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Which Matters More: Your Aptitude or Your Attitude?

WTF Computer woman Which Matters More: Your Aptitude or Your Attitude?

This is a guest post by Jonathan Rick.

You can tell a lot about a person from the way he emails.

Who would you want to have a beer with?

That question kept racing through my mind as I read the replies to a solicitation I recently sent out. The emails, which within an hour numbered more than a dozen, ranged from the pedestrian to the eloquent.

I’m publishing a representative handful to correct a widespread misperception among consultants in every industry: from publicists to painters to pet-sitters, what ultimately separates the winning vendor from the runners up isn’t the quality of your work. It’s whether people want to work with you. In other words, your likability.

Indeed, according to outplacement experts, in evaluating potential employees, employers value personality, passion, and proficiency in that order. The classic example is Charles Schwab, who in 1901 became the first recipient of a million-dollar salary. He earned this distinction not because of his expertise in steel, but “largely because,” Schwab recalled, of his “ability to deal with people.”

Keep this maxim in mind as you eyeball the below emails. After all the interviews and case studies and estimates and reference checks, most decisions in life come down to a single sensor: one’s gut. So before firing off your next pitch, think like the client and ask yourself that quintessentially American question: who would I want to have a beer with?

The Cut to the Chaser

1. “Do you have budget?”

It’s a legitimate question, but as the leadoff one, it’s a turnoff. Just as you wouldn’t ask a woman about her bank account on your first date, so your icebreaker to a prospective client shouldn’t be about money. No one wants to work with someone whose immediate—and seemingly only—concern is what you can do for him.

2. “My firm probably could do this. If you’d like to chat I’m at [redacted]. Website is [redacted].”

Love the confidence: we “probably could do this.” Equally inspiring: the description of your firm and a reason for its relevance to this project. No, wait…

3. “[Redacted] based out of Austin, TX is a great choice! Fast, quality work. Not sure of their schedule, but it can’t hurt to check.”

While the tip is intriguing, it’s incomplete. Care to make an introduction? How about identifying your contact here? At the least, give me an email address.

(If you’d prefer not to introduce me in your initial email, maybe offer to do so once I reply affirmatively? See reply #8.)

The Lou Avery

4. “[Redacted] emailed me that you may need a short video project. I am [redacted] from [redacted]. Let me know if we can help. Our demo reel is at [redacted].”

These straightforward sentences call to mind Lou Avery, Don Draper’s replacement in Mad Men. The new creative director is immortalized with this faint praise: “Lou is adequate.” So is this pitch, which is perfectly fine if you’re comfortable with average work.

5. “[Redacted] forwarded this to me. [Links to his videos.] What’s the project? Short turnarounds are rarely a problem (although I do have a current video for another client and a shoot with [redacted] to work on this weekend). Would love to know more, though.”

I appreciate your honesty. It’s admirable. At the same time, letting me know I won’t be your top priority isn’t the best way to commence a relationship. Reserve any potential problems until you’re asked or have established a rapport.

The Storyteller

6. “You might try [redacted]. He was at [redacted] and has his own business now. I know [redacted] has also used him. Everyone that I know who he’s worked with has been super pleased with the results. His email is [redacted].”

Solid. A strong recommendation coupled with a couple of name drops. And an email address is provided, so I can simply forward the message.

7. “Hey [redacted], Wanted to introduce you to Jonathan Rick. He is currently looking for a production team to help him with a video that needs to wrapped in the next two weeks. The budget is also fixed at $12K. Mentioned some of the details to [redacted], but Jonathan can fill you in on the rest. Know the budget is tight but hopefully you and Jonathan can figure something out.”

Excellent. Introductions like this reduce my workload—a surefire way to win my wallet. As a result, the burden now falls on the other party to follow-up.

One suggestion: tell me something about the other party.

8. “I can suggest an utterly brilliant award-winning filmmaker and producer, with a very quick turnaround and ridiculously affordable rates, who has won numerous awards for his professional filmmaking prior to his turning his attention to work for the [redacted] movement. Problem is, he’s in Australia. If it’s something that can be arranged off location though, let me know, and I’ll put you in touch…”

“Utterly brilliant”? “Ridiculously affordable”? Sold! Even though the location is a deal-breaker, I still want to meet this superstar. You never know when another opportunity will arise.

