Go the extra mile: 4 tips to make you stand out as a PR candidate

by Katie Hogue, co-director of public relations

It’s that time again…recruitment season! Every year getting a job or internship becomes more and more competitive. While most of you might already have the basics down (you’ve set up your LinkedIn, practiced interviewing etc.) you may still be looking for something extra to set you apart. If you really want to get your dream job, you need to be doing all you can to give yourself the best shot. Here are a few things you can be doing now that could make the difference between you getting your dream job and someone else beating you out:

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  1. Set up informational interviews

Reaching out to people you don’t know can be scary, but it can also help you learn about the company you want to work for and put you on their radar. If you have any contacts already in the industry, next time you are in their area, ask to take them for a 30-minute coffee break/informational interview to learn more about their job. If you don’t know anyone at your dream company, try using LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to type in the company you are looking for and Indiana University as the school to find people who work there that went to IU. It helps if you have a connection to someone when asking them for their time. If not, still give it a shot. Some people will respond, some will not.

Face to face interviews are always best. Be sure to have questions prepared to ask them about their career path, the industry in general and the opportunities at their company if they know of any. Just be careful not to make it only about the job that you want, which can be off-putting. If the conversation goes well, you can ask them to look over your resume or put you in contact with someone else in the company that would also be good to talk to. Sometimes this can lead to them passing your resume to HR or letting you put them down as a reference when you’re applying. Having an advocate on the inside can make all the difference! Sometimes it really is about who you know.

  1. Create your online portfolio

Some employers ask on their applications for you to submit a link to your online portfolio, others don’t, but it can still be a great way to showcase your work and personality. Setting one up may seem like a daunting task for those that are not very technologically savvy, but sites such as weebly.com and wix.com make it easier (and they’re free!). Be sure to let your personality shine through and attach examples of your work. Then include the link on your resume, Twitter and anywhere else that is applicable.

  1. Polish up your look

Yes, you have a resume, but is it one resume paper? These little details mark the line between the good and the great. Make sure that you invest in nice paper for your resume and cover letter. Other little details that go a long way are buying nice thank-you notes to handwrite after interviews, checking over your work to make sure everything is done in AP style and designing your own business cards. Don’t have any? Check out vistaprint.com, it’s one of the cheapest and most customizable options. Another popular site is moo.com. Get creative! 

  1. Engage on your social media

Studies have shown that about 93 percent of employers look you up on social media before hiring you. Everyone knows not to have any inappropriate photos or foul language; however, most people just leave it at that. Consider not just making sure your social media doesn’t hurt you, but make sure it helps you. Try following companies you are interested in working for and engaging with their posts. Stay on top of news (look at sites like AdWeek and PR Daily) and share your thoughts about interesting articles in Tweets and posts. This will not only show your professionalism, but that you are invested in the industry.

Doing these things don’t guarantee you the job, but they will certainly make you stand out and employers will take you seriously. You’ll be at the top of the pack and will be certain that you’ve done everything you can to make yourself a desirable candidate. Now go out there and get hired!

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