Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nifty not Shifty

I was introduced formally to CareerShift by my former boss and the Director of Career Services at USM, where I earned my graduate degrees.  CareerShift is impressive.  To get access to CareerShift one needs to contact their alma mater's career office to find out if they provide the service.  If they don't I would recommend asking for it because it's well worth it.

CareerShift bills itself as a "job hunting and career management solution" and it lives up to the bill.  After creating a profile the system will begin to provide the user with possible job leads.  These job leads tend to be early in the job search cycle so if the user is paying attention it's possible to be early in the application process - usually a good thing.

If a user is applying to jobs in several different functional areas or industries the system allows the creation of multiple marketing campaigns.  This allows the user to tailor the search for a specific function or industry which makes for a much more effective application.  

I have not used the contact linking service as much as I probably should but the system assists users to find a person or persons to become a contact with the recruiting organization.  I also have not used the integrated calendar much but it looks very useful in helping to plan and coordinate recruitment activities.  This would be very useful to someone who needs to develop a structured and task oriented approach and wants to devise a to-do calendar for applications, follow-ups and scheduling.

CareerShift is a very useful and interesting tool.  I hope that they will continue to add functionality to it as they go forward.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Job Search Cycle

Nothing is more frustrating than having to depend on someone else's timetable.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what job seekers are doing when they begin the process.  Whether it is setting up time to meet with networking contacts or submitting job applications or setting up interview times, job seekers have to adjust to working with these individuals and be open to accommodating them.  If job seekers had it their way, they would set up the schedules at their own convenience and create a job search and application cycle that is convenient for them.  It's not the case though, and that is the reality of the situation.

Now I would like to propose something that may help to lessen the frustration.  First, remember that networking resources are giving of themselves to the job seekers benefit.  I would always suggest that networking should have be a mutual give and take, so think about what you can contribute to the relationship.  But, it will still be necessary to acknowledge that you have asked them to help out and it has to be on their schedule.  I would propose something similar with the job application cycle.  Here are some great opportunities for job seekers to match their background, skills and experiences.  These opportunities are being offered to the job seeker and not the other way around and you are not the only applicant being considered.  So once again, the time frame is set by the one hiring and we need to be compliant with the prospective employer.

A couple of reminders:  First the application cycle is around eight weeks from the time the job is posted until a hire is made. Some research suggests that the earlier you enter the cycle the higher the likelihood of getting an interview.  This should not discourage someone from applying well after the posting date.  Too many jobs have initial applicant pools that are poor, or interviews that do not pan out.  Putting your hat in the ring does not really cost anything.  Secondly stay positive and appreciate the opportunities for what they are. Good things come to those that wait.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Insider's Guide to Effective Campus Recruitment

What works in campus recruitment?  How can recruiters gain more traction with their target audiences on college and university campuses?  Is it possible to "get above" all of the noise that current students are exposed to so that your message gets out?  What messages really work?

Since one area I am exploring to further my career is campus recruitment and because I have worked many years for universities (19) maybe I can provide some insights to help some improve their campus recruitment.  From my work with recruiters I know that campus recruitment is challenging. There are internal constraints, competition with from all directions for student attention, campus branding challenges and competition from recruiters who are after the same applicant pool.  These challenges make it difficult to reach staffing goals.

If I could summarize the characteristics that I have observed associated with successful campus recruitment they break down into just a few categories:

  • Knowledge of post-secondary education and programs in general and specific knowledge of the institutions recruited
  • Campus branding including a clear value proposition
  • Clear communication
  • Continuity and consistency in building relationships

Of the above I think that relationship building is by far the most important and probably the most difficult task.  The organizations who do this well, over time build talent pipelines into their organizations and set up their new hires for success in the long run.

More detailed ideas are found here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Brazenly Refreshing

It is bold, hip, and direct.  It's the blog Brazen Life which is part of a larger organization called Brazen Careerist which I stumbled across several years ago and have been a pretty loyal reader ever since.  First, they implicitly, sometimes explicit, acknowledge that postings about career related matters are generally pedestrian and then they make the effort to come up with unique angles to approach common career questions.  Secondly they don't pull any punches, they are honest and straightforward in their writing style but are still creative enough to get the reader's interest.  Here are actual leads from recent posts:

"You want the perfect life. You want to jump through those hoops, get that glory and actually be happy with the greatest of ease"
A lot of the posts also include some rather deep questions for readers to ask themselves.  As you can see from the second example they do not just classify career-related matters to job searching but cover a wide variety of topics that affect us as "careerists."  Included is advice and commentary on what it means to be "professional," commentary on work-life issues, career growth and social media.  All topical areas that many recent graduates and more than a few experienced professionals need to know about and address in their work lives.

