Category: Recruiting

Suggestions to help your recruiting efforts.

Peer To Peer Networking For Experiential Education

Students love to interact with their peers.  I had a chance to observe this in action during some events held here on campus.  Career Services organized an event for students to share their experiences from their Experiential Education (Co-op or Internship) with students 1 or 2 years behind them.  To facilitate the discussion, students described what they learned while out working.  Afterwards, students displayed posters sharing their work experiences.

Giving students a chance to network with each other changes the entire dynamics of the conversation.  The style of the questions was dramatically different than the typical Career Fair interaction.  These conversations were more informal, more relaxed, and more conversational.  Why the big difference?  Students were talking to their peers?  Students on both sides of the table were were excited to learn, excited to share, and willing to “tell the truth” from their experiences.

What was most amazing to me was that after 3 or 6 or 8 months working for a company, our students were able to articulate the work culture and environment at their company.  They were just as passionate about the company they worked for as a seasoned member of the recruiting team.

This is an event that is easy to over-think or over-complicate.  Essentially, we invited students to make posters and asked them to share with their colleagues.  The rest of the interactions were unscripted and some of the most educational programming we have available to our students.

For pictures from the event, check out our Flickr page.


Career Paths Are Not Linear

As a 3-year-old what they “want to be when they grow up” and they immediately shout out “Astronaut!” or “Ballerina!” or “Fireman!”  These occupations usually include recognizable costumes, books, an animated TV show, and action figures.

Very few of us grow up to become what we wanted to be at such a young age.  We are influenced by friends, family, peers, educators, and managers we encounter throughout our formative years.  There can be external pressure applied throughout the process.  Parents focus on their son or daughter graduating with a job.  Students feel pressure to get out into the “real world.”  Higher Education collects, analyzes, and scrutinizes “first destination” data.

Careers are definitely not straight lines drawn from college graduation to retirement.  

What if you worked tirelessly toward a career with the full knowledge that it would only last a few years?  Last week, I was fortunate enough to meet two extremely humble, hard-working, and honest people.  These athletes had success at the highest level of their sports and now have moved on to more “traditional” jobs.

John Standeford (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Standeford) and Zach McClellan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zach_McClellan) visited the Michigan Tech campus to share the story of their life journey.  John (NFL) and Zach (MLB) spent years on buses, in the weight room, being cut/traded, and sacrificing portions of their bodies and lives to pursue a dream.  They knew full well the dream was difficult to achieve and would have a short duration.

To me, these are the most important things they shared with us:

  • Be Coachable – There are many people along the way that will give you suggestions for improvements.  You must be able to listen to them and incorporate their feedback into your actions.  You may not always agree, but they have your best interests in mind.
  • Attention To Detail – Why does it matter if your jersey is tucked in?  Because every detail matters and being sloppy on lots of small details can result in bigger problems later.
  • Honor your commitments – You are only as good as your reputation or your word.  It is your responsibility to give maximum effort every single play, every single day, and throughout your career.
  • Be Present – Showing up is the easy part.  If the day is long or starts early, be alert, focused and dedicated on the task at hand.

The Secret to Our Success – Developing and Acquiring Talent

In his book America Needs Talent, Jamie Merisotis defines talent as a skill which is the ability to use knowledge to learn more or to solve problems. It is not born or bought, but is made. Jim Compton noted in his book The Coming Jobs War that intellectual talent was the one renewable resource that when increased in a country could build an empire, but when it is not fostered it could topple governments and societies. Developing domestic talent and acquiring global talent will be the key to the prosperity of our society.

A recent study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that there will be 55 million jobs created in the next decade. Over 70 percent (40 million) of these jobs will require a college level certificate or degree. The challenge is that less than 40 percent of Americans have earned at least an associate’s degree while another 5 percent have earned some type of professional certificate. Intellectual talent attracts business and America is in short supply of this valuable resource.

Currently our education system is largely based on seat time.States define the number of hours each student must be in school each year from kindergarten through high school graduation. In college, you must earn a specific number of credits to achieve an associate degree and masters degree. Yes, you must pass course requirements but often these requirements center around the regurgitation of knowledge, not the demonstration of the application of this knowledge. Merisotis suggests creating a competency-based education system, designed for students to be awarded mastery of application of defined skills. Institutions would need to define the expected learning outcomes and the criteria that must be demonstrated by each student to show mastery of these skills.

