On Friday, March 23, 2012, I participated in the PRSA St. Louis chapter’s Pro-Am Day. PRSSA chapters and communications students were invited to join public relations practitioners for a special professional development and networking event. Students from nine different universities, spanning both sides of the Mississippi River, were represented.
In addition to industry section roundtables and resume reviews, the event featured keynote speaker Carrie Muehlemann from The Creative Group, a specialized staffing firm and division of Robert Half International. Muehlemann shared strategies for developing and sustaining a personal brand that grabs potential employers’ attention, as well as statistics to support how implementing these tactics can aid in your search.
To land a job in today’s competitive public relations industry, PR professionals must view themselves as “brands,” and ensure all of their job-search materials evoke a compelling and cohesive message. Muehlemann recommended approaching the job search with a “lean forward” attitude, exuding positivity, energy, and individuality. But, she cautioned to be authentic.
Thirty-nine percent of marketing executives surveyed said they would not respond to gimmicky tactics (e.g., Sending a shoe with a note that you want to get your foot in the door.) Instead, Muehlemann suggested that you write a creative brief on yourself, whittling it down to 5-10 core attributes. Also, set goals, write them down and map a path to get there. For example, attend at least one networking event per month and post at least one industry article per week on LinkedIn. Be sure to practice your elevator speech. She also advised that your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should all match your “brand.”
Using Social Media to Create Your Personal Brand
As for social media, you don’t need to be everywhere.
- Pick two or three platforms to focus on and keep them up-to-date.
- Listen as much as you talk. Comment on industry blogs and actively participate. “Quality over quantity is key here,” Muehlemann stated.
- Google yourself. Do the first page results represent who you are? If not, immediately begin doing digital damage control.
72 percent of advertising and marketing executives said they will “Google” an applicant and review his/her digital footprint, cites a February 2010 survey by The Creative Group.
Résumé Writing Tips
Muehlemann offered a few résumé writing tips:
- Make your résumé easy to understand and follow.
- Make it keyword rich, complete and thorough.
- Include points that are relevant to the job, as well as ROI statements.
- And above all, be sure your résumé is error free!
Résumé Follow Up Best Practices
What about after you’ve sent your résumé? Eighty-two percent of hiring executives surveyed said they DO want to hear from job candidates within the first two weeks of sending the résumé. Muehlemann suggested to first follow up via email. Include the job title in the email subject line, attach the résumé (again), and close with a call to action at the end of the message . If you have still not received a response, she suggested a phone call – but only after you’ve practiced your 30-second elevator speech ALOUD. Remember, be professional; there’s a line between assertive follow-up and harassment.
So, you’ve secured an interview. What should you do? Research the company (or clients that they represent, if it’s an agency) and the person(s) who will be conducting your interview and be ready with questions of your own. Also, when it comes time for the interview, be prepared to answer the standard questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work here?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- How did you overcome a difficult situation or issue?
- What is your value / why should I hire you? *Be ready with ROI statements
Finally, what do you do when you don’t get the job. Don’t take it personally. Ask for constructive feedback, as well as other positions. And, don’t forget to thank them for their time.
What would you add? What have you found helpful in your job search? Please share our thoughts here, with me, and the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.