Career Changes and Common Threads
Change is inevitable.
You can change your hair color at the hairdresser’s; you can change your name if you get married; or you can change your mailing address when you buy your first home.
You can even change jobs or your entire career path.
I’ve done all of the above within the last year (I confess, the hair color more than once).
Most recently, I started working within a new industry and with altogether new responsibilities than in comparison to my former PR client-serving/corporate communications agency job.
I had always thought of my career in public relations as continuous, that I would always be writing press releases, developing key messages and pitching media outlets. My current job doesn’t entail any of those, but I’d still consider it just as relevant to the communications field.
It’s becoming clear that PR and communications work are evolving. The lines in the sand are becoming blurred. Skills and capabilities can be applied to different jobs in various settings.
Consider the number of journalists who make the switch to working in corporate newsrooms. Or even journalists who find themselves working in social media?
Howie G. made an insightful comment in a discussion on Spin Sucks about how his career has always included developing skills that were applicable to more than one department. In essence, he made himself indispensable to his employer and defied the concept that public relations or communications work can be pigeonholed.
Along the lines of Howie’s example, how can we in public relations-or communications-make our work relevant to other industries? How should we evaluate job opportunities against our abilities and skills?
Having gone through the job search recently, I decided to create a few guidelines to help me gauge if an open position or a certain industry was right for me. These would be my common threads to connect my past with my future.
These were my guiding principles for my recent job search:
- Find a position that utilized my near-and-dear skills – these aren’t just skills I picked up from a job, like media relations. But rather, these are skills that have been a part of my life for many years that are applicable to many settings. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed writing and hearing other people’s stories, so I decided to find a job where I could put to good use my listening skills and writing abilities.
- Support an industry that makes a difference – it sounds corny, but I’ve always wanted to work in an industry that somehow contributes to the greater good. While that concept is open to interpretation, I found it is more fulfilling to support an industry or a company that gives back to society.
- Seek a stimulating learning environment – when I made the switch from journalism to PR, I enjoyed learning about a new profession, the challenges it involved, and pursued a master’s degree in communications management as a result. A job obligation is one thing, but an on-the-job learning environment is something else. It becomes more than the daily grind, but rather the daily classroom.
Lucky for me, I was able to hit all of these on the head with my current position. Maybe I’m still in the “new job honeymoon,” but after three months, I am still learning and finding new aspects to appreciate.
Not everyone thinks like me, but I wanted this next job to be more than a stepping-stone. I wanted something fulfilling; something that I felt really utilized my talents; and one I felt was a nurturing environment.
It is possible to move across industries and job positions if you identify your particular common threads and what skills you possess that can be applied to any setting. That is the beauty of the changes in the PR and communications fields–we too can adapt and evolve as well.
What do you think? Have you made a career change recently? What are your common threads?