By Kate Templeton
Do you stress out before an interview? Don’t worry- you’re not alone! For me, interviews are the most nerve-racking part of the job process. Demonstrating to prospective employers that you are the most qualified person for the job while being asked questions on the spot can be very stressful. However, with preparation and practice anyone can become a pro interviewee! Here are five tips that will help you nail your next PR interview and alleviate some of that stress:
First impressions matter! When going into an interview, it is always a good move to dress professionally. Have you ever heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” Dressing up for an interview can show prospective employers that you care about the job and are taking the interview seriously. You want them to be able to picture you doing the job you are applying for. Plus, when you dress well it can help you feel more confident!
When conducting an interview, people are looking for specific responses. They are seeing if you possess the skills needed to work well with their organization. Why not show up extra prepared? As PR students and PR professionals we should be able to think on our feet and effectively promote ourselves. There are certain questions that are consistently asked at interviews (ex: strengths, weaknesses, why do you want to work here, etc.). Practice answers to questions you think you may be asked so that you feel more prepared and confident for the actual interview!
It’s easy to tell people that you have a full public relations portfolio with a variety of creative work pieces through multiple clients. However, actually being able to show off your skills during an interview is even better. Make sure to show your PR portfolio and sample work to an interviewer, whether it be a hard copy or online. This will help differentiate you from other candidates.
Few things are as impressive in an interview as showing how prepared and knowledgeable you really are about what you are applying for. Especially if it’s a job related to PR, you want to know all of the ins and outs of the organization and role. Being able to demonstrate that you have done your research tells employers that you spent time learning about the company and position, and that you genuinely want the job.
After the interview is over and you begin the process of waiting for a response, it is important to follow-up with the person/people who interviewed you. Sending a thank-you note or e-mail is always a great idea. This is an additional way to reiterate how much you want this position and help them specifically remember you when they are picking from a large pool of applicants.
By Erica Freeze
Broadening your professional network is essential for a smooth transition into the professional world. Your time in college is crucial for connecting with professionals and exploring possible career paths. So how do you meet potential employers? Here are four ways to get your foot in the door:
Join a career building group on-campus:
Student organizations across the country provide students with a variety of ways to network and meet new people. There are several on-campus clubs that can help broaden your professional network which includes: The International Business and Economics Club, Independent Society of Campus Journalists, UO Toastmasters, the American Institute of Architecture Students, and PRSSA. Many of these clubs bring in professionals to their meetings who give advice on how to succeed in a specific career path. The UO PRSSA chapter invites PR professionals bi-weekly to present at chapter meetings. These meetings can help you network and discover potential firms you might be interested in applying to after graduation.
Utilize the Career Center through the Professional Network:
As an enrolled student, you have access to a professional network through the Career Center. To gain access, you must complete an online networking workshop and quiz, and the login to your Duck Connect account. The Professional Network consists of UO alumni, parents, and friends committed to supporting you in exploring different career paths and preparing you for the working world. Browse various profiles and reach out to those who have a career that interests you in the professional network. If you gain a contact, ask if you can receive an onsite tour or set up a job shadow. This network is a great resource for engagement because all professionals in the network have agreed to share their time and professional expertise with UO students.
Connect with your instructor:
Many of your instructors have great connections in a variety of industries. Your instructors want to get to know you and help you succeed. Get to know your professors and see what realm of public relations each one specializes in. If they have similar interests to yours, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. They also still keep in touch with past students who have entered the public relations industry and can connect you with them. Instructors will often invite professionals into the classroom as well, so feel free to ask questions in class!
Set up an informational interview:
Before reaching out to a professional, look into a company you are interested in and research who they are, what they do and what they support. Once you have some knowledge about the company, ask the professional if they are willing to speak with you. Schedule a time that works for both of you, and be prepared to ask questions about their daily life at the company, any projects they are working on and the office environment. Remember that informational interviews are different from job interviews and that they do not guarantee a job.
Connect with professionals on LinkedIn:
LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for connecting with employers. If you don’t have a LinkedIn it is definitely time for you to set one up! Take the time to tailor your profile to show potential employers who you are. Many companies are on LinkedIn and you can narrow your searches by location, industry or job openings. LinkedIn is a great way to follow the employees at the companies you are interested in. You can message professionals on the platform and inquire about informational interviews or ask simple questions.
These are just a few ways to broaden your network. What are your tips and tricks for meeting potential employers?
