Brother can you spare a job?
February 1, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

What's the real way to get through to hiring managers? I know that its a tough economy right now but I feel as though I've tried everything that the "experts" say to do but to no avail. How can this recent college grad break into the field of her dreams?

Before I start, I have read all the other job search threads (and also have no "real" job experience unlike many posters) but I have some questions of my own that hopefully you guys can answer :) I've been trying to do this job hunt on my own and am reading lots of conflicting or confusing advice. I'm not sure what is right and what is wrong. This is also very very long but I want to provide lots of details.

I graduated this December with a communications degree and I am looking for a job in marketing or public relations. I have previously done two internships, a marketing one at a company that buys ad space for international publications and a pr one for a fashion designer. I have been looking for a job since May (although I officially graduated in December, I had no classes since I completed my final credits by taking a CLEP exam)

I have been relying on just internet listings. I go on craigslists marketing section every day and try to apply to any position that I can see myself being able to do. I've been told by numerous people to ignore mentions of "2-3 years experience required" as long as I fit the other criteria listed. I also have read numerous articles and comments about how simply applying to jobs online is ineffective but I don't know any other way besides going through a temp agency. I've used indeed which usually takes me to the company websites to apply and no luck. I've also heard that indeed listings are often days old and recycled from other job sites. (Sometimes I can see when the position was originally posted when I go to the website but it is not always listed).

I hear all the time that I should go with a temp agency. I would do that but I have some concerns:
1) There are many many extremely qualified and experienced folks out there that have been unemployed for some time. If they haven't had luck w/temp agencies then what chance do I possibly have?
2) What are some good temp agencies in NYC that place you in jobs for marketing/PR companies? I read this article about temp agencies and upon further googling, read mixed reviews about Atrium, Addecco and Core.
3) I have signed up with agencies in the past and was called once about a position that was out of the city which I could not take because I rely on public transportation. Is it true that I should these agencies everyday so they can remember my name? It seems as though that would just piss off the recruiters... None of the agencies ever called me to ask me to come into the office.

If replying to online listings really is ineffective then what can I possibly do to even get an interview?

To be clear, I have followed the conventional advice. I have a general cover letter but I change things around and customize it to each position. I try to go on the company's website and mention that XYZ project sounds interesting and I would be able to contribute well to that or that I admire certain aspects of the company. I take keywords listed in the posting and integrate it into my cover letter. I try to send my emails to not just the generic craigslist email listed but to also go on LinkedIn and find the email addresses of HR people and send to them as well. If I can find a HR person's name, I will write Dear Alice Smith or Hiring Manager.

A family member told me that they know someone in HR at a company near me and told me to send my resume and such. I really did not want to go through this family member but they insisted in having me send them my resume to them and that they would forward it to the HR person. This family member is a huge meddler and troublemaker and will use information against you. They contacted me and told me that the HR person found my resume to be amateurish and this family member proceeded to give me unwanted advice on crafting a resume. I came up with the resume myself after consulting numerous online examples. I brought what I had to an adviser at the career services center at my school and she suggested various things to what I had already had. I don't mind constructive criticism but this family member was just full of criticism and they know nothing about crafting resumes. It really upset me for a while and I really would rather not take leads from family members anymore.

As for the content of my resume, I think that it is the best it could possibly be. I did try to quantify anything I could but I really have not done anything like 'developed strategy that increased profits by 70% in three months' nor 'increased productivity by X%. I haven't won any awards or anything. I also really did not do much pr work at my pr internship. Since it was a position in the fashion industry and I was the newest intern, I was mostly responsible for grunt work like delivering samples to editors. I tried extremely hard in that position to get the boss to like me but it seemed like the harder I tried, the worse things turned out. So that boss would definitely not be a reference. There was also no opportunity for paid employment at that company seeing as how the intern supervisor (who I do list as a reference) had been there for some time and was basically the boss's right hand man but still continued to work for free.

I don't know anyone who works in marketing or pr AND has any say in hiring decisions (they just got hired), so I don't see how I could network. I do not have a network.

I know that this is a super tough economy, but its really depressing to send out really well-crafted cover letters and not get even one response in a week. After freshman year of college, my group of friends got smaller I don't have too many ins that way. I can't ask them to put in a good word for me because either my friends work at places that are not currently hiring, are still in school, unemployed, or no longer live in Manhattan. I feel as though I have done my due diligence and followed everything that the experts say to do but nothing works.

I applaud you if you read this far! I'm just so upset and feel like a failure... My family has also been financially supporting me while I job hunt but can no longer afford to do so. I'm scared and I can really use some advice.
posted by lovelygirl to Work & Money (40 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Get out of Manhattan. There are plenty of PR and marketing jobs in places that cost so much less to live when you're struggling to make ends meet. Move back in with your family, look for jobs everywhere.

