Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advice to a Student - Using New Rules 2.0 to Find a Job

A graduate student recently asked me for some advice - all the entry-level jobs seemed taken, and he was concerned lest he lose out and join the ranks of the chronically-unemployed. I suggested he use the PR New Rules 2.0 approach to help him out ... blending innovative "traditional" with the best of the New Rules 2.0. Here's what I advised him:

1. Freelance - offer your services to tight-staffed organizations that need skilled temps during overflow periods (how to reach out to them using 2.0 rules is below)

2. Volunteer - work for non-profits with the proviso that you're allowed to present your work to top management and/or the board - get seen. I once hired a guy (I had 300 applicants and he'd gotten lost in shuffle) after I saw him volunteering working the media at a non-profit luncheon meeting. The key to this is to find groups that will allow you to work at above-entry-level and to position yourself for visibility (some NFP staffers want to hide the volunteers and take credit for themselves, and working there is a waste of career-building time)

3. Intern - while you're still a student, get internships that will allow you to function at more-than-entry level and build both your portfolio and network

4. Use New Rules of PR to create a social media persona that will attract attention to you. Read David Meerman Scott's 2nd Edition New Rules of PR and Marketing and anything recent by Seth Godin to get a better handle on how to do this. But here are a few keys:

4a. Create a concept or position in which you believe you can both add value and legitimately make a name for yourself.

4b. Create an email sig-file that captures who you are in the context of this environment/niche.

4c. Find something specific - perhaps something in the news - to bring your self-conception into sharp focus

4d. Write something on this and get it published - a 3rd-party ezine is ideal, but your own blog is OK, too

UPDATE: Crisis PR Management Guru Jonathan Bernstein ( Start a blog in which you demonstrate your competence in your market niche, and add to it on a very regular basis. Learn how to optimize that blog for search engines.

4e. Tweet it and Facebook it and promote it in every way you can (posting to email list-servs comes to mind) to get the blog out there, to get it commented on, to get it retweeted and spread around.

4f. Pitch gatekeepers to the jobs you want, using the above as leverage and a reason for them to consider you.

4g. Do the interview and blow it out of the water

4h. Follow-up. You may want to blog about it and tweet about it (but be careful - this will get back to the employer. You may want to contact your references and have them contact the prospective employers directly. I once hired a candidate (I was with a lobbying organization, Tennessee Hospital Association) who had her Congressman (whom she'd staffed for) write her an unsolicited letter of praise. Since we were in the business of courting Congressmen like him, and since she was already in the Top-3, that all but nailed it that she'd get the job.

Note, I'm in the process of doing #4 myself - tweeting (@nedbarnett) everyday providing PR Pro tips on how PR works, and blogging here (something I'll be doing more of). I'm carving out a niche for myself in the realm of bridging the apparent and perceived (but not real) gap between traditional PR/Marketing and New-Rules PR & Marketing.

Beware the expert who doesn't practice what he preaches - but in this case, I'm doing exactly what I'm advising. So find yourself a niche and make yourself an expert in your own right.

FYI - My next blog-post will be on how I used both traditional PR/media relations and New Rules social networking - including steps indicated here - to land a series of five interviews on Neil Cavuto's program.

Let me know what you think ...

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