We are all aware of the high unemployment rate and the troubled economy, but what about the effect it has on those who haven’t even had a chance yet? I am a May 2010 PR graduate from Hofstra University who has been struggling to find a full-time position.
Since (and even before) graduation, my life has been one big roller coaster ride of networking, job posting sites, interviews, and thank you letters. As a recent graduate, I have an impressive resume filled with various PR experience: agency, non-profit, national event planning, and extensive PR skills and knowledge, which help me to land the interviews I want.
However, here is what I am finding: The jobs that are labeled “entry-level” mean nothing to employers when it comes to who they decide to hire.
Here is the common situation: The usual entry-level job description goes a little something like this: “B.A. in Public Relations or related field, at least one year experience and/or internship, excellent writing and communication skills, creative, ability to work with a team, and knowledge of social media.” Usually, a recent grad reads this and if the job description looks like something for them, they apply feeling pretty good about their chances.
Here is the reality: The fact that many people in our industry are currently out of work and job hunting, makes it very easy for someone who has five years of experience to come in and take away the entry-level position from someone like me and my fellow graduates. They have the contacts, an extensive resume, and are willing to be paid entry-level salaries just to secure a job. Therefore, someone like me is immediately pushed aside.
The line I hear the most when being rejected: “We hired someone who had more experience than you.” When I ask them what I could do to improve: Nothing. I interviewed great, I have great references, and my work experience is extensive for a recent graduate — they just found someone with more experience (One non-profit agency I interviewed with hired a woman who had been working in corporate PR for over 15 years).
Is experience really the number one trait employers should be looking for? Here is what they are not seeing: Hiring someone like me, a recent grad who has only been “in the business” for a little over a year, works to their benefit. Why? They can mold me. I am not set in my ways yet so they can teach me the way you do things, and I will do them that way. Someone who comes in with more experience may not be so open to changing his or her ways.
“More experience” seems to be the only thing standing between me and landing a job. Unlike many of my fellow graduates, I am lucky enough to have a part time PR job to keep practicing and improving my skills as I am job hunting.
The far and few between entry-level jobs that are out there are being given to those with much more experience than we are able to have coming out of college. Who is going to give us the break we deserve? Who is going to understand that we accomplished as much as we possibly could before graduation in order to land a job? Who is going to stick to the description of entry-level?
Jackie DiBella (@Jackie_DiBella) is a recent Public Relations graduate from Hofstra University. Living on Long Island, Jackie is seeking a full time PR position. Her previous PR experience includes agency and non-profit work. Currently, she is working part time for a well-known organization that specializes in helping “tween” girls make a difference in the world. She is responsible for major corporate client relations and event planning on a national level. For more information about Jackie, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.