Another new school year has started! So has the recruiting season!
I am so excited to recruit at University of Houston this fall. Recruiting is always a passion of mine because I get to share my favorite experience with the company, help the company find the right talent, and be a mentor for them. I used to volunteer on the recruiting team at University of Minnesota. Now that I moved down to Houston, it is logistically challenging to participate in events remotely. Thus, my recruiting focus for the past two years has been to attract analysts in Minnesota to Houston, help them transition into the new office smoothly and coach them to develop the fundamental skills to succeed. Since University of Houston is added as a target school this year, I am back in recruiting again! What’s more, I will get to know the candidates more at on-campus interviews!
For the past one year, I have written a series of articles on recruiting and networking based on my experience as a student and as a recruiter. My posts include both what worked well for me as a student and my “I wish I had”. If you are a lower classman, you are not expected to participate in a recruiting event, but it is a great practice round without any pressure to impress recruiters for a job. To see my take on making the most of college, you could check out the post written last year. I have one mentee that took my driver’s license advice to heart after reading my post and was able to put her driving skills to test when she got a summer internship in a suburb this past summer.
In this post, I have segmented those articles into various stages of recruiting and presented them in the form of a check list. Each segment includes the link to the original article that covers the recommended actions. I also added a few anecdotes to demonstrate my point.
Before you start reading them, I want to advise you not to be overwhelmed by the long list. To be honest, sometimes even I am not able to check everything off. I cannot stress enough how important execution is. Try targeting a few actionable items first to develop a habit and then add a couple later. Do not give up if you cannot accomplish everything at once. The goal is to start doing some.
Preparation – Ace the Recruiting Season – Part A
- Have the right attire and dress to impress
In my freshman year, I made the mistake of wearing a casual sweater to an Accounting reception. As soon as I got to the venue, I wished I had not signed up to volunteer at the check-in table…
- Practice some powerful poses mentioned for a boost of confidence
- Research and narrow down the list of companies you are interested in
- Ask good questions in the “statement + follow-up question” format to show that you have done your due diligence
At a pre-career fair mixer at University of Houston a few days ago, I met a few students that talked about their experiences the whole time and did not ask any questions on the company. That raised a red flag to me, because it came across as throwing darts on the board and see which one sticks instead of being genuinely interested in the company and proactively reaching out. Demonstrate your interests and fit with the company by asking questions.
- Follow up with your networking contacts, especially when you have committed to
After the pre-career fair mixer, one of my coworkers was a bit disappointed when a student he met committed to following up within 48 hours at the event, but no response from the student after 48 hours.
Interview – Ace the Recruiting Season – Part B
- Nail your “Tell me about yourself” story and focus more on “why” than “what”
- Prepare a portfolio of stories that show your qualities in various scenarios (academic, part-time job, student clubs, internship, etc)
- Follow the STAR technique
Networking – the two key principles are “make it easier for others to help you” and “return the favor” when you can.
- Start the networking meeting with a clear sense of purpose and identify the right contacts for the meeting
- Articulate the purpose in the introduction email
- Propose specific actionable items in the follow-up email with your contacts
When people reach out to me about job postings in Ecolab or ask me for referral, I love it when they send me a job description or tell me the position requisition number, so that I do not need to sift through the internal job board for them.
- Provide feedback based on their career and personal interests to return the favor to your connections
I always appreciate it when my mentees emailed me and told me what they liked about the blog and what blog posts they were interested in seeing.
- Share resources, such as networking event invite or relevant articles
- Provide status update to those that have helped you
Two years ago before moving to TX, I spoke at a career workshop on campus and was approached by a freshman after wards. She asked for my contact information and later emailed me for advice. Recently, she sent me another status update saying she was able to find an internship in the US her sophomore year summer. That was definitely one of my” proud mentor” moments.
- Prepare a few topics to discuss at a networking dinner or to kick off the conversation with the interviewer
- Consistently have high performance to build a personal brand, because you never know whether who you get to work with in the future. When you are doing out of town job search, communication with the contact is your most visible brand.
- Explain succinctly why you are reaching out to the contact and follow up with them, if necessary
- Prepare a list of questions to discuss with the contact
- Write thank you email, express interests in the firm or potential openings (if applicable), and stay in touch
Best of luck!