Monday, June 24, 2013

How to Impress Your Recruiter

Chances are, if you are or have ever been a job seeker, you have come into contact with one or more recruiters. If this relationship did not work out, it may have been because you weren’t a good fit for the position, or it may be because you made some mistakes that recruiters see every day. In order to avoid these mistakes and impress a recruiter, follow the below steps:

1. Remember the details. This sounds like a very obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many candidates try to discuss a job opening and don’t know the correct job title or haven’t read the job description. Nothing dampens a recruiter’s interest in a candidate like the inability to remember the position. Take notes if you have to, just do what it takes to cement this information in your head. Any recruiter will respond more positively if you make it clear that you’re on the same page.

2. Follow up in a professional manner. It’s understandable to be excited about a position and eager for updates. One “thank you” email or phone call is appropriate after an interview. A weekly check-in phone call is okay. Anything more than that may be too much. Your recruiter will let you know when there is an update on any position for which you’ve been submitted. Recruiters are just as eager for updates as you are.

3. Dress professionally. You can read further on this topic here, but this is still a point to be made. Even if you’re just meeting with a recruiter for a preliminary interview, dressing professionally shows that you respect the recruiter and are serious about the position.

4. Be open and honest about your expectations. There are a lot of details that go into searching for, applying for and accepting a job. If you are looking for a certain salary amount, tell your recruiter. Waiting until you have the position to try to negotiate a higher rate will just put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and you may end up losing the position and the trust of your recruiter. If you have expectations about location, training, anything, let your recruiter know up front. If everyone is on the same page from the beginning, there is a higher likelihood of each person getting what they want from the process.  

5. Tailor your resume to the job opening. This is just one of those things that shows your interest in whatever job that you’re working with your recruiter on. Make your skills stand out in a way that’s meaningful for the hiring manager. You are proving that you know how to make yourself stand out on paper.

While job searching can be frustrating and time consuming, working with a recruiter can help you get a job much quicker than searching on your own in some circumstances. Impressing your recruiter can not only make them more comfortable in submitting you to the client, but it will make them work harder to impress you in return. Following the above steps will help you to develop a strong and lasting professional relationship for someone who can be a great resource in that job search. 

-Katie Berryann

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Phone Interview Tips

In one of our May blog posts, we discussed basic tips for interviews.

Before you even sit down with a hiring manger, though, many companies will screen you by way of a phone interview. Naturally, some strategies you would have employed in a sit-down interview go out the window, while a set of new factors come into play.

So, what should you do to ensure that you ace your phone interview? Here are some tips:

Phone interviews are unique in the sense that you are in the comfort of your own home. This allows you to have material nearby that you otherwise wouldn’t have in a conventional sit-down interview. Make sure you have a copy of your resume readily accessible, and don’t be afraid to scribble down some reminders on a notepad – maybe a skill or experience you want to be sure to highlight or a list of questions you have. Don’t forget the basics, either, like the name of the person conducting the interview. While this might seem obvious, you would probably be shocked at the number of people who either blank on this or neglect to do basic research. Remember, you are in the comfort of your own home, so there is no reason to not have this information at hand.

Eliminate Distractions
You could argue that this goes back to preparation, but it is important enough to merit its own section. Unlike a conventional sit-down interview where distractions aren’t really a concern (just be sure to turn your phone off), phone interviews require that the interviewee locate a quiet, distraction-free environment. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted, but remember to make sure you get good cell service in that area. It is also a good idea to turn off call waiting for the duration of the interview.

Keep your answers short but impactful
It may seem like a good idea to provide long-winded answers during a phone interview, but it really isn’t. This doesn’t mean you have to be short with the interviewer, but it does mean you should avoid directionless rambling. It is still possible to engage the interviewer while keeping your answers concise. Also, remember to listen and ask questions. This kind of thoughtful disposition will help you make a good impression by showing that you have genuine interest in the position.

When it comes down to it, an interview is an interview. As the job applicant, your goal doesn’t change based on the format. A phone interview certainly presents a different set of circumstances that require some general tweaks in your overall approach; however, in the end you just have to trust yourself and the work you have put into the process. Give it your best shot – anything past that is out of your control.

-Cobey Culton

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What is Open Data and Why is it Important?

This is a post from one of our partners, Open Data Solutions. Open Data is an exciting new concept which will be spreading through at least North America, and the rest of the world in the next couple of years. Everyone should be aware of this policy and figure out how they can be involved. See the original post here:

At the beginning of this year, President Obama signed an executive order, requiring federal government agencies to have their data available to the public and machine-readable. Without commenting on the effectiveness of this order, or the percentage of agencies who follow, we should still note that for the United States, this was a big step towards bringing open data policies further forward into the public eye. There is still a long road ahead before Open Data is a household term, as well as much more to be accomplished at not only the federal level, but also the state, city and country government levels. Open Data Solutions is dedicated to establishing, cultivating and maintaining these government open data initiatives. Before the establishment of an open data portal, however, it is important to understand what Open Data really is and why it's important.  

What is Open Data? 

