Youth Unemployment At Record Levels – I Can See Why by Jim Hawker
Every day I am reading articles about the record numbers of youth unemployment and how graduates are being forced to stack shelves rather than go into their professional career of choice.
Yet, here I am running a growing and award winning consumer PR agency and cannot find any decent graduates to take on. I don’t want to sound like every other generation that came before us – but the next generation seem to be missing the get up and go to make things happen for themselves.
This week I took part in a PRCA panel in front of 160 graduates eager to know how to break into PR. PR degrees are flourishing and more students than ever before are choosing PR as a career option, yet while the graduate pool may be increasing, the talent pool doesn’t seem to be.
In just over eight years of running Threepipe, I can remember two unsolicited emails from graduates that really impressed me. Both those people went on to gain work experience and to be offered permanent jobs. Every week I receive emails from graduates looking for jobs which contain spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and often no written email – just a CV attached!
Even when some manage to get in front of us for an interview, they have done very little preparation in terms of research about the agency or about the clients. When I asked a candidate recently as to whether they had any questions, their first question was about the number of holiday days that we offer.
To get any job, people need to stand out. Standing out from the dross that we see on a weekly basis is not difficult. A modicum of effort would pull you head and shoulders above other candidates.
I worked in New York for a period of time and rather than go through recruitment consultants, I put my CV together and spent a week walking around Manhattan, hand delivering my application to fifty PR agencies. It worked and I got interviews and some valuable work experience which landed me a permanent job out there.
Last week our door buzzer rang and it was a recent graduate who was desperate to work in sports PR. He was doing exactly the same thing. I chased him down the street and interviewed him that afternoon. With effort comes reward.
Drive and motivation seem to be lacking when we need it most. The agency model is changing rapidly and we need ‘Bright Young Things’ that have the energy and intelligence to help drive the industry forward. Universities need to better prepare their students for the realities of the commercial world and the pressures that come with that.
I have recently started lecturing at Universities and try to provide as much anecdotal experience as possible rather than the theory of PR. Many of the students are surprised at the stories that I tell! The more Universities that can arrange industry placements as part of degrees, the better. This would go some way in preparing them better for interviews and help to alleviate those record anumbers of unemployment we keep reading about.
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