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Summer career planning top tips

As well offering plenty of opportunities for lying about in the sun (if you can stand the heat), summer is also a great time to take stock and think about your future. Don’t worry, we are not suggesting you actually do any work, just think about what you want to achieve.

For Jay Williams, director of strategy at PR agency 72Point, the only thing that really matters is making sure your creative skills are up to scratch: “Never mind a 'career audit'. Anybody who takes creativity remotely seriously should be constantly open to the review, improvement and innovation of our stock-in-trade – ideas.

Test your ideas

“We’re in the ideas business and serious stock-taking needs to be hard-wired into the process. We need to test our ideas to destruction, because if we don’t, the media surely (and gleefully) will. Too many PR projects fail because they were not subjected to enough difficult questions in the planning process.

“As Edward de Bono said in his 1992 masterpiece Serious Creativity: ‘Creativity is not simply a way to make things better. Without creativity we are unable to make full use of the information and experience that is already available to us and is locked up in old structures, old patterns, old concepts, and old perceptions.”

Get excited

If this is making it sound that being creative is a lot of effort, Williams points out that coming up with ideas isn’t a chore, it’s invigorating: “A new idea can be the most exciting thing in the world.

“In the latest season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix), one of Jerry Seinfeld’s guests is Neal Brennan, who writes for the peerless Dave Chappelle. When asked what he values most, Brennan replies, without a beat: “New ideas are the only thing I care about.”

Taking time out is one way to boost your creativity, so a lot of summer lazing could be just the thing. Whilst relaxing on a lounger, your thoughts may also turn to other aspect of your job, such as getting some training.

Outside help

You may decide, after some musing, that when you get back to the office you need to do a proper career audit. But this needn’t be too time-consuming, one way to take some of the effort out of the process is to ask for outside help. Pally Kaur, director at agency Cherish PR, says: “Career audits are a fantastic way to review what skills you really need in the ever changing PR landscape. As more and more clients ask for skills outside of PR, our role has become so diverse that PR professionals need a 360-degree understanding of services such as branding, SEO, design, digital marketing, as well as management skills.

“To help close the skills gap, we often work with experts, where we learn-on-the-job, bring in the relevant trainers and some members of the team provide training to the rest of the group. Quarterly reviews provides insight into what type of skills the team requires to move forward and expand their horizons.”

First, you might want to think of a few improvements you can carry out on your own. Below, a PR coach explains some simple techniques for getting your career on track.

Tips for transforming your PR career

Helen Campbell, who coaches PR freelancers, offers this advice:

Sketch it out

"A lovely career audit technique – which is great to try in the summer while you're off work – involves writing or sketching out your perfect working day. The next step is noticing the differences between your current – typical – working day and your ideal day.

 "I do this regularly myself and I make small instant changes where possible – to align my working day more closely with my 'dream day'. I then make longer-term plans to tackle the bigger things.


Small changes

"An example of a very quick, easy, change could be buying your milk in glass bottles to reduce your plastic waste at work – if that’s a cause close to your heart. A bigger change to your typical working day (for freelancers) could be based on the time you begin and end your day. For example, if you’re definitely not a morning person then you might choose clients based in the US. This time difference – between the UK and the US – could free up your mornings from client contact, and you can work during the afternoon and evening instead."

So there you go, sorting out your career should be a piece of cake. But first it’s probably time for another summer cocktail….

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