On February 24th, IABC NJ, together with Rutgers University and the Rutgers PRSSA chapter, hosted a panel session on “Obtaining & Enhancing a Career in Communications.” Bob Varettoni, Director, Corporate Communications at Verizon, Sandy Charet, CEO of Charet & Associates, and I participated on a panel to offer advice for PR students and professionals. We shared our thoughts on a number of important topics, from preparing for your career and interviewing to working with HR recruiters and making yourself stand out online and through social media (the right way).
Each panelist had about 10 to 15 minutes to discuss the most important career advice based on our own professional experiences. Here are the highlights of our panel session on Obtaining & Enhancing a Career in Communication:
Bob Varettoni, Director, Corporate Communications, Verizon: Tips on Preparing for the Interview
- When you are looking for a job, it is important to share what you are doing now and not what you did a few years ago. Your work is “at the moment.”
- For many organizations, hiring is an online process. At Verizon, everything is on the website. There is an 8-step process on how they review recruits. “If you don’t apply online then, you don’t exist!”
- For Verizon, it is unlikely that they will hire a candidate right out of college. However, they are looking for professionals with a couple of years of experience. If you are hired as an intern, then there is the opportunity to turn the internship into a full-time position.
- When interviewing, a Google search uncovers everything on a candidate. At the same time, people applying for jobs have the opportunity to do their homework. As an example, out of 12 candidates interviewed, only one showed up exhibiting information about Verizon. He did his homework and was an easy candidate to hire.
- With respect to the skills necessary for a career in communications, it is important to have the following:
- Good writing skills
- Hands-on social media experience
- Strong knowledge of research practices and measurement (especially as they relate to social technologies).
- Networking is important, whether it is in person or on LinkedIn. But it is not a numbers game, you are creating relationships that matter.
- At the end of the day, we can succeed by helping one another.
Sandy Charet, CEO, Charet & Associates: Tips for Obtaining a Career and Working with Recruiters
- You have to optimize your online profile to be found. Think about the words a head hunter would use and then include them in your LinkedIn profile, for example.
- LinkedIn can help you to find out so much about people and their history.
- Resumes need to be one page. Even the most experienced professionals are able to get their resume down to one page. If you have less experience, then there is no reason yours should be longer.
- Remember, recruiters look at hundreds of resumes every day, so they want to see perfectly written, short and focused information about you.
- Never lie or fabricate your work experience … eventually, the truth will come out in the end.
- You should write a cover letter, but make it short and be sure to include the information that you are not going to find in your resume.
- Thank you notes say a lot about a person. You should write a note to the interviewer regardless of whether you decide you want the position or not.
- Always prepare for the interview. There is no excuse for not knowing about the company and the person who is conducting the interview. You can go their website, check the news on the company and be sure to read the job description very carefully.
- Remember, PR now comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes. You may not know about all of them. Keep an open mind, there is so much out there for you.
Highlights from My Presentation: Building Relationships and Influence, and Expanding your Digital Footprint
- Social media has big benefits in three important areas: building relationships, creating your own influence and increasing your digital footprint the right way.
- The best relationships move from the virtual to the physical. Most of the relationships that start online or through social media always begin with rallying around a common cause and learning together, or helping your peers by sharing important information or answering their questions.
- Be sure to build your own influence. When you share good information, you become a trusted source. You are branding yourself online as an expert or a person who has subject matter expertise. People will turn to you for advice, share your content, and amplify what you say, helping to build your community.
- Remember, Influence is not about numbers. The numbers, when they get large, may represent popularity. Real influence means people trust you and you are an important go-to source. They trust you enough to act on what you say are saying. The key word here is “act.”
- Influence builds over time with your consistent efforts. You must have focused passion. You can’t expect your community to grow if you are not constantly working on connecting and helping your community. Joining a social media community and spending a little time there is hardly enough of an effort to build real relationships.
- Social media and influence are an investment in your time and your ability to make a great contribution for the long haul. When you have the great content to share, your influence will build. People will look forward to what you share and look to you for advice on certain topics.
- With every step you take online and through social media, you are creating a path for people to find you. This is your new online resume … it is your portfolio and your Curriculum Vitae.
- Think of it as breadcrumbs, and people are able to track you down and see what you do. It’s a great opportunity to show who you are, what you value and what is special / unique about you (with every post, comment, photo, and video).
- But, remember, everyone can see what you do and what other people say or share about you … comments, and photos and videos, as well as your “snaps” that can be shared as a screenshot.
- When it comes to managing and protecting your professional brand, here are three simple, proactive ways to grow your digital footprint the right way:
- Think carefully about what you are doing and saying. Ask yourself, would your grandmother be proud of what you are about to share?
- You should set up alerts (Google Alerts or use a brand search engine like Mention.com) using your name, nickname, Twitter handle, etc. so that you can see what is being shared on your behalf.
- Lastly, don’t be absent when people are upset with you, or if you have offended someone. You need to apologize quickly. An apology can go a long way. This goes for business and your personal participation.