- Janelle Henry is the Global Head of University Talent at Meta who helps recruit new graduates.
- She suggests that graduates tailor applications to the jobs they are applying for and have fun doing it.
- Here is her job seeker advice, as told to author Robin Madell.
This narrated essay is based on a conversation with Janelle Henry, the global head of university talent at Palo Alto, California-based Meta. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I’ve had the opportunity to interact with thousands of internship and graduate candidates over my 20-year career in recruiting, and I’ve thought a lot about how someone can stand out and impress a hiring manager in the tech world.
One of the best things someone right out of college can do during an interview is show their passion. Of course, it’s important to show dedication to classes and extracurricular activities, but what really sets you apart from the crowd is demonstrating your desire to learn, make a difference, or apply your experience to the job you have. We are looking for interns and junior associates who are ready to explore and push themselves to perform at a high level at Meta and are excited to take advantage of all the resources available to them.
Don’t shy away from being less experienced
You’ve spent the past few years learning topics that you’ll bring to these new roles and that may be just what the company needs – use that in your application and interview.
There are specific skill sets that recruiters and hiring managers are looking for more recently depending on the position, but in general we look for candidates who are collaborative, have strong communication skills, and are curious and proactive.
For curiosity’s sake, I always like it when candidates come prepared with questions based on the interviewer’s or recruiter’s background or think of something real-time based on conversation. Rarely is an interviewer perfect, so even clarifying questions about something mentioned or a question they asked shows you’re paying attention and listening rather than just waiting to speak to get your answers.
There’s always something to ask – why someone stays so long in a role if your interviewer has been there for years, why they left their last job, and how they find the shift if they’re new.
I have also appreciated when engineering students can explain their engineering projects in a really digestible format. Often we don’t all have the same background or basic understanding, and a candidate who can speak very deeply about a technical topic is impressive and necessary when they are also talking to technical people. But often you have to explain it to someone who doesn’t have the same knowledge as you. How would you explain your project to your grandparent or a 10-year-old? I think it shows that you have really thought about your audience and are comfortable speaking to both types of audiences.
Part of the fun of being on a university recruitment team is that we often get to work with candidates over the course of several years
We often meet them early in college when they come to an informational event, or halfway through when they are exploring internship opportunities, and again as they approach graduation.
Often, applying for an internship is a candidate’s first exposure to a company, but ideally not the last. We often see students applying for multiple roles over many years, and one thing that can make you stand out is sharing with your recruiter what has changed since the last time we connected or you applied.
I’ve always enjoyed and found it valuable when a student sends me a note that says something like, “Hi Janelle, I applied for an internship last fall and now it’s spring and I wanted to share with you that I’m still interested in Meta , which I spent the last three months in an internship focusing on machine learning, which I think is relevant to this job.”
And it doesn’t always have to be work experience. Maybe you took a new class, had a leadership opportunity, or something that has since elevated you to be reconsidered. This is a far better approach than simply applying again when a certain time frame has passed.
The applications that really shine are those that are specific and tailored to the role they are applying for
During the vetting and interview processes, we want to get to know you – why you are excited to join Meta and the energy and experience you will bring. We are lucky to receive many applications from recent graduates with impressive backgrounds.
Using deliberate and descriptive language in your application and CV can make all the difference to whether or not you get an interview.
Often, when someone writes a resume, they try to make it seem like they are better than they are, and the urge exists to use words or phrases that may not actually describe what they did: “CEO of Written Communications” in instead of “took notes for team meetings” type examples.
Instead of focusing on making your job or project description sound more impressive, take the extra time to better articulate impact you had. A strong resume should read more like a list of accomplishments rather than a job description or list of tasks you were asked to do.
Not all influence needs to have flair behind it, either: if you “took notes,” just say “note taker.” You don’t have to say “took notes 10 times faster than the person sitting next to me.” But if you found a way to go from “note taking” to “creating a directory system of written communication that resulted in better team experience and record keeping,” please share. We love to read about what you did, not what anyone could have done in that role.
It’s also okay to have a little fun with your application at these larger tech companies
So much of what we see looks the same in terms of templates, cover letters and formalities that it’s refreshing and welcome when you add the “you” element. We always get a kick out of candidates finding creative ways to set themselves apart: start an email in a very personal way, share a fun or unique fact about yourself, research LinkedIn about the recruiter and reference similarities, or even finding creative ways to link to your site or posting a link to a project you’ve done for fun are all solid examples.
I’ve seen some wild applications in my time. I once received a shoe in the mail and a note attached where the student wanted to get “a foot in the door,” as well as creative video productions complete with music and acting expressing interest in a role.
However, keep in mind that none of these affect your chances of getting hired as it relates to your experience and application requirements, but these are fun ways to build a connection with your recruiting team. And as I’ve learned in this industry, even if you don’t get the first job, you may get the second, or third, or even the 20th, so building relationships can be a great first goal when finding the right fit for you. you.