Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your Career and You: "Kneejerk Actions Won't Work"

I had an unexpected...but totally from a newly-graduated senior earlier this week relating to his job search post graduation. Basically, he had no clue how to start (and apparently has done zero preparation for) this new phase of his now-adult life.

He's posted his resume on (now there is a giant waste of time!), is (finally) on LinkedIn, and is following me on Twitter. Oy!

I say "unexpected" because this fellow has not once spoken to me in the four months I've known him...including the two classes he took with me this past semester!!...about his interests or intent after graduation.

Now the reality has set in, and he asks "which companies should I apply to?"

Nothing about "here's what I'm interested in" or "I've done a couple of internships and have found that I like/am good at..."

Nope. Just "which companies should I apply to?"

As perfect an example of "kneejerk" job search planning as I have come across recently.

I also said "unsurprising" earlier because I am constantly nagging my PR concentration troops at Curry College, where I oversee the Public Relations concentration and teach most of the PR courses, to start their planning their sophomore year, junior at the latest. Don't wait until final semester of your senior year!

Most of them are starting to listen to me...some not so much. And there's not a whole lot I can do other than keep on nagging.

And a this fellow...choose to ignore my advice.

So be it. As the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." The same holds true with some college students and life preparation. Just like doing assignments ahead of time rather than 10 minutes before class.

Back to my young feller and his now-jerky knee.

I suggested (two days ago...haven't heard "boo" since) that he venture over to Curry College's Career Services office to look through their excellent database of job opportunities and other information and get his thoughts focused on areas he might be interested in or jobs that sound like something he would like to learn more about.

Then, I suggested, he should get back to me with a better focus on what he'd like to explore. I'm are many of my PR (and other fields) colleagues in the Boston area and help young people out with their initial foray into the working world. But we're not mind-readers; nor are we miracle-workers.

The bottom line, as I sit here in rainy downtown Taipei, Taiwan, on vacation(-ish), is that, particularly in today's highly competitive job market, planning and preparation are crucial to success. Kneejerk actions simply will NOT work!

"Amid a multitude of projects, no plan is devised." ~ Publius Syrus (42 B.C.)



  1. I am in a similar situation with a different perspective. I went back to school at night to finish my degree. I had been working at a public relations agency. I finished my degree in English with a minor in public relations, taking mostly public relations classes. I took the PR sequence.

    I just finished the career workshop at LDS employment. It was extremely helpful. My resume is transformed. You do not have to be a member of the Mormon church to attend and its free. Part of the class was writing power statements about what you can offer the company and videotaping and evaluating mock interviews.

  2. Sounds like the workshop was incredibly helpful. I like the "power statements" concept.

    Even after having worked in PR for more than 30 years and now having taught for going on 10, I still take courses from time to time to either brush up on skills that I feel are getting rusty or to learn more about something new.

    Right now, I'm trying to learn as much as possible about everything related to social media as a communication tool.

    My mantra is "stop learning and you will quickly fade into oblivion"!