Dear Job Seeker:

I get it - you're graduating from school, and you have no idea what you want to do with your life. Your Resume has an Objective Statement that reads like some vague description of the future of humanity: "a significant position where my skills and abilities can be utilized for the benefit of the company." Fantastic. You, and everyone else.

Here's the thing: I'm a Corporate Recruiter for IT at a dot-com company, and it drives me batty to see candidates who apply for all 20 of our openings on the Technology side: everything from Jr. Project Manager to Senior Linux Admin.If you have technical skills, they are very likely a specialized set: a tool-kit, as it were. You could, potentially, have the skills for a QA Engineer, and a developer, and a Jr. Project Manager all at once, but it's pretty darn unlikely. What's more: you probably have a preference for one of the roles, and if you mis-apply to one position and get hired, you will be miserable, find a new job, and I will be right back where I started, looking for your replacement.

So here's what I want to know: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

What makes you happy? What do you love about your daily work? Do you want to break systems (QA), or build them (Developer)? Do you love leading teams (PM) or designing elegant solutions to technology challenges (Systems Engineer)?

If you insist on applying to every job we have open, I'm going to assume you are a listless wanderer through the bazaar of life: unsure of your direction, unaware of your own skills, and insecure in your own abilities. In short: exactly the OPPOSITE of the person I want to present to my organization.

So - figure it out. Reflect on your joys/passions/ecstatic visions of professional euphoria, and connect them to the jobs you're applying to. Make my job easier, by telling me what you want. Quoth Jerry Maguire, "help me help you."

I think we'll all be happier in the long run; and the world needs happier people.

Thanks,

Andy

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AMEN! One of my biggest frustrations as a recruiter is people that apply to a job they OBVIOUSLY aren't qualified for. I would much rather have someone approach me and say "This is what I want to do, do you have a place for me?". I'm much more likely to try to help them with that approach. Unfortunately, college grads are being guided by career counselors that know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about today's corporate environment and structure.

How do we fix it?
It's a crime that the job requirement for a career counselor at most colleges (from the postings I've seen anyways) is not a background in recruiting or HR, but a masters in counseling or something along those lines. They are, in many cases, pure academics who have no idea what to tell them aside from an article they might have recently read on cover letters. Now there are a few exceptions, I know a couple former recruiters that have found their way into these roles, but seems few and far between.

How do we change it...? Now that's a heavy lift...

Robin Eads said:
AMEN! One of my biggest frustrations as a recruiter is people that apply to a job they OBVIOUSLY aren't qualified for. I would much rather have someone approach me and say "This is what I want to do, do you have a place for me?". I'm much more likely to try to help them with that approach. Unfortunately, college grads are being guided by career counselors that know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about today's corporate environment and structure.

How do we fix it?
The way we fix it is to make ourselves available to speak to college classes, accounting club, engineering society, and any other on campus group. Call professors, offer to speak to their classes at all levels. I have a 35 minute delivery that i call "Real World 101". It starts with..."I don't know what they are telling you over in the placement office but a functional resumes is as useless for a new grad as having your mommy write you a reference." You haven't functioned much yet so let's get something on paper that shows what you have done." "Before you finish the degree in Nuclear Engineering with a minor in Russian be sure that you don't want to stay in the Texas panhandle to farm with your family. The placement office may tell you that it's a fabulous degree that will open international doors but make your education relevant to your geographic preferences or restrictions. There are not a whole lot of options for Nuclear Engineering in the Texas panhandle , i've been here over 60 years and have never heard anyone speaking Russian.

It's been my experience that when a "real" recruiter goes on campus and starts talking about the real world the word spreads quickly. That's how we fix it.
My role is sourcing college students for our leadership development programs. One of my most common responses to students who proactively reach out to me (which I like) is to reverse their questions back on them and ask them to think about what THEY want to do, as opposed to asking us what we have. Of course I do provide them with links to our programs, but I tell them to think mostly about what they want, and then we'll see if we have a match for that. I think the best way to help combat this issue is through education, as Sandra said. Go to campuses and offer to talk with students about best practices in pursuing careers for post-graduation. Most of the time, the reasons they do these things is because they haven't been taught differently.
I actually like candidates who think they can do anything. It shows ambition and a willingness to do, anything. With the exception of applying to highly technical positions like those in IT, Engineering, Scientific Research, etc., I would suggest to them that when in doubt, apply to jobs in recruiting. There (in recruitment), there seems to be a vast array of people who have a lot of ambition, come from diverse backgrounds, and can do it to some extent.

So you wanderers in the open plains, or urban centers, you can find your new mentors in Andy and Robin, Chris and Sandra—and the like. They're real recruiters with business cards (some)--who don't like to be bothered by the likes of you and your desperate attempt to gain their attention. They do care, however, that you are happily seeking what makes you happy, which is probably what makes them go batty because their time is reserved for the perfect applicant(s) only please.

And, finally--I would also check into what's happening in the Texas Panhandle. There seems to be some missing Russians there who have never been heard from since soon after WWII. At the very least joining a search party can eventually lead you all into the business of recruiting too, because isn’t recruiting all about searching for others.

So please seek out these proud recruiters, but not in a stalking way. Do it in a way that respects their time and sensitivities. Remember, they too were once in your shoes and on a career path of discovery. They too had that bright, bold enthusiasm as they wandered into recruiting, or into something that ended up as recruiting. And thank your career counselors, for me, for they really did/do care about you because of your bright smiles and sweet naiveté—even if they were paid to care. Can I get an AMEN for that?
LOL, love the post. With one or two exceptions.

1. I will always talk to a new grad if they have enough sense to listen and have some idea of reality. ie; if they know that they don't know. I have no time for the new grad that thinks he/she is ready to do tax planning for General Motors and is throwing a narcissistic fit because nobody is ready to make them the CFO yet when they struggle to balance their own check book. There is a strong fast track for those who think they can do anything but know they have to "earn their spurs" before they allowed to ride with them. Translation for those non horse trainers....spurs are a refined aid to be used to achieve advanced performance not something to make a horse go faster or to punish. Before one wears spurs one must be able to ride.

2.There is no such thing as a perfect applicant. Top recruiters look for the candidate who has the "it" factor on top of the skill set and many times it's not the most obvious. Or even a close fit for the original job req. It's called strategic recruiting. :) or super salesmanship.

3. Those are not Russians Valentino, those are 1948 graduates of Texas A & M who were told by some college career counselor that since Russia was emerging as a super power they needed to learn Russian. They are wandering around out there looking for someone who will teach them Spanish so they can talk to half of Texas.
If the career counselors would strongly recommend a relevant foreign language we would all not be quite so provencial.

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