Tools to Help Build Your Career

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Published on November 17, 2016, at 3:08 p.m.
By Melody Schmidt

As the job hunt begins for many seniors majoring in public relations this semester, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by where to even begin. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to find your dream job.

Application materials
Make sure all of your application materials are polished and up-to-date. Update your résumé with any new job experience, internships, skills or volunteer experience you’ve gained over the semester. It can also be especially helpful to have peers, faculty or contacts from past internships and jobs to review your résumé for clarity and formatting. You can take this a step further by updating your LinkedIn, adding more details than a one-page résumé allows.

In addition, if you have a digital portfolio or website, make sure it’s up-to-date with your best, most recent writing and design samples. Keeping your branding consistent across all three of these platforms (including fonts, logos and headshots) is an added touch that gives you an edge and makes your application materials look as professional as possible.

Agency vs. corporate
Although it’s beneficial to be open to a wide variety of public relations careers, it can be helpful to decide if you’d prefer to work for an agency or in corporate communications. This decision can significantly narrow down your search and help you focus on your strengths. Since these two types of job settings can vary widely, it can help you decide your priorities in a job, including a variety of clients, number of hours spent working and annual income, to name a few.

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If you’re having trouble deciding between the two, this article by the Penn State chapter of PRSSA can be helpful in illustrating the differences between corporate vs. agency PR. Nonprofit public relations is another solid option if you’re more inclined to work for a charitable organization or government agency.

Location, location, location
Once you have decided what sector of PR you are most interested in, a solid next step is to hone in on what industries and causes you’re passionate about and which locations you would like to pursue a public relations career in. For example, if you’re interested in technology and social media, you could research corporations or agencies that specialize in technology products or serve tech clients.

Making a list of these potential companies can also point you in the direction of job locations you should look at. Likewise, if there’s a particular city or two that you’re passionate about pursuing a career in (especially a PR hub like Los Angeles or Chicago), then having a list of potential workplaces can help narrow down your search to companies in those locations.

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The job search
Once you have all your materials collected and your job preferences narrowed down, the next step is to actually begin your job search! Digital resources like online job search engines can be useful for finding specific jobs and locations in the public relations field. Whether you are interested in social media, media relations or communications strategy, developing a list of keywords and job titles can be quite helpful for your search. On-campus resources like career fairs and your student career center can also be great resources for finding a PR job that you’re passionate about.

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As I’m sure most of you know as PR majors, networking can be your best friend when it comes to establishing a PR career after graduation. Faculty, past co-workers and managers from jobs and internships, and past networking contacts from events and conferences can also be great networking resources.

Hopefully, these tips will get you closer to landing the PR job of your dreams!

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