People can be their own worst enemies sometimes, and new grads are no exception. In fact, I believe new graduates can be very hard on themselves. After finally getting over the stress of your final year at university, you’ve now ticked that academic box of (hopefully!) success and have been firmly thrust into a dauntingly big pond. *Hint: You are the little fish.
There’s an awful lot of competition out there and everyone is vying for attention; so, rather than adding to the swathes of articles/blogs/columns touting what you *should* be doing, I have made a list of the top three worst things a grad can do to damage their chances and nailing that sought-after role.
1) Assume you have nothing left to learn
This is key. Don’t be arrogant and assume that now you’ve graduated or attended a prestigious school that you’ve got nothing left to learn. PR degrees have become increasingly popular over the last few years and although some of them are very good (I like to think my MSc was), you don’t need one to start a career in PR. In fact, you don’t need a degree at all.
Yes, you’ve earned that certificate saying you know about your subject but knowing the theory for why something works doesn’t always translate into being able to do absolutely everything entailed in a role.That often only comes with hard graft and experience.
Employment is a learning curve but common areas for personal growth once in a PR role include:
- Phone skills and ‘selling in’ to journalists.
- Email Etiquette for different stakeholders depending on your/your agency/client’s relationship with the recipient.
- Technological capabilities – There is a HUGE number of programs and tools out there that you won’t have had access to whilst as a student.
- Client management
- Confidence in your abilities – This is something that comes with time but being a new hire and a new entrant to the industry understandably comes with a bit of insecurity and if you’re like me that means you might overthink things on occasion. Trust in yourself and and don’t be afraid to ask for help/support/a second pair of eyes.
2) Sell yourself short
That being said, don’t let yourself feel that you need a degree from a prestigious college to be successful, or that you need to live up to your peers’ achievements or that you need to have all these skills going in. Without sounding trite, everyone has their own journey and although yes it might feel frustrating to feel like you’re struggling, good employers will make a point to support new hires in building these skills. After all, it’s a win-win.
It’s a balancing act of acknowledging your areas for improvement and demonstrating the confidence, initiative and passion for the industry you want to succeed in. A lot of the time it’ll really come down to being willing to learn so have confidence in yourself and go in to interviews with a positive mindset.
3) Disengage from your personal brand
This is something I will openly admit that I personally struggled with once I started working. Managing all of my personal branding and research on top of a jam-packed professional day was difficult to adjust to, particularly given that I was also battling long commutes and a landlord with a vendetta against modern technology…
Seriously… no wifi?! How is a girl supposed to connect with the world?!
It should come as no surprise that my mobile data plan was wiped out within days…
The first tip for countering this is to try taking some time out of your weekend to write. Depending on what you can juggle around, you can either write a post a week just giving updates or you can write a few posts and then schedule them to be published during the week whilst you’re at work – the latter being more successful in practice for us PR folks I think.
As for my second tip, it isn’t really what I’d call a tip but more of a tool.
*Disclaimer: If you haven’t come across ‘If this, Then that‘, prepare to have your mind blown!
IFTTT (as it’s more commonly known) is an online and mobile app that connects your platforms to each other and basically does what it says on the tin with very little in terms of faffing.
Once you’ve set up your preferences the way you like, the app will automatically respond to you doing ‘this’- ‘this’ being anything from uploading a picture to Instagram or posting a Tweet – by doing ‘that’ whether its sharing that photo on your blog (*See below) or sharing a blog post to Facebook.
It’s a great way to make sure you integrate all your online platforms so that your online profile is consistent and up to date.
Getting your proverbial ‘ducks’ in a row is really very simple with a little bit of planning and once you’ve managed it, it’s even easier to fire off those CVs, wow the recruiters, and nail that all important interview.
If you’d like to look at a more comprehensive list that relates to both senior and junior professionals, I highly recommed Edelman’s latest post.