The value of global talent to America can be found in the success of immigrants such as Jan Vilcek who came to the U.S. in the 1960’s from Czechoslovakia. After becoming a professor at New York University his research led to the development of the drug Remicade which helps treat patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases. He also uses a portion of his wealth to support other scientists migrating to the U.S.

Australia has developed an immigration system that matches the needs of industry with the talents of immigrants. This talent-based system gives preference to those that possess the unique skills the needed by their society. Though Australia has a population of only 23 million people, fewer than the population of Texas, immigrants have added $3.4 billion to their government budgets from taxes they pay. The U.S. has experienced similar prosperity from American companies founded by immigrants which include: Google, AT&T, Ebay, Kohl’s, Big Lot’s, Pfizer, and Kraft.

Since 1983 the demand for college educated workers has grown 3 percent annually, while the supply of these graduates increased at a 2 percent rate. Companies are looking for a workforce with a depth of specific content knowledge, critical thinking skills, creativity, and ability to embrace change. It is estimated that our economy is losing in excess of $500 billion a year in Gross Domestic Product due to this lack of talent. Our investment in the development and acquisition of talent domestically and globally offers a proven opportunity to improve the lives of us all.


Your Career “Comfort Zone”

wordleIt seems like every magazine, newspaper, or journal is discussing topics like: Big Data, Information Overload, and Consumer Choice.  The general theme relates to the exponentially increasing amount of information and choices available everywhere.

Every business or industry has its own “shorthand” language, terminology, and nuances. In academia, we sometimes get trapped in discussing “Learning Outcomes”.  In business, the focus is on the quarterly results, ROI and EBITDA.  In politics, the overnight poll results lead the evening news after every debate with qualifiers about response rate, accuracy, and confidence.

Recently, I attended an event at our Forestry Building where a variety of Forestry and Natural Resources companies had gathered to meet with students.  Just like any other networking event, companies and students were trying to get to know one another.  As I joined conversations, some portions of of the discussions were like a foreign language to me!  I was amazed by how many abbreviations, jargon, and “Three Letter Abbreviations” (TLA’s) we use to be efficient in our communications.  I am sure I’ve had conversations with my peers that were confusing to others throughout my career.

In January 2015, Michigan Tech had our first ever “Medical Careers Week” on campus.  This year, in January 2016, Career Services has again partnered with different departments across campus for another week designed to help students understand all of the different aspects of careers in Medicine, Allied Health, Informatics, and Biomedical Engineering.  These days are structured with both afternoon and evening components to allow students to fit these topics around their busy class schedules.

Many Michigan Tech students assume that their degree in Engineering will lead to a job in manufacturing or design.  However, as trained problem solvers, an Engineering degree can be an excellent starting point for a career in medicine.

As we continue to build a Career Culture on campus, the depth and breadth of these career explorations are great learning opportunities.  At a minimum, participants become aware of the complexities of something beyond their specific field of study.  Ideally, these events help everyone expand their career “comfort zone” to have a better understanding of the world we live in.


Recruiting Trends 2015-16 Conference

On October 20, 2015, I attended the “Recruiting Trends 2016” survey in Chicago.  This survey has grown and evolved over the years.  Dr. Phil Gardner (Michigan State University) has conducted the survey for many years and did an excellent job of explaining the data to everyone who attended.

Because I work in Career Services, I like to think none of this information was surprising to me!  However, there is always information in national data that is shocking when you broken down regionally.  Hiring in the Midwest is driven by manufacturing — specifically, the resurgence in the Automotive market.  Contrast that to areas hit hardest by low oil prices and you see the drastic disparity within a range of national averages.

Our Career Fair attendance has been at record levels for company attendance.  Michigan Tech students are highly demanded and sought after.  We hope these trends will last forever – but all things are cyclical.

This Fall, our focus was to help develop a “Career Culture” on campus.  The creation of hands-on, interactive, networking events with companies to help students feel comfortable in a job market.  Our partnership with corporate volunteers to review resumes, provide practice interviews, or just be available to listen to students created many individual connections.  The active promotion of our Learning Center to coach students through the process.

These events help students “find their fit” for the first stop on their career journey.  Whether the economy is strong or weak, an alumni that is passionate about what they do and has clear expectations about what they want to accomplish will always be a positive contributor to any company.

