There’s no better time to prepare for a job search than now. Experts suggest that more job opportunities will be available in 2017 than at any point in the past decade.
Are you ready if opportunity comes knocking?
While the profession and academic programs continue to produce more PR talent than can be fully absorbed, gone are the days of hundreds of applicants for every job opening. Two agency recruiters confirmed recently that applicants for an entry-level job have dropped from nearly 700 to fewer than 100 over the past four years. And smaller agencies have to hustle more than in the past to find new talent. This uptick in employment prospects is good news for job seekers and those not even currently thinking about making a career change.
Unfortunately, too many PR pros avoid taking care of the basics until they hear about an opportunity. Whether or not you’re currently in the job market, spend an hour or two this month making sure you are ready to be a viable candidate. Here are four moves that will help ensure you’re ready when opportunity knocks:
Update Your Resume
Resumes require continuous updating. Be sure to incorporate accomplishments, not just position descriptions. Make it easier for search engines to find you by describing your past jobs in terminology being used in today’s job searches. If your resume is lacking certain skills seek out specialized training or enroll in a certificate program offered by many professional organizations and universities.
Expand LinkedIn Profile & Connections
Even more important than a resume, your LinkedIn profile most likely will lead to your next job. Recruiters almost exclusively rely on LinkedIn to find job candidates. They also notice if you know anyone they know, so be sure to expand your LinkedIn connections. The goal I give to my grad students is a minimum of 500 connections. This puts you in the coveted 500+ category that suggests you’re well connected–a quality important to most PR jobs. And, please remember to include personal notes for those with whom you are connecting–never rely on the lazy “I’d like to join your network” language.
Yes, who you know is critically important to your job search. Several recruiters confirm that word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted colleagues more often than not lead to eventual job offers. Attend PRSSA and PRSA meetings, and seek out other professional networking opportunities. Plan to attend at least one networking event every month, and make a point to meet the speakers and leaders of the hosting organization. Then, follow up with those you meet via LinkedIn. When you meet people, follow up immediately. Don’t allow too much time to slip by since busy people have short memories. Plus, prompt follow up suggests that you have what it takes to succeed in his/her firm. Make sure you include your mentors in your networking game plan–especially if you haven’t connected with them recently.
When former Edelman recruiter Travis Kessel received a handwritten thank-you note, he added it to his bulletin board. I have a hunch he’s doing the same at his new job at Jet.com. I, too, have a stack of handwritten thank-you notes on my desk that I refuse to throw away, and I sometimes show them to students who question the value of old-fashioned thank you notes.