After I was “laid-off” from the job that never was, I dove right into my search for a new position. Begrudgingly, of course, since I hadn’t thought I would need to do one in the first place. I was surprisingly optimistic about it, thinking that my experience would help get me a job relatively fast. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After countless interviews and nothing but unexpected disappointments, I came to my senses. As confident as I was in my potential to be an awesome entry-level candidate, I was literally competing for jobs with every other person my age who had graduated with a degree in PR (okay, my degree is in Communications, but that’s besides the point) and lived in the tri-state area. How was I going to make myself stand out and shine?
One random day, when I was overhauling my resume and sending it to multiple PRBC members for editing and criticism, I realized that my best tools for setting myself apart were right in front of my face. Maybe I could take the hours I’d been spending sitting in front of my dirty MacBook (another word of advice: if you’re a somewhat messy person like me, don’t even think about buying a white laptop) and make them more constructive. I decided to take one of my passions, social media, and leverage it to further (and hopefully enhance) my job search. I’m not about to make the claim that social media is what helped me land my current position, but I definitely think there are some things that EVERY person looking to work in the PR world should do. After all, isn’t that the direction that our business is heading in (if it isn’t already fully there)? We’ve gotta master our craft.
Here are a few important (but not comprehensive) tips:
1) Don’t underestimate the power of a fully developed and well thought out LinkedIn profile. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I think you might be surprised by how many people I’ve met who cannot comprehend the power of this website. I’ve actually heard “why would anyone care about a LinkedIn recommendation?” Hmm, I don’t know, maybe because it’s a direct validation of your value that potential employers can see before they even go through the process of interviewing you? The point is, make sure your LinkedIn profile IS your resume—and more. I had an informational interview this summer, and the HR manager I spoke with told me that many people she knows are strictly finding job candidates through the site. Do you really want to miss out on that? (Tip: @heatherhuhman‘s group
2) Make sure you are consistent. If you know anything about PR and communications then this one should make sense. You yourself are a brand, and this needs to be conveyed to any company who might be searching for you online. They might stumble upon (haha) any one of your social media profiles first, and that could be the only thing they remember. What is it that you want to show about yourself? Are you a foodie who would love to work in food and beverage PR? Show it! Plus, nothing good can come from being ambiguous. The last thing you should do is confuse anyone. Create your brand and stick to it.
3) Don’t be afraid to show personality. I’m channeling my close friend @CTMichaels on this one. Personality is essential because it makes you well-rounded. Retweets on Twitter that show your interest in social media are important but they can’t be all that defines you. To be honest, everyone in PR is a social media enthusiast right now. I decided to show a little bit of myself by registering a domain in my name and turning it into a Tumblr page. It’s relatively simple, but I think it succeeds in showing who I am (I’m passionate about music and nothing makes me happier than cooking!). No employer wants a machine—it might seem like they do, but where would public relations be without creativity?
4) Join every group you can and participate on a daily basis. Maybe I’m biased on this one (love you, PRBC!), but I don’t think I’m wrong. There are so many great opportunities for networking out there right now thanks to communities on Twitter, groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, etc., that it would be silly not to take advantage of them. It can never hurt your job search to get to know a couple more people in the industry, and you might even make some really great friends in the process. Plus, by taking part in a group, you’ll get to share your opinion and prove your expertise. People will remember the intelligent things you say. As for participating daily, you’re unemployed, which means you have nothing else to do, which means you might as well! (Joking, people, joking.)
And lastly . . . .
5) Use social media responsibly. This isn’t really a tip on how to leverage it, but it’s something that I always feel the need to stress. Just be smart. Don’t be the future subject of a blog post on social media disasters and embarrassments.
Anyone else have any smart tips on how to leverage social media in your job search?