Posts Tagged ‘Career’


Breaking Up With Your First Job

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

By Kiley Herndon*

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Upon graduating from college, you will be on a desperate hunt for a job. You will likely search high and low for something in your field and interview so many times you wonder if you are starting to speak in gibberish about your experience and accomplishments. If you are like most recent graduates, you will end up with a job you took just to have one and questioning if what you studied so long and hard for was even what you wanted.

Have no fear! Better things are on their way.

Here are some things you will want to do at your first job that will help you prepare for the next one:

Always offer to help.
In your first job, you will likely not be given enough tasks to keep you busy right off the bat. New coworkers need to get use to having you around and figure out how it is they can utilize you best. So when you hear a coworker say they need something done but don’t have time, speak up and offer to help out. When there is a task that needs accomplished, offer to do it. Then, when it is time for you to take that job you always wanted, your coworkers will realize how useful you have been…and be a great reference

Always keep track of your contacts.
In college, you have likely met with a lot of really great people and gotten a lot of business cards. Keep in contact with them! Mentors are a great source of advice and jobs. Knowing someone will always speed up the hiring process.

Always focus on the end goal.
While you may be working a job that you don’t want to make your career, you can’t forget what you want in the end. If you want to do social media, but can’t get a job without experience – volunteer to do social media for a nonprofit. Blog for companies that need writers. Keep up with social media trends to make a cover letter stand out with your extensive knowledge.

Always keep up with the field you want to work in. 
Companies want to know that you are passionate and knowledgeable, especially considering your age and inexperience, so show them you know your stuff. You will undoubtedly be asked in interviews how you keep up with trends, what blogs you read, or something along the lines of inquiring whether or not you are just working or if you are learning and evolving as a professional. Experience is great, but passion is the icing everyone wants on the cake.

Always apply.
You never know what job you may think you aren’t experience for, but that actually want someone just like you. You may also interview for a job, not get it, but then be called back later!

Ending your first job will be hard, even if you don’t enjoy it. Like any breakup, leaving your first job will be like the end of a bad relationship – you know it is time to go, but all you can remember is the good. Just don’t forget that you must think of the future you in five, ten, or twenty years and where that person will be and ask yourself if you are helping to get there.

Most importantly, don’t forget to leave on good terms. Although this first job wasn’t ideal, the connections you made are vital to that future you. Give two weeks notice, if possible, organize your materials for your replacement, write-up a brief overview of what is yet to be done, if needed, and make sure everyone knows how appreciative you are of the experience.

Even if you can’t see the effect, your next employer will see your experience in your attitude and confidence that only a first job will provide. Your first job helped to break you into the corporate world that you thought you knew and helped you to learn the dynamics of a full time employee. Say thank you.

*Kiley Herndon is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She graduated with a degree in English and Applied Communication Studies. SIUE prepared Kiley to take on a job at Madison County Transit and then transition to her current role at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Her biggest accomplishment is securing a job post-college and moving into her first apartment in the city. 

New Resource (Book) for Millennial Job Seekers

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

Photo Credit: Bolla Photography

As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding).  Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.

 

Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, Wait, How Do I Write This Email? and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”.  He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.

 

Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.

 

Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
  • Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
  • Unique details matter!
  • A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
  • Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.

 

So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.

 

Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:

  1. Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
  2. Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
  3. Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
  4. Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
  5. Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
  6. Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.

 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.

 

Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?

Career Building Tips for Sports PR and General Public Relations from Rich Dalrymple

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Katie Levy, Southeast Missouri State University

Katie Levy, from Southeast Missouri State University PRSSA Chapter, tried on Rich Dalrymple's Super Bowl Championship ring exclaiming, "It's prettier than an engagement ring!"

Rich Dalrymple, Dallas Cowboys spokesperson and vice president of public relations and communications, recently spoke to eager PR students at the PRSSA Regional Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. In an earlier post, I shared a typical week in the life of Dallas Cowboys public relations.

Below are some of the tips Dalrymple offered during his presentation. While some suggestions are relative to PR students seeking a career in sports communications, others are timeless and can be applied to anyone working in PR.

1. Study the careers of other public relations professionals. Knowing where other people have been can help you figure out where you want to go with your career.

2. Hone your writing skills. “If you can write, you can do any job,” explained Dalrymple. He believes this is true as writing teaches you how to organize your thoughts, organize your ideas, and structure them in a way that others can understand. This is especially true in public relations. You can write speeches for the CEO, communicate messages to stockholders, explain policies to employees, etc.  If you can write and communicate well, you are able to organize other aspects of your life and business, too.

3. Work at your university’s communications office, university sports department, official events, etc. If you can’t do that, then find an off-campus job as an undergrad. You need real-world experience BEFORE your senior year. I was glad to hear him reinforce this as I’ve been advising PR students that if they’ve waited until their senior year to begin job searching and networking, then they’re already behind the eight ball!

