Artificial Intelligence in Recruiting
Posted on: January 3rd, 2019

As time goes on, Artificial Intelligence strings together an expanding number of moments throughout our lives. From whose posts we see on social media to which advertisers target us and how, algorithms are constantly curating our interactions with digital content.

AI has undoubtedly lent a crucial hand in revolutionizing many industries, but not without trial and error. Take a look at Amazon, for example, who found themselves in hot water after developing an AI system to identify candidates most eligible for vacant positions. Shortly after launching the program, it was discovered that Amazon’s new recruiting tool was discriminating against women.

How did that happen? Well, Amazon’s computer models were likely trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted over a ten-year period. Most of those resumes had come from men, in a direct and entirely accurate reflection of the tech realm’s everlasting issue with gender inequality. Consequently, Amazon’s system began to favor male applicants, further perpetuating an already concerning industry trend.

In the end, Amazon recalled the software and released a statement assuring that “no candidates had been evaluated by the program.” But, as a 2017 CareerBuilder survey sources more than half of HR managers as expecting AI to be a common part of their strategies within the next five years, this case poses an interesting question for recruiting pros: Is AI in the hiring process foolproof?

While we at Avenica certainly appreciate and take full advantage of technology and the societal advances it’s brought along, we also understand—and have appropriately addressed—the associated pitfalls. That’s why when it comes to our hiring philosophy, we incorporate technology for efficiency and a human touch efficacy. Our proprietary process utilizes behavioral-based interviewing, career discovery, and personal matching. This is when a real, human member of our staff works with recent college graduates to identify unique skills and aptitude along with career goals and aspirations. Attaining these insights allows us to understand which types of entry-level positions is best suited for each candidate and their career path.

For more than twenty years, Avenica has been the leading U.S. recruiting firm exclusively focused on placing college graduates into entry-level, career-track positions.

Are you a college graduate ready to launch your career? Don’t leave your career path in the hands of an algorithm. Join our network today.

Ready to hire strong entry-level talent? Partner with us.

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Avenica CEO Discusses the Hidden Costs of Recruiting
Posted on: May 22nd, 2018

Avenica CEO Brian Weed shared his perspective on the hidden costs of entry-level recruiting with Talent Economy, discussing trends and best practices for employers seeking to hire at the entry level. Avenica believes that talent is an investment, but in the case of entry-level hiring, it’s often an investment in an unknown and unproven commodity, which makes it daunting for many employers. In the article, Brian shares ways employers can reduce the cost of hiring while not sacrificing longer-term outcomes. Read the article here

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Avenica CEO Brian Weed talks with WCCO on 2018 Grad Career Prospects
Posted on: May 21st, 2018

You’ve passed your finals, walked across the stage, and thrown your cap in the air. But now what? Brian Weed, Avenica’s CEO spoke with WCCO’s Heather Brown and Jason DeRusha on life after commencement and starting a career. Watch the video, then let’s chat about your future career!

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Beyond Career Services: Additional Resources for Entry-Level Job Seekers
Posted on: May 14th, 2018

career help, entry level job

As a graduating college student counting down the last of your college days, there’s still time to leave campus armed with a solid job search strategy. The college career services office is a valuable resource and a great place to begin your journey, but many entry-level job seekers don’t look beyond career services, missing an abundance of third-party assistance in the process.

Unfortunately, many future graduates don’t even make it to career services. Avenica research shows that nearly 35 percent of candidates surveyed had never set foot in their campus career services office, while another 71 percent indicated they had only visited the office two or fewer times.

Getting help on campus should be a first step, not an end in itself. Before heading to career services, here are a few questions to consider asking:

  • What opportunities are you seeing for people with my degree?
  • How can I best market my extracurricular work and achievements?
  • Can you help identify any gaps in my résumé?
  • Can you connect me with mentors or assist me with networking?

Most career services professionals on campus are well-connected to alumni, local employers and additional third-party resources to help grads get a jump on career planning. However, it’s important to remember that they rarely have everything students need for an effective job search, particularly as students leave campus after graduation. Many of the best opportunities for entry-level hiring exist with small and mid-sized companies, which often do not recruit on campus or have strong relationships with career services. With an increasing demand for labor ­– particularly at the entry level – employers of all sizes need a more efficient pipeline to talent.

