Job-Hunting Facts of Life

As job searches begin for Class of 2009 PR majors, it is helpful to seek perspective from those who have successfully landed jobs as well as those who have been looking for a while.

As I was seeking “personal case studies” from last year’s graduating class, I came across an excellent first-person story on  For the past six months, Gloria Hightower has been aggressively seeking a full-time job.  Here’s an insightful and well-written account about her search.   Despite many frustrations, Gloria remains determined and confident that she’ll land a job. 

Please share your suggestions, successes and frustrations via Comments.

  My Job-Seeking Experience

                                  By Gloria Hightower

My search for full-time employment in the PR field has been, in a word, awful.  In anticipation of my December 2008 graduation, I started applying for positions in September. 

Since that time, I have heard back from only one employer, but only to invite me in for an informational interview because there are no entry-level positions open within their agency at this time.  That seems to be the running theme in my job search: “there are no positions that match your qualifications at this time.” 

 As a student who has just earned a Master’s degree and completed three internships, I am not sure how much more experience I could have gained as a full-time student.  However, it seems that I don’t have enough experience for almost any job posting I have seen.  Many of the positions listed as entry-level even request one to two years of experience!

Since school is finished, my full-time job is looking for a job.  I am looking in three different cities: the Washington, DC area, New York City area and Philadelphia area.  I have even “gone local” on my resumes that I send out to companies, using the addresses of my friends in each areas since some employers only want to hear from local candidates— still nothing.

I have applied to advertised openings and sent out unsolicited resumes as well.  I have sent resumes to agencies, corporations, non-profits and recruiters.  I even looked into taking a position as an intern just to get my foot in the door with a company.

However, the pay for internships is too low to even try to survive on since they are usually meant for school students (that is, if the internships available even pay at all).  Many of them only offer school credit.

At this point, I am continuing to search and trying to keep a positive attitude about my future.  I am trying to network with as many people as possible, and have all of my friends doing the same for me.  It is a challenge though because I don’t know a whole lot of people who work in the industry and none of my friends work in PR either.

So, I’ve relied on making connections primarily through past internship supervisors and by emailing professionals or HR managers.  I have built a few relationships, which I hope will benefit me in the future.

When I did my undergraduate work in marketing, I wasn’t really too sure about what I needed to do to gain a competitive edge once I entered the job market.  So, I did one internship working in the marketing department of a non-profit. 

Upon graduation, I could not find a job in marketing at all.  As I started to study job descriptions of marketing a little more closely, I realized that I wanted to work not in marketing, but in PR.  So, I decided to enter graduate school and pursue a Master’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in PR. 

This time around I was a better student, carefully choosing my courses and working on projects that would allow me to work outside of the classroom with real organizations.  Additionally, I was sure to do multiple internships, because I knew that would be important when I began my job search.

I feel disappointed to have worked so hard then to have gone back and done it all a second time, and still not see any positive results.
Fortunately, I am determined to succeed and will remain persistent in my job search. I feel that I have the skills and abilities to excel in a career in PR, and I know that all I need is an opportunity.

Once I get that opportunity, I believe I know what I need to do to make the most of it.

5 thoughts on “Job-Hunting Facts of Life

  1. I see this all the time. But the answer isn’t with the market, it’s with the approach. Looking for a job by sending out resumes is like trying to find a spouse by waiting until last call in the bar and then jumping on the bar and shouting, “Hey, I’d like to get married! I earn a decent salary and I’m not half bad looking, plus I know how to manage money and I’m a great cook. If you’re interested, I’ll be by the door, looking desperate.” I can’t describe the alternative in a comment—I actually co-wrote an entire online COURSE devoted to the topic—but rest assured, there is hope, and the solution starts with the attitude and mindset of the seeker.

  2. I definitely agree with Jason.

    Proposing marriage at a bar at the last call definitely would land you a solid rejection.

    To continue with Jason’s analogy, I think the key to finding a job is to nurture a relationship with your prospective employer before ‘proposing marriage’. For example, finding a company you would like to work for and then trying to learn more about the company and position available through an informational interview would be a great first step.

    Also, having a quality, tailored resume and an authentic cover letter sent to the person you met with would demonstrate your knowledge about the company and passion for the industry. (And don’t forget that handwritten thank you note!)

    I think that the key to finding a job is quality not quantity of applications. The job hunt is like courtship and marriage; we hope that when we do marry, it’s going to be worthwhile and *hopefully* only happen once.

    Either way, you’re doing a great job by having the right attitude. You’ll definitely find the right thing for you.

  3. I graduated in May 2008 with four internships, and I was also told that I didn’t have enough experience. I am currently living in Atlanta volunteering and I am looking to relocate wherever. I just accepted another internship, I am really excited about it because it’s my first paid internship! I am also excited because its full-time and has potential of becoming permanent. It’s definitely the recession; she is not alone.

  4. Jason and Megan leave great comments and I find there analogy refreshing. I also applaud Gloria for putting out an honesty regarding her fears, discouragement, and how she struggles but is determined to maintain a positive attitude.

    I am also a soon to be graduate with May 2009 approaching sooner every day and share many of the same fears as Gloria. To work so hard, earning multiple internships and then to look out in the reality of a terrible economy is causing what I think is a potential ulcer.

    However, like Gloria, I think that the best strategies for soon to be recent graduates include finding supportive mentors, providing quality materials to potential employers (resumes, cover letters, portfolios) and networking relentlessly.

    If you have any recommendations for reading or networking advice please e-mail them to me!
    I would greatly appreciate your suggestions!

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