4. Find a mentor. There is no substitute for shadowing pros and riding their coattails, so to speak. If you’re lucky enough to “find Superman,” Dalrymple said, hold onto his cape and you may find yourself taken to heights you’ve never been and maybe never could have on your own.  He uses himself as an example, saying that he hung onto one of his early bosses and mentor, making him in 1990 the youngest NFL PR guy at the age of 30! He did admit that luck also helps.

5. Find what you do well. Put yourself in a position to showcase those skills and attributes and a positive impression.  Dalrymple also stressed that you shouldn’t be afraid to start small—it’s okay if your first job(s) are not “sexy.” Find the decision-makers and get to know them and what they like. Dalrymple went on to say that so much of what you learn in public relations crosses over to advertising, marketing, sales, and other communications disciplines.  Yes, he said PR is sales – you’re selling ideas, strategies, views, concepts.

6. Read a newspaper every day. Online or in print doesn’t really matter, but read ALL the sections – not just sports, or just local, or wherever your interest lies. Read every section, even international. You need to see big picture of the news and world to know how and where you fit. 

7.  Figure out your dream job. Start mapping a path to get you there. He said “fantasize, and then strategize.”

What PR career building tips would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas by leaving a comment below.

PRSSA National Conference: Speed Networking & PR Student Questions

Friday, October 21st, 2011

PRSSA_NC_250_160The speed networking session at PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) National Conference was chock-full of driven, ambitious PR students who will soon be looking to become the next generation of communications professionals. I thought I’d share my experience, and solicit feedback, with the @BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers.

How to Craft a Proper Résumé
The predominant question of the day was about the length of their résumés. I responded that if a student is active in PRSSA, works for a student-run firm, and is actively interning, then the résumé could justifiably go beyond one page. However, from what I gather, most large PR agencies, as well as communications professors, advise all students to restrict their résumés to one page without exception – going so far as saying students/candidates will not make the grade and/or the résumé would not get reviewed! 

Subsequently, I advised that they stick to the one-pager, but to note there are samples available, and to be sure to have a portfolio of their work ready to take on an interview. However, I still believe that outside of class and the top tier agencies it is okay to go to a second page if the experience warrants doing so.

Timing Your Job Search
Another question I heard frequently was how soon to begin the job search, to which I snarkily responded, “You haven’t begun yet?” 

Seriously, I advised that they should already be thinking about where they want to go (geographically), whether they want to work for an agency, a corporation or a non-profit, and to begin researching and networking accordingly. For example, in St. Louis (where I’m a PRSA member), there is PRSA, IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) and CSPRC (Community Service Public Relations Council).

Depending on where the student has decided their path will be, they should be networking with the appropriate organization by attending mixers and/or luncheons and getting involved. Or, if they’re not staying in the same geographic market, find those people on Twitter and begin connecting and building relationships.  And, if they are already seniors—especially those that graduate in December—if they haven’t already started this process, then they are behind the eight ball!

There were lots more questions, but these seemed to be the most prevalent. What advice would you give for new and existing PR professionals on the job hunt? Or what questions do you have if you’re looking to start or continue your career in communications?

Personal Connections: Key to Professional Success

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Last week, Valerie Simon interviewed me for her BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas post, “Maximizing the Value of an Event.” In advance of #PRStudChat Twitter chat, where I was one of the special guests, I got to offer a few tips for enhancing your networking experience at industry events.

On the subject of networking, I’d like to dive in a little further….

My husband is currently looking for a job, so he has had to ramp-up his networking. It seems he’s not alone. Often at networking events, you will find a lot of job seekers. But, why wait until you need to network? Why not do it all the time? This way, when the need arises, you are already connected with many people who can help you. You can use networking to help you find mentors, collaborators, partners, and future colleagues. Remember, if you help someone, they are more willing to help you.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Lauren Lawson-Zilai, media relations manager, Goodwill Industries International. In the video below, she describes the many ways she has used networking to help her professionally.

There are many places you can network with other professionals—

  • Professional organization events
  • Conferences
  • Tweetups
  • Award events
  • Meals out with other professionals
  • Happy hour events
  • Places you volunteer

Once you’re there, here are a few tips:

  • Mingle often and don’t spend too much time with any one person or group of people.
  • Bring cards and be sure to ask for cards from the people you meet.
  • Write notes on the back of the card (if culturally appropriate) about the people you meet.
  • Follow-up! Keep the connection going by sending them a note and inviting them to connect with you via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Plaxo or another social media channel. (Note: you can connect your LinkedIn and Plaxo accounts, so you don’t have to send two invites.)

The same night as the #PRStudChat, I attended a Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) Speed Networking event, where I had a chance to meet several people in a short period of time. The next day, I had several emails from attendees about volunteering and working together. I was really impressed with the great follow-up!

Do you have any advice for other readers? What helps you expand your network?