College students in their final years of university often face a common hurdle: how to stand out among a host of other bright-eyed, yet relatively inexperienced candidates. Taunee Besson, career transitions expert and President and Principal Consultant at Dallas-based Career Dimensions offers advice applicable to both the greenest and the most seasoned candidates on how to catch the hiring manager’s eye. — Maurice Gilbert
Now that I’m finishing my senior year in college, it’s time to think seriously about my career. The career center at my university places at lot of students in their first jobs. That’s good news and bad news. I’m glad there are many companies recruiting at my school, but I’m concerned I will fade into the crowd competing for the same openings. How can I get noticed when I have very little work experience and a degree in history?
It’s human nature to want to feel special. Believe it or not, employers enjoy being pursued just as much as you do. If you focus your interest on them, they will be inclined to return the favor. Here are some tips for getting their attention:
Select Companies You Want to Interview
If you haven’t already, go to the career center and scan the list of companies recruiting on campus. Sign up to interview for the most intriguing entry-level jobs in your intended career. While you’re at the center, pick up recruiting literature from the firms with whom you’ve scheduled appointments. When you get back to your room, read their material carefully and note the ones who impress you.
Research These Companies Online
Before your interviews, head for your computer to checkout the websites of your targeted employers. Find out their mission, products and services, revenues, number and type of employees, locations, community activities, latest initiatives and key managers. What are three things that attract you about each of these companies? Now that you know more about them, do you prefer some versus others? Why?
If you want to take your research a step farther, find articles pertaining to the employers in national publications or newspapers. Reading just a few pieces will provide you with substantial insight.
Talk to Your Contacts as Well
You might also want to talk to your professors and school alums about the firms you’ll be interviewing. They may have insider information on corporate cultures and directions you can mention in your cover letters and interviews. Ask your contacts for their perceptions of these companies’ goals and how you might help achieve them.
Research Gives You a Competitive Edge
Finding out about an employer in advance will give you a tremendous edge over the job seekers who write resumes and interview cold. You will tailor cover letters to highlight your specific interest in the company. Your competition won’t. You’ll be asking interview questions about issues only informed people know. Few other candidates will. If you were a corporate recruiter, would you hire someone who’s clueless or an enthusiastic young professional who’s done her homework?
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.