CPRS Hamilton Mentorship: Wrapping up another successful year

June 16, 2016
Joanna Williams

Another CPRS Hamilton Mentorship season has come to an end. This year, 10 mentors and 10 mentees came together to share experiences, network and learn from one another.

The CPRS Hamilton Mentorship Program’s last meeting was April 21, 2016 at Emma’s Back Porch in Burlington. Participants concluded another successful year with a presentation from professional recruiter and career coach Roxanne Cramer, principal at CCi Search.

She offered valuable advice for PR students, new practitioners and seasoned professionals on “How to land that PR job!”. Here are some highlights of her career planning advice:

Build your career strategy

  • Be honest with yourself about your career goals
  • Think about where you want to be in 10 to 20 years
  • Set your goals: Does it include a family, do you want to be a manager, or own a cottage?
  • Write your goals down on paper and start planning
    • One exercise to try is to take a piece of paper with 100 squares and fill in all the squares with things you want
    • If you have these goals written down, you will work towards them and you WILL check them off, but you have to be committed
    • Every quarter, sit down for an hour and check off everything you did

Continue to learn

  • Never stop learning
  • Take extra classes
  • Try a new course
  • Keep adding to your resume


  • There is so much experience to gain from volunteer work
  • Be sure to add it to your resume


  • Join a professional association
  • They offer learning and networking opportunities
  • Make sure to apply for awards

Take action

  • Don’t wait for a promotion, raise or bonus
  • Tell yourself that if it doesn’t happen within a certain time period, that you are going to take action to make it happen
  • If you didn’t get the promotion, consider asking your mentor at work why – most importantly listen to them and be honest with yourself

Challenge yourself

  • People that advance in their career stay late, do extra work, take on other projects and volunteer


  • It’s important to have a strong work ethic
  • Be honest: It’s a small industry. Never lie on your resume
  • Stand by your work and your reputation

First impressions

  • Recruiters do a lot of homework on you before bringing you in for an interview
  • Be mindful of your social media accounts (i.e. blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Double check account privacy settings, and review your public social media posts to evaluate from a human resources perspective
  • Lots of partying photos? Recruiters may get the wrong impression
  • If you have a blog, make sure there are no spelling mistakes

Resume tips

  • Don’t put your full street address on your resume if you don’t want HR departments to view your home on Google maps
  • Provide a summary or objective at the top of your resume – this should only be three sentences long
  • Identify the top two skills listed in the job description and be sure to address that in your summary
  • If you have an additional unique skill (bilingual, special computer skill), add a fourth sentence
  • Tailor your resume for that particular job – clearly identify relevant experience within your resume, not just in the cover letter
  • People do not have time to read full paragraphs of information, so use bullet points
  • Keep your resume to two pages
  • Try to include measurable data versus generic statements
    • Offer specific examples that people can connect with (i.e. if you did a big event, a newsletter, or achieved national media coverage from your media relations efforts)
  • For agency experience, list clients and awards
    • Include three bullet points of accomplishments after each client (i.e. how you turned around an issue, huge hits on a product launch, change management)
  • List volunteer experience
  • Hobbies are not as important
  • References are valuable, but be sure to call references before the employer calls them
    • Just as you would prep a client for a media interview – prepare your references: give them the job description, what projects you have worked on and other “key messages” you would like them to get across
  • Make it easy for recruiters to find your resume by putting your first and last name as the file name
  • Attention to detail is important
  • Make sure you have someone else review and proofread your resume
  • If you use track changes, make sure to inspect the document and clear those changes from the memory, or they could appear in the file submitted to recruiters

For students

  • Include school projects, but be sure to show the strategy and give examples
  • One way to demonstrate writing experience is by starting a blog on something industry or interest related; keep it updated and include it on your resume

Interviewing tips

  • Look at the big picture: What can I do for this company?
    • Figure out how you can help the company’s bottom line, problem-solving with the president, helping with change management, etc.
  • ROI is important
  • Talk about your strengths
  • Practise your interviewing skills
  • Record yourself, or use Skype/FaceTime with a friend
  • If you have arranged a Skype interview, take note of what’s in the background – make sure there are no other distractions that will take away from the interview
  • After the interview, send an individual personal thank you email to each interviewer
    • If you answered a question wrong, address it here
    • For example: “After additional consideration, I would answer your question this way…”
    • If someone takes the time to coordinate the interview, thank them too
    • Only one percent of interviewees send a thank you note

Questions asked in an interview

  • Tell me a bit about yourself? Who are you?
    • Before answering, consider what you want them to remember about you – your education, your work ethic, your experience, etc.
    • Try to be unique so you stand out and catch their attention
    • But remember, it’s a business interview, so keep it professional
  • What have you left off your resume?
    • Often asked to see if people lie on their resume
  • What is the most important thing that has happened in your life?
    • Many women answer this with raising a family
    • Keep in mind this is a business situation, and you don’t know what their values are towards children
    • Try to focus on a work-related answer
  • How do you get your news? Where do you get it from?
  • What fruit or animal would you be and why? What prime minister do you like and what characteristics do you have that are similar?
  • Describe three of your qualities
  • What is the last book you read?
  • What drives you from day to day?
  • How do you work with a difficult boss?
  • What upsets you in a day?
  • What is your weakness?
    • It doesn’t matter what it is – always try to turn it into a positive
    • Describe your weakness and how you are working to try and improve
    • They are looking for inconsistencies

Personal career resources

  • As you go through your career, keep an updated portfolio
    • It’s a good investment, and a good reminder of all your achievements
  • Maintain a career journal
    • It’s a comprehensive description of jobs you accomplished, what you did at each job, and clients you worked with
    • Be sure to record the proper dates
    • This is a good resource that will allow you to pull information when tailoring resumes

Salary Negotiations

  • Think about the big picture when considering salary and compensation packages
  • What salary do you want?
  • Keep in mind there is more than just a base salary
  • What are other incentives or perks you would be interested in: bonus, stock options, extra holidays, benefit package, matching RRSP, car allowance, etc.?

The Mentorship Committee wishes to extend a special thank you to all of the mentors, mentees, and committee members for all their hard work and dedication this year. We’re looking forward to continuing to build on the strength of the program this fall.

If you are interested in joining the program as a mentor or would like to refer a potential mentee, please contact Kim and Holly at mentorship@cprs-hamilton.ca