Top 10 Resume Tips

March 20, 2009

After having gone through a lay off during the holidays, I started doing something I thought I would never do: I started my own business helping folks with their resumes! Especially in this market there are so many candidates for the few available positions out there, you have to know how to stand out and land an interview. So here is a link to my article on the top 10 resumes tips so you can learn better how to write a resume:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1559948/top_10_resume_tips.html

Much more to come!!

Wal-Mart man crushed by shoppers on Black Friday: Related to recruiting?

December 1, 2008

Last week some of you may have read the sad news of the man crushed by overzealous shoppers at a Wal-Mart on Black Friday (see the article here).

As sad as this news is, and not to downplay this by any means, I began to wonder how many times I myself may have “crushed” a good candidate in a similar way. In order to do this self-evaluation, I had to look at some of the key reasons why such a tragic event occurred in the first place.

First and foremost, the shoppers had been waiting a long time. Some had waited all night to be there at 5am for the opening of the store to get one of only 10 bargains available. In recruiting, there are always deadlines. Sometimes those deadlines are to fill a particular in a particular time-frame. Sometimes those deadlines refer to an added bonus for the year, quarter or month. In other instances, we are just so desperate to a fill a role due to our lack of effort, or lack of effectiveness for a period of time, we are thirsty to make it happen, irregardless of who we step on to get there. All too often, the one we end up stepping on is the candidate themselves. Much like the Wal-mart worker who merely attempted to open the door for the eager shoppers, we crush the candidate who was looking to us for help and was doing everything in their power to provide the right skills, resources, etc to clear a way for us to obtain the desired result.

How often do we allow such “gains” on our part effect our decisions in a bad way so as to crush the very work we are trying to accomplish or the innocent bystanders seeking us for help in finding that career path they have been longing for? Some of the shoppers in this incident had complained that they had been waiting all night, even after being told someone died and that the store was closing for the moment to take care of the issues. How cruel is this?? And yet i wonder if there have been times my very complaints were along these same lines: cruel and selfish in so many ways.

While coworkers rushed to the man’s rescue, other shoppers continued to pummel, crushing them as well, and there was even a pregnant lady who was injured in the process. So the effects on one person started effecting others around them as others tried to help. In recruiting, I have noticed that there are moments when others try to step in and help because we are blinded by our end goal, that others are also “injured”. Think about the employer’s trust you lost? The manager whose relationship will not be mended now? The other coworkers in a department that was depending on you to fill the vacant role? Our own selfishness has a trickle effect among many more than just the very candidate that we are working with. Oftentimes, these are the ones that go unnoticed.

I hope that as we go into the holiday season, we think about this in our career fields. The economy is effecting many of us. There are many selfish reasons why we could make these types of mistakes the shoppers made that day. But there are a million more reasons why we can let the holiday season allow us to be a little more thoughtful as we work with managers, employers, and candidates this upcoming year. Turbulent times have come for many of us, so let’s remember the reason why we are in the wonderful field we call recruiting in the first place. I know I have learned a valuable lesson this past week and I hope that sharing this with you will help you contemplate your own personal application of this incident to your career.

Happy Holidays everybody and Happy Hunting!

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part IIIc

May 3, 2008

Now that you have listened and gathered as much information as possible during the “question session”, it is now time to move on to the stages of negotiation.

Negotiation

The challenge most sales people seem to have here is the excitement they have of selling the features of their product instead of focusing on how their product is actually going to help them out. So the first law of negotiation is to remember that you are there to make a recommendation, not sell them on how good your product is.

Let me illustrate: I had a New York Life sales agent come to my office several months ago to present some interesting information to me. I have to admit he did not really ask many questions as to what was the best thing for my family. Instead, he proceeded to take out his laptop and give me his rote presentation on the features of a new program that had come out recently and was thoroughly excited about it. I admired his enthusiasm. He definitely knew what he was talking about. But I was not interested. He had no clue what I really wanted, he wanted to show me what “he” thought was best for my family and I. Instead of making a recommendation to fix what I wanted or needed, he only told me what he wanted me to hear.

The sad part is I actually thought the new program was a good one. But I didn’t purchase the program from him.

So you may ask, Steve, what do you mean make a recommendation? Well think about it. Why would you spend all that time asking questions, gathering information, and discovering the issues your prospect has just to end up sharing the same presentation over again that you have shared before?

