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Posted February 25, 2020 by

Ask the Experts: I’m trying to find a job for after graduation in another state but my career service office isn’t being helpful.

Question:

Graduation is fast approaching and I’m stressing out as I don’t have a job yet. My career service office is focused on jobs from local employers and so isn’t of much help as I attend an out-of-state school and want to move home after graduation to be close to friends and family. I’ve applied to dozens of jobs but after weeks I’ve heard back from only a few and those were automated responses confirming my applications. No interviews. No emails from recruiters. No job offers. Help! I love my parents, but I don’t want to share a room with my little sister again.

First Answer:

Maybe it’s time to expand the way you are searching for a job. It sounds like you’ve been applying online to various companies and you’ve also visited career services. Those are two great starts. But I would consider adding a third type of job search–asking your parents, their friends, their contacts, and anyone else you know in your hometown that can help. The best way to find a job is through old-fashioned “word of mouth.” Start with your parents. Do they know anyone in the field of your dreams? If so, reach out to that person and ask him or her to meet you for an informational interview–to learn more about the field. While you’re there, ask for 5 additional contacts in the field. Reach out to them and ask to meet for coffee. Tell them you will be in town from such-and-such a date till such-and-such a date. Go on the informational interviews (promise each person you will only use 15 minutes of his or her time). In this way you begin to have a true network of people who are thinking about you and looking for opportunities for you. It’s called the “hidden job market.” This job market knows of jobs before they are advertised online. Using this approach helps you avoid competing against hundreds of grads for the same position. It also gives you an advantage because you hear about the job earlier. I hope this helps, and good luck!

Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and Power Sales Words: How to Write It, Say It, and Sell It with Sizzle (Sourcebooks, 2006)

Second Answer:

 Keep in mind that most job openings aren’t advertised because a lot of businesses prefer to hire from within the company or through word of mouth. If you’re coming in from off the street, you could be out of luck.  Instead of working harder, work smarter. Use online resources and business trade publications, such as The Wall Street JournalForbes, and Fast Company to target desirable companies in your home area. Then, prepare to infiltrate these companies by making the transition from outsider to insider. Here’s how:

  • Get to know individuals already employed at your target company who are in a position to hire you. 
  • Apply for an internship position that will land you inside the company and provide you with an opportunity to build your skill portfolio.
  • Secure referrals from anyone you know in your chosen field—either people with years of experience behind them, such as old professors and your parents’ friends, or recent graduates who will have sympathy for your plight and might also be more familiar with a company’s lower-level job openings.

Using a combination of these approaches, you are much more likely to gain access to unadvertised job openings in the companies you desire. However, it probably won’t happen overnight. Be persistent and don’t resort to laziness, even if you’re not seeing immediate results. Keep your expectations realistic and remind yourself of the end goal every day. Above all, don’t doubt your own abilities. Ignore all of the folks who tell you that the market sucks and that you should take any available job, even if it’s not what you want or need. Learn to take rejection with a grain of salt—it’s all part of the process. If you take the right action patiently and efficiently, an opportunity will come along that’s a good fit for your skillset.

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

Third Answer:

While it likely doesn’t feel like it, this may be a great opportunity. Chances are this will by no means be the last time you’re looking for a job – according to the US Department of Labor, on average college grads will hold 10-14 different jobs between the time they’re 18-38. Right now you have the benefit of resources in your midst that can help. So use them and learn how the process works. Start out by getting clear on what you’re looking for:

  • What skills do you want to use, which do you want to learn? 
  • What are the values important to you and that you’ll be looking for in an employer? 
  • What types of things do you love to do – and what about them do you enjoy? If you love playing video games you might be hard-pressed to find someone to pay you to play but when you identify that you’re drawn to the graphics or to the storytelling, now you’ve got some ideas to work with. 

Just because career services doesn’t have lots of prospects in your geography, it makes sense to consult them on your resume, your cover letter and your applications. They are likely to help you on improving your chances of getting a response to blind outreach. While you’re there, ask to get connected to alumni in the area you’re going to. Having an internal referral makes it anywhere from 3-14 times more likely to get the job, so tap into this group – whether for networking to learn more about an industry and organizations within it, or once you’ve earned it, for help in getting an interview. 

