Last time we recovered the essentials to finding that first great PR job. This post will give you insight to cracking that ice-cold barrier of online job applications on the internet and the importance to social networking.
Concurring the Digital Realm...
And we have contact!
One problem may be that you find yourself lost in the vast void that is online resume applications. In a world where personal connections and references still hold influence, these applications are easily passed over - given they present little insight into how strong your talents really are. Getting past this phase is half the battle. What you want is to create a personal connection between you and the employer.
After filling out a firm's online form, take the time to learn the name of the position's branch president (or HR manager) as well as their contact email.
Once you do, choose this as your moment to introduce the quality of what you have to offer. Your email should reference both the position you are applying for and the fact that you have filled out the online application. Doing so will let the person know that you can both follow instructions and are willing to stand out of the monotony.
Treat your email as if it is a variation of your cover letter. Briefly explain why you want the position and why you are qualified. A bonus to sending an email is that you can include some samples of your work (but not overwhelmingly) that otherwise can't be attached to an online application. Use this time to attach your actual cover letter, resume, references, etc. A bonus to sending an email is that you can provide hyperlinks to some of your online work (i.e. portfolio, twitter, blog).
But the greatest opportunity in introducing yourself through email is that it provides you with the chance to show off your creative side. Use what you already know about the firm to your advantage. When applying for an entry level account coordinator position with Current Lifestyle Marketing, I used their quirky biography pages from the firm's website to create my own bio that I put into a word document and attached to my introductory email to the firm's president, Virginia Devlin. I also used the website's phrase, "creative thinker with analytical tendencies" as an opening line before the rest of the body of the email.
Within the next day I received both an email from Virginia and a phone call from Current's HR to arrange an interview with the company!
For an online job posting with New York Business Partners, a marketing firm in NYC, their leading headline was "Ninjas Wanted!" My response email included the headline "Ninja at Your Service" and the opening line "Not just a ninja!... But a half robot, space cowboy!" After a day I received an email requesting a preliminary interview.
Get Social, Networking that is!
Professionally, the way we present our brand messages is changing to include an IMC technique that involves a demand for consumer engagement. As the new staple, having a common knowledge of social networking sites is paramount.
To get socially engaged, look to create your own blog and learn new ways to promote it to friends and colleagues. Get LinkedIn and actively tweet on Twitter. While you are at it, join a social network; preferably one like PROpenMic that will help you to better develop your PR skills by interacting with industry professionals, professors and other young PR students like you. Whatever you do, make your experiences help to establish YOUR personal brand as something desirable to employers.
Many student practitioners at the university I graduated from question the effectiveness of being so involved online. This attitude seems perverse considering this is the most tech savvy generation to-date. Some students only participate in blogs because professor's have required it as part of class projects, and the lack of enthusiasm shows.
The question of whether being involved with social networks directly provides job opportunities is only part of the game. Every firm I've applied with has asked me about my experiences with social media and how I've used it to my advantage. So while the rest of your peers are pawning-off a very crucial part of where the PR profession is going, this is your chance to impress your future employers that what you have to offer are fresh, involved perspectives that will benefit you and the firm.
We've taken care of the online hurtle in the hunt for your great PR job. In my last blog entry, we'll look at "Interviews and the Secret Sauce." You'll be surprised at what it really takes.