Dear GGG, Help! I’m a communications student trying to land a summer internship, and so far I’m having no luck. I’ve applied to dozens of posted positions on literally every job board I can think of—and nothing. I’m even willing to work unpaid! What am I doing wrong? – Madison, age 23, Washington, D.C.
Well, it sounds like your major mistake is relying on job boards! Don’t get me wrong; job boards have a place in the hiring eco-system. It’s just usually not the best way to apply to and land open positions, especially in glamour-type professions such as publicity. Why not? First, if it’s a big job board (e.g., Monster), or the website of a large company, your resume is a needle in a haystack of literally tens of thousands of resumes gathered for the position. Even if it’s a smaller board, you’re leaving too much to chance that a “key word” search of the database will pull up your application, or that a recruiter’s quick glance of your resume will sufficiently grab his or her attention.
Second, most good jobs are either 1) already filled –or ‘slated’ with internal candidates– by the time they’re posted or 2) not ever listed on a job board. This is particularly true for highly-competitive industries in which the supply of candidates far exceeds the demand. Before even looking through a stack of new resumes, managers usually have a handful of folks on their radar—such as people who have informational interviewed with them before, former employees, or other professional acquaintances—that they can pick up the phone and call about the opportunity. Which is why you’re kind of wasting your time mindlessly dropping your resume into a job board black hole.
You’d be much better off spending zero (you read that right: zero!) time on job boards. Starting today, research a dozen medium-sized companies/firms that really inspire you. Do some investigation on Google, Linked In and even Facebook and figure out how to get in touch with the company’s executives. Send ‘em a letter or email passionately expressing your interest in the company and any opportunities there. Include your resume. Ask for an informational call or meeting. No, you’re not being “too aggressive.” Think about it: What do you think you’ll be doing if you actually get hired to be a publicist? You’ll be cold calling people, trying to sell yourself and your client! The skills needed to be good at the job—e.g., confidence, fearlessness, resourcefulness—are exactly the skills you need to get the job.
Now, get after it!