PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

Archive for the ‘Freelance’ Category

It’s NOT a Hobby, It’s Freelance!

In Freelance, Jobs, Lessons Learned, Public Relations on August 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

 

In my previous posting I discussed how freelance work contributes to your ability to strengthen your skills and credibility while on the job hunt. Now the question becomes, “How do I put this on a resume?” This issue can be overwhelming for applicants. While you don’t want it to seem like the job you are applying for isn’t your main focus, you also don’t want to underestimate your experience in your field. From my experience it is important to let employers know that you are driven and dedicated to your field. Many employers will be impressed by your proactive approach to stay connected to the field. Here are a few tips on how to list your experience.

List infrequent projects cautiously

If you pick up freelance projects infrequently and do not intend to make freelancing a full time career, omit them from your resume. The only time you would list occasional freelance work is if it allows you to fill any gaps in your professional experience.

If you freelance regularly, have worked as a contractor for a period longer than three months, or have ever owned your own business, indicate that experience on your resume. Highlight those attributes of the job experience that qualify you as a perfect candidate for the job that you are seeking.

List your job responsibilities in the same way that you would for any other full-time job you’ve held; focus on those responsibilities which best meet your career objective and quantify your achievements when possible. Exemplify your self-starter attitude under the Qualifications section of your resume. Make sure to list any employable skills you have acquired or strengthened while you were self employed.

Be prepared for the following questions

Even after you have listed the details of your employment on your resume, you may still get several questions from your potential employer about them. Questions may be along the following lines:

  • Were you self-employed because you were in between jobs, or because you wanted to start your own business?
  • Are you still working on your own, as a freelancer or a consultant? If so, do you intent to continue this work in addition to your full time job?
  • Is your self-employment presenting a conflict of interest for the company?
  • Are you working as a freelancer or a contractor on part-time basis, and never intend to have this replace full-time employment?
  • Does your long-term career goal include owning your own business?

You can see that all of these questions are valid from your potential employer’s point of view. Companies don’t want to spend the time and resources to hire you, train you and provide you with benefits only to have you quit after a year to start your own business.

Show your commitment to the job

As a final indication of your commitment to the job you are seeking. Make sure that your cover letter or email addresses anticipated concerns of your potential employer. Make references to anything on your resume that may raise questions. If you still own your own business, but are looking for full-time work, for example, make sure to let your employer know what your long-term professional goals are and how you intend to balance your roles at both businesses.

Avoid apologizing for how you make an income. Your resume and cover letter should present you as a credible and passionate professional. Focus on the positive experiences and skills you have acquired as a freelancer, and make sure to let the employer know how these will benefit the company if you are their chosen candidate.

 

Creating Job Experience For The Resume…Without a Job!

In Freelance, Jobs, Lessons Learned, Public Relations, Social Media, Young Professionals on August 5, 2011 at 1:34 am

You have the degree or degrees, but you are still unable to find a job. It’s like a Catch 22: “ How do I get the job experience, if I can’t get the job?” These few tips will help you stay connected to your field even though you aren’t currently working in your field.

Accepting a job outside the field

No matter what type of degree you have you, can pretty much apply it to any industry and it will get you a job. Since we are not in a perfect world, you must be willing to accept a job outside your field, temporarily of course, if you want to sustain your lifestyle.  Employers are looking for actual work experience in addition to education, so if you cannot get it in your desired career field then it is time to get some experience, somewhere. To avoid going too far off base, limit the jobs you’re applying to so that they still meet job duties that are applicable to your career choice. In the communications field you have to know how to adapt and recognize how job descriptions often overlap. Most times, accepting a job anywhere in the field of communications can be used to your advantage when revising your resume to the jobs that are relevant to your career. Whatever you do, do not lose the steam to keep applying or you WILL stay at that job and will never make advances in your passion of choice.

