Congratulations! You’ve put in countless hours of late-night paper writing, intense study sessions and soaking up all that knowledge in class. It’s finally paid off—you’re educated, qualified and ready to take the world by storm. But now, you have to find a job.
As a recent graduate, this can be a daunting task. After graduating and finishing an internship, your resume might not be much to look at, but don’t fret. There are tons of ways you can build up your resume and, more importantly, continue to learn.
Building up your resume will help you:
- Fill the gap between previous and prospective positions to show you spent that time doing something
- Meet new people—which means making new connections and discovering new opportunities
- Continue your education by staying informed and skilled
Become a volunteer
This one may seem obvious, but it can be tricky to find volunteer opportunities specific to your field of interest (which is pretty crucial when it comes to building your resume). So, take advantage of the resources you have: ask your professors if they, or anyone they know, need an extra hand in executing an event, editing content or doing outreach.
Keep your options, and your mind, open. Even if they don’t have something for you right away, they’ll remember that you took the initiative and keep you in mind for future opportunities. And don’t turn down an opportunity just because it doesn’t interest you personally. This is not a time in your career to be super picky, and if your contact sees that you’re receptive to accepting new opportunities, they’ll send more your way.
Volunteering is a wonderfully organic way to meet people in the industry, and you never know what lasting professional connections will be made. From personal experience, I can say that most people in this industry are committed to developing new talent and providing support and guidance to newcomers.
Make sure your efforts don’t go unnoticed! Create a “volunteer” section in your resume just underneath your work experience so employers will know about your philanthropic endeavours.
Get out there and network
Networking is a broad term. Don’t let that archetypal image, in which you’re in a room full of strangers waiting for someone to talk to you, cloud your excitement. At industry-specific events, everyone has something in common so it’s easy to pick up a conversation and keep it going. Always be sure to follow-up by engaging with your new connections on social media. Connect with them on LinkedIn or retweet their photo of the event on Twitter.
Joining a society, such as the Canadian Public Relations Society, is a sure-fire way to meet like-minded professionals. These societies host events throughout the year, giving you the chance to meet other members, who range from entry-level folks like you to major players in the industry. Show up at these events and get to know the other members.
Just remember to always be yourself. It may sound cheesy, but it’s so important. PR professionals meet new people all the time and the best way to stand out and be remembered is just by being you.
Having this kind of membership on your resume indicates your devotion to ethics and being a constructive part of the PR community. Make mention of it under a “memberships and affiliations” section of your resume. If you don’t have enough content to warrant a section, place it somewhere where it can be clearly seen, such as under your name and contact information.
Develop a wide range of skills
The communications field is rapidly evolving since it relies so heavily on modern technology, which means staying up-to-date is crucial for your career. The good news is that there are so many free courses and programs that can help you keep your finger on the pulse. Check out CodeCademy to learn how to build a website; visit General Assembly to see what free courses they’re offering near you; take a walk to your local library where they’ll likely be offering free classes on Photoshop, Indesign and other software that will come in handy.
Another great (although not free) resource is Lynda, where you can find courses on basically anything. From Photoshop and Excel to project management and team building, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest.
Once you start your job search, you’ll notice many jobs require technical skills such as these. Being able to include these on your resume does wonders for your chances during the job hunt. You can also easily add these skills to your LinkedIn profile and have former coworkers and classmates endorse your ability to use them.
Put your passions on display
People want to work with people, not robots (and hopefully it’ll stay that way for a while). Employers want to know you’ve not only got the skills necessary for the position, but also the right attitude. I would argue that in most, if not all cases, this means they’re looking for someone who is excited and creative.
So, what are you passionate about? Whether it’s music, sports, health, pets or shopping, there’s a way to integrate that into your resume building. For example, if you love to try new restaurants, start a food blog! This is a great way to flex your web design muscles, elevate your online presence and also eat a lot and often.
I recommend including links to your social media and website URL under your contact information on your resume so that prospective employers know where to go to find more information on your background and personality. Before doing this, just make sure there’s nothing embarrassing on your social media that you don’t want them to see.
Remember this: the vast majority of students leave school and don’t have a job waiting for them. This is a transition period that, if you let it, can be one of the most rewarding periods of your life and set a vital foundation for the rest of your career. Keep an open mind, be receptive to all possible opportunities and have fun!