In the Event You Are Sending Me a Résumé . . .

August 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM (Musings, work) (, , , , , )

It’s been over 100 days since I blogged. I know, because LinkedIn reminds me every time I log in. It’s frustrating, and a little embarrassing. Given how many hours I spend looking at a computer daily, it’s easy for me to justify not wanting to spend any more time at one once I get home, but that’s no reason to be unable to post something at least once a week. So let’s try getting back to that again, shall we?

In addition to being uber busy, work at Racepoint has been great. Lots of media, writing, tweeting – you know, all that stuff that falls into an agency job description. What I didn’t expect was all the job inquiries I’ve been fielding. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I shout to BU that we’re hiring, I fully anticipate a handful of candidates recommended by my qualified friends over there. But now, there’s a new breed of job candidate I’m seeing: random internet people.</ominousmusic>

As a PR agency, we’re hiring about every 15 minutes or so, and what better way to fish for candidates who need to be social media-savvy than by fishing through social media? That’s right, I tweet job openings. Shamelessly. And often. The upside is that I get a lot of responses. The bad news is that those responses are not filtered. Whereas I knew my BU friends would never send me a lemon, on Twitter, I have no idea who’s going to be in each box of job-seeking chocolates. While there’s really no point in going into details on each #fail, I figured I’d share a couple things I’ve noticed on this short journey as an amateur recruiter. In the event you are sending me a résumé . . .

Spell my name right. Really. You want me to bother sending your information to the person who is actually responsible for calling you? Make sure you don’t mistake me for a Britney. Or Britany. Or Britanny. Or . . . oh, God. My fingers are starting to bleed just typing these.

That goes for my company, too. Do a Google search on my company. We exist. Racepoint Group. Not Race Point Group. Or The Racepoint Group. Crap, there go my fingers again.

Keep your resume to one page – and current. Unless you are detailing how you changed Poland’s opinion of Hitler through social media efforts – and, in that case, I’m not sure I want to work with you – there is no reason why your résumé should spill over a page. I have no problem reading 10pt font, and I’m pretty sure most HR folks accept that, too. Still running out of room? Maybe you should cut “Starbucks barista.” Unless you’re applying for a corporate Starbucks position, I suppose. Also, if you’re sending me a résumé in August 2011, I had better not see “Graduation expected May 2011.”

Follow directions. I hate cover letters. I sent out so many generic ones when I was job-hunting, but my best responses came from people to whom I’d just sent short, unrehearsed notes. Ability to smell fear? This is an example of a fun fact. Another one might be that you're an expert no-handed cartwheeler. Or that you like ducks.We all learned how to write a form cover letter in college, so we can all pick them out. You’re fooling no one. Thus, rather than asking random job candidates to send me their résumé and a letter of intent, I ask for the résumé and some fun facts. I don’t need a whole paragraph about how you spent a year in Zimbabwe building huts, but a bullet point would be good to know. I can always ask you about it later. Don’t have any fun facts to share? That’s okay, I guess (although you may want to seek work in a less fun environment), but please don’t ignore my request with a canned cover letter. If you do, I can assure you that I will not be sending you along to our recruiter.

I know, you learned about this at every single career panel you ever attended, but somehow, I still see these errors. I can only imagine what full-time recruiters receive, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. What are some of the doozies you’ve encountered on the receiving end of job inquiries? Go ahead, make me feel like I shouldn’t be whining.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai
“September,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Dancing Machine,” Jackson 5
“Canned Heat,” Jamiroquai
“Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” Modjo
“When I Get You Alone,” Robin Thicke

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The Easiest Job Interview

September 18, 2010 at 10:51 PM (Happenings, Musings) (, , , )

Okay, that may be a poor choice of words: no interview (for a job you really want, at least) is easy, I think.  But there may be a way to make it significantly less painful, and it’s advice I’ve actually been hearing since Kindergarten: be yourself.