Six Principles

Fielding the above “cover letters” made me feel like a recruiter receiving rounds of resumes. Amid this deluge, six principles of salesmanship quickly took hold:

1. The early bird gets the worm. With a tight turnaround, the first few replies will attract maximum interest. With each subsequent email, my attention wanes.

Similarly, the further away you get from the initial request, the less the client remains in buying mode. If you can’t reply within 48 hours, what does this say about your responsiveness?

2. Follow instructions. The quickest way to eliminate yourself is by ignoring instructions. If a Word doc is requested, don’t send a PDF. If I ask for a one-paragraph description of your firm, don’t refer me to your personal LinkedIn profile.

My friend, recruiter Claire Kittle Dixon, shares this story: “If you think I’m a stickler, you should talk to my clients. The most common reaction I get from clients is, ‘If the candidate can’t follow simple application instructions, how will he perform on the job?’ They also say, ‘If the candidate doesn’t care enough to read the instructions, he must not be very interested in the job.’ It’s hard to argue with either point.”

3. Tell me about yourself. I don’t need your bio, just your elevator pitch or a memorable detail. Do you specialize in a certain facet of the field? Did you recently win any awards, get some nice press, or finish a particularly exciting project? Do we have any mutual friends or interests? (I may not recall your name, but I’ll remember that we both worked in the Bush White House.)

4. Offer advice. One reply I didn’t reprint contained this pearl: “I especially like the fact that [the video] is scripted and not documentary-style, and that they want to turn it around quickly. There are too many projects that drag on forever.” When every pitch is basically the same, demonstrating your expertise (showing rather than telling) goes a long way. Also, flattery never hurts.

(What happened to this pro? He failed principle #2—instructions.)

5. Make it easy for me. This is my biggest pet peeve. If you’re recommending someone, it’s best to gauge that person’s interest and availability beforehand. Once you’ve prequalified him, then introduce us via email. (See reply #7.) This saves me the trouble of repeating the project parameters.

6. Get excited. There’s no better way to stand out than with enthusiasm. If you’re confident you could knock this assignment out of the park, find an appropriate way to say so. Just as we remember a receptionist who greets us with a smile, so we remember the emailer who expresses eagerness and exudes enthusiasm.

A Master of All Trades

Some will accuse me of being persnickety, of foregoing a talented producer because of a lackluster initial email. If the guy can deliver a killer video, does he also need to be Shakespeare?

To this charge, I plead guilty. I want to work with people who are not only great at their job—be it videos or vehicles—but who can also communicate their thinking in a clear and logical way. I want to work with people who not only think creatively, but can also elucidate the principles behind that creativity to a nonexpert. I want to work with people who make me smarter.

Perhaps no one grasped this philosophy better than Steve Jobs. Whether the thing before him was a glass of juice or a potential employee, he refused to degrade his standards. As he told a pair of interviewers in 1997,

“The dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream … A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

Years later, regarding his cofounder at Apple, Jobs added: “What I saw with Woz was somebody who was 50 times better than the average engineer. He could have meetings in his head.”

Is this a lot to ask for in a mere introductory paragraph? Sure is. But when the competition is stiff and the pay is good, don’t give anyone an excuse to pass you over. Give them a reason to look you over.

Jonathan Rick is a digital communications consultant in Washington, DC. The above lessons result from seven years of running the Jonathan Rick Group,, where he’s written and responded to more RFPs than he cares to remember. Tweet him your pet peeves of pitching a prospect at @jrick.

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More Real-World Stories on Getting Hired in PR

 More Real World Stories on Getting Hired in PR

Last month I brought you several stories of folks who had unique ways of getting their jobs. Here are even more!

Telling a Story at Your Own Expense

When Brad Hobbs interviewed at Max Borges Agency, a tech PR firm (where he is now Account Director), he surprised the President with his answer to a question about what gadgets Hobbs used daily. Hobbs’ response was “Just my iPhone.” When Borges was confused how someone interested in tech PR could subsist on only one piece of technology, Hobbs dove into his story about how all his other gadgets burned in “a fantastic blaze of glory,”  as they were all in an RV that burned to the ground.