Talk to the people you can get in touch with at companies that aren't hiring. Call it an "informational interview." Buy them a hot dog outside their building in exchange for 20 minutes of conversation. Get your name out there. No one is not-hiring forever, and when they get that flood of resumes when they finally do open the doors, you'll be "That lovely girl who bought me a hot dog that time and had a great idea about marketing hot dogs" instead of "Applicant #1934."

Take temp jobs that aren't in your field, then keep your ears open around the office.

And keep your chin up. Times are tough all around, but you're a lot less likely to get hired when you're convinced that nothing works.
posted by Etrigan at 10:48 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you haven't called a temp agency, you haven't tried everything. Call them. All of them. I'm 35 and every single job I've ever gotten has started through an employment agency. Even if you're offered temporary work outside your field, it can turn into something permanent that you may end up enjoying, and at the very least put some money in your pocket and get you some experience. I've gotten jobs through established national agencies and small local ones. I read your concerns with regard to agencies and they sound like excuses. Who cares if particular companies and offices have "mixed reviews"? Each office has more than one recruiter and some of them are good and some are bad. Just get your resume out there, to as many of them as possible. The worst that will come out of it is that you won't get a response, and since that's the status quo - well, you don't have anything to lose.
posted by something something at 10:51 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Etrigan, I am unable to move back in with my family and even if it were possible, they do not live the city, ergo no public transport. I do not have a car or know how to drive and definitely no money to take classes. So I am limited to cities with public transport and although Manhattan is tough, I am really interested in fashion pr or fashion marketing and NYC is the best place for that. I love living in NYC and although I love love traveling and going to new places, I really can't imagine living anywhere else!
posted by lovelygirl at 10:51 AM on February 1, 2012

Oh, and I think it's overkill to follow up with temp agencies every day but every week or ten days? Yes.
posted by something something at 10:52 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I didn't read what you said because i'm busy, but here is my two cents.

Make your resume gorgeous if it's not already. Get as much help as possible. Then take that resume and tactfully use it to populate your linkedin. Make your linkedin gorgeous.

Instead of trolling just craigslist and sending your resume into the black-hole of HR, start sending a fuck-ton of messages. Send it to HR, people at firms, to everyone. You need to be somewhat careful you don't overly annoy too many people at a firm. But use linkedin as your own personal whore, and you are the pimp. You want to make as much money as possible. Whore it out as much as possible, join groups, message people. Use linkedin lists to find listings of 30+ firms. Email every. single. firm. Tell them even if they don't have a job available now you would love to speak or meet with them to form a relationship. They didn't respond? Email them again in a week as a reminder. Do this for 2-4 hours a day. Take breaks when you are exhausted. Don't expect more than 1/15 emails or messages to get a response. When you get the opportunity to talk on the phone or meet with someone you must ROCK it. Then ask them for 5 more people to get in contact with.

It doesn't matter if any of these places have posted careers. Call them, email them, and ask to speak with them anyway. Create as many relationships as possible. You must destroy all anxiety and stop giving a fuck what some random firm thinks of you.

This is what I have been working on for 5+ months now since I graduated. I keep getting better. I still only have an internship and no full offers. But I have so many people I know now that are all cheering me on, have made so many networks and relationships, and have found a handful of successful people who help me every week. Don't give up. I get so depressed sometimes too. Sometimes I stop for two weeks because I can't handle the pain of feeling like I'm going no where. But then I start at it again. Don't give up.
posted by jjmoney at 10:54 AM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best answer: 1) There are many many extremely qualified and experienced folks out there that have been unemployed for some time. If they haven't had luck w/temp agencies then what chance do I possibly have?

Don't reject yourself. There are plenty of people out there who don't have a job for you, but if you keep doing their work for them you won't ever meet the ones who do have a job for you.

jjmoney has given good advice. I just gave my "informational interviewing" speech in this here thread.

Good luck. You can do it.
posted by gauche at 11:07 AM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Find 10 business with 20 people or less that you would like to work at.

On a Monday, contact the CEO by email, and promise in the email you will phone to follow-up in a couple of days. On Wednesday morning, phone the direct line between 7:30AM and 8:30AM. Don't leave a message. Try again at the end of the day, at 4PM; leave a message at this time if no one picks up, saying who you are, what you want etc. It needs to be 10 seconds max. Finally, promise to phone again at the end of the week.

