What Should Matter More to Management and Clients: Years of Experience or Results?

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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.


8 comments on “What Should Matter More to Management and Clients: Years of Experience or Results?

  1. Something that I would have to say is a weaknesses is the aggressiveness with which I pursue promotions and increased responsibilities. I always find it hard to take that step back and just be happy with the accomplishments I made, rather than putting a check mark next to the goals I need to meet. Unfortunately, I think that comes from this need to prove my results reach far beyond my years. Not everyone’s experience is the same, and I think you have to pull that through in your interviews and everything else you bring to the table.

    New clients is certainly different from new jobs, but I think there has to be a mutual benefit conversation with your employers to find the balance. If you want to learn and have new experiences they have to be willing to work with you on that. It’s part of their responsibility to help your growth, otherwise what good will you be to them in the long run.

    • Based on personal experience and conversations I’ve had with others in the industry, those that speak up tend to have a better chance at getting what they want vs. those that stay quiet and don’t let management know what their concerns are. Now, you don’t want to go complaining or banging on the door demanding a raise, but instead you should be smart and think everything through before you heir any concerns to the boss(es).

  2. I don’t necessarily think that awarding jobs/accounts based on experience is a bad thing. It might be great to say that I was able to secure 100 placements for a handbag line and a celeb was photographed with one of the handbags, but if I have no experience dealing with healthcare I shouldn’t be put on a Pfizer account. As with anything, being good at one aspect of PR doesn’t mean that I’ll be good at another. If someone doesn’t understand how a particular industry works or what is deemed success in that industry, it makes little sense for them to be given that account.

    At the same time, as someone looking for entry-level jobs the phrase “X years required” is the bane of my existence.

    • Ha, I know what you are going through Holly. That ‘right’ job is out there somewhere for you – just gotta be patient and eventually you’ll start gaining those X years in no time!

  3. I have ten years of experience in a number of different areas: consumer, healthcare and technology. I think on top of the things I do really well, the work I have done in these areas are transferable. Many employers don’t agree and have dinged me for not having enough social media experience or work in a specific area. So it’s not just entry level getting hit with this.

    I think certain employers are being closed minded and short sighted. It’s their loss. I continue to look for a company that sees what I have to offer and so should you. Good luck to all!

  4. Pingback: What Do Companies Really Want from a PR Agency? « PR at Sunrise

  5. Pingback: What Do Companies Really Want from a PR Agency? |

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