So you want to quit your job? Advice on when and how to move on

Hello Communication Minded friends, the last week of the month means it’s time to hear from a new guest blogger! This time we have contributor, and another fellow alum, Eric Hunnicutt. Eric graduated from UNCW in May of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Information Technology. While our guests have usually come from the marketing field, Eric’s recent career transitions in his own field have provided him with some valuable insight that we think all young professionals should hear!

So you want to quit your job? Advice on when and how to move on

“Congratulations! You’ve graduated AND landed your first job right out of school. Don’t you feel relieved? Your friends are searching frantically looking for a position but you have everything lined up…or so you thought. Let’s face it, for most people their first job out of school isn’t their dream job. But believe me when I say I am incredibly grateful for the first post-graduate opportunity I was given. However, I also knew from the get go it wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to do for long.

Deciding when to start looking for other gainful employment really depends on the situation. Personally, even after accepting my first job, I never stopped looking for another. Some of the limitations I began to feel with my first employer could also be ones that you might be experiencing as well:

  • You’ve exhausted your opportunities to grow
  • There’s little room for advancement
  • You feel as if you are no longer learning
  • You want to make more money
  • You simply don’t really like what you are doing

This period of wanting to do well in your current position but also advance your career can be tricky to navigate. Just as there is etiquette to follow when searching for a job, there is a similar code of conduct to be followed when leaving.

  1. When the day finally comes type up a letter of resignation, it doesn’t have to be long or verbose – just state the last day you’re available to work for them and thank them for the opportunity they have given you. Print and sign two copies of your letter. Deliver one to your boss and one to the HR department so they can begin the search to find your replacement as soon as possible.
  2. Give your current employer as much of a heads up to your departure as you can. It’s just the professional thing to do. Be courteous of your employer and realize they will have to take on the task of filling the vacancy and then training and transitioning a new hire.
  3. Leave room on the table for negotiation. If your employer really wants to keep you in the position you’re in they may be willing to counter offer. After receiving an offer from a potential employer I went to my boss and let him know. He then took this to his supervisors who put together a counter offer. If a competitive counter offer is presented, you will have to decide whether or not a financial motivator is large enough to offset the other limitations you may be experiencing.
  4. Once you turn in your resignation, continue to be professional. One of the biggest things I can’t stress enough is you shouldn’t change how you work after you’ve submitted your resignation. Stay the course and work just as diligently as you always have – if not more so. Don’t let your reputation leave with you. Keep it intact so your professional relationships remain there as well. You never know where you or the people you’re leaving behind will end up. Those people may be someone who could help or hurt your career down the road. Just don’t chance it.
  5. Don’t be afraid to tell your coworkers after you resign. It is polite to personally let them know and tell them how much of a pleasure it was working with them, especially if you work in close quarters or on a small team. Animosity between my coworkers and I was honestly the thing I feared most. I thought they would be angry with me for leaving. In the end they completely understood why I wanted to leave – I wanted the opportunity to grow and wanted to make more money. Chances are the people you’re expressing your leave to have been in the same situation before – they will understand.

Don’t doubt yourself or your decisions. When I resigned everyone expressed how much they’d miss me and they hated to see me leave, but at the same time how excited they were for me! It’s a good probability that yours will also do the same, take that as a sign that you have made the right decision in moving on to a position with more responsibility, leadership, or money. If you feel as if you’ve reached your potential then branch out! You’ll never know where your career can take you if you don’t strive to keep moving forward and further.”

Eric Hunnicutt

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Eric Hunnicutt currently holds a position as a Technology Support Analyst at East Carolina University. For further contact you can reach him on his Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

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Budget vs. Creativity

ATTENTION! Did I grab yours?

Attention is what the media constantly craves from consumers. However, capturing an audience’s attention not only applies to the media’s attempts with consumers, but also to marketers trying to reach the media. And when it comes to the latter, media kits are the first line of defense.  Whether digital or physical, media kits should be both well designed and well written enough to quickly capture the interests of your targeted journalists, bloggers, investors, salespeople, customers, etc.

