After the Great Recession: advancing your career in the new normal

Last month we learned that the Great Recession that began in December 2007 was officially over in June 2009. Lasting a full 18 months, it was the longest downturn since the Great Depression.

Last month we learned that the Great Recession that began in December 2007 was officially over in June 2009. Lasting a full 18 months, it was the longest downturn since the Great Depression. The gap between economists' pronouncements and life as most of us live it is the new normal: record profits on Wall Street, sluggish growth on Main Street and stubbornly high unemployment in most sectors and regions. There is, however, a bright spot; after painful retrenchment in 2009, the public relations industry has shown welcome momentum this year. Revenues are up, the new business pipeline is stronger and hiring has roared back with a ferocity no one could have predicted a year ago. For those of us who were in the business during the dot.com boom and bust of the late 1990s to early 2000s, there is an eerie sense of déjà vu all over again.

There are some important differences between then and now.  The dot.com era taught individuals and organizations some hard lessons about the high cost of title inflation. When it comes to advancing your career, the fundamental things still apply:

Have a plan: Figure out where you want to go and create a roadmap for getting there.

Know yourself: Be aware of your work style and the kind of environment you need to be in to flourish. If you work best in a flat organization with a quick, intuitive decision-making style, going to a hierarchical organization with a deliberate, cerebral decision-making style will guarantee problems, no matter how well the day-to-day responsibilities match your skill set.

Know your company: It's nice when companies have compelling values statements on their websites, but what really counts is whether they walk the talk. How do they treat their people? How do they treat their other stakeholders?

Revamp your resume: Keep it current, cogent and jargon-free. Include key words for pick-up by applicant tracking systems.

Embrace social networking: If you're not active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, get started right now.

Enhance your brand:

o        Consistently exceed expectations

o        Develop an area of expertise

o        Share your passion

o        Play well with others

o        Never stop learning

o        Build strategic alliances inside and outside of your organization

o        Build on your successes and learn from your mistakes

o        Look for new challenges and meet them with strategy and creativity

Judith Harrison is SVP, staffing and diversity & inclusion for Weber Shandwick and Constituency Management Group

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