Your Application Does Not Go into a Black Hole – 5 Misconceptions of Campus Hiring

by Kelly D. Scott

As a campus recruiter, I speak with many students and career development personnel about the hiring process. I’ve sat on many panels and participated in countless campus recruiting events dedicated to answering common questions including, “What happens to my application once I apply online?” and “Do thank-you notes really matter?” Throughout these conversations, I’ve noticed that there are a few common misconceptions that students share surrounding the hiring process. As a result, I’ve outlined five of these misconceptions in an effort to provide clarity around the hiring process. I’ll admit, as a former applicant myself, it can feel a little mysterious.

  • My application goes into a black hole when I apply online. We live in an online (connected) world of instant gratification. When you Google something, you can almost guarantee you’ll find an answer immediately. The online job application process is built to make it easy and quick for applicants to submit a resume. In some cases, such as when you use LinkedIn, it is literally three clicks! That said, it is not surprising that it feels like once you apply to a position online and fail to hear anything right away that your application fell into a black hole, never to be seen again, but that’s simply not the case. To ensure a fair hiring process, recruiters look at all applications until the job is filled. Generally speaking, the best time to apply to a job is when it is first posted. The reason being, most hiring managers want to fill their roles as quickly as possible, thus the sooner you apply, the more likely the chance that you’ll be considered for an interview. There is less competition given the limited time the position has been posted.
  • Career fairs are a waste of time. Believe me, career fairs feel overwhelming for both the students and the recruiters, but are never a waste of time. Recruiters attend career fairs for a variety of reasons. One being that it’s a great branding opportunity and an effective way to meet future candidates. Just because we may not have the role you’re looking for now, doesn’t mean we won’t have it in the future. Career fairs are a great opportunity to make a positive first impression and share your interest in an organization. Often times, we are actively recruiting for roles, hosting on-campus interviews shortly after the fair, and encouraging students we meet to apply.
  • All full-time jobs and summer internships are already filled by early spring semester, so it’s too late to apply. By and large, this is true for many roles, specifically finance, accounting, and analytics roles as well as rotational programs, but there are still internship and other full-time opportunities available in the spring. At Liberty Mutual, our claims, underwriting, and technology roles are still open. If you’re interested in the finance sector, I always encourage students to make sure to reconnect with us in the early fall to be considered for next year.
  • It’s bad if I apply to more than one or two roles. It makes me look desperate. This is absolutely false, if you’re applying thoughtfully. When I see that a student has applied to a few roles, it shows their interest and desire to work with our company, which is always attractive to a recruiter. However, if the student applied to too many (think: 10+ roles) in one swoop, it can look like they’re just throwing in their application to anything and hoping for the best, which is not a good strategy. When I see this approach as a recruiter, I think that the candidate maybe hasn’t thought through what they’re really interested in or read the job descriptions carefully.
  • The company doesn’t really care if I renege on my offer, they have a lot of applicants. Reneging on an offer is a terrible idea. It is unprofessional, reflects poorly on the applicant and creates more work for the organization. Yes, it is likely there are a lot of applicants for the role, however after somebody accepts an offer the recruiter declines everyone that has applied so they are not waiting to be contacted. As a result, when somebody reneges on an offer, it is likely that the recruiter will have to repost the position and start the entire process over which can take months. Instead of reneging on an offer, candidates should always feel comfortable asking for an extension to their decision deadline. We always do our best to accommodate this type of request as we understand accepting your first position post-college is a big deal and requires serious consideration.

A lot goes into campus recruiting, but it really comes down to good customer service and ensuring that there is a fair and equitable hiring process in place to ensure we find the best candidate for the aligned role. Now that I’ve confirmed for you that your application does not go into a black hole and applying to more than one role is okay, go land your next dream job.

NACE college members can pick up a student-directed version of this blog in Grab & Go on NACEWeb.

kelly d. scottKelly Scott, Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellykonevichscott

Avoiding a Renege by Building a Relationship

by Susan Brennan

It’s a job seeker’s market for college students, with many returning from a summer internship with a job offer in hand—long before graduation. It’s a rosy scenario, except for the challenges it poses for both sides: Students are against the clock to accept or bow out gracefully, and employers are challenged to hold a new hire’s attention for nine months. But I have seen some creative and smart ways to avoid a renege.

A lot of companies are building retention plans that include multiple touch points from the time of the offer to the time a new employee actually fills the seat. It may be a simple gesture—sending a care package during final exams or a holiday card—or a larger commitment such as a monthly dinner. Either way, it’s about building a welcoming community from day one. Here’s what some of our corporate partners do to keep new hires in the pipeline:

Build purposeful relationships.