So personalize it!

Your goal is to fix a problem, not sell them on the same idea that you’ve shared with countless others over and over again.

Application-Based Presentations

So the solution is for you to be so knowledgeable about your product or service that you are not being spontaneous about the presentation, rather you are well prepared to focus on those items that need to be addressed with the same excitement and enthusiasm you have to share your rote presentation. And do it in a different order!

One of the best ways to address this in the negotiation process is to involve the prospect as much as possible. Let them feel it, touch it, experience it, etc. Remove the fear and confusion by having them test it out as much as possible to see what you are recommending rather than just making the recommendation. If it has to do with numbers, let them punch the numbers in the calculator, etc. This allows them to mentally transfer ownership to themselves prior to signing the paperwork. This is very powerful!

The Price War

This is the most common issue that comes up in any negotiation process. If you are an amateur, your greatest fear is the price. The veteran never sees price as an issue.

The great news is that the answer to this is simple. I will write a very small article after this post to address the issue of price and how you can avoid these issues in more detail. The simple answer is if price is still an issue, you have not created enough value for your product or service. That is the only answer.

This is why the section I wrote on questioning is so critical. You need to know everything. You need to know all the problems that need to be satisfied. You must know the challenges, risks, and other struggles that they are trying to avoid and are important to them.

Address these issues first. Never discuss price until all items are discussed. You need to create a perceived value before issuing the price. If they see the value it must be higher than what they are willing to pay. A lot of the times sales people think they need to price things down to get the deal done. Guess what? You’re wrong! Because guess what happens the next time you meet? They will want it cheaper! The cheaper you go the cheaper they will want it and the cheaper they will expect it or look elsewhere. Just remember: Cheap is cheap. go back to the values and what your service or product will accomplish for them. Be specific. Always point out how each benefit helps their issue at hand. Never assume they will know what the benefit is!

So as promised, the next post will address price in a bit more detail and then on to the final ingredient in your recipe for success!

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part IIIb

April 24, 2008

Today we are going to focus on the second section of negotiating, namely the questions we ask during the process of negotiating the deal.

Questions: Discovering the How, Why, When and Where

The biggest thing I need to mention here is good preparation makes for good questions. While there are basic questions that need to be addressed with every client, nevertheless every client is unique, so tailoring the items that need discussing is critical.

One caution here though: Always remember that most sales people have presentations that sound completely canned. And in our day, our cans even come with a pop-a-top! How convenient! So just be aware of yourself and your presentation to avoid the pop-a-top action…it’s loud and completely noticeable. Just trust me on that one!

  • Open-Ended – These are the types of questions you should ask because your goal is to find out how they fell, what the are thinking, and what they truly want. If you use too many “yes or no” type questions, you not only get limited answers, but it can very discouraging for other people responding and they are certainly not going to warm up to you to share more detail.
  • Need-Based – You need to have true insight into what they need to accomplish. One of the ways to do this effectively is to ask them what is keeping them from accomplishing what they want. Have them describe the limitations. Some people don’t do this because they are afraid the answers may be the very problems their own product has. Don’t worry about that! Remember, we are looking for a good fit and if we truly can resolve the issue, why waste each other’s time?
  • Motivational – These are unique from the needs side in that they explore the desires and feelings of what is wanted. What is the true motivation behind the decision? Most of the time this can also pinpoint the time-frame for the buying decision so that you have a calendar of when things need to get done. Are their deadlines that need to be met? Is there some training involved to get them to that level quicker? Truly discover the motivation behind the needs and wants.
  • Probe; don’t Pry – I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to sales professionals that say things like, “You do want to save money right?” or “You do want to get this done by the end of the week right?”. I am sure you can see how unreceptive you might be if someone asked you these questions. How would you respond? You already know the answer to this anyway because you asked the right questions in the first place, so avoid the offensive questions you already know the answers to. Be cautioned about how you phrase the questions as well. This is where preparation ahead of time can help you think of better ways to ask the right questions.
  • Keep it simple – Keep your questions simple and easy to answer. Why? Because one you don’t want to make them feel stupid or ignorant to their own problems. Ask questions they will definitely know the answers too, and again keep in mind the phrasing. The smarter they feel in answering your questions, the greater you make them feel.
  • 3 Levels deep – This is a principle I learned long ago when I served a mission for my church in Chicago. It is a principle that basically says if you haven’t gone at least 3 levels deep, then you still don’t know what they truly want.
  • Guide the Interview – Be sure to ask questions that guide the conversation where it needs to go. Some people do like to ramble, so be aware off this and always find ways to bring the conversation back to the main focus: resolving their problem. I have seen so many sales professionals that use this guidance as an excuse to provide the answers for the prospect. This accomplishes nothing! At that point all you have done is come to your own conclusions without really addressing the main concerns or getting the real answers.
  • Listen to the Silence – I know we covered the listen part in the last section, but I cannot emphasize this enough as it accompanies a word that most people for some reason fear: Silence. Have you ever been in a conversation and let there be a moment of silence? It so powerful, but most sales people think that if there is silence that this is a bad thing. It is the complete opposite! It gives everyone a chance to reflect for a brief moment and truly think about their response. Don’t ever feel like you need to fill in a moment of silence. More often than not, this moment of silence was exactly what was needed. So let it happen! Think about it. When there is silence, are you not at the edge of your seat waiting for the response? When there is silence, how much more likely are you to truly listen to the response that comes because you had to wait a little extra for it?

