamped! That means, that while we still prospect, you can’t count on us seeing your resume as the only way to find job leads. And while the popular ones—Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed—will all send you jobs that might be of interest you’re going to find a lot more opportunities by having a plan for your job search. Not to mention, as a recruiter, I want a self-starter who is results driven and ambitious, not the guy that waits around for something to fall into his lap.

 

Below is a list of the top fields hiring new grads this year, so there are definitely jobs out there. The question is, how do you go about finding them?

1.             IT — 26 percent

2.             Customer service — 19 percent

3.             Finance/accounting — 16 percent

4.             Sales — 16 percent

5.             Business development — 15 percent

6.             Health care — 12 percent

 

(Find the complete article at http://www.examiner.com/list/top-6-jobs-for-college-new-grads-2013)

 

Top Places to Search for Jobs

Internet 

By all means, do not discount the job sites listed above. You might also check out career rookie, simply hired and even snag-a-job. Granted, Snag-A-Job primarily posts part-time jobs but perhaps that can lead to a full-time position. These sites are definitely viable, and the place I find many of my new hires, but I encourage you to go beyond the obvious. Check out Twitter, Linked in and Facebook.

True, the careers popping up on on Twitter could be in Timbuktu, but if you utilize the search feature and enter your city (ex. Jobs Atlanta) you can see the companies posting local jobs. Follow them and it could open up a world of opportunities that might never be posted in the more traditional ways. The same goes for Linkedin. In fact, if you visit your home page, on the right side mid-way down, you’ll see job opportunities that might be of interest to you. If you follow the link for more jobs you will also see which of your connections already work for those companies. Now you have an in—as long as you haven’t been randomly connecting with people you don’t know on Linkedin. You can reach out to your friend to do research, ask questions and, perhaps, even ask for a recommendation.

Is one of your friends raving about his new job on Facebook? Is he posting about how much fun he’s having, how much he loves his manager and his team and just got promoted after only six months? Find out where he’s working. Have a conversation and see if that company is hiring in your field.

 

Employee Referral 

Many companies, mine included, offer incentives for employees who make referrals for employment. Let your friends know you’re looking. Keep your resume up-to-date and be prepared to email it at a moment’s notice. The last thing you want to do is make your acquaintance wait while you make revisions.

A few years ago my brother-in-law, John, was in between contracts in the pharmaceutical research field. John’s resume found its way to the desk of a hiring manager and a colleague who knew John saw it. Because she was familiar with him, his performance and his work ethic she told the hiring manager, “You need to hire him.” John got a phone call, had a brief discussion and hung up with a job offer! Sometimes it really is who you know.

 

Colleges 

As I mentioned in a previous post, career services at your alma mater is a great place to visit. You can also jump on the career services website and browse jobs that have been posted by their employer partners. During the school year attending the career fairs is a must! You can make a much greater impact as a real live person vs. just words on a piece of paper that can get lost in a sea of other resumes. If I am impressed with someone face-to-face I am much more likely to bring that person in for an interview.

 

Networking 

During a presentation a few years ago the speaker emphasized the importance of a viable network. If you can’t help others and vice versa, he said, you don’t have a network, you have a netbroke. One candidate I came across definitely understood this. He worked at a country club throughout college where many affluent guests were members. He was a server but knew he was in a position that could open up doors later on. He kept resumes in his car and had his elevator pitch memorized, so when he got a chance to strike up a conversation with a business owner he was ready. That interaction led to an internship in New York where he was able to hone his marketing skills in a position the company created for him. When you impress people sometimes they go out of their way to help you!

I mentioned Linked in before, but it deserves another mention in this category. Take time to join groups of interest and comment in discussions. That way you can meet more people to add to your network. I recently posted a job and got a recommendation from someone who’d read my feedback. For my contributions in another group I was recognized as the Contributor of the Month and was offered a gift card. I was able to provide valuable information and, though it wasn’t my motivation to do so, I got valuable feedback in return. The same can be said of your job search.

 

Other Sources

 Employment Agencies

Employment agencies can be very expensive for companies so the agency might have a limited number of clients. Similar to your internet search, don’t just sign up and sit back and wait for a phone call. Agencies have numerous clients which means your competition could be significant.

Local Organizations

Oftentimes your local Chamber of Commerce, Urban League, even the unemployment office will have a place for employers to post jobs, so check out the website. In addition, they and other local organizations might host a few public career fairs. Do an online search for “career fairs (name of city) 2013” to see what events will be held locally this summer.

