• How entry-level assistant jobs can lead to long-term career success

    June 15, 2017 by

     

    Recent college grads seeking the opportunity to develop a wide variety of job related skills can do so by pursuing entry-level assistant jobs.

    That’s what Amanda Ponzar did in her first job as an administrative assistant.

    “It taught me business skills, computer skills, organization, project management, and how to work with others,” said Ponzar, who is now the Chief Marketing Officer of Community Health Charities, an Alexandria, VA-based non-profit federation that raises awareness and funds through workplace campaigns and strategic partnerships.

    From that job, Ponzar moved to a marketing assistant role with the Franklin Mint, a worldwide provider of fine art and collectibles.

    “I learned about marketing and advertising, and demonstrated curiosity, competence, dependability, and initiative, so I was soon asked to edit management letters and collateral marketing materials, and then was recommended by my colleagues for a copywriter job at The Franklin Mint’s in-house ad agency,” said Ponzar.

    That is when Ponzar’s career took off. She moved into advertising copywriter and marketing management roles, went back to school to earn a Master’s Degree in advertising and marketing, and is now a CMO of a non-profit.

    She credits her varied experiences as an assistant for her career growth and success.

    “I wouldn’t be where I am today without those first entry-level jobs as an assistant that helped me define my career path,” said Ponzar.

    College students, and recent college grads should consider assistant jobs as a way to get their foot in a door at a company they would like to work with, or to build important job skills. While most college grads don’t get a degree aspiring to be an assistant, think long-term. Assistant jobs help provide a paycheck to start paying off school loans or debt (and help achieve financial independence to not live at home), and/or provide real world experience and a chance to build important job skills. In addition, it’s a great opportunity for the recent college grad considering grad school to gain work experience before taking the next step of their career. Many assistants could also work with companies as they pursue advanced educational opportunities – and maybe the employer will also help pay for it through tuition reimbursement programs. Building a variety of marketable skills is important, and assistant jobs provide a great opportunity to do just that.

    Assistants have unique opportunities to be exposed to all facets of a business, says Brandi Britton, District President of OfficeTeam, a leader in the placement of highly skilled office and administrative professionals into administrative assistant and front office jobs. Assistant jobs are in demand at small and large companies, non-profits, startups, Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley firms. Companies like Google, Facebook, and other leading tech firms all succeed because of good assistants.

    “Entry-level assistant can learn valuable technology skills from constant exposure to Microsoft Office, enterprise resource planning, database management and customer relationship management software,” says Britton. “You may even build experience with social media tools since administrative staff are often tasked with monitoring and managing their company’s accounts.”

    Recent college grads seeking assistant jobs, whether it be an administrative assistant, marketing assistant, office assistant, personal assistant or executive assistant (which often do take more advanced skills), can also learn these important career skills, says Britton:

    • Time and project management: Assistants often have to keep on top of executives’ schedules as well as project timelines. Let’s not forget that assignments come their way from every direction. That’s why assistants are masters of time and project management, organization, multitasking and adaptability.
    • Continual learning opportunities: You become well-rounded because you’re able to work on a variety of tasks – everything from event coordination to presentation decks. Once you figure out the types of projects you like most, you can hone your skills and consider moving on to a more specialized role in the organization.
    • Budget and negotiation: When you frequently speak with vendors and make purchases on behalf of the company, you quickly become skilled at budgeting and negotiation.
    • Verbal and written communication skills: Assistants are in constant contact with any number of internal and external contacts. If you’re in the role long enough, you’ll develop strong verbal and written communication skills.
    • Specialized skills based on organization/industry: Being an assistant in a specific department or industry exposes you to the day-to-day operations and provides insight into that area’s lingo, processes and technology.
    • Inside company knowledge: You gain knowledge into colleagues’ work styles and the corporate culture, which gives you an advantage at the company if you hope to advance there.

    Alissa Carpenter founded Everything’s Not Ok and That’s OK Coaching after over a decade in higher education. She has advised Millennials and GenZ students at institutions such as The Wharton School and Penn State.

