Recently, I responded to a HARO (a Help A Reporter Out query from a journalist) about advice for recent PR grads, and, not surprisingly, my advice was selected for publication. OK, so it was just on a Web site, but the advice is pertinent, nonetheless. The outlet is PR Talk and the column is Channel Talk. It gave me an opportunity to spout off about a couple of pet peeves when it comes to wearing my human resources hat:
The most common mistake I see grads make when they apply for a position with us is not making the effort to find out who — by name — they should address their cover letter to. When I receive a cover and resume addressed to “To Whom It May Concern,” I don’t bother to read it, I just toss it. I figure if they didn’t take the time or make the effort to call our agency and ask to whom they should address their query, they are not someone I would seriously consider for even an entry-level job. I purposefully do not include HR information on our Web site for the simple reason that if you are really interested in working for our firm and have done your homework, which includes figuring out the proper HR person, then I might be interested in talking to you. The second most-common mistake is not putting your name in the title of the file containing your cover letter and your resume. If I am conducting a job search, I’m likely to get quite a few e-mailed resumes and letters. If yours is labeled “PR_Resume_Jan_09.doc” it’s going to get lost or I have to change the file name, which is a pain, and goes down as a mark against you in my little mental book. In college these days they spend a lot of time teaching how to write the perfect cover letter and resume, but they don’t spend five minutes on these two tips, which for me are opportunity killers because they demonstrate a lack of initiative and awareness. And don’t get me started on typos ….