Naturally, Borges wanted to know the full story, and Hobbs told him:

“I went into the full story of how I came about owning a 1978 RV, how I drove it across country with a friend, broke down multiple times, went through 5 car batteries, slept at a gas station, a Cracker Barrel and across the street from a mobile home that was unrelatedly on fire, got 4.9 miles to the gallon, was pulled over in Alabama and accused of smuggling drugs…..and on and on…..just to get it to Florida, fix it up and take it on its inaugural camping trip where it proceeded to light on fire with me and five friends inside.”

Not to worry; Hobbs and his friends were fine, but the RV wasn’t. Borges enjoyed the story so much, he hired Hobbs within days.

Hobbs said what helped him get the job can help anyone: “Don’t be afraid to show some of yourself, of who you really are in an interview.

Being Open to Serendipity

Sometimes despite all the resumes you send out, your perfect job is waiting for you where you least expect it. When Boomer Beam attended his mother’s 25th high school reunion in her stead, he met many of his mother’s classmates. Among them was Elizabeth Nickol, whose family founded All American Clothing.

“The conversation led to an interview, then an internship and eventually a job that I absolutely love. Enjoying a little spontaneity throughout your lifetime can sometimes lead to good opportunities. Keep an eye out for your opportunity. You just never know.”

Beam is now the Director of Marketing and Communications for All American Clothing.

Sharing Your Personal Passions

It’s not always possible to work in a field you’re passionate about, but when your interests align with your job, you stand out to hiring managers.

Kateri Wozny, who has a background in journalism, was looking to break out of the field and move into public relations. She wanted to work for a company that she could identify with on a personal level. She applied with Consortium Media as a PR Specialist, which turned out to be the perfect fit. One of the company’s major clients was a foster service.

“Although I was never a foster child, I was adopted and understood the personal connection that all children deserve a loving family,” Wozny said, “I made sure I emphasized that in my cover letter and my then boss even mentioned in the interview that she was impressed that I could relate to one of their clients and had some ideas for it.”

Her advice to college grads applying for PR jobs is: “make sure you can in some shape or form actually relate to the client/brand and are passionate about it. If you can see yourself having a fun time pitching the brand/client to the press and can bring fresh ideas to the table, you’ll have a shot at getting hired.”

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20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

20things 20 Things You Should Have Done this Year to Make Yourself More Hireable

Are you lamenting over not scoring your dream job in 2013? It could be that you were guilty of not doing one or more of the following tips to position yourself as the ideal job candidate.

1. Network more. It’s easy to say you’ll network, but when it comes down to it, did you regularly attend networking meetings and put yourself out there in the scary world of talking to people you don’t know?

2. Read your resume out loud. Simply tweaking a word here or there on your resume won’t help you really see it from an employer’s perspective. Reading it aloud can help you identify errors and awkward sentence structure.

3. Take someone to lunch. That could be a co-worker who’s higher up the ladder or someone else who works in your industry. This is your opportunity to get insider tips for succeeding in your field.

4. Blog. Blogging is especially useful if you don’t have a ton of job experience. Write posts about your take on your industry, interesting projects you’re working on, and other topics that display your intelligence and interest in your field.

5. Open your search parameters. Perhaps you really want to go in-house, and you declined the opportunity to take an interview with an interesting agency. Some agencies have much smaller account loads or you may even work onsite for one client. Opportunities like this could be a perfect bridge with what you are considering to do long term.

6. Invest in interview clothes. Hiring managers judge you the second you walk into an interview. If your clothes are worn down and cheap looking, it doesn’t say that you take yourself seriously as a professional. In 2014, invest in a few key basic pieces you can wear in multiple ways. This is always a good investment and can be used in many situations, not only interviewing.

7. Connect with a recruiter or two. Recruiters have the inside scoop on which companies are hiring, even if they’re not posting on job boards. A key relationship or two could open up a
new pipeline of interesting job prospects in the hidden job market.

8. Learn a new skill. Rather than waste time hating your current job, you could use it as a launchpad to your next career. Take any opportunity to diver deeper in the business or learn a practical skills that will hep with your career advancement.

9. Attend conferences and seminars. Another way you could have made yourself more hireable this year was to attend industry events where you could not only learn new things but also network with others in your field.

