By: David Andrews, Internal Committee of Event Planning
On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, Executives on Campus (EOC) hosted a Job$mart Career Hour entitled HR Insider Info: How to Get the Job. The event was geared toward teaching students what it takes to stand out to an employer in today’s highly competitive job market. The panel consisted of Craig Dinsell and Reena Scoblionko. The event’s moderator was EOC’s Karolina Novak-Choinska. Mr. Dinsell is Chairman of Psynet Group, a firm that assists companies in improving their assessment, team building, individual development and retention processes. He has had an extensive career in the human resources field, leading such efforts at Oppenheimer Funds, Fidelity Investments, and American Express Bank. Ms. Scoblionko is the Director of People Operations at Contently, a start-up firm that helps brands to create great stories and empowers freelancers to do what they love. She has also worked as a recruiter for ThoughtWorks, a technology company, and as Human Resources Manager for ComiXology, the leading distributor of comic books.
Mr. Dinsell kicked the discussion off by asking “What is special about the workplace today and why does it matter to you?” His answer was that this is the first time five generations of people are employed together in the workplace, creating what he humorously described as a “huge mess.” Additionally, technology has vastly increased the speed of communications over what was common just a few decades ago, a factor which adds to the generational complications. The speed of information has forced the organizational structures of many companies to shift from the traditional pyramid to a more horizontal structure; this is due to information no longer being accessible only to an organization’s top leaders. Mr. Dinsell encouraged those seeking job opportunities to pursue a broad range of positions which offer experiences that keep one’s skills competitive, instead of focusing solely on positions that offer promotions and are more relevant to pyramid organizations.
Ms. Novak-Choinska then asked the panelists “As practicing HR professionals today, what trends are you seeing in terms of what employers are looking for from candidates?” Ms. Scoblionko answered first, saying they are looking for candidates who have done their research on the company and the job they are applying for. She has seen many generic resumes (including some where the applicant named the wrong company!) that indicate a lack of awareness of what the company actually does. She suggested that job seekers narrow their job search to companies and positions to which they think they could add value, instead of sending out as many resumes as possible. Ms. Scoblionko emphasized the importance of utilizing networks, as about half of the candidates she hires come from employee referrals. Finally, job seekers should be sure their LinkedIn profiles do not reflect a completely different person than their resume. Her recommendation was to use higher-level bullets on one’s LinkedIn profile and then tailor each submitted resume to the job one is targeting.
Ms. Novak-Choinska next asked the panelists about listing job accomplishments versus responsibilities on resumes. Mr. Dinsell replied that especially in the case of younger job seekers (i.e. students), not everyone will have a resume’s worth of accomplishments from previous positions available to list. He recommended using websites like themuse.com, which provide insights into working at different companies. This is beneficial, because it allows one to get a feel for corporate values and figure out ways to tie those to the work and related experiences one has. Another website recommendation was catchafire.org, which matches professionals who want to volunteer their skill-sets with organizations that have projects requiring those skill-sets.
After concluding the moderator-led portion of the workshop, Ms. Novak-Choinska turned the floor over to event attendees for an open Q&A session.
Question: What sort of questions should a candidate ask during a job interview?
Mr. Dinsell responded that in the interview process, interviewers will likely have a set list of questions for the interviewee to help determine if they are a good fit for the position. Once they are done asking their questions, they consider the candidate’s questions to assess “what the candidate is really like.” The question portion of the interview is also the time when candidates can demonstrate how proactive they have been in their research of the company and the position. Ms. Scoblionko said that candidates should not ask about work-life balance or benefits, as those will be covered by the interviewer, and are not the types of questions a company is looking for during the interview. She recommended asking “How do you define success for this role?” as a way of showing that the candidate is interested in the needs of the company and how they can meet those needs with their skill-set.
Question: How can candidates show they are confident without coming across as over-confident?
Ms. Scoblionko said candidates should not arrive too early. Her recommendation was to arrive ten minutes before the interview. Arriving too early may be interpreted as an unawareness of how busy everyone in the office is. She also emphasized that candidates should treat everyone they meet at the office equally and with respect since all present staff, not just the interviewer, are evaluating the candidate. As long as candidates demonstrates they have researched the company and position, ask good questions and make an attempt to connect with their interviewer (for example discussing a shared alma mater) they will make a good impression. Mr. Dinsell added that the interview is a two-way street, so while the candidate is being evaluated by everyone in the office, they should also be observant and watch how people in the office interact with each other. This can also lead the candidate to ask the types of insightful questions that interviewers are looking for. Ms. Scoblionko then cautioned candidates that before sharing a story during the interview, they should be certain it fits into the conversation, otherwise they risk making a bad impression by going off on an unrelated tangent.
