While the virtual Newhouse NYC semester was a big shift for students, the fall 2020 cohort received some of the best connections in the communications industry. One of the perks of our virtual semester was that Newhouse NYC director Cheryl Brody Franklin paired each student with a human resources (HR) mentor. During the last three weeks of the semester, each student met with their HR mentor over Zoom to discuss their LinkedIn profile and résumé, and try a mock interview. Here’s what we learned:
1. Focus on keywords to get your foot in the door.
The HR mentors were particularly helpful in getting students to understand what recruiters are looking for. Samantha McClain ‘17, associate recruiter of global talent for Huge (and a former Newhouse NYC student), shared her screen on Zoom to show her mentee what the recruiter page on LinkedIn looks like.
McClain emphasized the importance of keywords on LinkedIn. It’s important that if you know how to use software (like Microsoft Excel or Adobe products), or you have a very niche skill, that you put those specific apps and skills in the descriptions of your work experience. Many recruiters simply do a page search to look for candidates, so if that skill isn’t listed, your profile may not be seen. We also learned that when you’re applying for a specific position, it’s a good idea to use the same keywords that the job listing includes.
2. Nail the mock interview.
Another thing the mentors were asked to do during their one-to-one sessions was a mock interview, in which mentors would act as a recruiter from a company looking to hire the mentee. Maggie (Jiaman) Peng, an advertising senior paired with Iriet Schulman, director of talent acquisition at Condé Nast, shared her experience of the interview.
“It was great to just practice in a low-risk, low-stress environment with someone who’s very supportive and encouraging,” Peng said. “I think what I learned is that, once you know the [ins and outs], you learn that there’s no trick to it and there’s no one way to [get] hired. You just have to prepare as best you can and hope for the best. Failures should not discourage anyone because if you’re as prepared as you can be, it’s just a numbers game.”
3. Remember that HR reps may seem intimidating, but they’re here to help.
The HR mentors who participated in our program have a passion for helping people and finding talent. “2020 has been such a challenging year for all, and especially for those who are soon to graduate,” Schulman said. She was so eager to help Newhouse NYC that she convinced six other recruiters at Condé Nast to participate in the one to one mentoring, too. “I feel we could all use a helping hand at some point in life, and if I can be a mentor and offer some helpful guidance, I’ll be the first to sign up!”