Tag Archives: graduates
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
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
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
Stats 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.
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:
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.
Three times a year I go through dozens of graduate applications for the Taylor Bennett Foundation PR programme. Each time, I am dazzled by the research and care that have gone into filling in some of these forms. However, I am also dreadfully disappointed and frustrated with others.
So, to help others not to make the same mistakes, here are my ten tips on what do when applying for a PR role.
1) Don’t address your application to the wrong company. Attention to detail is important to PR. Addressing it to “Taylor Herring” instead of “Taylor Bennett” cost one graduate a place this time.
2) Be polite. If the company you have applied to bother to reply (and believe me, lots don’t) then take it on the chin and thank them for considering you. Manners cost nothing. Writing to tell them that they are WRONG and are making a HUGE mistake by not taking you on will make sure they remember you for all the wrong reasons.
3) Avoid clichés. If I had a pound for every time I have read an application with “I like to think out of the box” written on it, I’d be a very rich woman.
4) If a form asks you to list your skills then saying “I’m punctual, honest and reliable” is both dull, and not particularly informative. Surely no one would admit to be habitually late, dishonest and unreliable?
5) If you are asked “Why does a career in PR appeal to you?” do not reply with;
- I hear the money’s good
- I really wanted to be a teacher/surgeon/porn star but couldn’t get the job I wanted so this is the next best thing
- Max Clifford is MY GOD
- I LOVE those Guinness Adverts and want to be able to create stuff like that
- I really want to be a journalist and think this might be an easy way in
6) Don’t ignore the “name” box on an application form, seriously.
7) Read the application instructions carefully. If they ask for a CV and covering letter, then send a CV and covering letter. If they ask for a completed application form, then send a completed application form. If they ask for 400 words on why you’d be a great PR, then send 400 words on why you’d be a great PR. Instructions are there for a reason so follow them.
8) Ignore word counts at your peril. If an application for asks for 100 – 200 words on a particular subject then make sure you write a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 200. Being able to follow such basic instructions is a good indication of whether you’ll be able to follow instructions once you have the job.
9) Don’t submit your application after the deadline. And if your application is rejected because it’s late, don’t send a begging email asking them to consider it anyway. If you want it to be considered, get it in on time. There is no excuse.
10) Avoid saying “I work well in a team, but also on my own”. Yawn.
Since 2008, Taylor Bennett has set out to address the lack of ethnic diversity in the PR industry with an innovative PR training and internship programme. For ten weeks, six black and minority ethnic graduates are given intensive PR training, work-based experience and career guidance. They also get to meet industry professionals from a range of in-house, agency and media organisations. It is a fabulous scheme and in 2010 it won the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award for Social Inclusion , which we are very proud of. Previous participants have already started successful careers in communications in firms which include Edelman, Brunswick, Cantos, Racepoint Group, MS&L, Freud, Talk PR, London Thames Gateway, Macbeth Media Relations and the Olympic Legacy Company. The success of the scheme means that by the end of 2011, nearly 50 graduates will have passed through the programme and that leaves us with a dilemma.
Until now, we have offered each of the interns personal career guidance, not only while they’re on the programme, but as they enter their careers and beyond. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do this. We are a small organisation and while I adore all our interns, there are not enough hours in the day for me to run the programme, and to continue to support them regularly once they leave us. So, we are appealing to the PR community to step forward and act as mentors to these graduates – not only as they embark on their first PR roles, but throughout the lifetime of their careers.
Several PR practitioners have already put their hands up for this opportunity. We try to partner the mentors with grads we think will get the most out of their advice, and then ask that they try to meet up once a month for coffee to discuss their career aspirations. The rest of the time they are available by phone and email to answer questions and offer advice. We hope therefore that it is not too time-intensive, but that it gives the grads someone to turn to when they have a career question or issue.
Mentoring can be very rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to see a mentee progress and grow as a person. It also allows you to develop your management and training skills. Which gives you the chance to self-reflect – making sure that you regularly audit your own skills and professional development. It should also enrich your working experience. By keeping tabs on what junior people in the industry are up to, it enables you to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new and should enhance your professional image.
For the mentees, it helps them to develop those all important networking skills and to gain a different perspective on how the profession works. It should give them confidence to speak to people more senior than them, teach them how to work towards goals, and give them experience of handling constructive criticism. In turn we hope that this will fire up their enthusiasm for the industry and inspire them to apply for jobs, and then develop their communications careers.
Our current mentors are:
Lisa Quinn, Taylor Bennett
Lily Lazarevski, Cut Communications
Nicky Rudd, Padua Communications
Nina Arnott, McDonalds
Sharon Chan, Consolidated PR
Magda Bulska, CHA
Howard Jones, CC Group
Chris McCafferty, Kaper PR
We are currently on the hunt for seven more mentors. Ideally you will have experience in the following sectors, but we are very open to anyone who has an interest in volunteering.
Professional services (particularly law)
You don’t need to be particularly senior, although you’re very welcome if you are, but ideally should have some experience of managing junior members of staff.
If you would like to volunteer as a mentor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org