By Krystin Simoy
As a recruiter in the tech industry, I connect with people in short amounts of time and analyze them based on their skills set on paper. I have to know people well within 30 minutes. Nothing more or less. Talent acquisition is a career I fell into after graduating from DePaul as an English major back in 2013. I gained insightful soft skills that I use today from my undergraduate experience, but I always knew that I wanted to earn a post-graduate degree. I just needed to find the perfect time.
Finally, in 2020, while working full-time as a recruiter, I decided to pursue my Master’s in Human Resources at Kellstadt. The irony is that the economy was in recession when I graduated the first time from DePaul in 2013. In 2022, when I graduated for the second time, we will likely enter another recession.
Navigating this job market has been challenging for everyone. Whether you are looking to transition to a new role or are new to the market, it is intimidating as companies are laying off a significant part of their employee population. Layoffs tend to be a cost-savings strategy to leverage the funds to get through a short amount of time. If companies are smaller, like start-ups, layoffs tend to be more permanent as the money was probably not allocated accordingly.
If I could give the 2013 version of me advice about job hunting, here is what I would tell myself. These tips helped me land my current role as I transitioned to another job while pursuing my MSHR degree at Kellstadt.
Be honest with yourself, really know your strengths and acknowledge your areas of improvement.
Employers these days are looking for people they can coach and mentor. Think of it this way, if you keep getting 100% in everything you do, are you actually learning anything? If you are starting in your career and do not have much experience, really think about what you know how to do. Create a list of soft and hard skills you possess. This will help you deliver a clear and concise message about your professional brand. Articulating your strengths and areas of improvement during a job interview shows maturity and accountability.
Know the industry landscape you are applying in and understand their hiring trends.
I know I will be in the technology industry for the foreseeable future. The reason being is because I know that it is stable. I know you are probably thinking, but Krystin, “LOOK HERE and HERE. How is there stability?!” For starters, FAANG-based companies (Meta aka Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are companies that have colossal employee populations. When I started my career, I knew I did not want to work for those companies because I wanted the impact of my hard work as an individual contributor to be visible sooner rather than later. I targeted companies with an employee population of 500-1000 and researched their CrunchBase.com profile. Sometimes at more prominent companies, you have to negotiate with yourself.
Typically what it comes down to is, “do I want to make a ton of money and work on the one thing I was hired to do?” or “am I comfortable to take x salary but know that my work can have an impact on the business?” I caution people, especially in this work climate, to think about where they will be in two years if they take the higher-paying job. I give a two-year timeline because if this recession is imminent, you have to prepare yourself accordingly. Will this compensation sustain you and your lifestyle before you look for another role? When you get a job offer, you also negotiate with yourself about your needs versus your wants. (If you are a current or incoming student at Kellstadt, I highly recommend taking the negotiations class.)
When applying for jobs, your best foot forward is actually a piece of paper.
Having a clean and tailored résumé is your first impression to any employer. Recruiters spend five seconds, if not less, looking at résumés to determine if they want to connect with the person on it. I recommend highlighting your internship, extracurricular and work experience if you are entry-level. If you have experience, I recommend adding quantitative values to your bullet points to showcase what you have done. Always start your bullet points with verbs or adverbs while using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action and Results).
Example: Successfully hired 20 people within the first five months of starting across the human resource, finance, accounting and marketing departments; 20% of hires were passively sourced candidates from underrepresented groups to align with the company’s hiring goals.
Be selective with your job search.
I know you must cast a broad net to gain traction on your candidacy. However, I would highly recommend assessing what market you are applying to and why. Interviewing, at its core, is to determine if you have the foundational skillset to do the job. If you understand the industry well, it will be easier to articulate your experience from a soft skill perspective in an entry-level role. If you seek opportunities outside your current industry, leverage your foundational expertise to transition into another position. Recruiters are listening for the soft skills that will make you successful in the role and assessing your baseline knowledge about the opportunity.
Krystin Simoy graduated in June 2022 from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business with her MSHR degree. While attending school, she worked full-time as a talent acquisition partner within the technology industry. She was president of the Society for Human Resource Management at DePaul from fall 2021 to spring 2022. A Double Demon, she also holds a BA in English from DePaul. In her free time, Krystin provides career coaching guidance. She also likes to travel, as she grew up in Germany and is multilingual.