Losing your job is a difficult experience for any professional, but it is especially daunting for executive-level PR practitioners in today’s market.
However, you are not alone. The percentage of workers age 50 and older is expected to rise in the next year as more Americans remain longer in the work force, according to research by the Ladders executive recruiting firm.
It’s important to take a practical approach to your search, realizing that it will take time and effort. And the job hunt may not be what you anticipated. This economy requires personal reinvention — as well as possible lifestyle sacrifices.
Finding your next opportunity is a time-intensive process that requires you to honestly assess your personal circumstances and priorities. Bob Skladany, a columnist for AARP The Magazine, recommends that you immediately begin planning structured days for yourself, rather than taking a few weeks to decompress.
Start the search process by making a list of all your skills — especially those related to management. (It may be helpful to ask a colleague to help you with this exercise.) These skills that you list will anchor your new résumé. Once you establish this foundation, you will need to tailor your materials to fit the specific requirements of each position.
Don’t rush this process: I’ve found that the average senior-level PR practitioner spends three or more hours crafting a résumé for a specific position. However, before starting the résumé, study your potential employer’s Web site, learning who the top executives are and reviewing the company’s latest news.
You likely won’t find your dream job after sifting through a few postings on online job boards or corporate Web sites. In many cases, you may have to make some compromises, including:
o Working with younger supervisors.
It’s an adjustment, but not impossible. In 1984, I was the one-person PR department for Arthur B. Hardy, a California psychiatrist who specialized in adult anxiety. Hardy claimed that one of the biggest fears of older workers was a younger supervisor. But he stressed that employers view intelligence and experience as one value set, and knowledge of new techniques and tactics as another. Senior practitioners need to sell their experience as a valuable asset to potential employers.
o Focusing on professional development.
Take advantage of the opportunities available (many are free) for Webinars, lectures and reading on your own. Assess your professional progress and consider the direction that you want to take your career — now could be a good time to accept a lowerpaying position in a new specialty area that you’ve always been interested in to gain experience.
o Relocating is a reality.
This is especially true for senior-level practitioners with expertise in a specialty area such as health care.
In addition, even if you don’t have to move across the country, be prepared to spend more time in the car: The Bureau of Transportation reports that 3.3 million Americans “stretch commute,” or travel at least 50 miles one way to work each year. Of that number, one out of every five commuters is traveling more than 200 miles to work, and the majority of these workers are classified as higher-income professionals.
If you live in a region suffering from a lack of jobs, then you may have to shop your skill set and specialization to an area where more opportunities exist. Sure, this may be a tough choice, but the Bureau of Transportation projects that stretch commuting for professionals will increase dramatically in the next 18 months.
Mara Woloshin, M.A., APR, Fellow PRSA, is director of public relations and marketing, Providence Tarzana Medical Center — Providence Health Systems Southern California Region. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.