Category Archives: Recruitment

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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Filed under Graduates, PR, Recruitment

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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Filed under Careers, Graduates, PR, Recruitment

Taylor Bennett Foundation – Diversity Internship Schemes 2012

In 2012 the Taylor Bennett Foundation (for which I am the Course Director) is running four more paid PR internship and training schemes designed to address the lack of black and ethnic minorities in the PR industry.

Application deadline for the Jan – Mar scheme run with Talk PR is midday on  19th December so get applying!

For more details go to our website www.taylorbennettfoundation.org

 

Click on the image below to read our recruitment advert.

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Filed under Diversity, Graduates, PR, Recruitment

Ten Golden Interview Rules

  1. Turn up. If you can’t go to the interview for any reason, call the interviewer to apologise and explain so that they can give your slot to someone else.
  2. Be on time. Not 30 minutes early, not five minutes late. ON TIME. If you are unsure where you are meant to be going, do a trial run a few days before. If you get there very early on the day, go to a coffee shop and hang around until it is time for the interview. If you turn up early, the interviewer will feel under pressure to interview you then, when they may have other things to do. If you are late, you are wasting their time. Being late says “my time is more important than yours”. Not a great start.
  3. Dress smartly. If you don’t have a suit, buy one or borrow one. Polish your shoes. Have brushed hair and pay attention to your personal hygiene.
  4. Take a copy of your CV, along with anything else you have been asked to take – a portfolio of work for example.
  5. Do your research. Make sure you know what the company does. Find out as much as you can about the person interviewing you too.
  6. Read the job spec (assuming you have one) and the job advert, carefully. These will give you an idea of the questions you will be asked. If the job spec says that one of the requirements of this job is “a good eye for detail” they may ask you to give an example of when you have demonstrated that skill.
  7. Practise your handshake. A wet fish in your hand is not nice. Likewise, don’t try and crush your interviewer’s hand. Firm, but not bone-breaking, is best.
  8. Be interested. Don’t stare out of the window when they are talking to you, or pick your nose, or stare at your shoes.
  9. Be prepared to ask questions. At the end of the interview you will probably be asked if you have any questions. They may have already covered everything you need to know, but it’s best to have something to ask. Good questions include asking about their training opportunities, what the next stage in the interview process is likely to be, or when you are likely to hear from them.
  10. Remember that an interview is a two-way process. It is your opportunity to decide if you want to work for the company, just as much as it is their opportunity to find out if they would like to hire you.

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Ten tips for job hunters

Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for your first break into PR, or a seasoned professional wanting to make your next move, job hunting can be a total drag.  Here’s ten tips for finding your next role.

1)      Set yourself a specific time for job applications.  If you’re out of work, then treat it like a 9 – 5 job.  Get up, make a cup of coffee, turn on your computer and start hunting.  Resist the urge to turn on the telly – Jezza Kyle is far too tempting.  Take a break for lunch and then get back to it until the end of the working day.  If you’re already in a job then set aside an hour every evening.

2)      Do your homework.  Before you apply make sure you understand the role and the company you are applying to.  Reflect your research in your covering letter and make sure each application is specific to that particular company.  Standard covering letters go in the bin.  If you are applying through a recruitment agency this is a little more difficult, but try to make your application as relevant to the role as possible.

3)      Keep a record.  A recent graduate once told me that he’d worked out it was taking him, on average, 33 applications to achieve one interview for a PR role.  That’s a hell of a lot of applications but it is not surprising.  Competition for roles, particularly at entry level, is fierce.  I generally advise graduates to aim for twenty five applications per week, and those people who are already in jobs to aim for one application a day.  With that amount of correspondence you need to keep a record of who you have written to, which position you were applying for, whether you had a response and any other info that might be useful – like a copy of the job advert or role specification so you can refer to it if you’re called for an interview.  Admin is tedious, but it will make your life easier in the long run.

4)      Be persistent. 90% of the companies you apply to won’t even acknowledge receipt of your application let alone give you feedback if you’re rejected.  Don’t take it personally.  Replying to job applicants takes a huge amount of time and administration and for some firms it’s really low on their list of priorities.  As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t heard back from a company in two weeks, you are unlikely to be called to interview.  Don’t give up though.  It may mean you’re not right for that role, but other positions make crop up that are more suitable so keep applying.

5)       Apply speculatively.  If you apply for a specific job you are competing against all the other people applying for that role.  If you write to a company speculatively here is less chance that you will be competing against others and that your letter will stand out.  Make it clear what you are available for – full time, part time, temporary, permanent, contract, internships etc.  Ask them to keep your details on file for any suitable vacancies and if you haven’t heard back from them in three months, write again.

6)      Network endlessly.  Use social network sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to follow influential PRs and get yourself noticed.  Go along to Tweet Ups, conferences and social events – lots of which are free to attend.   Make a point of collecting business cards and connecting with the people you have met after the event.

7)      Be realistic.  If you’ve got two years of experience and are currently paid £25,000 a year, don’t apply for Director level roles paying £100,000.  You’ll be wasting your time and that of the recruiter.

8)      Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.  Attention to detail is incredibly important when applying for jobs.  Make sure you address your application to the right person, and spell their name correctly.  Don’t just rely on spell check to pick up errors.  Proof read your CV and covering letters several times before you press send, and make sure you attach the relevant documents to your email.  Good writing and proof reading skills are required for most PR roles so it’s essential you can prove you have mastered the basics.

