Thursday, 29 November 2012

Step 7 - Build up your PR Resume

Put Yourself On Paper

The next step in my career quest is making that professional résumé tailored for PR. Up until this point I have used the same résumé throughout university and just updated it as things have changed. This approach has successfully gotten me a job each summer, but now that I know I want a job in PR I need a résumé that is specific, detailed and relevant. PR relies on writing ability and I have been told that my résumé is the first chance to show this skill and make a first impression.

Making a good résumé can be quite a task, especially if like me you are obsessed and constantly changing it every week, just tweaking words here and there. But there are certain elements that every good résumé will have and I have learned quite a bit that I will share you.

First, some people have suggested that I not include an objective.  If you don’t feel great about your objective you may be better off leaving it out, but as for myself, my goal is defined and highlights my ambition. Employers look to see if the candidate is ambitious, proactive and engaged in continuous learning, so my objective is one of the ways I let them learn that about me. 

Job Interviews; First Impressions
Moving on to the skills section – the one I spent the most time on and have reviewed endlessly. This section requires correct wording, it’s almost a science. This is because a lot of organizations use software to search through résumés and weed out the ones that don’t meet certain criteria. I have spoken to recruiters and they want to see that you have tailored your résumé to the job posting. This means using key words that are easy to find. I actually find this part has been challenging but rewarding to work through.

One of the most satisfying moments in my life was putting that I had completed my university education and received my degree. Yay! Finally. You’ll want to add your education by what is most recent, for me that would be my postgraduate program. Again I can’t wait to write that I have completed this. I actually have found out recently that there actually is a preference for a university degree and a postgraduate PR certificate among employers (more specifically for PR agencies). That being said, they do not look for specific educational backgrounds and the name of the school is not important, this is good news if you have a background that isn’t communications. 

Next is volunteer experience, something that I have already covered. Volunteer will really complete your résumé and give you that finishing touch. Finally you can add other sections like accomplishments or awards. Just make sure that your résumé works for you, don’t try to copy someone else’s.

Another thing that I’ve done in working on my résumé is I have asked numerous people to look at it and edit it. This will reduce the risk of errors and weak spots. It will also help me understand what others learn about me from my résumé, since they are providing an outside opinion. When you stare at your résumé for as many hours as I do trying to perfect it, another person’s opinion can shine a light on something you didn’t see yourself.

Well there you have it. This is some of the things I have learned and done with my résumé. This is an important step because it will help you in the next one – finding an internship!

Here are some resume writing links for PR

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Monday, 26 November 2012

The Art of Crafting - DIY Holiday Apron!

Can Christmas come too early? Many people think Christmas festivities should only begin in December. I disagree  based on the fact that Christmas is my favourite time of year. Not to mention, there are so many things to do for Christmas that one month could not nearly be enough. Like baking, gift shopping and wrapping, card making and sewing wonderful Christmas aprons! This post really has nothing to do with PR, but here I will try to briefly tie the two together.

I love sewing because I love creating things from ideas in my head. I create a plan of action, I execute it, I evaluate it and make adjustments if necessary, and then I have a final outcome that I judge against the initial vision I had. This is what I do with any art-form, and not surprisingly it is a method that also works well for developing creative PR strategies. Now that I have successfully linked PR to sewing, let us get to the fun part. 

I made this Christmas apron based on a pattern from Jona Giammalra (it’s an old post but amazingly well done). And I even added my own touch by adding a pocket on the front. Also, I should mention that I came across this fabulous idea on Pinterest! I just love the way visual communications and photo-sharing leads to great sources like this tutorial (Pinterest is a great PR tool). 
DIY Apron; Christmas Crafts

So anyway, had to share the final results with you (I love the prints I found) and had to tell you that this is a great gift idea and you don’t have to be a pro (I’ve only been sewing for 3 months). And really, I decided to post this to add some variety to my blog's main storyline (Step 7 post is coming) and also because my cupcake post was so popular I figured this fell along those lines too. Comment if you like and have a great day. 

P.S. I love PR.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Art and Science of Linguistics!

