Preparing a Workforce


Share this:

Employers Share Their Advice with Hodges Students

Each year, the number of students graduating from colleges and universities grows higher, which means more competition in the workforce. From business to health care to technology, every student is vying for positions that are being scouted by others entering or currently in the workforce.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate stands at 4.1 percent as of March 2018, but while the unemployment rate is the lowest the United States has seen in more than a decade, the competition remains high for both job seekers and employers.

 

So, how does one stand out when competing against other professionals?


Jama Thurman, Hodges University’s career services manager and counselor, explains many employers are looking for well-rounded candidates. “Knowledge, skills and work experience are important, but many employers focus more on integrity, attitude, willingness to learn and passion,” she said.

In addition, employers nowadays are looking for candidates who can effectively communicate, problem-solve and who have a clear work ethic. These are otherwise known as “soft skills,” and employers are seeing a decrease in the number of qualified candidates possessing such skills.

To provide employers with a better idea of what talent acquisition looks like on a broader scale, LinkedIn published its “Global Recruiting Trends 2017” report. Of the 4,000 corporate talent acquisition professionals surveyed, 35 percent believe the assessment of soft skills will play an important role in how recruiters seek qualified talent for open positions.

“Verbal communication is key when attempting to land a job. No matter what the position, you will most certainly be answering phone calls and participating in face-to-face meetings, which means strong verbal communication is one of the most important “soft skills” you can possess. Employers will be looking for this skill during your interview process,” Thurman said in the article “Soft Skills: What Employers Want from You.”

In an effort to assist students in building and strengthening their soft skills, Hodges will launch its professional effectiveness certificate (PEC) program in fall 2018. The program prepares individuals for the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.

To determine the landscape of employers in Southwest Florida, Hodges reached out to employers in Lee and Collier counties who provided valuable advice on how students can better prepare for life beyond the classroom and what they can do to stand out among the crowd.


Jonathan KlingJonathan Kling
System Chief Nursing Officer
NCH Healthcare System


What, if any, types of professional, industry-specific experiences should students attempt to receive prior to graduating from college?
Anything service related is key. Health care and nursing, in particular, do require education and book knowledge, but to truly be successful, the student needs to be able to recognize the patient is a person and their customer. I strongly recommend clinical tech or unit secretary positions while in school to obtain exposure to the health care environment. It also allows them [students] to better understand the role of clinical support personnel when they become nurses.

For a new graduate entering a health care profession, what can he/she expect with regard to training, future career opportunities, professional development, etc.?
We offer very structured and supportive nurse residency programs as well as specialty fellowships that provide six to nine months of training to support the growth and development of the new graduate registered nurse (RN). We also have a very aggressive tuition reimbursement program and scholarship opportunities to help pay for continuing education and certifications. There are numerous ways NCH supports professional growth and development.

What advantages are there in companies partnering with local universities to obtain talent?
I believe this type of relationship benefits everyone, most importantly the patient. If we have a positive relationship, we decrease vacancy rates, reduce turnover and allow the new graduate an easier opportunity to gain employment. All of this benefits the patient in the end.

How can these partnerships better shape future workforce talent?
As the relationship matures, it allows the institution and the hospital to refine education and hiring practices to optimize the hiring potential right out of school. I believe it has a huge potential impact on patient and staff satisfaction and productivity.

What is one piece of advice you would give to current Hodges students to better prepare them for a career in health care?
Always remember why you chose this career, the patient. If you work hard and are a compassionate and caring individual it will be rewarding. There are so many opportunities in health care, and our patients need you.


CCSO LogoMichelle Batten
Community Engagement Department
Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO)

When reviewing a candidate for a position, what skills-based knowledge should he/she possess in order to be considered?
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office offers multiple and varied positions with different requirements. For example, law enforcement officers (LEO) require a minimum of an A.A./A.S. degree; corrections officer (CO) is a minimum of high school; auto technicians require ASE certifications; IT positions require industry certificates such as A+; other civilian positions may require degrees depending on position.

What, if any, types of professional, industry-specific experiences should students attempt to receive prior to graduating from college?
None are required, however, specifically in the crime scene field, it is extremely helpful for applicants to have a working knowledge (even if it’s through a hands-on internship) about crime scene techniques.  The CCSO offers ride-alongs, and all are encouraged to take advantage of this. This is especially important for those interested in communications.

