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Author: John Lidington

Professional Networking with Purpose: Stand Out from the Pack

Professional Networking with Purpose: Stand Out from the Pack

To succeed at professional networking events is to use your time wisely. It’s a fallacy to think that the loudest person—or the one who is otherwise getting the most attention—is automatically the most successful person. Instead, the wise thing to do is to make an impression on the right contacts, not necessarily the most contacts. But how do you accomplish this at an event filled with people, all with their own strengths?

Tips for standing out at professional networking events

Know yourself

Just like you, potential employers want to use their time economically. In order to make the most of your conversation before they begin to lose interest, you have to be able to understand what they need and how you can fill their voids in a timely fashion. Before the event, be sure to know not only what sort of jobs would be fulfilling to you, but also your general strengths. In other words, know how you could help someone else. This way you can allow some room for opportunities you may not have even considered. You might just surprise yourself.

At the same time, being able to know whether something isn’t the right fit is just as valuable as the opposite. Don’t waste time courting an opportunity that doesn’t interest you or won’t leverage your best skills.

Know who is attending the event in advance

If possible, ask the organizers (usually your school’s career office) for a list of attendees in advance of the event. Even if you only have a day or two to prepare, your research will show in the small amount of time you have to impress potential employers.

But rather than simply memorize facts, take the time to consider how you’d fit in the company environment. More importantly, make a list of questions you have regarding culture, room for promotion, and other benefits that are important to you, such as the chance to travel or start a 401k.

Communicate wisely

While it’s important to connect with someone on a personal level, once that happens you should let the other person do most of the talking. By spending more of your time listening, you’re demonstrating that you’re not just there to talk about yourself and that you’re taking their businesses seriously. This should go without saying, but even if you’re listening in a group of other people, make sure to put away your phone. Better yet, turn it off before you arrive so it doesn’t even buzz. The second someone sees you checking a text message or reacting to an alert, you’ve lost their desire to speak to you further.

If you get to the point where you’ve hit it off with a potential employer, or even if your curiosity is piqued, ask for contact information so you can follow up. It’s extremely important to do so in a timely manner, not only to be polite, but also to ensure that the person doesn’t forget you. Remember that each potential employer is meeting many people in a short period of time. A punctual message can ensure that you’re fresher in their minds than others who fail to do so.
Still unsure of where you’d fit best in a new business? Test drive various roles and industries before you graduate (or even before your senior year)! Check out our list of available jobs today.

Creating a Retention Program for Your College Hires

Creating a Retention Program for Your College Hires

Rewarding your college hires is a great idea, not only to let them know how much you appreciate their hard work, but also to encourage them to tackle another project at your company. But how do you show your appreciation in a way that doesn’t involve additional spending, especially when you’re not quite ready to make a full-time offer for after graduation? There is a way. In fact, there are several you can use to maintain a great relationship with your best hires.

Some creative ways to develop a retention program for part-time college hires

Reward them with more hours

If it seems backwards to reward students with more work, think again. Even though they’re juggling busy schedules with academics and extracurriculars, the fact that they have sought out your business means that making money is also a priority to them.

But before you throw more work their way, have a sit-down with your students and ask them what they enjoyed the most about the project. By understanding their likes and future goals, you’re more likely to find a position that’s a great fit for both parties. You may even start to pave the way toward a full-time job in the future.

Reward them with more responsibility

If a student’s sole objective was to make money, he’d babysit. Chances are your hires sought out your business for the chance to test drive a role or industry, helping them narrow down their postgraduate job options. This means that the more responsibility you can throw their way, the more likely they are to enjoy it. Consider which positions work best for college hires without going overboard.

Reward them with recommendations

We’re not all bestowed with the gift of conveying how we really feel to someone else. Even if you think you’ve demonstrated precisely how much you appreciate a student going above and beyond the assigned work, you might have fallen short. So put it in writing.

It’s one thing to let a student know that he or she can count on you for future job recommendations—which is great!—but it’s another to add a recommendation to his or her LinkedIn profile right away. You could also fill out a generic recommendation and submit it to a college counselor on your student’s behalf, but it’s always better to get specific.
In short, there are many ways you can get creative and let your student hires know that you appreciate them and wish to continue your relationship. Don’t miss a great opportunity to cultivate a professional relationship that could last well past graduation.

How to Market Yourself in a Job Interview

How to Market Yourself in a Job Interview

You’re just starting senior year, and you’re getting a bit nervous as you think about the job interviews standing between you and life after college. Trust us, you’re not alone. For many of us, talking about ourselves is an entirely uncomfortable endeavor. Some even consider it obnoxious to toot their own horn—so to speak. But that’s exactly what you have to do in a job interview to succeed, so how do you get past it?