So there you have it. In the last section of part 3, we are going to get into the details of negotiating. Please feel free to leave comments or email if there are specific examples or challenges you are facing in this area that I can address.

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part IIIa

April 23, 2008

So before moving on to the “real” part III of these ingredients, I wanted to address the area of listening as it is a subject that I think needs to be detailed a tad bit more. As I thought about the section of negotiating, I also realized that listening is a part in and of itself. So this section will be dedicated to that of listening. A reader asked me to help out with more questions as well to understand this part of the process to develop a good basis for negotiating, so I am going to include another section on questions. As a result, part 3 will have a listening section, a questions section, and then the negotiating section. So on to listening!

Listen

Here are some key factors when it comes to listening. You may have heard these before, but the reality is you have to think about how well you are actually applying them to your sales process and in your presentations and negotiating skills.

  • Listen; Don’t Talk – Basically what I am trying to say here is pay attention. In fact, paraphrase what they are saying in your own words just to be clear. Sometimes they struggle conveying what it is they are trying to say, so listen first and then see if you understood it.
  • Switch off the Negative – Sometimes we hear or know things about those we are presenting to that keep us from concentrating on what is being said. Turn those thoughts off! Be receptive to their message, since it is going to help you in your delivery later.
  • Don’t Plan Ahead– What?! What do you mean don’t plan? What I am trying to say here is oftentimes as people are speaking, we are always thinking about what we are going to be saying next. Remember, you are not on your time, but theirs. Their agenda is your agenda until you know what they want to present later.
  • Analyze – Think about what they are saying and what they are not saying. This is similar to the listening part mentioned above, but by analyzing what is said it helps in paraphrasing and trying to understand what is truly behind their reasons for wanting what you have.
  • No Interruptions! – Not only is it inconsiderate, it is rude, and can ruin their train of thought as they seek to express why and when they will buy from you. Why would you want to jeopardize knowing that information?!
  • Gauge them in Conversation – Asking the right questions is critical here. Plus it shows you are truly listening and asking deeper questions because you are being genuine in knowing and understanding their wants and needs.
  • Take Notes – Ask permission to take notes during the conversation. Jot down the most important points to remind you later how to prepare your presentation or to refer back to later on in the meeting to clarify and adjust your presentation.
  • No Distractions – I remember when I was playing baseball, one of the player’s dad owned this airplane (you know the kind…very loud and sometimes had flapping words dancing in the wind as it rolled in the sky). Every year with the new freshmen that came in, this dad would fly the airplane overhead during tryouts. For those of us who were veterans we knew the routine, but for the newbies, they had no clue that the coach was testing them on how distracted they were during play and testing. I am sure you can imagine what happened to those who just couldn’t focus. You need to concentrate on your client, whether or not that sign flying by in the sky has your name on it!
  • Focus – Look them in the eye; lean forward; use gestures of understanding and body language that shows you are listening.
  • Calm and Collected – Part of the focus factor is to remain calm even when the client may get revved up in what they are sharing.

