Coffee in the Barn

6. Standing Out in a Sea of Candidates

March 17, 2022 The Sunswine Group Season 1 Episode 6
Coffee in the Barn
6. Standing Out in a Sea of Candidates
Show Notes Transcript

What are you doing today that makes you stand out from others? Today we will take a journey on 10 things you should know to stand out in a sea of candidates with none other than Dan Simmons, which will talk about in-depth how your skills, experience, knowledge, and good presence will make you a great choice for the company you would like to work with. Also, we are listening to a post discussion with our founder and a future graduate student looking for a job, They are going to share their takeaways and how this could be used beyond the interview process.

What You’ll Learn

●      Tools to stand out in a sea of candidates

●      Which companies to apply and how to apply

●      Knowing your skills, strengths, and weaknesses.


About our Founder:

Casey Bradley Ph.D. is an Experienced Animal Scientist and Nutritionist that has worked with swine, poultry, ruminants, and pets. Specialties include product development, technical writing, and presentations, research, technical sales, mentoring, and networking. Academic training includes nutrition, immunology, and animal wellbeing. She has presented at large conferences in USA, Canada, Greece, and Denmark. Work experience includes farm management, research management, technical service and sales, regulatory, project management, and employee management. 

About the Guest:

Dan Simmons is the owner and founder of Continental Search has been recruiting high-impact professionals since 1991. Since 2001, he has focused on recruiting sales and technical professionals, as well as corporate executives in animal agriculture across the USA and Canada. 


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Continental Search
Great People, Great Careers.

Nutriquest
We answer real-world problems. We innovate for productivity.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.
We apply science and creativity for a better world.

This session is developed basically for grad students who are entering the workforce. So it's 10 slides of what they're looking for. The bullet points underneath are how you can stand out to get a better chance of landing the job you really want. But if you're further along in your career, focus on showing things that you've done professionally, instead of academically, what companies are looking for? They're looking for accomplishments and practical experience, internships, and team players, practical research and communication skills, presentation skills and follow through references, and that you're there for the right reasons.

These are the 10 things we're going to talk about today.

Accomplishments:  show that you get things done, show that you've gotten things done in your life. Here's some examples of things that a lot of students have done that will show that you can accomplish things: an Eagle Scout, maybe you were the dairy princess, maybe you won to post your contest or you were number three in a big poster contest. You had scholarship money, maybe you're MENSA. I'm sure most of the people on this call MENSA or you have athletic achievements. You went to toastmasters or you were in leadership in your fraternity or sorority.

Now I will tell you that I've been recruiting for 29 years, and I don't care how old someone is, if they have been an Eagle Scout, I will tell them to put that on their resume. If they've been a dairy Princess there is not an airy Princess whose resume that I have seen that I have not called the next day. These are people who have accomplished things, who have certain skills and attributes. Look at what you've accomplished and talk about that.

We're gonna talk about Toastmasters for a moment, because the ability to make a good presentation is not something that most people are born with, but there's a group out there that will help you in some college campuses have their own groups of Toastmasters. I think it costs a whopping $10 to join Toastmasters and they meet every month or so and they will develop your stand-up presentation skills and it will be done in a safe environment. The final speaker I know, a couple of final speakers I know, are graduates of Toastmasters and in that you will come in and do a one minute presentation your first time on the topic of your choice, and then it will be critiqued in a very positive way and then you do longer and longer sessions as time goes on, and you become a more accomplished speaker. So if you're having trouble with how do I stand up in front of others, or how do I feel my confidence, Toastmasters is a great way to go.

