• Latest rules for resume writing from career consultant Joanne Meehl [video]

    March 24, 2017 by

     

    Joanne Meehl knows the rules resume writing and has excellent advice. She is president and primary Job Coach & Career Consultant at Joanne Meehl Career Services.  Today Joanne shared her insight with College Recruiter, and you can scroll down to watch a video of our discussion. This is Part 1 of 2 of Joanne’s resume writing tips. A week from now Joanne will join us again to share more about applicant tracking systems and common mistakes that college students make when writing a resume.

    Joanne is part of College Recruiter’s Panel of Experts, which is made up of professionals around the country with top notch advice for recruiters and HR professionals, or for entry level job seekers.

    When writing your resume, you should know a few solid rules

    1. Think of your resume as a database, not a regular document. It’s not a term paper with a beginning, middle and end. It’s like a database that holds your all projects and experience. From your database, you pull out the skills and experience that fit every job you to apply to. In other words, have a template or master copy, and customize it for every employer you send it to.
    2. You should repeat key words that you find in the job posting, whether a human or a machine ends up reading it. (Joanne will talk more about the machines that read your resumes in Part 2.)
    3. Talk about what you can DO, not what you have learned. This means you should unpaid work too. Volunteering at your church or community definitely counts as good experience. Wherever your experience, you are likely to pick up skills that you can apply to another job. (Volunteering is also an answer to job seekers who are frustrated by being turned down for not having experience!)
    4. Joanne suggests that entry-level job seekers could be more assertive. “Step up and be aggressive about it.” Ask an employer not just once, but twice. If they liked you but end up hiring someone else, go back and learn more. Ask to meet someone who works there to network and become familiar with their culture and possible future openings.
    5. Review it! When you’re done with each draft, can you look at it and say, “I can tell what this person can DO for me”? If you can’t tell, you need to figure out how to answer that question throughout your whole resume.

    Why is it so important to tailor my resume for each job or internship I apply to?

    Doing so greatly increases the chances a recruiter (or an applicant tracking system) will pick out your resume from the huge database of applicants. And when you’re picked out, that increases the chance you’ll be called for an interview.

    You must tailor your resume every time. Recruiters are extremely busy, so your resume has to speak to only them, and only that job position. Keep in mind that every employer believes that their job is the most important in the world. If you are not a perceived match for their opening, they will screen you out. Joanne says, “Don’t think that they’re sitting leisurely with a cup of coffee, looking over every resume. They’re not.”

     

    Joanne Meehl career consultantAbout Joanne Meehl, MS, IJCDC, CPPA: Joanne talks directly with hiring managers, internal and external recruiters, and HR directors about what they want. She listens, and makes it her business to get the latest, right from the source. She then translates this knowledge into guidance for my clients, including entry-level job seekers. Learn more about Joanne’s career consulting services at www.joannemeehlcareerservices.com

    Want more tips for the job search? Stay connected with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • Millennial and Gen Z job seekers: your chance to tell employers what you expect [survey]

    March 22, 2017 by

     

    If you are a Millennial or Gen Z job seeker, do you have a dream job? What makes that job so appealing? Do you make a lot of money in your dream? Do you work from home or have office friends around you? What potential employers attract you? What turns you off?

    Many employers are still grappling with changes and demands that the Millennial generation brought to the workforce. Now Gen Z job seekers are about to enter the workforce, and it goes without saying that employers may not be ready for them. Help employers understand what you want and how to brand themselves well by telling them who you are and what you expect from employers.  One way to make your voice heard is to participate in this SURVEY:

    What do you expect from employers who want to hire you?

    Every survey participant will be entered into a contest to win a complimentary resume consultation and revision session with Career Coach Bethany Wallace. You will also be entered to win one of 50 $5 Starbuck gift cards.

    This survey will help companies help you

    Transitioning from college student to employee is tough. If you don’t have much experience in the “real” world, it is hard to imagine what is expected of you. Increasingly, companies recognize that their people are their greatest asset and they want to help entry-level employees make that transition during the training and onboarding process. However, without vital feedback from Millennial and Gen Z job seekers, your new employer (meaning, the Human Resources manager, your supervisor or the CEO) won’t know what you expect. If they don’t understand how to welcome your generation into the workforce, or develop your skills, there will be culture shock and disappointment on both sides.

    After compiling survey results from respondents like you, The WorkPlace Group and its constituents plan to share the findings with employers as they plan their college recruitment and onboarding processes. They will publish the results in an e-book, in various news articles, and at conferences and webinars.

