Inside USD

Alumnus Gives Alumni Good Job Search Advice

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ken Schmitt posed a question Wednesday night to a group of eager job seekers to find where they were currently looking for opportunities: “How many are looking in San Diego? How many are thinking out of state? How many are interested in getting a job internationally?”

A few hands went up in the air each time, but one unidentified voice offered an all-of-the above alternative: “I’ll take anything I can get.”

The answer seemed valid when Schmitt’s PowerPoint presentation showed the national unemployment percentage at 9.1 percent and San Diego’s unemployed mark at 10.1 percent.

But Schmitt, a 1992 USD Economics graduate and the founder and president for online businesses TurningPoint Executive Search and StartingPoint Careers, focused on the positive. In the hour he spoke to the 40-plus alumni at this USD Alumni Association event, “Job Search for Recent Graduates and Alumni Networking,” Schmitt (pictured) knew his audience.

“When I graduated there was a downturn then and it was a pretty tough time in San Diego,” he said. “I empathize with you.”

Schmitt then shared his story. He said two of his economics professors connected him to his initial post-college job. He went to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, paid his dues, and eventually moved into a management role where he opened two branches during a nearly six-year stint. He left and entered the recruiting business world in 1998. In May 2007, Schmitt started TurningPoint Executive Search and in 2010, added StartingPoint Careers, both of which he runs from home.

On Wednesday, his presentation, “Job Search for Graduates: Getting from Where I Am to Where I Want to Be,” was educational and motivational. Schmitt provided job market search tips, promoted social media tools, namely LinkedIn, and offered a few acronyms of advice — Career Action Plan (CAP), Drive, Niche, Accomplishments (DNA) and Focus + Attitude + Commitment = Tangible results (FACT) — that alumni should take to heart.

“I have to be more pro-active about what my plan is,” said Arika Wells, a 2002 graduate. She and a group of 2011 graduates —Maria Jones, Jocelyn Hinton, Jessica Ellis and Carolyn Gould — gathered at the post-event reception to network and provide support to one another.

A few attendees said they planned to take Schmitt’s advice to limit their weekly search for jobs online to no more than 25 hours and attend more networking events.

Schmitt’s emphasis on the importance of being on LinkedIn really hit home with the newest graduates, too.

“I didn’t think it was so widely used,” both Jones and Ellis said.

Wells, who does have an account, said she planned to go back online and make her profile “100 percent complete,” a tip that Schmitt shared because it helps move the LinkedIn user’s profile up higher in searches by potential employers.

Schmitt referenced a recent survey done by Jobvite.com that found that 89 percent of those polled — more than 800 U.S. human resource and recruiting professionals — planned to recruit through social media networks. Another statistic from this annual survey indicated that in the last six months, 73 percent of all social hires came through LinkedIn, far outdistancing Facebook and Twitter in that category.

LinkedIn, with more than 100 million users, is used by several of USD’s academic schools and the USD Alumni Association to give users a forum to ask questions, engage in conversations, connect with other USD students, staff and alumni, learn about USD events and post job openings.

In addition to Schmitt’s presentation, USD Career Services Director Linda Scales (pictured, left, with alumna Claudia Llamas) spent individual time with alumni to review resumes and make some suggestions.

“She highlighted a few things for me to change around on my resume and it was very helpful,” said Andres Garcia, a 2004 accounting graduate.

So, too, was this free alumni event, Garcia said. “The university offers a lot of different programs for alumni that don’t involve just coming back and asking you to write a check. This was a great event.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

To find more USD alumni events, including networking opportunities in San Diego and through USD’s regional chapters in the U.S., click here.

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