SF State Magazine { University Communications }

Image: Photos of people and research featured in the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of SF State Magazine

Listen Up, Class of 2014

Professor of Management John Sullivan, an expert in Human Resource strategy, has been described as the “Michael Jordan of hiring” by Fast Company. His work with numerous companies, including Google, Facebook and Apple, has led to a wealth of job-hunting tips.

Image of John Sullivan. Photo by Paul Asper.


What’s the biggest myth about landing a job in today’s market?

That many jobs are only visible to insiders. At large public firms and agencies, the law requires that all jobs be visible. Also, even in today’s economy, there is an abundance of unfilled jobs. Many college students have a difficult time landing a job because they don’t have the right skill set and don’t know how to effectively market themselves.


Best way to get your first job after graduation?

In your junior year, get a copy of the job description of your dream job at your dream firm. Use it to put together a checklist of the professional skills, abilities, knowledge and experience you need. Take ownership of getting those skills.


Is it worthwhile to scan job boards online?

Applying to positions through job boards like Indeed.com and company websites should be a continuous activity. But 30 to 50 percent of all hires come from referrals. If a top performer can explain why you’re good and what your skills are, it’s the best way to get a job.


How can you cultivate connections?

Contact someone in the company you want to work for and tell them how much you love their work. A few weeks later, tell them you need to have a professional assess your work, and ask if they would take a quick look. It changes the game from “Here’s a student who needs some help” to “Wow – this is really good. We could use this.”


Resume dos and don’ts?

Most recruiters spend six to seven seconds on a resume. Pre-test your resume to ensure that it clearly reveals your quantified accomplishments, experience and all the keywords found in the position description. Don’t have a one-page resume – computer scanners don’t care about length, and the longer it is, the more keywords you can include. Tailor your resume for every job. Don’t ever lie, but tell the best truth about yourself.


Best way to prep for an interview?

People who have interviewed at various companies post the questions and answers on Glassdoor.com Practice answering the questions in front of a video camera. Post that on YouTube and ask for feedback.


Top suggestions for finding a job you love?

Identify the factors that would make a job or company great for you. Share these with friends and ask them to be on the lookout for jobs that come close. Remove embarrassing items from social media. Become extremely visible on the Internet. Post examples of your professional-level work on Facebook, on Pinterest or on your own website. Create a “how–to” instructional video and place it on YouTube.


What does an SF State degree indicate to employers?

SF State students are amazing in their diversity, energy and willingness to work hard and learn, and they have manageable egos.


What can employers do to recruit top talent among recent grads?

Ask teaching assistants of top faculty and officers of student professional clubs to identify the best, most innovative students. Search the Internet and social media for profiles of individual students and their work. Get referrals from interns and recent hires. Many firms also utilize technical contests to find top students.


Any last pointers?

Don’t send a resume to Apple from a Hotmail account.


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