Then tap into your own network – if you’re going back to your home town, chances are you know folks who can help. Do you know people who you volunteered with or through a past summer job? Can friends’ parents provide some useful insight into opportunities? Remember – networking is a two-way street. When people help you, commit to paying it forward. You might not know how right away but actively working to help those who help you is the best way to build a lasting network that not only grows over time, will be there when you need it, but will also be your champion if they’re asked about you. 

Remember that you’re likely to do the job search again, and again, and again. Take note of what helps you and what doesn’t. And remember to make the most of the journey and stay curious along the way. You may be awfully surprised at what you’ll find.

— Pam Baker, CEO of Journeous

Fourth Answer:

Here are some things you can do, without delay, to find a great job “back home”, if your college is remote:

  • Resume: Make sure your resume focuses on job or internship accomplishments related to your major
  • LinkedIn: Get help doing your profile. If you college is not helping with this, get a career coach; you can work remotely with most. LinkedIn is THE way most companies and organizations find talent like you. Use your home city — since that’s where you want to be starting your career — not your college city, so local companies there can find you more easily. – On LinkedIn, follow companies in your target city and sign up for job alerts from them.
  • Create Google alerts for news about job titles your after and company names you’re after.
  • Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, others: Follow target companies here so you’ll see any news and job postings they put here.
  • Create a job search business card: Your name, phone number, email address, LinkedIn address, possible titles or major-related work topics. You don’t yet have an official title nor a company you’re working for but having a card is a serious sign of professionalism. Keep it simple, and get them printed for you; don’t print them on your home printer on that flimsy paper. Few things make you feel more like a professional than giving someone your business card!
  • Network! About 60%-80% of jobs are found this way, a statistic I see proven true over and over again with my clients of all ages. Ask about your desired companies when you talk with friends, family, neighbors in your home city, fellow students, Internship supervisors, faculty, and business people at any business gatherings in your home city. Ask them who they know in your target companies, and ask if you can speak with these people — not to ask about immediate openings, but to learn more about what they do and who they know. If they detect your interest is in THEM, they will help you! So start developing a database of contacts and keep it fresh.
  • Subscribe to the online business publications in your home city to see which companies are growing, which ones are fading, who’s expanding, who’s adding buildings (and thus, people).
  • Google “Best Companies to Work For” in the local business press there, and learn what you can about these companies and organizations. Why not work for a great company!
  • Join professional organizations in your major, in your target city. There are engineering societies, biology clubs, Public Relations groups, Sales and Marketing groups, Operations…you name it. College senior memberships / new grad memberships are usually much less expensive than a full membership yet you get all the membership privileges.
  • Join professional groups on LinkedIn to see what people in your future career are discussing today.
  • Keep checking in with people on your networking database or they will forget you.
  • Do practice interviews on campus or with a coach, in person or via video conferencing.
  • Check with your college’s Alumni Office for earlier graduates who are in your target city. They’ll enjoy meeting you and will want to help.

— Joanne Meehl, founder of TheJobSearchQueen.com.

Fifth Answer:

The strategy of pushing out mass mailings is a very passive and never ends with a positive result. SO you must become more proactive quickly.  First, don’t make assumptions about career service offices.  Unless you are going to a regional state university the majority of career professionals have connections beyond the immediate area of the institution.  So first get an appointment with career staff and go over your job search strategy – it is not focused.  Second use the resources available to you.  First really check your institution’s employment portal – this will require some research skills.  You will find opportunities back in your home region – but you cannot simply drop them a resume.  You need to reach out to them – best to ditch the spring break plans and head home for some informational interviews. Next, since you are probably not the only student from your home region to come to this institution, use your institution’s LinkedIn  alumni site (or People Grove or whatever alumni software they have) and see who from your institution resides in the area.  Make connections with alums who are doing the kinds of things you are interested in.  Again use information interview to collect the information you need to target prospective employers.  Nest, you should have friends from high school who still live in the area or are returning from college themselves.  Connect with them in LinkedIn or Facebook or however and learn from them who they are connecting with.  Finally, ask your parents, relatives and mentors at home to suggest folks you can talk to.

