I write about a dozen employment reference each year for the Taylor Bennett Foundation alumni. A well written reference can take some time to write and can make all the difference to whether or not you are offered a position. Usually new employers ask ex-employers for a reference once they decide to offer you a job and often the contract is sent to you ‘subject to references’ – meaning that they have the right to withdraw the offer if the references don’t come up to scratch.
So, how should you go about getting a good reference? Continue reading
I’m delighted to announce that How To Get A Job In PR is out now!
Buy it here by clicking on the book over there >>
And here’s the video promo!
Filed under Books, Careers, PR
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)
About a year ago, I started thinking looking around for a careers book to recommend to graduates and other entry-level job seekers. Something that would tell them all about PR, and how to go about getting a job in the industry. A quick search on Amazon revealed that there actually isn’t any useful books on the subject – so I decided to write one. Continue reading
There are lots of articles around on interviewing skills, including mine here and here. But what should you be doing to prepare for the interview before you even walk through the door? Here are my top five tips on preparing for PR job interviews: Continue reading
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
Mentoring is a hot topic at the moment. Everyone is banging on about it, but what is it, and why should you be looking for a mentor?
Having a good mentor can be a real boost for your career. Someone with plenty of experience and knowledge to share can be a great sounding board when you have a work-based issue, and a guiding hand when you need a second opinion on the direction of your career. They may also have access to a network of people it would take you years to get to know so they will be able to open doors for you that previously would have been closed.
If you can join an established mentoring scheme that’s great, but there’s no reason why you can’t find a mentor independently. Preferably, someone you don’t currently work with as you’ll need to be able to discuss work issues without worrying about upsetting the apple cart. Perhaps an ex-colleague or boss you have admired, or approach someone in the industry you have seen speak at an event, or have read their blog and like what they say – they may say no, but they will be flattered to be asked and you never know, they might agree to it.
Have a think about what you want to get out of the mentoring relationship. Do you need help writing a decent CV and covering letter to get a job? Do you want someone to help you write a structured career plan, and help you achieve certain goals? Or do you need something a bit less formal and just an ear to chew on now and then? Make sure you establish both yours and your mentor’s expectations right from the start. It is also useful to set a time limit on the relationship – do you expect to be mentored for the entire length of your career by this person, or are you looking for someone to help you through, say, the next five years?
The onus should be on you to keep in touch with your mentor and make it easy for them to spend some time with you. Don’t expect them to chase you if they haven’t heard from you – they are doing you a favour by giving you their time so make sure you respect that.
The mentor should find mentoring you a rewarding experience and so it’s important that you update them regularly on your progress and be suitably thankful when they give you advice.
If you get the mentoring relationship right, it can be a fantastic way to get an experienced point of view and may make you think differently about how you can achieve your career goals.
Note: This post now also appears on PRcareers.co.uk along with lots of other useful PR careers advice.
So you’ve mastered the CV format and written a brand spanking new one following the the brilliant guidelines in my book but you’ve still got that pesky bit at the bottom to write – the bit most people call “hobbies”. So what do you do if you don’t actually have any hobbies? Should you leave that section blank? I think that everyone has something interesting to say about their pastimes and there’s a number of ways you can tackle it.
Firstly, don’t title that section “hobbies”. Continue reading
- 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.