In the competitive world of public relations, employers are looking for the best and brightest. Tom Knox, senior vice president of Edelman’s Sacramento office, spoke to Brigham Young University students Nov. 3 about how they can prepare now to outshine the competition.
He summed up his advice with three points: take and learn as much as you can in school, perfect your resume and learn to market yourself.
Getting the most out of school
University settings provides a safe environment to fail and to learn from failure, while employers have an expectation for work to be perfect or near perfect in professional settings.
Knox encouraged the students to learn as much as possible while in school. “Don’t just take classes to take classes, do it to learn how to master your craft,” he said.
Knox emphasized that learning to work in teams is essential. Teamwork takes a large role and is the frame word behind any public relations department or firm.
School creates opportunities to learn how to work with different types of people. It also provides a simple and effective way to network with peers who may help you in your career later on.
“You’ll never escape certain people — in college, in your first career,” Knox said. “You will never not need a relationship. Go out of your way to make them feel like you are great.”
Building a perfect resume
Employers at large companies may have hundreds of resumes and applications lying on their desks when trying to fill a position. In the mountain of white paper, what makes a resume stand out?
“Your resume shouldn’t give any impression other than, ‘this is perfect,’” Knox said. In the professional world, there is no room for mistakes on resumes.
Knox recommends the following to create the perfect resume:
- Use white paper and a professional font
- Don’t draw unwanted attention by adding unnecessary items
- Avoid too much text
- Skip obvious or clique skills (E.g., “Proficient in Microsoft Word”)
- Highlight the unique and valuable
- List skills and qualifications specific to the position
- Be meticulous about formatting
- Exchange resumes with people who know your strengths and value
- Every word needs to lead the employer to “want to meet you”
Learning how to market yourself
“If you can’t sell yourself, don’t go into PR!” Knox exclaimed.
He further told students they shouldn’t be in PR if they can’t give a compelling argument for why they’re the only person for the job.
“In the real world, people don’t care about you; you need to make them care,” Knox said.
This highlights the competitive nature of the professional PR world. It’s important to have the skills but even more importantly, students needs to work hard and learn to communicate to employers how they will bring the company value and monetary gain.
If students can take the advice from a PR professional like Knox and learn these principles now, they will out shine the competition, attain success and potentially find their dream job.