The natural reaction to graduation is job hunting. Therefore, for the past month I’ve been perfecting my resume, filling out job applications, sending cover letters and meeting for interviews.
It’s a restless experience that is, not only nerve-racking but, overwhelming. There are so many options for young job seekers.
Do I invest time in an online CV or should I stick to a print portfolio?
How design savvy should my resume be?
What exactly should I include in my resume?
These are all valid questions and every professional is going to say, “Well, it depends on the job.” This got me to thinking – a job-hunt parallels perfectly with a communications campaign. When broken down into one, it’s incredibly easy to assess the best steps for a career search.
Like any great communications plan, it’s best to evaluate the client first. Take a stab at a SWOT analysis for yourself. This will help you understand, which qualities to highlight in interviews and areas that a future employer might point out for growth.
Here are a few items on my SWOT analysis:
- Critical thinker that takes big projects and breaks them into digestible steps
- Friendly and outgoing, while also professional
- Recent graduate with no full-time experience
- Deep need to please authority figures can put a lot of stress on me in a professional environment
- The public relations market is growing and expanding.
- Companies are recognizing the need for PR.
- Young students are associated with prowess in digital media.
- There are hundreds of other students searching for the same jobs and looking to work in this industry.
- There are many people transitioning from other backgrounds into this industry.
The next step is to decide on your target publics and key messages. Which companies are you reaching out to and what is the message you want to send to them? This should be slightly different in each industry.
For example, I’ve applied to a PR agency, a corporation and a non-profit. Each company is searching for a slight variation of my skills. I must pinpoint what I want to display to these future employers, to determine which direction I should take my cover letters and interviews.
Finally, it’s important to put together a list of goals, objectives, strategies and tactics, which can be very simply put into practice.
Goal: Acquire a public relations position in the Dallas area that pays $X+ and will provide opportunities to operate in my strengths.
Objective: Find 10 jobs that fit my description and apply to each with materials created for each position.
Strategy: Appeal to general hiring manager by displaying skills that match the job description and promote my strengths
Tactics: Cover letter, Resume, Practice interview questions, Professional outfit and Portfolio
These communication plan components seem obvious, but laying out this groundwork can make the final steps much easier. When you know where you need growth, you can better prepare for an interview. When you know your strengths and opportunities, you will be able to recognize when you’re right for a position. When you recognize a company as a target public, you can prepare the message that you hope to send to them.
However, it’s still ultimately important that the tactics are completed with excellence. We cannot overlook the importance of the final product, but this preparation makes the process much simpler.