Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What We Look for When Hiring Entry-Level Employees

Despite the tough job market, we are still interviewing entry level candidates, preparing for the time when this economic downturn is over.

We’re interested in job candidates who have a classic liberal arts education, who have demonstrated intellectual achievement in a wide variety of disciplines, such as English, science, math, history, political science and business. In my opinion, wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, a diversified skill set and the ability to learn quickly are prerequisites for a career in public relations. Nevertheless, we also consider those with strong communications backgrounds because they bring an understanding of our business that others don’t have.

Of course, specialists are always welcome at Makovsky + Company (after all, our tagline is the “Power of Specialized Thinking”). And, unlike many generalist agencies, we believe that specialization is the best way to build reputation, sales and fair valuation for our clients. But the fact is, most people just starting out in our business tend to be generalists, and we believe in hiring the best of them and training them for our specialties. There is no doubt you have an advantage at Makovsky if you are a finance or biology major.

Last month, I was one of the panelists for PRSA’s April 9 webinar: “Accelerate Your Career in Public Relations,” I shared some of the other qualities that we want in our candidates: a strong work ethic and a sense of humor, a demonstrated ability to lead and good presentation skills. We’re looking for people who are open to new thinking and new experiences … who are willing to try new things. Narrow-minded people need not apply.

Of course, the ability to handle stress well is absolutely essential, because in our business, every day is filled with highs and lows that are often unexpected and largely outside our control.

Finally, other than strong academic performance, those who hold key student leadership positions are attractive. College student leadership activities are often a laboratory for learning strategy and networking, strengthening interpersonal skills, and getting a taste of sales and management. These positions also build confidence. My own experience as a student leader added greatly to my development in business.

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Anonymous Mark Taylor II said...

It's great to see that you're still hiring many of us out there while many agencies/corporations are closing the door, but like all business transactions and partnerships, I must ask: What's in it for the entry-level professionals you seek? What do you have to offer that other PR firms may not have and how does your work environment suit the needs of today's graduates? It's always easy to find what an employer wants, but rather difficult to find out what they have to offer. Sorry to come across as the skeptical journalist, but that side has always helped me out in my public relations endeavors. I'm also asking for those who are afraid to ask. Again, thanks for the insight on the company's recuiting goals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Ken Makovsky said...

Thanks for your question, Mark. You’re right; I see too many employers posting laundry lists of criteria for entry-level employees, be it internships, extra-curricular activities, etc., but few ever go into any detail about what they offer. At Makovsky + Company, we think we offer every advantage a college graduate hoping to build a career in public relations could want:

We work for blue-chip clients on large-scale campaigns incorporating traditional media relations, writing, social media, thought leadership and strategic counsel, among many other techniques, and we try to keep every employee challenged on an ongoing basis. Industry surveys show year after year that PR professionals are always seeking new challenges, so we try to afford our staff every opportunity to learn and grow.

Our junior staff works closely with senior-level professionals every day. Mentoring is a way of life here.

In addition to developing core skills which are essential to every practitioner, our five distinct practice areas provide entry-level employees with the chance to develop deep specialization in specific industries.

We have created a book entitled “A Makovsky Professional’s Pathway to Growth,” which details growth goals for every single position in the firm, and we encourage employees and supervisors to track progress on a regular basis. As a result, we have seen many of our professionals grow at a much faster rate than at other agencies.

Our pioneering education program, Mak University, continues to evolve. For example, in addition to the core curriculum, which encompasses training in social media, writing, time management, and many other key areas, we have also developed specialized advanced training programs for the firm’s rising stars. This advanced training covers different growth areas each year.

We also reward and recognize our staff for their success. We have developed a peer recognition program called “We Achieve,” which rewards staff on a daily basis for role-modeling the firm’s six core values. In addition, we have a quarterly “Hot Award,” our annual “Mak Awards” to recognize the best client campaigns of the year and a Lifestyle Committee which hosts periodic “Happy Hours” and other work/life balance initiatives

Wednesday, June 03, 2009 4:00:00 PM  
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Friday, June 05, 2009 3:01:00 AM  
Blogger Ken Makovsky said...

Thank you! Glad it was useful.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009 10:13:00 AM  

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