April 29, 2010
Many of my public relations colleagues know I’ve been supporting a viral effort in the PR community called Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO). Quite simply, we’re gathering our forces on the Web Friday, April 30 between noon and 2 Eastern time (yes, that’s still breakfast time in Alaska and earlier in Hawaii) to help 2010 graduates find jobs.
There are “champions” in markets throughout the United States. I am one of several national champions. Our role is to help spread the word about HAPPO and also to post the profiles of job seekers on our blogs. If you’d like me to post your profile, send an e-mail. If you’re looking for candidates, check out those posted on my blog.
As I wrote after the first event it’s really important for graduates to recognize that a job won’t miraculously fall from the sky during this two-hour period. Instead, we hope you’ll make some contacts and start building the network needed to land that first job. We hope you’ll understand there’s a really strong community throughout the United States that will help you. However a lot of the effort will need to come from you. Some thoughts that go beyond Friday and might be specific to a smaller community like Anchorage:
- Are you a member of PRSA, IABC or your local professional organization? It’s the best investment you can make.
- Do you attend every meeting of those groups you can? Are you on a committee?
- Have you taken the leaders in that organization to coffee and asked them for advice?
- Did you learn a little about them before the meeting so you could ask questions?
- Did you ask them who else you should talk with?
- Did you ask them to critique your resume?
- Did you send a thank you note (not an e-mail but a hand-written note) afterward?
- Did you call the people they suggested?
While these may seem like basic steps, I am always surprised how many job candidates don’t follow these basic guidelines. Those who don’t follow these steps will have a much harder time landing a job in this, still tight, economy. In a small community like Anchorage, not following through can have an enormous impact because we all talk to each other regularly.
Tuesday evening, the Alaska PRSA group celebrated one of our members who joined the ranks of PRSA’s College of Fellows. We shared our joy with members of the Anchorage community and a pretty broad range of people got to see our small, PR community in action. They realized how close-knit we are and how supportive we are of each other. They also saw how welcoming we are to new faces and how those of us in the College of Fellows are teaching the younger professionals through our demonstrated success.
Together we can help each other become better professionals. We can help young professionals establish themselves in careers and we are more than willing to do so.
Remember…The first move is yours.
February 20, 2010
Friday many of my friends (some I’ve never even met but they are still my friends) staged an all-volunteer event in the social media realm called HAPPO – Help a PR Pro Out. This four-hour event was designed to provide support and tools for public relations professionals looking for work. It offered numerous ways professionals could build networks and reach out to potential employers.
As a HAPPO champion, it was a terrific day and I am SO proud to be associated with this group and our profession. I look forward to hearing more about the success stories. My hope is that job seekers are gratified with the response from their professional colleagues and they see the potential for building networks. At the same time, I hope HAPPO seekers realize a four-hour event probably can’t get them a job but it can build the framework for the future.
It is a little concerning to see comments from those wondering why this was just a one- day event, bothered that they didn’t get a job and especially that the champion in their area didn’t find them a job. In my 30+ years in public relations I have rarely seen the collective, strategic “noise” I saw Friday. HAPPO truly demonstrated the power of networking as connections were made across the country. It validated the strength of the relationships I’ve been building in this profession throughout my career. But it takes more than four hours to build that network and find a job.
I am so happy and proud to be a public relations professional today and thoroughly support the work of each of the champions. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say we’ll be happy to review a resume, conduct an informational interview, and set you up with contacts if we know them and if you reach out. We aren’t going to seek your out. Now that HAPPO is over, it’s truly up to each of you to connect with public relations leaders in communities where you want to work, and ask for their help. It’s up to you to reach out to the people you “met” on Twitter and ask them to keep you in mind for jobs. I didn’t build mine in four hours and you won’t either. But there are many professionals more than willing to sit down and help you.
Most importantly…don’t forget to say thank you!
These two simple words are so often forgotten. Many people spent hours and hours helping others though HAPPO. We did it because we love our work and we want to help others. We did it because it comes naturally. We did it because someone helped us and we want to pay it forward. We did it…jut because. We didn’t do it so we could get a pat on the back but so others could succeed. But we’re also more inclined to keep helping those who remember to say thank you.
Hopefully, HAPPO helped you create a virtual and real-life community in public relations, and realize the power this network has. Now it’s up to you to keep building your network. It’s up to the hundreds of individuals who posted resumes today to follow-up and build the strong networks that, quite frankly, allowed us to do HAPPO. So, continue building your networks, attend professional organization meetings, meeting senior public relations professionals, and establish mentor relationships. If you do all these things, I’m sure pretty soon you’ll be HAPPO and you can help put together the next networking event for PR pros looking for a leg up.
Going forward be sure to follow @PRSAJobCenter on Twitter and check out the resources they posted Friday. Here are some other posts I think are useful as well:
HAPPO and the Reality of Job Searching
10 Steps to New PR Professional Networking
Job Seeking Tips for PR Pros
HAPPO-ning at PRSA Go Beyond HAPPO
What have you found useful? Are there other resources and tips you can share?
February 11, 2010
This week, PR pros across the country are gearing up to help our friends. Helping others is second nature to us, but Help a PR Pro Out is a 4-hour concentrated effort February 19 from 11-3 ET. Conceived by Arik Hanson and Valerie Simon, it is supported by an ever-growing list of PR pros. There’s more information on their Web site, or Facebook page. Most efforts are in major metropolitan areas but since Anchorage isn’t considered one of those (wonder why!) I’m helping behind the scenes however I can. Today, I’m offering suggestions and resources to help job seekers stand out and be recognized.
Never underestimate the power of your network. Who do you know who knows someone who can get you in a door. Always ask those in your network for referrals. Most are more than willing to help, if they see you as a capable and committed professional.
Although it may seem like money you can’t afford to spend right now, maintain your membership in professional organizations and attend local meetings. Local groups have job banks and active leaders are asked for referrals by potential employers. Many organizations have national job banks as well. Be sure your name and desires are well known.
Public Relations Society of America
International Association of Business Communicators
If you’re involved in social networks (if you’re not, you should be), look for articles or blog posts you think potential employers might be interested in seeing. Send them via email or even snail mail with a short note that you thought they might be interested because…
A traditional paper resume still gives employers a first impression but it’s also the resource senior PR professionals want to forward if we’re recommending you to someone. Does yours put your best foot forward? Consider using tools such as Visual CV or Prezi as they set you apart from others. Again they are no substitute for paper.
Use your portfolio to tell a story as well. As with your resume, consider a combination of traditional “books” with interactive and online tools. Mashable posted some links earlier this week to way to showcase your portfolio.
Is your LinkedIn profile updated, concise and clear? Be active and professional in LinkedIn engagements. Show your smarts by answering questions. Professional posts are critical on all online networks so be careful of language and photos. Untag if needed.
Don’t forget to say thank you again and again. In this day of email, text and twitter a handwritten note is an easy way to stand out from the crowd. Take your note cards with you to the interview. Write it outside and mail in the closest mailbox. It shows initiative and appreciation.
Obviously, this list is just the beginning and many job seekers are already doing these things. What else do you suggest? What was most successful for you during your most recent search? Most importantly, know that we’re here to Help a PR Pro Out.