Start with a new list of 10 each week. Research the list on Thursdays and Fridays. Send the intial emails out on Mondays. Spend Monday afternoon researching people you want to just chat with to learn more about the industry.

Email these people (people you want to network with) on Tuesdays, using the same technique as the CEOs you actually think you want to work for. Promise in your emails to followup on Thursdays. Ask potential networking contacts for the intros to 2 people.

I know it sounds a little weird, but there is a definite process to getting in touch with people, and securing interviews. You need to start early in the week with the process, in hopes of nailing down something (plans for a meeting) by Friday.

But forget Craigslist and other job boards. What a fucking waste of time - you'll just end up dealing with HR managers and other gatekeepers.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:08 AM on February 1, 2012 [10 favorites]

Best answer: You need to network. Do your professors know anyone in the industry that you can have lunch with? Or can you go to events and meet people? Have lunch with those people, and ask them for advice about what to do and who to talk to. Ask them if they know of anyone hiring. Then, call the people they talk to and say, "Hi, I'm lovelygirl, and I just had lunch with Pants! yesterday. He said I should give you a call to talk about X..."

Those people won't have any jobs for you, maybe. But you can ask those people if they know anyone you can talk to.

Keep a spreadsheet of all of these people, and have regular followups with them. Did they mention at lunch or on the phone that they're working on a big project? Follow up in a few weeks or a month or so and ask how that project is going. Is a contact's wife pregnant? Sent a congratulatory note when the baby is born.

Once you make contact with people, you will eventually meet a hiring manger, or a friend of a hiring manager. Your cordial conversations and followups with people in the industry will have built goodwill.
posted by Pants! at 11:11 AM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: This is a bit of a derail, but there is one skill that would open a million new opportunities for you (job and otherwise), can be done probably done over the space of a few months, and probably cost less than three credit hours at a local university. Learn to drive. Seriously. It won't get any easier as you get older. Even if you stay in Manhattan, driving is one of those skills that most grown-ups should have. I have worked with half a dozen professionals in NYC who couldn't drive, and found them selves in sticky predicaments because of it when traveling outside of NYC or the 4-5 other US cities with decent public transportation. I have a friend living in Jersey City who was able to get an AMAZING job about an hours drive outside the city in NJ. But there is no public transportation there, and three months into this she is in a major crisis as her carpool arrangement fell through, and she's trying to learn to drive under pressure. She's thinking about quitting. Seriously, learn to drive.
posted by kimdog at 11:12 AM on February 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

Best answer: You said you've had 2 internships? Those count as experience. Just clearly mark them as internships on your resume and say what you did in these internships and you're good. In your cover letter you can elaborate and tailor to the job description. I would also apply for the ones that ask for 2-3 years experience. Can you contact the people you worked with there? Your supervisors, etc.
posted by fromageball at 11:12 AM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: I go on craigslists marketing section every day and try to apply to any position that I can see myself being able to do. I've been told by numerous people to ignore mentions of "2-3 years experience required" as long as I fit the other criteria listed.

It's not that I necessarily think you should stop applying to the ones asking for 2-3 years of experience, because you might get lucky, but I think the probably get a lot of applications from people who do have that experience. I assume you're still applying to entry level jobs also? Probably best to apply mostly to those, and a few of the ones requiring more experience.

I go on craigslists marketing section every day and try to apply to any position that I can see myself being able to do.

I see you tailor your cover letter but do you tailor your resume for all these different types of positions, emphasizing different things? Like do you have a different resume that you send to the marketing jobs, and a different one that you send to the PR jobs, etc? You don't have to start from scratch, it can be as simple as changing the order of how you list the things you did at each job, putting the relevant things first, leaving off other things that are irrelevant to that particular job.

I take keywords listed in the posting and integrate it into my cover letter.

When I was first looking for entry level jobs out of college, I found the most effective thing to do was just look through the ad for all the requirements/job duties and just directly address each one. No wall of text. Direct and to the point. So my cover letter would have a short 1 sentence intro and then look something like:

To address your requirements:

self-starter requiring little supervision:
In Job X my manager only worked from the office 2x per week; I worked solo during the other 3 days.

familiarity with Excel:
In Job Y I was trained to use Excel, and used it to do a, b, c.

Just make it really, really easy for whoever is reading all these cover letters. Short sentences. To the point. No text blocks.

I also really did not do much pr work at my pr internship... I was mostly responsible for grunt work like delivering samples to editors.

Make sure you really look at the requirements and job duties listed in the ad, and make sure your cover letter and resume really matches those. And try as much as you can to make it match the order in the ad.

I bet a lot of these entry level PR jobs will also have the "grunt work" too, right? So say this hypothetical ad states: Will be responsible for delivering samples to editors, making photocopies, writing press releases, making social media updates.