10. Read blogs. Read, read, read, and increase your awareness of what’s happening in your industry. You’ll also get ideas for your own blog.

11. Ask questions. Consider yourself a learning sponge and ask smart questions of the people you work with. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just through curiosity.

12. Update LinkedIn. Whether you’re currently looking for a job or not, your LinkedIn profile should accurately reflect your work experience. Continue to connect to people in your industry and follow conversations.

13. Join LinkedIn Groups. Find a few groups that focus on your industry so you can learn from those who have already taken the path you’re on. Also find groups locally so you can network with people at companies you’re interested in.

14. Freelance. Especially if you don’t have the experience to get the job you really want, freelancing can help you fatten up your portfolio and make some extra cash.

15. Volunteer. Another great way to expand your portfolio is to donate your PR skills to a nonprofit or other organization. Volunteering is a good resume builder and a chance to explore new areas of interest.

16. Go Back to School. You may not need a second Bachelor’s degree, but it never hurts to take some continuing education classes or workshops to bone up on new skills.

17. Ask for the Job. If you’ve met someone who makes the hiring decisions at another company, have you truly leveraged that relationship? While you don’t want to take advantage, there’s nothing wrong with expressing interest in working for the company. It can open doors for you.

18. Be Different. The next time you apply for a job, do something different like create a video explaining why you want to work at a company (if that approach fits the company culture). Be memorable in a good way.

19. Look Internally. Rather than seeking a job elsewhere, see what opportunities lie in the company you currently work for. You’ve already proven yourself in your current role, and many companies prefer to hire internal candidates.

20. Be Diligent. You can’t give up after your first 10 resumes don’t net anything. Look for ways to constantly improve yourself, but remember, the search for the right job doesn’t happen overnight. j

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College Students: It’s Never Too Early to Make Yourself More Hireable

College Graduate Hire Me College Students: Its Never Too Early to Make Yourself More Hireable

If graduation looms in the relatively near future, you’re probably already thinking about that amazing job you plan to score when you’re done with college.

In case you haven’t heard, the job market is pretty competitive right now. You’ll be at a disadvantage almost immediately simply because you’re a recent grad with little work experience. Fortunately, there are things you can do right now to make yourself more hireable later.

1. Intern

Internships are one of the best ways to gain industry experience, meet the right people, and make a favorable impression at a company that could end up hiring you full time. Check with both your career center and degree program department to see if there are any local businesses who need someone to help out.

2. Volunteer

Don’t limit yourself to just interning. Volunteering or getting involved in community service can also help you bone up on skills you can then add to your resume. If you plan to work in PR, offer your services to a nonprofit that can use your press release writing and pitching skills. Be eager to help out, as the more you do, the more you learn.

3. Work at the Right Company

We’ve all heard the tales of the guy who rises up from being the mailroom delivery boy to an executive position at a company. It’s an extreme example, but there’s truth in it. I started my career in recruiting by accident. I had no idea what a recruiter did before I landed a job as a receptionist at a staffing agency.  A year later I was working my own recruiting specialty in the firm and became a top producer in the company. I worked my way through college while recruiting and 15 years (ugh, 16) later I’m still at it. Even if you take on a part-time job in administration or in the warehouse at a company you’d like to work at after graduation, you can show your enthusiasm for the company, your willingness to learn, and network with people who can help the company.

4. Participate in College Organizations

In addition to providing you with the opportunity to make new friends, you can dive into an industry by joining industry organizations through your school like PRSSA. If the group regularly invites industry experts to speak, this is your chance to network with people who are out working in the field you want to work in.

5. Meet Alumni

At many universities, the alumni network is strong. Past graduates may attend events at the college, post job listings, or serve as mentors for students like you. Find these alumni and take advantage of them. Having a mentor who’s followed the path you want to take can provide you with shortcuts to success.

6. Network

You don’t have to be a professional to attend local networking meetings. Find a group or two that caters to professionals in your field, and start attending. Introduce yourself as a college student and let people know you’re looking for advice on breaking into the field once you graduate. You can build relationships that will carry you into your first job.

7. Build a LinkedIn Profile

Even if you’re not ready to start working full time, you should still have a LinkedIn profile. Include your volunteer and internship experience, as well as any other relevant work history you have. Update it as you add new skills.

