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A career path is not a game of darts!

Some communications professionals have an exotic resume.  It’s anchored by a university degree in English literature, followed by two years of teaching in Africa, a year waiting tables in Montreal, a short stint in a chef’s course at La Varenne, Paris, and a one-year postgraduate certificate in public relations.  This just to get them in the door of their first public relations job!  Then you glance down the page to see the person has worked at three different public relations firms in less than two years, pushing product ranging from mascara to waste disposal systems and satellite radio.

Some might say it’s clever to shrewdly trade up for more money and a better job title at every turn.  As someone who recruits public relations professionals, however, I would not be inclined to interview that individual behind the fascinating resume, because it screams lack of direction or commitment.

The Gen Ys out there can go ahead and call me an out-of-touch Boomer. I know, you have the patience of a toddler and are proud of it.  The fact is, a career path is not a game of darts.  Recruiters seek people with a clear direction in mind of where they want to go.  Education and experience count. Continuity does, too.  If someone has the stomach to weather an entry level job doing media lists and event RSVPs and remain in that thankless post for at least a year, then a potential employer sees determination and character.

Employees who flit from job to job, company to company and sector to sector, are dabblers. They are like the lover who never commits and in the end gets left by the partner who finally sees them for the cad they are.

I hear there’s a war for communications talent out there, and that good people will always find jobs. True. There is always the need for good people but getting good takes time and experience.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his recent book, Outliers: The Story of Success, says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert.  Talent takes time to develop. There is no short-cut, no matter how well you position your experience on paper.

Economic times are tough.  This is not the best time to be careless with your career.  Take a hard look at your resume and decide where you want to be in five years. Are you making too many job changes because you’re not happy with the boss, your salary is not as high as you’d like, or you’re just bored?  Consider rolling up your sleeves, putting on the rubber gloves and nose clip, and getting down and dirty with your job.  Take the time to put in the time to build a solid resume.  Employers are looking for people with staying power and a logical progression of more demanding roles.  Better yet, figure out what you want to do and create that job right where you are.  Sometimes changing jobs is not the answer.

Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with more than 325 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. . Email, [email protected]