What Happened in Vegas…Didn’t Stay in Vegas

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

So it’s official, I’m now a NACE blogger! For those who don’t know me, I manage corporate and campus recruiting activities for MAXIMUS, a professional services firm in Reston, Virginia. I’ve also been a long-time NACE member (for nearly 15 years). After serving on the Board of Directors from 2011-2013, I will soon be the new Vice President, Employer, starting this July.

As I prepare for these new responsibilities (which you’ll be hearing about in the coming months if you follow this blog), I find myself occasionally reminiscing about my early (aka, clueless) years as a NACE member. So join me for a trip down memory lane to my first official NACE event—the 2001 Conference in Las Vegas—and how it impacted my career.

If you’re a newer member, you might not be aware that up until 2001, the NACE conference was an every-three-years event. Thankfully, the NACE leadership team had the strategic vision to change it to an annual conference (more on a couple of these leaders later).

So just how did these three-days in Vegas change the course of my career?

I established new relationships. Back then, I had just finished my first year of recruiting for Citigroup in NYC, and was busy building relationships with several new schools from which I’d never recruited. One of those schools was New York University, whose career center was headed by Trudy Steinfeld (#nyuwasserboss). To get to know her team a little better, I invited Trudy and her staff to join my team for a “refreshment break” on the first afternoon of the trip.

Obviously, we spent a good deal of our time talking about recruiting initiatives, but we also veered off to more social conversations where we immediately hit it off. That first conversation not only established a connection between my employer and NYU, but also created the beginnings of an invaluable friendship. Today, I can count on Trudy for guidance and advice (and the occasional refreshment break).

I met NACE leaders. This conference was my first exposure to the NACE leadership team. As (lady) luck would have it, I met then-NACE President, Kathy Sims from UCLA right after the opening session. She was so welcoming to me, a relatively new member of NACE. [On a side note, having served on the Board of Directors, I now know the President has a crazy conference schedule, so the time she took to get to know me is even more impressive.]

Kathy asked about my background, my goals for the conference, and when I was going to start recruiting at UCLA (naturally)! And, being a great leader that she is, she asked me if I was interested in becoming more involved with NACE. Flash forward 10 years and Kathy was one of my nominators for the Board of Directors and provided me with a ton of advice and encouragement when I decided to run for Vice President. You may be aware that Kathy has announced her retirement from UCLA, so I have many bittersweet feelings as I write this.

I experienced a range of emotions. I remember the gamut of feelings running through me from the start of the opening session all the way to the end of the conference. Nervousness because I didn’t know many other attendees. Confusion over what sessions to attend. Frustration at not being able to remember the names of everyone I met. Awe of all the learning opportunities. Appreciation for the generosity of my peers as they shared their knowledge. And that was all okay because I got so much out of the experience.

Fortunately that year, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. The networking that took place led to relationships that lasted well beyond the initial three-day conference. So whether you are attending this year’s conference for the first time (or second or third or fourth, for that matter), I hope that you will make the most of your experience. Track me down, tweet me at the conference, or just stop to say hello. If you can’t attend this year, start thinking about next year—trust me, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

NACE14 attendees! Register for any of five free webinars based on popular workshops at the conference.

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 4):

Chris Carlson

 

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

I am happy to report that my team has created a new drinking game based on my journey into social recruiting. They have to drink every time I use the word “webinar”.   Webinars have become an obsession of mine as I view them as a way to have virtual engagement and I think serve as a strong vehicle for sharing information. They also allow us to harness the enthusiastic employee base that we have and I have been so thrilled with the willingness our employees to participate in our initiative. I do feel for my team though as several of our team meetings have ended up looking like a TV network program scheduling meeting and I am sure my colleagues racked up quite a large number of drinks (not during work, of course). Part of my obsession comes from the need to address the objectives I discussed in Part 3 of my series and serve as a primary vehicle to address one of the two components of social recruiting that I see as essential.

From my perspective, there are two critical components of building a social recruiting strategy. The first is really about content and how you push your message out there or “branding”. To start down this path, we looked at different components of traditional campus recruiting and discussed how they translate into a virtual world. The content that is developed for the virtual world needs to be both engaging and compelling so that individuals will return time and time again.

