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Business school brings in panel to prep students for job market

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Photo: Amy Hammond / Grand Valley Lanthorn

GVL / Amy Hammond
Greg Bylsma speaking at the “What DO Employers Want?” Panel Discussion in the Loosemore Auditorium.

More than 40 Grand Valley State University students gathered Nov. 14 to get a glimpse into what their future employers may want. The panel discussion, titled “What do employers want?,” was co-sponsored by Seidman Business Ethics Center, Seidman Student Professional Development Program and GVSU Career Services.

The 4th annual event featured a panel of five representatives from West Michigan companies giving advice to students about resumes, interviews and overall job skills. Each member of the panel described to students and professors in the audience what characteristics they looked for in the hiring process.

While each member of the panel had their own ideas about what they considered important, some concepts remained consistent.

GVL / Amy Hammond Sandy Swanson speaking at the "What DO Employers Want?" Panel Discussion in the Loosemore Auditorium.

The idea of having a proofread and simple resume was an expectation from all of the panel members.

“Don’t let your resume be a 15 minute thing,” said Britt Tasker, talent acquisition consultant at Perrigo. With a resume, “don’t think the employer will assume. Use it to showcase your talents.”

One frequently asked question from audience members centered on the resume. Although panel members disagreed about the desired length of a resume, all agreed that professional resumes should be kept simple, and the content is more important than the design. They also advised students to check to ensure resume documents could be compatible with all forms of technology, and they stressed the importance of including a good, professional email address on the resume.

Another good characteristic many of the employers commented on was the idea of knowing the company you are applying to before the interview.

“Do your homework about the company,” said Kathleen Vogelsang, chief investment officer at Van Andel Institute.

The discussion included what the panel employers believed were necessary hard, basic skills as well as soft skills. Deborah Phillips, chief administrative officer at Priority Health, said writing, math and non-verbal skills are hard skills that are expected from employees, while soft skills are concepts such as problem solving and working as part of a team.

“We’re looking for great teams,” Philips said. “Not teams of great.”

Sandy Swanson, college relations/internship program leader at Steelcase Inc., added that first impressions are also important, including eye contact, posture and a good handshake.

Furthermore, Tasker stressed the importance of networking and advised students in the audience to create a LinkedIn page for employment opportunity.

“Allow yourself to be found,” he said. “Get out there, but keep it clean.”

Many students asked if employers look at social media sites, and the panel agreed that while people within Human Resources may not search for them, managers typically will.

While the program featured many companies that deal with students from the business fields, the topics covered throughout the discussion were general interview and resume tips, not just specific to the area of business.

Nick Bradley, a finance major, said that although he attended the program to receive extra credit, some information was unexpected and valuable. The tips on first impression especially stuck with him. “I always knew they were important, but I was surprised by how important first impressions are,” Bradley said.

The event was part of the Seidman College of Business’ Student Professional Development Program, which aims to prepare GVSU students to enter the employment world with events centered around academics, business savvy and self-improvement.

For more information about upcoming professional development events, visit www.gvsu.edu/business.
khaight@lanthorn.com



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