Archive for Interviewing
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you would know that when making entry-level hires, Peppercomm looks to it’s current and former pool of interns first. In fact, we’d say about 1 out of 4 of our employees is a former intern. Here’s a few examples of our former interns who now work full-time here (I’m a former Pepperomm intern, too): Maddie Skahill, Chris Piedmont, Mandy Roth, Colin Reynolds and Nicole Hall. Seriously, those are just to name a few, I can certainly go on. A good testament to our retention is probably current senior director and former Peppercomm intern, Sara Whitman.
So you can always go to any of these amazing communications stars for tips and tricks of how to turn that internship into a full-time job, but we also loved the stories in this Forbes article: How To Turn Your Internship Into A Job: Three Real-Life Stories.
After you’ve read that article, let us know if you have any tips of your own or any questions on how to land that dream job.
With job searching, finding the job you want is just half the battle. Prospective employees not only need to find the jobs they want to apply to, but it’s always helpful to know someone at said company so you can get your foot in the door. But how can you do that? Networking.
Networking is one of the most important items for a person at every level to do. You never know if that could lead to a new job, finding a good employee for your current job or maybe getting a new client. The possibilities are endless, which is also why it’s always good to meet new people and make sure you maintain relationships. But, how do you network when you’re more entry-level? Where do you go? Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
- Set up informational interviews at companies you may want to work for even if they’re not necessarily hiring. This will get you some great face time with the company and potentially allow you to connect with someone at the company.
- Stalk LinkedIn. See who in your network might already work at your dream company. Perhaps you already know someone there from college, or there is a friend that can set you up with an introduction to another friend.
- #HAPPO/Help a PR Pro Out is a great hashtag to search by on Twitter. Sometimes they have online chats and I have gone to a few in-person events, but many companies will tweet out about jobs using this hashtag.
- Go to any and all networking events. These can be a mix of industry events, maybe your college is hosting some, etc. These can be online and in-person, but great to go either way and get your name out there.
So get out there and start networking, it will help you get the job of your dreams (for starters).
Today’s guest post was written by Peppercomm junior account executive, Julie Hoang.
For my first job, I thought I had it good. I worked as an after school tutor at a local learning center. As a high school student, I did anything to avoid hard labor so this job was ideal for me. I would rather use my energy to shop at the mall or hang out with my friends. Though I was only a freshman at the time, I took away key lessons that still apply today.
I had actually gotten the job by previously volunteering at the learning center during the summers. After some time and eagerness to earn some shopping money, I asked for a part-time position. What also made me look for that specific job was because I wanted to become a teacher when I was younger. I knew that the knowledge I gained as a tutor would eventually help me if I decided to pursue the teacher career path. From there, I ended up working for an additional year and a half before I quit and moved to Staten Island with my family. The best part of the job though was being able to work with some of my closest friends and eventually making new friends.
Through my time there, I gained many essential skills that helped shape me into the person I am today. Here are some:
- Build strong relationships: Building relationships are important no matter what age you are. Not all actions need an immediate result. You should always make an effort to build good relationships with your boss, co-workers, clients and anyone else around you because you may never know when that same person will be providing you with business or a reference down the line. For me, building strong relationships with my boss allowed him to see me as a trusted employee. He trusted my judgment when I referred my friends to work there. He even served as a reference for me when I decided to apply for other tutoring jobs in Staten Island.
- It’s not always about the money: Making money is the obvious answer to why we work, but building your skill set and gaining a valuable experience is just as important. Understandably, many will pick one job over another because it pays more. However, it’s important to be able to walk away from a job with skills that you can use to reach your chosen career path or to help you reach a goal. For me, volunteering was the first step in reaching my goal. I wanted a paying job at the learning center, but had no prior experience. By volunteering there during the summers, I learned all the tasks and duties that were required for the job.
- Be responsible: Whether it is your first job, third job or dream job, be responsible for your actions and tasks. Everyone is held accountable for their actions. If you are given an assignment, follow through with it and communicate with your manager, supervisor or boss if you need more time. As a tutor, I was responsible for not only my actions, but for the group of students I was looking after. It was my job to ensure their safety and ensure that their homework was done and done correctly. Managers, supervisors or bosses are not able to watch over your shoulder every step of the way so it’s your responsibility to remember your tasks and fulfill them. The parents put their trust in me to teach their children right, just as clients trust us to put their best interest in mind.