    “As a recent graduate, being a personal assistant can be beneficial to your long term career goals,” says Carpenter. “You have the unique opportunity to work on numerous tasks and learn transferrable skills. You are often on the front line and are able to build relationships and rapport that can provide valuable connections.”

    The three skills organizations believe millennials are lacking can be developed in a personal assistant role, says Carpenter, including:

    • Interpersonal skills: You will be working with people from various levels both in and outside of your organization. You will learn to ask appropriate questions to find the most effective way to complete your tasks at hand and build strategic working relationships.
    • Teamwork: In one of the key positions that is crucial to putting events and tasks together, you will learn how to delegate and how to work with people with varying personalities.
    • Communication skills: As a key point of contact you will quickly learn the most effective ways to communicate with individuals and how people like to receive communications.

    Utilizing a role as an assistant to get where you want to be later in one’s career can really be a asset to entry-level jobs seekers, says Lori Williams, Recruiting Coordinator for College Nannies, Sitters, and Tutors of Edmond, Oklahoma.

    “Not only does it help build credibility and experience on your resume, but the people you often meet in that role can be sourced as references in the future,” says Williams. “You can develop many skills in this role, including project management, event planning, client relations, and administrative duties. All of these skills are transferable into future roles in just about any industry. Being able to develop these skills on the ground floor will help you add a good section to your resume entitled skills or career highlights and you can translate these into the job description for future career goals.”

    Said Ponzar: “Never underestimate an assistant job as a way to get your foot in the door and show what you can do, learn about the company, develop relationships, and new skills.”

    Look for assistant jobs right now on College Recruiter! Want more tips and advice on how to build career and job skills? Then stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • 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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  • 17 strategies that can help you graduate from college debt free

    February 23, 2017 by

     

    College is expensive. And student loan debt is on the rise. While many believe the only way to graduate from college debt free is by receiving an academic or athletic scholarship, there are actually several strategies one can implement to graduate from college debt free – or with much less debt than the average college student graduates with – which is just over $30,000.

    It’s not easy and it could make the path to graduation more challenging, but it can be done. It starts by planning in advance and digging deep to find ways to accomplish this goal.

    “The days of going to college without any real pre-planning or self-evaluation are over,” says Bob LaBombard, retired CEO of GradStaff, a company that helps college students and recent college grads identify where there skills fit in the job force  “It’s just too costly and risky.”

    Consider these facts: More than half of college students change their major at least once. Further, recent data shows that only about 56 percent of students entering college graduate within six years; almost half drop out.

    “Clearly, lack of a clear-cut plan often causes students to waste time, precious tuition dollars and, ultimately, interest in completing a degree,” says LaBombard.

    There are many strategies that can help college students cover the high costs of obtaining a college degree, and if done correctly, graduating debt free. We highlight those strategies here:

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  • Diversity bonuses: do they work?

    November 16, 2016 by

    Employee happy with his bonusCompanies who understand the importance of hiring diverse employees are pouring millions into their Diversity and Inclusion efforts. One such effort is to offer a “diversity bonus” to recruiters or employees who make referrals. The results are mixed. In 2015, Intel started offering $4,000 to employees who refer women or minorities. It may have played a part in their increase in diverse hiring. Facebook tried to incentivize recruiters to recruit more diversity, and it doesn’t seem to be working. A third example isn’t actually a bonus but a mandate. The NFL’s Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for coaching and senior football operation jobs. When they put the policy in place, there were six head coaches of color. Over 12 years, the NFL added 14. This does seem like progress, albeit a bit slow moving.

    Some love the idea of paying out for minority and women candidates. Some say it just doesn’t feel right. If you decide to invest in this approach, make sure to think through the risks and how to do it right.

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  • Biggest networking mistake you can make

    August 26, 2016 by
    Asking photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    For many college students and recent graduates, networking is likely to be part of their job searches. Their success or failure when interacting with recruiters and hiring managers will depend on their approach. While securing internships or entry-level jobs is a priority, college students and recent grads don’t want to come off as too aggressive when asking about career opportunities. Job seekers should not assume that just because they are eager to work that employers will automatically tell them about job opportunities, including those in the hidden job market.

