The 13 Questions I’m Asking Right Now – Maybe YOU Can Help

I need some help down here at the bottom of the young PR professional barrel. I just realized that I’m graduating in four months. Sixteen weeks. Four courses. The freak-out has officially begun. I’m not alone, either. Many of my peers are starting to get that throat-closing, palm sweating, head pounding anticipation of entering the real world, and we could use all the help we can get. If you are in a philanthropic mood, please take the time to answer some of these tough questions. I promise I’ll share with my classmates.

  • When should students graduating in May start sending out resumes?
  • Are job finder websites like Career Builder and Monster worthwhile tools during the job search process?
  • If you want to work in a city different than the one you live in now, what is the best way to build a long-distance network?
  • What and how much should go into a portfolio? Should we anticipate leaving copies with prospective employers?
  • Are digital portfolios replacing traditional ones? Should we have both? Which is better?
  • What type of writing tests are used in job interviews?
  • What is the best outfit to wear to a job interview for both genders? Is a suit the best option?
  • How can you negotiate salaries tactfully?
  • Are e-mail thank you notes acceptable? How do you know if a standard letter will get to the company before it makes a decision?
  • Do you have to have internships with big-name companies/agencies to land a job with a prominent firm?
  • What if you don’t know anyone at an agency where you are applying? Do you still have a chance?
  • If you have ever interviewed someone, what is the BEST and the WORST thing that a candidate did in an interview?
  • What other questions should we be asking?

Please feel free to answer any of the above questions in the comments section. I’ll appreciate it!

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4 thoughts on “The 13 Questions I’m Asking Right Now – Maybe YOU Can Help

  1. It’s almost never too early to send your resume out. As long as they know that you’ll be available by late May/June.

    Start gathering a list of contacts and just start emailing.

    Good luck!

  2. As someone who has been in the Communications business for a number of years, please allow me to address most, if not all of your 13 questions:

    When should students graduating in May start sending out resumes?
    If you haven’t already started, do so now.

    Are job finder websites like Career Builder and Monster worthwhile tools during the job search process?
    They aren’t worthless, but I WOULDN’T rely on them as your sole source. You are better off finding certain companies or industries you would like to get into and research those organizations, check the web site and do your best to make connections within those organizations. Also, I highly recommend asktheheadhunter.com for great tips.

    If you want to work in a city different than the one you live in now, what is the best way to build a long-distance network?
    Look into professinal organizations in those cities, such as IABC or PRSA.

    What and how much should go into a portfolio? Should we anticipate leaving copies with prospective employers?
    At this point, get as much as you can in your portfolio. In an interview, you may not need to show all of it, but the more you have available, the more options you have depending on the conversations in the interview. And, yes, you should be prepared to leave it. However, I don’t think it is inappropriate to let the interviewer know that you would be happy to get the samples back. You could even provide a self-addressed postage paid envelope.

    Are digital portfolios replacing traditional ones? Should we have both? Which is better?
    Sorry, I don’t have background on this one.

    What type of writing tests are used in job interviews?
    I’ve seen basic grammar, AP or Chicago-styles tests and critiques of current samples from the organization (i.e. what do you think of this, what is it trying to convey, etc)

    What is the best outfit to wear to a job interview for both genders? Is a suit the best option? I wouldn’t worry about acceptibility for both genders (unless you’re planning a sex change operation 🙂 ); dress for the job you want to get, assume the company you are going to is business dress rather than casual and limit the number of piercings.

    How can you negotiate salaries tactfully?
    First, let them bring up salary; then, if and when they do, say, “I’m sure you have a budgeted amount that you are anticipating paying to this employee, if you could let me know what that is, I can let you know if that is within the range I was expecting.”

    Are e-mail thank you notes acceptable? How do you know if a standard letter will get to the company before it makes a decision?
    I really think a hand-written thank you is better than an email, but if the first interview is a phone interview and you can’t get the person’s mailing address, then an email is better than nothing.

    There is no way to know if your thank you will get there before the decision is made. I always get mine out no more than two days after the interview.

    Do you have to have internships with big-name companies/agencies to land a job with a prominent firm?
    I don’t have experience with this, but I don’t think so.

    What if you don’t know anyone at an agency where you are applying? Do you still have a chance?
    In all honesty, it makes it a hell of a lot harder, that’s why you try to get involved in professional organizations.

    If you have ever interviewed someone, what is the BEST and the WORST thing that a candidate did in an interview?
    Best thing: have confidence in yourself. Go to the interview convinced you will get the job.
    Worst thing: being cocky about ‘knowing’ you will get the job.
    Yes, it is a very, very fine line between the two.

    What other questions should we be asking?
    Ask the manager (interviewer) about himself or herself, get to know their management style, learn more about them. People love to talk about themselves. Plus, it is great to be able to make note of these things in thank you notes.

    I hope you find this mildly helpful. If others have thoughts, whether in agreement or contradictory, please share.

    Mark

  3. Anthony,

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll be getting that resume out ASAP.

    Mark,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to offer valuable insight. I hope all students reading this blog will use your help during their job searches– I know I will!

    Take care,
    Meg

  4. Pingback: Building Your Personal Brand Online « PR Interactive

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