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PR recruitment

The 5-Step Process That Will Transform Your PR Recruiting Efforts

Erika Heald

Mar 1, 2020

If you’re looking to add to your team, whether that is in-house or as part of an agency, hiring a qualified PR pro can be a challenge. Use the steps in this blog post to ease into the process. Then, to ensure your candidate is up to snuff, ask them if they have the skills every modern PR pro needs.

Whether you’re replacing an employee who has moved on to greener pastures or finally obtained the budget for a new hire, the recruitment process can be tough. And that’s often our fault as hiring managers. If your typical recruiting process is updating a job listing and emailing it to your company’s recruiter and waiting for the interviews to show up on your calendar, you can—and should—do better.

Here are five steps you can use to create a more effective PR recruiting process.

Draft a Better Job Description

While it may save time to pull out and repost your most recent PR manager job description, it’s unlikely to garner rock star PR pro applicants. Instead, think through what worked well with your most recent person in this role, and the gaps that went unfilled. What has changed in your overall marketing and PR strategies since the last time you hired for this role? How has your company and its mission evolved over time? It's also wise to consider how the current PR industry is moving, for example, the lines between PR and marketing are blurring. Thanks to social media, what was typically seen as the role of PR now fits under marketing - and vice versa. As such, it's wise to hire a PR pro that's also familiar with marketing.

With these questions in mind, draft a job description that reflects your current employer branding efforts and gives candidates a peek behind the curtain at what a day-in-the-life will be if they take on this role. Go beyond the usual laundry list of job requirements and nice-to-have skills and focus on the role’s business impact. Help candidates envision themselves as part of your team.

As a plus, moving beyond a bullet list of job requirements has the potential to result in a more diverse candidate pool. Why? Many candidates, especially women, won’t apply if they don’t meet all your requirements.

Widen Your Recruiting Net

In 2015, 47 percent of small businesses reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. While there are many variables that come into play in not attracting qualified applicants, not being on the radar of passive candidates is often a major factor.

Posting your job listing through all your regular recruiting channels is a great start, but don’t stop there. Get your employee brand ambassadors involved. Ask employees to share the job listing with their personal networks. Offer a referral bonus to reward employees who excel at repping the company and referring candidates who become employees. These employee-referred candidates have a built-in support system—a buddy to help them navigate the company culture who has a vested interest in their success. This increases their likelihood of success, and of sticking around longer.

Prepare Your Recruiter

I once worked with someone who frequently complained about how inept our in-house recruiter was. And it certainly seemed that way from her perspective—she had a job req that had been open for eight months. I’d sat in a number of interviews with woefully underqualified and disinterested candidates for the position.

With that experience in mind, I was dreading working with the recruiter to fill my two new jobs. Yet, I ended up hiring three new employees for my two positions, in under thirty days. The roles I was hiring for were creative roles, like my colleagues, so it wasn’t that the jobs were easier to fill.

The difference? I did a better job of preparing my recruiter.

It’s unrealistic to expect your in-house recruiter to automagically be amazing at recruiting for every niche position and speciality area. It’s your job, as the hiring manager, to give them tools to find the right candidate.

In my case, that meant providing a list of niche recruiting sites plus a 5-question screening script, with what I was looking for in candidate answers.

Although I did screening video interviews with eight candidates, we only brought four candidates on-site for in-person interviews and hired three of them.

how to ace brand management interview

Create an Interactive But Short Application Process

Have you ever had an exceptional candidate drop out of your hiring process right as you were readying an offer? If so, you’re not alone. Lengthy interview processes have frequently been cited as a hiring roadblock. 

Do you really need three rounds of interviews, spread across two to three weeks? It’s difficult enough for a currently employed person to make it to an afternoon of interviews at your office, let alone on three separate occasions.

Instead, make the most of the process before asking the candidate to trek to your offices in person. In addition to using video conferencing for initial screening interviews, work a small paid freelance work sample into the candidate screening process. If writing blog posts will be a regular part of their job, assign them one and pay your freelance rate. If they’ll be managing your social media strategy, pay them to assess one of your social media channels.

Prepare Your Interview Teams

A friend recently spent an afternoon interviewing for a position she was excited about. She loved the hiring manager and her team. But her next to the last interview turned her off from the opportunity. Why? The interviewer was late, announced she hadn’t read her resume or application packet and proceeded to ask the same off-target questions multiple times.

Although you want to expose your candidates to a representative sample of the team they’ll be working with, you run the risk of situations like this happening. Two ways to minimize this are having team round-table interview sessions, and supplying a list of questions to the interviewers. Although the idea of team interviews may sound intimidating, it puts less pressure on each individual interviewer. It also provides checks and balances against interviewer bias. Similarly, providing a list of questions ensures the interviewers are getting a feel for how the candidate would perform in the position as you envision it.

While there’s no recruitment silver bullet, these five steps increase the likelihood you’ll more efficiently find the PR pro your team needs.

And, to guarantee that your PR pro has the skills needed for today’s landscape, download our ebook.