Looking for your first job? A Few Things to Remember When Getting Started
For many college seniors, this time of year comes with a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation for the future. The final semester before graduation is filled with job hunting and planning the next chapter of life while also completing strenuous courses and projects in order to graduate. Just two years ago I was in the same position and was anxious to start a search for a job that would truly use the skills I had acquired throughout the years. I felt confident that my leadership positions, volunteer work and success within my communications major would land me a job quickly. At the same time, the job market was not at its best so I knew I would have to set myself apart from everyone else in order to be recognized.
A blog post back in November had some wonderful tips for the recent college graduate on how to land a job in PR. While the five tips listed are extremely important and a vital part to landing a first job, there are a few additional things I wish I had known when I was on the job hunt. These not only apply to PR and marketing job seekers but to anyone who will soon embark on the journey of their first job search.
1. Patience. As lucky as I was to get a job at a time when many were struggling to even get an interview, it did not come without a wait – seven months to be exact. I spent the first few months out of college frustrated that no one was hiring. I felt that after years of schooling I should at least have been able to find one place that would open its doors to me! Every company that was hiring required at least three years of experience: three years that I did not have. I became so frustrated that some days I felt like giving up and leaving the country. While I did eventually realize that patience was essential during the search process, it is something I wish I had been warned about and told over and over again BEFORE I started the process.
2. Network, network, network! I knew that networking was an important part of finding a job, but I did not actually realize the massive importance of it until right before I landed my job. Networking means getting yourself out there and meeting new people in your prospective field; it can also mean becoming reacquainted with people you already know. It’s as easy as calling up a professional organization and asking for a schedule of their open events, or calling up a parent of a friend or neighbor to find out more about what they do. I eventually landed my job because a friend of mine’s father had multiple connections in the PR and communications field in Nashville. He was gracious enough to personally send out my resume to several agencies and let them know that I was actively seeking a job.
3. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom (or in a position you would not expect.) This tip is the absolute best lesson I have learned. I spent much of my time directly after college searching and hoping for a job that would place PR work in my hands the second I walked in the door. After realizing that many of these job positions require several years of experience, I wondered how I could get my foot in the door not having had that experience. When I was offered the job at Lovell Communications as administrative assistant, I knew I would be given tasks that don’t necessarily require a degree. While answering phones and filing invoices had not previously been on my radar as something I would be doing at my first post-college job, I was extremely excited and fortunate to have landed a job at a PR agency. Over time I was able to work on tasks that the AEs and VPs were working on, and after six months in the position as administrative assistant I was promoted to assistant account executive. Starting at the bottom and being promoted six months later was a wonderful feeling and something that I knew I had earned and worked hard for. It is important to not pass something up just because you think you are overqualified for the job, because you never know where it will lead you.
To those of you who are beginning the job search process, I hope that these three tidbits of advice will help you along the way. Remember, your first job can set the tone for your entire career, even if in unexpected ways!