The 7 Top Tips for a #PRstudent to get their first graduate job!

neesonSo, it’s that time of year again where summer is almost over and we’re slowly coming to terms with the looming reality of returning to university or *gasp* facing the daunting prospect of needing to get a job.

Now, if – like me – the prospect of becoming a fully-fledged adult (complete with taxes and commuting) has a tendency to give you heart palpitations, I thought I’d make things a little less stressful and give my top seven tips for getting that all important graduate job.

1.  Experience is (almost) everything!

Public relations – and, for that matter, most creative industries – is notoriously competitive to get into. This competitivity is even more pronounced at junior levels where swathes of new grads are fighting it out for the attention of increasingly discerning employers. One of the best ways to get their attention (and those elusive job offers) therefore, is to show whoever is potentially hiring you that you know your way around an office and the positions you are looking to fill.

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Whether it is an internship, a collaborative project like Stephen Waddington’s #PRStack, writing for communities such as that built by Behind the Spin or volunteering your abilities within/for a not-for-profit, all experience is readily seen as good experience and, as such, does wonders for not only showing an employer you won’t crumble in the job, but also helps you gain confidence in your skillset and your ability in applying your academic knowledge to a professional context and environment.

2.  Figure out what makes you special and own it!

Now anyone who knows me knows I have a wide and arguably uncommon variety of interests (from WWE to politics to rats to blogging on a regular basis). As an undergraduate, I believed that being seen as ‘weird’ would put agencies and employers off but the more I’ve explored the industry and built connections within it, the more I’ve noticed that in fact the opposite is proving true.

Being ‘weird’ and having seemingly ‘quirky’ interests has been a godsend during interviews as I genuinely feel that it has been one of the key aspects that has ‘set me apart’ and led to my applications being memorable – something that is all to important when you know the person hiring has umpteen CVs to go through where every CV is going to look basically the same.

3.  Know where to look.

There are thousands of job sites across the Internet. Some are great, while others are riddled with spam, so finding the most helpful sites for what you’re looking for can be a mammoth process. The best course of action is to of course browse job boards that specialise in public relations like the handy list provided below:

4.  Stand out on social media!WORKING

I know. I know. Breaking through the noise and standing out online (particularly in a positive manner) is much easier said than done. But networking online across all the commonly used platforms is one of the key ways in which to get your name out there and your profile known.

Additionally, social media also is a great way to find job ads and stand out to employers. Indeed, I have recently gained a graduate role myself through securing an interview with Hamish Thompson, MD of London’s Houston PR, via Twitter based on his reading my blog and discovering a few of my quirkier interests – particularly my love of stationary (something that is shared within his team already).

5.  When it comes to applying/interviewing, Research. Research. Research.

Social media however, is not the be all and end all for getting a graduate job. Keeping up-to-date and being knowledgeable about your industry as well as the agencies you’d like to work for is so important in making a good impression. Interviews test your ability, skills and character but an interviewer is often looking for more. Stand out by commenting on campaigns the agency has been involved in, content they have posted or their client’s industries.

6.  Be gracious (in both success and defeat).

It’s amazing how many people don’t follow up an interview by sending a quick note to say thank you.

DO NOT LET YOURSELF BECOME ONE OF THEM.

Show your appreciation to anyone and everyone who helps you out (and even the people who don’t). It leaves such a positive impression and will pay off in the long run. After all, PR is a surprisingly small industry, and you never know who you might end up at an event with (or even working with) in the future.

Most importantly though is number 7. Keep a cool head and don’t let the slog get you down!!! Stay positive, keep a balance, hang out with your mates, and you’ll get there eventually.

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Don’t just take my word for it though! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think! Are there any tips you want to share?

Let’s get digital (and social) with #MyDigitalCareer

So it’s been almost a week since the end of #MyDigitalCareer 11703358_632840450085757_8939266814298482214_nand I feel its  probably time to put my thoughts to paper (or the online equivalent of paper anyway).

Now for those of you who don’t know – which may well be many of you, the #MyDigitalCareer event (the brainchild of London-based Cloudnine Recruitment) was aimed at providing students and recent graduates with insights into social and digital roles, and advice on how to break into the industry.

At each evening’s talk (as the event lasted five days across a variety of London locations), twenty of the most influential and interesting leaders and practitioners in the Social Media & Digital industries, including: O2 Social Media Manager,1513681_632846740085128_3830231672129821664_n Rachel Kneen; Associate Director at Edelman, James Poulter; Head of Social and Community at The Guardian, Laura Oliver; and Salesforce digital guru, Jeremy Waite, author of “From Survival to Significance” (which I highly recommend by the way), gave us a breakdown of their experiences and insights into what’s important for those looking to follow in their footsteps before taking part in a short Q&A session prior to networking over drinks and nibbles.

I will admit, even before arriving last monday, 11694776_632840490085753_6290195808492707933_nI had high expectations of the event – not least because I knew Ketchum‘s Chief Engagement Officer, Stephen Waddington – who recently judged Behind the Spin‘s National blogging competition (in which I secured joint Second place) – would be one of the guest speakers.

These expectations however were far far surpassed.

As such, I thought it only fair to share with you my top ten key take-homes of the week. So, in no particular order (as they’re all great points to remember):

1) Read! Read journals, read blogs, read up on current affairs within whatever sector peaks your interest. As Jeremy Waite stated on Friday, “It matters most to be informed.”

2) Write; and (perhaps just as importantly) spellcheck. Not only does it demonstrate your interests, your industry knowledge, and your business awareness, but it is also highly regarded by both employers and their clients.

3) Be yourself! Without being loud or obnoxious (I mean how off-putting would that be), be confident enough in your ability to stand in a room and make yourself known for your deeds.

4) That being said, also be very conscious of what aspects of yourself that you present – particularly online where years-old drunken photos and ramblings can rear their ugly heads once more.

5) Pick a path but be ready to move with the times. Knowing what you love and going for it wholeheartedly is admirable after all, but we must not tie ourselves to one way of doing things in case it restricts our future growth. Time always changes things after all.

6) Network. Network. Network. This point in particular hit home for me as almost every speaker stated that every job they’d secured had been recommended to them via their networks.

7) Find a mentor; someone who will support, challenge and prove a helpful sounding board throughout your career.

8) Know that there’s no such thing as a work/life balance.

9) That being said, Learn how to say no, and try to maintain some semblance of one. That, or risk burning out early on in your career.

10) Stay curious. Whether it be about new trends, new tools, or new technology, staying curious will keep your knowledge, industry awareness, and skillset up to date and relevant. It is this (so they claim) that will set us apart.