Who are You and Why Do You Like Me?

I'm lucky. Unlike most, I've found myself in a position to hire a few people recently. While some stand out and get called back, it always amazes me how many do so little to try to impress me.

Instead of just muttering to myself how foolish they are, I decided instead to offer some tips to PR job seekers. Here goes:

  1. Customize your approach. If you want to be in PR, this is critical. Job searches are like media pitches. Don't tell me you excel at media relations if you can't even personalize a cover letter. It's obvious to those of us reading hundreds of resumes when we get a form letter. And sometimes it's so obvious that it's just plain silly. It seems like it shouldn't need to be said, but don't address the cover letter, "dear sir/madam" when you're sending it to me at my email address. My photo and bio are on our Web site. I would hope it's pretty apparent which one I am.
  2. Do your homework. Spend the time to research our company and tell me why you want to work here. Be specific. Research isn't hard; it just takes time and too often candidates skip this important step. Don't. Look at our Web site. Read our blog. Watch the videos on our site. Look at the coverage we've gotten for our clients or about ourselves. Tell me what you like. Tell me why you think you'd fit in well. Tell me why you'd want to stay here a long time.
  3. Tell me your story. PR is all about storytelling. And good stories are brought to life through examples. Please, please don't tell me you're a "people person." Instead, use anecdotes to tell me about successes you've had, projects you've learned from, mentors who have inspired you. Tell me what motivates you and what frustrates you. Tell me your vision of an ideal job and what you'd be doing there.
  4. Ask questions. Show me you want to learn more. Job searches are a two-way street. I want to see that you're trying to find the best fit for you as well. This means I want you to have questions. I want you to care about the culture, your growth opportunities, our approach to client relations or how we're dealing with the changing nature of the profession. Your curiosity shows me your care where you end up. I hired someone years ago who managed to keep me on the phone for 15 minutes when she called to ask for an interview. I was busy and she kept asking questions, but they were good ones so I kept talking. More than three years later, she's one of our best people and clients love how inquisitive she is.
  5. Don't be afraid to call. It shows me you're interested and you're not afraid to pick up the phone, which is so important in this business. I learn a lot about people by how they sound on the phone and how quickly they can get to the point. Your ability to have a conversation shows me how well you could hold your own in a client or media discussion, which is equally important.

For all of you out there looking for a new opportunity in PR, I'm always happy to hear from you. Just don't forget to tell me who you are and why you like me.

Contributed by Stacey Mann. Follow her at @sliedermanmann