It’s that time of year again. The end of May usually unleashes a tsunami of recent college grad resume submissions and Kel & Partners is in the thick of the storm. Recently posting a few entry-level PR Account Coordinator positions on Craigslist and tweeting about it only amp’d up the endless waves of candidate submissions. The tone of the submissions ranged from cocky to desperate and everything in between.
The rejection associated with trying to land your first job blows. I distinctly remember interviewing for a sales job with Campbell Soup Company right after I got out of college. It was a disaster. I must have had absolutely no self awareness and most likely smoked a joint before the interview. I remember the hiring manager asked me, “What can you offer Campbell Soup?” My response, “My upward mobility.” WTF did I mean by that? I think I must have read that phrase someplace and clearly didn’t understand the context of what I was reading or saying. The guy practically laughed in my face and quickly escorted me out the door. I was an idiot.
One of my favorite things in life is to offer a job to a recent college grad. The happiness you bring to that person is unforgettable. That level of happiness can only be trumped when you ask if they received their first paycheck and watch as they get bugged-eyed as if they won the lottery. In an effort to create as many of those happy moments as possible, I offer the following insight to help you get your foot in the door rather than a door in the face when trying to land your first gig out of college.
Names Have A Voice: Pay attention to the little details like email addresses and file names. If I get a resume submission from the email address badboybill@<insert isp>.com, chances are I will hit delete before I even see the first letter in the first word in the first line of the email message.
Fonts Are Forensic: I am speechless that more people do not realize that font styles and sizes offer forensic evidence for cutting-and-pasting-palooza. If you cut and paste content from previous emails or your resume or wherever, always highlight the entire body of whatever you are sending and standardize the font style and size before you hit send. Otherwise, the hiring manager will feel like you didn’t spend a second trying to be original and reading it will give them a headache.
GPAs Matter: I don’t care if you went to Harvard or a shitty state school like I did, your GPA matters. I want to hire people who worked their butts off while they were in college. I want to hire people who understood that while they may have partied five nights a week, they still needed to get good grades. A GPA says a lot about work ethic. If you had a crappy GPA, you are not going to have a sudden job-induced epiphany that NOW is the time to work hard. To the contrary, you are probably likely to be a lazy-ass sloth who needs to be prodded to do a task that can then only be described as “half-assed” once completed.
Cover Letters — A 2×4 or Ambien: Take the standard cover letter your college career counselor gave you and use it next time you run out of toilet paper. Nothing makes me want to barf up a fur ball more than cover letter copy that has been used since before the candidate was even born. Be bold. Be outrageous. Leverage humor. Whatever you do, be sure to stand out in a smart, savvy way that would make me want to meet you.
Take Your Lips Off The Salary Crack Pipe: Recent college grads looking to enter the PR field and whose only experience is an internship should not state that their salary requirements are $40,000 – $45,000. ‘Nuff said.
Use Social Media As An Amplifier: We just hired an Account Coordinator who sent me a Tweet about wanting the job. The Tweet got her submission above the noise level. Send Tweets, comment on blogs, send a video via Facebook, etc. Social media is a great way to make a one-to-one connection with a hiring manager who is probably too busy to take your call and is drowning in resumes that all sound alike.
Firm Handshake Sets The Tone: Everyone — men and women — should greet the interviewer with a firm handshake. My skin crawls when some limp, soft hand acts completely lifeless when I am shaking it. Ick.
Eye Contact Is Powerful: I interviewed someone last week who didn’t look me in the eye the entire interview. She kept looking out the window behind me. By the end, I actually thought she was stoned. Seriously. And maybe that should be a separate tip: Don’t Show Up Stoned.
Be Passionate: Passionate people stand out. I want to work with passionate people. I want to feel their energy from the moment they walk in my office. I want my clients to feel how pumped someone is to work on the their account.
Do Your Homework: The company’s website will tell you a ton about the company culture. If you go to the K&P website, you will learn a boatload. We are dog lovers. We are driven by happiness. We are social media junkies. We have fun clients. Immerse yourself in a brand before you send a resume or Tweet. Leverage that insight to show you know your potential employer inside-out-and-sideways.
Tell Me You Want The Job: You would be blown away by how few candidates actually tell me they want the job. I want to hire people who enthusiastically and literally communicate that they want to work at K&P.
What have I missed? Share your insight and/or experiences.