8. Take on Research Projects

If the head of your department is looking for assistance in a research project, sign up. The more you actively participate in academic pursuits, the more ingrained in your industry you’ll be, even before graduating. Getting a glowing recommendation from the department chair can’t hurt, either!

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Are Recruiters Looking for You On Social Media?

social media search 320x202 Are Recruiters Looking for You On Social Media?

Think only your friends are hanging out on Twitter or Facebook? Think again — especially if you’re hunting for your next job.

Employment recruiters are spending more time looking for qualified job candidates on social media, it seems. Because so many professionals are branding themselves as experts on social sites, recruiters are finding it easier to locate people with the skill set they’re looking for.

Here’s the portion of recruiters that are looking for you on social media (Inc. Magazine):

  • LinkedIn: 98%
  • Twitter: 42%
  • Facebook: 33%

Position Yourself to Be Found Through Social Media

For those of you who haven’t put any attention into making your social media profiles a beacon for recruiters to find, Vinda Rao, Marketing Manager for recruiting software company Bullhorn, offers these tips:

  1. Keep your social media profile clean. It does matter: 98% of recruiters used social media for recruiting in 2012, so make sure what they’re finding out about you online is professional and appealing.

  1. Can’t juggle several social media accounts? Focus on LinkedIn. You’ll find more recruiters on LinkedIn than any other social media network. Nearly 100% of recruiters use it, compared to their less frequent activity on Twitter and Facebook.

  1. Are you aiming big or small? Tailor your social networking use to your goal. U.S. recruiters at small companies are less likely to recruit on LinkedIn than big companies, but are more likely to use Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Have some downtime while lounging by the pool or on a long bus ride? Check job opportunities on the go: 53% of recruiters found mobile recruiting technology extremely important.

  1. Your Alma Mater may not matter as much as you think. Fewer than 4% of recruiters say that the name of the school the applicant attended would truly help differentiate her as a candidate.

  1. Depending on what field you studied, research what social network your industry focuses on. Interested in the restaurant or fashion industries, for example? Twitter is your best bet. Security and legal candidates are best suited to search for opportunities on LinkedIn, and those looking for a job in nursing should be perusing Facebook.

Let Your Beacon Shine

The point here is: social media can expand your horizons when it comes to helping you find a job. The more places you look, the faster you’ll secure the position you really want. Make sure you shine on social media, and share a variety of updates and links to show that you know your stuff:

  • Share links to your blog content and promote relevant content of others. Ask questions to get people to click
  • Engage in conversations with other industry professionals
  • Answer questions people have about your field on LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers, or hop on Quora and get involved in discussions
  • Retweet relevant content and share your own two cents
  • Share your own insight on a subject, and don’t be afraid to weigh in on topics that matter to a professional in your field.
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5 Reasons You Should Volunteer to Find a Job

volunteering 5 Reasons You Should Volunteer to Find a Job

If you’re new to the workforce or changing fields, you find it hard to get hired. It seems like there are always people out there more qualified and with more experience than you. And while you could take a job out of your area of interest, you’d rather find another way to get the experience you need so that you’re more hireable to employers.

Consider volunteering.

By giving your time to a company or nonprofit that needs your skills, you reap multiple benefits.

1. You Ramp Up Your Skills

If your resume is still a little thin, volunteering is a great way to enhance your current skills to position yourself as an appealing job candidate. Let’s say you have a degree in public relations. Agencies feel you don’t yet have enough experience to interact with clients, but if you volunteer to do PR for a nonprofit, you get the opportunity to write more, interact with the media, plan events, and represent a brand on social media. That already makes your resume look better.

2. You Get to Meet (the Right) People

While your goal in volunteering shouldn’t be to directly get a job with the company you work for pro bono, it can happen. And even if that company doesn’t need you, the people you impress there might be able to refer you to contacts who are looking to hire.

3. You Learn New Skills

In addition to boosting what you already know, volunteering can introduce you to new tools and skills you didn’t already have. Consider it on-the-job training, without the pay. Maybe you’ve been curious about an email marketing platform, but didn’t want to invest in paying for it just to gain the skill. If you volunteer for a company that uses it, you get the opportunity to learn how to use it and add that skill to your resume.

