job search

Be Your Own Recruiter

Mesh Jobs BoardJanuary brings lots of new years' resolutions to be better at this, that or the other. Career aspirations are often somewhere on the list. I recently started a new position as Manager of Client Services for Sequentia Environics, which basically means I am responsible for account and project management and anything in between. I am now two months in, and the novelty has far from worn off. I'm learning new things every day and love the feeling of being challenged. Unlike most of my previous jobs, this role did not land in my lap with little to no effort. Quite the contrary. I decided a while ago that I wanted to pursue a career in digital media and communications. By the fall I was ready to start seriously putting myself on the market. I started where most people start, by dusting off my résumé, shining it up with new achievements and aspirations, and sending it out to a few job postings that fit my desired role. Tick-tock went the clock. I got a few call-backs and a couple of interviews, but nothing major and no real offers.

I decided to enlist the help of so-called professional recruiters. I focused on the firms that specialize in the digital media and communications industry. I  only got one or two more interviews from a total of three recruitment firms. Sigh. Time to take matters back into my own hands.

Throughout the last year and a half, I attended a ton of different networking events and met people who were heavily invested in the social media community. I decided to start with this network. I set up phone and coffee meetings with my contacts. These meetings were never phrased as interviews in any way. Their purpose was for me to ask questions to experienced professionals about what skill sets they would look for in a potential hire, and also to tell them about what I wanted to do. They were never formal.

I found these meetings really beneficial and educational. Often times, if the person I was speaking with wasn't looking to expand themselves, they led me to speak to someone else who might be. I also got to talk shop with some pretty interesting and well respected people. Once the well of my own soft contacts (and their contacts) started to dry up, I was still jobless, BUT I was definitely making some inroads.

Next, I started doing some further research to find other firms and individuals who were making digital waves. This took me all over the place, from Advertising to PR to Marketing and In-house. I figured my best bet was to cold call and cold e-mail the people at the top of these organizations—often with the same aim of grabbing a coffee and chatting about the industry and what I was hoping to achieve. I was surprised how many people said yes within a day of receiving my e-mail or phone call. Almost everyone I reached out to was really receptive and open to sitting down with me. Now I was finally getting somewhere. This is exactly how I landed my new role at Sequentia. I saw Jen Evans speak at The Canadian Institute's Managing Social Media conference and e-mailed her to see if they were expanding. As it turned out, they were. Within two weeks of that initial e-mail I had a firm job offer.

Like I said, this was not an easy process. It took about four months and a lot of networking, reaching out, tons of coffee and not being scared to pick up the phone or send someone an e-mail (no matter how high up their title read). If you want to make a move, be your own recruiter. It will pay off, but be patient and stick with it.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any job-seeking secrets to share?

Landing your first Public Relations job

Landing a job in a top Public Relations firm is a dream more and more young people are trying to turn into reality. In Norway, the PR industry has grown at an almost astronomical rate in the last few years. So has the number of people looking to get a foot inside the industry door. Unfortunately, the industry seems to recruit most of its people either from within the industry, or from corporate businesses or media outlets. Numbers published by the organization for Norwegian Communication Consultants, NIR, in 2002, show that of the people that were recruited by Norwegian PR consultancies, only 11 percent came directly from the universities. If we are to believe that NIR's numbers are still relevant, the PR consultancies only hire 10 new graduates every year. For new communications student graduates, the dream of landing a job within the Public Relations industry can therefore feel years or decades away.

I know how it feels, standing on bare ground with nothing but a university degree and a burning desire to get my first job. Five months ago I finished my degree at Griffith University in Australia and moved back to Norway to get a job in Public Relations. I had no clue about how to do it or where to begin.

As a blogger, I therefore did what felt most natural to me – I started searching for articles and blog posts that could help me get an idea of what to expect.

I scrolled through dozens of blog posts on the topic and found that most of them were very helpful. Some explained what I could expect when looking for a job within the PR industry. Others taught me something about how I could attack the situation, what I should focus on when writing a resume or application letter or how I should address the consultancies when applying for non-advertised positions.

Based on what I had read on blogs and what I learned from talking to other people, I put together a strategy on how to achieve my goal.

