Here are some of the common errors I find:
Appearance / Overall
- Having any typos, misspelled words or grammatical errors (some employers will discard your resume if any mistakes are apparent)
- Not using same header for all cover letter, resume & reference page
- Failing to include your custom LinkedIn URL
- Using different fonts for no apparent reason
- Focusing on yourself, not the needs of the potential employer
- Too many self-focused statements; starting too many sentences with “I”
- Forgetting to sign letter (scan your signature to place into electronic cover letters)
- Not stating what you can do for the employer in clear terms.
- Not including an enclosure line (such as: Enclosures: Resume & Reference Page)
- Longer than one page (it’s possible to “earn” more pages once you’re established in your career)
- Not including strong action-verbs (too many “to be” verbs)
- Providing too few keywords related to the PR field
- Including “responsibilites/duties included”
- Writing in first person (“I”)
- Writing in complete sentences, rather than powerful, short phrases
- Burying your education at the end of the resume
- Not mentioning your education at your current university
- Not describing your major and anticipated graduation date
- Including high school, even though there are no relevant honors/awards/achievements
- A low (below 3.0) GPA is listed
- Extremely short (you can list relevant coursework if you have little related work experience)
- Leaving to unclear to the potential employer exactly what you accomplished in your work history
- Including too much information about the employer (all you need it company name, city & state — no need for full address, supervisor name, etc.)
- Dates listed in chronological, not reverse chronological, order (you should list most recent information first in each section)
- References listed directly on resume itself (they should be on a separate page)
- Not using same header as resume & cover letter
- Not including all necessary information (name, company name, title, full mailing address, phone number & e-mail address)
- Fewer than three references listed
For this assignment (for PRCA 3711/4711 & COMM 2322 only), you will choose and interview a public relations professional, and then write about this interview at your blog. This post will be a minimum of 500 words. Post your recap on your blog, and in the Assignments area in GeorgiaVIEW/BlackBoard, you’ll need to provide me with the PR professional’s contact information information (name, title & company, phone number and e-mail address).
Though a face-to-face interview is preferred, a phone or webcam interview is acceptable. An interview that is e-mail or text-based only is not acceptable.
Schedule your interview at least a week before this assignment is due, preferably two. PR professionals sometimes have unpredictable schedules, and it’s possible that you may need to reschedule.
Include an introductory paragraph that introduces the PR professional, including title and company, educational background, etc. Mention your connection to the professional (how you found him/her) and how you conducted the interview (face-to-face, phone or webcam).
Questions/Topics you need to include:
- What’s a typical week like? (If no week is typical, then what was last week like?)
- Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
- What do you do to keep current in the PR industry?
- What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in PR?
- How important is writing in your career?
- What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
- After interviewing this person, are you (the student, not the practitioner) more or less likely to want to have a career in PR? Why?
Some questions you may wish to ask:
- Did your education prepare you for working in PR? How?
- What has surprised you the most about working in PR?
- How has PR changed since you entered the field?
- How does technology affect your daily work?
- When your company is hiring for an entry-level PR position, what makes a candidate stand out?
- What professional organizations are you involved in? (For example, PRSA, IABC, etc.)
- Ask for feedback on your resume
- More informational interview questions
Some things you may wish to do:
- Include a photo of your interviewee. (This can be a photo he or she provides or one that you take yourself.)
- Link to your interviewee’s LinkedIn profile and/or blog.
[NOTE: This must be an informational interview that you conduct this semester. Do not “recycle” an interview that you conducted during a previous semester.]
It’s now the start of fall, even though it doesn’t really feel like it here in the Savannah area, and many college seniors’ minds are turning to “how will I get a job when I graduate.” Over the last year or so, I’ve written several blog posts on the job search. Here are a few that might be helpful. especially for public relations majors:
- Portfolios for Public Relations Students (posted 22 September 2009)
- Resumes That Resonate . . . Revisited (posted 17 September 2009)
- Soon-to-Be PR Grads Get LinkedIn (posted 1 February 2010)
- Informational Interviews (posted 2 September 2009)
- Resume Tips from Phil Gomes (video, posted 17 February 2009)
- Job Interviews: 10 Things You Oughtta Know (audio, posted 16 February 2009)
- The One Job Interview Question (video, posted 12 February 2009)
- Making the Most of a Phone Interview (posted 10 February 2009)
- Wordle Me This (14 July 2008)
- Join a Social Network, Get a Job? (video, posted 30 June 2008)
- Seeking a Public Relations Internship? (audio, posted 11 April 2008)
- Watch Out for Digital Dirt (posted 9 April 2008)
Are there other blog posts that have helped YOU in your job search? I’d appreciate it if you could share them as a comment here.