By Arunima Bhattacharjee
While you’re a a pre-journalism student at the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), you might have asked yourself a few questions before deciding the perfect major for yourself. Some people believe that creativity is for advertising, writing skills for journalism and dealing with people is public relations. So, which skills do you identify with the most? Well, all three majors require extensive communication, creativity and writing skills. However, the second question that might cross your mind is which major will most likely land me with a job after graduation? Well then it’s time we explore this question because the career you choose will impact how much money you will make in the future.
According to “The Guardian,” the competition in the journalism field is “immense.” It takes some time to land with a good paying job as a journalist and you need to know your technology before heading into the job market. The journalism school here at the University of Oregon (UO) will teach you the necessary technological knowledge, but the rest is on you. You need to be up-to-date with all the available software for editing and creating multimedia. It’s also important to create a portfolio; this will show them what you’ve learned while in school. In addition, the average salary for a journalist is in between $24,000 to $71,000 annually.
If you are thinking that you will sit at a leather chair with a window view in Manhattan at an advertisement agency, like “Mad Men”, then think again. Peggy didn’t get her own office on her first day of work. She had an entry-level position and then got promoted to different levels because she was able to demonstrate unique skills and creative thinking. That’s what advertisement agencies want in new graduating undergrads. If you intern in an advertising firm while in college, it is more likely that same firm will be willing to hire you full-time after you graduate. According to the “Payscale Human Capital”, the salary at an advertising firm will be between $32,000 and $71,000 annually, this can also vary on which part of advertisement you are interested in going into.
Public relations, on the other hand are outpacing journalism. According to the “Pew Research Center” the salary gap between PR specialist and a news reporter is almost $20,000 annually. A new survey from the University of Georgia found that new graduates earn on average $35,000 a year when they get into the public relations career. The number of employed PR specialists is expected to jump from 258,100 in 2010 to 316,200 by 2020. This projection equates to a 23% rise in employment.
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.
The secret to a standout resume is to measure your results, and you’ll need to plan ahead to do this. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Identify the ultimate goal of your efforts. Why are you about to engage in this public relations endeavor? What is the purpose?
2. Set objectives. Your objectives are how you measure whether you’ve achieved your goal, so each objective must be measurable. To set objectives, you’ll want to find out what your past performance was. You want to do better than last time, but you don’t want to set objectives that are tough to reach. Make sure to set your objectives with your manager.
Ideally, you’ll have access to the organization’s prior performance, so you can report the difference you have made (e.g., increased museum memberships by 5 percent).
If you cannot get information about the organization’s prior performance, you can at least report on your resume whether you met your objectives, and you can potentially report that you exceeded your objectives by a particular percentage (e.g., exceeded attendance objective by 20 percent).
If you will manage your organization’s social media, make sure to use tools to measure your organization’s performance before you take the helm. You can find these tools through an Internet search for “[name of tool] measurement.”
Some of my favorite measurement tools are Edelman’s TweetLevel and BlogLevel, Statigram, and PinPuff. There are plenty of other good tools, as well. Facebook has built-in metrics you can use through Facebook Insights, which you can access as soon as you’re an account administrator. Make sure to record the “before” scores, so you can measure the percentage of improvement at the end of your internship. You might also take some screenshots of the before and after measurements, which would be good visual illustrations for the professional portfolio you’ll prepare during J454.
Another important online tool is bitly, which you can use to measure the number of times people have clicked on a link you share.
3. Measure your results. To figure out the percentage change between your performance and the prior performance, follow this simple formula:
A. Subtraction: Your performance – prior performance = X
B. Division: X divided by the prior performance
Then move your decimal to the right by two numbers, and you have your percentage change.
Guest post by Professor Tiffany Gallicano, public relations faculty member for the UO School of Journalism and Communication. Visit her blog The PR Post.
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
During spring agency tours on Friday, May 3, the University of Oregon PRSSA chapter had the pleasure of sitting down with Bob Frause, CEO and founder of Frause in Seattle, Washington. In addition to his prominent role within the public relations industry, Frause is extensively involved with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) as a member of the National Board of Directors and Past Chairman of the PRSA College of Fellows. He also sits on the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards. Frause’s substantial experience in the industry has allowed him the opportunity to develop several important tactics to help young professionals in the PR job search.
