Cleveland chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs hosted a career readiness seminar at Cleveland State University, on Sept. 16, 2011, providing 45 students with skills and tools to navigate jobs in a tough economy.
Students received one-on-one mentoring and résumé critique from recruiters representing NSMBA corporate partners, Sherwin Williams, Forest City Enterprises, Fifth Third Bank, NASA Glenn Research Center, and Amersco LLC.
Karan Gurney, Director of Research at Career IQ moderated questions that provided insights to pitfalls many job seekers fall into. The panel of experts revealed most common errors that keep a candidate from becoming an employee, error laden resumes, to inappropriate salary and benefit negotiations, to social networks.
LaToya Smith, Assistant Vice President and Corporate Recruiter from Fifth Third Bank, said very low percentage of employees are hired through career fairs, “Forty five percent come from referrals from current employees,” she said. Smith said companies encourage employees to recruit friends with similar work ethic, who fit well into the environment, “It is who you know and not what you know.”
She emphasized networking, active participation in professional organizations like NSHMBA. Smith said while most companies do not search for potential candidates on Facebook, professional networks like LinkedIn are becoming increasingly popular for passive recruiting. Smith said LinkedIn is a great tool because it is cheaper, easy to use and narrows targets.
She recommends keeping a Linked In profile updated, with a professional headshot, and same rules of a flawless résumé apply to an online profile.
Suzanne Nebe, Senior Partner and Talent Acquisition for Forest City Enterprises, said she often will post jobs for entry level positions on Craigslist. She said pictures should never be included with a résumé because it places recruiters in a difficult position. Nebe encourages candidates to follow up with a handwritten note, “Emails get lost.” She suggests every candidate should prepare a 30 second ‘elevator speech’ to introduce themselves effectively and with confidence in any situation.
Ken Wade, Human Recourses Lead at Amresco LLC, said the few candidates hired from career fairs approach the company with confidence, have done their research and have intelligent questions ready and present themselves in a professional manner.
Sharing various styles his fellow recruiters use Wade stressed brief silence or pause is OK during interviews. Ask for a moment to think about the question, consider the intent of why it is being asked before responding rather than giving an incoherent answer.
Smith said recruiters compare notes on candidates, listen carefully and measure a candidate’s enthusiasm. “Don’t bring a friend, be focused and no shopping,” she said.
Being prepared for the interview is critical; and Dena Cyrill, Human Resources Manager for Corporate Division at Sherwin Williams, suggests paying close attention to the soft skills mentioned in the job description and using those as examples of your strengths.
Cyrill said the interview is a two-way process and while the company is assessing the candidate, the candidate should also be assessing the company carefully and ask intelligent questions.
Tim Spicer, Deputy Chief, of Human Capital Management at NASA Glenn Research Center, said some great questions to ask include the future of the organization, their philosophy on diversity and how often the company coaches and provides feedback. He also suggests candidates know their worth and research the salary range for the job description, “Person who throws out a number first loses,” he said.
He also recommends considering a lower salary job with more benefits, “Some jobs start you off at a higher salary but that is where you stay.”
Cyrill said consider negotiating for vacation days, or benefits if the base pay is non-negotiable, but never be too persistent. “Ask one, or maybe twice, and the worst that can happen is they say no.”
For a candidate in need of visa support Gurney recommends they seeking out non-profit organizations that can utilize their cultural and language skills. She said the average job seeker waits 3 – 6 months before asking for help, “I want to reduce that period significantly.”
She encourages candidates to have a strategy, evaluate their skills, weaknesses and goals and start a fresh résumé based on the job description they are applying for. She suggests creating a believable online persona that reflects professional integrity and goals and recommends never picking up the phone during a job search process. “You are being screened the moment you pick up,” she said; instead, returning the phone call when you are prepared puts you in a better position.
Robert Romero, Vice President of Education for NSHMBA Cleveland, said the seminar is an example of partnerships and networking in action, bringing together leaders of tomorrow with organizations seeking their talent today.
Yolanda Burt, Director of CSU Career Services, said the university is committed to providing students with access to opportunities and partnering with organizations like NSHMBA strengthens the caliber of students. The Career Services Center offers students etiquette training, mock interviews, résumé writing, and career preparedness workshops before they enter the job market or a career fair.
Daniel Acevedo, a Mechanical Engineers student at Cleveland State, said the seminar was very informative and a rare opportunity to hear feedback from recruiters on why candidates never hear back from prospective employers. “It helped me a lot to know what kind of questions I should be asking,” he said.
Acevedo said as a junior he will utilize the tools provided in the seminar to assess his skills and weaknesses and take advantage of the mentors available to him through his internship with NASA Glenn Research Center.
Cleveland State will host its Fall career fair on Oct. 28. More than 100 employers are expected to participate. For more information and registration visit: www.csuohio.edu/career