Tips for building a PR portfolio (and other useful career advice)

Each year, hundreds of university graduates enter the workforce looking to begin a career in public relations. As you begin the job hunt, what will set you apart from the competition?

One of the most essential tools to have in your job search toolbox is a professional portfolio. The purpose of a professional portfolio is to showcase the work you’ve done throughout your university career to potential employers. Ultimately, having a portfolio prepared with your best public relations work will set you apart from other entry-level competition.

Present only your best work.

A professional portfolio should showcase the best work you’ve done, not simply a smattering of mediocre pieces. Students often include a large number of pieces because they’ve worked hard on those and, of course, want them to be seen; however, their portfolio ends up being too long and unfocused. If you present work you’re particularly proud of, that pride will be apparent and will make your portfolio presentation more engaging.

Tailor your portfolio content to fit your ideal job

Be strategic with the content that you include in your portfolio. The point of a portfolio is to show an employer that you have the expertise to work at their company, so include work samples that relate to the job or industry that interests you. For example, if you would like to work for an agency that focuses in media relations, include work samples that showcase your ability to write for the news media.

If you’re going to create an e-portfolio, make sure it’s a stellar website

When you apply for a job, one of the first things a potential employer will do is search your name on the Internet. This is a great thing if you’ve spent time developing your e-portfolio; however, if you’re website is anything less than stellar, it will reflect badly on you. So, make sure you have spent the time required to make your e-portfolio shine.

Critically evaluate your career trajectory

As a university student, it’s easy to get focused on obtaining that first entry-level job after graduation; however, evaluate your long term goals now to see if you’re on track to reach them. Think about where you want to be in 10 years. Do you know the title of that position? Do you know what it will take to get there? Although these questions may be difficult to answer, researching and determining the answers will help you plan a successful career.

Know the industry lingo

While it may be obvious that you need to know public relations lingo prior to entering the field, it’s less obvious, but incredibly beneficial, to know the language of niche areas, as well. For example, if you’re interested in hospitality PR, you need to know that F&B means food and beverage. Having a solid understanding of your intended industry will show potential employers that you’ve done your research. In addition, it will help lessen the steep learning curve upon beginning a new position.

Do you have any tips for building an effective portfolio? Share in the comments!

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