Question: What sorts of behavioral questions do each of you like to ask candidates?
Ms. Scoblionko said that one question she has both been asked and likes to ask is “Tell me about a mistake you have made in the past.” This question presents an opportunity to show how the candidate has learned from a past mistake, and gives the interviewer a sense of how he or she will perform when faced with future challenges. Another one she likes to ask is “Our company is currently dealing with this problem (the problem is specified), is this something you have faced before and how did you deal with it?” This question is designed to allow the candidate to relate to a specific need the company has. She emphasized that it is very important candidates never, for any reason, make up a story. Mr. Dinsell said some of his favorite questions are “What are your aspirations?” “Why do you want to work for us?” and “What differentiates you from the other candidates?”
Question: What should candidates do to avoid being “trashed” by an automated resume submission system?
Mr. Dinsell said that nearly all resumes do end up in the hands of an actual person. Candidates should ensure their resumes relate to the job being applied for, and are clear, crisp and ready to quickly show HR personnel, who have limited time and hundreds of resumes to read. Ms. Scoblionko then said that at her company, the system does not eliminate candidates based on a lack of resume keywords. However, when she is actively searching for candidates on LinkedIn she will use keywords in her search.
Question: How long should someone should stay in a job?
Mr. Dinsell responded that for a large company, 18 months to three years is a good amount of time. Both he and Ms. Scoblionko agreed that changing jobs merely for a higher salary would be looked at negatively by most employers, and employees should have a more sophisticated rationale for the change.
Overall, the event was highly informative and relevant for those on the job hunt and in the professional world. We encourage you to attend future EOC events, as much can be learned from the panelists and overall discussion.
By: Snigdha Bhargava and Jennifer F. Delos Santos
On Oct 28, 2014, the Zicklin Graduate Accounting Society (ZGAS) hosted a very interesting, informative, and important event entitled “Hot Topics in Accounting: Changes to Revenue Recognition.” The event’s discussion was focused on the new joint revenue recognition standard implemented by the FASB and IASB. The event’s speakers were: Professor Norman N. Strauss, former EY partner, recent retiree from professorship at Baruch College, and current Chair of Baruch’s Annual Financial Reporting Conference (one of the major accounting-related conferences in the United States), Mr. Jackson Day, EY Partner in Assurance Services, and Mr. Frank Ricca, EY Senior Manager in Assurance Services.
The following are discussion highlights that one who plans for a career in public accounting would not want to miss:
The changes to revenue recognition were announced in May 2014 and will be effective on January 1, 2017 for all filers. Implementation has been delayed because changes will be made retrospectively in order to achieve full comparability.
Companies can elect from either of the two following alternatives in regards to implementation: Apply the new standard as of the initial application date to all the contracts that are not complete on that date or recognize the cumulative effect as an adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings and do not restate earlier years.
The new standard will be used to recognize revenue via the following five steps:
1. Identify the contract with the customer.
2. Identify the performance obligations in the contract.
3. Determine the transaction price.
4. Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract.
5. Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies the performance obligations.
The speakers provided the audience with a thorough breakdown of each of the above listed steps, with illustrative examples to reinforce their points.
The areas for which there will be few changes to the current rules (e.g. SEC or ETIF) are:
· Bill and hold sales
· Gross vs. net issues
· Consignment sales
· Non-refundable upfront fees (e.g., health club fees)
· Customer acceptance
At the close of the discussion, the event speakers left attendees with the following key points: The changes to revenue recognition should not to be taken lightly as there are many new steps to consider. Further, the learning process will undoubtedly continue well into the future.
By: Derek Berezdivin, Vice President of Communications
ZGAS is great. You should already know that. Besides giving you a community, it gives you great access to recruiters and professionals, a strong network, and a way to differentiate yourself on your résumé, which recruiters at Baruch regularly admit to looking specifically for.
But this post is not about WHY you would want to join ZGAS; it’s about HOW you can join ZGAS. Along with having been accepted into ZGAS myself, I was recently part of the team that screened candidates and helped choose new Board members. I have boiled down the important steps to take, the way our interview process works, and what almost anybody could do to get into ZGAS. Many of the following suggestions can be applied to other organizations as well.
