Q&A with Edelman HR Ace
This post is the third in a series focussing on PR graduate jobs, employability and general tips on getting into the industry. I’m delighted that Antonia Katsambis, Senior HR Assistant at Edelman kindly agreed to take the time to answer this Q&A.
It follows on from the 2010 PR Grad Schemes and Q&A with high-flying SAE posts which have proved immensely popular and I hope useful. I thought it would be worthwhile to get some pearls of wisdom from somebody working within the HR team at one of the world’s biggest PR firms.
1. What key things do you look for on a CV?
In the current climate recruiters receive such huge amounts of applications for entry level roles that they can be very picky about what they’re looking for. Therefore, if a brief has been posted, make sure every point in the job brief is matched in your CV.
Also, it may seem rather basic, but it’s amazing the amount of CVs that come through with spelling mistakes, grammar and formatting issues. Always get a friend to look through your CV to spot anything like this, you can stare at the same CV for hours and not realise you’ve spelt the company name wrong – it does happen!
2. What are your top 3 tips to prepare for an interview?
(I) Ask before the interview who you will be meeting, make sure to do your research on these people and how they fit into the company.
(II) Do as much investigations as you can into a company, not just looking at their website but also reading any publications they may have published, e.g. Edelman’s Public Engagement essays . Find out who their clients are and what issues they face.
(III) Know you CV inside out and your dates of employment. Make sure that they all tally up and any gaps in employment or study are explained.
3. Should graduates bring their portfolio to an interview?
Sure, why not. Anything that helps sell yourself.
4. What are graduates expected to do at an Edelman interview?
At our graduate assessment days we ask candidates to do a number of tasks; the first stage is an application form including a 250 word writing test, the second round is a telephone interview and the third round is coming in for an assessment day with about 10 other graduates. At the assessment day you will be required to complete a variety of tests, present on a topic of your choice and hold your own in an interview.
5. How much do you really value a PR degree and is it likely to be overlooked in favour of an Oxbridge graduate?
Absolutely not. Whilst academic results are important, work experience, personality and skills are far more weighted in my opinion. However, after reading Jacqueline Cooper’s recent blog and the comment listed beneath, this is a subject that has a lot of conflicting opinions.
6. Students are constantly being told that if they are not active on all platforms of social media the PR world is going to leave them behind. Are social media skills a must have for today’s PR graduates?
It certainly helps, I won’t lie. Graduates need to be visible as a ‘brand’ just as much as anyone else. Showing you understand the principles of social media in your own life means that you will be able to do the same for our clients.
7. Is a degree or career in journalism a good stepping stone for a move into PR?
It can be, however we have people with previous experience in all walks of life that helps their PR career, so it’s not the only route into PR.
8. Some graduates produce e-portfolios – are they a good idea and do they get taken into consideration?
They can be very useful to bring along to interview, but remember that when applying for a job the HR contact will have a lot of different candidates speculatively applying and therefore will be looking at the basics first.
9. How can graduates stand out from the crowd?
Firstly, use of social media to build networks and engage in conversation with contacts within the PR industry. By showing that they are switched on and enthusiastic and by getting some work experience on their CV, even if it is pro bono work, it all helps.
10. What type of skills and experience do graduates need for PR?
Motivation, enthusiasm, passion and organisation.
I would like to thank Toni for taking part in this Q&A. It’s tough out there at the moment for graduates and any advice; especially from someone working in the industry is valuable. I’d also like to thank the students from all over the UK who sent me the questions.