Kajsa Claude is the head of Client Service at Ogilvy PR Joburg and has interviewed her fair share of hopefuls over the years. Here she shares what it is that she’s actually looking for in the ideal candidate:
“I’m the same age as Mick Jagger and I haven’t had a proper job in my life. But I’m a great writer.”
That was the first sentence of a job application letter I received about 20 years ago and it has stayed with me for two reasons: firstly because my immediate reaction was to set up a meeting with the guy and secondly because he told the truth.
Since then I’ve interviewed several hundred candidates, mainly in the field of corporate communications and PR and I’ve scanned and sometimes even thoroughly read several thousand CV’s of varying interest and quality. I hope I haven’t seen it all, but here’s a stab at sharing some of my experiences from a talent hunting and hiring perspective:
1. Be yourself. Don’t try and second guess who I want you to be or what I want you to say. It’ll only be disappointing for both of us when we start working together.
2. Avoid stereotypes. Don’t describe yourself as motivated, hard-working and let me guess… result-oriented, because then you’re like everyone else, as well as the ones who turn out to be lazy, uninspired and with no ambition whatsoever. Yes, there are quite a few of those out there.
3. Tell me what you suck at. If you’re in your twenties and you think you know it all and have seen it all, think again. You haven’t and fat cats are boring.
4. Do your homework. If you want to work with me at Ogilvy PR, don’t tell me that you love creative advertising because I don’t really care. The more you know about the specifics of what we do and what our clients do, the more I’d like to know about you.
5. Develop a can-do attitude. If I had to choose between a person with perfect skills and a poor attitude and a person with few skills and a great attitude, I’d choose the latter. If you think it’s possible, it probably is. As long as you work hard to make it come true.
6. Use your common sense. Don’t read lists with advice like this one if it conflicts with your gut feel. See point number 1.
7. Have fun.
I’m the same age as Madonna and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.