10 Mistakes Millennials Make in the Job Search (and how to avoid them)

whoopsThis was originally posted on LinkedIn November 24, 2014. Re-posted with permission from author and NU alumna Alexandra Anweiler Stephens. 

This month, two recruiters from two very different industries visited our staff meeting to share their insider perspectives on hiring millennials. Katie Maillet, campus recruiter at Waltham-based Constant Contact, and Veronica Thomas, vice president of talent acquisition for commercial programs at RBS Citizens, discussed strategies for recruiting new talent in the digital age – from using social media to increasing diversity – and how we can better prepare our students for success.

I wanted to share the takeaways from this discussion more broadly, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 common mistakes that millennials make during the recruiting process – and how they can be avoided.

1. You don’t follow directions. The job/internship application is your first opportunity to show a potential employer what you’re made of, so read the instructions carefully! Usually, employers will require a resume and cover letter, but other times you may be asked to complete a project, respond to short answer questions or make your way through another screening mechanism. Read the job description and the application requirements thoroughly to avoid getting weeded out in the first round.

2. You don’t do your research. Rule of thumb: If the answer to your question can be found on the About page of the company website, don’t ask it. Recruiters talk to applicants all day long about their company, open positions, and why it’s a great place to work. Make their lives easier – and show you’re a serious contender – by doing your homework on the company, role and field/industry ahead of time. The company’s website, social media accounts and Google alerts are great places to find interesting information you can reference in your interactions. If you are invited to interview, request the names of your interviewers in advance so you can look them up on LinkedIn – you might find you have a connection in common. Another lesser known resource is Glassdoor.com, a growing database of six million company reviews, salary reports, interview reviews and questions – all shared by current and former employees.

3. You don’t update your privacy settings on social media. Millennials have grown up with social media and remember when it was used for only social purposes. Those days are long gone, and employers are doing their research, too. Despite the many warnings out there, employers still see negative posts about former employers, photos of candidates with red solo cups, and other no-no’s. Think twice about what you post on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget about other searchable platforms like Instagram, Vine and YouTube. Then take a few minutes to look at them through the eyes of a potential employer and adjust your privacy settings accordingly.

4. Your email address / voicemail greeting is weird. Your email address itself is a part of your professional brand. Keep it professional by using your college email address or creating an account through Gmail with your first and last name. Though so much communication happens via email, don’t forget about the phone. Your voicemail is also an important part of your professional brand and as such you should treat it with care. In your greeting, clearly state your full name so that callers know they’ve reached the right person. It may go without saying, but ring-backs are a no-no (yes, some people are still using ring-backs). One recruiter suggested using Google Voice to customize and manage your phone number(s), voicemail greetings and messages.

5. You hand out your business card at a career fair. Resume? Yes. Business card? No. This isn’t the worst mistake in the world, but many recruiters don’t want your business card. It is small, it gets dropped, and it is redundant if they already have your resume. Hold on to your business cards for networking nights and other professional events where dishing out your resume isn’t appropriate.

6. You do phone screens on the go. We’re all busy – and millennials are the consummate multi-taskers – but the line needs to be drawn somewhere. If you conduct a phone screen with a recruiter as you’re walking to class, they can hear you huffing and puffing on the line. And it’s never okay to ask the recruiter to hold because you’re getting another call (yes, this has happened). Your interviewer is dedicating valuable time to evaluate your candidacy. Show respect and interest in the position by giving them your full attention. If your mobile connection can be spotty, use a landline to conduct your interview. Many career offices have interview rooms that you can reserve for this purpose.

7. You sell yourself short in interviews. Unfortunately, this is particularly true for females. Our recruiters reported that women have a tendency to use “we” when describing their accomplishments, and men tend to use “I.” While it is important to convey your ability to work as part of a team, it is even more important to understand and communicate your individual contributions, responsibilities and accomplishments. One recruiter even suggested leaving phrases like “contributed to” and “collaborated with” off your resume.

8. You treat your recruiter like your new BFF. A recruiter often communicates with a candidate throughout the recruiting process, from first meeting at the career fair to making the job/internship offer (if all goes according to plan). These communications may be frequent – especially if there are a series of interviews – and the recruiter may coach you on what to expect at different parts of the process. This doesn’t mean that you’re friends, or that your interactions can become more casual as time goes on. Our recruiters have found that millennials tend to use slang in email and over the phone as they become more familiar. Instead of fostering a stronger relationship, it can lead to the opposite. Always err on the side of professionalism.