A couple of weeks ago I finally got a job (editors note: emphasis on FINALLY). After two rounds of intense interviews and a debate with the other applicants in the interview process I took part in, I received a phone form the consultancy, a respected Norwegian PR-consultancy, and was offered a job as a junior consultant.

To pay back what I feel I owe the other bloggers that helped me in the chase for my first job, I therefore wish to continue helping newly graduated students land their first communication job by offering my best tips on how to land your first Public Relations job.

Summarized in a few steps, based on my personal experiences during my job search, is some advice on how to land your first Public Relations job:

1: Choose your ground Establish an overview of the Public Relations industry in the region where you are applying for work. Put together a list of the firms that you most would like to work for and see who advertises jobs. Personally, I based my list on firms that could help me develop my Public Relations practitioner skills and that valued ethical standards that I could relate to.

2: Talk to people Ask people within the industry what you can aspect to achieve with the academic background that you possess. Ask them what they look for in their employees and see how you fit their criteria. Talk also to people about how to write an application letter and what to expect during the interview process. Try locating someone that is used to recruiting people, and ask them for good advice.

3: Understand your own capabilities This is probably the most important advice I can give you. It is really important that you take some time to reflect upon your own personality and your own capabilities before you start applying for jobs. There are some questions you'll just have to know the answer to if you want to land any kind of job. These are questions like:

-What are your goals in life? -What do you want to achieve with the work you do? -Where do you see yourself within three years, five years, or ten years? -What kind of a person are you - Do you like to be in charge, are you a good listener? -How's your social intelligence, your work ethic, your social life, your learning abilities, your cooperation skills? -What motivates you? -Why are you applying for a job in PR? -What are you good at, where can you improve? How do other people see you? -What do you see in a good leader? -What can you offer your future employer? - What can you offer that no one else can?

If you can't answer these questions before you go into an interview, you can be sure you will never be able to credibly answer them during the interview.

4: Writing the resume Use the answers you came up with in section 3 when writing your resume. Sell yourself – but keep it short. Look at the resume as a bullet-point media release.

A good way to structure the resume is to divide it into the following sub-headers:

-Personal Information (name, address, phone, e-mail and date of birth) -Education (list your university degree and GPA – if it is worth mentioning, if not, leave it out) -Achievements (at your university or in sports etc) -Work Experience (in reverse chronological order, with your most resent listed first) -Positions of Trust (held within relevant organizations etc) -Key Skills -Personal Qualities -Other Skills (spoken and written languages, computer skills etc) -Interests (blogging, reading books, surfing etc) -References (contact your references before listing them)

5: Applying for the job You can either write an open application letter to a company you find attractive, or you can apply for an advertised position.

No matter what you do, there are certain simple rules you need to follow. In your application letter you need to answer three simple questions:

1. Who are you? 2. Why are you applying for a job at this company? 3. What unique (but relevant) skills or experience can you bring to this company?

Write in a simple, formal style and keep the letter short. Show the receiving person that you are able to express yourself clearly and concisely (Editors note: something we sometimes have a problem with here at BlogCampaigning). One standard A4 page should be enough to answer all the questions above. Remember, you do not want to bore your reader.

6: The interview-process When going to an interview, BE PREPARED:

-Read about the company and the people that are interviewing you. -Prepare some intelligent questions that you want to ask the company about – three or four should do it. -Be an active listener: Relate a question or an argument to a topic the interviewees have referred to earlier in the interview – Take notes if necessary. -Show them that you can engage in a conversation, not just answer questions!

More and more interviews are case based. It is therefore a good idea to think of relevant topics or scenarios that you might be asked to analyze or reflect on during the interview. Remember, most questions that are case based do not have a set answer. The interviewer is interested in analyzing how you react to a question - How you resonate, how you handle pressure, and how you approach the question.

To sum up my post: The best advice I can give you is to smile and be yourself. Try to engage in a conversation instead of only answering questions. If you're a blogger, that should not be a problem.

Here are some other blog posts along similar lines that might help you out: If you’re looking for a job don’t blow it with your application letter

List of social media interview questions

So you want to work in PR

How to get a job

Steve Cody also has some good tips; however, I’d take some of them with a pinch of salt. I’d definitely leave these ones out: - send a hand-written thank you note. - write a press release about the firm having already hired you and send it along with the thank you note.

Good luck!