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Posted January 25, 2020 by

Ask the Experts: Should I apply to only paid internships or also unpaid internships?

First Answer:

If you can afford to take an unpaid internship, I would definitely apply to both paid and unpaid. With an internship, the primary criterion you should look for is the experience it offers you. Will that experience translate into a shinier resume for you, or even better, a job down the road? Secondly, look for an internship that can help you build skills. These skills will be transferable to other jobs down the line. At this point, you should be seeking internships that will help position you for your first job.

If the internship relates to either your current area of study or your career aspirations, apply! It’s always better to get an offer and turn it down if something more lucrative comes along.
Don’t discount perks, such as free lunches or help with transportation. If you live at home during the time of your internship, your out-of-pocket costs hopefully won’t be too severe.

All that said, only you can decide what you can live with — and without. 

— Vicky Oliver, author, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005) and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008)

Second Answer:

Students should consider applying to any internships, paid or unpaid, that will give them the opportunity to expand their skills/knowledge or make a contribution. Either will add a lot of weight on a resume.

— Jeff Dunn, Campus Relations Manager, Intel Corporation

Third Answer:

This depends. Are you in an industry that mostly offers unpaid opportunities? Do you need the money to support yourself, and if so, would it be possible to work another job at the same time as the internship? You also want to ensure an unpaid internship is fair and legal, because ideally an internship  is a gateway into the full-time job that will launch your career, and engaging with a company that isn’t doing right by its interns is probably not the best idea. One additional thing you might try? Ask your school about grants that support students pursuing unpaid internships.

— Alexandra Levit, author of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College. 

Fourth Answer:

Skipping past internships, I can only begin to describe the elation and excitement you will have when you sign your employment contract for your first full-time role after graduation. Furthermore, that excitement will only increase after you successfully leverage your experience and outcomes for a raise the following year. Finally, if and when you leave your first role and successfully negotiate a higher salary (according to Bloomberg those who switched jobs on average enjoyed compensation growth of 5.3%), you will know you have made it. 

The above describes stepping stones to career management and growth. If you look at the stepping stones before that first full-time role you will find internships. For me, my internships stepping stones were landing an unpaid internship my sophomore year, that I leveraged for an internship with a monthly stipend, and then my senior year, I used my previous experience to edge out the competition and land an internship that was paying much more than my average peer’s internship. These stepping stones were crucial to my career management, and if I had never taken my first unpaid internship, I may never have landed the next role. 

That said, unpaid internships can be a contentious topic, with some wanting nothing to do with them, and others questioning their quality. At the end of the day, the end goal of an internship is to walk away with tangible first-hand work experience, industry and professional knowledge, and a set of transferable skills that you can apply to any future career path, not a specific amount of money in the bank. 

When reviewing internship opportunities, I would first look at the experience offered, the projects and tasks you will tackle, and the supervision and mentorship that will be available to you. If the opportunity offers strong experience aligned to your studies and career management, with clearly defined tasks and a strong supervisor, then you can go to the second review of paid or unpaid. 

If the opportunity is unpaid but still offering a high-quality experience look into why it is unpaid. Perhaps it is for a non-profit or small start-up, who absolutely needs the support, will offer you killer access to meetings, leadership, and networks, but couldn’t possibly find the budget to pay. Conversely, if looking internationally, many international internships are unable to offer pay, as no visa supports this, but nevertheless you will get great access to global connections and cross-cultural understanding.

If there is a valid reason for the unpaid status, and you have vetted the opportunity for quality, I would say that you are doing yourself a disservice by not applying. During the application process you can also find opportunities to see if there are other ways they can financially support you such as offering: coffee, breakfast or lunch at the workplace, covered or discounted transit, a small stipend, or an end of internship bonus. 

Finally, remember that when applying work experience to your resume, it does not matter if it was volunteer, unpaid, or paid, it is still important work experience that should be clearly noted with three to four strong bullet points explaining your role and key outcomes with quantifiable examples (ex. Supported customer support and retention through increased touchpoints and external communications, increasing contract renewals by 10% over six months).

