On Tuesday, Aug. 14, we hosted "Job Hunting 101," a #ConnectChat featuring Steve Gosset (@SteveGosset), manager of media relations at the American Civil Liverties Union (ACLU).
Steve discussed how he transitioned from journalism to media relations and also shared his advice on how to appropriately apply and interview for a job. This is the full recap of the chat.
ProfNet: Welcome & thank you for joining today’s #ConnectChatwith @SteveGosset. This is Evelyn Tipacti, taking over @ProfNet for our #connectchat. Our guest today is Steve Gosset, manager of media relations at the ACLU. Hi, Steve! Thanks for being our special guest.
SteveGosset: Thanks, Evelyn. I have always been a fan of ProfNet, even when I didn't work for the company!
ProfNet: Great, so let's get started and have some fun. Steve, please tell us about what you do and about your past experience as a journalist.
SteveGosset: I oversee media strategy and journalist interactions for the national ACLU. Includes pitching, interviews, writing op-eds. My team also develops talking points, conducts media training and helps our state affiliates with their media messaging.
ProfNet: Why did you switch careers from broadcast journalism to media relations?
SteveGosset: I needed a little more predictability in my work life after I got married and had kids. The news business was constantly changing, not always for the better. It was hard to do things that interested me as a reporter.
ProfNet: I understand the unpredictability, as well. The news biz can be very demanding and unforgiving.
san_dyego: Interested in answers to this one besides the obvious.
ProfNet: Steve, in your experience, what are the similarities between media relations and journalism?
ProfNet:Welcome to #connectchat @san_dyego! Thanks for joining.
SteveGosset: You need to rapidly respond to events, so you can get in the current news cycle. Just like a reporter. Often times, like reporters, we do work for multiple platforms as well. The days of being a one-trick pony are long gone.
SherryButlerPR: How do you feel media relations predictable?
SteveGosset: Re @San_Dyego: the money is often better in PR and media relations, though that should never be the overriding consideration.
san_dyego: Tis true. One of the reasons I decided to pursue PR and do freelance writing on the side.
ProfNet: Hello @sherrybutlerpr! Great having you here.
SteveGosset: Re the predictability question: fewer nights and weekends in this gig than any of my news jobs.
ProfNet: Steve, how did being a journalist prepare you for the world of media relations?
SteveGosset: Much of my news experience was at a wire service and network. Great training for jumping on a story and getting it done fast. But quicker not always better. You need to get it right first, not just be first. Don't just say I'll fix it later on the web.
ProfNet: Were there any skills on which you needed to get up to speed?
SteveGosset: Not really. It was a pretty seamless transition. I actually learned new skills, like photo editing, basic HTML.
ProfNet: Steve, what skills are essential to do well in both industries?
SteveGosset: Being insatiably curious helps. So does being a media junkie/dweeb. You can't fake being up on the news. You need to care. Sounds simple, but you'll do best if you work someplace whose mission/business plan you believe in. If it's just a job for the sake of a job, the day will go a lot slower and it'll show in your performance.
ProfNet: In your current role you also act as a hiring manager - - what is the most obvious thing people should never do that they do all the time?
SteveGosset: How about 3: applying for a job different than one advertised. Showing up late. Dressing inappropriately for the interview. Even if office is business casual, show up like that after you're hired, not before.
ProfNet: What's the worst outfit you've seen? How bad do people really dress for an interview?
SteveGosset: Had a guy come in with no jacket and tie, and open collar revealing undershirt badly in need of a wash.
ProfNet: Do you think people just don't care or are they completely and sincerely unaware? Have you ever said anything to them?
SteveGosset: Never said anything. That's why I 'm here today! Just a bad case of clueless-itis, you'd think they'd know better.
ProfNet: Steve, what questions should the prospect be asking a potential employer?
SteveGosset: Is there room for growth? Professional development possibilities? Work/life balance? Don't be shy to ask about latter. If you get sucked into a sweatshop that makes you miserable, it'll be a lose-lose.
ProfNet: Has someone ever asked about vacation time/time off during an interview? How do you see someone when they ask you? Is it wrong?
SteveGosset: Never have. Sometimes I volunteer that info. But as rule, I'd wait on that until I'd got an offer.
kevinaschenbren: Some might see it as a sign of laziness. I'd tend to see it as the person has a good sense of work-life balance. Depends on the situation, though. If they are asking for more vacation than is the norm, possible red flag.
SteveGosset: Vacation is something you can often negotiate. All depends on how badly they want you and vice versa.
ProfNet: Hi @kevinaschenbren. Always nice seeing you on our #connectchat. :)
ProfNet: Steve, what questions do you ask someone you're interviewing?
SteveGosset: Why us? If employed, why do you want to leave your job? What do you know about what we do? I was stunned at how many people had not done even basic homework about the ACLU and civil liberties.
ProfNet: My pet peeve is while I'm at a booth representing a company and someone asks me what the company does and hands me a resume. These days at least with mobile devices, you have the ability to check and do some research on the spot. At least do the minimum amount of research while at a conference before you hand someone a resume.