Freelance work

If you say you have a passion  now is the time to show and prove!  There are a lot of up and coming businesses that may or may not have the budget and are unaware of their need for Public Relations or Marketing or Social Media. Go out and make them aware! It is ok to accept a lower pay because at this point your main objective is to continue to stay active in your field so that you can continue to fuel your passion and show those jobs your tenacity and experience.

Social Media

Social Network relationships don’t cultivate themselves. It takes some work on your part, as would any other relationship. Continue to use social networking sites to reach out to potential employers; but don’t forget the most important thing of all…NETWORK!!! Do not network with the  intention of simply  getting a job, but rather, build meaningful relationships with the intentions to connect and offer  information. Posting relevant information about your field or engaging in discussion about topics related to your field can accomplish this.

Reading Materials

So you have you Bachelors and maybe even you Masters. Does that mean you can get away from educational reading? NEVER! Not if you want to be successful. Things are always changing so it is in your best interest to keep abreast with everything that is going on in your field.  Since you aren’t learning these things in the workplace, and you don’t plan on continuing your education in the classroom, then you need to make sure you are being proactive in your attempts to staying to date with information.

So take a moment to ask yourself — Are you being proactive or reactive in pursuing your career? What other tips have you tried to build your work experience and credibility in your field? Do you have any tips for ways to expand the tips that were given? Please share below.

Young PRos and The Recession: It’s Our Time To Shine!

In Freelance, Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Specialty, Uncategorized, Young Professionals on March 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm

As a young PR professional most of us know someone who is unemployed or you may be out of work yourself. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least but this may be the best time to hone your skills. When you graduated college, you probably thought “I am going to go on a few interviews, get a great PR job, and rule the world.” Fooled You! Mister Economy said “You are going to graduate from school and interview until your tongue falls out and then get so fed up that you leave good ole PR behind and venture off into no mans land.” Don’t listen to him; don’t listen to all the unemployment rates on television. Keep moving forward!

During this trying period of unemployment, it is very important that you stay relevant, especially as a young PRo because we don’t have as much professional experience on our resume as the average seasoned PRo. Therefore, you will need to stay more active than ever. Soon you will begin to feel as if you actually have a full time job but without the perks.

I’m sure everyone has said network, network, network; it’s true we do have to network but what is networking when you have done absolutely nothing to build your skills during your job search? Most companies say they want a self starter, not only does that mean be a self starter in the workplace but you also have to be proactive with your everyday life. Look around you… Ask yourself, “How can I make use of my skills?” Below are a few pointers that will help you to build your professional portfolio:

  • PR  Job Descriptions

What do 98 percent of PR jobs ask of a future employee? Writing, writing is always key. Write an opinion editorial for your local newspaper to see if you can get published, keep trying until you do get published. Start a blog, not only are you creating your own personal brand but you are also getting that creative writing practice. Also, don’t forget about those books you spent a million dollars on in college, use those books to support whatever you write.

  • Your Inner Circle

Look at the people around you. Maybe someone in your circle is trying to start a business or build their personal brand, offer your PR services to them. You will be surprised at how many people don’t, for example, have a Facebook page but are trying to push themselves as an accomplished author. Create an initial strategic communications plan for your project, believe me they will be grateful to receive these free services and it also gives you an opportunity to prove yourself; you never know who others know.

  • Professional Development

Look for ways to gain professional development that would normally be paid for by an employer.  If you have experience in search engine marketing or you are looking to get a job that has a SEM component then it doesn’t hurt to get a Google Certification. You can also take if upon yourself to take a writing or HTML class or workshop at your local community college.

These are only a few ways to stay relevant while waiting to lock down that dream job. You will find that you have actually contributed to the work experience you already have on your resume.  When asked that question, “So, what have you been doing while you have been searching for jobs?” You can actually say you have been doing something to build your PR expertise and not just the typical. “I have been waiting tables,” you are able to say “I have been developing my PR skills by doing… along with my recession job.”

In my previous blog posting, I said “The great recession has made me greater,” always strive for greatness in whatever you do and be confident at what you do.

Do what you can, where you are, and with what you have!

