PRSA Public Relations, Marketing and Communications Jobs

Public Relations Unemployed Playbook

Courtesy of Spring Associates
Dennis Spring, president and founder

The 2009–2010 recession has hit the unemployed the hardest. Whether due to a merger, an acquisition, downsizing, right-sizing, out-sourcing or some other unfortunate occurrence, being an unemployed public relations professional in 2011 is no fun.

There’s lots of talk about “reinventing” yourself to land a good public relations job. Personally, I’ve not seen many public relations people successfully morph themselves into a totally new public relations specialty or marketable talent that lands them a great new public relations job. Possibly a segue from say pharmaceuticals to health care, or high tech to B2B might be considered a slight reinvention. But, I believe there’s more of a chance for a person to reinvent their skills in an entirely new discipline or industry, than within the same industry.

Some public relations people have gone back to school to gain academic credits or a higher degree to improve their chances of landing a job. While a noble effort, I’m personally not convinced that advanced degrees have made the difference for anyone in public relations, except within certain financial, scientific or technical areas. For the most part, I have found actual experience in public relations is the single most important asset a public relations person can bring to the table. In my view, when in need of job, one’s time is better spent researching and looking for a job. Once you land a job, and you still want to expand your academic credentials, then go to school while employed — one headhunter’s opinion.

Since the beginning of time, not much has changed when looking for a job. Except for the new social media tools, the same job search mantras exist in 2011 that have withstood the test of time — responding to ads, due diligence, networking. Each has its benefits, each can translate into results. But, they all work best when done in synch.

Responding to ads and job board postings
This one’s a no-brainer. Probably the easiest way to find a job, but not always the most efficient or effective. Job seekers should scour the job boards on a daily basis and respond quickly to any that seem to apply to their background and experience. Niche job boards seem to produce better results for public relations people than the broader-based job boards that appeal to a much wider audience.

Due diligence
Researching the companies that you are thinking of approaching or responding to is essential if you want to maximize your job search time and effort. Through diligent research, you may be able to uncover an area of the company’s business or see an opportunity for yourself to be hired because of something you uncovered that was not apparent on the website or on Google. By reworking your resume, you can highlight areas of your experience that may fit nicely with the company’s business or goals.

Personal interaction is starting to come back into vogue again after a long hiatus. The dynamics of face-to-face communication is hard to quantify, but has always proven to be the best method for finding a new job. Networking leads to an exchange of ideas which often leads to referrals, which far and away, are the best way to find a new job. I think it’s especially important these days because so much emphasis has been placed on other forms of job searching in this digital age. When I speak with a public relations person who has been unemployed for an extended period of time, I always ask how they have conducted their job search. Invariably, many will respond that they have been using every job search method, except meeting with people personally — statistically, they are ignoring the most fertile part of the job search process.

Meeting with people in the public relations business involves attending relevant association meetings and seminars, meeting with former and current colleagues, editorial contacts, clients and let’s not forget, people like me — the public relations executive recruiter. When myself or others are unable to meet with you personally, don’t become defensive and think that they are brushing you off. Understand that everyone is busy and has to apportion their time according to busy schedules — just like you did when you were working. Be aware however, that everyone will appreciate the fact that you made the overture to meet personally, and your initiative does not go unnoticed.

Everything in synch
In 2011, and in any other year you find yourself unemployed, apply all of these job searching techniques at the same time and you will have better success at finding the job you want.