(L-R:) IABC-USC Executive Board: Lauren Schultz, Xiaochu Hu, Moqi Liu, Ashley Michaud, Carolyn Ray, Daniela Arellano; IABC-LA Board Members: Cheryl Farrell and T.J. Stevko
Lilli Cloud of Blue Feet, and Susan San Martin, Plan B Communications guide IABC-USC students towards successful job-seeking strategies.
In a fine example of partnership to inform IABC members, two local chapters co-hosted a hiring practices seminar for early entrants into the communications marketplace. IABC-LA and IABC-USC (University of Southern California) joined to garner student-focused advice from two experts in the field of recruitment and personal communications branding.
Gathered at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism’s Cowan Auditorium, approximately 35 communications students, recent graduates, IABC-LA members, and Annenberg staff heard insightful responses to questions previously submitted to the speakers. Lively in their presentations, Lilli Cloud, Founder and Principal, Blue Feet and Susan San Martin, Principal, Plan B Communications shared their wisdom from a combined 40 years of experience helping hundreds of clients. Some surprising “do’s and don’ts” drew gasps from the audience.
Social Media and Online Resources
• “Cleanse your Facebook”—be aware that social media tools are actively used by hiring managers to obtain information that does not appear on a prospective hire’s application.
• Do not shy away from using social media pages because, as a communications expert, you are expected to know how to best use it in your respective professions.
• Research prospective employers—visit company websites for mission and values statements, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports, as well as private blogs about corporate culture.
• LinkedIn and Indeed.com are highly recommended online resources for finding jobs.
• A highly recommended book about networking, “paying it forward,” and being generous with your time is “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time,” by Keith Ferrazzi. [ISBN-10:0385512058] Offer to help others as you ask them to help you find employment.
• Volunteering, internships, and alumni associations are excellent sources of contacts. Approximately 80% of interns find fulltime employment at the companies where they volunteer.
• The Los Angeles Business Journal is another good resource.
• For international students, local consulates are helpful with contacts and other resources.
Resume and Interview Do’s and Don’ts
• Do not use “Objectives” on résumés. It is an outdated and self-focused statement. Instead, use a well crafted three-sentence summary of skills focused on how you can help a prospective employer meet its goals.
• Remember presentation—lots of white space and bullet points are best. There are so many applicants for every job that employers will not use time to wade through dense copy.
- For new job entrants, the summary should be “aspirational” as opposed to inspirational. Send the message about what you would like to do for a company versus the practice of more seasoned professionals who inspire the reader with what they’ve done and can bring to an organization.
• Prepare to answer “softball” questions as well as dreaded questions in an interview. Be in control of your branding by preparing for the easy and tough questions.
• Integrity and honesty—while certain verbs can enhance the level of participation on a project, do not lie! A colorful example was cited that demonstrates how years of strong work experience can be eclipsed by blatant misstatement of facts.
The event co-moderator and co-chair was the talented and resourceful IABC-USC president, Carolyn Ray (M.A., 2010). Assisting her was an enthusiastic student board of directors. Inspired by an IABC-LA hiring practices event in November 2009, two IABC-LA board members co-chaired with Carolyn Ray in planning today’s event: T.J. Stevko, Communications Specialist, Mercer (also co-moderator) and Cheryl Farrell, independent communications professional.
IABC-LA members, Chris Cabrera, Corporate Communications Project Manager, Southern California Edison and Ariela Iringan, Manager, Deloitte Consulting joined students for networking after the event.
Today’s hiring practices was well-received and similar co-hosting opportunities are being considered to help the Los Angeles and USC chapter meet membership objectives.
“It was inspiring to attend the event at USC, and I was very impressed with the students. You could see some trends, based on the questions they asked. For example, many of them asked about corporate social responsibility, and I was able to share the good things my company is doing to help protect the environment, develop alternative forms of power, reach out to the community and help customers conserve energy. These students are the leaders of the (near) future, and it’s great to see where they want to focus their careers. And speaking of energy, they have lots of it.”
Communications Project Manager