So there you have it! Like I said, this may be a repeat of things you may already know, but even the greatest sales gurus review the fundamentals. Especially on a down day.

Your Sales Ingredients to Success: Part II

April 22, 2008

So here we are to the second step to your sales ingredients. I apologize for not writing sooner as personal issues with my home and the fun sewer line has caused some delays, but I am back!

Presenting the Solution

  • Finding out the problems – Before you can truly present a solution, you need to understand the need or more importantly, the want. One the challenges many sales people face here is they like to jump right into the features of their product before they even understand whether or not the product is going to help the prospect or not.
  • Whose schedule are you on? – One of the other challenges is recognizing that the prospect is moving on their own time schedule, not yours. Are you willing to dedicate the time necessary to close a deal? Does the time needed justify the time spent? Don’t rush, and don’t ever sell when you need to, because the focus is no longer on them, but on you. Trust me…they’ll know.
  • Know the why – Why would they make a purchase now or in the future? What might some of the resistances be? Now this is not an invitation to pull out your set of answers to pre-determined questions or concerns that might come up. You need to truly gauge the prospect and understand the solution they actually need and want.
  • Budget – what budget are you working with? Are their constraints that need to be known up front? What is the buying cycle (same as above in knowing the time frame to buy)? What have they bought in the past (and not just from you but from competitors as well)?

Engage the Prospect

In order to truly present the right solution, there is an engaging process that needs to take place to get you the right information as you prepare the solution. Prospects can read you very well. When I interview people I can always tell when I ask a question or say something that puts the candidate in an interesting position. That’s why I ask them of course! They can see your confidence, attitude and belief about your product based on gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and other movements (eyes, hands, etc). So if you are nervous, you need to rethink your position.

When I played baseball, it did not matter how good my skills were, or how well the strategies we had in place worked int he past. If I was nervous, or mentally out of it, I did not play well. Period. You are entering the game at this point, so be ready to play the mental game. Don’t worry so much about the skills as you have practiced already (at least I am assuming you have) just play the game. When I coached little league, I always told the players to focus on what they were good at during the game and nothing else. Practice was a time to focus on shortcomings, but once you started the game the only thing you should be thinking about is how good you are, and how great you are going to play.

When you sit down to present, you are in the game. FOCUS.

Listen

It all starts with listening. And not just to words, but you need to be what is known as an active listener. What is an active listener? Well I am out of time for today, so I will post tomorrow for sure and continue with a fun list of ways to know if you are good listener in the sales process. This will lead into our third part in negotiating the details. Until then!

New Business Starting

April 21, 2008

So I have been working with a developer for a new business idea that will be launched at the end of this year or early next year. The great news is that for those of you within my network that would be interested in becoming a member of my network can earn money by referring those you know for open positions in the Utah area. So I am inviting you to subscribe to a blog I have dedicated to updating you until the website launches. You are welcome to view it here:

http://hiremynetwork.blogspot.com

Thank you my faithful readers!

Your Sales Ingredients to Success

February 11, 2008

In sales, there are many approaches to 4 specific processes each with their own special ingredients that you will need to cook up a great recipe for your sales career. Having read many sales books from many professionals, there are 4 common themes and some very critical parts to those themes that create a successful sales career which I have personally used and trained others on using to their success. These 4 processes, in order: Finding the Prospect; Presenting the Solution; Negotiating the Details; and Making the Close.

Be Careful About the Process!

One of the challenges in looking at a process like this is to believe that these areas are finite, or in other words, you have to accomplish one before you get to the other. While a part of this train of thought rings true (in part because you can’t sell something to someone you haven’t met yet), the reality is these processes compliment each other and one without the other is a recipe for disaster. But like a good recipe, the order of the ingredients does not always matter, yet having all of the ingredients there is critical. Have you ever eaten a batch of cookies without the salt? More on salt later…

So this first article is going to focus on the Prospecting piece, and then future articles will cover the other 3 categories in a recipe for a sales process that will help you get the deal done without “overcooking”.

