Three times a year I go through dozens of graduate applications for the Taylor Bennett Foundation PR programme. Each time, I am dazzled by the research and care that have gone into filling in some of these forms. However, I am also dreadfully disappointed and frustrated with others.
So, to help others not to make the same mistakes, here are my ten tips on what do when applying for a PR role.
1) Don’t address your application to the wrong company. Attention to detail is important to PR. Addressing it to “Taylor Herring” instead of “Taylor Bennett” cost one graduate a place this time.
2) Be polite. If the company you have applied to bother to reply (and believe me, lots don’t) then take it on the chin and thank them for considering you. Manners cost nothing. Writing to tell them that they are WRONG and are making a HUGE mistake by not taking you on will make sure they remember you for all the wrong reasons.
3) Avoid clichés. If I had a pound for every time I have read an application with “I like to think out of the box” written on it, I’d be a very rich woman.
4) If a form asks you to list your skills then saying “I’m punctual, honest and reliable” is both dull, and not particularly informative. Surely no one would admit to be habitually late, dishonest and unreliable?
5) If you are asked “Why does a career in PR appeal to you?” do not reply with;
- I hear the money’s good
- I really wanted to be a teacher/surgeon/porn star but couldn’t get the job I wanted so this is the next best thing
- Max Clifford is MY GOD
- I LOVE those Guinness Adverts and want to be able to create stuff like that
- I really want to be a journalist and think this might be an easy way in
6) Don’t ignore the “name” box on an application form, seriously.
7) Read the application instructions carefully. If they ask for a CV and covering letter, then send a CV and covering letter. If they ask for a completed application form, then send a completed application form. If they ask for 400 words on why you’d be a great PR, then send 400 words on why you’d be a great PR. Instructions are there for a reason so follow them.
8) Ignore word counts at your peril. If an application for asks for 100 – 200 words on a particular subject then make sure you write a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 200. Being able to follow such basic instructions is a good indication of whether you’ll be able to follow instructions once you have the job.
9) Don’t submit your application after the deadline. And if your application is rejected because it’s late, don’t send a begging email asking them to consider it anyway. If you want it to be considered, get it in on time. There is no excuse.
10) Avoid saying “I work well in a team, but also on my own”. Yawn.