Stand Out From the Crowd
Today's unusual economy calls for talented people with industry-specific experience. People who have been recently laid off from their jobs or who are contemplating a job change -- take heed. The candidate field is chock-full of talented and experienced people. You need to stand out from the crowd.A client/friend once told me that being "too tall" is not a good thing. Probing further, I realized that he was referring to the size of his department's budget, not his height. He said a large departmental budget invites unwanted scrutiny when business is slow. Hence, sometimes it's better to be "small" and not be noticed.
However, a candidate looking for a new job has to be "taller" than the crowd, and, before you can get that way, you have to objectively analyze your own talents, skills and qualities.
Sell your strengths
Once you've determined where your strengths lie, you've next got to present and sell them to headhunters and potential employers alike. Don't expect others to do that work for you.
It's one thing to make an impression on someone. It's something else entirely to make a lasting impression. A recent documentary on the making of all three "Godfather" films made a telling point on this subject.
Director Francis Ford Coppola recalled how he considered a young, very unknown Robert De Niro for the "Sonny" role. De Niro's test was shown, fully displaying an electrifying talent that wowed everyone-- and yet another actor was hired. Still, Coppola and company remembered De Niro, later using him with glorious results in the sequel, and the rest is history.
The same is true relative to finding a PR job. If you present your personal qualities, professional skills and prior experience in a compelling way, you will be remembered for future opportunities.
So, what puts you at the top of prospective employers' lists and at the top of headhunters' minds? Preparation, presentation and the ability to connect with your interviewer are the main skills. It's not enough to just show up or just make a follow-up phone call. Connecting with someone requires that both individuals relate to each other on some level.
Connecting and relating in an interview requires preparation. Find out all you can about the company with whom you will be interviewing. Research its products, services, customers and history.
And don't forget the interviewer. Inquire about the person(s) who will be interviewing you. Research their background and experience. Find those elements that will help you bond more effectively. When the interview becomes less of an interview and more of a dialogue, then you are on your way to being chosen for the job at hand or remembered for another job down the road.
If a company specializes in semiconductors and that's your strong suit, don't keep it a secret. Another company may have Mideast-based accounts. If you're fluent in Arabic or Hebrew, make sure that's on your resume. Don't leave it to them or recruiters to read between the lines or be clairvoyants. Have the information readily available.
Of course, there will always be those candidates who focus too much on the smoke and not the fire. Don't be one of them. It's one thing to be different; it's another to be remembered for being too quirky. Avoid the temptation of giving gifts or gimmicks when courting a new employer. These don't work. Sell yourself in a professional manner and skip the idea of becoming the interviewer's best friend.
Get a critique
If you're having trouble evaluating your own skills and accomplishments, try bouncing your resume and letter off of a "professional PR" friend. I emphasize professional PR because people who are not intimately involved in our business will notunderstand the nuances of the industry. Therefore, you may get an incorrect assessment of your background and not focus on those strengths that are going to make the all-important lasting impression.
1) Identify your own unique professional accomplishments. Concentrate on those qualities and skills that set you apart from the crowd.
2) Sell them in your letter, on your resume and in your personal interviews.
3) Focus on creating a lasting memory of yourself and your marketable talents.
The process of finding a job in a competitive, crowded PR market such as this one, is less about volume and more about target and substance. By targeting those companies, headhunters and industries that fall under the specialization categories that you know best, you increase your chances of landing the right job.