13 things millennials need to know when starting a job search


By Jason Syptak

Career hunting is a piece of cake. It’s a gigantic, delicious, dairy- and gluten free piece of cake. Not really. But that’s what I thought as a Texas A&M University student.

Being a full-time job seeker is discouraging.

Venturing to the magical New York City after college graduation was always my plan. With my acceptance into the New York University Summer Publishing Institute that’s just what I did. When the program ended, my career quest officially started. Here’s what I wish I knew at the start of my job search

1.     Begin with a targeted list

You will exercise your marketing muscles by segmenting the job market, targeting the market with the greatest return and then positioning yourself right in front by showcasing core competencies.

Take note of companies, websites, contacts, email addresses, and characteristics that catch your attention because it will help track progress.

2.     Organize your materials

Begin to craft tailored materials for each target. Organize yourself by packaging cover letters, resumes and portfolio compilations into company-separated folders.

3.     Strip your resume

Large companies have online application systems requiring you to upload a document or PDF. Such systems tear resumes to shreds by only extracting words. It gets messy: Bullets are entirely out of line and text is clumped together. Create an entirely unformatted resume to avoid the mess.

4.     Send initial outreach emails

Individuals holding high-rank titles are humans too. Usually they respond if you succinctly prove yourself and are persistent in your outreach.

5.     Score informational interviews

Informational interviews provide tremendous opportunities to build connections. Informational interviewers may not be able to get you a job directly, but they become a part of your larger network.

Keep in touch with and update them along your journey using Twitter or LinkedIn.

6.     Practice patience

This proves to be my biggest challenge. Whereas many respond to emails, many also do not. In my experience it’s completely disheartening and leaves one in an uncertainty abyss. But that’s OK. Learn to play the game so it doesn’t play you!

7.     Revamp your social media presence

If your social mix is sporadic and unorganized, now is the time to outline professional and personal network-specific theme strategies. Always remember to stay fresh and keep it classy.

8.     Attend to relevant news

I constantly open a “Daily Reads” bookmark folder jam-packed with online publications reporting on my interested fields. Not only do I now have Twitter content, but I’m keeping up with the latest happenings.

Continue to educate yourself by reading focused news and absorbing it.

9.     Send follow up No. 1

Remember that initial outreach email you sent two days ago? No response, I bet. It’s the third day and time to send follow up email No. 1. Send a polite email letting the hiring manager know you’re following up.

10.Do something else

Pick up a couple of projects. Guest-write for a blog or start your own. Freelance. My own social media small business consulting is field-relevant and adds a self-revenue stream. Social media marketing for others also involves finalizing one’s self-brand for credibility promotion.

It’s important to stay busy and not lazy.

11.Bookmark job websites

Some situations play out where you have a direct contact into a company, they become one of your fans, but there are no jobs available. Unfortunate, but it’s reality. The way I maneuvered this is by bookmarking job websites. Whenever I discover a job for which I’d be a good fit, I immediately apply for it and let my contact know I did so.

Because they remember me, they’ll be able to put a face to my application.

12.Send follow up No. 2

It’s now the fifth day since you’ve sent your initial outreach email and two more days have passed since your first follow up. Third time must be a charm, and it usually is. Send follow up email No. 2. In my experiences, the person to whom you’re trying to communicate feels bad for not responding and does so right away. You’re finally booked in his or her calendar … or you could be annoying.

Think about including a new work piece so s/he continues to learn about you.

13.Continue with passion, hope and purpose

Rejection makes you stronger, but a lack of response is just confusing and disheartening. We don’t always get what we want.

Most importantly, don’t take rejection or response-lacking emails personally. Keep your essence, vision and what you want do.

Learn more about Jason M. Syptak at http://tx.ag/jasonsyptak or follow him on Twitter @jasonsyptak.


5 ways millennials can become better strategic thinkers

Chris Rooney

Entry-level digital professionals have received quite a bit of abuse lately, particularly that we allegedly feel entitled to be “digital strategists” just because we belong to our specific generation.

What can we do to counter those concerns? We can put in the work to become better strategic thinkers.

Here are five ways millennials can become better strategic thinkers in the digital space:

1. Hack your brain to think in terms of opportunities.

recent Forbes study noted that millennials are more “irritated, tired, and anxious” about their careers than other groups. Perhaps that’s partly due to “taking work home” in the sense that mistakes or criticisms you get on the job affect your thoughts more than they would later in your career.

In your 20s, you’re still learning how to handle negative emotions that might come from failures or criticisms. But let’s be realistic—an honest mistake or constructive criticism isn’t the end of the world.

