The Examiner PR columnist, Valerie Simon, recently interviewed me for a piece she wrote on "Getting Your Next PR Job." Here is an except and read the rest of the comments over at the Examiner
Although just last November "public relations specialists" ranked 19th on Time's list of 150 recession proof jobs http://tinyurl.com/5k7ode , it seems that these days no position, or company is immune to the economic crisis. While much of the news you are hearing probably concerns layoffs or entire companies going out of business, the fact is that there are many PR positions available. So how do you find them? And how do you distinguish yourself from the myriad of other candidates out there? Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing some conversations with both recruiters and organizations who are currently hiring. There is good news out there, and with the right resources, you can be a part of it!
Lindsay Olson, a partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing, continues to make successful placements, regardless of the current job market. "In the past two weeks, we placed a Director of Public Relations for a marketing services company in Connecticut and a Sr. Account Executive for a technology PR agency in San Francisco. We've also signed two new clients in the past week - both in-house PR positions."
According to Lindsay, while there has been a decrease in the number of new jobs available, those jobs that are available are open because the position is a very important hire for the company. There are many candidates vying for the same positions, so the competition is fierce and means candidates need to be more prepared than ever for their interviews....
As most of you probably know by now, I'm a huge advocate of using social media tools to expand your job search. On Sunday, I was scanning my Twitter feed and noticed one specific message from Jacqueline Duignan (@JDuignan) that caught my attention. She acknowledged and thanked another Twitter user for sending out a tweet that ultimately landed her a job.
Twitter + Job posting = Success?!?! Well of course that caught my attention! I immediately reached to ask her if she would mind sharing her story here. I hope you find some inspiration in her success!
I read on your feed you just landed a job through one of your contacts on Twitter. How did you find this job on Twitter? Where did you land and can you tell us a bit about what your new position entails?
I recently graduated form the University of Central Florida last May and started a position as an Account Coordinator for a full-service marketing agency in Orlando. Prior to that position, I held several internships at some of Central Florida's most influential companies, particularly in the hospitality and tourism industry, both in agency and corporate settings.
As most can relate, the economy is in a fragile state and many have lost jobs. Unfortunately, I was included in that statistic. I was laid off on February 2nd. As soon as I packed up my personal belongings and loaded up my car, I immediately got on the phone with everyone I knew from previous internships, networking contacts and those I knew through Ad 2 Orlando, the young professionals segment of the American Advertising Federation.
The moment I realized Twitter was a valuable resource for this new "generation" of job hunting was when I received a direct message from a contact I had though an internship. It said "Got your v.mail & am looking around for you. Send me an updated resume." That's when I started to think, hey, this Twitter thing could really be an asset to my job search.
I immediately started searching and following recruiters (including you!) and Pro's in PR. One of the people I followed was @PRsarahevans. One day she posted an all-call tweet for any PR job openings. I swear I checked Twitter on my iPhone about 1,000,000 times that day and sure enough, there it was:
"PRsarahevans: Looking 4 a PR job? AE position open in award winning PR agency in Miami (1-2 yrs exp, agency background a +) #EntryPR CONTACT @alecjr."
I immediately followed @alecjr sent him a DM (direct message) asking for his email address so I could send him my resume. I was in contact with him throughout the next week, scheduled an interview and... got the job! One minor problem was that I lived in Orlando, but no big deal, my Dad lives in the Florida Keys. So packed up my things and moved within two weeks back home. Lucky for me, I am a young twenty-something with the ability to up and move within a moment's notice - a major perk in this economy.
I just started as an Account Executive for AJR & Partners, a small marketing firm in Coral Gables, Florida, this past Monday. Everything is going really well thus far. I'm so thankful to have been able to be laid off and land a job in less than a month. I didn't even get to collect unemployment!
How long have you been using Twitter and how to you typically use it?
I started using Twitter a couple of months ago. I sit on the board for Ad 2 Orlando (the young professionals segment of the American Advertising Federation) and there was some chatter about Twitter amongst them and how "cool" it was. So, I decided to check it out. I was a little unsure about it at first, I didn't really understand the point or its purpose. But as time went on and I started following people of personal and professional interest, I began to see the value. Now I use it for local/national news, event calendars, personal contact with my friends and network, and to learn more about social media and grow professionally. I just started dropping by for #journchats - a very valuable resource!
What other social media tools did you use in your job search? Besides Twitter, which ones did you find most helpful in your job search?