1) Remember that every interview is a real interview. In the process of looking for a job, informational interviews have become a popular tool for networking with professionals. However, just because you are not actively applying for an open position does not mean you should take it any less seriously. When you set up an informational interview, prepare for it in the same way you would for an interview for an open position. Make sure to research both your interviewer and the company. Be ready to ask he or she specific questions that show you have done your homework. By the end of the interview, you should make the professional wish he had on open position or room in his budget to hire you. You never know when this could lead to a job offer.
2) Put interests at the bottom of your resume or in your cover letter. Recently, many students have been advised not to include interests unrelated to public relations on their resume. Though according to Frause, curiosity outside the industry is something he looks for in a potential hire. If you are interested in travel or cooking, find a way to integrate these interests into how you present yourself because this will suggest that you are a more rounded and experienced individual. You also never know when these outside interests will coincide with client work making you an ideal person for the team.
3) Ask for a job and don’t take the first “no.” During an interview it is important to remember your self worth and prove that to your interviewer. If you don’t think you are the best person for the job there is no reason the person or people interviewing you will either. In Frause’s opinion, at some point during the interview, it is important to ask for the job. Though many times you will be told no, you can then spend the rest of the interview proving why you should be hired for that job. This tactic also shows self-confidence and your ability to be a leader. Frause admits this might not be a good tactic for all interviews, but suggests that you should be able to establish if this will work during initial research for the interview.
4) Get at least two professional contacts before you leave. At the end of an interview, make sure to thank them and ask to be put on the list for future open positions. This shows that you would like to continue a relationship with that person and the company. After thanking her, ask for any contacts they might have that you could use to expand your network. Frause’s advice is to leave with at least two new contacts that might be beneficial to you.
5) Create a graphic biography of yourself. One tool that Frause suggests is something he calls a graphic biography of yourself. This should be a roadmap of who you are as a person and a professional. You could use this in your portfolio or in an interview to help you stay focused on what you want to convey about yourself. This can also be useful to have in front of you during a telephone or Skype interview to help you steer the conversation and prevent you from forgetting something you wish to share about yourself.
6) Avoid misusing pronouns. Though sometimes this aspect of writing and speaking can be forgotten, Frause says that this is one of his main pet peeves and a mistake he encounters frequently. All grammar is important and proper use of pronouns contributes to your overall image as an educated individual.
Making the right impression during an interview – whether it is formal or simply an informational one – can make the difference in getting a job offer. Frause advises young professionals to be proactive, confident and unafraid to ask the hard questions during the job search. What do you think of Frause’s professional advice?
“In Alabama, you can’t be for both. You have to choose. It’s either Alabama or Auburn. And once you choose, you are branded for life.” – Unknown Auburn fan
“Personnel? That’s for assholes!” – Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan
“I was in Personnel for 10 years.” – Bradford Dillman as Captain Jerome McKay
“Yeah.” – Harry Callahan
Recently, a fellow public relations graduate school classmate was excited about her prospects of landing a position with Intel Corporation. The only problem was the job was in Human Resources (with all due respect to those in HR).
I couldn’t help but immediately think about Dirty Harry’s reaction about being reassigned to “Personnel” in the 1976 feature film, “The Enforcer.” This point is amplified by his one-syllable response to Captain McKay informing him about his 10-year tenure in what we now label: Human Resources or HR.
My serious concern for my academic colleague had absolutely nothing to do with the largest semiconductor company in the world, Intel, but the position itself. Instinctively, I took into account that jobs are precious in this lethargic economy, even at a time in which we are celebrating the nation’s unemployment rate “declining” to 7.7 this past November as more-and-more job seekers give up the hunt.
In particular, I urged caution to her about inadvertently heading down the path to pigeonholing. She could record 10 years in human resources and suddenly come to the realization that she is permanently dropped into the lethal “HR” bucket. If she subsequently wanted to shift her career back to public relations, marketing, advertising etc. — what she actually studied as an undergraduate and in grad school — she may find the doors closed for her because she is now permanently branded as a “HR” professional, similar to “The Evil Director of Human Resources, ‘Catbert,’” in the Dilbert cartoons.
Another example is one of my students, who was saddened that he lost out for a retail management trainee job for Macy’s. This may have been a blessing in disguise unless he really wanted to spend his life in retail, which very well could have been the result if he was “successful” in attaining this particular job.
The point of this epistle is that we live in an increasingly demographic world and there is no going back. Think about how everyone is worshipping at the altar of Barack Obama political guru David Axelrod because his team correctly projected that 72 percent of the electorate would be composed of white voters…a number too low to elect Mitt Romney.
