What I Look For

  • Posted by: Jocelyn Hecht

In the wake of the pandemic, I’m seeing hundreds of Communications and PR pros on the hunt for new positions, when in reality, our industry has never been in more demand. While it may appear to be a seller’s market, the non-negotiables rarely change. The good news is, a good PR practitioner can utilize their skillset in a variety of industries; you just need to know how to best showcase your talent and ability on a virtual level.

Often times our clients will provide us with non-negotiable criteria for candidates to meet; skills that candidates must possess or experience candidates must have to be considered for a specific role. Of course this varies across positions and companies, but there are several items we see cropping up again and again. Some of these critical qualities are simply intangible and can’t truly be taught, but many simply take practice.

Leading up, down, and across
For directors it’s not just about management anymore. It’s all about leadership. Have you honed your management style in a way that inspires others and makes them want to follow you, not just listen to you? Have you looked for training and mentors? Good managers don’t just turn in your review and manage time and expectations, they develop talent and motivate their team to strive further and achieve more.

Social media experience
In addition to having experience managing social media for a company, Vice President, Jenn Saldarelli broadens this qualification to include the necessity that “candidates have an established online presence.” A polished and well-packaged digital voice will add to your candidacy. You want to be a part of the conversation and this is one of the easiest ways for the hiring party to screen your writing and creativity before deciding whether to meet you. On the contrary, be sure to screen your online profile for anything that may be seen as unflattering or unbecoming to a prospective employer.

There is an intangible element that comes up a great deal with our clients. They often speak of it when referring to the need for a new hire to be able to interact with executive-level business leaders. They are looking for a personality and poise that can communicate with big clients, with donors, and with those in the C-suite. This is a difficult trait to develop but you can work to eliminate extraneous physical and verbal habits and enter a room with confidence rather than arrogance or deference.

“Change agent” experience
In his great article on this topic, consultant Glenn Llopis says, “If leaders don’t feel comfortable with renewal and reinvention, they will begin to lose their impact and influence quickly.” Have you been in a role that required you to identify opportunities for growth and make recommendations for new ways of operating? Have you had experience advocating for new initiatives? How about increasing people’s ability to manage future change? This kind of experience will serve you well in our rapidly evolving industry.

Content strategy
Candidates who can help a brand or an organization better tell their story and engage with customers online bring experience that is highly valued right now. As companies seek to be their own publishers, they need to make hires who know how to create and curate content.

There are, of course, many other areas of expertise that hiring managers are looking to identify. This is just the short list of criteria we are asked to look for most often. We would encourage you to strengthen these skills and consider how you can frame the experience you do have around these core qualifications, especially now to make you stand out from the crowd.