This past Saturday I attended New York Women in Communications Foundation’s 2013 Student Communications Career Conference (#SCC13). The conference consisted of different breakout sessions relating to media and communications. One of the sessions I attended was about social media branding for your job and yourself. The panel was moderated by Patricia Kitchen, Web reporter at Newsday. The panelists were:
- Elisa Benson, social media editor at Cosmopolitan;
- Kathleen Heaney, digital director at Elvis Duran and the Morning Show; and
- Morgan Baden, senior director of social media and internal communications at Scholastic.
Q: When you see a job description it says the company wants “this, this and this,” so how would you talk yourself into this position?
Benson: Every time I go to a job interview I bring a sheet of ideas with me, even though they never ask for it. After the interview, I always send a thank you note and add some more ideas. You need to inundate people with ideas. Many of the ideas you pitch probably won’t be good, because it is hard as an outsider to have the right idea, but I still think people are impressed by it. If you can show people that you have ideas then they don’t care as much about your background. I read this quote somewhere, “Ideas are more important than air right now.” I also think that the mistake applicants make is going to an interview and talking about themselves rather than talking about what they can do for the company.
Baden: I think enthusiasm is very critical. When I am hiring, you can tell when someone doesn’t care about the job and is just looking for the title vs. someone who is willing to do whatever for the job. You should chase after the industries and companies that you really want to work for -- and make that known.
Heaney: Before you go on an interview, you should look to see what is on their website, Facebook and Twitter page. You may come to an interview where someone will ask you to put together a tweet for the company.
Q: What makes a candidate shine through?
Baden: When I am conducting an interview, I want to have a conversation with someone. I want to know a little bit about you and how you fit into us, and what you can bring to the table. It is also important that the conversation we are having doesn’t feel forced, and that you come across as someone I cannot live without at work. I can tell when someone is not interested in the conversation. There is effort you need to put in to have a successful interview.
Heaney: I always ask my interns: What blogs do you read? Where do you get your news? What websites are you on every day? What TV shows do you watch? Especially for me, so much of what we do is entertainment news. Make sure to do your homework before you go on an interview. You can make a list and have a note card of your likes and dislikes at the interview. I look for someone to give me this type of specific information.
Q: What if there is a job you’re not that crazy about, is it still useful to go to the interview?
Baden: I think interviews are always useful. I also think that a huge part of interviewing is figuring out if you want the job and want to be there. Interviewing as a skill is extremely important. Therefore, if there is a job you’re not thrilled about or unsure of, but something about it is interesting, still go to the interview. And before the interview do your research and be prepared.
Heaney: You should definitely go to the interview. That job may not be as exciting on paper/screen, but you never know what kind of people you will meet at that job. Also, the interviewer may ask you that one question you never thought of and that you’re asked on the next interview you’re crazy about. I also think that when opportunities come up, they come up for a reason.
Benson: When you need to fake enthusiasm for those jobs that you aren’t as excited about, it is really just about asking many smart questions. Ask the questions that show you’re smart and informed.
Q: How have you heard about job openings?
Baden: I never applied from my job at Scholastic. I had interviewed at Scholastic for various editorial positions, and they kept saying I was great but didn’t have the background experience. Then about eight months after my last interview I got a call from Scholastic that they found my resume on file and something just opened up. I also had a lot of great networking opportunities from being involved with Girls Right Now. I encourage everyone to find a nonprofit or some sort of volunteer activity that they’re really passionate about, even if they want to do something else, because perhaps at some point those two passions will merge.
Benson: I would suggest having an app like HootSuite or TweetDeck, and then creating a stream of the 20 people you want to work for and tweet with them all the time. The list of 20 people should include your former bosses and internship coordinators. We all know we are supposed to follow up with these people, but it becomes hard to do, so this is how we should do it. Twitter has made it really fast and easy to keep in touch with people.
Q: What social media tools do you use in your careers?
Benson: One of my favorite things that we use at my work is called Chartbeat. It shows in real-time what everyone is reading on Cosmopolitan.com. As a social media editor, I find this tool to be very cool, because I can re-promote the article everyone is reading on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I can keep that buzz going.
Q: What social media tools should candidates be using?
Heaney: I want all my interns to come in being obsessed with the Internet. I want them to have their own blog, YouTube channel, Vimeo account, etc. I also want them to know their Klout score, as well as know the top five apps in iTunes. However, don’t overwhelm yourself. If Twitter is your thing, then do that all the time, and advertise that when you go on an interview. Also, treat yourself like a brand -- what do you like, and what are you about? You can do this by starting a blog or website.
Benson: Remember that your personal Twitter and Facebook is your resume.
Baden: I think that even if you don’t want to be involved in social media, but want to be a communications professional, you will still need to have social media skills. I would also advise that you know all the different platforms, and what they are used for. Know what the atmospheres are like within each platform, and adjust your content accordingly if you’re looking to build your brand.
Q: What is the first question you ask an intern?
Baden: What is your dream job?
Heaney: What are you obsessed with right now?
Benson: What do you think of Cosmo on Twitter?
Q: How can you brand yourself?
Baden: I would recommend places like Medium and Narratively. These are great places for writers just starting out and trying to build a name for themselves. I also think if you are trying to build a career in journalism and video then you need to pitch places like The Hairpin, The Rumpus, and The Toast; do one-off pieces for them.
Heaney: Don’t be worried if you don’t have all the experience you need right away. You can build it by going back to school and taking classes. Lynda.com is a great website for teaching yourself. You should never stop learning.
Q: What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out in your career?
Baden: Don’t be scared and enjoy the process. You are going to make mistakes and will learn a ton, and remember that at end of the day no one is dying on the table. Make the best of it.
Heaney: Fake it till you make it. If you keep telling people you are princess and you act like a princess, then one day you will be a princess.
Benson: Don’t be afraid to expense things and be more aggressive.
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