In one of the worst job markets since the 1930s, it’s more important than ever that entry-level job seekers differentiate themselves amongst the competition to land their first gig. Steve wrote about a student who is doing it right in a recent post, and last week he, Ted and Peppercom internship coordinator Alicia Wells talked to some college seniors and recent grads about job hunting strategies, personal branding and how to stand out as ideal entry-level candidates. Peppercom interns Tom Showalter, Elle Kross and Amelia Denson, as well as seniors Meredith Hutchins of the College of Charleston, Katie Green of Syracuse University and Jessica Slevin of University of Georgia share their experiences and insights on how they’re overcoming the challenges of a particularly brutal job market. Please add your thoughts. We want to help everyone get through this, so share tips, advice, or disagree with what we’ve said.
Jobs right now are harder to find than a cab in the middle of a Manhattan downpour. That's why it's so critical to set yourself apart from the pack. We, for example, have already received more than 150 resumes for three, count 'em, three Summer internships.
Most job inquiries contain the requisite cover letter and resume. A few, though, are incredibly creative. And, since we purport to be in the business of image and creativity, these entreaties get my attention.
So, before you hit the send button and forward 300 copies of a bland cover note, think about ways in which you, like Matt Rakow, can set yourself apart…
1. I am a standup comedy junkie and performed a 5 minute set at Caroline’s and was the Comedy Chair for the Student Activities Board at Ithaca College
2. I am a huge fan of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and as the Comedy Chair I was able to hire John Mulaney from UCB to perform at the college
3. Although I do not yet climb actual mountains, I walk up and down the hills of Ithaca every day which is getting me in shape for a future climb
4. You could expand your “Pain-based selling” concept into “Pain-based hiring” since finding a good internship is keeping lots of students up at night, me included
5. I think naming your company after your dog was clever
6. I am organized
7. I am creative
8. I am motivated
9. I have strong communication and writing skills
10. I will be a great addition to your next intern podcast
Guest post by Laura Mills
If you know me, you understand that March Madness is my favorite time of year. Nothing thrills me more than a double over time nail-biter, willing whatever team is on my bracket to make that last second jump shot. Spending this past weekend on my boyfriend’s couch watching the NCAA, I was in complete bliss…until I saw the latest advertising campaign from Domino’s Pizza.
Domino’s CEO David Brandon campaigns for Domino’s Big Taste Bailout Package in the company’s latest commercial. The advert capitalizes on the idea that the company is bailing out “main street” with their pizza deal, featuring the CEO marching through Washington DC in a pizza parade. Mr. Brandon says that he is “not bailing out the fat cats on Wall St.” As he rips a pizza out of the hands of a suited man, he continues: “Sorry Mr. Hedge, I’m bailing out you hard working people on Main Street.”
Keep in mind that I’m watching this with my boyfriend who was laid off last month from his hedge fund position. Before then, I vividly remember him coming home from work at 3am, monitoring his blackberry for another hour after he was in bed and waking up at 7am to check the close of the Asian markets. Then there is my friend, Amanda who has an entry level position at Goldman Sachs. Amanda averages three hours of sleep a night, works almost every weekend and leaves the office so late that she has to take a taxi service because it’s not safe to take the subway alone at that hour.
These people work harder than anyone I know. For the CEO** of a major brand to suggest otherwise is in outrageously very poor taste. I do understand the timeliness of a campaign against corporate greed to appeal to the everyman, but if companies are going to take this stance in external communications, they should do so in a tactful way and address the real problems, none of which include a lazy Wall St.
**Just to note, Domino’s is owned by a Boston-based private equity firm and, according to pages 18 and 19 of the company’s 2008 proxy statement, Domino’s granted CEO David Brandon an $850,000 base salary for ‘08 (an increase from ‘07), and he is eligible for a bonus of up to 200% of that base salary, based on company performance. That’s nearly $2.5 million, not including stock options, folks.
A College of Charleston student asked me yesterday what books she should be reading. I
immediately suggested anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Christopher Buckley, Colin Dexter, Bill Bryson and David McCullough.
Then, it occurred to me that more and more marketers are taking a look back at their predecessors in the Great Depression in order to glean how brands succeeded in that particularly heinous period. I know, for example, that Jazz at Lincoln Center is positioning jazz as THE ideal antidote to the fears and anxieties of today's 'new normal'. Interestingly, jazz, and its fraternal twin, swing music, became a mainstream medium as a direct result of The Great Depression. Americans turned to jazz, along with movies and radio programming, to take their minds off their collective misery.
So, it makes sense for marketers to examine what worked then and juxtapose it against the realities of today's social media, global interconnectedness and ravenous 24×7 news cycle. They might discover some very interesting, and highly relevant, solutions.