    When networking, students and graduates can inform professionals about who they are and what interests they have. At the same time, they can ask questions to learn more about potential employers and what they have to offer. Marc Prosser, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Fit Small Business, discusses a key mistake to avoid when networking and shares helpful tips for a better experience.

    “The biggest networking mistake is asking people if they know of any open jobs. It’s good to be aggressive and show you’re looking for work. But why should anyone recommend you, especially if they don’t know you or your work ethic?

    The best way to network is showing curiosity about what people do. Ask them and tell them you’d like to learn more about their profession; establish an interest in them. They may recommend you and say “This person is interested in…and may be good for the position.” Asking employers if they’re hiring won’t be as effective as “Hey, what do you do?” Avoid that mistake and you’ll be better at networking.”

    Want to improve your networking skills? Visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Marc Prosser, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Fit Small Business

    Marc Prosser, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Fit Small Business

    Marc Prosser is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Fit Small Business, a site that provides reviews and articles for small business owners. Prior to starting Fit Small Business, Marc was the CMO of FXCM for 10 years. He joined as FXCM’s first employee and grew the company to more than 700 employees.

  • Recruiters’ failure to follow-up hurts networking

    August 22, 2016 by
    Emotional stress, frustration, telephone photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Attending networking events on college campuses is a great way for recruiters and hiring managers to interact with and build relationships with college students. By engaging in conversations with college students, recruiters and hiring managers can find potential candidates for entry-level jobs, internships, or other career opportunities. It is also important to keep in mind that networking is a two-way street. While it is important for students to follow-up with recruiters, recruiters should do the same.

    One mistake some recruiters make is not following up during the hiring process. This can not only create a less impressive candidate experience but can also a company or organization’s reputation. Kevin Fallon, Director of Career Services at Salisbury University (Maryland), discusses the negative effect left on college students when recruiters do not follow up during the hiring process.

    “The single biggest mistake we often see recruiters and hiring managers make during the hiring process is a lack of follow-up or follow-through. College students will come to us and say ‘I never heard back from (recruiter) at (name of company) – Should I follow up with them?’ This lack of following through on communicating with students is damaging to an organization’s brand, and it leaves them with an unfavorable view of the organization. It especially does when you consider the contact management software available today.”

    For more advice on networking, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Kevin Fallon, Director of Career Services at Salisbury University

    Kevin Fallon, Director of Career Services at Salisbury University

    Kevin Fallon serves as the Director of Career Services at Salisbury University (Maryland), where he leads the delivery of career and professional development services to more than 8,000 students enrolled in, as well as alumni from 42 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs in business, education, science and technology, and the liberal arts. Prior to joining Salisbury, Fallon’s 22-year career included talent acquisition and talent development leadership roles with global Fortune organizations such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Accenture, and Bank of America, as well as university career services leadership roles with the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland College Park and Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

  • Networking isn’t all about you

    August 19, 2016 by
    Business photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    How do you handle networking opportunities? Is it a one-way or a two-way street? The mistake you can easily make is that networking is all about you. Because you’re so focused on landing an internship or an entry-level job, no one else seems to matter. Having that perspective is a mistake.

    Networking is about communicating with professionals or other job seekers and building relationships with them. If you’re not just talking but taking the time to listen to someone else, you can learn valuable information to benefit your career. Michael Moradian, Executive Director of HonorSociety.org, explains why networking isn’t all about you and offers good networking tips.

    “We live in a culture obsessed with personal branding, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem occurs when the only thing professionals focus on is themselves. Don’t attend networking events to tell your story alone; focus on listening, as well. After all, networking should be a dialogue, not a monologue.

    It all comes down to authenticity. Are you joining professional groups and meeting people to only serve your career and to be the loudest, most talkative person in the room? If so, you will get nowhere fast.

    Show a genuine interest in meeting new people, sharing ideas, asking questions, and developing strong relationships. Nobody wants to associate with selfish, egotistical blowhards who try controlling every conversation.

