Finding a job as an entry-level professional is increasingly challenging in modern times. This year, those challenges only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students saw their summer internships cancelled and new graduates entered a dry job market.
At any point in your career, finding a job may require some extra help. Maintaining an active network is one of our common recommendations, and head’s up—recruiters can be a part of this network! Establishing a relationship with a recruiter can help you access opportunities you might otherwise miss.
Junction Collective is a Canadian recruiting firm that specializes in communications, marketing, advertising and production. We spoke with Jennifer Morozowich, a partner at Junction Collective, to get her advice for new professionals on how to tackle their job search.
A little about Jennifer: she spent the first chapter of her career in advertising where she held senior roles in strategy and account management. She started Junction Collective with her partners as a way to bring transparency and simplicity to the recruitment process.
Jennifer is also a part-time professor at Humber College in the Media & Creative Arts department, is a job search coach, and is a moderator of the Toronto Ad Jobs and Networking group on Facebook. Her straight-forward and honest approach has helped thousands of entry-level job seekers and students prepare themselves for their futures.
Read our Q&A with Jennifer below.
How should new graduates with little work experience approach their job search?
With enthusiasm. Employers don’t expect you to have a long history of experience, but they do expect you to have the right attitude. The candidates that stand out are the ones who are driven, enthusiastic, confident, curious and ambitious.
Attitude is everything. Be open and willing to start from the bottom and work your way up. A sense of entitlement will only close doors for you.
How can entry-level professionals stand out in a job market saturated with communications and marketing professionals?
There are a few ways. First, be clear in the direction you want to go in. Select your lane. Is it creative? Is it Account Management? Research? Pick a lane. Don’t worry, you can always change it later. Companies hire people to fill specific roles, to provide a solution to a specific problem. If you are undecided in your direction, your chances of being hired will decrease.
Imagine, you are interviewing for a role as an Art Director and you tell the hiring manager you would also consider roles in strategy, production, and account management. How are you solving their problem with your indecisiveness? They want to know you can help them!
Second, understand the importance of a personal brand. I don’t mean dye your hair blue to stand out from the crowd. What I mean is, stand for and believe in something. Be known for something that is in alignment with your skills and values.
And finally, immerse yourself in the community. Join industry associations. Attend industry events. Network with the attendees. Connect with industry leaders on LinkedIn and engage with their posts. Share their posts, have an opinion, tag them. Make them see your presence online.
What’s the biggest mistake people make with their resumes and cover letters?
Our attention span gets shorter and shorter each year. The average hiring manager or recruiter spends 6–8 seconds reviewing your resume. Yes, 6–8 seconds. The biggest mistake people make is not being clear, concise and succinct in their resume.
When you’re starting out in your career, chances are you won’t have any quantifiable work results to share. For entry-level positions, your resume should give the hiring manager an idea of your personality. This is demonstrated in language, interests and experience and even formatting. I also recommend everyone, at every level, hire a professional to assist them with their resume.
Cover letters have been a topic of conversation for quite some time. There are many people who like cover letters and just as many people who are against them.
Personally, I’m on both sides of the fence. I love a well-written cover letter. It helps me identify if the job seeker understands the job opportunity and if they are able to articulate how and why they are the best person for the job. A cover letter that brings out a job seeker’s personality is the icing on the cake.
What are your best tips for nailing an interview?
- Prepare. Know the job description inside and out. Select three areas in the job description that you can speak to in detail. Provide examples using the STAR approach (situation, task, action, results).
- Think of 2–3 questions you want to ask the night before.
- Keep an eye on body language, even if the interview is over video.
- Dress for success. Follow the 4 C’s (Confidence, Comfort, Conservative and Creative). Wear something creative yet conservative, with no skin showing, that will make you feel comfortable and confident.
- Always follow up with a thank you note, however you decide to deliver it.
What is a skill employers really value these days among communications and marketing professionals?
The ability to take initiative and be self-taught. With most companies working from home, it’s challenging to shadow senior employees and to learn through osmosis.
Most companies have yet to figure out how to properly onboard staff in a remote setting. The onus is on you to jump in and be proactive in learning as much as possible.
What are the benefits of working with a recruiter during your job search?
Recruiters don’t find jobs for people. They find people for jobs. This is a very important point of difference. Clients hire recruiters to find the right talent for their open searches. This is how recruiters are compensated.
Good recruiters will provide you with some free advice or direction but it’s very important to remember that it is not their job to find you a job. Any conversations they have with you that are not related to an active search they are working on are out of their own kindness. They are not being paid to help you.
What’s the best way to introduce yourself to a recruiter?
Recruiters are super busy and are on the phone or Zoom for at least 6 hours a day. They also receive anywhere to 30–50 emails a day from candidates asking for advice or help.
The best way to introduce yourself is to do so without expectations. Reach out on LinkedIn and introduce yourself. Give them your elevator pitch—who you are, what you are looking for, the value you bring/why you’re different from the rest. Ask them to consider you for any suitable positions that may come their way.
Reach out to recruiters every 3 months just to say hello and remind them that you’re still looking for a position in your field. It’s a good way to stay top of mind.
How do you find candidates? If it’s through platforms such as LinkedIn, how can candidates improve their profiles?
The majority of candidates are found through our own network. We’ve been talking to candidates for years and between all of the partners at Junction Collective, we know almost everyone in the advertising and marketing industry. This is also why it’s important to just reach out to recruiters to let them know you exist. Stay on their radar. 85% of jobs are found through networking.
Recruiters also use LinkedIn as one of the tools in their toolbox. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is robust. The search tool for recruiters is driven by keyword searches. Try to include all of the keywords of your job/industry in your experience section.
Your title on LinkedIn also needs to be relevant and searchable. For example, if I’m looking for a project manager, I’ll enter Project Manager in my tool, plus other criteria, to see a list of all of the Project Managers that meet my criteria.
If your title is “guy who does everything”, you won’t appear in any searches.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, what should job-seekers prepare for during this time?
Unfortunately, the job market is not as robust as it was pre-pandemic. There are fewer opportunities available and due to remote working, the face of networking has changed. Be prepared to work twice as hard to be seen, get noticed and get your foot in the door. It’s going to take more time and creativity.
When interviewing, make sure you are well prepared for video interviewing. Try to create a professional environment. Test your technology. Dress appropriately. Look at the camera. Do a test run with a friend.
Most importantly, create a job search strategy. It will end up saving you both time and money.