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About a year and a half ago when I was looking for a new job, I kept hearing the same thing from potential employers, “You have an impressive resume, but because you’ve only been in PR for a few years you aren’t right for this position.”
Or I’d hear:
“We think you’re great, but our client (insert global brand name) really prefers someone with at least X years of experience.”
Whether it’s applying for a job or a new client is coming to your agency and management needs to form a team for that account, what is the biggest factor(s) that should play a role in those decisions? Sure, it’s best to have experience AND the results to back that up, but for junior staff in particular, there really isn’t an argument against the amount of experience you have. And unless you have a history of bringing in new business, which probably isn’t the case for a majority of us, what can we do to get over the hump and convince someone to give us a chance?
Obviously this post isn’t specific to just the PR industry, but it’s something that lots of people deal with. Personally, I’ve found that what matters most to companies is finding the right fit for a specific opportunity. For example, if I were to apply for a junior staff PR position at Gatorade or with the agency representing them, they are going to want to see that I have specific food & beverage industry experience, even if it’s only for a short time. And if I have a history of performing at high levels with those types of companies (even if it’s just one company), than my years of experience may not matter as much … or at least I’m saying it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
I’ll admit, this is a hard pill to swallow. Looking at myself for a minute, I’ve been fortunate to have success regardless of what industry my clients were in – everyone from toy companies to law firms to and everything in between – but does that mean if my agency brought in Gatorade that I’m automatically the first person at the top of the list to be considered for that account? I’d like to think so, but the reality is that that’s probably not the case. If a junior level employee at my agency previously worked for a few months on an account like Powerade, or even a small beverage company you’ve never heard of, than chances are they are going to be above me on that list. Not because they are better than me in terms of results or overall years in the industry, but because they are better suited for the position based on recent work.
The bottomline is to try and not take things personal and to keep working hard. Not everything comes down to years of experience or even what results you’ve gotten in the past, but rather it’s about finding the right fit for yourself and for the company.