Most people spend up to six times longer researching for their next holiday, than learning about a potential employer (according to a study by Glassdoor). When you consider how many more hours you will spend in the office, than on the beach or the slopes, your best route to fulfilment is spending the right amount of time researching your new employer.
The maxim, ‘a change is as good as a rest,’ holds true when taking the next step in your career. Instead of spending hours seeking out that single bad review on Trip Advisor for your next holiday, use your time to find out as much as possible about the people and the organisation for which you could be spending 8 hours a day working.
Ellwood Atfield specialises in recruiting public affairs and communications professionals and we mainly place with corporates, trade associations, professional bodies and charities. We know what employers expect; a first class candidate, demonstrating commitment and interest in the job and their organisation.
However, it is very easy to spend your time over-researching and on the wrong things. Ultimately interviews are based on two questions – “why you?” and “why us?”. This 10 point checklist should help you nail what you need to know when preparing for the “why us?” part of an interview.
- Visit their website and make sure you know what the organisation actually does, if possible sample their product or service. If there is a public affairs policy page on their website, look at this and read as much as possible.
- Check their core competitors’ websites. This will help you understand how they differentiate themselves.
- If you only read one piece about the organisation make it the annual report; this guides you through their corporate strategy and the financial ambitions of the organisation. Yahoo Finance is a free resource to find out information on PLCs.
- Look at the profile of the organisation on Glassdoor. The information gained here can potentially impress any HR interviewers.
- Set up Google alerts for the organisation and their key issues so that you are not caught out by an announcement on the day of your interview. If you have access to a media database use this to look at recent or recurring articles and identify important issues.
- Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. If the press office is on Twitter look at who they monitor for an instant guide to their key stakeholders.
- Speak with existing or past employees that you might know. If you do not know anyone use your network and LinkedIN to see who could introduce you.
- Check the APPC register to see if they use communications consultancy support.
- If they are a business identify their trade association and read the industry positions.
- Check the background and social media presence of the people interviewing you as well as the CEO and Chairman. Google their names, these are the people you will be leading into meetings, make sure you are aware of their politics and their public profile.
This checklist should help you to do two things. Firstly, it will enable you to build a convincing argument in the interview about why you want to work for that organisation. Secondly, it will help you demonstrate your commitment and interest in the important issues that you will be advocating on their behalf. It is not about regurgitating facts, but demonstrating an understanding and real enthusiasm as a result of your research on them. The more personal you can make it the more effective you will be.
Your research on the organisation should not exceed 50% of your preparation time.
The other 50% should be research on yourself. This will be covered by me in another article for the PubAffairs Advice Centre. For now, knowing your story inside out and what the benefit of your experience means for them can dramatically increase your chance of interview success. After all, you work in public affairs, if you can’t communicate your own story then what hope will you have for advocating theirs.
The best of luck!
Head of Public Affairs and Policy Recruitment - Ellwood Atfield
Ellwood Atfield is a firm of recruitment consultants specialising in the public affairs and communications sector. In short, our role is to recruit the people who talk for you. With offices in both London and Brussels and a hand-picked team of talented consultants, we attract excellent candidates and recruit for the most exciting jobs in the public affairs industry today. Our pioneering spirit is brought to life in the purpose built Communications Gallery, the first gallery dedicated to the art of communication.
To view all of our vacancies in London and Brussels, our thought leadership reports and a calendar of forthcoming events please visit www.ellwoodatfield.com.
Click through to find out more about our latest exhibition Assassins: when political cartoonists hit their mark hosted at the ellwood atfield gallery.