Applying for work experience in PR

Work experience tips

It’s that time of year when undergraduates and graduates start applying for jobs for the summer – for internships, a year out in industry, or full-time jobs.

Like many PR consultancies, we are inundated with requests and CVs. Here, CEO Elisabeth Lewis-Jones offers some tips to help applicants get over the first hurdle:

1.You have a wealth of resources to research a company. There’s Google, email, even the old-fashioned telephone. So never write “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern”. It’s lazy. You’re just spamming us. Your email and CV will be deleted. Next?

2. If you’re on LinkedIn, make sure your profile picture shows you are professional and mean business. A selfie taken on a night out in an outfit that shows too much flesh is not appropriate. And yes, we will check your social media, so no trolling, including trolling of politicians and other public figures.

3. Don’t start an email with: “How are you?” We know you don’t actually care because you don’t know us. Just set out why you’re emailing. Cut the fluff.

4. Treat your email as a covering letter. It should be professional with no grammatical errors, and no emojis. And please, please, please, stop the incorrect use of “myself” and “yourself” when you simply mean “me” and “you”.

5. Don’t tell us how impressed you are with our company or the areas we specialise in. We know you’re saying that to all the other PR firms. It’s meaningless. Say why we are impressive, and how it connects to you. Employers are interested in the “why” more than the “what”.

6. This is an example of a typical email: … it would be such a great experience if you were to take me on board, I would love to lend a helping hand for a few weeks with whatever you needed!” This person has forgotten that we’re running a business. A “great experience” for them perhaps, but what about us? Lend a helping hand? No, you’d be working.

7. As mentioned above, we’re running a business. We are committed to supporting new professionals, but we are not here to serve work experience needs. Very few undergraduates remember this. So what can you do for our company and our people, who we value highly? How will you work? Why should we snap you up? Can you actually get to our office?

8. Do think about the interests you put on your CV as you will be asked about them. Yes, really. So don’t blag it.

9. Do remember, the effort you put into a request may well be reflected in the effort we make in our response. If you can’t be bothered, why should we?

10. If you get to the interview stage, do come prepared – examples of your work, campaigns that have inspired you, questions you can ask us (write them down – we like that). Research who is interviewing you. I was asked: “How long have you worked here and why did you join Liquid?” There was an awkward silence when I replied: “I set up the company.”