    If you provide honest feedback, employers will be better prepared to meet your needs. It takes time to develop new strategies for employee engagement, benefits and salary, training and management. Your feedback will give them time to adjust.

    What’s in the survey

    The survey is meant to determine what attracts you to certain companies while searching for a job. According to Bethany Wallace, who collaborated in developing the survey, “We genuinely want to hear from college students and recent grads about what makes them more or less likely to pursue employment with a particular employer.” The survey asks about what engages you during the application and hiring process and what makes you more likely to accept a job offer.

    If you take the survey, give honest feedback. “We expect some surprises,” says Wallace.

    As a teaser, here are a few questions from the survey:

    • Which employer benefits matter most to you?
    • What most impresses you about an employer and their recruiting process?
    • Should employers keep asking about your salary expectations?

    Who developed the survey

    The WorkPlace Group developed this survey with collaboration from Lyon College and Rutgers University.

    Specifically, collaborators include:

    Dr. Steven Lindner, Executive Partner, The WorkPlace Group

    Dr. Domniki Demetriadou, Director and Partner, The WorkPlace Group

    Bethany Wallace, Adjunct English Faculty, Lyon College

    Sid Seligman, JD, Human Research Management Faculty, Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations

    Len Garrison, Manager, Career Services, Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations

     

    Want to keep on top of job search advice? Connect with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • Ask Matt: Why your resume isn’t getting noticed – and how to fix it

    March 09, 2017 by

    Dear Matt:  I’m a recent college graduate who is struggling to get interviews. I have sent in over 30 resumes and applications but haven’t received one call for an interview. What am I doing wrong?

    Matt: I still remember the very first resume I ever sent after graduating from college. I applied for a research position with a local business publication. I never got a call. And I know exactly why. In fact, I am 100 percent certain the person never read past the first sentence of my resume. Why?

    Because my opening statement included this language: “Seeking entry-level opportunity that will help me advance my career.”

    What’s wrong with that?

    Lots.

    First, it made it about me. I get it. You are excited. You worked hard to graduate from college and are now eager to start your career. But if you learn one thing from this article learn this:

    A resume is never about you!

    How so? Isn’t a resume my career biography? The document that tells employers why they should hire me?

    Wrong!

    Why?

    A resume is not about you. It’s also not a career biography. It’s a marketing document that quickly tells the employer that you may have the skills and background that fit their needs. For that research position, a more appropriate summary statement should have been:

    Recent college graduate with 3 years of award-winning college newspaper leadership experience seeking opportunity as research coordinator for business publication.

    In that summary I would have showed them:

    1. I had college newspaper experience.
    2. I had leadership experience (resume would show I worked as an assistant editor)
    3. I was part of a team that won a few college newspaper awards.
    4. And that I am directing this resume exactly to this position.

    The reality is this:

    A resume should show that you have skills, experiences and a background that would fit a specific job opening – their job opening! It’s about how you can help the next employer fill their needs and solve their problems. Their problem is they have a job opening. They need someone to fill it. That person, whether it’s you, or someone else, should use the resume to show the employer that you have the skills, achievements and combination of soft and hard skills that would entice them to bring you in for an interview. Then in the interview, the employer can learn more about you, see if you truly are who you say you are, and most of all, find out if you are the right fit for the position, with the team you would be working with, and within the company culture.

    The second thing to remember is this: The resume doesn’t get you hired. It does though, help you get you an interview.

    Continue Reading

  • Recruitment marketing across social media: Best practices

    March 08, 2017 by

     

    Many employers have embraced recruitment marketing across social media. Here we’d like to share best practices and answer common questions.

    If college students don’t use Facebook as much anymore, should employers even consider branding on Facebook to reach millennials?

    According to Fluent – a customer acquisition platform – in 2016, 41% of millennials use Facebook every day*. That generation was part of the days when you had to sign up with Facebook using your college email address. While the use of Facebook has since changed, millennials are using it to keep in touch with friends and family, as well as receive news.

    The organic reach of brands on Facebook has been reduced dramatically. Nowadays, you have to “pay if you want to play.” Therefore, companies have to allocate a budget to advertise on this platform. Even though organic reach is almost nonexistent, a company should post regularly (2-3 times a week) when advertising. Here is why:

    If your company is sponsoring posts (ads) and candidates click on these posts, they are sent to a landing page outside of Facebook. But candidates can still visit your company’s Facebook page. If that’s the case, your page has to grab the visitor’s attention. If there is no sign of recent content or content of value, the visitor will not likely take interest in the ad or your company.

