Promo Graduation story on “Landing that first job or internship”

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Rowan University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapter’s final PRomo (award-winning newsletter) for 2013 includes the following article that could help them get that first job. The story is below. (Formatting may be a problem, but the information is right on.)

By M. Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA

Whether you are a graduating PRSSA senior trying to land that first professional job or a junior embarking on an internship, the future is now.

This three-step process includes customizing a résumé that matches the advertised job description, crafting a strategically persuasive cover letter reflecting you and your personality, and preparing a knock “their” socks off interview. Segment yourself from other applicants as you would any other product. Remember, you are the product.

Even if your résumé is in its infancy, it might be time to refresh it. “CareerBuilder’s” Susan Ricker has spent years researching and writing about door-opening resumes. NPR’s (National Public Radio) Paddy Hirsch has done his share, too. Both offer up-to-date spring cleaning tips:

  • Contact information– This first résumé section needs to include your name, address, a professional email, phone number and links to your portfolios or websites. Regularly check the links to make sure they work and are up to date.
    • Summary of qualifications or Applicant Statement – Do not include an “objective.” They are obsolete. Instead, view this section as the best place to include keywords taken from the job description, since most hiring companies now use applicant-tracking systems to eliminate candidates. However, be sure to incorporate keywords throughout the résumé, and don’t copy and paste the job description. Keep your résumé clean, professional and focused.
    • ·        Experience – Because you are just graduating, you might include professional experience, experience from internships and experience from service jobs that provided funds that helped pay for your education. If you include work as a server, for example, be sure to tie in relationship marketing and the Triple Bottom Line theory and be able to define both. If you provided service beyond expectations to “make a family’s dining experience an evening to remember,” explain it as part of your strategy to earn you a larger tip and praise from your supervisor. Place the most relevant and interesting experience at the top. Hiring managers spend only seconds skimming résumés the first time through. Lead with your strongest qualifications.
    • Education Include details about your Rowan University years and other colleges you attended. There is no need to list relevant courses unless you’ve taken a course that sets you apart from others. Because you are applying for your first full-time position you may include your GPA.
    • References Unless the job posting specifically asks for references, do not include them on your actual résumé. The line, “references available upon request,” is also unnecessary. If you get invited in for an interview, you may want to take a list of references, but keep it to yourself until asked.

Some other tips  

  • Design your résumé with a focus. Every detail should support the idea that you are the best candidate for the position.
  • Use specific, concrete language that measures your accomplishments and stresses positive results.
  • Remove overused words, such as “outstanding, effective, strong, exceptional, good, excellent, driven, motivated, seasoned or energetic.” Beware of unsupported claims of greatness.

Ricker and Hirsch stress going over your résumé drafts before settling on one that works for you and then have several friends or family members proofread it. There must be no typos or formatting errors. Aim for a clean, refreshing and simple résumé that can be submitted online, easily.

Hirsch offers these tips to, not only keep your résumé in the “mix,” but get in to the top of the heap:

  1. 1.     Create two résumés– a search-engine-optimized (SEO) version and a regular version. If you are applying through a search engine, such as Monster or Jobscore, a computer completes a first pass of all applicant résumé before a human ever reads them.


  1. 2.     Make your SEO résumé plain and include keywords. Use bold type sparingly. Format everything to the left side of the page. Make sure everything is spelled correctly. Search algorithms tally the number of keywords to evaluate résumés. The easier you can make it for the computer to find keywords, the better.

3. Old resume rules still apply. After you’ve gotten past the computer review, your résumé will be read by a human. Make sure it is clearly written, typo free, and emphasizes relevant work experience. provides some excellent resume and cover letter examples under Student Resources>handouts>No. 70.

Now that you have the interview, here’s your chance to ace it. Some of the more popular questions interviewers ask include:

  • What are your goals?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What was your greatest take away from your internship?
  • If you are working, when were you most satisfied with your job?
  • From what you have learned about this company from your research, what can you do for us that other candidates might not?
  • What are the positive things your boss would say about you?
  • If you were having a dinner party and could invite three famous people plus two others (not so famous), who would they be and why?

While there are no guarantees in strategic communication, research is clear, if you practice your ABCs: Anticipate, Be Prepared and Communicate Clearly, you stand an excellent chance of landing that first job. After all, not only are you a Rowan graduate, but you were also a member of the most honored PRSSA chapter in the nation.


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