You’re Graduating With a Degree in Communications. Now what?

It’s college-commencement season. Starting this weekend and into June graduating students will hear a lot of about “following your dreams” and how things work in the “real world.”   

Of course, the reality is that as most graduates pick up their diploma they’ll probably think about taking that backpacking trip through Costa Rica, driving down Pacific Coast Highway to check out Big Sur, or other ways to spend a carefree summer.

But 2013 PR graduates are entering one of the worst job markets in decades. (The unemployment rate remains a stubborn 7.5%, down from 8.1% in April 2012, but it is higher when you factor in those people who are underemployed or have stopped looking for work.)

However, to increase their odds of landing a job, there are several steps that PR graduates should take:

> Sharpen your resume. Sure, you have been overscheduled since grade school and have a lot to share about your accomplishments, but you need to whittle down your resume to the bare essentials. Include items that demonstrate your flair for writing and communications. And make sure it’s just a page or so. In a buyer’s market, HR managers are not going to weed through resumes that are longer than that.

> Think about who can provide a solid reference for prospective employers, such as former professors or the managers who you worked for during your summer internships.

> The current crop of graduates was weaned on social media. But prospective employers may take a dim view of that picture of you on Facebook doing battle with a beer bong. Be sure and scrub any content from your social pages that could be deemed objectionable to human resources managers.

> Bone up on your video capabilities. Online video has become a key aspect of communications. Both corporations and the PR agencies that serve them are producing more and more video, whether to push product or broadcast an idea. It will help you if you know your way around Final Cut Pro and similar programs designed to produce online video.

> Start networking. LinkedIn is terrific for networking but the social platform tends to favor people who are already in the workforce. Locate those networking groups in your area that cater to younger PR professionals and dive in.

For a leg up on the PR job market, check out PR News’ job center

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1



About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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  • Howie

    All valid points but one important point to add. Build your personal network as networking in person, not just the online variety, is the most likely way to find a job. Contact friends, friends of friends, relatives, and research companies of interest. I would avoid asking for jobs as most people do not have them waiting for you so just develop a relationship to start about career advice, how did he/she start, key tips, and others in the profession with whom to speak? About 75% of search time should be spent on networking. It is tough for most people since they do not like to speak with strangers nor “sell” themselves. Of the 9 jobs in my career all but one had a networking component before the electronic kind.

  • Mike Kelly

    Valid points but the same ones you read everywhere for any grad. What should communications grads do?

  • Steve Radick

    Good point about cleaning up your social networks, but instead of of the played-out fear-mongering advice about beer bongs and drunk parties, how about also mentioning that communications grads should look at the positive side of social media too. Grads, especially communications grads, should already be actively using social media professionally (

    • Lucia Davis

      Good call!