College Students: The Art of Being 'Recruitable'
I was working a job fair where I met a recent college graduate. I was recruiting for an auto body company and she sheepishly approached our table and said, “I guess I don’t have the skills to work for you.”
After I let her know that we weren’t only looking for people to knock dents out, I replied, “Now, let’s talk about your approach. Don’t you eeeeeeever do that again.”
As a job recruitment consultant, I want to satisfy two parties—the employer and the job seeker. In order to do that, I need “recruitable” candidates—people who make me want to advocate their employment.
As a college student, there are five areas where you can make yourself recruitable:
In most cases, a résumé is the first contact an employer has with a candidate. That’s why it is so important to make sure certain elements stand out. For you, the college student, those elements include: the GPA, student organizational involvement, work study or off-campus job(s), and references.
Let’s dig in a little more. Let’s say you don’t have a GPA over 2.7. You can make up for that by showing great student organizational involvement and/or great performance on the job, whether it is work study or an off-campus job. Understand that the résumés of students with high GPAs automatically go to the top of the pile. Still, great leadership skills through work outside of the classroom is valued.
In the case of student organizational involvement, you should be able to demonstrate bottom line success. You can show such success through membership increases, fundraising results, volunteer hours, awards, etc. These kinds of quantifiable results, in the workforce, are called productivity. FYI, you don’t need a title to show great leadership skills; but be prepared to prove how you contributed to your group’s success.
Notice that I described the graduate who approached me at the job fair as “sheepish.” Making a great impression is important. I would have reacted differently had the first words out of her mouth been, “My name is (blank) and I have a degree in (blank). Working at a car repair shop has never crossed my mind but I was wondering if you had anything available in my field.”
It goes without saying that confidence establishes a great presence. Make sure you look clean. Employers always remember students whose clothes are pressed as well as those who smile, speak clearly and loudly, use correct grammar, and show great posture.
Great speakers are almost always highly recruitable. I encourage you to take public speaking classes at your college or university, because it is a great way to strengthen your interpersonal communication skills. This is especially important for the job fair environment where projection and articulation are sorely needed. As a public speaking coach, I focus heavily on these two specific elements, because it is difficult to make an impression when people can’t hear or understand what you say in a crowded room.
Slouching, scowling, etc. are major pet peeves of mine. When I had a sour look on my face, people would tell me that no one cared what kind of day I was having. They were right. Body language such as poor posture, blank looks, and dragging feet communicate a poor attitude and/or low self-esteem. Even if you smile while you drag your feet, you’re still dragging your feet!
Let’s look at it from my side of the table, as a recruiter. If I am conducting interviews and three out of every five candidate walked in looking like they wanted to brighten my day, who do you think I will remember (for the right reasons)?
Take advantage of etiquette classes or workshops. Learning to do things such as shake hands and eat properly go a long way in dealing with recruiters and employers. We also monitor students’ social skills online. No, I will not lecture you about your social media presence. Instead, I’ll give you an example of how sneaky I am.
I conduct a social media presentation called “TMI: From #EpicFail to Career Success”. I spoke to a group of well-dressed, well-groomed, well-behaved student athletes only to show them how trifling some of them presented themselves online. Yes, unbeknownst to them, I found some of their stuff and put it on a nice, big screen for them and their peers to see. It only took about five minutes of Googling each victim to get what I wanted. It was great that they showed nice social skills for my presentation but what I found online told me otherwise.
I have a secret. Your social media accounts, web sites, profiles, etc. all count as your public presence.
The biggest thing to remember about being recruitable is to not wait until a job interview or the next job fair. Recruiters and employers are watching all the time. Enhance your “recruitability” through counseling at your campus career center. Use what you learn to create a strong presence.