PR has always been more credible than advertising because, when practiced properly, our end result produces a balanced article from a trusted third party (i.e. a reputable journalist).
Yet, according to a survey from LinkedIn, job seekers continue to use advertising hype instead
of PR strategies in trying to differentiate themselves and find employment.
In fact, the five most overused words in LinkedIn profiles (and the resumes I've read) are:
- extensive experience
- communications skills
So, what's wrong with using such superb descriptors? Everyone else does. As a result, you won't stand out. Wave bye-bye.
I'm amazed more PR professionals and recent graduates aren't using their PR skills to produce an objective LinkedIn profile or resume replete with third party endorsements instead of first person chest-thumping.
So, let's say you've worked at Peppercom, have grown weary of Ed and are seeking greener pastures. If you've interned for us, your resume shouldn't boast about being a '…effective, problem-solver with a proven track record.' Instead, it should include a quote from our intern manager, Kristin Davie, along the lines of “I've managed many interns, but Ishmael would be at the top of my list.”
Or, let's say you're a Peppercom management supervisor who can simply no longer stomach Ted's political correctness. Instead of jotting down, “I love people and work incredibly well with teams at all levels,” ask the evangelical one for an endorsement. We appreciate employees who come to us in advance, tell us it's not working out for them and ask for time to find a new gig while we, in turn, are given the heads-up to begin searching for a replacement.
I don't blame PR professionals or students for using an advertising approach to finding jobs in public relations. I point the finger, instead, at executive search consultants, human resource managers and academics for continuing to endorse an obviously broken model (i.e. the one-page resume that starts with objectives, provides a brief summary of work experience and ends with those dreaded words, 'references furnished upon request').
Public relations today is all about engaging in the conversation, and applying the 5Ws to develop your story. I'd use that exact, same approach if I were job-seeking today. I'd craft my profile or resume by answering the following:
- Who are you approaching? (Find out as much as you can about the individual or the organization in advance)
- Why you are qualified (told by the most credible source(s) possible, your former employer)
- What you bring to the plate (see above)
- Where you've made a significant contribution (see above)
- When you're ready to begin work (yesterday)
It's ironic that professionals who work in an industry that's always differentiated itself by leveraging the power of third party endorsement almost never use it to market themselves.