Helping Seniors with the Next Step: Marketing the Fraternity/Sorority Experience
Brad Karsh, JobBound
Senior fraternity/sorority leaders have dedicated a large amount of time and effort to their college experience and community, and they are about to step into the real world. How can fraternity/sorority professionals help them take that next step?
With today’s tough job market, it is not easy to stand out, but fraternities and sororities offer experiences that allow members to gain the exact skills that are most attractive to employers. The top skills employers are seeking include verbal communication skills, integrity, teamwork, and a strong work ethic. Throughout the year, encourage students to step out of their comfort zones to take on new challenges and master these skill sets. By empowering students, fraternity/sorority professionals help them develop the critical proficiencies they need to succeed in life after college.
It is not a fraternity/sorority professional’s role to find students a job, but helping students market their fraternity/sorority experiences will give them an advantage. Often, students don’t know how or if they should mention these experiences in their job search.
Help students see that their experience translates to the workforce. At work, they will have to deal with a difficult team member, they will have to follow policy, and they will have to represent their company positively. These are the soft skills that position fraternity/sorority students for career success.
Hiring managers seek students who have a track record of involvement and accomplishments. One of the best ways for students to showcase these qualities is on their résumé. By helping students realize and make note of their accomplishments as an involved member or leader, fraternity/sorority professionals help students create an eye-catching résumé.
Fortunately, if your students know how to write a great résumé and they understand what the organization is seeking, then they can pass the hiring manager’s 15-second scan. For instance, stress that the single most important way to impress a recruiting director is by focusing on specific accomplishments. Most students write job description résumés. They simply tell the reader what anyone in that particular position would do, as opposed to what they specifically accomplished. Here is an example:
President, Alpha Beta Gamma, 2008-2009
• Responsible for the operations, facility, and administration of 85 member organization
• Oversaw all activities of executive board and committee members
• Key correspondent with other Greek chapters on campus
· Ran all chapter meetings
While this may sound decent, it is generic. It not only describes what this person does, but it describes what many fraternity or sorority presidents have done within their leadership positions.
Fraternity/sorority professionals can help students realize that if what is written on their résumé can be written by the person who did the job before, with, or after them, then they have not done themselves justice. Résumés need to be infused with numbers, data, records, and accomplishments. These quantifiable and measurable details will improve a résumé dramatically. It is critical to use facts and figures whenever possible. When listing accomplishments, have your students think about the following:
· How was the organization better as a result of their involvement?
· What did they specifically accomplish?
· How did they do it differently than the person before, after, or next to them?
· Were they ever singled out for superior work?
Accomplishments can be emphasized on a résumé through two categories: scope and results. Scope covers the size of what’s been done - how much, how often, how many. Hiring managers can be skeptical. A line that reads: “Oversaw activities and events” is incredibly vague. It could mean two events attended by 12 people, or it could mean 15 events with more than 1,000 participants. The reader has no idea. Unfortunately, if a recruiting director doesn’t see a number, the natural inclination is to assume it was a small or meaningless accomplishment.
Next, fraternity/sorority professionals can encourage students to think about results. Results highlight the positive effects and outcomes of their endeavors. Did the new marketing plan increase event attendance by 45%? Did the newly established risk management program decrease accidents by 60%? How many new members were recruited under their leadership? It is one thing to hold a leadership position, and it is quite another to be a great leader that brings positive change. Obviously, an organization will want to hire a superior achiever – someone with a track record of success. Ideally, a résumé should be all about successes.
Have your students think about the direct results of their actions and consider both personal and team achievements. When you meet with them, ask them to recap some of their personal highlights. Encourage them to think about what sets them apart from others applying for the position. Query students on how they felt they made a difference. By asking questions like these, students elicit the types of accomplishments that can help them take the next step.
A résumé that focuses on accomplishments by including both scope and results is incredibly powerful. Take a look at the revised résumé entry below. This is the same candidate applying for the same job, yet a totally different resume.
President, Alpha Beta Gamma, 2008-2009
• Increased membership 15% by revamping recruiting procedures
• Chapter recognized nationally as 1 out of 80 for outstanding scholarship, philanthropy, and leadership
• Increased community service by 50% to more than 4,000 hours in one year; second highest national chapter total
• Raised weekly meeting attendance 25% by overhauling meeting content and format
This résumé is dramatically better than the previous version. It is specific, tangible, and paints a clear picture of an accomplished job candidate. Help students understand that organizations are looking for the “easy” hire. Highlight the soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution, and interpersonal communication that sororities and fraternities teach, and show students how to market those skills to employers. By encouraging top student leaders to write an accomplishment-based résumé, fraternity/sorority professionals help position them for success.
Brad Karsh is President of JobBound (www.jobbound.com), a company dedicated to helping students and professionals with r
é writing, interviewing, and landing that dream job. Author of
Confessions of a Recruiting Director: The Insider's Guide to Landing Your First Job (Prentice Hall Press), Brad is considered the nation's leading expert on the job search. He's been featured on CNN, Dr. Phil, and CNBC and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others. Brad travels to college campuses nationwide delivering engaging programs for students on how to land a job and succeed in the working world.