I want to be a PR professional and I am a business graduate. I also want to be a successful business woman and complete my MBA. That being said, I sometimes have moments where my mind wanders back to the days of university when I did a second major in a little known subject called linguistics.
During my time at university I was both fortunate and unfortunate enough to do a double major. Learning in two different fields is amazing because it challenges you, it increases your perspective and it gives you knowledge and skills that are broad and in depth. The downsides include an awkward class schedule, huge amounts of stress and conflicting assignment deadlines. Nonetheless, I made it through and met my graduation requirements and have proved that I am capable of many things.

Every now and then I have moments where I sigh and reminisce about linguistics. You may be asking, what is linguistics? Well I won’t give too complicated an explanation, but linguistics is basically the study of language (structure, history, practice) and language use (interactions, societal norms and language learning). Sadly no, we don’t all speak dozens of languages. This is because linguistics is not just about learning languages all day. I wish! That may be a part of it. Rather, linguistics is like any social science, it is heavily research-based and focuses on advancing our knowledge of human language.

I loved my business major, but I would not have done a second major if I didn’t also love linguistics. If you love languages, interactions, communications, research and social sciences I recommend you look into linguistics. Western had a great program. And I can say linguistics has given me some great advantages for PR, including a thorough understanding of syntax, communication strategies, the flow of messages, the role of pragmatics, the social influences on language and the process of researching  information that is hard to find.

I sometimes think it would be great to go back to linguistics. But then I remember that I can actually apply some of my linguistics background in PR and I am thankful for that. And then I also remember that I am still doing something that I love - Public Relations.

Linguistics Joke; Linguistics Comic
P.S. [ai lɑv lIngwistIks]

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Step 6: How to Gain Practice in PR as a Student

Practice Like a Professional

The next step may be one of the most difficult. This is because knowing the skills you need to succeed in PR is not enough. The old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ is something we should all remind ourselves of, because this is how you improve and learn skills. Have you ever wondered how someone can be so good at something and make it look effortless? It is safe to say that those people practice their skills everyday so that they can be the best they can be. The individuals who are most successful in the field no doubt have a stellar set of skills that they work hard to develop. As a beginner, knowing and listing the skills that you have isn’t going to get you very far. It is essential to practice. Backing your skills with hands-on success stories is something that can help you convince employers that you are more than an average PR grad.

Practice Quote; AwesomeIt is pretty obvious that practicing skills ties in to education. Take the skill of writing for instance. In order to improve your writing skills, you need to challenge yourself and go outside your comfort zone. For most of us university can be the perfect opportunity to practice your writing skills. I don’t know how many written projects I wrote that seemed so daunting at first, but once done were masterpieces (as small and insignificant as they may seem). And employers acknowledge that university graduates in general demonstrate a better quality of writing. So education is practice.

The problem is you may not be able to practice all the skills that you need for PR at school, even in a PR program. The solution is to seek experience that is readily available. Past work experience is a huge asset. With every job that I have had I have gained some skills that are applicable to PR (even if the job position itself wasn’t). The other great thing is that no matter what jobs you had (even if it’s in retail or something completely non-PR) you demonstrated that you are a hard worker by maintaining a job. This is good news for people like me, since I didn’t know that I wanted to do PR until most of my way through university and my summer jobs. Fortunately the PR program at Mohawk includes an internship where I will be able to practice PR skills (I will fill you in on this part later).

In the meantime, I have decided that the best way to practice my new skills is to volunteer. Not only do employers look favourably on volunteer work, there are a great number of opportunities because of the growing need for volunteers. In particular, not-for-profits are even willing to take the time to train volunteers in new skills! Lastly, with so many different kinds of organizations seeking volunteers, there is a wide variety of opportunities to suit different people’s personalities and skill needs.

As of right now I am volunteering with the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and I think that these have been excellent choices for me in honing my PR skills. While volunteering for the CPRS I am a student representative on the Hamilton board of directors in a student liaison committee and we are organizing and running a student networking event. Talk about great event planning, teamwork and organization practice. While volunteering at the CNIB I will be part of a community engagement team in promoting and increasing awareness of volunteerism at the CNIB Hamilton. 

Despite practicing my skills, it is still daunting to think of what I need to accomplish before I land my first PR job. I feel like my biggest critic is me. I feel like if I can produce something that my future self will remain impressed with, then I can say I am good at something, or that I have a certain skill. But at the end of the day, sometimes my fear of not being good at something is what makes me try. And I can say right now I am trying with every fiber of my being. 

Chances are as my skills do actually develop I will come back to this topic again and fill you in on how my never-ending practice is going.