ProfNet: Should one always create a resume tailored to the job to which they're applying?
SteveGosset: Can't hurt, not always necessary. But good to have a resume emphasize what employer is after. For example, resumes for nonprofits should be geared differently than ones for academia, agencies or corporations. Assume resumes are being scanned, not read. Need to show on top what's going to grab an employer. Generic=circular file.
ValeryLev: @ProfNet And, what if it's the reverse - a headhunter hands you a job description? )
ProfNet: Thanks for joining, @ValeryLev. I think it's slightly different because at a conference you see the name of the company so before approaching them at a conference booth, people should know about the company beforehand. Don't go up and say, "Hi, what does your company do and BTW, here's my resume."
ProfNet: Steve, what are the most common errors you see on resumes?
SteveGosset: Resumes are often too long. Two pages max for media jobs. Too much text on a page. This is not a biography. Always good to use short sentences and bullet points. Again, assume resumes are being scanned, not read.
demilove: Maria, do you interview a lot? What mistakes do you see often from candidates?
ProfNet: Hello @demilove! This is Evelyn with ProfNet, taking over the @profnet handle for this particular #connectchat. ;) Thanks for joining!
ProfNet: Good points, Steve. Thank you. Is it better to list accomplishments as opposed to what you actually do? I mean is it better to say you've increased the number of visits to a website as opposed to saying that you update a website?
SteveGosset: I think you need to list what you do AND what you've accomplished, be it an increase in placements, an award, etc. But emphasize accomplishments. Saying you worked someplace and had tasks similar to anyone in that position doesn't help.
MrsARodriguez: Will there be a transcript of today's #ConnectChat available? Would love to pass it on to someone who is looking for a job.
ProfNet: Thanks for joining, @MrsARodriguez! Yes, a recap will be provided tomorrow afternoon.
ProfNet: Can you give us examples of the worst resume errors you've seen?
missusP: Assuming the gender when not knowing, as in "Hi Mr. Perkett."
MassAvePR: Seen far too many with "opportunities" spelled incorrectly. Also, not a grammatical error, but why, oh why, do applicants put photos on their CVs?
natsound: Younger folks put their schooling at the top. The most important thing to me is your relevant experience.
ProfNet: Hello @missusP and @MassAvePR!
SteveGosset: Re @natsound, I would put education on bottom, no matter how old you are.
ProfNet: Hello @natsound!
missusP: Exactly my point. Lazy doesn't cut it or give me confidence you'll do your reporter homework either!
SteveGosset: And if you're beyond a certain age, leave off when you graduated. Not an issue for me, but it is for many others. Similarly, if you have it, don't go back more than 15 years or so on the resume. Those same people will start doing math.
SteveGosset: To @MassAvePR : I've seen few instances of this, but wouldn't go in that direction.
ProfNet: What should one not include in a resume?
ValeryLev: Mentions of failures, pet peeves.
kevinabarry: Do not include your Facebook profile link on your resume!!
SteveGosset: Don't tell me about your hobbies or kids. Don't put references on resume. Supply if needed.
TeejayV: When as in specific date?
ProfNet: Welcome @TeeJayV @kevinabarry!
SteveGosset: Regarding comments about dates, I would also only use years next to each job, rather than specific months.
missusP: I've seen many with entrepreneur (or entrepreneurial spirit) spelled wrong.
ProfNet: A reminder: please include the #connectchat hashtag with your tweets so we can see your comments/questions. Thanks! :)
ProfNet: Are cover letters vital to the application process? Do people sometimes skip that portion?
SteveGosset: Absolutely. If they forgo one, unless it's a knock-your-socks-off resume, I'd look elsewhere. Cover letters tell me whether you know something about the ACLU and why it represents more than a paycheck. It also gives me an unvarnished look at how well you write, crucial for PR/MR, obviously.
ProfNet: Steve, many people forget about the follow-up - - is reaching out after you interview still part of the protocol?
SteveGosset: In my mind, yes. During recent round of interviews, two people didn't send notes afterwards. I knocked them out on that basis. Granted, not everyone feels this way, but in my mind that's testament to your judgment, common sense.
ProfNet: Is one method preferred over another? For example, is email better than a hand-written note? Is a typed letter acceptable?
SteveGosset: I have no preference. I haven't had the opportunity to have one! I've only received emails. But I'm fine with that.
ProfNet: If you forget to send a thank-you message/note/email, are you looked upon unfavorably even if you have a good interview?
SteveGosset: You are, by me. It's part of the job application process.
ProfNet: Steve, thank you so much for being our guest on today's #ConnectChat.
vitamintalent: Maybe not unfavorably, but less likely to stand out if the hiring manager is on the fence.
LPT: what is the "certain age?" (and apologies if I missed it - just jumping into #connectchat a bit late.)
SteveGosset: No hard number, but I'd say 45 and up, based on my own experience.
SteveGosset: Thanks, everyone. Feel free to message me if you have any other thoughts or questions. Thanks, Evelyn!
ProfNet: Thanks again, Steve and thanks to all of you who joined today's #connectchat. I hope you'll join us again next time! Until next time!
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