Advice for new communications grads

Every spring, our agency is flooded with emails from recent graduates in the communications field looking to start their careers.

We always love to connect with new talent, even if we aren’t currently looking for applicants, but we are seeing some patterns this year that are a little worrisome.

If you are a recent graduate — or any job seeker, really — trying to make it to the top of the piles of resumes that agencies receive, here are a few things to keep in mind as you market yourself:  

Immediately show that you are detail oriented

You would be very hard-pressed to find a job position that doesn’t require a successful candidate to be detail oriented, and the application and interview process are a perfect opportunity to show that you have this crucial skill.

Being detail oriented goes beyond simply making sure that your resume and cover letter are error-free: the proof is literally in the details. What are the names of your documents, for instance? We recently received a resume that was attached with the file name “Alex_Smith_Ideal_Candidate_Resume.” This is so much better than when we receive files that are named just, “Resume,” or worse, “Document 1.” Take advantage of small touches that are noticeable.  

Remember, hiring managers are looking for reasons to say no. Hundreds of applicants are received for one position. Small mistakes could mean that you don’t make it past the initial review phase, while attention to those same small details can make you stand out.       

Ask the right people for advice

We are noticing an uptick of headshots being included on resumes. In an age where more and more candidates are designing their resumes, as opposed to simple laying them out in Word, our expectations are higher. A well-designed resume is a great way to stand out in the communications field. Candidates are literally branding themselves with cohesive personal logos, letterhead, websites and more, and it is a great way to show personality.

Headshots, on the other hand, are taking it too far. We don’t care what you look like, period. When we started asking candidates why they were including headshots, the consistent answer we received was that professors and family members told them to include one.

The key lesson here is to make sure you are seeking advice from the right people. We all had amazing teachers and professors who weren’t actively involved in hiring talent. Advice from family members can be wonderful, but if they don’t work in HR, don’t ask them for resume guidance. Seek out feedback from those who are involved in the process, and listen to them. (And ditch the “Objective” — it is a total waste of space.)

Remember, people respond to brands that solve a problem

If you are working in the communications field, you should have a clear understanding of who you are and what you can do. However, your future employer is way more concerned with their company’s goals and needs. It is up to you to clearly share your talents through that lens.   

When you are marketing yourself for a position, identify what will motivate action. Use your cover letter, resume, work samples and other pieces to not just show a great visual brand, but to help the company understand the benefit they will receive by bringing you on to the team. What is motivating their hiring decision? Give that some thought, and tailor your content accordingly.  

Creating your personal brand is a lifelong process, and like all brands, you will evolve over time — that’s the fun part! Take time to authentically capture what differentiates you, and market yourself in a way that shows everything you have to offer.  

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