Now that an increasing number of companies specifically request that applicants not include cover letters with their online applications, I’m revising my anti objective position when applying for such jobs. My new recommendation: Include an objective or career summary if only resumes are requested. However, if cover letters are required, do not include an objective on your resume.
I’ve only read a few really good objective statements over the past several decades. Most state the obvious and portray applicants as being more capable than the rest of their resumes support. Such objective statements raise more questions than necessary, so just stick to the resume basics–education, experience and extra-curricular activities.
Professional resume writer Susan Ireland offers 89 examples of objective statements, all are concise and to the point. Susan insists, “No extra fluff like ‘looking for a challenging position’ or ‘seeking a position in a growth-oriented company’ or ‘utilizing my skills and experience to advance my career’.”
Career summaries fall into the same category. Some are downright silly overstatements of actual capabilities, so I encourage applicants to avoid using them when cover letters give you more room to better make the same points. If you feel compelled to use a career summary, follow Susan Ireland’s 12 examples–short and sweet.
Tags: Advice from a Pro · Job Search
Valuable experience, an admirable GPA and shining letters of recommendation just aren’t outstanding these days. A personal website for career pursuits though can make you stand out among the rest. More than 56 percent of employers consider a personal website to be an impressive feat, but only 7 percent of job seekers actually have a personal website, explains Forbes. Simple or extravagant, personal websites showcase your Web knowledge, unique skills and familiarity with technology. Especially for a career in public relations, a website can give you that extra edge.
Step one: Gather content. Remember your website is for business purposes and career objectives. Professionalism a top priority. Look at it as a virtual version of your resume with digital capacities for more creative details and visual elements. Smashing Magazine recommends the following personal branding essentials for your website:
- Logo: Not only are you promoting yourself, but you’re developing a personal brand. Create a logo that showcases your personality as well as your professional capabilities.
- Tagline: A tagline is like a catch phrase. Imagine what you would want on your business card.
- About Me: Your summary should be a short paragraph that’s clear, concise and to the point. Describe who you are, your background and experience, career objectives and top qualifications.
- Resume: Hiring managers will appreciate a resume that’s prominently displayed or easily accessible to download.
- Contact Information & Call to Action: Contact information, from your email address and mobile phone number to LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, should be easy to find. Ask employers and companies to contact you — a call to action will come across as confident and eager.
Building Your Site
Unless you are a web designer or software engineer, use a web application to build your website and ensure that it looks professional. Evaluate your needs and research popular options, such as WordPress, Workfolio and About.me. According to Internetserviceproviders.com, WordPress was named the 2011 Open Source Web App of the Year, which makes this platform a solid, reliable choice for beginners who want to develop their own personal brand online. The functionality of WordPress is easy for the average user to create a professional, yet unique website.
Spreading the Word
Once your website is created, promote it by blogging and posting it on prominent Internet spaces. Inc. suggests securing social media pages and a domain name with your name. Therefore, hiring managers and networkers can associate your real name with your professional brand. Once you’ve set up your social media accounts, link them to your website. Promote your business site through all of the different social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even YouTube. Even starting a blog will help improve your credibility and authenticity. Providing relevant content within the PR industry will increase your ranks in the search engine results and attract industry experts. Be sure to update your blog on a regular basis, and always provide valuable, original and high-quality content.
Britney Anderson is a sales manager who loves closing deals. She also enjoys sharing her strategies and getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t so feel free to leave comments and links to your personal websites.
Tags: Advice from a Pro · Guest Post · Job Search
In Entrepreneur magazine, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, said: “The first step on the road to success is building a network.” You probably already know how important networking is in landing the job you want. But this can seem like a huge job. Where do you start?
Be a Joiner
Every college and university has its own internal networking groups you can join, but don’t stop with those. Have you joined your alumni association? Do you have a special interest that could lead to a person who could open PR doors for you? Try a few meet-up groups focused on that interest.
Volunteer – Who Knows Where it Might Lead?
Of course you’re working your social media contacts, but look beyond the obvious places such as LinkedIn or Monster because you never know who might have the connections to help you.
You can also find a quick way into most organizations by offering to work for free. For example, maybe you could get your first PR job offer by volunteering with a nonprofit that needs PR help. If you offer to help for free, don’t expect it to lead to anything other than a good entry on your resume. But the spinoff benefits might be good – for example, maybe someone on the board of directors at that non-profit owns a PR firm and, impressed by your work and dedication, offers you a job. You just never know.
Make an Action Plan
List everyone you know who might be willing to help you. Then make an action plan and work out who you’ll contact first and how you’ll approach them. Who in your network are the friendly extroverts who seem to know everyone? Put them at the top of the list because, even if they can’t help today, odds are they’ll come across someone who can.
