Category Archives: Graduates

Video CVs – are they the future?

In an era of high-levels of youth unemployment, sensible graduates are trying to find ways to stand out from the crowd. Are video CVs the way forward?It may be much easier to be persuasive if you can talk to an employer rather than just send a cover letter, so it might be a great way to get noticed. A couple of years ago I featured this CVIV from Graeme Anthony (he then went on to secure himself a job at a PR agency so it did the trick)

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10 ways to start writing for a PR career

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Writing skills are highly prized by PR employers but if you’ve had three (or more) years of writing essays and dissertations, how do you go about changing your writing skills to be relevant to a PR career? Continue reading

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Ten tips for new graduates

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So you’ve just left university and you’re hankering after a job in PR.  What should you be doing?  Here are my ten top tips.  Continue reading

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Rude graduates don’t get jobs

 

rudeStats on graduate employment make depressing reading.  It is one of the hardest times ever to leave university and secure a graduate level job.  My trainees worked out it was taking them on average 33 applications to secure an interview.  AN INTERVIEW, not even a job offer!  These are well trained grads who write great cover letters and have sparkling CVs which experienced PR headhunters have combed through in great detail, and even they struggle.

 

Which is why I was surprised on Monday when six out of twenty graduates invited to come along, didn’t turn up for the Taylor Bennett Foundation assessment day.  Two¸I believe, had genuine reasons not to be there but the other four contacted us after 8pm on the day before to say they  wouldn’t be turning up.  One said “I’ve had a change of circumstance”.  What could possibly change on a Sunday night that they didn’t know about on the Friday?

 

None of them had the balls to call us on the phone.  Even the two with genuine reasons. They all sent vague emails.  That really grips my shit.  It’s rude, and cowardly.  Although in the past we’ve had some who haven’t turned up and haven’t bothered to contact us at all and that is unforgiveable.

 

To get an assessment invitation they had to fill in a very very long application form.  It is deliberately long to test commitment to the programme and to give me the opportunity to check out whether they write well and whether they have the right motivation to be selected.  Then they have to attend a two hour pre-assessment briefing where they are given a rundown of what the assessment day entails and a presentation topic which they have to spend several hours preparing in advance.  Finally, they have to complete a 30 minute online personality suitability test.  It’s hardcore.  It’s detailed.  It’s designed for us to get the best.  These six graduates completed all these stages and yet still didn’t show for the assessment.

 

They are told, even if they don’t secure one of the eight coveted spots on our programme we will give them very detailed and honest feedback.  This takes considerable time and effort by our assessors and our Programme Manager who has to collate all of the handwritten notes from the day.  It is feedback they are never likely to get anywhere else.  It is unique to us and it is our way of helping more than just the graduates who join us for the ten week traineeship.  Only about one in ten grads bother to reply to us to say thank you for the feedback.  Manners, it seems, are not taught at university.

 

If I were a grad in this economic climate, I would have to be on my deathbed to not to turn up to such an amazing opportunity.

 

In a way, those graduates did us a favour.  It saved us the job of weeding them out as unreliable and uncommitted during the assessment process.  However, they did not do other grads a favour.  If they had given us enough notice – say, Friday lunchtime – then we could have invited others to have taken their place and have a shot at getting a place on the TBF programme.

 

So if they apply again, their applications will automatically go in the bin.  We don’t take rude and selfish people at the Taylor Bennett Foundation, and I suspect other employers won’t either.

 

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Recommended reading for graduates job hunting in PR

I often get asked advice by graduates looking to break into the PR industry so here’s my round up of useful articles for job-hunting grads:

Twitter Feeds for PR Wannabes

How to stand out as PR interns

50 best blogs for PR professionals

Creative PR job applications

Tips for getting a job in PR

How to get in PR and stay in it 

How to make the most of your internship

5 good and bad ways to get a job in PR

How to write a thank you letter

How to make a good first impression

Making your CV more effective

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What skills do you need to run a PR internship?

2012 is turning out to be quite a year.  Not only will the Taylor Bennett Foundation be running four PR internships, and increasing the intake from six graduates on each programme to eight but also, rather inconveniently, I am having a baby.

It was a planned pregnancy.  Well, planned in that we have been trying to conceive for nearly five years with no luck, but I never really had expected it to happen and so in terms of when the baby is due to make an appearance, it was not diarised.

For anyone who knows me well, you will realise that this has caused me endless sleepless nights.  My role at the Foundation is completely unique.  I have never met anyone who does my job elsewhere and so I take great pains to make sure I am not away on holiday when the internships are running so that someone else doesn’t have to take on tasks they never imagined they’d have to.  I never imagined, therefore, that I would be taking four months maternity leave in the middle of the year and leaving my precious interns in the hands of someone new.

The baby has been warned that it must appear on its due date of May 5th as to be early would be disastrous and to be late will mean mummy will be cross.  My friends have scoffed at the idea of a child who follows my spreadsheet but it will have to learn pretty quickly I tell you.

The question of who will manage the internship programmes while I am away is still up in the air.  We’ve had a few ideas but the decision of who takes over is down to the Foundation’s trustees so I have my fingers crossed they will go with my first choice.

Whoever it is will have to take on a bewildering array of tasks.  I have been running these programmes for two years now and I had never quite grasped the variety of things I do on a day to day basis.  To ease the cover person into the role, I have started compiling a “Guide to Running the Taylor Bennett Foundation Internships”.  It is twenty pages so far and I’m only up to what to do to recruit the interns and how to settle them in on their first week.

I am very lucky in that I love my role.  It is challenging, interesting and can be very rewarding, but it demands of me some unusual skills.

So, for those of you who fancy running such a scheme here are just some of the more random things you’ll be tasked with:

–          Make sure the interns understand how to change a toilet roll (no one likes going into the loo to find that the last roll has been used and not replaced)

–          Ensure you’re up to date with popular culture so as not to seem a million years old (I am 37 so to the average 22 year old I am ancient) and, if running an internship focussed on fashion PR, be clear in your understanding that Paul’s Boutique bags are chavvy and Mulberry are not

–          Be clear when giving instructions.  Graduates are used to pages of academic instructions with little room for interpretation.  If your directions aren’t clear, they’ll go off piste

–          When giving them career advice think about it from their mum’s point of view.  If it’s not advice you’d give your own child, it’s bad advice

–          Bring them cake.  Homemade is best, but if you’re six month’s pregnant and can’t be arsed to bake then Krispy Kremes also go down well

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