Lessons Learned at #NACE14

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

It’s been two weeks since the 2014 NACE Conference, and I’ve finally recovered from the profound lack of sleep that I experienced in San Antonio. (For those of you that weren’t there, the non-stop networking combined with the excitement in the city from the Spurs NBA title win turned our hotel complex into a never-ending celebration chamber!)

With my batteries now re-charged, here are a few general observations from the conference:

1) Our profession is in a very dynamic phase—Is it just me, or was anyone else just in awe of how many critical issues and trends are hitting simultaneously. From First Destinations to OFCCP to Big Data to STEM Education……It’s clear that the game is changing big time! The conference was the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas with my peers, my customers, and our affiliate members.

2) Our future looks bright—If the conference first-time attendee session was any indication, we’re in great hands. The new attendees seemed so highly engaged, inquisitive, and truly excited about being NACE members and they wanted to know how to get more involved, which bodes well for all of our members. Every year this group gets bigger. Case in point: We typically split the newcomers into groups of about 15 people, and we assign past or present NACE board members to facilitate discussion. To our shock, we actually ran short on NACE board representatives! (Kudos to our terrific conference co-chairs Maura Quinn from Liberty Mutual and Fred Burke from Baruch College for stepping in to facilitate!)

3) We have some great leaders at NACE—How can anyone not be impressed by the performance of our fearless leader, Dan Black of EY? The guy attended almost every organized event, chatted with virtually everyone he met, enlightened (and entertained) us with his “Early Show” interviews of NACE award winners. He threw down the ultimate challenge to our members with a new member outreach proposal. He also did a great job with the passing of the torch to President Sam Ratcliffe of VMI, who did a wonderful job of welcoming first-time attendees and gave us an enlightening glimpse into the college recruiting future. Like many of you, I’m really psyched to see what Sam has in store for all of us now that he’s the president!

One last comment….There is real power in blogging—I’ve got to be honest….When the folks at NACE asked me to consider writing this blog, I was a little hesitant. Questions like “What am I going to write about?” “Will anybody read it?” and “If they read it, will they fall asleep?” all entered into my head. Thankfully, the NACE conference changed my view of blogging after I had several encounters with attendees who recognized me from the blog photo (Note to self: Pick up a gift for our company photographer.) and asked to take a selfie with them, which promptly got posted on social media outlets (Other note to self: Learn to take selfies from above not below.) I heard from other NACE bloggers that they had similar experiences to mine, so a huge thanks to those of you that took the time to let us know that you’re enjoying this latest communications outlet from NACE!

That’s it for now….Next NACE stop for me: the Summer of 2014 Board of Directors meeting in Boston.

You’ll find a list of NACE’s Board of Directors on NACEWeb. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the NACE Blog Team, contact Claudia Allen.

Carpe NACE!

Chaim ShapiroChaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro

One of my favorite experiments when speaking in public is to ask the audience how many of them know the name Elisha Gray (without Googling him)?  To date, I have had some weird guesses (no, it wasn’t the guy who dated your roommates’ sister in college) but no correct answers.

I follow up that question by asking how many know the name Alexander Graham Bell.  As you can imagine, everyone is familiar with the name and replies that he is the man who invented the telephone.  That is a well-known fact that we all learned in fourth grade, right?

Only it is not that simple.  The truth is that a man named Elisha Gray filed a patent for a working telephone two hours after the patent was filed by Alexander Graham Bell!

Just 120 minutes, BUT those few moments were the difference between being a household name, forever ensconced in our collective memories, and being regulated to the dustbin of history.

I’m sure you will Google this now, and the story is a bit more complicated than that, but fundamentally, two hours made the difference between historical immortality and being an answer to a trivia question only known by the biggest of US history geeks (I confess).

Obviously this is a rare example, but I think it teaches an important lesson about the value of time.  Wasted time is a commodity we can never recover.  Chances are few, if any, of us will be remembered in perpetuity, but that doesn’t diminish the value of our time.

I can hear you asking, what’s your point (yes, I know you are taking TIME to read this)?  My point is carpe diem.  But don’t just seize the day; seize the moment, because we never know the full impact of any of our actions (or inactions). 

NACE is a great way for all of us to seize the moment.  I know there are great ideas out there, but unless we take the time to share them, they will be lost.  We all have the opportunity to take a leading role in shaping the future of our profession.  Don’t pass up on that!

None of us can hide behind the excuse that we are not well known or part of the NACE leadership because I can personally attest that NACE is open to the thoughts and ideas of all of its members, irrespective of job title.  Leadership and great ideas can come from anyone and at any time (my wife hates when I hop out of bed to write down an idea in the middle of the night).

So don’t hesitate.  Attend a NACE event, register for the annual conference, volunteer your time, join a committee or just share your thoughts with NACE and you WILL become an active part of charting the future.

