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Having run a PR business for over 20 years it’s fair to say we’ve seen a few
thousand CVs in our time. And to be even fairer, the vast majority are OK i.e.
concise, well laid out, not too many details about primary schools and swimming
certificates. But being OK doesn’t really cut it does it? Would some stand-out
suggestions be helpful?

Here’s pretty much everything you’ll need to do to put together a top notch PR
CV.

  • Be really concise!
  • Opt for a simple, smart layout – a little creativity can set your CV apart but
    don’t over complicate things you are not applying for a design job!
  • Use bullet points to make lots of information easy-to-read
  • Tailor your CV to the particular job you are applying for. This might seem
    obvious but sadly many applicants carelessly send in generic CVs
    Don’t list lots of random qualifications and course modules. If they are not PR-
    related your prospective employer probably won’t know what they mean and
    is likely to switch off before they get to the pertinent bits
  • What we would like to see is a little more detail about is work experience. All
    work experience is good, it doesn’t have to have been in PR but expand on
    anything particularly relevant to PR i.e. general office experience, admin,
    telephone and organisational skills, computer skills, working in a team, where
    you’ve had responsibility, had to work on own initiative, handled customers
  • Life experience. If you haven’t got much work experience to include, here’s a
    great way to highlight your talents and passions. Be sure to relate your
    examples to pertinent skills. So for example, if you spent a gap year
    travelling, highlight the organisational challenges you mastered and how you
    embraced different cultures or if you’ve climbed a mountain for charity tell us
    about how you trained, your motivational skills and resilience
  • Be interesting. To get on in PR you’ll have to be good at getting
    customers’/journalists’/your boss’ attention so make sure you include a few
    things about you that will spark curiosity

Accompanying or cover letters

When it comes to accompanying letters, also referred to as cover letters, they can vary massively but our advice would be keep it brief and above all be sincere.

Employers don’t like the bland blanket letters that start with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ – no effort to make us feel special there – and we don’t like the ‘I think PR’s really exciting and I’ve always wanted to work for you’ either. We all like a bit of flattery but really!

What are we looking for when interviewing?

Well, Business Jargons definition of  an ‘interview’ is a formal, in-depth conversation https://businessjargons.com/interview.html and the key word there is ‘conversation’…if you take away one thing from this article please remember this, interviews are a two-way thing…it’s not just about me (the employer) grilling you (the interviewee), we want to be grilled too!

We appreciate that you may not have had many or even any interviews before, so nerves may play a big part but here are some tips for overcoming that:

• Prepare well …research the company
• Check out their website
• See what PR they’ve been doing for their clients
• Or if you really want the job call and speak to a member of staff, it shows initiative, courage and a genuine interest in the company

THEN think very carefully about why you would be good for the job, what you have to offer. Think of 2-3 things you want to get across in the interview, your selling points, prepare those points and think of examples that back up what you’re saying…if you’re interested in PR you should be able to PR yourself.

 

Now for the final preparation: plan your route, arrive early and infiltrate the organisation – it helps acclimatise and a lot of useful information can be gleaned from 10 mins chatting with a receptionist.

Bring props to the interview to help overcome nervous moments i.e. a copy of your CV with notes on reminding you of pertinent points to raise OR jot down key points you want to get across in a note book and refer to them; bring examples of outstanding course work/projects, if you’re losing your way in the interview, props can get you back on track.

Towards the end of the interview take a few moments to check you’ve covered all you want to say. And this brings me to my final point… always, always prepare questions, jot down everything you want to know before the interview, you’ll forget otherwise…questions about the job, about the company, which clients you would be working with, when you would start, what the package is?

We’ve noticed that many new interviewees struggle when it comes to discussing remuneration. They prepare well for the interview itself but fall apart at this crucial moment. Don’t shy away from asking detailed questions about salaries, hours, holidays and benefits. Think through your expectations beforehand and be prepared to negotiate.

Your next job could be pivotal to your career progression be sure your making the best choice for you…make sure you look at the company as carefully as they’ll be looking at you.

FAQs

What does a Public Relations or PR company do?
PR is the process of influencing and persuading a business’s public e.g. customers, potential customers and shareholders to view that business in a positive light. It is done by showcasing its products and services, values, strategies, activities and accomplishments. Public relations companies use a wide range of media to build and sustain this positive image.

What skills are needed to work in PR?
Excellent communication skills are important for a career in PR. That’s speaking, writing and interpersonal skills. Good IT skills will also be required as will being able to plan and prioritise. Having bags of initiative and being creative rate highly too.

 

What are average PR salaries?
In Yorkshire the average salary for an Account Executive is £20,000 and £25,000 for an Account Manager. This survey gives some further useful information about salary structures but bear in mind it’s London-centric
https://www.reuben-sinclair.com/media/69845/Salary-Survey-2019-PR-and-Comms-v3-1-.pdf

Is there a professional body representing Public Relations?
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations maintains professional standards and promotes lifelong learning whilst supporting the careers of its members and building public understanding of PR https://www.cipr.co.uk/

What is in-house PR?
Companies who prefer to do their own public relations activities using their own staff, rather than hire an external PR agency or consultancy, have ‘in-house’ PR teams or departments.