Everyone dreams of that PR job - The One. Just imagine taking an elevator to your office where you fully immerse yourself in the brands, products or services you personally believe in. It doesn’t get any better than that. But how do you work on getting there? Not only will the right preparation help you land the right job, you’ll also discover what that dream job truly is.
After I finished my BA in Public Relations, I was sure I would work at a public relations agency. That’s exactly what I did, but I soon realized that agency life just wasn’t for me. There were many other opportunities I hadn’t even considered because I was set on agency from the start. I finally found my fit as manager of the University Program at Cision, where I now help students uncover what they love most about PR.
Here are five ways you can start to prepare for your dream PR job:
1. Create an ePortfolio.
Scrambling to assemble a perfect portfolio the night before an interview is the last thing you’ll want to do, not to mention juggling the demands of your current job. Make sure your best work is within arm’s reach, so you can focus your pre-interview prep on learning more about the industry, the organization and the interviewer you will need to know about tomorrow.
About.me is a non-traditional take on a bio. Platforms like Wordpress and Wix (which I use personally) also provide turnkey site templates where you can share portfolio items.
2. Update your LinkedIn profile - often.
A burst of activity on your LinkedIn page shouldn’t send your current colleagues into a tailspin wondering why you’re suddenly “linking in” so much. Maintain a consistent presence on the site; doing so will not only increase the likelihood of showing up in the right person’s feed, but also shows how much you’re continuing to develop yourself professionally. And especially if you’re in – or think you’ll be in – the job market soon, don’t forget to ensure your profile is accessible.
3. Keep up with your network.
Engaging with others in the industry is the best way to stay on top of trends. This isn’t about having three references “on request,” but about knowing what skills you’ll need to add value years from now.
If creating a network from scratch is intimidating, start small. Attend alumni events where you can connect with peers, as well as more seasoned alums. Industry organizations like PRSA regularly host events where you can meet peers, potential mentors and future employers.
Many professionals forget that networking is about maintaining the relationships you already have. You wouldn’t want someone to reach out to you only on occasions when they need a favor, so don’t be that person yourself. Remember to drop a note to say hello, ask about their current work or find opportunities to simply shoot the breeze. If you stay plugged in to your network, when an opportunity comes up, you will be top-of-mind.
4. Challenge yourself to develop expertise.
Ongoing professional development is vital to excelling in the field. Look for avenues to enhance your expertise. For example, Cision offers free CisionPoint access to universities. As a result, grads say their employers are impressed when they hit the ground running. But this isn’t so much about learning to use a tool of the trade – which is always good – but the demonstrated interest and commitment to PR as a practice.
This applies no matter where you are in your career. You could be getting your accreditation (APR,) launching your organization’s first measurement dashboard or live-tweeting every free webinar you come across. There’s got to be something about your current job that you absolutely love, so dive right into it.
Dedication to being personally exceptional in the industry makes a difference to future employers.
5. Test the waters
If you’re looking for another job while employed, take advantage of your situation to develop new skills. If your current role is too prescriptive, branch out of your comfort zone and simply ask for different tasks. It’s the best way to enhance your skills and open new doors.
If you’re not given new or exciting projects, create something for yourself that will impress. That’s how Cision’s University Program came to be. Hard work and extra hours created a brand new program that now introduces newcomers to public relations to one of the industry’s most widely-used and popular platforms (granted, I’m biased!), and an essential skillset.
Taking the initiative on new projects proves to a future employer that you’re innovative and, most importantly, that you’re a self-starter.
Even if you love your job, it’s worth starting to develop these habits. Consider what you hear again and again when you ask someone how they landed their current job – it happened before they knew it, when they weren’t even looking, when they least expected it. (And that’s no surprise - no one wants to leave a position after it has been “a long time coming!”)
If you love what you do, success and opportunities will follow. And, if you keep acquiring more and more experience along the way, before you know it, your dream job will have found you.
By Sonal Moraes, Product Specialist at Cision and manager of Cision’s University Program