Know what you want and sell yourself
One of the anomalies of the communication industry is that many PR/Comms professionals who have excellent skills in positioning, representing and protecting their company’s products and brand, often fall short when it comes to selling themselves; they lose sight of their own capabilities behind a corporate mask. As professional recruiters we see this at both ends of the scale – those individuals who are in the early stages of their careers, still honing their skills and not necessarily sure of focus; and those who have successfully carved out a presence but who are now looking for a more radical change in remit or sector. They’re brilliant at selling beans but have lost themselves in the sauce! So how can you improve on selling yourself, moving your career forward or in a different direction? A well crafted CV is vital of course, but here are some broader suggestions:
Think Big Picture
Consider, what’s your dream job? What are the companies, brands that you most admire, or, perhaps a key location where you’d like to be based? Would you like to live and work overseas? It’s easy to become blinkered in one direction based on previous experiences and while there’s merit to building up a skills base, it can be limiting. It’s wise and useful to think big picture. Your next role might not tick all the boxes, but could be a great platform offering you a change in remit/sector/responsibilities leading the way toward the ideal job.
Transfer your skills
One of the great things about working in communications is the range of skills you get to employ; it has meant that the more traditional PR tools of writing and media relations has grown to include far more nuanced messaging and narratives; issue management and crises; strategy and branding, digital and social media and while there are many roles that encompass all of these skills, increasingly client and agency briefs require specific experience and skills set; So the point is, what do you want to enhance about yourself? What do you really enjoy doing? What are your transferable skills and how do you sell them? Being flexible, adaptable and multi skilling are pre-requisites of a good communicator but do these come across when you interview for a new role and in your CV? Do you have work examples that you can narrate enthusiastically that say, ‘this is what I’ve done/can do/achieved for my company?’
Creative people are not just those with bold, zany ideas and colourful dressers! Creative people are savvy communicators. Maybe you’re very good at what you do and your immediate peers and line manager know this, but how do you enhance your network and make an impression outside of this? Draw on your personality – write a blog about a hobby, volunteer, engage, deliberately go outside your comfort zone. This will not only open your eyes to other opportunities but shows additional strengths and capabilities not immediately apparent.
Don’t be afraid to try something new; of course job security and paying off the mortgage are major considerations but sometimes you need to take a chance. Most people at one point in their career will have taken a role that wasn’t right; either the job remit changed, the corporate culture didn’t fit, or they couldn’t stand their line manager – it happens, move on. So long as this never becomes a habit, it doesn’t need to be a drama, and better to look back and know what doesn’t work for you, than spend a career speculating on what could have been. This is where contract and interim roles can be an excellent stepping zone.
Be honest with yourself
It sounds obvious but frequently people are not; while there’s always an element of work that we might not enjoy, it’s important to ensure that for the majority of time, we’re happy in what we do. Review what you’ve done, consider where you enjoyed working the most and why. Remuneration is important but is rarely the key reason for taking a new role, or leaving an old one.
Ultimately, ask yourself the same probing comms questions that you employ in your day job. Your answers may prove to be a revelation and not only clarify personal goals and objectives but open up all sorts of opportunities you’ve never seriously entertained. I look forward to hearing your comments.
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