Career Advice from a Recruiter

By Carlos Portocarrero

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Career advice is a dime a dozen: everyone has an opinion on the best ways to prepare for an interview and how to use social media to boost your career. Today I’m interviewing Travis, who works in the world of recruiting. Who better to ask about the current state of the job market that someone who deals with it on a day-to-day basis?

Here is Travis on his top career advice:

What’s the number one piece of advice you have for young people starting out in the workplace?

Don’t stay inside a box. Think creatively.  Volunteer to do things that are outside of your scope of duties. Prove early on in your career that you are going to become a leader. What about established people who have been at a company for a while? Never be afraid to challenge the norm. If you are thinking about looking for new career opportunities, look inside your own company first.

You will be surprised to find that employers want to keep you and may get inventive in finding you something that will keep you with the firm.

Any favorite tips or insight when it comes to these topics: Interviewing, applying to a job, social media, and getting a raise? 

Interviewing – Do your research. This article referencing Google’s Laszlo Bock is a great lesson to be learned on the importance of doing research prior to interviewing: Applying to a job – Find a way to “skirt the system.” By system, I am referring to the applicant tracking system.

Do your best to find a personal connection. LinkedIn is an excellent tool to request professional referrals to someone within a perspective employer. Social Media – Assume most anything you post can be reviewed by a potential employer. Be certain to manage your online brand with tenacity. Getting a raise – Prove that you are adding value during your review and do competitive research to see what others in your field are making.

What’s the biggest no-no when you’re considering a candidate?

Mistakes on resumes. That is the easiest way to eliminate someone from consideration. Have at least two people other than yourself go over your resume with a fine tooth comb. Someone who is interviewing should always have a few prepared questions for everyone they meet.

Are there any skills that are especially in high demand out there right now?  

Anything IT. The digital space in my industry is particularly hot right now.

Any advice for college students out there about to enter the workplace?  

Have internships under your belt. If you are struggling to find employment, volunteer somewhere that will allow you to gain experience in the field/industry you are looking to pursue.

There’s a lot of people out there saying that university/college degrees aren’t worth what they were used to. That you can save yourself the money and get that same education in other ways: starting a company, reading books yourself, starting work right away, etc. What’s your take on the idea that college degrees (and advanced degrees as well) aren’t an absolute must right away?

I personally put a lot of weight on an undergraduate degree. You are not taught business in high school, so I think the idea of starting a business of your own without an education in how to run a business is not necessarily a good idea. That is not to say that it can’t be done, but I personally would not recommend it.

For advanced degrees, I feel there is some need to have space between your undergraduate degree and advanced degree. You will get more out of the program and bring more to the table to contribute yourself. Further, advanced degrees give you an opportunity to change fields or professions, so without knowing what you might want to do 10 years from now, you may want to hold off on the advanced degree for the time being.

Any favorite sites/blogs/publications that deal with career topics that you especially like?  

I think this is very specific to individual and the profession you are entering. Ron Kulp, for example, writes a great blog for entry level PR professionals and I find his advice to be spot on for students in our field of study. What about twitter folks to follow for great career advice?  Same for Twitter. Search for professionals that are in your industry vs. people who give general advice. That said, you are welcome to follow me on Twitter @traviskessel. I shout out #JobSeekerTips on a very regular basis.


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