Every year, the important and self-important (or one in the same) write a column like this addressed to soon-to-be college graduates.
Just about every type of advice has been offered, and just about every cliche has been said or written on the subject.
Nonetheless, I’m compelled to offer my take, because while many people offer aspirational thoughts and inspiration about following your dreams or choosing your career, not enough people offer clear, practical tips.
My advice is personal, simple (and I hope, useful), and will at least apply to any application you would send to my colleague Richard Dukas or me. Although the advice may be a reinforcement of basic common sense, it will hopefully be worth your while to read, especially if you apply to a financial public relations firm.
1) Know what we do and who our clients are. Reference specific points about Dukas Linden PR, why our work on our clients’ behalf intrigued you, and how you think you could have contributed to their success and ours. Simply saying that you’re a “team player” and “excel” without offering specifics is a waste of your valuable degree and time.
2) Practice may not make perfect, but it helps. Before you come in for a job interview, sit down and roleplay. Imagine the questions you might be asked and how you would answer them. Read everything you can about our firm, as well as books and blog posts about how to succeed in an interview, even if it’s a phone interview. Practice your delivery with friends, parents and mentors and know that two-minute answers to questions are too long, and one-sentence answers are too short.
3) Access your negatives (not just your positives). If you don’t know where you can improve in your career and skill set, that suggests you’re not serious about your growth or are too headstrong to take direction. The best executives (senior, entry-level and in-between) are always working at their game and thinking about how to improve. Be able to think this way when coming in for an interview, and indeed, in life.
4) Read, read and read. If you’re going to be working with journalists and top media outlets, you have to be a consumer and lover of news. You need to be curious. The more well read you are, the better a PR executive you will be. For one, you’ll be more conversant with your clients, and secondly, you’ll be a much better practitioner. This also means reading different points of view. Just because you may lean politically one way, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the other side. Remember, at some point in your career, you could be pitching on behalf of companies and causes that may not always be symbiotic with your thinking.
5) Clean up your social media. Personality is very important, and we encourage you to be yourself. But decorum is important, too. Vulgar rants and unprofessional photos suggest that you lack discretion about your own brand and self. You’re a professional now, and you need to be perceived as one. Clients and colleagues do judge you by your online profile.
No doubt there are some hiring professionals who would disagree with my advice—and they may even be right, depending on the circumstances. But I believe most professional organizations would agree with our thinking. Thus, the reason why many of these “Dear Graduates” columns are repetitive, but repetitive perhaps for good reason.
We look forward to receiving your resume and cover letter. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you now have the chance to begin a rewarding, wonderful career.
By: Seth Linden