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We have moved to Wordpress! Posted by Jason Links to this post The Recruiting Front Lines has evolved. At the beginning of the year, I changed jobs within my company, moving away from Outreach and Education, and into my new role as Director of Business Development. While I remain closely involved with our field activity, I am now more focused on strategic partnerships, social media, and the world of internet recruitment resources. As I have made this change, the focus of my blog content has also changed. Recently, I began to feel that many of the ideas I had for blog posts would not fit within the framework of The Recruiting Front Lines. This was a cause of some frustration, as I felt that I was either misrepresenting my content with the title of my blog, or that I was stifling my writing because I felt it didn't fit. To rectify this situation, I have created a new blog home, now on WordPress. I am still ironing out the wrinkles, but feel that it is far enough along that I can move all my past content, and begin posting all new content, at the new address. I would like to formally welcome everyone to come check out my new home at I can't wait to hear what you think! Best Regards, and Thank you for your time and attention over the past 18 months. Jason

Feb 21, 2008

College Student focused job fair in NH

Another busy day on the recruiting front lines! My first stop this morning was to an event facility in New Hampshire, to meet with a potential partner and explore the capacity of the venue. As it looks now, we'll have 70 NH employers exhibiting their employment brand to potentially 1,000 job seekers looking for work in the state. While the new partnership isn't formalized in writing yet, it does look good, and should position this job fair to be the recruiting event of the year.

For our career fair, we're asking job seekers to pre-register. This makes them eligible for door prizes, and provides us with great information about the demography of people attending the event. While it's still more than 4 weeks away, we already have more than 100 job seekers pre-registered, and the profile is unique in the job fair world. The majority of the registrants so far, about 2/3, are currently employed, with just over half having 4 year degree or further education, and the average age of registrants right now is approximately 40 years old.

When I proposed this event a while back, I felt that the job fair market in this area really underserved this population- experienced passive job seekers. Many job fairs catered to the fully unemployed, and most in NH are focused on college students, as its the colleges who are hosting them. Through our data collection, we knew the make up of job seekers passively looking tended to be very different than that of the people we see at the career events we have exhibited at. So, thus far, the diversity of the job seekers we're attracting to our job fair in March looks to be dynamic and unique. I'm very glad to see things filling in nicely. Another thing that we do differently is sending up job fair tips to both the exhibitors and job seekers. We've seen that dispersing a few key tips to both groups really does help to better prepare both sides. Should be fun...
(If you're an experienced job fair exhibitor, do you agree with this assessment of the demography of job fairs? I'd appreciate your input by clicking here.)

Any way, that was just the start of the day...

The bulk of my day was spent at the NHCUC job fair in Manchester NH. I have attended this event for 4 years now, and find it to be a great resource for us to not only promote our service to job seekers and students, but also to engage and provide resume and interview tips to them. I was very impressed by the number of students who were prepared with updated resumes and confidence in their approach. Many however, were still very unsure exactly what type of work they wanted. I often suggest to them to post a resume online, and see who finds them, and I provide advice to the extent that I can. I can't help but leave any college student focused job fair feeling that all college seniors should be required to take a full semester course in career exploration/development in order to graduate. But I guess that's just my opinion, and I have to acknowledge that a course such as that would still only be as valuable as the effort put in by both the professors and the students. If they don't want to consider what job to get, they won't.

Students were from many area schools including Franklin Pierce, Plymouth State, Colby-Sawyer, Rivier College, Saint Anselm, Southern NH University and more. At this point, I do want to give praise to all the career development professionals and other college staff that helped to promote this event and prepare their students to find job opportunities. The vast majority had professional attire, copies of their resumes, and exhibited a strong approach with eye contact, handshakes, and introductions. While these may seem like obvious things to do at a job fair, I am sure that many recruiters will agree that it's not always the norm.

I fielded many questions about how to find work with an art degree, how to find internships, and how to get a career in marketing. I tried to review resumes, make suggestions regarding companies that I knew of personally, and provided tips on how to explore career options further. Most students were very engaged in the conversation, and seemed eager to really dig in to carving out their career path.

One job seeker story that stood out today: I met a young lady who had graduated college in 2005, and was recently laid off from a company that was closing it's doors. She received a 2 week severance package, was suddenly finding herself unemployed. She had worked with a local sports organization for a couple years in customer service, and was hoping to find another admin asst job or customer service job in the Manchester Area. Her question to me was this: When an employer writes NO PHONE INQUIRIES on their job postings, and does not provide a direct email address, how do I follow up when I haven't heard back about a resume I submitted.

Ouch. I didn't have a good answer to this one. This young lady had submitted her resume, which was well done, and seemed to have the transferable skills necessary for clerical work, for 80 job openings in the last month, and had only had a couple call backs, with only ONE interview scheduled. I spoke with her at length about this issue, and shared her frustration. It seems as though ATS systems and other HRIS services have really taken the humans out of human resources. If you are hiring people to work for you, but give them no way to follow up with you after they've submitted your resume, what is left for them to do. I know that there are times when it is difficult for me to reply to every resume I get, but at least on our website, we have a telephone number and generic email address that will get to me if someone is assertively trying to follow up to interview with our company.
Here's a quick poll question, and I'm open to feedback (you can share your thoughts by clicking on the Comments link and adding your ideas): If a company accepts resumes online, should they have any obligation to either reply to all applicants, or at least to provide some contact info, so that applicants can follow up?

