Graduates: How to break into the PR and Communications Industry

12 August 2016


Each year, thousands of graduates set their sights on securing their first PR and communications role; and who can blame them? Communications is a thriving and exciting industry - it offers people the chance to work with amazing brands across hundreds of sectors, opportunities to meet incredibly inspirational figures and liaise with influential stakeholders, and it utilises a diverse range of skills and attributes. No two days are ever the same in this creative and diverse industry.

So, want to know our top tips on cracking the industry and landing that dream graduate position?

Perfect your CV

A strong CV is the first thing any potential employer will notice. Make sure to include all basic contact information, followed by a personal profile that summarises your career goals and personal attributions – take a look at our blog on writing an elevator pitch if you need an idea.

These elements should be followed by your education, including any relevant qualifications. The next section should cover all your experience to date; these sections should be clear and concise, and include exact dates of employment, with bullet points covering all aspects of your previous responsibilities.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to CV’s - tailoring your experience to the role you’re applying for will make you stand out from the crowd. If you’re applying for a digital role, for example, make sure to emphasize any experience you’ve had in social media, and go into details of exact targets and results.

Don’t forget to include an ‘other’ section at the end; showing that you have passion for blogging, sports or art will help to paint a picture of your personality.

Have an open mind

Have you been offered a business to business role when you’d rather a consumer-focused position? Or a role in consumer health when you’d rather pharmaceutical? Don’t jump to rash decisions and turn down opportunities because they don’t fit your exact expectations – you might find an undiscovered love for a sector you hadn’t previously considered, and the less-desirable role could lead to more exciting opportunities in the future. Also, if you’re not sure what sector you’d like to work in, stay open to opportunities and take any chance to explore a sector further, whether that be through an interview, internship or paid role. 

Don’t pass up opportunities

Take up every opportunity available to you, and go to interviews even if you’re not 100% sure on the role. Interview practise provides you with excellent skills for the future, and visiting different companies also allows you to see the various types of working cultures and gauge which one is most suited to you. By grasping every opportunity that comes your way, you will also build contacts and meet new people who could introduce you to future employers.

Demonstrate passion and personality 

The key to this tip is RESEARCH – make sure you know everything there is about the company you are applying to, and check all of their social media pages and website for any quirky information snippets that you could bring up in the interview. Proving that you’ve done your homework will impress prospective employers, which is especially important in PR and communications as companies expect you to know and understand the clients they work with.

Know your salary expectations

Different PR sectors offer different salaries, so make sure you know roughly what to expect when applying to roles or going to interviews. Our 2015 Salary Survey found that the average salary for Account Executives working in agencies within the consumer sector earned £20,000 on average, whereas those at the same level in financial and corporate PR agencies were on salaries of around £24,000. This varies even further when you consider the differences in salaries between in-house and agency roles, and some entry-level jobs offer a salary increase after an initial probation period or internship. 

Gain some experience

Experience is extremely valuable to the PR and communications industry. If you haven’t got an internship under you belt, it’s definitely worth considering taking one on before you apply to an entry-level role, as this will set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your dedication to the PR and communications industry. If you’re currently in a role that isn’t directly related to PR and looking to make the move over, make sure you focus your CV on any transferrable skills that you have, such as writing, building relationships and networking with business contacts, blogging, social media management, admin, content creation and copywriting – these are all skills that are vital to PR success. 

Find your inspiration

Research some PR campaigns that have really inspired you and think of what it is that attracts you to PR – your enthusiasm will shine through during the interview and show that you really are dedicated to building a career in this exciting sector. 

At JFL, we have seen much success in the field of graduate recruitment over the past few months, and it is a fantastic time to look for an entry-level role. The graduate market is incredibly confident at the moment, so get in touch with our Graduate Consultants and if you’re looking for a new role – we are also happy to offer advice for anyone looking to take their first steps into this exciting industry. 

Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with our latest roles – you can also join our LinkedIn group Graduate jobs in PR & Communications (London) to stay in the loop with our entry-level roles.