By Geni Harclerode, Director of Employer Recruitment and Engagement
Late September marks the beginning of classes—and fall recruiting season. For those of you actively in the internship or job search, it’s likely you’ll be networking with employers, attending information sessions, and applying for positions in CareerCat over the next couple of months.
If you’re new to on-campus recruiting (also known as OCR), or need a refresher from years’ past, below are four of the most common questions we receive from students during this time. It is our hope that this information will help you better navigate the recruiting process, and we encourage you to reach out to a member of our team with any questions you may have along the way. And if you don’t find your dream employer or position this quarter, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with employers throughout the year. Remember, different industries have different hiring cycles, and employers in a variety of industries post opportunities to CareerCat year-round.
- What if my GPA doesn’t meet the requirements?
Like many aspects of a candidate screening process, GPA is used differently by different employers, and for different purposes. Some key reasons for a GPA cut-off include:
-Standardizing their system. Employers are reviewing applicants across many academic profiles and, quite often, across institutions nationwide. This creates an easy comparison point among varied applicants.
-Narrowing the pool. In cases where employers are shifting through large volumes of resumes, a GPA cut-off creates a mechanism to manage that initial volume.
-Evaluating skills. Employers may believe GPA is a good marker for measuring desirable skills like project completion, goal setting, intellectual curiosity, and time management. They want to see you maintain a rigorous courseload successfully while also engaging in outside the classroom activities.
So what happens if you don’t meet that metric?
Clarify if this point is flexible: Understand that because employers use this measurement in different ways, some are more open to making exceptions than others.
Face time is key: Whenever possible, it is great if you can find an opportunity to speak to an employer directly, giving you the chance to also articulate your interest in the role, and some of your key selling points as a candidate.
Be specific and knowledgeable about your interest. Match the organization’s stated needs for the role with your background and skills. Can you articulate why and how this role is a compelling fit?
Address, respond, move-on: Employers appreciate an ability to grow from past mistakes. Perhaps your lower GPA comes from a difficult first year transition, a rocky personal period, or a change in academic path. You can address these points directly, without superfluous personal details, and confidently owning your professional story. Show that this has contributed to your personal growth without dwelling too long on it.
Bottom line: Reach out to the employer directly (in person is ideal), ask about whether they are open to considering candidates outside of the GPA range. Address the issue head on while also noting your specific interest in the role, your strengths, and your appreciation of their consideration.
If the employer has communicated they would like you to be added to their candidate pool, please share that with the NCA Employer Relations team and we will be glad to honor that accommodation.
- What if I have to arrive late to an information session, or can’t come at all? Can I have the recruiter’s contact information?
“Recruiting season”, or the period that runs from the end of September through Thanksgiving, can be a hectic time for students and a condensed period of heightened employer activity on campus. It is very likely that firms vying for the same students will also have recruiting activities that overlap. In this busy time, it can be difficult to manage competing events.
Attending information sessions allows you to: learn more about a company, network with contacts and alums, and get an understanding of their hiring profile. Even if you cannot attend the duration of the session, being there for a portion of time has value. If possible, address your late arrival or early departure with a recruiter prior to the start of the event, or immediately after. A brief apology that also reiterates interest in the company is ideal. Employers are keenly aware that students have a full plate this time of year.
Employers set their own preferred communication channels within CareerCat. They may range from internal career websites, to shared university recruiting contacts, to personal email addresses. Because of this variance, and the volume of employers we serve, we defer to employer preference and do not release additional employer contacts outside of what is posted in CareerCat. While engaging with an employer at an info session or career fair, students should be proactive in requesting preferred contact information for follow up. LinkedIn and OurNorthwestern are also great tools for connecting with alums at companies of interest.
If you need to miss an event in observance of a religious holiday, please notify the NCA Employer Relations team and every effort will be made to communicate that to the host employer and make appropriate accommodations.
If you are studying abroad and still interested in companies coming to campus, be sure your application materials clearly state you are not currently on campus. Many employers are able to accommodate virtual interviews as an alternative. In these cases, NCA staff can work directly with you and the employer to assist with the set up.
- How do I sign up for an interview? What does it mean if my status is “pending”?
If you have been invited to an interview, your application status will change from “requested” to “invited”. In the “Interviews” tab of CareerCat, this position will appear in the “Requested Interviews” section. Once you schedule the interview, the position will appear in the “Scheduled Interviews” section.
CareerCat will never show a “Not Invited” application status, so if the alternate deadline has passed and your status did not change, then you were not invited. It is in a student’s best interest to make check-ins with CareerCat a regular and habitual part of your week during recruiting season when positions are changing and updating daily. Remember, sign-ups for interviews are on a first come, first serve basis for invited students. The system allows students to access interviews for invited students beginning at 12:01am on the day interview sign-ups start.
- I got a second round interview (yay!) but it overlaps with another interview I have scheduled at NCA (oh no!). Help!
First, congrats on the interview. If you have to miss a first round interview at NCA:
- Remove yourself from the schedule whenever possible and as soon as possible. Most schedules within CareerCat remain accessible to edits directly from students until two business days before the interview. If you can still modify the schedule yourself, please do so as soon as you know you will not be able to attend the interview.
- If you cannot access the schedule on your own, notify NCA immediately. Per our recruiting policies you will need to write a note to the employer apologizing for the missed interview if you are canceling within 2 business days.
- If you are still interested in the position, reach out directly to the employer. NCA staff can help you draft an appropriate email. You will want to let the employer know why you have to miss the interview, reiterate your strong interest in the position, and inquire whether alternate accommodations can be made.
If you have additional questions, or would like guidance as you prepare for on-campus recruiting, I encourage you to make an appointment with your career adviser. We wish you the very best in your career pursuits, and we look forward to seeing you this year!