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Posted May 17, 2016 by

How to have a great first day at work: Part 1

Congratulations on landing your first full-time entry-level job after graduating from college! Woohoo! This is a huge milestone in your career journey.

Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. Remember the feeling you had when you started high school? You might feel a little like that on your first day at work, minus the horrific acne and monstrous crush on your neighbor.

This video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, is one of two videos offering help to recent grads starting their first entry-level jobs. Here are five ways you can ensure success on your first day at work.


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1. Dress well, sleep well, and feel well.

Get a great night’s sleep the night before your first day at work. Certainly celebrate your new job with your friends and family, but celebrate at least two days prior to your first day. Wake up in plenty of time to get ready for work. We all have those days when we don’t like the outfit we selected for work, and chances are, it will be your first day of work. Give yourself at least 20 or 30 extra minutes to get ready on your first day at work.

When you look good, you feel good. Dress up (at least a little bit) on your first day at work. Wear an outfit that fits into the company’s dress code, but spend a little extra time fixing your hair or makeup. It doesn’t hurt to feel great when you’re going to spend all day long in training sessions, meeting new people, and looking people in the eye.

2. Arrive early.

Arrive at least 15 or 30 minutes early on your first day at work. This helps you to avoid showing up late due to traffic problems or getting turned around. It’s common to feel disoriented when you are in a new town or don’t know which parking lot to use. How far will you have to walk from the parking lot to the building? Are there designated parking spots? Don’t park in those! Knowing this information in advance is helpful. Arriving early gives you the opportunity to network with coworkers and eases nerves.

3. Prepare an elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a 30-second spiel explaining who you are, where you’ve been, what you do, and where you’re going in life or at work. Preparing a brief elevator pitch related to your new position will come in handy when you’re being introduced to multiple teammates, supervisors, and colleagues repeatedly throughout the day. Chances are, you’ll be asked the question, “So who are you? What is it you’ll be doing for us?” Be prepared with a smooth response.

4. Smile often.

When shaking hands and delivering that elevator pitch, smile. Smiling improves your mood and the moods of those around you as well. Start off on the right foot on your first day at work by spreading cheer and goodwill to people around you.

4. Be positive no matter what.

Whether you have to sit through eight hours of training, which you find incredibly boring, or whether you arrive and find that your desk is not set up at all, be positive. Not many people enjoy working with negative people. Avoid making negative comments, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. If you need to ask for help, do so politely and quietly. Avoid making a scene in a fussy or dramatic manner right off the bat. Very few things leave a bad taste in employers’ mouths as a new employee who begins complaining before she’s even begun working.

For more suggestions on starting out strong in your new entry-level job, visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

Posted May 10, 2016 by

How to select a career mentor

When you graduate from college, you lose daily, immediate access to some of your greatest mentors and teachers—faculty members, advisors, and career services professionals who have guided you through some of the best and most formative years of your life. When starting your first entry-level, full-time job, it’s important to begin seeking out a career mentor.

This five-minute video, created by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, will help you select a quality career mentor.


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There are at least two types of mentors you need to find, ideally, when you begin your first full-time, entry-level job. The first type of mentor you need to find is a workplace mentor. This mentor works for the same company or organization but has at least a few years of experience under her belt. She probably works for the same team or within the same division and can provide you with guidance related to company policies and procedures, the ins and outs about how to make coffee in the breakroom, and other important tips about surviving on a daily basis within your organization.

This video and article will help you select the other—and more important—type of mentor: a career mentor. A career mentor is a lifelong mentor; your career mentor has years of experience, preferably decades of experience, and works in your “dream career field.” A career mentor will provide career guidance and mentorship over the course of your career journey. When selecting a career mentor, be picky. You should spend at least a few months observing professionals and contemplating “fit” before asking someone to serve as your career mentor.

Here are a few tips to aid you in selecting your career mentor.

1. Look for elevator people.

Elevator people are defined as people who bring you up, while basement people bring you down. This trait is especially important in mentors. When you’re asking someone for advice and guidance, you don’t want to leave every conversation feeling controlled, manipulated, deflated, or picked apart. Not only does that type of relationship sound very unhealthy, but it’s also completely unproductive. Seek out a career mentor who lifts others up. Is the mentor you’re considering territorial with her ideas? Does she appear jealous when you discuss something you’re working on that’s exciting to you? Move on and consider option B.

