Approaching the Recruiting Process

Pine-Richland FBLA’s Speaker Series continues to bring expertise from across the community to our meetings. For our December monthly meeting, we enthusiastically welcomed Mr. Leeper to speak to our members.

With over 25 years of experience in human resources, Mr. Leeper started his career at many Fortune 500 companies, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Honeywell, and Mylan Pharmaceuticals. In the last seven years, he has focused on technical startup companies and is currently Head of People Operations at Seegrid, a robotics company based in Pittsburgh. Seegrid is responsible for the development of autonomous mobile robots serving some of the country's most well-known companies, including Amazon and General Motors. In his role at Seegrid, Bud's team is responsible for recruitment, onboarding, payroll, benefits, compensation, and overall people strategies that focus on employee engagement and retention. A graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he earned a master’s degree in Industrial/Labor Relations and a bachelor’s in Business Administration majoring in Human Resource Management. 

Mr. Leeper began his presentation by explaining he was looking to give an inside view into the recruiting process, including the perspective that recruiters have towards new candidates.

He began by discussing his own experience, sharing that early in his career, Mr. Leeper purposely started at Fortune 500 companies and learned as much as he could about their business and working for an organization of their scale. He also spoke about his more recent positions at smaller firms and saw firsthand the differences in scale and control over his team and processes of different-sized firms. One of the first points that he emphasized as a part of his message is to find your fit and determine what, individually, you are looking to make out of a career. He spoke about both the interview and the college application process and made our members conscious of the idea of being a big fish in a small pond or vice versa. In this spirit, he clarified that regardless of your end goal, it is essential to make the most of what is going to be the best fit.

Mr. Leeper continued to make individual recommendations and to share advice on how to expand your resume. Immediately, he suggested differentiating yourself when talking to potential employers. This included reaching for internships for one summer or other co-op opportunities that will expand in the future. He made the recommendation to “diversify yourself”, including activities such as a study abroad experience that could impress recruiters. Most importantly, though, he suggested the need for experience outside of greater Pittsburgh, and that a greater, international understanding of people can help set yourself apart. As a part of “finding your fit”, our speaker mentioned that picking up minors is a good way to find exactly what you are interested in. From his own experience, he added that the pressure should not be put on you to pick something from the beginning and clarified that picking up a minor or something else to broaden your horizons can and will make you more marketable. Continuing with his idea of marketing yourself, Mr. Leeper posed the question that, at a job fair, or just meeting with friends, are you really ready to talk about yourself to someone there? He proposed the idea of having an elevator pitch ready. In a scenario where you’re standing in the lobby, riding to the top floor with someone important, and only have a few minutes to talk, it is critical to have something prepared to make a good impression. He simply said that it should be “what you’re about, who you are, and what you’re interested in doing”. Adding that, regardless of whom it might be, young professionals should feel comfortable talking about themselves and who they are by having a short snippet of their resume prepared. To emphasize this idea, citing his real-world experience, Mr. Leeper spoke about how during job fairs, his team would add a star or two stars to the top of a resume for the candidates they were greatly interested in following up with. He explained the candidates who did not leave a good impression and did not receive a star weren't likely to be reviewed again. Moreover, he spoke about the nature of degrees, and for employers, it demonstrates that candidates are trainable and can grant a career opportunity in a particular organization. A part of his experience with potential hires was sharing that those who impressed himself and his team the most were those with knowledge beyond if they were hiring.

In his discussion of the elevator pitch idea, Mr. Leeper made it clear that now or in the near future, we will be involved in activities and organizations outside of the classroom. As a part of separating yourself from the crowd, he explained that everyone needs experience beyond a classroom project that many other students have also participated in. He asked “What are you “doing to go above and beyond?” and “What are you doing in your spare time?” as two key answers to this question to isolate an experience that’s unique.

One of the areas that he made clear is the role that social media can play in the recruiting and interview process. He began with a warning to our members, that social media lives forever, and during interviews, your accounts will be examined as closely as possible. Mr. Leeper then transitioned to discussing the importance of LinkedIn, highlighting the ability of those early in their careers and those at college that should build a network on the platform. Those early in their career should also identify the most useful information to include on their profile, with the understanding that those just graduating from college are not expected to fill a resume cover-to-cover. Mr. Leeper suggested including your involvement in part-time jobs and general activities as a place to start. Interactions with faculty, classmates, or friends will eventually start to build a network. Our speaker also underscored the use of LinkedIn as a job search tool, starting by just searching for a company name and recruiter to give them an idea of who you are or bring your job application to view. He also mentioned that many recruiters will search for degrees or keywords related to a position within the company you have applied for, and those details should be displayed in your profile.

A final, lasting point made in his presentation was an encouragement to reach out to career service departments at universities. Explaining that their purpose is to help students entirely, including simple professional tips relating to resume writing or interviews. Mr. Leeper encouraged our members to not feel intimidated at career service departments.

Mr. Leeper, PR-FBLA thanks you sincerely for donating your time and speaking with us.