May 30, 2008
Copyright © 2008 PRSA. All rights reserved.
By Mara Woloshin, M.A., APR, Fellow PRSA
The following article appears in the June issue of PR Tactics.
Whether downsized, laid off or new to the profession, those looking for a career-building PR job in this down market cannot succeed if passive or easily frightened. The following job-search tools apply to the most important campaign you will ever be involved with — your own career.
Though some practitioners may lose their jobs this year, many others will continue to climb their career ladder because they have matched the corporate culture of their employer to their own values. When applying for any position at any level, research your potential employer. Read the company’s annual report. Look for historical business patterns. Check the biographies of the executives at manta.com or zoominfo.com, which contain historical corporate records and executive biographies for thousands of private and public companies.
If you’re a new graduate, do at least one internship. Contact your alumni office to find alums working at organizations that interest you. Encourage your school to provide the kind of proactive help that Yale University did with its job-a-thon during the economic downturn of the mid-1980s. Officials provided alumni names and contact information to the senior class, and then helped the students make contact and request informational interviews. The goal was not to create jobs, but to create mentoring relationships and build networking contacts.
Even with job-search sites and blogs, studies have shown that more than 60 percent of all new hires happen because of a personal relationship or contact.
Three or more years of experience
Plot your job search strategy just like you would write a PR plan for a client. Identify your strengths, your key messages, and highlight them in your résumé. No one will hire you if you cannot summarize your strengths and abilities succinctly and confidently.
Follow the basics of relationship marketing. Stay in touch with your mentors, update your portfolio and make sure your professional association memberships are current. Also:
Finding a new job will take longer than it used to (an average of three to nine months), so a conscious comprehension of who you are and what you offer to an organization is essential. As a midcareer job seeker, you will be more successful if you:
Stop defining yourself in terms of your former job title. A résumé makeover is essential and must reflect the management expertise you have amassed. Cut nonessential and entry-level jobs; focus on articulating the senior-level skills learned in your last few positions.
Senior practitioners must also accept that a change in field could be necessary. Highly paid workers with more than 10 years of experience may be unemployed for up to a full year in this economy.
Adult learning is a unique blend of education, experience and self-awareness. If you are a senior practitioner and aren’t Accredited in Public Relations, now is the time to earn it. (Any PRSA member in good standing can take on the challenge of earning Accreditation. However, it is recommended that candidates have at least five years of experience in the full-time practice or teaching of public relations or have equivalent work experience.) Exam preparation and study make you more competitive. Bonds formed in study groups often last a lifetime. The best benefit: You gain a broader understanding of the sheer size of the PR and communications world and its opportunities.