The secret of how to market yourself in a job interview: succinct storytelling

Know your audience

The first step in getting over the “bragging” aspect of marketing yourself is to understand that all of the best job interviews turn into conversations, rather than simple Q&As. This should come as a bit of a relief, since that establishes equal footing in terms of the focus of the conversation. The company representatives have to convince you that their workplace would be a good fit as much as you do, so come prepared with questions you want answered.

But beyond the questions, make sure that you’ve studied up on the company itself. The easiest way to get lost in the shuffle is to give a cookie-cutter interview, so make sure that you’ve done your research and understand how you can contribute to the company at large, not just the position to which you’re applying.

Choose your stories in advance

“Show, don’t tell” is a familiar trope among writers, and for good reason. The same goes for any job interview: It’s a lot more convincing to demonstrate how you excelled at something than to simply tell someone that you’re good at it.

Since you already did your market research in step one above, come prepared with two to three stories that show your best traits as a worker. It might be worthwhile to think ahead and choose one story where you overcame an unforeseen problem and worked well under pressure, and another where you went above and beyond to deliver more than just the assigned task. Think of hard and soft skills and come up with demonstrative examples of how you’ve honed them over time.


This is where the succinct aspect to your storytelling comes in. Even if you’ve already chosen the story you want to tell, it can easily get away from you if telling it for the first time during your job interview. To ensure that you’re getting to the point as quickly as possible, practice. And we aren’t just talking about writing down some ideas on an index card. Say it out loud in front of a mirror! You’ll find out very quickly what aspects of the story drag on and can be edited. Come up with four checkpoints and tick them off against your thumb to know where you are. When it’s showtime, you’ll be thankful that you did.

Finding yourself in need of some stories that demonstrate your best skills? It’s never too late to build on your resume by leveraging part-time, short-term job opportunities while you’re still in school. Check out the many available positions available on HireOwl today and get started!

An Introduction to Job Analysis for College Students

An Introduction to Job Analysis for College Students

Job analysis is a familiar term among HR professionals. Traditionally, it involves determining the responsibilities and necessary skills of a particular position within a company. As culture has increasingly become part of the workplace conversation, many HR specialists have included it in their job analyses as well. It all comes down to two main ideas: seeking specific traits in a candidate, and the specific duties that candidate will conduct when he or she is hired.

Though job analysis is typically conducted from within a company, it’s never too early to run your own type of job analysis as a college student. You may have an idea of what your dream job will be someday, but are you sure? What do you need to do to get there, succeed, and be promoted in the future?

How to run a job analysis for your dream position while you’re still in college

Start with the duties

It’s a simple question: What do you want to do every day? But the answer is rarely simple. Sometimes it’s easier to start with the big picture. Do you want to be creating something new? Even if you work as a sole contractor or freelancer, you will be fitting some need in a bigger machine. So what role is it that you want to play in the grander scheme of things?


As the bigger picture is beginning to form, turn to the anatomy of one workday. Perhaps you’d like to be out in the field, speaking with people and finding a solution to their needs, as a salesperson would. Or maybe you’d prefer to immerse yourself in a video-editing booth with little daily interaction with others. Do you want to be a part of a team? Do you want to travel? These are the sorts of questions that requiring answering before you move forward.

Make your skills fit the bill

You’ve identified what you’d like to do for your dream job. Now’s the time to consider what skills you need to acquire in order to be qualified for the position. But this also requires taking a step back. Chances are your dream job is not at the entry level, so think about where you need to begin. This might include anything from a graduate degree to building years of experience in a particular department.

Look at some of the job descriptions posted online for various companies to see what they ask for, and make a list of the overlapping traits they desire. If there’s anything you can start developing while you’re in school, take advantage of it. You may benefit from talking to a career advisor or a professor within a particular department who can answer any questions you have about the best way to move forward in skill building. It’s never too early to start!

Consider culture

Silicon Valley has done more to advance the modern workforce than simply creating the technology it uses. Its businesses have also done much to promote the discussion of company culture, from the all-in-one mentality at the Googleplex to the casual environment of Facebook. While this might not contribute to what you want to do every day, it will help you determine where you want to do it. Study up on various company cultures to see where you might be a good fit and have the opportunity to move up the ranks more swiftly.

Once you’ve narrowed down the field, HireOwl gives you the opportunity to double check your job analysis results. Sign up for short-term, part-time assignments that will give you a fresh look.

