How to Land a Job in PR without Experience
Landing a job in public relations can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have any relevant experience. But don’t be discouraged – there are still plenty of ways to get your foot in the door and make a strong impression on potential employers.
Last year, I switched from working in logistics management (my first job out of college) to tech PR and I often get asked, “How did you do it?”. The good news is there’s more than one pathway into PR. If you’re looking to pivot into PR, here are some tips for getting your first job without prior experience.
Networking is key when it comes to finding a job in public relations as referrals are the #1 way people find new jobs. PR professionals are natural communicators, so there is a good chance that they will have connections to a company or agency that is hiring. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who may be able to help — former colleagues, friends, family members, or even acquaintances — and ask them for advice or assistance when it comes to searching for open positions. If you don’t know anyone with direct contacts, research and reach out to PR professionals that are in your desired industry via LinkedIn. In my experience, people are most often flattered and willing to help in any way they can.
When I decided that I wanted to switch career paths and pursue PR, I reached out to a friend in the field and simply asked for advice on how to get into the industry. To my luck, my friend told me that she knew of a PR agency hiring and referred me to apply for an open role with Caster. I would have never known about the job opportunity or be here writing this blog today if I didn’t reach out for help.
Leverage Your Past Experiences
If you don’t have past PR experience or you didn’t study communications, I’m quoting Tarunjeet Rattan from Harvard Business Review when I say: “It doesn’t matter.” You can leverage the experience that you do have and highlight a foundational skillset fit to help you grow in any role. Look at the job description for a PR role that you wish to land and think about how you’ve acquired those skills throughout your lifetime. Experience writing, researching, or presenting from any past work experience, school project, volunteer work, or extracurricular activity can be relevant to a PR role. On your resume, make sure to highlight specific actions that align with the requirements from the job description. I’m sure there will be more overlap than you think!
Before I worked at Caster, I had a degree and internship experience in marketing. While marketing and PR are not the same, there are similarities between the types of projects and platforms that both might use. When editing my resume for my application to work at Caster, I made sure to tailor each marketing section to demonstrate those similarities and proved that I had acquired similar skills to those required in the PR role.
Make Yourself Stand Out
Having a portfolio or website is essential for someone seeking a job in public relations, even if it’s your first one. This is your chance to showcase your writing skills, demonstrate how well-versed you are with various digital platforms, and prove that you understand PR principles and strategies. You can also include examples of other work such as blog posts or social media feeds that show off your expertise and creativity. A portfolio or website will give potential employers an idea of who you are as an individual and how you might fit into their organization.
While the application to work at Caster asked for a resume and writing sample, I chose to include a personal website as well. My website highlights specific projects, academic and personal, that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to convey in my resume. I used one of the many free website builders that make it easy for you to create a personal website. I can’t say for sure that my personal website on my application landed me the first interview, but it definitely made my application stand out!
Leverage Your Personality
At its core, public relations is communication with others, which is something that can’t be taught in a two-week onboarding program. So, if you’re a master at building relationships, it’s a sign that PR is right for you. You can leverage the fact that you’re naturally good with people because not everyone is. Make sure to show off this side of your personality during any interviews that you land – maintain a calm but confident approach during the first interview. If you get a second interview, try to connect back to points made in your first interview to show that you remember the conversation and care about the interviewer(s) and their company.
I was nervous going into my interview with Caster, but once we started chatting, I felt relaxed. Caster’s leadership, Kim, Alex, and Rachel were all very friendly and easy to talk to. This allowed me to let my personality shine and connect with my future teammates on a personal level. I established a connection with the interviewers that was hard for them to forget, and I landed a second interview!
Getting a job in public relations without relevant experience isn’t impossible, so don’t be discouraged to make to the leap and pursue PR. Networking with PR professionals, leveraging your experience on your resume, creating a portfolio or website which showcases your skillset, and expressing your personality during interviews are all great ways for you to get noticed by potential employers and hopefully land your first PR gig.