Ironically, you don’t even have to use Bell (or Gray’s) invention to do so with e-mail, because phone calls are SO last century!

Chaim was a co-chair of the 2013-2014 NACE Principles for Professional Practice Committee and successfully completed NACE’s 2012-2013 Leadership Advancement Program. Find a listing of NACE committees on NACEWeb.

Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students: Confusion and Anxiety Regarding Networking and Building Professional Relationships (Post 3)

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director of career services, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

A couple of days ago I had a career advising session with an international student. He was very anxious and was “losing a lot of sleep” over the fact that he had graduated a month ago, had not found a job, and was worried he would not find anything in the United States by the time his optional practical training (OPT) started in the next few weeks. I had seen this student several times before, and his resume was strong, and he had substantial experience that would make him a strong candidate for various opportunities in environmental engineering. I asked him to tell me about his job search.

“I spend hours looking and applying to jobs online,” he said. “I’ve applied to over 50 jobs in the past month, and I’ve heard nothing back. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Will you look at my resume again?”

I reviewed his resume again. Yep…it still looked good. I asked him if he had done any networking.

“Oh yes, I’ve used LinkedIn and the alumni database to find contacts at companies with open jobs,” he said. “I reach out to them. In my e-mails I introduce myself and ask them to refer me for the position or tell me about any other opportunities.”

I hear this all of the time. In my experience many international students feel very uncomfortable networking for various reasons:

1. They lack confidence in their English language skills;

2. The job search in their home country does not necessitate “networking”—in fact employers may reach out to them to offer positions;

3. They are unaware of resources to use to find alumni or networking leads;

4. They don’t understand the nuts and bolts of networking, and that it is a long-term process with the goal of developing relationships that later lead to jobs. (And this isn’t just an issue with international students; it is an issue for ALL students.)

In order to motivate international students to start networking early (and not view networking as a last-minute, short-term thing), I try to reframe what networking is to them. I tell them that networking is about learning and serving through creating and sustaining professional relationships. I also use a bank analogy that seems to resonate with them. I tell them, “Networking is like creating a bank account, you must make deposits before you can make a withdrawal. Bank accounts, like professional relationships, grow with time and investment.”

Instead of “networking” I use the phrase “information gathering” with students, highlighting how to begin a professional relationship by learning from someone else (e.g., alumni, professionals) via informational interviews. I talk with them about asking the interviewee questions that will create future opportunities to serve them (i.e., sending the interviewee relevant articles or updates on how their feedback has helped).

Now…I know most of you reading this post are, like, “Duh…Ross. I already understand what networking is. Give me some tips I can use!”

I hear ya! Check out some ideas I’ve tried with some success below.

Networking Workshop Activity:

Have students search for a company of interest via an alumni database or LinkedIn, read about the company, find alumni working there, and create a list of questions (not only about the company, but the contact as well) to ask at an informational interview. Then pair the students up, and have them critique each other’s questions.

Next, bring everyone back into a large group and debrief and review some of the questions. Use prompts like: Which questions are the best? Are the questions open-ended, allowing the interviewee to provide plenty of information in her/his response? What questions best create space to serve the interviewee later?

After the question activity, have the students (individually) draft their own informational interview e-mail request. Ask them to pair up and share and critique. Next, bring everyone back into a large group to discuss.

Finally, ask students to create a basic timeline (by month), of when and how to follow up. This will be a very loose timeline as they don’t have an actual “real person” to create the timeline for at this point.

Students will leave feeling more confident now that they have tools, and an action plan to begin networking. I’ve also found adding a small panel of senior international students, that have successfully networked before, answer questions and serve as facilitators during discussions is very helpful (and proves that networking works!).

 Employer Relations Program Idea:

In my experience, most international students really dislike the “cattle call” style career fairs. They don’t feel comfortable with small talk, and feel that talking about themeselves is actually bragging. Overall they feel like they don’t get a chance to really show employers their skills in a meaningful and authentic way. In an effort to help international students connect with employers better (and with incredible support from my manager and colleagues), I tried a different type of employer engagement program, based on the good old science fair (yep—I went old skool, y’all!).

I targeted electrical and computer engineering (ECE) students, and sent them an e-mail about an opportunity to share their most exciting class projects with employers. Students had to sign up, send an abstract about their project, send their resume or LinkedIn URL, and show up the day of the event ready (with their project or poster) to engage with employers and talk about their work.

I also facilitated a networking lunch with the students, employers, faculty, and staff. I scheduled the event, the “Electrical and Computer Engineering Showcase”, the day before the spring career fair to maximize employer attendance. I sent a personal invite to ECE employers (those that had already registered for the career fair AND local companies) to attend this event at no charge to them, and told them to feel free to bring along any alumni working at their company.

