It’s what we’ve been preparing for our whole lives: finding a job and establishing a career. I mean, that’s truly the reason why we go to school. School teaches us the skills and knowledge that we need in the working world and industry we study. It doesn’t, on the other hand, teach us how to properly do our taxes, budget money, lose weight, plan a wedding, overcome a tragedy, or any other part of life that happens outside of work. We learned everything we learned so that we can be prepared and qualified enough to succeed in our jobs.
Well, the time we’ve been waiting for has come. The time when we finally stop sitting in classrooms and get to put our skills to the test. If any of you guys are in the same boat as me and about to graduate college, I’m sure you’ve been researching companies, reaching out to employers, and maybe even interviewing already. It’s hard work finding a company that both fits what you’re looking for and can benefit from what skills you can provide. This process is a marathon and takes a lot of time and energy to find the best company for you.
Interviewing is the best way for both you and a company to find out if it’s the right fit, and I’m sure you’ll partake in several interviews during your job search process. While interviewing is very necessary, it’s also very intimidating. Not only are you expected to impress and present yourself as a worthy applicant for the company, you’re also trying to stand out and set yourself apart from the rest. Easier said than done right? Well no worries, we’re all in the same boat going through the same transition. Most everyone I know in this stage experiences the same struggles and problems, which is what inspired me to write this post. Because even though I’m in the same situation as you may be, we each have our own little trick or piece of advice for the employment process. My secret trick has proven to be successful for me and has lead to opportunities and connections I never would have fathomed I’d get. So, from one lost millennial to another, here’s my one thing I know I do right (at least I have one thing right? lol!)
Even though I’m still in school and have never had a salary-paying job, I do have quite a bit experience in connecting, communicating, and interviewing. Having completed three internships and interviewing for positions about triple that number, I have a lot of experience with interviews. I’ve interviewed with a variety of different companies, mostly all in the PR/Marketing/Sales field. Along with interviews, I have experience with connecting and communicating with employees, head directors, and other people of high rank at some of my dream companies. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot, both from mistakes and from successes.
The best piece of advice I can give for applicants in the job search arena is: Go above and beyond to put yourself out there and express your interest, passion and desire to become apart of the company.
I know some of you are like “Wait, what? Duh put yourself out there, we learned that freshman year…” And you very well may have heard this tip or something like it before. It seems so simple and obvious that it doesn’t even need to be said, but you wouldn’t believe the impact it makes when y0u actually take the time, put yourself out there, and present yourself in this way. Anytime I am have an interest in a company, position, or just want to meet and network with someone of high authority, I live by this tactic and revolve my entire approach around when presenting myself. And it works nearly every time.
Most people our age probably apply for jobs by going to the website, submitting all the required documents online, and sit back and wait to hear from the company. I mean, we can’t really be blamed, this is how we grew up and what we were taught – everything is done virtually. And in theory, this is a decently simple way to apply to a position. But do you know how many other people submitted their resume online just like you? And do you know many times online submissions go through a computer-generated screening process that may knock you out of the mix before employers ever even get to read your resume? Think about it. How special can someone look on a piece of paper? I mean, fancy words like “degree” and “certified” and such look good, yeah, but these are just words. A resume can’t truly represent you as an individual. Something needs to be done outside of just the minimum application requirements. This is when my secret weapon comes into play. So what I do next is simple.
Do some research. Hopefully if you’re applying then you care some what about that company. Do your research. Find out who works there, how many people, where they come from, etc. Read the employee bios. Read the CEO’s bio. Not only is it cool and interesting to see people’s stories of their career path, but you may find out you have a common connection with someone. If you have a connection with someone that you can refer to when meeting them, for instance, if you’re both IU alums, this gives you a personal connection and relation to this person. You now know them in a personal way, not just professional and vice versa for you. Even if its an entry-level employee, do some research on them, look them up, find their email, and reach out to them. Introduce yourself briefly, say you’re applying for the company they work for and you saw you’re both alums… ding ding, a connection; a standout; a memorable fact you’re now associated with. That employee now feels a tie to you and probably wants to know more about you. You can ask to meet for coffee, for advice on the application process, questions about the company, or maybe even if they can put in a good word for you. More than likely they’ll reply to your reach out and be more than happy to help or meet. Any time I’ve down this, they’ve been so appreciative and thankful I’d taken the time to learn about them and the company and impressed with my assertiveness in reaching out personally and taking initiative to stand out and go the extra mile to prove your passion and excitement.
