For many students, the prospect of earning a masters degree in Strategic Communication means the possibility of exciting new career opportunities. Whether you are nearing the end of your program, or just starting, it’s smart to begin mapping your job search now. The following tools have proven to be highly effective when used consistently and strategically:
1) Social media.
Using social media in a job search is a great first step. If you don’t already have a polished LinkedIn profile, it’s time to get busy creating one. Most employers use LinkedIn to screen and assess job-seekers, so you want to make sure your profile is (a) current, (b) relevant, and (c) thorough. Use LinkedIn to highlight your experience, accomplishments, awards, education and, most important, your testimonials. Reach out to your contacts and request testimonials; also ask them to endorse you for various skills. These “approval ratings” will help to set your profile and résumé apart from the competition.
Also, if you don’t already have separate professional accounts on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Instagram, you should create these as well (consider this: what better way to sell yourself to a prospective employer than with a professionally produced YouTube video).
And, you should have your own professional website dedicated to self-marketing and personal branding. Take a look at these creative examples for inspiration and ideas:
It’s very important to keep your personal feeds separate from your professional and business feeds. That’s not to say that potential employers won’t be able to find your personal pages, so it’s a good idea to self-monitor the content you post across all platforms to avoid embarrassment and missed opportunities. Bear in mind that some employers dig deep when doing their internet research, so if questionable content about you exists anywhere online, do your best to delete it. Otherwise, you may need to engage the services of a good reputation management firm.
The saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” carries a lot of truth. Of course, your Purdue degree will carry a significant amount of cachet on its own, but it’s also important to understand the power of relationships and the importance of networking in the job search process.
By now, you should already be a member of key industry organizations such as PRSA, IABC and the AMA (American Marketing Association), and you should be attending meetings on a regular basis. However, don’t limit your networking solely to communications organizations. Get involved in associations and business organizations focused on the industries that interest you. For example, if you have a penchant for providing strategic communication services to the healthcare industry, you’ll want to connect with hospital and healthcare organizations where you can meet potential employers and clients.
Consistent attendance is essential for developing relationships and demonstrating commitment. Volunteer to spearhead or serve on a committee, or to write an article for the monthly newsletter. One of the best ways to make a powerful impression is to speak at a monthly meeting. This tactic enables you to present your skills, talents and knowledge to a room full of employer prospects.
Take proactive steps like these to get noticed and to demonstrate the quality of your work. When jobs become available, you’ll be in a prime position to get hired.
3) Professional internships.
Internships are one of the most effective strategies for getting hired. Not only do internships enable you to gain meaningful experience, they also extend your circle of contacts and provide opportunities to demonstrate your talents to key decision-makers. It’s not at all uncommon for interns to receive job offers, so use your internships as “auditions” for the kinds of jobs you really want.
Just note that paid internships are much more likely than unpaid internships to result in job offers, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (http://bit.ly/2imAENy).
Of course, you’ll also want to utilize some of the more mainstream job search tools, such as employment websites and recruiting firms, but remember that these job search tools appeal to the masses, meaning your résumé may end up in a pile with hundreds of others. The key to finding the right job is a strategic, focused and personal approach that showcases your skills to those who are actually in a position to hire you.
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.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.