That component takes some time to develop as you need to think about

  1. how you feed your message across all the outlets,
  2. how you highlight your employee value proposition, and
  3. how will you enhance the candidate’s experience?

You can’t just tweet: “We have jobs!” or “Hey you! Here is a job for you”. People will get bored with that very quickly. There will be a need to translate the key messaging from your traditional campus information session into virtual messaging and balance that messaging with your technical and functional expertise that you share in classroom presentations or case competitions.

You also have to think about how to touch as many candidates if not more with these messages in quick hits like a career fair and then drive those connections into actual pipeline.  There are a number of companies out there that do a tremendous job with this component and have been doing so for a while so it is important to think about how to set yourself apart. It was this component that led to my team’s new drinking game.

The second component from my perspective is one that many old school recruiters may appreciate—“direct sourcing”. As you may recall, I grew up in recruiting and learned how to start with a list of five names and turn those into a pipeline and this background is the cornerstone of my recruiting philosophy.

I think the sound of directly source to identify talent in the college recruiting world doesn’t always seem like a popular approach with some people for a variety of reasons. However, it is what I know and is always forefront in my mind. I know that I want computer science majors who have internships, so I am going to go after those candidates. There was a time in our team’s past where they wouldn’t let me get a hold of a resume book because they knew I would be contacting candidates into the wee hours of the night and I would be firing off e-mails to the team with candidates who responded with interest.

I truly believe once a recruiter, always a recruiter. So you and I both know that there are candidates out there who don’t want to go to a webinar and for that matter, do not want to go to an in-person career fair, but they are candidates we still want to reach. I guess if you sat in a hallway on campus with some donuts you might reach some of them (I know I ALWAYS stop for a donut), but that is going to require a lot of donuts and a lot of manpower in a lot of hallways.

NACE reported that there are more than twice as many jobs for computer science graduates as there are graduates. So part of our strategy is about direct outreach. I will be honest: we are still reviewing and testing a variety of methods and tools other than me staying awake all night e-mailing every computer science student, and I don’t want to give away too much about some of our thinking around this one. Suffice to say, you have to spend some time thinking about this one.

Looking at how to integrate these two components has kept me up many a night. You are not going to be able to recruit a candidate if you don’t have a compelling employee value proposition or brand. Likewise, you can brand yourself all day long, but you may not ever reach the candidate pool you want without some good old-fashioned direct sourcing. So as I watch a variety of reruns and infomercials late into the night, I sit and wonder how to feed the student’s need to feel engaged if I don’t go to campus. In essence, how do I offer that virtual donut? (Mmmmmmm….donuts) And that, my friends, is our greatest challenge and where I think the greatest transformation within university recruiting is taking place—tapping into the social networks.

Look out for additional entries highlighting my journey into social recruiting. As a reminder, I am presenting on this topic in more detail at #NACE14. Also, if any of you want to connect to share stories or best practices, reach out to me and we can share some virtual donuts. I do like the donuts and the doughnuts.

“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.

Did you miss Christopher Carlson’s first, second, and third installments on his journey into social recruiting? Read them now!

Using Facebook to Easily Connect Students and Employers

Smedstad-Headshot

Shannon Smedstad, Employer Branding & HR Social Media, Geico
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad

Before we jump into the meat of this post, I’ve got a few initial questions for you …

EMPLOYERS: Does your company have a career-related Facebook page?

CAREER CENTERS: Do you have a Facebook page?

BOTH: Could you be doing more with your page?

If you answered “yes” to two out of three of these questions, please keep reading.

Most people know that Facebook is good for sharing photos and status updates. But, what if we could use Facebook as a virtual career fair platform? How exactly would that work?

facebook_logoThe Magic of Facebook for College Recruiting

You can access Facebook from anywhere: desktop, phone, dorm room, or in-between classes. You can chat with an individual or group. You can share information and link to jobs. Some recruiters already use Facebook to connect with job-seeking students.

As the manager of a corporate career page on Facebook, I have now successfully led three virtual career fairs … right on Facebook!

