10 Top Tips for Grads: How to Get a Job in PR or Social Media
By Rebecca Williams on 30th November 2021
It’s that time of year – the leaves have fallen from the trees, Christmas songs are sneaking into playlists…and requests for work experience at WPR are going through the roof!
With competition for graduate jobs said to hit a record high in 2021, standing out from the crowd when applying for a position is essential. So, if you’re an undergrad pondering life after uni and think a role in PR or social media might be for you, here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of landing that dream job.
In our latest Reading Room piece, WPR director Rebecca Williams shares her 10 top tips to getting your career off to a flying start.
1. Find a Company That Champions Graduates
The beginning of your career is important. Not only do you want to find something you love doing, but you also need exposure to different aspects of the role, meaningful experience and to work somewhere that empowers junior team members. Sometimes that early experience will be a stepping stone to future moves but, if you’re really lucky, you might find yourself working somewhere that delivers all the scope you need to develop. At WPR, 48% of our team joined as graduates, going on to have brilliant careers without ever leaving their first employer (including our managing director, who joined fresh from uni).
2. Get Valuable Experience
Some of the best grads avoid the post-uni treadmill of applications and interviews entirely – they get spotted through work experience or internships and offered a role for when they graduate. Competition for work experience places can be tough but it really is worth getting as much experience under your belt as possible. Longer-term paid internships provide even more opportunity to show what you’re made of, but there will be fewer placements available, so identify the businesses you’d love to work for and get your applications in early.
3. Perfect Your CV
Your CV is the first sample of your work a prospective employer sees. And you want to work in an industry that’s all about effective, impactful communication. Check it thoroughly for grammar and spelling mistakes, and ask a friend or family member to proofread. If your CV isn’t perfect, what will your first press release or feature article look like? Make it easy for the companies you want to work for to see why they should meet you by putting your work experience at the top and highlighting great grades. And include personal interests or achievements that make you stand out; it helps convey a sense of who you are and what you’ll bring to the team.
4. Be Memorable
When we were reviewing the mountains of CVs for our 2020 internships, just one application was a video – the remainder were standard emails. Guess who went to the top of the ‘yes’ pile for interview! This is a creative industry and our day-to-day work involves helping client brands cut through the noise. If you can demonstrate how good you are at doing that through your application, you’ve immediately put yourself ahead of the pack. In the past, I’ve sent a CV rolled up in a milk bottle and written out my CV in 140-character tweets to try to stand out. It worked!
5. Get in Touch
And we don’t just mean by sending in your application. It’s easier than ever to introduce yourself on a personal level before you set foot through the door, so take advantage of that. Connect with the key people on social media, send a message on LinkedIn or – and this is not as revolutionary as it sounds – pick up the phone and introduce yourself. Make yourself more than just a name on an email.
6. Do Some Legwork
You’ve been offered an interview. Great. Now what? Make sure you’re prepared. Read the company’s website and socials to find out about their work, news and clients. How do they talk about themselves as a business? Research the people who will be interviewing you so you know what their roles are and what they specialise in. This all helps to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment, and it also shows how you approach work. If you come across as unprepared for an interview, how does your prospective employer know you’d do better at your first client meeting or press event?
7. Ace Your Interviews
Beyond being well prepared about the company and interviewers, to ace your interview you need to know your stuff. If you’re attracted to this industry, you almost undoubtedly have an innate interest in the media, current affairs and the latest social trends. Show you’re actively engaged with the field you’re aspiring to work in by swotting up on recent campaigns and finding examples of brands doing work you love to talk about.
8. Go the Extra Mile
If you’ve been asked to prepare a presentation or campaign proposal for your interview, treat this as a chance to shine. It might be a small gesture but come up with something that shows you’ve really thought about how you want to present and communicate your ideas. One former interviewee brought Easter eggs with her to bring a campaign proposal to life. We snapped her up and three years later she’s still a valued part of the WPR team.
9. Be Curious
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you’re starting out, nobody expects you to have all the answers. But we do expect you to show initiative and to be open to learning. Being confident enough to ask intelligent questions is really valuable when you begin work and that process can start as early as your first interview. Take an interest and learn from the people you meet. Even if you don’t land that job, what you learn and can apply to your next interview might make all the difference.
10. Leave a Lasting Impression
Don’t just walk away from your interview and hope for the best. Follow up with a thank-you note and if you loved something you discovered about the company, the role or the people who interviewed you, then say so. In some interview processes there might be a follow-up practical task. Do it to the best of your ability and do it ahead of the deadline – this is where you show how reliable, efficient and trustworthy you’d be with a client project, so treat it as such.
The author: Rebecca Williams, director, is responsible for everything ‘team’ at WPR. From work experience to recruitment, through to team engagement and retention, Rebecca ensures WPR’s team is one of the best – and happiest – in the industry.