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Posted August 15, 2016 by

5 things recent grads must do when applying for jobs

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.

Posted May 23, 2016 by

5 tips to manage a stress-free online job search

Women laptop photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Today, most job searches are conducted online. Although some parts of the country will still focus on more personable job searches, the majority of young Americans will be searching for their first entry-level jobs on computers. Online job searches are both convenient and troublesome. Recent graduates no longer have to go to an employment agency’s office or endlessly drop in on various professionals in order to gain employment in a company; rather they can conduct all of their employment research from the comfort of their own homes. On the other hand, potential entry-level employees can be difficult to distinguish from one another because their résumés tend to look similar. On paper, new grads can appear to be one and the same, but in person their different skills, interests, and personalities can shine through. For many employers, the right personality is just as valuable as qualifications on paper. So how can recent grads manage their online job search without becoming entirely overwhelmed?

1) Focus the job search

New grads who have obtained broad degrees such as in business or communications will be able to apply to a diverse range of jobs. However, applying to several different jobs in several different subfields can become stressful very quickly. Job seekers are encouraged to focus their searches on a particular job title (and similar positions) during their online searches. They should start with a subfield they feel passionate about because their excitement for the position (or lack thereof) will shine through and give them a better chance of achieving interviews.

2) Supplement with in-person contacts and connections

Although online job searches are convenient, they are not always successful if conducted without the help of in-person contacts. Former professors and alumni connections are an essential part of a first time job search, and they can provide introductions and tips that can be extremely valuable. An online resume can easily go from the middle of the pile to the top with an introduction or recommendation coming from someone already within the company.

3) Pick a time of day to call it quits

At some point, job seekers have to call it quits, at least for that day. In many cases, recent grads are searching for a job late in the evening after coming home from their part-time college jobs. Job seekers don’t do a great job of proofreading or checking for important details late at night and often send out applications they later wish they could have taken a second look at. The late hours of the evening also come with varying degrees of mental fatigue that result from a full day’s work. Even if job seekers are a few minutes away from finishing an important application, they’re encouraged to proofread the next morning with fresh eyes.

4) Go the extra mile

Because most current applicants don’t reach out in person or on the phone, those who do will get more attention. If there is a number for an HR Manager or department head, applicants should give them a call and introduce themselves or ask any pertinent questions regarding the position. Instead of following up with just an email, follow up with a personable phone call. Applicants who are giving an interview are encouraged to send a handwritten thank-you note that will make them stand out from the crowd.

5) Put a little piece of your personality in each cover letter

Because the hiring manager only learns about applicants from a couple pieces of paper, it’s important their personalities shine through. Most applicants write one cover letter and gear it towards each position. However, an applicant’s skills and passion tend to become apparent when each cover letter is written from scratch. Additionally, it’s important that job seekers write their cover letters at a time of day when they have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It’s also a great idea to ask another person to proofread a cover letter and make sure that it’s personable, professional, and easy to read.

For more help with your online job search, make you way to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

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.

Posted May 02, 2016 by

6 things to do before starting a new job

Welcome on board - businesswoman holding white sign with text in the office courtesy of Shutterstock.com

docstockmedia/Shutterstock.com

It’s the time of year when many college seniors begin thinking about what they will do after graduation. Most students focus on the interview process but may not have thought about what to do when they are offered full-time jobs. It can be both exciting and scary but starting a first professional job is now part of the imminent future. Although many students have worked part-time and participated in internships, starting a full-time job is a different venture. Student life is unique in many ways, so it’s important for soon-to-be graduates to make a few changes before they begin new entry-level jobs.

1) Look the part

College doesn’t have a dress code, but most jobs do. To be taken seriously, it’s a good idea for students to know what most of their colleagues will be wearing. Some offices will require a suit and tie, but most are now business casual. One of the most common mistakes new employees make is showing up to the office in attire that’s too informal.