Finding the Prospect

Let’s get started with the first step in the process, which is finding someone to sell your product or service to in the first place. So here are the ingredients for this part of the sales recipe:

  • Cold Calling – Ah yes, the one thing that most sales gurus will tell you is the worst ingredient in the recipe. But I will tell you right now, that cold calling is like the salt in your recipe. While most recipes only require a very small amount that almost seems insignificant when compared to all other ingredients, it is a critical part of the recipe. In fact, the truly successful sales professionals will tell you that cold calling is the one thing that keeps them at the top of their game. It is a chance to practice new ideas, products, etc. Cold calling was the very thing that helped me practice on what to say and how to say it before speaking to some of those prospects where it really made a difference in my career. If you can’t cold call, you can’t sell. Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that cold calling is the best way to source for referrals; I am just saying that it is one of those arrows in the quiver that should be sharpened and prepared to go when needed because you never know when you will need to be ready to shoot.
  • Scripts – Most sales people work from a script. Not because they do not know what they are talking about. On the contrary, they know very well the subject matter, the product, what they are going to say, etc. But the script allows you to have a specific guideline. In fact, if you have a script but haven’t been using it, I dare you to go back to it and see if it makes a difference in a week. Having a script is like lifting weights, running, biking, etc in preparation for a big tournament. You have always heard the cliché that preparation is the key to everything. Well your script is that preparation.
  • Preparation Before the Call – This is probably one of the most overlooked parts of the process at this stage, but is one of the most essential skills in finding the prospects and is closely related to scripts. You need to invest your time in learning about the prospect or the company that you are trying to reach. The more you do this, the more prepared you will feel when you call. This also builds confidence and knowledge in how to approach this person or company for the first time. Plus this will lead to more active referrals as you research and try to find out more about the organization, opening more doors than you may be able to keep up with. And even more important than that, one of the most common mistakes sales people make is talking to the wrong person. I have had many calls in my career of sales people that are so excited to get me on the phone that they frantically try to set me up for another appointment to speak to me in more detail without even verifying if I am the decision maker. You need to ask up front. In other words, are they the ones that sign the check? If not, then you have not prepared enough yet. Ask them several times if they are the decision maker with different questions just to be sure.
  • Breaking the Ice – Again, the gurus will tell you that the best way to start any conversation is to ask “How are you?” or something along those lines. I call this smoke (which is a very fancy term for something that clouds what it is you are trying to see) or in this case, clouding the purpose of the conversation. Bill Brooks in his book Sales Techniques calls it unsolicited small talk. The Brooks Group has done studies as well that have shown that the majority of decision makers in the sales process are completely turned off by this, and they do not start any conversation off well at all. This is due to the fact that you are not building any credibility by asking such questions, and can be seen as unprofessional. Instead, get straight to the point. If you have a script, this will already be listed out as your statement of intent. The purpose of the call is to discuss the ways in which you could be of service, so why not get right into it? Small talk can come a little later, especially if initiated by the other person on the line. Then welcome it, but keep your goal in mind; the purpose of the call.

In Conclusion for Now

So now that you have done your research, you have prepared to make the calls, and have now started finding prospects, it is time to move on to the next step. Next we will get into Presenting the Solution and the common problems most sales people run into and what you should consider when presenting to your prospects.

Considering a New Job

December 7, 2007

In considering a new career opportunity or making a move from a current situation that you do not enjoy, here are some quick things that you need to strongly consider before accepting a role:

1. Job Match

First and foremost is whether or not it will be a good fit. If the role does not tap into your true motives and desires, then it is not a good fit. Sometimes organizations out of desperation may hire you on the spot, or earlier than expected, but do your due diligence. Understand the role and what you will be doing and look deep inside to decide if it is something you can truly enjoy.

2. The Challenge

Is the position going to stretch you? Or is it the same title, but different company scenario? You have to truly think about some of the reasons you want to leave your current situation. The underlying factor may just be that you are stuck. You are going nowhere. It is not always about the change in pay (which IS important, don’t misunderstand here) but sometimes the change in pay is not enough if the challenge the new role presents is not enough to take you to the limits. The best scenario I can give here is having a personal trainer. The reason I have a personal trainer is to push me beyond what I think I am capable of. When I do 12 sets, he pushes me to do 15. In the long run, I am much greater than I had anticipated, and perhaps gave myself credit for in the first place.

3. Impact

Does what you do in your new role have an impact on the organization? The bigger picture is always important because if you do not have a clear vision of where you want to be, you will never know if what you do even matters. That can be very discouraging. Isn’t that the core of why you want to make a move anyway? You want to know that what you do makes a difference. Make sure that it does and that you believe in it.

