MarketingMel with firm intern ETSU PR student Sarah Williams Rowan

College students and recent college grad’s connect with me on a regular basis. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear from a rising public relations/communications graduate who wants to learn how to get a job in my chosen profession of communications and public relations.  I always try to make time for them. (I think it goes back to my days as an intern at WKBW-TV in Buffalo. I learned so much from my wonderful mentor there that I’ve wanted to give back ever since.) As proof, I’ve generally had an intern throughout most of my career and one of my most popular blog posts ever was “How to get a job in Public Relations: Eleven tips from a PR pro“.

This generation of 20-somethings calls themselves Generation R for Recession. They say that unlike what their baby-boomer parents had, the world is no longer a guaranteed place of hope for a brighter future. Times are tough out there. I hear it at church and as I walk my dog in my neighborhood. Just last evening a neighbor told me of his daughter, her husband and their two young children who have all been forced to move back home with him and his wife. However graduates should not despair. Just like cream quality candidates will rise to the top.

Here are a few job-seeking tips I’m providing to Generation R to help recent grad’s get there. Please share this post with others who may benefit from it.

  1. A picture really IS worth 1,000 words! Have a professional photo made ( head/head and shoulders shot) and use it when connecting with others through social media channels. (If you can’t afford a photographer didn’t you have a friend who was a photography major who’s also looking for work now and who might trade services with you? They probably need a news release about themselves/their latest show.) Recently I spoke with a young female graduate whom I originally thought to be a hoax! Why? She had a man’s name and her photo showcased her in an alluring red, strapless dress…perfect for college formals but not so perfect for the hardened former journalist casting a suspicious eye upon it! When my current intern (seen in the photo above) first connected with me she had a polished, professional photo accompanying her resume. Bravo for people who recall that P.R. is arguably an image business!
  2. Your name is your brand: If you have a man’s first name and you are female be sure to incorporate your middle name into your presence so that people can determine your gender. This is important because often we see men hiding behind revealing photos of women online.
  3. Be there: By that I mean, meet the professional communicators in the spaces we inhabit. For example, we welcome new college PR grad’s to our #soloPR chat ever Wednesday at 1 PM eastern. Stop in, you may learn something and make some great connections. Visit and comment on our blogs and talk with us on twitter.
  4. Connect with the thought leaders in your field (both online and “IRL”): Where are the thought leaders in your field? No doubt they’re online and they’re involved with various social media channels. Be sure to connect with them. Learn the fine art of impressing them with your savvy and know-how while simultaneously listening to and responding to them/ their concerns. Also, be present at business networking events in your community. Don’t bemoan and whine about where your live. Make the most of it (or move!)
  5. Create Content Now! One recent Gen R grad whom I’ve advised from time to time moved to Nashville to find his fame and fortune. David Lyle Ford has done several things right along the way. 1- He connected with me and other thought leaders and gained our friendship and trust. 2- He recently started writing as a means to create his personal brand while providing a social networking service to others with his blog The Social Drifter. This also showcases his writing skills, key to any professional communicator.
  6. Stay educated! Just because school’s over doesn’t mean your education is. Sign up for free webinars in your field to stay on top of the latest happenings in your profession. Read, read, read to keep up with what’s going on.  Use your library to read free books (You can even check out a Kindle at ours!) Read what the thought leaders are talking about online and then read the books they reference.
  7. What’s new? Be aware of the news. Meeting people in marketing/PR who don’t keep up with current events is always a bit of a surprise to me. Know what’s going on around you and in the world.

What tips do you have to add for Generation R? Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a Gen R member yourself I’d love to hear from you!

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15 Responses to “Seven Job-Seeking Tips for Generation “R””

  1. Great post, Mel. I tell my college friends to network as much as possible and volunteer at places/events where they can meet prospective employers. I love the advice of creating content now- great way to set yourself apart from the pack and establish credibility. The only other thing I can think of is to really utilize LinkedIn. That’s where a lot of hiring folks get leads. Wonderful advice!

    • maryellen says:

      Excellent point about LinkedIn Kristina! That is such a valuable resource with 95 percent of headhunters now looking for employees there!

  2. Sarah Rowan says:

    This article is on point! Wonderful ideas and tips to help young graduates and professionals grasp the fundamentals that will help them find success in this business! It is a challenge and all the components you have mentioned are sure to send anyone in the right direction!

  3. These are great tips not only for those starting out, but for us long-term entrepreneurs. Thanks, Mary Ellen!

  4. Really good points. Networking is very important and going to professional meetings is a great way to make contacts.

  5. Love these tips. This IRL thing is where I see people getting hung up – not going out and doing it. I’m Tweeting this!

  6. Wow! These are great. They certainly cross all generational lines. I hope many others will read these great tips … musts.

  7. It sounds like we are sisters!!! I also love supporting PR students to get a head start in the industry – so much so I established a group the Professional Communicators’ Network and wrote a book http://www.boostyourcareer.com.au to do just that.
    What you are doing and the tips you are suggesting a right on target – they are lucky to have you paying it forward!
    heidi Alexandra

  8. Great advice–especially about having a professional photo. I once saw someone submit a prom photo with their CV. Definitely not the best first impression.

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