This is my coverage of the “How to Make It in the Real World,” by guest speaker Nancy S. Voith, APR, Managing Director, CRA, Inc., on February 7, 2012.
Nancy Voith talks about resume building, LinkedIn and getting hired in the PR field
Nancy Voith encouraged UNT students this past Tuesday to pose this question toward themselves: “What do I want to be found as? What kind of job am I going for?” From there, Voith advises that keywords answering those questions must be spread throughout students’ resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
Voith, the managing editor at CRA Inc, spoke with UNT public relations students this past Tuesday morning about the sometimes daunting tasks of making oneself stand out in a stack of resumes and getting hired in the real world. The path to hiring success includes showcasing skills and attitudes, knowledge of the organization and environment, and differentiation, according to Voith.
A corporate communications and marketing veteran with nearly 30 years of experience, Voith explained that the key way students can make themselves a more attractive job candidate is by knowing their audience and distinguishing themselves and their work from the masses. Students should have as many resumes as the number of jobs they are applying for, Voith said, and each resume should be tailored specifically toward the particular position and company. Knowing ones audience through good research is crucial toward this personalization aspect.
In order to differentiate oneself in a real-world way, Voith emphasizes that students remain astute and informed about their particular industry. With a field-specific job, Voith recommends highlighting important words throughout the job description and researching the company. Students should discover what the company environment is like and understand what kind of person the company wants to hire, Voith said.
She revealed the three qualities through which hiring managers evaluate candidates: IQ, EQ and CQ. IQ refers to the student’s intelligence related to the particular field and includes the table stakes the candidate possesses, such as writing skill or if they are more qualified than another person. EQ signifies a candidate’s emotional qualities and maturity. Employers evaluate how savvy, astute, well-mannered and balanced the candidate is. CQ represents the culture fit of the candidate within the company and must not be underestimated, Voith said.
“What are you going to leave the interviewer that they didn’t already know?” Voith asked. Smart interviewing isn’t so much about selling oneself as it is about understanding an organization’s pain points, Voith said. “You have to show how you can be relevant to that organization.” This is a major part of differentiating oneself, and is something other interviewees don’t know to do, Voith said.
A concern plaguing many students is the type of work experience they’re able to list on their resume. Voith suggests that students list as many legitimate jobs as possible, whether they are industry-related or volunteer work, and to have at least one recommendation for each. For the students whose professional history consists of mainly serving in the food industry, Voith advises that highlighting ones leadership and initiative will help the student stand out.
Whatever the job may be, leadership is a very important quality toward differentiating students from each other, according to Voith, and therefore it should be emphasized at every opportunity in jobs listed on a student’s resume. Explaining the ways a student went above and beyond in each particular position gives employers and recruiters a perspective, Voith said.
Though her speech was similar in ways to many speeches about resume building and getting hired, Voith incorporates an important calling card in today’s technological environment: the LinkedIn profile. Referred to as the new digital business card by some, Voith explains that the business-related social networking site is where many students can amass a variety of professional connections and market themselves. Voith encouraged students to create and maintain a complete LinkedIn profile that matches their resume and to have others review the profile to provide feedback on their impression of the profile.
Emphasizing the importance of leadership and initiative again, Voith said profiles must showcase each and all opportunities for those qualities since the LinkedIn is like a digital business card and resume. “What I’m looking for is someone who has leadership and initiative. I’ll take that over a 4.5 [grade point average] student who can’t talk to anybody any day,” Voith said. According to her, the formula used to showcase a student’s experience is SAR: situation, action and results. Explain in one bullet what the situation was, what you did about it, and what the results were, Voith said. She emphasized that every bullet on a student’s resume or profile ideally would be in a SAR format that helps hiring managers understand why the student is different.
Voith brought her speech to a personal level, revealing to students her difficulties with finding a job after graduation and her experience as an intern to her congressman and traveling to Washington, D.C. At that internship, Voith improved the newsletter that went out to the district and that work went on her resume. “I took it upon myself to change that newsletter. Was it a big thing? No, but it was initiative and showed leadership,” Voith said.
Reiterating how LinkedIn is a useful tool for networking, Voith advised students to maintain their connections and relationships, since 87 to 90 percent of job opportunities come through one’s own personal network. “You always go into a conversation thinking about ‘what can I do to help you?’ It’s not what they can do to help you,” Voith said.
Voith reminded students that in everything they do, they are spending at least one of the three currencies in the world: time, money and reputation. She prompted students to ask themselves, “Am I spending it right?” and to always be thinking about endorsements and who is talking about their reputation. “How you choose to spend those [currencies] personally is going to be a huge factor in your success,” Voith said.