Tackling the Job Search

Open door with businessmenAn acquaintance of mine recently started a new job. I was extremely happy for her, but after speaking with her, she admitted to me that she had been unemployed for months. I was shocked. Not only because she hadn’t told me (which was her right) but because in the time that she was unemployed, I could have recommended her for a few positions that she was qualified for. I don’t claim to be a rainmaker, but once in a while I will get an email that says, “Hey, I need to hire….do you know anyone?” I am more than happy to recommend someone, but it is impossible to do this if you don’t know that they are looking for a job.

This situation leads me to believe that there are probably many others that are in the same situation. So, here are my 10 tips for jobs seekers:

1. Get up in the morning. This clearly also applies to job seekers outside of PR but it is the most important aspect of success. Create a routine, whether it’s going to the gym or bringing your laptop to a Starbucks. It’s easy to get bogged down in the job searching process and at times job hunting seems like an impossible battle. I don’t want to say wake up every morning with a ‘positive attitude’; that seems unfair and unrealistic (though I will get to that later). But make sure to wake up.

2. Let people know you’re looking for a job. If you are out of a job, this is a pride swallowing admission that just plain sucks. But the truth is that I’ve hired someone because they tweeted, “I hate the job searching process!” I saw that she was looking for a job and coincidentally had just walked out of a meeting about hiring someone with the Tweeter’s exact qualifications. Yes, in this situation, the stars aligned. But it never would have happened if she wasn’t open about her search.

For job seekers who currently have jobs, this is a little trickier. DO NOT TWEET “I WANT A NEW JOB.” But, you should let friends and acquaintances know that you are looking for new employment. Make sure they have an updated resume that they can pass around.

3. Get Coffee. Identify professionals in your field whom you admire and email them. It has never been easier to find someone’s email address, particularly in PR since people put their email addresses on press releases. Shoot them an email and say, “I’m looking for a new job. I’m impressed with your company and career path [flattery will get you everywhere]. My experience is _____. I would really appreciate it if we could get coffee and I could pick your brain about potential career paths.”

I would venture to guess that a good percentage of people will get back to you and be willing to help. Most PR veterans genuinely want to help younger professionals; they have been in your shoes.  Meeting them will give you a leg up in the hiring process, and even if they’re not hiring now, they may be later.

If you do have a meeting like this, bring your resume, but keep it casual. No clipbooks or references. Always bring a notebook.

There will be some emails that go unanswered. That’s OK. People are busy. But if you choose to email people, make sure that when you are a seasoned PR pro, you damn well answer emails you get from younger professionals looking for a job.

4. Fix up that resume. Following the last two points, ask people to give you feedback on your resume. Recruiters are fantastic at this. They have seen hundreds of resumes and know what works and what doesn’t. Additionally, ask mentors and friends to look at your resume; they may catch something you didn’t realize was missing.

On that note, keep an updated resume handy. I am shocked by the amount of times that I email someone about a job lead and they don’t have a resume ready.

5. Apply, Apply, Apply. There’s an old statistic I like to tell younger colleagues about pitching the media. The average sale is made on 19th call, the average salesman quits on the 13th. Will you make it to the 19th call? This applies to getting hits with the media.

But the same rule applies to job hunting. Keep applying, don’t get discouraged. Make a goal everyday such as, “I am going to apply to 5 jobs everyday.”

6. Use Connections. Go to networking events and follow up with people you meet. This is the reason there are networking events.  If you meet someone who works at a company that is hiring, email them. Ask advice on the best way to get the position. If you’ve made a good impression, they may offer to pass along your resume themselves.

It is important not to be belligerent.  Also, if you know that a friend of yours has a friend who works at a firm that is hiring, ask your friend to make an introduction.  When someone inside a company will vouch for you, it gives you an ‘in’; it also pushes you to the head of the line.

7. Skip HR. This is a useful trick I learned that often helps you get the interview. Instead, or in addition to emailing HR your resume, find out who the reporting manager for the position you are applying for is, and email them your resume. This will help you skip the gatekeepers and get your resume into the hands of the people who will ultimately make the hiring decision.

8. Build Your Online Brand. Make sure that your professional profile is available via Google. Create and maintain Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and a blog.  Keep the content professional. That doesn’t mean ‘boring’ but make sure ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ Make sure that your full name is included in all your profiles so a hiring manager can Google your name and find content that shows that you are intelligent and understand the industry.

9. Pitch your friends. Just because you may not be working right now, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep in touch with your media contacts. It’s important to keep building your portfolio. (I also give this advice to peers who only pitch local stories or clients who only attract limited attention.) Find things your friends are doing and pitch the media.  If you have an uncle who is a doctor, pitch him as a medical expert, which he is. This will help you make new contacts and keep in touch with current ones

10. Keep a positive attitude. This is the toughest aspect of the job search. The job hunting process is a gut wrenching, soul bearing experience. It’s essential to keep a positive attitude and keep moving. When you wake up in the morning, listen to music that puts you in a good mood.  When a prospective job seeker comes in for an interview with a negative attitude it is very apparent and the reality is that no one wants to bring that into their work environment.

Job hunting is one of the most difficult experiences you will have in your career, so if you can persevere here, you can excel in any job.

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