While this blog mostly focuses on individuals seeking to begin their PR careers, I occasionally get requests from older readers who are concerned about advancing their careers or finding jobs after being downsized. Although loaded with basic PR talent, older PR pros often lack social media skills necessary for today’s job market. Other than encouraging them to enroll in a social media course and begin to engage in Facebook and Twitter, I haven’t been able to offer any out of the box ideas–until today.
I can now recommend a compelling story about Elizabeth Romanaux, a 55-year-old unemployed PR manager, who became an unpaid intern in order to gain valuable social media skills and develop contacts necessary for a serious job search. Appearing in an article in The London Daily Mail, Elizabeth bravely accepted an unpaid internship–many notches below her previous manager-level position in order to enhance her resume by picking up social media skills.
Career experts indicate an increasing number of people are seeking any opportunity possible to build experience and networking contacts. Some feel Will Smith’s 2006 movie “In Pursuit of Happyness” increased awareness and willingness of older unemployed individuals to consider starting over as interns. In the movie, Will Smith’s character has to start over after losing everything in a business scheme that goes sour. As expected in the movies, he gets an internship that leads to a good job in six months.
“You have to suck it up sometimes and do what a 17-year-old would happily do and be happy about it,” Elizabeth said.
HireFriday Founder Margo Rose underscored that many unemployed adults are seeking new ways to improve their resumes. “The last thing you want to do is look the interviewer in the eye with a blank stare when they ask you: ‘What have you been doing for the last year?”’
Unfortunately, it’s rare for employers to consider experienced older professionals for entry-level positions. There are a multitude of concerns why hiring managers are reluctant to hire over-qualified professionals, including the fact that they’ll leave as soon as a better job becomes available. That’s why the short 3- to 6-month internship route is so intriguing.
Elizabeth and other older job seekers make a good case: “If I could get someone like me for free, I would be apologetic about it, but I would do it.”