The employers loved the idea, and many signed up to attend. The day of the event employers visited every student table to talk about the student projects. I collected feedback from the employers on the students’ conversational skills and projects and asked if, based on the students’ projects, if they’d ever consider hiring one of these new grads (and more than 70 percent said they would!). The employers and students both really enjoyed the event. One student said, “I really had a chance to shine today. We are doing this again next year, right?!”

Share your ideas and strategies for helping international students better understand networking.

This is part three of a series. Don’t miss parts one and two.

Top Companies Hire ‘Blindly Applying’ Interns

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, CEB Employment Brand Director, Global Communications & Engagement Team
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad

Eighteen cities. Eighteen companies. Eighteen interns about to embark on the internship adventure of a lifetime. And, when students initially applied, they had no idea of where in the world they would end up. That’s just one aspect of BlindApplying.com that makes it exciting!blind applying

In its inaugural year, the Blind Applying project received a whopping 10,000 applications primarily from students across Europe and Asia. Each student submitted just one application that was then considered by participating companies.

Think of it as the NFL draft of the internship world. College students who apply anticipate a call from any one of 18 top European companies, including Accenture, Bayer, Daimler, BASF, EY, Merck, and Bertelsmann.

Stats on Blind Applying

  • Nearly 50 percent of students had business-related degrees, followed by approximately 23 percent from engineering programs.
  • The most represented applicant countries included Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, India, and the UK.
  • 56 percent of students heard about the program from Facebook.
  • There was an approximate 50/50 split between male and female applicants.

Changing the Lives of Students

As if interning in Paris, Tokyo, Munich, or Sydney wasn’t enough! The lucky 18 interns—who began their paid internships this summer—each receive sponsorship for travel and housing costs. Students are also encouraged to share their internship adventures via their individual Blind Applying blogs.

It’s Happening Again in 2015

When surveyed, the top two reasons so many students participated were the convenience of applying to 18 opportunities using just one CV submission, and a chance to go global. And with more than 80 percent of applicants indicating that they would apply again if offered the chance … it’s on again for next summer! 

Who is Behind Blind Apply?

Driving this project is the Entrypark team of the global research firm Potentialpark, based in Stockholm, Sweden, and the HR community has already taken notice of the team’s innovative work. Blind Applying has received the HR Excellence Award and the Trendence Employer Branding Award.

The team plans to ramp up the program next year. The goal is to offer 30 unique internship opportunities with 30 top companies.

Are U.S. Companies Ready to Hire?

From a workflow process, students apply online and their CVs are reviewed. If their background is a suitable fit, CVs are presented to participating companies. Once a company has selected their top candidates, interviews are conducted. It’s not until the interview phase that students know who’s considering them.

What do you think? Would your company consider participating in something like this? If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Bjorn Wigeman.

 

Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students: Lack of Understanding the U.S. Job Search (Post 2)

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director of career services, Duke Engineering/Professional Master’s Programs
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Greetings career professionals! I wanted to focus this post (and the next couple of posts) on common challenges I assist my international students with, and provide some strategies and ideas that you can use in your practice.  I’ve even added a couple of ideas that could be a part of your office’s employer outreach strategy.

 CHALLENGE: Lack of understanding the U.S. job search.

I see it over and over again. Students from across the globe begin their U.S. college experience thinking that the job-search process will be just like it is in their home country. Most of the time that process is something like: make great grades, study hard for the final test, and the higher your test score (and grades), the better job you get. And the employers will come to you! It is all about grades, and working toward being top of your class. There is little to no focus on networking or getting hands-on experience (though many of my Chinese students acquire a one month “internship,” which is more like an observational externship experience). Many international students have no idea about the U.S. job search, and that it is focused more on professional experience and relationships than grades.

Sharing this, and having students understand this, is your first and most difficult step. Some students will feel uncomfortable approaching or cold calling professionals to connect, thinking that it is rude or disrespectful; aligning these students with others from their home country that have successfully found careers in the United States normalizes networking…and they can get the scoop on the step-by-step of networking and how their peer or “senior” successfully did this without feeling like they were being disrespectful.

