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BLOG: Never Rest on Your Laurels

March 8, 2013

About one year ago a professional and personal nightmare began for me. After nearly 25 years of steady and nearly uninterrupted employment as a public relations professional, I was laid off.

After the initial shock, my life became an 11-month roller coaster of emotions. With each new application I filled out, hope rose up and lifted my spirits to euphoric proportions. I spent hours online planning for the way my life would change if I landed the job in Ocala, Fla. or Scottsdale, Ariz. With each rejection notice, I would plunge into a dark depression.

I became philosophical about the “whys” of my extended job search, but continuous rejection made me question whether the skills I had developed over decades were still relevant. Now that I am once again employed in the public relations profession, I have pondered on the lessons I recently learned. I share a few for your consideration.

  1. Never rest on your laurels. Continually upgrade your skills, even if your current job doesn’t require you to. One easy way for PRSA members to do this is to take advantage of the free on-line webinars available at here.
  2. Begin the search for your next job now; or never stop looking. The truth is that today’s economy is unsure and organizations can’t really afford to be “loyal” to employees. That means you need to worry about yourself and be prepared to promote yourself when opportunities become available.
  3. Be prepared to do more. I was amazed by the expected skill set for public relations jobs in today’s organizations. In many cases, public relations professionals are expected to be able to manage all aspects of social media, web design, and be completely versed in Adobe design tools.
  4. Sell yourself. Hundreds, if not thousands, of professionals are competing for available jobs. You need to get creative with ways to separate yourself as a unique and capable candidate. Consider creating an interactive website that showcases the way you think, the way you solve problems, and the creative tactics you develop.

Hopefully, you won’t have to experience a layoff in your career, but a little preparation can’t hurt.


John B Leavitt, APR
Pikes Peak Chapter PRSA