PRSA Portland Metro Chapter

How I’m preparing for my next dream job—and why you should, too


Oct 15


How I’m preparing for my next dream job—and why you should, too

Wherein I make the case for lifelong learning, active membership and industry involvement

By Dave Thompson, APR

VP Member Services and Chief Relationship Officer


What’s the big picture of your career? Too often we wear our current organization’s position blinders. Say you’re a “project leader 1,” whatever that means inside your company. So you look for a promotion to…project leader 2! Or something comparable to a “PL2” in another company.

I believe it’s better to look closely at your current skill set and compare it to what you’ll need to qualify for future jobs you want. Plan your professional development strategy to become the right person with the right skills at the right time—when those jobs become available.

Join up—and join in

Membership in a communications industry support organization such as PRSA [see below] then becomes more obviously a worthwhile investment in your career:

  • Take advantage of the monthly or quarterly professional development opportunities—and the annual Communicators Conference—that expand your skill set and help you become a thought leader
  • Use other members as your private crowd-source to ask questions about tools and tactics you’re having trouble figuring out
  • Network with members to find out about those future jobs and the required skill sets
  • Volunteer to work on a chapter committee to gain experience in something you know you need to learn—and add that experience to your résumé

Membership ROI only comes from personal engagement! As 2014 PRSA-Portland Metro Chapter president Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA puts it so memorably: “Don’t just join; join in!”

Take charge of your professional development

But you can—and should—do more, on a personal level. Because the changes in our world keep speeding up. Some of the information delivery channels we used for decades have lost much of their influence; many channels we use routinely today didn’t exist 10 years ago:

  • LinkedIn launched in 2003
  • Facebook first opened to non-school users in 2006
  • Twitter launched in 2006
  • Instagram and Pinterest launched in 2010
  • Even Google, the heart of much of our measurement mechanisms, is only 17 years old: It set up shop in 1998

If our social media platforms were human, some of the kids would just be starting kindergarten; most of the kids wouldn’t be out of elementary school yet; and none would have graduated high school.

Yet they’re crucial tactical elements of many of our outreach strategies.

Follow today’s leaders to become one of tomorrow’s

What will our tools be tomorrow? How can we prepare?

Today’s thought leaders are giving us their informed opinions. Are you following them? This is crowd-sourcing at its finest! Follow or read the smart people you come across. In alphabetical order, here are some of my favorites:

There are many more. [Name your favorites in the comments.] Consider their ideas. And whether you agree or disagree, join the conversation.

Make it your own

Set aside time every day to explore—to play with new tools on your own. You know from your own experience that the really good Excel masters, or WORD masters, or Facebook masters, simply started using, exploring and playing with the tool.

A social scientist would call that habituation. I call it “making it your own.” And I call it making yourself a technologist as well as a strategist. I believe future job titles in our communications profession will all have the word “technologist” appended to them, if only implicitly. Because on top of the strategy you craft, you also have to be able to execute using the latest tactical tools.

You have to be able to combine the hi-tech tools at your fingertips with your communications expertise in strategic planning.

I have a great—and very fun—example to make my point. Kawehi (ka-VEY’-hee) is an independent singer/songwriter.

Kawehi tried to make it as a singer/songwriter/musician in LA. She and eleventy-seven others over the years (including me, but that’s another story). I think she’s certainly talented enough that, with the luck that seems to be required, she might have broken out of the pack of amazing musicians in LA and “made it big.”

Instead, she found her own way. She came across a beat box—sound looping technology—and started exploring. I have no idea what title fits her today, but let me suggest musical technologist. No ring to it, I admit! But watch this YouTube video of Kawehi sitting on her bed with her dogs and making a cover of a Michael Jackson classic in successive stages as she performs live and in real time. The performance is more than just music; she’s using her technology to create the music while she’s performing the music. In real time.

I could watch this for hours.

We need to follow Kawehi’s metaphorical lead. Can you use today’s technologic tools with such grace and ease to create your ‘music’—your informational materials—quickly and correctly under deadline pressure?

Kawehi is doing what each of us must learn to do—except maybe for singing. I’ll leave that to her.

BTW, my next dream job is Chief Marketing Technologist. It’s a real title: Look it up!

What’s yours?



What do you think?

Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Industry support organizations in NW/Central Oregon (supporting communications)

  • AMA (American Marketing Association) Portland Chapter []
  • HCO (Healthcare Communicators of Oregon) Portland/Vancouver Chapter []
  • IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) Oregon-Columbia Chapter in Portland []
  • IAP2 (International Association of Public Participation) Cascade Chapter in Portland []
  • OSPRA (Oregon School Public Relations Association) []
  • PRSA (Public Relations Society of America)
  • SHRM (Society of Human Resource Professionals) Portland Chapter []

(If I left out your favorite, please mention it in the comments)

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