Monday, May 4, 2009

10 Things Employers Say Every College Student Should Know About Getting a Job


At first the students didn't catch on. Then, they saw some of their friends have difficulty landing a job. They noticed that not as many recruiters were coming to campus to talk about available jobs. They began hearing more about people being laid off and losing careers that took decades to build.

Finally, they knew: They were about to graduate and try and get a job in a very, very tough market. The anxiety of being burdened with thousands of dollars in student loans, competing against much more experienced applicants that were flooding the job market and the erosion of many jobs overnight has hit graduating college students hard.

I spoke with many of them recently when I visited my alma mater, Oklahoma State University, as the Paul Miller journalism lecturer. They asked lots of questions about what they can do to improve their chances of landing a job, and I passed along the information I have been receiving from employers.

The key is that it shouldn't just be college seniors who need to be much more proactive in this market. Employers predict it may be tough going for the next couple of years, so sophomores and juniors need to also pay attention.

Here are some tips from employers who regularly recruit and hire college graduates:

1. Work on your personal brand. What makes you unique? How have you committed yourself to a cause or a passion? “You need to get accomplishments under your belt,” says Cathy Chin,employee experience manager for I Love Rewards, a web-based employee rewards and recognition program in Toronto, Ontario.

2. Look the part. "You can always wear a suit to an interview and look OK standing next to someone in jeans," Fuller says. "But not the other way around. Then you've made a faux pas. Dress like you're going to the White House."

3. Step forward. Bob Daugherty, U.S. sourcing leader from PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York, says he was impressed with a student after the young man not only showed up early for a presentation but sat in the front, asked questions, introduced himself and offered a resume after Daugherty’s talk. “The kid was a sophomore,” he says. “This is somebody we want to keep track of.”

4. Do the homework. “The people we hired had great phone interviews showing a lot of personality, poise and confidence. When we narrowed it down to a top 10 to interview in person, they showed up very polished and knew about us and our competitors. They weren’t going to have to be spoon fed if we hired them,” says Sue Fuller, director of talent management for EDL Consulting in Northbrook, Ill..

5. Walk the talk: “We want to see if you’re going to fit in with our company, and that means doing your research and being able to speak intelligently about the subject and our company,” Chin says. “But we’re also watching you when you walk around, from the minute you come into our lobby. Do you look at our awards? Are you nice to the receptionist? We want to see that you’re fully engaged.”

6. Learn to network: All those interviewed agreed that both graduates and undergraduates need to work on networking with other professionals, their faculty and the college career center. Students should strive to not only make these business connections in person, but also through online networking sites such as LinkedIn. A word of warning, however, comes from Fuller regarding some less-than-professional behavior online: “We’re very mindful of how people behave online. We do check. Business is about reputation and relationships, so we’re looking to see how they manage themselves online.”

7. Be yourself. "Our candidates showed up very polished, in suits. They were poised and polite. They were confident. But they showed their personalities and had just such a wonderful appeal because of their demeanor. They didn't have too many expectations, but they were not desperate," Fuller says. "They were there to impress us, but they were also authentic."

8. Working hard matters. Many of the students I spoke with at OSU worried about whether they had the right stuff on their resume. Was an internship necessary? What about extra-curricular activities? What if they had stayed out of school a couple of years to work? How important was a grade point? The employers I spoke with all said the same thing: They want to see students who have put energy and enthusiasm into whatever they were doing. So, being active in a fraternity and campus activities, participating in a college sport, working hard at a job that showed you moved up the ladder, having a terrific grade point, receiving awards -- those things were worth something to an employer.

"I like to see a demonstration of their passion and what they're giving back to their school. I want to see energy and enthusiasm and an ability to develop relationships. Some kids are so focused on getting those internships, but I think a big part of going to school is just enjoying yourself and taking the time to experience different things. Just do something different and enjoy yourself -- diversity makes you unique," Daugherty says.

9. Check the attitude. While there's been much written about the fact that some young workers can made demands about what they want and don't want in a job, the tough times may have changed that scenario. "The pendulum has swung back," Fuller says.

