Tag Archives: Careers

Another lost generation?

Today it has been officially announced that we are out of recession!!

Well if you are looking to start a career this news will make scant impression on you.

The 1990 recession ended when you had a “proper” job – I still think many people who graduated in the early 90s are still feeling the affects of their bad timing at being born some 20 years earlier.  Can do better next time if he applies himself.

The 90s recession ended in about 1997 if truth be told for many people.  Bill Clinton, new technology, the Internet easing communication and attracting investment, the start of de-regulation of US banks (which had been put in place by FDR in the 30s that helped create the worst recession since the 30s) all had a role to play.

The fact for many is that careers were missed, and why?, because in the case of the marketing industry there was a reluctance to develop people – give them a chance.  Of course some made it nevertheless, but the industry was unwelcoming and expected 21 years experience and candidates to be 20 years old.

I can only hope that the recovery does not exclude vast swathes of able people, but it will.

It is time for business to recognise that talent does not come from doing a marketing degree or experience only.  There is a lot to be said for determination, personal characteristics such as being sociable, open to learning.

For professionals that have lost their jobs who are on the other side of the age divide, there is no reason why some businesses should discriminate – it is the person, not the age that counts.

What am I saying: the world is unfair?

It is true.

What I am saying is:

Treat people with respect – there will be too many graduates wanting a career where there are too few openings and some HR departments will enjoy thinking they are of a higher power.  It is the personal characteristics that I think make a good marketer, but can you spot these and are they developed when you are a new graduate?

If you want a career in PR or marketing, the chances are you will succeed if you are determined and what might seem a bleak age now will dissolve away in time. Give yourself time and accept support when going through the often bleak process of finding a job.

I think I will tackle how to give yourself a real head start in an entry shortly – keep tuned

A few thoughts on Manchester Masters selection criteria

Some time ago – 14.1.07 – I published an entry about the need for apprenticeships for marketing and PR.

Even though I wrote that two years ago it is still a popular post.  This is of course not surprising with the current economic climate.

When Manchester Masters was launched it seemed like a promising development – apprenticeships for students and graduates wanting a career in marketing and PR.  And not only that, it was supportive and generous beyond many people’s expectation – certainly ones that had had to devote unpaid work to get on the career ladder themselves.

Why had such a scheme not been thought of before?

I was looking through The Guardian when I spotted the name of  Sandy Lindsay of Manchester PR agency Tangerine.  I was drawn into an article about selection for Manchester Masters.

Any scheme offering a real opportunity to grow (and a rent free apartment for a year) is going to be popular, in good times and bad.

But how do you select the 10 lucky students out of the 100 applications?  (This actually seems a low figure).

Well The Guardian gave the answer: Apprentice style activities such as putting a flat back together while being questioned.

These tasks were designed to weed out the “wallflowers” but as journalist Daniel Cookney observes “is it possible that the competition overlooked good candidates who were simply not suited to such a format?”  Others agreed.

It might be that the PR for this was seen as key and it was generated successfully.  After all I read about it in The Guardian.  It could be that the PR agency let its instincts take over or they took some publicity for themselves (we all do a bit from time to time).  It could be that this was seen as the best way to select, but I doubt it.

What I know is that it can be incredibly hard to get started, the recession might, I should say “will”, destroy the hopes of some graduates to attain a career in PR and marketing.

But we need to be fair as possible, perhaps this was.

The key thing is that the desperate desire to win one of these apprenticeships is taken with the upmost seriousness.  I am sure it was, but using techniques that have a touch of business reality TV gives the wrong impression.

One winner Charlotte Gush gushed, “My specialist knowledge does not lie in PR, marketing or media, but the competition challenged me to demonstrate my transferable skills, knowledge and abilities.”

How do you exactly know that if you have not worked in any of the fields?  I can’t see how the exercises did at all.

It has the ring of cliched and hackneyed CV soundbites.

For me Manchester Masters is a brilliant opportunity for 10 lucky aspiring marketers to get a real head start.  It is bound to miss talented people that make it through other means.  But it has to show that it has gone through fair and professional means to find the apprentices.  Anything less is unfair on those that missed out and on the integrity and reputation of the scheme.

Apprenticeships for marketing and PR

Jamie Oliver, you might find him irritating or inspirational, but he often talks sense.

He has taken a side swipe at the government for pushing university at school leavers and not investing in apprenticeships.

What is the point of of 50% of school leavers going to college when there are not enough jobs for them? And The Guardian commented on Saturday that even Oxbridge graduates are guaranteed nothing.

Why not have apprenticeships for marketing and PR?

Some years ago I was talking to an academic who was setting up a post graduate course for PR. I asked him excitedly where he had worked. The answer, in a blase fashion was, “I haven’t worked in PR.”

I have wondered ever since how you can teach something you have never even tried.

I have also noted that many professions can be learnt in the world of work with perhaps some college release.

Do not misunderstand me, university and learning do have merit. And you should learn for the enjoyment and interest of a subject, even if there is no job waiting for you. We sometimes forget that.

Yes, marketers and PRs should invest in professionals qualifications – it shows interest in their profession and a desire to add to their skills. But the key skills / attributes are surely enthusiasm, openness to improving skills, writing, analytical skills, ability to interact with colleagues and clients and common sense.

If those interested in marketing and PR wish to do an English degree – fine.

All I am saying is there should be an alternative and the government should not encourage such large numbers to go into university because they do not have a clue what to do with them or the misapprehension that having such large numbers in education will make us an economic superpower.

Would marketing and PR wither away if universities cut 75% of graduates in marketing, PR and business. The answer is surely “no!”