Conversation With a Career Center Rose

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

As someone who’s made a transition from being on the ground as a college recruiter to a behind the scenes role in employer branding, it’s not often that I get back on campus. However, when I do, it’s a rush of excitement! And, I make the most of those times by observing and talking to as many people as I can (career fairs are great “wells of inspiration” for blog posts).

Recently, I had the privilege of traveling to the University of Pennsylvania’s career fair in Philadelphia. From liberal arts to STEM and Wharton school majors, the students were prepared and exemplified a sense of pre-professionalism. I sat down with the director of Penn Career Services, Patricia Rose, to learn more about her 34 year career in helping to connect students with employers.

What is the role of career services?

Career services is a connector, we’re not a gatekeeper. We don’t have a monopoly on students; for us to be effective in this role as connector, we need to provide obvious value on both sides, to students and employers.

We also have new students coming in every year, and some that do not hear our messages until it’s of greatest importance to them. Therefore regular messaging is important—we have to continue to message over and over again. We have to be the place that has the right information for students.

What has been the greatest change that you’ve seen in career services?

The greatest change is the use of technology. It is easier now for students to get information on employers and easier for employers to get information on students, using LinkedIn, social media, and other tools.

What hasn’t changed?

There are some employers who continue to come on campus once per semester and do not keep us (career services) informed. It can’t be “one and done.” Employers who are successful are the ones that are committed to establishing a presence and make the effort.

How can employers best work with career services?

Work with us and keep us informed. If you are here, hosting a major event or bringing someone from your C-suite to campus, let us know; we can help you get an audience. The summer is a great time to meet with us or invite us to your location, so that we can have a conversation and talk about the best ways to work together.

Also, I would say to be open to students beyond the obvious majors. There are great students in non-business fields, across all majors and school boundaries.

What is your biggest employer pet peeve?

When employers impinge on another company’s “real estate” during career events. And, when companies put undo pressure on students into making offer decisions. They are taking their time to interview with other companies and to make thoughtful decisions. Don’t hound our students!

Read the Reasonable Offer Deadline Guidelines on NACEWeb.

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.

 

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.