How employers recruit students - and what students can do

Here's one approach to finding a PR job that may help: learn how employers are recruiting.

Finding a job soars to the top of your anxiety list when you're a senior in college, so you search for competitive edges to land a job. Here's one approach that may help: learn how employers are recruiting.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently had an article about this written by Karen Strauss and Ron Culp, Ketchum's chief innovation officer and its recently departed partner and director of the North America corporate practice, respectively. They provided 10 tips to help companies find and win over the best candidates for entry-level positions. Based on their list of employer tips, here are four things you can do to prep your job search.

1. Create a strong and professional self-presentation in social media. As Strauss and Culp note, recruiters are well aware of your active lives online and they increasingly search these communities for information about prospective employees. Be sure to incorporate content through links or discussions that highlight some of your PR activities, interests, and achievements.

2. Employers also seek individuals with unusual and compelling work and life experiences. People with second-language skills and international experience are in great demand, too. Take some language training. Volunteer for a needy community project. Become a reading or math tutor. Step outside your comfort zone, make a commitment, and make a difference.

3. Look for opportunities on CrowdFlower, Mechanical Turk, Mindfire, or other crowdsourcing sites to help organizations solve problems and seize opportunities. As Strauss and Culp emphasize, you can gain a sense of day-to-day practice and develop relationships with prospective employers.

4. Aggressively develop your interviewing skills – in person, on the phone, and via Web-based technologies. Many universities offer job counseling and interview training. You also can encourage your teachers to create interview opportunities in classes. Or personally take on a project to coordinate interview training for your friends or class through your local PRSA chapter.

Learning what employers seek in job candidates and how they recruit can help you plan and prepare your job search. It just might help reduce anxieties, too.

Bruce Berger, Ph.D. is Reese Phifer Professor of Advertising and PR at the University of Alabama and a member of the board of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Previously, he was VP of PR at Whirlpool Corporation. His column focuses on PR students, young professionals, and education. He can be reached at berger@apr.ua.edu.

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