PR Through The Eyes Of A Young Professional

Posts Tagged ‘communications’

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.

Picking A Username: A Guide For The Indecisive

In Lessons Learned, Social Media, Young Professionals on April 29, 2011 at 12:34 am

As somebody who regularly has to deal with a multitude of Twitter accounts, both personal and client-based, I often come across confusion when it comes to the thorny issue of naming your @account.But once you’ve picked the name you want, what else do you need to bear in mind? Here are some tips that people often forget:

Tell People!

This is the most common one I see – change your username and then don’t tell anybody that you’ve done it. I guess it comes about from an (incorrect) assumption that everybody is using a Twitter platform like you do, and that they’ll just be replying to something you’ve tweeted.

But if they sometimes use text messages to tweet, or simply feel like reaching out to you unprompted, not knowing that you’ve changed your @username will most likely result in a big misunderstanding. Save everyone the embarrassment, by telling people. And not just once either, remind them for a few days. The average tweet has a lifespan of 15 minutes, please don’t  assume your followers hang on your every word…

Keep your old username

Once you have your new username, set up a spare account and grab your old username. Then you can put up a tweet saying you’ve moved, maybe even set up an auto-tweet to let people who tweet you know that you have a new home. Simple and pain-free, and saves so much embarrassment if you forget.

Track mentions of the old name

Hopefully you’ll already have saved-searches or more sophisticated tools in use that keep track of mentions of your brand or name. If so, add your now-defunct username to these tools too, so you can make sure you’re not missing out on any messages that might be important.

Get it right the first time

Twitter supports are a lovely bunch, but getting changes made can be a tricky process at times. Try to avoid annoying them by making sure you get things right the first time.

So there you go, three easy tips, some probably fairly obvious, but all should help you make this process as pain-free as possible – not just for you, but for the people following you too!

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.

You’re Such A Liar! … Right?

In Public Relations, Social Media on January 22, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Like a million other professionals, I am a member of the LinkedIn community. Initially I joined as a prerequisite for a good grade in my graduate social media class. Nonetheless I’ve found it to be an extremely useful resource.  I’ve connected with at least 15 groups on the social networking site  that are specifically dedicated to the public relations industry. Every day I receive RSS feeds from each group full of current job listings, professional advice, pertinent industry news, new product launches, etc.  Recently I received an email from one of my groups with a topic on the discussion board called “PR and Lying”.

 Well PR 101 teaches us not to repeat any negatives, so from now on lying will be referred to as the “L-Word” …I don’t wish to actively participate in the negative branding of my profession. 

Moving on…

 Nevertheless, I knew this was going to be an interesting discussion.  We all know that unfortunately Public Relation Pros and Lawyers are perceived to be the biggest liars out of any other profession (I guess you could throw politicians and career criminals in the pot too.). And it is this school of thought that has burdened the field of PR that we as professionals have tried to so assiduously shake.

But back to the discussion board…

A member of the group, who shall remain nameless, posted a discussion that he and his company were conducting research and wanted “PR people to complete a survey for a report on ethics in public relations”. Simple enough right? Wrong!

While most professionals in the community were extremely receptive to the survey, others felt the survey was too black and white and left no room for explanations or variables.

 Too many “yes or no” questions make people nervous.

But nevertheless, the professionals of the group went to bat for their profession proclaiming, in a collective voice: PR professionals are not liars (I mean L-worder’s)! But don’t get me wrong the gloves did come off and mud was thrown… the biggest disagreement between the professionals was how do you define lying? And with many insisting that withholding information is different from lying entirely. Despite the conflict the need for this type of conversation is imperative to  the professions evolution.

No matter how hard we try, pr practitioners are still fighting their inner demons about lying.  But let’s see what we can all agree on:

1)     2+2= 4 (or at least last time I checked) – this can be classified as an absolute truth; nothing can change this.  2+2 will not equal 5 tomorrow. We can agree this is the truth

2)   No one likes a liar. People don’t say: “Hey that guy’s a great liar, he’s so awesome!!” The act of  lying is looked down on in every society. Liars are never (knowingly) revered.

But when the participants were asked “when is it justifiable to lie professionally?” , most agreed NEVER but some said:

When the lie will not damage your reputation, the clients business or breach the need to meet the public interest

If the lying is innocuous

Lie is a strong word and there is a big difference between withholding information and lying…(there’s more but I’m withholding it hahaha (in my villain voice))

???!!!

All depends on the specific situation at a given point

Harmless lies to avoid hurting someone People don’t necessarily want to know the truth when they ask “Do I look fat in this??”

To avoid war and/or death

When someone’s life could be in danger

As professionals we want to do better.  There is still so much to be discussed.  Therefore I implore you to start the discussion in your offices and boardrooms  about Half Truths and Whole Lies. Let the journey begin.

Check out the complete survey and results:

http://www.pwkpr.com/downloads/Graphs200110.pdf
http://www.pwkpr.com/downloads/FurtherComments200110.pdf