“Open Data” is a policy in which governments release their raw data in machine–readable format. This data is unbiased, with no previous analysis and has been collected using tax payer money. From here, government open data initiatives take this data and provide visualizations to make this data easily navigable and understood by the public. Visualizations can be in the form of spreadsheets or interactive maps or charts – however the data is best displayed. These government initiatives are driven by involvement of their communities. Citizens can request data sets, anything from crime records to environmental data to broadband speeds. This civic engagement is vital to the success of an open data portal. 

Open Data vs Open Government
Open Government and Open Data are similar but are not the same thing. Open Government is a policy which promotes "transparency" but instead of the raw, machine-readable data, Open Government data is released in pre-analyzed, proprietary formatting. While this is technically "transparency" of data, it doesn't allow for the data to be shared and used in any way but how it's released. Open Data has many more uses than Open Government data. 

The Many Uses of Open Data
Because Open Data is raw data, and more data sets can be requested, the possibilities are endless. The Open Data portals that are most effective use their data in ways with which citizens can easily interact. For instance, the City of Chicago lists all crimes from 2001 to present. Another successful portal, the City of Raleigh, shows all parking in Raleigh - public and private. This data, collected by the government with tax payers' money, is now available to the public in an easily understood format. Any dataset can be requested and with Open Data, citizens have the resources to be safer, more knowledgeable constituents. 

-Katie Berryann

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Social Recruiting

The recent advent of social media has undoubtedly provided staffing agencies a huge opportunity. Job seekers are more accessible than ever, with LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter literally putting millions of people at these companies’ fingertips.

As Andrew Hally points in a recent blog post on The Staffing Stream, though, many staffing agencies fail to employ these social tools effectively. The statistics are actually pretty alarming. Here is a brief excerpt from his post:

In 2012, only 12 percent of recruiters were connected to all three of the networks, with 14 percent of recruiters using a combination of LinkedIn and Twitter for recruiting versus eight percent using LinkedIn and Facebook. Fifty percent of North American recruiters using Twitter for recruiting have fewer than 50 followers, and 26 percent of North American recruiters using Facebook have fewer than 200 Facebook friends.

Oddly enough, Hally makes no mention of Google Plus, which recently surpassed Twitter in active user count. With only 12% of recruiters using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, there is no telling how far that number would tumble if you added Google Plus into the equation.

So, the first problem is abundantly clear: staffing agencies and recruiters simply aren’t utilizing social media to its fullest extent - but why?

One reason could be the distinct disconnect between the overwhelming number of people that are active on social media websites and the number of people that recruiters are actually reaching. Fifty percent (yes, 50%) of North American recruiters have fewer than 50 followers. Obviously, there are a number of factors at play here, so we have to be careful to not oversimplify the problem.

Part of the explanation may lie in the fact that websites like,, etc. are able to provide a smorgasbord of job opportunities from a handful of recruiters. These websites also allow the job seeker to target specific opportunities that match up with their ambitions, which is clearly a better alternative to being spammed on Twitter/Facebook by recruiters who post a new job listing every ten minutes (the majority of which are irrelevant to the job seeker). However, job boards really only reach active job seekers – there is an entire network of people who may not be actively searching for a job, but could be convinced to take a better opportunity.

The bottom line is that staffing agencies should try to engage job seekers on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ which will in turn drive traffic to their website/job listings. Instead of posting a stream of job listings on Twitter, they should attempt to provide something somewhat proprietary: a blog, interesting/relevant links, etc. Social recruiting is about creating an audience – one in which there are both active and passive candidates.

This is not to say that recruiters shouldn’t toss up the occasional job opportunity, especially if it is one that will attract a larger audience than others. Still, recruiters should take a hard look at their social media strategy. It is certainly a powerful tool, but only if used the right way.  

- Cobey Culton, Digital Marketing Intern

Friday, June 7, 2013

Is a College Degree Worth It?

With the increasing costs of tuition across the country, this question has become increasingly relevant for those considering the pursuit of a higher education. At the risk of sounding like your high school English teacher, there really is no “right” or “wrong” answer. Each person and industry is different.

We can still look at the statistics, though, which show that those with a college degree are employed at a higher rate (only 3.7% unemployment) than those without one (8.1% unemployment).

But what about the IT industry, where experience is especially crucial? Can experience overcome a lack of a degree?

As a general rule, education (degree and/or certifications) still carries a lot of weight, especially for someone trying to break into the industry. Each job will require a different set of qualifications, and each employer will value these qualifications differently, which brings us back to the original answer of “it depends.”

With that said, a degree and/or certifications certainly can’t hurt you, so if money was no object this question wouldn’t be much of a question at all – of course you would want to further your education.

Given the large investment that is college, though, ROI (return on investment) is ultimately the best measuring stick for the value of a degree, and an IT degree ranks especially high in this area.

