Header photo by Hamish Grant. Used with permission.

Monday, March 29, 2010

How To Get a Job In PR

Like many of my colleagues in PR school at Humber, I will soon be on the job market. On Friday, I attended a Humber / IABC panel about the job hunt, and how to maximize success.

Three panelists spoke to a modest-sized group of PR students.  They were: Alison Bing from Canada Dry Mott's Inc; Daphna Nussbaum from Palette PR and Cyrus Mavalwala from Advantis Communications.  These three PR pros offered some outstanding insights into seeking, interviewing for and getting the job.  Here's what they shared with the group: 

Treat your job search like a communications plan and write it out
  • SWOT analysis (don't spend too much time here)
  • Goals / Objectives. Make them SMART, and be specific.  "To get a job" just isn't going to cut it.  Perhaps something along the lines of "To obtain an entry-level PR job in the CSR department of a medium-sized corporation."
  • Know your audience.  Who are you writing to?  What are you applying for?  Spend more time putting out fewer, more-targeted resumes and customized cover letters.
  • Strategies and tactics.  What are you going to do that will set your apart from the other people applying?  This relates to your personal brand, and yes, Cyrus assured us that PR pros care about it.  Also consider joining IABC and/or CPRS, fill out your LinkedIn profile and get recommendations, apply to awards and conduct informational interviews.  Be an A+ networker. Follow up with calls and (flawless) thank-you letters.
  • Feedback and evaluation. If you don't get the job, call the hiring manager and ask why.  Seriously.  Suck it up and get some feedback on your interviewing skills.  Not only will you learn from your mistakes, but you will also show the interviewer that you're serious.  Try asking for a referral.
Other really important tips
  • Buy your domain name.  Buy it now.  Don't you want control of yourname.com? 
  • Do your homework.  Learn about the company and brand that you're applying to.  "To whom it may concern" is not an option.  Following the hiring manager ahead of time is.  I'd do the latter.
  • In an interview, ask a couple of questions.  Show them you've done your homework.  Show them you're already engaging with the organization.
  • Go on information interviews. At the end, ask for a referral for a colleague who you can interview next. Interview and repeat.
  • Apply to the companies and brands you're passionate about.  Let that passion out of the cage.
  • Say thank you.  Then write a thank you card.  Then tweet it. 
Alison, Daphna and Cyrus - thanks for coming and speaking at Humber!

What else?  What would you add to the list?

Happy hunting.


  1. Great job at capturing the salient points.

  2. Thanks Cyrus. It was a pleasure having you speak at Humber. There were a number of excellent take-aways from the presentation.

  3. Thanks for sharing these insights Zack!

  4. Excellent post, Zack! I wanted to attend this panel, so I'm glad you summarized the event so clearly.

    It's nice to know having a personal brand will get you noticed, and I love the idea of planning our job search out as we would plan a communications audit. It's a simple and effective way to target a specific audience and likely get the most out of the job search.

    Great tips in here!

  5. Thanks for the props, Aura!

    Jenna - I appreciate the feedback. It's too bad that you weren't able to make it to the event. Hopefully this helps.

    I think that the idea of a deliberate job search that is set specifically to achieve certain goals is an excellent way of looking at it. There have been a lot of times where I've pumped out piles of resumes and hoped that one's landed somewhere useful!

  6. Hello Zack,
    What a great idea! I love the name Pizza Friday.

    I would just add in to get testimonials at yourname.com, doing a Disc personality assessment and knowing how to put together a media list.


  7. thanks for the tips Zack!
    I never thought about buying your domain name but since you mentioned it it does sound obvious!
    With social media it's easy to find out what hiring managers and companies value. This being the case I definitely agree you should do you hwk in advance and make sure you would be a fit.

  8. what about just building your own network and making the bastards come crawling ? did anyone happen to share that idea ?

  9. Asana - thanks very much fo rthe comments. Certainly conveying your personality through your communications and branding strategy.

    Casey - I'm glad you thought the tips were helpful. Doing homework is key. How great would it be to walk into an interview for your dream job, take one look at your interviewer, and both say, "Hey, I know you. Didn't we talk on Twitter?"

    Rob - Networking did come up, but I don't think it can be overstated. You're exactly right: number one tip ... just be awesome, and network voracaiouly so that other people know just how awesome you are.