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"So, What Are Your Plans After Graduation?”

Posted At: October 22, 2012 2:00 P.M.
by Becca Bryant

This reoccurring question has begun to haunt me.

Finding a job has been the most stressful task I’ve ever faced. It’s intimidating and tedious. Sitting down in front of the computer, getting ready to send my first application, worry comes over me. A million questions race through my mind: Did I do everything right? Did I spellcheck? Are they going to like me?

Companies face a seemingly never-ending pile of letters and applications in addition to an overflowing inbox. You have to make sure your application is not the one getting tossed to the side or sent to the trash.

After this intense freak out, I decided to make a list of the things I needed to do in order to make my cover letter and résumé the best they can be before sending them to each prospective employer.

Don’t be boring

Break through the cookie-cutter template of cover letters and résumés. Show your personality. A résumé is a snapshot of all of the work you have done, while a cover letter is a way to display yourself in a broader sense. Use the cover letter to showcase your character and passion. Being different helps you rise up in a sea of monotony.

Don’t make a mistake

No pressure, right? It sounds scary, but it is crucial. Proofreading will never be a thing of the past. Do not rely on spellcheck alone. Get a fresh pair of eyes (and another … and maybe one more for good measure} to read over it. Employers will not tolerate grammatical errors.

Know the business

You have been taught all the right PR tools. Now, show the employer you know the business. Embrace PR jargon and use it to your advantage. Words and phrases such as “digital landscape,” “communication plan,” “media training,” “influence” and “pitch” are hot button words that will grab a hiring manager’s attention and help you gain credibility. Be careful that your hot button words accurately reflect your experience.

Cater to the company

Do your research for each company you apply for. Reference its progress, case studies or specific work for a client. This speaks volumes to an employer. It shows you have genuine interest in the company and the work it has produced. You can also use this research to specifically explain why you are the best candidate for the position.

Utilize links

Show the employer your social media expertise (I know you have it). Include links to your social platforms and/or your online portfolio. We know how important social media has become for people as well as companies. By now, we should also know to be wary of how we portray ourselves online. Therefore, be open with potential employers about how you exercise your social media knowledge.

Be professional

I know what you’re thinking . . . but you would be surprised at the way people carelessly approach this serious task. First and foremost, be respectful when communicating. Whether it is via email, phone call or one-on-one communication, carry yourself like a professional. The T-shirt and sweats you wear to class every day are not acceptable in the real world. Put on your suit and your smile, and go get ’em!

Follow up

The follow up is tricky. You want to steer clear of being too pushy. Wait a minimum of seven business days. You have to give them time to make a dent in the stack of applications. Remind them who you are and the position you are applying for. Ask questions, but do so carefully and tactfully. Lastly, always (always!) thank them for their consideration.

You have worked extremely hard for the past four years to prepare yourself for this moment. You are finally ready and the real world is waiting. Good luck!


  1. Post comment

    Becca, I can’t tell you how helpful reading this blog post was. I am glad that I am not alone in feeling freaked out about my future job opportunities and whether or not I am prepared enough to enter into the private sector. I wonder though, do you think since there are so many people graduating from colleges with public relations degrees, if we’ll soon have to take the “don’t be boring” step even further from just having a creative cover letter and resume? With so many creative people it might be hard to show your unique personality within the confines of a typical cover letter and resume. However, this is just a though. Again, your advice was extremely helpful and I will definitely refer to it when I start applying for jobs.

  2. Post comment

    Your post sent shivers down my spine. To me, the thought of finding a job is thrilling. I truly believe that the fear of job hunting comes from trying to see the future. I am proud to say I have confidence in my education, experience and communication skills to lead me down a path full of copious rejections. I believe my passion will keep me competitive. I agree with your comment “Being different helps you rise up in a sea of monotony.” I hope my cover letter and resume illustrate my character and help me find my career. Thank you for all your advice. Your post will be a great reference throughout my job search.

  3. Post comment

    Becca, I have had the same feelings and thoughts as you. This blog post really grabbed my attention because like you, I also have no idea where I am going to be after graduation. Yes, I have taken the LSAT and want to go to law school, but who knows? I could be anywhere I think. Finding a job in public relations and throwing the law school idea to the side is always a thought. I do not know where I would start though. My goal since the first day of college has been to get into a prestigious law school and start a career in the legal field. Recently, after watching my brother go through three years of strenuous studies at no end, my feelings are beginning to change about it. Your advice is simple, to the point and most definitely accurate. I really enjoyed reading your post. These are just my thoughts as well!


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