Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hardest Job is a Job Hunt: the #HAPPO Anniversary

I've been mentoring college students for about eight years; it was never a planned thing, just my personality. I like to teach. I like to help. I like people - well, most of the time. And I like to give back as I was lucky to have great mentors throughout my career. I'm lucky to have the patience - for the most part - for that type of thing.

And that's part of why I prefer working with students and the newly graduated - often times, they aren't lucky to have a champion. It's also why when someone emails me with 5 or more years of PR/SM experience, I make a few recommendations but am not as giving with my time, because if you are at that point in your career you should have your own networks, own knowledge of recruiters, and have your own mentors.

Now, a handful of the women I've mentored through the years are amazing people. These are PR professionals with social media skills that I would hire in a minute. These are people that I think are the pinacle of the profession, at different levels in their careers, who will be running things in the industry. And I'll be proud of them as if they were my own family, as I do think of them as family.

Through that mentoring, I've become involved with #HAPPO. The concept, the idea of HAPPO is admirable: helping out other PR pros network and get a job. The economy is bad, and we've all been hurt by it. Some of the best PR people I know searched for jobs too long, while some of the worst PR and SM people I know are gainfully employed or have transitioned themselves into "thought leaders".

Unfortunately, at times, the reality of HAPPO is either a "look at how great I am because I'm helping others get jobs" or "K, I tweeted #HAPPO, where's my job?"

So what has happened is a bit of self-interest and a bit of self-entitlement. New graduates and others think that by merely posting #HAPPO!!! (or other hashtags) on a tweet, that the jobs will come to them and they should be hired, because dammit, they ARE social media geniuses because they're the digital generation!!!

That one is a good fallacy, though. The digital generation understands the tools - but that's it. In reality, many are dangerous as they do no get the big picture of how public relations and social media work together. Nor is there an understanding on how to push back on a client, how to protect them from doing something bad and destructive in social media, or a complex and advanced understandig and knowledge of a little something called strategy and tactics.

PR is not an easy profession. We are always top 5 for stressful professions. PR wears you down, as you're under attack from all sides: clients, agency, press/analysts/social media. But it's one of those things that people love: the ability and chance to tell a story, do some good.

But the missing the point of HAPPO - no one is entitled to anything. It's a hard job finding a job, harder than the job itself, so be thankful for those that help you along the way. And don't think that just because you send an email you're owed something. Respect the other person's time, energy. If that part of HAPPO continues to be ignored, the people that are giving of their time will reevaluate where they are putting their efforts. As they should.

HAPPO chat is tonight from 5.00 - 7.00 PM EST / 2.00 - 4.00 PM PST. Just follow the #HAPPO hashtag and start networking, making connections and being a valuable part of a community instead of just being a remora.
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