This post is part of our new blog series that will aim to help young professionals land and make the most of their PR agency internships. For the next few weeks, expect to find useful advice and first-hand experiences from our bloggers and very own whiz-bang team of interns.
Here’s a statement I hear a lot from many of my peers, “I sent out my resume to over 100 companies, have only heard back from a small portion of them, and have gotten even less requests to go in for interviews.” Let’s not forget the famous, “In this economy, I am never going to find a job.” And to be honest, there was a time when I used to say these things myself. I don’t know how many discussions I had with my parents about how prospective employers were failing to recognize my potential value.
But I eventually realized that my shortcomings were rooted in my preparation strategy. Luckily, with a little hard work, I managed to pull everything together and land a great PR internship.
Based on what I’ve learned, here are my top recommendations for a young PR professional that’s planning on initiating contact with a company about an internship.
- First and foremost, consider the old saying, “quality over quantity.” You need to ingrain this in your strategy when looking for a job. The economy is bad. So what? Do yourself a favor and do some research. If you are over or under qualified for a position or the position just does not interest you chances are you’re wasting precious time by sending over your resume. Doing a little research also helps you build some background information on the company, which transfers over positively in an interview.
- Take note of what employers are looking for and read the details. Most companies give you exactly what they want in their job listings, from expertise down to resume format. Yet, many candidates are bumped out of the running because they don’t pay attention to what’s being requested. Often, hundreds of people may be applying for the same job. Failure to follow simple, but critical instructions such as putting your name in the filename of your resume can result in the automatic “round filing” of your application.
- When a potential employer asks for a cover letter, don’t send a generic letter and don’t just repeat everything that is on your resume. The purpose of your resume is to showcase your qualifications. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to share your personality through key work experiences, achievements, and extracurricular activities that may not be on your resume. It gives you the chance to tie key characteristics and core values about yourself to the experiences you’ve had. If you are having a hard time customizing your cover letter to what the employer is looking for, revisit whether or not this position is a good fit.
- Before you send anything out, do a check of your public profile. This is especially important considering all of the different social media platforms and tools that have become available. How do you do this? Well, Google suggests Googling yourself with their new tool “Me on the Web.” And for those of you who have public Facebook profiles, closely consider how you’re conveying yourself. Companies such as the Social Intelligence Corporation focus solely on providing social media reports to employers by categorizing material on your Facebook page.
- If you are given the opportunity to hand in your resume instead of emailing it, take it. Research the person that you’ll be giving your materials to, dress professionally, and focus on making a good impression. Going in person will also give you a chance to get comfortable with the place that you’ll most likely have your interview.
I hope that these practices will help your chances for being called back for that all important interview. The best outcomes will always result from smart preparation and customized applications.
If you have additional insight about the best way to prepare to enter the professional world, or at how to manage your public profile, we would love to hear about it!
Author—Stephani Kier is currently an intern at Weber Shandwick Seattle. You can find out more about Stephani on LinkedIn.
Image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan.