Category Archives: Job Search Tips

What do newspapers and cereal have in common? The breakfast table?

As the economy recovers and PR job openings increase, don’t pass up positions that require industry-specific experience even if you don’t have it. Let HR or the hiring manager disqualify you.

But first let them know this. PR skills are a communications professional’s most important asset, not knowledge of a given industry. Expertise in PR is transferable to a variety of industries. As an outsider, you may be in a better position to render an objective opinion on the strategy and tactics of a PR program by leveraging knowledge of other business models.

We’ve all heard managers say that they have been around their industries so long that they have lost the “big picture.” PR practitioners are big picture people. Share your knowledge of what other industries do. Don’t hide it. Draw parallels.

Companies that place a premium on talent will invest in educating new hires. If companies are not willing to do that, then perhaps they are not the best employers.

Recently, an out-of-work colleague was disqualified for a PR coordinator position because he did not have industry experience. He landed a PR management position at another company after that. Good for him. Bad for the entity that passed him up.

Don’t let this get lost in the discussion either: Several high-profile companies have hired CEOs and top managers from industries totally unrelated to their own. The Times Mirror hired CEO Mark Willes from General Mills.

What do newspapers and cereal have in common? The breakfast table?

Likewise IBM lured CEO Louis Gerstner from RJR Nabisco. Eastman Kodak enticed CEO George Fisher from Motorola. AT&T hired CEO Michael Armstrong from Hughes Electronics.

If companies can do that for CEOs—alpha leaders who make (not necessarily earn) millions of dollars a year— what is stopping them from doing that for PR practitioners?

Recently, we had a local example. A few months ago the Port of Houston Authority hired energy executive Alec Dreyer as its executive director. Dreyer was formerly CEO at Horizon Wind Energy.

Insist that companies wanting industry experience consider your resume and skills first. The worst that can happen is that they don’t listen and you don’t get the job. But you’re better off trying than doing nothing at all.

— Mike Wysatta, PRSA Houston board member

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Filed under Job Search Tips, Public Relations

Job Search Survival 2009

Undoubtedly, this is the toughest year on record to land a new job. Reaching your career goal will take courage and nerves of steel. Are you up to the challenge? Here are four tips for job-search endurance that will keep you on the right track toward your employment goal.

1. Keep your career goal realistic.

This is not the time to strike out in a risky career direction. Following your heart toward a career in which you have little qualifications could yield months of frustration as you find yourself competing against legions of candidates far more qualified. Unless you are in the position to hold out for a very long job search, concentrate on positions where you are best qualified.

2. Realize it will take longer to land your next position.

If you’ve never experienced a lengthy job search, set your expectations out several months and practice patience. You will apply for many positions as the perfect candidate, and get no response. Expect that. You will conduct perfect interviews and hear nothing back. Expect that as well. Just remember that eventually the right company with the right job at the right time will come your way if you stay calm and focused and don’t let discouragement keep you from moving forward. Just keep with it.

3. Write a better resume than your competition.

Less jobs and more applicants equals extremely high competition. The quality of your resume has never been more important. For the best possible resume keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Focus your resume. Avoid a one-size-fits-all resume.
  • Showcase your best information in the top half of page one.
  • Include accomplishments that illustrate your ability to solve today’s business challenges.

4. Sharpen your interview skills.

With employers interviewing only the best of the best, when you are chosen to interview be sure you are your competitive best. You CANNOT “just wing” an interview and expect to be called back for a second. Today it takes solid interview strategy to earn a second round of interviews. Interview books are helpful, but they usually fall short of teaching you how to read the interviewer’s mind to understand his/her hiring motivations. A study in the art of selling is more effective to achieve great interview performance. A few basic selling strategies include:

  • Asking the right questions to understand the interviewer’s “hot button” motivations.
  • Formulate answers around the interviewer’s motivations.
  • Know your accomplishments well enough to weave them effectively through your interview to achieve top candidate status.

Throughout 2009, the best jobs will go to those who persevere and stay focused. Keeping your expectations and goals realistic will help prevent the emotional ups and downs. Prepare for your job search as if you were competing in a marathon. With patience, endurance and skill you will win your next job.

Contributed by Deborah Walker, CCMC. Deborah is a career coach helping job seekers compete in the toughest job markets. Her clients gain top performing skills in resume writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation.

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Filed under Job Search Tips, Professional Development