— Jillian Low, Director of University Partnerships, CRCC Asia

Fifth Answer:

You should not do any internship. It puts you in a position where people assume you know nothing. 

Instead, launch a company, or a marketing campaign for someone else’s company. Spend three weeks selling services you will pay someone else to deliver. You Learn fastest by taking on big projects you have no idea how to do. Guess. Make mistakes. Try again. It’s ok because no one is paying you or firing you or telling you to do small jobs that are too easy to make errors. 
After you do this for two summers, you won’t be entry-level. You will have lots of experience. You might have some wins. You’ll have lots of failures.

You are middle management now. Because you can guide someone else through a high learning curve and fear of failure. 

You could never achieve that so fast in an internship. 

— Penelope Trunk, CEO, Quistic

Visit College Recruiter’s About Us page for more information about any of the above contributors or the other members of our Content Expert Board.

Posted January 14, 2020 by

What’s right and wrong about college rankings, such as those by U.S. News and World Report?

College rankings tend to be beauty contests based upon the strength of the school’s brand.

Students who want to attend the “best” school are typically interested in finding the school that will lead to the greatest likelihood that they’ll find a well-paying job in their chosen career path and desired geographic area. That data is typically held by the career service offices, not admissions, and certainly not well communicated in a short, summary of the school as published by U.S. News & World Report or any other publication.

But let’s leave aside, for the moment, the issue of which office within a given university has the best access to outcomes data. One example of such data is the percentage who are employed within six months and within their chosen career path. Another is the average starting salary, and that’s typically broken down by career path.

But are either of those metrics even a valid measure of the quality of a school? The data indicates no. What is now clear from a more scientific analysis of outcomes data is that the primary driving factor behind employability and compensation is the background of the candidate, not which school that candidate attended. If you come from a well-connected, white, family who lives in a wealthy suburb near New York City, you’re almost certainly going to emerge from whatever school you attend making a lot more money than if you’re part of a poorly connected, Native American, family who lives in an impoverished, rural area.

Now, that’s not to say that the more privileged candidate can do nothing and graduate into a fantastic job making fantastic money. But it does say that candidates shouldn’t fret as much about which school they attend based upon the data that the schools tend to release. Instead, they should look for schools which add the most value to their graduates.

A few years ago, College Recruiter created its Hidden Gem Index for the best colleges and universities for employers who want to hire high-quality graduates during the normally very difficult spring hiring period. If you’re a candidate who wisely wants to attend a low cost school that adds tremendous value to its students, have a look at the Hidden Gem Index.

Posted December 26, 2019 by

Ask the Experts: What is the one piece of career-related advice that you would provide to a student or recent graduate searching for a part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level job?

First Answer:

Put your strongest credentials near the top of your resume. Whether it is coursework, projects, volunteering, GPA or strong “soft skills” lead with what you are best at. Keep tweaking your resume until it generates some –callbacks (phone screens), so you can tell your story in more detail.

— Jeff Dunn, Campus Relations Manager, Intel Corporation

Second Answer:

My advice would be a bad paraphrase of JFK:

Ask not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company. Too many graduates forget to fully tailor their application approach in a bespoke way for the company they are applying for, and also tend to major on how the job/internship will benefit them rather than what value they will add to the organization. Focus on what you’ll bring and why you particularly want to work for that exact company. 

— Martin Edmondson, CEO, Gradcore

Third Answer:

My one piece of advice is that ALL work experience counts. Don’t hold out for your dream internship or even your dream entry-level job. You will switch jobs, positions, and careers many times throughout your lifetime. Nike says, “just do it.” I say, “just start somewhere.” Each experience matters and each experience helps you build skills.

