Recent college grads understand the grueling and nerve-wracking process of searching for their first public relations role. I took my last two-quarters of college online and graduated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a situation no class or mentor could have prepared me for. No one knew what the job landscape would look like, the availability of positions, or who would be hiring.
The idea of having to convince possible employers of your potential when you haven’t had a “real” job yet is intimidating enough without factoring in the virtual workforce. You’ll get used to rejection, but take it from me, landing a job in your field is possible. To help, I’ve compiled some best practices for creating a resume, prepping for interviews, and what to expect once you’ve started the job. Here are some tips to get you started:
For Your Resume:
- This should go without saying, but less is more when it comes to your resume. They may seem simple, but there are some best practices: keep it to one page, it’s likely that not all of your experience will fit, and that’s okay. Narrow it down to your most recent and applicable experience tailored to the job or industry you’re applying for.
- Formatting is everything! Programs like Google Docs and Canva have great templates that will help you with spacing and style. They’re also totally customizable, so the end result should be a reflection of your personality.
- Read, re-read and then read it again! Silly mistakes and typos are easy to miss when looking at your own work, so have a trusted friend or classmate proofread to ensure you’re not overlooking anything. Grammarly is also a great (free!) editing tool, especially if you’re working alone.
- Have clear examples of client work and materials you’ve created that can showcase your abilities. Having a digital portfolio to feature your writing and work samples on a platform like Squarespace or Wix is a great asset to share with possible employers and allows them to familiarize themselves with your skills.
For Your Interview:
- Once you land an interview, preparation is paramount. You will need to be able to speak to your past experience confidently. Have talking points or key takeaways from each position ready to go – this will help showcase your work ethic and the skills you will bring to the role.
- Heavily research and understand the organizations you’re interviewing with. This means read their website, blog, check them out on social media, etc. If the interviewer doesn’t feel like you spent time getting to know the company, she/he will just move on to the next candidate.
- Furthermore, show the interviewer that you’re interested in the industry and clients they serve by asking questions and keeping the conversation flowing. Write down a list of questions about the role before the interview that will ultimately help you make your decision (should you be offered the role). Keep questions about salary, vacation time, etc. for HR.
Once You’re on the Job:
- Understand the learning curve. Starting a new job can be intimidating and there will be much to learn. Processes, tools and functions will be different than what you were taught in the classroom. It takes time to understand client products, services and team dynamics, so be patient.
- Be okay with over-communicating, especially in a virtual environment – your team wants you to succeed. Let them know what you’re working on, when you have questions, or need something clarified. There are no stupid questions when you’re onboarding! And if you’re not asking questions, it’s usually a red flag that somethings wrong.
Searching for your first professional role can be competitive and often discouraging. Not to mention the complexity that comes with interviewing, working, and meeting all your new colleagues virtually. Stay active in your job hunt, keep your resume polished, your portfolio updated and the right opportunity will come. Take it from me, getting a great job is possible!