How to Make Productive Use of Your Summer: A Guide for Students

How to Make Productive Use of Your Summer: A Guide for Students

We asked our friends at AdmitSee for some advice on what you can do over your summer break to gain some experience and get ahead of your peers. Here’s what they had to say:

Class is over, and the beach awaits. While some students are looking ahead and figuring out the best ways to relax and stave off activity completely, there are opportunities that you can take advantage of to help yourself.

Get a job, make some money

Though it’s the first obvious option, it’s one that is always worth reiterating. Aside from the money you’ll earn, real work can guide you toward a career you weren’t previously considering, just as it can guide you away from what you thought would be your dream job. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do after graduation, summer is a prime time to test your options.

If you already have a job this summer and you’re looking for extra ways to make money, freelancing is a great way to go. Online blogs and publications are always looking for writers, developers are looking for extra help, and companies could always use a few more hands on deck. Do you still have your college application materials? If so, you can earn money on AdmitSee! Create a profile and upload your college application files and advice on college admissions to help new applicants get into school.

Sharpen your skills

You just finished school for the year. Why would you possibly want to get back in the classroom over the summer? These days, there are so many ways to further yourself and your education beyond your standard university classes. MOOCs (massive online open classrooms) are a great way to spice up your resume and take the initiative to learn more. Whether you’re looking to catch up on science and math classes or you want to venture out and take business or computer-science classes, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Pick up a new hobby or master what you already know by taking classes online or in person.

Help your community

Volunteering is one of the most helpful things you can do in your free time. Not only is it personally fulfilling and fully of experience, it’s a way for you to reach out and genuinely help the people in your community or in other communities in need. There is an abundance of established programs that you can join, but you might also want to consider finding a new way to help a cause that you’re passionate about.

All that being said, make sure to take time for yourself and enjoy your summer. But there are great opportunities available to you, and they can help you personally and professionally. If you don’t know what steps to take or what you’re interested in, chat with other college students at universities across the country for help and guidance.

How You Can Help to Narrow the Skills Gap

How You Can Help to Narrow the Skills Gap

Whether the “skills gap” exists is an ongoing argument. Some say it’s not real, while others point to data that demonstrates the opposite. Some say it depends on the industry in question, while others say it’s a ubiquitous issue no matter your business. The bottom line is that you know whether your company is seeing a gap in the skills required to get the job done and the skill levels of the applicants who are applying to your positions. If you’re feeling effects of the spread, there are things you can do to help close it.

Narrowing the skills gap: how your business can help

Get specific

It’s easy to become frustrated, throw your hands in the air, and blame the skills gap when your job applicants or new hires demonstrate a lack of understanding. But before you get mad, get productive. Every industry and company is different regarding whom they seek and what specific skills their employees need to succeed at each level. So take the time to sit down and plot out a) what you need in an employee, and b) what you want in an employee. There will of course be some overlap, but now you get an idea of not only what your applicants need from the start, but also what you need to teach them after they have been hired.

Find the root of the problem

Before you go blaming the school systems, think about the real reasons that your employees are underperforming. At the same time, look to your highest-performing individuals in similar roles and have a discussion about where they were when they started out. You might be surprised at how much they learned on the job, as opposed to what they knew before they began. Set up a system to emulate their progress and give your new employees the same opportunity to shine.

Anticipate your employees’ next roles

Entry-level jobs are just that: basic. They consist of the easiest work that someone has to get done at your company because everyone understands that responsibility comes with experience. But what about your employees’ next jobs? And the ones after that?

Many businesses are seeing the skills gap come into play once employees choose to leave the company rather than climb the ladder. In other words, people quit when they are passed over for promotions or raises. By preparing them with the skills they need to move forward at your company you’re also encouraging retention. In addition to dedicating time to your youngest employees, develop training plans and benchmarks that speak to the supervisor and managerial levels. You may just save your company a boatload in recruitment spending in the process.

Shape the workforce you want to see in the future

At the same time that you’re looking at your current staff, prepare for the future by leveraging part-time work for current college students. There’s no denying that certain skills—especially soft skills—come with experience. So why not start cultivating this before your applicant pool even applies? Thanks to mobile technology, students need not be available to you in person in order for you to test drive their skills and see how they meet deadlines, follow directions and exhibit professionalism. Whatever you envision for the future of your workplace, you can instill these traits in your future hires early on via smaller tasks that take much less of your time than traditional internships. Start cultivating your future workforce before they even graduate and watch the skills gap narrow. Post a job on HireOwl today and get work done.