— Vicky Oliver, author, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and author Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008)

Fourth Answer:

In my role as a digital marketer, I would advise students or recent graduate to fully explore every career-related channel a company has to offer. To make an educated and career decision, it is important to understand how a company works and values its employers inside and outside the workplace.

— Lorenz V. Esposito, Digital Marketing Specialist, Potentialpark

Fifth Answer:

Make it count. By that I mean, get all you can out of the experience.

  • Where possible, seek out a job that taps into something you’re curious about. Interested in drones? Check out what jobs are involved in drone pilot training. Spend hours on YouTube? Look into jobs at a local video production company. Planning to be an entrepreneur? Look for small business owners locally who need some end of year or seasonal help so you can see up close what it’s like to run a business. 
  • Think about what you want to get out of the experience. Are there skills you want to learn? People you want to talk to? Types of work you want to try? Craft this ahead of time, and add to it while at your job so you’re learning about what fits you every step of the way. It’ll make bigger decisions down the line far easier.
  • Make the most of the jobs you hate. Ideally, these will be short-lived, but spending time getting clear on WHAT you hate about the work, the environment, the management style, the commute, the industry and so on helps you avoid more of this later on. I’ve learned far more from these jobs than I did from most of the others.

— Pam Baker, CEO, Journeous

Sixth Answer:

Skip the entry-level jobs. They waste your time because the pay is low, people don’t respect entry-level employees, and the jobs take a long time to get because there are so many people with no experience and it’s difficult for hiring managers to figure out who to hire when no one is particularly qualified. 

Look at the jobs that require 3 – 5 years of experience. Find a job that is in the location you are now that you’d like to have in a couple of years. Make a list of all the experience the job requires that you do not have. Hire a professional resume writer to see if they can spin your current — probably random and temporary — experience into the experience employers are looking for. 

Here’s are some examples from real people who have hired me to make their resume look like they are beyond entry-level:

I changed this: Collected emails from the staff and put them into the support email folder so everyone could access client information. 

To this: Reorganized customer service systems to streamline inter-departmental cooperation and decrease customer service wait time. 

Both bullets describe the boring and low-level task of data entry for client emails. But the rewritten bullet uses the language of someone who has worked in business and understands how to impact the bottom line. Additionally, the second bullet looks at the work from a high-level which implies that the person doing the work was at a higher level. 

A smart resume writer can do this with all your experience to make your resume read like you have much more experience than you do. 

After you have a new resume, you will see yourself differently. You’ll start to believe that you ARE actually qualified for higher-level positions. Then you’re ready for the next step. 

Make a list of the qualifications an employer lists for the job you want. Pull out any qualifications you don’t have. You can get that experience right now, this week, before you start applying for jobs. Make the most recent job on your resume freelancing. And make the dates the last few years. Because we are all freelancers. We all help other people talk through ideas for a wide range of things. That’s what friends do. 

As a freelancer, you can say you did anything. Because you can choose to do anything. You don’t have to get paid. A resume is about what you’ve done. Not about who paid and who didn’t. So, for example, if you want to get a job that requires have done a social media campaign, do one, for any company, and write a bullet about it. If you need experience giving presentations, give one to your friend and then write a bullet about it. 

When you’re in the interview, you can talk about whatever you did. You don’t need to say you did it for free. You don’t need to confess that no one cared at all about what you did. Because really, if everyone confessed how stupid their bullets were, and how fake their job duties were, then no one in the world would be able to write a resume. But that’s for another discussion! 

— Penelope Trunk, CEO, Quistic

Visit College Recruiter’s About Us page for more information about any of the above contributors or the other members of our Content Expert Board.

Posted December 10, 2019 by

What’s a common resume tip that is actually really bad advice?

One of the most common and most harmful recommendations is to send a video or otherwise graphically enhanced resume to any medium- or large-sized employer that does not explicitly ask for one.