Campus career offices often rely on a relatively narrow network of connections to large employers that primarily recruit for local positions and seek specialized hires, such as information technology, business and engineering. For liberal arts grads, career services professionals often don’t know which jobs are a fit for English, history, political science or other liberal arts majors. This at a time that liberal arts degrees are again in high demand from many employers seeking sharp problem-solving skills, a breadth of general knowledge and an understanding of how to bring “soft skills” to bear in the business world.

Online job boards are another popular option for entry-level job seekers, but also fall short when it comes to matching grads with a future career. Upcoming graduates get a false sense of progress when they search job boards (e.g., Indeed) and find they can easily apply to a large number of jobs. Unfortunately, it’s easy for everyone else, too, which results in hundreds of applicants per position. To cut this applicant pool to a manageable size, most employers use automated filters to screen out candidates without full-time relevant experience and/or specific technical skills, which most upcoming grads don’t have.

As the entry-level labor economy continues to grow and shift toward a model more focused on skills than experience, it’s essential for job seekers to consider all of their options for help planning a future career. With career services as a starting point, grads and soon-to-be graduates should expand their toolset to include other resources designed for the entry-level job seeker.

Niche recruiting firms like Avenica, which focuses exclusively on entry-level college graduate job seekers, bring together a nationwide network of employers and thousands of eager graduates, with the goal of creating an ideal match of skills, interests and hiring needs for lasting career success. Unlike a traditional staffing agency, Avenica takes extra time to go deeper with entry-level candidates and understand their career goals instead of simply filling open positions. As part of the process, Avenica’s specially-trained talent specialists can help grads discover career possibilities they didn’t know existed, as well as prepare candidates for interviews, provide résumé assistance and much more. And unlike other services, Avenica is a free resource that is 100 percent dedicated to finding the right fit for entry-level job seekers.

You’re entering into one of the best entry-level job markets in decades. With both on-campus and third-party resources to help, grads can take full advantage of the current climate of opportunity and find future careers that are rewarding and fulfilling. Graduates shouldn’t think of these resources as a way to bypass the hard work of preparing for a career, but they can provide a competitive advantage to those willing to listen, accept feedback and take advice from experts in the hiring field.

Looking for a place to start your future career journey? Join the Avenica network and put our proprietary, candidate-focused model to work for you.

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Why Experience Requirements Hurt Entry-Level Hiring Practices
Posted on: March 30th, 2018

Avenica CEO discusses why including experience requirements in entry-level hiring practices limits access to qualified candidates in an article written for the talent management and HR online publication, TLNT.com. Read the full article below or on the TLNT.com website.

For college graduates, nothing is more frustrating than applying for entry-level jobs that require experience. With degrees in hand, an eagerness to perform and a willingness to learn on the job, these prospective hires could be making a significant impact in the workforce. Even with unemployment near historic lows,and six million jobs remain open, the “underemployment rate” among entry-level college graduate job seekers—those aged 22-27 who are either unemployed or in jobs that don’t require their degree—remains at over 40%.

Unfortunately, employers are limiting their ability to hire a large group of high-performing entry-level personnel by setting the barrier of experience too high for many otherwise qualified candidates. This hiring strategy, which may help simplify the recruiting process by screening out more applicants, is holding back companies that need the best talent at the entry-level to stay competitive.

Experience is not the only predictor of success

Many companies hiring at the entry-level assume that candidates with even modest experience will be more beneficial for the company. However, that paradigm is being challenged by a new class of job-seeker: the high-performing entry-level employee (HPEL). These hires may lack direct work experience in a similar role, but they can bring other attributes, and less baggage, than their more experienced counterparts.

High-performing entry-level candidates are naturally more malleable to blend in with a company’s culture but also bring fresh perspectives to the table that are informed by learning, listening and intuition, whereas experienced hires may be more likely to get “set in their ways.” It’s important to also consider the intangible benefits that HPELs bring, such as teamwork, resilience and problem-solving abilities, and how these exceptionally driven candidates can translate their skills into action on the job. Still fresh from their academic experience, these hires will be adept at acquiring new skills because of their extensive experience learning how to learn.