Think outside the box 

If you want a job in a creative field, be creative. With the internet at our fingertips people are thinking way outside the box. I read a story about a guy who put up a billboard to get the attention of employers—and found a job! Utilize Youtube to put together a video. Pin your works of art on Pinterest. Take pics of your fashion designs and post them on Instagram. How about using your marketing skills to draw people—including employers—to your blog? What better way to prove your results than a huge following.

I have yet to hear anyone exclaim, “Yay! I get to search for a job!” Let’s face it, it’s not fun. Keep a positive attitude, but don’t make your job search last any longer than it has to. Take advantage of these tips, exhaust every avenue and keep plugging away until you get that job offer you’ve been seeking.

 

New Grad & No Job Offer? Make Your Summer Count

So you haven’t landed your dream job yet. Last time we established that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you can’t justify your break forever. What can you do to improve your chances of getting the one you have your eye on when you embark on that career search again?

First, let’s review the obstacles you encountered.challenges

You only applied for one job. But, hey, it was the one and the first two interviews went really well. How were you to know they’d offer the job to someone else? Bad move. Take advantage of all the money you invested in college and visit Career Services. They have relationships with tons of employers and can give you some referrals.

This time, make sure you cast a wide net. Where do your interests lie? Is it only nursing, or do you also enjoy physical fitness, social work or other fields where you’d be able to help people? Or you might be interested in some totally unrelated fields—aviation and IT and law. Personally, I am not only interested in recruiting, but finances, writing and philanthropy. Since few jobs would incorporate all of these areas, you will have to satisfy some of your interests outside of the workplace. Just make sure you tailor your resume accordingly when applying for jobs. Don’t send your aviation-related resume in for a programming career at Microsoft.

Do some research to find out if you’ll need more education or a certification for your desired career. If so, consider it—the cost, the time and what sacrifices you might have to make. Perhaps, with those qualifications under your belt, even more avenues will be open to you.

You bombed the interview. It happens. Use it as a learning experience. You will live to interview again—believe me. I walked into an interview for a sales position my senior year in college. Back then I was extremely shy. (Shocking, I know.) Much to my horror I found myself facing five—yes, five—interviewers.

It did not go well. I filed it under the category of Things I Don’t Speak Of. If interviews make you break out in hives, this is another area where Career Services, local organizations like the Urban League or other job centers can help. Take advantage of a mock interview (or two) or a resume critique and get some feedback on where you can improve. You’ll walk into your interviews much more polished than you were in March.

Lack of experience 

If this is the case, is there something you can do over the summer—volunteering, working part-time, taking a course—that can help you gain that experience? Let’s say you applied for an accounting position but you never had an internship. Why not try to obtain one over the summer if a company is open to hiring graduates as interns? If that doesn’t work read some entry-level accountant job descriptions. Will the company accept banking as related experience? If so, head over to US Bank or 5/3rd and fill out an application. You’ll not only gain cash handling experience, you’ll gain customer service and sales experience as well. You might even qualify for promotion into their accounting division after a few months of proving yourself.

This is the best way to gain experience—hands on, and it’s what I personally like to see on a resume. But there are also other ways which I’ll cover below by order of preference.

 

Honing Your Skills

Do not take a random summer job if you can avoid it. Choose one that will help you gain new skills. If you were turned down for a communications position and re-apply for the position in the fall with the same resume you’ll more than likely get a similar result. And I’m not sure you can sell your parents on taking another three months to find work.

Previous jobs

As I mentioned, I love to see real life experience on a resume. Because I hire for a sales & management trainee position I am even more drawn to candidates who held leadership roles or who met goals. So if you work in a department store and there are no sales goals established by the company, and you would like to get into sales, set some goals of your own and highlight the results on your resume.

Volunteer/Organizational

Rotary, relay for life, habitat for humanity, missions trips just to name a few. This is also solid experience because it involves real situations. Don’t settle for showing up at organizational meetings and filling in where needed. Is there an opportunity to take the helm for a project? Conceptualize and plan events? I am so impressed by candidates who can organize and motivate teams to accomplish tasks. Why? Because so few recent grads have that experience.

No too long ago I hired two candidates who had been on missions trips. They had to raise money (sales/persuasiveness/resilience), set appointments (communication/self-starter) and organize Bible studies and outreach (time management, leadership). All of this while in school (flexibility/adaptability).