The exercise was to identify single women, African Americans, Hispanics and young voters and target the GOTV campaign (Get Out The Vote) to these demographic groups in their respective buckets. Some of this segmentation is obvious: Males and females; married or single: young or old. And someone is always dividing and subdividing each subgroup into tiny slivers to determine buying and behavior patterns for political or monetary gain.
From the Census to Facebook, we are compulsively segmenting people whether we like it or not (e.g., privacy advocates). From the Spartans to the Athenians, the Hatfields to the McCoys, the North and the South, Red States and Blue States, Israelis and Palestinians, we have a long history of putting people into groups. In Alabama, it is the red and white of the Crimson Tide or the blue, orange and white of the Auburn Tigers. There is no straddling the fence in ‘Bama.
To many Sean Connery will always be James Bond. Simon Cowell will be the absolutely brutal talent judge on American Idol. Simon Bond will always be the guy who wrote, 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. Reportedly, his subsequent books on any other subject were not accepted…he was always the “Dead Cat Guy.”
So does someone specifically trained in the verbal, written, digital media and communications choreography skills of public relations want to wake up one day and ask: ‘How did I become saddled in Human Resources?’ I am fearful that the lousy economy of today may result in some very painful and for the most part irreversible results a decade or more from now.
Should a graduate turn down a “position” in this crummy economy to avoid the dreaded pigeonhole? Or should that same graduate take a “job” to keep food on the table and gas in the tank, while continuing to search for the position that fits her or his career? This is a difficult predicament. And in many ways, it is an easy answer.
Choosing between Auburn and Alabama is tougher.
In every class we are in, it seems we are always hearing about how awful the job market is and how bad the economy is. While this is certainly the case, there are a lot of jobs out there and if you are prepared and motivated, you can and will get a job.
8 Best practices for getting a job in today’s market:
1. Be proactive – Put yourself out there online and elsewhere that you are job hunting and make a plan for how you are going to search for a job, where you are going to search for a job and how long you should spend searching for jobs. Tweet companies, visit their Facebook pages, stalk their website and know all about the companies you are looking at.
2. Do informational interviews – As you call companies and research companies, set up informational interviews with companies and firms. This will show you are proactive, you are interested and you are invested. Before the interview, make sure you have questions prepared that are not necessarily covered on the website, but ask them about their schedule, about their clients and more.
3. Do your research – Before you ever set up an interview, pick up a phone, send an email, etc., make sure you do your research on the company. You never want to be unprepared for a question about the company or their clients you should be able to answer, but are not able to answer because you did not look beforehand.
4. Monitor and clean up your online sites – I think this is one of the most important. We are constantly told to clean up our Twitter, Facebook, blog and more…. and we absolutely should. All it could take is one bad tweet, one bad photo or any little thing for a company to toss your resume and for the opportunity you could have had to slip away. Clean it up!
5. Be open – When you start the job hunt, you might have a specific job or ideal placement in mind, but things do not always work like that. You have to have an open mind when searching for a job. Be open to a new city or a new responsibility and it could really help you.
6. Use your connections – While you have been networking online and conferences [or you should have been], make sure you use those contacts you made. Reach out to them for job leads and for possible recommendations. Knowing someone can take you a long way. My professor told me that 60-80% of available jobs are not actually posted online. This means those available jobs are going to people the company knows or they are going to someone people in the company know.
7. Do not give up – While job hunting can seem like a job itself, do not give up and do not settle. While a $70,000/year job may seem very enticing, make sure it is really want you want to do for at least 1-3 years before you accept it just because of the money. Even if you do not get a lead for a few weeks or a few months, do not give up! Keep looking. If you do not find a job, try doing another internship if you can. Internships can often lead to jobs later.
8. Put your materials online – While you are job searching, put some of your materials from your portfolio online. Build your online resume and portfolio so when people and companies search for you, they find what you can do and what you could be capable of.
I wish everyone the best of luck with your job hunt as we go into the spring semester! Please feel free to contact me if you have any job hunt questions or general PRSSA questions.
Lauren K. Gray currently serves as the PRSSA 2011-2012 Vice President of Public Relations and is an active Chapter member after serving as Chapter President for almost two years. Tweet her @laurenkgray and visit her website laurenkgray.com for more information and blog posts.