Try “hacking” your brain to approach hurdles opportunistically rather than negatively. So what happens if you made a mistake on a project at work? As long as the mistake was honest, you now have a crucial new piece of data to refine your approach for next time.

2. Control information overload.

If you work in digital public relations, you have your finger on the pulse of all the latest digital trends—from new social media platforms to tech news to the latest tweets from your favorite celebrity.

Millennials spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes on digital media every day. With mobile as an increasingly important channel for information, we’re constantly absorbing data, forcing our brains to triage large amounts of information all the time. That leaves little room to think proactively and creatively.

Try to get away from the computer once in a while. John Cleese of Monty Python fame describes a solution in a hilarious 1991 speech. Making time for the open mode gives your brain the opportunity to become a producer of innovative ideas rather than simply a consumer, which is an essential part of moving from digital tactician to digital strategist.

3. Learn from your mentors.

A common criticism of our generation is that we act as though we’re entitled to success. The backlash against a recent Cathryn Sloane article is a perfect example. But despite our “native” comfort with social media and digital media, we have to learn the industry and business skills that only come from experience.

Millennials in digital careers can jump their careers forward in a big way by making the effort to build strong relationships with their mentors. Ask smart questions, and use the advice they offer you—the best advice comes from experience.

Most important, give back—the greatest relationships are two-sided. They’re investments in both parties’ futures.

4. Cross-pollinate your interests.

You might think that so much work is on your plate that you barely have time for interests outside work. Maybe you even compartmentalize your life—work and play should stay separate, you might believe. Think about this: Some of the greatest innovations of all time have resulted from people “cross-pollinating” different interests: Physics and engineering combined to start computer science, for example.

Your outside interests are completely valid in a digital career. Read widely about linguistics (my personal interest), blog about classic films, and absorb life outside the workplace. You never know what kind of innovative ideas might come from an unexpected place.

5. Think in stories and narratives.

Think of the best storyteller you can remember. Chances are it was a friend, a colleague or a family member. It was someone you knew who told riveting stories. They didn’t speak in business jargon, “leet” speak, or texting slang. They spoke like real people telling human stories.

Whether you’re copywriting for a multi-platform campaign, pitching an idea to your team, or engaging with a brand’s community, the essential underlying thread is storytelling. Learn to write like a human being—the way your favorite storytelling uncle speaks—and you’ll get your ideas heard.

We millennials have vast resources available to us in the form of information, access to thought leaders, and few barriers for getting more strategic ideas out there. All it requires is that we put in the elbow work in the way we think about our world, and that we discipline our thinking about how we approach opportunities.

How have you worked on becoming a more strategic thinker in your career?

This article first appeared on EdelmanDigital.com.

Millennials fundraise with cotton candy, cupcakes, and jugglers


The fifth annual American Cancer Society gala is expected to raise more than $100,000 for cancer research, which would bring total fundraising for the event near $1 million.

Jessica Levco

Want to sip on a cotton candy martini for a great cause?

If you’re a Chicagoan, check out the American Cancer Society’s fourth annual “Skyline Soiree: Wish Big” on July 27 at River East Art Center.

The fundraiser is run by the American Cancer Society’s associate board of ambassadors. Since 2008, this young leadership board of 50 people has raised more than $850,000 for cancer research through this signature event.

Working together, the group decides on a venue, production schedule, food options, ticket sales, promotion, marketing, and sponsorships. It’s expected that more than 500 people will attend. The target audience for this event is young professionals, ages 20 to 40.

Each year, there’s a different theme for the soiree. This year, it’s “retro birthdays,” paying homage to The America Cancer Society’s theme, “Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”

“The event will remind people of their childhood, only it will be for adults,” says Amy Kramer, distinguished events specialist for the American Cancer Society. “We’ll have cotton candy martinis, cupcakes and birthday games.”

Previous themes have been “the 1920s” and “circus games.” For a look at the 2010 event, clickhere.

The event will include a cocktail reception, entertainment, juggling acts, a silent auction, raffle and a celebrity appearance by “Bachelorette” winner, Ed Swiderski.

“It’s a cool event—it’s very celebratory and very casual,” Kramer says.

The board doesn’t do any type of traditional or direct mail to market the event. Instead, it relies on its email blast,TwitterFacebookwebsite and its media partner, The Sun Times to get the word out.

The silent auction is paperless, too. Powered by a mobile bidding company, guests will bid on auction packages by texting or calling in their bids.

