You already did. If you are reading this in the midst of job searching and feeling the wrath of online applications, then you have already broken through. You’ve begun your process of standing out in the large pool of applicants.
It’s a Catch-22: college students get involved in extracurricular to land a job yet too involved to search for one.
We scour job postings, set notifications for the Glassdoor app, and make intensive Excel sheets filled with offices, personnel and application deadlines. We apply through massive online databases and follow our professors’ keywords advice, but we still cannot seem to break through the clutter. Job hunting in itself is a full-time job.
I found this same frustration until I had the opportunity to speak with Ketchum’s Midwest Director Bill Zucker.
How did I even get to that point? Simple. Ketchum’s Mindfire. Essentially, Mindfire is a creative crowdsourcing platform. Students can offer up real-time solutions for Ketchum’s current clients and rack up points for incentives. In my case, incentives like career coaching, which helped me answer my initial question:
How do I break through the job search?
Zucker’s answer, “You already did.” And with that, I found myself on a phone call with an individual who could offer some serious advice.
Call me crazy, but in the spirit of understanding my peers’ Catch-22, I wanted to share the words Zucker offered.
To break through the chaos, you need the following:
You need to know how to write.
As an intern or an entry-level employee, media relations will be heavily required. With that in mind, start showing your writing abilities now.
Write press releases and pitch them. Create a blog and share it. Live AP style and apply it. Be able to offer samples and be proud to do so. The more your work is shown, the stronger you can back your resume. Everyone tells you that writing is a huge part of public relations; they aren’t kidding.
You need to have the ability to speak on your feet.
Employers want to know that their employees can handle anything from a client’s curveball question to a last-minute executive presentation. Job seekers should show they can handle the pressure because they “have actually done it and been through it,” Zucker said. “Selfishly but understandably, the intern supervisors are looking for reassurance that you can do the work and grow quickly.”
You need to ask questions.
After his time in the news world, Zucker knows a thing or two about asking questions. To be in this industry, you have to be a perpetual learner, and asking questions is a way to do so. “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers,” Voltaire tells us. Learn to ask the right questions.
Learn to ask questions when you’re too stumped to put a question into words. Learn to ask early and earnestly. Don’t wait to apply the answers.
(And please, for the sake of our ever-present Internet connections, don’t ask questions you can easily Google.)
You need to be a listener.
There is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearers lack proactivity. Listeners ask the questions and then use the answers in a constructive way. Be a listener to become proactive so you can do what is asked of you before you are asked.
You need to have passion.
This industry is full of tiring hard work that’s not for everyone, but it never gets old. Have the passion to follow the trends and the news, to gain opinions and fight for them, and have the passion to ultimately break through.
From a fellow Catch-22 victim, we all have to go above and beyond to get noticed. Don’t allow it to keep you from your dream. Look into your interests and extracurricular involvement and relish in the possibilities. Write and publish. Rack up points on Mindfire. Reach out to your connections. Create an infographic or video, and show your dream company what you can bring to the table. Take what you’ve done and market it as what you can do for them.
Go the extra distance in your own way and make it memorable. If you’ve done that, then you’ve already broken through.
Side note: If you are a student, get your classmates into Ketchum’s Mindfire. Involve your PRSSA chapters and beyond. You never know what your ideas can do for you!