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Ten ways NOT to land your first PR job

Posted: 2012-05-22 in How To    |   Tagged: b2b pr, pr careers, pr jobs, pr work experience, working in pr


By Heather Baker, @TopLineFounder

If I had a pound for every candidate that has made me cringe over the last five years, I would be able to afford a pair of these shoes. Don’t join their ranks by committing one of these graduate gaffes:

  • Turn your CV into a press release: Great candidate seeks first PR role. You are not the first person to think of this and you don’t know how to write a press release.
  • Look exclusively through recruiters: A recruitment agency will charge your employer up to 20% of your starting salary. That’s probably going to be close to £4k, so if you’re up against another candidate of similar standard who applied directly, you are at a natural disadvantage purely because you are £4k more expensive.
  • Ask your dad to ask his company’s PR agency to help you find a job. We don’t want to have to do this for our clients, and we don’t want to hire someone who can’t find a job without their parents’ help.
  • Put ‘blogger’ on your CV when your blog is crap. As employers we are desperate for people who can write, which means the word ‘blog’ will be the first thing to catch my eye when I scan through your CV. I’ll be straight on there and reading. If it’s rubbish, I bin your CV. If it's really cringe, I will share it with the rest of the team for entertainment value.
  • Only look for advertised jobs. Most agencies are constantly in flux. People leave or are promoted, and you would be surprised how often the need for new talent arises. Timing can be everything when it comes to getting your break and you should be sending your CV out to as many employers as possible.
  • Phone us. We don’t have time to speak to every candidate. While phoning does show initiative and confidence, when I'm against a deadline, it can also be interpreted as cocky and annoying.
  • Ignore a friendly rejection email. Twice this year I have turned down a good candidate in favour of someone slightly more suitable, only to find that a few weeks later a new vacancy has arisen. In both instances, the previous candidate would have been in prime position to be offered the role. They had been through the interview process already and could have saved me a lot of time. However, neither had responded to my (very personalised and friendly) rejection email, which I took as a sign of immaturity. Instead of contacting them again, I started my search from scratch.
  • Send untargeted applications. I am always very interested in emails from candidates and I always start to read them. However, if they are addressed to ‘Whom It May Concern’ or ‘Sir’ and refer repeatedly to ‘Your Company’ I immediately know that the candidate is doing a lazy cut and paste job. This might get your CV in front of hundreds of employers but it will also get it deleted almost immediately.
  • Put ‘using the internet’ as one of your skills on your CV. I will give every candidate the benefit of the doubt on this one, so flagging it on your CV is truly clutching at straws.
  • Arrive at your interview without having done your research. As soon as you have secured an interview you need to start studying the company – read up on their clients, look them up on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google so that you can drop nuggets of info about them into your answer to every interview question.

Browse our other posts on working in PR.

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