Then in your resume list your experience in your PR internship in that order. In your cover letter address each in that order (you can group some of the grunt work stuff together and address it all in the same sentence). Because honestly, they might not be looking for someone who has already done a ton of PR work, they might really want someone who will be okay with making the photocopies and running around to editors.
posted by cairdeas at 11:18 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Your "field of dreams" job is the left-most lane in a 4-lane highway. Your objective should get successively closer to the 4th lane - not jump over. Each job is a potential lane change closer.


- reduce your competiton: apply for jobs that you think are not worthy of your degree but shoulder your major. Land a job. Secondly - send your resume to smaller companies (who cares if they're not advertising an open position, email whomever you research is your would-be-boss). You're reducing competiton, and they usually don't have such strict HR managers (if any at all).

If would suggest shoot with your Marketing background, every company (to some degree) needs marketing-related efforts. They usually can't afford the more experienced folks.

Finally, shoot for companies that might be disadvantaged in some way (recent immigrant-owned companies (American English challenges), startups, not-so-glamorous facilities.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:22 AM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: "I am really interested in fashion pr or fashion marketing"

I suspected as much before I got to this line. A lot of these positions do not pay and much of the industry is predicated on not-paying jobs for interns, etc. In creative and/or glamour industries, there are SO many people willing to do the work that they can "hire" plenty of people who will work for free. Also, everyone I know who is PAID to work in fashion marketing or PR works in California. (I went to college in the Midwest, and the people I know in fashion are either from the East Coast or Midwest.) Most of them came into the industry sideways from other industries (often web-related, often as part of a wave of web hiring in the mid-90s). I don't mean to be discouraging but fashion is a kind-of rotten field, and it really helps to have connections first, and you say you have no network.

Are you only looking at high-end couture or are you also looking at departments stores and mass market? I mean, Target does as much fashion marketing as any company in the country. (They're after a fashion buyer and I'm sure Target actually is serious about people having experience because they are so huge ... but my point is that the job is in Minneapolis, not NYC.) My friends who went into fashion via fashion (rather than coming in through web design or something) mostly went through regional department stores or smaller mall-type brands and proved they could do the work before moving into something trendier. It's a good route in for people without existing connections. I am sure there are plenty of regional places in and around NYC with marketing and PR departments.

Another direction to go is to seek marketing and PR experience in non-fashion-related industries. I'm not sure it's all that possible to move into fashion from, oh, large machinery, but if what you love is the marketing and PR, you may be surprised how much you enjoy marketing telehandlers to construction companies. (And a reasonable career trajectory would be large machinery --> national department store --> fashion boutiquey thing.) If you apartment-hunt carefully, you can actually live in any city whose downtown was built before WWII without a car, while you learn to drive.

Where is your college's career services in all of this?

(On preview, Kruger5 has good advice.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:25 AM on February 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I have only once been hired from an ad; every other job I have had has come from what I'd guess you'd call "networking." Most jobs aren't advertised, and many that are already have a candidate in mind. I don't live in nyc or work in marketing, so I'm not going to tell you how best to do things there. But unless you are finding a way to make personal connections, I doubt you are going to have the success you are hoping for.

I also strongly agree with the advice above to learn how to drive and to broaden your search beyond explicitly marketing companies and positions.
posted by Forktine at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: There's a lot of good advice here about transitioning closer and closer to your dream job. Remember that it's easier to make two small steps than one leap.

If you're an accountant for a construction company and you really want to be a museum curator, it's probably easier to start by becoming an accountant for a museum and then a curator, than it is to land a job as a museum curator out of the gate.

Obviously this is better advice for someone who is already working and looking to change, but it's also there to maybe help you not turn down something that isn't exactly what you were hoping for.

This example was in one of the job-hunting books I was reading, back when I was looking for work, and I think it makes a lot of sense.
posted by gauche at 11:34 AM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: I have no experience with PR and Marketing, but about the initial application: I see that you do tailor your cover letters a bit. As a suggestion, what works for me is writing a new letter for each position. A general letter that's been tweaked here and there is incredibly obvious. I used to hire using craigslist a lot, and the difference between that and a letter that was written for the job posted was amazing.

I highly recommend reading Ask a Manager for help with cover letters and resumes. If you can afford to pick up her ebook, do it. She has really good, clear advice (that makes sense!!) about the job hunting process. I wouldn't have landed my first job out of college without it.

I was job hunting in NYC after I graduated two and a half years ago - it's brutal no matter what field you're in. Keep your chin up, you'll get there. Good luck!
posted by 9000condiments at 11:35 AM on February 1, 2012

Response by poster: Eyebrows, unfortunately the position you linked to is no longer available.