I know, cheesiest, most cliché piece of advice, ever, right?  But – wait!  No!  Don’t you dare navigate away to Facebook before finishing my post!  It’s relevant!  I promise!  Anyhoo, advice like that wouldn’t be cliché if it didn’t work, right?  For my evidence, I would like to present to you a brief case study: me.Brittany M Falconer PR social media Boston

A little over a week ago, I went in for an interview with Racepoint Group, a “global public relations agency defining the new model of communications through our unrivalled understanding of the evolution of traditional and social media” (shamelessly ripped from their About Us page).  To be accurate, though, the story doesn’t really begin there.  Let’s rewind a few months.  Six, to be more specific.

While I was away on my European vacation, I received a Twitter DM on my phone.  It was from someone with RPG (I won’t out you on my blog unless you want me to, but you know who you are, and I am so very thankful and insist that you let me buy you an adult beverage.):

Hi Brittany — hope all is well! I checked out your blog & thought it was great. R u still looking for something in PR?

If you think the job market is bad now, I’m pretty sure it was even worse, then.  Outrageous overseas internet fees be damned!  I sprinted to the ship’s library to respond immediately.  It was something to the tune of “Name your god and I will bow to him/ her if you can get me in to Racepoint,” only a little less desperate and crazed.  One vacation, many E-mails and a networking event later (read: three months), I finally had an interview scheduled with HR.  While they didn’t have any Account Coordinator (AC) positions open at the time, it was probably for the best.

As it turned out, my RPG appointment was less than a week after my Porter Novelli internship interview took place.  You may or may not recall that I got that internship, and looking back, I am so glad that I did.  Granted, I was glad then, but not as glad as I thought I would have been about a full-time job.  However, I’ve realised now that my experiences with PN could only have helped me get to where I am now.  Speaking of which . . .

After two wonderful months with PN, I learned that while everybody was happy with Brittany, there was no opportunity for Brittany to join the team full-time.  As devastated as I was, I knew I had to bust my derrieré if I didn’t want to go back to Starbucks at the end of September.  It was time to put the job search into overdrive.  I DMed, Facebook messaged, called and smoke signaled everyone I could imagine who might be able to put me in touch with someone of a hiring authority.  Eventually, through a series of grapevines, I found out that Racepoint was looking for an AC.  And now we’re back to last week.

Racepoint Group logo pr social mediaThis was my second interview at RPG (and my 8,000th interview overall), but something was very, very different this time: I wasn’t stressed.  That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous – I was probably about five seconds from passing out throughout the entire process – but my brain space wasn’t preoccupied with trying to remember every piece of agency trivia that my interviewers might hurl at me.  Instead, I remembered something my mentor had advised me to do before every interview, but I had never seriously considered: “Just be yourself.  Let your personality show.”  Each time he said it, I thought, “Thanks, not like I could have found that at Hallmark or anything,” but the guy had a solid point.

I’ve had enough experience with agencies to know what’s expected of me as an AC and that I can deliver on those expectations.  HR wouldn’t have invited me in more than once if I was a total ignoramus during my last visit.  What was more important was probably if I gelled with the rest of the office (or at least the other two people interviewing me).  Commence Operation Yes I’m Awesome And I’m Not Afraid To Show It.

What followed was one of only a few interviews that I’ve actually enjoyed (yep, I’m going to link to yet another old blog post).  I met with a director and VP, both of whom I focused on getting to know, versus asking the “right” questions and discussing “relevant” news.  I figured if I had to try so hard to get those other things right, maybe I wasn’t in the right agency in the first place.  That said, whenever posed with a question, I like to think I did an okay job of responding coherently and perhaps even intelligently, but my mentor had it right: anyone can have the skill-set for a job, but if somebody meets with an account team and nothing clicks, then perhaps that person, in spite of all qualifying experience, isn’t the right fit.  Skills can be taught.  Personality is an entity unto itself, and is much more difficult to tweak.

Eight days ago, HR called to share RPG’s verdict: yes, please join us.  My response?  A series of “Omigod!”s and generic, ecstatic blather, being the composed professional I am.  I think she got the idea, though.  My start date is fast approaching, and I’m still on cloud nine. To think that all I had to do was listen to my Kindergarten teacher!  And more recently, my mentor (okay, and maybe have a pretty substantial résumé).

