We're toward the end of graduation season. That means, of course, the work force will be receiving an onslaught of college graduates. The U.S. Department of Education estimates nearly 1.1 million students will receive bachelor’s degrees this year. Of those, nearly 10% are communications/journalism majors, which means that competition will be fierce for the best jobs. What’s a new PR grad to do?
Don’t underestimate the importance of good writing skills
As a veteran of PR and newsrooms, I can say unequivocally there is nothing that makes a job candidate stand out more than strong writing skills. So you're not this generation’s Hemingway? Not to worry. There are simple ways that you can brush up on writing skills to be ready for the interview and writing test.
The first and most important way to become a better writer is to read. Absorb as much well-written information as you can and emulate it. Don’t discard that AP Stylebook; take some time to review it. At the very least, put it on your desk for easy reference. Put pen to paper and encourage creativity with some writing prompts.
Network anywhere and everywhere
Look for connections in likely and unlikely places. Most people are predisposed to be helpful. Use this to your advantage. Reach out to your college professors to see if they have former students or professional contacts in your area with whom you can set up a coffee meeting. Utilize your alumni network as much as you can. Find PRSA events in your city and attend a happy hour. Join a meet-up group. Just get out of your comfort zone and start connecting.
Be persistent in your follow-up
It’s the first lesson of PR: Persistence is everything. It might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but push past potential perceived social awkwardness and send a second email, make a phone call or politely bother someone until they respond. I guarantee you’re going to be doing a lot of persistent and polite bothering once you land a PR job and you have to pitch the media, so get used to it now.
Clean up your social media presence
If a company is seriously interested in hiring you, it is going to Google you. Make sure that the face you’re presenting to the world is one you’re proud of as a young professional. Maybe it’s time to take down those keg stand pictures from your 21st birthday weekend. While that moment certainly is worth remembering, those photos probably fail to convey the impression you want to give to an employer. Scroll through your Twitter and Instagram feeds, too – set them to private or clean them.
Remember that you and your brain are a precious commodity. Consider what you want in a job and then make a list of things that are non-negotiable. It’s unlikely that you’ll find the perfect job right after graduation, but there’s no need to be miserable.
Everyone is different: Some want a very short commute; others are willing to sit on a bus or train for an hour for a rewarding job. Working in a city’s downtown is important to some, while others prefer the suburbs.
A tip: Make a list of what is not negotiable, then job search around it. Still, know when to be flexible, because if you’re holding out for the ideal job, you may be unemployed for a long time.
Go for it
What’s the worst that can happen if you apply for a job that’s a reach? The employer won’t respond to your application or will say you’re not a good fit. Either way, your ego will recover, so just take a chance and go for it. You never know when the stars will align. Good luck.