How PR pros can set themselves up for their next role

Aug 05, 2019
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How PR pros can set themselves up for their next role

It may be tomorrow – or years from now.

Even if you have a job you currently love, you should always be thinking ahead.

That may be the last thing on a busy PR pro’s mind. But when you picture yourself in the future, where do you see yourself? 

Maybe your next role is in your current company -- or you may have your sights set on another company or an agency. Or perhaps you're considering a move to go out on your own. 

Whatever the case, what do you need to do to be ready? There are some things you can do that help prepare you, regardless of what you want to do next.  

1. Never stop networking

Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you’re probably spent at the end of your workday. But yes, you really SHOULD try to make it to that networking event after work, at least every once in a while.

There are estimates that somewhere between 70 to 85 percent of jobs are found through one’s network. Continually build your network and keep in touch with your contacts.

2. Keep your resume, portfolio and social media accounts updated

As you take stock of all your skills and peruse job titles that may be a fit, be sure your resume is up to date. You may want to have different versions of it to fit various job titles. 

And don’t neglect your portfolio or social media profiles. If you’re in PR, you should have a portfolio of your work and be active on social media.

“Similar to having a crisis communications plan in your back pocket for when the unthinkable happens, I’ve always been a proponent of keeping an up-to-date resume as well as current LinkedIn profile, online portfolio and active Twitter presence,” says Scott Kaminski, Marketing Communications and PR Manager at Häfele America Co. “You simply never know when where your next opportunity could come from: a chance conversation on a plane, a cold call from a recruiter or talking to the right person at a local PRSA chapter networking event.”

3. Pay attention to your professional development

While you may be in your comfort zone in your current role, never stop learning. Take a class, attend a webinar, go to a conference, join a professional organization – the point is, however you do it, keep learning new things.

4. Conduct informational interviews

Explore other directions you may want to go, even if you’re not ready to go there yet, by setting up informational interviews.

Have a friend who works at a company you’re interested in? See if you can grab coffee to find out more about what it’s really like to work there. Know someone who holds a job similar to one that you’re considering in the future? Take them out for lunch so you can get a better idea of what a typical day is like for them. This will help you determine if that company or role is really for you. And who knows? In the process, you may even uncover opportunities in the “hidden” job market.

5. Ask to take on responsibilities outside your comfort zone

"Take risks," advises Janice Kapner, executive vice president of communications and community engagement at T-Mobile. “Start small, even if it means simply speaking up in a meeting. Or make a lateral move to learn new skills in another department or division in the same company. Raise your hand to contribute to a high-stakes project. Risks come in all shapes and sizes.” 

This will help you grow. Whatever you’re interested in, think about what you might do to gain some experience in that area.

And if your employer doesn’t allow opportunities for this, you can seek out volunteer experiences with professional organizations. PRSA, AMA, and others can give you a chance to stretch yourself professionally. This also counts as experience on your resume – and it helps you expand your network and meet others in your profession.

6. Get used to PR jobs not necessarily carrying titles that include the words “public relations”

As the world of marketing and communications continues to evolve, so do job titles. Ask a friend who’s searching for a PR role right now, and you may hear that not every position carries a title that includes public relations. These jobs may now fall under titles that include corporate relations, community involvement or public affairs.

How can you prepare? Keep a running list of all the tasks, responsibilities and projects you work on -- and the skills they involve. If your role includes some content creation, social media marketing or copywriting, that may come into play in your next job search. The more diverse your skill set, the more positions you may be qualified for.

7. Keep a running list of your accomplishments

We sometimes get so busy, we forget what we’ve achieved.

If you’ve led a successful campaign, published a piece, landed a speaking gig, won an award or earned a certification, be sure to make note of it. These accomplishments can be meaningful when you prepare resumes or cover letters for future roles. In addition, it should increase your confidence as you take stock of all that you’ve been able to do. 

Planning your next career move should be part of your professional life. If the average person changes jobs an average of 12 times, a shift is probably coming at some point. However you decide to go about it, be sure to keep your future in mind – it may be here before you know it. 

You'll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Spin Sucks, Freelancers Union and others. Her blog was named to the list of Top 25 Must-Read Public Relations Blogs and she was recently named one of the Top 13 Content Marketing Influencers to Follow in 2018 and one of 50 CMWorld Influencers to Follow in 2018

Photo via Unsplash

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You'll find Michelle Messsenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and socia…

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