If you’re determined to get ahead in recruitment season this fall, you’d better be ready to do some research, says Corrine Bell.
“Don’t wing it,” she says. “It’s familiar advice, but it’s so true.”
Corrine is the Campus Recruitment Team Lead at Devon Canada. “On campus, my responsibility is to represent our brand and engage with students,” she says. “I spend a lot of time on campuses networking and talking to students, while also coordinating teams of other Devon professionals who go out on campus.”
She has a wealth of insight to offer about excelling in campus recruitment with Devon.
Why standing out matters
“We get a lot of applications for our positions and most of those candidates are well-qualified,” says Corrine. “You really need to stand out and make an impression to get through that first round process.”
That volume of competition is also present on campus.
“When we interview candidates on campus, we typically interview an average of eight candidates a day over several days in order to fill one or two positions, so it’s important to recognize that the competition is fierce,” Corrine says.
Get out in front
“You can make an amazing impression with someone at an information session if you’ve gone and done some research,” Corrine says.
Not convinced? Corrine explains that informed questions show both effort and commitment. “The questions you ask show that you’re interested and engaged,” she says. “It gives a recruiter the chance to understand your thought process – asking good questions is often what recruiters will remember about you.”
It’s also important to show character. Even though Devon recruiters spend a lot of time and energy looking for people who fit the company’s culture and values, Corrine stresses that they’re looking for unique individuals.
“I don’t know that there’s one ideal candidate,” she says. “One of the reasons we recruit at different universities is because we’re interested in diversity of experience and thought process.”
A good balance between academics and activities is key.
“We want to know what you do outside of the classroom, whether it’s sports, clubs or student government,” says Corrine. “We want to see passion, creativity and hard work.”
Cover and recover
Your cover letter is a crucial component of a strong application. “A good cover letter takes the experience in the resume and tells me why you’re the right person to come work at Devon,” Corrine says.
Active language is necessary for a good cover letter, as is constant revision – Corrine has gotten applications addressed to the wrong organization.
“Be specific, authentic and make sure you actually write your own cover letter,” she says. “Don’t use a template. A recruiter can spot a template at 100 yards.”
Don’t assume that minor mistakes will go unnoticed. “We have professional engineers reading these documents,” says Corrine, “and they’re detail-oriented people.”
Misconceptions in the process
With a wealth of experience in campus recruitment, Corrine is well-positioned to dispel some common misconceptions about the recruitment process.
She identified four major misconceptions students commonly adopt:
It isn’t all about grades
“Many students think we’re only looking for students with top GPAs,” says Corrine. Your academic standing is an important and necessary part of the process, she explains, but it isn’t everything.
“Yes, grades matter,” Corrine says, “but so does everything else. It’s not just about your GPA.”
Don’t hide your worry
Corrine says she’s often surprised that candidates are anxious about showing signs of nervousness during the recruitment process. Concealment isn’t the right strategy – quite the opposite, in fact.
“I always tell students to just fess up that they’re feeling nervous,” says Corrine, “because most recruiters will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.”
Follow up, already
According to Corrine, many candidates think following up seems pushy or is too much work.
“Following up matters, as it’s often down to the wire between two candidates,” she says, adding that a short turnaround is key. “In recruitment, time-lines are tight, so send that note or make that connection soon. Don’t wait till you have an interview.”
Be sure to remind the recruiter of a specific detail from your conversation and reiterate why you’re the right person for the position you discussed, she adds.
Online applications count
Corrine explains that many people prefer to submit applications personally and are reluctant to repeat the process online. A digital application can seem less personal, but Corrine stresses that they’re a key part of helping Devon identify the best candidates.
“We look at every single one,” she says. “It’s a lot of work, but I promise you we look at them.”
If you’re looking for more insight and advice, Corrine recommends exploring other resources.
“I would say the best thing a student could do would be to seek out someone who has previously worked in our organization through LinkedIn or by talking to a career services advisor,” she says.
This is a great way to learn about working hands-on at Devon and understand the organization’s company culture.
“As a recruiter, we work a lot with career services,” Corrine says, “and I think they’re a really untapped resource for finding out more about a company.”