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On-Campus Recruiting

What To Do After Your Internship is Over (Keeping Up Momentum)

This is for those of you who've just completed an internship--or other gig you enjoyed. Find yourself wondering: "What's next?" or "What am I going to do next in a rotten job market?" Train

Take a deep breath: Here are five strategies to make your last experience work for you even if it's over. 

1. Be vocal about your interests for future additional work together--if it is a possibility. If a short term position was a worthwhile experience for you and you areinterested in working for the organization in a full-time capacity, let your supervisor know. Internships can be a major pipeline for full-time hires--even in a down market: in 2008, 36% of all employment offers reported to the National Association of Colleges and Employers were made by companies to former interns.

2. Ask for a written recommendation that you can keep--or better yet--store in a credentials file at your institution so that it can be sent out on your behalf in the future. (Remember that employee transition is relatively common: your supervisor may decide to move on from the company--and you don't want to lose a record of what you've done).

LinkedIn recommendations are also cool.
(If you had an exceptionally good experience, offer to be an "ambassador" for your organization on campus or in speaking with other students. This can keep you "top of mind" for the organization.)

3.  Update your resume and ask your supervisor to help you in describing what you've done. Your supervisor should be able to help you articulate the impact of the concrete tasks you've performed: What was the significance of your work on the organization as a whole?

During my college years, I experienced this first-hand after an internship at a Fortune 500 company that specialized in paper manufacturing. One of my major responsibilities was to edit the corporate phone book. This involved calling company employees all over the world (but mainly in the U.S.) to verify their phone numbers. It wasn't the most exciting project ever, but when it came time to write it up, my supervisor changed my resume description of "verified numbers for company phone book" to "One of two employees responsible for accuracy of information in corporate telecommunications directory for multi-national corporation." Which sounds more impressive to you?

4. Stay in touch. One great way to do this is to follow-up with your previous employer with periodic updates on what you are studying and your interests, as well as by providing information that is of interest to them. For example, if you find an article online or stumble across an item you feel would be of potential interest, forward the URL and let them know that you are thinking of them.

5. Even if the experience was a "dead-end" in terms of potential for future opportunity, reflect on what you've learned: how did the internship help you refine your career goals of what you do and do not want to do? (I once had an internship of one day--I volunteered for a handgun control organization and discovered my job was to read through magazines and maintain a database of gun types. I decided quickly--not for me!)

Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to helping your short-term opportunity "have legs" that will help you progress more rapidly as you start the next phase of your career.

To your success,


Innovation vs Quota: A New Paradigm for Recruiting?

This post is about making cars, but it's more about how the recruiting process works.

In a former life, I was a matchmaker for the automotive industry: I spent time with students who made cars and worked hard to woo employers to recruit them. I learned what a dynamometer does (measuring force or power), observed the power of reverse engineering (always good to start with the end in mind), and why the economic hardships of the "big three" are huge news (there are hundreds of other supplier companies, known as OEMs--or original equipment manufacturers who the trickle down cripples as well). It was a great experience.Dfr

Several years ago, I accompanied a team of these students to the annual Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula Racing Competition in Michigan where they subjected their pride and joy--a car designed and constructed in less than six months--to rigorous review and testing. They had reason to be proud, as they came from a small school with less than 400 students, had no automotive engineering department, and were competing with over 120 entrants, many of whom hailed from engineering meccas such as Georgia Tech, Texas A & M, and Cornell.

To our collective delight, they were one of a handful of teams picked for the design finals--over five hours of exhaustive interviewing by a team of judges (as I recall, it did not end until midnight).

Success came with a price tag: Participating in the design finals meant that they couldn't attend a Big Three recruiting reception. So I struck out on my own to meet the recruiting team and to market my champions. I brought resumes and information on their accomplishments. But the recruiter couldn't have been less interested:

"We have core schools for recruiting, and we only recruit actively at those core schools. For each school, we have a set number of offers that we make based on interviews. On average, we make 10 offers from each school. We also review other applications received online, and we do hire from this pool as well--but generally those decisions are made after we interview on campus."

Translation: Your students don't have much of a chance. (Unless they know someone.)

I worked in Career Services for eight years, and this response was not unusual. But I did find it to be particularly disturbing, especially given at least one of their "core schools" was not participating in the automotive competition, was based in a major metropolitan area, and had very few students interested in moving to Michigan. But, there it was...nonetheless. The impetus was on my students to take creative steps to attract employer attention, otherwise, employment prospects with this employer was unlikely at best. My students finished in the top 20 for the competition.

Today, I'm watching the school I once worked at become a national leader as the "Big Three" company emerges from bankruptcy. I'm proud of the continued strength of Formula Racing on my old campus: Three years ago, the school founded their own hybrid Formula Racing competition. It's been so successful, that Texas A & M no longer competes at the SAE Formula Racing competition--they only participate in the hybrid challenge.

I visited the school recently and saw most recent hybrid car showcased in the lobby. Less than ten miles away, the former showroom for the local dealer of the "Big Three" company is actively enjoying a second life--as a dance studio. "Big Three" dealer didn't even take the logos off the building.

I see a moral for the future of recruiting and automotive innovation here, do you?

The Great GPA Debate

Over on Lindsey Pollak's blog, there's a great debate worth reading on whether GPA matters--and on how to get a great job with a low GPA.

Take a moment and check it out if you have time. If not, here's a brief recap: corporate recruiting programs often use GPA as a filter, but some studies show it matters less than you might think in the long-term. Dan Schawbel suggested that internships and personal branding can go a long way in filling the gaps, another comment by Jun Loayza suggests that effective use of social media and personal branding is good but that we have a long way to go before companies with highly selective recruiting programs view it over GPA.