Classroom — This is impressive when you have had the opportunity to present solutions to an actual company who decided to implement them. However, classroom experience is typically hypothetical or simulated. While it gives students an understanding of what happens in a company nothing beats that face-to-face customer encounter you had as a server where you were able to turn him into a repeat diner at your restaurant. No theoretical idea can take the place of the organizational process you implemented at your last job to help keep track of inventory that was later adopted by three other divisions.

Years ago I interviewed a solid guy for our internship program and asked him to tell me about a time when he had a leadership role. He was an Assistant Manager at a car wash but for some reason he started telling me about his classroom project. I interrupted him and said, “If you tell me about your capstone… You were an Assistant Manager! Tell me about that.” We both laughed, but he got it. He went on to describe some of his responsibilities, the number of people he managed and even how he was able to impact the bottom line. I brought him on board and after he graduated we hired him full-time.

Check out this link for even more ways to gain experience:

http://education-portal.com/articles/10_Ways_for_New_College_Graduates_to_Gain_Job_Experience.html

Transferable Skills

Let’s face it, there is only so much experience you can gain in three months’ time, so what’s an alternative? I guarantee many of you already have valuable skills you never even considered—transferable skills.

Some of the most beneficial skills include: leadership-ability to motivate a team, communication—written & verbal, flexibility/adaptability, teamwork, time management, self-starter, problem-solving, organization, creativity, resilience, results driven

Recent grads often discount their “college jobs”, but don’t sell yourself short. Server, Sales Associate, Laborer (warehouse, landscaping), construction and athlete are all job experiences that will add to your skill set. Think about the skills you’ve gained and ways you can highlight them on your resume and, once you land the interview, what specific examples you can share that prove you have that competency.

Job   Title Experience   &Transferable Skills
Server Multi-tasking/adaptability, customer service, sales,   leadership–ability to oversee a process
Athlete Leadership, work ethic, tenacity, resilience, teamwork,   dedication, goal-setting, problem resolution, results driven, time management   (school, practice, games/meets & sometimes a job)
Landscaping/Construction

(bonus points for crew leader)

Self-starter, ability to meet deadlines, teamwork;   entrepreneurship if you started your own mowing business, leadership
Tutor Planning, training, teaching, motivation (with proven   results), communication
Resident Assistant Leadership, customer service, planning, problem resolution,   organization, creativity, sales if you had to persuade other RA’s to accept   your ideas, budgeting
VP of fraternity Event planning, leadership, creativity, able to motivate a   team, sales—ideas or fund-raising activities, budgeting

Job Shadow

One final suggestion for your summer. You think you’d like to work in a non-profit, but you’re not entirely sure. Why not tap into your network this summer for a connection in that field? (Networking is a topic all its own that I will cover in a future post.) Perhaps you can shadow someone a few days a week or even volunteer. This will give you insight an interview might not offer and you could discover you’re not as interested as you thought or it’s the perfect fit for you.

Remember, just because you haven’t landed your first job is not a license to take it easy this summer. Take advantage of some of these tips and, after you get a few months’ experience under your belt, get back out there! Everyone had to start somewhere. Make that first step pay off in the long run.

Career Fairs-Don’t Just Show Up (Part 3)

The Night Before

The career fair is tomorrow and you’ve done a lot of work, but here are a couple more recommendations to help you be fully prepared.

Grab a friend to take out for coffee and have him double check your resume. Better to find any typos today than for a recruiter to spot them tomorrow.

While you’re grabbing that coffee take a few minutes to rehearse your 30 second commercial. As an aspiring author, I’ve been in your shoes recently when attending writers’ conferences. The first question every other writer has upon introduction is, “So what do you write?” So I rehearsed the pitch for my novel until I could say it in my sleep! By the time I sat down in front of editors and agents to “sell” my manuscript, my jitters were almost a distant memory.

Next, lay out your outfit. Or two. Because you might discover that sharp gray suit needs to go to the dry cleaner or, as soon as ladies try to pull on a pair of tights, they’ll get a run. Make sure you have a backup plan so you don’t have to show up at the fair in a borrowed outfit. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty.

The early bird gets the worm. It might be cliché, but it’s very true of a career fair. Many employers leave about 30 minutes (and some even sooner) before the fair ends. So if you show up later, you’ll miss out. And even if we don’t leave early, having spoken to 50, 75 or 100 plus students we’re fried by the end of the day. When representatives are fresh you’ll probably get far more information than those bullet points they’re sharing at the end of a four hour fair.

