Saturday, October 24, 2009

When You Have Lemons, Make Lemonade

I recently heard from a young pro about a career predicament that likely occurs far too often. The job was not as advertised.

Here is what this young pro had to say:
"I need advice on which direction to go with my career. I graduated in 2008 BA in PR and four internships. I took a job with a new company and was promised training. My job responsibilities were suppose to be creating marketing initiatives, writing press releases, and some design. I have been here for eight months and all I do is call stores and see if they want a catalog of our product. What makes the situation worse is that the marketing office were I work is separate from the main company office by a couple of states, and my boss, who is located in my office, is never around, she works out of her home office. What should I do?"

When you have lemons, you make lemonade. Your best bet is to improve your current job situation and get enough experience under your belt so that you can eventually seek a better position. Bottom line, keep the job you have and consider these ideas.

1. Focus tightly on your current responsibilities. Do them well and with a positive attitude. Excel at what you do without regard to whether someone will notice.

2. Look at other ways you can expand your job. When you call stores do more than just inquire about catalogue needs. Ask the store manager on what type of communications will help the store sell more. Investigate if there is some additional way of communicating to customers that will pull them in to the stores.

3. When in doubt do some research. Do a survey of all the stores under your purview and find out what will help them. As you do the research, are there any patterns among the stores? Are there any interesting trends? Assess each store's CRM system. Is it working? Is it making customers more loyal or not. If not why?

4. Develop a solution. Design a program that can be put in place to help store management and customers.
5. Document your work. Once you have done your due diligence, produce a report of what the store needs and or what its communications needs are for customers and sales people at the stores. You may find some interesting insight.

6. With a well documented and well drafted report in hand, set up a lunch meeting with your absentee boss. Show her what you have learned and what programs can be put in place to make the stores better for customers and employees.

The point here is to think outside the box. Take the learnings from your PR education and apply them to your current employer. When the market gets better, you'll be better equipped to sell your skills and experience.

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