- Know your audience: Knowing your audience is extremely important. The things you can say and the actions you take are dependent on your audience. For example, the way I acted towards my students, my boss and the parents was all different. Children are the most receptive to new information. Therefore, it is crucial to watch what you say around them. This same rule applies to clients. Working in an agency, being able shift accordingly dependent on the type of client you are interacting with is essential. Some clients are more lighthearted than others, so you will need to know when it’s okay to make a joke and when it isn’t.
- Learn to multi-task: I think that being able to multi-task is a characteristic almost every job will look for in a candidate. At a young age, I learned that multi-tasking was a necessary skill. I attended school, worked after school and managed to finish my homework every day for three to four times a week. Now working at an agency, multi-tasking while remaining organized has helped me tremendously. PR can be somewhat unpredictable and no two days will ever be the same, so it’s imperative to adapt accordingly based on what is the highest priority.
Today’s post is by Peppercomm intern, Mandy Roth.
Senioritis symptoms escalate uncontrollably as the familiar aromas of chlorine and sunscreen ally to invade the residence halls. You procrastinate from studying for finals by determining the exact fashion in which you will dispose of the plethora of lecture notes that has accumulated throughout the semester; whether burning, shredding, or ripping will elicit the most satisfaction. It’s finally May, and in a few days, the freedom of summer will be upon you; all will be right with the world. Suddenly you’re confronted with a petrifying epiphany: your textbook sell back failed to cover your Dave Matthews summer tour ticket and your lifeguard certifications expired months ago. The taste of freedom that has inhabited your mouth since spring break is instantly tainted with the bitter zest of reality. It’s not long before you regret the hours you spent perfecting your beer pong form and re-tweeting @UnluckyBrian when you should’ve been applying for jobs.
“Taking the summer off won’t be so bad,” you console yourself. “I’ll get a ‘real’ job in the fall anyways.” Great pep-talk, except that everyone with previous interning experience is suddenly ahead of you in the job market. “It’s ok,” you reason, “I’ve still got a few days before summer vacation. That leaves plenty of time to land an internship before June!” Your confidence is wonderful, but you’ve failed to consider where you’ll be applying and what you’re qualified for, let alone the millions of other students who made the same classic error you did.
I was fortunate enough to have been advised by my former boss, “Start your job search in the fall.” I’ll admit it seemed a bit premature at the time, especially considering that entry-level positions are often looking to be filled ASAP. In any case, I soon realized the brilliance in my boss’s advice: I now had the opportunity to familiarize myself with companies and programs to figure out exactly what I wanted and what I had to do to get there. An early start turned out to be especially crucial when I realized that many of the agencies I was interested in happened to be in New York City. Since my graduation date was still but a figment of the future, I was able to visit NYC to determine whether I could in fact call home to the city that never sleeps.
While it might be classy to arrive fashionably late to a party, it’s nothing short of dowdy to apply to a job past the deadline. Even if a company notes that they are looking for an immediate hire, it’ll never hurt to put your name in the hat. Doing so might open up a door for the future; perhaps the company can’t hire you now, but will keep your resume on file for future opportunities. Internships are in high demand, especially in this economy, and the number of intern applicants grows exponentially in the months leading up to summer. Instead of applying at rush hour, give yourself the chance to stand out by applying before the traffic gets too heavy.
Bottom line: a job isn’t going to come after you. It all comes down to being proactive, making connections, taking the time to do your research, and ultimately giving yourself the best chance possible. If you take some time throughout the year to break-away from Facebook stalking your Economics TA and research potential job opportunities instead, suddenly your last months of college might bear a rhythm of relaxation rather than a period of panic.
Sometimes we have to leave our jobs. Maybe your company wasn’t a good fit for you (or them). Maybe a different opportunity popped up that was closer to what you see yourself doing long-term. Maybe you are moving to a different city.
Whatever the reason may be, almost everyone needs to leave a job at some point in their lives.
