For final year uni students, the end of education is getting ever closer. The prospect of graduating can be a stressful time, particularly as you try to navigate post-student life and enter the competitive field of full-time employment. However, it is also the start of an exciting new chapter as you begin your career.
There’s no doubt that public relations is a growing sector, retaining a value of £13.8 billion in 2018. 70% of PR professionals are graduates, with the flourishing industry becoming particularly popular for budding creatives. However, with this comes a competitiveness to secure much sought-after jobs.
If you’re currently considering a career in comms, follow our top tips to give you the best chance of joining 86,000 other professionals in the UK PR industry this summer:
1. Timing is key – to successfully land yourself an enviable position, you need to catch PR agencies at the right time. Don’t wait until you’re exams are over. Instead, monitor LinkedIn, Twitter and agency websites to map out when companies are hiring – employers are more likely to read your CV at this time, and, even if the dates don’t necessarily work for you, you’ve a better chance of getting in front of them to show what you can do.
2. Standout CVs are a must – PR agencies are inundated with CVs, so it’s essential for yours to offer something unique. Consider a quirky design, a digital-led approach or a bold stunt to capture a company’s attention.
It may sound obvious, but your CV must reflect your skills. If you’re applying for a creative role, design a unique CV that’s eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing. If you’re applying for a communications role, poorly written CVs littered with typos and grammar mistakes will definitely not make the cut!
3. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone – fantastic telephone skills are an essential part of any role in PR, yet the task is becoming increasingly daunting in the digital age. Calling agencies to enquire about available roles shows that you don’t rely solely on emails to communicate. Emails are also easier to ignore, whereas a conversation over the phone allows you to convey your enthusiasm and positive attitude to leave a lasting impression.
4. Sell your work experience – it’s something that is drilled into students from day one of university, but it’s surprising how many people graduate with no experience at all in their desired industry. If this is the case with you, don’t panic. Think outside the box and sell previous work and life experiences – they’ll be more relevant than you think.
Focusing on something other than your degree is required to stand out, but this doesn’t mean undertaking numerous unpaid PR internships to get an entry-level role. Do you have a successful blog, a strong social media presence or experience writing for college/university publications? Alternatively, consider your previous part-time jobs. Retail and hospitality roles allow you to demonstrate good customer service skills and an ability to work under pressure – two skills required in the PR world.
5. Network your way into the industry – directly approaching companies may not always pay off. In these cases, find alternative ways to learn more about the industry and approach people currently working in it. LinkedIn is a great tool for this. Connect with as many people as possible, whatever level they are, and ask for their advice and expertise in getting into the sector.
Researching networking events can also be a great way to start building your contacts. Don’t be afraid to attend these events, and most importantly, be confident enough to strike up meaningful conversations while there. PR is an overlapping industry, where paths will inevitably cross, so you never know where this initial chat may lead.