At PricewaterhouseCoopers, all new hires and interns are assigned a relationship partner, career coach, and peer coach. The relationship partner develops a trusting relationship with the new hire, provides insight on demonstrating high performance, and communicates the value of the PwC experience. The career coach proactively schedules time to meet with the new hire, provides ongoing career counseling, and communicates the importance of developing leadership skills. The peer coach establishes a relationship with the new hire so the individual can quickly feel comfortable contacting them with questions, supports their productivity by assisting them with tools needed to immediately begin adding value, and helps acclimate the new hire to the firm.

Hold networking events.

Networking programs provide a more casual opportunity to get to know colleagues and other new hires. Bentley students who have accepted or have an outstanding offer from Liberty Mutual, for example, are invited to attend “LMI Peer Connections.” It’s a platform to network and ask questions about career opportunities and decisions. (And free food is always a hit with college students.)

Get social.

Setting up an app or using social media is an easy way to keep candidates in touch with what’s going on at your company, and to allow them to ask questions. (I’ve see this as particularly useful if someone is relocating.) Using technology to bridge the gap is something that students are comfortable with, as they can do it on their own time: in the dorm room, on the bus, or in the cafeteria.

Create experiences.

Today’s candidates care about experiences. When EY has done campus recruiting at my university, for example, they’ve brought along a petting zoo. (Yes, real chicks, bunnies, and even a little pig). Some companies will make an offer over dinner at a nice restaurant. Whenever you get the chance to create experiences—big or small—do it. Taking the time to go that extra mile won’t go unnoticed. 

Be flexible.

If you have your heart set on a new hire, you may need to be willing to accommodate requests. If a candidate wants to accept an offer but already had plans to first spend six months after graduation doing meaningful work like Teach America, for example, perhaps it’s possible to defer a start date. You may even find ways to tie the experience into your company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Now some tips you can pass on to job seekers

Candidates can also follow some simple rules of thumb to help them decide whether an offer is right for them. (These may also be useful for employers to look at the other side.)

Do some soul searching.

At Bentley, our students actually begin the “soul searching” process during freshman year; but it’s still an ongoing, lifelong process. Identify your interests, passions, and personality. What’s going to keep you inspired and getting out of bed each day for work? Differentiate between logistical aspects of a job offer—salary, health benefits—and other opportunities like culture, mentors, educational reimbursement, and professional memberships. (Try to get away from expectations placed on you by family and friends.) 

Review the offer with career services.

Once you get a verbal or written offer, make an appointment with a career services professional at your school. They can review compensation and benefits, address any concerns, and discus appropriate next steps. (They can also guide you on offer etiquette—whether accepting or declining an offer—as most schools have policies on both.) 

Set (or re-set) your priorities.

Just because an employer didn’t pop open a bottle of expensive champagne during your job offer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value your work. Companies have different policies they need to follow. Step back and think about the big picture: Is the company culture a good fit? Do they offer great benefits? Is there opportunity to grow? 

Ask for an extension.

If you aren’t sure whether to accept or reject an offer, companies are typically sensitive to giving you time to make an informed decision. If you have a month or two, for example, take that time to explore what else is out there. In the end, employers will respect the time you took in making a well-thought decision. But, remember, deadlines are set to give employers time to reach out to other candidates, so the sooner you break the news, the better for everyone. 

Have difficult conversations.

A student came to me with a job offer in hand; he loved the company but not the actual job he was offered. In a case like this, it’s okay to talk with the employer and explain that you would love to work for them, but perhaps in a different role. Just be sure not to wait until the last minute or send an e-mail. Pick up the phone and have a candid, respectful conversation. (A career services professional can guide you through these kinds of conversations.) 

One last note to employers.

In the end, a renege is sometimes unavoidable—and could even be a blessing in disguise: If a new hire has reservations about accepting the job, they will likely show up unhappy and may end up not performing well if their head isn’t in the game. 

The reality is that it’s a new world order and talented candidates are driving corporate strategy. But retaining the best and brightest during these competitive times is possible. Be solutions oriented, and you’ll negotiate a mutual win.

susan brennanSusan Brennan, Associate Vice President for University Career Services, Bentley University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susansandlerbrennan
Twitter: @BentleyCareerSB
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bentleycareer/?fref=ts
Website:  http://careeredge.bentley.edu/