By Judy Panagakos, Careers Coach

Now that everyone is settled into the routines of the semester, it is time to prepare for the job search process in earnest. This is a good time to consider what the “buyers” of entry level talent are looking for, so that you, as the “seller” can be a sought-after prospect.

Corporate recruiters are focused on three primary things, finding the talent needed by the organization, evaluating the talent they find or who applied, and coordinating the final selection decision. So, it is important to realize, that they are not looking for “a person who interned at ABC Corporation” specifically, rather they are looking for a combination of critical skill sets.

Recruiting and Selection are two different stages of the process. From a candidate’s perspective, the recruiting stage is where the presentation of one’s background with a focus on skills acquired, is the key to being included in the “gathering” process of potential new hires. The selection process is at the end, when a short list of “gathered” candidates receives additional consideration, through interviews or assessments, ultimately resulting in an offer to the new hire. So, before resume and interview preparation, the early careerist needs to inventory and align their skills to demonstrate that they have what it takes to work in an entry level position, and to highlight skills they are actively working to obtain, so that they might be considered in the recruitment campaign underway.

What Skills Matter?

At a presentation held at the Princeton Club of NY earlier this year, a panel of corporate recruiters across many industries discussed their organizational needs for top talent and provided insights into their recruiting and selection processes. These experts shared that they are all looking for key attributes in entry level talent:

  • Communication Skills –the ability to convey ideas in speech and writing, in a professional but warm way.

  • Analytical Skills – the ability to interpret facts to drive an action plan.

  • Teamwork and Collaboration – evidence that the person has successfully worked in groups.

  • Creativity – showing that they will generate new and different ideas to balance out analytical.

  • Adaptability – evidence that the person is resilient and able to overcome set set-backs?

  • Continuous Self-Improvement – evidence that person pushes to learn more in a variety of ways.

  • Technology – demonstrating agile learning of multiple platforms.

Technical Skills Research

It is important to note that the attributes above are essentially facets for entry level talent and would, of course, need to be coupled with technical expertise or foundational skills related to the specific industry and nature of the work.

One valuable resource to use to ensure that you know what technical skills, knowledge and abilities are sought for your desired field is the Occupational Information Network, a.k.a. the O*NET, which is available online. There you would find key requirements related to a given industry or job. Armed with that information, it can be useful to read a wide variety of job descriptions for current entry level roles open in this field, regardless of location, to see how companies are weaving these attributes into position requirements. Using this information, talk to people who are already working in the field, perhaps recent alumni from your school, to ask them for any other insights into what skills they wish they had developed before starting their careers.

Personal Skills Inventory

With this research complete, review your experiences and academic work and align them to these required skills. Frame each skill on your draft resume within the scope of an experience; ensure that you able to describe how you applied the skill and could again apply it in your future. For less tangible skills such as creativity or adaptability, the cover letter, or the interview process, will likely be where you can showcase those attributes. If you identify skill gaps or deficiencies, you can immediately start to find activities to round those out. You are now ready to refine your resume and LinkedIn Profile to accentuate the key skills, which will be searched out by recruiters and make you “findable”.

Getting comfortable with self-promotion

Not everyone is comfortable stepping into the career enabling process of self-promotion, but this is a necessary skill to develop. Identify a few people who graciously promote themselves and watch their techniques. Practice on a platform such as LinkedIn – find articles of interest and add your own perspective informed by volunteer work or internships that gave you insights. By taking an expert’s opinion and blending your own insights, you are positioning your ability to contribute and to be creative.

It helps to get a second opinion on your resume and profile – at Priority Candidates, we provide private coaching in the development of the skills inventory, the resume and profile, and we work to ensure that descriptions are thorough and targeted to the role. Remember, when it comes to the job search you are your own advocate – it is important to be prepared to sell your current talents and strengths for targeted positions that become available this fall as you prepare to launch your career.