If it’s 6:05 pm and the fair ended at 6:00 pm, use a little discernment. A recruiter who is all packed up might share some quick highlights but don’t stick around for twenty minutes with tons of questions. Don’t ask for any handouts at this point. He’s already packed up. Even if you have a good reason, you were late, plain and simple. Ask if you can get in touch and let him be on his way. You want to be remembered, but not as the clueless wonder.

The Day Of                                                                                                       

Today is the day. All of your preparation is going to pay off. It’s okay to catch a ride to the fair with friends but once you get there check over your written plan and go work the room. This isn’t a group effort. Walking around with a gaggle of buddies sends the message that you are a follower, not a leader, and you can’t make your own decisions. If your friend is interested in nursing and you’re interested in engineering, you’ll need to speak to very different companies. So shake ‘em and go your separate ways. Later on you can catch up and discuss the opportunities you discovered.

Talking to the Recruiter

I promise you, we don’t bite. And you’ve been following this cool blog, so you have plenty to talk about. 🙂 Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and be enthusiastic. We’ve all had that experience where we’ve been in the middle of a story with someone and that person looks away, or looks beyond us to something more interesting. Not a good move at a career fair. If you build rapport with a recruiter and she doesn’t have any careers that are a fit for you, she still might point you in the direction of some opportunities at other companies (we recruiters do talk to one another). But if you’re rude, good luck.

Be mindful of time and personal space. Even if you’re having a great conversation, know when it’s time to say thank you, shake hands and move on. If you think the company is great, there’s probably a line of other people behind you who feel the same way. Let them have their time with the recruiter. On another note, don’t stand so close I’ll want to call for security, but don’t stand so far away I have to beckon you closer. That will make me think you’re timid. If you’re afraid of me, how will you be able to handle the occasional tough customer? An arm’s length away is perfect.

Don’t be offended if the recruiter doesn’t take your resume. This is becoming more and more common. Don’t take it personally; it’s not you. Every company has its own application procedure, which is typically to apply on line and upload the resume. So why have a resume? Because having one says something about your professionalism. Plus, the recruiter might look it over even if he doesn’t keep it.

Ask Good Questions

Remember, you want to have a conversation with the recruiter so be prepared to ask some questions. Good ones. If the representative works for Midwest IT Solutions, please don’t ask, “So what does Midwest IT Solutions do?”

Well…provide IT solutions. (It happens.)

You can ask if they have any opportunities in sales, marketing, HR, accounting, etc. The name doesn’t say it all so don’t assume a company won’t be interested in someone with your major.

Some other good questions might include the following (but only ask if you’re truly interested):

Can you tell me more about your hiring process? This way you’ll know how to apply, when you might hear back from the hiring representative and how many interviews to expect.

Is there an opportunity for, or mandatory, relocation? If you are married to the town you live in and the company plans to send you to parts unknown after a couple of years, it’s probably not the company for you.

What are you looking for in an ideal candidate? The recruiter could describe you perfectly. Or not.

What are the daily responsibilities for the position? The position could be a desk job and you need to be on your feet all day. The job requires creativity and you’re more analytical. Great to know before you apply.

Will you be conducting on campus interviews? If so, find out how to sign up. If it’s three weeks away, however, apply right away so perhaps you can interview earlier.

What kind of training do you provide? Maybe the last company you worked for used the ‘sink or swim’ method and you discovered you want a very specific training plan.

Are there opportunities for advancement? If you want to be a director someday and there are only 20 people in the company, it might be difficult for you to achieve that goal.

More Do’s and Don’ts

Do not ask about salary. It’s obvious you’re going to go with the highest bidder and can’t possibly be sincerely interested in our company which makes us question how long you’ll stick around if hired.

Don’t be a collector. Many people hear there’s a career fair and show up, grab a bag and begin shopping. This is not a trade show, and it’s not a grocery store. He who grabs the most toys does not win. Don’t be mistaken for one of these people. There’s nothing wrong with accepting a stress ball, ink pen or candy but go back and get those things at the end of the fair, after you’ve connected with all the employers of interest. You don’t want to be the guy with so many freebies you’re dropping them in the aisles and juggling all your goodies while trying to get to your resume.

Don’t congregate in front of a booth with your friends. We recruiters want to talk to people but you and your buddies are blocking our table! Take personal conversations out of the high traffic areas.

