You know you can use the Internet to look for a job and to network to find one, but here are other ways you can do your own research to better position you to be hired.
Research the Company
Everyone says it, but I still hear back from hiring managers all the time about candidate’s lack of knowledge and preparation for an interview. The more you know about the company you’re interviewing with, the more you’ll impress hiring managers. Your preparation could be the determining factor between continuing in the process or being lead out of the interview quickly. A simple search online should net you plenty of information – but you should dig deeper. You can use sites like Glassdoor.com to read reviews about certain companies. Searching LinkedIn’s company tool can give you insight into movement in the company, recent news, new hires/departures, etc. And of course, the company website you should have read thoroughly including the company’s mission statement and values if posted.
Use this findings of your research to build a list of key questions you want to learn more about in the interview. It will show the hiring manager that 1. you did your research and 2. you are genuinely interested in learning more and making an educated decision in your next career move.
Research Key Decision Makers at Your Target Companies
Want to work in the marketing department? Find out who’s running it. Then start networking with that person online long before you apply for a position.
Connect with that person on LinkedIn. You don’t want to abuse that connection by being pushy about a job, but later when you apply for a job, you can reference the connection.
Find a common thread in her history. Maybe you both graduated from the same school. Any sort of personal details you can glean from Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, the more conversation you can start in an interview. If, for example, you see that a hiring manager is from a city in Europe where you studied, you can bet she will be surprised if you mention the fact in a cover letter or interview. You’re sure to stand out!
Find Job Openings Directly
Sometimes companies only post jobs on their own websites rather than on more popular job boards. Sometimes companies never get around to actually posting a job opening. Search Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn updates to find a potential opening directly. On Twitter, you can also run these types of searches in Tweetdeck or simply subscribe to the search via RSS. You can also run searches (try PR Manager hiring or whatever keywords you think someone might put in a conversational update about an open position) on LinkedIn using their Signal product to monitor what people on the platform are posting. Do the same on Facebook and look at the results in “posts from friends” and “public updates.”
Make a list of the companies you’d like to work for, and regularly check for updates on their Jobs page. You should also follow those companies on LinkedIn and if you see the current PR Manager left the company, it could indicate a new opening to inquire about promptly.
Find Out What You’re Worth
Internet helps you do research on salaries. Tools like Salary.com or Glassdoor.com can tell you the range of what you can earn in a particular profession in your geographical market.
Once you’re offered a position, you can use the research to negotiate an appropriate salary. Take your experience and location into consideration, as they may put you above or below the range you find on these sites. I find that some of the general salary sites offer very wide ranges and don’t take into account certain industry factors, but it should give you a general sense.
Improve Your Hireability
Stay on top of industry trends through blogs and niche websites so that when you interview you won’t be caught off guard if you’re asked about a current event you haven’t even heard of. Skim the headlines before an interview so you are up to speed on any breaking news. Following some key industry new sources in a RSS feed or on Twitter is a good way to keep up-to-date.
You always want to start off on the right foot with your new employer. How the offer process is handled will impact how the relationship starts – or ends. That’s what I talked about for my post on US News and World Report’s On Careers blog this week. Here’s an excerpt:
You’ve gotten a job offer, and now it’s time to evaluate it. You should congratulate yourself for getting this far in the process.
But remember, a company needs to know you’re just as excited about them as they are about you. You need to manage the relationship with your possible next employer correctly to solidify the relationship and for everyone to feel like this is the right decision.
When you’re at the point of getting an offer from a company, most hiring managers will assume a few things:
- You’ve discussed the opportunity with your family
- You’ve given the job serious consideration without knowing the exact package or contractual arrangement
- You want to work there
If fact, they assume this when you provide your references, even before they extend an offer. That’s your cue to ask any pending questions about the job or the company. While your reference checks are in progress, that’s when you should to start considering the opportunity like you have an offer in hand.
Read the rest and the tips about how to ask for more time if you need it: When You Need Time to Consider a Job Offer
This week’s US News and World Report post covers the other side of the hiring equation: the employer’s hiring process. We make assumptions about a company based our our interaction with the hiring team throughout the process. And those assumptions affect the company’s reputation as an employer. It may still be an employer’s market, but that doesn’t mean job seekers aren’t making their decisions and declining an offer based on your process – and talking about it! Read the post on On Careers: How Managers Can Improve the Hiring Process
What advice do you have for employers?
