How to Get A Job ...

I found the recent New York Times column, "How to Get a Job at Google" fascinating. Thomas Friedman condensed the approach down to five key traits: technical ability, learning ability, leadership, humility and ownership.

In my experience, that list is as relevant to a small entrepreneurial operation as a Silicon Valley giant. Or a small nonprofit.

The opening paragraph attention-getter - "... that Google had determined that 'G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless" - was a bit disconcerting, however.

I've always been a big believer in the value of education. So I was somewhat relieved to see this position clarified a bit in follow-up column, "How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2" this past weekend. (I'd encourage you to send the link to this column to every student you know!)

Between the two columns being published, I also had the opportunity to meet some some of our budding young communications professionals at the Rockhurst University Department of Communication and Fine Arts annual "Speed Networking" event.

(Full disclosure: I am a Rockhurst graduate. In fact the first to graduate with the then-just-added Communications major. Even accounting for that bias, I was impressed with the number of bright, eager, curious young minds.)

Some of (what I felt were) the best questions asked of me parallel the points Friedman makes. 

1. What qualities do you look for when you're considering a hire?

Curiosity, initiative and a willingness to take responsibility, were the terms I used. (Remarkably similar to learning ability, leadership and ownership.)

2. Should I have an online portfolio?

Does that sound like technical ability? Friedman quotes Lazlo Block, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, who feels, “Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn." He goes on to emphasize that the people who offer both skill sets are the strongest candidates.

3. What can I do to make myself a more attractive candidate?

Be engaged. Volunteer. Look for opportunities to develop real-world examples of how you can apply your learnings in your chosen field. Be positive and enthusiastic about communicating your successes. But always remain honest and genuine.

4. Are there more or fewer opportunities for communications careers with nonprofits?

More. If you're selling a product, you have the physical item and experience to help build your case. If you're selling a mission, you're presenting a concept or idea that depends almost entirely on how it's communicated to make it real.

5 Is M&C hiring for any intern positions?

It wasn't the question that struck me. Or the fact it was asked multiple times. It was that in four of the five instances, a second-semester senior was looking; in one a second-semester sophomore.

She, I think, understands what Friedman is saying. And, I suspect, will have no trouble at all getting a job!