As you make these connections, research, research, research.  Find out what companies are growing the fastest,  What sectors of the economy in your home region have been expanding.  Go to the local Chamber of Commerce webpage, the regional economic development office – groups like these have information on hiring.  Through these sites you may find special career/employment events, information sessions.   Finally check to see if there is a young professional  club or a SHRM chapter in the area – go meet people, learn what they are doing.

In short, your current strategy will not work.  Employers do not come courting you even though you think they.  They want candidates with initiative – and the job search is one way to demonstrate this.  The job search is hard, requires planning, and solid research.   Best thing about doing this – when the economy eventually weakens and you have to find yourself looking for a new job – you will have the skill to do so.  Your class mates who seemed to have an easy time – career fair, interview, job – now have to really dig deep and hustle to find their next job.

Have fun, smile – patience.

Dr. Phil Gardner, Director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University

Posted February 18, 2020 by

Can I trust a company that promises to find me an international internship?

A number of organizations help students find international internships, mostly for a fee. The business models vary, as do the fees, and there are many stories about fantastic experiences, but also some whose experiences were, at best, disappointing.

One of the best known international internship vendors is CRCC Asia. I recently reached out to director of university partnerships, Jillian Low, to ask her how students, career service offices, and others should go about evaluating a potential international internship provider. She provided a well-thought-out, step-by-step outline and, fortunately, was willing to allow us to share it here:

There are many different avenues that a student can take to complete an international internship. I always note four basic sources of international internships (although not an exhaustive list): 

  • Student Sourced
    • Pluses: Great option for a very independent student or a student looking for a specific internship with a specific company. It may also be a more affordable option.
    • Minuses: Time intensive, can be difficult for the university to track, health/safety/risk management concerns, likely no on-site support, and lack of local network.
  • University Sourced
    • Pluses: A lot of on-campus resources, ample opportunity for in-person pre-departure/orientation. Students may be required to take courses or complete workshops prior to departure. It gives the university/department a lot of control in how well-prepared their interns will be in their experience abroad.
    • Minuses: Placement responsibility falls on university shoulders, time and staff intensive. There may be little to no on-site support.
  • Alumni Sourced
    • Pluses: Alumni have a vested interest in supporting the student as well as understand their curriculum and educational experience. Furthermore, the university will have to do less vetting of the company, as they know and trust the alumni. 
    • Minuses: Placement responsibility and support falls on the Alumni engagement team within the university and is still time and staff intensive, as well as little to no on-site support.
  • Provider Sourced
    • Pluses: Student is fully supported by pre-departure, arrival, and throughout the program. The internship is vetted in-person with ability to troubleshoot and support while on the ground. Local expertise is given by the provider. 
    • Minuses: Higher cost of participation. University relinquishes some control and oversight to the provider.

Knowing that international internships are a great opportunity for students, but not all will want to arrive in a country with no support, create their own social network, manage the travel logistics independently, or take on the health and safety risk of living in another country by themselves, I think it is imperative that all universities have a mixed portfolio of options to include student or university sourced as well as provider sourced. 

For universities just adding providers to their portfolio this can be a daunting process, and knowing what and how to vet can be a long procedure. I do know that the Forum on Education Abroad will be hosting a 1 day International Internship Taskforce this March prior to their annual conference which will begin the process of creating and setting standards for international internship programs. Hopefully, after the taskforce, next steps will be shared and additional buy-in requested. 

Finally for any student searching for an international internship on their own, there are some great research steps to take in order to find a great fit. In terms of looking at opportunities I would first:

  1. Review if the country of choice has a culture of internship or if there will be challenges in finding the opportunity through direct outreach to different companies. It is also good to look into how higher education courses for their degree are handled in the country and if they are tied to an apprenticeship or co-op experience which can be very common in Europe as this may limit opportunities for international candidates or set a duration minimum.
  2. Look into what opportunities are there for non-native or non-fluent speakers of the country. In Japan, for example, many placements require a certain level of language and a test to prove it. For France, they may be happy to determine the language level through the interview process.
  3. Consider what level of support the student will need in-country including language, emergency support, and housing. Going alone and sourcing your own experience can be the less expensive option but utilizing an international internship provider can readily provide language support, accommodation with a built-in social network of other interns and overall emergency support if needed. 

