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National Careers Week 2017

Do you love creative writing and social media? Does the media excite you, and do you thrive off a fast paced environment? Well PR or marketing could be the career path for you.

To celebrate National Careers Week, We interviewed Refresh PR’s HR Director Sarah Mashiter, to find out her top tips on what it takes to nail an interview in the creative sector!

1.       With over 10 years’ experience working across a breadth of senior HR roles, we’re sure you’re aware of a few indicators that show whether someone is passionate about a role. Do you look for anything in particular within the first 15 minutes of meeting someone?

Sometimes all it takes is 15 seconds! The first thing I look for when I meet someone is that they are warm, friendly and are smart in appearance. Great eye contact and a firm handshake are a great start too, as I’m looking for people who can easily build rapport.


2.       What would you say are the key skills for a job in public relations?

I like to use what I call the five C’s. First of all, Collaboration is key. It’s very important for us to collaborate internally, but also with other agencies to create successful integrated campaigns. Everyone has different ways of working, so it’s a great skill to be able to work effectively and be supportive of others.

Creativity is also a vital skill, should you decide to work in PR. This is the ability to not only generate new ideas, but to also use them to solve problems and achieve great results.

Be conscientious. This includes being dependable, responsible, organised and always going the extra mile.  

Critical thinking is an important part of working in PR as it allows you to analyse, evaluate and create. The role has evolved and there are now higher expectations with fewer resources. I want people to be able to think analytically and solve problems without the benefit of previous experience.

Be committed to the job, by this I mean living and breathing the media, reading the news 24/7 and staying up to date with changes in the sectors that will have an impact on our clients.  


3.       Public relations is a very fast paced industry. Do you have any tips for preparing yourself for a busy working environment?

Work on building your resilience. This will give you the ability to learn and bounce back from your failures, stay positive and manage your emotions.

I’ve worked with Cargyll on a training programme to help leaders improve their resilience. Through this I learnt just how important it is to look after your health and wellbeing, as it relates to how well your brain functions. Did you know the brain is split in to three levels? The 3rd level is the thinking part of the brain concerned with higher functions – decision making, problem solving and goal achieving. But the heart is capable of switching off the 3rd level – so to avoid this, breath steadily and deeply during challenging times, as it will help you to think clearer.

Compartmentalising is something I also use that allows me to create dedicated times in the day to do specific work-related activities. Try grouping similar tasks together to get through tasks easily – it works for me!


4.       Research shows that more than 50 per cent of graduates end up in non-graduate jobs. Why do you think this is?

There are simply a lot more graduates and not enough highly skilled jobs. It all comes down to the quality of career guidance at A-Level and GCSE stage. Very few people at that age know what they want to do, so we need to look at how we inform students about their options and the most effective way of achieving their chosen path.  


5.       It’s becoming more apparent that students can’t rely solely on a degree to get a job. What would you recommend they do to stand out from the crowd?

Make the most of the summer holidays by getting relevant work experience and going over and above with internships. However, not everyone can take part in an internship, so alternatively I look for experience in a fast paced customer facing environment as it shows that you can work under pressure and can communicate with a variety of people.

Your hobbies and interests are also a great way of standing out from the crowd. Are you the captain of your netball or football team or do you write a blog? This is one way we can see who the natural leaders are and those who like to take responsibility.

Consider your social media presence. Follow the media and engage with them, and avoid posting content that you wouldn’t want brought up in a job interview.


6.       Careers Week isn’t only for students, do you think it’s ever too late to change career paths?

Not at all! Many people fall into a career after they leave education, rather than a passion they’ve pursued, so it’s understandable that many people look to change this later in life. I’ve seen many people change their career path due to family commitments, or the fact that they can’t progress further intheir current role, or even their industry.


7.       How do you know when someone is ready for a promotion and what do you advise people do if they want one?

I take in to account a combination of factors when considering if someone is ready for a promotion. First of all you have to be a strong performer in your current role in regards to its tasks, responsibilities and the required leadership behaviours and have the desire to want more. I use The CEB Approach to identify high potential employees, this recognises three combined factors, Aspiration, Ability and Engagement.


8.       Last but certainly not least, if there isn’t a role available would you advise people applying speculatively and if so, how?

Absolutely! Refresh PR is a growing business that is always looking to meet talented people. When a role becomes available, the people that I have spoken to or met previously will be the first I contact. Simply send an email to 



Thanks for your time Sarah.

Keep up to date with our latest work, PR news and opinions over on our Twitter account @RefreshPR.





Tagged with: Career Advice, HR, Lifestyle, National Careers Week, North West , PR, PR Agency Manchester