It's resume season! You would think the real resume season would begin in March, April, and May every year when college seniors suddenly realize that the real world begins with graduation. But for the past few years, it seems that graduating seniors now give themselves a few months to vacate and recreate after graduation before seeking to join the real world. So this week, I have been inundated with resumes from young people who graduated last May and are now looking to join a top Philadelphia PR agency in the fall. Here's my best advice:
1. Start early. At Gregory FCA, we start our search early, and make any new hire first complete our Junior Associates program. Typically, the program accepts 10 to 12 college students the summer BEFORE their senior year. And we first interview these candidates the spring break of their junior year.
2. Use your connections. We're big believers in friends and family, and often give an advantage to people who have been referred to us by trusted sources. So do not feel uncomfortable asking your uncle who knows someone here at Gregory FCA to put in a good word for you. We listen to their recommendations.
3. Improve your GPA. It's exceptionally difficult to judge the work ethic of a young person, and we often have to use GPA as a surrogate for effort, dedication, and commitment. So we take GPAs seriously, even if they are an imperfect indicator of success.
4. Connect with us socially. We're everywhere. On Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the blogosphere. There are hundreds of ways to connect with us and get to know people inside the firm. An email resume isn't enough to break through the clutter and get us to take notice.
5. Write well. The ability to write well is still an important differentiator. Craft smartly written emails and cover letters. Be prepared to score well on our writing test. Start your own blog to showcase your ability to connect and engage through communications.
6. Think creatively. Ask for an informational interview. Take notes. Blog and tweet about it. Add your interviewer to your LinkedIn contacts. Stay connected with those you meet. Keep yourself front and center.
7. Get known during your internship. Don't just sit in your office. Socialize with employees. Invite managers to lunch. Ask them about their career -- how they started and what they like about the industry. Seek their advice. Thank them after the fact, but more importantly, tell them what you gained and seek additional input from them.
8. Build your skills outside of work. Take writing classes. Contribute freelance articles to blogs or local publications. Speak publicly. Volunteer at a non-profit for the experience. In short, learn as much as you can and bring it to work with you everyday.
9. Learn technology. So you know PowerPoint. Have you ever tried Prezi? Can you use WordPress? Can you edit videos? Technology can give you an edge against other candidates who only know how to email, text, and Facebook. Master apps. Follow the industry. Absorb and master any new technology that will make you more efficient or expand your skills.
10. Live the media. Absorb it. Read The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and Wired magazine -- every issue. Watch the news -- more than Jon Stewart. Check out Fareed Zakaria on CNN Sundays. Listen to NPR's On The Media. Learn how to identify bias so you can understand the constructs of stories. Consume it all from every vantage. Watch Rachel Maddow and Bill O'Reilly. Read women's magazines, as well as sports books. Stay current with pop culture, but also know why the Maldives islands are sinking. Be inquisitive. Read voraciously. Surf anything and everything.