Teddy Roosevelt

Young PRos and Freelance: 5 Tips Before You Take The Leap

In Freelance, Jobs, Lessons Learned, Public Relations, Young Professionals on February 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Chances are if you’re a young professional ( 1-3 yrs exp.) working in marketing, public relations,  advertising, or any other communications discipline, you haven’t done much in the world of freelance. Freelance/Contract work is traditionally a niche community made up of  professionals who have been practicing in the field for some time and are looking to have more creative control over their work. Some freelance work also may be done in order to earn extra income . Whatever the case , the freelance world is generally not the place where you will find many young professionals.

However due to the economy, there are more qualified professionals than there are available jobs. Traditionally PR, for example, is a very transit field. However hiring freezes and low client budgets has brought everything to a screeching halt. Nevertheless in light of this reality, several young professionals such as my co-author , my Twitter Buddy Keeyana Hall and myself included, have taken that leap of faith into the world of freelance.

Having not been fortunate enough to secure FT employment right out of graduate school, I have remained resilient and dedicated to my craft by becoming a freelancer/contractor and using the skills I’ve acquired.

No use wasting all that education and training… LOL.

Deciding to become a freelancer, as a young professional, is not a step that should be taken lightly. I guarantee your novelty to the field will  be tested, therefore it is imperative that you be ADEQUATELY prepared. 

Here are 5 Tips (in no particular order) I think every young professional should remember before taking on any freelance assignments. I would also encourage them to continue to engage these tips throughout their career.

  1. 1. Know your strength: As a professional you MUST know in what areas your strength and weakness lie.  It is safe to say:  “You Don’t Know Everything!” ;and it is important that you don’t pretend to. However you should definitely be cognizant of what you do well. But more importantly you should know the basics. For example as a PR pro you should know how to write and format press releases and  how to clearly and definitely answer “What is PR exactly?” and “How can it help MY business?” when someone (and they will) asks.
  2. Be Confident:  The worst thing any pro can do is seem hesitant and unsure of their work. No one will know you only have two years experience working in the field (internship and PRSSA  experience mostly) unless you tell them.  Remain confident in yourself and it will show through your work. One of the greatest leaps of faith you will take as a practitioner is going out on your own, professionally, without supervision. Being your own boss is a very powerful feeling.
  3. Form an Advisory Committee: As I mentioned prior, no one is great at everything, especially a young pro. Therefore I recommend creating a small team of people who you can brainstorm with, help you edit materials, and even  pitch a reporter or two just to help. This team should  consist of  a professional mentor,   an educational colleague, and a more experienced professional in your field.  I guarantee these people will be essential to your success!!
  4. Stay Relevant: READ, READ ,READ!!! Every morning I wake up to  an email full of RSS feeds from some the industries most respected sources; (Ragan Communications, PRNewser, PRWeek, just to name a few). And I love it! While freelancing, it is your duty and professional obligation to your clients,  to stay current on all relevant issues of the industry. Although you may not be working FT at a firm or organization , you want make sure you know just as much if not more than your professional colleagues that do.

And last but certainly not least,

5. Know your professional worth: I can’t stress this  tip enough. Just because you haven’t been practicing for 10 + years doesn’t mean your work isn’t worthy of compensation. I can’t lie, in the beginning this concept was very difficult for me. All I wanted to do was practice my craft; money had no immediate importance.  I worked for free on several occasions and sometimes when I was lucky I got paid pennies (literally). When you meet with a potential client have your  range for compensation (less for NPO and more for Corporations) already in mind. Don’t be embarrassed, this is business.  Remember  you don’t have millions in the bank ( and if you do, can I have a dollar?).  If you are doing freelance work , while still looking for a fulltime job, chances are  money is essential to your lively hood. Do research on rates specific to your skill set, experience, and geographic location.  Your advisory committee will be extremely useful at this point.

I hope these tips help.  And if you have other tips that you think young pros should know before jumping into the world of freelance please share!

Reminder: Your greatest professional recommendations will undoubtedly come from your clients that you’ve worked so hard for.