Tag Archives: jobs

Infographic: How to get a job in PR

I’m a fan of infographics. They may be a bit old hat these days but I think they can be a really striking way of presenting information. I had a bash at doing one for ‘How To Get A Job In PR’ and this is the result. It’s surprisingly hard to get across the tone and content of a whole book in one infographic!

Click the image to enlarge.

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The truth about employment references

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

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How to prepare for a PR job interview

interview prepThere 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

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Ten tips for new graduates

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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

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How to explain job hopping and gaps on your CV

mind the gapOne of the things employers look for when recruiting a new member of staff, is how stable their work history is.  If a job applicant has jumped around from job to job over the last ten years, the recruiters first thought will be “why don’t they stick at anything?”  Similarly, if an applicant has a significant length of time out of employment, the recruiter may be suspicious about why.

When you’re in an interview, it’s often easy to explain away jumping jobs, or being out of work but you may not even get that far if you don’t make the reasons clear on your CV.

 

The first thing you should do is label any jobs that were short term contracts, seasonal work, or temp jobs, as such on your CV.  Make it really clear that the reason you left the job is because you were only employed on a contract basis.

If you were made redundant after a short period in a job, it’s OK to make a note of that too.  In the current economic climate redundancy doesn’t have the stigma that it had a few years ago, particularly if your redundancy was part of a large section of your firm being laid off rather than just your role being made redundant.

If you’ve job hopped because you’ve got bored in the roles, that’s much harder to justify and when you secure your next position you must think carefully about sticking it out for a decent length of time, even if it bores the socks off you. Similarly, repeatedly leaving roles due to a personality clash with a boss or team member can tar you with the “uncooperative” brush so it’s not wise to draw attention to why you left those roles if at all possible.

There are lots of reasons why you may have a gap on your CV.  The most common being taking time out to travel, raising a family, illness or bereavement.   Don’t leave those gaps on your CV blank – recruiters are a suspicious bunch and will think the worst – so make sure you clearly note what you were doing during those months or years.   If you have suffered with an illness it is important that you make it very clear that the condition has passed, you are fully recovered and it will not affect your ability to work.  If you took time out to raise your children, or simply to take some time away from work to reassess what you want to do with your career, then it’s a good idea to mention anything you have done to stay in touch with the industry.  Do you still have a good network of journalists in your little black book?  Do you read industry publications?  Have you take any courses to update your work skills?

By making it clear that the gaps are not anything untoward, it gives you a much better chance of getting to the interview stage where you may find the interviewer is sympathetic to your situation.

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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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Using Social Networks for Job Hunting in PR

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The world of recruitment is changing.  More employers and recruitment agencies are turning to social media to find PR talent.  If you are looking for a job in PR how should you be using social media tools to find your next role?

 

Facebook

I wouldn’t recommend having an open profile on Facebook.  Most people use Facebook for keeping in touch with friends, family and the occasional colleague and are more inclined to write things on their status updates that potential employers would not be impressed with.  If you are going to make your profile completely open stay away from status updates that say “I hate my boss”, “God, work is boooooring” or “completely hungover, cannot be arsed to go to work so am pulling a sickie”.

If your profile is secure employers can’t search for you, but that’s okay.  There are other ways to use Facebook to network.  There are a couple of groups you should join; PR Job Watch and The PR and Communications Network.  If you are not currently employed put a note up on the wall saying what your areas of experience are and what you’re looking for.  You can also have a look at the posts from employers who are looking to hire their next PR.

Twitter

First of all, sign up!  I am constantly amazed by how many PRs are still not on Twitter.  It’s an amazing source of breaking news and a brilliant way for you to network with your peers without having to step out of your front door.  Follow the right people. If you haven’t a clue who they are then this list of social media power players should help.  You should also follow some PR recruitment agencies who will regularly tweet their jobs (Unicorn Jobs is @UnicornJobs) Then get yourself known.  Tweet regularly and retweet other people’s comments when you think they may be useful.  Once you are part of the PR tweeting community you are much more likely to be approached by a recruiter about a new role.  You could also follow the hashtags #PR and #PRjobs which will throw up a surprising amount of jobs that you won’t see advertised elsewhere.

LinkedIn

This seems to be the tool that most people are confused about.  LinkedIn is probably the most formal of all the networking sites and as such can be really useful when looking for new jobs.  Set up a profile making sure that you give details of all your past employment – it acts like an online CV and gives potential employers a chance to check out your skills and experience.  Unlike Facebook you should make your profile public, making it easier for recruiters and head hunters to find you.  Then connect like crazy.  Add everyone you have ever worked with, friends, family and acquaintances.  The more connections you have the more likely it is that a recruiter will be able to find you.  LinkedIn’s job search engine is worth a go too.  When you view the results concentrate on the ones that you are no more than two degrees away from – which means you know someone who knows the person who is hiring and will therefore have a better chance of being able to get in touch directly with the hiring manager.  You can also search for a specific company and see what jobs they currently have posted.  You will also be able to see their recent hires so if you are feeling brave you could get in touch with them and ask how they got their jobs there – if nothing else it might lead to a new connection.

 

 

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Ten Tips for PR Applicants

Helpful tips
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;

  1. I hear the money’s good
  2. 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
  3. Max Clifford is MY GOD
  4. I LOVE those Guinness Adverts and want to be able to create stuff like that
  5. 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. 

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Will a more creative approach get you that job in PR?

Hire me t shirt Recently, Lexis PR was accepting applications for its graduate scheme.  Among them, one grad sent a box of cupcakes to show that they stood out… and Lexis’ HR team tweeted about it.

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.

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