Today’s Tunes
“Let Her Cry,” Hootie & The Blowfish
“One Week,” Barenaked Ladies
“Foreplay / Long Time,” Boston
“Hold My Hand,” Hootie & The Blowfish

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And So Ends a Chapter (I Hope)

August 5, 2010 at 12:40 AM (Happenings) (, )

1. Good Lord, I haven’t posted in ages.  Why, I even managed to miss my blog’s 2nd birthday!  I’m such a terribly inattentive blogger.  I promise I’ll try to be better.

2. Because I know you all give two hoots about everything going on in my life, I may as well quell the rumours now . . .

I have in fact quit Starbucks.

It was three years, one month and two weeks of my life that I spent learning how to make triple-venti bone-dry 200-degree cappuchinos with two-and-a-half Equals and how to deal with their respective customers, and most of me is glad to be tentatively finished – we’re still waiting on a job offer that severs my ties with the mighty Siren forever – but there is a small remainder that will miss that green apron.  Starbucks was the longest job I’ve ever held, the rest being temporary jobs and internships, and a good portion of memories and accompanying friends can be attributed to my experiences there.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and regulars – past and present – who made most days at the ‘Bucks pleasantly bearable most days.  I wish you all the best in your caffeinated futures, and that if our paths should cross in the future, I still won’t be wearing that green apron.

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And a New Chapter Begins

June 27, 2010 at 6:27 PM (Happenings, Musings) (, , )

Tomorrow, I start another – and hopefully my last – internship.  I’m cautiously optimistic: remember that strangely enjoyable interview I mentioned not too long ago?  It turns out that they really enjoyed it, too.

It’s a little strange to be starting another internship when I’ve been out of school for over a year, but I’m going in with a positive attitude.  While it will be one heckuva learning experience (and we can never stop learning, right?), both parties also understand that this lady is not going back to a college campus at the end of the summer.  Think test drive.  First impressions are telling, but not necessarily guarantees.  I’m the 16-year-old with the new driver’s permit.  They’re . . . hopefully not the Toyota.

That said, I couldn’t be more thrilled about my upcoming journey.  Wish me luck!

Today’s Tunes
“Dreaming of You,” The Coral
“Sex on Fire,” Kings of Leon
“Lollipop,” Mika
“Complicated,” Robin Thicke

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Something’s Off, Here

June 13, 2010 at 9:06 PM (Happenings, Musings, work) (, )

Last week, I had a job interview.  And enjoyed it.

. . . Right?

How on earth does that work out?  Aren’t interviews supposed to cut into the depths of your soul to expose your every weakness and leave you wondering why you should be considered for any kind of employment at all?  I don’t get it.  It wasn’t even a small-scale place.  This company is global, and yet I wasn’t quaking in my Nine Wests.

Maybe it’s a sign that we’re a perfect fit.  But still, an enjoyable interview??  My mind is blown.

Today’s Tunes
Only By the Night, Kings of Leon

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And I Thought I Was Done With Exams

April 27, 2010 at 2:51 AM (Musings, work) (, , )

Here I am, approaching my one-year anniversary of being out of school, and I’m studying – nay, cramming even – and it’s for a test more nerve-wracking than any exam I ever encountered while in school.

The job interview.interrogation chair no pressure

I’ve given presentations in school. I’ve sung in public.  I’ve dealt with crises during ballroom competitions with my name attached to them.  I’ve driven with my mom in the car.  I’ve wrestled with rabid boars (okay, maybe they weren’t necessarily rabid).  Nothing has made my palms sweat as much as convincing someone with the power to provide me with a salary to add me to payroll.

It’s not that I’m not a qualified candidate – or if I’m not, it’s not that I can’t learn the skills to be that candidate quickly enough.  It’s not even so much that there may be better qualified candidates.  It’s the quite feasible possibility that the interviewer is going to ask me something I can’t even pretend to answer.

“Oh, Brittany,” you try to assure me, “how likely do you think that actually is?”

Likely enough that it’s happened to me before, that’s how likely.  And to call it a humbling experience is an understatement.

Not too terribly long ago, I applied for a crisis management position.  I thought I had a pretty solid handle of things: I was familiar with the agency, I knew someone who worked there, and I seemed to be saying the right things more often than not . . . until the Toyota question.

