Written for Planet Zeus PR’s online blog – available here.
Graduation season is upon us and that means one thing for employers; intelligent and enthusiastic individuals are about to make their way into the competitive world of work with refreshing and innovative ideas. There’s only one problem – there are thousands of graduates, which means sifting through countless CVs and dissecting numerous cover letters to determine who’s the right person for the company. The job market is more competitive than ever for graduates, and if public relations is your choice of industry, standing out is essential. Therefore, here at Zeus, we have rounded up our best tips to help graduates get noticed.
- Be Relentless – When it comes to that initial after-graduation job search, you have to be persistent. Successful job searching is often about timing, so don’t expect to find your ideal job immediately. Check job websites daily to ensure that you never miss an opportunity but remember that not all companies will advertise on these sites – use social media as a job searching tool and research PR companies in your area (they often post vacancies on their websites), send across CVs and cover letters if possible. Job sites such as Indeed, Reed etc. are great but exploring other avenues will increase your chances of success.
- Perfect that Cover Letter – Graduates often do their best to perfect their CV but then accompany it with a very generic cover letter that does nothing to sell themselves. Employers who ask for a cover letter are doing so because they want to know more about you and why you are interested in their company. The PR industry is about personality and creativity so don’t be afraid to show who you are. Also remember to always include a section focusing on the business you are applying to; why that company? Why that role? What can you bring to the table that they don’t already have? One of the worst mistakes made by graduates is sending the same CV and covering letter to hundreds of potential employers who can tell. They need to be personal.
- Find your unique selling point and use it – When you leave university, you are in the same position as many others up and down the country. Find something unique and use it to sell yourself to potential employers. Are you an English graduate with incredible writing skills? Are you a marketing graduate with an extensive range of experience? Are you a journalism graduate with a portfolio of published work? Are you a blogger with a huge social media presence? Whatever your USP is, sell it!
- Don’t Oversell Yourself – Following on from the previous point, selling yourself is essential but so is honesty. Don’t oversell yourself or your experience because the employer will know straight away. Instead talk truthfully about the things that you have done and express a desire to learn more – this will show ambition and a passion for the industry; two things employers love to see. Further to this, applying for the right level is essential. Unless you have exceptional circumstances, most graduates will only be considered for entry level positions and applying for jobs above your station is a waste of everyone’s time.
- Experience speaks volumes – In order to stand out from the thousands of other job seekers who have also attained degrees, you need some relevant experience in the PR field. This is not always easy to come by and so, by having that experience, you have already showcased to potential employers that you are hard-working, determined and have a passion for the industry. Here at Zeus, we prioritise relevant experience above anything else when recruiting. In the PR industry, no relevant experience can often mean no interview.
- Use social media carefully – Excellent knowledge of social media is essential in this industry because digital marketing is the future. However, the way in which you use social media will be checked by employers. Blogs are a fantastic way to show off your work, and having an online portfolio makes it easier for employers to see samples. Sites such as LinkedIn are also great for networking. However, your personal use of social media is often checked by your future boss who is looking to gain an accurate perspective on your character. Therefore, it is imperative to keep your social media free from anything that you would not want potential employers to see.
There is no use in pretending that making your way in this industry after university is easy; it’s not. It takes commitment, determination and a desire to succeed in public relations. But with this (and our top tips) there’s every chance you will be successful.