Once those three things are reviewed I would then source opportunities:

  1. Connect with the study abroad office to see if they know of any opportunities
  2. Look into alumni connections within the country to see if they have any leads
  3. Review international job boards for opportunities
  4. See about international internship providers who work within the location, vetting them based on:
    1. Alumni feedback
    2. Placement opportunities – especially for engineering
    3. Fees and what is included
  5. Review what local universities are offering in terms of internship for their students
  6. Look into expat boards or communities in the locale who may be able to provide resources or background information.

CRCC Asia specializes in connecting students with applied work experience in dynamic international settings. With over 13 years experience working in Asia, we have led internship programs for over 9,000+ students and graduates from more than 100 countries. We offer a range of program models built to satisfy the interests of each of our partner institutions, including a wide range of unique custom and faculty-led programming.  

Faith Rothberg, CEO of College Recruiter

Posted February 04, 2020 by

What was the original idea for College Recruiter and what problems were we trying to solve?

College Recruiter’s chief executive officer, Faith Rothberg, was recently interviewed by a learning and development company. One of the questions they asked was about the history of our company, including what problems we were attempting to solve.

The company out of which College Recruiter grew was founded in November 1991. We were publishing maps and employment magazines for college campuses for the first few years.

In 1995, a couple of us were in a career service office at the University of Minnesota when the director said to us, “There’s this thing called the Internet”. She said that she didn’t know what it was but that some of her students were using it to research companies they were about to interview with. In those days, the best way to do that research was to go into the career service office and go through their collection of annual, corporate reports until you found the one for the company you were researching or, just as often, found that it was missing.

We paid a high school student who was working for us $3,000 to build the first version of our website. We launched in November 1996. Looking back, it was incredibly rudimentary but not at all uncommon for the era. Job seekers could either search by category or location, but not both. So you could run a search for engineering jobs or jobs in Illinois but not engineering jobs in Illinois.

The problem we were trying to solve was to try to find a way to help every student and recent graduate find a great career. It was — and remains — important to us that we didn’t just serve some students and hardly any recent graduates or just students from some schools. We wanted to be inclusive and not exclude students simply because they happened to attend the “wrong” school. Unfortunately, we still see that approach a lot amongst some of our indirect competitors.

We’re currently in the middle of launching the seventh version of our software. True to our desires way back in 1996, our site is built from the ground-up to be inclusive. About 2.5 million job seekers use our site a year and every one of them has full access to every part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level job advertised on our site as they search by their desired location and keywords. The keywords can be job title, major, military occupation code (MOC), and in just about any language.

So, if you grew up in Philadelphia, are attending a school in Los Angeles, and want to find a job in Houston, you’re going to able to do that on College Recruiter. It is very, very unlikely that your career service office website will have any jobs listed in Houston and, if it does, it will likely only be a very, very small number. At College Recruiter, we typically have about 750,000 jobs advertised on our site at any given time.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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 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.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted December 17, 2019 by

What skills are becoming increasingly important to employers of accounting and other math-related majors?

At College Recruiter, we’ve seen a huge shift over the past couple of years by large accounting and consulting firms, Fortune 1,000 companies, and federal government agencies to hiring students and recent graduates based more upon their soft than hard skills.

Critical thinking skills, for example, have become far more important and the perceived strength of the school’s brand has become far less important. Why? Because more and more employers are looking not at where they’ve traditionally hired the most people from or even their cost-per-hire but instead to where they sourced their most productive employees.

What employers of accounting and other math-related majors are finding is that they can teach someone how to read a balance sheet but they can’t feasibly teach them how to think critically.

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 October 15, 2019 by

Why are apprenticeship programs so much more popular in Europe than the U.S.?

One reason that apprenticeship programs are far more popular in Europe than they are in the United States is because employers in Europe tend to take a far more long-term view of their employees than do employers in the U.S. In Europe, it is more a part of their culture to hire people with some but not every single desired skill and then train them until they have all of the desired skills. In the U.S., employers expect employees to hit the ground running and, therefore, train them only when necessary. Apprentices, by definition, require substantial training.

