When I started at Ketner Group almost three years ago, I was the fifth full-time team member. At the beginning of July, we’ll be adding our 10th full-time team member (get excited for another intro blog!). Pair that with our ongoing internship program, and it goes without saying that we’ve done a TON of recruiting, resume reading and interviewing in the past few years. And as you can probably imagine, we’ve seen some interesting things (some good, some…not so good) throughout the process. Given that many recent grads are likely applying for jobs, we thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the dos and don’ts of applying for PR jobs.
Do Apply if You’re Slightly Over-Qualified
You might be looking at a job description or a company website and think, “that sounds like a perfect fit for me.” However, even if they’re looking for someone with slightly less experience than you, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. For example, if the position is an Account Executive role with 2-3 years of experience, and you’ve been in the working world a bit longer, the hiring agency might be willing to hire you as a Senior Account Executive if you fit their profile and hiring needs but have slightly more experience.
Don’t Apply for a Job You Don’t Qualify For
Now, I recently had a debate with some friends about this one – many argued that you should aim big, or the employer may not know what they’re looking for until you tell them. While that may be true in some industries, I’d argue that it doesn’t apply to most PR jobs, specifically agency ones. For example, if we’re hiring for an Account Manager position with 4-5 years of agency experience, you do NOT qualify for that job if you’re looking for your first job out of college. To a recruiter or the person reviewing resumes, this says one of a few things: 1) You don’t think their time is important; 2) You didn’t thoroughly read the job description; or 3) You’re just blindly applying for jobs to meet some sort of quota. Now if you’re still interested in working for the company, but simply don’t have enough experience, feel free to send the contact a note, acknowledging that you aren’t qualified, but let them know you’re interested in a more junior position if one is to open up.
Do Act Like You Want to Be There
We all know that applying for jobs and interviewing is an exhausting, and often, defeating process. But as you can probably tell, it’s not all fun and games for employers, either. That being said, when you do get to the job interview, act like you want to be there. Show up well-rested, prepared and with a smile on your face. And most importantly, be yourself. While we know job interviews are nerve-wracking, some of the best interviews I’ve been in (whether as the interviewer or interviewee) are those where everyone’s been themselves and the conversation has flowed naturally…whether it was completely relevant to the job itself, or not.
Don’t Apply if You Aren’t Available to Start in the Near Future
As much as we’d like to be able to anticipate that we’re going to need someone to join our team in six months, unfortunately, that’s not often a reality for most agencies. We often don’t know we need a new team member until we needed them yesterday! While we’re always happy to hang on to your resume, it’s very disappointing to receive an application for an open position from a qualified candidate, and then once you’ve invested time in speaking with them, learn that they’re not available to start for another six months. Therefore, if you see a job that you think you might be qualified for but wouldn’t be able to start for a while, just be upfront about it and send the contact a note to see if they’d consider a candidate who can’t start for a few months. Trust me, they’ll appreciate your honesty!
Do Send a Thank You Note
While it’s not necessarily a deal breaker, a thank you note goes a long way. And if you’re anything like me, you still get giddy when you receive the old-fashioned kind in the mail. While any thank you note is better than none, try to make it thoughtful, highlighting something that was discussed in the interview, mentioning something you forgot or maybe asking a follow up question to help keep the conversation going.
A Note on Career Fairs
For the past two years, Ketner Group has attended the Moody College of Communication Career Fair at UT Austin and we’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great candidates (shout out to Stacy and Meghan!). But we’ve also had some interesting exchanges. Notably, we’ve noticed that many of the candidates don’t have a clue what we do or what type of job they’re applying for. Some walk up to our booth and straight up ask, “So, what does Ketner Group do?” While we commend you for having the courage to put yourself out there, Career Services provided a list of employers well in advance, and you have time to prepare and research the companies you want to meet.
While the list could go on, these are some of the dos and don’ts that have repeatedly shown themselves. So, before you apply for your next PR job, be sure to take this advice into account, and best of luck on your job hunting journey!
P.S. While it’s only a small part of my job, I really do enjoy recruiting and getting to know job candidates! Even though Ketner Group doesn’t currently* have any openings, feel free to shoot me your resume to keep on file or I’d be happy to sit down with you and discuss your job search journey. You can email me at [email protected].
*As noted above, that could change at any moment!