I’m a huge advocate of making lists. I always have been. I have an old notebook filled with lists – everything from books I’ve read and children’s names I like to my bucket list and beautiful words and their meanings.
Lists have taken over the Internet. Every news site and blog you click on, you’ll come across everything from life-changing hacks like, “15 Ways To Trick Yourself Into Being a Morning Person,” to entertainment pieces on BuzzFeed such as, “16 Things Kim Kardashian Looked Like At The VMAs,” and my personal favorite, “18 Reasons Why Looking For A Job Is Exactly Like Dating.”
And, well. I’m here to join the ranks.
For someone who has spent more days unemployed than employed this year, I eat, breathe, sleep job search tips, online job boards, LinkedIn, and have learned how to stay sane and happy while all of my friends are employed and I’m not. I’ve been job searching in the public relations/social media industry for the better part of 2015 so these ten tips are focused on PR, but they can be used in other industries.
I highly recommend using Google Docs, which automatically saves your documents, and you can access them on any computer. Using an Excel spreadsheet is also a smart idea, as you can create different tabs for all of your different lists.
“I used to write things I already accomplished in the day on my to-do list simply for the satisfaction of being able to cross them off. You know what I’m talking about.” I know exactly what you’re talking about, Jane Porter. While writing to-do lists are just a fraction of helping with your job search, here are ten different lists you can write to help with your job search.
Write a list of your dream companies.
Write down a list of businesses, advertising agencies, and organizations you would love to work or intern for.
For me, it made sense to work in an advertising agency. When I was in my last semester in college, names of advertising agencies got tossed around my public relations classes all the time. I took note, literally, of agencies in southeastern Wisconsin and expanded it to the biggest and best agencies in the U.S., thinking, one day I will work for a top advertising agency! Hey, a girl can dream, right?
Think outside the box.
If you’re a PR or social media pro, working at an advertising agency is the place to be. But don’t get tunnel vision.
After my internships with two different advertising agencies, I loved the agency life and was determined on getting an entry-level job at an advertising agency. Then, I saw and applied for a perfect communications position at a hospital. I never would have even thought to apply at a hospital, but even hospitals have in-house PR departments and need recent grads to fill those roles.
I began to look at companies besides advertising agencies, such as interior design and architecture firms, outdoor clothing companies, online magazines, hotels and resorts, and even banks. These weren’t my dream companies, but after doing some research, they soon became mine.
Looking at a particular city’s top workplaces is also helpful if you want to work for stellar corporations with a great company culture and awesome benefits.
Write down a list of cities you would love to work.
As a recent grad living at home with close friends in Milwaukee and Madison, my searches in the beginning of 2015 consisted of looking in those cities, and those cities alone.
That is one thing I regret – I wish I would have looked in other cities to start my career. Don’t be afraid of looking or applying to jobs in different cities! If student debt and loans are holding you back, ask a company if they will pay to relocate you.
If you’re on board with relocating outside of the U.S., stretch your list to everywhere from Paris to Perth. Studying abroad and traveling all over the U.S. has helped me narrow down where I want to live and work. If you’re ambitious, write down any contacts you have in the city, cost of living, major airports or cities nearby, and anything else that’s relevant.
I suggest creating a dream board for this to pin on Pinterest or to post up in your room. Seeing pictures of places you want to live someday can really inspire and motivate you!
Establish a list of everything you did for a company while you worked there.
During your internship or job, jot down notes of where your time was spent a couple of times a week. Make notes of assignments you did on a daily basis, any projects or campaigns you contributed to, and any original writing or photography work you did. Then, condense your list into major points to your resume, LinkedIn and online portfolio.
Keep it short and concise on your resume, but review your accomplishments before a job interview. The hiring managers will have looked over your resume, so wow them by adding information that isn’t on your resume.
Ask your employer if they will let you save your writing or photography samples to showcase on your LinkedIn profile or online portfolio. Having something to show for your work is 10 times better than just saying you worked on a project.
Create a hierarchy of the department you want to work in.
When I was in college, PR Manager, PR Coordinator, PR Assistant and PR Specialist all meant the same thing to me.
Usually in most advertising agencies and in-house PR departments, the order goes, from lowest ranking to highest ranking – PR Intern, PR Coordinator (usually a recent grad), Assistant PR Manager, PR Manager, Senior PR Manager, and PR Director, although some agencies may remove or add positions.
Knowing this hierarchy helped me out so much while I was job searching. I knew which titles to target and which titles were above me.
Make a list of everywhere you posted your resume online,
whether it be Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, MilwaukeeJobs, ZipRecruiter, The Creative Group, or anywhere else. That way, when you do get a job, you can delete your resume from those job boards.
Also make a note of any recruiters who have helped you along the way. A short e-mail to them stating that you’ve found a job will be appreciated.
Build a list of all of your personal and professional accomplishments.
School projects, side jobs, study abroad trips, leadership roles in college organizations, volunteering and freelance gigs all add up. And, you don’t need to target solely your public relations efforts for this one.
Hiring managers want to know if you had a life outside of school, internships and 9-to-5 jobs, and what you did to improve those organizations and sharpen your skills. Not everything can be learned in a classroom or internship.
You know you’re going to get asked in an interview, “What’s your biggest accomplishment?” Easy! You’ve got a whole Excel spreadsheet of them! Speaking of interview questions…
Write down a list of common interview questions and your answers to them.
After having been on my fair share of phone, Skype and in-person interviews, I’ve got my “Tell me a little bit about yourself” answer down pat. Of course, it’s been updated over the years. I’ve gone from study abroad student living in Dublin to writer for an online magazine to recent grad, and everywhere in between.
I’ve typed up more common interview questions and answers than I can count, but as tedious as it is, it has made me more prepared. Update your answers for every job you apply for, and for every interview you have, add a couple of questions and answers to your list to be extra prepared.
Make a list of career websites and job search tips.
My favorite websites full of career advice are The Muse, Levo League, Careerealism, Fast Company Leadership, and Her Agenda. Instead of making an actual list on a Word document, bookmark career-related tips, cover letter inspiration and other articles and websites to your computer, making it easy to access when you’re online.
Create a Twitter list.
Or follow already made lists. Twitter lists aren’t dead, especially if you make stellar ones. Every PR professional should have a presence on Twitter, and a strong one at that.
Twitter isn’t just useful when you want to find out trending stories in 10 minutes. If you break up your lists into groups like, Graphic Designers, Journalists, Photographers, Job Boards, People Who Inspire Me, and others, it will be a lot easier to check out those specific industries and influential people when you need inspiration, career advice or interesting jobs.
And the best part is, you don’t need to be following accounts to add them to a list, so it’s like scrolling down a brand new Twitter feed every time you click on a specific list. Check out my Twitter lists for inspiration!
Having structure in the form of lists can be very helpful when it comes to starting a job search. The public relations industry can be hard to break into, and job searching can take longer than expected – believe me. Plus, now you have an answer to the interview question, “How do you stay organized?” By creating a handful of different lists to help with your job search that actually work. You’re welcome.