As Job Search Frustration Grows You Must Have a Plan and Keep Your Head in The Game

Job search

Reader comments help motivate bloggers since God knows we’re not doing it for the money. While negative comments sometimes sting, they also spur additional post opportunities. That’s the case today.

Yesterday, I received a comment to a three-year-old post, “Breaking Into Advertising Without Experience is Tough But Possible.” Clearly frustrated with her job search, reader Kate says:

Stupidest article ever. I have a master degree in marketing. And work experience and internships. I have been trying forever to get my foot in the door. Even to do an internship. But no one will hire these days anyone even for an unpaid internship. Because:
1. There are no jobs
2. You need 10 years of work experience even for a non-paid internship.
3. No one wants to train/teach anyone anything. Everyone expects you to have work experience. However, I ask how can you have work experience when no one will hire you???

Kate isn’t the only job seeker with these feelings. This alleged economic recovery definitely has seen anemic job growth unlike previous recoveries. As a result, the rate of job expansion is increasing slowly while we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of individuals pursuing entry-level public relations, marketing and advertising opportunities. Public relations-related jobs still enjoy a faster growth rate than other professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

My quick survey of friends at Chicago-area agencies yesterday indicates most agencies have hired more talent in the past year than at any time since the recession began in 2007.  One agency that had two interns last year now has a steady complement of seven and 60% of them advance into full-time positions, while another agency increased its internship program to 20 aspiring professionals. The Holmes Report confirms there are more PR jobs today than ever, indicating that the PR industry grew by 8% last year and now employs 75,000, which is 9,000 more than in 2011.


Carol Gronlund, head of human resources and recruiting for the Zocalo Group and Ketchum Midwest, confirms that she’s seeing fewer resumes this year than in the past. But there’s still lots of competition, noting an Account Management Internship position posted last Friday generated 36 applications by today. An entry-level Account Coordinator role in Ketchum’s Washington, DC office has brought in 97 resumes since last Thursday. Last year, more than 800 resumes were received for an entry-level AC position.

“It’s not as competitive as it was last year because there are more jobs,” Carol confirmed. She noted success in filling recent openings so she currently has few openings, but other agencies are actively recruiting and hiring.

“My advice to students has always been to network and get involved,” said Carol. “Mingle with industry people, volunteer to staff a PRSA event, leverage your LinkedIn connections by asking for introductions. We pay attention to referrals and we ask the referrer how/what they know about candidates, so don’t forget to tell your referrer why you’re a good fit for the role, why you’re interested in the agency, etc. You’ve got to make it relevant, not just, “I need a job”. Jobseekers should also be open to a role that isn’t traditional PR. Social Media and the growing need for rich graphic content is creating new PR roles for folks with digital and creative skills.”

Edelman’s recruiter Travis Kessel agrees. “Jobs are there, Kate just needs to be smart about how she is looking for employment,” Travis said.  “Her resume may not be popping, so it is very important to get out there and meet people in professional circles via networking events. She should volunteer at a non-profit and help on a marketing/PR related project for FREE to not only build her resume, but also her confidence in her ability.  Once she has some confidence, she will be much more likely to sell herself during an interview.”

So, while there are jobs, winning one requires a serious game plan and you can’t give up. Sadly, agencies and corporations no longer have the ability to invest in new employees so they mostly seek individuals with relevant experience. As a result, job seekers must develop their own talent base and network to open doors. Networking remains the top way most people land jobs today, although you also must remain vigilant in following job boards. You must check daily for new job postings since firms pull down posts faster than ever since they’re finding enough qualified applicants in a shorter time.

I hope Kate lands a job and lets us know how she eventually did it.

4 thoughts on “As Job Search Frustration Grows You Must Have a Plan and Keep Your Head in The Game

  1. My name is Rebecca Schroeder and I am a student at Southeast Missouri State University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Creative Writing .
    I found this article to be very helpful because I will be graduating soon and I could relate to the struggle of finding a job and at one point finding an internship. I was wondering if it is in my interest to take an internship that is not necessarily in the PR field? Some of the internships I have found I feel that I am getting more office setting experience than PR experience.

    1. While a PR internship is the best entry point to a career in the profession, internships in other industries also carry weight, especially if they are relevant to industries that agencies represent. Focus on consumer product companies, financial institutions and corporations that use public relations support. Agencies seek out candidates with experience in industries they represent.

  2. My name is Alison Wuebbels and I am a student at Southeast Missouri State University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Hospitality Management.
    I also found this article to be very helpful as I will be stepping out into the “real world” next spring. Do you think that graduates and young PR professionals are just stumped by the previous notion that there were no jobs? I hear from numerous graduates say the same things as Kate, that they do not have enough experience and there is just not anyone hiring. Do you think that the young professionals just see the experience section and get turned away and think they will never have a chance?

    1. Alison: There are plenty of jobs, but a vast majority of firms seek out candidates with the most experience. They want candidates who they perceive as ready to hit the ground running, not require training since they’re generally too busy with their own jobs. Loading up on internships and related experiences with campus and nonprofit organizations helps dress up a resume that stands out from others. People with those experiences should apply for jobs where they know they can succeed. Don’t apply if you have any doubts about your capabilities since the employer will figure that out during the interview process–or, worse yet, after you’ve been hired. Getting fired for “false advertising” is not fun.

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