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4 things job ads never mention – but should

July 21, 2013


Job ads are pretty lame at the best of times. Rife with cliche and weasel words, they demand ‘team players’ or ‘superstars’; they promise a ‘a fun working environment’ and ‘great benefits’.

I’ll admit, I’ve written my share of these. I’d like to think I’ve written some slightly less awful ones too.

But I’ve never written a genuinely honest one. You know, one that gets to the core of what you need to make it in consulting.

If I did, I think I’d include some of these.

You will have the resilience of a battle-ready SAS soldier.  Special forces soldiers are pack-marched endless distances, deprived of food and sleep and brutally interrogated by their peers – all as part of their training. This means that if they’re ever captured by the enemy, they’ve developed a resilience to torture and pain.

Now, I am not saying PR is exactly like that. But the one piece of advice I’ve been given – over and over – is to toughen up. For every awesome client, there is one who treats you like a servant, who doesn’t appreciate your expertise, who gives you the flick for no reason or who is just a general nightmare of rudeness. Nothing you can do about these guys, I’m afraid. Just suck it up and be glad you aren’t being pack-marched to exhaustion.

You will need to be a little bit Freud, a little bit Dr Phil. Part of being a ‘trusted adviser’ is knowing where your client’s head is at. When they have an unreasonable outburst, disappear from sight for weeks or provide baffling feedback, it’s usually because they have a bunch of shit going on at their end.

When you’re agency-side, you might not see the enormous pressure senior executives are under, or how under-resourced a marketing team is; instead, you have to intuit this from the clues they give you.  Try and remember they have a lot more going on than approving your media release.

You will need to love business, not just people. Do you ever hear PR grads say they chose PR because they ‘love people’ and ‘love writing’? I do, and shake my head. PR isn’t about parties and chatting to your friends – it’s about helping your client achieve a business goals. It’s not about getting media hits, it’s about driving sales. And you aren’t in an agency to look good (a revelation to some grads), but to make money and grow the business. This bare fact seems to escape people most of the time, but those who understand it are the ones who kick arse.

You will need the mind of Sun Tzu and the smile of Mother Theresa. Consulting is full of ambitious, driven people who have their own agenda. Don’t let those people shape your path; forge your own. Be clear about your goals and how to get there.

Sometimes, you’ll need to work the politics, form alliances and play the long game. That’s because a successful career requires more than just good intentions; it needs a strategy too.

In fact, the most challenging part of work is rarely the ‘the work’ itself. But paying attention to the intangibles – the ’emotional intelligence’ part of your job – if often where the real magic happens.

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