I had the good fortune to correspond recently with Nicole Tucker-Tomlin, Director of University Recruiting for North America for SAP. Ms. Tucker-Tomlin and her colleagues will hire over 300 college students this year so her insight should be of great interest to prospective college graduates.
The Good News for Grads
The good news is that Nicole believes that the hiring climate for college grads has improved significantly this year. This view is supported by the data supplied through the employer survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers which indicated that organizations plan to hire 13% more college graduates this year. SAP plans to hire 10 - 20% more graduates this year than last year.
Rethink How You Represent Yourself
Ms. Tucker-Tomlin cautioned grads that they need to rethink how they represent themselves to employers given a changing landscape. Organizations are not simply hiring certain key majors for specific positions. They are now looking for candidates who have the capacities to keep up with an accelerated pace of change once they are in the workplace. Tucker-Tomlin believes that students are not learning most of what they need to know while in college. She notes that students need to develop their creative abilities and shake up their thinking through alternative coursework since companies like SAP look for innovators who can help to enhance the current line of products and services.
More Than Academics
According to Ms. Tucker-Tomlin students need to reflect their whole selves in their job search communications not just their academic achievements or a list of their courses. To that end she looks for evidence that students have influenced the groups and communities where they have been active and made a difference through volunteer work and co-curricular activities.
Add Value to Your Candidacy
When documenting internships and jobs, Tucker-Tomlin believes that students should do more than just describe their duties. The focus should be on value added and the positive impact they had on the departments and organizations where they worked. She urges students to keep it simple and concise by devoting verbiage to accomplishments rather than bland, lengthy descriptions of tasks carried out. Of course, the resume may be the only writing sample which an employer views, so it is also important to showcase an engaging writing style.
Do it Yourself
In an age where resume writing services abound and students are coached to the max by families and advisors, a big turn off for Nicole is a resume produced by someone other than the student who she is screening. It is immediately evident to her when she begins to interview candidates if their resumes are not self-generated. Students in these situations normally have difficulty elaborating on their documents and substantiating the text with real life examples and anecdotes. Students should by all means get advice and feedback about their resumes and letters, but the language and ideas should be their own. A key for her is the candidate's ability to articulate why they want the job and how it fits in with their background and interests.
Formalize Your Job Search
Finally, as her last bit of sage advice, Ms. Tucker-Tomlin offers the following which rings true given my 25 years of experience as a career services director working with college seniors - "I want to stress the need to formalize your job search. It is critical to diversify your search for opportunities.
You can always search the traditional way by applying to roles that peak your interest and match your background, but you should also be open to taking on jobs that may not look as attractive or ambitious as you would like. Taking these types of roles can give you the opportunity to perfect your craft and sometimes allow you to learn a different skill that you may not have thought about before. Be open, creative and take the journey!"