Whether it’s an online database, new address book or filing system for your business cards, find a way to organize your contacts. After a few weeks, it might be hard to remember the details of a contact. And those details can be very important. If a contact told you they’re leaving their small firm to work for a larger one, you’ll want to remember that. Write down birthdays, interests and connections you had in the conversation. You discovered you both love kayaking? Make a note, and when you come across a great kayaking resource, you can send it to them. That’s networking gold!
Contact with Tact
Calling someone out of the blue and asking for a job is probably not the most effective approach, unless you’ve worked with this person before or they work for a recruiting firm. Even then, it’s better to say, “Can you let me know about any job leads that come your way?” This way, if they can help, they will, and they’re not put in the awkward position of having to say, “Sorry, I don’t have anything.”
Also, don’t ask for a favor from someone you haven’t seen in ages. Get in touch first to reconnect and have a few genuine exchanges back and forth before you even mention your interest in networking. You want to connect as a person, not someone who’s only interested in using person A to get to job B. And don’t forget to follow-up with a thank you note. People remember who did and didn’t send a thank you!
Keep it Going
You’ve contacted everyone you know, worked your social media and given out business cards at every PR networking group you could find. But don’t stop there. If you’re still looking for a job, keep adding to your network and continuing to touch base with the people already in it.
Once you have a job, force yourself to keep up your contact-gathering because things can change quickly. The only thing worse than getting laid off is getting laid off and realizing you didn’t stay in touch with your best contacts from your old job. Think of networking like a car that gets you where you want to go. You have to maintain your car and keep fuel in it to keep it going. Do the same with your network.
And reciprocate the favors. Reach out to people you might be able to help, so you become known as a ‘giver.’ Every week, find some time to make the calls, send the emails, or attend the get-togethers. It’s the best way to get where you want to go in your PR career.
Reyna Ramli is a writer for CareerBliss.com, an online community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. When Reyna is not writing, she enjoys cooking, working out, and reading fashion blogs and magazines.
Tags: Guest Post · Job Search
Seven outstanding PR students received this year’s Zenith Awards, which recognize exceptional public relations efforts of undergraduates at U.S. colleges.
Originally organized as a joint effort by the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma, the first competition took place 15 years ago when it was hosted by Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) members and judged by local PRSA professionals. Entries now are judged by PR professionals from throughout the U.S.
The Zenith Awards provides students with an outlet to showcase their work and recognize those who perform exceptionally well in the public relations discipline. The competition has seven categories. The 2013 Zenith Award winners are:
- Case Studies: Andrew Boehmker, Northern Kentucky
- Social Media: Shiva Stella, University of Oklahoma
- PR Publications: Francesca Lucido, Oral Roberts University
- PR Research: Jessica Estrada, Oklahoma Christian University
- PR Campaigns: Shiva Stella, University of Oklahoma
- PR Writing: Marissa Phillips, Anderson University
- Electronic Media: Shiva Stella, University of Oklahoma
Tags: Future Leaders
I’m not a fan of the Reply All feature of email, but I’m not complaining about it today.
Yesterday, I received messages from two professional organizations–the Plank Center and the Institute for Public Relations–advising long lists of recipients about the unexpected death of public relations legend Jack Felton, 84. Almost immediately, I began receiving Reply All messages from more than 90 people around the world who shared their memories of this remarkable gentleman.
I recalled meeting Jack nearly 30 years ago when I worked for Sara Lee and he headed PR at McCormick, the huge spice producer. I’ll never forget Jack’s innovative approach to communications as evidenced by his producing the first-ever “scratch and sniff” annual report. It was a great way to promote what your business was all about and engage your shareholders. Since we were active in many of the same organizations–PRSA, Arthur Page Society, Institute for Public Relations and Plank Center, Jack once jokingly said we saw more of each other than our wives. That wasn’t the case since Jack’s wife, Ann, almost always was at his side throughout their 57 years of marriage. Ann died in 2011, leaving Jack with wonderful memories that he enthusiastically shared with friends and family.
Following his retirement from McCormick, Jack didn’t slow down. He went to work for the Institute for Public Relations where he led the organization for several years as it expanded its highly regarded board and research-focused programs. A long-time friend of Betsy Plank, Jack was one of the first to join the inaugural board that launched the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations. Earlier in his career, he found time to serve as president of PRSA and remained active in the organization throughout his life.
