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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

True Confessions of a Head of Campus Recruiting…

Forgive me, career services professionals, for I have sinned.  It’s been 20+ years since my last confession.  I ran campus recruiting for Fortune 500 firms that included Citigroup, Warner-Lambert, and most recently Merrill Lynch and during that time, I committed many sins.  I seek atonement through this article.    

Sin #1:  During company presentations and marketing events, I secretly wished that candidates would stop flapping their lips at record rates, talking about their focus, their past experiences, their talents, their wants, their wishes, their GPAs, their GMAT scores, their successes – even before they said hello to me, before they knew who I was and what business I represented. 

I wanted to tell them that they need to have posture and presence, as that got my attention much more than lip flapping.  I wanted to tell them to ask open-ended questions during marketing events such as “How did you get into this business” and “What trends have you seen recently?” and actually listen to the recruiter’s response.  I wanted to see their sincerity and their confidence even though they were truly nervous, because if you have tenacity, if you differentiate yourself, and if you create a support system, all will work out in the end. 

But alas, I sinned and said nothing.  I just targeted the students that had posture, that prepared, that were a pleasure to speak with, and that go to the events early. 

Sin #2:  I made instant judgments about what types of candidates they would be in the first three seconds I met them.  It’s true, I sized them up.  I’m guilty. 

I wanted to tell them that they should have tried that suit on two days before the event, so they could have gotten than stain off of their tie or jacket.  I wanted to tell them to look me in the eye versus over my left shoulder. I wanted to tell them to use breath mints, because they were leaving dead bodies in their wake. 

But alas, I sinned and said nothing.  I just selected the candidates that had polish, that prepared, that took care in their appearance from their hair to their nails to their shoes.

Sin #3:  When candidates asked why they didn’t make the cut, I never truly answered them.  Instead, I avoided any potential litigation and simply said “It was a competitive year.”

I lied.  I didn’t tell them they didn’t answer my questions directly, or completely, or enthusiastically, or in a “results oriented” way.  I didn’t tell them it was because they were five minutes late to the interview and I feared they would be late to a client meeting as well.    

But alas, I sinned.  It wasn’t my job to give them feedback.  It was my job to hire the best candidates.

My atonement has been found in my past three years as a career coach.  I tell the truth now:  the good, the bad and the ugly, so candidates can improve, and so they can launch effective and successful job searches, both on and off campus.  With immediate tactical and strategic feedback from a career coach, who is not beholden to any company, my clients can find the job of their dreams.  Amen!


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One Response

  1. Sean Masters says:

    Spectacular post. Why? You give concrete examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and don’t beat around the bush on any of them. I hope students and non-students alike take heed – this is monstrously important stuff!

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