Five Minutes with… Julia Walton

Each month, we’ll feature one of our team members in a brief Q&A, so you can get to know us all better! This month we’re meeting Julia Walton, one of our directors, who specialises in healthcare communications.

How did you get into recruitment?

I was temping a long, long time ago and I used to take my time sheet in each Friday and I would look at their office and think, “what a fantastic job… they’re talking to people, they’re having so much fun, that’s what I want to do.” That’s what sowed the seed.

Tell us about the sectors you recruit in…

I recruit for the healthcare communications sector, so that’s Med Ed agencies or medical communications agencies, healthcare advertising, healthcare public relations agencies, pharmaceutical companies for their PR or marketing departments, and ad hoc healthcare organisations – so we’ve recruited for healthcare charities, for digital strategic consultancies, trade bodies. Essentially anywhere that might need a healthcare communications expert.

Why do you think your clients and candidates like working with you?

Because they get the results! We’re always professional, we meet our candidates and clients, we’re totally ethical in the way we work. And we’ve been doing it a long time, we know the market really well. We can give excellent advice on all aspects of a person’s career.

What specifically about working with you do you think they like?

I genuinely care about my candidates and their wellbeing, I get a real buzz when I place someone in the right job and I think that comes across. I know a lot, and can give advice on all sorts from the job market itself to critiquing a CV and interview technique, to realistic salary aspirations and all sorts of related things, which is down to having a lot of experience.

Now to get to know you! If you never had to work again and money was no object, what would you do?

I’d spend a lot of time playing with my cats. I’d definitely have the house redecorated. I’d read a lot and travel a lot. I might buy a horse. I’d do some charity work – I’m keen to do some work with victims of domestic abuse. Homelessness is another issue dear to my heart that I’ve done quite a lot of work with in the past, so I’d probably do more of that too.

What else would I do… go shopping, eat in nice restaurants… I might even start going to the gym again!

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I’m not sure I feel guilty about it, but, Coronation Street? Being a mad cat woman… actually I definitely don’t feel guilty about that! Spending too much time in the pub, perhaps. Basically there’s nothing I feel guilty about that I’m prepared to tell you!

Who would play you in the film of your life?

A combination of Kathy Burke and Nicola Walker.

What’s the worst job you’ve done?

Ooh, there’s some stiff competition here. Being a general assistant in a high security hospital… I only did it for a day, but I had palpitations from the fear and stress by the end of it!

What’s your favourite book?

Impossible to narrow it down to one. The first that comes to mind is The Time Traveller’s Wife.

And your favourite song?

That varies too… At the moment, Bruises by Placebo.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Am I stranded by myself?

Yes.

Desert island… there’s probably not a ferry terminal, is there? Well, I’d have a walk about and gauge the lay of the land, I think.

And finally, what’s your favourite colour?

Red. Post box red, not pink red.

What? Why? How? All You Need to Know About Conference Producer Jobs!

Becoming a conference producer is, in our view, one of the most exciting and dynamic roles for a graduate to get into.

As the creative force behind the commercial hubs of the events world, you’ll be responsible for market research that will unveil the most important topics and trends across a huge roster of potential industries you’ll specialise in: these can range anywhere from Security, Tech, and Telecoms, to Education, Health, Energy, Leisure and many many more. A conference producer’s research involves speaking to experts face-to-face and over the phone, ranging from analysts to high-level executives, generating proposals, and creating the shape and content of the events themselves. University graduates are uniquely positioned to fulfil these tasks: your studies will have given you the critical abilities and tools to dissect a given research topic. The aim is to produce creative copy, brochures, agendas, and whatever other kind of literature might be deemed necessary for a conference’s successful undertaking.

As well as speaking to industry experts, you’ll be tasked with securing their attendance as eminent speakers, making use of the flawless social skills you’ll have no doubt spent your degree perfecting. You might be wondering why you’re planning events if you don’t get the opportunity to see them yourself. No need, because you’ll be attending as well! The international scope of many conference companies means you could find yourself globetrotting across the world’s continents: events can take place anywhere from South Africa, Russia, and India, to North and South America. It’s imperative that you show up, not just so you can marvel at your creation, but also to ensure its smooth running and to apply those networking skills university students are so famous for: it’s one thing for a speaker to attend a conference, a whole other thing to keep them coming back again and again. This is where the client-facing side of conference production becomes important, as your presence will offer opportunities to build on existing relationships that could last your entire career.

