There are few absolutes in life, but one many can agree on is that we must work to live. Smart, tenacious and passionate professionals hope to embark upon a challenging career path that is motivating, inspires creativity and has impact. Essentially, we are all striving to successfully unite what we must do, with what we love to do.

H+K Strategies is a place where this vision can be realized, and I’m not just saying that because I happen to head up talent acquisition for H+K in the U.S. or because I was a boomerang and have gotten hired, not once, but twice at H+K. I’m saying it because I have lived it and I know it is true.

With offices around the world and sector expertise across industries, the opportunities are endless. How can YOU become a part of this global network? Here I share tips to demystify the “big agency” hiring process and help you get hired at H+K, realize your vision, and hopefully, live for your work.

I liken the process to something all PR professionals readily understand – media relations. To be successful, you must find the right publication, the right reporter, craft a smart pitch and build relationships in order to secure a placement that tells the right story. In this case, a story about you.

Create Your Media List:

Before pitching, you need to decide what outlets to target. Who is your target audience and where can you find them?

We are a global communications agency with 12 U.S. offices in major cities. Think of each location as a media outlet. When applying, focus your search on the right market and customize your application for each city. Live in New York but are planning a move to Dallas? Make sure to use a concise cover letter explaining your relocation plans and timeline. This will ensure our recruiting team knows you are serious about a particular role or market, even if you currently live elsewhere. Knowing where you want to be is a key step in successfully landing a position with H+K.

Research Media Outlets & Identify The Correct Reporters:

Think of all the reporters who write for major news outlets such as The Huffington Post or The New York Times. If you pitch blindly to every reporter chances are you will be ignored, and may also get a strike against you from some whose time you’ve wasted. To be successful you must customize your pitch. Do your research and be specific about why and how you are telling your story.

The same is true when applying at a global firm such as H+K. Once you’ve identified where you want to be, research and explore openings related to what you want, and what you are qualified to do. Our latest postings can be found here. Review the descriptions carefully for specific qualifications, sector expertise and desired years of experience.

Now For The Pitch:

This is the exciting time when you present your story in a way that will capture a reporter’s attention and secure a placement. Your resume and cover letter are your pitch. It’s where you showcase your story, experience and strengths in written form. Your resume is what will get you an interview. How do you format your resume to get noticed?

To stand out to a journalist receiving hundreds of pitches each day:

  • Be brief – if your resume needs to be more than one page, be sure everything you include is relevant
  • Get to the point – make it easy to read and highlight the skills and experience that make you qualified
  • Edit, proofread, show a friend - make sure your resume is free of typos and grammatical errors; typos will get you noticed…just not in the way you want
  • Customize – edit your resume on an ongoing basis to be sure you are highlighting skills and an objective specific to each job
  • Key words – include key words in your resume to ensure your resume will come up when the recruiting team is searching its applicant database (for a clue at what key words to use, read and re-read the job description)
  • Cover note – include a concise cover note detailing your interest and anything your resume can’t tell us such as relocation plans, Visa needs and your availability

Build The Story:

Congratulations! You got a bite. A reporter from your target outlet just called and they are interested. A cover story is within reach. Now you need to facilitate interviews and provide any additional assets the reporter needs to build the story.

If your pitch is successful, a recruiter from H+K will contact you for a phone interview. If that goes well, you can expect at least one to two rounds of in-person interviews with a variety of account team members. At this stage it is critical that you share your interest, experience and enthusiasm with the team. Remember, the reporter is relying on YOU to provide the necessary information to complete the story.

Do:

  • Treat phone interviews with the same level of attention and preparedness as an in-person interview
  • Prepare by researching the company. Look up staff you will be meeting with on LinkedIn
  • Practice your “sell” in advance to combat nerves and decide the specific work examples you plan to share
  • Come prepared with a set of smart questions to ask the team
  • Dress appropriately in business attire. Ask yourself, what would I wear if I were meeting a client for the first time?
  • Be on time! This is a deadline oriented business. Plan ahead to anticipate commuting issues or travel delays
  • Bring a portfolio of work/writing samples, in addition to copies of your resume, that you can leave behind with the team
  • Follow up with thank you notes to each person you meet with

Follow-Up:

The story is complete. Now, like PR professionals everywhere, you wait anxiously for the story to run!

Remember getting hired is a process and it can take time to finalize a job offer. Most journalists are working on dozens of stories and deadlines every day, so it is important to be diligent in following up without becoming overbearing.Do:

  • Call or email to follow-up no more than once a week
  • Offer to provide additional work samples or answer any follow-up questions
  • Be responsive and act quickly if any additional information is requested
  • Send connect requests on LinkedIn to members of the interview team to grow your professional network (do this AFTER the interviews)
  • Use follow-up communications to offer additional information and reinforce your interest and excitement about the position rather than just ask for updates

Front Page News:

Success! All of your work and preparation has paid off.

You can now stand back and proudly frame your front page cover story. It may have taken some work, and time, but it’s well worth it now, isn’t it?

These tips can help you navigate the hiring process and land a position with H+K. It’s important to remember we have all been in your shoes at some point in our careers and work hard to make the process a positive and engaging experience. With preparation, passion and a little strategy, you can successfully become a part of the H+K family with which we all love to work.

To learn more about us and the work we do, please visit our Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Twitter, pages and stay tuned for my next post on crafting a killer cover letter.

Laura Romanenko is US Director of Talent Acquisition, Human Resources