Twitter was really the only social media tool I actively used in my job hunt. However, I did use Facebook to reach out to friends (some I am frequently in touch with, others a little more distant) that live all across the country - asking about the job markets in their cities, if they have heard of any openings, job board recommendations etc. My next step was to start searching around on LinkedIn and reengaging older contacts through some of my internships I had a few years ago. Everything (thankfully) moved so quickly with the position I have now that I didn't really have time to explore that route. I, of course, also poured over every job board known to man - Careerbuilder
, Monster, Indeed, Jobing, Craigslist, and the list goes on and on...
What advice do you have for others who are currently job hunting?
The biggest advice I can offer for people looking for jobs right now is to be expansive and aggressive in your search. I'm not telling anyone anything they don't already know, but there are a lot of people looking for jobs right now. Each day the pool gets bigger and deeper. Now more than ever you have to stand out. Twitter has been a great tool in several ways. You can expose yourself to tons of recruiters through following and engaging them. Twitter is about interacting interaction too; Lurking on Twitter isn't going to get you anywhere - you've got to engage in conversation. Also, the whole idea that you are searching for your next career move though Twitter shows that you are ahead in social media trends and understand its power and value (clearly, so do the recruiters and companies posting the jobs).
This next statement most likely applies to recent graduates and those early in their careers. If you can afford it, intern, even it isn't paid (most aren't anyways). This shows dedication, not to mention you are gaining experience and getting valuable additions for your resume while your searching for a job as well as expanding your network and contacts. Eventually, this economy will turn around and if you are sticking it out with a company, when they start to grow and expand again, you're already versed with their operations, structure and culture. They would certainly prefer to hire someone who already "knows the ropes." Of course, you could always do it part-time and have another job on the side to bring some money in. You do need to have a cash flow. When I was in college I had five internships - I truly believe I would not be employed right now as a recent college grad if it wasn't for my diverse intern experience I had under my belt right after graduation. Although I was "entry level" I was leaps and bounds ahead of my competition.
Get involved with organizations relative to your background and the industry you were working in. As I previously mentioned, I sit on the board for Ad 2 Orlando. Through my time as a board member, I have expanded my network extensively. As tough as the economy gets, it always helps having people in your corner looking out for you.
You can follow Jacqueline on Twitter at @JDuignan.
How do I find the "best" (if there is such a way to tell) recruiters in a particular field or desired work location? I have just started my job search and am struggling to figure out which recruiting companies or recruiters I can target to contact or send my resume to. Or should one just use the buck shot method and hope for the best?
Recruiting firms are usually either generalists or specialists. Some work nationwide, while others may only work in a specific region or even a single city. Finding the "best" recruiter is really a matter of opinion and who you are comfortable dealing with
The best way to find a trusted recruiter in your industry is to ask around. Ask your college professors or work colleagues. You can also search LinkedIN for recruiters within your field as well — we′re all there. Most than likely, you'll have the best luck finding opportunities through recruiters who are specialists in your field.
Remember: A recruiter works for a client company, not the candidate. Recruiters do not always spend a lot of time with candidates until they have a matching position varies. Some recruiters will take a few minutes to get to know you better for upcoming opportunities, especially if they think there is a good chance of placing you in the near future, but there isn′t always time to speak to each candidate in detail when filling open searches is the priority.
Ensure the recruiting firm has the information it needs. When you present your details to give the recruiter the pertinent information about your background and your search. Your resume, career highlights, your interests, geographical preferences, and salary range are a good start.
Don′t use the buckshot method. You do not want just anyone with a copy of your resume in hand. Unfortunately, not all recruiters will treat your information in confidence. There are recruiters out there who will just float a resume around the industry to see if they can get any interest and an easy placement without even speaking to you. You don't want to be the spaghetti they are throwing against the wall to see if it sticks.
I′ve heard stories of people who are interviewing on their own with companies and all the sudden some unknown recruiter sends the person′s resume as if it were the firms referral without ever having contact with the candidate. It's an uncomfortable situation to be in - so protect your information. This is a unprofessional and unforgivable practice, but it happens — choose wisely!
This is part of an on-going series of candidate questions submitted through this blog. If you have a question you would like featured, please submit it here. Confidentiality is guaranteed.
For other candidate questions, see the archive of questions .
