Entering a new career is always challenging, but it’s even harder when there’s lots of competition. Despite the anticipated growth rate for jobs in the public relations industry, there are tons of candidates entering into the field, so competition is steep. Leading agencies like Edelman Canada receive 95-120 applicants per month for between one and three entry-level positions.
So, how do you beat out the competition? We asked PR grads, professors, and professionals for their advice.
1. Don’t apply with only a general BA
“We, at Edelman, don’t hire someone who just has a BA, they need to have had some formal PR training— either at a university, college or practical experience,” says Lisa Kimmel, the general manager at Edelman Toronto.
Kelsey Spohn, a recent alum from Humber College’s PR program, also recommends obtaining a graduate certificate, like the one she earned. “They are going to help you transform your course skills and make you a better public speaker and better at presentations,” she says.
2. Stay informed with social media trends and PR campaigns
“Read everything you possibly can, get involved with the public relations industry by joining associations and networks, and get out there,” says Eric Alper, director of media relations and label acquisitions for eOne Music Canada. “The biggest philosophical change that I’ve noticed is that it’s not necessarily who you know now, it’s what you know.”
3. Dare to be noticed
“When you’re applying, you need to be disruptive. You can’t just send a standard resumé and cover letter, you have to almost dare to be noticed,” Kimmel urges.
4. Treat your interview as a “pitch” and sell yourself
“A lot of people think generically about getting a job, but they haven’t demonstrated that they know the organization. [You need to] actually sell and convince the interviewee that this is the organization they want to be at,” notes Kimmel. On the dreaded, “tell me about yourself question,” Kimmel advises that going through your resumé chronologically is a no-no, “I already have your resumé, you don’t have to go through that—tell me something that is new and unexpected that is not necessarily showcased in your resumé,” she suggests.
5. Volunteer and set yourself apart
“Do some volunteer work in a public relations capacity; organize events, talk to people who have worked in PR so you really have a solid understanding of what public relations is all about,” says Kalene Morgan, professor and coordinator of the public relations graduate certificate program at Humber College.
“It’s your responsibility to follow your passions, volunteer at every opportunity that interests you, stay hungry, stay motivated, and really be prepared to work extremely hard, work on your writing, and have impeccable attention to detail,” notes Spohn.
By day, Rebecca Feigelsohn is a staff writer and editorial assistant at Jobpostings Magazine, helping students find their perfect career match.