Talent Thursday

Talent Thursday: Open House – To Attend Or Not to Attend

One of the most prominent, industry-leading companies is hosting an Open House. I mean they have the coolest headquarters, are fully invested in their employees’ well-being, and would be the best career starter that you could ever think of. It’s your dream company. You know it wouldn’t matter what job you were doing, working at this company is a success on its own.

The answer here is obvious: You should attend the Open House. However:
The Open House flyer clearly states the company is seeking experienced professionals. You have no experience.
You have submitted several (well, 25 to be exact) job applications to this company, and have always been disqualified.
Only geniuses work there. You are hard-working, sure. Highly motivated, sure. But, “genius”… No.
Your heart hurts from all the rejection emails you have received, from the no-response black holes, and from a lack of entry-level jobs in the market. You aren’t sure if you can hear the rejection in person too.

Now the answer doesn’t seem too obvious, does it? Nevertheless, make plans to attend the Open House.

What is the purpose of an Open House?
Companies host an Open House to attract talent. Typically, Recruiters and Hiring Managers from the company are hosting the Open House to fill their current positions and to build a pipeline for positions that aren’t open yet.

Really though, an Open House serves as in informal interview. Companies want to see how well you fit into their culture. They want to see how enthusiastic you are about being a part of that company. And, of course, they want to see what knowledge, skills, and abilities you bring to the table.

Experience, in terms of years, is one thing. However, organizational fit is something entirely different (and a bit scarce). Organizational fit is the how well a new hire will mesh with the company’s mission, vision, and values. It’s about how well a new hire will work with the company’s employees. It’s about how a new hire will increase ROI, increase customer and client satisfaction, and overall, positively impact the company.
As you can tell, the latter is much harder to find! During an Open House, it is the latter that companies are seeking.

Why should you, a new graduate, attend?
To network, no duh! Yes, the flyer is looking for experienced professionals, and yes, you have received enough rejection emails to last you a lifetime. However, unless entry is denied, you should plan to attend the Open House.

An Open House is great opportunity for you to meet the faces of a company and to analyze your own fit with the organization. By speaking with Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and Staff members, you are learning so much about yourself and your career opportunities. Use this time to impress everyone of your knowledge and abilities, as well as of your motivation. Feel free to tie in your research of the company, the industry, the current trends. Ask questions about where the company is headed, where certain jobs are headed, and/or what process improvements would be beneficial for the company.

Please note that an Open House also, and perhaps most importantly, serves as a gateway for you to skip the ATS and submit-an-online-application step. You know.. the same step during which you are disqualified time and time again? Of course, eventually you may have to go back to this step, but that time may be completely different because you attended an Open House and met someone who wants you on his or her team!

How should you prepare for an Open House?
You should prepare for an Open House as you would prepare for an interview. Some aspects to keep in mind:
Prepare to wear a suit. Choose an appropriate tie. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t overspray your cologne. Shower before arriving. Keep make-up to a minimal. You get the idea…
Prepare your resume. Bring several copies of your resume to hand out to Recruiters and Hiring Managers. Bring business cards, if you have them. Carry a professional binder or bag to put your personal items in.
Prepare to be screen-free. Turn-off your phone, iPad, and/or laptop. Make FaceTime real face time!
Prepare to listen. Maybe there’s no open positions for you now. Maybe you don’t meet the qualifications. Yet, maybe there’s a new building opening or an expanding department. Pay attention to what Recruiters and Hiring Managers tell you. They know the inside information. Listen attentively, and you might find yourself a job after all.
Prepare your Questions-to-Ask list. You should always, always, always ask questions. Even after you are employed, you should always, always, always ask questions. Being able to think critically and ask in-depth questions will really help your career. Please note that in order to ask quality questions, you must know your stuff too!
Prior to attending an Open House, make a list of questions to ask Recruiters and Hiring Managers (and, preferably not just about job openings).

When should you arrive, and how long should you stay?
A general rule of thumb is to arrive early and to stay relatively long. However, it’s really up to you. Some Do’s and Don’t’s:
Don’t arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the Open House. That’s way too early!
Do plan to stay at least an hour. You are welcome to take breaks throughout your stay, as in use the restroom, step out for a bit, etc. Note that staying for too short of a time period will be noticed and may portray a lack of interest in the company.
Do plan to talk to as many people as possible, from company employees to event attendees. You never know who you will meet, and what opportunities arise from that meeting.
Do get contact information from Recruiters and Hiring Managers. Ask if they have business cards. Ask what’s the best method to contact them- phone/email? Ask if you can follow-up with them after the event? Note: Do not ask if you can send your resume to them (unless they ask you to). First of all, you should have brought your resume to […]

By |November 13th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: First Ebola Diagnosis – Lessons learned for New Graduates

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

If you haven’t heard by now, the United States recently diagnosed its first Ebola patient. It has been a couple of weeks now, but the topic is still very much new. Of course, there have been challenges containing the Ebola virus worldwide, but there have also been plenty of lessons learned. Before I dive into the lessons learned, let’s take a moment to list the various crisis management aspects that have surrounded this horrendous virus.
Sudden fear and panic
Limited knowledge of the virus
Lack of resources to combat the virus
Lots of pointing fingers, negativity, and the blame game
Slow response to understand the virus and situation

Interestingly, new graduates face similar crisis management aspects surrounding their career search prospects.
Sudden fear and panic –“Oh snap! I am graduating in 2 weeks and I don’t have a job yet”
Limited knowledge of the workforce –“Uhh… What type of jobs does a Biology major or Poultry Science major or Agriculture Leadership major qualify for?
Lack of resources to combat the catch-22 of no job vs. no experience debacle –“Yeah, if you could just train me on the job… that’d be great”
Lots of pointing fingers at the low GPA, various bartender and waiter jobs, no extracurriculars, and my favorite, too much partying. –“I have discovered my identity in college. I just wished I had also found money and a job”
Slow response to understand the competitive job market –“What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? I had to apply for summer internships six months ago?!”

Now, to be fair, the sudden fear and panic can set in at any time in the job search process. Obviously, it can set in the moment you realize you are graduating with no job prospects. It can also set in 10 minutes before your very-very-very important interview to your number-one dream job. Not to mention, it can set in when you don’t get an offer for your fallback job as well. The point here is to be prepared. Be prepared to graduate. Be prepared to interview. Be prepared to be rejected (and to move forward). Of course, you cannot predict everything, but preparation will help you calm your nerves, focus logically on the situation at hand, and help you take next steps wisely.

A friend recently reminded me that everything is 20/20 in hindsight. Looking back, I can see how easily avoidable my mistakes could have been. I can see the perfect (and straightest) career progression ladder. I can see the positive vs. the not-so-positive consequences of my decisions. Well, I can’t “see”, but rather, I know. Anyway, I am not saying you can be knowledgeable of everything now. You can’t. You can, however, obtain more knowledge about your major, about the job outlook, about companies, etc. For example, did you know that AirBnB is really particular on hiring those that are active on their site? Knowing stuff like this can really help you stand out and land a job. Don’t be afraid to learn (and learn continuously even after you get a job).

Now, the lack of resources is …you will see. Yes, it’s true, bachelor prepared graduates are a dime a dozen. It’s great you spent 100K and many sleepless nights over a piece of paper, but really, you need a way to stand out. You need to be impressive, network, and get your foot in the door. I apologize- your degree is highly valued. But, so is your personality and passion. Is your resource Career Fairs, Networking Career Events, Connections with Family and Friends, Advisors from your Student Organizations, College Career Services, Professors, etc? Figure out what works for you (personality/passion), and then, utilize those resources. Also, don’t be discouraged by the catch-22. Okay, maybe you don’t have the technical #-of-years type of experience, but you do have a lot to offer. You just have to figure out a way for your offer to be heard.

Ahh.. the blame game. The time for “he said, she said” is long gone. The time for accepting your current predicament is here. For example, most companies do not reject applicants solely based on a low GPA. If granted an interview and you are asked about your GPA, don’t panic. Answer truthfully. Did your GPA increase as your partying decreased? Did you discover a major that actually meshed with what you wanted to do in life? Did you work 40 hours/week to pay for college? Another example, you have a marketing major, but you never undertook marketing internships or apprenticeships. How do you explicate your qualifications? Maybe through organizations you were a part of, maybe through video editing or drawing, or through marketing software classes. Don’t blame other aspects, and please, don’t be the Grumpy dwarf. Accept what is happening, but focus on the big picture: getting a job.

Don’t wait to start your career search! Slow responsiveness is not something any company is looking for, so why bother practicing? There are opportunities to avail an internship from Freshman year. There are opportunities to seek a mentor and gain guidance prior to Freshman year. Really, there is no excuse for a slow response to understanding the competitive job market. None. Zilch. Aside from the obvious motives, another reason you can’t afford to be a slow responder is because industries and jobs are constantly evolving. And, you must evolve with them. Be proactive in your networking. Be proactive in your application submissions. Be proactive in your interviewing technique. Be proactive in your job security.

Unfortunately, crisis management is a part of life. Every once in a while, it likes to drop by to say hello. Essentially, this is the lesson that can be learned from the first Ebola diagnosis, which refocused on the big picture: containment and treatment. When you are in college and things seem to be moving 180 mph, you too can take a second to step back and refocus on the big picture: getting a job.

By |October 31st, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: Five Outdated Resume Practices

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

Industries evolve. Processes improve. People develop. Technology advances. Then, why should resumes remain the same? Typically, resumes are created through a cookie-cutter strategy, which includes lame lists under bold-faced headings of education, experience, etc. While it is highly encouraged to have a good format- with a consistent font size, spacing, coloring, etc, please note that there are some resume practices that have become outdated and no longer help market job seekers as an attractive applicant.

The Obvious Objective. At one time, including an Objective denoted motivation and strategic thinking. Today, however, including an Objective is pointless and repetitive. For example, the statement “Interested in obtaining a full-time sales role at your reputed company” is a no-duh. Recruiters and Hiring Managers know you are interested in that role because that’s the position you applied for. They also know you believe their company is reputable because why would you be interested in joining a non-reputable company.

In another example, the statement “ambitious, motivated, go-getter with proven skills in this and that” is just space consuming. When your entire resume is actually going to provide details on your this and that skills, then why sum it up in a non-proving sentence.

An alternative to an Objective is a Summary, in which you can summarize your expertise. For example, if applying for a advertising position, you can state “2 years of web advertising experience specializing in this and that” to indicate your expertise level, as well as summarizing your resume. Once again, though, this alternative is an option, not a requirement.

References Available Upon Request. There’s really no reason to state that. Of course references are available upon request because if a company asks you for references as part of their recruitment process, you do have to provide them.

Another aspect to note is that listing your references on your resume may not be the best strategy either (and is an outdated practice). It is common courtesy to let your references know that they may be receiving a call/email regarding a reference check. If you are applying for multiple positions/companies, it becomes increasingly difficult (and perhaps an annoyance) for your references to keep track of all that. It is best to wait until you are asked for references to provide references.

