5 Recommendations for a Job Search Action Plan

Cape Girardeau, Missouri, isn’t on the list of “1,000 Places To Must See Before You Die,” but I’m glad I visited there this past weekend.  I enjoyed touring the Mississippi River town that is far more significant than its 36,000 full-time population might suggest.  More importantly, I spent most of two days with promising future PR professionals during a special topics workshop at Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO).

Organized by Professor Susan Gonders, PhD., the SEMO workshops bring PR professionals to campus to work with students who are exploring their career options. This weekend’s conversation focused on the topic weighing heavily on soon-to-graduate seniors everywhere—jobs.

SEMO students didn’t lapse into a deep funk as I rolled out a 30-foot list of names of individuals applying for a recent entry-level position at Ketchum. Instead, they focused on what they need to do to impress prospective employers.  In addition to a discussion and quizzes on writing and ethics, we discussed the following key components of a job search tool kit:

1. Resume.  A no-frills resume packed with relevant experience and accomplishments.  Use a format that loads easily into automated candidate tracking systems that most agencies use to keep track of applicants. Don’t over design your resume by adding extraneous graphics and artwork.  Such frills may require someone to manually enter your resume into tracking systems. Meanwhile, other resumes more easily advance to the hiring manager.

2. Networking.  Build your network, starting with immediate family and friends.  Add at least one new individual to your network spreadsheet each week.

3. Social media.  Expand knowledge and use of social media.  Perfect the big three—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—before expanding your repartee.  Follow and engage in Twitter conversations with leaders in organizations and industries in which you might like to work.  It’s noticed.

4. Focus.  Narrow your search.  It is easier to drill down than sideways.  Focus on what counts. Determine your passion and develop a job search game plan to achieve it.

5. Elevator speech.  You have a minute or less to make the solid first impression–your elevator speech. Make the interviewer want to know more about you based on a personally insightful story that underscores your passion and experience, and what you would bring to the organization.

IF YOU VISIT CAPE GIRARDEAU.  Besides the beautiful limestone buildings throughout the SEMO campus, here are some of the landmark highlights from my visit:  Common Pleas Courthouse (circa 1854) with its impressive steps (concrete imported from England), the ornate Gothic Revival Old St. Vincent Church (circa 1853), the elegant Victorian Glenn House, the Port restaurant which served as Gen. Ulysses Grant’s Missouri headquarters during the Civil War, and the impressive bridge spanning the widest point in the Mississippi River.  Finally, much to the chagrin to my liberal friends, I saw the childhood home of Rush Limbaugh.  The latter doesn’t yet have a historic marker, and I wouldn’t have sought it out except for the fact it was across the street from Dr. Gonders’ home. 

4 thoughts on “5 Recommendations for a Job Search Action Plan

  1. Thank you for taking the time out of your tight schedule to visit our university. It is quite an honor to have had you as a guest lecturer. On behalf of the other students in the class, we are very grateful for the insight you provided. Those of us attending PRSSA National Conference are sorry you can’t attend, but we hope you enjoy your time in Brazil. Good luck with your translator!

  2. Mr. Culp,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog! What you have written serves as valuable information as I am about to enter the job market. I loved your insight on the importance of keeping a narrow focus with a strong network. One aspect in particular I realize I need to work on is my elevator speech. I completely agree that the first impression is everything. What you say to someone in the first meeting has a lot to do with what they will think of you in the long run. Thanks!

    Leighton Brown
    Platform Magazine Editor/Writer

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with Paula! It was such an honor to meet you. Thank you for taking extra time with those of us in the Agency group to discuss the Message Map until we understood it. Have a wonderful time in Brazil!

  4. Your insight into the resume process was enlightening to say the least. However, the part of class that focused on ethics was something I really appreciated. Examining Ketchum’s take on the ethical practices helped show specifics that the PRSA Code of Ethics covers, but doesn’t specifically address. (http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish)

    Thanks again for the wonderful class, and as the rest have said, enjoy your time in Brazil!

    Zane Riley
    National Vice President of Advocacy
    Public Relations Student Society of America
    2012-2013 National Committee
    Southeast Missouri State University

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