I graduated college at the height of the recession. No one was hiring. Many of my friends had job offers that went away, while others were ecstatic just to hold on to their part-time barista gig at Starbucks.
I, however, have never been unemployed. While I’d like to say it’s because I’m just that awesome, the truth is, it’s only because I have learned how to take initiative and make personal connections in a tough market. And guess what? You can do it, too.
Let me share my most recent story of how I ended up as an account executive at Identity. Although I am originally from Michigan (A2 represent!), I had been working in Washington, D.C. for the past three years and been in Boston for four years before that. Point being, my Michigan rolodex was mighty thin. In an industry where who you know really contributes to success, I saw this as an obstacle.
So what does a resourceful PR job seeker do when they fall short of connections? She makes them! I did some research using Google, PRSA and LinkedIn and found a PR pro named Luke Capizzo whose career trajectory seemed to parallel my own. I sent him a LinkedIn message – not highly confident that he’d respond to an inquiry from a complete stranger, but worth a shot, right?
Luke did in fact respond, and we spoke on the phone the next day. He told me all about the PR environment in metro Detroit and shared some information about his company, Identity. Next thing I knew, I had a Skype interview set up with Luke’s manager, Andrea Trapani. This brings up another important online tool – video conferencing; an amazing technology that removes the distance obstacle!
Moral of the story: In today’s economy where job competition is fierce, you cannot rely on blindly sending applications through platforms like Monster. More than likely, the job you are applying for has been spotted by hundreds of other applicants, as well. No matter how qualified you may be, having an inside connection, or just showing a little initiative to get noticed, can make all the difference.
A few more tips:
- Change your resume/cover letter for each position you apply to. You only have so much space/time to convey who you are and what you’ve done to a potential employer. Make it count by highlighting what you know they are specifically looking for. Plus, let’s be honest, no matter how clever you think you are, managers can tell when your responses are canned.
- Do your homework. There is absolutely NO excuse for not researching the company you are applying to. Spend time on the website, read any media coverage they’ve received and get a sense of who their clients and competitors are. For me, going in with this background knowledge not only helped me sound more intelligent in my interview, but also gave me reassurance that Identity and I were a good fit for each other.
- Don’t be intimidated when entering a new market. Whether you are changing industries or merely zip codes, online networking makes it easy to find key players in your field. And while I can’t guarantee everyone will be as responsive and nice as Luke, I can say that people appreciate the effort and will usually respond positively.
Once you get that coveted job, make sure you excel at it!
PS: If you’re in the communications industry in Michigan and want to stay updated on jobs, events and interesting articles/blog posts, subscribe to Nikki Little’s Help a PR Pro Out Michigan Report – a bi-weekly, e-newsletter that goes out on Wednesday mornings.
How have online resources and other job-hunting tips helped you land the right job?