PR Recruitment; separating the fact from the fiction

March 6, 2008

First up, I don’t have a direct personal insight into the world of PR recruitment. Sure I’ve met lots of recruiters in the industry, many as a result of the PR and Comms Network. On the whole they seem like a pretty pleasant bunch. Surprisingly so for people working in a sector wiht a viciously negative reputation. [Hmm…pot and kettle?]

But I haven’t actually used the services of one. Fishburn Hedges managed their grad recruitment internally when I applied, and I’m still happily in my now comfortably worn-in desk. But talking about the experiences of looking for that second job [or indeed first job for those who do go through recruiters], I’ve come to dwell on just how opaque the average PR job ad is amongst the less elevated ranks of the sector.

So you’ve got 2-4 years experience, say. Sure those statements about a track record of delivering coverage apply. And if they don’t, ask yourself what you’ve been up to. But the more grandiose requests for unrivalled journalist contacts, experience of organising multi-national campaigns, and the personal phone numbers of many world leaders [I might have made the last bit up], seem a tad unrealistic.

So that’s what you want the recruiters to do. Cut the crap, and turn the foggy pool of job descriptions into a shimmering pond of insights, and you can confidently decide that yes, you really are the chap/chapess for the role. I very much enjoyed the following post [via Drew B], which provided some much needed clarity on social media job descriptions, which are more guilty of obfuscation that most. A bit like that last sentence, social media jobs in partiuclar seem to have an ordinate amount of grandiose claims, with little realistic hope of finding the mythical individual.

Who knows. Maybe recruiters like Sarah hate these poor job descriptions as much as the applicants? Or maybe they are the cause? But how about we start asking for the real requirements of AEs/AMs etc? i.e. Good organisation, genuine interest in media in all its forms, good communication in all its forms, and a positive approach. Not rocket science, and we’d all be winners.

3 Responses to “PR Recruitment; separating the fact from the fiction”

  1. Jim Durbin Says:

    Thank you for the link – the problem in general is almost all job descriptions are bad. That’s because job descriptons are reqiusition forms for the finance department, not an accurate representation of what you’re looking for.

    The problem with social media is a) the “job code” that exists in other industries doesn’t exist because titles aren’t representative of what we do yet, and b) no one has grown up in social media – we all come from other fields, whether that’s PR, SEO, Marketing, or the actual field we’re writing about. Some people have no business experience, but were good networkers.

    This will eventually clear up, but in the meantime, it’s good to be the first recruiter in the space!

  2. Oh to have a poor job description! That would be better than nothing – which is exactly what a lot of companies give recruiters making our lives much more difficult. A good recruiter will go to great lengths to find out about a company, its culture and the exact requirements of the role. They will also try and work out what is in it for the candidate. Why would someone want to leave their comfortable job elsewhere to join your firm? A job description is just the start of that process, but a look around the offices and a conversation with the hiring manager are generally much more useful ways of discovering what is really needed.

    To address the issue of foggy job ads, I agree that a lot of PR job ads sound the same and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Some of us do try and liven them up, but there are restrictions you must consider. Quite often we are given a limit of 50 words. Trying to get more than the basic requirements into 50 words is a challenge that even the best sub-editor would struggle with. And we need to put the basic requirements in, or all the wrong people apply and we spend a lot of time sending rejection letters to disgruntled PRs. Also there is the issue of age discrimination. I am all for equality of the ages, but it does mean that for legal reasons wording in job ads has to be very careful – I’m not allowed to write “must have 2-4 years experience” for example. I’m also not allowed to use words like “dynamic” or “fast-paced” – as they imply youth.

  3. slinky Says:

    Have any of you had experience of headhunters hunting for youthful PRs with only a year or two’s experience? I had a surprising call today…

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