Recently I had the opportunity to visit with some public relations firms and advertising agencies in the Chicago area. During the meetings, it amazed me how each group had expanded its services to its clients, so much so, I asked each firm about how the two unique entities interact when sharing a client. Each side (PR and Ad) admitted the landscape is shifting. They do work together on campaigns for clients and certain services are still unique to each industry, but more often the lines of distinction are blurring as each entity is being asked by, and is offering, clients services that used to be the purview of the other.
By conducting informational interviews and networking with professionals in your target industry, one can identify in what ways industries are shifting and how this may affect one who is in the midst of a career search. It is important to know the current industry trends as it can help you many ways:
Job Opportunities: Knowing how an industry is developing, you may be able to see needs of a company before others do. For example, many PR and Advertising agencies are hiring research analysts – data crunching analysts who, five years ago, who used to be primarily with market research firms are now finding homes in these communication oriented operations.
Finding this hard to believe? Think about how many Social Media jobs existed 5 years ago? Now most businesses have built this position into its marketing or communication teams.
As industries develop/emerge, new opportunities can be created. Just as I mentioned about Social Media roles, the same is true for digital roles as well. Many universities and other sports entities have realized they have thousands of hours of digital footage, but who owns it and how to monetize these files has created new jobs that did not exist prior to YouTube, mobile apps, iTunes, …
Career Advancement: I was in a meeting a couple of years back where we were discussing personnel within a division. As we discussed one employee, the boss summed up her performance by stating, “She is still doing the job we asked her to do 10 years ago.” If one does not evolve along with his/her industry, one risks the likelihood of becoming a dinosaur. Know where your industry is heading in order to stay ahead of trends, technology, and potential pitfalls. Think of industries that have undergone seismic changes: typewriter repairmen, toll booth collectors, small bookstores, US Postal Service, daily newspapers, etc. Workers in these fields who saw the emerging trends (USPS – email, text, FedEx) would have been able to take action. Those who ignored trends are finding themselves on the wrong side of the changing landscape.
Knowing where your industry is heading is not just for saving one’s job, it also allows someone to advance one’s career. Marketing professionals who embraced and learned the various aspects of social media five years ago now find themselves in positions of influence in their departments.
Interviewing: Knowing what are the hot topics in an industry will help you in an interview. Being able to reference recent articles and opinions about these issues will communicate your strong interest in the field and opportunity. Employers like to hire candidates who have an interest in the industry and are knowledgeable about emerging trends. No one wants to hire someone who is looking to do the job the way it was done ten years ago.
By keeping abreast of developments and trends within an industry, you are helping your career in a myriad of ways.