Writing a CV for graduate advertising, marketing and PR jobs
Your CV is your chance to outline in detail the skills and experience that make you suitable for a position in marketing, advertising or PR. A CV should be accompanied by a covering letter, outlining your reason for applying and highlighting particular experience of relevance. Recruiters frequently read a covering letter before deciding whether to read your CV. See our advice piece on writing covering letters for advertising, marketing or PR jobs if you need help with this aspect of the application.
Creating a marketing, advertising or PR-specific CV
The marketing and media sectors both tend to prioritise experience over academia when it comes to hiring. Start your CV with your most recent work experience or internship and work backwards. Make sure the descriptions are snappy, concise and accurate. Long rambles or vague descriptions that can’t be skimmed by a busy recruiter will only count against you. Look at the two examples of job descriptions below.
Bad example: ‘I worked as a PR assistant in the office of Joe & Bloggs LLP for around three months. On the average day, I would make tea in the morning for everyone on the team, before I had half an hour of training with one of my regular supervisors. If the company had a new product, sometimes I would work with one of my colleagues on a press release.’
At this point the recruiter has switched off, and any more about the actual PR experience you were involved in is lost.
Good example: Office of Joe & Bloggs LLP (July – August 2014)
‘My draft press releases for Joe & Bloggs saw their exposure increase from two local newspapers to being syndicated by two major online publishers in just two weeks (Blahfeed and The Snuffington Post). I supported colleagues by answering client calls and was given responsibility for organising hospitality at a 100-person promotional event.’
Here the recruiter has a piece to read that immediately explains a measurable achievement. In the second sentence, teamwork skills, responsibility, event experience, customer and client interaction and promotional skills are all displayed quite succinctly. It’s the second example that a recruiter would hire. Of course, you need to find your own way to demonstrate your experience in a snappy fashion. If you're not confident with descriptive paragraphs (and you probably should be for this sector) stick with bullet points, but make them just as relevant.
If you really don’t have any work experience to show off, then lead with your academic qualifications, but emphasise the practical or professional implications of the work that you did.
Presenting your CV
There is nothing wrong with a standard text, PDF or Word CV, but don’t feel you are limited to these options. For marketing jobs, recruiters also want to see how you present your skills, as the role will involve compiling research and presenting it in an accessible way. You might consider using an infographic, graph, table or timeline to present your experience. There are various CV-generating websites with templates you can download, such as vizualize.me or Resumup, but remember that your CV will only be truly original if you create it yourself. For more tips about CV presentation from a media standpoint, check out TARGETjobs Media’s guide to creating a journalism and media CV.
Make sure you include any social media addresses, such as a LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle or blog – as long as you use them regularly and they’re up to date. Part of the job you are going for will be getting a message out to people. You may want to consider a witty slogan or a key skills breakdown that will grab the employer’s eye. This is relevant to media and marketing jobs, but be aware of the role you are applying for, TARGETjobs has already provided a run-down of why career aims and personal statements can be a waste of space.
The alternative CV approach for marketing, advertising or PR
Precisely because each vacancy receives so many applications, graduates often crop up in the news for using alternative (translation: occasionally wacky) methods to get noticed.
Alec Brownstein famously purchased several major company directors’ names in Google Adwords. When inevitably the directors googled themselves, a link would appear at the top of the page asking them to hire Brownstein along with his CV. This method did, eventually, land him a job and cost only $6 (£3.75). The idea may be a little ‘out there’, but it’s one example of how a small investment could land your CV on someone’s desk in a creative fashion.
To get the full picture of this sort of application, make sure you read our article for tips on writing creative applications first.
The golden rule
The final golden rule of writing CVs and covering letters is to get them proofread by a friend. If an employer is going to trust you to write press releases or advertising copy, your spelling, grammar and punctuation needs to be up to scratch. Any mistakes or inconsistencies could instantly put you out of the running.