New Rules for a New Reality

In my July post I talked about the growing demand for public relations talent along with the growing time to hire talent.  As we head toward mid-September both trends are continuing and as the supply of PR talent diminishes we may see the time to hire window reverting back to the 6-8 weeks timeframe of a couple of years ago. 

With apologies to Bill Maher, here are a couple of other New Rules for today’s PR hiring market:

1) This is not the time to make a career transition.  As I mentioned in my blast email from today, companies want the “perfect beast” candidate, not someone who can be the perfect candidate with some career training.  Delay your career transition attempts until the market picks up — or try to get some consulting gigs to build up the portfolio.

2) Be the Boy Scout.  Hiring managers expect candidates to be extremely well-prepared and excited about the opportunity.  Again, hiring managers are in the driver’s seat and can choose to be picky in this environment.  Dig deep to find out everything you can about the company, its history, its key execs, the hiring manager and competitor landscape.

3) Mirror the job description in your resume.  Companies are trying to be as objective as possible in selecting candidates… some even use sophisticated software programs to review resumes and rank candidates by how closely their resume matches key words or phrases in the job description.  Re-write your resume accordingly.  Don’t lie of course, but use key words and phrases from the job description in highlighting your relevent experience for the particular job.

4) Be the Rock Star.  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard clients ask for “rock star candidates.”   But what does that mean?  Typically it’s somewhat who has managed their career and progressively grown their skillset and responsibility with each move.  (Think 2-4 years per rung on the ladder.)   In PR that often means working with bigger and better client brands, companies or projects.  You can’t make yourself a rock star by re-writing your resume, but you can emphasize how each move has been a step forward professionally that has molded your rock star personna.  You need to have a vision for where you want to take your career and what steps will lead you to Rock Star status.

5) Strong Writing Rules.  More and more companies and agencies are putting together stringent writing tests to weed out weak candidates.  I’m not sure if this is driven by the market, the growth of social media or frustration at hiring PR staff that can’t write.  My guess it’s a combination of all three.  My point is… now more than ever, if you’re not a great writer you’re going to have a very limited PR career of smiling and dialing.  Work at it and grow your talent and boast about it on your resume and in your interviews.  It will pay off in a better and more satisfying career. 

6)  Social Media Swiss Army Knife.   The growth in PR agency revenues over the past 8 months can be directly attributed to the growing prominence of PR as the discipline leading the social media charge.  A lot of old guard PR pros (i.e. people my age) have been saying that Social Media is just another tool at our disposal.  Yes… BUT… social media is no ordinary tool.  It’s more like a Swiss Army Knife transformer with a whole bunch of tools that are quickly evolving and changing and being used with greater and greater sophistication.  This takes a concerted effort to stay up to speed on what the tools are, how to integrate them, and how to measure them.  You really don’t want to be the last in the neighborhood to discover the cool mini-scissors!!