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Posted June 25, 2016 by

The #1 student job search mistake

As an Associate Career Services Director for the University of Michigan and the CEO of Break into Tech, I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of students during the job search while trying to launch their careers. And it’s an area I’m particularly proud to support, having leveraged my own student experience to land roles at Apple, LinkedIn, and startups.

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

But the one thing that shocks me time and again is that 95% of students make the same mistake when it comes to landing a job. And no, it’s not a bad resume, or a poorly written cover letter or even weak interview skills. Instead, it’s that most basic trait:

Humility.

Yes, humility.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Huh? How hard could it be to act humble?”

But here’s the real deal. That same confidence is a handicap. Because it blinds students to just how hard it is to stay humble in a world where everyone always has to be on, to constantly present their best self.

As evidence, allow me to submit my experience as a Michigan alum working at LinkedIn:

  • Every single day during application season, I’d received at least one email from a current student who wanted to work in Silicon Valley
  • Usually, those emails started out: “Dear Jeremy, I’m XXX and I’d really like to work at LinkedIn…”
  • Eventually I’d get on the phone with these students, and they’d spend the first 15 minutes of the call telling me about themselves, and the last 15 minutes asking me if I could help them get a job.
  • Then, I’d never hear from them again.

On the other hand, about 2-3 times a year, the sequence would go very differently:

  • I’d get an email from a student well before application season that said: “Dear Jeremy, As a a Michigan student, I was so excited to come across your profile today. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was to find someone who’s walked your path. I know you must be really busy, but would you ever have a few minutes to share your story with me?”
  • When I got on the phone with them, we’d spend 15 minutes talking about my experience, followed by 15 minutes of them asking me for my advice about really tricky career questions.
  • Then they’d follow-up the next month to wish me a happy holiday or update me on campus. And they’d continue to do that each month with cool articles they found or little tidbits of school news.
  • Then, only when application season finally rolled around, would they ever ask for support during the application process.

And sure enough, about 2-3 times a year, I’d write an internal recommendation for a student, basically guaranteeing them an interview.

Now, any guesses which students I went to bat for?

Hopefully that illuminates two things about the job search:

BUT

  • You’ve got to network in the right way – the humble way.

Which means no:

  • Waiting until application season to reach out – you need to build relationships in advance; not at the last second.
  • Focusing all the attention on yourself – you need to build a real relationship; not just a transaction.
  • One shot networking – you need to build a relationship over time, not in a single phone call. This aids your job search.

So consider yourself warned. Yes, humility is critical to your job search success. But don’t assume it’s going to be easy. Instead, make it a priority and work hard at it. And then you can avoid the biggest mistake that’s trapped so many others!

Jeremy Schifeling, CEO of Break Into Tech

Jeremy Schifeling, CEO of Break Into Tech

Need more help networking and figuring out how to build great relationships on your way to finding a great entry-level job? College Recruiter can help. Keep reading our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Jeremy Schifeling is the Founder + Chief Nerd at Break into Tech, a site for anyone who wants to land an awesome tech job, no matter their background. Get a free guide to the seven ultimate secrets that took Jeremy from school to Silicon Valley!

Posted June 15, 2016 by

4 ways joining associations provides networking opportunities

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Joining professional associations is a great way for college students, interns, and recent grads to expand their professional network, stay on top of industry trends, and advance their careers. It’s often the first step in the networking process.

“Whether you are in school or on the job, being part of a professional association challenges you to think outside of your day-to-day pressures, to network, and to learn and grow with others to make you a stronger, more connected professional,” says Jeffrey C. Thomson, President and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA®), a nearly century-old membership association and community focused on certifying and advancing the competencies of accountants and financial professionals in business.

Below we look at 4 ways joining industry associations provides networking opportunities for college students, interns, and recent grads:

1. Expands professional and industry contacts
Networking is available at the local and global levels through IMA. At the local level, IMA sustains a network of more than 300 student and professional chapters for networking, educational programs, benchmarking, and best practices. This includes technical finance and accounting topics as well as leadership and ethics. At the global level, IMA provides services to network and learn, including the IMA Leadership Academy which consists of leadership courses and a mentoring program. IMA also offers a variety of conferences, events and webinars and offers a certification in management accounting, the CMA™ (Certified Management Accountant), and has over 80,000 members globally, with offices in the U.S., Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Zurich, Dubai and Cairo.