Why? Because the vast majority of them use applicant tracking systems (ATS), and almost none of these are able to handle video or graphics. Candidates who rely upon video or graphics to communicate their qualifications or career interests put themselves at a significant disadvantage when applying to jobs advertised by these employers.

Posted December 03, 2019 by

2 ways to stand out after a job interview

There are many ways for an applicant to stand out after being interviewed for a job. Here are just two.

First, bring with you to the interview some pre-stamped envelopes with thank you note cards. Immediately after you’re interviewed and have left the building, handwrite a quick thank you note to each person who interviewed you with a reference in each note to something that they said so they’ll know that your note was customized. Get those into the local mail that same day. The interviewers will likely receive the note the next business day, which will really impress them.

Second, once every week or two, email the interviews a note to confirm your continuing interest and provide them with a link or attach a scan of an article etc. that you’ve seen that may be of interest to them, such as something interesting that the press wrote about their company or one of their vendors or customers. You’d be surprised how many recruiters and hiring managers will assume that silence from a candidate indicates lack of interest.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted October 14, 2019 by

How mobile-friendly is your application process?

By Robin Porter

Tom, a 38-year-old long haul truck driver, spends most of his time on the road—often going weeks at a time without seeing his wife and two young children. He’s worked hard to earn his degree online, so he can find a job that lets him be at home with his family.

Now Tom’s in job-search mode. Given the nomadic nature of a trucking job, he has to submit applications when and where he can. That’s why he’s thankful for smartphones—even if it’s sometimes a pain to fill out applications on a small screen (so many questions, and why does he have to re-enter his job history when he’s already uploaded his resume?). However, with limited access to secure computers, it’s all he’s got.

A couple of job applications have been user-friendly. More often, though, the frustration of trying to get through the tedious and detailed online application process on a phone, combined with his tight schedule, forces Tom to abandon his applications to get back on the road. It’s not his choice, but he has schedules to meet. Sometimes, he wonders if he’ll ever be able to settle into a job that will allow him to watch his kids grow up…

Someone who’s as industrious and goal-oriented as Tom, our fictional truck driver, would be an asset to any company. If he applied to your company, would he be interviewing with you right now, or would he be lost in the system because he applied on a mobile device?

Before you wave away the idea that the devices applicants use make a difference in his or her employment prospects, consider that, according to the Pew Research Center, 81% of adults in the U.S. now own smartphones, with the breakdown in ownership by age as follows:

  • Age 18-29: 96%
  • Age 30-49: 92%
  • Age 50-64: 79%

And consider another recent study by Glassdoor, the employer and salary review site, which found that 58% of their users look for jobs on smartphones—and in fact prefer to apply that way.

That’s a lot of job seekers you could be missing out on, if your online application process isn’t mobile-friendly.

Who Applies via Mobile?

Most mobile applicants tend to be in the mid-phase of their careers, with 55% in the 35-44 age range. The largest group—52%—are women, and in general, mobile applicants tend come from industries and occupations where their work doesn’t keep them within range of a computer. Think restaurant, health care, retail, construction, manufacturing or transportation workers like our friend Tom.

Even if you don’t specifically hire in those industries, how many good candidates who have decided to transition to your industry might you be overlooking—without even realizing it?

The Effects of Mobile-Friendly Application

Glassdoor’s study found that mobile job seekers complete 53% fewer applications and take 80% longer to complete each application. The difficulty of completing applications—a CareerBuilder study found that 60% of jobseekers quit in the middle of an online application due to length, complexity or even formatting issues—is not only discouraging for the applicants, it could eventually become a negative for your company as jobseekers abandon your site for more user-friendly postings.

Now, if we’re being honest, in an employer’s market it might not be a significant issue. However, when the market favors job seekers and you have to compete for talent, your applicant pool could shrink considerably—especially as the capabilities of mobile devices continue to expand.

And if you think that a challenging online application process separates the serious applicant from the less-serious ones, think again. The top-notch candidates you’re searching for know what their time is worth, and their patience for an unnecessarily complicated process is as low as anyone else’s.

