3 Tips for Tapping the Hidden Job Market

I am a witness to the reality that 60-70%+ of all jobs are not posted. As a personalized career advisor for college students and new grads, I routinely get calls from friends and colleagues asking if I can refer someone with a particular skill set.

This is also why we have our clients spend a significant amount of time reaching out to professionals at the companies and in the roles they think they want to pursue so they learn about the company culture, skills required, and activities performed before they ever apply for a job. Most importantly, our students learn what roles are best for them from the employer perspective, if they will be hiring, when, and who else they should connect with to move things forward.

Tips for tapping the hidden job market:

  1. Make a list of companies that you are interested in and use LinkedIn to identify and reach out to contacts that are currently in the role you want to explore
  2. Research alums that were in your sorority, fraternity, club or professional organizations as recent grads tend to be the most helpful (they remember how stressful the job search process really is!)
  3. Tap your neighbors and parent’s networks for contacts at companies you want to target

The advantages to this approach are many; you’re building relationships, practicing your informational interviewing skills, and learning a lot about what you do and don’t want to do in the process.

Isn’t this better use of your time than spending hours a day blindly applying to job postings online?

3 Tips for Successful Holiday Networking

The holidays are a time of merriment and good cheer, so it’s a great networking opportunity to meet or re-connect with extended family and friends in a low stress social setting. Your goal – articulate a 30 second pitch so you can follow-up with a nice LinkedIn note and a request for an informational meeting […]

Job Search Tips: What Companies Do You Love?

Everyone has a brand affinity or obsession with a product or company – think about your sleek water bottle, favorite cooler or new mobile app. Why not research these companies first when starting your job search process? Your passion for the product will be apparent in your communications and interviews. Do what you love!

What companies do you want to explore? We can’t wait to hear what’s on your list!



Choosing a College Major – 5 Tips to Taking a Different Approach

The stats on college majors are surprising to both students and parents alike.

  • Over 50% of students who have declared a major in college will change it at least once, many up to 3 times
  • Cost of changing a major is significant, $15,000+ due to delayed graduation and lost wages

These sobering stats demonstrate that students are unprepared and ill-informed when it comes to selecting a major.

How Did We Get Here?

Typically, students pick their college first, then their major, and finally junior or senior year, they start thinking about careers when it’s time to search for an internship or full-time employment.

How Can We Change the Outcome?

We want students to change their thinking. Instead of focusing on a college roadmap that is usually course-based to graduate, we want students to think more holistically in terms of a career roadmap. This roadmap combines academic plans with career components so students learn more about themselves and their career options before picking a major.

Just as importantly, if a student has already picked a major, it’s critical they learn what types of jobs they can do both within and outside their major so ideally, they don’t change it.

5 Things To Do Before Choosing or Switching a Major

  1. Conduct self-assessments – What do I love/hate to do? What are my gifts?
  2. Talk with Career Services to learn what assessments tests are available (Birkman, Myers/Briggs, Strong, or others) for free or at a reduced rate for students
  3. Read StrengthsFinders 2.0 and take the online assessment for only $15 http://www.amazon.com/StrengthsFinder-2-0-Tom-Rath/dp/159562015X
  4. Research career options and growth projections with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook handbook http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  5. Check out O*Net Online http://www.onetonline.org for specifics on job roles

The good news – there are great resources available. The key is to make the decision to invest the time. Trust me, the investment is worth it as it can save you money now and positively affect the next 30-40 years of your life.

Real Life: Career Tips

For our Real Life Career Tips series, we asked working professionals to share their wisdom and insight.


Name: Anna Grace Zuckerman

Company: MRE Consulting

Position: Business Intelligence Consultant


Q: What book do you recommend to students?

A: For anyone going into consulting: The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford. It was hard to get through some parts of it, but it has made me a much stronger consultant long term.

For anyone going into Business Intelligence: Data Mining Practical Learning Tools and Techniques (7th edition). This book has some truly awe-inspiring lessons about machine learning. It’s the book that lead me to my industry.


Q: What is one skill you recommend students learn?

A: For business intelligence, Python. For IT, C#


Q: What is your favorite motto or inspirational quote?

A: “Trust, but verify” -Ronald Reagan


Q: What piece of advice do you wish someone would have given you in college?

A: Two pieces of advice: Do what you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life. Also, remember that “No.” is a complete sentence. While you should always give it your all, you cannot do it all. Don’t be afraid to say no when you can’t handle anymore work. If you say yes to everything, your work will suffer, your morale will suffer, and your employer will suffer.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Job?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from a college senior is, “How long does it take to get a job?”

The answer:  74.9 days

Within the college hiring process, there are 3 distinct cycle times:

  • Job posting to interview cycle:  38.7 days
  • Interview to offer cycle:  22.9 days
  • Offer to acceptance cycle:  13.3 days

As you can see from these results, patience REALLY is a virtue.

* Data from the 2014 National Association of Colleges and Employers Recruiting Survey

How Do You Find Your Passion?

As the phrase “follow your passion” continues to be promoted in university lecture halls and popular college blogs alike, we all know that career journeys are complex, long windy roads filled with both pot holes and beautiful mountain vistas.

In fact, we acquire new passions and lose others over time. Most importantly, just because we’re passionate about something doesn’t mean we should build our career around it – especially as a first job out of college.

Start this important process by asking these 5 questions:

What are my strengths?

What activities do I pursue in my spare time?

What people or companies do I admire and why?

When have I done my best work?  Why was it so good?

What do others tell me I’m good at?

Passions are cultivated and can be pursued in many different ways.  Start exploring your passions so you can learn more about yourself and begin to define what path you want to take, both now and down the road.

Happy exploring!

Back to School Means the Start of the Recruiting Season

Every year, college students are shocked to learn that some industries begin recruiting in September. Financial services, management consulting, and accounting firms are usually the first – hosting information sessions the first two weeks of the month and conducting interviews mid-month.  We’re also seeing an increase in restrictiveness this year for resume submissions based on GPA, Honors only programs or a specific major or skill.

What does this mean for students?

  • The early bird gets the worm – it is never too early to start exploring careers, developing skills and looking for internships and jobs
  • Resumes and LinkedIn profiles must be polished early (ideally before school even starts) so students can focus on company research and interview prep
  • Cover letters should be customized for each position
  • Info sessions are important for making personal connections with company recruiters
  • Students need to understand what industries hire on campus vs. other channels as only 11% of all jobs are placed through the career center

Career Onward is here to help. Sign-up for a free consult.

College Grad Expectations vs. Reality

This Accenture infographic highlights the gap between college grad career expectations and hiring realities.

The good news – parents and students alike can close this gap by talking early and often about careers and the job search process.  Information is power!



College Graduation – What a Great Time to Celebrate, Reflect, and Set New Goals

I’m so lucky! I just had one of the most celebratory, memorable weekends of my life as our oldest son graduated from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

My son got his dream job, gets to stay in the great state of Texas that he loves, is officially “independent” as of July 1 and still has time to squeeze in some travel adventures before starting his new life chapter.

For me, it’s been an emotional roller coaster – a combination of pride, relief, joy, and yet sadness to the reality that my son is never truly coming home again. As part of my “letting go” process, I created a visual journal filled with words of advice from family and friends, favorite quotes and Bible verses, book recommendations, and more in hopes that it will be a source of inspiration and comfort in good times and bad.

With this in mind, I suggest that all college students, not just college grads, take advantage of these summer months to create a bucket list or add goals and dreams to an existing one. Research tells us you’re 30% more likely to achieve something if you write it down so Dream BIG and begin today!

If you are a college grad – congratulations!  Celebrate, reflect, and set new goals.