4. Your Own Learning and Growth

What is the future of the role? Where do you go from there? You want to have some clearly defined “paths” to growth. This can also lead to discouragement if you know you are stuck and going nowhere, much less learning anything new. You can be a little selfish here. Not necessarily the “what’s in it for me” attitude, but rather “what can I do to contribute to my own growth and help the organization in it’s overall objectives” type attitude. It needs to be a win-win.

5. Team Quality

Who will you be working with? What level are they at currently? How have they progressed within the organization. Not only does this give you a clearer understanding of the growth others are seeing, but these will be people you are working with everyday. you will develop new friendships. You will become like them. There is an old proverb that says, “Keep company with good men and good men you will imitate”. Are these the type of people you can see yourself imitating? Do they have the attitude of “your success is our success?”

6. Leadership Quality

Equally important is the quality of leadership. Like the team members, How is the team led? Is this leader a dictator, or a mentor? How involved is the manager in the recruiting process? There should be ample opportunity to discuss this and learn of the leaders that make the organization what it is so you can determine whether or not that the way they lead aligns with your principles and in helping you be successful.

7. Company Culture

This can be a tough one to sort out at first, but see if the company has a mission statement or philosophy that is posted in prominent work locations for employees to see. See if they have company newsletters you can read and learn more about the organization and the leaders (who probably have written an article or two). Look at the atmosphere of the office. Is it professional in it’s look? Remember that no company is perfect, but there should be some clear objectives in place and most employees should know about them.

8. Strategy and the Future

Where is the company headed? What are some goals and aspirations they have? Are these aspirations you can see yourself supporting and enjoying? Obviously the organization can sit down with you and share the secret sauce, but they should be able to talk about future plans and goals they are looking to achieve. Without these clearly defined, where are they going? How do they plan on getting to where they want to be?

9. Balance

Today’s corporation has to consider the Work/life balance that all of us are faced with everyday. Of course the organization has certain expectations, which is great. That is why you are looking at them, but if they require so much that other “life” things are hard to balance, you may want to reconsider. I am not saying that you can’t work hard, but don’t let life slip away. I worked in my first recruiting role as I developed my career for 60-90 hours per week for almost two years. While I could have done some things in less time, it wore on my family and there were moments I felt I was at a breaking point. You shouldn’t allow the company to bend you that far like I did. I am grateful for what I learned, and I gained a lot in my career, but it almost reached a point that it should not have reached. Consider how supportive the organization is with this.

10. Compensation/Benefits

Ah…the perks. Every organization differs and sometimes it can be like comparing apples to oranges, but there is some commonality in this area. Be open to trading one thing for another if necessary as long as it has more importance for you than the “other” thing. Be careful of hype here as well. Don’t let them “sell” you on it. You need to sell yourself on it. You need to make the decision here. Do what makes sense for you, and is competitive.

The Art of University Hiring

December 5, 2007

In my experience in helping to set up the recruiting at local universities in my previous job and then working on doing the same for my current organization, I thought it extremely important to share some insights on this. I have been doing this for 3 years, and it is amazing what some companies do and don’t do right. I was recently answering a question on LinkedIn that prompted this article, so as promised to those who read that response, here is a much more detailed version on recruiting at your local campus.

Fostering the Relationships

This is the first step in the process, and is by far the most important before making any on campus visits. In fostering relationships with the University there are many relationships you need to focus on. I have included a list here along with some suggestions as to how and why.

