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What We Wish We Had Learned Before Graduating

May 21, 2015 Bradford Group Administrator

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Photo credit to Will Folsom

We recently hosted some public relations and marketing students from the University of Dayton for an office tour and Q & A session with the account associate team.

As part of the information we provided that afternoon, we asked each Bradford Groupie to share something they wish they had known coming out of school and entering the work force. Compiled by the team, these tidbits vary— some are funny, some are quirky, but all are practical.

So, if you’re fixin’ to walk across the commencement stage, or personally know a terrified graduate, pass this along! We were once in your shoes and managed to survive (and land a job!). With any luck, our collective wisdom will make the process just a tad easier for you. Cheers to the real world!

Learning the Industry

  • Read “All Work, No Pay” by Lauren Berger. It’s a great book for students!
  • Get involved in relevant organizations at school. If you’re looking to pursue a career in PR, join the student government as the marketing chair or work at the school’s newspaper/magazine as an editor.
  • Read industry news and have an opinion on recent trends. Be able to have an intelligent conversation about them in an interview.
  • Do as many internships as you can in a variety of companies/industries. For example, in PR, you can do an internship in-house, at a corporation, or at an agency, working with consumer brands, entertainment or business-to-business. Internships are crucial — not just for landing a job, but also for learning what role, industry, culture, environment, etc. you’ll thrive in.

Building connections 

  • Start networking yesterday! Meet as many people as you can in a variety of industries. Even if they aren’t in public relations or marketing, they may know of someone looking to hire. Sarah’s recent blog has some great tips on surviving a networking event!
  • Find the companies you want to work for, figure out the employees doing what you want to do, and try to meet with them. Frame it as an “informational meeting” with no strings attached. You’re not asking for a job, you’re asking for their advice. Everyone loves talking about themselves, so they’re more likely to say yes if they don’t think you’re hitting them up for an immediate job. Plus, if you impress them enough, they’re more likely to remember you if they or someone in their network has an opening down the road.
  • Informational interviews are really not as scary or awkward as they seem. You’ll be a pro after two or three!
  • Don’t give up when you’re job searching. Think of every possible way to find an “in.”

Applying for the job

  • HR people rarely read the full cover letter. Sorry, we know you spend a lot of time on them, but it’s true. Bullet points are our best friend – both for resume and cover letter
  • That said, we do skim the letter. We read enough of the letter to get a sense of if it’s tailored to our company or not. If it is, it’s more likely to be sent on through the hiring process. Generic letters are obvious and not ideal.
  • Resumes should NOT be longer than a page. (!!!!) Volunteer work and sorority event planning are great, but really don’t mean much unless you can tell us how the experience directly helped you prep for this job. Take this off your resume if you’re struggling to cut it down to one page.
  • Don’t attach a cover letter to an email. Just make it the email.
  • Attach your resume and other items. Don’t have the HR person download your resume or other items from Google Drive or elsewhere.
  • Proofread everything! Make sure there are no typos. It’s amazing how many letters and emails we get that have misspelled words or reference a different company.

Acing the interview

  • Research a company before you interview — and come prepared with a list of questions to ask. It’s really impressive, and noticeable, when someone comes prepared. On the flip side, it’s painfully obvious when someone doesn’t know anything about our company.
  • Practice interviewing. Most schools offer a career class that educates you on how to build an effective resume and most importantly, how to interview. This will ease the pressure when you go in for your first real interview because you will know what to expect and how to pitch yourself as the best candidate for the position.
  • Smile in interviews. More than you think you should! We’re people too and it will make the process a lot less painful.
  • Being professional doesn’t mean being sedate or stoic. It’s okay to show personality and passion in letters/emails and interviews.

Is there anything we missed? Leave us a comment (or two or three) with your best advice for job seekers.

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