This is a guest post by Alison Kenney, a Boston-based independent PR practitioner with over 15 years of experience in the field.
In today′s tight labor market, employers want PR pros with the whole package: strong writing skills, a convincing presence and the ability to make things happen. That someone is typically a person with lots of confidence, energy, enthusiasm and ambition — someone who shows a lot of initiative and drive to meet and exceed goals.
The Meyers-Briggs Personality-Type Indicator
shows that people of the ENFJ (Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging), INTJ (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging), and INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging) types are very well-suited toward a public relations career.
"People of this type [ENFJ] "¦create goodwill and"¦ tend to be: friendly, outgoing, and enthusiastic; affectionate articulate, and tactful; highly empathetic but easily hurt; creative and original; decisive and passionately opinionated, productive, organized, and responsible. The most important thing to ENFJs is their relationships, and the opportunity to communicate and connect with others".
The US Department of Labor′s Bureau of Statistics states that, "Creativity, initiative, good judgment, and the ability to express thoughts clearly and simply are essential. Decision making, problem-solving, and research skills also are important. People who choose public relations as a career need an outgoing personality, self-confidence, an understanding of human psychology, and an enthusiasm for motivating people. They should be competitive, yet able to function as part of a team and open to new ideas."
But even if you don′t fall neatly into the Myers-Briggs Personality profiles mentioned above, think about which traits you do possess and which other "PR" characteristics you can develop and hone through practice.
There are multiple kinds of PR jobs, all with different functions and requirements. Consider:
- Some PR pros develop a specialty based on their job function. For instance, expert writers are highly sought out for their ability to craft speeches, turn technical language into an instructional document or develop web pages with dynamic phrases. PR folks with a strong writing bent may not need to rely on their "working their room" skills as much.
- Publicists, or people in celebrity PR, don′t want to overshadow their client. Among other traits, they are sought after for their fast reactions and around-the-clock availability, their ability to control situations and get through to specific reporters when needed.
- Agency PR staff must hone their client service skills, including empathy, organization skills, analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
- PR professionals who are creative thinkers and display curiosity, the ability to adapt and to think on their feet are valued for their content contributions to team members and others in their department.
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Even if you think of yourself as introspective or shy, you may be successful in PR. It′s a matter of understanding yourself, your capabilities, the demands of the job and the role you want to play.
Alison Kenney is an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston′s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She can be reached at alisonkenney at comcast dot net.
This is a guest post by technology PR pro and the PR Job Coach, Gerry Corbett.
Thanks to the skittish economy, the job market today is not easy pickings. I have gotten more than a handful of letters asking whether now is the time to leave an existing role for hoped-for greener pastures. My answer is now is not the time to jump head first into the job market. If you read the New York Times on Sunday, September 26, you learned that job seekers now outnumber openings by six to one. These are not great odds. So stick with the current gig, try to expand it, broaden your skill set and prepare for better times.
Since you currently have a position, use your time now to plan well and perform the due diligence required to take advantage of any upturn in the job market for public relations professionals. So what would I recommend? If you have the time, use it wisely and judiciously. Here are some rules of the road.
- If you have not done so already, network and keep building your network. Get out and meet other colleagues. Get active in your local PRSA, IABC, Social Media, Publicity Club organization or chapter of your choice. Go to meetings and engage.
- Institutionalize your network using tools like Linkedin, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. Tools like these afford you the luxury of never having to update your own Rolodex®. Your network keeps it up to date.
- Check your online brand. Google yourself. If there is nothing about you, start building it on your terms. Craft your profile on Linkedin, Facebook, Google Profiles, Plaxo, etc. in ways that shine light on your accomplishments. If you are there, insure it is on your terms. Even look at other interesting venues like Slideshare and VisualCV to help you illustrate what you do well and how you do it. Most important, spotlight how you have helped your employers move the needle.
- Volunteer. Believe it or not, employers do not discount volunteer experiences, they may likely admire your generosity to give back or "pay it forward." Volunteering is not just good for the beneficiary, but you. Volunteering can help you stretch and learn new skills and expand your value add.
