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Posted May 11, 2016 by

How to conduct a successful informational interview

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Interviewing is hard. And stressful – especially for the recent college graduate or entry-level job seeker who has limited experience in an interview setting. To gain more experience, and to expand your professional relationships, consider conducting an informational interview. The purpose of an informational interview is to gather information and meet someone who is in a role or company you aspire to be in. It’s not a job interview – the person conducting the informational interview (you) should be the one asking the questions.

“Informational interviews are a good way to get the answers you need to make career choices,” says Bill Driscoll, the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. “Asking experienced professionals who have specialized expertise about their role and what it involves can give you real-world insights.”

In fact, 36 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled said these meetings are becoming more common, with nearly one-third (31 percent) receiving informational interview requests at least once a month. Job seekers should take note – 84 percent of executives said when someone impresses them in a meeting, it’s likely they will alert that person to job openings at the company.

Although informational interviews are not intended solely to seek a certain position in a company, it can set you up for consideration of future roles if you make a good impression. It could also lead to referrals to other contacts or job openings.

Informational interview etiquette guidelines

There are some basic etiquette guidelines to follow when requesting an informational interview, says Driscoll:

  • First, narrow down who you would ask for an informational interview. Create a list of companies you would like to work for, identify career paths that would suit your strengths and interests, and consider which industries interest you. Once you’ve identified these key factors, do some online research to choose the correct contact to interview.
  • Email is a good introductory mode of communication. Keep it simple – be concise but friendly. Briefly go over your background, state the reason you are reaching out to them, and request a meeting or phone call. Be sure to include why you want to meet that person in particular.
  • Look to your professional network to make an introduction. Seeing a message from a familiar name may increase your chance of getting a response.
  • LinkedIn can help you identify contacts and send messages. Keep in mind that people don’t necessarily log on to LinkedIn each day or check their messages on the site, so you might not get a quick response.
  • A phone call is another option to reach an informational interview candidate. Be prepared with what you’ll say in case you get a hold of the person or their voicemail.

How to prepare for an informational interview

Research the company and person you are meeting. Informational interviews tend to be short, so use the opportunity to ask the questions you genuinely want answered. Come prepared with your list of questions. Things you might want to ask are:

  • How did you get started in this industry/company/career path?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What are the most important skills required in this role/industry?
  • How did you get your job?
  • Can you name some industry associations that I should join?
  • What do you like most about your company?

Dress professionally for your informational interview – just like you would for a job interview.

“Remember this is a business meeting and the way you dress can say a lot about you,” says Driscoll.

Go into an informational interview with a clear understanding that this is a chance to learn about a career, industry and company, to expand your professional relationships and to become better prepared for future interviews. Just don’t expect it to always lead to a job or job interview with that company.

“An informational interview is a great way to meet someone who can make hiring decisions, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t lead to a job interview,” says Driscoll. “The point is to learn and establish an important business relationship.”

When the informational interview is done, don’t forget to show gratitude. Always mail a handwritten thank-you note after an interview and keep your new contact updated on your job search and career progress.

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Bill Driscoll, Accountemps

Bill Driscoll, New England District President of Accountemps

Bill Driscoll is the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and is based in the company’s Boston office. Bill oversees professional staffing services for Robert Half’s 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York. Bill is considered a local and national expert on recruiting practices, hiring and job search trends, and other workplace issues.

Ready to begin your job search? Start at College Recruiter today!

Posted March 05, 2016 by

What is career counseling

Photo of Veranda Hillard-Charleston

Veranda Hillard-Charleston, guest writer

Do people believe their current career trajectories feel like a hopeless game of grasping at straws? Maybe they’ve been thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” or “I don’t know what jobs I can get with my major/degree.” Having a long list of “I don’t knows” in the career department certainly doesn’t lead to increased life satisfaction. Luckily, there’s a solution: career counseling.

What is career counseling?

Career counseling is a goal-oriented process targeted at helping people gain better insight about themselves and what they want out of their careers, education, and lives.

According to Boise State University, the counseling element is one-step in a lifelong process of career development. Therefore, the object of career counseling is not to guide people in making better career decisions today. Instead, the focus of this process is to equip people with the self-knowledge and expertise needed to improve their careers and life decisions over their lifespan.

