Monday, January 27, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #3

Balancing Act

So the start of my final semester landed its right hook on me today and knocked me sideways, but I'm steadily getting back on my feet. I had the impression that job hunting would be my primary objective in my final months as I head downhill toward the finish line; however, I was sorely reminded today that other responsibilities such as my grad assistantship, teaching, and taking classes also demand my attention, so I will have to worker harder to balance everything gracefully as though I were P!nk on the Grammys last night.

Despite my microcosmic balance fail, I reflect on how difficult it can be to juggle competing priorities, especially in the workforce. When I recruited, I often had to handle multiple job openings which involved scouring job boards for candidates, interviewing them, and communicating updates with clients to avoid losing the position to a competitor. For anyone who remembers the conveyor belt episode of I Love Lucy, things can get quickly out of control, and no matter how prepared we think we are, eating chocolates won't solve the problem (though they do occasionally make us feel better). So my fellow Student Affairs job seekers, what do we do to try to stay on top of it all? Take out a pen and paper (or a tablet if you're tech-savvy) and make a list!

Making a list? Yep, that's right. It seems too simple, but I have found that it truly helps take whatever is in your head and forcibly organize it in front of you. Putting the most pressing items at the top, it helps plan out how to manage your time accordingly. If something changes priority, rearrange the list, it's just that simple. Plus, the satisfaction that comes from completing a task and crossing it off the list is oddly satisfying. Now if you find that you have more items on your list than you are crossing off, then that's another issue altogether (read: procrastination), but with every day slipping past, I am taking it upon myself to make sure I accomplish progress on the job front. All this to say that my hunting didn't quite go anywhere in the past week, but now that I have my list in front of me with job hunting on top, I will have no excuse not to have something better to report next week.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #3

Plowing Ahead with Pinterest

Source (via Pinterest) - Originating source link is broken

I am a self-confessed Pinterest addict. For anyone who doesn't know, Pinterest is a social media site where users upload photographs, recipes, diy projects, etc. for others to view. Users then "pin" images to their "boards”. Basically it’s a form of social media. At my assisantship I rely on Pinterest for bulletin board inspiration. Sometimes I find material for academic-related workshops. Pinterest also has resources that are helpful for soon-to-be graduates, like interview tips and resume outlines. I really like UConn's Center for Career Development board.

When I interviewed for the position at the community college, I actually fashioned questions from today's featured Pinterest image. I asked a number of questions during my interview, but the panel responded well to the following two: 

1. Are there any opportunities for professional development? 
2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your department? 

I ended up rephrasing “department” to “institution” because the panel represented a variety of departments. It was really interesting to see their reaction to Question #2. I think they were bored after watching interview after interview, and this was an opportunity for them to really think and construct their own answer. I especially liked this question because it was much easier for me to attribute certain responses to certain faces (rather than names to faces). 

Their responses were fodder for personalizing my thank-you letters. Instead of writing a generalized response, I included something more personal: “I really liked how you described your institution as an exciting, collaborative environment. I would love the opportunity to contribute my own ideas in this position!” 

In short, Pinterest is revolutionizing my job search (one pin at a time).

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #2

May the odds be ever in your favor...
I finally did it: I applied to my first student affairs job last night!
I’ve been putting off job applications because I am still decompressing after the hell that was the fall semester, and have thus spent all my free time catching up with friends and binging on Netflix.  Last night, I was doing the latter when my roommate passive-aggressively asked me at 8:58 PM if I was planning to watch Downton Abbey (which I have NEVER watched), so I took the hint and handed over the remote.  After a few scenes of Lord Rupert Templeton, was complaining to Lady Prudence Benedict or whoever  about some trivial matters of their ginormous estate aka #richpeopleproblems, thus I decided to pull out my laptop and get some job hunting done.
For about two weeks, I had been sitting on an application for a Career Services Advisor position for a private, non-profit medium sized institution in the New York area, and given my background in recruiting, it sounds right up my alley.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’m pretty open-minded about functional areas – except for anything in ResLife; we all have our callings in life, but for me, ResLife is not it – but I do have a special affinity for helping students figure out a career path.  The position itself involves one-on-one counseling, putting on workshops, and some employer-relations action, it’s perfect for me. 
What was not so perfect was the clunky application system that the institution uses for job applications.  After slaving away for about an hour to tailor my resume to the job qualifications, I started the application, and then had to tediously input everything from my education background to my job history over the last five years (including start and end dates, supervisor information, and salary) into individual boxes.  The pièce de résistance of all this was after all that work, at the end of the application, it asked me to upload my resume and cover letter!  While I gripe about this, here’s a tip I’ve learned from recruiting, regardless of the complexity of instruction, you have to play ball and fill out the application as instructed.
Cutting corners by putting in the minimal amount of information on an application is tempting, BUT consider this: if a hiring manager goes into the application system and types in keywords from the job description, how likely is it that you will be found if you’ve only put in a minimal amount of information and exclude key words? Slim to none.  Giving the best credit to hiring managers, they really want to do right by the job pool, but they have little time to devote to the search, so they will use the most effective tools possible to find candidates.  It’s nothing personal; it’s just the way the hunger games known as the job hunt goes.

Therefore, do like me and get over yourself and just do what the applications ask of you and then some, because more than likely, it will pay off.  I will update if/when I hear about the outcome of this first job.  By the way, I welcome any questions, comments or suggestions that I can address in future post topics from the readers out there. Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #2

The Bitter Taste of Rejection
Several weeks ago I applied and interviewed for an admissions position at a local community college. On Tuesday I received my rejection email from the HR department. It went a little something like this:

Rejection emails are the worst. I fondly remember receiving my rejection email from UConn's HESA program back in the day. I spent the following afternoon weeping over my failure and inevitable homelessness. (In my defense, it was a very abrupt email.)
I'll admit that I was pretty disappointed about not getting the job. I was hoping to have an easy time of it. I wanted a life that involved a guaranteed job with minimal effort! I wanted to breeze through my last semester of graduate school with a job securely in place.

