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Are you the candidate’s friend – or a source of confusion?

the candidate's friendIf you’ve ever tried to help a recent graduate look for work, you probably realized that they had only a vague idea of what the ‘right job’ might look like for them. Over the years I’ve worked with a number of my friends’ children (because of course I am a Doctor of sorts!), pointing them to job boards, assessment tools, and even books on occasion. But I always start by asking them what they want to do. I try to be the candidate’s friend.

At least two-thirds don’t know. Even the ones on a relatively clear career path, such as becoming a lawyer or a research scientist, still have to make decisions: which firm or corporation is actually going to get me closer to my goals? Because, you see…to reach your goals, you need to know what they are!

A caveat: since the recession, I have noticed that these ‘kids’ have at least thought seriously about what a meaningful job might be for them – but as we all know, the devil is in the details. What kinds of questions should they ask themselves? And how do they reconcile the fact that their next job – which is most likely just a step on their long-term career path – won’t be perfect? Sometimes those early jobs only have a few redeeming aspects of the goals they’ve set for themselves. It ain’t easy.

That’s where we come in – at least in an ideal world. Almost every job board has a percentage of job seekers that are entering the workforce for the first time. Some sites specialize in these types of job seekers, while others cater to more experienced candidates and pick up the entry-level folks now and then. Whether you are a traditional job board, an employer branding site, or some sort of hub, you essentially ‘introduce’ the job seeker to the employer – and to the broader industry as well.

So…are you doing a good job of introducing and clarifying? Helping them ask the right questions? Helping them learn more? Are you being the candidate’s friend? Or are you just confusing these newbies?

Out of the hundreds of sites and tools I look at each year, I’d say probably less than half are actually doing well on introducing and framing their employers to these entering job seekers. Even if entry-level isn’t core to your business, let’s be strategic here – after a while, these job seekers will move up and become the ‘experienced’ candidates you really want. So do you want them to remember you as a hot mess – or a helping hand?

Think about it!

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