Hire a Student to Find Your Company’s Gaps

Hire a Student to Find Your Company’s Gaps

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve read about the many reasons that hiring students for part-time, short-term jobs can revolutionize your recruiting methods while getting real work done.

We wanted to turn your attention to another way that businesses are leveraging student talent to their advantage: finding gaps. While hiring consultants can cause a huge hit to your budget, students present a relatively inexpensive way to help your company modernize in order to better serve your clients.

The best way to run a gap analysis? Hire a student.

Keeping up with market changes can be tough enough, but it’s downright exhausting when you add in constant advances in mobile and digital technologies. Students, on the other hand, know these advances like the back of their hands.

Think of how quickly Facebook, Instagram, and even Wikipedia took hold on university campuses before they reached the masses. Students today are accustomed to living their lives online, ordering everything from concert tickets to dinner without making a phone call. Not so coincidentally, the platforms that have cropped up to aid in modernizing businesses—Oracle, ServiceNow, etc.—aim to do the same thing.

No matter your business, chances are there are ways to bring it up to snuff that you may not have even considered. Before you spend the money to hire an outside firm to take a quick glance at your company and diagnose the cause of your issues, start from the inside out.

Maybe you work for an established company that feels behind the times. Or maybe your business is a startup with a growing demand and staff. Either way, by hiring a student you’re getting a cheap chance to see what the future of the workforce—and potential future clients—feel is missing.

Let’s take social media for example. You may easily see the benefits of having an additional set of eyes to update and monitor your social media accounts whenever you have company news to share. But is that the best you could be doing? What research have you put into the benefits of sharing curated content in addition to your own? Who is finding the articles you’d like to share? What sort of plan do you have for responding to questions from your followers? And beyond all that, what is your plan for developing a company voice? What hashtags do you plan to call your own? The list goes on.

Before you hire someone full-time to work on these issues and help boost your social profiles, look to someone who is already an expert and can answer the questions much more quickly. The same can be said for redesigning websites and creating compelling video content, among other fields. Look to the Millennial generation to help identify where you can improve and what roles might be beneficial for you to add to your staff. Post a part-time job today and see what you’re missing.

Use Jobs for Full-Time Students to Shrink Your Recruiting Budget

Use Jobs for Full-Time Students to Shrink Your Recruiting Budget

Sticking to a recruiting budget can be an incredibly frustrating endeavor. The more time you spend in contact with specific recruits, the more time you have to convince them that your company is the right fit for them. But this is a hindrance as much as it is a help. By spending time with certain students—from correspondence to on-campus visits—you’re also potentially neglecting another great pool of students from elsewhere. Beyond that, there’s no guarantee that the students in whom you’re investing the most time are going to say yes.

This is where learn-and-earn opportunities give you an edge. Hone your recruiting resources and narrow your field, all while getting work done in the process.

How jobs for full-time students can minimize recruitment spending

They take less time than traditional internships

Internships are a gamble for both students and recruiters. On the student side, there’s a huge dearth of opportunities compared to the number of students seeking them. On the employer’s side, investing months in a handful of people to see if they’re a good fit for your company can be a huge waste, especially if you realize within the first few weeks that it’s not meant to be. After all, time is money.

As you already know too well, it doesn’t take months to see if an applicant fits the mold. Term-time work, on the other hand requires much less of a time commitment. Learn-and-earn opportunities consist of real projects that the student works on part-time while still in school—and you get to choose the duration. Whether it’s a month-long quest to reboot your social-media plan or two weeks of market research, you hold the reins and determine exactly how long each individual has to prove to you that they’re worthy of being sought after college.

They give you a real idea of a student’s potential

Gone are the days of the recruitment bullhorn. Today’s students aren’t looking for the companies that make the most noise or post the most ads. Instead they’re looking inward, considering what they want to do before they decide where they want to do it. From a budgeting perspective, this should come as good news for recruiters.

Take your job descriptions and put them to the test. Post term-time jobs that involve different roles, from assisting with accounting to helping plan events. If someone does the job well and seems to enjoy it, continue the conversation and see if he or she would be interested in working with you on a more permanent basis. And spread the word! In the growing freelance economy, you don’t necessarily have to work with a potential recruit in person before determining whether you want to hire him or her permanently. Because of this, your learn-and-earn opportunities don’t have to narrow your focus to only a few of the most competitive campuses.

They encourage retention

It has been proven again and again is that it costs businesses less money to retain an employee than to hire a new one. This, of course, makes recruiters’ jobs more difficult, as they are tasked with not only filling roles, but also filling them with the right people. By test-driving your potential employees before you hire them, you’re ensuring that they’re a good fit for the job and your company’s culture code.

