Landing an interview is the most exciting and nerve racking experience in a new graduate’s life. In this day and age, we face extreme competition not only from our classmates but also from kids across the country. This is why it is important to do your homework before heading into an interview. Here are a few tips to impress an employer at your next interview:
Research. You should never underestimate the importance of research. Your insight will show your employer that you have come to the interview prepared. Most importantly, it will demonstrate your ability to problem solve and give them confidence that you can complete assigned tasks.
Bring Questions. Have at least five questions written down that you can refer to in case they slip your mind. Make sure your questions show you looked into the company and you have a good understanding of how the company operates. Something you might ask is, “I see that your company’s motto is … can you explain to me how that is seen in day to day operations?” This will show that you have done your research and that you are assessing whether or not this company is right for you.
Take a deep breath. Everyone knows that interviews are scary and stressful, but you want to appear calm and collected. Deep breaths help to calm you down so you can think more clearly, and a calm demeanor will show confidence in your abilities.
Send a thank you note. It may sound old school, but it is always good to follow up with a hand written thank you note after the interview. Thank you notes show you appreciate the opportunity to interview and handwritten notes will set you apart from other candidates. Start off your letter by thanking the employer for taking time to meet with you. Then in the body talk about things you learned from the interview and referring to your relevant skills. Conclude by thanking them again and encouraging them to contact you if any questions arise.
The job market is full of stiff competition and you need stand out. If you enter an interview with a solid understanding of the company and bring good questions, you will be sure to make a good impression. What are some of your interview tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments.
Austin Zerbach is a senior majoring in public relations. Austin plans to pursue a career in event management post graduation. You can contact Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As PR majors, we’re often told about the importance of personal branding while looking for a job or internship. While telling an interviewer what they want to hear may land you the job, it won’t land you the right job. Here are few tips to branding yourself before you start the job hunt:
Be consistent. Branding yourself is about more than a neat heading at the top of your resume. It’s about being consistent across multiple platforms. This means employers can draw the same conclusions about you from looking at your Twitter or your LinkedIn. It’s about showing not telling. One great way to show an employer your passion is to consistently show off your niche. And on that note…
Embrace your niche. The truth is, you produce better work when you’re passionate about the work you’re doing. So, if you’re into technology or the environment or health care, don’t be afraid of letting employers know that. It will not only set you apart from other applicants but also open doors for which clients you work with at an agency.
Know what excites you. Yes, flexibility and a willingness to try new things can look great in a job candidate, but knowing exactly what you like does too! Don’t lie and say you love social media if you could really care less about Twitter. Instead, focus on what does excite you and why that makes you a great hire. Plus, if you are hired, you will be able to do something you actually enjoy!
Remember, everything you do reflects on your personal brand. So, keep it clean, consistent and authentic.
Have any other tips on how to stay genuine when starting off? We’d love to hear them! Comment below to keep the conversation going.
Mandy Shold is the 2013-2014 University of Oregon PRSSA chapter vice president. She is currently a senior double majoring in public relations and environmental studies. Follow her on Twitter at @WayToRepresent or check out her portfolio at mandyshold.wix.com/portfolio.
Although writing a cover letter can often be frustrating, it is the first and most important thing a potential employer sees. The right cover letter can get you one step closer to an interview. Here are a few tips to make the writing process easier and your cover letters more successful:
Keep your cover letter well organized and easy to read. Use the first paragraph to explain why you are contacting the organization. Be sure to include any mutual acquaintances and mention your interest in the company or a specific position. In two to three concise body paragraphs, elaborate on your relevant skills, experience, knowledge and expertise. Conclude the cover letter by reiterating your interest in the company and mentioning a call to action, such as “I look forward to hearing from you.”
Tailor your descriptions of skills and experiences to fit the position. Use the job posting as a guide to identify two or three key skills that the employer is looking for. Then, brainstorm the ways in which your skills or experiences illustrate those reoccurring themes. By using key terms from the job posting, you can show that you not only understand what the job entails, but that you’re the right fit for the position.
Remember, they want to know what you can do for them. The more clearly you illustrate how you can benefit the organization, the more likely they call you for an interview. Consider concluding each of your body paragraphs with a sentence summarizing how the skill or experience you mention is relevant and how it will impact the employer.
For more advice on writing a standout cover letter, read this post on the seven-step resume makeover and this article on the mind trick that will help you write a more creative and passion-filled cover letter.
What has been your most successful trick to writing a unique cover letter? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Hannah Osborn, external relations committee member, is a junior pursuing a double major in public relations and magazine journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahmarieoz.
