ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 21, 2012

Five Career Lessons Hurricane Sandy Teaches Us


Public relations and communications job seeker benefits and career resources, are available though the PRSA JobCenter.

Sitting at home and living a bit like we’re back in the 1800′s, I was thinking how New York is going to have to reinvent itself after everything is back up and running. Battery Park will need to be better protected, the subways have to be strengthened and any shoreline areas need to prepare for a weather system that is changed forever.

In many ways, your career in transition may face similar changes and unchartered territory. When you’re out of work – whether you have nave noticed or not – you are going through a storm. Think about the following to help you focus:

  1. Assess the damage and keep it in perspective: Start off by asking yourself: Are you standing? Are your loved ones okay? Do you have a roof over your head? If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, you can get through anything. Stay calm and know that there are resources out there to help – the PRSA Jobcenter is one of them.
  1. Take stock of the resources available:While we love to hear that you found your job through the Jobcenter, it really doesn’t matter where you find that job as long as you are working again. Don’t just rely on one resource. There are so many out there. Consider all the other options, such as:
    • Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Craig’s List, Glass Door, Career experts with a social media presence. You will see many experts to follow on Twitter but here are 150 or so you may wish to consider: http://www.careerrocketeer.com/2009/05/150-experts-on-twitter-all-job-seekers.html.
    • Management potential: Are you at a level of your career where you have managed a team? Would you like to reach this level? Then it’s time to test your skills and strengths. The PRSA Jobcenter has a skills assessment tool from Korn/Ferry that may help. After taking this test, emphasize these strengths to potential employers. If you have some opportunities to become a better manager, take stock of the assessment results and learn from them.
  1. Reinvent yourself in every way possible:Like Manhattan New Jersey and Brooklyn – the way you protect your career and react to an emergency must be different than it has been in the past.
    • Resumes: The days of having just one version of your resume are over. How many versions will you need? Basically – it’s as many as it takes. Each job description will have slightly different keywords. Your resume must match those keywords. If you apply to 100 jobs, you may need to make subtle changes to accommodate each description.
    • Branding: Who are you? What is your expertise? How can your skills help employers? Nowadays, recruiters spend half their time responding to job orders from employers and the other half researching your branding on LinkedIn and social media. If you are in transition at the mid or senior level, you have a world of experience to share with your new potential employers. Position yourself as a thought leader on Twitter, LinkedIn – wherever you can. Get your pictures, research and knowledge up on Pinterest. If you don’t know how to “pin” things, now is a good time to learn.
    • Skill-Sets: If you’re out of work, take a deep breath and plunge into learning something new. Update your skill sets to accommodate changing employer needs. The tri-state area will have to do this with the new weather patterns, and you’ll want to adjust as well when facing career storms. There are many free resources and webinars that can help you better learn about new software packages, computer programs, SEO and websites. Consider learning the following:
    • Keyword optimization and relevance. Public relations is changing and you need to change with it. If you are aces in writing press releases, your new boss will now expect you to write copy for the company website that is relevant to your users and brings the greatest amount of traffic and crowdsourcing to your site. No one wakes up and says, “I’m going to write a blog or content that goes viral.” A good blog entry starts with experience and understanding how social media works. Then it continues with knowing your customers. PRSA members have access to complimentary access to many webinars to guide them.
    • Marketing and Communications: In the same way that not all shorelines are alike, the field of public relations has many levels. You know how to write a social media plan and you can tweet at the drop of a hat but can you write a marketing plan? Can you work with the communications department? Can you leverage all forms of integrated marketing communications to get your messaging across? There are many graduate programs to help you learn more about integrated marketing communications. PRSA University Partner WVU IMC is one such option.
    • Digital Media: Do you put videos of your pets and family trips on YouTube? If so, you have a skill that’s more marketable than you think. Just take this a step further and learn how to properly tag your videos to bring the most attention to it. Odds are you will be hired because of your knowledge and ability to save time for top management. If you have enough technological knowledge, then you are jumpstarting getting through this career storm.
  1. Network with and without technology: At a time when millions of households are without power, we’re reminded of the networking skills that got us started in businesses before Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were a thought in people’s minds. Yes, we need social media and it’s here to stay. But how are those trapped in homes and without food receiving assistance? From their nearby neighbors and friends. Bulletin boards with handwritten messages are being posted along key areas of the cities.As a mid or senior-level professional, you’ve had years to build relationships. Now we have sad proof in front of us that these relationships can really save us. We have gone back to basics and have been reminded of the “personal touch” of cultivating relationships. It’s not enough to wish someone a “happy birthday” on their Facebook page or update our status. When was the last time we visited someone in person? Or called them on the phone? Or had a meal with them? Sometimes sending out a mass email communication or text isn’t enough. Treasure these relationships and make them better. You never know when you’ll need a life preserver from them to protect you and get you out of being unemployed.
  1. Last but not least, have hope: Like recuperating from Hurricane Sandy, sometimes having hope is our best plan of action. Think of how these tunnels and subways would never be operating again without a little hope and optimism. Know that you will be up and running again. There are going to be clear skies in your career and you will be stronger than before. Rest assured – you’ll be different and your career may not look the same as it used to – but you can rebuild it.

Know most of all too know that PRSA, the Jobcenter and all of its resources is an association made up of people. We’re here to help you with any career questions to help you weather any storm. We also want to help you be stronger and more prepared so you will know how to stay afloat in the next one.

Richard Spector is manager of client services at PRSA.

 

  • Brandon_Hubbard

    Thank you for the informative post, Richard. I love number 5!