Are you wondering how to kick off your job search? I’ll give you the good news first. Most summer positions are probably still open. The bad news? Plenty of students and graduated interns have been laying the foundation to apply for months.
This job market is depressing enough, so there’s no need to keep a negative tone. But there is a motivating purpose for this post. Students are responding to challenging times with more innovative approaches to networking. Online portfolios, blogs, Twitter accounts, informational interviews, meetings for coffee, agency tours, speaker invitations—these are all options available to students that I have seen throughout the course of the year. And they work. I will definitely remember someone I have been in touch with over time instead of a job seeker’s last-minute outreach in the spring.
Although I’m not part of our HR team at Ketchum, I do work closely with our coordinator and she can attest that the résumés and recommendations have been flowing from my inbox already. References from inside the organization tend to be much more successful than candidates applying blindly. So get out there!
Looking and networking for jobs all year sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? It would be if these were all strangers that you’re pacing to keep up with. But I consider most of my network friends, and I hope that many of the people I have helped along consider me the same. Understand that there is a professional nature to our friendship, but it makes me want to keep in touch all the same.
As a student two years ago, I was a firm believer that I should never be meeting a company for the first time when applying. Now is the perfect time to start making connections at the companies you want to be a part of. Hopefully people are willing to spend a half hour over coffee, and then some time for follow-up.
Now for the really good news. If you’re reading Culpwrit, commenting and taking an active approach to your career—you’re still ahead of the curve. Competition will be tough for entry level positions, but they still exist and the demand for young, cheap talent may be higher than ever. Someone out there is just waiting to discover you.
Kevin Saghy is an assistant account executive with Ketchum and has a passion for helping students from his days as a PRSSA leader. E-mail him if you’re in
7 thoughts on “Welcome to the Job Search–You’re Late”
Your post just about sent me into convulsions spurred by nerves and anxiety. I am just now starting to realize the importance of creating a constant dialogue with professionals I admire not just “to get a job”, but also to learn about their experiences. Louise Crow, a blogger for Platform Magazine (http://www.platformmag.wordpress.com), explained perfectly the importance of the informational interview. Crow cited Katharine Hansen in saying, “While one out of every 200 resumes–some studies put the number as high as 1,500 resumes–results in a job offer, one out of every 12 informational interviews results in a job offer.”
I feel very far behind.
Luckily, I have one year left at The University of Alabama. Which hopefully means, I can kick it in high gear this coming year and establish some relationships with professionals. After all, that’s what we, as PR practitioners, are learning to do—manage positive relationships. Thanks for the gut check, Kevin.
Kevin – all good advice for recent and soon-to-be graduates. I’ve been proactive in networking, both online and off, and it pays off. My blog/online portfolio has been a great way to show prospective employers my writing skills and interests, and not just tell them. If you take the time to do it well, it’s a great way to get noticed.
Graham – I think your last sentence presents a great point–“if you take the time to do it well.” Having a blog or Twitter account is great but it must be a strong representation of you, otherwise it could do more harm than good.
Thanks for reading and your comment!
About.com choose 3 websites where job seekers got the best results –
http://www.linkedin.com (networking for professionals)
http://www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to the perfect job)
For those looking, good luck!
Great advice. It is hard to get into the job market at a time like this, and it is pertinent to get ahead of the pack. As a graduating senior, I am hustling and bustling to do what I need to do to get recognized. To say that I have had complete success is not necessarily true because I do not have a solid job offer lined up. However, I know that my resume is in a pile with 400+ applicants for an internship in SF, and I regret not making more connections at Ketchum before applying. In any case, connections are crucial, even if they are not the most intimate connections (i.e. professor versus Twitter friend). How did you find your job at Ketchum?
I enjoyed your article. I’m a recent graduate living in Southwest Florida, and unfortunately finding an entry-level PR career in the area has not proven easy. I feel like the large agencies I’ve sent a cover letter/resume to don’t even get around to reading them.
I thought your tip about the informational interview or making a connection with a company before you apply seems like a good idea, but how would you suggest doing this? Randomly e-mailing someone from the company doesn’t seem like the right way. Many people say to find your way in through connections you already have, but I’d venture to guess many looking for an entry-level position don’t have a connection with someone who knows someone in the agency.
As Stacey asked, how did you land your job? Was it an inside connection?
Thanks for the great advice,
Abby and Stacey,
Thanks for your questions. To address them each—
Q: How did I get into Ketchum?
A: PRSSA and volunteering. As Doug Blemker states in his post, I think volunteering is one of the best ways to network. Each time you volunteer and work WITH people, you have a chance to impress a potential colleague or employer. There is value to that small sample size of working together compared to reading about someone on paper.
My chance came when I was president of PRSSA. The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations extended an offer to serve as an ex-officio board member and I graciously accepted. Many of the board members worked with large agencies in Chicago—just where I intended to work. I took the volunteer opportunity seriously, met Ron Culp in the process and interviewed with Ketchum shortly afterward. I needed to sell HR on my abilities from there, however that initial connection with Ron undoubtedly paved my way.
Q: How would you suggest making connections with companies you’d like to work for?
A: Volunteering is my first recommendation, but that option may not always be available. I also recommend attending events where these folks are speaking. Introduce yourself after their presentation, request to keep in touch, send a thank you card and then make “the ask” to meet or talk about your career. Talking with PRSSA and PRSA speakers has significantly built my network and I still make a point to attend luncheons with impressive thought leaders. You may not stand out immediately from the herd that introduces themselves, but you can do so with impressive follow-up.