Effectively managing your career in the economy of 2011 is a vastly different world than it was just a few short years ago. No longer does it suffice to have just a resume of qualifications and access to job boards and a few connections to executive search firms. Managing a career in the public relations and communications industry can often be a full time job akin to managing the communications strategy for a Fortune 1000 firm or being a product promotion specialist in the world of technology.
Successfully moving up the ladder of career accomplishment or searching for your next gig is a three legged stool, whereby the absence of just one strut can leave you without a competent platform to seek, secure and settle into an engaging role in public relations. Let me explain.
The resume is the first leg. While some may argue that the resume is an anachronism in today’s social media soaked society, the resume is perhaps the first piece of documentation that introduces you to hiring managers and other critical people in the supply chain of human capital formation. The big change though is how the resume has evolved, what it conveys and how it is now used.
Resumes are no longer just a recitation of the jobs you have held in your career. It is a window on your accomplishments and a critical piece of evidence that conveys how you have performed for prior and current employers. Done well, the resume can make all the difference in whether you end up in the select in pile or the circular file. The resume can contain many things about you. But given the fact that the hiring manager or HR person spends from 30 seconds to a minute and a half on the resume , you need to make it easy to read and a compelling sell.
Rules of thumb: The resume launches with a Summary, which is your thirty second elevator speech about you and your value. Next is the Experience section which succinctly details in reverse chronology your accomplishments in bulleted form surrounded by a tight row of white space that allows the achievement to pop. The current job should show three to five accomplishments and prior jobs no more than three. Professional Affiliations should be detailed to add weight to your career accomplishments and be relevant to the job you are seeking. Bringing up the rear are Honors and Awards. That is it. Forget computer skills, hobbies and the name of your pet.
The Network is Part Deux. It is said that 80 percent of people landing jobs today are doing it through their network. So do not over do it on job boards, search firms, classified ads or mass mailings. The network is where it is at. If you have one, expand it. If you do not, start building it. Here is how.
Pick your social platform of choice like Linkedin, Facebook, Plaxo, Ning, Viadeo, Unthink, Foundation3, etc. Take your existing Rolodex (if you are old enough to remember) or Contact list and begin inviting friends, acquaintances and colleagues to become part of your network. Institutionalizing your network on a social platform frees you from ever needing to update addresses or hiring a private eye to find your long lost friend. Most social networks are self sufficient.
And please do not limit yourself to the virtual world. Networking requires “pressing the flesh.” Get out there and meet people. Help them to know you well enough to enables them to render an opinion of your value and worth. It only takes one solid connection to get the gig you want. So do everything in your power to shine a light on your ability. And by the way, networking is a two way street. Remember the old adage, “It is better to give than receive.” There is much wisdom behind those words. If you can help someone, it will likely come back to you four fold. At least that is what the nuns told us in grade school. It works.
The last leg, “Virtual Me” – Can you be found is the essential question in the second decade of the 21st Century. The first destination of most hiring managers, human resource executives and search firm personnel is Google, followed closely behind by Bing and platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. If you do not show up on the radar, you may just as well look for an island beach in the Pacific.
There are ways, though, to raise your profile in cyberspace that are not taxing and require no investment other than your public relations skills. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Get engaged with your communities! Do you belong to industry or professional groups? If you do and are not engaged, consider getting involved. Join a committee, run for an office or board position, volunteer for an event. Often times being a part of a group that is doing worthwhile work can attract attention.
2. If you have a passion, blog!!! If you want to be recognized for something and develop a following, blogging can be a useful device. In fact, if you have a passion, blogging is a natural. But the key word is “passion.” If you are a thought leader or expert on something let people know and become recognized for your knowledge and enthusiasm. http://wordpress.com, http://blogspot.com and http://www.posterous.com are useful and free platforms to express yourself.
3. Join in social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, Plaxo, Ning, Foundation3, etc. Employing platforms like these enable you to craft the type of profile that spotlights your professional career and equally important your professional and personal accomplishments. Be sure to target those platforms that fit with your profession and your personal brand.
4. Take control of third party web-based databases. These would include but are not limited to www.zoominfo.com, www.spoke.com, www.jigsaw.com, www.spokeo.com, etc. Many of these sites allow you to take ownership of your profile and manage the content. Make sure to delete errors or mistakes that could derail your consideration.
5. Establish a showcase on www.slideshare.com. Slideshare is a fabulous and rich content site on which you can upload presentations. In this case, what you will do is produce a PowerPoint presentation about you not unlike a C.V. You can include your resume, links and URLs to your web content, expanded accomplishments, academic credentials, professional photos and video, publications and other career information that help you tell a compelling story about you as a brand and as a professional.
6. Highlight your career on www.visualCV.com. VisualCV portrays itself as “Your resume, only better.” VisualCV is customizable and can serve as a resume, online professional profile, business development tool or mini website. And to top it off, just like Slideshare, it is included in Google search engine results.
7. Don’t forget about Google and Google plus. Build a Google profile. Yes Google gives you the ability to have a profile. If you already have a Google or Gmail account, a Google profile is the next step. Just go to www.google.com/profiles. Google provides the ability to include basic information about who, what, why, where and when. You can also include information on where you live or have lived, your web links, personal and professional interests, education, employers and aliases. Best of all, the profile is included in search.
8. Become an active Twitterer! Yes I realize this seems strange because you really care not to daily Tweet your food choices. Well don’t. Instead, employ Twitter as a strategic tool to add value to the knowledge stream on the web. If you are an expert or thought leader on a particular topic or topics then provide a steady stream of pithy and helpful commentary that enlightens and entertains.
Gerry Corbett, APR, is a veteran PR professional who was recently elected chairman and CEO of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). He operates Redphlag LLC, a public relations and coaching consultancy.