The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Man holding cell phone to head thinkingAs a public relations undergrad graduating in May, I have recently started the job search much like many others. Upon doing so, I learned a great deal about the industry and communicating with other professionals to get your name out there. I have conducted in-depth interviews with professionals that interest me, become President of my university’s Public Relations Student Society of America, participated in Minnesota’s Public Relations Society of America job shadowing event, etc. (the list could goes on and on).

In my opinion, the toughest part of applying for these jobs isn’t doing your research on companies you like and incorporating its views into why you would make a great candidate, and it’s definitely not making solid connections with people who work at your agencies of interest. The toughest part for me (and I’m sure a lot of you applying for jobs will agree) is the waiting!

After spending hours, if not days researching your company of choice, figuring out its values and beliefs and making contacts with professionals who work there, you are forced to play the waiting game. Of course you follow up after a week or two to reiterate your interest in a position with that organization but for the most part, all you can do is wait, and wait, and wait some more.

I myself have been anxiously waiting for weeks to hear back from a couple of my top employment choices, only with the only result being second guessing the layout of my resume or the content of my cover letter. Was I too arrogant? Do I not have what they are looking for? What could I have done differently? Maybe my contact information was wrong?! All of these questions running through my mind, making me even more eager and anxious about finding a job in this tough economy.

Sound familiar? If you are anything like me, the feelings of bitter angst and anxiety are nothing new to you in the job search. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are hundreds of applicants for many positions and it takes time to rummage through all of them, deciding who is worth the interview and who is not. In the same regard, I can’t help but squirm and feel nauseous every time my phone rings with an unknown number. I answer it nervously, expecting to hear the voice of my future employer, only to find out it’s the pharmacy telling me my prescription is filled. Curses!

In the meantime to prevent myself from becoming a spiteful, bitter, jobless student, I have come up with a few PR-related activities to pass the time and keep myself updated in the industry. My top 3 are as follows:

1. Stay Connected: Keep using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. These social media sites will strengthen your current relationships and allow you to build more. Staying updated on what professionals are up to is a great conversation topic once you finally do get that phone call for the interview.

2. Read: Find out what others are saying about how the industry is changing and what they are doing to keep up. Articles and books are available everywhere and can help give you an insiders look on some of your favorite topics.

3. Keep Looking: Keep an eye out for more opportunities in the industry, of course you have your top five but keep looking for other openings and maybe you will find something you like even better. Having too many options is a lot better than not having any.

Although the waiting may seem like a torturous mind game, I have realized it’s important to be patient and keep busy. I keep working towards my goals and will eventually find the right fit. For now I am taking the waiting time to discover what I truly want for my career and how I am going to get there. I encourage all of you to do the same. Hopefully that next call will be your future employer. Are you ready?

Keegan Shoutz is a senior at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. and President of its Public Relations Student Society of America. He graduates in August 2010 with a degree in Public Relations and a minor is in Psychology.  He takes a special interest in the consumer/retail market, food and beverage industries, GREEN industries, etc. (he’s chosen not to bore us with the entire list).