Tuesday, 7 February 2012

CV Tips for Budding PRs

After 15 years in this biz I've read literally thousands of CVs. And admittedly, chucked a fair few straight in the bin after the first paragraph. Last week Juliet of Girl PR gave a job to a lass who produced a very creative online video, tailored specifically to what Juliet was looking for in this job ad. She literally hired her instantly...without even meeting. Click here for the CV and then click 'Read More' below for some general tips.

Be Creative.

OK, so the CV link above is a rather exceptional outside-the-square example. Yours doesn't have to be like this, but think about it: if you're going for a job in a creative industry, shouldn't your CV reflect why you belong in it?

Make Your Cover Letter Sparkle.
Even if you opt for the standard CV format, be anything but standard. Let your personality shine through via your cover letter/email. When I was a uni graduate of 21 and wanted to do work experience at various PR/Event companies, I didn't send them the usual letter which goes as follows (I am sent thousands of these):

To Whom It May Concern,
I just graduated from UTS with a Degree in Communications and am interested in undergoing work experience at your company blah blah zzzzzzzzzz........

Instead I wrote:

I've just finished uni and am keen to get started on my PR & Events career, immediately. I'm writing  because your company looks amazing and I'd love to come into your office to be your slave for a week. I have office & computer skills; I'm bright, thoughtful & friendly; and I will do whatever I am told. Absolutely anything. Please contact me!

I sent it to 20 companies, 12 of whom called me the following morning. I picked my top 4 and set up 1 full week at each, totaling 1 month. The funny thing is the first company I went to, Great Big Events, offered me a job the afternoon of my very first day. My very lucky break! Needless to say I cancelled all my other work experience gigs...

Know Your Target.
Being bold can suit an approach to a fashion /lifestyle company, but I understand there's also a more corporate side to our industry. I do believe however, that you can still be creative without being wacky or coming across as flaky. Tailor your approach to the spirit of the company you are targeting and you'll stand out from the rest. Juliet says that the girl who won the job was the ONLY applicant out of 200 who tailored her CV to the specifics of the job ad. Why do people spend more time choosing a pair of shoes than making 100% sure they get the job of their dreams? #Crazy.

Stop Copying Other People's CVs.
"Team player" is my ultimate CV cringe word, what's yours? Read this funny piece 6 Words That Make Your Resume Suck - with constructive advice on how to turn wrong words into right ones.

The Travel Conundrum.
Anyone who knows me knows that my obsession in life is travel. However, I wouldn't go writing this on my CV, would I? So many people do. This could just be a personal irk, but when I'm reading a CV I don't want to know that the person I'm about to spend months training is potentially going to bugger off overseas. They get a gold star if they've already done a year in Europe (I love knowing they have that experience behind them and they're ready to focus on their career) and they lose a point if they have travel at the top of their personal interests. Come on, seriously - who doesn't love to travel?! You don't need to spell it out on your CV - you need to be convincing the person reading it that you are ready and eager to commit to them.

SHORT. AND. SWEET. (Repeat this mantra 10 times)
SO important. Your CV should not be more than 1-2 pages, max. Keep it brief, use bullet points, don't repeat yourself, highlight key jobs and your education background - that's it! If presenting a traditional CV, make it factual and use your cover letter to be sparkly & creative.

Check for Typos.
If there's even a single typo in your CV, you are not ready to work in the Media & Communications industry. I was once sitting with my old boss going through a pile of CVs looking for our new Account Manager, when he read one cover letter and dropped it straight into the bin. I laughed and said, 'Come on I have to see that, now!' He fished it out and I saw the clincher immediately: 'I have excellent attention to detial.' Um, NO, you don't. Cue the sound of it dropping into the bin a second time. The sad part is, the girl sounded good aside from this - but if you can miss a typo on the COVER LETTER of your CV, alarm bells start ringing.

Make It Look Good.
When my sister and I were in our early 20's, we returned from our year in Europe and got busy writing up our CVs. When we had both finished, we proudly swapped them to show the other. I gave mine to my sister first, who upon finishing it said - '...OK, now would you like to see mine?' She handed me hers and I immediately conceded defeat (can you believe I had done mine in Times New Roman - shudder). Whilst the format was identical, the layout & design was light years ahead. Needless to say, she WAS a graphic designer! So she whisked mine away, zhoojed it up - and voila, I got the job. Thanks Fleur!

Bigger Picture Stuff.
While it may be fun to Jump Around Kris-Kross style in a nightclub, it's not on your CV.
If you're straight out of uni, take note of this and try to ensure your career path is as streamlined and focused as possible. If you're older and your CV goes from Hospitality to Jewellery Design to Personal Training to Real Estate, you're going to have a tough time getting into a PR role (but don't give up! Just be prepared to take a big step back pay-wise). If you have a weird tangent you went on, don't be afraid to leave some stuff out if it has no relevance at all to the job you're after. Employers don't always notice small gaps in your CV - what they're looking for is whether you have the right experience for the job in question. Be ready to explain gaps and short stints, and have the confidence to highlight your strengths.

Some more great CV tips can be found here.
A fantastic spot to find industry jobs in Australia is at Pedestrian.TV.

Happy job-hunting!

x Tiff

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