9. You don’t ask for your interviewer’s business card. As mentioned above, recruiters may tell you about next steps in the process, and are often open to answering questions you may have along the way. But there is one question they don’t appreciate: “What was the name of the person who interviewed me?” This is a big no-no, and is most certainly avoidable. When the adrenaline is rushing, it’s easy to forget your interviewer’s name. The solution? Always ask for your interviewer’s business card. You’ll need their email address to send them a thank you, too.

10. You forget to say thank you. Saying thank you is a must after every interaction in the hiring process, but which is better: email or handwritten note? Our recruiters recommend sending both, and here’s why. Email is the most efficient means – it arrives instantly, doesn’t get lost in the mail, and is easily forwarded to hiring managers and other influencers. Send an email within 24 hours to thank the interviewer(s) for their time and confirm your continued interest in the position. Be sure to reference an interesting anecdote from your conversation, too. While it may seem obsolete, a handwritten note as a follow-up to your email can set you apart from the rest. Our recruiters said that handwritten cards show that a candidate has gone the extra mile, and also serve as a subtle reminder to follow up with the candidate. Mail a handwritten note about a week after your interview, and use it as an opportunity to remind the recruiter about your candidacy and reference a new piece of information, like a recent article you read about the company. Because they are few and far between, our recruiters said they save these notes and even show them off to colleagues. Who wouldn’t want that?

Alexandra Stephens is the associate director of alumni career programs and engagement at the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis University. Prior to her transition into higher education, Alexandra worked in marketing and communications at Rosie’s Place and Constant Contact. She graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University with a B.A. in Communication Studies.

Image Source: UT Austin Career Center Bits, 3 Big Career Mistakes Millennials Make 

How to Navigate Career Centers, LinkedIn and Recruiters

find job buttonYou’re preparing for your senior year of college and thinking about what’s next. What to do? How to start? It can begin to feel overwhelming quickly, but job searching doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Start thinking like a hiring manager, and save yourself a lot of time and energy. Here are a couple tips to jumpstart your search.

  1. Complete your professional resume and have it reviewed by minimum of 3 people including family, friends and Career Development personnel.
  2. Cross-check your paper resume and make certain it mirrors your LinkedIn profile. Yes, you should have a photo on your profile which can help to accelerate the pre-screening process. Don’t many of us view the hotel before we make a reservation or look-up the vacation rental photos before we confirm a week? Your photo should be a professional image that a Hiring Manager can view before they engage in communication.
  3. Google stalk yourself and clean up your collegial online history (i.e. Sorority Party)
  4. Register with a minimum of three staffing agencies. They are a great resource and can help you find a job. – Just do your research!

Work on that resume early. Career Development is a free resource and we strongly urge students to take advantage of this unfamiliar department and make it as familiar as the local pizza joint. This department is the first honest set of eyes that will critique your resume and help you begin your “job searching journey”. This department will provide you with opportunities to meet Hiring Managers who man the tables at career fairs which become future contacts that you can network with or may become clients. Additionally, by attending Alumni events you will be obtaining another group of future contacts to add to your “rolodex” which today is called LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a free networking tool. Every time you meet an alum or a Hiring Manager, immediately connect with them because they will be able to help you navigate complex industry roads, salary negotiations and offer tips on who to contact to learn more about open jobs. There’s a lot of free advice out there. Do not get frustrated, it’s FREE.

Additionally, we highly recommend “google-stalking” your own name and cleaning up your public profile (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) before you apply to any professional job. Try Googling yourself in a browser you don’t use (so that it doesn’t automatically sign you into your accounts) and see what pops up. What you see is what a recruiter will see; make sure it reflects what you want. It is perfectly fine to have “fun” photos of you “in the cloud” (i.e. family party), but an image or comment that may be judged or viewed as unprofessional, we recommend deleting.

There are many misconceptions about the recruiting industry also known as “headhunters”. The staffing industry is not a regulated business, so anyone can say they are a recruiter or a staffing firm which means it’s crucial as a job seeker you do your research on the agencies and make sure they’re legitimate. Take control of your job search and keep track of which agencies and which jobs you have applied to.

We’re confident if you take advantage of Career Development, get on LinkedIn, register with three agencies, and find 3 professional and expert recruiters your job search will be that much easier.

There’s a lot of different advice out there and when it’s free you absolutely should embrace it!

Image Source: www.resumeactivator.com

Deirdre Parlon is the founder and CEO of Black Oak Staffing Solutions. At B.O.S.S., Deirdre has 18 years of experience working in the staffing industry. She began her staffing career in 1996, immediately after graduating from NU. Her long career has honed the natural intuition she has for placing the right candidates in the right positions, and gives her clients and candidates the security of knowing that they are in the hands of an expert who has their best interests in mind.  Deirdre resides in Boston with her family. When she is not working or volunteering, she can usually be found golfing or spending her time with her husband, children and her large family of brothers and sisters.