An extensive personal network is a valuable tool for any budding public relations professional, and agency tours are a great way to build these relationships. UO PRSSA recently visited three agencies in Seattle: Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Porter Novelli. Here are a few tips on how to follow up after agency tours to build your personal network:
Connect with the professionals on social media. Reach out to the professionals you spoke to and request a connection on LinkedIn. Personalize each request by mentioning something that specific person said. Also, follow the professionals on Twitter, tweet a thank you and engage with their tweets.
Send a thank you email. Did any particular people stand out? Thank them for their time and note an aspect of the agency that you enjoyed. If any conversations or tips reminded you of an article, include the article in the email. Be specific but concise, and keep the email under two paragraphs. Aim to send the email within a week of the agency tour. Also, don’t send a resume unless you were asked to – you don’t want to be pushy, you want to show your gratitude.
Want to go the extra mile? Send a handwritten thank you card instead. Be sure to send your card as soon as possible. Like the email, the handwritten thank you note should be personalized.
Cultivate a sustainable relationship. Don’t send one email and never reach out again. Check in every six months or so by sharing a relevant article or engaging on LinkedIn. But remember, networking is about mutuality. Don’t reach out to people to get something out of them – try to make every relationship mutually beneficial.
These tips also work for informational interviews! The key is to stay personal, engaged and courteous. Networking is about cultivating relationships; you have to give value to receive value.
What’s your take on networking? Share your tips for following up after agency tours in the comments below.
Kaitlyn Chock is a PRSSA project manager for the 2013-14 school year. You can contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.
A common issue among public relations majors is landing an internship. Although seeking out a public relations internship can be intimidating, especially if you have little to no experience, it is possible. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
With strategic searching and persistence, you will have an internship in no time.
Amelea Renshaw is the 2013-2014 University of Oregon PRSSA operations director. She is currently a junior double majoring in advertising and public relations. You can contact Amelea at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @amelearenshaw.
Why does branding matter?
As public relations students, we are aware of the importance of company branding but often overlook our own personal brand. This post will explore personal branding, discuss value proposition and key publics, and how to market your brand.
Determine your brand
SWOT Analysis: A personal SWOT analysis can help you determine your capabilities and interests, which will help you figure out where you should be heading professionally.
Identify your value proposition
Value proposition identifies who you are. What image do you want people to associate with you? Use your SWOT analysis to help you identify what makes you unique. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine your value proposition:
Once you have identified your value proposition, think about how to translate that into a 60-second, a 30-second and a 10-second elevator pitch to tell potential employers.
Have a targeted approach
You need to be strategic with your brand and identify your target audience. Consider factors like:
Social media profiles are a great way to get your name out there and to connect with others. Do not try to be on every social media platform because you cannot devote enough time and effort to each account.
Branding yourself is a continuous process. Everything that you do reflects on your personal brand. Think about how your online interactions reflect on your brand.
How do you market yourself online? Please tell us about your personal branding efforts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Oliver Beattie
Kaitlyn is the PRSSA External Relations Project Manager for the 2012-2013 school year. She is a senior studying public relations at the University of Oregon. You connect with Kaitlyn at email@example.com or on Twitter @thtwhtkatiesaid.
Agency life can be exciting yet intimidating. As public relations students, we are often told that starting off in an agency is a great way to launch our careers in “the real world.” The big question that always seems to come up is “what does a PR agency even do?” To answer that question, our Chapter hosts agency tours every term in a different city. Agency tours give students a taste of what it’s like to work at an agency and see if its a right fit for them.
If you’re looking for insight on agency life, a UO PRSSA agency tour is the first step in the right direction. Agency tours are not only an opportunity to see the office space and surrounding city but also an opportunity to embrace the agencies’ culture. To understand the agencies’ culture, ask professionals who work there. Ask questions like:
It’s important to remember that professionals are taking time out of their day to meet and provide insight. Do not waste their time – research the company and its clients, and prepare to ask questions. Most importantly, absorb as much as you can!
If you have questions regarding upcoming agency tours, feel free to contact Abigaelle Mulligan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abigaelle Mulligan is 2013-2014 chapter liaison. She is passionate for booming culture within the realms of music, entertainment, and fashion. She hopes to pursue a career in corporate PR upon graduation. You can reach Abigaelle at email@example.com and follow her on twitter at @abbsmulligan.
Preparation is key when it comes to job interviews; however, interview questions are often open-ended, which can be intimidating and seem difficult to prepare for. These questions are challenging, but they also show who you are and how you think.
Tell me about yourself. Instead of reciting what’s on your résumé, surprise your interviewer with something they don’t already know about you. This is your opportunity to show who you are and what makes you unique – your passions, hobbies, and personal experiences. Your interviewer is probably talking to numerous candidates with the necessary qualifications, so use this time to differentiate yourself from your peers.