    One great thing about advertising on Facebook is how granular companies can target candidates. You can focus on certain universities, majors, graduation date and more. It’s easy and relatively inexpensive to brand your company as an employer to the most relevant audience.

    *Note: That same study shared that the older millennial generation (ages 25-34) use Facebook most in comparison to the younger millennials (ages 18-24). 

    Where else should companies invest in social media marketing?

    Facebook may not be the best channel to use for recruitment if you’re not paying to play, but Instagram and Snapchat are two channels that can support your efforts to reach college students and millennials. These social networks can assist with attracting these candidates because both are all about the visuals. Leverage them for your employer branding efforts and tell your company’s story through videos and photos, but don’t forget about Snapchat Geo-Filters.
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  • Opportunity for growth and variety: Insurance internships

    March 03, 2017 by

     

    As college graduates search for internships, there are many options to consider. One option is an insurance internship. The insurance industry is hiring and should continue for the foreseeable future.

    The growth in the industry is due to several factors.  First, the workforce is aging.  By 2018, more than a quarter of the workforce will be above the age of 55.  This situation is great for college graduates looking to start their career, because most companies have many experienced professionals who can mentor young employees.  In addition, those aging employees will be retiring and their leadership positions will open up. The opportunity for growth is there if a recent college grad wants to find a place in the insurance industry and stay for their entire career.

    If you like interacting with people, the insurance industry provides the opportunity to play a critical role in many business owners’ lives. You would help those business owners determine what risks they actually face and then negotiating how best to protect their business can be a juggling act. This will allow you to be able to interact with many businesses from many different industries that allow each day to be different in some way shape or form.

    Do insurance companies typically expect entry-level hires to have internships?

    While it’s typically not required for entry-level employees to have had an insurance internship, it is something many companies really appreciate. Through an internship, you will learn appropriate workplace interpersonal skills, which is key. You can build these skills through an internship in any industry, or through volunteer work. Volunteering at hospitals, social organizations, fraternities or sororities, or fundraising for a cause are all activities places where you can develop the skills you will need to succeed in the insurance industry. Continue Reading

  • Assumptions that hurt hiring practices

    February 24, 2017 by

     

    Hiring assumptions are everywhere. They often reduce the effectiveness of the hiring process. Admittedly, it’s impossible to remove all potential subjectivity and bias from a hiring process. Even as we’ve introduced more technology into recruiting (for example, Applicant Tracking Systems), a human being–a flawed human being–makes the final decision after some person-to-person meetings. A candidate’s dress, speech, overall manner, specific responses to questions, and more can potentially trigger biases and assumptions in even the most level-headed hiring manager. Confirmation bias is hugely powerful psychologically, and we can’t ignore that.

    However, let’s call out some of the biggest hiring assumptions. Perhaps increased awareness can help us to be more vigilant, and minimize the impact of our biases on recruiting and hiring. Some of the most common hiring assumptions include:

    Assumption #1: “The perfect candidate is always out there somewhere!” This is an ideal, but often not the reality. To find the best candidate for a given job, a hiring manager/HR professional needs to understand three different concepts: (1) the work itself, (2) the current composition of the job market for that type of role, and (3) what other jobs in that geography (or remote) are offering. Internally at companies, HR and hiring managers tend to understand (1), but less so (2) and (3). If you need an “agile scrum manager,” and your local market just hired dozens of that role, then when you go to hire, it’s a depleted market. The perfect candidate may not be out there, and it may be better to delay the posting instead of hiring someone short of your needs because of this hiring assumption.

    Assumption #2: Complicated hiring processes weed out less passionate candidates: Many times, companies will create intense early-stage (top of funnel) hiring processes. For example, their candidates must take written tests, complete projects, etc. The theory is logical: having these as mandatory will weed out less-passionate “passive” candidates. Unfortunately, though, this is also a hiring assumption that can backfires. Intensive, jump-through-hoops hiring demands can end up just being barriers, and weed out highly-qualified people, who may simply choose not to apply. Additionally: if your hiring process is very demanding, that might be fine. But please make sure it correlates with competitive compensation at the end. No one wants to prove a skill set 17 times over to then be offered an under-market salary. Continue Reading

  • Mobile job applications: Q&A with the Experts

    February 22, 2017 by

     

    In today’s “Q & A with the Experts”, College Recruiter spoke with Chrissy Toskos, Vice President Campus Recruiting at Prudential FinancialWe asked Chrissy about how much Prudential Financial allows, expects or accommodates mobile job applications. We also are including insight from College Recruiter founder and president Steven Rothberg, who adds a birds-eye view of employers trying to attract entry-level applicants with mobile applications, and how they measure their success. 