Another thing that companies are looking for is practical experience. They want to hire people understand what they do, or at least understand who their customers are. Be prepared to discuss applicable part time jobs you've had, internships you've had family connections. If you grew up on a farm or you grew up with your uncle running a butcher shop, or mom worked at Smithfield, or dad worked at Tyson, or practical experience from your research projects, have these things on your resume if they're applicable, be able to talk about them. Family connections, I’ll give you an example. My father worked as the parks manager for car dealerships all his career. I know more about how car dealerships work than most people out there just because that talked about it a lot over the dinner table or on the weekends, I would go in and help him set up his Porsche department when he got a new role. I learned about that and have some albeit outdated experience with that. If you've learned from things around the dinner table, or you worked at farm down the street, or you had exposure to anywhere in the food chain that you're where you want to be or something close to it able to talk about that if you grew up on a farm, have that in your cover letter on your resume, go to want to see practical experience.

We talk about internships. If you're still in school, and you can get one get it discuss who, what, when and how when you're in an interview. Be able to tell a one-minute story. Yes, I did an internship with Tyson where my job was to check in on the paperwork for quality assurance, I did that last summer down in Arkansas and my boss was so and so, and he's ranked number one in Tyson for this. And what we accomplished was we were able to bla bla bla reduce by up by 4% by doing bla bla bla. Talk it up and I can take that experience here and be able to show you that I can analyze that and we'll be able to talk about what you did and why you did it

Companies like to hire team players. Companies have hired enough problem employees they don't want to hire anymore. They're looking for people normally that are team players. Be prepared to answer How would others describe you? provide examples of successful teamwork in life in school. Show them that you can be fun. ‘’I liked him’’ Is the first thing most interviewers tell me after a successful candidate interviews. I want to hit a couple things here. If you're a team player showing, if you're not a team player, don't lie about it, will bite you in the tail later. If you're not a team player, make sure you're interviewing for a role where you don't have to be a team player. There are roles out there like that. If you're a total introvert and you really don't want to interact with a lot of people during the day and you don't play well with others, don't get in the sandbox to play with others. You'll just be disruptive and you will be canned. Nobody's smart enough not to get canned, if they're that disruptive. So if you are a team player showing if you're not a key player, make sure to look for jobs where you're not.

Examples of teamwork in life in school, obviously athletics, the marching band, your fraternity, things you may have done in church or social groups where you have interacted been part of a valuable team there. In decades of interviewing, I can tell you that when I debrief a client after the interview, when I talk with them, and I'm looking for do they have the skills you want? Do they have the soft skills you're looking for? Can they accomplish what you want? And those are the things I go for and I'll talk to the most sophisticated executives out there and typically what they start with was ‘’I liked her’’, okay I liked her’’ they're looking for you to connect with them in the interview, show that you're a team player show that you can be fun and that you will be fun to work with. That will help you stand out in a sea of candidates.

Practical research. Companies want to hire people who understand what they do, who their customers are, discuss your research projects, how the studies are applicable, and the three biggest takeaways from your projects. Make sure you're choosing projects that are practical. If you are studying the mating patterns of honeybees make damn certain there's a market out there for companies that need to hire experts in the mating habits of honeybees to assure that's very important, but you need to find an employer that also believes that, make sure the projects that you're working on are applicable. I had a candidate recently graduated from what's the University of Kentucky or something like that, It'd be nutrition with his doctorate degree and company they interviewed who said ‘’You know, he's very smart, very personable, but he didn't do anything that's applicable at all’’. He said ‘’there's nothing that he's done that can be taken out to the field. University used it’’ make sure that the work you're doing is practical. That's what employers are going to be looking for academia that may be a whole different ballgame. This section is geared toward industry.

Communication skills: I have yet to see a professional job in the animal or meat sciences that calls for excellent texting skills. Have not seen it yet. Casey like that up. Yep, yet to see what they work with communication skills. Show them that you have excellent verbal communication skills, that you can complete a sentence, that you have good written communication skills, Grammarly for the love of God invest in Grammarly. it will make your writing pop


Casey

Can I just say something real quick Dan?

Dan Simmons

Absolutely.