I would love to work for high-end brands like Marc Jacobs, Prada, alice + olivia, Dior etc. But I realize that unless I turn into Bee Shaffer, that isn't going to happen anytime soon. I would be very happy working for say, J.C.Penney's clothing department. And I am a big big Target fan.

I've been trying to get marketing/pr jobs in non-fashion industries but not very seriously so that is something to add to my to-do list.

As for my school's career services... I wish I had gone to FIT! I went to see an adviser for resume advice and did their orientation. But my school is primarily a business school so its more difficult to find the sort of position I'm looking for. And with regard to career/job fairs, isn't that basically useless as well in that everyone that's there is looking for the same limited selection of jobs?

I am really listening to everyone's advice and definitely would like to try KyoRoku's idea. When I was applying to my pr internship, my initial email was ignored. I tweeted the owner of the company and asked if the position had been filled yet because I was still very interested. She gave me the contact info for the intern supervisor and I got the interview and the job. I feel as though I should try things like that more because, hey, what do I have to lose? But at the same time, I feel as though in this industry reputation is everything and I don't want to be known as that annoying girl with nothing to offer.
posted by lovelygirl at 11:37 AM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: But at the same time, I feel as though in this industry reputation is everything and I don't want to be known as that annoying girl with nothing to offer.

If you become annoying, I guarantee someone will tell you. Otherwise, you are displaying persistence, probably the most important skill for life success. Don't be your own enemy. If you can't market yourself, why would anyone hire you to market their product?
posted by blargerz at 11:44 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: But at the same time, I feel as though in this industry reputation is everything and I don't want to be known as that annoying girl with nothing to offer.

Do not worry about this, seriously. These people deal with hundreds/thousands of job seekers. If they are not interested, the next day, none of them will remember you and your tweet, or phone call, or email or whatever. Short of turning up at their office naked and doing a jig, they will just forget about it.

And with regard to career/job fairs, isn't that basically useless as well in that everyone that's there is looking for the same limited selection of jobs?

It's no more true of job fairs than it is of Craigslist. Don't cut yourself off from any of these things with that rationale.
posted by cairdeas at 11:46 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

And by the way, lovelygirl, those job fairs are a great place for you to begin building your network. This is what you do. Go to the job fairs. Talk to their recruiters. Get their business cards. Bring them home and enter them into a file where you list each person's name, contact info, the date you met them, and a short note on what you talked about. That's the start of your contact file. Make a LinkedIn profile and add these people. Apply to the jobs. Then follow up with the people in your contact file thanking them for speaking with you, and letting them know you applied (if they weren't the person actually handling the hiring). Even if you don't get the jobs, you can follow up with these people every few months. That's one way you can start building it up.
posted by cairdeas at 11:51 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been trying to get marketing/pr jobs in non-fashion industries but not very seriously so that is something to add to my to-do list.

You should also try the opposite - apply for non-marketing and non-PR jobs at exactly those types of firms - think receptionist, administrative assistant, etc. While you may feel those jobs are beneath you, the reality is that they are the new "entry level" for college grads these days.

By getting your foot in the door, you will have a built-in base to begin your networking. If a marketing or PR position in that company comes up in 6 months or a year or 2 years, you will have a strong lead over external candidates if you have been a great employee and formed relationships with hiring managers.
posted by trivia genius at 11:58 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm making a list right now of companies that I could possibly have a chance in, like mall stores and department stores as well as smaller fashion companies that are newcomers (just like me). To clarify, if I am unable to locate a direct e-mail address for someone, and I basically cold-call the company saying "Hi my name is lovelygirl and I'm looking for an entry-level pr/marketing position. Would it be possible for you to give me the email address or contact info for whoever is in charge of hiring?", that would NOT be being rude and pushy?

I had to make calls like that with my first internship but to obtain or clarify the contact info of whoever was in charge of buying ad space so that the sales reps would have accurate phone numbers and emails and although I hated it, the people on the line really did give me the information I wanted... Meh. I guess I just really need to get back into the attitude of "I don't have anything to lose. If they've been in the hiring business for any amount of time, they've seen worse".
posted by lovelygirl at 12:03 PM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: PR jobs are usually found by networking. Are you in touch with the places where you interned? Have you contacted alumni working in the fields you want? Have you worked with your college's placement office? PR is not a job for the shy. You need to network, go on informational interviews, ask friends of friends of friends, etc.. Go to industry events--look at Mediabistro, for example. Are you following PR blogs and twitter accounts?

