Recruiting In 3D

How not to do a job fair – Yes, YOU.

Ok, so after the last of the fall job fairs ended today, I really had to just take a deep breath. And, finish that last drink of beer here in the airport (What, a guy can’t imbibe after a long day of repeating the same phrase 647,…no, 648 times? I also decided to craft a list, a dummy-proof list of things to do AND not to do/say/spew at a job fair. Yes, I’m an equal opportunity whiner.

1. Have your resume with you. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to picture your resume in my mind’s eye like before the first time I went to Disney and pictured Space Mountain.
2. Research us a bit. Give me 1 sentence that tells me you have internet access and had the sense to show some (even feigning) interest in us.
3. Dress the part. It’s not an interview, but remember, I’m half-deciding if you are someone I want to interview.
4. Have a smile, and a story about who you are, and why you are a person I want to know. Half of all communication is non-verbal, and a smile says, “HI! How are you today?”
5. Know what you are looking for. Telling me that you majored in Marketing because you like marketing, or IT because you want to work with computers is redundant.

1. Invade my personal space. I can hear you from 12 inches away. (Caveat – DO talk loud enough for me to hear you from 12 inches away.
2. Recite a pre-rehearsed speech that tells me about every project, skill, tool, building you ever worked in or on. That’s why you have a resume. All this tells me is that you have no ability to quickly and concisely disseminate information to another person.
3. Be combative when I tell you that Astrophysical Material Science is related to our business, and I am wrong. Remember, I am the keeper of the keys/resumes. (wow twice in one week I pulled Astrophysic-somethin, BONUS POINTS)
4. Ask what our company does. Check the Interwebs.
5. Have a resume that looks like my 14 month old wrote it. Really? REALLY? This applies 100-fold if you are a PhD candidate, unless that is something you’ll learn at the dissertation stage.
6. Go off on a 10 minute diatribe about how I MUST be wrong about immigration and that you are eligible. I play by the rules set by the lawyers, not make ‘em. I could have lied to you, but I gave you the straight story on why.

Job fairs suck. We all know this. On our side of the table, we stand for 5-7 hours, repeat the same message, and collect all sorts of germs. On your end, it sucks to be herded like sheep at a pageant. But we can make it easier on both of us by doing things the right way.

Stay tuned for a recruiter’s version of the “million man” promise to candidates.

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Are You Rolling The Dice With College Recruiting?

This is probably the ideal location for me to go on some rant about how great “The Hangover” was this summer, but I’ll do my best to refrain – no guarantees. What I really want to touch on is how your college recruiting program can look a lot like the tables in Vegas. I’m inclined to write about this because: A. I just came back from a trip to Sin City in the last few weeks, where I surprisingly did a minute amount of gambling and B. College Recruiting has begun anew for the 09-10 school year. So, bonus points for me and my circular relevancy.

Vegas Baby! or Maybe State U!

Vegas Baby! or Maybe State U!

So here’s how a great deal of college recruiting goes: Company signs up for fair. Company goes to fair, yaks up company, collects resumes. Company holds PowerPoint slide show, branding extravaganza (Also known as Information Session).Company parses through resumes, and selects on-campus interviews. Company selects 2nd round (maybe 3rd round, as well) interviews. Company makes offer, student accepts (some decline). Company hires candidate.

What has the company gotten? Well, potentially a dud. Maybe someone who does not work out, who perhaps interviewed well. But potentially they get a rock star, a motivated, and successful hire. Hopefully more of the latter, but all of those people have a common trait. They came to the company – all of them. Not Vice Versa. So I liken this to gambling because you aren’t you really playing the odds every time you go through the process like this? Wouldn’t you be better served going after more students aggressively? Certainly, there is still going to be a cross-section of candidates who came to you, but why not reduce the need for relying on chance?

Equate this to another scenario: Plan and pay for Vegas trip. Get to Vegas, yak up dealers, friends, and anyone willing to listen. Spend money to play cards, dice or vice of choice. Spend more money if you lose. Potentially come home with a bit more cash or much less than you went with. Same Same.

There are many things that a company can do in order to make their brand better known, and to reach students before they even hit a job fair, and to be on the top of their mind.

  • Career Services gets a bad rap as a place where you don’t get much accomplished in trying to get connected to academia, or getting directly to students. And really, that’s not the primary function of their job at all universities. But if they are used correctly, as more of a conduit, than the end game. They can provide you with information about student groups, and groups, clubs or societies that are part of a major/school. They can provide information for you, and generally are happy to do so, if you are not walking in there and asking for a list of students that “are looking for jobs”.
  • You can contact many of the groups etc. and find out when they have events that you can sponsor. This might be a dinner, or awards event, or even guest speaker. These students are happy to help. The money they may or may not get donated helps. But hey, this is college recruiting, and it takes money to make money, right? They are also going to help you with finding out about small-scale fairs for students in their disciplines. These typically have fewer, but more targeted attendees.
  • You must kill the information session. In fact, it’s already dead, so you’ve saved time. Whatever is going to be provided in the “branding extravaganza” they can get in 15 minutes online, and…they like it that way. In this regard, faculty can be helpful. They want to get exposure for their students. Their students getting jobs is good business for them. But you’ve got to have something compelling to go in with that isn’t a “Rah-Rah” speech. If you can get candidates interested in your industry, you can get them interested in you. Remember that, and you’ll have some interesting stuff to deliver to them.
  • Finally, and most importantly, you have to stick to what you say you’ll do. There’s a big reason most students are mistrusting of the current process as it stands – many in our profession don’t keep their word. When we say that we want to stay in touch with them through the year (maybe they are a junior who already has an internship, or a sophomore we cannot use just yet) we need to do so. When we say that we’ll be contacting candidates back in 2-3 weeks, we need to do so. Or at the very least, let them know that you’ll be contacting back students who were selected, by “x” date. At least they know, that if “x” date comes and there is no word from you, then they have their answer.

Now, I will say that there are exceptions to these rules – we all know that there are certain……let’s call them Big Boys, who can just show up, and people will flock, they have all the connections they need at the school to get the best 5-10 candidates from each discipline (again, money helps A LOT with these issues). And they can just play the same old notes and get what they need, what with all their cool t-shirts and all (They actually are quite witty, to be frank). But let’s face it, we’re not all companies the size of a 3rd world country, and aren’t all afforded that luxury.

So, are you going to be the active hunter, trying to seek out the people you want at your company, or do you want to roll the dice, and see if your number eventually comes up?

PS – I couldn’t resist. The Hangover WAS a great movie. I’m sure many a bachelor party was scratched due to it’s release, and many a reminiscent moment was had around the country. Go see it, or get it on that Netflix queue.

Don't build relationships and networks, and it's all a gamble.

Don't build relationships and networks, and it's all a gamble.

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