Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Campus Playbook - What to do if you miss the career fair

As the spring college recruiting season starts to kick into high gear, it got me thinking a bit about two things.  First, are these fairs worth it for students?  And secondly, what do you do if you’re a student who can’t make it....well, here we go.

Are career fairs worth it?  Without a doubt these fairs are worth it if you are a student looking for a job.  Tons of companies and recruiters descend on campus to hire as many students as the’s really a no brainer for you to attend.  If nothing else, it’s great interview practice to talk to so many companies over the course of a few hours.

What do you do if you can’t make it?  Now this is a bit more complicated b/c a lot of companies view career fairs as their primary recruiting vehicle on campus.’ve got to have a plan.  Here is what I’d do....

1) Ask your friends for connections - Chances are you’ve got a friend who attended the fair and met a ton of folks.  Ask them if they don’t mind either sharing names of people they met...or even pass out your resume to a few places for you.  Most companies are hiring for multiple roles so no fear of competition here so your friends should be a great asset.

2)  Ask your professors - Professors are great connections for you.  They have former students that work at great companies and in many cases may have worked in industry before becoming a professor.  They’ll likely be able to connect you with a few alumni too.

3) Go to Career Services or the Alumni Office - Schools have these offices for a use them.  Now, don’t show up expecting a job...go there with a plan.  Ask for company contacts or lists of alumni that have registered themselves with the school.  Basically, these offices should be able to provide you with enough leads to jumpstart your career.

4)  Start Networking via LinkedIn - The sooner you start your LinkedIn profile the better but get that going and start reaching out to folks who might help.  Research companies, groups, alumni associations, anything really that might help you find a cool gig.  There is no such thing as too aggressive when using LinkedIn for a job search

5) Ask your parents - Huh? What?  I bet you didn’t expect this one but it’s true.  You really have no clue who your parents know...sure you know a few of their friends but your parents likely have a big network of folks they can tap for you.....the trick is asking and making sure they realize you need help.  So, suck it up and ask mom/dad for some advice you might be surprised at what comes back.

Hope this helps, missing a college career fair should be fatal to your just have to work a little harder.

Good luck out there, let me know if I can help!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Go Big or Go Home

Kind of a funny blog post this week, some of my old friends will laugh...hopefully my new friends will appreciate learning more about me and take away a few key thoughts on their career search.

A few years ago I stumbled across this movie about this guy Laird Hamilton who’s this crazy “big wave” surfer.  TONS of movies and documentaries have featured him and his crew of surfers.  The thing about them, is that they got stuck and couldn't figure out how to ride bigger and bigger waves.  Until one day, they took it to the next level and started using a jet ski to TOW them onto the waves.  Sounds crazy right?  We’ll it’s hard to even explain it so I’ll let this picture from ESPN speak for me:

Silly stuff.  We’ll...I’m sitting here watching this movie for about the millionth time and it got me thinking.  This dude really took it to the next, what are WE doing to take our jobs to the next level?  A few thoughts on how to take it to the next level.

1) Seek inspiration - Honestly, inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes....find something that inspires you and relay it to your work.  It doesn’t matter how you find inspiration......think outside of the box and draw the parallels.

2)  Talk it out - That’s right, talk it out.  Find a friend who knows nothing about your work and talk through your ideas.  You’ll be surprised at how much it helps.  A totally fresh perspective can change your entire outlook.

3) Take a shot - Everyone gets comfortable, it’s a fact of life.  Every now and again, you’ve got to take a shot.  Launch a new project, get a new job, run a marathon....doesn’t matter what shot.  Just take it
4)  Ask a mentor - By now, you’ve got a mentor or even better a few folks who you trust who you can tap for advice right?  So, when you’re feeling stuck or just looking for that inspiration....ask a mentor for a few tips and with little luck you’ll be on your way.

I’ll have another post later this week, until then, if you’re getting stuck or needing inspiration in your this video and channel your inner Laird....

Friday, February 15, 2013

Required vs Preferred - Getting beyond the job description

I’m a little late this week but really excited to write this post as it’s a request from an old friend but also a REALLY great topic that I think people really struggle with during a job search.

The topic is how do you navigate around having all of the “required” skills an employer looks for versus stressing the skills you do have that are “preferred”.  Figuring out how to do this is the difference between getting a job...and not.  With that, here are a few ways to show off your skills to a potential employer and navigating your way through what they require or prefer.

1)  Customize your resume for the job - Right?  Honestly, why send the same resume to a hundred jobs and see what sticks.  Bad idea jeans (anyone get that reference?).  If you see a job and it looks really cool, write a customized resume that speaks to the description and greatly increases the odds you’ll get an interview.

2) Get the interview, no matter what - Here’s the deal.  Employers get hundreds (even thoughts) of resumes for most roles.  Thinking you’ll apply and magically get an interview? Probably won’t happen.  So, what you need to do is get the interview at all costs.   Find a referral?  Meet someone at a career fair?  Use LinkedIn for a connection?  Do an informational interview?  Whatever, you need to talk to someone, anyone who can help.  Getting yourself to be more than a piece of paper will allow you to get the interview and then answer person.  FTW!

3)  Focus on your skills - Ok, so you've customized your resume and have the interview.  Perfect. Now, when you get asked a question where the answer immediately seems like “no”... you've got to find a way to focus on what you've done and how it relates to the job.  Let me show you and example:

Question - “Jeff, give me an example of when you built a car and how it worked.”
Answer 1 - “Um.....I can’t even change my oil”

Not’s a better try

Answer 2 - “Well, although I've never built a car.  Last summer I did fix my lawn mower engine.  We had an issue with the fuel line and my neighbor and I took it apart and fixed the line.  I think with this experience I’ll be able to pretty quickly come up to speed on fixing cars”

Better right?  Clearly, the goal here is simple. Rather than just seize up and give a one word answer.  You want to take a deep breath and give an answer that shows you've got the core skills that the company is looking for even if you don’t have everything that’s “preferred” or “required” on the job description.

Happy hunting out there this week, ping me if you need any advice and I’ll get back ASAP

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Don't fill the role, hire the talent

Ok, this blog is a request from a friend....and honestly, these are usually my favorite blogs to write.  The do you balance the urge (and need frankly) to hire great talent as opposed to hiring the great resume.  This is one of those age old topics and honestly, I think separates a great company or team from a crappy one.  Let me explain the two schools of thought on this:

“Hire the Position” - some may call this old school, or whatever....the idea is that you have an open req and you look to fill that req.  Looking for 3-5 years experience?  Great, don’t deviate from the plan and look for someone who can fill that slot on your team.  

“Hire the Talent” - I guess this is new school?  It’s basically the opposite, you try to find the best talent you can and evolve your team around that talent.  For a sports analogy it’s “find the best available athlete”.

Make sense?

Awesome, here’s my take.  In order to build a great team you have to look beyond the resume and trust the raw skills...aka hire the best available athlete.  Honestly, it’s a no brainer.  In today’s workplace things change so quickly that the “role” is likely outdated six months after the person why bother?  True story, I’ve been involved in a few searches in my career where we say we want “X, Y and Z” in a candidate.  Invariably, what happens is we realize that X is a product of their environment, Y is something that you can’t learn and Z is something you need to learn set match, you’ll never find a perfect fit and you have to start looking for the best person you can.

Amazing leaders identify great talent and then evolve their team to maximize that persons skills....and then....ahem!  And then those great leaders coach, mentor and grow the talent so that their skills/experience actually matches their potential.

That’s about it, next time you’re looking to fill a role on your team try to look beyond the job description and focus a bit more on hiring the best person you me, you’ll be happy you did.