PRmoment Leaders PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRCA PRmoment Awards Winners North Creative Moment Awards 2024 PR Masterclass: AI in PR

Ten tips for landing your dream PR job

New year, new job? Or perhaps if you are hoping to break into PR, the search is for your first PR career job. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities. The bad news is that you need to put in a lot of effort to find, and then land, exactly the right job for you. As all worthwhile journeys start with a first step, perhaps yours could be reading this article!

Don’t wait for a job to be advertised

Lottie West, global head of PR at PR agency Fox Agency: "The 2020s have been a tumultuous time for talent in the agency world. Hiring freezes during the pandemic combined with prolonged remote working meant fewer people entered the workplace, and those who did often struggled to adapt or progress. The Great Resignation and pent-up demand meant that AEs and AMs were hot property, and often the subject of bidding wars as agencies scrambled to fill junior roles. 

“Fast-forward through two years of inflation and economic upheaval, are we finally returning to *whisper it* normality? The good news for those looking for roles - particularly at a junior level - is that it is still a candidate’s market, although competition is less intense.

“For those starting out my advice is to be curious. Consume media, podcasts, industry reports - anything you can find. When it comes to interviews, ask lots of questions. Interviewers are not looking for candidates with all the answers, but those with a growth mindset and desire to learn. And a bit of hustle never hurts. Always dreamt of working somewhere? Don’t wait for them to advertise - find their hiring manager on LinkedIn and get in touch - this demonstrates proactivity, enthusiasm, and confidence, putting you one step ahead of the crowd."

Be passionate and curious

Ellie Mack, digital PR director at digital marketing agency Wolfenden: “My absolute top tip for landing your dream job is to be two things, passionate and curious.

“Having passion for the industry is absolutely key. Digital PR is such a fast-moving and ever-evolving sector, it’s important that you’re able to demonstrate that you have a genuine interest and strong level of excitement for everything that comes with working in the industry.

“Highlighting your curiosity also feeds into this; being curious shows not only genuine interest in the business you’re applying to, but it also shows you’re open to learning and developing, something we often look for in candidates.

“The start of a new year is always a busy time for recruitment in digital PR, in fact I’d argue it’s one of the most lucrative times for landing your dream job. Agencies will be using this time to onboard client wins from the end of the previous year, which naturally means new roles become available to support the increased resource and specialism required within the team.”

Be fussy

Sarah Stella Edwards, PR account manager at PR and marketing agency BE YELLOW: “My top tip for landing your dream job in PR is to be very selective with where you apply. It’s not easy landing a job at the moment and job hunting can be so exhausting (and demoralising at times) but making sure the company aligns with your own values as much as possible, and with your own style of working is, I believe, of paramount importance to your overall success and happiness within a team.

“January is as good of a time as any to explore new job opportunities, just make sure that the company is as good of a fit for you, as you are for them because your happiness is important.”

Do your research

Joe Collen, senior account executive at PR agency Words + Pixels: “The biggest tip I would give to someone looking to land their dream PR agency job in 2024 would be to try and understand what different agencies stand for. PR is all about storytelling, and each agency has its own unique voice. Often looking at the type of clients a company doesn't work with can give a good indication of whether it’s the right fit for you. For example, have they pledged not to work with environmentally destructive brands? 

“No two agencies are the same so take your time when doing your research. It’s also worth considering if you want to be more B2C or B2B focused or would like a mix. I’m not sure there is a perfect time to look for a new job but with many businesses making ambitious goals for the coming year, January is a good time to be putting yourself out there and demonstrate your value and passion for their clients and what they do.”

Scrap cover letters to stand out

Ruby Kite, talent lead at The PHA Group: “With Gen Z dominating the junior to mid-level PR talent pool, in-house recruiters are used to seeing candidates apply their creative skill set to their job search. From personal websites highlighting hero media coverage and digital design skills, to CVs delivered by hand, the old-fashioned way - anything but ‘Dear hiring manager’ clogging up our inboxes.

“Whilst LinkedIn is where recruiters spend most of their days, many small to medium-sized agencies rely on direct applications to their dedicated CV reviewer, who is likely also a founder or senior leader with other plates to spin. Candidates should think about what would resonate with that individual - why not connect with the head of HR on LinkedIn and ask if their training programme would support the development of a curious and entrepreneurial school leaver/graduate for those seeking entry-level opportunities? For second jobbers, maybe create a slick showreel of career highlights before sliding it into the DMs of your dream agency’s Instagram page?

