Guest Post: Job search tips from a recent PR grad

Claire Newton Ford graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2009.  A native of northwest Oregon, she now lives in Phoenix where she is a Public Relations Assistant at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Who could have predicted that April 2009 would be one of the worst times to graduate from college? I figured my private school education and competitive internship experiences would plant me right into my dream job, or at least a job, relatively quickly.

I joined Twitter, LinkedIn and rebranded my Facebook page. I revamped my resume and joined my university’s alumni network. I started cold-calling and social networking in February, but, no one was hiring, anywhere.

It was August and I was new to Arizona; I didn’t have a job or know anyone in the area. I reconnected with someone I met on Twitter months earlier, (the kind creator of this blog,) and we had lunch. He passed along a few names of practitioners in the valley to contact. E-mail introductions were setup and within a few weeks I had a half dozen informational interviews with noted PR practitioners around Phoenix, and from each interview stemmed many more. The face of the game is changing with social media, and so are the rules. Here are main takeaways from my experiences while searching for a position.

Show gratitude: No matter if it’s an informational interview, phone call or e-mail, show gratitude. Thank people for taking time from their busy schedule to chat.

Do your research: Know the agencies in the area. Web sites and books such as Book of Lists and Ranking Arizona can help you figure out which are the top companies.

Resumes: People rarely hire off a resume anymore. If the hiring manager doesn’t already know your name, your resume may wind up in the trash bin. Remember, small agencies often talk to each other about who they’re considering for hire so don’t it’s important to always leave a positive impression.

Informational interviews: Show up early and come with questions. Even if they’re still chatty after the allotted time, respect them and stick to the time you asked for.

Emphasize your desire to learn: Over-express your desire to learn and grow and be a part of whatever organization you are attempting to join.

Networking: Ask those you meet/know in the industry if you can use their name.  You may not have a personal relationship with them, but their name can give you valuable time with others in the industry.

Differentiate yourself – Have a plan about what you want to discuss. These topics should help you differentiate yourself from others. Some ideas include your unique use of social media and your previous PR experiences. Also, know the interviewees work and compliment it.

Join the Club: Choose a few or all: PRSA, IABC, AD 2 Phoenix, AZIMA

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