Last week, I attended my sixth or seventh Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, dating back to my years with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) while I was in college. Indeed, the fact that PRSSA co-locates their national conference in the same city as the big kids conference is one of the reasons why I think it’s such a good event. I also recently participated in a panel event put on by the Georgetown chapter of the the Social Media Education Connection (SMCEDU) where we talked about social media with a group of Georgetown students. Between these two events and my involvement with SMCEDU, I’ve spoken with a LOT of very bright, very ambitious, and very enthusiastic students.
Talking with these student reminded me of a recent post I did for the PRSA-NCC blog, “I Just Graduated and I Want a Job in Social Media.” So, to help those students I’ve met recently, including: Renee Goldman, Yu-Ching Chiang, Heather Richey, Brooks Cooper, Jen Dryer, Courtney Wilson, Mike Hayes, and many others I’ve met over the last few weeks, I’m reprinting that post here:
For the last few months, I’ve been talking with a lot of new college grads about their college experiences, jobs, and careers. When I tell these eager young professionals that I’m a communications consultant who specializes in social media, I usually get one of two questions: 1) What does that mean? or 2) Seriously? How do I get to do that?
To address those of you who would have asked me the first question, I help my government clients develop and implement communications strategies and tactics so that they can better communicate with their employees, other government partners, the general public – essentially with any of their stakeholders. One way in which I do this is through the strategic use of social media tools like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
However, the second question has been much more popular and has led to the most interesting conversations. So, for all you new college graduates out there looking to get a public relations or communications position that involves social media, here’s a little primer:
DO include links to your blog, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter profile or any other social media site on your resume. Employers want to see things that you’ve written and how you use these sites.
DON’T forget to make use of the privacy settings on these sites. Your future employer WILL Google you, not to try to find incriminating pictures, but to get a better idea of how you use social media. Using Facebook to organize your local PRSSA chapter is very different from using Facebook to invite your friends to a kegger. It’s all about balance – most people realize that you have a life outside of work. That’s ok. Just make sure that’s not all you’re about.
DO some research on your potential employer and discover what, if any, social media presence they have. If you’re applying for a government position working with communications or social media, you better be able to tell me that you at least know what GovLoop is.
DON’T try too hard. I don’t want to do a search on you to discover that you joined Twitter a week ago and you’re following every Booz Allen employee you could find or that you’ve just joined 26 different PR-related groups on LinkedIn in the last few days. Just be you and be authentic.
DO be ready to walk me through the steps you might take if I told you that I the CEO of a company and I wanted to start a blog. Hint: if you tell me that you don’t have any experience with doing that, you’re probably not going to be interviewing much longer 🙂
DON’T overvalue your social media skills. Social media, while hot right now, isn’t always the answer. Make sure that you have a solid understanding of communication principles because we can teach you how to use Twitter – it’s much more difficult to teach you how to successfully build a communications strategy.
And last, but certainly not least, please DO a Google search for your name. What shows up? What doesn’t? Remember that this is the new first impression. If you aren’t completely honest about your skills and experiences, it’s really easy to track your digital exhaust and find out the truth. So, what kind of first impression do you want to make?