Written by Tiwanna Hamilton, account executive for Cowbucker. 

As a senior beginning to think about post-graduation, it is important to evaluate what you already bring to the table. The public relations industry is competitive and employers seek candidates who are well-rounded and offer value to their organization. There are a million other seniors graduating as well, so what makes you stand out? Senior year is a vital time to improve essential skills that will prove to be critical in the industry. Good career choices made early will position you for success later.  With that being said, here are five tips to impress employers after you graduate:

Convey confidence and credibility: Engage with employers confidently and demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about. Employers want confident communicators they can trust. The ability to ask questions when you don’t know the answer is also important – your teammates know you are still learning. Asking smart questions enhances your credibility. The quicker you can make a positive impact—the better!

Master networking: The power of networking has infinite benefits, which is why it is so important to make lasting connections — especially being new to the industry. For example look into your local, PRSA or IABC chapter and attend monthly meetings. Many chambers of commerce also have a young professionals network that can be a great place to make connections outside of public relations. Also, LinkedIn better be your best friend. You’ve probably heard it before, but career advancement is as much about who you know as it is what you know.

Demonstrate your creative thinking skills: In a fast-paced, evolving environment, employers want to know that you can sustain innovative ideas. Good ideas are essential to fostering creativity in the workplace and also imperative to competition. Better solutions come when you offer a variety of perspectives, insight and learning styles. Don’t be afraid to use your voice and share your opinion—remember, you are a valuable asset.

Do your research:  Employers are always impressed when potential employees have done their research prior to an interview or informational meeting. Being educated in advance on important aspects of an organization will demonstrate your interest.  You will set yourself apart from other applicants by showing your enthusiasm and initiative to learn more about their organization. By conducting thorough research you will be able to articulate how your skill set can be of value to them.

Always be professional:  Your professional reputation plays a key role in your long-term success, always conduct business professionally under any circumstance—-especially during a conflict or crisis. It is always important to be punctual and considerate of those you are working; elicit an environment of mutual respect. Employers actively seek confident and dependable employees that act with integrity.

Remember, too, that failure is a key ingredient to success — be patient; mistakes are inevitable. Venturing out of your comfort zone with an open mind will serve you well.

Lifelong learning is necessary in order to grow and will make your professional journey more interesting. Find a mentor, someone that you respect and aspire to be like. Learn everything you can from them. Taking initiative with your career will pay dividends. Take the time to develop these skills and watch your career flourish.

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