The 12th Man

28 09 2010

After a long Spring and Summer wait, the college football season is here.  Last weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the Arkansas vs. Alabama (click About to see which team I rooted for) game in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  It was a special event, celebrating my best friend’s 30th birthday.  If you’re not keeping up with NCAA college football, I’d like to mention that Alabama is the defending national champion team (ranked #1) and that Arkansas was ranked #10 in the AP Poll.  To this point, it was the can’t-miss game of the season for thousands of fans. 

We were among a record number of fans (76, 808 was the official number in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium) and contributed our best to a deafening roar of support for our team.  Regardless of the outcome of the game, it was evident that the crowd was definitely the 12th man on the team.  Screaming our heads off, we supported our favorite team 100%. 

In life and in your career, who is your “12th man”?  Who supports you no matter what?  What I’ve come to realize is that our success is tied largely to those that support us.  Surround yourself with positive influences who will champion your success as an individual.  It drives us to be better employees, friends, and spouses.  It keeps us grounded, but also inspired by the support of our network. 

The next time you see a sports game on television, hear it on the radio, or watch it in person, think to yourself.  Would it be the same without the crowd’s support?  I think you’d agree that it wouldn’t.  So, I’d like to ask again – who’s your 12th man?


Career Advice from the Circus

21 09 2010

“Palpitating pageant of pachyderms, pulchritude and pantomime! Desperately dangerous displays of unrivaled aerialism! Colossally comic comedians! Dainty and dexterous displays of principal bareback equitation!”

Do those phrases bring back childhood memories of the circus? They do for me. Funny thing is that some of the words aren’t even “real” words! But isn’t it fun to think about the circus under the Big Top? It’s a lot like life. There are the clowns, strongmen, jugglers of all kinds, contortionists, and lion tamers. And we can’t forget the Ringmaster!

Let’s think about how the job search (or your current career) is like one particular group of circus performers: the trapeze artists, or acrobats.  How does it all relate? Below are four points of alignment with your acrobats and your career:

Strength. In all athletic feats, especially in acrobatics, you’ve got to be strong enough to do it; plain and simple. When thinking about strength, think beyond muscles and physical strength. Mental strength is important as you embark upon one of quite possibly the most challenging journeys of your life. Do the research, know your strengths and play to them. Think about what you do well, and learn how to do it better. Marcus Buckingham’s Now, Discover Your Strengths and Jim Collins’ Good to Great are both excellent books that speak to this.

Dedication.  In your career and in the job search, you’ve got to be dedicated enough to commit yourself to excellence. It takes great dedication to remain positive in the job search. It takes even more dedication to find what you truly want to do in life and do it! Times will no doubt be challenging along the way. To use an analogy from showbiz and probably the circus, “the show must go on!”

Follow Through.  Once you’ve mustered the strength, dedicated yourself to your commitment, don’t forget to follow through. This is a step that many don’t do well. Whether it’s with an application submittal, job interview, or simply having lunch with a potential employer, don’t forget to follow through. Do what you say (and what you’ve been telling yourself) you’re going to do. Send the follow up information, ask for next steps, etc. If you’re an acrobat, you have to follow through or face crashing to the ground (safety net not always included). Give it your all – 100% all the time.

Support.  A good acrobat has great support. Whether it’s their partner (team act) or their friends and family (solo act), support is incredibly important. There’s enough negativity to overcome in your job search, your career and in life. Surround yourself with people who support you for who you are, people who are behind you 100%, and those that keep you moving forward. For many, family and friends are the backbone of this support network. Your pet could also be that form of support (they love you, they’re always happy to see you, and they listen well).

Regardless of what your career objectives are, each one of the points above applies in some way. Ultimately, you’ll do what you need to do, but you don’t have to do it alone. So, go ahead, throw your hat into the ring and let’s get this show going!

Recruiting: It’s More Than Just Showing Up

14 09 2010

In the current economic state that our country (and others around the world) is facing with the recession, the unemployment rate is sky-high despite the efforts of many.  What we’re beginning to see is the light at the end of the tunnel, with companies starting to hire again, actively recruiting in their communities.  What the recession has taught (and is still teaching us) is that we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.

The recruiting landscape is ever-changing.  In order to remain effective and relevant, recruiters are being forced to either roll with the punches or risk becoming obsolete. 

Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how recruiters can stay on top of their game as they prepare for career fairs, both on campus and in their communities:

Find your voice.  Your employer brand is a big deal to prospective candidates.  How do you describe the career opportunities available?  Are your job descriptions and company brochures written in Legal-approved “corporate speak” or are they simplified, and easy to understand?  Beyond the basic career fair collateral, are you using platforms like YouTube, blogs, and other social media sites to promote your company with real people, showing candidates a true “day in the life”?  The topic of employment branding is a big thing to cover and deserves its own blog post, so I’ll elaborate more in the near future. 

Make a commitment.  Do you show up on campus once or twice a semester for career fairs and wonder where the students are?  Do you do the same thing at a general community career fair?  Making a commitment to local community or campus organizations and groups will not only help you educate potential candidates on your company, culture, and career opportunities, but it can be a positive branding opportunity.  Ask yourself this question when you start measuring your results: Am I giving as much as I expect to receive?  More?  Less? 