Tell me about your previous position. Your interviewer wants to know if you were a reliable, trustworthy, and capable employee. Even if you hated your previous position, focus on the positive aspects like what you learned, goals you accomplished, or challenges you overcame. Remember, your interviewer already has your résumé, so use this time to delve deeper. Previous projects and tasks are an excellent way to demonstrate that you are hardworking and capable of delivering results.
Do you have any questions? This is probably the most important interview question. By asking questions you can demonstrate your passion, curiosity, and thoughtfulness. On the other hand, if you don’t ask questions you are communicating to your interviewer that you aren’t invested in the company. You should research the company before your interview so that your questions are meaningful and specific. Here are six questions you can tailor to your interview needs:
At the end of the day, companies hire people and not résumés. Use these tough questions to engage with your interviewer, showcase your strengths, and leave a lasting impression. What tough interview questions have you faced and how did you handle them?
Chloe Loveall is a writer, an artist, and a slave to the creative process. After spending two years traversing the globe, she has temporarily settled down to study journalism and advertising at the University of Oregon. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloeLoveall.
There are many pieces of the job search process that are out of your control: job availability, who else is applying, how organizations find candidates, etc. Therefore, focus on what you can control. One of the earliest career development theories proposed, Planned Happenstance, suggests that one must acknowledge the presence of chance in the career planning process, but also work to increase the likelihood of chance opportunities. For example, if you have an extensive professional network, the likelihood of you hearing about an unadvertised job position will be higher. In order to be a successful job/internship seeker, you must facilitate opportunity by building your network and taking advantage of opportunities that you create.
According to a 2012 study conducted by the US Department of Labor, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of networking in finding media jobs is even more essential, as students often encounter professional opportunities through an industry professional or well-connected professor. In the media industry, word-of-mouth and networking are critical.
Follow these steps to utilize and expand your network:
1. Start with who you know. Your instructors, who are also industry professionals, have great connections. Friends who have already participated in internships may be able to make appropriate referrals as well. If you have family working in the media industry, approach them too.
2. Spread the word. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job or internship. Provide some details on your professional goals so they know which connections are relevant. Your best friend’s mom may work for Edelman.
3. Conduct informational interviews. Once you make new connections, ask if these industry professionals will engage in informational interviews—an interview where you ask questions about a job, profession and industry. You can gather information about a job/organization and expand your network. Who knows, if you make a good impression, it could lead to an internship.
4. Follow up. When people graciously donate their time to help you, be sure to say thank you with an email or a hand-written note. Also remember that networking is reciprocal. Maintain the relationship by checking in or referring your new connection to a recent article of interest.
5. Take advantage of the opportunities you create. As you meet more people, introduce yourself, identify a mutual professional connection and offer to have a conversation over coffee or lunch. You can also attend networking events such as the PRSA New Pros Agency Tours. While putting yourself out there professionally can be intimidating, staying on the sidelines won’t get you anywhere.
While chance plays a role in the search process, you must create opportunities by engaging in the most effective search strategies. Databases are a great place to start and can give you a sense of available opportunities, but they put you in a passive role and are incomplete. Instead, actively work to expand your network; you will create more opportunities for yourself. Put yourself out there.
Guest post by Miranda Atkinson, a current Career & Academic Adviser for the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon.
A successful cover letter summarizes your relative experience and expresses your interest in a position. Your cover letter should leave the reader wanting to meet you for an interview. During the writing process, it’s important to use your unique voice, while also maintaining a professional and appropriate tone. Here are a few tips for making a great first impression with your cover letter:
Be personal. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person.
Do your research. Know what the position entails and learn as much as you can about the industry and organization you are applying for. Doing so allows you to focus on specific assets that match those of the position you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter to best suit the job.
Avoid using clichés. Employers sift through a number of cover letters with the same language. If you’re able to find unique ways to express your enthusiasm and interest for the position, you’re more likely to stand out.
Support your claims. Relate your strengths and experiences to the job description. This gives your letter substance. It also shows you are prepared for the position and prove your written communication skills.
Use active voice. It’s powerful. It shows your confidence. It keeps your ideas clear and easy to understand.
Proofread. Put your cover letter aside for a while, and then reread it. This is an old revision trick, but it works. You will likely discover grammatical errors and sentences that could be improved when you come back to it. Also, consider having a professor or advisor read over your letter – another set of eyes is very helpful when editing.
Don’t forget to format. Take time to make the letter clean and attractive. Keep the same font and header as your resume, but stick to traditional business letter formatting. Don’t forget to include a handwritten signature.
Your letter is the first impression a potential employer has of you as a professional. Remember, be yourself and let your strongest qualities stand out in your writing.
Post by Ruby Betten, PRSSA member for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Ruby through our blog editor at firstname.lastname@example.org