Another reason that apprenticeships are far more popular in Europe is that it is far harder to terminate an employee in Europe than it is in the United States. In Europe, you can often only terminate an employee for cause and, even then, often need to provide severance. In the U.S., employment is typically at will and you can be fired for any reason or no reason, as long as it isn’t a bad (illegal) reason.

Apprenticeships require a long-term commitment by both parties that, sadly, isn’t as much a part of our culture as it is in Europe.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Posted October 14, 2019 by

Are your job postings attracting too many unqualified and not enough qualified applicants?

We’ve all seen those job postings: “<Position> is responsible for driving revenue growth, optimizing interactions with enterprise leads, liaising and maximizing cross-functional segmentation using sales enablement and marketing nurture tools in coordination with CRM and digital generation management platforms. Must conduct A/B testing and drive key business metrics while aligning with leadership for optimal distribution strategy results. Will serve as ninja Agile scrum master to remove impediments. Extensive knowledge of end-to-end omnichannel demand gen in B2B and B2C environments. Strong record of win-win outcomes, conflict resolution and problem-solving among multiple layers of an organization. Stellar CX, VoC, SQL, COE, ETL, BI skills. 10+ years’ experience in <exhaustive list of software platforms>, superstar analytical skills, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, ability to bend time and add a 25th hour to each day strongly preferred. Attention to detail a must.”

Say what?

All right, so while we made this one up (and trust us—don’t try to decipher it or your brain will get caught in a loop), in our tech-jargon, corporate-buzzword world there are plenty of real, similarly indecipherable job postings out there.

Sure, there are some postings that require more information—most notably, for jobs that involve technology and other specialized positions. But no matter how detailed your job posting needs to be, you should still aim for clarity and readability.

Join us for Job Posting 101 as we pass along some tips for writing job ads that will draw applicants’ interest, not send them scurrying to the nearest dictionary.

Job Title

  • Optimize your job title and description with the keywords your candidates will be searching for. Make sure the job title reflects the job. If you’re hiring a Customer Service Representative, use that title and resist calling it something cutesy or hip. Boring? Maybe, but be realistic: how many jobseekers will be searching for a Customer Service Ninja, or a Valued Customer Pleaser—and how many will miss your posting because it didn’t fit their search terms?
  • Be sure to include words that indicate the career level and the scope of the job: Customer Service Manager, B2B Digital Marketing Specialist, Senior Graphic Designer, Social Media Coordinator, Java Developer.
  • Don’t use internal terms; if you’re hiring an Assistant Art Director, use that title instead of the “Visual Manager 1” your company uses.
  • Include the city and state for searchers who are looking at a specific geographic location. Mention that it’s a telecommuting position (but in that case, include the company’s headquarters location so searchers are aware of possible time differences).

Company Summary

  • Before you go into the job description, give your applicants a paragraph-long glimpse of your company, and why it’s special.
  • Don’t just use your company’s boilerplate description here; personalize the description to give the applicant a reason to want to work with you. As an example, suppose you’re a small manufacturer hiring a Marketing Writer. You could say:

“W&W Manufacturing is a Michigan-based manufacturer of Safety Widgets and What-Nots. For 20 years, we’ve worked with the automotive industry to get our state’s drivers safely to their destinations and back home again. Now we’re looking for someone who can help us tell our customers’ success stories as we expand to keep drivers safe nationwide.”

Job Qualifications/Responsibilities

  • Decide on your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” qualifications before you sit down to write the posting.
  • Start out with a short summary paragraph. Use active rather than passive voice: instead of, “This position is responsible for creating all Safety Widget and What-Not collateral,” say, “You’ll create persuasive, readable sales copy for our full-color product catalog, trade show displays and website.” Make it human and personal; use the second-person “you” instead of “the Marketing Writer will…”— Let the candidate know how they’ll be a vital member of the team. Here’s an example:

“As W&W Manufacturing’s Marketing Writer, you’ll engage customers and prospects with your informative, well-crafted blog articles, white papers, brochures, trade show collateral, case studies, video scripts and more. Not only will you lead us in spreading the word nationwide about W&W’s Safety Widgets and What-Nots, you’ll help millions of drivers safely return to their homes and families each night. As a bonus, you’ll develop expertise in the widgets/what-nots industry and hone your craft as a marketing writer.”

