Spring is in the air and as commencement inches closer, seniors are working hard to land those first post-graduation jobs and begin their professional careers.
I often get a lot of requests to review resumes and writing samples, and I share a lot of the same advice I have heard from other professionals at conferences or through other professional development opportunities. Much of what I have shared with students pertains specifically to their writing, but I thought I would share a few other professional tips that came from a PRSSA conference a couple of years ago, but I think all are still pertinent today.
What do employers want?
According to a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, leadership and being a team player top the list.
Positivity and confidence were also mentioned at the PRSSA conference. They want you to be yourself, so make sure your “self” is the person a company would be excited to add to their team.
Make sure you can demonstrate what makes you a good fit for the company; make your brand represent you! One suggestion to do this was to write down what makes you who you are. Identify your top skills. Then pick five of the most important ones. Then pick the top three you want a possible employer to walk away with from your interview.
Know what your goals are and how you are going to get there. For more tips, see the article on Forbes.com.
What’s your digital footprint?
It is often suggested to Google yourself just to see what comes up; make sure it is positive. If it isn’t, what’s your game plan in addressing those issues should they come up during an interview? And start creating new content to strengthen your online presence.
One suggestion for professional social engagement included the following:
–Facebook: post two times a day
–Twitter: tweet 5-6 times a day
–LinkedIn: post two times a month
Although this is a general recommendation, keep in mind consistency and the content itself that you are creating or sharing is more important than the quantity. Be a part of conversations that are relevant to your industry.
Why is this important? Because networking is critical in today’s job market. A recent study found that 85 percent of all jobs are filled via networking. Although digital networking is a tremendous resource to professionals today, one professional who spoke with students as part of a PR professional panel reminded students that “people hire people.” Make sure you are taking advantage of face-to-face networking opportunities. Attend industry-related events, go to business-after-hours; in other words, get out there and meet people. Stay in touch with your connections too!
How do you prepare for interviews?
Be prepared for the standard questions…and the hard ones. There are a myriad of online resources to help you prepare for all types of questions including behavioral questions. This is where that advice to start your professional portfolio early in your college career comes in handy. You think you’ll remember every task, project and problem you faced…and overcame, but when you get busy your senior year, the previous three can become a blur. Keeping a running tally of these experiences can serve as a line on a resume or talking point to one of those “hard” questions. Make sure you review your files before each interview; you want to know your own story.
Research the company. Pour over the website, review LinkedIn profiles of those within the company. Be familiar with latest company successes and challenges. Your interviewer will be researching you; you should do the same. Make sure they know why you want this specific job and not just any job.
Send a thank you, preferably a hand-written card, after every interview. If you do not get the job, consider emailing a thank you. Say thank you for the opportunity and ask if there is any advice he/she could share to help you in the future. Stay positive!
I hope these tips are helpful to our soon-to-be alumni. I look forward to seeing where each of them go in their professional careers…and I hope they come back to serve on one of my professional panels some day! 🙂
In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.