June 5, 2017 – Kelly Hughes, Assistant Account Executive
Applying for your first “real” job is a whirlwind of emotions beginning with anticipation and ending with sheer horror at the thought of not landing a job in your degree field. Want to know my first piece of advice? Relax! Let this time in your life be fun and exciting.
After taking a few deep breaths, and a break from adding yet another individual Microsoft Office suite product to your list of skills, consider these eight ways you can make your resume stand out when applying for a PR job.
1. Only list relevant experience.
Instead of listing the summer you worked at the Sno-Cone Shack in your hometown – unless you helped manage marketing or social media – spend more time putting together a solid description of the internships you had the past few semesters. As much as PR pros love to see that you have many talents, we care a lot more about how you have been involved in client work and that you know how to write and pitch a press release.
2. Don’t exaggerate when professing your skills.
As a good friend and mentor once told me, “Exaggerating hurts your credibility.” Few things are as disappointing as finding out someone you just hired doesn’t really know how to do what their résumé said they did. It is better to be honest about your expertise than to tell us you’re a pro at using Facebook Ads than to show up your first day and awkwardly admit you’ve actually only boosted a post for $5 one time and, surprise! You don’t actually know AP Style, either. Thumbs down all around.
3. Have another PR classmate and an advisor or mentor proofread your résumé.
Not every industry will care about typos in résumés or cover letters, but we do. A significant portion of our careers is spent proofreading and editing, and we really appreciate when things are submitted to us without errors. One of the things I was most surprised by after graduating was how many of my professors and mentors truly cared about my success. I’m confident anyone of them would have been more than happy to take a look at my résumé and offer some advice, and I bet yours would be, too.
Pro tip: Exchange résumés with a designer friend. Offer to help them edit/write their résumé content and in exchange, have them design yours. A PR hopeful’s résumé should showcase their creativity – not leave the hiring manager wondering if you’re really an accountant rather than a PR grad.
4. You don’t need to list your objective at the top of your résumé.
If you’re sending your résumé to an agency, we already know your objective is to find a job. Save the space to include important information, or just have some extra white space to give your résumé a cleaner look.
5. Don’t say, “References available upon request.”
We already know this. What we would rather see are two to three quality, well-written recommendation letters from the supervisors in your internships.
6. Please, please, please do not send a long cover letter.
Many PR pros have billable hours, and we don’t have the time to spare reading long cover letters that reiterate your résumé. Unless a job posting specifically asks for a cover letter, use that research you did on the agency and the hiring manager and come up with a concise, clever email to send along with your résumé. Chances are we will appreciate a witty compliment on a client campaign or press release exposure more than we will appreciate four to five paragraphs on why you would be a good candidate for the job.
7. Send your resume as a PDF.
Play it safe and send your résumé as a PDF, not a Microsoft Word document. It’s a little bit more professional, and it keeps us from typing in unnecessary letters when we accidentally set our coffee cups on our keyboard because it’s 5 a.m. and we are not fully awake yet.
8. Finally, include links to your social media profiles.
We’re going to thoroughly creep your social media presence anyway, so you might as well make it easy for us.