Public relations can be a cutthroat field. Competition for jobs is always fierce, and standing out from a sea of candidates can be incredibly challenging. But take it from someone who has been in this industry for more years than I can remember at this point, you can be successful in PR and you can get ahead in your career. It all starts with doing these 5 things:

  1. Progress ConceptConsume as much information as you can—I still spend time every day reading and learning as much as I can about the current state of PR. You need to have a voracious appetite for information. Set aside 30 minutes every day just to read PR blogs and books. The more you learn on your own, the less you’ll have to learn on the job, and the more valuable you’ll be as a job candidate.
  2. Build your personal brand online—Employers want people who have a demonstrated knowledge in digital platforms. It’s one thing to tell a potential employer that you have a good understanding of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, etc., but it really adds credibility if you can show them you have a strong online presence. Focus on building up your reputation online. That’s how you’ll establish yourself as an expert who has something to offer.
  3. Network, network, network—There’s some truth to the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” You can be absolutely brilliant at PR, but if you have no connections, you’re never going to get ahead in your career. You need to cultivate relationships with people who can help you grow in your career.
  4. Create a cover letter and resume that stand out—Take an honest look at your resume and the cover letters you send out when applying for jobs. Do you really believe they stand out from potentially hundreds of other resumes and cover letters? Think of it like pitching a reporter. What’s your hook? What makes you different?
  5. Follow up every interview with a thank you note—Most job candidates who get an interview simply go to the interview and wait with their fingers crossed, hoping to hear back from the employer. Screw that! Be proactive. After every interview, send the employer a thank you note. It can be handwritten or an email. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that you’ll be making a strong impression and ensuring you stay atop the employer’s mind.

If you commit to doing these 5 things, you will find success in PR. It might not be easy, but nothing worth having ever is, right?