For a new graduate entering a law enforcement-based profession, what can he/she expect with regard to training, future career opportunities, professional development, etc.?
Once approved for hire, the law enforcement (LE) member would attend a full academy (at the agency’s expense) and full field training upon completion of the academy. Incentive classes are offered for the member to sign up, which leads to promotion to the next rank (corporal). After requirements are met, the member may test and compete for promotional opportunities past corporal. As we are a full-service agency, as positions are posted, members who meet specific requirements can also test and compete for placement into the specialty units such as SWAT, K9, Aviation, Marine, Criminal Investigations, Vice and Narcotics, and Traffic.

When should students begin reaching out to companies to inquire about job opportunities?
Our process is quite lengthy, so we suggest an applicant begin the process at least three to six months before he/she will “need” the job.

What is one piece of advice you would give to current Hodges students to better prepare them for a career in law enforcement?
Take advantage of the ride-along program and seek information through resources such as friends and family currently in the industry to gain a full understanding of the pros and cons of law enforcement. It is a life-changing career, and one should have a full understanding of the commitment and sacrifice needed to succeed.


Elite DNA Therapy Services logoHuman Resources
Elite DNA Therapy Services

What, if any, types of professional, industry-specific experiences should students attempt to receive prior to graduating from college?
For students who do not have time for an internship, we would encourage them to be creative and reach out to places where they can volunteer and offer their time; be proactive. Not all available opportunities are posted, so you have to be persistent and reach out. Also, in this field, you may be able to contribute content to a publication. It would be a great way to get some experience and credibility.

What are the differences between a mediocre candidate and an exceptional candidate?
A mediocre candidate is going to tell us what he/she does. An exceptional candidate is going to tell us how he/she saved the company money or made the company money. He/she is going to provide anything with numbers, something we can hold onto. Also, anything that shows creativity will stand out.

When should students begin reaching out to companies to inquire about job opportunities?
As soon as possible. It is never too early. People who are first-year students reach out to us. We talk to people at different stages of their career.

For an adult learner who has previous work experience and returned to school for a career change, how much weight does previous work experience hold when reviewing his/her resume?
It shows work ethic. We can train a lot of skills, but we cannot train someone’s work ethic. If we see someone has worked in a different industry, it is courageous and says a lot about their ability to try new things.


Becker Lawyers logoCarolyn Litschert
Recruitment Specialist
Becker & Poliakoff

When reviewing a candidate for a position, what skills-based knowledge should he/she possess to be considered?
It really depends on the position; however, I look for a good base knowledge of a variety of computer programs, knowledge of legal terminology and specific skills such as time entry, transcription, e-filing.

What opportunities does Becker offer to students currently pursuing a degree in paralegal studies or legal studies?
Our firm prides itself on the opportunities we present to students while still in school. We have an exceptional training program, and we prefer to hire and promote from within. The positions best suited for individuals pursuing paralegal studies and legal studies are file clerk and department assistant; however, we even utilize our receptionists to their fullest capabilities by training them on time entry and encouraging them to learn legal-related tasks.

For a new graduate entering a legal-based profession, what can he/she expect with regard to training, future career opportunities, professional development, etc.?
Generally, law firms are of the mindset that you will be the best professional if you work your way up to your desired position. Law firms are very competitive in nature, and a new graduate needs to understand it takes time and effort to reach the position they desire. The individual who asks to learn more and takes on new challenges when possible will be recognized.

What are the differences between a mediocre candidate and an exceptional candidate?
During the recruiting process, there are many things candidates can do to separate themselves from mediocrity. First, a prompt response time is a great way to start. Second, it would seem to go without saying but you would be surprised, be sure to submit a resume with no typos and a cover letter that clearly expresses intentions and highlights skills that are transferable. It doesn’t matter what the job is that the individual was doing, they learned something from it and that should be communicated to the employer. Lastly, during an interview (phone or face-to-face) the candidate should always have questions. Many of my managers have turned down “mediocre” candidates who showed little interest by not having questions.

When should students begin reaching out to companies to inquire about job opportunities?
Anytime during their college career; however, I recommend at least six months prior to graduation students should narrow down their list to target very specific companies. Start following the website, find out where they post and make sure the resume is submitted by the employer’s preferred method.

What advantages are there in companies partnering with local universities to obtain talent?
Invaluable!  Currently, the national unemployment rate is 4.1, which is the lowest it has been in over 10 years. There are only 16 states that are lower than the national average right now and Florida is one of them at an all-time low of 3.6. Being creative and partnering with universities and other legal administrators is the only way employers are going to decrease the difficulties associated with finding qualified candidates.