Show up.  One of the biggest issues in recruiting is that it’s a field where the need is immediate and not typically thought about long-term.  When a company experiences a hiring freeze or doesn’t have any positions open at the current time, they tend to pull out of career fairs, off campus and out of the community.  In my opinion, this is the wrong approach.  You’ll be hiring again in the future, right?  Why not view this as an opportunity to start filling a pipeline of candidates?  Even if you can’t afford to fly corporate recruiters across the nation to participate, I would encourage you to engage your local managers if possible.  They’re the voice of the community.  You can still communicate that you’re not hiring at the moment, but focus on the fact that you want your company to stay top of mind when the positions do open up.  Branding is the main point here.  Be honest, but take resumes, think about the pipeline, and continue to educate the masses on the opportunities available with your company. 

Show up prepared…and coordinate.  “Show up” is intentionally reiterated here.  If you’re a recruiter working with a large company that has field operations, think about coordinating with the local managers and corporate so that you’re representing one enterprise at the career fair.  Nothing is worse than showing up from corporate, only to find out that the local representative are already there or from the other side, showing up from the field with you (most times) limited supplies and have corporate show up with the nicer, fancy materials and booth collateral.  What message are you sending to candidates? 

Have a clue.  The last point that I’d like to mention is that if you’re recruiting at any event (unless it’s a specialized, industry-focused event), have a general knowledge of the common entry-level positions with your company.  Just because you don’t recruit for that job, doesn’t mean that it’s ok to tell candidates “well, that’s not my area of responsibility” or worse, make something up.  The best approach to this is to simply say, “You know, I’m not 100% certain on that area, but I’d be happy to take your resume back to the right person.  In the meantime, please be sure to apply online for the jobs of interest.”

Here’s the call to action: 

Job seekers: What are you frustrated with regarding recruiters at career fairs?  Tell us – we can’t change without your input!

Recruiters:  How can job seekers and career services work with you to maximize your recruiting experience?  What do you wish we (or you) would do better?  Same thing goes here as it does above – tell us so we can adjust!

Career Services: What are the challenges you’re hearing from both sides?  Again, we can’t fix it if we don’t know it’s broken.

Have a comment?  I welcome them!  It helps with transparency.  Please leave your comment below.  I’ll be sure to respond as soon as possible.  If you prefer not to have your comments publicize, you can email me directly at  I’d love to hear from you. 

Let’s work together to change the world of recruiting and job seeker resources for the better!

Be Prepared: Is It YOUR Motto?

7 09 2010


It’s the Boy Scouts motto.  It’s what your teachers, your mom and dad have been telling you all your life.  But, are you really prepared?  Prepared for anything??  Are you prepared to take on the career search, pass the screenings, ace the interview and land the job?

In the job search and life in general, preparedness can put a person ahead of the game.  Here are a few tips on you can prepare for whatever may come your way in your search for employment:

Do your homework.  Research the companies that will be recruiting beforehand.  Most career fair participants are listed well in advance on the college career services websites and community forums such as local news sources (if it’s a general career fair).  Once you know who’s going to be there, check out their website, and learn a little about the company (I would suggest the following checklist: history, brands, basic entry-level positions or internships, and one “fun fact” about them to start the conversation.)  Go to the career fair with a plan and plan to leave with a job, not free koosh balls, Frisbees, and other swag. 

Know them better than they know themselves.  This goes along with doing the research, but it’s a good idea to know more about the job description than the recruiter does.  Often times, the recruiter at the career fair booth is more of a corporate recruiter who has only a few specific positions that they hire for.  If they don’t work with that particular area, say merchandise finance, they may push you off to their website because they don’t know anything about that position.  You’ll still need to apply online in most cases, but be persistent and let the recruiter know that you’ve done your homework and indicate your interest.  You may just impress them enough to take your resume back to the right person with a good recommendation.  If not, you can still cover your bases and apply online. 

Sidebar: Freshmen/Sophomores – it’s not too early to be thinking about (and talking about) internships with employers of interest.  Just because you don’t “qualify” for the position at the moment, doesn’t mean that you can’t get started on the research and time it takes to make an educated decision on your target employer list.  Don’t make these decisions hastily or in the dark.  Remember, the internship is a 10-12 week interview.  At the end, you and your manager will know whether or not you’re a fit for each other.  Internships are a topic for an entire post a little later down the road.  Stay tuned.

Wow them.  You’ve heard people reference an “elevator pitch”.  Do you have a 30-60 second pitch that encapsulates your goals, ambitions, and strengths?  There’s no cookie-cutter approach to this.  You have to be different!

Follow up, follow up, FOLLOW UP!  Perhaps one of the most important steps in anything is follow up.  You can’t just wait for them to call you (unless they explicitly tell you “don’t call us, we’ll call you”).  Get the recruiter’s business card, ask when is the best time to follow up is if you haven’t heard from them, and ask if they prefer phone calls or email.  If you get a business card, it’s a good idea to send a handwritten note to them, thanking them for their time and insight provided at the career fair.  Don’t forget to mention exactly what career fair (date, school) and reference what you discussed.  Keep it short, write it by hand (legibly), and send within 48 hours of the initial conversation. 

Please feel free to add your comments below.  If we’re not connected, let’s fix that (click “Let’s Connect” at the top of the page).  On Facebook?  Check out Campus To Career’s page here.  Follow us on Twitter here.  It doesn’t matter how you get your information as long as it’s benefitting you in your career, right?  As always, thanks for reading.

It’s Labor Day: Have a Little Fun!

6 09 2010

I’ve found myself with a little down time this morning and thought I’d share something with you all.  Today is Labor Day in the U.S. and most of us have the day off.  It’s the last weekend of summer, the last time to enjoy the lake with friends, the last BBQ, and possibly the last time my white legs will see the sun until next year.  🙂 

That being said – have fun today.  If you’re having fun, there’s a good chance that others around you will enjoy themselves as well.  Here’s a video to get it started.  Happy Labor Day!