Rude and pushy is how PR functions! If you're polite, well-spoken and have something to offer, you need to get out there and toot your own horn!
posted by Ideefixe at 12:42 PM on February 1, 2012

First: If someone told you your resume is amateurish, listen to them. If you've been failing and failing and failing to find a job, its sort or ridiculous to not even want to admit that that could be a problem. Take it to a career counselling centre, and get some advice, and listen to them. The overly simplistic way you have described your cover letters leads to me to think your family member may be right.

Second: most people get jobs by leveraging connections, including their family members. Deciding to not use family members is shooting yourself in the foot.

Third: Start contacting companies you want to work for, and ask to come in and do an informational interview. Officially, informational interviews are there to help you learn about the company, but in reality, they exist so that you can make a positive impression on the person you're talking to. Let them think you're smart, and let them feel honoured that you want to talk with them. If it goes well, they may be be able to refer you to a job within their company, or may refer you to someone at a different company who is doing hiring. This is one way of growing your network.

Fourth: go to networking events. You live in the mecca of advertising/PR, and there are tons of events for people in those industries. Join the various nyc-area marketing/pr groups on LinkedIn, and go to those events. Dress nicely. Talk to people. Get their contact info, ask if you can follow up. Then follow up, and ask if they have time for an informational interview, or want to meet for a coffee.
posted by Kololo at 12:47 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm going to disagree with this - this may be a potential trap:

"think receptionist, administrative assistant, etc"

I've seen this become a stigma - current employer and potential employers do not often go the route of promoting the receptionist to a marketing position; the receptionist/admin is promoted to office manager, or HR - rarely strategic roles like Marketing. The receptionist "title" on a resume becomes hard to look past.

Rather, shoot for a position as an assistant to a *marketing role*, any kind of assistant no matter how small - as long as it's in the Marketing dept. These assistants do get promoted to full marketing roles, and there's no "stigma."
posted by Kruger5 at 12:54 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Kololo: believe me, this family member knows nothing. They cling onto a piece of info once they hear it and lord it over eeryones head while acting like the expert on matters they know nothing about. The HR person is the one who found fault with my resume and the family member just passed along the info. I would have listened to the HR person if not for the fact that I really didnt see how i could improve it because hey, I am an amateur.

I will take leads from other family members but absolutely not that one. We all have that awful family member that we can't stand. That's them. I would honestly rather work at McDonalds than deal with this person again.

I really love everyone's advice though (except the family member thing). I want to favorite every comment :)
posted by lovelygirl at 1:01 PM on February 1, 2012

The HR person is the one who found fault with my resume and the family member just passed along the info. I would have listened to the HR person if not for the fact that I really didnt see how i could improve it because hey, I am an amateur.

This concerns me. If you have received concrete constructive/negative feedback from an HR professional about your resume, you really need to figure out how to address it. Perhaps you could contact said HR person directly, thank them for their time, and ask them for any concrete suggestions that they might have on how to improve your resume? Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, here.
posted by purlgurly at 1:09 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Purlgurly, I have no way to contact them. My family member would not give me any info. I don't even know their full name.

However the only thing that she did say was quantifying things. But like I said before, I havent done anything quantifiable. I also did not do anything substantial in my internships to add some heft to my resume. I don't have any examples of leadership or special important projects I completed. I really did the best I could with the little I have to work with. A very kind Mefite has offered to help me with my resume and I have taken them up on the offer.

I would really rather just move on from this bad experience and make a fresh start.
posted by lovelygirl at 1:17 PM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: Listen hard to your family member. finding a job you love means putting all of your past prejudices behind you. as far as resumes go, focus entirely on your work in college that had to FP with project management in communications, that will raise you over many other candidates instantly. be descriptive and use action verbs to describe the scenarios. I agree that calling companies is your best approach but be sure to read what other people have to say about them, not just what is their own PR. You need to also consider what are the possible laterals to help you now. I would not settle for another internship unless it were for a good, high profile organisation. the problem you are presenting is not at all a young person looking for a job, but more a young person looking for a job a million girls would kill for and not having any niche worth a second look from a hiring executive. you need to be less general and be able to describe the kinds of PR that could really make a difference for your next employer and do so in a way that matters. I feel for you, but I would not hire you.
posted by parmanparman at 1:35 PM on February 1, 2012

Seconding leaving Manhattan. Your odds are not good; there are a ton of - ahem - well-funded people willing to do the job you want for free.

Learn to drive, move to Minneapolis (Target), Bentonville (Walmart), Dallas (Penney's) or any non-New York place where retail operations is going on.

