It's a simple principle, even though it seems to be looked over by most entry-level candidates, and it all starts with the interview.
Interviews & the Secret Sauce...
Getting your foot in the door with a firm or organization is a tough first step; however, the interview process will make or break your chances of getting the job you're after.
Interview Basics Check List:
- Professional Business Attire (first appearances DO matter, be conservative)
- Laptop and briefcase (with tabs already pulled up to display your online portfolio)
- Physical portfolio (just in case you need it)
- Notepad portfolio (with a pen, handout samples of your work, and that business card we talked about)
- Be open and honest about your skills (and how they will benefit the position you are seeking)
- Be observant and create a personal connection with your interviewer
- Don't be afraid to ask questions about the job and the firm (it shows your interest)
- Keep eye contact (it shows confidence)
Other than this short check list, it's best to check out other tips you can find online. My personal favorites for PR interviews are "5 interview tips to get you the job" by Marisa D'Vari and CVTips PR job interview tips. You should also prepare a list of frequent interview questions to help study by.
Can you hear me now?
In the words of the How I Met Your Mother television character, Barney Stinson, "Suit UP!" even if your interview is over the phone. Phone interviews limit a lot of your presentation. Wearing your professional attire affects your inner psyche and helps build a sense of confidence. And that confidence carries in the tone of your voice, which is important in this situation. My interview for my now job at the Society of Professional Journalists was held over the phone while I was wearing a suit.
Other MAJOR phone interview tips:
- Make sure you are in a comfortable, quite location
- Internet access is a plus
- Phone reception is IMPERATIVE (For me, living in Mississippi at the time with AT&T as a provider was hazardous to the interview process so it was pretty important to find a location with stable service)
- Post your resume in front of you
The Super Secret Sauce!!
Yes, PASSION! The greatest weapon you can possess in you professional arsenal is passion! Its influence effects everyone around you. If you're not passionate about the job and firm you are applying for, then there is little reason to apply for the position to begin with. My passion for SPJ's mission and the objectives that the communications coordinator position required is what gave me the true edge during my interview with SPJ's Executive Director Joe Skeel and Director of Communications Scott Leadingham. It set me apart from the other highly qualified candidates and got me the job.
You don't have to over do it but don't be afraid to express why you want the position you're applying for, why you want to work in that field/industry and what you do to further your knowledge (books, blogs you read). The more informed you are the more impressive you'll look.
And (if asked) it's OK to share other goals you plan for yourself; personally and professionally. Having aspirations makes you a true asset and influence in helping to build upon a firm or organization's business model.
So there you have it. These are the factors that helped me in finding my first great public relations job. I hope these tips have helped to give you a new sense of perspective and I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your job.