As spring approaches, so does graduation day for the communications and PR students in Winnipeg’s University of Winnipeg and Red River College programs. It’s an exciting time for students, many of whom are already passing out resumes and securing jobs.
Selling yourself in an interview can be a nerve-racking experience if you’re a new grad. Do you talk about your design skills? Your ability to meet deadlines? Your winning personality? Depending on the workplace, all those things might be great to focus on.
As one of Winnipeg’s few PR companies, we often receive inquiries from students checking to see if we’re hiring (we’re not at the moment but may be in a few months). If you’re a new grad, and you’re wondering what skills are valued in the public relations industry, see below for four qualities we look for when we’re considering hiring someone new.
One of the most important skills we offer to our clients is the ability to write all kinds of copy quickly, accurately and powerfully. It’s more than being able to differentiate between â€œyourâ€ and â€œyou’re.â€ You need to make sentences flow, write in many different voices and gently polish others’ work while keeping the spirit of their copy. No one expects perfection out of a recent grad, but it is important that you can show us you’re on the road to becoming a great writer.
Anyone we hire needs to fit in with our team and relate well to our clients. Don’t underestimate the impact of a cheerful smile, an easygoing personality and pleasant conversation.
In school it can be easy to focus on your GPA and lose sight of how important it is to work well with others. We work with many clients, agencies and organizations. When we introduce a new employee, they must be able to solve problems calmly and be a constructive member of many different teams.
Independence and Initiative
Independence and initiative are important in many industries, but crucial in a PR company like ours. A new hire would need to work with very little supervision and be able to manage their own time to get their work done. They would also find themselves interacting directly with clients (from front line staff to executives) and their customers. That calls for confidence, but it also means you need to manage the expectations of multiple stakeholders at once. Our rule of thumb is to have no surprises: keep the client and your team fully informed along the way respectfully and professionally.
Intelligence, Curiosity and Critical Thinking
As independent consultants, we work with a wide variety of businesses in many different industries. That requires us to understand and summarize complex topics very quickly. The best PR consultants (in-house or external) demonstrate intelligence, curiosity and critical thinking skills.
An interview is a great opportunity for you to showcase your skills. Do your research about the company or organization before the interview. Read their website, newsletters, news releases and annual reports and learn about their industry. If you can show your prospective employer that you understand their challenges, they may see you as someone who could be part of the solution. Doing your own research will also help you avoid accepting a job at a place that would make you miserable.