  • June 2013: More than 230 people engaged with recruiters over a two-day virtual career fair. Hires were made!
  • November 2013: We took a more targeted approach and attracted 75 students to our page during a one-day fair. It cost us less than $50.
  • April 2014: Co-hosted a virtual career fair with a collegiate honor society and grew our followers by 3 percent in one day and organic reach was the highest it’s been year-to-date. It’s still too early to know if we’ve made any hires—my fingers are crossed!

Advice and Lessons Learned

When it comes to social media, you have to be willing to take some calculated risks and try new things. Social platforms are designed for real time communication; we just have to be creative in our thinking to create opportunities to do just that.

To me, these Facebook career fairs fall into the low risk/low cost/potential high reward category. It’s all about the planning, promotion, human resources, and execution of the plan, not how much it costs. Here are some of my top tips for anyone interested in hosting your own virtual event:

  • Determine your audience and whether you have any existing partners that will work through this idea with you.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to create a targeted, multi-channel promotional plan.
  • Visual imagery is important in attracting talent and sharing details of the event.
  • Schedule a pre-fair call with the recruiters to talk through what to expect and how you might want to handle certain requests or situations.
  • Make sure that your page (booth) is properly manned during the allotted career fair time, and for a day or two after (questions continue to trickle in).
  • Measure results using Facebook Insights, ATS data, and feedback from the entire team to determine whether the event was successful and worth doing again.

Since our most recent event, we’ve had two student organizations reach out with interest to our team. When you can bring people, technology, and opportunities together for the greater good … it’s a beautiful thing. Thanks, Facebook.

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 2)

Chris Carlson
Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Picture it: NACE 2012, I remember sitting, listening to a panel of my counterparts and experts talking about social media and recruiting, and thinking, “Oh dear, is that right for us?” After that session there was another session and another. Panic soon ensued. I knew how to post pictures on Facebook and I had a LinkedIn page, but I have trouble keeping up with the requests on those as well as my e-mail. How are we going to handle individual engagement with college students from every campus via social media??? After several other sessions, more experts, and more articles, I was even more distressed.

After calming myself down and taking a deep breath, I realized that this is just a change. Change isn’t scary; after all, I am a Change Management Advanced Practitioner. Let’s start at the beginning: Moving into social recruiting, whether as a primary thrust of your strategy or just a component, is going to require change. With any change you need to be able to articulate a “burning platform” or a rationale for the change. Before you build a strategy and pick an approach or even figure out on which social media to be present, it is important for you to determine the “why”.   Phew, ok, I had a starting point. Then, I needed to figure out if this made sense for us.

To start building the case, it was necessary to do an environmental scan to determine the trends across our industry. I began searching the NACE website as well as other related sites to track key trends related to social recruiting and university recruiting. I began to see some interesting data related to how students were identifying positions. A recent survey by Collegerecruiter.com [Agrawal, Sanjeev, “How Companies Can Attract the Best College Talent”, March 17, 2014, Harvard Business Report] quantified that trend when it was noted that the number one source of college students finding a job was through their friends followed closely by job boards. It is becoming clear that social networks may be fueling the job search at the university level. So, I quickly realized that my first goal was to understand how to tap into that social network.

Our team has always reviewed data around majors and schools to identify any specific trends. When we started to review our own data, we quickly started to see some additional emerging trends one of which was somewhat antidotal related to on-campus activities—“where were the seniors in computer science?” We were finding freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in the Fall, but seniors were slowly dwindling. We also saw that competition for talent, overall, was on the rise which was confirmed by NACE data around on-campus activity. We had to make some assumptions based on what we were seeing. We had to assume that more companies were converting their interns and that competition was heating up, especially for technical majors. We made a concerted effort to target our on-campus activities to specific departments and were seeing results. We also knew that we had worked to brand ourselves more in the technical space and again, were seeing results. However, when we looked at projected demand and the current pipeline, it hit us. We realized that we had to strike early and often to reach a highly competitive pool of candidates and we had to cast a much wider net—four, five, or even 10 “core” schools can’t deliver the pipeline that our firm needs anymore. So, how do we sustain and scale that to reach a pipeline that will meet our needs?

We then had to look at our own team, our resources, and our service offerings. Could our “small but mighty team” engage in a new endeavor into the social recruiting world? Do we have to add 10 more schools, and then 10 more schools to build that pipeline? How could we leverage the enthusiastic employee base to our advantage without breaking the bank?