So, what’s my point? Whether you’re happy, sad or indifferent about leaving, you want to make sure you leave on a high note. Keep doing good work. Make sure people know that even though you’re halfway out the door, you’re still giving it your all because you are always 100% committed to your tasks.
What goes hand in hand with leaving and keeping up your good work is to remember that this is still a rather small industry. Everyone knows everyone else. You also never know when you’re going to run into a former colleague—and not just on the street, but in a new job.
This might be a case of “duh, why would I do that”, but always keep in mind that you never know who is reading your blog or anything on your social media channels. Be mindful of what you say about your current, new or former job. This can go a long way for your personal brand. You never want to be known as the person that spoke badly about a company or person. Doing this highlights a few unsavory characteristics that employers typically like to avoid, including: acting unprofessionally and being a gossip (to name a few).
Taking the high road is important and worth the effort, though it can be tough if you’re unhappy. People remember when someone leaves on bad terms and that can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Put in that effort and don’t burn your bridges—it’s worth it in the long run, especially if you ever want to cross back.
Today’s post is a continuation of another post from one of our rock star interns & future PR pro, Jamie Hogan, on interview etiquette. You can read the first part here, but read on as she goes through some of the obvious (and some not so obvious) tips on how to be successful in your next job interview:
- Bring an extra copy (or two) of your resume printed on nice paper.
This is an “old school” rule of thumb, but one that should be followed. I don’t feel like this is stressed as much these days, but keep in mind that more often than not, you probably aren’t being interviewed by a millennial. If you’re asked for a copy of your resume and you have one on hand, you look mature and prepared.
- Speaking of prepared…PREPARE.
I once referred a friend for a job because she had been out of work for a bit and her past experience was a perfect fit for the position. I found out later that when asked why she was interested, her response was, “Because I need a job.”
Not only was this embarrassing for me (I referred her!) it was a blatant act of being unprepared for certain questions. You should always show up with a good response for the following:
“Why do you think this position would be a good fit?”
- “Because I need a job” is not going to work”
“Do you have any questions for me?”
- Do your research on the company. Have at least one (but hopefully more than that in case they answer it during your interview) question that you can ask.
“What is a negative quality that you possess?”
- I think this one is key. It’s easy to get caught up in singing your own praises (that’s what you should be doing!) but if asked, you don’t want to say, “I don’t have any negative qualities.” If that’s your answer, your negative quality is that you show up unprepared for things. On the other hand, don’t give an insincere response. They will see right through an answer like, “I work too hard, that’s always been my downfall.” Come up with something that’s realistic, but punctuate it by saying that it’s something you’re working to improve.
- Be yourself, but within reason.
Show off your winning personality, but maintain a level of competence and professionalism. If you get hired, you can (maybe someday) share stories of what happened when you went out last night, but during an interview is probably not the time. A personal anecdote here or there is fine if the situation really calls for it, but don’t go overboard.
A good interview is not just about being qualified, outgoing and coming in with a 4.0 GPA. While all of that can definitely help you score the job of your dreams, sometimes the devil is in the details.
And please, remember to forget that you own a cell phone.
Any tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way that Jamie should add to her list?
Today’s post is one of two from one of our rock star interns & future PR pro, Jamie Hogan, on interview etiquette.
The end of the academic year is rapidly approaching and the hunt for jobs is as competitive as ever. As someone who has been on both sides of the interview process at one time or another, here are some of the obvious (and maybe not so obvious) tips for representing yourself positively in an interview.
- The moment you walk through the door, pretend the interview has started.
The first impression can begin as early as your arrival. If you’re waiting in the lobby, sit up straight, look confident and keep your things (coat, folder, purse) in order. A great trick to remember is that the receptionist is also their employee! I worked at the front desk of a company for a couple of years and I would be asked how a person conducted themselves while they waited. If someone was rude or acted in a way that was really unprofessional, I was truthful about it.
Also, forget that you own a cell phone. Even better, turn it off. I cannot stress this enough. Yes, it can be boring to wait for someone without checking email quickly or updating your Facebook status (“Job interview, wish me luck, yay!”), but if management rounds a corner to collect you and you’re scrolling through your phone, it shows disinterest on your part and that you might not have the capacity or attention span to do the job you’re there for.
- Dress appropriately for a job interview.