    Being authentic also requires gratitude. Many young professionals forget to thank whoever takes time to talk to them. Express how much you appreciate each person’s time and energy. This leaves them with a positive impression of you and solves another common networking mistake, which is failing to follow-up.

    Most people assume their contacts will seek them out on their own. Don’t leave it to chance. Instead, be proactive, and connect online and schedule follow ups with a simple email or a request for a lunch meeting. Take charge, be humble, and maintain a level of professionalism.”

    Find more networking advice on our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Michael Moradian, Executive Director of HonorSociety.org

    Michael Moradian, Executive Director of HonorSociety.org

    Michael Moradian is the Executive Director of HonorSociety.org, an honor society that recognizes academic achievement and provides valuable resources and tools to its members. Connect with Michael and HonorSociety.org on Twitter at @HonorSocietyorg.

  • Absence of genuine networking discourages job seekers

    August 16, 2016 by
    Business photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    As recruiters and hiring managers search for top talent, it is important they understand how to approach potential job candidates. Employers should think about treating candidates the way they would want to be treated when searching for internships or entry-level jobs. Recruiters and hiring managers can’t assume just because they arrive on college campuses that they will make connections. Taking time to speak with college students who attend networking events shows sincere interest in them and create a favorable impression of an employer. Michael Moradian, Executive Director of HonorSociety.org, explains the importance of connecting with candidates in a genuine manner.

    “Networking is a way to build professional relationships on a personal level. But many recruiters fail to connect with potential candidates in a meaningful way. Communication is the most important tool in a recruiter’s toolkit. If you can’t explain expectations and describe opportunities in a clear, straightforward way, candidates will go elsewhere. Job seekers aren’t interested in vague, unclear information. They want to know if an opportunity is right for them so help them see if they can fit into the role.

    It’s easy to spot common offenders when you’re at networking events. Keep an eye out for card spammers, people who throw their business cards around attempting to reach as many people as possible in a short amount of time. This is not just unprofessional; it’s also offensive.

    You can’t build relationships by skimming the surface and trying to get your information in as many pockets as possible. Why would I want to build a trusting relationship with you when you can’t seem to take the time to fully engage with me?

    Instead, start a conversation and express a genuine interest in connecting. Being inauthentic and focusing only on the result is off-putting. Don’t force anything; sometimes, there just isn’t a fit. Express what you can offer and how you can help potential candidates.

    Follow-up if you sense some interest, but don’t be pushy. There is a human side to business, and talented candidates appreciate when they are treated as a person, not a commodity.”

    Want more networking tips? Make your way to our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Michael Moradian, Executive Director of HonorSociety.org

    Michael Moradian, Executive Director of HonorSociety.org

    Michael Moradian is the Executive Director of HonorSociety.org, an honor society that recognizes academic achievement and provides valuable resources and tools to its members. Connect with Michael and HonorSociety.org on Twitter at @HonorSocietyorg.

  • 5 things recent grads must do when applying for jobs

    August 15, 2016 by
    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Many recent graduates are looking for their first professional job now that graduation ceremonies have concluded. This is a scary yet exciting time in a young person’s life and there are tons of potential opportunities in front of them. However, it’s essential for job seekers to do a few things while applying for their first entry-level jobs. Some universities will have career centers that can point students in the right direction before they graduate while others will be left to search through their professional network to look for advice. The job application process can vary greatly from field to field, but either way there are a few universal things recent grads should do to ensure success when looking for jobs.

    1. A positive social media experience

    These days almost every person has a social media profile, or several, that can be a positive or negative representation of themselves. Recent graduates who do not yet have a LinkedIn profile should set one up straightaway and make sure they have a professional photo as well as a list of whatever they have done so far in their career. It’s absolutely okay to provide unpaid internships, volunteer experience, or extracurricular activities done while in college. Additionally, recent grads should make sure their Facebook and Twitter pages convey a professional representation of who they are as a person.

