PR, communications and marketing graduates are pounding the pavement trying to land their first jobs. The problem is that competition for entry-level positions has never been tougher. Actually, the job market is so tight that most of last year’s graduates have yet to land an appropriate full-time job.
This must seem decidedly unfair to a generation raised being showered by praise from loving, but perhaps misguided, parents and when everyone won an award just for participating. Welcome to the real world of work where it is often said, reality bites.
Over the past seven or eight weeks, not a single day has gone by without a call, email, tweet or LinkedIn message coming from a young grad who is hopeful of landing a job at Thornley Fallis Communications. This is the thin end of the wedge to be sure, and we are braced for a flood of speculative employment applications.
The firm is fully staffed right now, but those candidates who make a big impression, those who stand out from the crowd and who show particular creativity or drive will be kept on file for future consideration.
The big question is how can a new grad make the first cut? Here’s some tips to ensure your name is front of mind when it comes time to recruit.
- Build your personal network. This is the key to finding a job, because in the current environment, entry level jobs are just as much about who you know as what you know. Hedge your bets by getting to know as many people in the PR community as possible. Attend networking events. Volunteer your time. Participate in online communities and discussions.
- Make sure your first written contact with a potential employer is flawless. Be professional in your tone and style of writing. Typos are not acceptable. Errors of spelling or grammar and syntax are inexcusable. (This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised what people send in). However, do let your personality come across in your writing. Show off your copywriting talents and creativity to help your application avoid the recycle bin.
- Be aware that you are competing with many equally or better qualified candidates. Having a degree or a diploma is the fundamental requirement; it’s not what sets you apart. Make sure your letter of application and resume showcase what’s really cool about you. What are your passions? How do you spend your leisure time? What’s a ‘little known fact’ about you? Share this.
- What’s cool about us? Don’t forget to explain why you want to work here. What is it that we do that interests you? Show that you’ve done your research on the employer. Be detailed and be sincere. So not, “I respect your impressive client list”; instead, “I loved what your agency did for X-client with the Super Bowl videos’.
Remember it’s the fundamental hard skills such as writing, numeracy, planning and administration that employers need. However, as a new graduate it’s your intelligence, creativity, talent and flair that will set you apart and land you an interview.
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