  1. Deans, Executives, etc. These relationships are merely for introduction purposes. Often when I speak to someone at this level they refer me to others within the university that can help in specific departments. That’s exactly why I contact them! It is very easy to find emails, phone numbers, and such on the school website, and they are very helpful in pointing you in the right direction to find the others in this list of people you want to know. Always send thank you emails as follow-ups for their time and always talk about how much you value their school and the education their students are receiving to prepare them for the careers you wish to provide their students. I can not emphasize this enough.
  2. Career Services– these are the folks that are going to be helping you with several things. They will often times set up your employer account if you cannot do so on your own at their website (if the school has an on-line program for employers, and it’s okay if they need to set it up because it gives you an excuse to talk to someone and start those relationships by phone). They are also responsible for keeping you up-to-date with career fairs, activities, and other events coming up that pertain to you and your organization. When a fair does occur, they can help with job postings, on-campus interviews, and the all important information session (something I think a lot of employers fail to use). I will go into more details on these items in the next section.
  3. Professors – these folks are your biggest help when it comes to getting in touch with certain students. They work hand-in-hand with some of the very students that you wish to speak with, and if you haven’t been on campus before, they can steer you to the right departments of students that will fit well with what you are looking for. Plus, most of them them can lead you to the one professor that can help with the next relationship:
  4. Clubs– On-campus clubs I think are one of the most untapped resources today. One of the problems is that most universities that have them sometimes are not very organized with them. But it is interesting to note that this lack of organization is not due to lack of students. Nor is it due to lack of leadership. Oftentimes it is a lack of activities to keep the club busy and doing things that pertain to the purposes of the club in the first place. But the clubs do exist, and there are things you could be doing to tap into this. More on this later.
  5. School Newspaper – I don’t think I need to go into too many details here, but I will go into details in the next section on your use of advertising and what you should and shouldn’t do.
  6. Alumni– This is usually done through career services, but most schools have a completely separate department for these incredible resources of experienced and degreed professionals. In fact, if you are reading this and are graduated from college and know nothing about your own alumni association for your school, you need to call your Alma Mater and sign up once you are done reading this article.

Give and You Shall Receive

So now that the 6 key relationships are established it is now time to use these relationships to your advantage. You see, a university does not just exist to provide a great educational institution. It also exists to deliver the promises it made to the students when it was recruiting the student: Career placement! So with that being said, here are some of the things you can do with the relationships you have established now:

Deans/Executives

There are some Universities that have dean’s receptions, etc. These are great events! Free food, and free networking to speak with other organizations that will be at the fair and other professors that you are going to want to get to know anyway. There are so many ways to start these relationships. Plus, it gives you a chance to introduce your organization to executives of the school. Sometimes these receptions are before the fair, sometimes they are after the fair, or sometimes they are the night before the fair. Either way, find out about them and attend. It never hurts to network just a little bit more.

Career Services

This is your most important relationship as it can have an effect on all other relationships. What you do and how you handle yourself and your business with career services can make or break the entire relationship. So here are some tips:

  • RegistrationAlways register early for career fairs. Most are available in advance by several months. The earlier you are signed up, the earlier you can post job postings and the cheaper it usually is. Plus if you have been to the fair before, you may be able to request the same location or a different location. In the summer, you want to do this before schools starts so that students can see you are registered to come when they start school.
  • Resume Searches – Once registered, you can gain access to student resumes that may be a great networking resource. THIS SHOULD BE DONE PRIOR TO ANY VISIT ON CAMPUS(can you tell that this last sentence is important?). I can call a student that may not be interested or already graduated or even employed, but that’s okay because MOST of the time they have friends who are still in school or may not have found a position yet because they are 1 semester behind them, etc. Though many schools are not very good at maintaining these databases of resumes, they are still valuable resources to make contacts, and many schools are getting better as technology advances. You will want to know how to use them!
  • On-Campus Interviews– Prior to any fair, just like the registration, plan on being on campus for about a week. Why? Because not only do you need to set up some interview days to meet with students face-to-face, you also want to set up an information session on campus.
  • Information Sessions – These are valuable ways to interact with students and allows you to introduce some students to the company without the “threat” of an interview, if you know what I mean. Plus, if they are married, it allows their spouses to participate and gain insight on the organization as well. In fact, during my resume searches prior to coming to the campus for the fair, if I find students that seem like good matches, I will send a personal invitation to them to come to an info session. I invite them to consider as well any significant other that they feel would be interested in coming and may be part of the decision in the hiring process for them. The great part about this as well is you can have someone in career services send out the invite (something you will want to create to hand out at the fair as well as electronically) so that you can get the buzz already going. Can you see why this is such an important part of your trip?
  • Food, Food, Food – Students love food. Having food at the information session is a great way to attract a greater crowd, and if you order too much, I have yet to be at an information session where I haven’t been able to give the left overs to the Starving Student Association (well okay; I admit, no association really exists, but the remaining students in the halls and such are never sad to accept free pizza and soda, nor are participating students shy at taking home any leftovers to roommates and such).
  • Bring Donuts/Bagels– Okay, I know this could fall into the food category, but these donuts or bagels are for someone completely different. When you have the on-campus interviews, bring donuts and/or bagels to the staff and faculty that morning. (Who does that?) Well that is exactly why you do it. You stand out. The staff talks about your company all day because students walk in and ask about the goodies there. The staff asks too. What great advertising by word of mouth!