4. You Can Fill in the Resume Gaps

Hiring managers often raise an eyebrow when there’s a noticeable time gap between jobs. If you’re simply trying to find a job during that gap, volunteering can make it look better. It shows that you’ve been proactive in trying to find a job and better yourself professionally.

5. You Can Feel Good

The altruistic purpose of volunteering shouldn’t be overlooked here. By giving your time, you can help organizations or groups that you feel an affinity for. Volunteering about a cause you are passionate about can help you feel like you’re making a difference.

How to Start Volunteering

Convinced that volunteering will help you find a job? Start by being realistic about the amount of time you can commit. It’s better to under commit to, say, once a week, than to promise you’ll help every day and not be able to do so. And keep room in your schedule to continue the job search, and to go on interviews, as that is still your number one focus.

Some places to get started to find volunteer opportunities in your local region.

 

Idealist.org

Volunteer Match

All for Good

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10 Things an Employer Doesn’t Want to See On Your Resume

Resume Mistakes 583x332 10 Things an Employer Doesn’t Want to See On Your ResumeWhen it comes to creating your resume, there are some obvious no-nos you should avoid, like naming your resume, well, “resume.” Here are more things that will turn off an employer, and that you should avoid doing at all costs.

1. Your 1-Month Stint at an Ice Cream Shop

When you’re a new grad, it’s hard to know what to put on your resume, simply because you don’t have a long work history. But as you gain experience, start moving those unrelated summer jobs off of your resume, especially if they were extremely short. Also: if you worked in a professional job for a month or two, it’s probably better to leave it off, or hiring managers will question why you couldn’t stay at the job longer.

2. Annoying Buzzwords

Let me guess: you’re highly organized, a people person, and a multi-tasker. These are filler words on a resume, and employers are sick of seeing them. Really consider the best words to describe what you do. Use a thesaurus if you get stuck.

3. All Your Extra-Curricular Activities

When you’re first taught to create a resume in high school or college, you’re encouraged to put all your extracurricular activities down, like cheerleading or rock climbing. While I don’t think hobbies necessarily kill a resume and can paint a better overall picture of the candidate, I do think they can take up valuable real estate if it doesn’t tie in somehow to your career or demonstrate characteristics important for the position.

4. Over-Personal Information

Proud as you may be to be a card-carrying member of the NRA, or of your church or political party, your resume isn’t the place for it.

5. Your Date of Birth

In the United States, employers are skittish about topics they can’t broach with you (age, race, marital status, etc.), so keep your date to yourself. Let your experience speak for itself, not the age.

6. Why You Were Fired

If you were let go in a previous role, your resume isn’t the place to discuss it. Actually, you should probably not bring it up at all in an introduction if you were fired. Let the employer guide that discussion if you’re invited in for an interview.

7. A Headshot

You don’t really want to be judged based on how you look if you’re trying to get a job based on merit, so nix on the photo. Even though these days it is pretty easy to see a photo on any professional or personal social network, it’s not a widely accepted practice to include a headshot on your traditional resume in the United States.

8. Every Responsibility You Had at Every Job

Your resume is supposed to show a few of the key responsibilities you’ve had in the past. Choose three to five that you think are the most noteworthy and relevant to the job, tying them into your major achievements.

9. The Cute Font

As cute as Comic Sans is as a font, it doesn’t belong on your resume. If you want to be taken seriously, stick to a font type that’s easy to read. It doesn’t need to be Times New Roman or Arial. Play with Calibri, Book Antiqua, Century, Garamond, or Georgia.

10. Unprofessional Email Address

Email addresses are free. Get an email with your name. Luvbunny_22@hotmail.com isn’t going to cut it. Obvious, right? I still get emails like this from applicants. The same goes for shared couple/family email addresses. Get your own email address for the job search. It’s a small investment of your time and you can always auto-forward responses to your most frequently used email if necessary.

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How to Be a Better Networker

7496765660 c8476ecf26 How to Be a Better Networker
If you’ve applied for every job in town with no luck and are now ready to find other ways to get the job you want, try networking. It’s the best way to tap into the “other” job market. Some experts say 70-80% of available open positions aren’t posted online. I’d agree that a majority of positions aren’t posted or easily found. You’re doing a disservice to yourself if you are ONLY looking at the job boards.