Does your LinkedIn summary say something like ” Public relations professional with extensive experience working with innovative companies in the technology sector”? If so, it might be time to consider a revamp, according to LinkedIn.
Today, LinkedIn released the 2010 list of overused professional buzzwords. Here are the top 10 terms for United States professionals.
- Extensive experience
- Proven track record
- Team player
- Problem solver
Using adjectives to describe your professional experience doesn’t tell the world anything about you. You’ll be much better off describing your experience with action verbs and describing your specific successes along the way. Karen Burns has some good advice on how to power up your resume (and it also works for your LinkedIn profile) and her own list of 50 buzzwords you shouldn’t use on your resume.
LinkedIn also has a few tips to help you get the most out of your profile. Completing your profiles means your are 12 times more likely to be viewed for new opportunities if you have more than one position listed on your profile. LinkedIn also suggests customizing your profile URL so it comes up in a Google search result for your name because most employers are doing a search before you interview.
Source: Business Wire
Have you ever wondered what hiring managers are really thinking when they review your application? Sure all the usual resume rules apply like use correct punctuation and highlight your relevant experience, but what makes your resume really stand out from the rest? More importantly, what keeps it from ending up in the reject pile?
Don Fornes, the CEO of ERP Software Advice, recently revealed 10 screening secrets he uses when filtering through job applications. Instead of filtering for who he should hire, first he looks for candidates to reject. It sounds harsh, but when reviewing hundreds of applications at a time, managers look for any way to be more efficient.
To help you avoid some of the “head-smacking” errors often overlooked by job seekers, be sure to read through his article: Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers. Here is a quick preview of Fornes’ recommendations:
- Don’t name your resume, “resume.” About a third of applicants name their resume document, “resume.doc.” “Resume” may make sense on your computer, where you know it’s your resume. However, on my computer, it’s one of many, many resumes with the same name. I used to rename them, but then I noticed the strong correlation between unqualified candidates and the “resume” file name. Now I reject them if I don’t see something really good within ten seconds. By using such a generic file name, the applicant misses a great opportunity to brand themselves (e.g. “John Doe – Quota Crusher”). If you’re qualified enough to sell or market for us, you won’t miss the opportunity to at least use your name in the file name.
- don’t use all lowercase. i’m not sure where this trend originated. is it some text messaging thing? it’s so easy to capitalize properly on a keyboard. how much time is this really saving you? to me, it screams out, “hi. i’m lazy. my pinkies are really heavy and I’d rather not move them to shift. when i start working for you, i’ll look for other ways to be lazy. i’ll also rebel against authority figures like you, just like i’m rebelling against the english teachers that dedicated their lives to helping me become literate.” seriously though, this bad habit buys you next to nothing and is bound to offend countless detailed-oriented hiring managers.
- Don’t write like a robot. I’ve noticed a funny phenomenon with many grads that are entering “the real world.” While their speech is still littered with “ums,” “likes” and “you knows,” their writing is exceedingly formal, long-winded and boring. The people that are reviewing your application were young once too. They may still be young. Most of them have a sense of humor. They get bored. Please, don’t make them parse dense cover letters and resumes that read like some robot ate a thesaurus and puked. Just use concise, well-written prose. Keep sentences short. Toss in a joke or two. Show us a little bit of your personality. We’re going to have to work with you more than we see our spouses, so show us that we’ll enjoy it. No robots.
Go read Don’s other seven suggestions – Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers.
A guest post by Jonathan Rick.
In the current edition of her e-newsletter, Claire Kittle, who runs the Talent Market staffing agency, recounts an anecdote that immediately rang true for me. With Claire’s permission, I’m reprinting the story, which I’ve edited slightly.
“I get dozens of applications every day, and you would be amazed to see how many seemingly intelligent candidates do not follow instructions. If I had to put a number on it, I’d estimate that 50% of applicants fail to send me what my clients request.
I used to give all candidates the benefit of the doubt. I would follow-up with them and ask for the information they neglected to send the first time. But I learned that those same candidates often still fail to follow instructions on the second (and third!) attempts, and worse—they frequently get belligerent about being asked for more information!