2. Go for the “gel.”

Can you completely relax when talking to your career mentor? This doesn’t mean you need to think of your career mentor as a peer; she’s not. You should have a great amount of respect for your career mentor.  Competent communication is defined as communication that is both effective and appropriate. Of course you want to interact with your mentor with an appropriate level of respect; you won’t talk to your mentor about the party you hosted Saturday night or your conflict with your boyfriend. You discuss those matters with your personal friends.

But it is crucial to select a career mentor you “gel” with. Can you be honest about your career goals, or do you feel intimidated to discuss the future? Are you afraid your career mentor will laugh at your dreams? When you make mistakes at work (and don’t worry—every new entry-level employee makes mistakes), do you feel comfortable confessing those mistakes to your career mentor and seeking advice about how to overcome them? If not, you probably need to consider seeking out a new career mentor.

3. Find a great listener.

Motivational speakers may seem inspiring when you meet them, but remember when seeking a career mentor, you must find someone who can listen as much as she talks. You’re going to come up against obstacles over the course of your career journey, and it’s important that your career mentor listen well (without placing judgment). Only excellent listeners can offer excellent feedback and suggestions. Great career mentoring relationships tend to look alike—be sure yours matches up.

4. Reflect on your feelings.

Always reflect on your feelings after spending time with potential career mentors. Weigh pros and cons, make lists, and attempt to make a clear-headed decision before selecting a career mentor, certainly. But at the end of the day, relationships like this must be based at least partly on gut instinct. After going to lunch with your career mentor, do you feel better or worse? When you have a phone conversation, do you feel more positive or disheartened? Do you feel more motivated to go back to work and to try to reach your goals, or do you feel like taking the day off after talking to your mentor?

5. Don’t discount your feelings before you make the final decision about asking someone to serve as your mentor.

Lastly, when you decide to ask someone to serve as your career mentor, be gracious and grateful. Your career mentor is doing you a huge favor and will likely invest hours—if not days—of her life in yours. Mine has.

For more advice about starting your first full-time job off right, read our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Posted May 03, 2016 by

5 onboarding tips for recent grads

So you just landed your first entry-level job and are graduating from college soon. Congratulations! You’re completing two major milestones simultaneously. After you celebrate, settle in, watch this short video hosted by Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, and read this brief article before showing up for your first day of work.

What is “onboarding?” Why should you care about it? And how should you prepare for it?

According to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), onboarding is “the process by which new hires get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their jobs quickly and smoothly, and learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization.” Thankfully, most companies no longer have a sink-or-swim mentality regarding new employees. They have recognized the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training new employees, and they want to retain top candidates. In order to do so, they attempt to help new hires transition into the workplace as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

That’s the good news for you as a new employee.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have a part to play in the onboarding process, though. Here are five quick tips to ease the transition from recent grad to entry-level employee.


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1. Onboarding is a two-way street.

When you’re a new entry-level employee, you’ll have a reasonable amount of jitters on your first day of work (and beyond). You’ll feel concerned about what to wear, who to talk to, and how to behave during meetings. This is totally normal.

But if it eases your mind, just remember that onboarding—the process of acclimation—is a two-way street. Your employer is just as concerned about making a great first impression on YOU as you are about making a great first impression on her. Does your new employer treat you well on your first day? Did your new coworkers greet you or ignore you? Did your supervisor have materials and office supplies waiting for you, or did you have to wait for three days for a computer to be set up? These might seem like minor details, but they’re really not. Pay attention to the way you’re treated.

There are many common onboarding mistakes employers make that reflect negatively on the employer and affect their ability to retain great employees (like you!). The way your employer (not just your supervisor, but everyone in the company) treats you speaks volumes about the corporate culture and work environment. This helps you make your decision about whether this company is a good long-term fit for you as an employee.

2. Don’t glaze over during orientation.

Even though orientation at many companies can seem a little dry (okay, ahem, boring), the information covered can actually be important. While the information covered may not be presented in the most entertaining manner, it’s probably information you need to either perform your job well or to function well in the workplace. Either way, attempt to pay attention rather than zone out by playing with apps on your phone. Not only will you appear to be a more engaged employee to your new employer, but you’ll also retain more of the content covered (which might come in handy later when you’re expected to remember it).

