Many types of organizations need community relations professionals, including local governments, nonprofit groups and corporations. Tailoring your resume and cover letter to the organization as well as the job description helps the hiring manager see how well you could fit in. Spend some extra time on the cover letter to ensure the writing's engaging; most community relations professionals write often as part of their jobs, so your cover letter serves as your first writing sample.
Before you can make effective changes to your resume and cover letter, you must understand the organization seeking a community relations employee. For example, corporations might be looking for someone who can help them gain customers through community outreach, while nonprofits might have the goal of gaining donors or volunteers. Although you might be qualified to perform any of those duties, knowing what the company's looking for helps you stress those skills as part of your cover letter and resume.
Community relations isn't usually as goal driven as some other careers, such as sales, but the hiring manager needs to see proof of your ability to garner results. Include your achievements prominently on your resume and highlight a few in your cover letter as well. For example, mention how many active volunteers you recruited during a volunteer fair, new ways you earned media attention for previous employers or how your efforts increased the size of a past organization's email blast list to increase the number of "touches" with each outreach email. If possible, choose achievements to mention in the cover letter that reflect duties listed in the job description so the hiring manager sees you have a proven track record of success.
Your achievements should be the star of your resume, but you still must include other information, such as your skills, work history, education, awards and professional affiliations. Keep the information relevant to the community relations field -- for professional affiliations, list only related groups, such as the Public Relations Society of America, for example. Mention skills specific to the company's needs that might not be obvious in descriptions of your previous jobs, such as public speaking and demographic research abilities. Keeping the information concise and relevant helps ensure the hiring manager sees a true snapshot of your abilities.
Killer Cover Letter
The ability to write copy that entices the media and the community to attend your event or notice your organization is essential to a community relations position. Showcase this in your cover letter. Avoid boring openings, such as stating in your opening sentence that you'd like to apply for the community relations position -- set that up in a "Regarding" line item under the name and address of the hiring manager. Instead, treat your cover letter almost like a news article, writing an interesting lead sentence that makes the hiring manager want to read further. You might start it off with a one-sentence anecdote about an encounter at a community relations event, for example, or mention how your understanding of the community's impacts on organizations makes you an ideal fit for the position.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Public Relations Managers and Specialists
- Public Relations Society of America: Community Relations Careers
- King County Library System: Community Relations Specialist
- Public Relations Society of America: Don’t Send a Resume Without a Good Cover Letter
- Public Relations Society of America: Resume Basics
- RB Oppenheim Associates: Make Your Resume PR Friendly
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