    What changes are necessary to make a good mobile job application?

    Chrissy Toskos: Prudential was an early adopter of mobile applications, having introduced it in January 2015 when less than 20% of Fortune 500 companies had this capability. The mobile application was launched with the intent to provide an easier and more modern way for students to apply for internships and full-time positions at Prudential.  We created a student friendly application by reducing the number of fields that the students are asked to complete which resulted in a shorter application and significant increase in applications.

    We eliminated duplicate content and created specific parameters to ensure that the information captured from each candidate is accurate and specific. By tailoring the language and reorganizing the application to the student perspective, we found a significant increase in submissions and accuracy of completed applications.

    Steven Rothberg: Over the past two years, the percentage of traffic to College Recruiter from smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has increased from 15 to 50 percent. The huge and likely permanent increase in the share of traffic coming via mobile versus websites is only exasperating a problem that many employers have.

    Do you notice a difference in quality between non-mobile and mobile job applications? 

    Chrissy Toskos: We have not seen a difference in the quality of applications via mobile device vs non mobile device since the processes mirror one another. After applying via mobile device, students are asked to submit their resume online to fully complete the application process.

    There’s no difference in quality between the mobile and non-mobile versions of the Prudential Application. Both application platforms provide applicants with a user friendly look and feel when searching, applying and submitting an application. The only functional difference is for applicants that need to upload a new resume in that the mobile application will not allow for resume uploads. Therefore, applicants need to save their submissions and later access their account via a non-mobile device to fully complete and submit their application. Once their resume is updated in the system, applicants can apply to jobs with ease via their mobile devices. 

    What challenges come with mobile job applications and how do you respond?

    Chrissy Toskos: We have found that we may have to reach out to candidates with a reminder to upload their resumes after they have applied.  Other than the follow-up this has been a seamless process allowing us to provide a more accessible way for students to apply to positions at Prudential.

    As mentioned above, one of our ongoing challenges is the inability to upload a new resume to their profile. We are currently monitoring the system functionality to solve for this current challenge.

    Steven Rothberg: The majority of employers make little to no effort to accurately and automatically track their sources of candidate traffic, applicants, and hires. Many rely upon candidate self-identification such as “how did you hear about us” drop-down boxes or, even worse, asking candidates during an interview. Studies show that drop-down boxes are very likely to provide inaccurate data, and it is likely that interview stage questions provide even worse data. These employers would be better off collecting no data than collecting data which is that inaccurate.

    Even if the employer is trying to automatically and accurately track their applicant sources, it is very difficult to do so accurately when candidates use mobile devices. One problem is that it is likely they will conduct their initial research on their mobile but then come back hours, days, or even weeks later on a laptop or another device that allows them to upload a resume. Tracking across multiple devices is very difficult and often impossible.

    Another and lesser known problem is that many tracking systems rely upon the use of cookies but those are blocked by mobile apps and many of the most popular mobile browsers such as Safari. Simply put, if your tracking systems rely on cookies, then you aren’t able to accurately track mobile traffic.

     

    Chrissy Toskos

    Chrissy Toskos is the Vice President Campus Recruiting at Prudential Financial. She leads the transformation of Prudential’s multi-faceted campus recruiting strategy to identify and invest in the long-term engagement of top talent while providing innovative practices for building a leadership pipeline for the company. Connect with Chrissy on LinkedIn.

     

     

    Steven RothbergAbout Steven Rothberg: Steven’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident from an early age. Disciplined in fifth grade for selling candy during math class and in college for running a massive fantasy hockey league, Steven managed to channel his passions into something more productive after graduate school. A fully recovered lawyer, Steven founded the business that morphed into College Recruiter and now, as its visionary, helps to create and refine the company’s strategy and leads its business development efforts.

     

    Want to stay on top of other expert advice around college recruitment? Connect with College on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

  • 10 employers that offer tuition assistance for part-time employees

    February 21, 2017 by

     

    It’s no secret that college tuition is expensive. And it’s no secret that student loan debt is an issue because of this. In fact, nearly seven in 10 seniors who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt, with an average of $30,100 per borrower, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.

    But there are surefire ways to lessen student debt load, while gaining valuable job skills and experience at the same time.

