Saturday, October 24, 2009

Eat and Run? Should I Leave the Table Hoping for Something Better?

Here is my guest blog at Lindsay Olson's Blog on job hunting.

Thanks to the skittish economy, the job market today is not easy pickings. I have gotten more than a handful of letters asking whether now is the time to leave an existing role for hoped-for greener pastures. My answer is now is not the time to jump head first into the job market. If you read the New York Times on Sunday September 26, you learned that job seekers now outnumber openings by six to one. These are not great odds. So stick with the current gig, try to expand it, broaden your skill set and prepare for better times.

Since you currently have a position, use your time now to plan well and perform the due diligence required to take advantage of any upturn in the job market for public relations professionals. So what would I recommend? If you have the time, use it wisely and judiciously. Here are some rules of the road.

1. If you have not done so already, network and keep building your network. Get out and meet other colleagues. Get active in your local PRSA, IABC, Social Media, Publicity Club organization or chapter of your choice. Go to meetings and engage.

2. Institutionalize your network using tools like Linkedin, Facebook, Plaxo, etc. Tools like these afford you the luxury of never having to update your own Rolodex®. Your network keeps it up to date.

3. Check your online brand. Google yourself. If there is nothing about you, start building it on your terms. Craft your profile on Linkedin, Facebook, Google Profiles, Plaxo, etc. in ways that shine light on your accomplishments. If you are there, insure it is on your terms.

4. Even look at other interesting venues like Slideshare and VisualCV to help you illustrate what you do well and how you do it. Most important, spotlight how you have helped your employers move the needle.

5. Volunteer. Believe it or not, employers do not discount volunteer experiences, they may likely admire your generosity to give back or “pay it forward.” Volunteering is not just good for the beneficiary, but you. Volunteering can help you stretch and learn new skills and expand your value add.

6. Also try to broaden your current job responsibilities. Look at ways that you can do your job better, for lower cost or greater efficiency. Volunteer to take on new responsibilities that relate to what you already do. Demonstrate to your current employer that you have its interest at heart and are the consummate superstar they have always dreamed of attracting.

Again, while you have a gig, do it well. And build your current asset base so when the time comes to change, you'll be ready.

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