The goal is to raise $100,000 from the event, but Kramer is confident the event will surpass that number.

The board tweets two or three times a day about the event. Here are some:

Our wish is for @kathythemix to join us at the ACS #SkylineSoiree:WishBig on 7/27. Will she grant our wish? http://tiny.cc/17b8ew

We are thrilled to announce that Final Say: a @maggiespeaks band will be performing at #SkylineSoiree on July 27th! http://tiny.cc/fsc8ew

We are thrilled to announce that @eswiderski will be joining us at #SkylineSoiree on July 27th!http://tiny.cc/17b8ew

“We don’t want to waste our donor dollars on direct mail,” Kramer says, adding that social media “is a great way to reach out to people.”

To attend the event, click here.

Is your hospital or health organization having a special fundraiser? Tell us about it! Email Jessica Levco at jessical@ragan.com.

5 ways millennials need math post-college


Caitlin Mooney

Andy Cohen said it best in his new book, Most Talkative: “my brain has a tendency to go blank when I see an Excel spreadsheet.”

I’ll never forget the horrified look on my math teacher’s face when I jumped up and down in his classroom after he told me I got a 66 on the Math B NYS Regents exam. To him, that was a terrible grade. But to me, I was done. I passed. I earned my advanced regents diploma. Check.

It’s not that I can’t do math. It’s just that I have no interest in it. Numbers don’t speak to me like words do. My senior year of high school I opted to forgo all free periods and lunch because my guidance counselor insisted I take pre calc, but I wasn’t willing to give up journalism, creative writing, contemporary lit, or advertising and design.

Needless to say, I am an excellent example of the stereotype that your brain is either wired for math and sciences, or language and arts. I only had to take one math class to fulfill my bachelor’s degree and upon graduation I thought I’d never have to solve math problems again.

If the foreshadowing in this post isn’t obvious enough, I’ll come out and say it now: as a communications professional, I have not escaped the grips of math.

In entry-level positions, especially at small agencies, you’re somewhat of a glorified intern in the sense that you’re expected to be a doer of all things, a jack of all trades. As a result, you end up learning the ins and outs of the agency and a sampling of everyone’s job (i.e. invaluable experience). While you may be done with the Pythagorean Theorem and graphing calculators, here are five ways math may creep into your life again:

1.  Grad school

If you decide to go to grad school, chances are you’ll have to take the GRE. It’s like taking the SAT all over again except you can’t use a calculator on the math section (at least you couldn’t in 2009). I actually had to reteach myself how to do long division.

2.  Accounting

It’s important to review client budgets and estimates to keep the agency on track for all projects and campaigns. I’ve also learned how to complete payables and general ledgers.

3.  Media buying

Remember that fun equation GRP = reach x frequency? Learn to love it. Also learn how to solve for the CPM, CPP, CPC, CTR, and analyze all of those numbers in an excel spreadsheet. (Are your eyes glazed over yet?)

4.  Living on a budget

If you’re in an entry level position in the communications field, chances are you’ll be living on a budget. To keep yourself organized, you may want to create a spreadsheet to help you solve for x in x = paycheck – (rent + groceries + student loans + car payment + health insurance + happy hour).

5.  Timesheets

OK, so this isn’t too tough, but it’s an adjustment to think about your day numerically and keep track of what you’re doing down to the .25 of an hour.

Do you fit into this stereotype too? What advice do you have for new grads?

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney.

For millennials, 8 lessons from standup comedy


Jessica Levco

I decided to try standup comedy.

It was the longest two-and-a-half minutes of my life. (Zing!)

Um…yeah. That’s pretty much how my set went.

Well, anyway, if you’re a millennial and you’ve got a big speech to prepare, there’s a lot you can learn from doing an open-mic session. If you don’t want to put yourself through that whole humiliating ordeal, though, you can just read what I learned. Here it goes:

Hire someone else to write your speech for you

I practiced some of my jokes in front of my mom. Afterward she said, “Oh, Jessie. There are just so many other things you’re good at. I don’t understand why you’re doing this. Couldn’t you just hire someone to write this for you?” That was a great idea. Before you even start writing your speech, pass it along to someone else.

Tell a story

If you can’t outsource your speech, remember this: People love stories. When I first started writing standup, I had a bunch of one-liners. I wasn’t saying anything substantial. There was no through-line to hold it all together. Most top comics—Cosby, Seinfeld, etc.—will start with an incident and extract the inherent humor. Is there a story about a company employee or a cute puppy that you can start with and then highlight your primary message? Something personal, heartwarming, or funny? Your audience will respond better to stories than to jargon and data.