    How so?

    By finding a part-time job that offers tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance. As defined by Salary.com, “tuition reimbursement is a contractual arrangement between employer and employee that outlines specific terms under which the employer may pay for the employee’s continuing education.”

    Numerous employers (we list 10 below) offer tuition reimbursement programs for part-time employees. This is an attractive recruiting and retention tool for employers – they help support employee education goals, pay for part of it, and get a educated employee in the process. The employee/college student gets help paying for the cost of college, and is loyal to the company because they invested in their future. It can be a win-win for both.

    But forward-thinking college students should take it a step further. The right part-time job could provide not only tuition reimbursement opportunities, reducing the costs of college, but also a chance to secure an internship with that company, or perhaps, participate in a training program, or learn additional skills beyond what is required in the part-time job. In other words: Take advantage of both the opportunity to earn tuition reimbursement, but also seek ways to learn and add a combination of soft skills, and real-life work experiences that employers will covet, while working this part-time job. Take on new challenges and opportunities. Learn about operations, management, marketing, distribution, merchandising, sales, e-commerce, technology, how the company uses data and analytics, and much more.

    “Students should seek a variety of experiences during their college career-including part-time jobs and internships,” said Mike Caldwell, Director, Business Careers and Employer Development at the Cohen Career Center at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “These opportunities help build skills, networking contacts, and professional experience. Part-time jobs that offer additional benefits, such as tuition assistance, also offer an opportunity for employers to identify and develop prospective talent while helping employee’s complete academic requirements along the way.”

    Ask yourself: What else does this company do that I could learn about, that would add additional skill sets needed for me to succeed in securing an internship or full time job after graduation?

    Below are 10 companies that offer tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance for part-time employees:

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  • It’s crucial for managers to learn to communicate across generations

    January 19, 2017 by

     

    The first thing one needs to realize once they move to a management role is this:

    Your job has changed! Drastically.

    Many people happily take on the title of ‘manager’ while assuming that most of what they will do and be responsible for on a day-to-day basis won’t be all that different, says MacKenzie Kyle, a management consultant and author of The Performance Principle: A Practical Guide to Understanding Motivation in the Modern Workplace. Given that there is limited time each day, and that management responsibilities are their own full-time job, this can result in significant personal stress, working excessive hours as the person attempts to do two jobs, and feeling like he or she has to ‘waste’ time on activities like communication and reporting, which doesn’t produce the same immediate and obvious results as ‘production’ work.

    But, as a manager, it is now a big part of your daily job to effectively facilitate the flow of information. So don’t expect that as a manager you’ll get to avoid those regular status meetings or email updates; instead, you’ll be the driving force behind them.

    “You are moving to a role that includes a significant component of communication,” says Kyle.

    And that means communicating with different personalities, styles, and generations. That in itself is another great challenge all new managers must master. Especially for Millennials trying to communicate and report up across generations, specifically with baby boomers.

    In fact, reporting challenges between generations in the workplace are an offshoot of the Grand Communication Canyon between Baby Boomers and Millennials, says Chris Butsch, author of The Millennial’s Guide to Making Happiness, a positive psychology book for young people driven by humor, science, and stories from Millennials around the world. So what’s driving these generations apart? Well, they both want something the other isn’t providing.

    Millennials want feedback.

    “I’m often asked why we seem to need feedback at every turn, and the answer is quite simple: this is the system we’re used to,” says Butsch. “We’re the most educated generation in America’s history; with over 50% of us holding college degrees. That means more than any generation before us, we’ve spent more time in the education system receiving precise feedback on everything. Even in college, which prepares us for work, we received a percentage score on every deliverable: Here’s what you did right, here’s where you screwed up, 89%, B+.”

    But baby boomers are industrious and often bottom-line driven, says Butsch. So if you are a new manager communicating with a baby boomer follow these guidelines from Butsch when managing the flow of communication in the workplace:

    Imagine this scenario: Yesterday morning, your client asked for something you have no experience in. This afternoon the manager who you report to asks this:

    Haven’t heard from XYZ client in a week- how are things going?

    BAD REPORT: Yesterday morning they asked for something I don’t know much about, so I’m kinda stuck. Could you help?