1st stage: The General Meeting and volunteering
The first step to obtaining membership in ZGAS is to attend the general meeting at the beginning of the semester, which, though optional, is recommended. Next, learn about the position, like who you will report to and the reality of the position’s duties. Surprisingly, many candidates do not know what the position actually entails; either because they make assumptions based on the title or are misled by the language used to describe the responsibilities. For instance, Internal Committee (IC) of Event planning isn’t really about being an event planner; it’s closer to event support. Also, certain positions will require more commitment than others, so it’s important to get a realistic picture of the tasks you will be performing and how many hours per week you can expect to devote.
Volunteering and attending social events is a great way to stand out if you want to be on the ZGAS Board. This is not only true on paper, but in reality. When choosing candidates for Board positions, remembering a volunteer made us much more likely to interview him or her, especially if we felt he or she would be a good fit (often ascertained after working at events with the individual). Social events are another good way to make your personality known to Board members. Like any job, we'll be spending a lot of time together and therefore look for the right personality. In that vein, we notice people who carry themselves in a professional manner and are friendly and easy to relate to.
2nd stage: Résumé selection
This is usually the hardest part for candidates to get through. This semester, we received nearly 60 applications, and had to narrow it down to 15 or so candidates. There are specific minimum requirements: a 3.0 GPA and the possibility of being in ZGAS for more than two semesters (in this case, a graduation date later than May 2015). If the requirements are met, we further narrow the list by looking for grammatical errors, strange job descriptions, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the position and club.
It is helpful if you make sure your previous experiences (work and otherwise) show that you will be a good Board addition. We aren’t specifically looking for a certain amount of work experience, though more work experience generally means greater maturity, and therefore a better candidate. In evaluating technical skills, we consider any work experience (or skills) that could specifically relate to the position applied for. Most students submit a standard resume (because who wants to create a new resume for a club position?), however it certainly would be advantageous to mention experiences that relate to the position applied for. Mention something that will distinguish you from other candidates: for instance we would like to hear about your interests or unique jobs you've had, such as working as a bartender. Club and/or leadership experience is important as well, it demonstrates that you understand how small organizations work and are able to excel in such environments.
At times, we look for some specific qualities. Leadership is one of those, so being able to demonstrate you have been in positions of leadership in the past is a boon. In few cases, we look to technical skills, for instance computer skills for our IT positions or writing skills for our Editor-in-Chief positions. The rest of the positions are relatively general and do not require very specific skills; however, being able to speak and write well are helpful to any position.
Remember, at some point all business jobs/internships can start to sounds similar for those evaluating résumés. No matter how impressive your résumé is, the interests you detail can help you stand out. Think about it this way: are you more or less likely to engage with someone who has similar interests as you? For example, if you were looking for a position on the Communications Team, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to speak to me (Vice President of Communications) or look me up and find out what I like (my profile is on the ZGAS website).
As is often the case with professional recruiting, many of the initial decisions are made based on your résumé, and as with cover letters, the answers submitted in the ZGAS application are important. In my experience, we took an interest in those candidates that knew how important it was to be selected for the position for which they applied. Not understanding how the club works, and/or having different goals or expectations often indicate you may not be a good fit. Generally, you want to give the impression, through your resume and application, that you are excited about ZGAS for a couple good reasons, for instance, wanting to help out the student body or be a part of the ZGAS community. In terms of discussing what you could bring to the position, either state how your previous work or other experience relates to the position or how you might be a useful candidate to us in this respect.
Final stage: The interview process
The last hoop candidates have to jump through is the interview process. Generally, the most important qualities to demonstrate are friendliness and enthusiasm (always smile!). Preparation is important, such as being able to show you understand the position and the club. From there, being able to explain why you want the position and how/why you can do a good job are crucial. After the interview is over be sure to have questions. Treat the interview as you would one for a job; we expect candidates to dress in traditional interview attire and conduct themselves professionally.
Candidates that present themselves well, are likeable, and show that they would be an asset to our club are chosen. Interviews are generally one of the few places you can show your personality, so if you’re not good with interviews you should present your personality to us in other places (such as the aforementioned volunteering and social events) and/or practice with GCMC. Generally speaking, organizations and people often prefer someone they do know as opposed to someone they don’t. This is why it's important to network and make your presence known.
Finally - don’t forget that thank you note! We definitely noticed those that sent one and those that didn’t. Just because this is a club doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put forth your full effort.
Remember, even if you didn’t get chosen, there’s always next semester. If somebody is dedicated enough to volunteer despite being turned down, they will very likely be admitted in the next election. So keep your chin up, there are always plenty of different ways to get involved!
Hello ZGAS Members,