2) Practice the importance of being prompt

Probably the most undervalued asset new employees can possess is promptness in communication. In addition to being to work on time or early, new employees should learn how important it is to stay in communication with the team. It’s fairly common for college students to forget about emailing professors or their peers because they’re mostly relying on social media to be in touch. However, new employees who don’t respond to a colleague’s or supervisor’s email or phone call will be viewed as unreliable. If something is going to take 24 hours to complete, be sure to send a quick note that communicates this information.

3) Get into a daily routine

College classes can be held at 7:30 in the morning or 10:30 at night, and most students will have significant breaks to work on self-study throughout the day. Most office jobs, however, are from eight to five (although flexible work schedules are becoming more common). It’s important to get into a routine of getting up early and dealing with the morning commute and also having enough down time later in the day to be prepared to do it all again tomorrow.

4) Gather paperwork

Once students graduate and start new jobs, they’ll be very busy adjusting to their new responsibilities. Gather any academic paperwork needed prior to the first day on the job. This can include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, references, networking contacts, or anything else that might be needed in a particular field. Many employers will ask for this paperwork, so it’s better to have it on hand and readily available.

5) Chat with your mentor

It’s a great idea to sit down with a mentor before starting a new job. A mentor will have specific and valuable insight into a particular field and perhaps even a specific company or manager. Take any advice available in order to be successful the first few months of a new career. Mentors can also help ease anxiety and build confidence that can make those first few weeks run smoothly.

6) Get organized

Graduating from college is a huge transition and can leave students feeling their lives are in disarray. Each person’s situation will be different, but it’s important to begin a new job feeling organized. Whether this means settling into a new home, moving across the country, or just getting paperwork in order, an organized lifestyle will help a person be more professional and help them focus on making a great impression in the workplace.

Want more advice for recent graduates going into the workforce? Check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

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.

Posted February 24, 2016 by

Senior year job search: A timeline

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

All of a sudden students are part way through their senior year of college, and employment (or unemployment) is just a few short months away. Students who wait to look for jobs until college is over will generally find they are unemployed or working at a part-time job they don’t like for the entire summer.

Of course, lucky students will have secured positions by the fall, but many will need to search for much longer than that. No two students will have the exact same experience. Employment opportunities vary depending on the field, time of year, and flexibility of the job seeker. Recent graduates who are willing to relocate or consider full-time internships, for example, may have more opportunities than people looking for full-time paid employment in their current city only. To avoid post grad unemployment, it’s good for students to start their job search while they are still in college.

1) First semester senior year

During the first semester of senior year, students are not likely to receive a full-time job offer. Although there are a few high demand fields, most students will be doing preliminary research at this point. Students are encouraged to begin networking with people in their chosen career fields if they haven’t already done so. They can also start investigating which companies hire new graduates and find out if recruiters will be on campus during the year. Additionally, the first semester is a good time to meet with professors or professionals within the field to get information about possible opportunities in the future. Although most companies are not going to give an official interview at this point, they may offer an informational interview. A familiar face is more likely to be hired later on.

2) Beginning of second semester senior year

Once students get to their second semester of their senior year, they can start legitimately looking for jobs. Many companies hiring new graduates will begin their recruitment process at this point knowing their employees can’t start until the beginning of summer. One of the most challenging issues for students at this point is finding a balance between school and the job search. It’s important students devote their full attention to study the week before midterms and finals but still manage to send out applications and meet with recruiters.

Woman filling out application during job search courtesy of Shutterstock.com

pixelheadphoto/Shutterstock.com

3) End of second semester senior year

By the end of the second semester, it’s important students are sending out completed job applications on a regular basis. There is not a magic number but one to two applications per week will serve as a good, minimum goal. In addition to applying for jobs the traditional way, students should be actively networking and refining their resumes. Also, it’s important to tailor each cover letter to a specific position. The human resources department can easily tell who made the effort to read the entire job description and who wrote a standard letter.