I’m not just telling you this, I know this. In my current job position, I focus on corporate sponsorship sales. I do a lot of research on various companies and organizations. Part of what I do requires me to find their online media kit (if it exist), using it to find out what and who they are. I then use the information I gather to determine if their target market and goals match the community I work in; if they do, I proceed to make contact with their corporate offices. After viewing many electronic kits, I have found I am simply quite bored with them. It seems there is nothing interesting or fun about the PDF versions I have stumbled upon, even though they are professionally designed.

In my google search of press kits I found that my favorite, and the ones I thought were out of the box cool, were intricately designed physical kits. I mean after seeing this PS2 press kit that was a model of the PS2 with slots for literature, it is pretty hard to imagine a digital kit that could beat that.

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However, I did stumble upon a company called Webpulication, that creates online interactive press kits. Their example kit proved that moving objects and clicking can be just as mesmerizing as getting a PS2 model. (Below is a screenshot of it).

interactive press kit

Both of these examples are pretty cool, but who reading this has a marketing budget big enough to pay for such an intricately designed press kit? Or to pay a developer to build such a complicated, interactive press kit? I have found as an account planner, and I think this is true for many other jobs as well, that there is a constant battle between budget and creativity: or what you want to do. It is like a boxing match between two mindsets, “bigger is always better” and “less is more”. However, as young professionals we must learn how to navigate the ring. I am still learning how to do this myself, so I would love to hear from young, and experienced professionals, about how you justify whether or not money should be spent on a project. Below are a couple of things I consider before deciding.

Needs: Think of basic needs. What is the bare minimum I need to do to reach the goal I have? Then move up a degree. Using the press kit as an example, the bare minimum would be a word document with the information. Then, if I have the money and believe there is a need for a more professional document (FYI if you have your media kit as a typed word document you are doing it wrong!) I will hire a graphic artist.

Time: Time is a very important factor. It plays a role in many things, like how much time you have before you need what you need, how much time will it take to complete what you need, etc. Normally the more time you spend on something the higher the cost. For example a PDF brochure will not take as long to make as an online interactive press kit.

Function: Function helps you make a lot of decisions about what to do. So always think about how whatever you create will be used. Will you need a small number for a specific group of people like the gamer/tech writers at a conference? (Physical press kit.) Or do you need it to be easily accessible to a variety of different groups? (Online press kit.)

That point leaves me with my last thought: Can a marketer’s dream ever win against budget?

– Caroline Robinson

PS: Don’t forget to share how you justify spending money out of the budget to complete your creative projects.

Tips for making networking less painful

Remember the energy that surrounded New Year’s Eve? The excitement of the countdown, of a new year, of the things you vowed yourself you were finally going to do? How are your new years resolution coming along now that post holiday routine has settled back in? Other than the usual resolutions of losing weight, eating better, and saving more money, as a young professional you may have found yourself thinking, “This is the year!… This is the year I am going to find a new job… do more in my field… meet more people!”

Whatever career goals you have, its a good bet that many of them can be achieved via the benefits of networking. However, as a recent post grad, it can be easy to feel intimidated at networking events, especially when surrounded by peers who are more established in the industry and more familiar with the people in it.  Today we want to highlight some tips you can use to make networking seem more like an opportunity than a task.

1: Have confidence in your elevator speech

First and foremost, every professional should have an eloquently crafted elevator speech. An elevator speech, or pitch, is no more than 30 seconds and acts as an introduction and summary for who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for. For example, as a graduate, after introducing yourself, you should mentioned where you recently graduated from, what you majored in, and what you are hoping to do in your respected field.

Draft your elevator speech on paper so you can easily edit or rearrange statement placement or change word choices. Your speech should be between three to five sentences, any longer will cause your speech to exceed 30 seconds. Once you feel it is well written, practice reciting your speech aloud. Your ears will catch any unbeknownst awkwardness. Your speech should sound natural, not scripted. Don’t forget the importance of your body language either.  Smile and make eye contact with the person or group you are speaking to, and don’t forget to do the same when someone introduces themselves to you as well.