Casey

That writing is a very last skill and the majority of us today, you really need to be able to write not just a journal article but beyond that. And I read so many pieces sound like you've texted it, you can play run on it is absolutely important that you have that and have maybe a showcase of skills beyond just your thesis. That doesn't have to be a peer reviewed journal article

 

Dan Simmons 

I’ll tell you what, Grammarly is a great tool. It will help you write a better email. It will check your grammar your punctuation. It will tell you when you've written a sentence poorly it suggests how to rewrite it better. If you're a great writer, fabulous, if you're not find a tool like Grammarly, because they want to see that you can write well, they want to see that you can talk well they want to see that you're looking them in the eyes, and they want to see if you have good solid presentation skills.

Let's talk about presentation skills. present yourself professionally in these ways. appropriate attire and hygiene. Show up looking good and be dressed appropriately. If you're asked, What should I wear to this interview? There's nothing wrong with that somebody set up the interview, whoever set up the interview for you right back what's appropriate attire here. I recruit for two different feet for a variety companies. The two of them have very different interviewing styles and very different attire. One of them had a candidate interview on Friday, and he interviewed all the way up the ladder to the CEO and CEO was in a sweater a pair of blue jeans. But if you went to their competitor 100 miles away you would expect to be wearing a coat inside the interview. So if you're going to be touring any place where you should be wearing shoes that are right for that, if you're going someplace and walking a feet mill you're walking in production facility, you're walking farm, make sure you know what you should be wearing, particularly on your feet. Show up on time. Somebody last session asked me: how early is too early to walk in anything before 10 minutes? That's too early. Doesn't mean you don't sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes. Another thing about presentation skills he answered questions without telling your life story. Answer the question and shut up. If they wish to know more, they'll ask, but if you ramble to go on to go on, go on, go on, and then tell them about cousin Sue and Mary Beth. Then they're gonna get bored really quick. One of the best nutritionists I know, was interviewed with one of my clients and he kept shooting himself in the foot through a series of interviews, because he couldn't shut the hell up. He rambled on interviews that were supposed to take an hour, we're taking two to two and a half. And he was rambling on. So answer the questions without telling your life story. Look people in the eye. Posture., you'll see that I've seen it direct and respectful. I'm not gonna tell you I'm seeing it like that all day every day. But when I'm working with you, that's the way I want to be and be prepared if you're doing a PowerPoint presentation, had a nutritionist, she'd done pretty well in the phone interview. She had about five years’ experience and went to do a stand up presentation as part of her interview with this client 10 People in the conference room. She does a pretty good presentation until they get to the question-and-answer period and they started asking her about the numbers that she had in her presentation. And someone was clever enough to figure it out that the number she was showing didn't add up and her presentation fell apart totally because her research wasn't presented right. She'd lost the job based upon not having double check your PowerPoint presentation. So if you're going to be prepared to do that, make sure everything is right. Go through it and time or two, like I did for this presentation to be comfortable with it. And make sure you have a backup on a thumb drive, maybe two. 

Follow through. Follow through is a lost art. Detail orientation follow through are highly sought after Skills, Show that you have them. Thank you notes by email or social media that everyone you meet. If you get a business card or have an email address use an email. Paper and pencil, yeah that's fine. That'll be alright but knock it out the next day with email. Connect to the people that you meet on social media, particularly LinkedIn, It shows that you care.

Let's talk about references for a minute. If you say you're good, you might be, but if respected leaders or professional say you're good, then you are. Let’s say that again. If you say you're good, maybe you're good. But if enough other people say you're good, everyone will believe it because you are. Getting recommendations on LinkedIn, bringing letters of recommendation from applicable employers, particularly where you've had an internship, bring letters of reference from professors who know you well. Character references are okay too, but I really want things that are applicable to work