The opportunities vary for each association, but this proves that joining industry associations can provide a wide variety of opportunities to grow and learn at local, national, and global levels.

2. Can lead to new or hidden job opportunities
Expanding one’s professional network allows college students, interns, and recent grads to connect with others who work in the industry where you want to build your career. By establishing and building industry relationships, you find other colleagues with whom you may be able to reach out to for career-related questions, to learn about a company, or perhaps find out about a job opening. For example, if you make a contact at a networking event through an industry association and continue to nurture that relationship, they could eventually simply email you about a job opening at their company when one opens up. You may have never known about that opening if you didn’t connect with that person or people through your industry networking contacts. In addition, you can reach out to these contacts if you are in job search mode. And, you may want to work at a company where a contact of yours currently or previously worked and you can tap them as a resource for your questions or to make a connection with someone doing the hiring.

“Networking can lead to a new or better job if you are displaced or if you proactively seek change because of the relationships you develop through a connected network,” says Thomson.

3. Sets you up for future professional growth
Networking isn’t just about making contacts to find out about jobs. It’s much more than that. Networking, simply put, is about building, nurturing, and growing relationships. You have to give first, ask second.

“It is also about seeking advice to grow businesses and do great things for customers, members, and shareholders.”

Becoming active in an industry association can also help you build your reputation as an expert within your career field. It can strengthen your relationships with industry colleagues and help you become a trusted colleague and professional people can count on. These contacts could someday also become clients, customers, co-partners on projects, and/or even co-workers or your future boss or employee.

4. Provides ongoing networking events
Networking can be difficult, especially for the recent college grad who does not have many industry contacts. And attending networking events is difficult, especially for the introvert. When attending an industry event, go into the event with an open-mind.

“Networking is a mindset,” says Thomson. “Attend an event with the attitude that you want to achieve certain goals.”

For example, for each networking event you attend set a goal to meet at least five new people and take away five new ideas. In return, set a goal of sharing five ideas of your own with those you meet. At every event you attend, strive to “mix it up” and meet new people rather than sit at the same table with people you already know, adds Thomson.

Think of a networking event as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to learn something new or to impart learning and wisdom to others, says Thomson. Most of all, learn to build relationships.

“Everyone has something to contribute at an event, in their own style, tone and pace,” says Thomson. “Learning content is relatively easy these days with online courses, but learning how to build lasting relationships to achieve great outcomes still requires human engagement.”

For more networking tips, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA®, CAE, is president and CEO of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants).

Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA®, CAE, is president and CEO of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants).

About Jeff Thomson
Jeffrey C. Thomson, CMA®, CAE, is president and CEO of IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants). Since assuming this position in 2008, Mr. Thomson led the development of a strategy resulting in IMA becoming one of the fastest growing accounting associations in the world, with nearly 30% growth in its CMA (Certified Management Accountant) program and more than 300 student and professional chapters. The IMA headquarters are in Montvale, N.J.

Posted June 07, 2016 by

7 tips for networking in the workplace

Did you know that 80% of workplace conflicts and problems arise from communication glitches? It’s true. You can do your part to prevent workplace conflicts—originating from miscommunication—by developing your soft skills, namely communication skills and networking skills. If you improve your relationships with your colleagues, clients, and supervisors via networking in the workplace, you’ll be much less likely to face problems at work.

As a new employee, particularly as a recent grad or intern, it’s also important to network with others at work in order to build rapport with the people you rely upon for help and information to perform your job duties well. If you want to succeed, you’ll quickly learn that it pays to maintain positive relationships with everyone around you.

Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, offers seven tips for networking in the workplace in this short video.


If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

1. Know yourself well.

If you can detect when you’re having an off day, take steps to prevent taking it out on everyone around you. Stay in your cubicle or office on those days if necessary or take more frequent breaks. Before you begin working, get an extra-large coffee and take some deep breaths or read some positive literature.  Look at some funny photos for five minutes. Find a solution that works for you. If you find yourself in a negative place due to personal circumstances, and you’re allowing your personal life to affect your work life, talk to your human resources officer confidentially to see if your company offers wellness benefits, including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

In addition, taking a DISC inventory or other personality inventory—ask your career services office about taking these inventories at no cost on your college campus—can help you to learn more about your work style. It might take one hour to take the inventory, but you’ll then be armed with information about how you work best, how you prefer to interact with others, and what to avoid when interacting with others. The sooner you learn this information about yourself, the better.

