Affect’s ‘New York Job Project’ Turns the Application Process Social

Current PR students and recent college grads: are you stressed about turning your great internships into a full-time entry-level gig? Do you embody the phrase “shameless self-promotion”? Are you an expert in all things social media? (Come on, you know you are.) If you answered “yes” to any of those three questions, then you may be an ideal candidate for Affect PR‘s “New York Job Project“–a program designed to simultaneously encourage talented applicants and promote the firm itself by “crowdsourcing” the hiring process.

This all started more than two years ago when Affect, a small-ish Manhattan firm, started the “New York Intern Project” because, according to president and founder Sandra Fathi, they were “having trouble attracting interns in one of the country’s most competitive markets.”

Applicants’ resumes often boasted of college gigs with brands like MTV, Def Jam and Glamourbut Affect wanted to find dedicated public relations professionals. Affect’s b2b (that’s “business to business”) services are crucial to the industry at large, but they’re also not quite as flashy as those big names–so Fathi created the intern project in order to “make [the internship] more attractive to people around the country.”

A quick look at 2011’s entries will tell you that the project worked better than expected.

96 applicants put their PR powers to the test, working to solicit more than 15,000 votes from friends, family, classmates and others working their way into the business. The process not only provided Affect with an intern who became a full-time employee for one year before returning to graduate school–it also significantly increased the firm’s social fanbase and helped raise the bar for what was to become a yearly event.

Affect also gave the project star power by hiring big PR names like Peter Shankman, Julia Hood, Deirdre Breakenridge and this year’s lead judge, Mark Ragan of PR Daily. The whole process went smoothly with a couple of exceptions: some applicants who couldn’t quite distinguish between their professional profiles and personal Facebook pages posted inappropriate pictures of themselves in bikinis to win more votes and last year one (disqualified) applicant somehow received 700 votes from a single IP address in Burma. Still, the project has been a runaway success for Affect.

The firm has seen a 30% spike in the overall number of applications received, and a significant portion of applicants who apply for other full-time positions at the firm learned of the Affect name thanks to the Intern/Job project. Of course, Affect also added some well-qualified members to its team in the process: Last year Fathi liked one of the semi-finalists so much that the company offered her a separate, unrelated internship.

Some details:

The position on offer is Account Coordinator, with a base starting salary of $36,000 that rises to approximately $48,000 after benefits and bonuses.

Of course, Affect is looking for someone with a strong communications background. In Fathi’s words:

We look for folks who are great writers and great communicators, who understand client service and who have an insatiable curiosity for learning about clients’ businesses. That’s something that’s hard to teach. You have to come with it “pre-baked.”

Now we wish we’d come up with the idea ourselves. What do we think, readers? Anyone planning to apply? If so, just click here.