What’s the purpose of a resume? It’s not to get you a job. . . instead, it’s to provide a positive first impression that MAY garner an interview for you. The advice below comes from my years of being a hiring leaders – and listening to many more. If you’re lucky, hiring leaders may scan your resume for up to 15 seconds before they determine if it’s worth pursuing further.
- Tailor your resume to the specific position that you’re applying for. Use the same phrasing in your resume that you’ve found in the employer’s want ad whenever possible.
- If you have less than 10 years of experience, it’s best to stick to the traditional one-page resume. Each additional 10 years may help to “earn” you an additional page. (If you want or need to provide more details, offer the URL of your LinkedIn profile. See my profile.) If you are not yet out of college, it’s presumptuous to think you need more than a one-page resume.
- If your blog has content that may be of interest to your potential employer, include its URL on your resume.
- Pepper your resume with terms that are relevant to the career field and industry in which you desire employment. Phrase your work experience in terms that are relevant to your career goal.
- Use reverse chronological order (most recent first) when listing your experience and education.
- If you are still in college, it’s okay to leave your high school on your resume if you have available space for it, especially if you did something noteworthy during your high school years. After you graduate from college, leave high school off your resume.
- Always start every bullet point in your experience section with an action verb. Use past tense for previous jobs and present tense for current jobs. Never start a bullet point with “responsible for” or “duties included.”
- If you have little paid work experience, provide details on projects done in classes to show that you are prepared to enter the working world.
- Volunteer experience counts too! Don’t forget to include service projects you’ve been involved with.
- Explain acronyms and cryptic group names on resumes. A potential employer will not automatically know that SOCS stands for Society of Communication Scholars, ILA stands for International Listening Association, or that PRestige is a public relations firm made up of college students.
- Many employers assume that if an organization’s name includes greek letters, it’s a social fraternity or sorority. If you belong to something Phi Kappa Phi, indicate that this is an honor society.
- What to do about that GPA? If it’s above 3.0 (on a 4-point scale), you may want to include it. If it starts with a 2 or lower, definitely leave it off. Or, you can include your GPA just in your major if you’d like, for example “3.4 GPA in Major.”
- Before you graduate, you can still include your anticipated degree on your resume. For example, “Bachelor of Science in Public Relations expected in May 2010.”
- Use the same header for your resume, cover letter and reference page. Everything should coordinate.
- To make it look more professional, use your computer, not a pen, to address the envelope.
- Check postage prices before mailing your resume. You don’t want it to arrive postage-due.
- In your cover letter, watch for overuse of the words “I” and “my.” Instead, be company-focused.
- Remember to sign your cover letter.
- Never in a million years should you start a cover letter with “To whom it may concern.” Use the name, or at least the title, of the hiring manager instead.
- For your reference page, include complete contact information for each reference. Include name, title, company, mailing address, e-mail address and phone number.
For entry-level public relations positions, Jennifer Abshire of Abshire Public Relations & Marketing offers these additional suggestions:
- Leave the objective off, or customize it for the specific position you’re applying for. Don’t use a generic one that you found on a template somewhere.
- Include all your work experience, even if it seems not directly related to the position. (The worst that will happen is that it will show that you are a hard worker.) Abshire holds in high regard people who are well rounded and street smart, rather than with a high GPA and no work experience or community involvement.
- Send a few samples of your writing or design work along with your resume.
- If sending your resume (and samples) electronically, make one PDF file that has all the information in it, rather than sending multiple attachments. (For an inexpensive and easy-to-use program for creating PDFs, try CutePDF.)
After you’ve created your resume, have several people proofread it for you. Set it aside for a while. Then measure your resume up against this Resume Checklist.
Updated from my original Resumes That Resonate: Tips for Entry-Level Positions.