Home Blog HAPPO Have relationships trumped skills in the PR job search?

Have relationships trumped skills in the PR job search?


I had a very interesting discussion on Twitter last week that was spurred by one tweet:

My opinion: As I said at last Thursday’s night’s pre-Alphabet Bash prezo, I believe relationships have officially trumped skills when it comes to the job search. In fact, during our Twitter conversation, I thought Danny Olson said it best:

That really nails it. Relationships open doors. Skills seal the deal. You definitely need both–I’m just saying relationships matter a helluva a lot more than most people think when it comes to getting employers to notice you in the job search phase.

Consider the following scenario.

You’re a midsized agency owner. You need to hire an account executive with 1-2 years experience. You post the job opening online and receive 100 resumes within a week. You want to bring in 5 candidates to interview. How do you boil down that list?

I’ll tell you one big way: relationships.

Here’s how the conversation goes between the agency owner and the other senior leaders:

“We should look at XXX–she’s the daughter of our XXX client.”

“What about XXX? I think XXXX knows her and always has great things to say about her.”

“I think we should bring XXX in. I met her at a PRSA event last year and she seemed really smart.”

“Definitely need to look at XXX. I worked with him at XXXX for 3 years. Super smart guy.”

If you don’t think those conversations happen, you’re flat-out kidding yourself.

What’s more, how does a resume stand out in a pile of 100? Quite simply, it doesn’t. Sure, some stand out more than others, sure. But I can virtually guarantee you that in that stack of 100 there are probably at least 20 that appear to be very similar. In this case, the future AE probably has great intern experience (with at least one agency), a list of volunteer activities and a list of accolades with their local PRSSA chapter.

Let’s look at this yet another way.

If we are going on skills and we are looking at resumes, how do I judge one person’s skill sets against another’s? Aren’t the skills somewhat “commoditized” in our industry? I mean, who’s to say candidate A writes a better press release or blog post than candidate B (within reason of course; I know there are basic writing skills here, I’m talking about comparing one good writer with another)? And by how much? Or, how do I know candidate C is such a better leader than candidate D? How do you measure that?

Short answer: You don’t. At least not with hard numbers–or a resume.

That’s where relationships come in. And the almighty power of a referral.

That’s how you get interviews. Relationships.

Agree? Think I’m crazy. Let’s have it out in the comments.



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