    2. Practice interview skills

    Most job seekers dread the thought of making a mistake at an interview. It’s one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a young person will have, and it doesn’t get much easier as time goes by. As a result, recent grads are encouraged to heavily practice their interview skills until they feel more at ease in the situation. There’s no way around it, the interviewer could decide to give the applicant a chance to start their dream career or pass their resume by. Although it’s great to practice interview skills with family and friends, students are also encouraged to seek the advice of a professional at their university’s career center who can give them constructive criticism. Another alternative is to have an informational interview with somebody in their potential field who can give them honest feedback about their performance.

    3. Answer tough questions with ease

    Complicated and unexpected questions can be very challenging to answer. Although students and recent grads can practice certain universally difficult questions, the reality is they will probably be caught off guard. Students should practice answering questions that may seem ridiculous or off base so they can control their reaction when it comes to the real deal. In many cases, the interviewer just wants to see how a potential employee will react as opposed to focusing on the specific answer to their question.

    4. Be (the best version of) yourself

    It’s really important for applicants to be themselves and let their genuine personality shine through. It’s important for the interviewer to know that the applicant is sincere and would be able to get along with other people in the office environment. However, it doesn’t hurt to be the best version of you. This means dressing nicely, being prompt, being flexible with the interviewer’s schedule, and setting aside the correct amount of time for the interview.

    5. Have a sense of humor about the job application process

    In addition to being pragmatic, recent grads are encouraged to maintain their sense of humor throughout the interview process. In the modern economy it’s quite possible that a highly qualified applicant won’t find and entry level position in their dream field right away. They may end up doing a second internship, working part-time in their field and moonlighting elsewhere, or they may have to keep the job they had when they were a student for a while. As long as students are improving as they go through the process they shouldn’t get too down on themselves. Eventually, most graduates find a good entry level position in their field but keeping a great sense of humor can keep spirits up during this transition.

    Robyn Scott, guest writer

    Robyn Scott, guest writer

    For more job search and interview tips, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    About Robyn Scott, author: Robyn Scott, a guest writer for College Recruiter, is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine, and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

  • Common networking mistakes to avoid

    August 09, 2016 by
    Dishonesty, moral dilemma, liar photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    As college students and recent graduates enter the workforce, they will likely meet people who can assist them with their job searches. When these opportunities arise, job seekers be prepared to take advantage of them. While some job seekers may not be the most outgoing in terms of personality, they can still be effective when networking. However, if students and grads don’t understand how to network, they can hurt their chances of building important relationships that can advance their careers. So as job seekers attend networking events, they must be mindful of what not to do. Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University, highlights common networking mistakes to avoid.

    “Blindly reaching out without knowing basic information about a person, the kind of details usually found through a quick Google or LinkedIn search, is a red flag signaling a bad start to the networking experience. A wishful connection will be less likely to engage if college students or prospective hires don’t bring any background knowledge to the table.

    Expecting a networking connection will “tell me what to do.” Before reaching out, know the information you want. It’s helpful to have an informal script handy. “My name is Sue Smith; I’m a business major and art history minor interested in an entry-level job working in the cosmetic industry in New York. I’m hoping to secure a summer internship. Could you share with me how you got into the industry and any suggestions or recommendations you might have?”

    Thinking the number of connections matters. Networking is about relationships, not numbers. Targeted outreach to people who share common interests makes networking effective. Two people may connect in an unlimited number of ways, such as graduating from the same school, being from the same hometown, choosing a similar academic path, or by an interest in a particular career. Whatever it is, a real connection matters.

    The first outreach is inappropriate or unprofessional. Treat networking opportunities as professional conversations. It’s easier to move from formal to casual than vice-versa. Having good manners and dressing appropriately (which is very different if you’re interested in a career in journalism versus a career on Wall Street) is critical in creating the first impression that builds your reputation.”

    Want to learn more about networking mistakes? Head to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University

    Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University

    With more than 25 years of experience in the private sector, nearly half assisting organizations with recruiting, interviewing, and hiring top talent, Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has an insider’s understanding of what employers are seeking and helping students and recent grads showcase their academic skills and personal experiences. Wake Forest’s one, university-wide employer relations team means Summers has experience with and supports the employment search for students in all academic areas, teaching and empowering them to articulate the value of their education for today’s employers.