Carry a pen and paper

Most of the comics in the room look like journalists—no, not twitchy with dark circles under their eyes. The good ones carried around notebooks and immediately jotted down what worked—and what didn’t—after their sets. When you’re planning for a speech, have a pen and paper with you at all times. Write on napkins at dinner. (Not cloth ones, though; decorum still matters.) You never know when a good idea is going to strike, so be prepared to write it down.

Always scribble

Don’t rely on inspiration to help you come up with something. Write whenever you can. Brainstorm new introductions and conclusions to your speech. If you write 10 versions of your speech, at least one of them will be good. Hopefully.

Know your audience

I was performing in a bar filled with twenty-something, underemployed dudes in plaid shirts. Your audience will most likely be different from mine—and significantly more sober (probably). Think about who will be at your speech or presentation. Are you speaking to stakeholders? CEOs? Your staff? Know who is sitting in the seats—and tailor your speech to them.

Practice your speech

Once I had my set, I practiced in front of friends and colleagues. (I stopped calling my mom.) I got different responses from everybody—ranging from “crickets” to chuckles. Looking back on it, I’m not sure whether practicing this in front of people made my set better or worse. Instead of looking for approval, I should’ve spent more time working on my delivery in front of the mirror—and laughing hilariously at myself. (I’m a great audience.)

Watch other speakers

Before I threw myself on stage, I went to a few standup shows around Chicago. If you’re looking for inspiration, watch some speakers on YouTube. Do you have colleagues who speak well during meetings? Watch what they do—and if you have your notebook handy (of course you do), take notes.

Learn to relax—and don’t forget to have fun!

I was nervous when I got on stage, so I sped through a few of my jokes. I forgot to allow time for audience reaction—and when people did laugh, in my head, I thought, “Wait…are they reallylaughing? I’m not prepared for this! I need to find Sarah Silverman’s agent after this set is over!” If your speech has a few punchlines, don’t skim over them. Let the moments soak in—and enjoy the fact that you’ve got everyone’s attention—whether they like it or not. 

3 reasons why I’m changing my mind about G+

Jenny Fukumoto

I’m on Google+. But haven’t checked it for more than a month.

I think a lot of millennials feel the same way.

When I attended a SXSW fireside chat between two social media power personalities, I still had the mindset that G+ is a digital graveyard.

“You all must be Casper the ghost!” joked Vic Gundotra at the sight of half the SXSW audience raising their hands to being on G+.

According to Gundotra, Google’s SVP of Engineering, there are 100 million “30-day actives” (people who log into their profile at least once per month) and 50 million “one-day actives” (those who log in daily).

After listening to the talk, here are three reasons why I will take the time to become a more active user:

1. I believe Google isn’t indexing our information for “evil”

I know storing customers’ internet activity is the norm today, but it still freaks me out. And having my Google searches tied back to my Google+ persona has always had me wondering what that information could be used for.

It was clear that Vic Gundotra understands the importance of customers’ trust. Kawasaki asked the question that was on the minds of most audience members: Where do you cross the line?

“If we lose the users’ trust we can lose you to competitors very easily,” he said.

In other words, it doesn’t make sense for the #1 search engine to use your information in a way that creeps you out. Google needs to stay on top, and being disingenuous will bring that accomplishment down.

The motive behind capturing your information is not to start injecting ads into your photo albums, said Gundotra, taking a not-so-subtle stab at major competitor Facebook.

2. Social annotation is the advertising concept of the future

According to Gundotra, social annotation is the idea that when someone in your circles +1s an ad s/he likes, then it will show up in a relevant search for you. We have seen a more general application of this concept in location-based marketing platforms, but not in a search engine.

If Google can get this right, it means customers will need to put less effort into seeking out relevant information.

3. It’s still a baby!

Do you remember where Facebook was 6 months into its public release? We were still trying to find further value in it than keeping in touch with high school and college friends.

I believe that as G+ becomes more integrated with other social media platforms, and easier to share on, it will have the potential become more relevant than Facebook.

What do you think? Will you continue to add to your circles? Or abandon ship?

Who is the wackiest co-worker you’ve worked with?

Lauren Yanow

Recently, Ragan Communications hosted a networking event at a Chicago comedy club, The Playground. We decided to interview the attendees (many of which are millennials) about the wackiest co-workers they have ever had to work with.

Check out the video below to see some of the best responses–including a few from some Raganites.

Did we miss any? Shared you wackiest co-worker stories here!