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Getting a job can seem like a job itself for college seniors, as May graduates are cranking out applications and updating resumes to apply for positions in the area. In an effort to make things a bit easier, we talked to three different Philly-area recruiters to get tips and tricks for snagging the job you *actually* want.

Here’s who we talked to:

  • Amee McKim, director of legal recruitment at Duane Morris, a law firm headquartered in Philly that employs more than 700 attorneys across 27 offices
  • Karen Fox, manager of university relations and recruiting partnerships at Vanguard, an investment management company based in Malvern
  • Jeff Giacoponello, assistant vice president and talent partner at Lincoln Financial Group, a Fortune 250 company headquartered in Radnor

Finding job opportunities

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Some career coaches recommend soon-to-be college grad ISO work should only spend a small portion of their time searching for jobs online. Instead, spend time meeting recruiters and hiring managers in person.

Here are some tips for balancing how and where you find job opportunities:

– Use a variety of means to get the position. One of the criticisms of this age group is that they are too techy, and they’re too likely to email versus picking up the phone, or too likely to email versus meeting somebody, and so I think you really have to do both. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris

– The most undervalued resource out there is the company’s direct website. If I were looking for a job, I would try to figure out what industry I want to be in, find companies in that industry, and I would go directly to their webpage. With Monster, you’re one of 2,000 people applying who saw the same listing. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

– Create opportunities for yourself, not just by applying to open positions, but by using informational interviewing to network and meet people. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris

Making the first connection without being awkward

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Contacting a hiring manager or recruiter seems like the most awkward thing ever if you don’t know how to do it. That first impression is so critical. Here’s how to nail it: 

– I would encourage students to use the people they know, whether it’s teachers or parents, relatives, brothers, sisters, friends. Identify what you want to do and where you want to do it, and ask someone you know for a soft introduction, and it’s much easier to start that conversation than just walking up to somebody at an event. -Karen Fox, Vanguard

– Attend the job fair so you get 100 employers in one room. The trick is spending a ridiculous amount of time putting together your elevator pitch. So when you go up to a recruiter, they expect you to say something, and what you should be saying is the 60-second-or-less version, talking about experience and skills and career passions or objectives in a way that’s going to be receptive to a recruiter. If you nail that, then the opportunities are endless. If you haven’t thought about that, you’re not going to be successful. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial (Find a list of job fairs at area colleges here.)

What about digital skillz? 

no idea what im doing dog

You’re going to get Googled. Make sure what people see is worth the search. Here’s how these recruiters weigh being tech-savvy: 

– Having that in-depth knowledge of social media can only help their own marketing efforts farther down the road as they’re developing their brand. Having a clean profile on the Internet is so important, that can be another mistake that people make. There’s stuff out there from years ago, but it doesn’t go away. I recommend people Google themselves, really being cognizant of what you look like from a brand perspective. Your reputation is everything. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris

– It’s invaluable and in short supply. If you’re a regular or non computer science major student, a competitive advantage would be learning a language or gaining deeper tech knowledge, or advanced Excel goes a long way, and a lot of people continue to lack that. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial 

Have a LinkedIn that doesn’t suck

Have LinkedIn requests piling up? Same. If you’re anything like me, you’re way more likely to check Twitter before you check LinkedIn. But employers are using the platform more and more to seek out employees. Treat it like you would your resume.

– A lot of organizations are using LinkedIn recruiter, which is a search tool on LinkedIn where you can do really detailed searches, for example to find seniors with IT mainframing experience. Then I can target them through an email. What a lot of students aren’t doing is they’re not putting time into their LinkedIn profile. It should be filled with buzzwords, which is the way a recruiter may find you. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

– Use LinkedIn to identify key people in an organization and message them on LinkedIn about your interest. Even better, use LinkedIn to connect with alumni of your university at that organization. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

– What we prefer to typical social media are sites like LinkedIn where you really, truly see what someone’s professional background is, projects they have worked on, who have they connected with. It gives you insight beyond a resume. -Karen Fox, Vanguard

Make your resume stand out


You have one page to make an impression. Here’s how:

– One of the pitfalls for students is they don’t feel they have enough to talk about and only fill a page halfway or three fourths of the way. I would encourage students to be very comprehensive and get creative with their experiences. If you have lived 21 years, that’s a lot of life experience. It’s all in how you want to market yourself, and it takes some thought and reflection. -Karen Fox Vanguard 

– With the resume, people continue to put high school stuff. It’s not relevant and that has to go. It makes the hiring manager look at you like a high school student, so eliminate that. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

– Don’t give excessive white space on the topics that don’t matter to a hiring manager. So if you worked at Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant, don’t give me 12 bullets about that. Sum it up about time management and client relations. What I would rather hear about is your internship at Edward Jones, or something like that. Highlight leadership and volunteerism. People spend white space on the wrong stuff. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial 

Your cover letter: Details are important; read that sucker closely. And for the love of God, run spellcheck.

– One problem that really can be common is using a form cover letter and not changing everything from employer to employer. It says dear so-and-so from another firm. It’s that attention to detail, and it does show. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris 

– Even if you’ve checked it, it doesn’t hurt to have another set of eyes read over your resume. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris 

– Terrible and overly generic cover letters are bad, too, so ones that are obviously written for mass production. There’s little value in writing a very specific cover letter, but at least be cognizant of different industries or jobs that you’re looking at. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

You got an interview!


One of the most important parts? Be a professional, and that inlcudes what you wear. Wardrobe tips can be found here. Here’s what the recruiters had to say about nailing the interview:

– You should always have good questions prepared, and you will likely be ranked in some manner on the quality of the questions you ask. Not questions you could easily answer by looking at the website. Ask questions that are important to really determining if this is a place that you feel like you can thrive. Obviously no-no’s are salary and benefits. That shouldn’t be asked in the initial interview. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris 

– Do mock interviews when they’re available. The more practice you get, the better you are. The best advice that I was given and that I try to give to others is just be yourself the best you can, because the reality is, if you stage something or you’re so scripted that sometimes you end up in a situation that isn’t the best for you. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial (Find a list of mock interview opportunities at area colleges here.)

– Spend at least 10 minutes on the company’s webpage, and get to know something about the organization. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial 

Other tips and tricks

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– A good academic record is pretty important, but we’re also looking at a variety of other factors. We’re really looking for well-rounded people. We look at work experience, if any, and some people go straight from undergrad to law school, but whatever experience they’ve garnered. We look at leadership roles they’ve taken on, we look at a variety of skills and communication skills and writing skills. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris

– For law students, I think it’s important that they don’t get discouraged. There are fewer opportunities at large firms, and they just need to find the one that’s right for them, and really that’s true of any position. You will land something, it’s just a matter of being persistent and detail-oriented. -Amee McKim, Duane Morris

– Have a direction in what you want to do. It’s helpful if you have some idea of where you want to go. Some people don’t have any direction at all, and even if it’s not your true direction, you should come up with something that aligns with the organization you’re applying for. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

– A lot of employers who want to hire will spend time throughout the year conducting workshops. Students don’t take advantage of those opportunities to connect with employers. -Jeff Giacoponello, Lincoln Financial

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.