PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

Archive for the ‘Jobs’ 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.

 

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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.

HAPPO CHICAGO – February 24th

In Jobs, Public Relations on February 24, 2011 at 12:53 am

HAPPO or also known as “Help a PR Pro Out”  is coming to Chicago for a live interactive event.  Every young pro that is out there looking for a job in PR must participate. Last year this blog was used as a vessel for my self and several other PR professionals who participated in first ever HAPPO event online.

Fortunately the HAPPO movement is still pushing forward! And tomorrow Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, along with other HAPPO champions will host a live HAPPO event tomorrow Feb. 24th, 2010  5-7pm, at the Arment Dietrich office. The event will be part panel discussion and part networking.

This should a very useful event for all young and new PRos.

Check out Spin Sucks for more details!!


You’ve Got The Job….Now What?!

In Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Social Media, Specialty, Uncategorized, Young Professionals on April 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm

So maybe your job search was easy or maybe it was….trying (raises hand). But no matter the time length, you’ve been luckily or savvy enough to land a job in your field. Now what?

Do you stop networking?

Do you stop receiving job postings from Careerbuilder, Paladin, Doostang, etc?

Do you stop reading articles and industry news?

Do you run in the middle of the street and do your happy dance?

Answer: No. No. No. Hell Yeah!!! Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for a job in PR? Here’s where to start!

In Education, Internship, Jobs, Specialty, Young Professionals on April 6, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Continuing with our guest blogger series, we have recruited another up and coming PR professional that is making some real progress in the field – Sophia Alfred…

Graduated? Have Experience? Looking for a Job in PR? Where to Start!

You may have a Bachelors, a Masters, or maybe just straight experience. In school you may have learned the fundamentals  public relations or you may have learned how to write a research paper. But I don’t remember a single time where I was taught how to look for a job! It has been drilled in us as PR professionals to network, network, and network so more! While that is probably one of the best ways to find a job- it can’t possibly be the only way, right? What if you don’t have connections in the specialty you want to explore? Or there are no openings… anywhere? What do you do, where do you start? Read the rest of this entry »

A Masters Is the New Bachelors

In Education, Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Specialty on March 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

In order to keep our content fresh and interesting, we have decided to allow other new and young PRos to serve as guest bloggers in order to share their experience and insight. Enjoy!

This week’s guest blogger is Shannon Smith:

Now more than ever, recent graduates who hold a Bachelors degree are feeling pressured to stay in school to pursue their Masters. Most people feel that a B.A. today is the equivalent of having a high school diploma and more employers are beginning to require a higher degree. The Census Bureau data shows us that typically young adults with Master’s degrees earn about $10,000 more a year than those only having a bachelor’s degree.  At times having a Masters degree is almost essential to ensuring progression on the corporate ladder of success. This may be a lot of pressure and overwhelming for recent graduates, especially those who are eager to get their careers started.

The cost, type of program and school are all issues that can contribute to creating more stress for recent college graduates. Especially those who decide to go straight through without taking a break. I believe if you create a sound and realistic plan for entering graduate school, your anxiety levels will be greatly minimized.

5 Important P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Q. How can I pay for graduate school?

The grants and scholarships at the graduate level are not always as plentiful as they are in the undergraduate level. Student loans aren’t always readily available at the graduate level; however loans are not always the desired options, especially for those that have an outstanding debt from undergraduate school.  For those not interested in loans may find it beneficial to research graduate assistantships or fellowships. Most schools have them and many are willing to cover majority  if not all tuition fees. On occasion stipends may also be available.

Q. How do I know what school is right for me?

It is imperative to pick a college that provides the program you are interested in. Try not to pick a college based off convenience because you may find that they do not offer the program you REALLY want. You will only hurt yourself in the long run. Most people pick programs that will concentrate on a specific component that is included within the discipline of their Bachelors degree. However this is also an opportunity for those who are interested in another area to shift their focus.

The best way to avoid a burn out during graduate school is to continue to make short term and long term goals while constantly engaging in small projects that will help you achieve those goals. Do not let temporary situations overwhelm you and make you lose focus on lifetime achievements. While in school you should continue to follow up on all internship, job, and networking opportunities available to you. It is crucial to incorporate your education with real world experience because that is ultimately what employers looking for. Not only do they want you to have knowledge, they also want to see you use the information in action. Your ability to  apply your knowledge will make you a stand-out candidate for any position.