By attending events in your area, you can meet key decision makers and contacts that may be able to help you find your next job.

Here are 10 tips to help you get more out of your in-person networking.

1. Find Groups That Target Your Industry

If you want to work in PR for entertainment, as an example, visit Meetup.com and see if there are any groups or organizations that cater to this niche. If not, aim for a public relations organization like PRSA, which might have local chapters in your city. By connecting with people in the industry you work in or plan to work in, you can find out what’s happening in the field and what companies are actively looking to hire people with your skillset.

2. Have Your Elevator Speech Ready

When you meet someone new, you don’t want to stumble over what you say when they ask about you. You want to talk about your current role, and maybe briefly mention that you’re interested in finding a career in X area/Y industry. Keep it short and leave room for people you meet to ask questions.

3. Speaking of Questions… Ask lots of them yourself. People like talking about themselves, and this is a great way to get them to open up about hiring. While it shouldn’t be your agenda to aggressively approach a new contact about hiring you, asking casual questions like “what does your company have planned for next year?” can open the door to you getting a little insight into what might turn into a job opportunity down the road.

4. Take Notes

Ask for business cards of anyone you find to be a valuable contact (just don’t be that collector who goes around the room with nothing to offer!). If you can step away from the event, make quick notes on each card so that you remember who you met and maybe something you should follow up on. This will help you keep from letting good opportunities slip through the cracks.

5. Don’t Be a Wallflower

So many people feel awkward their first time at a networking event. That should help you realize you’re not alone in wanting to nurse your ice water along the wall and blend in with the plants. But fake it until it’s easier. After all, you came to the event to make new contacts, so make yourself walk up to someone who maybe looks as nervous as you do. It gets easier.

6. Don’t Self Promote

Yes, you want a job. But chances are, no one is going to interview you on the spot for one. That’s not your purpose. Instead, aim to meet a variety of people, and follow up later to grow the relationships. You should aim to make new contacts that could, down the road, develop into an opportunity for a career move.

7. Pay Attention

Once you attend a few industry events, you’ll begin to see the same people. Remember who you meet, and make an effort to recall something you spoke about at the previous meeting. This will impress your new contacts and help them remember you.

8. Bring Business Cards

Seems straightforward enough, but many people end up forgetting their cards and waste a great opportunity to connect. But don’t machine gun spray the room with your cards; focus on making quality connections.

9. Pick a Few Events

It can be tempting to attend a different networking event each night, once you get the hang of it. But you’re better off focusing on a couple groups that you can really commit to and start building relationships in. 10. Master the Followup After the event, make sure you reach out quickly. And please, don’t just automatically subscribe your new contacts to your automated email newsletter! Send a personal follow-up reminding each person where you met and why you want to stay in contact – and then keep in touch.

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Now is a Great Time to Freelance in Marketing

Freelancer 300x300 Now is a Great Time to Freelance in Marketing

If you want to dip your toes in the marketing world, but aren’t ready (or aren’t hireable enough)  full-time job, give freelancing a try. Apparently it’s a good time to do so.

Every quarter and year, Elance looks at which industries are hiring freelancers. Looking at last year’s data, marketing grew in leaps and bounds in specific niches:

  • Digital marketing
  • Social media
  • Content writing
  • Blog writing
  • Web design
  • Graphic design

Local Economies No Longer an Issue

One hypothesis on why earnings have increased so drastically (just digital marketing saw a 190% increase year-on-year) is that geography is no longer a barrier to finding good talent. So if an employer runs an office out of Church Point, Louisiana (population 4,575), he can find talent anywhere in the world. That opens up the possibility to finding better talent. What that means for you as that talent is that you aren’t limited to finding a job within commuting distance.

The report showed that Rhode Island, whose unemployment rate is 10.2% showed an 89% increase in earnings for marketing freelancers. So in addition to removing geographic barriers, the freelancing industry is helping alleviate a bit of that unemployment rate to boot!

More Marketing, More Jobs

While a few years ago, companies of every size held back on social media and blogging as part of their marketing strategy, they’re embracing them like crazy now. And that means that they need more bloggers, social media strategists and overall Internet marketing experts. But that doesn’t always mean they want to hire full-time roles. Often this work can be done part-time externally, which saves the company on benefits, salaries and overhead.

