Take a sheet of lined notebook paper. Set up eight columns across the top Strengths, Weaknesses, Skills, Hobbies, Courses, Experience, likes, Dislikes.
Now, fill in each of these columns according to these guidelines:
Strengths: Describe personality traits you consider your strengths (and try to look at them as an employer would) e.g., persistence, organization, ambition, intelligence, logic, assertiveness, aggression, leadership, etc
Weaknesses: The traits you consider glaring weaknesses e.g., impatience, conceit, etc. Remember Look at these as a potential employer would. Don't assume that the personal traits you consider weaknesses will necessarily be considered negatives in the business world. You may be "easily bored," a trait that led to lousy grades early on because teachers couldn't keep you interested in the subjects they were teaching. Well, many entrepreneurs need ever changing challenges. Strength or weakness?
Skills: Any skill you have, whether you think if s marketable or not Everything from basic business skills like typing, word processing, and stenography to computer or teaching experience and foreign language literacy. Don't forget possibly obscure but marketable skills like "good telephone voice."
Hobbies: The things you enjoy doing that, more than likely, have no overt connection to career objectives. These should be distinct from the skills listed above, and may include activities such as reading, games, travel, sports, and the like. While these may not be marketable in any general sense, they may well be useful in specific circumstances.
Courses: All the general subject areas (history, literature, etc.) and/or specific courses you've taken which may be marketable, you really enjoyed, or both.
Experience: Just the specific functions you performed at any part time (school year) or full time (summer) jobs. Entries may include "General Office" (typing, filing, answering phones, etc.), "Publicity," "Advertising," etc.
Likes: List all your "likes," those important considerations that you haven't listed anywhere else yet These might include the types of people you like to be with, the kind of environment you prefer (city, country, large places, small places, quiet, loud, fast paced, slow paced) and anything else which hasn't shown up somewhere on this form. Try to think of "likes" that you have that are related to the job you are applying for. For example, if you're applying for a job at a major corporation, mention that you enjoy reading the Wall St Journal. However, try not to include entries which refer to specific jobs or companies. Well list those on another form.
Dislikes: All the people, places and things you can easily live without it. Now assess the "marketability" of each item you've listed. (In other words, are some of your likes, skills or courses easier to match to a marketing job description, or do they have little to do with a specific job or company?) Mark highly marketable skills with an "H." Use "M" to characterize those skills which may be marketable in a particular set of circumstances, also for those with minimal potential application to any job.
Referring back to the same list, decide if you'd enjoy using your marketable skills or talents as part of your everyday job "Y" for yes, "N" for no. You may type 80 words a minute but truly despise typing or worry that stressing it too much will land you on the permanent clerical staff. If so, mark typing with an "N." (Keep one thing in mind just because you dislike typing shouldn't mean you absolutely won't accept a job that requires it Almost every professional job today requires computer based work that makes typing a plus.)
Now, go over the entire form carefully and look for inconsistencies.
To help you with your own form, we've included a sample one on the following page.
Public Relations Is It. Now What?
After all this research, we're going to assume you've reached that final decision you really do want a career in some aspect of public relations. It is with this vague certainty that all too many of you will race off, hunting for any firm willing to give you a job. You'll manage to get interviews at a couple and, smiling brightly, tell everyone you meet, "I want a career in public relations." The interviewers, unfortunately, will all ask the same awkward question " What exactly do you want to do at our company?" and that will be the end of that
It is simply not enough to narrow your job search to a specific industry. And so far, that's all you've done. You must now establish a specific career objective the job you want to start, the career you want to pursue. Just knowing that you "want to get into PR" doesn't mean anything to anybody. If that's all you can tell an interviewer, it demonstrates a lack of research into the industry itself and your failure to think ahead.
Interviewers will not welcome you with open arms if you're still vague about your career goals. If you've managed to get an "informational interview" with an executive whose company currently has no job openings, what is he or she supposed to do with your resume after you leave? Who should he or she send it to for future consideration? Since you don't seem to know exactly what you want to do, how's he or she going to figure it out? Worse, that person will probably resent your asking him or her to function as your personal career counselor.
Remember, the more specific your career objective, the better your chances of finding a job. It's that simple and that important. Naturally, before you declare your objective to the world, check once again to make sure your specific job target matches the skills and interests you defined in your self evaluation. Eventually, you may want to state such an objective on your resume, and 'To obtain an entry level position as a public relations assistant at a major national public relations firm," is quite a bit better than "I want a career in PR" Do not consider this step final until you can summarize your job/career objective in a single, short, accurate sentence.