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:
Category Archives: Recruitment
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Take a copy of your CV, along with anything else you have been asked to take – a portfolio of work for example.
- Do your research. Make sure you know what the company does. Find out as much as you can about the person interviewing you too.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be interested. Don’t stare out of the window when they are talking to you, or pick your nose, or stare at your shoes.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.