If you’re smart about it, you can piece together a decent living through freelancing. Find a few clients who need content marketing, design work or social media execution — all of which tend to be ongoing work — and you’ve got yourself a paycheck!

How to Start Freelancing in Marketing

Step 1: Search for Gigs. If you’ve got some experience in marketing, you can start looking for projects on sites like Elance, as well as Guru.com and others. Beef up your profile as much as possible: add samples of your work to your portfolio so potential clients can see what you’ve done.

These sites let you search categories for projects. Some will be one-time projects, while others may need someone long-term. Make sure you have the skills the project requires, and send a well-crafted application letter, targeting the key points you feel make you qualified. If you’ve worked on similar projects, make sure to say so, as many employers would be more comfortable with someone who has worked in their industry before.

Step 2: Get a Website and Blog. Build a simple website that also highlights your work, outlines your services, and provides contact information. It’s wise to start a blog and write about the areas you want work in. The more you demonstrate your expertise, the easier it is for potential employers to trust in your skills and hire you.

Step 3: Network. Reach out to companies in your area — especially smaller ones that might not have in-house marketing and let them know the services you offer. Also connect with marketing agencies, as often they have more work than they can handle and need extra help.

It may take a while, but you’ll find that once you get a few projects under your belt, you’ll have some experience to back you up and it will because easier to close a new project.

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10 Reasons a Blog Makes You More Hireable

6861197374 17a9d96b5e 10 Reasons a Blog Makes You More Hireable

If you can’t claim one of these excuses on why you shouldn’t blog professionally, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using a blog as a fantastic tool for marketing yourself to potential employers. Here are ten ways starting and managing a blog can make you more hireable, in case you need more reasons to get started.

1. It makes you look tech savvy.

Blogs are search engine fodder, and if a potential employer searches for your name, you want a smattering of blog posts you’ve written to appear. It shows you’re being proactive in managing your online profile.

2. You prove your writing skills.

Employers are no longer asking for a folder full of your newspaper clippings; they’re looking online. And if they can easily see in one place samples of your writing, they can assess whether you’ve got the communication skills they’re looking for.

3. They don’t know how to blog.

While this isn’t true of all companies, many are still desperately seeking talent that has experience in this realm, and if you prove your mettle, you just might get the job.

4. It proves you’re paying attention to your industry.

If you’re blogging about the field you work in (or want to work in), you’re staying on top of industry trends and sharing your insight on them. Employers like that.

5. A blog shows you’re a go-getter.

If you start a professional blog that’s not part of a college assignment or part of your responsibilities at a company, you’re showing that you want to take the effort to improve yourself professionally by taking on the task of blogging on your own.

6. A blog can cover up lack of professional experience.

If you’re just entering the workforce, your blog doesn’t have to reveal that. If you consistently post great content, it can make up for a lack of real-world experience in the professional world.

7. It can help you segway into another field.

If you suddenly decide to switch fields or roles midway through your career, a blog can help ease the blow. Rather than applying for a new role in a new field with zero experience, at the very least, you can direct hiring managers to your blog to demonstrate your eagerness to immerse yourself into something new.

8. It shows you’re diverse.

Even if the job you want doesn’t require blogging as a skill, showing off your blog can demonstrate that you’re not afraid to take on new tasks. From pitching journalists to analyzing social media data, you’re ready for a challenge.

9. Blogging helps you understand bloggers and journalists.

If you’re considering PR as a career, blogging can give you new appreciation for the media. You will understand better what motivates them, as well as how to approach them with a pitch (especially if you’re a blogger who gets pitched). You’ll also be more likely to be considered “one of the gang” by bloggers if you blog in addition to working in public relations.

10. You might find a new career without looking.

Many people start blogs as a hobby or as a way to show off their writing skills to potential employers, but instead find that they really want to turn blogging into a career in and of itself. If you love writing and begin expanding your readership, you might find a way to turn blogging into a full-time job, or at the very least, a side job that brings in a little extra cash.

The key to using a blog as a branding tool is to start it long before you start looking for a job. Maintain it by regularly contributing useful content to it and sharing it through your social channels. By the time you do begin the job hunt, your blog should be established enough to impress any hiring manager.

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