Mike BooseMike Boose
Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development
Arthrex

Apart from skills-based knowledge, what types of soft skills do you look for in a candidate?
We prefer the term “foundational skills” because these types of skills can be very difficult to teach, yet are the foundation for professional work in a team environment for a global company. Professional communications, teamwork, demonstrating respect for others, punctuality and attention to detail are all essential to success with our organization.

What, if any, types of professional, industry-specific experiences should students attempt to receive prior to graduating from college?
Internships and co-op opportunities are invaluable learning experiences and provide credible situations to discuss during interviews. Some positions may prefer specific certifications. For example, the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) for Supply Chain, or Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certifications for human resources (HR) positions.

For a new graduate entering a business-related profession, what can he/she expect with regard to training, future career opportunities, professional development, etc.?
We are all expected to learn throughout our careers, especially in an FDA-regulated business where competency is required to perform our work. Arthrex offers tuition reimbursement, internal leadership development, individual career exploration, as well as required position specific learning. We also provide language learning and online access to programs like LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com).

When should students begin reaching out to companies to inquire about job opportunities?
Internships are typically offered in the summer, with co-ops in the spring and fall. Positions are constantly posted at www.arthrex.com at the Job Seekers site. For degree required positions, six months prior to graduation is a good time to start the formal process. Informally, start now and take every opportunity to learn about local organizations.

What advantages are there in companies partnering with local universities to obtain talent?
Students, potential employees with local knowledge and ties, are good candidates for retention in positions and have the advantage of not requiring relocations, which are very expensive. Local universities also know the skills and talents necessary to compete for local positions with organizations like Arthrex.

What is one piece of advice you would give to current Hodges students to better prepare them for a career in this particular field? 
Listen and learn from Hodges staff, as well from fellow students. Focus on foundational skills excellence as a competitive differentiator.


Mike KiserMichael Kiser
Vice President, Midsize Enterprise Recruiting
Gartner

When reviewing a candidate for a position, what skills-based knowledge should he/she possess in order to be considered?
What makes Gartner such a great place to work is the way we hire based on not only skills but traits as well. To touch upon the traits portion first, the traits we look for in individuals can really be simplified to the following:  a high degree of coachability, a strong executive presence and business professionalism, a relentless determination to hit and surpass personal goals, and a dynamic agility in the way they both learn new skills and work with colleagues and clients.

The skills we look for really depend on the role; however, there are universal skills all hires should possess. The top skill is the ability to write and communicate professionally using business professional language and grammar. Communication with colleagues and clients is now done mostly in email and written form given how far technology has come, so it is more important than ever that your written communication is clear, articulate and written properly (spelled right, too!). Next, while not required, being technologically proficient with the most popular productivity tools such as Microsoft Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel will serve as a great platform to position you for quick success. One other skill that is highly important to possess is the ability to collaborate with others and work toward a common goal as one team. Gartner’s culture is built off collaboration, and knowing how to work effectively and positively with others is key.

In your opinion, how can students build and strengthen their soft skills while in college?
My advice would be to identify one career mentor within the walls of campus and one outside the walls of campus. Leveraging these mentorships to quickly identify where your skill gaps reside will allow you to formulate a development and coaching plan to help close these skill gaps and accelerate them into the strength category. Additionally, these mentorships should be leveraged to help you identify your strengths, which in turn could help you determine the best career path for you when you graduate. In finding a suitable mentor, it is important you find someone who is in a field relevant to your potential interests, and that you are very clear with them upfront about what you are seeking through this mentorship. This way, they can determine if they are the best fit or if they’d recommend someone else in their network.

For a new graduate entering a business-related profession, what can he/she expect with regard to training, future career opportunities, professional development, etc.?
Gartner places world-class emphasis on new hire onboarding, coaching and development of current associates, and career planning to ensure all associates are supported in their efforts to grow both personally and professionally.

What advantages are there in companies partnering with local universities to obtain talent?
The candidate market is ever-changing, and what is important to candidates is what is important to us at Gartner. Local universities are often on the bleeding edge of identifying and noticing these macro trends across all candidates, which in turn allows us to proactively adjust our approach to hiring and managing our growing workforce. We want our associates to love working here, and local universities can help ensure that happens.

What is one piece of advice you would give to current Hodges students to better prepare them for a career in this particular field?
Business is all about working with others and driving toward a common goal. Therefore, talking and working with as many different people as possible whether it be in pursuing a hobby, working on class projects, volunteering or in an internship will truly help prepare you to be a valued team member in any organization. Oh, and always remember to be yourself, treat others with respect, and when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask questions!