- Try to broaden your current job responsibilities. Look at ways that you can do your job better, for lower cost or greater efficiency. Volunteer to take on new responsibilities that relate to what you already do. Demonstrate to your current employer that you have its interest at heart and are the consummate superstar they have always dreamed of attracting.
Again, while you have a gig, do it well. And build your current asset base so when the time comes to change, you'll be ready.
Gerard "Gerry" F. Corbett is the PR Job Coach and Founder and Consultant of Redphlag LLC, a marketing consulting firm. He has served four decades in technology PR most recently as vice president of branding of Hitachi for more than 12 years. You can contact Gerry at coach at prjobcoach dot com.
Last year Oxford University researchers published a list of the Top Ten Most Irritating Phrases. Thanks to Steve Roesler at All Things Workplace for the reminder in his recent blog post. It's a good review, especially for those of you actively interviewing.
The top ten most irritating phrases:
- At the end of the day
- Fairly unique
- I personally
- At this moment in time
- With all due respect
- It's a nightmare
- Shouldn't of (it is "shouldn′t have")
- It's not rocket science
I'd add "thinking out of the box" or any other variation of this overused expression. What would you add to the list?
Photo credit: Shtikl
Today, Stephanie Lloyd is hosting the third career blogging carnival on her blog, Radiant Veracity. She has featured posts from career bloggers such as Ben Eubanks , G.L. Hoffman, Jennifer McClure
, Craig Fisher , Heather Huhman, J.T. O'Donnell, Miriam Salpeter, myself, and many more.
Visit her blog for details and enjoy!
This is a guest post from Chris Perry at Career Rocketeer.
In this industry, you will see a lot of articles from recruiters, employers and career experts providing job seekers with advice on how to improve their job search and/or on how to present themselves better as candidates; however, you don′t often see as many articles from job seekers and career experts providing tips and advice for recruiters and employers on how to improve the recruitment, interview and hiring process.
I have asked job seekers and career search experts from across the web for what they consider to be the top tips for recruiters and employers today′s job market. While I could not include every tip from all of the contributors, I have selected and compiled the best and most unique ones in this list to share with you today.
- "I think the most frustrating thing for job seekers I've talked to is that when working with a recruiter, they don't feel like they're talked straight to. The process of working with a recruiter feels opaque. What job is s/he recruiting for? What jobs are available? Is this a real opening or one posted by a recruiter to harvest resumes? Recruiters who are open with job seekers about the process and whether the jobseeker is wasting his/her time will earn the respect of their candidates." - Rachel Kaufman, MediaJobsDaily
- "Share an outline of your process. Job seekers hate mystery. Letting them know at the very beginning what to expect and what happens when can save you immense time and energy and can help them feel more in control. You don't have to do this verbally each time. Create a short, bulleted email that outlines how the process typically works for your clients or at your company, and on what time frame. Since each job request is not alike, note the places where exceptions typically occur, too (for example, "our marketing roles typically take longer to fill due to the schedules of the hiring team"). This level of professionalism up-front will go a long way toward reducing unnecessary questions from job seekers and having fewer followup calls for you." - Darcy Eikenberg, CoachDarcy.com
- "Tell me I'm not a fit during the interview. Interview processes that drag on even when there is clearly no fit is a waste of everyone's time. If you sense this - stop the interview. I won't be offended - if you are looking for something else, say so, thank me, and let's both move on." - Tony Deblauwe, HR4Change.com
- "Job seekers are realistic and understand that companies receive hundreds of resumes, so if we actually receive an invitation to interview, trust me, we prepare like mad. While job seekers are expected to be polished and polite, the same should be said of employers and interviewers. Several friends of mine have been on interviews where the interviewer seemed to know nothing about them, as if the resume had been placed in front of them for the first time (or they admitted to misplacing it and asked for another copy). Job seekers have obviously taken an interest in the company and put time aside to learn about it, so it can be a bit of a hit to the ego if interviewers haven't at least spent a few minutes reviewing the qualifications that landed them the interview. While job seekers can't afford to be as selective as in the past, the decision to join an organization also relies on the impression the employer makes as well." - Kristin Davie, Cap and Gown Countdown
- "Don′t forget the human side of the equation. Be responsive and follow up in a timely manner. Providing feedback to a candidate will help them to improve for the next role or interview, even if its not with you. It is understandable that you get hundreds of calls, emails and faxes, but for those select few that you are working with that do not make the cut, it is important to continue to provide feedback so that they can grow." - Terrianne Small, TerrianneSmall.com
