Posts Tagged ‘job search’


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?

The ‘You’ Brand: Planning and Executing Your Job Search (Pro-Am Day At Saint Louis University)

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
I am proud to be PRSSA chapter professional advisor for Southeast Missouri State University (my alma mater). SEMO had a whopping 14 students (the most for any one school) in attendance, despite being nearly two hours away from St. Louis!

I am proud to be PRSSA chapter professional advisor for Southeast Missouri State University (my alma mater). Despite being nearly two hours away from St. Louis, SEMO had a whopping 14 students, the most for any one school, in attendance at the PRSA St. Louis chapter’s Pro-Am Day!

 

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. 

Interview Tips
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.

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?

Measuring Business Results Will Get You Noticed

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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Are you tracking and/or analyzing your media coverage? Are you sharing your results? If you said “no” to one of these questions you could be in trouble – your existing employer may not understand the value you bring to the organization. Clearly, in this economy, it’s best to be proactive.

A friend who’s been looking for a Senior Communicator position for four months (he will face final “liberation” from his current position the end of next week) asked me to review his resume. His company was acquired and all administrative functions are being absorbed by the larger entity. He’s had his resume on job boards and with companies in his industry of expertise for more than three months with not so much as a nibble. I was shocked when I reviewed his resume and found no mention of the analysis program and the key results I know he’s gathered and correlated. When we discussed this omission, he expressed to me he planned to “cover that in the interview.” I advised him that he’d be hard pressed to get an interview if he’s not talking about how he can show value to an organization.

Begrudgingly, he deleted his “love of mountain biking and other interests” to make room for an overview of the program he manages and the impact on sales in his organization. Within 48 hours of the update, he received three inquiries on his resume. One resulted in an interview, with his second interview today. He let me know his second interview is almost solely due to the measurement program he implemented since the prospective company is interested in applying a similar program. Granted, there are some resume “optimization” factors at work in this example, but for his prospective new employer, measurement matters!

This situation reminded me of a session I attended by Smooch Reynolds, The Repovich Reynolds Group, at the PRSA Western District Conference, where she addressed the value of “A” players and how there will always be a demand for them. Well, my friend is an “A” player. He just needed to be reminded to wave his “measurement flag” and get noticed. For all the job seekers – and there are a lot of you out there – another interesting read is the Wall Street Journal article on organizations giving preferential treatment to candidates already employed. Perhaps, if you aren’t currently employed, showing solid results from previous positions with supporting metrics may be the next best thing.

The bottom line: Individuals fighting to be relevant must understand how their communication/public relations efforts affect the organization’s bottom-line results, because this ability will always be in demand. I challenge each of you to uncover your “A” game and identify how your efforts contribute to your organization’s success. Let your “measurement flag” wave!

*If you are faced with implementing your own program please contact me jburke@burrellesluce.com and I will send you a copy of the BurrellesLuce Quality Rating System (QRS) “scorecard” to help get you started.