In 1991, Jack received the “Outstanding Professional of the Year” from PR NEWS and a year later he received the Gold Anvil, highest award of the Public Relations Society of America. In 1999, Jack was awarded the David Ferguson Award “for outstanding contributions to PR education” from the Educators Academy of PRSA. In 2002, he received the Arthur W. Page Society’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to strengthening the role of public relations.
For young readers who didn’t have an opportunity to meet Jack, you can read about him in his own words in a 2011 interview at the Plank Center or in this YouTube video summarizing his career.
The public relations profession is a better place today thanks to the energy and enthusiasm that Jack Felton put behind everything he did throughout his accomplishment-rich career. Rest in peace, Jack and give our love to Ann.
Molly Brown, a public relations major graduating this week from the University of Oklahoma, received the 2013 Culpwrit Award for her work at the impressive student-run agency Lindsey + Asp.
Presented via Skype by DePaul graduate student and Ketchum account coordinator John Dangles, the award recognized Molly’s multi-dimensional roles on the following real-world client work:
- Account coordinator on the Ft. Sill team, helping create an umbrella brand for the U.S. Army field artillery and air defense artillery branches (Spring 2012)
- Account lead for Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity, helping the client differentiate themselves from the Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity and driving traffic the Restore, one of the client’s primary fund raising capabilities (Fall 2012)
- Account lead for Oklahoma Insurance Department, assisting the client plan & execute the second annual Tornado Summit (Spring 2013)
“Molly is able to quickly shift gears and think her way critically through any challenge,” said faculty adviser Robert “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, PRSA Fellow. “She is exceptionally organized and handles change with ease.” Since mentorship is the key component for the award, Pritch added, “Molly is committed to teaching others, consistently giving her team members the opportunity to learn and grow in areas in which they didn’t previously have much experience. In sum, she is the embodiment of this award.”
A Texas native, Molly is the Programming Chair for the OU chapter of the PRSSA and immediate past president of Kappa Phi Christian Sorority. She has had a variety of internships with organizations including Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, OSIYO Communications and Rays of Light. Molly’s other interests include photography, baking and music.
Upon graduation, Molly is returning to Texas where she hopes to land a PR internship. Last year’s Culpwrit Award recipient, Lauren Harris, initially landed an internship at Edelman Chicago and she recently began a post-grad internship with Golin Harris in New York.
Tags: Future Leaders
The summer volunteer recruiting season has shifted into high gear, so this is a perfect time for students and job seekers to enhance their resumes with career-specific experiences while helping worthy nonprofit organizations.
I was reminded of the importance of volunteerism during yesterday’s executive committee meeting at the Lincoln Park Zoo where volunteer director Lauren Pike detailed her well-organized initiative that will place 450 volunteers into 10 key support roles at the nation’s oldest–and still free–zoo. Like thousands of other nonprofits, the Lincoln Park Zoo would have a difficult time surviving without the dedication of its passionate corps of volunteers. As this blog discussed in the past, volunteer experience builds resumes and demonstrates your commitment to taking a broader role in life.
In order to be the best volunteer possible, you should seek out organizations that have missions that inspire you. Without personal passion for a cause, your attention span will be brief and contributions limited. If you’re new to volunteerism, you can get additional insights by scanning the many volunteer opportunities listed with two free online services–United We Serve and Volunteer Match. Simply enter your specialty area of interest and desired location, and you immediately see available volunteer possibilities. International organizations offering similar matching opportunities include Global Volunteer Network and Global Service Corps.
Tags: Careers · Volunteerism
April 29th, 2013 · 1 Comment
While cleaning out an old file cabinet recently, I surprisingly came across a long-forgotten pay stub from my first internship. I was paid a whopping $4.50 an hour, but that was 40 years ago when my college tuition was less than $1,000 a semester. Back then, internship duties consisted primarily of errands, clipping newspapers and an occasional low-risk assignment. That’s not the case today.
Now, most interns are expected to hit the ground running and immediately become billable. Most agencies quickly assign billable work to interns and charge clients for their services. Granted, intern billing rates are lower than full-time staff, but rates charged clients sometimes range as high as $50 to $90 an hour. In such cases, a $10-an-hour salary-to-billing ratio is too low. Even when they’re not working on billable assignments, interns generally perform tasks that otherwise would be done by full-time staff. Meanwhile, tuition outpaces inflation, and the time frame for paying off college debts is being extended several years beyond what previous generations faced. Unfortunately, intern salaries have remained relatively flat for the past decade. In addition, increasing numbers of organizations are pursuing unpaid interns in exchange for the all-important resume credential.
So why do intern salaries remain so low? With 53,000 PR undergraduates in college currently, the simple answer is the glut of great young talent. The going rate for most PR internships in the U.S. is $10 to $12 an hour, while a few generous firms have bumped up intern pay to $15 or more.
