ARTICLES, BLOGS & VIDEOS

The latest news, trends and information to help you with your recruiting efforts.

Posted August 12, 2019 by

Wanted: Soft Skills that Set You Apart and Make You a Valuable Employee

Congratulations! After years of hard work, you’ve graduated and now feel confident that your education has given you the technical skills you’ll need to get the job you want. That’s great. But, lots of other graduates possess the same degree and meet the technical job requirements, so what will set you apart? What are the skills employers want?

According to a 2019 Cengage survey of hiring managers and human resources professionals, employers want college graduates who have “soft skills” as well as technical expertise. What’s more, they’re having difficulty finding candidates who possess these soft skills. Specifically, the skills employers want include:

1.The ability to listen. The most in-demand skill was the ability to listen; 74% of employers said this was a talent they valued. It doesn’t sound hard to do, but research shows that a whopping 90% of people are not good listeners! We spend far too much time practicing the art of talking and not enough time learning to really listen. Good listeners can discern the hidden meaning vs. the literal meaning. For instance, a lot of communication lies in the tone, emotional cues and body language of the speaker. To be an effective listener, you must, as they say, “read between the lines.” Listen for the tone of voice and pick up on non-verbal cues, which involves your full attention. Effective listeners also gain understanding vs. simply getting an answer to a question. Many people stop listening after they think they’ve gotten the answer they want but fail to truly understand the full meaning. Again, this requires attentiveness and, in some cases, asking for clarification or more information. Other attributes of a good listener are letting the speaker finish without interrupting, waiting for the speaker to finish before formulating a reply in your mind and listening with an open mind. There is a key difference between hearing and actually listening.

2. Good communication skills. This goes hand in hand with listening. Most problems in the workplace stem from poor communication, which is why employers place such a high value on this skill. In today’s digital age, this means solid writing and speaking skills, both in person and over the web with video conferencing and email. Clarity, grammar, spelling, enunciation and organization all play important roles in effective communication. You can begin demonstrating these skills with your cover letter and resume—and of course, during your interview.

3. Attention to detail. This is defined as “the ability to achieve thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing a task.” Again, on the surface, this doesn’t sound that hard to achieve. However, being thorough and accurate involves planning, organization, and the ability to break down a big project into manageable steps. To demonstrate this skill, come to interviews prepared with examples of assignments or work that involved thoroughness and accuracy. (A word to the wise: If you have spelling or grammatical errors in your cover letter and/or resume, it shows that you are not paying attention to detail!).

4. Time management. No matter the industry, being efficient and meeting deadlines are important to a company’s overall performance. An employee who can manage multiple projects at a time, keep track of deadlines and use time resourcefully is a valuable asset and it allows managers to focus on more important tasks than micromanaging every employee! Start demonstrating this skill by showing up on time for interviews and then discuss projects that involved successful time management.

5. Critical thinking and problem solving. Every job comes with its own set of challenges and unexpected setbacks. How will you handle them? Companies want employees who can objectively examine information to determine the best way to solve problems. A valuable employee is one who can find creative solutions to problems and act, instead of being stymied by obstacles. Come to interviews prepared to provide examples of how you’ve successfully handled problems or implemented solutions.

While these five soft skills made the “most wanted” list, other important talents that employers are looking for include initiative, teamwork, emotional intelligence and digital literacy.

“There is a need for more soft skills training, both in college and on the job, and today’s learners and graduates must continue to hone their skills to stay ahead,” said Michael Hansen, chief executive of Cengage.

Companies can train employees in technical skills, but soft skills are much harder to teach. Therefore, by demonstrating that you possess these sought-after skills from the first touchpoint in your job search to the final interview, you can grab an employer’s attention and set yourself apart.

Sources:

  • “Survey: Employers Want ‘Soft Skills’ from Graduates,” by Jennifer Bauer-Wolf, Insidehighered.com, January 2019.
  • “7 Skills Employers Look for Regardless of the Job,” by Ashley Brooks, Rasmussen.edu, October 2018.
  • “90% of People are Poor Listeners. Are you the Remaining 10%?” by Rima Pundir, Lifehack, 2019.
Posted August 07, 2019 by

Preparation is Key to a Successful Job Search

Who was it that said, “You can never be too prepared?” Actually, a better quote is from Benjamin Franklin, who proclaimed “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This is excellent advice for job seekers, because while a job search is a lot of work, being prepared can reduce your stress levels and increase your chances of success. So, before you start filling out applications and sending off resumes, take the time to do some work upfront.

