TALENT SPOTTER: ANNE CARTER, CARTER FERRIS

Name: Anne Carter
Company: Carter Ferris
Job title: Director / Co-Founder

Twitter: @carterferristfn
LinkedIn: Carter Ferris Network
Website: www.carterferris.co.uk

What does your day-to-day job involve?
Unsurprisingly, my day typically involves meeting with and speaking to candidates and clients alike. I’ve been working in recruitment for quite a while now and this aspect of my job is still the one I enjoy the most. I usually find myself at the desk by about 8.30am and can easily find that a whole day can be spent on the phone, either scheduling or negotiating appointments, responding to requests, providing feedback or offering advice. As an independent business, we can also be completely flexible and very mobile, so I can expect to be out and about on a regular basis too.

99% of our clients would not consider a candidate that was not already a graduate

Is it essential to be a graduate to get a job in PR?
Unfortunately yes, although never say never. I would say that overwhelmingly (99%) of our clients would not consider a candidate that was not already a graduate. In some cases, the quality of degree can also be called into question, with clients looking for high level attainment 2:1 and above and in what could be considered a ‘proper’ or academic subject from a purported red brick or Russell Group Uni. Others look at the subject matter taken and may request a ‘relevant’ degree in say Public Relations or Marketing or even Journalism. If there was ever to be an exception to this, then direct experience can also count. So if a PR agency had offered work experience to a candidate and then offered them a permanent junior position, this by default could be considered a ‘way in’. This is incredibly rare though and the ‘why no degree?’ question will inevitably come back to haunt in the years to come.

We look outside of just finding the right direct experience and take on board other aspects such as culture fit, aspirations, level, and accountability.

What do you look for in PR hires?
Relevancy, aptitude and experience. If the client has briefed us on a specific need, then its our job to interpret that need and find them the right candidate or the right selection of strong potential candidates. We also look outside of just finding the right direct experience and take on board other aspects such as culture fit, aspirations, level, and accountability.

How do you find PR talent – advertising, headhunting, referrals, social media?
All of the above. Advertising is important as it not only attracts new potential candidates and clients but also serves as brand awareness, helping to keep our business front of mind. PR recruitment is a fast paced business and people move about all the time. It’s important to see and be seen as it were. Headhunting has its own and discreet purpose in that the candidate may not be actively looking for a new position although may have exactly the right experience and wish to hear about a new opportunity. Referrals are always welcome and are the icing on the cake really. If it’s a client then they’ll already feel that they know you and will have bought into your experience. It’s a trusted partnership. Social media such as Twitter is also important as it will help you to stay relevant and informed in a fast moving space.

How much has changed in how PR practitioners are recruited in the last five years
Our website www.carterferris.com and our Twitter feed @carterferristfn have been designed to be viewed on the go. This level of digital outreach is very symbolic of how we as recruiters have had to adapt in order to reach our candidates. Job hunting has changed irrevocably from grabbing a sneaky peak at the back pages of PR Week on a Thursday, to Googling PRJOBS in London or using hash tags.

Which sector or discipline is the most difficult to recruit for?
Traditionally, it’s the Healthcare sectors with specialisms in say Ethical or Pharmaceutical practice areas. More recently specialisms have evolved in other areas such as B2B Tech, or Digital and Content. New(ish) disciplines such as Internal Comms and Issues & Crisis as opposed to the almost old fashioned CSR skill are in demand now.

Which PR blogs, news sites and websites do you read?
HR/Recruitment Grapevine is great for industry insight and news stories. PRWeek is the trade business standard. LinkedIn is where our people are and we can see what they’re saying. MarkBorkowski, PR guru is a great blog and has a great daily commentary news feed.

Understand your value, capitalise on your experience and hang onto your integrity.

What are your tips for seasoned PRs looking to move jobs?
Understand your value, capitalise on your experience and hang onto your integrity. Plus, if you’ve not dusted off the old CV in a while, it might be worth seeking out advice on how you could re-present your details.

What are your tips for aspiring PRs?
With the emergence of the ‘fully integrated’ agency or department offering, its useful to be able to understand the role played by PR and Communications in its fullest context in a digital age. Then hone in on a specialism and focus on that. Finally, having passion, creativity and good written skills may sound hackneyed but its still your silver bullet to success no matter what the level or how long the experience.

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