- "Choose your words carefully when communicating with the candidate. If there was a misunderstanding or error in the interview that caused the candidate not to be moved forward, and you are met with surprise, do not say sarcastically, "This is not up for negotiation." This is why the letter or email works best. If it is truly not up for negotiation, and you don′t wish to correct the mistake, then email or send that letter. Don′t get into a protracted conversation with the candidate. This is why you must take accurate notes during an interview process. When the interviewer does not take detailed notes, how can you prove the candidate′s input? Risky from a legal point of view, not to mention miserable for the candidate." - Cindy Morgan-Olson
- "Recruiters are busy people juggling multiple job openings and numerous candidates for each opening. It is very easy to let communications start slipping as the workload fills up and deadlines loom. However, for the job candidate, it is essential to be kept up to date on the status of the opening, as well as any other details about the employer or the opportunity as they arise. I have experienced personally (and also hear all the time from colleagues), the frustration of not knowing the latest news about an opportunity or what my part may be in it. It is very easy for a job candidate to be discouraged and/or demoralized about an opportunity because a certain amount of time has passed with no word, especially in today′s crazy job market. If that is simply because the recruiter was negligent in communicating status, an opportunity may have been lost for the candidate to do more research, preparation, etc. during the lull in activity. That could affect the ultimate outcome of the process." - JR Rodrigues, JobHuntExpress.com
Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this compilation of tips!
Chris Perry is a Gen Y Brand and Marketing Generator, a Career Search and Personal Branding Expert and the Founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Blog.
I have been in PR for the past two years. I have pitched stories to radio and TV producers and hosts, written press releases, and devised story angles. While I have not worked for an "agency," the clients I worked with were mostly large, well-known agencies. I also have seven years of TV producing experience under my belt. Yet, I still seem to get (from recruiters) that they will not even consider me because their clients want "agency" experience. I have the right experience and know I can do the job, but how do I get over that hurdle?
Remember how recruiters are typically compensated - contingency-based recruiters are only paid if they make a successful placement. A company gives a recruiter specific requirements for screening candidates prior to engaging in a search. These skills are not just based on specific work experience, but also soft skills and cultural fit. By submitting candidates who do not meet all of their qualifications, the recruiter puts his relationship with the client at risk. Too many interview rejections is a sign that a recruiter isn't evaluating his candidates properly.
Companies choose to use recruiting services because they have either exhausted their own resources or realize the time and monetary value engaging with a specialized recruiter to fill an open, urgent position. These services are not cheap (although in comparison to the cost of not filling a position quickly, it's a steal!), so the companies hold a recruiting firm to high presentation standards. If the recruiter can source three or four candidates who have the exact experience, he isn't going to gamble on someone who doesn't meet all the specifications.
Recruiters are also careful about how many candidates they present to a client for a position. A recruiter will choose his top candidates to present for the position - the candidates with the highest chances of landing the position. Providing too many candidates to select from causes the company to delay the hiring decisions and results in losing qualified candidates who have already interviewed in the process.
Bottom line: If having public relations agency experience is important to the agency, the reality is that a recruiter is not going to present you for the position, even if you possess the transferable skills. Your best bet if you are looking for an agency position is to approach the agencies you are interested in directly and make them fall in love with you. Get your foot in the door through meeting agency reps at networking events, connecting through online networks, requesting an informational interview, or calling the hiring manager directly. Make sure you write an interesting cover letter explaining your desire to work in an agency environment and how you can help the agency and their clients reach their goals. Be able to spell out how your skills transfer and let your interest and passion in your industry compensate for the lack of experience.
Not every company or every position is going to be flexible in their requirements, but by doing a bit of research beforehand about the backgrounds of other people in the agency might give you some insight about the profiles of candidates the company usually hires. I would use LinkedIN as your research site and search by current company. If you find several people who work in the company with non-traditional backgrounds, your chances of landing the interview greatly increase.