Newspapers

This is an important relationship as well. Prior to the fair, advertising is key to let students know you are coming. Also take advantage of the fair packages they have and the commonly known “Career Fair Guide” that is usually separate from the normal paper or comes as an insert. This is a great way to get some exposure and promote your info session to invite all to come and see what you are about. One of the most critical uses of the campus newspaper is the thank you note. What is that you ask? Well, the Friday at the end of the week of the career fair, or the following Monday you want to put a special advertisement in the paper. I find Mondays are better because more and more campuses these days have no classes on Fridays, so you will want to learn about this.

At any rate, it is the “Thank You” Letter. What I have done in the past is had the CEO write a thank you letter to the campus and sign it (actually I usually write the letter that gets approved and signed). This becomes a full page advertisement and just thanks students and faculty for a great career fair this semester (or year) and for welcoming your company as a guest on their campus. You will be surprised the effect this will have on those that read the paper. Again, doing things that stand out and are out of the norm cause the buzz you want and need. And most importantly, it just shows an extra element of professionalism by saying thank you.

Professors

Professors are your advocates with the students. Take them out to lunch. Take them out to dinner. Network, network, network. There are two main reasons for this.

Reason #1 – The first reason is that the professors you want to build relationships are those in the field in which you are seeking for students. Building the network, letting them know who you are, and answering questions they will have about your organization will help in creating a relationship that will extend to the students that they teach. Be prepared to speak about your organization with excitement and enthusiasm. Plus they can give you insider information that will allow you to find the best students. They can make recommendations and make internal announcements to classes filled with students looking for an organization such as your own.

Reason #2– You can do a presentation in their class. Well maybe not you personally, but how about individuals within your organization in the departments you are hiring for? Not only does this expose students to those they would be working with, but your managers, VPs, etc can interact and meet students that they may think are exceptional. There have been a few times where our CEO taught the entire class based on knowledge within our industry that related 100% with the subject for teaching. This may not occur in the week that you are there for the fair, but it may be worth the trip later on.

Clubs

These, as I said, are the most untapped resources of all. Depending on the positions that you have open, finding a specific club can be fairly easy. Career services, professors, and the students themselves can point you in the right direction. usually one of the professors leads the club anyway, so you may have relationships with the right people already. Then there is a student who is in charge of running the club. Keep in mind that some club leaders can change every semester, so you need to stay on top of this resource. This is where those same individuals who could present in class (in case this is not an option) you can now present to students in a club specifically designed around the role you are looking to fill. Obviously you do not want any of these presentations to be a plug for your company. Disseminate information first and establish credibility and value. Do this and the questions later will come about your company. For now, give them value. It’s just like sales: show the customer the value first and they will come to you because they see you as an expert. That’s when it is time to “sell” the company because they will be asking for it. Or invite them to the info session to learn more.

Alumni

And now finally, alumni. Again, if you have not signed up with your alumni association, you are missing out on probably one of the most valuable resources campuses can have. I mean let’s face it. Often times we only see campuses as great places to find young inexperienced people. But if all of our roles only required those minimum requisites, it would be all too easy! So building a relationship with the alumni network is huge. Not only do they have similar services (like they do for undergrads and grads), but some campuses have searchable resumes for alumni and an active job board for alumni to search and always be in touch with their Alma Mater network. If you are not in that network as well, you may be missing out on a higher paying career! Just don’t let your employer know I was the one who told you. Another benefit is that many alumni associations even have local “chapters” so that grads who live near you may have activities and such that you can participate in to build your local network as well.

Conclusion

So there you have it. There may be more to add as I continue to learn and grow in University recruiting. My hope is that this will help you get started. In the future, I may even upload files that I use and sample letters, ads, etc to help facilitate the brainstorming that goes into play to make your visit a profitable one for your organization.