On April 2, a few friends and I put on the “Dream Team” hats that Ned Lundquist, ABC, bestowed on us some years ago, to help folks “Pimp My Job.”

What on earth is “Pimp My Job,” you ask?

If you subscribe to Ned’s free, weekly “Job of the Week” newsletter, which I sometimes guest-edit, you know what we’re about. But in essence, we’re a group of communicators from near and far who provide advice – sometimes mercilessly – to those brave enough to ask for it. They submit their on-the-job – or job hunting – nightmares to us, and we have at it, maintaining their privacy. Advice is compiled and published in the newsletter. You can read previous PMJs here.

PMJ Meets IABC

A few years ago, when I ran IABC/Washington‘s programming, I thought it would be fun to do a real world version of PMJ – and sure enough, it was. A couple of weeks ago, we reprised our “act” at IABC/Washington’s Senior Communicators Council meeting (disclosure: I’m President-Elect for the chapter, currently also Acting President).

Given how dramatically the economy has changed in the past few years, I wasn’t quite sure how the SCC meeting would go (it’s one thing to pimp your job while you still have it, quite another when you, and more and more of your peers, are out of work).

It was wonderful. Folks shared their experiences, asked for advice, gave advice, and I felt a tremendous sense of camaraderie among the attendees. We had some fun too: can you guess which Indian goddess the Dream Team is trying to portray here?

“It’s Not Rocket Science

Now, none of what we said is rocket science (I couldn’t resist). Career advice abounds, especially these days. But there were two things that stayed with me:

1) It’s easy to get depressed when you’re in a go-nowhere job/laid off/have been job hunting for years, etc. But as Kate Perrin of PRofessional Solutions said, you cannot afford to let the “stink of desperation” cling to you. That’s when you’re in such a poor frame of mind that it comes across no matter where you are, who you’re talking to, or what you’re talking about … and that will come through in your interviews.  Do I need to give you examples? I didn’t think so.

2) Senior communicators must start understanding and using online social networks. Being… well, me, I gave the attendees a quick demonstration of Twitter which, as we all know, is just one of the many platforms you can use to connect with people. Time and time again, I hear “we don’t get it,” “I’m not technologically savvy,” what the heck is the point of (fill in your epithet network of choice) anyway?”

The point is two-fold: first, it’s networking. If you have experienced the advantages of meeting and communicating with your peers outside of your work, you cannot afford to ignore online venues that afford you the same opportunities. Yes, you have to then take your online network offline and put it to work for you. But you can’t do that if you don’t have an online network.

Second, you are probably finding that these days, more and more jobs require a knowledge of the online sphere and social media. How can you be competitive if you don’t explore the spaces potential employers need you to have an understanding of? It doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourself an “expert” (there are too many wannabe experts floating around these days anyway, as Beth Harte points out in this most excellent post). But you’ve got to be able to talk knowledgeably about it – and you can’t do that if you don’t engage.

In my enthusiasm to bring a Twitter dimension to the meeting, I asked my tweeps to submit questions for the Dream Team to me via Twitter, hoping to be able to answer them live from the session. Many thanks to all of you who did (you can read the entire event-related tweetstream here). The meeting had so many facets to it that we weren’t able to get to all the questions, but they (and the answers) have been published in today’s edition of JOTW.

A final word: if you don’t subscribe to JOTW, I strongly recommend you do. It’s completely free and you will experience the “positive, unanticipated consequences of nedworking” first-hand. Subscription (and unsubscription) instructions are at the top and bottom of every email. The annual March 32nd issue itself is worth the price of admission.

The Bottom Line

Yes, it’s tough out there. But it’s tough for everyone, not just you. So check your desperation at the door and start using the networks around you. That’s what they’re there for, and you’ll be the better for it.

(Thanks, Ned for the use of your photo)

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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