Yeah, so that bubble has burst.
I am relieved that the waiting is over. This job application was pretty awkward for me, since I applied for a position that was within the department I'm currently interning for. I've walked on eggshells these past weeks, feeling uncertain whether or not my stay would be permanent. I felt it would be inappropriate to talk to anyone in the office about the interview. The Dean of Admissions, whom I would have loved to discuss this experience with, was on the search committee and therefore couldn't really chat about it. My rejection now means that I can talk to her again! Talk about a silver lining.

Needless to say, I'm not taking this rejection too personally. I think my optimism stems from recognizing that it’s very early in the job search. I haven't even started my last semester of grad school yet! Also, this was my first rejection. Maybe once I have a string of rejection emails I'll complain a little more about my dreaded future as a paralegal. Until then, I’ve found two positions to apply for over the weekend. Time to move on.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #1

Welcome to Wonderland

My fellow Student Affairs job seekers let me be the first to tell you: we’ve been duped, bamboozled, nay flimflammed about job hunting.  Job hunting is tough because there are a myriad of ridiculous technological and logistical obstacles in today’s job market that prevent our resumes from reaching our prospective employer’s inbox.  Job boards, generic email addresses, bureaucratic HR policies, and online applications are the plat du jour for practically all job openings, which screams ZERO HUMAN CONTACT.  

These impersonal gatekeepers taunt us mercilessly, and the bad news is that they are here to stay like a pesky head cold in the middle of summer. And it’s tempting to think that we’re being punished for all those times we BS’d our way through class discussions like in Stats, clearly not having read a single word (ANOVA is a galaxy right?).  But wait for it, there is some good news to come if you will indulge me.

Before beginning my student affairs graduate education in 2012, I worked for three years in recruiting in the private sector for a niche staffing organization.  Staffing is all about sales; a mad dash of finding qualified candidates for jobs before your competitor beats you to it.  The concept seems simple; however, in reality it’s a lot like that final scene of “The Birds” when Tippi Hedren goes up to the attic, sees the open hole in the roof, and suddenly hundreds of birds swoop in and attack her. To be successful in Staffing, you have to swoop in first to make your mark. And swoop I did.  I helped countless numbers of people find work in the toughest recession of recent history, not because they were 100% qualified, but because I learned useful recruiting industry tips to help them stand out enough to get an interview.

Here’s the good news you’ve been waiting for: now that it’s my turn to job hunt, I’m willing to share my experience and advice with all of you through this blog each week as I prepare to leap into the arms of the warm and fuzzy world of student affairs for the first time.  I admit, I am THE WORST at taking my own advice at times, so this might blow up in my face, but hey what have I got to lose?  On the other hand, my fellow student affairs job seekers, you lose absolutely nothing.

Here’s a little info about me: I am doing my Master’s degree at an institution in the Mid-Atlantic region, and I am originally from the south (The state where they say everything is bigger).  My career interests range across many functional areas: admissions, career services, disabilities support, international student services, LGBTQ, student activities, orientation, and retention.  My dream job is to run a study abroad program for Deaf students in Spain – more on that another time.  I am conducting a search mainly in the mid-Atlantic region, but am open to other areas such as Chicago to be closer to my undergrad friends (though that whole Chiberia business makes me think twice). I think that’s sufficient to start, but I’ll share more about me over the next six months or so.

So, I leave you with two options: you take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up at your desk in front of your computer screen and continue to believe whatever fanciful ideas you have about your job hunt.  Or you take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and follow me along this ride as I attempt to job search differently using my recruiting knowledge in hopes of landing a pretty awesome job.  The choice is yours, but I’ll just say that Wonderland is bound to be much more crazy adventure. 

What do you say?

The Beeline Broadcast, #1

Meeting My Career Counselor, Part I

I first considered the job search about, uh, a month ago. A number of factors sparked my sudden interest in employment, like deciding to ditch the national conference, or panicking when my classmate confided that Financial Aid positions pay really well (and are in demand too). I felt a momentary sense of anxiety. Financial Aid? Did I have other options? What were my options? I needed to look at options! I had no idea how to do that!

That's how I landed in an office with a career counselor.

I brought my resume, figuring that was a good first step. The counselor liked the content and didn't have suggestions. I tried to take this as a compliment because I do, after all, have an English degree. I should know what I'm doing, right? Suddenly I began to feel very nervous.

The duration of the meeting focused on formatting. I found myself asking weird questions like, "What do you think is more professional, serif or sans serif font?"

Here is a list of learning moments:

- It's normal for higher ed professionals to have a two-page resume.
- A surrounding border makes the content look very tidy.
- I better get a LinkedIn.
- My college has a job listing site.

My career counselor was very friendly and agreeable. We saved a few different files with varying formatting styles. He was, however, very adamant that I change my font. After inquiring further, he finally admitted that it looked a little juvenile. I found this really funny.

Here are the font versions that I used:

The red fox jumps over the fence.
The red fox jumps over the fence.
The red fox jumps over the fence.

Can you guess which is the juvenile one?

Palatino Linotype, size 10
Georgia, size 10.5
Calibri Body, size 10.5

If you guessed Georgia, then you are a winner!

My truth summary: Your resume is a representation of yourself. It's nice to draw from different perspectives, but when it comes to things like borders, fonts, and page counts, you're the one to make that call. 

I only wish that I had had more feedback on the actual resume content.