Here is my response, which I thought you might find relevant to your own career:

I agree with Dan that having strong internship experience can sometimesallow one to trump a candidate who has higher GPA; I also agree with Jun Loayza that social media and personal branding "can’t get you a job with Bain." I’d just add one suggestion to their comments–it is sometimes curiosity and depth of interest that “lands the job.” The job doesn’t always go to the candidate who has the strongest GPA or internship experience, but sometimes goes to the candidate who is the most articulate about the skills they offer and how they meet the needs of the organization at which they are interviewing.

So from that angle, I recommend candidates study companies as if they were writing a research paper–i.e.

From the Company Perspective:
* What do press releases say about new developments and initiatives, or the impact of the economy on the company?
* How is the company performing relative to the industry?
* What are future goals and corporate strategic plans? (i.e. Look for annual reports)

From the Job Perspective:
* What are the responsibilities of the position and how does your background align with the qualifications and job functions?
* What are the *most important* skills you can have in this particular role?
* What do employers need most for success in this position? (Ask someone who works in a similar capacity at another organization/ I once asked an architect what he needed in an entry-level hire and he said, “business skills--because it’s not just about design–we run a business, too.")

If you apply for positions using this perspective and demonstrate that you understand the role and the company, you’ll stand out regardless of GPA because you start out by demonstrating your relevance–and that can go a long way!

Do you have any thoughts and suggestions on how to counteract the low GPA challenge? I'd love to hear them! (And in the interim, I thank Lindsey for her thought provoking post).

To Your Success,

Why the Casual Resume Application Doesn't Work

Frustrated by a stalled search? Here are three scenarios that may sound familiar.

Scenario A: You share your resume with a contact inside a company who promises to distribute it, but nothing ever happens.

Scenario B: You have an amazing conversation with a potential employer--perhaps during a chance encounter, a career fair or an informational interview. You share your resume, and you end on a great note: we'll get back to you.

Scenario C: You really connect with a potential employer, feel like a job opportunity is just perfect--and then are told "great to meet you, we don't want your resume now...Please apply online. (This may feel like the dating equivalent of a handshake after an amazing time.)

You respond to the encounter promptly with an e-mail, then never hear back. After a period of time, you may follow-up again, but again--the loop is never closed.

Your best way to follow-up to any of these situations: Apply online and then let the employer know you've done so.

Here's why this is the case: Employers must follow standard record keeping procedures in keeping with Federal compliance guidelines and EEOC guidelines. As part of this requirement, employers must gather information on all applicants in a standardized way and report on the number of applications received. For many employers (especially any organization that is a Federal contractor), you are not officially counted as an applicant until an online application is received.

Therefore, in sum--you can minimize any potential time or follow-up delays with a potential employer simply by applying online (and then letting a contact know that you have done so!)

To your success!

What the "Best Places to Work" Have in Common

Recently, Business Week announced the winners of their annual "Best Places to Launch a Career" survey, based on the opinions of students, Career Services directors, and employers. In order of popularity, here's the top ten list:

  1. Ernst & Young (Accounting)
  2. Deloitte & Touche (Accounting)
  3. Price Water House Coopers (Accounting)
  4. Goldman Sachs (Investment Banking)
  5. KPMG (Accounting)
  6. Marriott (Hospitality)
  7. Google (Internet)
  8. Lockheed Martin (Manufacturing)
  9. IBM (Technology)
  10. JP Morgan (Investment Banking)

If you are looking to join a formal training program with a multi-national company, the complete list of 50 organizations "to launch" is a great place to start, particularly as the survey provides details on what skills they are seeking (of the top ten, six companies said they were looking for a particular major), as well as starting salaries and information on the availability of management training programs.

When looking at the list, you should know that there are a couple of factors at play here:

  1. All of the organizations on this list have large on-campus recruiting programs (if they didn't, they wouldn't be listed here at all). The positions they recruit for on-campus are often based on their "core business;" they frequently recruit on an "as needed basis" for positions in other functional areas --from human resources to sales and marketing. For these position listings, monitor job boards, schedule informational interviews with alums in the field, and participate in professional association meetings in your field (a great source of potential contacts).
  2. A majority of these companies have a list of target schools at which they actively recruit, your chance of getting hired with one of these companies is greater if you attend one of these schools--and your skills, experience, and interests are aligned with the company's needs as well as the company's specifications. (As a majority of these companies receive many applications, GPA is often a screening factor.) If a company you are interested does not recruit on your campus, seek to grow your contacts at the company through networking and apply online. (Note: Over the years, I've had students get turned down through on-campus recruiting, meet other company representatives at non-school events and, ultimately, get hired!)
  3. Companies who recruit on-campus do so because they are able to anticipate hiring need well in advance and can recruit on-campus to fulfill those needs. If the company experiences a significant financial downturn or change in business strategy, the company can revise their hiring plans. (This doesn't happen often, but it is a possibility.)

Many companies (including the top ten listed here) have active on-campus recruiting programs, and spend significant resources in recruiting new hires. When employers attend career fairs and conduct presentations and interviews on campus, it easy to look at a company and think, "that's the only place for me." The truth of the matter is simple: it may feel like it at the time, but it isn't--you have a lot of options. The bottom-line: even at Ivy League schools, less than 30% of students will ultimately find their first positions through on-campus recruiting programs. This is true for a number of reasons--from supply and demand, to level of student interest.

While it's great to know what companies are said to be the best, what's most important is that you find the place that most suits you--where you are challenged and supported, and where you can further develop your skills while also meeting organizational needs. It may be on the best place of places to work in a national magazine, or it may just be the best place on your own "short list." I challenge you to find your best fit.

To your success!