My PR agency is perpetually hiring; we’re always looking for the next great fit.
It can be a formal process or a casual conversation; we often ask, “who’s next?”
I’m fortunate to meet many PR and journalism students, and some ask me, “How can I make myself more marketable to an agency like yours?” There are things any comms student can do to prepare for PR-agency life and stand out in a crowd of job candidates.
Here are seven tips to help you land the PR job of your dreams:
1. Learn and practice writing. We can teach people about clients, industries or products, but you must come to our world ready to write succinctly, effectively, persuasively and creatively—sometimes in 140 characters or less.
2. Find opportunities to lead. A wise former boss of mine once said, “Leadership is assumed, not granted.” Truer words were never spoken.
You’re not too young to lead. Whether it is a sorority or fraternity, service organization, church group or a community project, don’t be afraid to take the reins and the risk of leadership. Hold an office or chair a committee. Lead.
3. Complete internships. I can draw a simple line chart and trace my entire career back to my first internship nearly 30 years ago.
Do not underestimate the experience an internship will provide, and place particular value on the relationships you make along the way. Those folks will be moving up in the world. Over time, you may face them across the table in a job interview or they may be the key to getting in the door at the dream job you’ve always wanted.
Plus, internships are essential resume builders. Classes and good grades matter, but the power of real-life experience is unmatched.
4. Volunteer. Get involved. Volunteer at your school, church, sorority or in the community.
Volunteering is another resume builder. The networking and leadership opportunities are valuable; paying your “civic rent” shows a potential employer that you are well rounded and have a heart for service. That still matters.
5. Get comfortable being on the phone. It’s been said that younger generations should not call their phones “phones” anymore, because they never actually speak into them.
We’ve grown to be a world that is centered on texting and emailing, but in the world of client and media relationships, the phone still matters.
Email and texting are tone deaf, and much of the electronic correspondence we receive these days gets overlooked. Pick up the phone and call someone; voice-to-voice conversation is still alive and well in a successful agency.
6. Speak publicly. Get comfortable in front of an audience. Find reasons to lead a meeting, give a presentation or make a speech.
Whether you’re presenting a proposal to clients, conducting a media training or giving remarks at a student meeting, public speaking and the ability to speak with confidence to audiences remains a core part of what we do.
7. Network early and often. What you know and what you’ve done are still highly relevant, but the question of “whom you know” still matters.
Find reasons to put yourself in front of a wide range of people who aren’t your peers. Get their business cards and stay in touch with them. Update your resume as new things are added, and share it through your network. People often contact me to see if I have any potential employee referrals for a position they’re trying to fill. Build your network, and then use it when you’re looking for that first job.
Above all, step outside of your comfort zone. There are many interrelationships between these tips—and all of them will help you establish a level of confidence and experience that makes you stand out from other applicants.
Hinda Mitchell is the president of Inspire PR Group.