The value of retention

Writing for Recruiter.com, Emily Elder explains an important risk when experienced hires fill entry-level roles:

“(T)here seems to be a disparity between entry-level job requirements and the proficiency level actually required to complete the day-to-day tasks in these roles. In today’s hiring market, companies tend to set high expectations, demanding significant qualifications and experience levels in their entry-level job postings. Once hired and onboarded, these highly qualified new employees often experience their entry-level workloads as repetitive, mundane, and without purpose. Discouraged and disenchanted with the organization, they leave. Failing to fully realize the potential of their highly-qualified employees, companies find themselves constantly recruiting for the same positions.”

Turnover is expensive — the all-in cost, including recruiting, training, and lost productivity, can be two to three times the annual salary for the position. To address this issue, smart companies are filling these roles with HPELs, which are a more natural fit with the positions. Given their desire to establish themselves and their resiliency, it’s reasonable HPELs would have higher rates of retention, promotion and professional success relative to experienced hires.

The businesses that continue to focus exclusively on experienced candidates when recruiting for entry-level positions run the risk of hiring technically-qualified candidates who may not be happy or last long with the company. In addition, technologies like applicant tracking systems are prone to screening out HPELs when employers place too specific skill and experience requirements in a job posting. By thinking more expansively and inclusively about entry-level hiring, companies can improve résumé flow and connect with candidates who may not have otherwise been noticed.

Getting the “high performing” part right

How can companies ensure they are attracting the right kind of entry-level hires among college graduates? As the first line of contact with prospective hires, a company’s message to entry-level job seekers starts with the job posting and job description. The goal should be to attract as many candidates as possible that are interested in the company, regardless of major subject in college or work experience. The job posting should be based on required skills and competencies — some of which can be trained — as well as experience, while making it clear that all interested candidates are encouraged to apply.

Companies should also prepare probing questions about transferable skills for interviewing candidates without professional work experience. Interviewers should ask these candidates for real-life examples of how they applied these skills successfully in a non-professional position, volunteer setting or team-oriented activity. These skills are often a more accurate measure of a candidate’s future success than work experience or even a college degree.
Simply put, a lack of work experiences should not be an obstacle to hiring quality talent; the transferable skills these candidates possess more than make up for any downside. While classroom learning is an important capability, for the new grad with little-to-no professional work experience, it’s life experience that counts. Employers that understand the value of non-professional experience will ask candidates about their success in sports, arts, leadership or entrepreneurship to gauge whether they possess the soft skills necessary for success in the workplace.

Finally, hiring companies should not automatically dump résumés that don’t tick every box of the job description and requirements for the position. There are many other indicators of future success besides work experience, coursework and a diploma. Companies should look beyond the usual and expected résumé fodder and consider how these HPELs can contribute.

The cost of inflexibility

Refusing to adapt to a changing hiring economy, particularly at the entry-level, and failing to cast a wide net in a competitive job market can have serious impacts on companies that desperately need to hire new talent. By taking a more expansive approach, companies can make their workplaces sought-after destinations for entry-level candidates.

Putting the “experience myth” to rest is the first step toward a new hiring paradigm, one that is here to stay as long as the need for long-term, sustainable talent exists.

For more than twenty years, Avenica has been the leading U.S. recruiting firm exclusively focused on placing college graduates into entry-level, career-track positions. Learn more about our process, or find the right entry-level talent for your team here.

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The Gig Economy: How Entry-Level Job Seekers Can Side-Hustle Their Way to a Career
Posted on: March 29th, 2018

These days, it seems everyone’s got a side hustle. Maybe it’s a freelance gig, contract work or the ever-popular Uber, Lyft or BiteSquad driving opportunities. It seems the gig economy is here to stay.

With millions of Americans (more than 150 million by 2020, according to Intuit) working as private contractors in a variety of fields, it can be an attractive proposition for entry-level college graduates seeking a paycheck while on the job hunt. However, there are a few important considerations that will help young job seekers balance the need to make a buck with their long-term career ambitions.

