Why we swapped jobs:
After hosting a successful secondment with an overseas colleague earlier this year, Saint-Gobain was keen to welcome more communications professionals into their team for knowledge-sharing and skill swapping. Spotting a call out for a job swap on LinkedIn, we knew that this would be an amazing opportunity to get a valuable insight into how as PR professionals, we can best serve a busy communications team like this in future.
Katie Mackinnon, External Brand Storyteller and Content Manager Saint-Gobain Delegation UK & Ireland, was the first to visit us here at spottydog to sit down with our team members and find out what we do. After welcoming her warmly with a rapturous greeting from the office dogs (luckily she was a huge fan of our furry friends), Katie began her day as a member of our pack. This included learning how we approach influencer outreach for our clients, getting a peek at the process behind our creative social media campaign planning and joining our studio team to discover our content capabilities.
A week later, it was my turn to spend the day in Katie’s shoes over at Saint-Gobain house in Coventry. Here, I got the chance to pick the brains of the Digital Communities Executive, see some of the great content created by the Digital Designer and discuss trends and developments with the Digital and Communications Director to name a few.
It was such a valuable experience due to the amount of information and advice shared, as well as being a brilliant opportunity for networking with other communications professionals within the Midlands. That’s why I wanted to share some of the highlights and tips we learnt along the way to help you plan for your own successful job swap op!
The benefits of a job swap:
Fast paced agency life and looming deadlines can mean we can become blind to the pressures that our clients, marketing managers or communications teams are under. This job swap gave me the opportunity to spend a full day in someone else’s role, seeing first-hand the demands and challenges being faced; the meetings, training, the amount of ‘could you justs’ which arise throughout any working day. One of the biggest benefits of this for both people involved is simply being better able to empathise and understand the pressures that others are under, which I think can only be a good thing and have a positive impact on our client relations.
Another benefit was sharing how we each approach tasks, whether it be in relation to HR, content briefing or influencer marketing. Taking the day to get my head out of my own tasks to spend time looking at someone else’s has given me a lot of food for thought. As a result, I’m thinking about how we may be able to improve and update our own processes thanks to the totally fresh perspectives the Saint-Gobain team presented – and hopefully we’ve done the same for them!
(If nothing else, it seems ‘bring your dog to work day’ is definitely on the agenda for next year thanks to our furry influences!)
Finally, as you essentially become a member of the team for the day, a job swap is a great way to ask questions informally and exchange ideas in a non-pressured environment. Working in the same industry, it was also so valuable to go beyond the client/agency construct to openly share the challenges we all face and swap solutions in this new way.
How you can do it too:
1: Make sure your swap is relevant
While it’s good to venture outside of your own immediate skill set or comfort zone, you do want to ensure you get value out of the exchange and learn skills that will benefit you back in your real position. For that reason, suggest the swap with someone who can upskill you in an area you’re interested to learn more about or with someone who is working in a similar role but in a different company.
2: Be enthusiastic
Ask plenty of questions, make lots of notes and try to get as much information and advice out of the job swap as you can. Everyone is busy, and while a full day away from your own desk may seem onerous, it’s important to throw yourself in and showcase how enthusiastic you are in order to get the most out of the experience. Also, don’t be afraid to take on a solo task as part of the job swap. They won’t be expecting perfection from you, so get creative and offer your opinions.
3: Be prepared
Draft up an agenda for the day ahead of the swap so everyone on your team knows what part they have to play. Also, be sure to research the company or subject area so you have common ground to start on and can ask useful questions along the way!