If I were looking for a good place to start with readable, reliable advice and the willingness to ask important questions in learning more about careers, Brazen Life would provide more than a good start.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


A few years ago a young man, Nathan Green had an idea for a career-related website.  It was a challenge to try and find a niche that was not taken but had some upside.  He struck on 2 things:  What if the site "evaluated" someone's profile and attempted to match the individual with jobs or organizations?  Secondly, what if the target was medium to small businesses who sometimes have trouble making recruitment connections to hire the best matches.

What Nathan came up with is Campus2Careers and they have been quite successful. Over the past month or so, I have had the opportunity to use the system more often and have found it to be very user friendly, navigable and pretty accurate in it's matches. If I were a new college graduate or young professional I think that it would match me with a lot more jobs than it has, because they specialize in entry-level positions.  We keep advising young applicants to develop online portfolios and this system has a lot of flexibility to show off accomplishments in a portfolio-like way.  If I were a small or medium sized business looking to hire professionals I would have to pay attention to the system they have created because it seems to work well and quickly narrows down choices based on the information provided by applicants.

They must be doing something right because Campus2Careers was recently acquired by Sure Score and Nathan is a new VP!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Phoning It In

One way to find out what skills that job seekers need is to participate in the process yourself. I have had several phone interviews over the past couple of weeks and have learned a lot from these experiences.  The first thing that strikes me is that they were each stylistically different.  One of the interviews was more of a monologue on the part of the interviewer who went to great length to describe the program and goals.  There was some discussion that was along the lines of some of the immediate tasks that I might take on for the job.

A second phone interview had a single interviewer who was simply doing screening.  Was I still interested? Did I understand the job?  Was the proposed salary OK?  The third type of interview is the one that I have the most familiarity with.  A lead interviewer is joined by several other people in the organization.  They each usually ask one question and they ask for your questions at the end.

One of these team interviews was unusual in that the interviewers were very direct in their expectations. Another one was more genial in that they were trying to get vet me but also sell me on their organization.

Some of the takeaways I have from these experiences:  First of all, as career coaches always say, you have to be prepared. I was over prepared for most of these and knew that I would not get to show everything that I knew but it gave me confidence that I was ready.  One really good question they asked, was my most significant accomplishment in the past year --- I was not ready for that but it's a good example of how in most interviews you get questions you were not expecting.  That question is also good because it has made me reflect on that very thing.

I made the effort to sound confident and knowledgeable.  I was in a location that did not have a lot of background noise and had a good connection.  Doing some research on these organizations ahead of time gave me some good ideas for questions to ask.   I also based some questions on what's current in the field.  For example, career services are under increasing pressure to provide data on outcomes.  Some of my questions revolved around how that looks or the expectations for how that might look for the given organization.

The test of whether any of this pays off is whether I get invited to interview on-site.  I anticipate those experiences will be a bit more of a challenge.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yes Indeed

One thing that has happened over the past few weeks is an opportunity to learn more about what's going on with job boards and job posting systems.  I thought it might be interesting to offer some insights into some of these, a few of which are very interesting in their unique approaches to gathering job seeker data and "finding" possible matches.  This is a step forward, albeit an experimental one, for these services because it goes beyond a much more laborious traditional job search/application process.

Let me be clear, I do not believe that any of these services is the answer to ultimately getting hired.  They are good to very good research tools, but ultimately networking and interviews are the key tools to getting a job offer.

That said, I will give my thoughts on one of the more popular job search sights, Indeed.  Indeed is a job aggregator.  It searches many sites and tries to provide a "one stop" to find all of the jobs that fit the search criteria.  It has a very good advanced search feature that allows you to create saved job searches and automatic emails to matches, etc.  You can sort the results by relevance, although the results that show up sometimes leave me questioning what the system was actually looking for.  You can also sort by date, which is helpful if you're running a saved search and just want to view recent postings.

Indeed generally takes you to the recruiting organization website to do the actual job application.  This is good because the data on responses to applications through third-party websites is not good.  Applications done directly on the recruiting organization website have a somewhat better response rate.

Overall, I like Indeed but it is less targeted and massive in the data that it can provide.  The less targeted something is, the more of a "roulette wheel" effect and the less likely you will get a positive response.