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Getting Started: Self Evaluation and Career Objectives

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Getting a job may be a relatively simple one step or couple of weeks process or a complex, months long operation.

Starting, nurturing and developing a career (or even a series of careers) is a lifelong process.

What we'll be talking about in this article that together form our Job Search Process are those basic steps to take, assumptions to make, things to think about if you want a job especially a first job in some area of public relations. But when these steps this process are applied and expanded over a lifetime, most if not all of them are the same procedures, carried out over and over again, that are necessary to develop a successful, lifelong, professional career.

What does all this have to do with putting together a resume, writing a cover letter, heading off for interviews and the other "traditional" steps necessary to get a job? Whether your college graduation is just around the corner or a far distant memory, you will continuously need to focus, evaluate and re evaluate your response to the ever changing challenge of your future: Just what do you want to do with the rest of your life? Whether you like it or not, you're all looking for that "entry level opportunity."

You're already one or two steps ahead of the competition you're sure you want to pursue a career in public relations. By heeding the advice of the many professionals who have written chapters for this Career Directory and utilizing the extensive entry level job, organization, and career resource listings we've included you're well on your way to fulfilling that dream. But there are some key decisions and time consuming preparations to make if you want to transform that hopeful dream into a real, live job.

The actual process of finding the right company, right career path and, most importantly, the right first job, begins long before you start mailing out resumes to potential employers. The choices and decisions you make now are not irrevocable, but this first J0D will have a definite impact on the career options you leave yourself. To help you make some of the right decisions and choices along the way (and avoid some of the most notable traps and pitfalls), the following chapters will lead you through a series of organized steps. If the entire job search process we are recommending here is properly executed, it will undoubtedly help you land exactly the job you want

If you're currently in high school and hope, after college, to land a job in public relations, then attending the right college, choosing the right major, and getting the summer work experience many agencies look for are all important steps. Read the section of this Career Directory that covers the particular field and/or job specialty in which you're interested many of the contributors have recommended colleges or graduate programs they favor.

If you're hoping to jump right into any of these fields without a college degree or other professional training, our best and only advice is don't do it As you'll soon see in the detailed information included in the Job Opportunities Databank, there are not that many job openings for students without a college degree. Those that do exist are generally clerical and will only rarely lead to promising careers.

Use Power Words for Impact

Be brief. Use phrases rather than complete sentences. Your resume is a summary of your talents, not a term paper. Choose your words carefully and use "power words" whenever possible. "Organized" is more powerful than "put together;" "supervised" better than "oversaw;" "formulated" better than "thought up." Strong words like these can make the most mundane clerical work sound like a series of responsible, professional positions. And, of course, they will tend to make your resume stand out Here's a starter list of words that you may want to use in your resume:

Choose the Right Format

There is not much mystery here your background will generally lead you to the right format. For an entry level job applicant with limited work experience, the chronological format, which organizes your educational and employment history by date (most recent first) is the obvious choice. For older or more experienced applicants, the functional which emphasizes the duties and responsibilities of all your jobs over the course of your career, may be more suitable. If you are applying for a specific position in one field, the targeted format is for you. While I have tended to emphasize the chronological format in this chapter, one of the other two may well be the right one for you.

A List of Do's and Don't's

In case we didn't stress them enough, here are some rules to follow:
  • Do be brief and to the point Two pages if absolutely necessary, one page if at all possible. Never longer!

  • Don't be fancy. Multicolored paper and all italic type won't impress employers, just make your resume harder to read (and easier to discard). Use plain white or ivory paper, black ink and an easy to read standard typeface.

  • Do forget rules about sentences. Say what you need to say in the fewest words possible; use phrases, not drawn out sentences.

  • Do stick to the facts. Don't talk about your dog, vacation, etc.

  • Don't ever send a resume blind. A cover letter should always accompany a resume and that letter should always be directed to a specific person.

  • Don't have any typos. Your resume must be perfect proofread everything as many times as necessary to catch any misspellings, grammatical errors, strange hyphenations, or typos.

  • Do use the spell check feature on your personal computer to find errors, and also try reading the resume backwards you'll be surprised at how errors jump out at you when you do this. Finally, have a friend proof your resume.

  • Do use your resume as your sales tool. It is, in many cases, as close to you as an employer will ever get. Make sure it includes the information necessary to sell yourself the way you want to be sold!

  • Do spend the money for good printing. Soiled, tattered or poorly reproduced copies speak poorly of your own self image. Spend the money and take the time to make sure your resume is the best presentation you've ever made.

  • Do help the reader, by organizing your resume in a clear cut manner so key points are easily gleaned.

  • Don't have a cluttered resume. Leave plenty of white space, especially around headings and all four margins.

  • Do use bullets, asterisks, or other symbols as "stop signs" that the reader's eye will be naturally drawn to.

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