Unfortunately, too many internships remain unpaid. While a closely monitored unpaid internship tied to academic curricula can be an important component of the educational experience, for-profit organizations hiring unpaid interns to do work that would otherwise be performed by paid staff is both unethical and illegal. In the UK, a group called Intern Aware has asked the government to investigate 10 unnamed small- to mid-size agencies for exploitation of unpaid interns.
In response to the Intern Aware report, PRSA Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, weighed in on behalf of the industry with the following statement: “The public relations profession, especially those firms that use interns, must continue to advocate on behalf of proper compensation for interns, and build upon its successes thus far in changing attitudes and behaviors in this regard. At a time of soaring tuition costs, crushing student loan debt and dimming job prospects for college graduations, it’s the right and ethical thing to do.”
Aware of the ethical and legal issues involving interns, most agencies adhere to the intern standards described in the PRSA guidelines. Organizations should review these guidelines before launching or expanding internship programs. PRSA’s Nall said, “The guidelines reflect our belief that it’s ethically improper to employ anyone who adds real value to a public relations agency or department without compensating them for their work – whether that compensation is monetary or in the form of educational credits.”
Top students graduating from college today are smarter and better trained than ever, and most immediately start contributing to a firm’s bottom line. It’s entirely appropriate for the PR profession to take the lead in reassessing appropriate compensation levels for this talent.
Tags: Future Leaders · Intern · Job Search
Thanks to Kathy Cripps of the Council of PR Firms for the following post summing up an amazing day of interaction between agency heads, faculty and students at DePaul University last week.
We know our success depends on our ability to maintain a continuous flow of bright, motivated professionals into our industry. But with rapid change now a constant in the communications business, how can we assure that recent college graduates have the required skills and competencies? And how can we can communicate to them the many new opportunities that a career in public relations now offers?
We’re happy to report on a Council event held last week in Chicago entitled, “Taking Flight in Chicago: The Talent Imperative.” In a morning session, Council chair and Fleishman-Hillard President/CEO Dave Senay led an engaging roundtable discussion with area communications professors and PR firm principals. Topics included the greatest talent needs of PR firms, critical skills for the future and recent innovations in college programs.
As one professor noted, today more parents know what public relations is, therefore, she has noticed that more students are aware of our industry as a viable career choice. But some young people think PR means handling publicity for the stars, like Beyonce and Jay Z. We help them understand the other facets of PR, such as reputation management.
As the roundtable proceeded, it became clear that the curriculum at many colleges has changed over the past five years. Social and digital media now figure more prominently. Meanwhile, the talent needs of PR firms are changing. Tactically, today’s interns seem strong, but participants agreed that firms also need deeper, more strategic thinking. Indeed, the Council’s own recent survey of PR firms found that about 40% of respondents wished that colleges were teaching more business strategy skills, second only to the approximately 60% who wished that better writing skills were taught. There was consensus among firm leaders that writing remained the most important skill, with many firms using it as a filter to weed out prospective candidates. Math and analytic skills are also becoming desirable in the emerging era of big data.
Reflecting on the session, Senay remarked that a meeting of the minds had taken place, one that would bring benefits to all parties. “Educators have their finger on the pulse of the next generation and can open the eyes of agency leaders about the evolving attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and expectations of youthful recruits of the future. Agency leaders provide an unvarnished look at the increasing demands on practitioners, driven by client needs, which educators can use to adapt their curricula to meet the needs of our rapidly changing industry. This dialogue should continue on a regular basis.”
Our evening session brought a panel of executives face to face with students themselves. Fred Cook, CEO of GolinHarris, urged students to branch out, be different, and try new things, whether it’s traveling to new places, learning new languages or simply reading different magazines. He noted that his firm is hiring different people than it used to, people with backgrounds in video production, for instance, as opposed to a traditional communications degree. He urged students to “find the thing you love and specialize in it.” PR firms today don’t just want to teach young recruits about PR; they also want to learn from young recruits.
Others on the panel echoed this message. Take chances, they told the students. Don’t be afraid to fail. Savor the unpredictable twists and turns of life. Don’t rush, because you have plenty of time to decide what you want in a career. Panelists also told students that PR firms are looking for candidates with curiosity, persistence, an ability to listen, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Students added much to the discussion, asking questions that reflected considerable thought and preparation. They wondered how panelists had developed their careers, whether opportunities for global account work were possible, and about the reputation of the industry.
