PRSA Event Recap- Positioning Yourself in a Challenging Job Market

On July 28th, 2011 the Public Relations Society of America hosted a morning panel discussion at Weber Shandwick about job searching. The panel consisted of Anna Long, Gillian Gabriel, Paul Maccabee, Arik Hanson, and was moderated by Weber Shandwick’s own Lisa Simon.

The discussion began with an overview of trends in the job market. The panelists agreed that there is a need for multi-talented candidates. Paul illustrated the point by stating that candidates “Need to know facebook, but also facebook marketing”. Arik also emphasized this point of being multi-talented by acknowledging that candidates need to be storytellers, but also know how to SEO optimize their stories and create blogs.

After learning what hiring managers look for, the discussion turned towards resumes. All panelists had specific characteristics they search for in a resume. Gillian stated that authenticity was important to her- being able to have a sense of the person behind the resume. The other panelists noted volunteer work as important because it shows what the candidate is passionate about. Another attribute everyone also agreed on is networking and developing personal relationships with hiring managers as well as with those in the industry. Arik noted that if you have a personal relationship with someone it puts your resume to the top of the pile.

From resume tips, the discussion progressed to interviewing. The panelists discussed what types of questions to expect and what they look for in a good answer. Anna and Gillian emphasized the importance of being prepared for possible questions, and how preparation can help a candidate make it through the phone interview process. For in-person interviews the panelists agreed they like to ask situational questions to see if a candidate can think on their feet. With this technique, candidates cannot prepare for the questions but their answers allow the hiring manager to see their thought process and how they react under pressure.

Once the interview questions were answered, protocol for thank-you notes was discussed. All panelists agreed that notes should be sent regardless if you were the chosen candidate. Anna gave an example of a time where she called to follow up and thank the hiring manager even though she wasn’t selected, and the hiring manager ended up changing her mind and hiring Anna instead. The question of note length and medium (email vs. card) was a split preference among the panelists. Ultimately any form of a thank-you in general is much appreciated and remembered by the hiring manager.

This PRSA event gave the audience a great overview of good experience to have, resume and interview advice, and thank-you note protocol. Those who attended left with priceless insider information on what hiring managers look for in a resume, interview, and most importantly, the candidate.

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