Temporary opportunities allow your candidates to work directly with someone who could ultimately be their immediate supervisor if you hire them permanently. After each assignment, have a conversation with this person to ensure that he or she feels the fit is right. This way all the responsibility doesn’t sit on one person’s shoulders, and you can gain so much more knowledge than you could during interviews alone.

Spend more time targeting the right students—not necessarily the most students—to narrow your field. Use the HireOwl platform to post jobs and communicate directly with students who are interested in helping you out.

Use Part Time Jobs for College Students to Enhance Your Creativity

Use Part Time Jobs for College Students to Enhance Your Creativity

There’s no denying that the term “creative work” is a bit redundant. No matter what sort of work you do, you always have the opportunity to be creative in finding solutions. But it’s particularly true of fields that involve writing, design, and photography that you may have to pay your dues before taking any sort of creative reins.

Part time jobs for college students: helping you jump the creative curve

This, of course, can be a frustrating aspect of whatever entry-level position you find yourself accepting. You’ll be eager to prove yourself, but may also be stuck behind a chain of command that gives you few opportunities to do so. If you put yourself in your higher-ups’ positions, however, it’s hard to argue. These people are in charge of seeing if you can comprehend and mimic the voice and style of the company you represent. Thus you cannot take charge of creative decisions until you have proven yourself. You may outline a blog post or create a style guide that will never be seen by anyone other than your direct supervisor if it’s not right for the company.

So what’s the best way of separating yourself from the pack? The easiest way to convince someone that you’re worthy of creative responsibility is to hand over a resume that is already packed with experience.

Learn-and-earn opportunities are your best shot

We’re probably not blowing your mind when we point out that more experience leads to more responsibility. But you may not realize that you don’t have to wait until you are out of college to start gathering real experiences that get you ahead. There are, of course, the classic summer internships after junior year, but there is a huge disparity between the number of internships available and the number of college students seeking to fill them. Besides, even if you’re able to snag one of these coveted spots, there’s little guarantee that you’ll be spending time doing something that actually interests you.

Instead, turn toward part-time positions that you can accomplish during your college semesters or the summer months. In addition to trying out different roles and industries, you have the opportunity to complete real projects that you can point to with pride as examples of your creative growth—and get paid in the process. Many of the people who are seeking students to fill these roles are looking for their expertise in advanced social media, graphic design, or another field in which you may already be an expert.

Preempt being held back due to lack of experience and check out HireOwl’s available positions. You may just find what spurs your creative passion along the way!

Use Freelance Work to Prepare You for Starting a Small Business

Use Freelance Work to Prepare You for Starting a Small Business

For some, graduating college means finally working in a particular industry, in a certain field, or for a specific company. For others, graduating and starting an entry-level job is just a necessary step on the way to their real dream: starting their own small business.


With the freelance economy reaching new heights, you don’t have to wait until you’ve bided your time or raised enough capital to start preparing for the day you’ll start your business. Instead, leverage learn-and-earn opportunities while you’re still in college to lead you on your road to success.

Strategies for using freelancing in college to prepare you for starting a small business

Focus on your industry

Term-time work can be a great chance to get a peek into your desired field. If you’re hoping to sell products on Etsy or open a brick-and-mortar shop, find a retail company that’s looking for part-time help. No matter what kind of job you do, you’ll get a chance to see an example of a retail office structure and how everyone’s work is organized. You’ll also be able to see how products are ordered and shipped through channels, and what it takes to get them to customers reliably. If you work for more than one in a particular field, you can see the different ways that they are innovating and which are the most successful.

Try a little bit of everything

Anyone who has started a small business or a startup will tell you that—at least at the beginning—you have to wear many hats. As you get off the ground, you have to know a bit about accounting, marketing, sales, social media strategy, shipping, invoicing, and so much more, depending on what it is your business does.

Get a head start via part-time, short-term projects that help you understand the work involved in these areas. Sure, you may be helping a business of a different size or industry, but you’ll still get an inside look at whichever subject you’re trying to check off your list. You may not become an “expert” in accounting, for example, but you’ll still gain knowledge of what you can expect from your CPA, and what sort of information you should be handing over.

Focus on networking

When you’re just getting started, sage wisdom can be as lucrative as financial investments. No matter what types of jobs you do, ask your primary point of contact if you can reach out to him or her in the future for references or for advice. Starting any type of business can be a trial-and-error endeavor, but you can often skip some of these tests if you’re able to ask someone who has been there already.

So what’s keeping you? Start gathering learning experiences today by signing up for HireOwl and seeing what’s available.