If you’re not in the right PR job there’s no excuse for not looking for a better one. Well there are excuses, the “terrible economy“; “better the devil you know“; and “can’t be arsed”; but if you want to improve your prospects, you have to act. Even if you love your job, it’s always worth checking the market, and some say it is useful to go through a job interview at least once a year, to keep your options open and interview skills sharp.
These days the first step to a new job is going online. Update your LinkedIn page and connections, and don’t be afraid to ask contacts to recommend you. If you have a blog make sure you link to this. And if you don’t have a blog, why not? The other social network sites to refresh are Twitter and Facebook. After all, your prospective employers are likely to take a look at your presence on these sites, so make sure you are creating the right impression. Also, you can use the sites to find vacancies, by using hashtag search terms like #prjobs on Twitter and finding PR fan pages on Facebook.
As well as searching for vacancies online, for example, by going to job boards, it is worth asking around and, if this is your first job in PR, contacting companies on spec. When it comes to specialist PR recruitment agencies and headhunters, don’t just sign up with them all indiscriminately, but find the most appropriate and only use a consultant you gel with.
Once you have located vacancies, the next step is getting selected. Claire Dunford, social media consultant at agency Bottle PR, says the secret to standing out is to think creatively: “Consider a video to support your application or write a topical blog post to showcase some of your talent. Tag it with the company’s name and key corporate messages, upload it to YouTube/Blogger and with a little luck it won’t just be your CV landing in its inbox – soon you’ll also be popping up in the company’s internet and social media monitoring.”
And it’s not just about you. Make sure you know all about the company you want to work for. Dunford says: “Follow it on Twitter, like its page on Facebook, follow its Linkedin profile, read the company blog and sign up for its YouTube channel.”
1. Be focused. Fewer applications with better covering letters will give you a better chance than a generic approach.
2. Research the company you are applying for.
3. Choose organisations that you will enjoy working for – look at the website to understand their personalities.
4. Don’t waffle. Your covering letter should be concise.
5. Relate your experience back to both the role and to its activities. Naming the role and company you are applying for is not enough in you covering letter.
6. If you have significantly more experience than the employer is looking for, they will probably query how long you will stick around. Clarify your commitment to the role and how you see yourself progressing.
7. Experience is great, but lots of different roles in rapid succession can look like you are hard to work with or lack commitment. To get around this clarify “fixed term internship” or “three-month internship”.
8. Be clear whether a role was an internship or a paid position.
Graham Goodkind, founder of consultancy Frank PR:
“Video CVs are a good idea. In fact any form of CV that is a bit different works for me. Frank gets hundreds of job applications a year and you’d be surprised how similar they all look and feel. This business is about doing something a bit different to get your clients noticed and talked about. Candidates for jobs should do a bit more of this too if they want to stand out.”
Alastair Turner, managing director of agency Aspectus PR:
“Work out the sectors of PR that really capture your imagination and learn as much as you can about them. Then research the important companies that operate in those spaces. With great sector knowledge you can lobby the MDs and account directors of the agencies you want to work for with great creative ideas and approaches. A good PR agency is always going to be receptive to someone who has made the effort to learn about its space and who has really targeted their approach.”
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