Getting Started in Your Public Relations Career

I began my professional PR career with Pierson Grant Public Relations after graduating from the University of Florida in 2011 (Go Gators!) Whether you are still in college or recently graduated with a public relations degree, I presume that finding a job is your priority. While the economic climate is slowly improving, finding entry-level positions remains a daunting task for even the most qualified candidate. In order to set yourself apart from a pool of applicants, there are a number of steps you can take before and during your job search. They worked for me and hopefully will work for you as well.

Get Prepared
Because the job market is so competitive, a general résumé will no longer suffice. You must have well-written résumés that are specifically tailored to the positions you are applying for. Résumés should include the specific tasks that you completed in your courses and internships that demonstrate how valuable you are.

In addition, many applications request a cover letter or a portfolio. Your cover letter allows you to sell yourself by explaining how your past experiences and career goals align with the organization’s mission. Your portfolio should include anything that validates the points you made in your résumé or cover letter, including but not limited to published articles, exemplary in-class assignments and awards.

Once all of your written materials are prepared, focus on what you need to do to present yourself favorably. Aside from the obvious need to wear professional clothing to an interview, your social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, should not have anything that detracts from a professional image. Inappropriate language or pictures of you partying with friends should all be removed before contacting a potential employer.

Start Networking
The easiest way to find a job is by contacting people you know in the industry, most importantly people with whom you have formed professional relationships during your internships. That’s what worked for me. Even if their firms do not have positions available, they might be able to expand your reach and put you in touch with other companies that are hiring. If you have not had an internship, your school’s career resource center and professors may provide you with helpful contacts and information. Also, joining PRSA after graduation is a great way to network with public relations professionals and learn about job openings. You also can network online by joining sites like LinkedIn to create professional connections that might yield useful leads.

Aside from networking, you can become your own advocate by researching positions via common search engines or sites, like Monster or Career Builder. You also can take the initiative to call firms or companies that especially interest you to find out about available positions or job opportunities. Most applications are posted online, so there is no excuse for not identifying as many possibilities as you can.

Seal the Deal
If you’ve done a good job preparing and applying for positions, a potential employer hopefully will ask you to come in for an interview. In preparation, ask a family member or friend to help you prepare by engaging in a mock interview. As with just about everything else in life, practice will build your confidence and you’ll come across as competent and self-assured during the actual interview.

Always bring your portfolio along with several copies of your résumé and cover letter, in case other people join the meeting. Also expect that your interviewer will conclude by asking you if you have any questions, so have several intelligent questions prepared, that show your interest in the job’s responsibilities, the long-term potential of the position and the work environment. Once the interview is over, the final step is writing a note or e-mail to your future employer expressing your thanks for their time and your interest in the position.

Even if you do not get the first position, view each interview as an opportunity to gain experience and hone your skills. Finding a job takes time and patience, but your persistence and determination will surely pay off as mine did.

By Lindsey Marmorstein
Assistant Account Executive