By Girls With Impact

The world is full of uncertainty —  now more than ever. 

As unemployment rates rise college students are facing the blunt of this uncertainty —  piling on more student debt but not knowing if there will be a job at the end of their academic journey. This then begs the question: what should students be doing now to ensure they are getting noticed by recruiters who may offer future jobs? 

Jennifer Openshaw, CEO of Girls With Impact, spoke with Anthony Sandrik to explore this. Sandrik is the current Global Head of Talent at Omidyar Network — an investment firm established in 2004 by the founder of eBay. He was also the Vice President of executive recruitment at WPP, and has an extensive background in talent acquisition and recruiting.

Here is his insight into the recruitment world, specifically catered to us GenZ newcomers.

1. Build Your Online Persona

As Sandrik says, “anyone who is anyone is on LinkedIn.”

LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable tool for young people looking to market themselves to recruiters. Even if you’re still in high school, look into making an account and starting to build your online persona early. Share your academic projects, your grades at the end of each semester, and any interesting jobs/internships/research you are currently working on. Any involvement with Girls With Impact, or a similar program, would also be great on your LinkedIn page.

If a recruiter is able to track your academic and professional progress through your LinkedIn, you’re on the right track. 

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out

As young people, professionals in the industry will most likely be thrilled to talk to us about their job. 

Many professionals understand that current internships and experiential learning opportunities are being canceled. Thus, they are more likely to talk to you about their jobs given that our generation is currently barred from the opportunities that would help us narrow our professional goals. This actually works to our advantage, as a recruiter who has already spoken to you and noticed your interest early is more likely to think of you when an open position comes around. 

So, if you see someone in an industry you are interested in, try to find them on LinkedIn and reach out. Even sending a quick message saying how you would love to connect and learn more about their position would be beneficial in the job application process later on. 

3. Don’t Just Think About Your “Now-Skills”

Whether it’s your resume, LinkedIn, or during an interview, make sure you aren’t just listing off your technical capabilities. 

When hiring young employees, many recruiters are looking for the long-term. Truthfully, many don’t care if you are able to make a Microsoft Powerpoint or got an A in your Calculus class. These are skills that can be picked up fairly quickly and aren’t going to be relevant in 10 years — what matters more is how capable you are when it comes down to learning new skills. 

So, instead of just listing what you can do now, try to emphasize the skills you haven’t mastered but are working on — or even skills you are interested in but haven’t even started to learn. This is what’s indicative of a “growth-mindset”; showing employers you are a constant learner who isn’t afraid of a learning curve.

4. Focus on Your Emotional Intelligence 

Recruiters aren’t just hiring based on your professional abilities — they are also hiring someone who will fit into their employee base and team. 

Sandrik says that many applicants overemphasize their IQ, but underestimate their EQ. 

This EQ refers to your emotional skills — and it’s absolutely key to determining how much of a team-player you are. Someone with a high emotional intelligence can notice when teammates are overwhelmed, and can efficiently delegate tasks in a professional manner. 

During an interview try to naturally bring up a few stories where you had to be a real team player. For example, during my interview for my current internship, I told my recruiter about a time where I had to practice conflict resolution during a group project. He was incredibly interested and we ended up talking about just that situation for 10 minutes.

Being a college student during a pandemic and soaring tuition prices is scary. We get it. However, if you’re here — getting started early in preparing yourself for the job-hunting process — you’re already ahead of the game. 

Jody Bell, 19, is Girls With Impact’s Chief Editor and a program graduate. Girls With Impact is the nation’s only online, after-school, entrepreneurship program for teen girls, turning them into tomorrow’s business leaders and innovators.