  • Keep your company’s culture in mind as you create the summary. What’s the best part of the job? Are you a close-knit group that collaborates on everything? A hip, tech-forward team that would make Apple jealous with your technology toolbox? Here’s the place to let the candidates know what they can expect.
  • The more information you provide the better, of course, but you can also give too much information—especially if you’re looking for a super-employee who can’t possibly exist in nature. Don’t scare off potentially good candidates—for instance, recent college grads who might qualify for the position—by making everything a “must-have.” Firm requirements that are clearly distinguished from “nice-to-have” requirements create less confusion and fewer unqualified applicants to sort through.
  • Unlike our brain-bending job posting at the beginning of this article, don’t pack all the information into a single massive paragraph. Remember that many jobseekers are reading on mobile devices, so make your requirements easily scannable with short sentences, bullets and white space.
  • Try not to use cliched phrases in your descriptions, because let’s face it: unless we’re shiny-new in the workforce, we all know that “fast-paced” can mean anything from “a busy office” to “utter chaos.” Or that “multi-task” can mean “doing the job of the three people who were just laid off.” You don’t want to scare people off—or make the job sound too perfect. So, on behalf of jobseekers everywhere, we beg you to use plain language and be as honest as possible. Don’t leave a trail of disillusioned former candidates or employees in your wake, which can damage your reputation among future jobseekers. (And for a needed laugh after that serious plea, check out this infographic of what these 50 job ad clichés really mean.)
  • Clearly note the length and type of experience you’re looking for, the job level (junior, mid-level, senior, manager), the preferred education level, as well as any particular skills (e.g. the ability to write clear and compelling copy), characteristics (e.g. the ability to work without supervision) or physical abilities (e.g. the ability to stand for an eight-hour shift) that applicants need for the job.
  • If your requirements are firm, that’s fine—just say so. A quick statement along the lines of, “Please read this posting carefully, as we will only consider those applicants who meet the listed qualifications,” can help reduce the number of unqualified applicants who apply anyway. 

Job Benefits

  • Similar to the job description, make your list of benefits easily scannable with short sentences, bullets, and white space.
  • Note the traditional information and benefits most candidates want and need—hours, pay or salary range, insurance, 401(k), paid parking, etc.
  • Don’t forget about the less traditional benefits that will make an applicant say, “Yes, I want to work there!” Do you have a relaxed dress code? Can you work from home some days? Do you provide lunch or healthy snacks for employees? Is there an onsite gym? A monthly book club? A monthly “bring your dog to work” day? Community volunteer opportunities? Talk about them all! We spend as much time at our workplace as we do with our families. Let prospective candidates see their days can be comfortable, enjoyable and even fun when they’re part of your team.

The final step in  you send your job posting off to your preferred job board, proofread your copy, have someone else proofread it and then proofread it one more time!

While this article is only a basic, high-level overview of writing a job posting, don’t worry—you’ll find resources galore online with a quick Google of “Best practices for writing a job posting” or a similar search. But if you don’t feel like Googling, here are the four most important things to keep in mind when you sit down to write your next job post:

  1. Write clearly and conversationally—ditch the jargon and clichés
  2. Use your human voice
  3. Be honest in the job description, requirements and benefits
  4. Let your company’s personality shine through  

A company that cares enough to be clear, human and straightforward with job candidates promises to be an employer that candidates will flock to. And if you follow these practices consistently, there’s every reason to believe that you’ll be the company people point to when they refer to “an employer of choice.”

Sources:

50 Nonsense Job Ad Clichés  (and What They Really Mean…),” by James Ball, coburgbanks.co.uk, undated.

How to Write a Job Description That Attracts Awesome Applicants,” by Eddie Shleyner, blog.hubspot.com, updated October 17, 2018.

5 Tips to Writing an Effective Job Posting,” by CivicPlus, civicplus.com, undated.

How to Write a Great Job Posting,” by Max Messmer, dummies.com, undated.

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)