List of Duties and Responsibilities. This practice is possibly the worst outdated resume detail. Applicants tend to list out their duties and responsibilities (essentially, their job description) under each place of employment and title listed on the resume. Not only is this epically boring and portrays no aspect into your character, but it also sells you short. List accomplishments! Tell companies what you have achieved- prove it by including ROI, statistics, numbers, time, etc under each place of employment and title listed on your resume. It’s not about what you are capable of doing on a day-to-day basis, but rather, about your record-breaking monthly, quarterly, and annually accomplishments.

The Cover Letter Addendum. This is a difficult one to explain. Cover letters are suppose to provide an insight into an applicant’s character and integrity. Unfortunately, most cover letters Recruiter and Hiring Managers come across just summarize an applicant’s resume. So, keep a simple rule in mind: if your cover letter is just your resume into paragraph form, then forego it.

Notable Computer Skills. Not sure if you noticed, but we have become very advanced computer/internet users. Stating computer skills in general isn’t really making you look good. Instead, opt to be specific and relevant. Applying for an analyst role? State your advanced Microsoft Excel skills. Applying for a marketing role? State your InDesign, Photoshop, Photography, etc skills.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of outdated resume practices, and of course resumes will continue to evolve, but this is a good start. Another last minute practice to incorporate when creating a resume (and before submitting it) is to have it proof-read and checked out by others. Oftentimes, a new set of eyes can really help improve your resume’s wording, style, repetitiveness etc. As you know already, professional resume readers are notorious for initially screening a resume for only 30 seconds. Don’t waste precious time with outdated resume practices!

By |October 16th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: How to Score an Internship

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

Four scores and seven years ago, there was a legend that spoke of college education as a means to landing a good job. Ask my dad and your aunt, and they will tell you the legend speaks truth. Alas, you know better. You know that we live in a competitive, knowledge-based economy in which a bachelor’s degree isn’t likely to guarantee a job handout after graduation. By today’s standards, you need experience to land a good job.

So, how do you get that experience? By scoring internships, of course.

Internships have evolved greatly from sprucing up your resume and making you look like a goody two-shoes overachiever -as legend may have it. Nowadays, an internship serves as a vital organ to your job-landing skeletal and muscular system. Not only does an internship provide you with real world experience so you can get a job one day, it also provides a reality check into your chosen major and what you can expect to do in your first job.

Internships, first and foremost, are about figuring out yourself and your intended career path. They should help you decipher your interests, skills, and passions. After all, if you are planning to work until you are 70, you might as well do what you love.

Step One: Understanding yourself

The first step is to understand what type of internship you are looking for. The easy part is to make a list of industries and/or companies you want to learn more about, and potentially, work for. Would you like to work for a healthcare system, pharmaceutical company, investment firm, PR/Marketing firm, etc? You get the idea.

You are welcome to visit your university’s Career Center to find out what internship resources they offer. Universities also help with resumes/cover letters, as well as interviewing tips. You can discover what companies typically employ your universities’ graduates. Even better, ask your guidance counselor what companies offer internships and/or hire students from your major. Also consider joining professional student organizations at your university, which can offer good meet-and-greets with experts from your interested industry.

The hard part is to figure out your schedule. Of course, a summer internship at a Fortune 500 in NYC is ideal, but if you have to take summer school, that’s not really going to work out. Instead, focus on when you will have a light course load or no course load. And, perhaps, where you will be located when pursuing that light/no course.

As stated previously, it’s a competitive, dog-eat-dog world out there. Don’t get too hung up on paid vs. unpaid internships, 100000 vs. 200 employee company, or this-makes-me-look-cool vs. this-makes-me-look-like-a-nerd position. Although, being a nerd is cool now BTDubs.

Step Two: Researching

The next step is to dust off those intense Google search muscles, and get your research on. By that I mean, do a search for those industries you are interested in, cross-referencing your location of interest. For example, if I were a nutrition major, I could do a Google search for “food manufacturing companies in Dallas, Texas” or “cosmetic companies in Dallas, Texas”

You should be able to see a plethora of companies listed. Next, do a mini-search of the company, taking into consideration their business activities and departments. Find a number, and start cold-calling. Basically, you are trying to connect to Human Resources and/or an Internship Specialist to ask about internship opportunities.

If you obtained a list from your Career Center, start researching and cold calling those companies as well.

Sometimes, companies don’t offer internship opportunities. Don’t be afraid to be the first intern. If you are on the phone with a Human Resources person and he/she tells you they have never had an intern, go ahead and volunteer. Display your enthusiasm for interning with that company and explain why you would be a great asset (good thing you did a mini-search of the company and know what to say).

If a company representative asks you to follow-up with resume and/or cover letter, or to call someone within their company, please please please do so ASAP. No company wants a passive, slow-to-follow-through employee… an unpaid intern is no exception! Any interaction with a company representative is a chance to impress. This should be your ideal walk-away-from-a-giant-explosion-in-the-background feeling, not a burning-down-in-flames, what-have-I-done feeling. So, be prompt in your follow-up.

Now, if you aren’t getting much luck from cold calling, take Thomas Edison’s advice: “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Step Three: Interviewing

This is the last step between you and your internship. Whether you are participating in a telephone, Skype, or in-person interview, preparation is key.

Thoroughly research the company. What business are they in? What are their values? What type of people do they hire? Their current and/or future challenges?
Thoroughly understand the department you are interviewing for. Industry trends? Any law changes? New projects/expansions?
Thoroughly understand your role as an intern. Why is the company hiring an intern? How can an intern increase their ROI?
Thoroughly partake in mock-interview. What questions will the interviewer ask you? Your strengths/weaknesses? Come up with 3-4 success stories about yourself that can utilize to impress the interviewer; you should be able to tie the stories to questions regarding organization skills, analytical skills, failures, etc.
Thoroughly prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Where is the company headed in 5 years? (It’s always good to know a company’s goals and challenges- you can use this info when you apply for a job there) Where is the department headed? What do the first two weeks look like for an intern?