Still, Daugherty says that top graduates still have the "upper hand" when it comes to jobs. "This student body is one of the most talented I've seen," Daugherty says. "They're smart and communicative."

Adds Chin: "Don't be overbearing. Be energized, but don't make it about 'me, me, me.' When you come for an interview, we're watching you from the lobby. Do you look at our awards on the wall? Are you nice to the receptionist? Are you fully engaged and looking around?"

10. Keep the faith. All the employers emphasized that there are still plenty of good jobs available to college graduates, and students should remain hopeful. "There are lots of employers who understand that college graduates don't have a lot of experience. But they want that. They want that ball of clay to mold," Fuller says.

What other suggestions do you have for college graduates looking for jobs?

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Monday, December 3, 2007

M16 Calling Bond...Jane Bond

It's time for Tidbit Tuesday, where I try and find things to make you smile, think or just use as an excuse to avoid thinking about the fact that Britney Spears will be old enough to run for president in less than 10 years. Here goes:


* I'm movin' on up: BusinessWeek.com has released it's first Top 50 list of the best internships for college students. The top three are: PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitee & Touche. This list ranks the leading programs according to data such as pay and the percentage of interns who get full-time jobs, as well as student feedback.
According to the story , "Getting an internship used to mean a 10-week exercise in photocopying, sorting mail, filing, and fetching sandwiches. If you were lucky, there might be a company-wide picnic thrown in. Forget that image. The college internship has become nothing less than a high-stakes tryout to land the perfect first job. Think of it as the job interview that lasts all summer long."

* Life in cyberspace: As the global economy heats up and more of us work with others outside North America, it's important to understand what they're thinking and doing. Here's something to chew over: as more Chinese are exposed to the Internet, they "need not physically immigrate to an unknown country – they are managing life changes from their own homes," reports Trendsspotting.com.
It was found that in comparison to U.S. statistics on digital dependency:
• 61 percent claim they have a parallel life online (US: 13 percent).
• 86 percent report that “I live some of my life online” (US: 42 percent).
• 80 percent agree that “digital technology is an essential part of how I live” (US: 68 percent).
• 25 percent report not feeling OK when they are without internet access for longer than a day (US: 12 percent).
• 42 percent admit they feel sometimes “addicted” to the online life (US: 18 percent).
• 48 percent feel that “things online are more intense than things offline” (US: 12 percent).
• 61 percent report feeling strong emotions prompted by online interactions (US: 47 percent).
• 24 percent feel “more real online than offline” (US: 4 percent).

* No love for Swedish bosses: While Swedes have a reputation of being reserved, a new study shows they'll hug just about anyone except their boss. Nine out of 10 Swedes embrace somebody at least once a week, with women aged 30-44 being the most active huggers, according to the study presented by the Swedish Red Cross.
One-quarter had hugged a work colleague of the same sex, while 14 percent had embraced a co-worker of the opposite gender.
Only 4 percent hugged their boss.
More than 80 percent said it was appropriate to hug a person in mourning, while 55 percent said they would hug a stranger who had just found their wallet.
Sixty percent said hugging a vague acquaintance at a party was not OK.

* Calling all spies: Womenco.com reports that Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6 has opened its doors to a popular radio program, part of its bid to recruit the minorities and female officers it says it needs to spy on the country’s enemies.
MI6 allowed BBC Radio One – a station aimed mainly at young people – to conduct the first ever interviews inside its London headquarters.
The interviews were tightly policed – the MI6 chief of recruitment was referred to by a fake name, while the reporter’s movements inside the building were strictly controlled. The recruiter spoke about Britain’s need for a more diverse bunch of spies.
“People who have a different ethnicity can often go places and do things and meet people that those from a white background can’t,” he said. “There are some places that white males can’t go.”

By the way, Womenco is a new site aimed at women (duh...guess you figured that out from the name), and I've agreed to let them use information from this site that they find helpful.


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