(The “Collegiate Employment Research Institute” (CERI) has consolidated this information into a series of short reports available on their website at: http://www.ceri.msu.edu/)


Information Sessions – Know your audience!

What is important to you at age 3 is different than what is important to you at age 30.  Similarly, when students are 20 years old, their priority is to get that first paycheck.  Up until graduation, their largest decision was which college to attend.  Now, after studying for countless hours, they are transitioning from being a student to joining the “real world” that they have longed for since becoming a teen.

I remember my first paycheck after I graduated.  I couldn’t wait to get that check.  In fact, I bought a stereo that was bigger than my car and just financed it because I knew I would have cash in my checkbook soon enough.  (I should have read the details on the financing arrangements, but that is a different story!)

In many Informational Sessions, companies talk about their rank in the Fortune 500, their medical benefits, the matching percentage of the 401(k) program, etc.  These are all important pieces of information.  They are crucial to an employee who has a mortgage, car payments, a wedding to pay for, and family medical deductibles.  But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

However, at age 20 or 21 – students are more interested in the projects they will be working on.  They can’t quite imagine retirement because they haven’t even started a job yet!  In your information session, don’t forget to focus on what is front-and-center in the kid’s minds “What will I be doing every day?”

As I listen in to different Informational Sessions and talk to students afterwards, they want to know what they are going to “do”.  Michigan Tech students have a reputation for being practical, hands-on, get-it-done employees.  Help them visualize what that looks like by sharing descriptions of projects that your interns are doing, projects the full time employees are working on.  Share projects that were success and failures.  Put all of this in context so students can understand what it is like to work for your company.  You will find that they are much more engaged and find it easier to ask questions.


Having fun while learning!

Throughout my life, I’ve been to many museums and exhibits.  I’ve spent hours reading descriptions and plaques about what happened on a certain spot or on a certain date.  My ability to remember these events is enhanced with some sort of visual que or a hands-on exhibit.  When I take my family to a Science Museum or a Children’s museum, I’m usually “that guy” who is taking the time to press every button and try every experiment.  Usually, my kids need to grab me by the hand and drag me out before we get locked in at the end of the day!

The goal with this Fall’s series of Industry Days on Michigan Tech’s campus is to help our students learn what kind of career opportunities they could have.  These experiences will be a combination of hands-on learning and getting viewpoints from a variety of industry personnel.  Throughout the planning and development process, we keep asking the question: “Does that sound like something fun that I would want to do?”

Talking to a complete stranger is a skill that must be learned.  By creating fun, interactive activities, students experience networking by having a shared experience to discuss with recruiters.  The ability to network is one that students find hardest to learn and difficult to practice.

Another, perhaps unintended, benefit of this Fall’s “Industry Days” is giving students a safe place to learn yet another skill for their Career search and their lifelong learning.


Fall Career Fair Detailed Calendar

The weeks leading up to the Fall Career Fair are full of activity on the Michigan Tech campus.

In order to help the companies that recruit our students, Career Services has organized a web page to contain the information.  Please visit: http://www.mtu.edu/career/employers/campus-events/ before your visit to campus to help maximize your recruiting efforts.

You will find detailed brochures and complete registration information for the events that require advanced notification for participation.


Taking the plunge!

Too often, it is easy to make the safe choice. In many cases, this is easier and less work. All change requires additional work and some degree of risk.

Why would we change from our existing system for posting job opportunities and put our faith in a startup company?  Isn’t this a highly critical system designed to help our students find jobs?

Absolutely!

We have been stuck in a classic “chicken or the egg” paradigm with both companies and students frustrated with each other for not being more active participants in the process. This has lead to continuing decline in system utilization as the spiral continued.

After years of listening to our students and employers tell us that our system was difficult to use and impossible to access from mobile devices, we decided to switch to a system designed from the “ground up” for today’s student. With intelligent prompts, suggestions for occasional users, and heavy integration with the social media that students use today, Handshake is much simpler to use.

That is only part of the issue. To make the system fulfill its potential, our launch events in the fall are designed to get students actively participating in the new system and actively thinking about their careers.

When our students return to campus in the Fall, they will have a chance to search for jobs, interact with employers, and chart their career path — all from the palm of their hand!  We are excited to provide our students with the latest in job search technology by converting to Handshake.

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