After your interview, make sure to send a hand written or an email-format Thank You note. Thank You notes go a long way, especially if you weren’t the only applicant interviewed.

It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. Internships are a great resource to use to land a job upon graduation. Not only do you get a […]

By |August 7th, 2014|Talent Thursday, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: Interviewing is for Actors

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

Congratulations, Graduate! You have the interview of your dreams lined-up. Just thinking about the prospect gives you first-love butterflies and a warm, cozy feeling in your heart and soul. There’s nothing more you want, no job more worthy of your four-year Bachelor’s degree, and no position more appealing than this opportunity you just landed. Well, except maybe getting paid for vacationing, but there’s a term for that… PTO. Alas, I digress.

So, now what? How are you going to entice your future employer? How will you sweep your interviewer off his/her feet? The answer is a simple scheming technique I like to call acting. Essentially, you have to be able to predict what the interviewer will ask you, and rehearse how to answer those questions. Not a conniving technique exactly, but more like a planning and practicing process you must perfect ;)

Let’s discuss the questions first, then we shall delve into your acting skills.

Common Questions Interviewers Ask & How to Answer them

Before I begin, I would like to digress again. It’s not enough to know how not to answer common interview questions. You must also be able to answer them thoughtfully and thoroughly. Hopefully, with this post, I can help you do that.

Back to our friend, the interviewer, and the questions you will be asked.

Tell me about yourself. This is a fun question. It’s vague, and comes off as nonchalant, a breaking-the-ice type of question. However, since it will be one of the first questions asked, that is exactly what it is not. With this question, the interviewer doesn’t want to know your life story (a common misconception), nor does the interviewer want to hear a step-by-step monologue of your work history (your resume should do that).

The interviewer wants to hear a summarization of your life, mainly career-related accomplishments. Your answer should comprise of three factors: your expertise, two or three characteristics about yourself, and your potential contribution to your future employer. Disclaimer: I know, as a recent graduate, you may not be able to pinpoint your “expertise” in years. You can, however, use your upper-level classes and organizations as evidence of you gaining expertise.

Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.
Interviewee: I have 2 years of experience in research methodology, and I am passionate about improving health and preventing disease. My colleagues will tell you I’m insert adjective, as evidenced by my x project leading to y results. My clients will tell you I’m insert adjective, as evidenced by my p project yielding q results. I have a thorough understanding of this and that, and I can bring ____ to your organization, as I know you are focused on ____.

Can you walk me through your resume? This question may sound like your interviewer wants to hear a step-by-step monologue of your work history. Don’t be fooled… no one wants to hear that. What the interviewer wants is to gauge your accomplishments, to learn about your KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) and to see your projects’ ROI. You can answer this question by chronologically going through your jobs/projects, by descending from major to minor accomplishments, etc. Regardless of the method you choose, make sure to highlight the project, the challenge/situation, your contribution to the project, and the yielded results.

Interviewer: Can you walk me through your resume?
Interviewee: I graduated May 2014 with insert degree. I decided to pursue further studies because… (if applicable). While at insert school name, I worked in PR at x organization and was responsible for y and z. As a PR specialist, I insert accomplishments. Think of two other instances such as this, spread throughout your resume, to discuss.

Why should we hire you? Why indeed. Common responses to avoid:
• Because I need a job. No kidding, Sherlock! Interviewer needs a hire, but he/she will not be interested in a selfish, non-innovative person like you.
• Because I am perfect for this position. No, no you are not. No one is “perfect” for the position because if you are doing it correctly, it will evolve and interviewers hope, you can evolve with it.
• Because it’s my dream job. Almost there! Why is it your dream job? Even if it is, what exactly are you bringing to the table?

This question is meant to answer why you, as opposed to another applicant/interviewee, should be hired for the said position.

Interviewer: Why should we hire you?
Interviewee: Well, it sounds like you are looking for someone to come in and accomplish ________. As depicted from my experience and background, I can do x, y, z. I know your company is facing this and that challenge, and I believe with my skills in p and q, I can yield ___ results. I am confident I would be a great addition to your insert department team.

What are your strengths/weaknesses? This is probably one of the easiest common questions. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to answer it methodically though. Let’s focus on strengths first, the easier of the two. As you answer this question in a list format, be sure to include the reasons for your strengths and why that strength is important for said job.

Interviewer: What are your strengths?
Interviewee: One of my biggest strengths is my ability to be thorough. When I worked on project w, thoroughness allowed me to be capture x, y, z, eliminating ___ costs. In this role, I believe I can use this strength to do this and that.

Now, your weaknesses. Yes, you have weakness. No, you shouldn’t hide them or cover them up or manipulate their existence. Try to be honest (notice I didn’t say brutally honest). Try to self-critique. And most importantly, think about your weaknesses you will share before you walk into that interview. As you answer this question, make sure to include how you are improving on your weaknesses (note: […]

By |July 24th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: Transferable skills

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

“People will try to tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up. In reality, the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours.” -Ken Hakuta, American Inventor

It is not uncommon to find college seniors stressing out about the real world. It is a harsh reality as of late. New graduates often complain about the infamous catch-22 of their employment predicament- not being able to land a job because of no experience, but not gaining experience because they can’t land a job.Although there may be some truth to this, the bigger truth lies in a graduate’s ability to adapt to the changing economy, and accordingly, to detect new opportunities.

