Pilon School of Business
Degree: Business Administration Marketing
Year of graduation: 2009
How recruiter Nicole Brocklebank finds the best applicants — and some of her best tips for nailing that next job interview
Interviewing for a job can be a stressful experience. Fortunately, professionals like Nicole Brocklebank, who works in talent acquisition for IT services management company TEKsystems, are there to help applicants shine throughout the process.
“I love helping people find something that they’re passionate about,” she says. “To be somewhere for eight years and get up every morning and be happy and helpful is important to me. The bar is always being raised higher, and I’m constantly being challenged.”
Brocklebank has risen through the ranks at Mississauga, Ont.-based TEKsystems since joining the company as a technical recruiter for IT professionals in 2010. Promoted to national internal recruiter in 2012, Brocklebank was responsible for hiring sales and customer service personnel. She’s been a senior talent acquisition specialist for Canada since 2015.
“Not only am I responsible for hiring and strategic planning for Canada and part of the U.S, but I’m passionate about coaching and developing people on my team as well as new hires that we bring onboard,” she says. Brocklebank also gives back to her industry as the current president for the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE), which she has been involved in since 2012.
Brocklebank’s interest in working with people and understanding consumer and corporate behaviours traces back to her days at Sheridan, where she remembers learning about sales and building relationships from Pilon School of Business professor Keith Barnwell.
“He was very successful, but down to earth, and treated you as a business professional as you would be in the real world,” she says. “He taught us why people do the things they do, and was part of the reason I ended up in this field.”
From the other side of the desk
We asked Brocklebank for five tips for new graduates or fellow alumni when interviewing or applying for jobs.
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover. “The No. 1 thing I wish someone had told me is to look at all organizations, large and small,” says Brocklebank. “Even if it’s not a brand that you’ve seen before, be open, or you may miss out on an opportunity that may change your life.”
2. Link up with LinkedIn. “Be sure to have a LinkedIn profile with a professional photo, because that is where companies are looking for talent,” says Brocklebank. “If you’re applying to an organization, look on LinkedIn for the name of the talent acquisition specialist and reach out to tell them you applied. A lot of organizations look for that go-getter attitude.” Another tip is to pay attention to when the company will be on campus (often posted on social media) and make a point of attending and making a connection, she says.
3. Use your career centre. “When writing a resume, partner with your career centre if you don’t know how to write and create one,” advises Brocklebank. “There’s so many formats to choose from. Be sure to cross reference your resume to LinkedIn.”
4. Try a test run. “Do mock interviews with friends, family or colleagues,” says Brocklebank. This tip doesn’t just apply to new graduates, either. “I’ve had friends that have been out of school for 10 years that call and ask me to run through a mock interview just for a refresher,” she says. “It’s important to do that once in a while.”
5. Be yourself. “To be your genuine self in the interview, be sure to prepare, but don’t over think it,” says Brocklebank. “Just be real in who you are and be confident in that — when you’re answering questions, answer as you would normally would, not the interview answer you think that they are looking for.” She suggests sharing a real weakness, and what you are working on to fix it, such as improving your grammar in emails. “Employers aren’t worried about what your weakness is, they want to see if you’re aware enough to know you have them and what you’re doing to work on it,” she says. “And at the end of the day, you want to work where you can be your authentic self.”