I had the pleasure of moderating a panel that included Shai Phillips of Berkhemer Clayton, Inc, Jennifer Doidge of Russell Reynolds Associates, Peter McDermott of Korn Ferry, and Judith Cushman of Judith Cushman & Associates.

No one saw 2020 coming. No one could have planned for it. Layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes… we’ve heard it all. Our LinkedIn feeds are full of layoff posts and #OpenToWork announcements. It’s easy to lose hope. But we gathered the best recruiters in the industry to give us their insights and perspectives. The good news is, each of them shared collective optimism for what’s to come. It might just be the best time to be a communicator, marketer and PR professional. 

Doidge noticed how resilient and adaptable the industry has been. Phillips suggests there’s a “split market” right now. One segment, he shared, has trended downward and it’s bringing down our economy and job availability. But the other segment is trending upward. Industries like tech, consumer media, mobile, even grocery-related industries are hiring a ton of assistance to adapt. Cushman shared there are tons of opportunities coming, but right now optimism and patience are needed. 

Where are recruiters hanging out and where should you be?

LinkedIn is a great tool to network. But don’t overlook the power of your agency or consultancy network. Think strategically and outside the box when it comes to relationship-building and ultimately finding your next gig. Recruiters always ask for referrals before digging into a pile of resumes. 

LinkedIn vs. Resume

Phillips discussed how LinkedIn will soon take over resumes, but we’re not quite there yet. As of right now, resumes are still taking precedence over LinkedIn. The panel agreed. They said people tend to fluff their LinkedIn profiles and take many liberties with it—hindering its accuracy, and therefore it’s less reliable. But on a resume, people are more inclined to be truthful and accurate. LinkedIn, however, is a great tool for networking, personal branding and can serve as an extension of your resume. Doidge said whenever she pitches a candidate to a client, the client immediately searches the candidate on LinkedIn. McDermott said that LinkedIn should mirror the resume, but resumes won’t go away for a while, especially for our industry. 

Quick tips:

  • Data, data, data! Don’t just describe what you do. Use metrics and data to quantify your successes and accomplishments
  • Add months and dates to your resume, education included
  • Don’t get too creative with your resume 
  • Be smart, succinct and show off your comms skills
  • Get straight to the point, recruiters don’t need every detail
  • Fill your LinkedIn out as much as possible (makes recruiter’s job easier)

Breaking into tech and the public sector 

People automatically think it’s impossible to break into companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google. Especially now. Doidge shared that orgs like those have built smart internal recruiting functions that are complex to navigate—and it will only continue to get smarter. A best practice is to network with internal recruiters who focus on communication, marketing and PR functions. 

In terms of the public sector, Phillips shares there’s a high demand for people who understand earnings, stock pricing and investor relations. McDermott explains how communicators will soon turn into subject matter experts for policy and public affairs. Communicators will have to be smart in all of the above to stay relevant and agile. Cushman shares that once vaccines are available, there will be plenty of opportunities for communicators to educate the public on it. 

Generalist vs. Specialist

Doidge discusses how generalists are more like athletes. There’s a way to package your experience and reputation in a way that speaks to more broad experience. Being a generalist isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s additive to your next role. 

BLM, ageism and prejudice in the hiring system

Companies right now need the right skillset and are less concerned with when you graduated college. The ability to understand social media management, metrics, AI and data analysis are key. 

There are also other people being left out of the market. Black Lives Matter has shed light to the many injustices happening in the workplace. McDermott shared information on The LAGRANT Foundation, a non-profit he works with to recruit and place more ethnic and diverse hires into the industry. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) and ageism have been discussed for 30 years.

Cushman predicts companies will (and are already starting to) recognize more responsibility to keep their employees engaged. She predicts more remote opportunities, flexible work hours and onsite childcare. Everything will be turned upside down. 

Predictions on hiring trends for the next 3-6 months?

My personal opinion is we will continue to expand our range of potential hires and will no longer be limited by geographical standards. At Connext, we also believe there will be a greater need for independent consultants and project-based work before clients consider full-time hires. 

The biggest trend over the last decade has been the integration of marketing and communications. Phillips shares there used to be separate silos but there’s a need for collaboration. Slowly, over time, these functions will morph into one. 

Doidge says it’s a great time to be in communications because company reputation is huge right now. C-level executives are prioritizing and investing in communications.

To Doidge’s point, McDermott adds that communicators have been on the front lines for big crises in the past. The relationship between communicators and executives have only strengthened over the years. He says communications is the only function that continues to take on more as time goes by. There’s a lot more hope and opportunities for the industry.