2: Know what to bring

In order to make the most of attending a networking event, you often need to solidify the connections you make with more than just a handshake. As such, it’s important that at the very least you have your contact information available in some means that you can readily hand out. Networking events can have a broad range in locale and formality, therefore, your contact mediums may vary.  If you are attending an after-hours event at a local bar or eatery, you can expect a broad range of professions. In this type of setting you should expect to hand out either your calling card, or your personal business card. If you are graduate searching for a job, and therefore do not have a business card, you should invest the time to make a personal calling card. Calling cards should contain your name, phone number, email address. If you have an online portfolio, you should also consider adding that web address to your card as well. After-hour events are typically informal settings in which people are there to a have a few drinks after work, remember you are there to socialize, not on a job interview. Being relaxed, friendly, and conversation is key.

However, you may find yourself in attendance at networking events that are industry specific. In these types of environments, you will find a higher degree of formality in both venue and personal presentation. In these conference like settings you will find that in addition to your contact cards, you should also bring multiple copies of your resume, either a notepad or a padfolio, and of course a pen or two. A lot of opportunity exists at industry events, be prepared to take notes on companies, people, and leads.

First impressions are everything, so in addition to the items above, it also wouldn’t hurt to bring a few sticks of gum, or to think about leaving a stain remover stick in either your car or purse/briefcase.

3: Striking up and joining conversation

One of the hardest parts of networking is not just starting conversation, but also keeping it. Most of us can admit we have been in situations where we take out our cell phone because we aren’t sure who to talk to, or how to introduce ourselves. Well, that all ends here! Below are some tips we gathered on starting a conversation, introducing yourself, and holding the conversation while at a networking event.

Before you have the opportunity to introduce yourself, you will sometimes find that first you have to introduce yourself into a conversation, or have to start one on your own. But how do you do this when you know nothing of this person or anyone in the room? The Daily Muse collected advice from individuals and companies on the best ways to start a conversation and listed them in their article,  “30 Brilliant Networking Conversation Starters”. Here are my favorite all-occasion conversation starters from that list.

  1. “Any chance you read the news today? I missed it, and I’m dying to know what’s happening with [insert news topic here].”
  2. If I’m at an event with food, I’ll often use that as a conversation starter, à la “I can’t stop eating these meatballs. Have you tried them?” @erinaceously
  3. “Did you catch the game last night?” It’s a classic, but it’s a classic for a reason.
  4. “Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?” Careerealism
  5. I like to compliment people on their clothes and accessories. I find this approach to be more friendly and less about professionally connecting, especially if you’re at a networking event. I believe both men and women can compliment each other on their choice of attire and use it as a conversation starter! @MsMeganGrace
  6. “I’ll be honest, the only person I know here is the bartender, and I just met him two minutes ago. Mind if I introduce myself?”
  7. “I’m working on an article about the best and worst conversation starters ever. Any particularly good or terrible ones you’ve heard tonight?”

So how do you hold the conversation after names and pleasantries have been exchanged? Small talk can be difficult to maintain but it doesn’t have to be. Try to be mindful to ask opened ended questions. These allow for contribution from both you and your conversation partner and answers can often act as branches for other topics of conversation. However, while some may be anxious of not having enough to talk about, the opposite problem can occur as well. Richard Kirby explains in his article “Five Ways to Improve Your Career Networking Results” that many people hurt themselves while networking by talking too much. He warns that dominating the conversation makes you seem self centered. To combat this Kirby suggest that you mentally take note of how much share of the conversation you are partaking in, as well as how much of that is your partner. If you feel like you are dominating the conversation, steer the questioning back towards your partner and allow them to contribute more.

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Networking events are not just a place to make first impressions, but lasting ones. If you had a particularly invigorating conversation with someone, met an acquaintance who could be a potential client, or developed a connection with someone with whom a working relationship could be established, make sure you follow up – connect on LinkedIn or send an email. Do you attend networking events – either for personal use or your company? What tips do you have or use?