Photo credit: Gluemoon [Flickr]
What is the best way to go about contacting a company you would be interested in working for?
Email is by far the preferred method of companies and recruiters to show your interest and apply for an open position. If there is an open position and you don't have any connection with the company, I'd advise to go through the proper channels- follow the directions on the job descriptions and submit your resume and cover letter to the address provided by the company.
This is NOT where you should stop. Just because you submitted through the proper channels though doesn't mean you can't follow-up through other means. Some positions receives hundreds of resumes, only seen by the human resources department for an initial review and judgment. Other times your resume will be imported directly in the company's applicant tracking system which may only scan for keyword matches to rank the top candidates for the position.
If you are very interested in working for a particular company, you'll have to take it a few steps further. Search LinkedIn or Google search to find out who the hiring manager is and follow up directly to show your interest in a position. Many job descriptions state the reporting structure, if not, make your best guess. Finding out this information isn't difficult with a bit of extra effort. Sometimes a simple follow-up can determine whether you land the opportunity to interview or not. Surprisingly, few people take this step because they fear the risk of being too pushy or coming on too strong.
When following up electronically, your follow-up needs to be specific for the position and how you will add value. There is nothing more obvious than a blanket introduction and follow-up. State why specifically you want to work for the organization and how you will help them be successful.
If you have friends within the organization, an internal referral is always better than a submission through the website. Ask your contact to walk your resume into the hiring manager or HR department and follow up within a couple of days.
All of this takes time — a job search can be full-time job in itself. Putting in the extra effort will pay off in the end and set you apart from the majority who don't invest the time in the job search.
This is part of an on-going series of candidate questions submitted through this blog. If you have a question you would like featured, please submit it here. Confidentiality is guaranteed.
For other candidate questions, see the archive of questions.
My latest column on PRNewser is up. Here's an excerpt... or see the full article here.
Lately, I've been receiving a ton of calls from candidates who call to "enlist a recruiter" to help find them a new position. It makes me wonder if some of these people think that by speaking to an industry recruiter, their job search woes will be answered.
Recruiters work for their clients - the hiring company, not the other way around. I'm not saying job seekers shouldn't connect to a recruiter. Recruiters can and will bring opportunities to your attention you might never find otherwise, but it's important to keep the expectations realistic.
The job market in its worst condition in years. If you are actively job searching or unemployed, don't rely ONLY on job ads or a recruiter. These days it takes much more work to seek the opportunities out. Become your own headhunter and use some of our strategies to propel your search.
Have a plan
A good recruiter tends to be very organized and an obsessive planner. Recruiters don't only rely on job postings they see on the internet to create new business. We target the top companies we want to represent in our industry and develop relationships with the decision makers, even when they are not hiring.. Make a list of the top 50 companies you want to work for and assume there are opportunities for you in each, even if there isn't an open position posted.
Read the rest at the PRNewser blog.
My most recent guest column on PRNewser is up. Here is a quick except. You can read all the tips on PRNewser's blog.
If you are not already on it, you have probably heard of Twitter by now. Twitter can be a powerful tool to aid in your job search. There are numerous success stories in the blogosphere about how people have received and accepted job offers through Twitter. See examples from David Murray or Michael Litman.
Here are some of my observations and tips on how to use Twitter as a tool for your job search and to make sure you are getting noticed.
Use your real name.
Make your profile searchable and easy to be found. Tell the world what you do in the bio line. Be specific. If you do tech PR, say it in your one line bio. You will find more like-minded people will connect with you. If you make people work too hard to figure out who you are and what you do, you will never see the benefit of Twitter because people won't find you. Make it easy for someone to decide if they should start following your updates or follow you back and for Twitter directories to index you properly.
Add a website. Your company's website, your LinkedIn profile, or your blog.
Don't make your updates private. It's my personal pet peeve, but one I know many others share. Many people won't follow you back if your updates are private. It also defeats the purpose of having a searchable profile. Twitter is about sharing and if you want others to find you, particularly for a job search, your tweets need to be searchable and seen by those outside of your followers.
Go to the PRNewser blog to see the last six tips....
Job seekers often think recruiters can be the solution to finding new employment or making a career change. While it is very true a recruiter can be incredibly helpful in a job search, it is important to understand a few key points in order to avoid a disappointing outcome.