Start with your Network

Like it or not, many positions are filled without being advertised. Networking is becoming more and more important in today’s tight job market. Think of a busy HR staff sorting through resumes and trying to fill multiple positions, when suddenly someone calls with a referral. If that referral comes from a trusted source, such as a long-time employee or associate, there is a high probability that he or she will rise to the top of the stack and eventually get the position. Statistics show that this type of informal hiring is happening more often these days. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, associates and others during your job search. Most people don’t mind lending a hand and passing along your information. If you don’t have a big network, now is the time to start building one. Join associations, attend events, and treat every interaction as a potential opportunity.

Revamp Your Resume

Everyone seems to have advice on writing the “perfect resume.” The truth is, standards for resumes change all the time. What worked a few years ago may not work in today’s market. If your resume is more than two years old, it’s time for a review and possibly a refresh. In our highly automated world, most positions require online applications, which means computers are sorting through resumes instead of humans. With that being said, content is more important than design. In fact, some of the applicant tracking software (ATS) doesn’t read serif fonts at all! Your resume should still be well-designed and easy to read but keep the format simple.

Understand How ATS Works

Speaking of software, another factor to consider in your job search is the use of keywords. ATS looks for “matches” by searching for keywords in your resume. So, for instance, if the position requires strong communication skills, management experience or certain software expertise, be sure to list those exact words on your resume. It may be more work to customize each resume you send out but being rejected by a robot is a waste of your time.

List Accomplishments First

Here’s another resume tip: Sending a common resume with a generic list of skills isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a graphic designer, there are basic requirements that every applicant must have. So, what makes you the best graphic designer? Your education is important, and so is your experience, but what really differentiates you from other applicants in the job search are your accomplishments. Did any of your designs win an award? Was your design work chosen by a group or client over other submissions? Did you exceed a client’s expectations with your work? In order to highlight your accomplishments, you must take the time to list them and decide which ones apply.

Clean up Your Social Media

I can almost hear you saying, “But that’s none of their business!” Again, like it or not, many companies Google search a candidate before hiring and take note of any red flags on social media. Anything posted on the Internet is fair game and not considered private. Prior to your job search, take some time to review your privacy settings and remove anything you think might be “questionable.” Avoid posts that may be considered overtly political or controversial.

Do your Research

This advice applies to selecting the companies you send your resume to, as well as preparing for interviews. It can be tempting to send out as many resumes as possible, hoping that the sheer quantity will boost your chances of landing a call, but it’s far more effective to apply to positions that you really want and those that fit your skill set, personality, etc. Take the time to research companies before applying and be a bit more discriminate in your job search. Once you land the interview, be sure to do your due diligence by researching the company and preparing notes and questions before the interview. You’ll feel more confident and sound more enthusiastic about the position if you’ve done your homework. That alone can make you stand out. This is especially important if you get called back for a second or even third interview.

Don’t Be Discouraged

Easier said than done, right? For the most part, being rejected for a job is not personal. It’s more often about which candidate is the best fit, which, of course, can be very subjective. Companies typically have very specific criteria in mind just as you’re looking for your dream job, they’re looking for the “perfect” employee. It’s not unusual to send out hundreds of resumes before being invited to an interview, and then attend a multitude of interviews before finding the right job. At times, your job search may seem futile and it’s easy to get discouraged. But, just remember, the right job is out there. Someone is looking for you. Really. While you’re waiting, ask people within the industry to review your resume and make some suggestions or try doing mock interviews with professionals you know to see where you can improve. Sometimes you have to take a day off and do something else entirely and start fresh. Stay positive!

Posted August 02, 2019 by

How to Use Your Disability as a Strength When Applying for a Job

Lois Barth is a Human Development Expert, Speaker, Life and Business Coach, and Author of the book, “Courage to SPARKLE; The Audacious Girls’ Guide to Creating A Life that Lights You Up.” Lois will be a panelist at the College Recruiting Bootcamp on D&I at EY on December 12th in New York City.

Did you know that bones that were broken and healed properly are stronger than bones that have never been broken at all? It’s a fact, as well as a great metaphor for those with disabilities. As a life and business coach, I often tell my clients to use that fact in an interview, not harping on the disability, but being strategic in sending the message that adapting to, and in some cases, overcoming a disability, makes them a far stronger candidate than someone who has never gone through adversity.

There are, in fact, many ways to turn a disability into a desired ability when applying for a job. Of course, it all depends on the type of disability, the position and the company culture.

Start with Some Research

There are many factors to consider about a company before applying for a job. I guide my career-coaching clients who are getting ready for an interview to think of themselves as an investigator out to solve a mystery. Begin the process by looking at the company on a broad-stroke level. What does the website tell you about the organization? You can learn a lot about the culture from the messaging, the use of buzz words (such as diversity, inclusion, team engagement), company values, charitable contributions, community involvement and recent initiatives. Additionally, pay attention to the images: Do they include photos of employees who are diverse? Do the images reflect a company that is more conservative, or one that is more progressive?