Obtaining your Masters Degree will seem less overwhelming once payment arrangements and a school has been chosen. Try following these steps and staying focused on your future goals to lessen your anxiety about graduate school. Remember: Planning is crucial!

Shannon Smith has a strong foundation in the communication field. A graduate from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications.She has completed an internship at WFLD/Fox Chicago in the production department for the Fox New in the Morning Show as well as an Online Marketing internship with Urbanwire.tv. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Media Studies which she will complete in August 2010. She currently serves as the proud and dedicated co-owner of Howard Smith & Associates PR which keeps her pretty busy. Feel free to contact her at ssmith@howardsmithpr.com.

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

Finding Your PRofessional Niche

In Internship, Jobs, Public Relations, Social Media, Specialty, Young Professionals on February 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm

One of the hardest things for me as a young professional has been trying to identify my professional niche. Entertainment, health care, technology, education, …. So many to choose from.

The weird thing is, I’ve never had a specific specialty that I wanted to focus on within public relations. As a student in college I was simply enamored by the concept of PR. After realizing how powerful public relations could be, I immersed myself in learning as much as I could.  In regard to identifying a specialty, I assumed it would come with time and experience.

During my time in the profession, I have encountered several fellow  practitioners who also share my “generalist” approach to identifying a specialty. Most PRofessionals are satisfied with this approach because it doesn’t limit them in their field. The “well-rounded” strategy is the best, and it is the road I’ve taken in securing my status as a truly dedicated practitioner.

But there are several professionals who feel lost without having a specialty to focus on. But if you MUST, here are some things you may want to consider while on your search:

1. Various Internships: Prior to obtaining  full-time employment try doing as many internships  as you can in different areas of PR (at least three) to get a variety of experiences. Hopefully you will be able to identify one or more areas you find most interesting.

2. Agency Job: If you aren’t able to get as many internships as you would like while in school, then try seeking employment at an agency where they have a variety of practices. Working at an agency generally gives you an opportunity to work with  different clients and teams, allowing you to have your hand in various projects.

3.  Your Passion: What are you passionate about?  If you have always been interested and knowledgeable in the music or fashion industry, try collaborating your professional passion with your personal passion. Work will never feel like work again.

If you apply these 3 little tips I am confident you will be on the right path to identifying your PRofessional specialty.  Yet I insist that you don’t stress yourself about finding one specific area.  You will be more marketable to employers if you’ve had a variety of experiences, thus not limiting yourself professionally.

One of my favorite quotes:

To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides. One of the fortunate aspects of this formula is that, granted the right career has been found, the hard work takes care of itself. Then hard work is not hard work at all.

Mark Sullivan(1874 – 1952)

Najja Howard #HAPPO Chicago

In Jobs, Public Relations, Social Media on February 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Why You Shouldn’t Hire Me…

Let me just start by saying, I am not your average practitioner. I acquire several traits, personally and professionally that may classify me as a “risk” or “hazard” to the status quo.  For example:

  1. I  Am A Critical Thinker (I challenge ideas constantly)
  2. I Don’t Practice “One Size Fits All” PR
  3. I  Respect and Honor the Power of Words and Relationships
  4. I Refuse to Set Creative Boundaries
  5. I Encourage the Open Exchange of Ideas
  6. I Truly Believe that Social Media Is the Best thing Since Sliced Bread (and I tell clients that everyday)
  7. I  Easily Adapt To Situations That Are Beyond My Control (what economic downturn?)

If your company has zero interest in someone with these traits, but instead  is looking for a candidate  who is meek, bland, “yes” men and women, unchallenged ,uninspired and unmotivated- Please don’t hire me!

However if you are looking for someone with these traits and so much more then please continue reading.

In May of 2009 I received my master’s degree in Public Relations/Corporate Communications from Georgetown University in Washington DC. During my graduate career I had the great fortune to intern at some of the most respected agencies and companies in Washington DC. While searching for full-time employment, I have remained resilient and current in the field by contributing my skills and talents as a freelance Public Relations Specialist. To question my passion and dedication to this profession would be both baffling and devoid of reality.