Understand how recruiters work
Recruiters are compensated by their client companies - not by candidates. Recruiters do not work for you, they work with you. A recruiter's time is spent where it will best serve the client since compensation is based on a successful candidate placement. Unfortunately, that means most recruiters can't interview everyone who sends a resume or expresses interest unless there is a good chance he or she fits a current job specification.
Recruiters don't work with career changers
Recruiters are expected by their clients to find people who are an exact match for the position and who are currently working in their field. If you are looking to make a career transition (i.e. sales to PR), then skip connecting with recruiters. Ditto if you are seeking an entry-level job.
If you are looking to make a slight shift into a parallel industry (i.e. tech PR to consumer PR) or a different type of position in the same industry, then a recruiter may be able to help you.
Recruiters are not resume writers or career consultants
It is not appropriate to ask a recruiter to help you write your resume, critique it, give you individual career coaching, or "put in a good word" with their contacts, especially if you are not currently working on an engagement with them.
It's not to say though recruiters won't give you advice. I'm more than willing to give appropriate career advice to candidates who respect my time and expertise. Building a long-term relationship with a recruiter can be a definite career booster, just be careful not to abuse the relationship.
Treat recruiters the same as you would treat a potential employer This means timely follow-up and honesty throughout the process. It also means being respectful of their time. If you wouldn't ask an employer to interview you at 8:00 PM, don't ask it of a recruiter.
Be honest and open throughout the process. A good recruiter doesn't want to make a bad match. Nobody wins when an employer and employee break up too soon and there isn't a recruiter on the planet who wants to do a replacement search for free. Make your career goals, questions, and concerns heard throughout the process.
Build a long-term relationship with a recruiter in your industry. If you are not a fit or not in a position to make a move, recruiters will appreciate your referrals. An appreciative recruiter will remember your generosity and professionalism when you fit the bill for future opportunities. The first thing I do when I get a search is write down the top five people I know who would be a good fit for the search before checking my database, posting to my network, or reaching out for referrals. Being on the short list is a good place to be.
I am a college senior, planning to graduate this upcoming May. I am reasonably worried about the current job market and I am eager to get a jump start on my search. I am concerned about how soon is too soon to begin contacting companies before I am able to immediately fill a position.
Is it appropriate to begin contacting companies this early? Would it build positive contacts and possibly lead to job opportunities when I graduate or would it be more likely to annoy them? I do not want to waste any company's time, but many of my friends who graduated last year still do not have jobs in their field and I don't want to share their fate.
What is my best course of action at this point?
Most experts agree beginning a job search four to six months prior to graduation is a good an ideal time frame. It's not too early to annoy hiring managers and it should give you sufficient time to find something. If possible, try to get a part-time internship with an agency (I assume you are planning to go into PR). Many times these internships turn into full-time positions and if not, you have spent several months building a network of PR professionals who have contacts in other agencies and companies who could recommend you for any other entry-level positions.
With five months left until graduation, you should start building those relationships and being proactive. Go to your local networking events, Meetups and Tweetups, and ask for informational interviews with companies you would like to work for. Just because a company isn't posting their open jobs doesn't mean there isn't something available. Work on building your online networks and continue to develop those relationships off-line.
This is the second post of a two-part series written by Nathan McGee
. To read the first three tips of his guest post, see Part 1.
5 Steps to Simple Social Network Job Searching continued....
4. Always be positive.
Job searching can be a frustrating task. You might have had the worst interviewer in the world or maybe you keep submitting your resume and not getting calls (you might want to take a look at your resume). Venting your frustrations might fall on sympathetic ears when you complain to your friends and family, but understand that you may kill your chances of gaining any future referrals that person might have for you.
Most often when people pass a job to you, they have some sort of connection with the job. They want to be sure that the people they recommend will be a stellar candidate as it will reflect on them. If you are habitually negative about the interviews or leads you are getting, they might have the perfect job for you, but hold off because they don't want their lead to turn into a negative experience.
Venting your frustrations can be therapeutic, but you can turn that negative experience into a positive one. If you must tell people about how horrible things have been, at least point out the lessons you have learned from them and show that you can see the silver lining in every cloud. On top of that, talk about the other positive aspects of your life and what you are doing when you are not job hunting. How the time has allowed you to workout more or improve your writing. People love a positive attitude and will want that type of person in their workplace.
5. Get more friends.
There may come a time when you have exhausted all your current options of outreach. You've announced you are looking for a job, you have been grateful to those who have helped you, you have kept people up to date on your search and you continue to smile and be positive... but still no luck. Maybe you need more friends?
