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For the past three years I have had the pleasure of taking pictures for the Annual Networking Reception at Villanova University hosted by the Graduate Program in Human Resource Development. I love the folks over at Villanova, and the event is always informative. Although my main focus is on all things communication related, hearing the issues that human resources is facing always gets my brain spinning. If you are in the Philadelphia area, or plan to be in the area next March you should mark your calendars to attend.

To see some of my pictures from the 16th Annual Networking event visit the Villanova HRD Blog!

16th Annual Networking Reception

“Good God Nicole, you haven’t posted a blog in a month!” This wonderful statement is exactly what has brought my attention back to my blog site. Shame on me for putting it in this period of neglect. I do have an excuse though….

I GOT A JOB!

This week is the start of my third week on the job with a company called Compass Management Partners. Compass is right outside of Philadelphia, so I’m back to living in my hometown instead of in Washington, D.C. Compass Management Partners provides financial and strategic leadership and management consulting to middle-market companies who are in need of leaders that deliver strategic business development, long-range planning, risk management, and growth acquisition opportunities. Compass Management consults with 12 companies at the moment, and is managing the growth of three new start-ups. My role within the company is Director of Marketing & Public Relations. My job is to execute internal communications and public relations initiatives for Compass Management Partners; as well as provide strategic planning in regards to advertising, marketing, and public relations to the companies we consult and partner with. I’m also going to be involved in a good amount of business development work (ie, writing business plans, etc.) At the moment, I’m getting up to speed on all the different companies and the industries they operate in. I’m currently at what I like to call the “Evaluation Stage”. In a nut shell, the Evaluation Stage is where I take all of the companies currently operating and evaluate their current online marketing, advertising, and public relations initiatives. This means I’m doing a lot of qualitative and quantitative evaluation to try and paint a picture of where each company currently is, and where I think they need to go. Each of the companies has varying degrees of an online presence and advertising/PR initiatives, but they all need to improve. From there, I’ll be meeting with each company, giving my recommendations, and helping them implement the tools and strategies they will need to improve. So, to summarize: I will be figuring out how to utilize marketing, advertising, and PR on a small business budget to maximize large profit gains. 

To be honest, after my contract ended with the Marine Corps & the Defense Media Activity in October (to clarify, I was a Civilian working on their website and social media, not enlisted) I started worrying I would never find the right fit for me at a job. While I realized that graduating in August meant I should be lower down the pack,  I wanted a job where I could have a fair amount of control over the program, as I had in my previous jobs. Yes jobs, NOT internships.  I worked during university, and I was lucky enough to have supervisors over me who gave me considerable responsibility and control over social media and communications programs. I kept busy doing some freelance photography and giving small tutorials about social media, but by the time March rolled around and I still didn’t have a job I began to think I was doomed. I kept thinking, what am I doing wrong!? I had contacts throughout most of the government, but with the hiring freeze that didn’t help. I thought I had leads from other business professionals who were impressed when they heard that I worked for the HQ Marines, HQ Army, and Smithsonian…but that ended up bearing no fruit. Now I know I needed to use social media more, network more, and present my marketing campaigns front and center on my site. Something I plan on doing in the next few weeks. Anyway….Then towards the end of March I got the offer from Compass and decided to go for it.

Compass’ clients work in a variety of industries. Retail, restaurants, healthcare, pharmaceutical drugs, etc. they were all new industries for a girl who worked with non-profits and government institutions. Luckily, I learn fast. Am I subject matter expert on them already? By no means, but I hope to get there as time goes by. What’s great about Compass is I will be able to build my business knowledge. When you work for the government, profit doesn’t drive your initiatives. In the business world, profit is THE end goal. Getting this business knowledge is invaluable in my mind, and I think will serve to make me a more well-rounded, results-driven communicator in the future.

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If there’s some tips I can give my peers who are still searching for jobs, or will be once May comes around, it’s this:

1) Network– The job market is overcapacity with qualified candidates. Networking with professors and other professionals can be your liaison to actually getting seen by HR
2) Build your personal brand– This is something I’ve had a hard time doing, and what I am trying to work at now. Working in the military or for the government, it’s easy to stick with the mentality of being the anonymous face behind the desk. My colleagues at these organizations knew the type of work I was doing, but no one else in the industry did. Job seekers need to create Linkedin accounts, showcase work on websites, take part in discussions about your industry, and be your own personal publicist
3) Tailor your resume to your industry– Resumes are all the same. Don’t be boring. Tailor your resume to your industry. (And make sure it’s updated with relevant skills pertaining to the job!)
4) Be proactive– Applying a handful of places isn’t enough, you have to constantly apply. Then, once you’ve applied find HR’s number and call or email them about your resume. Check back in periodically. Let them know you want the job. If you score an interview, send a thank you!
5) Stop being delusional– I come from a school where students are used to scoring internships or jobs with big name companies and international leaders. These students often get upset when they can’t score a job with these big name companies right out of college. Newsflash, there are thousands of other applicants just like you. If you don’t get the big name company right out, it’s not going to kill you! In fact, sometimes starting at a mid-level company can work to your benefit. Why? Because most mid-level companies are dying for a fresh perspective, and someone who will be able to come in and get results by overhauling their antiquated systems. Working with these types of companies means you can have substantial control. This means when the company achieves something you can say YOU brought them those results. Being able to show that is what will get you the dream job down the road (Hey, that’s what I’ve been told anyway. It’s what I’m banking on as well).
6) Most importantly, be patient! This economic climate is hard for everyone, not just recent college grads. Try not to get discouraged. When you’re bummed out it will show to potential employers

Have you recently found a job after a long job search? What did you do to land the gig? Any tips for those still searching?

Everyone wants a quick fix. Everyone. If you asked someone whether they’d rather achieve their goal tomorrow or in a month, they’re going to say tomorrow. The thought that shortcuts exist holds such appeal that I think it is possible that is what kept the weight-loss supplement market thriving all of these years.

Well, I’m here to ruin the fun. Shortcuts don’t exist. Success doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how many times it appears like it does.

Some consultants will try to sell you quick fixes. They will load your Twitter and Facebook accounts with fake followers to make you look popular, or they will tell you that buying an expensive online tool will do all the work for you.

The biggest lie I think they tell, is that they will build you a shiny new brand for your company. I believe in the power of marketing and communications, obviously, or I wouldn’t write a blog about it. These are however, one of the problems I have with the business. Branding, advertising, marketing…they all can make a company successful IF the building blocks of the brand already exist. There’s a quote from Anne Petry that always stands out to me about this concept: “A man hasn’t got a corner on virtue just because his shoes are shined.” Or how about, Keith Anderson’s song The Clothes don’t make the Man? Making a company look good through marketing or branding is like dressing up a man in a suit and shiny shoes. If the man has business sense then the suit will amplify it, if he doesn’t that suit isn’t going to help. If there’s nothing behind your brand, then dressing it up won’t help. No brand consultant can give you success if your company is not built upon some unique service, character, and belief.

Crappy ideas that fuel crappy companies won’t survive by branding, no matter what consultants tell you. Marketing is not the end all, be all. Good, glad we cleared that up.