Hold your breath and read this fast because I am about to paraphrase a Federal Regulation. The Social Security Administration Code of Federal Regulation 404.1568 defines transferable skills as knowledge, skills, and abilities gained in previous work activities that can be used to meet the requirements of other or future work activities. Huh?!… What exactly does this mean?

This means that, as Ken Hakuta points out, opportunities lie in your ability to change with the world. In essence, opportunities lie with your ability to strengthen your transferrable skills. That’s how you beat the catch-22!

And Now… The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For

What can you do to keep yourself from freaking out one month before graduation… the supposedly happiest moment of your life? What transferable skills open the door of opportunities? What transferable skills are employers seeking? Interestingly, these skills aren’t a new concept. They have been valued for decades, probably as far back as the Silk Road days (I would know, I was there).

Oral and written communication skills
Analytical skills
Ability to collaborate in a team
Adaptibilty/flexibility
Time managment/ability to prioritize

Unfortunately, communication skills are highly underestimated. Having excellent communication skills is far more than being able to converse in English. Excellent communication skills crosses all thresholds- from professions to industry to place on the organization chart. Effective communication skills involve relaying your ideas across in an engaging and efficient manner. As a marketing professional, you must be able to engage with 1000 product users through an E-blast. As a public relations professional, you must break news, apologize, get feedback etc. using only 140 characters on Twitter. As an engineer, you must present a report to investors and shareholders and woo them to launch your new product. By the way, this is the type of stuff that should be written in your resume, specifying the type of communication, reach, ROI, etc., and not the words “excellent communication skills”.

Ahh.. the ability to thoroughly analyze quantitative and qualitative data. That, in itself, can be a flashing, neon sign from a higher power — vicariously telling you where your opportunities lie. Find out the industry trends. Read the daily news statewide/nationwide/worldwide. Follow a company’s life- products, stocks, new releases etc. This is what you should do when applying for a job. And this is exactly what your employer wants you to do once you have a job. Employers want you to introduce and implement process improvement and cost-effective methodologies. Analyze, analyze, and analyze so that you are always two steps ahead of your competitors, and five steps ahead in leading the industry.

Similarly, you are hired or are being hired because the employer knows you can do the job. If that’s the case, then why are you focused and mesmerized with working alone? Employers want you to collaborate, to work well with others (a concept no-doubt you learned in pre-K). I guarantee during your interview, an employer will ask some version of “Tell me about a time you collaborated with a difficult coworker”. They want to see how well you have worked with others in the past and in what situation, so they can determine if teamwork is a transferable skill or are you a loner. Companies don’t hire loners FYI.

Adaptability. Well, that should be self-explanatory. In case it isn’t, during difficult economic times, there are lay-offs, companies shut down or go bankrupt, 5 jobs consolidate into one, and competition for your job increases exponentially. So then? Adapt. You should be constantly adapting to new technology, new laws, new boss, even new heels as dress code changes fairly often. This is where transferable skills come into play. Also, be flexible on your working hours, whether it be accepting the request from your boss to do that last minute presentation or helping to train a new intern or staying up past your bedtime to get a little extra research done on your big report tomorrow. Be flexible, and you will open yourself up for adaptation. You will open yourself up to new opportunities.

What else leads to new opportunities? Your ability to realize the new opportunity in a timely manner. Time is always, always, always of essence. Being able to manage time expresses organization skills, ability to prioritize, ability to multi-task, ability to handle stress to name a few. Also, they are all transferable skills. Employers are looking to hire those who can effectively manage their time, meaning they can complete tasks, follow-through on projects, order enough pizza for a working lunch. Just as with the communication skills, be sure to write specifics in your resume, and not just “ability to time-manage effectively”.

These are some of the top skills that have been valued since forever. I am referring to these skills as transferable because as you apply for your first job, it will not be the first time you communicate, adapt, manage time etc. You have been doing this since High School, if not earlier. Hone these skills. As you partake your college ladder and then your career ladder, your skills will only expand. It is no wonder then that it is through these skills that you will be able to create new opportunities for yourself.

Before you graduate, take a moment to research your ideal career. Make a list of transferable skills pertaining to that career. You can look […]

By |July 17th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: College Success – There’s an App for That

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

If you ask me today what characteristics define a successful college student, I would say impeccable time-management and organization skills. If you had asked me the same question a “couple” of years ago, I would have said sleep (and my mom’s cooking). Luckily, you are in the 21st century. You can unequivocally master time, fool people into thinking you have OCD through your organizational skills, and sleep like a baby.

How?… Well, there’s an App for that (and most of them are free).

Tips, Tricks, and Apps Oh My…

Student Planner. The old-fashioned, fool-proof way to stay organized used to be maintaining and updating a student planner with your exam dates, project deadlines, paper submissions, meetings, study groups, etc. The new-fashioned, inter-connected way to stay organized today? Still maintaining and updating a student planner. Now though, there’s an App for that.

iStudiez Lite & iStudiez Pro serves as an interactive calendar and planner, manages your homework and assignment due dates, and lets you track your grades and GPA. Free/$2.99. For Apple only.
inClass is another interactive calendar and planner that syncs your class notes and audio, assignment due dates, and images and video for all-in-one access. Free. For Apple only.
myHomework is another multimedia tool, allowing you to upload your class schedule, block study times, and track your homework and assignments. Free. For Apple & Android.

To-Do Lists. Ahh… that great feeling of crossing something off your list. Aside from the feeling, to-do lists are a great way to stay organized and on top of your study game, especially since one task on a to-do lists can comprise of multi-step processes. Instead of juggling paper and post-it notes for those multi-step tasks, try out these no-mess, no-fuss Apps.