“As the industry gradually inverses its age-old hiring mantra, ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’, candidates should capitalise on the freedom of working within a field free of assessment days and technical tasks, and let their creativity do the talking.”

Highlight your wide range of skills

Emma Harvey, chief executive of communications agency Seven Consultancy: “As marketing evolves the lines between disciplines is becoming increasingly blurred and we’re seeing this reflected in the briefs we’re receiving from clients with requests to support on more than just the traditional PR remit - everything from product development to corporate fundraising. In many cases, we’re supporting on projects that would typically be managed in-house as our long-standing relationships with clients deepen.

“As a result, candidates with varied skillsets are going to be more prized during 2024 - for example, applications showcasing a blend of traditional PR experience with a strong track record in social media, digital or public affairs are likely to be highly sought-after in another challenging year as the economic pressures continue, we’ll likely see a new government and the climate crisis accelerates.

“Ultimately, we need to deliver ROI for our clients, ensuring that their PR activity complements wider business and marketing goals. Therefore, one of the key strengths we look for in new colleagues is the ability to think strategically and commercially for our clients, creatively troubleshooting their challenges and constantly assessing how campaigns or content support a client’s overarching growth ambitions. This approach is vital as it underpins everything we do for our clients. It’s a rare combination of skills, so we’re always on the lookout for potential hires that can bring something unique to our team.”

Build a PR portfolio

Georgia O'Brien-Perry, digital PR manager at agency Bulldog Digital Media Bulldog | Ecommerce Marketing: "In 2024 PR is all about visuals and not selling yourself short, so I recommend building a gorgeous and informative PR portfolio that you can share alongside your applications. I would collate information on all the brands you’ve worked with, including the type of work completed for them as well as the results of the work - think improvements in web traffic, influencer collaborations, number of placements and so on. Not only will this back up your CV, but it’s perfect for proving your proficiency in certain sectors such as B2B or FMCG. This is especially useful if you want to move into an agency or sector specific role as you can tailor your portfolio to contain the most relevant clients as well as your most impactful campaigns and really make yourself stand out. Also, make sure to cover as many of the requirements on your dream role, such as providing evidence of successful event planning or press office management. This will truly capture the breadth of your experience and prove you are more than ready for that dream role."

Make sure your CV is clear

Dean Connelly, founder of PR agency Latte: "To land your dream job you first need to make sure your CV is on point. This is the hook that will catch the fish. There is too much advice going around about what a CV should look like and in most cases it is all wrong. You don't need to use Canva to make your CV pop. 

“Keep in mind the person who will be reviewing your CV. Hiring managers and recruiters are busy, and your application will be just one more email in their inbox. Hence, a CV that has clear job titles and dates, uses a bullet point format and lists some of your key achievements works best. This will allow the hiring manager to get a sense of how you are at a glance and request you for an interview. For jobs that you worked in four-plus years ago, simply use a bullet point list with the job title, company and date. 

“Latte has a CV template and more tips available here."

Immerse yourself in news

Cathy Skelton, senior digital PR account manager at digital marketing agency, WMG: “Reading and understanding the news is a pivotal part of any PR role. With this in mind, I’d recommend immersing yourself in both consumer and industry news as part of your day-to-day routine. This will help you to turn up to any roles armed with a wealth of knowledge on various subject matters.

“Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and X (previously Twitter) are great ways to keep on top of industry updates and news, as well as network with other people in the industry.”

Use this eight-point checklist

Laura Sutherland, director at PR agency 3x1, offers a checklist of eight tips that have worked for her:

  1. Build a network - expand it beyond your city, country and area of work
  2. Invest time in building relationships
  3. Monitor industry trends and know when to act
  4. Continue to invest in yourself, in professional development and to ensure this is in line with your career path
  5. Really think about what you like and what you’re good at it. What job role do those skills apply to? It’s not all about delivery - you might want to specialise in research or planning or even take the leap to starting out on your own
  6. Don’t let YOU hold YOU back. Get out of your own way!
  7. Get a mentor - I developed a free scheme for CIPR members called Progress
  8. Dream big!”

We hope that all the advice above helps you land your dream job, and once you have landed it, we would love to hear all about it. You can find plenty more professional advice at PRmoment including this article on managing your PR career and our weekly Top 10 PR Jobs feature.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: