Plan Now, Apply Later for 2012 Jobs


During a visit to the University of Oklahoma last week, I met some 40 students who comprise the on-campus PR and advertising agency, Lindsey + Asp.  The undergraduate juniors and seniors are doing impressive work for a dozen paying clients ranging from the Norman Police Department to American Airlines. 

After spending two days in Norman, I told agency adviser Robert “Pritch” Pritchard that his students already are impressive young professionals, and they’ll be job-ready when they graduate.  During a campus tour, I listened as seniors discussed their job search plans–all are eager to move into full-time jobs.  Later, I was asked about timing for launch of a job search and what they need to be doing between now and graduation.   

Don’t apply too early.  Unfortunately, we’re in a “when needed” hiring economy so early applications are mostly ignored.  With the glut of available talent, few, if any, employers are making hiring decisions three to six months before candidates become available.  

Network Via Informational Interviews.  Instead of sending unsolicited resumes between now and May graduation, use this time to network into places where you’d eventually like to apply.  Seek informational interviews, and try to attend networking events hosted by PR and advertising professional organizations.  And be sure to practice proper networking etiquette

Gain On-Campus/Volunteer Experience.  Make good use of your final year in college.  Fill your resume with relevant experience that will be noted by hiring managers.  Experience with your on-campus agency and local nonprofits will enhance your resume.

Think Outside the Box.  If you have the exact qualifications spelled out in a job posting, you can send a note to the hiring organization explaining that you’re not available full time, but would be able to work part time between now and graduation.  This approach might appeal to organizations uncertain about the long-term viability of the assignment on which you’d be working.

4 thoughts on “Plan Now, Apply Later for 2012 Jobs

  1. I Will be looking for an internship for the summer of 2012. I need to have one lined up in the early spring semester so I can walk at graduation in the spring. I see that in your article you say “don’t apply too early” you then say employers won’t be looking for someone six to three months in advance. So my question is, when is a good time to send out an application & resume to find a job or internship? Is two months still considered “too early”?

    1. If your internship is required for graduation, I hope the university helps arrange the internship opportunity. If not, then you need to tap your network of faculty, friends and family during winter break. Summer 2012 internships normally don’t open until organizations get a good handle on their staffing needs. That normally comes much closer to need–theirs, not yours. Your network might turn up an earlier commitment, but most agencies will not be able to act on your desired timeframe. Good luck.

  2. I very much enjoyed your article about planning now and applying later for jobs available in 2012. Being a senior, sometimes the pressures of finding that “perfect” job or even a job right after graduation can overshadow the fact that there are great opportunities for experience around you. Our university also has an on-campus agency, and your article inspires me to get more involved in these last few semesters I have left. It also encouraged me to go and look for opportunities in the non-profit organizations in my area. I wanted to ask you if there was anything that you think is absolutely essential that all undergraduates should know or know how to do before graduating and being in the workplace. And is there anything that you know now that you wish you would have known when you were in my shoes? Thank you for your time!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Laura. Glad to hear you plan to get more involved in your on-campus agency and nonprofit work. Both will look good on your resume. As for your question about what I know now that I wish I knew back when I was in college, I’d say it is the incredible importance of understanding business. I would have taken more business classes since they help you understand what drives client goals. PR pros who understand business terms and issues make the best counselors. Ron

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