4 Takeaways from BSU Professional Networking Week

October 9, 2017 by Verified First
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Jessica Muir (HR Specialist) with Zach Townsend (HR Director)

By Zach Townsend, HR Director

Held annually, Professional Networking Week presented by COBE Career Services is a great opportunity to introduce students to employers in a week-long series of events. As HR Director for Verified First, I had the privilege to represent the company on a business panel of experienced professionals:

The panel focused on best practices for students to break into their field and successfully establish themselves in the workforce. The panel discussed four key points that young professionals should keep in mind:

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1. Make your resume and cover letter align with the job description

Every job description acts as a hiring blueprint. When submitting job applications, it’s critical to ensure that an HR professional can instantly see alignment between your resume and the job posting. Never lie on a resume, especially because many employers can conduct employment verifications that can easily identify fabrications. (If you need help with verifications, here’s a great company to contact.)

If you don’t meet all the qualifications, a cover letter can help explain gaps or perceived deficiencies in your skills or work history. For example, if the job description states two years of work experience is required and you’re new to the workforce, your cover letter can explain how your other qualifications can address this gap. For instance, serving in leadership for student organizations is relevant experience that a hiring manager may consider when reviewing your application.


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2. Present yourself in the best possible light

To land a job, it’s important to bring the “wow factor” in every aspect of how you present yourself. Here are some examples:

  • Be articulate. Speak cohesively about the unique value you bring to the company. Being inarticulate or lacking confidence will cause you to fade into the background of the many other candidates interviewing for your position. If you are unable to demonstrate why the hiring manager should hire you over other candidates they are meeting with, chances are you will not be selected. Be sure to understand the value you bring to the organization.
  • Dress a step above the company’s day to day culture when interviewing. For example, if business casual is the norm for the company you interview with, wear a suit or a nice shirt and tie. Regardless of the job you’re applying for, it’s never appropriate to show up in jeans and tennis shoes.
  • Present yourself appropriately for your role. Because each job position is different, consider which aspects of your personality and skillsets would be most valuable to focus on. For example, if interviewing for an HR position, it’s valuable to focus on showing empathy and ability to relate to people. In contrast, if you were interviewing for a sales position, it would be wise to focus on your ability to persuade and be convincing.

    Conversely, be sure to not screen yourself out of the role. For example, if interviewing for a managerial role, don’t discuss how much you dislike confrontation as it is likely to be a part of the job. In the interview, it is your job to paint a picture for the hiring manager of you being able to do the job, so all your answers should reflect this.

  • Show a track record of success. Everyone has accomplishments that need to be conveyed to an employer during the interview process. Even if you don’t have a lot of work history under your belt, you may use examples about volunteer experience, academic accomplishments, and other instances that show how you provide value.  

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3. Be willing to take on other responsibilities that weren’t originally part of your job

Companies are constantly evolving and the same applies for jobs. Over your career, you’ll often be called to take on tasks that weren’t initially part of your job description. Instead of running from these opportunities, embrace and learn from them.

One example in our company is Elvin Croswhite, our Director of Client Services. He started at an entry-level position without any industry experience. Due to his ability to work hard and learn new things that met our company’s changing needs, he worked his way up the ranks quickly in only a few years. In fact, because of his tenacity and focus, he’s helped develop many departments. Like Elvin, your willingness to act and do whatever it takes to get the job done will create significant opportunities for you down the road.


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4. Show humility

Regardless of the level of talent new hires brings to an organization, their careers will eventually stall without humility. When you enter the workforce, you’ll be required to learn new things quickly - there will be many days where it will feel like drinking from a fire hose. Without humility, you will be unable to adapt and meet the needs of your company. Try not to take yourself so seriously that you become difficult to be around. It’s selfish to think that we can do everything ourselves, so be sure to learn from others whenever possible.

Having talent without humility often causes fundamental attribution error. Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations (human resources) at Google explained:

“Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure …They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved.”

Developing humility early on will help you learn from both your accomplishments and your  mistakes. Developing this self-awareness will help you make the right moves early on in your career!


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Final Thoughts

The students I met at Boise State University were enthusiastic and made a strong impression on members of my panel. I was impressed with the insights shared by the fellow members of my panel and was honored to share the spotlight with them.

As Verified First grows, we look forward to developing a robust talent pipeline through recruiting students from Boise State. For information about our current positions, please click here.


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Zach is an HR professional with over 12 years of HR-experience in the financial, non-profit, and B2B sectors. His career has found him as the chief HR visionary of firms that have received national and local accolades including Best Places to Work, Top Company Culture, & Fastest Growing Companies. Zach has served on the board of nonprofits, and has consulted to bring HR structure to many start-ups. In addition to being dually certified as a PHR and SHRM-CP, Zach teaches Staffing and Training as Boise State University and is a Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder Coach.  Zach holds a BBA and a Master's degree in HR Management from BSU & the University of Connecticut, respectfully.  

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About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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