Wunderlist lets you break those to-do list tasks into subtasks, send reminders and push notifications, and even lets you share and print. Free. For Apple & Android.
Any.Do has a simple and easy-to-use interface for creating lists, notes, and accomplishing tasks. It also syncs your tasks from your mobile to your laptop. Free. For Apple & Android.

Flash Cards. The visual learner’s dream. Flash cards are a great way to memorize information. Also, studying through flash cards has a higher retention rate as they boil down abstruse information into layman’s terms.

StudyBlue lets you access existing flashcards in their database, and lets you create your own. Plus, it’s nice to not carry around a stack of note cards. Free. For Apple & Android.
Chegg Flashcards also lets you create your own digital flashcards, and has pre-made Quizlet flashcards available. Free. For Apple only.

Notes. There isn’t a way around not taking notes. You must take notes. You must study your notes. During finals, you must also have coffee cup stains, highlighter explosions, and worn edges on your notes. Nonetheless, note-taking and reviewing is essential to your college success. These next Apps serve to enhance your notes taking and study habits.

Evernote syncs your class notes, files, images etc to your mobile and your laptop, lets you clip webpages, and lets you share your projects with others. Free. For Apple & Android.
Snap2PDF lets you convert images to a searchable PDF file. It even allows for multiple scanning. $1.99 For Apple only.
CamScanner lets you digitalize images to a PDF file. It also serves as a document manager, letting you edit, annotate, and share your created PDF file. Free. For Apple & Android.
Dragon Dictation Perfect for auditory learners. It has voice recognition software which transcribes your words into text. You can even edit the text, update your Facebook status, and send it in an email or SMS. Free. For Apple only.

Avoiding Distractions. I get it. You are in college. Distractions will find you even if you are not looking. Well, don’t fall for it. Use these Apps to keep your eye on the ball (or grades in this case).

Studious works like a student planner, silences your phone during class/study times, and send alerts when assignments are due. Free. For Android only.
SelfControl lets you block addicting internet websites for a set time period (Ahem… Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest). This is a great tool to avoid procrastinating. Free. For Apple only.
Pomodoro helps you stay alert and focused while studying by setting a 25 minute study session followed by a 5 minute break, and then setting the timer back to the 25 minute study session. Free. For Apple & Android.

Well, there you have it. Start defining your successful college student characteristics. Explore the Apps of the 21st century to hone your time-management skills and to enhance your organization skills. Notice I didn’t mention any Apps regarding sleep (or long naps or hibernation periods). That’s a little homework assignment for you. Go ahead and pencil it in your new student planner app.

By |July 10th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: Networking with Professors 101

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

A large lecture hall. 200 seats for 200 students.1 professor. And then, there you are… a mere 0.5% of your Biology 101 class, sitting in the second last row. Even though we all know only 50 students will actually show-up to class every day, how are you, the 0.5%, supposed to stand out? How do you make your mark in that classroom? How do you become chummy with the professor? That’s cool now, BTDubs.

You definitely know that you need to build a strong relationship with at least three professors for those recommendation letters, job references, career guidance, internship opportunities, etc. The list goes on. So, again, HOW?!

Welcome to Networking with Professors 101.

As a college student, this is one of the most difficult conquests to surmount. With simultaneous exam preps, studying that never stops, researching that also never stops, and every once in a while being able to consume a meal that doesn’t involve instant noodles, college students rarely have time to strategize their connecting-with-the-professor plans. It typically isn’t until you are a senior that you realize, “Oh Crap! I don’t think my frat bro can write this reference letter for me for my governmental Washington, D.C. internship”.

Realistically speaking, you should have a long-term strategy for networking with your professors before you step into that “Freshman 101: I Wasn’t Ready For College” class. Here’s how:

Background Check: When you sign up for a class, pay attention to the professor’s name. Google him. Find him in your university’s network. Find him on Professor rating sites such as www.RateMyProfessor.com, www.Koofers.com, www.myEdu.com, etc.
Learn: Once you have gathered background information on your professor, read about him. Typically, you can find your professor’s CV, published papers and articles, classes he teaches, etc. Read and learn. The more you read, the better you know.
Prepare Your Move: During the first week of class, your goal should be to introduce yourself to your professor (perhaps during office hours or after class, if time/situation permits). Believe it or not, but professors actually want to get to know you. Yes, that’s right; they want to know your interests, aspirations, questions, and even your suggestions for the class. I know it’s hard to approach a professor to build rapport, but now that you know about your professor, you shouldn’t feel intimidated. Mentally prepare yourself for this “impromptu” meeting.
Elevator Pitch: Before you introduce yourself, perfect your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a quick description of yourself, and it lasts about as long as an elevator ride. Pretend that your professor gets on the elevator with you, and you have 8 floors to make your move. How would you introduce yourself? What would you say? This is not a good elevator pitch: “Hi, my name is so-and-so, and I’m in your Bio 101 class. I hope to learn a lot”. No Duh! After hearing this speech, the professor will not remember you (and will also think you are a weirdo). Try something like “Hi, my name is so-and-so. I am very nervous about this Bio 101 class as Biology isn’t my strong suit. I have been reading a lot about genetic mutations though, and am really looking forward to learning more about this-and-this birth defect and disease”. See the difference?
Make your move: With confidence and humility, approach your professor and introduce yourself. Shake hands- a good handshake is firm and lasts 3-4 seconds. Remember to continue making eye contact throughout the introduction.
Try, and Try Again. An introduction isn’t enough. To build rapport, your professor should recognize you by face and by name. Not only that, your professor must know you as a person. First, sit in the first 3 rows. That way, the professor can see your face- and remember you. Second, visit during office hours to discuss the class, new material you read in journals or scholarly websites, your career path, etc. You should visit/meet at least 3-4 times in a semester. Third, don’t be afraid to add your professor to your LinkedIn or Facebook network (make sure you are professional- no questionable drunk pictures or F-bomb statuses). Fourth, ask for recommendations to meeting other professors or classes. This is a great way to increase your network, and to build your career pathway.

