Career Changes and Common Threads

Change is inevitable.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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?

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June 22, 2011. Tags: , , , . Career.

12 Comments

  1. Joshua Brett replied:

    Krista,
    Thank you for sharing these insights. I too believe a job should be, in addition to a source of income, a learning experience that benefits us down the road. I am fortunate that my current job, while not perfect, has accomplished this.

    Unfortunately, with the official unemployment rate still over 9% (and the actual one probably several points higher), people are so desperate for jobs that they aren’t blessed with that luxury. They take the dead end or dull job because they need the income and/or benefits (namely health insurance).

    • Krista replied:

      Great to hear from you, Josh! And you make a good point– some folks are desparate for steady employment that sometimes even a crappy job is better than no job at all. Hopefully, if the job market ever improves, people can find a job that best suits their talents.

  2. Jason Whitmen replied:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    • Krista replied:

      Thanks, Jason! I hope you enjoy my future posts and tolerate my occasional ramblings ;)

  3. brittperk replied:

    Nice post and I love that song! My degree is in journalism but when I decided to make a move to a large city, there was no way I was going to feel secure trying to make it on freelance journalism. Instead, I have gotten contract work for corporate communications and copywriting gigs, which I am enjoying immensely. I agree, the learning is constant, but that’s why my day-to-day isn’t a grind.

    • Krista replied:

      Hello, Britt! Sounds like you’re finding your path and applying your skills to where they’re needed. Thanks for sharing your experience and hope to hear from you again :)

  4. howiespm replied:

    Gini Dietrich shared this with me and I am uuber flattered that you used my input for this awesome blogpost! I am in the middle of a career change and advertising/marketing is new for me. I don’t have clients that I brought with me. Started from scratch at 41 years old and still trying to make ends meet. But the key thing is find something you love and are fascinated by as your career. And don’t be afraid to expand your horizons!

    If you work for a company remember to find a place that views employees as assets and not a cost of doing business. This would be a place with a stimulating environment as your last point mentioned. Where managers are not afraid to help those younger compete with them for jobs. Where they invest in your growth. That is why I have so much experience outside sales and customer service.

    Good luck!

    • Krista replied:

      Hi Howie–I’m glad you contributed such great insight on Gini’s post. And thanks for sharing more of your experiences and learnings here. I agree, it’s better to work for a company that views its employees as value assets and not just spokes in the wheel. Best of luck to you on your new venture and have a happy weekend :)

  5. Jules S. Damji (@2twitme) replied:

    Pragmatic, insightful, and essential guide to what you like to do, want to do, and how to do. Your labor of love ought to be a “daily classroom” not a “daily grind.”

    • Krista replied:

      Hello, Jules– thank you for the compliment! And I couldn’t agree with you more– one should enjoy what they do instead of resigning to being a spoke in the “big wheel.” Hope you have a happy day :)

  6. reurnenia replied:

    Hello

    Superb posting! We’re just now getting started in social media marketing and now we are wanting to learn how to fully use social media optimization for local business.

    Thanks for the info!

  7. The Silver Lining to PR Defined « PR in Pink replied:

    [...] made no secret of my new career path and still think that my previous experiences working in public relations warrants a few more [...]

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