You’ve taken the classes. You’ve polished your resume. You’ve done mock interviews with anyone who will listen – mom, dad, the cat… You’re 22, fresh out of college, and ready to make your PR dreams come true!
But then the “I’m sorry, but we’ve chosen another applicant” emails come in. Hours of writing cover letters lead to silence from HR departments around the country. The inevitable question – how can I make myself stand out? How can I show companies that I’m the motivated, ready-to-learn employee of their dreams?
Change Your Strategy
Sometimes, your initial strategy isn’t the most effective – and that’s okay. If you’ve spent months trying to find a full-time job to no avail, it may be time to re-adjust. A lot of PR companies are interested in candidates with credentials beyond just a B.A., whether that’s a master’s degree or prior professional experience. Re-adjust the strategy – look for internships and externships. Showing employers that you were willing to forgo the original plan and do what it takes to land your dream job will get their attention.
Ask the Audience
In today’s digital age, we have a massive web of contacts at our fingertips. Don’t take this for granted when breaking into the PR field – network, network, network! Reach out to your neighbor’s son for information on his agency, email that English teacher from high school who mentioned her connection to your dream company, ask Mom to pass out your resume in the school parking lot. Most companies offer a referral bonus to employees who pass along candidates that end up getting hired, so don’t feel shy about reaching out.
Don’t Neglect Your Training
After all of the time you spent preparing for this big moment – finding a job post-college – you may think you are a finished product. That now, all you need is someone to recognize your talent and potential. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. You need to show employers that you are constantly learning and trying to improve your applicable skills. There’s a few ways to go about this:
- Practice your writing – submit editorials to the local paper, start a blog, etc… Hone your writing skills and create a deliverable you can bring to an interview
- Volunteer – the best way to show employers you are truly serious about breaking into the field is to volunteer your time. Find a local non-profit and volunteer to perform writing and PR tasks
- Stay up to date on the news – don’t be surprised by a question about recent events in an interview. Keep up on the happenings in the PR world more generally and the specific field you would like to break into
Get the Host’s Attention
After all the time you spent tailoring your resume and cover letter to a particular job opening, thoroughly researching the company, and filling out the application, the worst thing you can do is think it ends there. You don’t get noticed by raising your hand, then quietly fading into the background – you get noticed by making some noise (respectfully). Follow up to your application:
- Send emails
- Make phone calls
- Send snail mail
- Connect with people from the organization on Twitter
- Follow the organization on LinkedIn
Following up not only makes you seem passionate about the job and the company, but shows your ability to be persistent – a critical skill for any PR pro.
Winning the Grand Prize
From one recent college grad to another, breaking into the PR field is not easy. But stay focused – and armed with these few tips and tricks, you should find your path. And then, put the same energy and enthusiasm into that first job — and you’ll be the one interviewing the new grads in no time.