Here’s a sample scenario:
Me: “Are you free for a phone interview Friday at noon? If so, what’s the best number where I can call you?”
Candidate: “Yes, that will work!”
Sigh. Now I’ll only throw the life preserver to candidates with very strong resumes, but I still file away the fact they didn’t send the right information off the bat.
All this prompts the question: If a candidate can’t follow instructions for a job application, how will that person perform on the job? Will he take direction? Will his work be sloppy? How will he treat your customers? It’s hard to say for sure, but the initial data points don’t bode well for his future as an employee.”
Indeed, although I don’t work in HR, I encounter this bugbear routinely. A recent example:
Vendor: “Please provide profile details.”
Me: “Can you let me know if you can’t get this info from the document I sent this morning?”
The vendor’s response? Silence. Apparently, she could; it was just easier to ask someone than to find a previous e-mail herself.
I learned this passive-aggressive technique from an old boss. Rather than explicitly point out a mistake I had made, he would take the mistake to its logical conclusion. For example, if I wrote that a campaign would run from April-March (rather than March-April), he might reply, “When did our month-long budget get extended to a year?” While my first reaction was, Huh?, upon reflection I appreciated the humor—and gentle guidance.
So, what can we do to minimize these miscommunications? While people will always and forever be lazy, the principles of Web writing suggest separating out anything crucial from the body text. To wit: Any questions or requests should be put in (1) list (2) format, or at least be bolded or highlighted. The extra time this takes upfront will save you from wasting time down the road.
Jonathan Rick is a social media strategist living in Arlington, VA. He blogs at No Straw Men and tweets at @jrick.
On last week’s US News & World Report On Careers post, I wrote about how recruiters work. Adjusting your expectations and knowing exactly what we can and can’t do will save you a lot of time and frustration as a job seeker.
Read it on On Careers: What Job Recruiters Can and Can’t Do for You
This is a post from PR columnist, Alison Kenney.
Congratulations! You made it and now you’re about to start a brand new job, your first real job in PR.
Here’s what you can expect:
What seems impossible at first becomes the norm: whether it’s learning to differentiate the editors of the Times and the Journal, understand the pet peeves of multiple managers or simply use the phone at your desk, there are a lot of new things to get used to. But I guarantee that you will learn the ropes, it just takes time.
You’ve left your comfort zone behind: good-bye roommates – perhaps you’re saying hello to some new ones? – and adios to campus life where you’re surrounded by hundreds of students whose lives are similar to yours. Now you’re working with people of all levels of experience and backgrounds (who all have something different to offer).
Your dream job may seem like a nightmare at times: that’s why they call it a job, not a hobby. Industry veteran Todd Defren offers this advice on the benefits of sticking with it in his Open Letter to Millennials.
You will meet the people who will influence the rest of your career: in every kind of way the people you meet at your first job – your direct supervisor, the president of the company and everyone else will have an impact on you.
It’s not over now that you’ve got the job; in fact, it’s just begun: you probably don’t need to wear your interview suit to work every day now, but that doesn’t mean no one is watching. Keep cultivating your personal brand and continuing your personal growth.
PR is a service-oriented vocation (yeah, like waitressing): in-house PR departments are often required to serve the needs of the CEO and executive team, the sales force and HR department; PR agency employees serve the needs of their clients. Often that means working with frequent interruptions and changing priorities. Public relations offices are busy places where schedules are continually rearrange to meet deadlines, attend meetings and travel.
School may be over, but you’ll learn a lot in the next year — Although your internship and courses will give you a great start, PR is definitely a learn-on-the-job career that can’t be taught in the classroom, You’re learning not just how to do the best PR you can but also the ins and outs of the industry you serve. Whether you’re learning to write for new medium, messages and levels of urgency or brainstorming new pitch ideas, each day in PR brings new challenges and lessons.
Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. Learn more her here.
This is a guest post by Nikki Ruth
Did you know?
Audrey Hepburn wanted to become a ballerina. She was considered too tall and was advised not to continue.
Tom Cruise joined a seminary to become a priest. He was also a paperboy for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Before Cameron Diaz made her acting debut in The Mask she toured the world as a model.Walt
Disney drove an ambulance for the Red Cross during World War I.