An inventory of our organization, historical demand, our budget, and our team’s competencies was the additional step necessary for us to norm around our “burning platform.”  Clearly we couldn’t replicate our winning on-campus strategy across any additional schools. We would burn out and fail to provide that personal touch that students like.

It was clear: We had to go into the social recruiting space. Our next major step would need to be focused on how to leverage social media to achieve our objectives. (I would encourage you to explore your business case before going into the social space and make sure it is the right path. Do you have a clear understanding of your demand? Make sure you understand how it can enhance your program. If you have a successful on-campus approach and are seeing the results you need, then you may not need to jump into the pool head first. You may want to wade into the water. My team will probably tell you that I more than likely bumped my head on the bottom of the pool when I dove in.)

In the next blog, I will explore how we began to execute and obtain support for our leverage of social media in our program. We are still learning and would love to connect with others to chat more about this—perhaps a networking circle or a Tweet chat. Of course, please come see me @NACE14 where I will be presenting on this topic.

“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.

Did you miss Christopher Carlson’s first installment on his journey into social recruiting? Read it now! Look for Part 3 on May 6!

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting

Chris Carlson
Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Reading regular updates on corporate engagement and investment into social media suggests that it is becoming a critical piece of corporate recruiting strategies.  The influence of social recruiting and media on university recruiting continues to evolve.  Many traditional campus recruiting models are being challenged by new paradigms in means of communication.  Our team has been in the process of evolving our social recruiting strategies for university recruiting, and when asked to contribute to the NACE Blog, I thought it would be appropriate to develop a series of blogs designed to share more about my personal journey into social recruiting.

Let me start the series by sharing a personal perspective.  I hate to confess this, but I learned recruiting in a small office back in the day when recruiting was done by putting an advertisement in a local paper and that was pretty much our only strategy.  We opened the envelopes of those who applied and proceeded to review them, and put them into two piles—qualified and not-qualified.  I still remember counting the months and years of experience on each of the qualified resumes with a red pen for review by the hiring manager and the EEO officer. We thought 150 applicants was a lot.

Over the years, I recruited during the introduction of the Internet and job boards. I still am close with some recruiters who were in the chat room of the original OCC, which became Monster. We went from 150 applicants per  job posting to thousands. They came in from all over the world. Technical recruiting exploded, but it was still contained in the confines of job boards and postings. Throughout this whole period, some things remained constant in university recruiting—posting positions, career fairs, on-campus interviews, meeting professors, and student group meetings. Technology advanced a greater ease in posting as we didn’t have to mail a flyer anymore, but still nothing dramatic happened.

Fast forward to now…every student has a smart phone and/or a tablet. Career services staff leverage social media to keep students informed and even trained. There are apps like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine that allow individuals to communicate instantly and to large numbers of people.  My head whirls sometimes just thinking about it all. Should I be mashing something so I can “mashup?” If I am on Twitter, am I twittering or tweeting, and why am I putting a hashtag in front of everything? Do I have to write in complete sentences?  Who are these people and why do they want to connect with me?

Our team met just over a year ago to review the changing landscape on campuses and within our business. We reviewed our resources, outreach, tools, and historical metrics.  We discussed our challenges and opportunities. We then started to realize that we needed to embrace a remote, social recruiting strategy. We started down that path and are still moving in that direction. Over the coming months I am going to discuss the transition from traditional campus recruiting to embracing this “brave new world.” I will be discussing processes, lessons learned, and best practices.

In true social media fashion, I encourage you to share your stories with me as well. We can mashup together, and I hope you will continue to follow me down my #journey. I will also be presenting at #NACE14 on this topic in more detail.

Everyone Is a Recruiter, best practices on establishing a social recruiting approach that takes into account both internal and external tools and audiences, will be presented by Christopher Carlson and Courtenay Verret, Talent Acquisition Program Associate, American Red Cross.

Read part 2 of Christopher Carlson’s “Journey Into Social Recruiting.”

The Trouble With Job Postings

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Principal, Integrity Search Inc.
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch

Teaching students to navigate and reply effectively to job postings—whether through internal referral systems or external job sites—is a tenet of most career development curricula. There are valuable skills to teach, from developing pointed, persuasive communication to learning to think from an employer’s perspective.