-Savannah Valade & Caroline Robinson

Exploring the mystery of viral videos

We hope everyone enjoyed the holidays! We surely did, but now that the presents and eggnog have passed, it’s back to the blog! This week we want to discuss something that you are likely familiar with, even probably participatory in. While you were hanging out with your friends and family over the holidays did someone pass you their phone and say, “Hey, watch this new Google commercial!”? Did you get a text from a gal pal or best bud that said something along the lines of, “OMG – This video of tiny hamsters eating tiny burritos is hilarious”. Or did you even happen to be scrolling through a social media feed and see a shared link from a friend that caught your eye?

These popular videos are what you would call viral videos. YouTube celebrity Kevin Nalty defines them as a video that gets more than 5 million views in 3-5 days. Adding to that definition, viral videos rely on the process of sharing to reach popularity. This is normally done online through social media, although mass media, such as the nightly news or late night comedy shows, can help play a role in spreading the content.

Today’s viral videos have come a long way since their creation. The first viral video was developed in the mid-90’s by the creators of the classic animated television show South Park. However, it wasn’t until the creation of the video sharing platform YouTube that viral videos became popular… remember the decade of Charlie the Unicorn, Smosh, and Chocolate Rain?

While most of the viral videos that surface online have no point besides pure entertainment, the power they have to reach and capture the attention of millions is sought after by many companies and brands. The only problem is that viral videos have no fame formula. Subjects of viral videos range from eye-witness accounts, newscast, tv skits, user generated material, music videos, and more – the list really goes on and on. But in attempt to give them some categorization, according to Michael Poh, viral videos are short and simple, evoke emotion from viewers, have universal appeal, are identifiable and relatable, and elicit a call to action.

The broad ranging and lack of formula of viral success has many scratching their heads, “If a dog dressed as a teddy bear can get millions of views, why can’t I?” However, when it comes to trying to fit viral video into the marketing equation, one thing is certain: Not all viral videos are promotional, but some promotional videos can go viral.

Promotional and viral videos can have overlapping features, but they are not the same. Promotional videos are specifically marketing and sales tools that are designed to introduce, or educate consumers about a particular product, cause, or organization. Typically, promo videos are a structured, precise, and planned media tactic. Viral videos on the other hand can be of anything, by anyone, anywhere. This doesn’t mean that promotional videos are made within a high quality studio while viral videos are shot with a shaky handycam. Viral videos can be artfully and beautifully crafted clips as well. And in turn, this also doesn’t mean that promotional videos can’t be humorous or entertaining. Take for example the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial. Although it is an ad, the humorous actor and clever universal writing made it a viral sensation.

So back to the question brand managers are asking, how can I make a viral video? There seems to be two rules that have surfaced in our research. The first – the video should portray your brand’s image but without being overly promotional. In his own article, Joshua Hardwick, explains that a video needs to ooze brand personality without giving the hard sell. As mentioned last week, it seems to be deemed that the spots that strike favor are ones that don’t explicitly “tell” you about their product, but the ones that give you a “tale” with their product. Second – you don’t get to determine whether or not is, or can be, viral – the viewers do. As much free flowing opportunity that exists within the realm of subject matter for a viral video, the viewer, and if they become a sharer, is what really matters.

However tempting it may be to try and create a viral video, the most important thing to, as with any marketing, is to remember is your audience. The reason viral videos gain such popularity is that they resonate with the viewer, so in simplest terms that should be the goal of your marketing/promotional video as well – create content that resonates with your targeted consumers. Study the demographics of your audience and find out not only what content draws them in but where they like to receive their content from. Is YouTube the best outlet for your initial video release, or should you post it on Twitter or Facebook to start circulation?  When you notice your video does start to gain notoriety, it should be easily accessible on all social platforms. It is now commonplace that online content is equipped to be shared on, at the very least, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. This doesn’t include the many other sharing resources and tools people also use such as Tumblr, Reddit, WordPress, and even standard email. If you want to reach audiences, make your video easily sharable and compatible. If your video is good enough, your viewers will do the work for you – draw them in and then make it easy for them to send your message out.

What are some of your favorite viral videos? Have you worked on a video that went viral? What do you think made it so popular? Tell us in a comment below!

– Caroline Robinson & Savannah Valade