You can also Google them to discover any current or past newsworthy trends in both their industry and their organization that may impact hiring. For instance, if they just received a “Best Places to Work” award, it’s likely that their culture is positive and inclusive. On the other hand, if you find a backlash for recent marginalizing of a group, you may want to steer clear. Review sites like Glass Door can be tricky because it’s usually the employees who have extreme experiences (they either love it or hate it) that take the time to write, which means you’re not getting the full picture. You may, however, notice themes among the reviews.

Once you get a company overview, take a deeper dive into the job description. What are the primary functions? Whom are you serving? What core competencies are they looking for and is your disability an asset (it often is) or a deficit? How do you spin it to either show how your disability will make you a better candidate or at the very least, won’t hinder your performance?

Use Story-Selling to Make Your Pitch

Recently I worked with a client whose disability was fairly obvious from the get-go, but given his non-profit focus, it was an asset, because he had overcome so much to get where he is and the job that he was interviewing for was serving an underserved and neglected population. I strongly suggested that he lead with his “story-selling pitch” which was a wonderfully touching story about learning to deal with his disability, and how, in the process, he learned so much about empathy, persistence, critical thinking, and determination, all of which were desired qualities for this position. Within the story, we weaved in his hard skills that embodied a whole slew of accomplishments that were germane to the position. The interviewer became intrigued and after several interviews with board members, he was offered the job.

If your disability is blatantly obvious and may be perceived as a deficit, but nobody’s talking about it, using a well-crafted story that highlights the key qualities the employer is looking for can be very impactful. Many job descriptions list qualities such as critical thinking, determination, adaptability, and self-starter, to name just a few, that people who have successfully navigated their disability have had to develop.

However, if your disability may bring to question functionality and the ability to perform a job, then that needs to be addressed head-on. It’s best to do this in a fluid, conversational tone, using examples from the past to dispel any concerns a potential employer may have.

As a rule, I suggest candidates do more listening than talking. Ask thoughtful questions and focus on being interested versus interesting, which works for people with or without disabilities! Don’t play the disability card, but don’t try to avoid it either. Rapt attention, genuine interest, enthusiasm and energy are rare these days, which means demonstrating these qualities will take you far. Of course, you also need the hard skills to back up your competency.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring humor to the situation. When appropriately stated, humor can go a long way to dispel any tension that may be present. It shows that you are not overly sensitive, that you have a sense of humor and humility, but you’re not ashamed of your disability. In general, people hire people they like; people whom they can relate to and trust, regardless of a disability.  

Know Your Strengths 

One of my colleagues had very intense dyslexia and ADHD. She couldn’t sit still for more than 20-30 minutes, and paperwork that should have taken 10-20 minutes took hours and was tortuous. On the positive side, she was amazing with people, could pivot on a dime, had tons of energy and loved making people feel special. She was also hilarious, passionate about health and loved helping people.

Fortunately, the health club where she was working saw her strengths and was smart enough to move her from a stifling mid-level administrative position to a sales job where she could meet and greet clients. Her people skills, creativity and natural curiosity about others, made her very good at this position and, in turn, the position made her very happy. Within the first month, she became head of sales.

Before you begin applying for positions, take a realistic assessment of your strengths: What do you bring to the potential employer? Do your abilities mesh with the job description and the qualities they value? Again, be sure to do your research on the industries, companies and jobs that provide a good fit with your unique assets.

For instance, if someone has ADD, a job that demands constant switching of tasks or mostly short-term projects takes advantage of this person’s proclivities. Meanwhile, someone with OCD may excel at a job that requires being very precise and detail oriented. For people who don’t pick up social cues and operate at their best by themselves, a strong analytic research job that requires long hours of solitary focused work may be a perfect fit. In other words, depending on the job, “alleged disabilities” may be a huge benefit.

Do Your Research. Lead with Enthusiasm. Make it About What You Can Provide.

Those are the three main takeaways when applying for any job. Remember, you may have a disability, but you are much more than your disability. You’re a whole person, with skill sets and talents that are valuable to the right employers. With every disability, there is another ability that has gotten strengthened to compensate. That’s why, even though it’s become quite PC, I do like the phrase “learning differences.” We all have challenges and we all have assets. Nobody’s exempt from the human being club that’s full of complexity and diversity. The more you embrace it as just one of the many facets of your humanity, the more you can celebrate (and sell) the one-of-a-kind gem that you are.

