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The heart wants what it wants: Honesty is the best policy when hunting for a PR job

Job hunting is a lot like seeking the right life partner. Someone catches your eye from across the room. You may get introduced and strike up a conversation; but in the end there may not be much in common and the spark of interest you or the other person initially experienced, fizzles.

Matching skills and career aspirations to the right employer is a comparable endeavour. In order to secure the most appropriate position, take the time to clarify in your mind what exactly you are hoping to gain from the job and the work environment, and don’t compromise on gut instinct. If a job posting doesn’t feel quite suited to you, it likely isn’t.

It’s important to reflect on the type of organization, sector, and specific position that is being offered and compare these to your own technical qualifications, personal career goals and beliefs.

If you are devoted to a particular sector, such as, non-profit, for example, then don’t apply for communications positions in banking. If you don’t have the patience for long approval processes and the intricate checks and balances that are part of a career in the public service, then refrain from submitting your resume to government institutions.

Read the job description to ensure you have the required skills. As Canada’s largest public relations firm, my company receives numerous applications every day from people seeking work. Some positions advertised are not related to communications, such as, those in our finance or IT departments. Yet surprisingly, we receive quite a few applications for junior accounting positions from people who recently obtained a postgraduate certificate in public relations. These individuals would be better off sending unsolicited resumes stating they are seeking entry level work in public relations – which I believe is their ultimate goal.

Recruiters do compare candidates’ resumes to the job description in order to screen qualified people. And, once in a face-to-face meeting, interviewers can easily tell whether or not someone has a sincere interest in the position. There is nothing worse than going through the motions of an interview when a candidate’s face is twitching and you sense real hesitation in their voice.

The job market is tough, and it can get even tougher for an individual whose resume is a checkerboard of short-term jobs that don’t add up to a record of achievement in any particular area. Recruiters seek people who have a clear, logical focus and a stable progression of employment. Volunteer pursuits are valid resume building blocks, as long as they include experience that is relevant to the individual’s chosen career. Based on a candidate’s resume, a potential employer should be able to quickly assess what type of work they have been doing, what area(s) of communications are of interest, how past work is relevant to the position being filled, and what aspects of the person’s education or previous employment would be of future benefit to the organization.

Everybody has a dream. Some of us realize early on what that is and we go for it; others struggle to articulate but most eventually figure it out. Being honest with yourself about what type of work you enjoy most and what kind of employer you would like to work for, can go a long way toward securing the job that is right for you.

Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with 300 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. NATIONAL has experience in assisting clients with the recruitment of communications professionals, in review and configuration of communications departments, and in training new and existing staff. Email, [email protected]