4) The summer after graduation

The majority of college seniors will not have secured full-time employment by their graduation date. However, this is when it’s important to stay motivated and get creative. In addition to continuing a full-time job search in a specific field, recent grads should look at viable part-time positions, paid internships, and transition jobs that can help them build their resumes. There are several companies that won’t hire somebody until they have a couple years of experience, so that dream job may be just around the corner. In order to beef up their resumes, recent grads can be creative and have two part-time jobs or look into the possibility of something near their field, if not directly in it.

Looking for more advice on the job search? Go to College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

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.

Posted January 08, 2016 by

5 tips for a successful Skype interview

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Many companies are hiring for remote or part-time positions these days that require some creativity when it comes to the interview process. Many recent graduates will be conducting interviews via phone or Skype. It’s important that applicants keep a few things in mind when conducting a Skype interview so their professionalism and personality can shine through when they ask and answer questions about the position.

1) Technical issues

The first thing to think about when doing to a Skype interview is any technical issues that might occur. First, make sure to get the interviewer’s Skype name prior to the day of the interview and give them yours as well. If you’ve been using a Skype name such as “luv2chill,” which would be appropriate for a college student, it might be time to go ahead and download a new version of Skype with a professional nickname such as “firstname_lastname”. Make sure your internet connection is excellent and Skype with somebody out of town for a few minutes to check your connection speed. There’s nothing more frustrating than having Skype drop the call several times during the interview. It’s also a good idea to have a viable backup plan if Skype isn’t working. Make sure your cell phone is charged and offer to finish the interview by phone if things aren’t working out. Lastly, have a good sense of humor about any technical issues on either end. If the person interviewing you feels comfortable that you can make things work in a difficult situation, it speaks to your abilities as a potential employee.

2)  Lighting and background

When being interviewed via Skype it’s critical to take a look at lighting and background. Many people look eager and fresh faced in real life but may look completely washed out on a little computer screen. It’s important not to look tired or worn out during an interview and also a good idea to deal with this ahead of time. Set up your Skype camera and play around with the lighting in the room you will be using for your interview. Make sure the lighting is even and the background is neutral. The reality is you may be using Skype in your bedroom as this may be the only private place for many new graduates. However, you don’t want the person interviewing you to see your personal items. You can put up a screen or move your desk around until you get a basic neutral background.

3)  Formal vs. informal

Andrey Popov/Shutterstock.com

It’s difficult to determine if a Skype interview will be more or less formal than an in-person interview. Some employers look at a Skype interview as a more casual and convenient way of getting to know someone, whereas other employers view it as the only way they can get in touch with a remote employee who will be working in their home office in another state. Applicants can play off of the vibe given from the hiring manager. Be prepared to have a professional interview similar to an in-person interview in a corporate office when you start. However, if the hiring manager is more relaxed and casual, it’s okay to have a more informal chat and let them get to know your personality.

4)  Keep the conversation flowing

Applicants should be able to keep the conversation flowing over Skype. They won’t have the same social cues they would in an in-person interview because it’ll be difficult to read the interviewer’s body language. Additionally, technical issues including voice and video can make it difficult to have a fluid discussion. Rather than having several awkward pauses practice a few mock interviews over Skype with a friend and figure out professional but friendly ways to fill the conversation. For example, if you’re in your home office in Florida, and the corporate headquarters are in Illinois, chat about the local office, weather, or any kind of small talk that pertains to the job. The point is to keep the interviewer at ease as they may be just as nervous as the applicant.

5)  Create a professional environment

It’s important to create a professional environment inside and out. This means that in addition to looking the part, the surrounding should be appropriate for an interview. Applicants are encouraged to find a quiet setting where they will be entirely uninterrupted by classmates or roommates. The more professional the environment, the more likely the applicant is to display sophistication to an employer and to obtain the position.

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. 

This month, College Recruiter will publish guest articles and other content to assist college students seeking entry-level jobs after graduation or summer internships. Check out “Connecting the dots: Creating a 2016 career action plan.