The Costs of Mobile-Unfriendly Application

Appcast, a developer of programmatic job advertising technology, did a benchmark study that examined the U.S. hiring market in 2018. Among their findings was a 24.5% increase in mobile device clicks from 2017 to 2018. Nearly half of all applies, 47.10%, came from a mobile device in 2018, up drastically from 30.05% in 2017—a 54.93% increase in mobile applications.

The Appcast study further found that recruiters who use more streamlined platforms that shorten the length of the application process cut their cost per applicant almost 250% by reducing the time to complete an application from 15 minutes to just five. Consider that in the cost-per-click pricing model, recruiters pay per click—whatever the candidate does beyond that initial click. When unwieldly application forms translate into abandoned applications, you’re still paying for those clicks even if they don’t result in a job candidate.

As Tom, our trucker friend, and other job seekers rely more and more on mobile devices to search and apply for jobs, it’s vital for employers to adapt their online application processes to reflect the latest technology and application practices. Glassdoor’s study showed that when a job was promoted as mobile-friendly, the number of job applicants increased as much as 11.6%. How many more promising applicants would you have to choose missing out on if you made your online application process mobile-friendly?

Today might be the best day to make that calculation. And the first day of a new era in your recruitment process.

Sources:

Being away from home for weeks on end can put truckers’ mental health at risk, and there’s no solution in sight,” by Rachel Premack, businessinsider.com, June 18, 2018.

Mobile Fact Sheet,” by Pew Research Center, pewinternet.org, June 12, 2019.

The Rise of Mobile Devices in Job Search: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers,” by Daniel Zhao, glassdoor.com, June 2, 2019.

Study: Most Job Seekers Abandon Online Job Applications,” by Dave Zielinski, shrm.org, March 8, 2016.

Is Poor UX Hurting Your Chances of Finding Good Employees?” by Samuel Harper, uxdesign.cc, July 14, 2019.

2019 Recruitment Media Benchmark Report,” by Appcast, info.appcase.io, 2019. (Note: link opens to a download form)

Posted October 08, 2019 by

Lists you need to make when you start your job search

Many job seekers, especially those who are more toward the beginning than end of their careers, struggle to decide what kind of a job they want to do. For those, we recommend pulling out a legal pad and dividing it into four columns:

  1. Competencies
  2. Interests
  3. Values
  4. Compensation

Under competencies, list in a few words everything you’re good at, whether it is career-related or not.

Under interests, list everything that catches your attention, whether it is career-related or not. 

Under values, list everything that matters to you, whether it is career-related or not. 

Under compensation, list all of the things that you want and need to do which cost money and estimate how much each costs per month or year.

Now, look for commonalities in the first three columns. Are there items which are in the competencies, interests, and values columns? Circle those. Now look at the items which are circled and consider those along with your compensation needs. Can you do any of the circled items for work — even part-time — and meet your compensation needs? If so, you’ve just found at least one career path.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted October 08, 2019 by

Can recruiters build relationships with candidates they reject?

By far, the most common complaint that we hear from the 2.5 million Gen Z and Millennial students and recent graduates who use College Recruiter a year to find part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level jobs is the lack of basic courtesy demonstrated by recruiters and other human resource professionals. Candidates understand that they should not expect to receive a personalized response to every job they apply to, but they do expect to receive a personalized response to every job they interview for. 

If an employer interviews 10 candidates and hires one, that employer can in about 10 minutes send a personalized email to the nine candidates who the employer was interested enough in to interview but who weren’t as well qualified as the candidate who was hired. The email need not be long or detailed. It need only thank the candidate for their interest and time, let them know that they were not selected for the job, and let them know why. 

Many recruiters are uncomfortable about the “why” portion and will use, as an excuse, the possibility that the why might generate litigation. But the data shows otherwise. The recruiter can easily paint a picture of the successful candidate by summarizing her work experience, education, and other qualifications that caused that person to be hired over all of the others.

