About the Author: Debra B. Davenport, online faculty Brian Lamb School of Communication
If you’re like most professionals, you’re pursuing your degree to advance your communications career. For many, this also means pursuing new job opportunities. But finding the elusive “perfect” communications job can be challenging, especially in today’s competitive market.
Websites such as Indeed, Monster, and Jobing are certainly well worth exploring, but these mainstream sites often attract hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of applicants, meaning your chances of getting hired (or even an interview) are limited. Ask yourself if you want a job that’s being marketed to the masses, or if you’d prefer a more customized position that focuses less on your résumé’s keywords and more on your specific talents and expertise. If the latter is what you’re seeking, here are some helpful tips:
1.) Realize that some of the best jobs are never advertised. These positions are known to only a select few – people who know people who can fill these jobs quickly and efficiently. Your goal is to leverage your sphere of influence to reach these influential contacts.
What used to be “six degrees of separation” is now 3.5 degrees, according to Facebook. This is good news for job seekers looking to expand their networks.
2.) Leverage sites, such as LinkedIn and Plaxo that are well-known for their ability to connect employers and job candidates. For these sites, it’s critical that your online profile (a) tells your story in a compelling and professional manner and (b) includes your best work samples. Be sure to include hyperlinks, photos, videos, and plenty of testimonials.
3.) Once you identify a few key executives you want to contact, find out who in your network knows someone who can make an introduction. If you’re asked to submit a résumé, consider sending a hard copy rather than (or in addition to) email. Use FedEx or UPS to ensure delivery and to underscore the importance of your communication. Avoid boring white bond paper and the Arial font and utilize fresh graphic design elements to make your materials pop (more on this in a future blog).
4.) Professional associations are another excellent resource for expanding your network and finding high-level positions. Many associations have job boards and career services exclusively for their members.
5.) It’s also important to get involved with the local chapter by attending functions and serving on boards and committees. Demonstrating your skills and leadership abilities by volunteering and spearheading projects is a very effective way to get noticed – and hired.
6.) Another proven tactic involves providing gratis or pro bono services. This may include a few hours of consulting or the execution of a small project that showcases your talents. Remember, it’s very difficult for any organization to turn down free services. Even if you ultimately don’t get hired, you can ask the employer for a testimonial and referrals to other key contacts. At the very least, you’ll have gained additional experience and developed another sterling piece to add to your portfolio. These can help put you in front of other executives, one of whom will likely be your next employer or client.
Debra Davenport Ph.D. is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
About the Author
Debra Davenport is the president and CEO of Davenport Public Relations, a full-service firm with offices in Phoenix and Los Angeles. She is a faculty member with Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication where she teaches in the Strategic Communication masters program.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.