Do take a business card. You’ll want to know how to get in touch with the recruiter and you don’t want to call Meghan, Megan or Sean, Shaun. Or Shawn. 🙂

Do network with other attendees and fair organizers. Your friends or the staff from career services might be able to tell you about a company you’ve overlooked that is offering your dream job.

Do make one last sweep at the end of the fair. This is a great time to thank the recruiter one more time and assure him you’re going to send in your application. Whenever possible, apply the same day while you’re still fresh in his mind.

Do note how to apply. If you’ve been told to apply online, don’t send an email to the recruiter asking how to apply. You’ll lose big ‘attention to detail’ points.

After The Fair

This is a great time to shoot the representative a note to reiterate your skills and interest. Send this note after you’ve applied to make them aware that you’ve followed instructions. You might even bring up something you talked about to remind them who you are. I spoke with a girl at a career fair years ago who is also almost six feet tall. Our discussion revolved around what a challenge it is to find pants that are long enough. When she mentioned that conversation in her follow up email I immediately knew who she was.

Make sure you follow proper phone etiquette and grammar. As I’ve mentioned before, all correspondence counts, so if your email is full of typos and improper grammar it could affect whether you move forward in the interview process. You should be putting your best foot forward in every interaction with the company, so while you might feel this is unfair, know that when you’re up against the candidate who didn’t have the Justin Beiber ringtone, he’s the one that’s going to walk away with the job.

There it is, tips on what you need to do before, during and after a career fair to help you get into the interview. May you land your dream job soon.

  

Career Fairs-Don’t Just Show Up, Part 2

Before The Fair (continued)

First Impressions

You’ve prepared your resume, you’ve done your homework and you’re looking sharp in your conservative, well-fitting suit. You’re all set, right? Well, not yet. We still haven’t discussed some key points. For instance, how should you approach the recruiter?

Um…you just walk right up to him, right?

Not quite. Many a candidate does just that then shoves a resume at us and waits.

Awkward.

Here’s a much better way.

Remember, we haven’t even arrived at the fair yet. This is still prep time. First, you should have a clear career focus so you can have a discussion with the recruiter. I don’t mean ‘find a job’. I mean, what is your field of interest or professional goal? For instance:

“I’m looking for an entry-level event planning opportunity.”

Contrary to what all of our mothers told us we cannot do everything. Not without training anyway. The phrases “I can do anything” “I’m open” or “I just want to get my foot in the door” indicate you have no idea what you’d like to do. This might not seem like a big deal, but companies can’t afford to invest their training dollars in someone who is more than likely going to quit the minute they realize they don’t like the job.

If you’re uncertain about your long-term goal like I was when seeking my first job, as I’ve mentioned before, for the company’s sake as well as your own, at the very least try to find a job where you can utilize the skills you’ve learned or responsibilities you’ve had in the past that you enjoyed the most. Then the likelihood that you’ll be able to build a lasting career increases drastically. If you’ve enjoyed customer service and solving problems in the past, say so.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people, finding solutions and thinking strategically. Do you have any opportunities where those skills could be beneficial?”

Still stumped? Think about what you did naturally as a kid or what you can do for hours now and not even notice the whole day has passed. Writing, drawing, sports, building, working with your hands, etc. Perhaps you’ve always been great with money and budgeting and what comes so naturally to you could be a huge asset to the banking or financial industries. These God-given talents and gifts that no one had to teach you could open the door to many a possibility. Maybe the kid who played every sport known to man should work in sports management. The teen who loved to help her mom pick out new color schemes for the house might be a great interior designer. And the girl who loved to shop might find her home in merchandising.

After the recruiter knows what kind of career interests you she might have some questions about your resume, so be prepared to participate in a conversation, not just listen.

  • Tell me about some of your responsibilities at Marc’s Car Wash.
  • What made you decide to choose history as your major?
  • I noticed there was a job gap between your sales position at Wireless Widgets and your serving job at Java the Hut. Was there a reason for that?
  • Why did you leave your job at the flower shop?

 

30 Second Elevator Speech

Much of what we’ve discussed will fit nicely into your 30 Second Elevator Speech aka 30 Second Commercial aka 30 Second Elevator Pitch. Whether you deliver it in an actual elevator, a networking event, a dinner party, an interview or the job fair, the intent is the same. Take a short amount of time to tell someone who has something you want (job, book deal, endorsement, introduction) the best things you have to offer so they will be compelled to give or help you get that something.

