PR career advice – job market has shifted under your feet

I got a big reaction two years ago when I shared the career tips I gave my daughter upon her college graduation. A few readers replied to say their spouses in different industries shared those tips with their teams.

And now, wow – think how much the job market has changed since the class of 2022 graduated!

Back then, there were 2.0 job openings per job seeker. Employers were stumbling over each other to recruit new hires. Now, that ratio has inched down almost to the same 1.2 that it was prior to the pandemic. That means there are likely people lined up ready to fill your slot if you leave, voluntarily or otherwise.

So here are my updated tips for junior PR staffers – any PR staffers, actually – seeking to shore up their job security.

Embrace – even demand – feedback

Everyone claims they want constructive criticism, but few really mean it. And rightly or wrongly, your generation has a reputation for being super-sensitive to getting told you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t just ask for feedback when you turn in work to a supervisor. After they give it, effusively thank them and ask, “What else?” Keep validating every piece of feedback they give you. Whether you think it’s right or not, it’s what THEY think. And in this job market, what your boss thinks is super important.

Here’s a phrase you can tweak to get even better feedback. “I’ve noticed the last few times I’ve done this, you’ve edited/redone it afterwards. I want to save you having to do that – my job is to make your job easier. Tell me what I’m missing so I can get this closer to done next time.”

Seek in-person opportunities

At the earlier stage of your career, your priorities should lean more toward learning than protecting your personal time. And you’ll learn a ton more and a lot faster in-person than remotely. If you’ve got a flexible workplace, try to be in the office whenever the talented senior employees are there. Ask if you can join in-person meetings about important projects (and make sure to stay later to make up any required work you missed to attend the meeting).

Don’t just do your job, be valuable

We all have lots of tasks and responsibilities, but usually only a few are considered really valuable by top leadership. Figure out what those are, and calibrate your time and effort accordingly. I can’t be more specific because this varies so much by organization.

A good way to gauge whether your leadership perceives you as valuable is how often leaders are trying to get you on their project teams, or how often they are giving you new tasks or responsibilities. If that’s happening, it’s because they believe you’ll get it done, and that makes you valuable.

2024 is the old and new normal

Yes, it was great when everybody was working from home and taking long lunches. But 2022 was a historic fluke, and the rest of your career (if we’re lucky) will be much more like 2024.

This article was originally published on May 22, 2024

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