3. Stick around during breaks/lunch.

It’s easy to give into the temptation to skip out during breaks or during lunch and dinner invitations, which are totally optional, but that’s when you have the opportunity to truly network with your coworkers and supervisors. Not only will you build genuine working relationships with others, but you’ll also learn more about company culture by attending these “off the record” events. You’ll see people’s true colors and be more likely to enjoy the next day’s “on the record” events if you connect well with your coworkers over dinner the night before.

4. Ask questions.

If you’re sitting through a training session or orientation workshop and feel confused or have a question, speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many new hires often feel too intimidated to ask questions and wind up struggling in the workplace for weeks, or even months, as a result.

If you’re too intimidated to speak up during a large meeting, take notes and ask your supervisor questions later.

5. Get a mentor (or two).

Many companies now provide new employees, particularly recent college graduates, with official mentors. However, you may want to consider seeking out your own mentors. It’s never a bad idea to find one mentor in your company (someone with at least a few years of experience) and another mentor in your “dream” career field. This person might wind up being your career mentor for life, so select someone you truly admire and whose career path you may want to emulate. A career mentor can provide guidance from time to time and advice when times are tough in your career journey. It helps to hear an objective voice and encouraging word from someone you admire.

You’ve already done the tough part of landing a great entry-level job; just continue preparing yourself for those first few months of work as you transition into a brand new employee. You’re going to do a fabulous job.

For more onboarding tips, read our blog and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Posted January 07, 2016 by

Finding your first full-time job after college

Ever felt torn about making plans? I have. Especially as a college student, I felt frozen when making decisions. Small decisions were simple. When selecting pizza toppings (my college boyfriend worked as a Domino’s delivery driver so we often pigged out on the stuff) or choosing whether to hang out in Memphis or St. Louis for the weekend, I could manage. But ask me to plot out the next five years of my life? No thanks.

Maybe you can relate. Let’s pretend it’s May 1, college graduation is the following weekend, and all your friends are making down payments on apartments. They’re gabbing about how they plan to spend their first “real” paychecks at their first “real” jobs, bragging about how they found their first full-time jobs, and your head is buried under a beanbag like an ostrich in the sand.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Duplass/Shutterstock.com

It’s easy to temporarily pretend the world of adulting doesn’t exist.

But it does, of course.

If you’re a senior in college, it’s not really your future career we’re talking about—it’s the now. I know, I know—go ahead and grab the nearest pillow and cover your head for a moment to muffle the ear-piercing panicky scream. Then breathe.

Your future career isn’t really your future career, and you’re already technically an adult. Career planning is an ongoing process, and you’ve already begun working on it whether you realize it or not.

You began the career planning process your first year of college or even earlier in life. During your first few years of college, probably before completing 60 credit hours, you selected a major field of study. You might have met with an academic advisor or career counselor regarding your choice of major/minor and discussed the job outlook (including expected salary range) for your field of study (if not, it’s never too late to do this or to research this information on your own).

If you were super proactive, you might have visited the career services or career development office and sought career counseling advice and services related to resume writing, interview skills, and other valuable information. Or you might have blown this off entirely and thought you’d get to it later. That’s okay—you have one semester left on campus—make the most of it!

Like many students, you probably obtained some form of work experience while in college, either during the academic year or during summer/winter breaks. Whether you worked part-time or full-time, volunteered, or worked as an intern (paid or unpaid), you learned real transferable job skills to list on your resume and discuss in upcoming interviews. Did you know you were investing in your future career while standing over a vat of grease, waiting to pull French fries for 50 hungry customers at lunch? You were. You obtained customer service skills, time management skills, multitasking skills, and team working skills, to name a few. Those 15 hours per week each semester weren’t wasted.

The key at this point in your career journey is to refuse to remain satisfied with where you’re at. You’ve worked your tail off in college. Now’s the time to apply what you’ve learned, both in the classroom and outside the classroom, and begin searching for your first full-time job, one related to your college major, rather than remaining underemployed or unemployed after graduation.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Kotin/Shutterstock.com

I can see you breathing a little more evenly now. See—you’ve already connected several crucial dots on the path to career success.

Follow our blog and let us help you maintain motivation this semester as you begin searching for your first full-time job.