9)      Pay it forward.  If you spot a vacancy that would be great for a job hunting friend or acquaintance send them the link to the advert.   Hopefully, they will return the favour.

10)   Say thank you.  If you get a personal response to your application – even if it is a rejection – write and say thank you.  If you get an interview – even if you don’t get the job – write and say thank you.  If someone introduces you to a contact who then offers you an interview, write and thank the referrer.  Such a simple courtesy will make you stick in their minds and will make them more likely to recommend you again in the future.  Thank you letters and emails are rarer than you might imagine and are a really easy way to build your reputation as a thoughtful and friendly person to work with.

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Are your followers for sale?

For_sale_sign

I have an on-off love affair with Twitter.  Sometimes, I use it loads.  Sometimes, I forget it’s there and then there is a delight in re-discovering it.  I use it mostly for business, although I do follow a few friends (and a couple of celebs, but I’m embarrassed about doing that so let’s not dwell on it).  I don’t live in London and am only in the Shoreditch office two days a week so there are few opportunities to network face-to-face.  Twitter is a nice way of finding out what’s going on in the industry, and building relationships with practitioners.  These relationships are useful to me in three ways; firstly, I edit espresso, a weekly e-bulletin which we fill with PR and media news and feature career tips and industry insights.  Quite often I find interviewees or industry spokespeople through Twitter and I also use it for leads on industry stories.   Secondly, I used to be a recruiter.  I no longer recruit directly but I do have connections with Unicorn Jobs and Taylor Bennett and run their diversity internship programme. Relationships with PR practitioners helps me raise awareness of the programme, and have led directly to donations of time, money and training to the interns.  Thirdly, it’s good to just know who is out there, who are the influencers and who is the young blood to watch.  And sometimes, I get to give a little something back – like last week when a student asked me to give some advice on how to get into the PR industry.

Yesterday, I received an email from a Twitter account.  It was anonymous – in that I know which Twitter account it is but there is no way to know who runs it.  I am not going to disclose which account contacted me, as I’m rather interested to see if anyone takes them up on their offer and so will be keeping an eye on them.

Anyway…. this is the email:

Hello,

 I am writing to see if you are interested in taking over the Twitter account ******, including its large follower base of job seekers. The account can be renamed and rebranded, giving your brand and jobs a huge audience, saving time and advertising costs.

 The account can be found at ***** and is followed by a community of PR professionals who are actively searching for their next role through social media. These job seekers have the online skills PR employers are looking for and are engaging with this Twitter account to find their next job. The account is currently tweeting a feed of job postings from various sources, and followers are clicking through to the job postings to find out more. For this demographic, young UK-based PR job seekers, this is the largest Twitter community I am aware of.

 Taking over the account would put your jobs in front of the right people without having to spend money on advertising. It could also significantly help to establish your brand on Twitter. Twitter allows changing the names of accounts, and the followers will be transferred over to the new name.

 Please get in touch if you would be interested in discussing this more.

 

This is my reply:

No thanks.  I run a Facebook group, PR Job Watch, with over 3,000 members.  We don't need to buy Twitter accounts, we can develop our own.  Twitter is all about building relationships.

I'm not sure it's really in the spirit of social media to be "selling" your followers.

Regards
Sarah

 

And their reply:

Very true. Some do a great job, like Unicorn Jobs, but others look for shortcuts.

It is unfortunate, while there are those looking for shortcuts, there will be a market for things like followers. And when there's a market, there are those desperate enough to feed that market. Still, it isn't like it is being sold for spam. I am targeting relevant people who will take care of my followers. Atleast, that's what I keep telling myself.

Thanks for getting back to me and keep up the great work.

ps. I love your esPResso newsletter

 

I mentioned it on Twitter last night and a couple of people expressed outrage at the thought of followers being sold.  I actually *am* a follower of the account in question, and I am not that happy about being sold myself.   But maybe I am behind the times?  Maybe it is acceptable to build up relationships and then sell them on?  Perhaps the likes of The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den are encouraging such entrepreneurial spirit?

It still doesn’t sit quite right with me.  I will be watching with interest to see if a PR recruiter takes them up on it though.

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Filed under Recruitment, Social Media

How not to get a job

Mr_rude_2  I am going to rant.  I rarely rant on here, I silently fume at my desk instead, but this issue deserves a public outing. 

In the past three weeks I’ve had three candidates not show up for interview.  They have all actively applied for a position I have advertised, and been invited to come and meet me and confirmed that they will be turning up at our offices at a specific time and date.  I’ve sat here twiddling my thumbs waiting for them to arrive, unable to book any other meetings into my diary because I have an interview to do, and they’ve failed to show up.  Not only that, but they didn’t bother to call or email me before hand to say they weren’t able to make it.

To add insult to injury, when I’ve dropped them an email and left a polite message on their voicemail to find out if they are on their way or whether they are bothering to come at all they haven’t returned my call.  How RUDE!  All three candidates now have a big black mark against their name on my database saying UNRELIABLE AND RUDE.  I am tempted to name and shame, but figure I behave slightly more professionally than they do.

So here’s a tip, if you want a recruiter to never go out of their way to help you find a job, arrange to meet them and then don’t bother to show up.   

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Filed under Careers, Recruitment