The  right reasons. Do you see a smile on her face? You know why she's smiling? Because she's doing the right job in the right environment. She's happy in her work. Make sure you've taken the position for the right reasons and you're interviewing for the position because it's one that you want. Companies want to hire somebody who want to have a career with them. Not just someone who wants a job. I got my BS, I've got my MSL, I want to JOB. No. Find a career. Interview where you want to work, interview for jobs for which you were qualified, and you would enjoy not just that you couldn't do but that you would enjoy doing this is where you're going to spend the bulk of your waking hours. Make sure something you're going to enjoy doing. Before you talk about money or think about money. Consider location. Is the job located where I really want to live? Because if not, you'll leave. Is a travel appropriate? If you're someone who prefers to eat their dinner at their dining room table every night asleep on their pillow, make sure you're not getting a job that has 50 60% overnight travel, you'll leave. Make sure the shift is right or that the work schedule fits make sure there's a career path is one that you want to take. I talked with somebody yesterday he's one of the major corporations in agriculture, and he said ‘’the reason I'm looking to leave is that the next step up is not one that I want to take and I've been here for years. I don't want the next role’’. Okay, he's got a good career. We can find him another position. But his employers not gonna like that fact. Make sure the company culture that fits. Some people are fast paced, can adapt to change well, can communicate well with others can think on their feet and entrepreneurial companies probably a great place for them. Others need to have tried and true processes. Need to have documentation for what they need to do. Like for things to change slowly, something a little more bureaucratic, not necessarily more established, but a culture that is firmer would be right for them. Thinking about the company culture and how you're going to fit into that. Whether you're going to be comfortable, then think about money. Money is the easiest thing to negotiate. The Mint prints money every day. There's more and more money out there. Don't worry about money as much as location travel, shift, career path, and most importantly, culture. People get hired for what they can do they get fired for who they are. If you're a square peg, and the company's all-round holes, you're not going to last. Make sure you're going to a place where you fit.

Okay, let's wrap up how to stand out with interviewer. Bring letters of recommendation. Explain why you want the job and what you've done in the past to fit. Research the potential employer and the people you meet, it's never been easier to find out about a professional, go to LinkedIn, go to the company's website, understand who it is that you're meeting with, what they've done, what their career looks like, connect to them. Be able to discuss your practical experience and research. Look them in the eye. Show them that you can do more than text. Prepare and follow up exceptionally well. Quantify how you prepared for this career. It's not just ‘’hey, this is what I want to do about it’’. No, ‘’I've done this. I've done this. I've done this to bring me here today’’. Practice your PowerPoint presentation in front of others and check your data, dress appropriately and carry yourself professionally have great questions ready for that.

 

Casey

Well Marissa, it was kind of interesting to hear Dan talk about how to stand out in a sea of candidates for a job interview, hunting for a job. But I think some of my key takeaways what I've learned in a lot of discussions from Coffee and Careers in Animal Science. Is that you're always job interviewing. You're always making that impression on other people. What were some of your takeaways?

 

Marissa

So, my takeaways from Dan's presentation were things that I didn't really necessarily think of prior to listening to him give the talk. I think one of the main things is kind of highlighted leveraging your accomplishments and that's something that you don't think is always expressed. A lot of people say ‘’oh, don't put things on your resume that are from high school’’, but I think some of those accomplish really highlight who you are as a person and what exactly you've accomplished in life and what you have the ability to accomplish.

 

