Advice from a Recruiter – Standing Out in the Virtual Recruitment Process

As another Tufts semester approaches, many of you may be looking for your next experience. You may be seeking a summer internship, a part-time role, or your first post-grad position. Regardless of the position, the recruitment process looks different this year than it did before the COVID pandemic.

However – many of the tips and resources for standing out as a strong candidate during the recruitment process still hold true in our virtual process. As a recruiter myself who’s worked with Tufts students for a few years, I hope a review of these tips will be useful to you.

⭐ Know Yourself

The first step in the recruitment process doesn’t begin with a search on Handshake or completing an application; it starts with you. Take some time to reflect! What are you passionate about? What strengths do you have and what skills are you hoping to develop? Review your current and prior work – whether in a paid position, a volunteer experience, or a campus team or club – and think about your accomplishments. Talk about your experiences not as specific tasks, but as skills transferrable to any number of opportunities.

During this reflection, you’ll figure out what excites you – and what kind of things you’d like to avoid. You’ll also be better prepared to speak passionately in the application and interview process. This can be particularly helpful when asked to share a little about yourself when first speaking with an employer or in an informational interview. As a former English major, everything is a story. Remember that you are the one telling your story throughout this process – and how much power you have in sharing it with others.

💻 Do Research

After taking time to reflect, you’re ready to jump into the search process. Start with the tools available through the Career Center – especially Handshake. After finding opportunities, review the position description and compare the qualifications and tasks to the transferrable skills you identified earlier. This will help you tell the story of how you’re qualified for that position.

Then, take the time to learn more about a company or organization. Review their website for details about their values, their culture, and their employees’ experiences. Look for an ‘about’ section or blog posts as a first step. No interviewer should expect you to be an expert on the company or position. But you should be able to speak genuinely to the work you’d be doing – and what excites you about being part of that space.

Additionally, draw on what you’ve identified in your reflection to know what works and doesn’t work for you. If equity is important to you, ask about how the company or organization supports employees from underrepresented or marginalized communities. If longevity is important, ask about how employees are trained and managed – it’s important to know how you’ll be supported as much as being able to share how you’re ready.

👋 Remember the Human Aspect

We have a saying at City Year: “We must never lose the human aspect of what we are doing.” This is especially true of the recruitment process. It can be easy to see the hiring or internship process in terms of securing an opportunity, of roadblocks and stepping stones. But it is actually a deeply personal process focused on human connections.

There are a lot of people in your corner to support you, ranging from former Jumbos to the team at the Career Center to recruiters themselves. Speaking as a recruiter, nothing brings more joy to my day than the opportunity to speak with someone who is trying to find the right next step for themselves. Approach these conversations not as spaces where you need to make an impression and prove yourself. Approach them as opportunities to connect and discover, and to share your story. Everything that we do as professionals has to do with the human aspect.

With that, remember the little things! Sending an email of appreciation makes you stand out. And it doesn’t need to be an ornate piece of prose. Cite one thing you talked about and say thank you, and you’ll have made an impression.

In Closing

The best way for you to stand out in the recruitment process is for you to be fully yourself. As silly as it may be to draw on Mister Rogers for inspiration when finding a professional position, it’s worth remembering that there’s no person in the world like you. Use that to your advantage. You may not get every position you apply for, but as my colleague and mentor Vilma Silva told me many times, “What’s for you won’t pass you.”

The path ahead is truly unknown for all of us, but you have tools to help you create the path that’s right for you. Take your time, continue to reflect and connect with others, and you’ll stand out.

By Paul Riley
Paul Riley Recruiter