 IDEAS & RESOURCES

  • Create a book club or U.S. job-search working/accountability group for international students that meets every couple of weeks. Daniel Beaudry, has written a wonderful book about the U.S. job search for international students called “Power Ties.” He does a fantastic job of explaining the process of the U.S. job search and networking, while explaining the visa process and all of the “players” such as hiring managers, HR, etc.
  • Teach students how to connect with international alums that were able to find jobs in the United States. Most institutions have an alumni database, but did you know the LinkedIn “Find Alumni” tool is FANTASTIC for this?! I work with graduate students, and have them access the tool (LinkedIn > Network > Find Alumni), and search for alumni of their undergraduate institution (back in their home country), click on who is living in the United States, and sort by industry. Not only does this give them a list of alums they can connect with, but shows the companies and industries most likely to hire international talent. If you are working with undergraduates, have them search under popular universities in their home country (they’ll still be able to access the alums!).
  • A lot of my international students are obsessed with all the big-brand companies (e.g. Deloitte, Google, Exxon), and don’t consider smaller companies. I remind my students that pursuing a big brand company is fine, but don’t forget that a gazillion other international students will be doing the same thing. Smaller companies may have less competition and be less rigid in considering hiring international talent, and accessing hiring managers may be easier. Consider this idea which incorporates educating students and employers (here’s the employer outreach idea I mentioned earlier); do a webinar or panel with employers (that have successfully hired international talent in the past), an immigration lawyer, visa services, and international alums working in the United States to share their insights and experiences from the employer and student point of view. You could invite international students and smaller companies/employers in your area to learn more about this process (a great professional development opportunity for them, and a way to get them interested in your students).
  • Find a mentor or colleague with experience working with international students to help you. This could be someone from your school’s visa services office, international house, or counseling center. I’ve been so lucky to have incredibly smart and experienced colleagues (Carrie Hawes, Jenny Johnson, Bridget Fletcher) help me grow my skills with international students along the way – I’m so grateful to them!

In my next blog posts I’ll discuss the sponsorship process, and address all of the confusion and anxiety many international students face when networking.

What ideas do you have for helping international students better understand the U.S. job search?

Did you miss part one? Read it here, and watch for Ross Wade’s next blog in this series! Coming soon.

Am I Mashed-Up or Just Fried: A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 5)

Chris Carlson

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

About two months ago now, our team had our annual Spring Strategy Session. During this session, we reviewed data, as we always do, and started to think about 2014-2015 activities.  However, this year was unique because we invited our digital marketing team, our recruiting marketing team, and our learning and development team to join us.

It was a great!   We did a deep-dive on designing our approach to social recruiting through every stage from “awareness” to “conversion” for both the general audience and the targeted audience.  We became more aware of how to reach and influence candidates. We looked more closely at how we leverage each category of recruitment marketing—paid, owned, and earned.

Several key initiatives resulted from that session across each of those categories.  One of the most consuming of which is content development.  How do we ensure compelling content for those we are recruiting for short-term demand and those we want to engage for future demand? We had a few a-ha moments for sure and thought we had covered a lot of ground.  My head stopped spinning as much as it had in the past.

Then came #NACE14, right on the heels of our session.  BAM! My head started spinning again.  There were several sessions that really provided additional insights into customizing digital content to specific audiences. In addition, there were a few sessions that added to my playlist of words that are sure to be used by my team as part of new drinking games. Of special note would be two specific sessions (don’t worry, I will not plug my own) that I found of great interest that helped me understand more about content and how it can drive recruiting.

“Content is king, but context rules” was not only a great quote from Tammy Garmey from TMP in the Candidate Experience 3.XO session, but became my personal battle cry since leaving #NACE14. In the session she co-presented with Joe Howell from EMC2, they discussed how EMCbuilt a personalized digital content delivery experience for candidates. They showcased the technology platform they leveraged that would sort through the vast amount of content available and present what would be meaningful to a specific candidate.  The technology leverages information about the candidate and suggests content.  Big data and advanced analytics and all sorts of concepts come into play.

Whether your realize it or not, you and I are already seeing this approach applied to us every time we open our browsers or log onto a social media tool.  There is an  advertisement—on your screen probably right now—that someone thinks will be of interest to you based on your online behaviors, cookies, and other key data.   This workshop really brought it home to me that it is so critical to think about how you manage your content and more importantly how you deliver that content in a personalized way. We need to think about attracting the computer science major differently from the history major, just like we would on campus in person. Again, in social recruiting, one size does not fit all.

One of the other great sessions focused on gamification, my new favorite word. It was a SmartTalk given by Danelle DiLibero of RMS. She walked us through how RMS partnered with the developer of a very popular online game that had a direct correlation to their business. They embedded key messaging into the game that would provide real insight into the type of work that RMS does, as well as links to their careers site. Their efforts supported their culture of innovation and provided a vehicle for their employee value proposition. I can definitely see the benefit of this approach. Our team has had greater success with supporting competitions than we have at career fairs. My head is still swirling with the possibilities as our firm is about problem solving for our clients and we look for people who have a passion for solving problems.

It is going to be a fun year as we continue to evolve and formalize our approach to social recruiting, especially after #NACE14 and I will continue to share stories of our progress. On the day I wrote this blog, my Yahoo horoscope confirmed that it is going to be fun: “It’s a great day to try big, crazy ideas—even if they seem too big or crazy to work out. Consider it a day of experimentation and you are sure to learn some new, valuable things.”   Look out y’all it might get a little crazy!

This is the fifth in a series of blog about using social media in recruiting.