Job Searching 101: Tips to finding your first job!

As someone who is graduating (round two, but for real this time!) in May, the job search has been in full swing for me for the past month or so. Here’s what I’ve learned: the job search is scary. Especially for us ‘PR people’ who are planners. We don’t like not knowing what we’re having for lunch today, much less where we’ll be in two months.

A couple weeks ago, I attended the OU Alumni Association’s first annual DC Networking Week with fellow MPA Crescent Gallagher (he did a great post about job searching, check it out here!). The trip was highly informative and gave some great perspective on job searching, from where to begin to the questions to ask once you’ve gotten the offer:

1. Decide where you want to be. Your search will be MUCH easier if it’s narrowed down to 2-3 cities. But do your research. Utilize your network and talk to people who work in and out of your field in the cities you are potentially interested in. What’s it like to live there? What’s the job market like? Rent, salary and cost of living expectations are important to know but it’s also important to know what it’s like to live there, especially if you’re young!

2. Utilize your networks. Because of my previous internship and work experiences, when I went to DC I was able to set up informational interviews through previous employers. No, they weren’t formal job interviews, but informational interviews are just as important. Not only are you getting your name out there for when a job may be available in the future, but you’re expanding your network and gaining knowledge about your industry and the job market (utilizing my networks led me to some awesome job listing websites that REALLY helped me). Even if you’re just meeting for a friendly coffee, getting your name out there, and doing it early on, is important.

In addition to utilizing your networks, it’s important to stay in touch with previous employers. Whether it be grabbing coffee or stopping by to visit the office when you’re in the area, or volunteering to do some ‘freelance’ work for free after your internship is over, it’s important to stay on the radar.

3. Get your social media in line. It should be a no-brainer, but make sure your Facebook and Twitter accounts are not only clean (Read: ‘something you would be ok with your grandmother reading’) but also reflect your personality and show your knowledge and insight of the industry(ies) that you’re job-searching in.

So you got an interview… now what?

4. Do your research. I have made the mistake of not doing enough research going into an interview, and when asked questions about the org/company I didn’t feel I knew enough. So, do your research! While you’re not expected to know everything, you should demonstrate that you’ve done your homework.

5. Make sure to ask questions. It looks bad if you don’ ask questions in an interview, even if you’re not sold on the company you’re interviewing with. Asking your interviewers what their day-to-day responsibilities are, favorite aspects of their job, or how you will be able to grow if you work there are all great questions of your potential employer.

Hopefully, if you take these steps, jobs searching won’t be too stressful. What are your job-search tips?

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