2. Treat others well.

Treat your colleagues and clients well regardless of their level of expertise, pay grade, or how much money they are spending with your company. When networking, your contacts will appreciate being treated with courtesy, kindness, respect, appreciation, and fairness. You’ll build a reputation of treating people well, and a great reputation goes a long way in the workplace. If you decide to stay with your present company, you may want to apply for an internal job promotion. If you’ve been networking with others at work and treating everyone well, your behavior will likely speak just as loudly as your resume, cover letter, and job application. If you decide to leave your company to pursue other job opportunities, you’ll be glad you treated others well when potential employers call to check your references and hear about how kind, thoughtful, and positive you were at work every day.

3. Don’t be afraid to collaborate and share.

Collaborating and sharing ideas and information in the workplace today is a great way to network with your colleagues and to show them that you want to help, not hinder the growth of the organization or team. Sharing your ideas with others also encourages others to share their ideas, and the workplace becomes a more creative place.

4. Don’t do halfalogues.

What’s a halfalogue? A halfalogue is when you only participate in half the conversation or dialogue because you’re holding your phone, scrolling through a text message or email, and aren’t able to fully participate and interact with your colleagues as a result. At work, you have to put down your phone if you want to make good impressions and build positive relationships with your supervisors, colleagues, and clients. It’s not just rude to play on your phone during meetings; it’s also important to pay attention when stopping by someone’s office casually to say hello.

5. Address people by name.

This is like networking 101. Referring to people by name during conversations or even in emails makes them feel more special, and that’s always a good thing. How long does it take to type out, “Bethany?” Maybe one or two seconds. It’s worth it to improve your communication skills and reduce the potential for future workplace conflicts.

6. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

Be a positive influence at work. When networking, whether at workplace events or during daily interactions in the workplace, keep conversations “light and polite” and focused on positive topics and on solutions, not problems. It’s inevitable at work that you’re going to be asked to discuss problems and conflicts during meetings. What’s important is that you find a way to discuss problems in a positive light and to focus on taking constructive action.

For example, if you’re discussing a challenge you’re facing as a new employee tasked with visiting with patients at a clinic, and you have discovered you simply cannot keep up with the volume of paperwork and still provide quality service to the patients face-to-face, you can be honest about the problem yet discuss potential solutions.

“I am really glad we have so many patients coming to the office. I like talking to them and helping them get set up to see the doctor. I’m just feeling overwhelmed by the documents to scan and know I’m getting behind. I think I need more time to scan documents, but I don’t want to offer patients a lower level of service either. Do you think I could work on documents for 30 minutes in the morning before I start seeing patients every day? Maybe this would help me to keep it managed.”

Presenting a potential solution—even if it’s not the solution your employer prefers or selects to implement—suggests that you’re not just belly-aching about problems. It also showcases your soft skills, including your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These are not just great networking skills but are great workplace skills any employer values.

7. Interact face-to-face whenever possible.

It’s not always an option, but interact face-to-face if you can. Face-to-face communication helps you avoid most communication errors and opportunities for miscommunication because it is channel rich. When you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, you’re provided with multiple cues that help you interpret meaning: voice tone, spoken word, facial expression, hand gestures, and many more. When you communicate with someone via email or text message, communication is channel lean, meaning you’re relying on just one thing–words. Have you ever received a text message from a significant other, and the intended meaning is not the meaning you interpreted? This likely caused some hurt feelings or even a huge fight. The same thing happens in the workplace.

For this reason, it’s best to hold meetings face-to-face. If you work remotely, consider hosting meetings virtually via Zoom or Skype. If that’s not an option, you can conference in by phone. At least you can hear voices rather than simply read words. Simply hammering out emails back and forth gives you the illusion that you’re saving time, when in fact, you often waste time because you create confusion which you have to clarify by writing three more emails. Save yourself the hassle—and build better relationships—by talking to people face-to-face when possible. You’ll probably find that your networking skills and communication skills will grow, and you’ll build great relationships, too.

For more networking tips, visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.