For those of you who are like I once was and know absolutely nothing about the Toyota crisis, the company had several vehicle malfunctions, some of which were responsible for some fatal outcomes.  Aside from having to deal with a massive recall, Toyota failed to report crucial imperfections immediately to the public, and has seemingly only offered updates grudgingly.  In addition to bad products, Toyota also lagged in customer service during the recall.  A friend of mine told me about the gauntlet she ran through when her Toyota lease was one of the models recalled.  She wrapped up her tale by swearing she’d never buy or lease from Toyota again.

Anyhoo, back to my story that has since scarred me.  I was three people into my interview when my interviewer asked me point-blank, “So what are your thoughts on the Toyota crisis?”

Insert cricket noises and the eyes of a deer caught in headlights.  I was done.  She could have held a gun to my head and asked the same question and I wouldn’t be blogging right now.  There was nothing I could do but apologise and tell her that I knew nothing of it.  It was my own fault for not studying the industry as a whole as well as the agency itself.  While I don’t think my Toyota ignorance is what cost me the position, I’m sure it didn’t save me anything.

Tomorrow I’m interviewing for a much broader position, and I know that I can’t possibly learn everything taking place in the industry at current.  However, I’m covering as much as I can and keeping my fingers crossed with my chin up.

Tonight’s Tunes
Abbey Road, The Beatles

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Today I Learned . . .

March 23, 2010 at 1:22 AM (Musings, work) (, , )

Okay, I didn’t so much learn it today as put it into action today, but anyhoo:

“Today I [finally acknowledged] that you don’t have to be employed to continue building your résumé.”  I’m doing a little freelance PR work for a friend.  Hopefully it will be wildly successful and I can brag about it later, but in the meantime I’m just stoked to be getting some experience.

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Degrees of Separation on LinkedIn

February 23, 2010 at 6:55 PM (work) (, , , )

One of my friends who is less versed in the ways of social networking (read: knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about it) has recently joined the ranks of the many who are looking for employment (yours, truly included . . . anyone looking for a PR practitioner?).  We were chatting via E-mail and I mentioned that I was doing some research for BU PRSSA’s PR Advanced, taking place this Saturday (more to come in my next post on that one) with LinkedIn, when it hit me that I may as well have been telling her about the nuances of the Chinese language.  I decided to send her a quick E-mail explaining the degrees of separation and how they could benefit her.  About six seconds later, I decided to include the relevant portions on my blog for other lay people who may be interested in exploring LinkedIn.  Check it out below.

LinkedIn In iconStarting out with LinkedIn to see who I know.  Time for your first factoid about the uses of LinkedIn!

LI sorts users in your network by degrees of separation: people with whom you are friends, colleagues or what-have-you are in your 1st degree network.  People to whom you are not directly connected, but your friends are, are in your 2nd degree network.  People your 2nd degree contacts know are in your 3rd degree network.  Outside of that, users are considered outside of your network.

Use the people in your 1st degree network to “get introduced” to people in 2nd degree networks.  I personally would try to do that outside of the site, but if your contacts are geographically inconvenient, then LI may be the way to go.  I find it’s a great way to see who you do and might know all in one place, though.  Imagine the fanciest Rolodex, ever.

Questions?

It’s an incredibly basic explanation, but for the LinkedIgnoramus, it gets the point across, no?  That said, my friend just responded to that E-mail, saying that is was so helpful that she printed it out and put it in her contacts file.  Boo-yah.

Today’s Tunes
“Drink Whiskey And Shut Up,” Brian Setzer
“That Old Black Magic,” Tom Jones
“You and Me,” Lifehouse
“Angry,” Matchbox Twenty

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Learning to Network

February 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM (Happenings, Musings, work) (, , , )

Yesterday morning, I attended a job seeker/ networking breakfast and panel hosted by the Publicity Club of New England, or the PubClub.  Like every other PubClub panel I’ve attended, the participants were experienced and thought-provoking:

Joe Burke, Text 100Pubclub Publicity Club of New England
Priscilla Claman, Career Strategies Incorporated
Ted Chaloner, Chaloner Associates
Joe Pothier, The Boston Beer Company
Jodi R. R. Smith, Mannersmith
Liz Woodhouse, Schwartz Communications
Kirk Hazlett, Curry College (moderator)

PR, HR and etiquette specialists alike all had valuable points to make regarding résumés, networking, social media and informational views: some dos, don’ts, and of course some anecdotal gems.  I attend such functions to learn, and what better way to learn than to share with others?