This does not always mean a full suit, but it does mean you should be neat and pulled together. See Repman Cody’s blog for some sound advice.
- Shake hands like you mean it.
The limp, or “dead fish” handshake may not make or break an interview, but I think it’s worth mentioning. No one’s going to report back that you shook hands well, but sometimes a bad handshake gets scrutinized. Be sure to make eye contact and have a firm, meaningful grip.
It’s such a simple thing to correct, so don’t let this become a strike against you!
- Keep your hands to yourself (when you’re not shaking someone else’s).
On a recent interview that my husband conducted, the person who was brought in nervously played with a telephone cord that was on the table during the entire meeting. This act raised a red flag and while this wasn’t the only reason, the individual did not end up getting the job.
If you know you’re a fidgety person, discreetly sit on your hands if you have to. Just don’t touch anything that isn’t yours. And if it is yours, like a pen or a notepad, be reasonable when handling them.
And, again, forget that you own a cell phone.
Stay tuned for the rest of Jamie’s advice on interview etiquette.
We’re always asked about the process for interviewing for internship and entry-level positions. Essentially, sometimes the process seems to be a bit longer than one would imagine because we’re looking for the best fit for the position and Peppercomm.
To get more of a glimpse into what is happening across the board in terms of hiring, check out this article in The New York Times: With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection.
Do you agree with the assessment?
Today’s post is by fellow Peppercomm Intern Committee member, Jason Green.
If you operate under the assumption that no one strives to be thought of as boring, it is hard to figure out how we end up sifting through so many indistinguishable cover letters and resumes during hiring season. The content contained in each cover letter and resume is not always uninteresting, but I am talking about how it is presented.
We differentiate for a living – when positioning our clients and when it comes to our personal brands. So it is no surprise that we are looking for someone that can demonstrate the ability to differentiate themselves from the e-mail above and below them in the intern jobs inbox.
A few words of caution, there is good differentiation (let’s flag this e-mail and make sure to call them) and bad differentiation (forward this cover letter and resume to the agency e-mail distribution because it is wildly inappropriate). The faux Amazon site job application that garnered serious buzz on the web this week is a prime example of the type of thinking that we look for at Peppercomm for interns and full-time positions.
This application says a few things to me and my colleagues on the intern committee. This applicant is:
- Very creative
- Willing to take risks
- Tech-savvy (design and development)
- Likely to have a solid sense of humor
- Hardworking (he took the time to transform his resume into something awesome)
When we get the standard “to whom it may concern” e-mail it is equally telling. This candidate has likely not thoroughly browsed our website (we name the intern coordinator), probably does not understand the Peppercomm culture and might not have the ability to work in the integrated environment that Peppercomm transformed into.
There is a plethora of resources on our new website that would lead a truly interested candidate to send us an eye-brow raising application – our acquisition of creative services firm H20 (this isn’t traditional PR anymore, folks), our use of comedy training throughout the agency and with clients, the Audience Experience service offering that we recently launched, etc.
It could be a witty subject line, it could be a link to a blog that you maintain or a website / app you helped code, it could be a video submission, comment on our Facebook page, comment on one of our Instagrams, or go back to the future and send us something that is hand-written. I won’t give up too many ideas here, but you get the point.
Show us your skills and make it interesting and I can guarantee you will be hearing from us. Our industry has evolved and the way you apply for jobs changed right along with it. We look forward to hearing from you. The Amazon guy has reportedly received over 100 job offers…
Job seekers frequently send a cover letter along with their CV or employment application as a way of introducing themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired position. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their position or who lack necessary basic skills . . .
In short, a cover letter is the first thing you want your potential employer to see. So why are so few young people actually putting this into practice?
The amount of intern/entry-level applications we receive, which are almost solely via email, consists of a note that says: Blah blah blah “attached is my cover letter and resume”.
That note is the absolute first thing we see from an applicant, so why would you attach your cover letter, rather than using it the way it was intended? It may sound silly, but by having to open an attachment, it’s another step an employer has to take to find out about you. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone to learn about you and your intentions with a company.
One surefire way to make yourself standout to an employer? Try not attaching your cover letter and actually putting it into your initial email. Among the sea of applicants employers receive, this simple adjustment could make a huge difference.