That said, as soon as I finished answering the student's question, I quickly added John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" to my recommended reading list. It has to be the quintessential Depression-era book. And what job seeker wouldn't totally impress in any interview by noting, “By the way, I'm reading “The Grapes of Wrath” because I want to learn what lessons from the 1930s might be applicable to your company's marketing efforts.” Talk about differentiating oneself from the crowd.
I'm pleased to learn that March is ‘Women's History Month.’ How nice. And, how deserving.
But, it begs a question: are girls and grandmothers of historical note included in ‘Women's History Month?’ Or, do they have their own 30-day period set aside?
Is there a ‘Men's History Month? ‘Good, bad or ugly, men have made more history than women. Do they get a month? Do boys? Grandfathers?
Is there a ‘Little People's Month?’ There should be. Ditto for seven-footers. Lots of them have made NBA history. Don't they deserve a month?
And, what about dogs? Is there a ‘Dog's History Month?’ Lassie and Rin Tin Tin deserve one. How about cats? Mice? Aardvarks?
Who decides when a month is set aside to observe a group's accomplishments? Should they get a month as well? I'd call it the 'Month in History History Maker's Month.'
Why do we overlook insects when we designate months of observation? According to what I've read, insects were here before we arrived and will be here long after we're gone. Shouldn't there be a 'Cockroach History Month?’ I'd tie it to peak infestation periods. August, perhaps? (And get this: The UK has a National Insect Week.)
I think this month thing has, like everything else, gotten completely out of control. There are so many special interest groups lobbying for their own, 'long overdue' recognition that I wouldn't be surprised to see Congress double or even triple the number of months in the year. If they did, we could set aside the new, 36th month as 'The Congress Who Tripled the Size of the Calendar Month' and honor those historic legislators.
Carefully planned, launching a week or month to bring awareness to something can be a powerful way to get a message across and bring people together to discuss an issue. However, I think we can all agree that it becomes a crutch when it's proposed without any thought behind it. And that's how we've ended up with a month for any and every cause and group you can think of.
By the way. I've just decided to designate April as 'RepMan History Month.’ I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the best way to observe it.
Today, senior account executive Lia LoBello has written the following special guest post.
Tuesday, media outlets were quick to report that actress Natasha Richardson had been
critically injured in a skiing accident in Canada. And while this story has now reached its unfortunate and sad conclusion, details over its course have remained scarce. Over the last two days, many news outlets cautiously reported the conflicting reports of Richardson’s injuries– all that is, except one. With an abandon you’d associate more closely with the New York Post’s 'Page Six' or Gawker, of all media outlets, it was "Time Out New York" that tried to break the story open mid-day Tuesday by citing one singular “source close to the family,” that the actress was “dead” and posting RIP Natasha Richardson: 1963-2009. Within minutes, blogs such as PerezHilton.com had picked up the story, offering their condolences to the families involved. Yet, there was one major issue– the actress had not yet died. At that time, she was potentially brain dead– but by broad consensus, alive.
In the race to number one, such a critical and egregious error– particularly on such a serious claim– is the equivalent of falling flat on your face. And despite posting an apology once the account was refuted– which took longer than normal to go live as the site crashed under traffic– readers raked the magazine through the coals, expressing anger at the irresponsible, opportunistic reporting. Odder still, yesterday, no link to the story appeared at all on the magazine’s home page. Late last night, a retrospective of her work went live on the site– a piece much more reflective of "Time Out's" normal brand of journalism.
Putting aside the baffling entrance and even quicker apparent exit of "Time Out" (for non-readers, the magazine provides listings for events happening each week in the City, sprinkled with a light feature or two), into the gossip circus, the gaffe serves as a grave reminder that public goodwill is a fickle commodity– here one day, but gone the next, should a corporation stumble. In addition, in an era when information changes hands in the blink of an eye, in the handling of the scoop of a lifetime (as I have to imagine "Time Out" believed they had,) the rules of Reporting 101 must stand: corroborate facts with several sources or make absolutely sure your singular source cannot be refuted. In not doing this, Time Out created a public relations nightmare and significantly damaged an otherwise intact reputation. A little fact-checking– not to mention discretion– does, indeed, go a long, long way.
Attending the Counselors Academy Spring Conference is an investment in your business that you wouldn’t want to miss in a normal year and one you can’t afford to miss in a difficult year.
I’ve been a member for 15 years or so and was invited to join the executive committee four or five years ago. I can point to millions of dollars in revenue that’s come our way as a direct and indirect result of Counselors Academy introductions. I can also point to priceless friendships that I’ll have for the rest of my life as a result of the Academy.
If you’ve been in the business for 10 years and are interested, give it very serious thought. Making any sort of investment in these uncertain times is risky, but I can’t think of a safer, smarter choice for any owner of, or executive with, a small, medium or large PR firm.
In addition to learning best practices for running a business and managing people, you’ll be able to hang with some of the smartest people in the world. And, these guys also know how to have a good time. Go to Palm Springs. You can thank me with a drink at the La Quinta bar.