You like New York? Fine - go elsewhere, work your ass off for a few years, see some more of the country, and then, if you want, you can come back and live the life of a New Yorker with a job.

(Also, you're babysitting this question, which is generally an indication that you're not interested in hearing advice contrary to what you already think. Maybe that's not the case here, but I'm picking up some vibes. Just saying.)
posted by downing street memo at 2:04 PM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: But at the same time, I feel as though in this industry reputation is everything and I don't want to be known as that annoying girl with nothing to offer.

Well, besides asking for jobs, a key part of your strategy should be asking for help, appearing to listen, and then thanking folks.

People love to give advice, and people love to be listened to. By seeking advice and broadcasting what you are looking for (I want to be an ABC in industry XYZ. Who should I talk to about that?), it's not annoying at all.

What is annoying is when emails are sent with little context or thought put into them, or if introductions are botched. It's also annoying to do matchmaking for a jobseeker, and then never hear back from them ever again.

I was out of work in late 2009, early 2010, and I'm still emailing people who helped me connect the dots back then to say thanks - it's a good idea to interact with your "network" even when you have a job.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:09 PM on February 1, 2012

Response by poster: Downingstreet and others: I was under the impression that "threadsitting" or baby-sitting" isn't so bad provided that I'm trying to answer people's questions and raise some of my own. I am absolutely listening to the suggestions. I will not deal with this family member again and I really want to stay in New York for various reasons.

But I do know that I should learn how to drive (planned on learning once I have kids and live in the suburbs) and intend to take classes once I have an actual source of income and a vehicle to practice in. I am taking advice from Mefites who have offered to look over my resume. I am aware that I am very average and therefore I do not mind starting as an admin asst. and working my way up and I realize that I need to expand my search beyond fashion. I will look for smaller companies to work with and will sign up with temp agencies. I will be pushy if I have to be but I really am not going to compromise location.

I'll never say never to moving but right now that's a non negotiable. Please do not think that I'm dismissing everything without a second thought. I am trying to take people's suggestions and work them into my job hunt but I will not be able to follow every single suggestion. Thank you for your time.
posted by lovelygirl at 2:23 PM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: My sister did this. She is currently living in New York working in the wedding fashion industry, which is her particular love. It took her almost five years--she also worked in a Hollywood style house and a wedding fashion company in LA before--to make this transition, I'm not joking.

Here is something that she did that I haven't seen elsewhere in this thread: start a blog writing about fashion marketing. Develop a niche: my sister's blog is known for being a wedding fashion blog. Talk about trends. Talk about campaigns that you like. Be aggressive about getting your blog out there with other bloggers in the fashion marketing industry. Include your blog as part of your experience when you send out your CV. Get to know people. Most importantly, be consistent about updating your blog!
posted by so much modern time at 2:36 PM on February 1, 2012

PR/Marketing is not my field, but I do work in an environment where I supervise a number of interns each semester.

Please tell me you've kept in touch with your internship supervisors. If not, now is the time to get back in touch with them. Ask them about networking events, whether they know of any openings, general advice, etc. Assuming you left on good terms, former supervisors can be one of the best contacts to keep up. I am always flattered when my former interns contact me for advice on their future, and more than happy to help.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:10 PM on February 1, 2012

Best answer: Find a charity you like -- maybe one that provides second hand clothes to people who are trying to reenter society or something or something sort of loosely fashion related, and offer to do social media and PR for them. These places could probably use the help, and that will give you additional experience that you can put on your resume. Maybe somebody on the board works at one of the companies your targeting and could become an advocate for you. Maybe your efforts can increase traffic to their site by 4%. Now you have a quantifiable metric to put on your resume.

Find some artist friend, and create one of those T-shirt web sites. They do the art, you do the marketing. Now you've created an opportunity for yourself, and even if it doesn't catch fire, how much are you out really? Just the time you invested, and it's all experience.

I'm surprised that you can't think of any way to quantify what you did in your internships. What exactly did you do in those internships? Do you know why the company wanted you to work on those projects? Beyond the learning experience for you, what was in it for them?

You want to work in marketing and PR. Well, finding work is about marketing yourself and there are a lot of I can'ts or I won'ts here. I understand the frustration, and I feel for you. I wouldn't want to be launching a career in this economy, but I urge you to examine that attitude closely. Employers want people who are problem solvers. You don't know how to arrange your experience to provide metrics of success. OK, that's a problem to be solved, so figure out how to solve it.

Good luck. I hope you find something soon.
posted by willnot at 5:16 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

But my school is primarily a business school so its more difficult to find the sort of position I'm looking for.

What? There isn't much in the world the screams "business" more than marketing and sales. I'm going to give you the advice a professor gave me when I graduated from college 20+ years ago.

