Getting the Right Foot in the Right Door

  • March 22, 2013
  • INK Team

This post comes from INK intern Seth Caldwell.

For those of us who are new to the public relations profession, “getting your foot in the door” is an all-too common expression that can feel intangible and cliché. Most of the time, your idea of how your career should start and the cruel realities of the professional world don’t align. It can seem as though that dream position is absent-mindedly moved to a shelf too high for your rickety stepladder, sending many cautious job seekers tumbling to the ground as they extend themselves past the very tips of their grasp. Don’t lose your foothold; find something within your reach.

Metaphors aside, I am one of these people. In a recent trip to New York City, I was able to experience first hand the thoughts and concerns of my peers as they too consider their options for an entry into the field of public relations. I thought I would share a particular insight that I was fortunate to stumble across during my stay, which has been personally invaluable.

I believe the best preparation anyone can make in looking for their ideal starting opportunity is to ask the right questions. It seems obvious, but so many of our doubts about our jobs, our careers and our lives can be wiped away by digging up those pesky question marks floating deep inside our brains. Grab one, dust it off, give it a good polishing and you’ll be amazed at how much of an effective tool it can be. Powerful questions can pry open the minds of others with ease. Depending on the response, the questions themselves can speak volumes more about a person or potential employer than the answer itself.

Below I’ve listed only a few basic considerations to make when crafting questions into delicate jewels.

For Firms:

  • Size: What is the size of the organization? Is there workplace diversity? What is the hierarchy like?
  • Culture: How does the company see its employees? How do employees see each other? How do employees learn on the job?
  • Mission: What does the company value? What are they trying to achieve? How do they go about achieving their goals? Where do they see themselves in the future?
  • Specialization: In what areas does the company do their best work? What do they consider to be best practices?

While these questions need answering, what may be even more important are the questions you must ask yourself. Direct these queries inwards and you’ll open a box of mystery you never knew existed. Test yourself more rigorously than you would others, being self-critical is vital to gaining a better understanding of you. Spend some time actually writing these thoughts out on paper.

introspective man

Here are a few suggestions to get you moving in the right direction:

  • What makes you tick?
  • What motivates you?
  • Where do your strengths lie? What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What do you think is important in life?

This insight is nothing new. In fact, there are many who preach that quality questions belong on both sides of the hiring process. After landing a job, be prepared to sharpen those interrogation skills. You’re going to need them.

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