Keys to an Effective Resume for PR Candidates OR putting ‘Brand You’ on Paper
First of all there are no rules any more. But we do have some strong suggestions… especially if you’re sending your resume to PR Talent.
- Brand You. Remember that your resume is summarizing your professional abilities as concisely and persuasively as possible. It’s ‘Brand You’ on paper. Make sure that everything you put in your resume conveys what you bring to the table as a PR professional and as an individual.
- Format.Make it a Word doc that can be edited. At a bare minimum, recruiters need to insert their logo so the hiring company knows who submitted the resume – and the recruiter can be paid. Also, with your permission, recruiters may need to make some minor edits or fix a typo when time is of the essence. I know some people are paranoid about having a resume that others can edit or they prefer the look of a PDF format resume. Get over it. Send Word doc’s and make your recruiter happy. 🙂
- Title. Since job titles vary somewhat from agency to agency or corporation to corporation, you may have to provide some qualifier in parenthesis e.g. “CSM is equivalent to Account Supervisor at most agencies or if it’s a no title agency” or “operate at a VP level.”
- Accomplishments. Under each title, provide a detailed explanation of your duties and accomplishments. A summary sentence or bullet points are usually best. Be concise but don’t use terms, acronyms or language that is not common knowledge. Remember recruiters and HR people will not be as well-versed on technical terms or lingo. Provide some added detail or explanation if you must use technical jargon.
- Date and Place. Document your work history and educational credentials accurately. Don’t leave the reader guessing where and when you were employed, or when you earned your degree. They’ll figure it out eventually. Also list the city where you worked for each position – even if you moved locations while at the same company.
- Explicitness.Let the reader know the nature, size and location of your past employers, and, if it’s not a well known company, what their business is. We’ve seen some resumes that don’t reveal the candidate’s current employer. That is ok for Monster but won’t fly with executive recruiters.
- Limit the Jumps. Everyone knows that people are changing jobs more today than ever. But seven jobs in eight years is still going to make any employer nervous. If four of those companies were start-ups that went out of business simply provide a brief explanation of why you left the position — in parenthesis next to the company name. Or if an acquisition occurred don’t make another entry so it appears you left and took an entirely new job. Again detail the name change in parenthesis.
- Educational credentials. Once you’ve got your first PR job, your education drops underneath your work experience – whether you graduated from Yale or Oneonta State.
- Emphasis.Your most recent PR experience is usually going to be more interesting and relevant to a prospective employer than much earlier experience. The more recent the experience, the greater emphasis and detail it should be given in your resume.
- Fill in the Gaps.Make sure there are no holes in your chronological resume. Every span of time needs to be accounted for, even if you were doing freelance work or non-PR work in between jobs. Of course, you only need to provide minimal detail for work that is not PR industry related. (Don’t position the summer sales job at Nordstrom’s as relating to the public.)
- Chronological v. Skills resume. Clients want reverse chronological resumes. These are resumes that trace the history of your work experience from most recent to earliest. That’s what they’re used to seeing and that’s want they are comfortable seeing. That said, if you’re trying to transition into PR from another industry, or move into a more specialized PR field, a skills resume may be the best option although some clients may also want to see a chrono version.
- Clients/Brand names.If you’ve got PR agency experience, always include the names of the clients you’ve worked on! The type of clients you’ve handled is as important – if not more important – than where you’re working. Major brand name clients are worth their weight in gold… literally!
- Tight Writing. Create an error-free document that’s shows clear, concise thinking. After all that’s one of your pillar PR skills. If your writing skills are weak (or if English is your second language), consult a professional writer or editor. Sentence fragments are ok as long as they’re clear and to the point e.g. “Handled Taco Bell crisis communications”
- Third person only. Never write in the first person… There is no “I” in resume.
- Length.The one page rule is basically obsolete. Electronic resumes are easy to handle, store and disseminate. As a general rule of thumb, 2 pages is ideal however, at PR Talent we think a resume of 3 or 4 pages is fine if you have that much relevant experience to communicate. Another way to look at it is if you have 3 years or less experience it should fit on one page; more than three years, shoot for two pages but don’t go beyond 4 pages. Remember, part of what you’re selling is your ability to communicate concisely using the written word.
- Tailoring the resume.For most positions, it will be important to tailor your resume for the job. Of course that doesn’t mean fabricating any information, it means reviewing the job description and discussing the position with the recruiter to determine what aspects of your experience to highlight — or even minimize.
- Contact Info.All resumes should include your preferred phone numbers. In addition to a cell number, a direct dial work number is also very helpful for recruiters. Personal or work email addresses are your call but make sure it’s one you’ll check frequently so you can be responsive to the recruiter and prospective employer. If you’re uncomfortable listing your home mailing address, just include the city and state.
- Design. Be sure to select a conventional font. Arial or Times Roman are ideal. Don’t pick anything funky. Also, don’t use colors as background or as fonts. Make it clean and readable.