Kel Kelly

Hey, thanks for swinging by my blog.

Whether it's topical news, internet happenings, social media, public relations, marketing, start-ups, mobile shiz or whatever, I promise to wade through the bullshit and give you my unbuffered perspective.

You'll note I never take on a "corporate tone" — whether I'm chatting you up at a party or speaking to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, my voice never changes. I say what's on my mind and I'm often the champion of the underdog.

I'm a social media junkie and smoke Google Analytics in a crack pipe to get my day going. I hope my immersed insight and offbeat view make you laugh. More importantly, I hope you take a second and share your thoughts by posting a comment. If you have any ideas on how to make my blog better, shoot an email to kel@kelandpartners.com.

Peace out.

Foot In Door vs. Door In Face

May 31, 2011 7:28 PM

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.

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

20 Comments on “Foot In Door vs. Door In Face”

  1. Anya Says:

    Great post, Kel! I followed the exact same guidelines while looking for a job in PR. Actually, that’s how I got an interview at K&P couple months ago, and even though I didn’t land the job, the fact that my resume was picked up out of hundreds of other applications, makes me kinda proud. ;)

  2. Caz Wilson Says:

    Awesome advice Kel, I wish someone had have told me all this when I was a grad!

  3. Kel Says:

    anya, sorry that didn’t work out, but you are right. i remember you getting above the noise level — especially by leveraging social channels. hope you land an awesome gig soon!

  4. Kel Says:

    caz, i wish someone had told me too! i’m sure many hiring managers walked away shaking their heads after i interviewed. oy. live and learn….

  5. Jenn O'Meara Says:

    College/University Career Service peeps need to hand this out instead of the cover letter samples from circa 1975 (photocopied from the originals typed on an IBM typewriter).

  6. Kel Says:

    wouldn’t that be great jenn!

  7. Shane Says:

    Kel, Speaking as an ex-K&P-er I love this post. Before I interviewed with you guys I did my homework (which ALL potential employees should do). I knew your client list, management (all women at the time, hey now!) and any buzz I could find about you. I was jacked about your buzz-saw attitude when you started talking about your agency. I even shook your hand firmly. Any jackass with a limp fish shake should be thrown back! When Coco the office dog barfed up a stone from the potted plant, I knew this was the place for me! One requisite question to ask wannabes: what do you drink? Hell, you have a kegerator in the office! I’d pay YOU to work there. Good luck Kel!

  8. Kel Says:

    shane, boy i have missed your comments! you always make me laugh and get your points across in a hysterical manner. we miss you. come by for a whales tale draft next time you are in the ‘hood.

  9. Jordan Feeney Says:

    Kel, I truly love this post. Besides the solid advice and the fact that you should TOTALLY be a speaker for almost-college-grads, I really admire your writing. It is so funny and SO honest.
    It seems luck and persistence is what is getting post-grads hired these days. I have plenty of talented, smart friends (with a strong hand shake) who can’t seem to land a job. It’s not easy looking for a job, but your advice is sure to get a few more potentials through the door!

  10. Kel Says:

    jordan, thanks for the props. i think luck definitely factors into the equation. and for k&p, i feel lucky that you came into our world. booyah!

  11. Sarah J Says:

    Wonderful and generous advice, and so much of what you have to say goes unsaid to the recent grads and young adults looking for work. I’d add for them to have professionals they know read their cover letters and resumes, talk to people in the field they hope to get a job in. Cover all your bases, and then put that social media to work and demonstrate your passion for the work.

    Great job. Love it.

    S.

  12. Janet Says:

    Great thoughts. I love Jenn’s comment that they should hand this out instead of those old school cover letter templates they give you in the career services office at colleges. I think a lot of the advice you get from career services people is all about following the rules and fitting the mold, but when you’re in a pool of 100 other resumes following the same mold, it pays to brand yourself (esp for a PR or marketing job!) and give a little extra effort to be a little different in my opinion.

    I saw this from a 2011 grad looking for work the other day: http://hirechristine.com/ impressive, huh? :)

  13. Kel Says:

    sarah, that is great advice. pinging someone you trust who will honestly communicate, the good, the bad and the ugly of your approach is priceless!

  14. Kel Says:

    janet, thanks for sharing “hire christine.” absolutely brilliant approach. who wouldn’t want to hire someone with that much creativity? love, love, love it!

  15. Lauren Says:

    I really appreciated reading this post as a future 2012 graduate (it’s never too early to start preparing yourself).

    Here’s my question for you: When you talk about GPA what exactly is “good”?

    Everyone I ask seems to have a different answer. Some places want the 4.0 and other places don’t mind the 3.5 who was active in a few clubs and charities.

  16. Kel Says:

    hey lauren — thanks for taking the time to comment. i would say anything north of a 3.5 and you have my attention. have a great senior year!

  17. Tisa Says:

    Thanks, Kel, for a great post. I came across your blog while researching Kel & Partners (I think you guys are fantastic and am applying for a fall internship with you!).

    I’ll be a “super-senior” at Harvard this fall and will be in the same boat as all my newly grad 2011 classmates come spring. You give some handy practical advice that I’ll definitely be mindful of when jumping into the job-search frenzy.

    Thanks again for the tips, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to meet you in person one day if all works out!

  18. Kel Says:

    tisa, feel free to email me (kel@kelandpartners.com) your info for the internship. i know the pr team and social media team are signing up fall interns right now. good luck!

  19. Katy Says:

    SUPER helpful information for new grads! – hate the generic cover letter & resume hand-outs from career services… unless they’re intended for a computer to read. It’s so important to set yourself apart from the mass of applications & your suggestions are really motivating.

    I LOVED my internship at K&P over the summer 2011, it was definitely one of the best learning experiences of my college career. Awesome peeps and company – will definitely be watching for and applying to positions in the future! :)

  20. Kel Says:

    katy, thanks for the comment and thanks for all the time you dedicated to your internship. we love having the opp to work with students and their contribution is so valuable. good luck!

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