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:
Tag Archives: graduates
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
This isn’t the first time I’ve come across less conventional job applications. In the past I’ve had a graduate send me a tea bag with their CV “so that you can have a nice cuppa while you read about my experience”. More recently, one of our Taylor Bennett Foundation alumni, Nahidur Rahman, wrote a blog post on why a PR firm should hire him, and Racepoint Group snapped him up.
Last September we featured Graeme Anthony in esPResso with his CVIV. It did the rounds on Twitter and came up trumps as he’s now working at Frank. Similarly, Stephen Waddington has written a post featuring Laura Tosney at 33 Digital and her (frankly, amazing) animation that clinched the job for her there.
A few of our ex-interns took part in an online chat on the Guardian website about social media careers. This led on to a discussion about how to make themselves stand out. Alan Parker of Golin Harris suggested something quirky might work. “I once had a candidate send me a shoe in a shoebox with his CV” he told me, “so that they can get a foot in the door”.
On Twitter, I floated the idea of a CV printed on a tea-towel (inspired by all the Royal Wedding merchandise I can see creeping up on us). Responses ranged from “It’s novel, it deserves an interview at least” from the MD of Rise PR, Paul Alan to “that’s just weird” from communications officer, Emma Jackson Stuart and “creativity in an application isn't generally welcome in the public sector! It’s better to sell yourself based on examples.” From Adam Fairclough.
Which just goes to show, sending a more unusual job application can work, but you have to be careful who you target with your creative approaches.
Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time giving job hunting advice to recent graduates. Given that they’ve graduated in the worst economic climate since the ’30s, they need all the help they can get I reckon.
We recently started investigating which PR agencies have graduate recruitment schemes and what their application criteria is. Here’s what we came up with but I am pretty sure there are plenty more out there. If your agency would like to be included in this list, let me know.