Johnny Depp worked as an over-the-phone pen salesman before he became an actor.
Celebrity careers rarely happen overnight and chances are your first job will not be your dream job, but one of many as you work your way to the top. It is possible to get your dream job. Here′s how.
1. Learn about yourself
Take time to do a self-assessment of your values and how you like to work. What′s most important to you? What do you want out of life and how do you want to be remembered? Then get specific. If you say you′re a good communicator, do you like talking informally to small groups of people or do you like making formal presentations? Now brainstorm around these findings and think about the different roles or activities you can use these skills in.
2. Do your research
Once you know the kind of career you′re looking for, start talking to people who have jobs in the industry you′re considering and find out what it′s really like. Ask them what they love and hate about their job. You might find that after these conversations, more careers will be crossed off your list and others might emerge.
3. Find a mentor
Find a mentor who has already succeeded at what you want to do and ask them how they achieved their dream job. A strong relationship with a mentor who is higher up in your company can open a lot of doors for you. You′ll learn a lot about the company and about the jobs you might want to get in the future. You'll also have an ally who will be willing recommend you when you do decide to apply for a new opportunity.
4. Create an action plan
An action plan should contain S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed) objectives and actions and resources. Plot a path between your current position and the dream. This might involve some training or you might need to get out of what you′re doing so that you can work in a job that is more connected with your dream? If you keep getting rejected from your dream job, you are not ready yet and might need to take a "˜stepping stone′ job before you can move onto the next level.
5. Speak to a career coach
Seek the sound advice of a career professional to help you get closer to landing the job of your dreams. Career coaches can help you plan a change of direction, get your career off the ground with job hunting tactics, identify your career options, provide recommendations for your career development and might have an "˜in′ that helps you through the door!
I hope you found my tips useful.
Guest post by Nikki Ruth, CV Writer and founder of My CV and Me. Nikki provides cv writing and career skills workshops services. Follow her on Twitter @mycvandme
This is a guest post from Kelli Matthews.
You Never Know Where Job Leads Will Come From.
Just this week I got an email from a friend who practices PR in Portland, Oregon. In the email my friend said that she was looking for an intern, she included a job description"¦ and it asked me not to share the description widely, but instead to recommend a few stellar students who I thought would be a good fit for her agency.
This happens a lot. And it really underscores a lesser-known reason why it′s important to build relationships with your professors. Recommendations and job leads can come from unexpected places.
What can you do to build this relationship? These are tips that I′ve found work for me. Obviously, as with anything in PR, know your audience and use the most appropriate channels for each person you want to keep in contact with.
- Drop me an email once in a while to tell me what you are up to, what kind of work you′re doing, what you like, what you find challenging, etc. I love hearing what students are doing and it also keeps your experience top of mind if you are in the position of looking for a new job.
- Connect with me on LinkedIn. Sometimes when I get a request to provide recommendations for a job opening, I go to my LinkedIn contacts and scan the list looking for former students who might be interested. Keep your LinkedIn up-to-date and use it actively to share professional accomplishments.
- Follow (and interact) with me on Twitter. I′m very active on Twitter and I love to hear from students there. In fact, I sort students separately from the rest of my Twitter friends to make sure I don′t miss connections.
I want to know what you′re interested in (particularly when you′re in job search mode). If you′ve enjoyed working in high tech PR, but your dream is something in the wine business, let me know. Be careful of course about what you share in a public forum.
It′s not difficult, right? And really nothing beyond what you′re doing to build your professional network connections, anyway. Just don′t forget that professor who you relied on for resume and job tips in college is still a great connection after you get your degree.
I also want to note that it′s not embarrassing and I′m not going to think less of you if you′ve been waiting tables, doing sales, working retail or [fill in the non-PR job here] since last we talked. Not only might I know of job openings, but I might even have some tips for getting back into a "PR state of mind" and freshening your skills. You never know!
I′d love to hear from students and professors! What do you think? What tips would you add?
Kelli Matthews teaches public relations and social media classes at the University of Oregon′s School of Journalism and Communications. She also owns a PR, marketing and design agency, Verve Northwest, based in Eugene, Oregon. You can follow her on Twitter @kmatthews, connect on LinkedIn or just read her blog, PRosinTraining.