Here’s what a 30 Second Pitch should consist of for an undergrad at a career fair:

Name, major & year

My name is David Smith. I’ll be receiving my Bachelor’s degree in engineering this spring.

What makes you unique

Trust me, there is something, and whatever it is can help the recruiter remember you among the sea of faces we’ll encounter throughout the day.

I paid for 100% of my education; I played a sport while working 25 hours a week; I finished school in 3 ½ years; I ran a marathon; I speak 6 languages

How can you benefit the employer

If you’ve done the research discussed in the previous blog you might come across some areas of opportunity.

I noticed your company is very involved in community outreach. I was Vice President of my fraternity and that was part of our mission as well. Over the past two years I’ve built relationships with several local non-profits who would love to partner with a corporation.

How can you help solve problems

This is a matter of drawing on your accomplishments and telling how they can transfer to the job.

As captain of the football team I had to keep my teammates on task, working together toward a common goal and, as a result, we went to two bowl games where we won both times.  As a leader in your organization I would bring that same motivation to my team to reach company goals.

Employment aim

This is the place to incorporate the information we discussed earlier.

“I’d like to use my marketing degree in a research role.”

Company insight/why you’re interested in the company

You want to feel special when you’re selected over all other candidates. We want to know we’re special too! Take some time to learn about the companies you’ll be talking to before the fair (see my previous blog).

These components don’t have to be delivered in this order. In fact, you don’t even have to use all of them. The pitch is meant to get the conversation going with the recruiter. So start with your name, major and anticipated graduation date and your employment aim. Allow the recruiter to respond then filter in the other pieces as needed. The key is to be ready.

You should be feeling pretty confident by now. Just a few more tips next time and you’ll work that fair like a pro.

Career Fairs-Why Bother?

What’s the point?

February is upon us and that means it’s Career Fair Season at universities across the land. I know what you’re thinking—why bother? Recruiters are just going to tell me to go to their website anyway.

I get it. You’d rather sit in your dorm or apartment and eat cookies while you search for jobs on the internet instead of trekking across campus and standing in line with 10,000 other students. Maybe the thought of talking to all of those recruiters makes your knees shake. That’s exactly how I felt years ago as a college senior as I stood at the back of a crowd of students waiting for my turn, my subpar resume in hand and my stomach in knots. Trust me, we want to talk to you. If we stand at a career fair for hours and don’t meet any potential hires, it’s a bust! So I say suit up and make the trek. Here’s why.

Expand your network

Have you ever taken the time to visit Career Services? If not, the job fair is a great opportunity to meet the staff and find out about the services offered: mock interviews, resume critiques and other workshops. When companies have entry-level opportunities Career Services might be one of the first places we call, and if the staff members know you they just might toss out your name as a possible candidate.

Don’t discount building a professional relationship with recruiters. Once you’ve met us face-to-face we might be open to connecting with you via Linkedin. Just make sure you note where we met.  Perhaps you can invite us to speak and one of your organizations or reach out for advice. Once we know you we might also consider you for hire or recommend you for opportunities with some of our colleagues.

Get the inside scoop

In today’s world all you need to know is right at your fingertips, right? Not necessarily.  If you go to the fair you can ask questions and learn much more about the company and its employees. I’ll have a list of questions in a later post. Just remember, as extensive as the internet is, it’s no substitute for talking to a real live person.

No love for underclassmen

Freshman And Sophomores Need Not Apply. At least that’s how you feel. It’s true, most employers are seeking students heading into their senior year for internships. But they could also have other part-time opportunities that might be perfect for you. Landing one might be a great ‘foot in the door’ into an internship later on.

Think of this quest as a fact-finding mission. Check out the internships you’d like to have for your final year and connect with the recruiters. Find out the qualifications and use the next couple of years getting that experience under your belt. Come senior year you’ll be ahead of the game.

A living, breathing person trumps a piece of paper

While resumes are a must, they don’t speak. The career fair is an opportunity for a verbal cover letter where you can share things that might not be obvious on paper.  For instance, your transferrable skills you picked up as a college. We’re talking time management, multi-tasking abilities, leadership, work ethic, drive and countless others. You can also address a job gap or two, or even a termination without listing: Will explain if given an interview on your application (a phrase that might make us recruiters raise an eyebrow).  Not to mention, your winning personality is best expressed in person and can make up for limited experience.

Hopefully you’re convinced at this point to attend the fair. Check out my next post on how to get ready. That’s right. Don’t just show up. Make it worth your while.