Six tips for landing a PR job
27 Feb 2017
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The question young professionals ask most often during my visits to college campuses is: How do I get that first job? During the 100th anniversary weekend of the School of Journalism and Communications (SOJC) at the University of Oregon, some “older” professionals conducted a panel on the subject. Afterwards, one of the students, Nikki Kesaris, asked me to provide suggestions for the students to post on the SOJC website.
Here they are:
- Résumé ready. Be sure your résumé is perfect. It must look professional, contain absolutely no mistakes or inconsistencies and effectively outline how your background has prepared you to excel at this job. The same applies to your cover letters. Prove you can write, think and express enthusiasm for your career.
- Know what you want. Do some thinking and planning about your ideal job. Consider roles, responsibilities, culture, manager, colleagues, environment, growth potential, compensation, and where you want to be in 5, 10 or even 25 years. Create a realistic list of options for yourself and compare it with your expectations. When you show this level of planning to prospective employers, you’ll also be displaying your discipline, maturity, focus and motivation.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do your homework on the companies you visit. Prepare some smart questions for the interviewer by probing to get a feeling for how the organization rates against your criteria. Then, right before your interview time, check Google one more time to make sure you have all the latest news about the company.
- Prove you are ready now. Show that your career expectations are well suited to the company and the position by avoiding ambivalence about agency vs. corporate. If you’re interviewing with an agency, make it clear that’s your preference; same with a corporate opportunity. Demonstrate how your education and experience have prepared you very well for this position. Indicate you are a fast learner. Dress the part. Act the part.
- Follow up. As soon as the interview ends, write not one, but two thank-you notes — both a fast email and a handwritten card to send via snailmail. Reinforce the key points you made in the interview and revisit any topics that may have been unclear or not as compelling as they should be. Find polite ways to continue to stay in touch, such as sending articles of relevance or commenting on company developments. Get to know the administrative assistant and any other gatekeepers.
- Have fun! Enjoy the search and interview experience. Even if you don’t end up getting the job, you can use it as an opportunity to build your network and learn from different environments and conversations. Practice developing and demonstrating your positive energy in every way.
By the way, Nikki won’t have any trouble finding that first job.