My research – common-connection – contact method has proven to be successful and helpful 100% of the time. I started doing this tactic about 3 years ago after the conclusion of my first internship. It was at a small publicity firm on Music Row in Nashville, and consisted of 5 publicists handling about 25 clients, some of which included George Straight, Darius Rucker, and Eric Church. This was my first exposure to an internship position, as well as an inside look at the structure and setup of an agency. Communication was completely uncensored and transparent, not only with the way the employees in the company communicated with each other but the way the company communicated with outside clients and companies as well. It’s intimidating to think about what an email thread looks like from the CEO of that firm to the president of Sony Music Group, but in reality, it’s just a conversation like any other. It was here when I learned that anyone can be communicated with and if approached for the right reason in a respectable, relevant way, most people are willing and happy to talk, help, or at very least, express their thanks for taking the time to reach out.
When I was in Chicago this past summer working an internship, I did some research on the top PR firms in the city. This one company kept catching my eye and completely grabbed my attention when looking further into it. I was obsessed with everything about the company…the size, what it’s culture stood for, the clientele it reached, the location, and most importantly, I was completely blown away by the CEO’s story, perspective, and reason for creating the company. Believe it or not, her email was listed on her bio page on the company’s website (**PSA: anytime an email is listed for the employee’s of the company, take advantage! That’s a generous gift and basically an invitation to shoot them an email). I didn’t even give it a second thought about contacting her. I wrote out an email and sent it. I didn’t care that she was the CEO. That didn’t make me nervous, it made me excited. I was so excited to share with her how much I loved her company and respect her for what she’s done and who she stands for. I threw in my common connection and ended the email, subtly suggesting a meeting for us to get together in person, talk more about her company, introduce my personal PR goals, and ask for any advice for entering the PR industry.
Sure enough, she responded promptly and expressed her appreciation for my reaching out and offering an invitation to her office to meet. She connected me with her assistant who worked with me to set up a date and time. When the day came, I had done thorough research on the company, her story, and so on. It was easily the coolest, most exciting thing that’s happened to me professionally. All throughout the meeting, the CEO kept acknowledging how impressed she was with my preparedness, respectfulness, knowledge of the company, and assertiveness for taking matters into my own hands and reaching out to her personally. She mentioned that, through all of this, she could clearly see how passionate, excited, and dedicated I was to her company, and how important that is to her when hiring. I couldn’t believe these simple things made such an impact on her, because to me, it just seems like second nature. But I learned that most people don’t think outside the box and step outside of their comfort zone to put themselves out there. These are the things that are going to set you apart from all the other resumes in the computer. Get some face-to-face time, make a connection, show them your personality, be respectful and passionate about their company and their work, and most importantly fake it till you make it. Even if you’re not, act confident in your abilities and your skill as a professional, because, at the end of the day, no one will ever have confidence in you if you don’t have confidence in yourself.
So next time you apply for a job or stumble upon an amazing company you’d die to work for, do some research. Find someone to reach out to—and it can be anyone in the company—express your interest, ask to meet, make something come of it. Do these things, and I promise you, you’ll see what a difference it makes.
**If you have any questions, concerns, or need advice on writing emails, help on researching a company, or anything of the sort, please reach out to me and I would be more than happy to help however you may need!
I hope this inspires you to get out there and make things happen. You are good enough, smart enough, and skilled enough to go anywhere you want. All you gotta do is go out and prove it. And you will.
Much love to my fellow ladies! Stay confident and true to yourself.