For instance, when it comes to events, networking or otherwise, be on time (or close, at least).  Not only is it courteous, but I’m sure I also would have enjoyed breakfast.  Tardiness also makes you memorable in a perhaps less desirable way.

There is no one job market, according to Ms. Priscilla Claman.  Rather, there are several markets, characterised by industry, geography, expertise, and so on.  If you’re targeting one gargantuan mass of a job market, you’re going to a) waste a lot of effort and b) not learn anything of much use anyway.  Find your market(s), and focus accordingly.  Not sure where or what your markets are?  Contact your friendly PubClub or PRSA representatives!  Chances are they’ll be happy to help, and they may even be able to offer a lead.

Gone is the stigma of the sixth-month gap on the résumé, Jodi R. R. Smith assured attendees . . . but that doesn’t mean interviewers won’t be able to figure out what you were or were not doing with that time.  Given the economy of the moment, it’s understandable that not everyone is employed sans gaps.  That said, when unemployed, don’t spend the downtime sitting on your posterior.  When a recruiter asks you what you’ve been doing with your time off, have a constructive answer: traveling, learning web design and HTML, volunteering, something.

LinkedIn logoUnderestimate not the power of LinkedIn, quoth Yoda (okay, he wasn’t there, but all panelists conceded on this one).  Once you’ve created your network with contacts in the real world, it’s your job to stay in touch with those contacts. LinkedIn makes this task incredibly easy.  Not only can you just shoot a quick E-mail via the site, you can also use your contacts to find possible leads.  Remember, a referred candidate will likely get more notice than random résumé #22.  LinkedIn also allows you to link to your blog, Twitter page and website, so recruiters can research you quickly more efficiently (so keep everything clean!).

Be your own PR person in your search for a PR job (sorry non-PR kids, but feel free to read anyway!).  That was the wise advice of Joe Burke, particularly for those of us who are fresh out of university and don’t have a portfolio full of success stories to tout.  Make your search strategy your success story.  Are you searchable?  Are your promoting the right expertise to the right people?

While a lot more information was shared yesterday, I think those were some pretty significant points.  Want to learn more?  Keep an eye on the PubClub’s blog: as far as I know, someone will post on it soon!  Still intrigued?  The next PubClub event will take place on Tuesday, February 23: Social Media Case Studies.  Click the link, read up, sign up and stop by!

Today’s Tunes
“Gimme Some Lovin’,” The Spencer Davis Group
“Forever,” Chris Brown
“Levon,” Elton John
“Pa’Bailar,” Bajofondo
“Chambermaid Swing,” Parov Stelar
“Satellite,” Dave Matthews Band
“Ooh La La,” Goldfrapp
“Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” Moby
“That’s the Way of the World,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Ain’t No Sunshine,” Bill Withers
“Milk,” Kings of Leon

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What Happens When I Network?

March 25, 2009 at 2:31 AM (Happenings) (, , , )

I win VIP tickets to an International Twitter wine tasting.  What else?  I’ll gloat about this more as I get more info, but here’s what I have so far for you Boston wine aficionados (taken verbatim from my quarter-page advert):

The Second Glass and Dig present:
Wine Riot
250+ wines, food pairings, crash courses, snob-free!!!
Friday, April 17th, 2009
Trade Tasting: 2.00 – 5.00 P.M.
VIP Riot: 6.00 – 10.00 P.M. ($65.00) – I’ll be at this one!!
With Special Sustainable Wine Tasting, International Twitter Tasting and More!

Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Riot 1: 1.00 – 5.00 P.M. ($45.00)
Riot 2: 6.00 – 10.00 P.M. ($45.00)

The Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116

I’ve got to admit that I’m pretty stoked: this is the most that my business card has done for me so far.  If you’re planning on attending Friday night, shoot me a message!

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