Overall, participants seemed to find the event extremely helpful and worthwhile. Anne Marie Mitchell, PR Studies Program Coordinator at Columbia College in Chicago, told us that events like this one “are so important for our students. The students are making a big investment in their education, and the least we can do is ensure that we’re working together with industry to ensure we’re all doing what’s needed to help them succeed.” Ron Culp, Instructor and Professional Director at DePaul (and panel moderator), noted that they “provided essential feedback and insights that allow academics to speak with authority to students in the classroom as well as with college officials who determine academic curricula.” Students proved just as enthusiastic, with one attendee tweeting that the event was a “once in a lifetime” experience.
As the Council celebrates its 15th Anniversary, our focus on attracting great people to the industry continues with upcoming “take flights” programs on U.S campuses, the annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards and the student video contest. We hope you’ll join with us to proactively educate and engage with today’s young talent. And please stay tuned for more exciting developments in this area throughout the year!
This article also appears in the Council’s blog, Firm Voice. Special thanks to Kathy Cripps, Matt Shaw and Matt Soriano of the Counci of PR Firms for their efforts to help produce an incredible day for students and faculty in Chicago.
Tags: Advice from a Pro · Careers · Guest Post · Job Search
The way the public views a brand, person, or company is dependent on how well they are presented socially. Although advertisements will shed a positive light on the available services or products offered by these instances, it is the public interaction that can solidify that positive aspect or ruin a reputation. Keeping the public “in-the-loop” in today’s world is simply more than public appearances or standing in front of the press. Social media sites can be just as effective, if not more so.
Pursuing a career in public relations can be a rewarding one as you are helping someone or a company improve the way public relates. You are partially responsible for the success of any given client whether they are political or corporate. It is the activities of the public relations coordinator that can propel the client to a new level of awareness by the populace that may have gone overlooked otherwise.
Involving yourself in the PR aspects of a client allows you to influence how the client may view it, him, or herself. Using your knowledge, training, and talents you can help quell some of the darkest situations. You can also help in preventing a bad situation from becoming worse. It is your job to know the public and what will work in order to help any given circumstance. Can you imagine being able to put in your talents to help promote a new technological wonder that everyone needs? You might be responsible for delivering the next biggest product that makes headlines around the globe.
Social media is just one of the aspects that the PR person can utilize to maximize the effect on the community. As millions of people frequent social media sites on a regular basis, you would be foolish to assume that there is no effect in this medium. Using the knowledge you’d gain from an education, you can put together a campaign that would benefit your client greatly using these free forms of communication.
1. Information - The time spent to write a short blurb or produce a quick video about an individual or an organization is more efficient than examining avenues such as television, radio, or newspaper. As social media is present at all times as opposed to other “real-life” media, information is readily available to those who may have missed the televised broadcast or radio spot. These updates are persistent and will be available even at one in the morning.
2. Interpersonal - A regular update to social site profiles can make the public feel informed and connected to the individual or organization on a more personal level. The more mysterious these situations are, the more likely that the general public will lend credence to any rumors that surface regarding them. Using social media to engage the public in today’s society can be as effective as going door-to-door. Except in this case, you don’t have to worry about annoying the public with door-to-door visits.
3. Technology Conscious - Some people gauge a company’s prowess in today’s market by how well they involve current technologies. They simply trust Quickbooks data entry over pencil and paper, for example. A great deal of time is spent online by many individuals and a company’s presence within these social circles proves to many that they are invested in the future of humanity. It’s not that much of a stretch of the imagination if you think about it. Who do you trust more, Google or the phone book? Google will give you ratings and reviews from people using the service you are looking for locally. The phone book gives you a number and possibly the address. Even individuals can be seen in a more positive light by embracing that which so many users covet.
4. The Masses - According to an infographic of Internet users around the globe, 239 million people frequent online activity in the United States. That is 239 million users that can potentially see your message. Although reaching this number may be somewhat difficult to obtain, the potential alone should warranty activity within social media to spread your message.
5. Marketing - Using social media is essentially the same as a marketing campaign would be for a can of pop or a popular shoe. In this case, the marketing is nearly free to use which is far superior to cost than traditional methods of engaging the public. Whether you’re planning on using Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, or other social media outlet, the cost effectiveness of social media is incomparable.
Social media sites are more than just friends and family getting together to play Scrabble or chat about the newest YouTube video from a favorite celebrity. Business, politicians, and non-profit organizations have come to realize the impact social media can have. It is a way to reach millions of people across a variety of platforms to spread a message. By understanding the social media constant, you could theoretically reach more people than any television broadcast ever could.
Jason Miner a freelance writer who engages with fellow bloggers through Blog Carnival. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom.
Tags: Guest Post