Well go out and meet some people. Get involved in groups that interest you, go to the gym (also a great suggestion for job hunters) volunteer at a charity, get out and meet some people. Start being involved online too. Find groups, sites, forums, etc. and start participating there. Foster friendships through associations. If you aren't researching jobs and filling out applications/submitting resumes, you should be "networking" and meeting new people.
Bonus Step: Help others find a job.
As you are working your network and meeting new people, you will run into others who are looking for work. I am a big believer in karma, what goes around comes around. What better way to help out your own chances of finding a job than passing on information or leads that you might have come across. This will create tremendous good will and people will be more apt to return the favor.
Looking for a job is stressful. Getting by with a little help from your friends will help take some of the edge off the stress. If anything, you will be able to find support and encouragement to keep you motivated and moving forward. Just remember, that job is out there, and someone you know might be sitting on it not knowing you are the perfect candidate — unless you start making some noise!
Nathan McGee is a Social Media Marketing Consultant and Social Coach. His blog can be found at nathanmcgee.com
This is a two-part guest post series by Nathan McGee.
5 Simple Steps of Social Network Job Searching
Ringo Star once sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends."
When you are on the job hunt, your "friends" can be a vital asset in your search. Having someone on the inside can greatly increase your chances of getting an interview and getting hired. Reaching out through your network takes a certain poise and tenacity. You want to find a job, but you don't want to come across as needy or even worse, spammy.
Here are five simple steps to follow to help tap into that fantastic resource you know as your friends.
1. Let people know you are looking for a job.
This might seem like a no brainer and really simple, but often overlooked. Being "jobless" holds a certain negative image in our culture. Being "let go" also can have an impact on one's ego. Both of these ideas can keep someone from announcing that he/she is now back on the job market.
Think of it this way, your jogging partner might have a connection to your perfect job but he won't pass it on to you because he doesn't know you are looking!
All you have to do is announce that you are looking for a new job. A simple post on your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) stating your job search intentions, i.e. "On the job hunt for a Project Management position at a fantastic company. Let me know if you have any leads!"
Don't forget the classic e-mail out to your contact list. You don't have to go into details about why you are out of work, simply state what that your are looking for work, the type of position you are looking for and a brief — I repeat — brief description of your qualifications.
I am currently looking for a job in a small to medium size circus as a monkey trainer. I have been a monkey trainer for 3 years at one of the top circuses in the nation and have trained over 50 monkeys to do such tasks as ride a bike and walk the tightrope. If you have any leads, please let me know.
2. Express your gratitude.
This is crucial if you want people to keep helping you. Despite your best efforts to explain what you do and the type of position you are looking for, you will still get people sending you jobs that you either are over qualified for or that have no connection to what you do. You will still want to be extremely grateful for the help they are providing.
Send a thank you e-mail (hand written thank you notes if you want a bigger impact) and let them know how much you appreciate them helping you. Take a few extra seconds and give a public thanks on the social network where you are connected to this person, i.e. "I want to thank Jane for referring me the marketing manager position. Jane, you are awesome!"
This accomplishes two things, one it further shows your gratitude and publicly praises the person helping you out (and social media is all about letting people know what you and others are doing); and two, it reminds others that you are still looking for a job. Which brings us to the third step...
3. Keep people posted.
When you first announce your job hunt, you will get a lot of questions, comments of encouragement and support. After a few weeks, you might get the occasional question, "how's the job search going?" Then after a while, nothing at all.
To foster enthusiasm, you will need to remind people that you are still looking for work. It can be something as simple as writing a post on your personal blog or social network profile once a week hi-lighting your efforts in the job hunt and include people to whom you are grateful (see step 2). Change your signature for your outgoing e-mails to include your job hunting efforts.
Recently I went to a fabulous Christmas party hosted by a friend who is currently looking for work. She was a fantastic host and everyone had a great time. A few days after the party she sent out an e-mail thanking everyone for coming. At the end of her e-mail she threw in a one sentence plug asking people to let her know of any jobs. It was just a casual reminder, but it put her in my mind and I found myself scouring my brain for possible leads.
Look out for tips 4 and 5, plus a bonus tip from Nathan in the second part of this series in Friday's post.
Nathan McGee is a Social Media Marketing Consultant and Social Coach. His blog can be found at nathanmcgee.com.