With graduation beating down the doors of the class of 2015, we have some words of advice for those young guns eager to be the next big thing in PR and marketing. While job searching has mostly remained status quo, there are ways that recent communications graduates can set themselves up for success. Here are a few tips on how to get your foot in the door. Closing the deal is a whole ‘nother matter.
First Things First: Check Your Digital Footprint
Google search yourself and make sure those embarrassing photos you took at the Phi Beta Kappa party are long gone. Consider setting your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram profiles to private and clean up that LinkedIn page.
Where To Look For Jobs
Now that you’ve made sure you don’t look like a walking nightmare online, it’s time to job hunt. Besides asking all of your friends, friends of friends, friends of friends’ parents and their cousins for potential opportunities, you’ll likely look on the usual job site suspects: LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, Indeed. Look for PR/Marketing-centric headhunters (PRTalent, TalentZoo, AdOne, are a few usual suspects). Join one of the professional organizations (PRSA) and attend their networking events. You should also check directly on the websites of companies that you’re interested in. Another valuable job resource is Twitter. Use the right hashtags (e.g. #PRjobs) and search for the right job posting accounts and you’ll find a goldmine of job opportunities. Still, networking remains the #1 way most people find a job.
Proofread, Spellcheck, Proofread, Spellcheck, and Then Proofread More
My USF PR students can attest to this: Typos will be your undoing. I can’t tell you how many résumés I’ve received that boldly states “I have great attention to detail” and then promptly has 2-3 typos. Don’t be that person. Many hiring managers will view these errors as sloppy and irresponsible and you might not even be considered, despite your qualifications. Eric Ripert wouldn’t serve his food on paper plates and you shouldn’t present your skills in such a haphazard fashion.
Do I Need A Fancy Designed Rèsumè?
While the rèsumès of art directors and graphic designers are very nice to look at, we’d recommend focusing on the content of your rèsumè, rather than disguising a lack of experience with pretty fonts. Don’t get it twisted – presentation is definitely important (see above about proofreading and spellchecking) but overly stylized rèsumès aren’t yet a requirement in PR. Knowing design skills and having a striking visual style are critical skills in today’s visual-centric PR world (Why do you think every brand wants to be on Instagram and Pinterest) but it’s more important to know what your PR experience is in plain old English.
Don’t Write Like You’re Texting Your Friend
Found a job you want? Now that you’ve got your résumé and cover letter ready and typo-free, send that baby off exactly the way the potential employer requests. If an employer requests that you fax it, then fax it. If they want you to answer 5 questions in your cover letter, answer those 5 questions. Follow the instructions TO A TEE. When we’ve posted jobs, we’re looking for those applicants who pay attention to the details. If you’re fortunate enough to get a response, don’t respond like you’re texting. You know what I mean. Writing “ur” instead of “your,” “thx” instead of “thanks,” etc. is off-putting.
Be As Flexible As Possible For Interviews
Sure, circumstances might make it difficult for you to be available at any given time for an interview, but you really should try to move heaven and earth to secure an interview. Remember that recruiters are busy and if you’re not available at a certain time, they might not be able to fit you in, or they do it a day after they’ve found the best candidate. Don’t miss that boat.
Interview’s Set! Now What?
Research! Read EVERYTHING you can about the company and the people that you’ll be meeting with. Memorize details and common interests. Show up and be able to discuss the company’s vision and how you will contribute to it. Don’t ever go into an interview cold. Dress professionally and show up ON time. Give yourself an extra hour to get to your location and get yourself mentally prepared before you walk into the doors. Smile, make eye contact, shake hands like a grownz up, don’t swear, don’t burp, don’t fart and be respectful to everyone you walk by.
Most recruiters hate a phone call follow-up so send a very nice email or even an old-fashioned letter, if you’re so inclined. Make sure you reiterate anything interesting that you and the interviewer discussed, and emphasize how excited you are to work for them and how you will contribute to their success. Remember that there’s a fine line between being aggressive and proactive and being annoying and rude.
Be sure to thank anyone who helped you get the interview in the first place. Then, wash, rinse and repeat. Job searching is equal parts luck, timing and skill. The most important thing to remember is to stay positive on your search, be grateful and humble and always keep an open mind. Something that might not sound immediately appealing might end up being a fantastic opportunity. Lastly, there’s no such thing as a dream job. So stop searching for it. The only dream jobs are ones that you can make for yourself.
Good luck, job seekers!