The question is, do these skills go far enough?  Are we preparing today’s emerging graduates to become tomorrow’s passive and complacent  job seekers? The trouble with job postings is that they represent only a snapshot of potential opportunities out there. What’s more, they drive large volumes of traffic to a relative handful of jobs, creating instant and intense competition for every role.

When working in private practice with mid-career job seekers, I encourage them to use the 80/20  rule when it comes to postings. That is, to spend about 20 percent of search time replying to advertised opportunities, and the remaining  80 percent using these postings as a springboard to inform a more pro-active approach.

It’s not too early to give our students the gift of this perspective.  Beyond first-destination landings, it will empower them to propel their efforts beyond the too-frequent black hole of applicant tracking systems designed to weed out rather than invite in.

Here are three ways to help our students look at and leverage job postings to get ahead of the curve:

1) Target employers of interest. Never mind if there’s not a current posting related to a specific area. If this employer is in hiring mode, more relevant roles may develop at any moment. Encourage your students to follow companies on social media, seeking  informal introductions to  internal recruiters. This helps the recruiter as well, who is often measured on metrics such as “time to fill” open roles. Having a talent pipeline for tomorrow’s openings is a strategic advantage—and it allows for informal dialogue before a cast of thousands applies to a specific posting.

2) Looks at what’s trending. On Twitter and beyond, the advertised portion of the job market is a researcher’s paradise! For instance, your students can look for common job titles and descriptive language, even in areas outside of their target geography. This gives them the right vocabulary to use when seeking out networking connections as well as to suggest potential titles and skill areas on their own resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

3) Go for the bold.  Many students already have a dream company in mind when they come to you for help and guidance. Take a tour together of the company’s website and job listings, Twitter feed, LinkedIn page, etc., and help them learn to identify challenges waiting to be solved by a smart, passionate new graduate. Show them how to put this insight to use with existing institutional resources such as alumni networks as well as their own emerging networks. Sometimes it pays to take a risk and reach out to higher-level individuals—it’s an old hiring tenet that you can get referred down the food chain but rarely up!

Have your students tried these techniques?  What are some success stories?

The One Thing Underlying Really Good Career Advice

kevin grubbNACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

How many times during any given year do you say something like the following statements?

  • “At the career fair, make the first move and introduce yourself to the company representatives with a smile and strong handshake.”
  • “It’s a good idea to create and manage a great social media presence online: have you made a LinkedIn profile yet?”
  • “Effective networking is one of the most essential elements to a successful job search. You have to put yourself out there.”

The answer is probably “a zillion.”

These pieces of career advice are frequently mentioned around the web and in career centers across the country. For good reason, too—they’re all important messages for any job seeker to hear. In 2013, I started paying attention to them more, and specifically, the resistance felt from the recipients of this advice. What was it that made some people quick to act on these words and others hesitant about it?

There was one theme that struck me most: courage. Courage underlies these pieces of advice. It’s taking action on something even when facing the fear of it.

Take the student whom you know is top notch on paper. You’ve seen her resume: she’s academically stellar with noteworthy experiences in and out of the classroom. But, she’s not one to generate a conversation. Simply advising her to introduce herself to an employer at a career fair might not work. She might need not only the “how to” of proper introductions, but also some time spent building the courage to do it.

Or, how about the student who is interested in journalism? One great piece of advice for him might be to start a blog. Not only would this give him a venue to practice his work, it would also give him the opportunity to invite others to read it. Perhaps it could turn into a portfolio of writing samples for future job applications. Beyond the instructions for setting up a blog and tips on effective posts, it may take some courage building to help him get comfortable with the idea of putting his work out there.

When I’m talking with someone who’s hesitant about following these pieces of advice, I ask them to identify the cause of their nervousness. Once a fear is named, we can create a plan to address it together. Maybe it’s writing a few “blog posts” and e-mailing them only to close family and friends to get experience hearing feedback. It could be setting the goal of initiating one in person introduction per week, even among peers on campus, until things feel comfortable. Experiencing a few small wins can build the momentum to something bigger.

NACE blog readers, what are your thoughts on courage in career conversations?