When it comes to making a great impression and getting the interview, public relations is one of the most competitive fields around. Whether landing your first public relations job or advancing your PR career, big challenges are ahead!
Successful job hunting calls for creativity, courage and a deep understanding of your professional value — and all those things must be reflected by your resume.
If you’ve found the public relations role of your dreams and can’t wait to get started, make sure your resume is strong enough to succeed on your behalf. A good resume not only gets you an interview but also helps ensure interviewers understand what you have to offer and how you might fit in before they ever meet with you.
Let’s look at three tips to make sure your PR resume does its job for your job!
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Proofreading is one of the most important aspects of polishing any resume to perfection. Once you’re finished with a draft of your resume, make sure you proof it several times on different days; this helps you see it with “fresh eyes.” Mistakes are more likely to be caught when you print your resume and review it with pen in hand. One embarrassing grammatical mistake could spell the end for your career aspirations, so take it slowly!
When you think it is 100%, read it slowly out loud, word for word. Listen to how it sounds. Are you using the same words a lot, find alternative ways of conveying the information. One person may respond more favorably to a concept using a certain word. The more ways you share a strength, the more likely you will hit the right word for your interviewer or group of people deciding on who they will meet.
Finally, on last editing idea, read the entire updated draft out loud starting with the last word and move through the document to the beginning. Sometimes in a rush, a small word can get left out and in reading from the beginning to the end, your brain fills the word in, so you don’t realize it isn’t actually on the paper. Reading from the end to the beginning tricks your brain into seeing all the words, or lack of them.
Customize Your Resume for Your Target Company
A generic resume tells future employers you don’t really care about a PR job with their company: You’ll take anything! To avoid this, customize your wording for each company. Closely read recent position postings and press releases so you can align your resume with a brand’s major challenges and opportunities. You have plenty of chances to do this in your cover letter and objective statement; be sure to use them!
Check for what type of work the firm likes to do – what are most of their case studies about? Who are their current clients and what sector are they in? Is the PR firm one that mainly works with public affairs issues, or maybe they deal a lot with tourism and hospitality? If you’re applying to a PR firm specializing in women’s marketing, and much of their business relates to beauty and fashion. You could easily approach with a bit of wit and personality. “I’m a woman and, I love to shop, but more than that, I’ve noticed what really makes me want to buy something…” Taking that statement and adding two or three things that fit and expressed in a clever way, you’ll make a positive impact on those reviewing resumes.
Develop a Pleasing Visual Layout
Odds are good the person who has to judge your resume has seen hundreds or thousands of generic documents that use built-in resume templates. You may have only 60 seconds before your resume ends up in the circular file, so make sure it stands out with a visual layout that catches the eye. A discreet, yet distinctive “pop” of color can make a world of difference. You might consider a very light pink or peach quality paper. Why you ask? Psychologists believe from reports done a few decades ago, pink grabs attention and holds it longer than most colors.
If you are wondering why not use a strong pink? The same research found the more aggressive pink colors although had a strong pull, also created in many people a reflex type of response that built anger or aggression. So if you go the pink route, keep it subtle. It will easily stick out in a stack of white and manilla colored papers, but won’t leave the people looking at it feeling like wadding it up and throwing it hard at the waste basket.
Text should be easy to skim, with clear headings and well-organized content. A reader should understand your career “brand” at a glance. Make sure no one is going to have to squint to read what you’ve read, make the print big enough and block style. But you can show come creativity by changing the fonts styles, make headings bold or italicized – so long as it is a block font and still easy to read.
In most cases, you want to keep your resume to just one page and all on just one side. The exception to that is usually in positions where the more experience with individual efforts is beneficial – such as for musicians, actors, and other performers. In PR keep it to one page. Good jobs may have a hundred applicants, so the person who looks at the resumes is only skimming the first go around. If they have to turn a page to see the rest, it’s most likely to go into the “No” pile.
And always start with the most recent information in the #1 slot. Whether it is job history, education, or references. If you are having a difficult time keeping it all to one page, cut back on the descriptive text for anything you did more than a few years ago, UNLESS it is directly related to skills needed in the new job.