How to get a job and work the LA PR scene: June Meeting Recap

Last week we gathered 30 young professionals at GolinHarris in downtown Los Angeles to learn how to navigate the LA PR scene – and get a job!  Panelists included Alan Weatherbee, Director of Recruitment for CMG, Jonalyn Morris, President of Jonalyn Morris PR, and Ron W. Roecker, President and Chief Enfluencer of Enfluence Group.

Whether your goals include rebounding from layoffs, making a lateral or horizontal career move, breaking into PR with that first job or internship, or ongoing networking, Alan, Ron and Jonalyn provided an entertaining and educational evening full of information, tips and real-world examples to help you feel confident pursuing the job you want (today or in the future).

Check out below for a hearty list of tips for job seeking, networking and interviewing!  For ongoing conversations, musing about the recruiting and the LA PR scene you can follow our panelists: Alan on his blog or @alanweatherbee, Jonalyn @jonalynmorris and Ron on his blog.

Networking:
  • Everyone you meet (personal or professional) is a potential networking contact. Remember information about them and keep them for future contacts.  The more networking you do as a young professional, the broader your reach when you’re in management.  You can also get job opportunities through bizarre connections, so make it known what you do – and what you want to do in the long run
  • Never burn bridges.  The PR scene (in LA and outside) is a very small world. Everyone knows everyone, and there’s always less than six degrees of separation
  • Be proactive.  Put yourself, your interests, your personality out there at networking events and on social media platforms.  For example, if you’re job hunting opening and currently unemployed – put a status update on LinkedIn including buzz words you would be interested in
  • Talk about your desire for your job
  • Keep your profile up-to-date and flaunt your achievements on networking sites, including LinkedIn.

Job hunting:

  • Seek and establish a list of the top ten agencies you’re looking for, regularly check in with HR to gauge interest and availability
  • Professional social networks vs. personal: LinkedIn is professional. It’s your call on Facebook, but BE CAREFUL. Your online profiles are your personal brands, make sure they sell you appropriately
  • Optimize profile for key search terms and source recommendations, such as ROI and social networking

Resume building:

  • Spell check your resume!! (Have someone check it for you.) You can also start reading from the bottom up to make sure you’re catching everything.  (A typo in a resume goes straight to the trash.)
  • Include recent wins or accolades
  • Skill summary at top (new trend); objective section is “old school”
  • Adding value through social networking, new media tools
  • Entry level: much of your work is presenting documents to the client, be sure to promote your ability to polish work
  • Balance your hard skills with your soft skills.  There is a balance you have to strike.  Soft skills should be highlighted in your skill set summary at the top and demonstrate who you are as a person.  Hard skills are accomplishments and things you can do, but you need to set yourself apart
  • Highlight how your skills have created wins for your client – even small wins (when they’re big in supervisors or clients minds) are good. Any kind of results or metrics you can take credit for and incorporate in your resume will sell to a recruiter / hiring manager far above what you did to create a media list or review a document. (This also demonstrates ROI for your work.)

Interviewing:

  • Know about who and where you are interviewing before you go in. It’s a must to  demonstrate interest and knowledge of what they do and why you’re there. (Don’t waste anyone’s time, yours or theirs.)
  • If you’re not looking for a job, don’t go in for an interview.  Rather, set up an informational interview to manage expectations from the get-go
  • Presentation and perception are huge in PR
  • It’s always better to over dress then under dress
  • Take a personal note from an interview and be sure to show personality with follow up meeting
  • Sit forward and reach eye level
  • Always ask for a glass of water.  A glass of water will help you in any situation: need a minute to think of an answer, take a sip.  Get a scratchy throat from talking to the fifth of eight people, take a sip.  You’ll eventually need it so ask for it up front
  • Receptionist and assistant to the president have the most power in the organizations, be nice and polite!
  • Know the hierarchy in the interview process and tailor your conversation to who you are talking to.  If you are talking to a potential direct boss, he/she will want to know what you will do for them.  If you’re talking to an executive, he/she may want to know how you would represent the company and react to odd situations.
  • Maintain a personal touch on resumes but keep it relevant
  • Cover letter: why you should be hired and why you’re interested in the company. Don’t reiterate your resume.
  • Look around for common ground: photos, screen saver, personal mementos
  • Smart questions: What are you looking for?  Questions that offer clues to help you
  • Recap to why you’re a fit at the end of the interview, especially if they ask you the open-ended question: “Do you have any more questions?” Never say no to that question – our jobs are about answering, asking and listening to questions
  • Treat the interview as a new business proposal with prep and research to support your worth
  • Be cautious about titles – different agency positions and in-house opportunities are genuinely different and come with different job titles
  • Always send a thank you letter.  Always.

Look for an invite to the upcoming July event!

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1 Comment

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One response to “How to get a job and work the LA PR scene: June Meeting Recap

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I am moving soon to LA and seeking a PR job. This is so helpful for me. I’ve been spoiled here in Tampa because I found an open door at 16 in media and have just followed the ladder upward, but moving to LA will be my first time job searching.

    I have all these skills and abilities. However, looking for a job in LA from Tampa, the greatest challenge I face is networking. I am coming to LA for one week in August and am trying to line up as many interviews as possible. Any tips on how to network myself from across the country?

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