One Recruiter story that stood out today: I spoke with a recruiter from a health care facility, who I see at many events in the area. I asked about attendance at other events this year, and how this event was panning out. Her reply was that attending career events has almost become simply an obligation and routine, rather than an active recruitment activity. Most of the events don't yield too many qualified candidates, but the fear of missing one, and the added benefit of exposure for the company, keeps people coming back. This recruiter also said that she felt that so many people are going online today, that fewer and fewer realize the value of these in-person events. Interesting... Anyway, it reminded me about our job fair coming up, and I am more resolved than ever to not only provide valuable tips for registered job seekers, but to also reinforce and underscore the impact of meeting with a recruiter face to face, and making a personal connection.

Well, that's the news from the recruiting front lines, this time in Manchester, New Hampshire. I'll be posting again soon with issues an updates from the recruiting front lines in Alabama and Louisiana.

Feb 19, 2008

Stay tuned!

We have been crazy preparing for a very busy period on the recruiting front lines. Between today, February 19th and the end of the month, my organization will be exhibiting at nearly a dozen events across the gulf coast and the northeast, meeting with job seekers and employers, and coming face to face with the fears, hopes, concerns, and issues surrounding finding a new job, and finding the perfect candidate.

I'll be updating this blog almost daily starting on Thursday, February 21st, after attending the New Hampshire College and University Council career fair in Manchester. One of the largest college student job focused career events in the northeast, this event will give us a great chance to speak with volumes of college students and soon-to-be grads.

Check back soon, or click on the subscribe button at left to set up email notifications, so updates will be emailed to you.

That's all for now from the recruiting front lines. Stay tuned for new updates coming soon.

Feb 17, 2008

When I meet a passive job seeker...

Over the past 4+ years, I have exhibited at more than 100 career events across new england. As a representative of an organization's whose purpose is to connect local job seekers with local jobs, I make great effort to provide insight, tips, or value to any job seeker I speak with. I have found that taking some time to speak with a job seeker outside of the context of the recruiter/job seeker dynamic, really gives me a unique opportunity to listen to the fears and concerns that they have. It also gives me a chance to hear and dispel myths or false preconceptions that they may have about finding a job.

For example, I often hear job seekers tell me that they needed to do whatever was necessary to get their resume to one page, because recruiters and HR personnel are too busy to read more than that, and won't bother with their resume. I hope this doesn't offend any career counselors out there, but in my experience as a hiring manager and working with HR professionals, NO ONE IS GOING TO THROW AWAY A QUALIFIED CANDIDATE'S RESUME BECAUSE ITS TWO PAGES. In fact, quite the opposite is true. This is a very generalized example of how the process often works:

A recruiter, hiring manager, staffing rep, HR generalist, etc, posts a job opening on the web. They then receive 30 resumes via email. As a ballpark number, out of those 30, only about 10 will actually get a call back. Then, out of the 10, maybe 4-6 will get an interview. Now, when I begin screening resumes to decide who to call, I start by looking for the people that I am SURE have the experience and/or relevant skill set that will transfer to my job opening. To that end, if a candidate has chopped their resume to fit a four, eight, or fifteen year work history into one page, it is very likely that they have not included ALL of the skills and experiences that they have accumulated over time. Thus, if the skill that I need is on the cutting room floor, then I may not choose to call this person. I would much rather get ALL the information at the beginning of the process, so that I can be sure that I'm using my time effectively to call the most likely qualified people. Maybe I'm lazy, but I do not want to spend time calling people to find out that they don't have the qualifications that I need. It is a fact that I would rather skim through twenty 4-page resumes to find 10 good people to call, then skim through forty 1-page resumes, and not knowing if any of them are truly qualified for the job that I have open.

Okay, okay.... so the title of this post is "When I meet a passive job seeker..." At many job fairs, I will meet the passive job seeker, whether that person is an early retiree looking for a part time job for ice-cream money, or someone fully employed looking for a career change or greener pastures. Often times, when they come up to me, I'll ask what kind of work they are looking for, and the answer is usually that they don't know, and that they're not seriously looking, just seeing what kind of options they have. Well, with that attitude, I will guess that they find that their options are extremely limited. As a hiring manager, I wouldn't get too engaged with a candidate who didn't really know what they wanted to do, as it may turn out that I hire them only to have them find out that my work is not what they want to do.

I have begun to suggest to the passive job seekers to change their approach. Instead of stating that they don't know what they want, they should open with a different position. I suggest starting by sharing a 2 sentence summary of your experience, and then stating that they are looking for new opportunities. This gives the recruiter an idea of your experience, and changes the dynamic so that THEY will tell YOU what opportunities they have that may work for you. This changes the conversation, and puts the recruiter in the position of "selling" their jobs to you, rather than the other way around.

If you're a passive job seeker, try this, and let me know how it works. If you're a recruiter, please let me know what you think about these pieces of advice.

See you all soon at the recruiting front lines!

Jason Blais on FoxNews

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