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With Friday’s #HAPPO event coming up, I thought this week’s Tuesday Tip would provide some ideas for those looking for positions in the communications field. Certainly this is not all-inclusive, but some things I believe are helpful. Feel free to include your ideas as well.

Do Your Homework

Get to know the company or organization that you are applying with. They will likely have a website, but see what you can find out about them from other sources. Do they have a Facebook presence; do they (or their communications team) participate in Twitter? What about a blog? And of course, a quick Google search to see what kind of media coverage they have received. After all, you will likely be involved in this effort so it’ll be good to know what’s been said.

If you are applying with an agency, see what you can find out about their clients. If you have any experience working within those industries you’re going to want to bring that to the forefront.

Understand the media in the market you are applying for. What are the primary print outlets, which television station leads the ratings, what kind of news-talk stations are there? What were the top stories that day? What about the online presence for these outlets?

Never Underestimate the Power of Your Network

Once, only once, did I hire someone on our account service team that I didn’t already have a relationship with. Everyone, from interns to senior account executives, I had met during an informational interview or through an introduction from someone in my network.

I like to get to know the possible candidates who may work for us and one of the best ways to do that is through an informational interview. Eases the pressure a bit because there is not a specific job at stake and provides both the candidate and me the chance to ask a lot of questions. What I’m looking for at the informational interview is similar to a traditional interview – did you do your homework, did you come dressed for success and do you have some work experiences you can share with me? Equally as important, I’m assessing if you are a good fit with us.

For the candidate, I hope you are doing the same thing. You should be interviewing me, too.

Dress for Success

I’m not trying to be your mother here, but please remember that you are coming into a work environment. A work environment that you hope to someday be a part of it. My mom told me when I first started applying for jobs to assume I would be hired on the spot. That doesn’t mean run out and get a brand new wardrobe, but please show up dressed appropriately for the workday.

What’s in Your Portfolio?

I like to see work samples. But equally as important, I want to hear the stories behind those samples. Yes, I want to see a well-written news release or a story pitch, but I want to see the results. Did you actually get coverage as a result of what you had written? And tell me a little bit about it – challenges, likes/dislikes, what you learned from it.

What you choose to present in your portfolio should be your best work AT THAT TIME. If you are coming in fresh from college graduation, I expect to see some class projects or things you did for a campus club. But if you have been in the workforce a bit, please update your portfolio. I hope you now have some things that better represent your talent.

A Thank You Goes A Long Way

Thank you. Two simple words but yet so powerful. Yes, it is very easy to shoot a quick email thank you after an interview. But a more impactful and certainly more memorable is a handwritten one. If someone in your network helped you out, send a note. If you were granted an informational interview, send a note. And certainly when you land a job, be sure to send notes to those that helped along the way. They will so appreciate knowing that you were successful.

Good luck!

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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