Professors are so underutilized. They offer much more than a lecture at 8 AM on a Monday morning. They offer limitless resources to advance your education and career; all you have to do is have the courage to ask (or accept a professor’s open door policy). Once, a Business Law professor offered his students the opportunity to play racquetball with him. Surprisingly, only one student accepted, thinking “what’s the worst that could happen?”. Well…

And, that is the relationship you are missing out on when you are afraid to network with your professor.

Before ending, I want to emphasize the “Do Nots” of rapport-building.

Do not visit your professor to only discuss grades. Sadly, this is the most used excuse to talk with professors. This is not the gateway to networking with a professor. This is just a lame tactic to increase your exam grade (and it’s probably not working for you)
Do not aim to build personal friendships with your professor. Leave that with your roommate and your roommate’s boyfriend whom you do not like. Your professor is there as a mentor. He is there to get to know you and help you achieve your goals. A mentor-mentee relationship is one in which common interests are shared and discussed, from ideas to real-life experiences.
Do not ask for general recommendations and endorsements. A history professor probably does not know your skills as an o-chem lab student. Don’t ask him to recommend you for a Master’s in Biochemistry.
Do not underestimate the power of honesty and humility. If you don’t know something, that is okay. Your professor knows all, and if he doesn’t, he knows someone who does. Be honest and humble, and your professor will treat with you with the same respect. Too often, students are tempted […]

By |July 3rd, 2014|Talent Thursday|1 Comment

Talent Thursday: Before you Study, Learn how to Study

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

The anticipation of starting college is exciting.. oh the freedom from your parents, the parties with your friends and frenemies, pulling all-nighters to cram before every single physics exam. You have heard all of your uncle’s stories about his best pals in college, about your cousin finding her true love, even about your neighbor’s raging frat parties, and of course, your goody two-shoes aunt who graduated a year early with a 4.0. Now it’s your turn- what adventures will you tell your children and grandchildren about?

Before you work on leaving your mark on your college campus, take a moment to realize your true purpose of going to college. Above all, your biggest goal is to graduate with a good GPA. That means you need to figure out how to study. Trust me, it’s not what you think it is.

In college, professors get together every semester and plan out how they all can possibly give you exams in the same week. Not only that, they deviously plan out the same day your lab is due, your presentation needs to be presented, the 20-page paper that needs to be submitted (with 30 references, of course), and whether to give you a multiple choice answer e) none of the above and f) A and B. This planning process is called “Taking Over the World One College Student at a Time.” You have been warned.

So, first things first. What type of a learner are you?

Auditory: You are a listener, easily obtaining information that you have listened to.
Visual: You need to see pictures, graphs, diagrams, etc. to not only understand what you are studying, but also to retain the new information you just acquired.
Kinesthetic: You like to “move it, move it”. You learn best through actions and movements.

It is pretty simple to figure out how you learn best. You don’t have to fit into one category; you can learn through one, two, or all three types. The point is to understand your strengths. For example, if you are an auditory learner only, recording lectures and then listening to them later, like when sitting on a bus, before a class, during lunch etc., will help you retain the information. However, if you are a visual and kinesthetic learner like I am, you will probably learn concepts by staring at a diagram for an awkward length of time, and then, explaining the diagram to yourself excitedly while waving your arms around to emphasize the important points… you definitely won’t learn by listening to the lecture repeatedly.

Next, use these tips as you see fit. Remember, if you are an auditory learner, don’t waste your time color-coordinating your notes because your brain doesn’t care. Similarly, if you are a kinesthetic learner, you will learn and retain a lot by walking around reading note cards (but you will look ridiculous running on a treadmill with your calculus book and a graphing calculator).

AUDITORY LEARNERS

Record lectures, and then, listen to them before your next class
Read lectures notes and concepts aloud
Explain lecture notes and concepts aloud to your friends (or to yourself if you don’t have friends)
Listen to music while reading

VISUAL LEARNERS

Use colorful pens, highlighters, and post-its to take notes (this is not to say you should paint the world; also, don’t highlight bold words- they are already emphasized)
Explain diagrams and concepts aloud to your friends (or to your mom)
Make flashcards with word and picture on one side, and the definition/meaning/concept on the other side
Utilize PowerPoint- most professors present lectures through PowerPoint

KINESTHETIC LEARNERS

Make flashcards, and study them while walking
Explain lecture notes and concepts aloud to your imaginary friends
Doodle while taking notes and studying
Write important concepts in short-hand on post-its and post on your wall/door (or on the wall in front of your toilet or on your fridge- any place you pass by most frequently)

As you begin to understand your learning style, you can incorporate some heavy-duty fun into your studying habits. These tricks are designed to make you study efficiently. Please do keep in mind that these tricks are not one-size fits all- keep experimenting and figure out what works best for you.