    This response creates more questions and more work – baby boomers – often senior managers in today’s corporate hierarchy, hate this. Instead, impress them by showing how much work you’ve already done, covering the three bases above:

    GOOD REPORT: (1) Things are well and we’re speeding towards go-live by Monday EOD. I’ve completed 5 of the 7 tasks this week. (2) However, they’ve asked for recommendations for ideal CRM software, and (3) while I’ve thoroughly researched the top 4 options (Pipedrive, Salesforce, Insightly, and Zoho), I don’t feel qualified to make a recommendation without experience. Could you connect me with someone who might have experience in this area?

    The latter response tells them things are going well, you’re on schedule, and you specify precisely where you need help.

    The biggest thing to remember when communicating as a manager, whether it’s with direct reports, or to senior leaders is this, says Butsch: Stop treating everyone the same.

    Butsch references a 75-year-long Harvard study that found the No. 1 indicator of life satisfaction is the quality of our relationships. If you build relationships with the people around you, you’re also building trust, likability, and efficiency between you.

    “Building a working relationship doesn’t necessarily mean being buddy-buddy with everyone; it means understanding them,” says Butsch.

    How can new managers understand the many different personalities and work styles across generations in the workplace? Start by making mental baseball cards, says Butsch. Like this:

    Danielle (hospital director)
    Likes: directness, short meetings, short emails
    Hates: getting lost in details, anyone who’s late

    Kyle (scheduling software analyst)
    Likes: positive feedback, 1-1 attention, clear walkthroughs
    Hates: feeling lost, going too long without feedback

    So if communicating with Danielle and Kyle, Butsch would spend an hour walking Kyle through a new workflow, then fire Danielle a 1-sentence email letting her know that the scheduling software is on track.

    As you build these relationships, and start to understand each person’s own unique style – and quirks – you’ll simply enjoy working with more people, and will also build trust with them, meaning you’ll feel more comfortable asking for favors or support in times of need, adds Butsch.

    The reality of the job of manager is often different than expectations, and a large number of people don’t find the activities of being a manager – all the communication, supporting other people to do the actual work while dealing with many of their problems, rewarding, says Kyle. But the manager’s role is to coordinate and support the production work (not to do it) and this requires significant time spent simply communicating with the members of the team. Learning how to communicate successfully with different personalities and across generations is a big factor in one’s success as a manager.

    Are you ready to make that change? Then you’re ready to succeed as a first-time manager.

    Want more management tips and career advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • Reference checking: Secrets employers won’t tell recent college graduates revealed

    December 06, 2016 by
    Business woman unhappy with resumes of applicants and throwing them on the table courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Milles Studio/Shutterstock.com

    References – job seekers submitting them – and employers checking them – seems like a simple process. Unfortunately for the recent college grad embarking on that first or second job, the reference checking process is anything but simple, and clear.

    Why? Because just because a job seeker submits a list of references, it doesn’t mean those are the references employers will contact. In fact, the days of providing three references to employers and expecting those to be the only sources employers check with are long gone, says Chris Dardis, VP of HR Search and Consulting for Versique, a Minneapolis-based search firm. Many employers may not even check the references job seekers submit, and it’s perfectly legal, because a prospective employer does not require permission to check any references. Employers are also relying on new tools and tactics to research potential candidates’ backgrounds.

    “Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the first place hiring managers tend to explore candidate information,” says Dardis. “Whether you think it’s right or wrong, potential candidates need to be aware of the brand they are displaying on the Internet.”

    Jeff Shane, spokesperson for Allison & Taylor Inc., an employment verification and reference checking firm, agrees.

    “Don’t assume that employers will only check with human resources or your former supervisor for reference purposes,” says Shane. “Employers are increasingly scrutinizing less-traditional references such as peers and co-workers.”

    Employers also use tools like Checkster, to conduct the legwork on reference check gathering, says Dardis. Checkster is a tool that provides hiring managers with quantifiable data on the hire-ability of the potential candidate. Employers also use their own network and conduct what is known as “backdoor reference checks.” Hiring managers learn about the candidate’s previous employers, identify where they have connections and call around within their network to simply inquire about their reputation – all of this being done without the candidates knowledge.

    “These days, it doesn’t necessarily matter what your official references are saying,” says Dardis. “What matters is the kind of reputation you are leaving in the marketplace.”

    So how can recent college grads be sure they are providing references the right way, and that backdoor reference checks won’t hurt them? Follow these tips from Lynne Martin, Executive Director of San Francisco-based Students Rising Above, an award-winning nonprofit that helps low-income, first-generation students get into – and more importantly graduate – college The organization also offers their free, online College2Careers Hub which offers personalized assistance via online advisors that provide real-time answers and support on such themes as reference advice.

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