Here are a few tips for entry-level college graduates to contemplate before jumping head-first into the gig economy:

Stay focused on your future career

With cash in hand and a flexible schedule, it may be tempting for job seekers to slow their career search momentum. Creating and maintaining a solid job search strategy is essential for making the most of gig economy work while still keeping a future career top-of-mind. A smart approach would be to devote a specific amount of time each day or week – in proportion to the time spent working – to job hunting, résumé polishing, networking and interview practice.

Choose gig work that fits your career ambitions

In addition to income, an added benefit of gig work for entry-level job seekers is the potential to build work skills, which can then be marketed in pursuit of a long-term career. Consider taking on gigs that will be most useful for specific career paths. For example, someone seeking an account management position would do well to choose a gig that builds customer service skills. A job seeker trying to break into an entry-level creative position, such as graphic design or copywriting, should sign up for contractor “matching” services like Fiverr and Upwork.

Be ready to transition to full-time work

Don’t get stuck in a rut when it comes to gig work. Underemployment – college graduates working in positions that don’t require a degree – is at an all-time high, largely because graduates are simply happy to be getting paid. But it’s not a sustainable path for future career achievement, and entry-level job seekers working gig positions should always be ready to ditch “easy money” for more lucrative long-term opportunities.

Contract gigs can be very useful for job-seeking college graduates by providing valuable work experience while generating income. As long as the gig economy remains a means to an end, not an end in itself, an entry-level career will still be attainable. In fact, working a steady gig can be a great way to demonstrate dedication, self-direction and resourcefulness to prospective employers.

So, go ahead, Class of 2018 – don’t be afraid to “get your gig on!”

Looking to start your future career journey? Join the Avenica network and put our proprietary, candidate-focused model to work for you.

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Forbes Article – Helping New Grads Launch In The Workforce – And Why It’s Vital To Companies
Posted on: January 23rd, 2018

It is easy to place blame on one group or another regarding the overall underemployment and overall career dissatisfaction new college graduates struggle with. Avenica CEO Brian Weed and Ryan Craig, Managing Partner with University Ventures discuss the companies’ role in solving these impactful issues in this recent article seen in Forbes. Smarter recruitment strategies and enhanced engagement plans are steps businesses must assess to both attract and ultimately retain new entry-level workers.

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Adapting to a changing job market
Posted on: January 3rd, 2018

changing job market

The job market today is vastly different from what it was 20 years ago, and graduating students today are having much different job-searching experiences than that of their parents or even older siblings. With new opportunities and resources come new challenges, and there are a number of ways students and entry-level college graduate job seekers can be prepared for job searching in the current market.

Build on Technical Skills

While many organizations value and look for soft-skills that would make candidates a good fit for their team, they are increasingly evaluating technical skills and experiences that could help applicants stand out from their peers. Regardless of one’s degree, job-seekers can look for opportunities to pursue certifications, classes or proficiencies with tools or technology to offer value in a concrete way. For example, a quick Google search will provide a wide variety of self-administered Excel training courses – both paid and free – that can help hone skills and allow you to add “proficient in Excel” to your resume with confidence.

Expand Your Search

With the prevalence of online job boards, job-seekers have an efficient way to access many jobs in a central spot. However, with vast numbers of applicants it can sometimes be challenging to set yourself apart and get the opportunity for an in-person conversation. Additionally, not all companies will use these tools. Job-seekers should always leverage the power of their own networks, both traditionally and through the use of social media to “get to know” the companies that they might be interested in working for. Many forward-thinking companies will use blogs, YouTube, Facebook and other platforms to share opportunities with their followers and vet potential candidates.

Understand the Market

Today, there are dozens of industries that weren’t even a concept 20 years ago. Some industries are growing, some are mature but seeking fresh talent, and some are evolving or expanding with new types of jobs. It’s important for job-seekers to stay open and educated about what needs exist within various industries and to pursue companies or job types that meet those particular needs. While a company or industry may not look interesting from the outset, candidates might be surprised to find enjoyment or fulfillment in the role, especially in an industry that’s heating up.

Though a lot has changed, some things have remained the same. Humility, strong work ethic, and a hunger for learning and development continue to be traits that hiring managers seek. Though new tools and technologies will continue to prove helpful in connecting candidates with potential employers, there will never be a quick fix. Due-diligence, strong networking skills and a service-minded mentality are always a valuable approach when looking for new positions.

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