A career counselor is generally a master’s level professional with a background in career development theory, counseling methods, assessments, and employment information and resources. A professional will hold a confidential session with people to identify their unique values, interests, skills, career-related strengths and weaknesses, and personal goals in order to determine which resources they require and which course of action is most appropriate in helping them achieve these goals.

A career counselor can even help people separate their own career-related goals from those of others, such as parents, teachers, and friends who may be pressuring them to choose a specific career path.

Do I need career counseling?

Whether they’re freshmen in college or five years post-graduate, college students and recent graduates can benefit from the services of a career counselor. Since career development is a lifelong process – and people’s interests and skills are steadily changing – the earlier they gain insight about themselves and learn how to make career-related decisions, the better. If job seekers’ current dialogue is filled with “I don’t knows,” career counseling is a smart choice for them.

Possible career counseling for bank credit presentation of important issues courtesy of Shutterstock.com

frechtoch/Shutterstock.com

Maximizing from the counseling experience

So college students and recent graduates made the choice to get career counseling and scheduled an appointment. Their part is done, right? Wrong. A common misconception about career counseling is people show up, and an expert tells them exactly what career choices are best for them. In truth, career counseling is not a one-sided, quick solution to academic or career dilemmas. Consider the following:

• Job seekers are not simply there to receive. The counseling experience requires participation. An honest examination of job seekers is vital for the career counselor to guide them in the right direction. Together, they might uncover their career interests, but they must take action to continue down the right path.

• People must narrow down their goals. Coming in with a broad desire to “Figure out what they want in life” just won’t cut it. A clear-cut objective is necessary so each session has structure and both parties can tell when their work together is complete.

• Job seekers have to continue the career development process beyond counseling. A good career counselor can help them define their interests and values, identify goals, and provide resources and strategies for reaching these goals. Still, the important work is done by job seekers. They have to actually use these resources to pinpoint internships or job opportunities appealing to them and constantly consider how different opportunities match their interests, values, and skills.

Career counseling offers people a safe and confidential place to explore their career passions and identify areas in which they are experiencing difficulty. It is a collaborative relationship – the client and the counselor work together to discover the client’s true career goals and work to overcome any obstacles. However, the client must be devoted to career development and willing to do the work to truly benefit from the experience.

If you want more career advice, go to College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Veranda Hillard-Charleston is Chief Contributor for MastersinPsychologyGuide.com. She received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Veranda has more than five years of experience as a trained mental health professional.

Posted May 19, 2015 by

So You Want a Career in the Great Outdoors?

Female park ranger in front of ocean

Female park ranger in front of ocean. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

What could be more appealing than working among trees, fresh air and water? A career that connects you with the earth rather than one that chains you to a corporate desk is dream for many. There are numerous and growing opportunities for those seeking careers outdoors, but having the right skills is critical.

Exciting career choices include: park ranger in a state or national park, naturalist in a nature center, educator for a zoo or aquarium, youth outdoor program director, or guide for a wilderness program. With the right skills and certifications in your back pocket, these opportunities are sure to unfold. Whether you have a degree in outdoor education or forestry, or just interest and experience, here are a few tips to land a career that’ll keep you in fresh air: (more…)

Posted December 31, 2014 by

The 5 Ways Negativity Can Unravel Career Potential

Ken Sundheim

Ken Sundheim, Chief Executive Officer at KAS Placement Recruiting

The overwhelming majority of job seekers fail to ever push their capabilities to the limit. Most never come close.

Our sales recruiters have seen that the lack of achievement is not a result of lesser intelligence, education or even having a poor boss, but rather comes from a skewed perspective that is overly negative of their own capabilities.

This negative perception gives rise to a multitude of issues and in time results in a less fruitful, lucrative career. This happens in 5 stages. (more…)

Posted August 22, 2014 by

5 Reasons Why You Should Get an MBA

Businessman and graduation hat sketch

Businessman and graduation hat sketch. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

A study in the Journal of Education for Business found that full-time Masters of Business Administration (MBA) graduates from Top 50 schools typically have an earning salary that is 50 percent higher than their previous earnings. Additionally, this already high salary nearly doubles over the next five years. An MBA also comes with other benefits besides money. With an MBA you can be a valuable asset to companies, you can change career paths more easily and you can grow your professional network. (more…)