Get a job. Any job. After two years you'll be in a position to start to work towards your dream job. But step one in getting your dream job is to get a job.

And Nthing networking. You are in Manhattan. There must be 1000 places where fashion industry types congregate. Networking events, fashion shows, bars, store openings, whatever. Be there, impress somebody. In this economy, a new college grad with nothing on her resume that makes her stand out, trying to get into a notoriously difficult field, needs to try harder, and smarter, than the next person. The path to retail buyer at corporate at JC Penny starts at the local mall. I guarantee you current employees have a little better shot at being noticed for the buyer jobs at corporate than do the recent college grads sending in resumes. If you really want a job in fashion prove it to them by stating at the bottom - the mall.
posted by COD at 6:57 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm making a list right now of companies that I could possibly have a chance in, like mall stores and department stores as well as smaller fashion companies that are newcomers (just like me). To clarify, if I am unable to locate a direct e-mail address for someone, and I basically cold-call the company saying "Hi my name is lovelygirl and I'm looking for an entry-level pr/marketing position. Would it be possible for you to give me the email address or contact info for whoever is in charge of hiring?", that would NOT be being rude and pushy?

It's kind of weird, actually. What I would do would be to find out the name of the person I wanted to talk to, and do a little bit of internet research and figure out their contact details. For example, you might be able to figure out how emails work ( vs.

Don't forget, people may not respond to emails anyway, so you're going to have to call. If I'm cold calling someone for a networking appointment and I don't know the direct line, I always ask whoever answers the phone "what's the best way to get ahold of so-and-so? Is there a direct line I can call?"

People will usually provide you with this info (as long as you don't set off the crazy alarm). But it's going to take a combination of email, phone and even tweeting to get ahold of some people.

PS: I like your method of connecting with people via tweeting. I had never considered that as a job search tactic. It's great.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:02 PM on February 1, 2012

Basically, you need to figure out (a) how to get your foot in the door and/or (b) how to make yourself stand out from the crowd to make that happen. Also, as a somewhat shy person, the whole attending networking events knowing ZERO people thing sounds a lot easier said than done and would totally freak me out. It needs to be done, but here's a few ideas which are not so in-your-face mentioned lightly upthread that could use more emphasis:

- Start a fashion/style blog. If you have nothing from previous internships or jobs indicating you have experience in fashion, you have to show an interest and passion for it to sell yourself under it as a your branding.

- Learn a new skill. Besides driving, some other interesting ones could be another language. Just being able to speak another language opens heaps of new doors from you, plus being able to stand out from the crowd. Can you knit or sewn and sell pieces on etsy? I remember seeing a girl who found a niche knitting scarves in odd shapes like a long pizza or spaghetti and meatballs and selling those for ABSURD prices over $100 a piece. Something like that, just standing out, can really open a huge network.

- don't be afraid to enter in any random entry level position in a company. Someone upthread said entering as an assistant or secretary is detrimental. From my observations, I've seen assistants in my company being moved up to fast into marketing and public relations. So starting as an assistant is not a step in the wrong direction.
posted by peachtree at 4:02 AM on February 2, 2012

I will add that you should be thinking of "networking" not as a once-off chore to get this job, but rather as a permanent project of enmeshing yourself as deeply as possible in a web of professional contacts and culture. It might feel weird to start from zero, but your goal should be for it to get to the point of being as natural as breathing.

I mean, I have colleagues in both private and public sector jobs who I can call when I have a "how does this work?" question, and they do the same with me. We trade favors all the time, as well as hang out and drink beer at conferences. And if one of them called me and said "hey, I just met with lovelygirl and I'm sending over her resume, you should consider her for that open position you have," you can bet I would listen, and vice versa.

But what I've seen people in your position often do is to not treat it as a two-way street, not follow up, and drop out of contact after maybe one "informational interview." Well, do you really think I'm going to pass around your resume or recommend you to someone I know if you don't seem to have the courtesy or seriousness to stay in contact or even say thanks? I see a lot of people looking for a job, but not a lot of people who seem serious about embedding themselves within a professional culture.

Lastly, before you start working these really extended and cold-call style contacts, make sure you are doing the easy stuff, like working the ass off your school's alumni population. Those people may not be in PR, but they might be hiring or know someone who is, and as a fellow alum you have a foot in the door in a way that a stranger never will.
posted by Forktine at 6:19 AM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not to nit-pick or invalidate anyone else's contributions in this thread, but instead of focusing on how to stand out from the crowd, perhaps think in terms of personal fit and how you will fit into the culture of the company.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on February 2, 2012

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