An Agency Perspective: Five Tips to Keep in Mind When Job Hunting

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So you have your degree. You’ve graduated summa cum laude and your resume is polished into tip-top-AP- style shape.  But now what? How do you take the tools that everyone has at graduation – a resume, letters of recommendation and a diploma – and turn it into something that sets you apart in the job hunt?

While there isn’t one golden rule to mastering the job hunt, there are certain things that can help put you at the top of your potential employer’s list. Here are five tips to keep in mind:

1) Customize Your Resume for the Position

During your initial job hunt, you’re going to come across several appealing positions. They’ll have some similarities, but chances are the details of each position will vary quite a bit. Don’t assume your resume is one-size-fits-all. Take a look at the responsibilities listed in the job description. How does your experience fit in? If they’re looking for someone with strong writing skills, put your experience with newsletter writing and editing at the top of the page. If the job involves design, highlight your proficiencies with Adobe Creative Suite instead.  This will maximize your chances of getting past the application stage and into the interview.

2) Understand the Company

At my agency we interview candidates in a group setting. This means there could be as many as six or seven people asking you about your career aspirations, experience and strengths. And while this may seem a bit daunting, if you’ve done your research and understand our company, it fits in perfectly with our open, transparent and collaborative culture. The best candidates are the ones who are familiar with the organization. It’s okay if you don’t have the corporate biography memorized, but sharing small bits of information shows that you care enough to do your research. Take the time to go beyond the company website, find out what’s been said about them recently and get a feel for their voice by taking a look at their social media properties. It’s worth it.

3) Know Your Strengths (and Your Weaknesses)

In public relations we do our best to ensure the strengths of our client are at the forefront. But this doesn’t mean we forget about the weaknesses. Every person, every company and every brand has a mix of strong points and less-than strong points.  Be transparent.  If in the past you’ve struggled with Excel spreadsheets, but have really worked on improving that skill set, make it known. Often, your attitude about what you can and can’t do matters more than what you’re actually capable of at the moment. If you’ve been told you’re an excellent team leader, give an example.  Your accomplishments won’t speak for themselves. It’s up to you.

4) Embrace Flexibility

Would you rather be friends with someone who is open to new ideas and changing plans? Or someone who lashes out at any sign of change? That’s what I thought. The same goes for the workplace. It’s simply easier to work with someone who demonstrates flexibility. Employees who are willing to modify their agenda and respond positively to the opinions of others will be much more successful. Share examples of a time you embraced flexibility. Explain why you believe it’s important.  No matter what the organization, they’ll always value a flexible employee.

5) Be Willing to go the Extra Mile. And be Vocal About it

A willingness to go the extra mile is not only good for the company; it’s good for you as well! Volunteering to finish up tasks or take on something new is a great way to expand your skills and put a positive image of yourself into the eyes of your peers. It may seem difficult to demonstrate this during an interview, but it can be done. Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer. This shows that you are taking the interview seriously and looking to learn. Talk about a time you stayed late at your internship/school/work to help a colleague finish a project on a deadline. Share your career goals. This shows a certain drive and focus that coincides with going above and beyond responsibilities. Much like your strengths, you need to be vocal.  You’re your best advocate.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means. Use it as a guide during your job search. At the end of the day, if you’re willing, looking and learning, you will find success. Take these tips, add your own, and go knock it out of the park in your next interview.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared as part of a guest blogging swap with PR Breakfast Club.