Study with noise. If the “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” is not your type of study environment, consider having some background music while you read and/or study. If words bother you, listen to music only (movie and TV show sound tracks are designed to help viewers concentrate). Listening to music will not only sharpen your mind, but it will also help you retain what you study by making you associate a concept with a certain song. If you prefer background noise, download a “White Noise” app.
Study with breaks. Apps like “Pomodoro” work like a timer, allowing you to time your study for 25 minutes with a 5-minute break, and then resetting automatically. You can also time your own study breaks. Another aspect to keep in mind is to study in different locations- breaking your “stuck in a rut” habit. For example, explore different libraries, computer centers, coffee shops, or even campus grasses on a nice, sunny day.
Study with rewards. Place gummy bears or your favorite and preferably a semi-healthy snack at the end of each paragraph in your chapter. When you reach this snack, nom nom nom. Then, move to the next paragraph. One thing to keep in mind is to have these rewards obtainable in the short-term, meaning while you are studying. That way, you are more motivated.
Study killing two birds with one stone. Try to take a break every 20-30 minutes of studying. During this break, do a mini-workout (this method works best with Kinesthetic learners). Do 10 pushups, 20 situps, 30 lunges on each leg. Not only will you be getting a great workout, your mind will be refreshed when you resume studying. As a post-graduate adult, I still do this trick when I microwave food. Specifically, I do lunges until the timer runs out.
Study smart. There are limitless resources on the internet for you […]

By |June 26th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments

Talent Thursday: The Answer to Selecting the Perfect College Major

Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn

Ahh.. the summer is here. The summer is known for its time to chill, whether by the pool or at a BBQ or with endless gaming. In the summer, you have earned the privilege to be oblivious to real life. It really is your time to surround yourself in a laid-back, stress-and-care-free dimension. As great as that sounds, it’s not a good idea (especially if you are a recent high school graduate or a passing-with-okay-colors college student).

Many of us commence our university studies with the presumption that when we step on the brightly-lit, tree-shaded campus courtyard, we will experience a eureka moment from the heavens above and miraculously realize our lifelong dream, a.k.a. career path. Unfortunately, no.

There is a simple answer to figuring out your lifelong dream. I warn you, though, that you may have to dedicate some of your summer to resolve the labyrinth that is your future, or less drastically put, your major.

As an alumni who not only didn’t know what major to pursue, but who also did a victory lap to graduate and land a job of her dreams after graduate school, I can tell you that the answer is to work backwards. Simple, right? It is. All you have to do is pretend that you are a graduating college senior and are seeking a job now.

So, start off by thinking about jobs you find interesting. You can do a search on job boards such as Indeed and CareerBuilder, and on social media such as LinkedIn and TweetMyJobs. For example, if you enjoy science, you might consider job searches in Nursing, Physical Therapy, Research, etc.

Next, read the qualifications for the job. Answer questions such as:

what subject should you study (Biology, Math, Business, etc; many times multiple degrees can qualify you for a specific position, so just try to figure out the broad subject)
how long will you attend school (Bachelor’s level, Master’s level, Ph.D., Specialist certifications, etc)
what type of jobs, in that category, can you realistically obtain upon graduation (staff level, manager level, etc)
do you understand or at least find interest in the terminology used to describe the position (Group therapy, C++, Six-sigma, etc). As you find new concepts, look them up on Wikipedia and gauge how interesting you find them (do you understand what you are reading? are you at the edge of your seat salivating to learn more? or are you trying to figure out if it’s written in English?)

Once you have done your initial background research, you should have a couple of broad categories of interest (aim for 3-5). For example, mine were psychology, business, and math. The second step is not to stalk professionals meeting your categories of interest as most students assume. Just a side rule, networking is great if you know what you are doing. If you don’t know, such as in this case, please be professional in your networking. Remember networking is a two-way street- before asking for guidance, you must entice your person of interest by answering how you can help them.

The next step is to go have a visit with your university’s Career Center. Universities have unlimited resources and individuals to help you figure out your major and to help you land your first job. Utilize it, and utilize it often throughout your four/five/six-year academic career. Anyway, at this time, consult with your Career Center Advisor in regards to:
the major with the highest placement rate upon graduation
the companies that the university partners with that hire their graduates (which companies, and typically, for which positions)
the job outlooks for the jobs you researched, as well as transferable skills
the ins-and-outs of the career site (as I said, unlimited resources. Also, I’ll have you know that I still use my university’s Career Center interview questions to practice for an interview)

By now, you should have a lot of data. Now, the moment of truth…. Compare your research with the information you obtained from the Career Center. Anything match up? For me, psychology was a big hit. Unfortunately, the number of years job descriptions were telling me to study was not going to work. Not to fret though(I know how deeply concerned you are about my major/career choice). Through my Career Search Business Plan, I was able to cross-reference psychology with related majors such as business, industrial-organizational psychology, human resources, and training and development (interestingly, they are very similar and close-knit areas of study).

From this point, as you have narrowed your interests and/or majors, the next step is to network. Connect with individuals in your interest area. Notice I didn’t say randomly add professionals on LinkedIn with the introduction “Hi, I want to study so-and-so, and as you are a professional in this field, I was wondering if you could tell me how I can have your job. Perhaps over coffee?” The art of networking involves connecting with professionals. Connecting means involving an interaction. Interaction means dealings of similarity. Perhaps you listened to their lecture and have follow-up open ended questions or perhaps you volunteered at their company and want to explore further opportunities. I think you get the idea. Networking should continue throughout your college academics- you never know who you will meet and what opportunities you will encounter. I landed two internships during college through networking (more interesting still is that both of those internships led to job opportunities).

If you have followed these steps, you should be at the starting point now: selecting your major. I can say from personal experience how difficult of a feat it was for me to choose a college major (I switched my major 4 times back in my day). Looking back, I can certainly say it is much easier to work backwards. It paints a much more realistic image of job growth opportunities and career development. A little time of your summer is all you may need in deciding your major, and it can magnificently commence your college career path as a brightly-lit, […]

By |June 19th, 2014|Talent Thursday|0 Comments