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The Public Relations of Getting Hired

Posted: August 4, 9:43 a.m.
by Mackensie Henderson.

As recent college graduates continue with the job-searching process, there are a few key factors that give qualified candidates the seal of approval to prospective employers.

The 2014 Economic Policy Institute’s “Briefing Paper: The Class of 2014” states that the unemployment rate for college graduates between the ages of 21 to 24 is 8.6 percent, but have no fear. Skip Freeman, the author of “‘Headhunter’ Hiring Secrets,” [LINK] and Joanna Rickard, the previous placement director for the Cameron School of Business at UNCW, share how personal PR/branding affects your chances of getting hired and different methods you can use to stand out from other applicants.

How to be a marketable candidate
Rickard noted, “These companies have multiple, qualified applicants.” Freeman and Rickard offer insight on how you can be the most sought-after candidate for the job.

“Figure out how your skill or experience can impact that company’s business,” Freeman said. “How you make a company money through public relations and creativity is paramount in today’s job market.”

Rickard shared a similar suggestion.

“What can you do for the company? That’s exactly how you should approach the job-searching process,” Rickard said.

In terms of being a strong candidate for a position, both offered these words of advice: Make sure your résumé is loaded with all the right keywords for that job description and free from any errors.

Personal PR
Personal public relations, or branding, can help or hurt you as a potential job candidate.

“There are technology applications that when I search somebody’s name in my email, it instantly pulls up their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter . . . Everything else that’s publicly available,” Rickard said. “The way that you present yourself is imperative.”

15702472586_4720176b1b_oFreeman attests to the importance of having a strong, personal PR presence.

“Personal PR/branding has a very strong impact on whether or not an individual gets the job or not. Personal branding can separate you from the rest,” Freeman said.

Make sure your social media doesn’t have anything on it that would be embarrassing to talk about if questioned about it during the interview. Having a respectable online reputation is key to successful personal PR.

Standing out
This is one of the most important aspects of the job-searching process. As an applicant in this day and age, you have the opportunity to apply for a job in just a few clicks online. The problem with this accessibility is the vast amount of people applying for the same position. Freeman and Rickard offer advice as to how you can stand out online and in-person.

“When you apply online you become one of thousands,” Freeman said.

“The candidates that stand out the most are the ones that can figure out who the hiring authority may be and can circumvent the HR portal you get sucked into when you apply online,” Freeman said.

Freeman suggests separating yourself by doing something creative.

“Say you want to work with Starbucks. Go to Starbucks and get an empty coffee cup. Put your cover letter and résumé in it, then box it up and send it to them. Say ‘I’d love to meet you for a cup of coffee,’” Freeman said.

Straying away from the monotony of online applications and doing something different will make companies take notice.

“Having a strong, impeccable résumé that’s free from grammatical errors paired with a professional LinkedIn profile — with a photo — and then proactively reaching out and engaging with the company will help you stand out from the other applicants,” Rickard said.

To Freeman, using multi-media platforms is critical, especially today.

“You have to have a professional profile on LinkedIn; otherwise it’s a red flag,” Rickard said. “If you’re not on LinkedIn you either look like you’re hiding something or you’re technologically illiterate.”

Interview process
Freeman and Rickard agreed that it is important to apply for the right job with the right skills.

“I’ve had students go into an interview, and they don’t even know what job they’re applying for,” Rickard said.

This is obviously a huge don’t in the job world. Take time to research the company and position you applied for before going into the interview.

As for the in-person interview, Freeman specified techniques that will guarantee you a successful interview.

“Body language is 80 percent of the interview. Mirror and pace the person you’re interviewing with. What’s their tonality? What is their voice inflection like, even their energy? Get into the same rhythm as the interviewer. It will give them peace of mind,” Freeman said.

“Drive to your interview the day before. Make sure you have one honest friend that will tell you if you look appropriate for the interview or not,” Rickard said.

It’s not a commonly thought-of tactic, but Rickard had an additional method of interviewing a potential employee.

“I would evaluate a candidate based on how they treated the person at the front desk. I would ask ‘what did you think?’ because that’s how they’re going to treat everybody else in the organization,” Rickard said. “You’re being interviewed from the second you pull in the parking lot.”

Once the interview is finished, it’s important to follow up with the prospective employer.

“Be politely persistent. The companies you’re applying to are 100 times more busy than you think they are,” Rickard said.

And of course, “Always send a well-written thank you note or email after the interview,” Freeman said.

Advice for college grads
Rickard offered some truth to new grads looking for their first job.

“Students coming out of school think that their first job will be their dream job. No. Your first job has to be a job. If you want to get into a specific sector of PR get a job in the same general field, but build up that professional credibility first,” Rickard said.

Freeman’s unexpected advice about following your dream was truly inspiring.

“Pursue your passion but you still have to be able to make a living out of it. You might not be able to pursue your passion, but do something related to it,” Freeman said.

Freeman’s advice regarding the job-searching process has quite literally filled a novel, and his advice to those searching for a job is noteworthy. To purchase his book, head to the book’s Amazon page.

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