Once the recruiter has drafted the email for the first unsuccessful interviewee, it should only take seconds to copy, paste, and send to the other eight. Also, if those other eight remain of interest, the recruiter should say so directly and what steps, if any, the candidates should follow to increase their chances.

If the candidate has interviewed two, three, or even more times, then even more time should be spent to courteously decline them. A great way of doing that would be to recommend, briefly, what the candidate can do over the coming months or years to better their odds of being hired. Maybe they should complete an internship or degree. Tell them. You’ll turn them from disappointed candidates into powerful advocates.

Lily Rose-Wilson

Posted June 04, 2019 by

Employers shouldn’t — but still do — stalk candidates on Facebook

One of my favorite podcasts that sits at the intersection of human resources and technology a/k/a HRtech is The Chad and Cheese Podcast. The hosts are friends Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman, each of whom have been in the industry for two decades and regularly compete with each other to see who can out-snark the other. Shows are usually about 40-minutes long, easy to listen to, and informative.

Toward the end of the May 31st episode, Chad and Joel got into a discussion about an employer in Australia or New Zealand — they couldn’t remember where — who left a voice message for a candidate that was a little more revealing than the employer planned. Apparently, the employer didn’t realize they were still being recorded and started to discuss the candidate’s fake tan, tattoos, and other items which weren’t at all relevant to the candidate’s ability to do the work. Big thumbs down to the employer.

I did a little Googling and found the story on news.com.au. So, it was an Australian employer. Perth to be exact. The employer was Michelle Lines from STS Health and the candidate was Lily Rose-Wilson. In the recording, Lines can be heard discussing Rose-Wilson’s Facebook photos with a male colleague.

According to news.com.au, the conversation went as follows: “Not answering the phone now,” Ms Lines says. Her colleague suggests she’s “probably getting another tattoo”, to which Ms Lines responds, “She’s probably doing her fake tan.” The male asks, “Did you really like, Facebook stalk?”, and Ms Lines says, “That’s what you got to do, babe”. “Yeah, well it’s very thorough, good on you,” he replies.

Ugh. I’ve been speaking about how employers wrongfully use Facebook and other social media sites since Facebook was only accessible to students, staff, and faculty at dozens of colleges and universities. I really, really thought that employers had grown up and realized that sites like Facebook are great sourcing tools if they’re used to help the employer be more inclusive when hiring and should never be used to exclude candidates from the hiring pool. Yet, here we are again. Ugh.

To the candidates reading this blog, beware. Understand that every organization is made up of individuals and individuals all make mistakes. And some make more mistakes than others. But even if an individual within an organization to which you’ve applied makes a mistake and looks at your Facebook profile to see if they can find a reason to eliminate you from the candidate pool does not mean that you should cross that employer off of your list. Chances are, the person will be in HR and unless you’re applying to work in HR you’ll likely never interact with that person after you’re hired.

Don’t leave yourself open to the irrational, mistaken whims of some idiot who decides that looking at your tan or tattoos is a good idea when deciding whether you’re qualified for a job. If that matters to you as it does to many candidates, then lock down your privacy so that the prospective employer cannot see those photos. And if they’re the kind of photos that you’d be embarrassed to show your favorite grandmother, get them off of your profile altogether.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Posted May 20, 2019 by

2019 job market best for college grads since 2017

Want more evidence that the job market facing this year’s college grads is the best in years? Actually, the best in 12 years, if you want to get technical.

According to the Class of 2019 Student Survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduating college seniors who had applied for full-time jobs received an average of 1.10 job offers, the highest rate of average job offers in 12 years.

That students who are merely applying for jobs are, on average, receiving more than one job offer is consistent with NACE’s Job Outlook 2019 Spring Update, which reported that U.S. employers plan to hire 10.7 percent more graduates from the class of 2019 than they did from the class of 2018.