Lois Barth is a Human Development Expert, Speaker, Life and Business Coach, and Author of the book, “Courage to SPARKLE; The Audacious Girls’ Guide to Creating A Life that Lights You Up.” Lois supports her clients to overcome their negative self-talk, manage stress and advocate for themselves and dynamically create the next chapter of their life. She has worked with over 800 clients and on a professional level has helped them in every area from career transition, interview skills training, communication and building their business. The creator of Smart Sexy TV, she has been the makeover life coach for SELF Magazine; Fitness Magazine and Fit Blog (Sears) as well as the “Stress Less–Thrive More” Lady for C.T. Style TV (ABC Affiliate). A sought after expert, Lois has been quoted and published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, College Recruiter, SELF Magazine, to name a few.  Her speaking clients include L’Oreal, Women in Banking, Capital One, Mid-Atlantic Women in Energy, Society of Women Engineers, and the American Heart Association to name a few. 

Join Lois Barth, along with your fellow university relations, talent acquisition and other human resource leaders from corporate, non-profit and government agencies at the:

College Recruiting Bootcamp on D&I at EY

Organized by College Recruiter and hosted by Ernst & Young

Thursday, December 12, 2019

9:30 AM – 2:30 PM (EST)

Ernst & Young World Headquarters

121 River Street

Hoboken, NJ 07030

For more information and tickets, go to: http://www2.CollegeRecruiter.com/BootcampOnDIatEY

Posted August 01, 2019 by

Job Search Tips to Help You Find the Right Opportunity

While there may be more job openings than qualified applicants, that doesn’t mean finding the right opportunity is easy. In fact, searching for a job is hard work! And, like any task, it requires some “best practices” to get good results. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your job search.

Broaden your scope.

Instead of simply looking at specific job titles, take the time to look at the skills the company is seeking in a candidate. Job titles can differ among industries and organizations, so why limit yourself to a title. Matching your skill set to those required for a position can ensure a better fit and provide more options including some that you may not have considered.

Decide what is non-negotiable.

More is not always better. You could send out as many applications as possible and hope for the best, or you could narrow your search to positions and companies that offer a good fit. Finding a good fit includes knowing what you’re unwilling to accept. Make a list of things that are deal breakers. For instance, you may not be able to relocate due to family obligations. How far are you willing to commute each day? Are flexible hours a nicety or a necessity? Is a positive corporate culture high on your priority list? In other words, do some research before sending out applications and start with those companies that fit the bill.

Keep good records.

Being organized can help you in several ways. First, even if you receive a rejection, there could be another opportunity at this company in the future. Or, there may be something about the job description that really resonates with you and could lead you in a new direction. Second, if you do get an interview, you will want to refer back to the job listing to prepare. Finally, if you receive specific feedback from a company, it may help you change tactics, revise your resume or improve your cover letter.

Customize your cover letter and resume.

Jobs are not one size fits all. Just as you’re looking for a job that fits you, every company is looking for the “right” candidate with specific experience, skills and personality. With that in mind, be sure to tailor your cover letter and resume for each position you apply to, highlighting the experience and skills that the employer is seeking. Also, if you’re working off a form letter or template, be sure to double check that all the names are correct before sending it!

Prepare for the interview.

Don’t just show up. Remember, you’re trying to set yourself apart from other candidates, so come prepared with information about the industry, the company, the position, and if possible, the person you are interviewing with. Doing your homework will not only make you feel more confident, it will also demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and your willingness to go the extra mile.

Have questions ready.

Most people will wrap up an interview by asking the candidate if he/she has questions about the company or position. A surprising number of interviewees don’t come prepared with questions and fumble needlessly to think of something to ask (especially when you may already be nervous). Stand out from the pack by preparing a few thoughtful questions in advance. This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the company, it’s culture and the position. For some great questions to consider, read “8 Questions Job Seekers Should Ask.” https://www.collegerecruiter.com/blog/2019/07/01/8-interview-questions-job-seekers-should-ask/

Don’t forget to respond.

Manners matter! Always send a thank you note within a day or two of your interview. Make sure it reflects your enthusiasm about the position by sharing why you’re excited about the company and the job. To keep the conversation going, you can ask another pertinent question. Also, it’s a good idea to let some of your personality shine through instead of sending a standard, formal thank you note. After all, you want them to remember you!

(This article was adapted from “10 Job Search Tips to Help You Find Your Best Opportunity Every Time, by Nina Zipkin, Entrepreneur, 2010.)

College Recruiter is the leading job search site used by students and recent graduates of all 7,400+ one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities who are searching for internships, part-time jobs, seasonal work, and entry-level career opportunities. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1,000 companies, federal government agencies, and other employers who want to hire dozens, hundreds, or thousands of students and recent graduates per year. Our mission is to connect great organizations with students and recent graduates.