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Getting Your Foot in the Door – Advice For New Communications Professionals

Do you want to know how you get your foot in the door of a communications agency, or an organization? I’m going to make it really simple for you. Listen closely…

SHOW ME THAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT THE JOB. Seriously, it’s that simple.

At the time of writing this post, I’m in the middle of the hiring process for a new media and communications assistant for Grapevine Communications, and let me tell you how disappointed I am by some of the applicants I’ve had to reject simply because they decided to try and skip the niceties of applying for a job.

Either they have stopped teaching you the basics of job searching in school or you simply don’t care enough, in which case, why waste mine or your own time by applying at all?

When you apply for a gig at my one of businesses here’s how you get an automatic reject:

  1. No Cover Letter  – I am dumbfounded by the number of people who apply for a position without a cover letter.I took my first job when I was just 13 years old for a greasy spoon restaurant. Even then, I included a cover letter outlining why I wanted the position and why I believed I was the best candidate. Since then, I’ve applied for hundreds of positions and I’ve always included a cover letter.
  2. Spelling/Grammar Errors – you are applying for a COMMUNICATIONS position, the least you could do is spell check.
  3. You Don’t Actually Live Anywhere Near Work – There are totally exceptions to this rule; however, in order to make the cut past this criteria, you need to state WHEN/HOW you are going to get to work, and that you’re legally able to work here.
  4. No Relevant Experience – So here’s the thing, when the ad asks you if you have at least one year of PUBLIC RELATIONS experience, your sales job at Ricki’s or your dog walking biz doesn’t equal PR experience.I’ve been known to hire people with little to no experience if they demonstrate that they know how to write a proper news release, create a slick graphic, or show me pics of a rad fundraising event they put on, but if you’re going to say you have the experience, you better be damn sure you do, otherwise it’s LYING.
  5. Wrong Position/Company Name – Okay, I get it. Looking for work is a lot of work. It’s exhausting. I don’t expect a totally unique application, your own template is totally acceptable with one caveat, at the very least, use the proper position title and company name. There is nothing more insulting than receiving an application that you clearly didn’t read the ad for, or didn’t care enough to change the name of my competitor in the addressee line.

So, if you’ve applied for a job with my company in the past and you’re wondering why you didn’t even get a call for an interview, consider whether you broke any of these cardinal rules and do better for the next job you apply for if you want to get your foot in the door. There are legit applicants that I was sad to delete because they probably would have made a stellar addition to the team. Good luck with your job search!


Katie Robertson
President & CEO Grapevine Communications, Serial Entrepreneur