Q: I joined an agency six months ago as an account manager, after I
was promised that I would be running accounts and be given significant
responsibility. However, one month after I joined, the MD brought in a
friend's son to be an account director, and he has been given the
seniority I was led to believe I would get. I feel misled and wonder if
I should start looking for another job?
Ms. B, Denver
A: Wait until you've got the responsibility for hiring people, then
you'll understand the temptation to bring in people you know. Yes, it
may be unfair to all those highly qualified people who aren't known to
you, but it's a handy way to at least know that you'll get along with
But onto your situation. Does the 'friend's son' have comparable or
greater experience than you? Does he provide value above and beyond what
Look objectively at the work he's doing. Maybe he was a good hire for
the agency; just not a very diplomatic or decent way to treat you.
It doesn't matter where 'he' came from, the point is you've been
If there is no acceptable alternative for you, I'd say you have grounds
to let management know that you believe you are under-utilized and
therefore feel the need to move on if they can't support you at the
level you were hired at.
Q: I've just been laid off from my agency job. What should I do now?
I've heard a lot of talk that agencies are using the recession to get
rid of people that were under-performing. Isn't this what potential
future employers will think when I apply for a job?
Ms. T, Los Angeles
A: Yes, many organizations are using the impending recession to cut
employees who aren't delivering. But they are also laying off workers
who are too expensive. Many companies are cutting perfectly good workers
on fairly modest salaries because revenues will not sustain the payroll.
How is a future employer supposed to know which category you're in? They
Most employers will give anyone with a 2001 redundancy on their resume
the benefit of the doubt, given the widespread nature of layoffs.
On a more practical front, you need to move fast to get yourself another
job. One of the more ironic aspects of the current recruitment climate
is that there are still plenty of vacancies out there, so there are
reasons to be optimistic. But with rush of PR casualties over the past
two months you need to get ahead. Those nice people at PRWeek have
reminded me to tell people like you to check out their jobsite,
www.prweekjobs.com, where you can fill in details of the type of PR job
you're looking for. You will then be e-mailed every time a job ad
appears on the site that meets your requirements. Clever, huh? Employing
me isn't the only good idea they've had.
Obviously, you need to polish up your resume, and call the
Here's a few to start you off: in LA, boutique firms include Repovich
Reynolds (626-585-9455), Berkhemer Clayton (213-621-2300), Search West
(805-496-6811). National firms include: Korn Ferry (310-552-1834),
Heidrick & Struggles (212-551-1624), Heyman Associates (212-784-2717),
and Judith Cushman & Associates (425-392-8660).
But also try some cannier ways of sniffing out a job. Read PRWeek and
the papers religiously (let's face it - you've got the time) and try to
discern the companies that are doing well and who might need staff.
Apply directly to them. As well as getting in ahead of the crowd, you'll
also be demonstrating initiative.