As Michael Goul of InformationWeek points out, the IT industry is proving to be the exception in today’s economic environment, with both job opportunities and salaries expected to rise in coming years. While Goul focuses on master’s degrees, these encouraging projections certainly make it easier to pursue a bachelor’s degree or certifications in IT (

With that said, a degree or certification isn’t absolutely essential. If you establish a good reputation within the IT community and/or have a strong network, you will definitely have a leg up on the competition. One way to get your name out there is to write a “white paper,” assuming you have enough knowledge on a specific topic. A white paper includes an extensive review of a particular (IT-related) problem and a proposed solution to said problem. A very specific specialization can also set you apart, though finding job openings suited to your skills will be more difficult.

In the end, if it is financially feasible, go for that degree (or certification). It will open more doors down the road, at the very least. Combine that degree with relevant experience, and you will be setting yourself up for a bright future indeed.

- Cobey Culton, Digital Marketing Intern

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Professional Networking

In today’s world of business Networking is Everything!  Business networking is really about building lasting, professional relationships. It can offer you a way to reach decision-makers who may have been very difficult to engage otherwise. Business networking is a way for you to make the maxim, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." work for you.

Below are six tips that I have always found to be very helpful:

1. Make yourself known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people will remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them and makes them more likely to recommend you to others.

2. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom.  Articulate what sets you apart from others doing the same thing. Standing out in this way will generate referrals from those who notice the difference.

3. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Feel free to return the favor – recommendations can go both ways. A well-thought out and sincere recommendation will do wonders for your reputation as a networker. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow!

4. Always keep your integrity - build trust and reputation. Sometimes a situation arises which tempts us to do the wrong thing, causing a difficult decision that could have been avoided. Making such a mistake can damage business and personal integrity. We are all human; mistakes happen. If you do make a mistake or wrong decision - whether it significantly undermines your integrity or not - always admit it and apologize. Failing to apologize for wrong-doing will damage your integrity and reputation far more than the original misjudgment itself.

5. Focus on establishing quality contacts versus quantity. Most people have experienced the person who, while talking to you, keeps his eyes roving around the room, seeking his next victim. This individual is more interested in handing out and collecting business cards than establishing a relationship. Always focus on the quality of the connection and people will become much more trusting of you. This will allow for stronger and longer-lasting relationships.

6. Once you have established a professional network, let it work for you! If you’re looking for a new opportunity, reach out to those in your network who may be able to aid in your search. Point out your carefully cultivated recommendations; ask others to put in a good word for you with hiring managers that may be in their network. This makes your search much easier and more effective.

When you focus on really getting to know people, you will build quality, productive relationships that will work for you and your business over and over again. Luckily, there are tools like LinkedIn now which help to build larger and more complete networks. So get out there and cultivate yours now!

-Glynda Mealer, President

Monday, June 3, 2013

Social Media and the Job Search

In today’s day and age, social media websites have become an integral part of the job search for both job seekers and employers. Job seekers use social media to identify job openings now more than ever before (it’s all about networking, after all) and companies, like it or not, have started using social media profiles to vet potential candidates for job openings. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 37% of employers use social media profiles as a part of their screening process (

It might sound a bit disconcerting that companies actually sift through your “digital footprint” as a part of their evaluation process, especially if some of the content on your Facebook or Twitter profile is not particularly flattering. Instead of destroying your prospects of getting a job, though, you (the job seeker) can easily flip this to your advantage – but how?

Keep private interactions, well, private…
There are numerous “red flags” that companies look for when perusing your various social media profiles. Profanity, pictures of you having a little too much fun, and/or poor grammar are all examples. Check your privacy settings and make sure that these more “personal” items are not public. Or even better, don’t post these things at all! All they can do is hurt your prospects of getting and job, fair or unfair. There is nothing wrong with leaving some of your profile viewable to the public – just be smart about that content.

Present yourself in a professional manner
As you probably know, first impressions are absolutely critical. They are equally critical when companies take a look at your social media profiles. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, or any other site, make sure that your profile picture communicates an aura of professionalism. This is obviously somewhat subjective, but you can’t go wrong with warm smile and professional attire. Your social media profiles are a great opportunity to market yourself to potential employers, so take advantage! On a site like LinkedIn, where job seekers and employers are the priority, this is especially important. Ensure that your resume is easily viewable/accessible and that your grammar and spelling are top-notch.

Engage in discussion
While certainly not essential, engaging in a larger community discussion relating to your field of work can’t hurt. If anything, it shows that you are actively involved and interested in today’s topics of discussion in your industry. Plus, you might learn a thing or two from these online conversations. Twitter is a great place to find these discussions, which are often identified by hashtags. Sites like Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn also offer separate communities where people in the same industry can exchange ideas.

With the relatively recent emergence of social media, job seekers and employers alike are still trying to determine the best way to put these websites to use. For job seekers, the idea that potential employers can do a quick Google search and pull up a wealth of information in the form of Facebook/Twitter profiles is daunting – but it doesn’t have to be.

Just use good judgment when posting updates and pictures that are more personal, and try to create a positive, professional image with the information that is publicly viewable. The good news is that (for the most part) this information is all within your control.

Once you have established a professional image, go ahead and unleash the power of social media: network and engage. You will be glad you did.

- Cobey Culton, Digital Marketing Intern