A recent email conversation with a former, successful CIPR Advanced Certificate student, Jill Blake, led to a suggestion that she draft some thoughts that I’d publish here. The topic is the challenge of getting started in PR as the recession begins to bite. Here are Jill’s thoughts:
They say when one door closes another opens. But for many people, lots of doors are closing in unison and their noses are starting to resemble a boxer whose taken one too many knocks.
I’m talking about PR jobs and how difficult it is to get one. Many excellent, qualified people with fantastic skills are doing, well… what are they all actually doing? Looking at job vacancies online until they can no longer see straight, sending speculative letters to all and sundry (tailored of course) or sitting tight until such times as the economic crisis lessens thus then joining hands with thousands of other people who’ve been paid off in the meantime?
Or maybe they’ve succumbed to the joys of recruitment agencies and are familiar with the miniscule efforts they exude in finding them a job. Join the club. It’s an ever growing group of people chapping at the PR door with very little response from within. I’m really not cynical in fact it’s something I guard against with hand-on-heart conviction but what the heck gives?
Perhaps being educated to the hilt with specific qualifications is the way forward? The CIPR advanced certificate is an excellent course of which I proudly extol its virtues to anyone who will listen. But in reality, in Scotland anyway, having this sort of qualification might get your foot under the table for the half-hour duration of the interview only. The interviewer will probably say something like your CV looks ‘sketchy’ without that all-important work experience. Ok but how do you go about getting work experience? I know universities do placements – the intricacies of which I’m unaware – but what about those people floundering around who’ve not got the kudos of their uni behind them and who’ve maybe self-funded their PR education. How do they get work experience?
Could writing to PR companies explaining your passion for PR and what you can do for them help? In today’s marketplace taking on work experience people is obviously viable when uncertainty about client retention is running high. And should you think about work experience, even if you’ve already been working but paid off perhaps? Would this work if you were a bit further up the echelon than entry level? I can’t see why it wouldn’t; I mean who wants big gaps on their CV if they can avoid it? Maybe pride holds some people back…
Some employers might think also that they’re taking advantage of you if they take you on work experience if you’ve already been working. To them I’d say that keeping your PR skills alive and well, or developing them, is paramount to securing a job at some point even if you forego a salary at this stage.
Sure their business will benefit from your skills at a rock bottom price (that’s if they pay your expenses) but what else are you going to do, sit in the house and mope or harness somebody else’s expertise and go through the door they’ve opened for you?
Or are there more unexplored avenues to finding jobs in PR? Do networking sites add credibility if you’ve got friends in high places for instance?