This post is part of an on-going series featuring readers job search and hiring questions. If you have a question you would like answered in this blog, please send it to me here. Your information will be kept confidential.
Stephanie Lloyd, career blogger at Radiant Veracity and owner of Calibre Search Group, is writing a series for her blog on how recruiters are using Twitter in the recruiting efforts. Today was my turn for an interview. Here's an excerpt, but definitely check out Stephanie's blog for the entire interview and for her career advice "served with a healthy dose of candor and a smile."
Interview with Lindsay Olson: How do you use Twitter in your recruiting efforts?
With all of the publicity Twitter is getting these days it′s no wonder I′m getting so many questions from job seekers asking how they can use it effectively in their job search as well as how recruiters use it to find candidates.
I decided to interview several recruiters who are avid users of Twitter and ask them what advice they have for job seekers. This week I talked to Lindsay Olson .
How do you use Twitter in your recruiting efforts?
I started using Twitter two years ago. I use it to keep in contact with candidates and companies with whom I already have a relationship as well as forge many new relationships. I mainly follow professionals in my industry specialty — public relations and marketing.
I share information about our searches, but my goal is to use it for more than just posting information about my company and searches. I post relevant industry links and information about the industry as well as career advice from my blogs and blogs of others that I think my audience may find insightful.
By sharing useful information and engaging with my followers daily, I′ve built relationships it would have taken years to build, if ever, any other way.
For the rest of the article, see Stephanie's full post.
The first post for this month's column in PRNewser is up. Here's an excerpt or read the full article here
The Power of a Thank You Note
Sending a thank you note after an interview seems like elementary advice, but many job seekers never bother to do it. Never underestimate the power of a strong follow-up after an interview. This one simple step could be what seals the deal.
The debate about whether a thank you note should be sent via regular mail or e-mail is never-ending. I prefer a hand-written note sent through regular mail because it is more personal and memorable. Depending on the hiring manager's preference and distance, an e-mail note these days is very common and acceptable. If you e-mail a sentiment of gratitude, you can always follow up with a card in the mail.
Visit PRNewser for the rest of the article
Craig Fisher (twitter: @fishdogs) on his Career Branding for Social Animals blog shared the results of his informal LinkedIN query to recruiters and hiring managers about the top things to leave off the resume. You can read the post with the top 10 list or check out the Wordle image he put together that tells it all.
Craigs' top 10 things to leave off your resume.
10. Religious or Political affiliations
4. Family info (marital status, children, pets)
3. References available upon request
2. Anything not relevant to the position for which you are applying
What you think?
This is a guest post by Alison Kenney, a Boston-based independent PR practitioner with over 15 years of experience in the field.
More and more PR pros are going solo these days. Often the economy is tipping their hand — striking out on their own after a lay-off or finally calling it quits themselves as a result of a "now or never" attitude. I′ve been a solo PR practitioner for the past 8 years and have these tips to share from what′s worked for me:
There′s a difference between freelancing and consulting. Freelancing is essentially working for someone else — sub-contracting with another agency or an employer. Consulting is when you interface with a client directly and run the project or program. With either role you are self-employed, must fill out a 1099 tax form, and typically concede receiving any benefits. Consultants tend to earn more than freelancers and take on a more strategic role. Solo practitioners can do either (and both!) but it helps to know the terminology so you′re on the same page as prospective employers.
Don′t burn bridges.
If PR is all about reputation management, then being a solo PR practitioner, where you rely heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth leads, means relationships are king! The PR industry can be a small world, where job turnover means yesterday′s client is tomorrow′s"¦client.
Focus. Working on your own is liberating, but all the "unstructured" time can also distract you from accomplishing your goals. If you end up freelancing or consulting for work/life balance reasons, e.g. having more time for children, be sure to set specific goals. Be clear about what your client goals are versus what you want to accomplish with your new flexible schedule. Having an office space, hiring childcare and setting work hours will increase your odds of meeting these goals.
Understand your source(s) of business. PR is different from some other service businesses. Clients don′t typically look in the phone book or follow up on a coupon to find someone who can build and promote their company brand. They are guided by referrals from trusted sources and to get those referrals you will most likely have to develop and care for your network.
Alison Kenney is an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston′s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.