Casey

I think you make some good points. And some of us who have had lower self-esteem or fine as a team player don't like to brag like, I do not like to brag. And so I've had a lot of people look at my resume even, you know, 20 years into my career and says, ‘’that's great. You told me what you did, but what impact did you make?’’ and I think that's kind of where he was going is what impact have you made and managers want to know, are you going to be a driver? Are you going to bring impact to my team? Or are you just going to be dead weight and just there for a job? And I think it's maybe you don't have to be involved in a 100 different activities because I've read resumes for scholarships, for instance, from different college students, and I'm like, ‘’Wow, do they have time to breathe? Do they have time to sleep?’’ Because it's jam packed with different things they're doing and I think that's can be also a turn off in my mind is when I look at resumes and I see it jam-packed that three or four different clubs and great grades and a job and all this and I'm wondering, ‘’are they going to get burned out? Or maybe it's a job and things are progressing slowly when they first get started?’’ Are they going to be satisfied with the pace we have?’’ and because it's going to take you a while to adjust to a career. So some of those things is a fine balance and showcasing really what you did, but impacts and I use this as an example. So let's take my job at AB Vista. If I wrote it in the old-style traditional resume format, I was a technical service representative for AB Vista servicing customers in the US and Canada. Some of my things that I've done within that career. So some of the skills, database management, ingredient quality and RDR technology, presentations, research, trials, things like that. That's what I would write that's what I did. But really when I flipped it and said my impact, so this is changing how I wouldn't say that, I did all those things. But literally I lead a team. But so let's take the NAR example. So I conducted a three year corn quality survey covering over 40 mills in the US and distributed the data of our corn quality that included over 1000 Corn samples from the US to all of our customers in North America impact right I managed a collection process with 40 different feed mills and I distributed over you know we collected 1000 samples and then you can say the sales, well through a my team's effort and being part of this team. We became the number two phytase in North America and I can't remember the year but we were probably the number one phytase in swine in North America for that year. And that was that impact right? So we took you know probably a number four in the five days market. And with my limited time they're not all me but my team, right? We stepped up and we really drove those sales as customer relationships. And then I also want to put in there that my key accounts that I managed as a technical service manager was over 1-2 million sales if you consider some of those impacts of my customers. So those are the type of numbers and the impact that in your resume should contain. Who did you do an internship with in the summer you on the south farm?

 

Marissa

I interned with US mark, so the USDA

 

Casey

so yeah, pretty incredible. I mean, and you can kind of maybe you worked on the grant, do you know how much that grant was worth? So it's things like that if you did research like that, that's a good example of what's my impact. And that was another impact is I looked at somebody looking at my resume if I wanted to go back in academia, I said, Well, hey, I don't have a lot of pure published journal articles. And I don't have a lot of grants. And they said, Well, really, because I could publish right? You do private research within a company. A lot of that stuff doesn't get published, but I was managing 300,000 to half a million dollar research budgets a year. And that's an impact that you talked about. So taking those examples of if you look at my CV, you see a lot of writing but a lot of peer reviewed journal articles. But if you put in there, you know, I'm consistently managed to half a million dollar research budget every year. That's a big deal. And if you put it in there away like some of those research projects that I got it DSM as an innovation manager, those are internal type grants, so I had to propose my idea. I had to push it through. I funded a graduate student. Those are impacts like what did I do? How did I connect? What did that do to our business? And so think about that in your different things that you've done in school, but I'm gonna take that a step further. Okay. I'm talking for 20 years in job experience that I need to change how my resume goes. But how can you apply this to Marissa to your life? Because do you feel like this last year your externship with the sons wine group in learning how to network and things do you feel like you're being interviewed or recruited all the time?

 

Marissa

I would say every connection I've made especially through this externship which involves a lot of relationships with people who are in the same field of study as I am seasoned professional, young professionals, every time I connect with a new person, I never know what that could end up leading to. So I definitely think it's in my best interest to always present myself in a way that maybe they're taking what I'm saying, and they're like, ‘’would she be a good fit for our company? Would she be a good fit for my team?’’ And even just in a personal conversation, I mean, expressing who you are, I think as a person, maybe you don't even jump into the professional things but then being able to define what they think of you as a person or make an impact. Make an impression on them of who you are as a person can really help you in the long run.