In the past I’ve had the opportunity to work as an integral member of integrated marketing campaigns, social media strategy sessions, media relations, social marketing, event coordination, community relations initiatives, crisis communications, etc. My experience ranges the spectrum in areas of, entertainment, education, nonprofit, political, healthcare, corporate, green sustainability, lifestyle, etc. Some of the companies I’ve worked with include: AARP, Bridgestone Firestone, Sirius XM Radio, Georgetown University, Green Technology and Training Center, Pfizer, and the Law and Civics Reading and Writing Institute for Urban Males,  just to name a few.

The tremendous skills and knowledge I have received from these experiences are bursting at the seams for a dynamic company dedicated to excellence and success.

I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully building a wonderfully productive relationship.

Twitter: @NajjabeePR

YPN Chicago PRSA January Featured Pro of the Month —>Click here to read profile

Testimonials:

Current  Client

When it comes to organized professionalism I can think of no better two-word phrase than Najja Howard. Najja has worked with the highest sense of duty and determination while serving as my Publicist over the past year.  Najja has brought such a high level of refinement and structure to my business as a Television and Radio personality that I dare stop to think of what I looked like before her arrival, or what I may look like if she ever decides to move on to bigger and better things?  Najja is a pro in every sense of the word, while simultaneously having the ability to maintain a pliable mind that allows her to grow from the moment an opportunity presents itself to the successful realization of her clients best interests.

Current Client

There are three quick observations that I will offer, without a trace of equivocation, regarding how valuable Ms. Howard has been to our Institute. The first is that in a very real sense we owe our very existence to her uncanny thinking abilities, which permit her to find common themes where they did not apparently exist. In other words, she has a professional gift for quieting noise. Secondly, her trademark “30-60-90 day” communication plan definitely placed us on the road to success. Finally, the three words I feel best define Ms. Howard are: hard-working, collegial, and creative.

Former Supervisor

Najja is probably best described as a person with a strong appetite for challenges. Not only does she meet the challenges others set for her, but her personal goals as well. Najja holds herself to the highest standards of professionalism and personal development, always pushing herself to exceed everyone’s expectations. Najja’s strengths are her critical thinking abilities, and quite simply, her ambition. Her critical thinking abilities allow her to anticipate client’s needs, often meeting them before they are articulated. Those skills are a complement to her problem-solving skills. Najja is remarkably good at approaching problems from various angles to reach the most desired, effective and equitable solution to problems.

Ashley Marshall #HAPPO Washington D.C./Atlanta

In Jobs, Public Relations, Young Professionals on February 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The great recession has made me greater. The unprecedented economic crisis was shocking, but rewarding all the same.  After receiving an advanced degree from a top tier school and working one year on K Street, surely this had propelled me on a firm career path. However, I have had to be very innovative and do a lot of creative brainstorming to stay relevant as a new professional. From consulting a religious organization on social media practices to working on a campaign to continue to hone my public relations expertise; I have had to think outside of the box within the past year.  For this reason it is so important to form and maintain strong relationships. My long standing relationship with Disney has resulted in me co-hosting a school assembly called “Move It,” which spreads the Disney brand to Atlanta area schools through exercise while still searching for full time professional opportunities.

As a recent graduate of Georgetown University with a Masters degree in corporate communications and public relations, I completed a public affairs internship at one of Washington D.C.’s top K street public affairs firms, Adfero Group where I gained invaluable experience. As apart of the Adfero team I worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, The American Institute of Architects, and many congressional offices on Capitol Hill. This experience provided me with much relationship building expertise such as written communications, new media, web-based research, website development, developing communications strategies, advocacy campaigns, and Internet advertising analysis. My impressive work at Adfero Group resulted in my semester long internship being extended for one year.

My resume can offer you a more detailed analysis of my experience. Although I currently reside partly in Atlanta and Washington D.C., I am open to exploring other locations. I am confident my abilities and experience can substantively contribute to an organization while increasing my experience in public relations. They always say the best laid plans often change. While the great recession is certainly unexpected it has enhanced my skills and expanded my creativity.

http://twitter.com/MsAshley08