Tips for Getting an Interview at a PR Agency
We recently went through the hiring process at my company The Storied Group. My jaw drops on a daily basis at just how unprepared and frankly, embarrassingly bad job seekers are at applying for a job. I blame it on the universities not teaching real life skills because getting the interview is the first step to getting a job. If you can’t make it to the interview, you have no chance. If you’re confused as to why you are sending out your resume over and over, but never hear back, this one’s for you! Below are five reasons why you aren’t making it to the first round of a PR job interview and more free advice from people who charge a lot!
PS. I did an IGTV video about this very topic so check it out!
5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting an Interview
1) You aren’t following instructions: Read the entire job description. A good employer spends a great deal of time thinking about the position they need and what qualifications the person needs to have. If the employer has asked for a cover letter stating why you would be a great fit for the company, don’t just send your resume.
2)You aren’t addressing your cover letter to a specific person: With so many resources at our fingertips, it is inexcusable to not address your cover letter or email to a specific person’s name—especially if you are applying at a small company like my boutique PR firm. I list my entire company’s bios complete with photos on our website. If you go on our Instagram, it would be very easy to figure out who makes the decisions. If you are applying at a huge company, it is more forgivable to not know, but LinkedIn makes it relatively easy to find who you are looking for these days. Speaking of Linkedin. If you want to really stand out, I recommend emailing an actual person and make your cover letter the body of your email and attach your resume—rather than just bulk applying for positions through websites/job sites. I can tell you from experience in hiring people, while Linkedin is great for helping to find candidates, it gets overwhelming looking through all the submissions. The ones who stood out also emailed us or messaged me directly on Linkedin to tell me they had applied and were excited about the position.
3) You don’t meet the qualifications needed: If you have no PR experience, but 1-2 years of experience is required, don’t waste someone’s time applying for jobs that you aren’t qualified to do. Unless the job description states otherwise, 1-2 years of experience also means working full time in that field beyond an internship. If you aren’t sure if you are qualified, use Google to help you research job descriptions to find out.
Take things a step further and find out what jobs with your amount of experience pay in PR. I interviewed someone recently who had no PR experience, yet wanted to be paid $10K over the going rate for the job because “she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills.” That is not a reason for an employer to pay you more. While I’m a big believer in not undervaluing yourself, you have to bring a lot of experience to an employer to make your case for higher pay. If you have no experience, part of the benefit of a first job is everything that you will learn. If you feel that your lack of experience should be overlooked, you need to send a very specific cover letter explaining why.
4) Less about what you want; More of what value you can bring: While it’s great to incorporate personality in your cover letter that might include your dreams and desires, the bulk of it should showcase your experience and what value you will bring to the position. Everyone says they are a team player. Everyone says they are meticulous. I want to know what experience you have that will help my company thrive, which leads me to…
5) You aren’t researching the company: Anyone who sends me a generic cover letter is an automatic no. PR requires savviness, attention to detail, and resourcefulness. I know it’s tough out there trying to find a job, but you don’t just want any job. Make finding a job your full time job. Spend at least 30 minutes researching the top companies you want to work for and make it clear in your cover letter that you understand what the company does, who they represent and why you would like to join the team. Get specific. If you do this, you will be wayyyyy ahead of your competitors
Finally, get a second set of eyes on your resume and cover letter. This week, I had someone do everything right, except one key thing. She misspelled my company name twice—in the email as well as in the cover letter. Whoops! That is just not something I can overlook, and neither will any other employer. Have a question about this topic? Hit me up in the comments!