 

Casey

And I've just taken this from we're developing a program here and we're going to focus ‘’Let's Grow Together’’, a new program coming up on the sunshine group, group coaching and professional development series that we're going to be conducting and just putting these materials together is everyone it will call itself leadership and how do you lead yourself before you can lead others and just listening to some of this feedback in the videos so far? The content I'm putting together for this training program is you have to think about it, that you're making an impression you're influencing people every day. And if they don't see the good version of you, they won't recommend you for a new opportunity, either that's in the company you're with today for a promotion. Or a different type of role, or more control or more power, whatever more responsibility, however, want to talk about that. If you can't lead yourself, if you're not leaving that good impression today, then those opportunities are not going to come your way. And that's the same thing as a student. If you're going to scientific meetings and you're just talking to your two or three lab buddies and you're not trying to connect to other professionals. Well, it may be difficult for you to get a job because nobody knows who you are. But I guarantee you watching Marissa work trade shows this last year getting to know her, there's a lot of people who know who Marissa is. And there's a lot of people asking her where she going how's the job hunt going? They already know she stands out in that sea of candidates. What are you doing to stand out? Either you want to you're looking for a job or you're looking for more responsibility? Or you're looking for that next promotion. Really need to consider how you're standing out and how you're leading yourself to be that shining star that I know you can all be.

 

Marissa

Today we have with us Brittany woods, senior Oklahoma State University studying animal science as well as an extern with the sunshine group for this spring. And Brittany, we just like to talk to you about some of your takeaways from the episode. So if I can ask what was your biggest takeaway from this episode?

 

Britanny

My biggest takeaway from this episode I think was the questions that you can ask to the interviewers, especially because you kind of get nervous and want to think of a good question on the spot, but it definitely helps me have a list of questions that I can go off of and make my own and also will set me apart and knowing that I can ask those kind of deep questions, instead of thinking that they're too deep or could be too harsh in a way to ask us questions. So that definitely helped me know that I can ask those questions.

 

Marissa

Was there anything in the episode that gave you a new perspective or made you think of something in a different way that you hadn't before?

 

Brittany

Definitely the way they talked about accomplishments, I have a lot of accomplishments that I have tried to succeed in my life, and I definitely have a few that I believe set me as part and that kind of let me take a step back and be like, ‘’Wow, I can really be proud of these accomplishments’’ and kind of brag about him in a way but not brag about him to where it makes you sound selfish. It's just something that was like okay, well, maybe when I do graduate in May, this people that I do get interviews with will see that and I'm excited for that.

 

Marissa

Right. And I think somebody's going off that is you know, everybody has a different perspective on like, what you should show off and like when it comes to accomplishments, some people have the opinion that maybe you should take stuff off of your accomplishments that maybe you got in high school or maybe a scholarship that you got going into like your freshman year of college, but I think it's definitely really good to like leverage those accomplishments and show off what you've done outside of school or even within school. So one thing you can show up different characteristics and experiences that you may not be able to show through like work experience,

 

Brittany

for sure. And especially before coming into college, because a lot of us do you do a lot of stuff in high school that lays a little path for you in college. So you kind of definitely got to look at the whole spectrum of what you've done.

 

Marissa

So there's one thing from this episode that you can implement into your life or into your maybe your next interview. What would that one thing be?

 

Britanny

I think the numbers spectrum of what they brought up to put numbers into your resume. I kind of have a really hard time with that. Because I get nervous of trying to bring my science side into my resume, if that makes sense. Maybe implementing more showing the statistics of what I could put into my resume of stuff that I have done and participated in or even just branching out into new part of me that I don't show off. So that was definitely something just kind of like taking a step back and looking at myself from a different perspective of what I can really apply to a job in a different way.

 

Marissa

And I think going back to the number’s thing is like that's a great way to like show some of the things you accomplished within a job or an internship, like hard evidence that you came and you did something so I think that's a great way to look at it.

 

Britanny

Yeah, I agree.

 

Marissa

Thank you for joining us for this discussion today. Do you have any last minute comments?

 

Britanny

I think just kind of maybe advice for anybody that is going into any interview. Just put your shoulders back and smile and be confident in who you are and be true to who you are because a company's going to realize that 

 

Marissa

Awesome. Thanks, Brittany.

 

Britanny

Thank you

 

Marissa

So after hearing from Dan, Casey, and Brittany, what are your takeaways? How are you going to stand out in a sea of candidates?