If you’re interested in Conference Producer jobs, here are some of the things we’re looking for:

  • Research, analysis and copywriting skills, the bedrock of any successful conference.
  • A team player, because you’ll be working across sales and marketing teams to coordinate your efforts.
  • Flawless interpersonal and communication skills, as you’ll be charming your way to success.
  • Commercial experience either post-graduation or during your degree, to build transferable skills
  • A 2:1 degree, either BA or BSc, seeing as it’s the cornerstone of academic intelligence.
  • Language skills that are worth your weight in gold in the events industry.
  • Last, and not least, you’ll want to be financially driven, as the bottom line, as with all businesses, is to produce a product that generates revenue.

 

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about Conference Producer jobs, how they work and how we can help you find one.

 

Ask the Recruiter – October 2018

I was offered a job last month and was all set to resign, however my current company upped my salary and convinced me to stay. I am now having second thoughts – what should I do?

Your question is not unusual. Due to it being a very candidate short market, research found that over 50% of people are counter-offered when they resign. Of those that stay, 50% are active in the job market within 60 days, 80% have left within 6 months and 90% have left within a year! The reason for this is that the counter-offer tends to be a knee-jerk response from the employer, and rarely fixes the underlying problem(s) that led to the employee wanting to leave.

Given that this is therefore a common issue, both recruiters and employers tend to be aware of it, and the savvy ones will have left a door open rather than burned bridges with the candidate who accepted the counter offer. Providing you feel that this door is open, I would recommend re-approaching the recruiter and client again – chances are they may not have filled the original role or may have a different role to consider you for. Providing you approach them with the right attitude, they are likely to re-consider you. If there is not an open door, or the employer is no longer hiring, I would start your job search again asap – the second thoughts inevitably get worse, and the sooner you confront the issue the better.

What is the etiquette on dress code for interviewing? Few offices seem to wear ties, or even suits nowadays so I don’t want to turn up overdressed, but likewise I don’t want to appear scruffy!

I always work on the basis that it is better to risk being smarter than expected than to dress down and find that this goes against you. Few companies will mark you down for being overdressed, although some might do so where image/culture is of special importance (I have heard of some PR agencies rejecting people for wearing suits). If you are using a recruiter, I would start by asking them – they are likely to have visited the company’s office before and have an insight to its culture. If you are not using a recruiter, you may gain this information from some Internet research – do they have a picture of the team/inside of the office on their web site for example? You could also phone the reception, explain that you are due to visit, and ask them what the typical dress code is. If you are still not sure, I would wear a suit/equivalent for most interviews, with a decision on whether to wear a tie based on how corporate you feel the company is. However, if it is for more of a creative agency interview, I would go smart casual.

If you have any questions for next month’s Ask the Recruiter email us at [email protected], follow the company on LinkedIn or find us on Twitter @_MediaContacts and Facebook.

Media Employment Market Update – October 2018

We have noticed some very specific trends in the employment market in 2018, creating an environment that is unique in the 25 years that we have been recruiting. Here is a breakdown of what has been happening, and what it means to you as an employee/candidate:

Record number of vacancies / low unemployment:

  • By the Summer, a record number of job vacancies was recorded (https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/job-vacancies)
  • At the same time, unemployment has fallen to the lowest level in over 40 years (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45181079)
  • Our view on the reasons for this are:
  • Continuing economic recovery from the 2008 crash. Business confidence is relatively high despite Brexit and we are seeing as many growth hires as we are replacement hires
  • The size of the workforce is declining due to a combination of an ageing population and a reduction in immigration
  • During recessions employers often stop hiring and training junior staff. As the economy recovers that leads to a lack of intermediate level job seekers as fewer people entered the industry and now have experience

What this potentially means to you

  • We have seen strong wage inflation come in, both in the general economy (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45481485) and also through our own Media client base. From our perspective basic salaries in areas such as publishing, events and PR/communications were static from the crash of 2008 through to approximately 12 months ago. Since then basic salaries have typically increased by 15% – this may seem a high figure, however it represents less than 2% per annum when you consider the 9 year doldrums
  • Employers know that it is a tough period to hire in. Those with vacancies will often move quickly, and expect prompt decisions if they interview a strong candidate. This is partly to reduce competition to hire good quality applicants, but also because of the cost and inconvenience of having unfilled vacancies
  • When candidates resign they are highly likely to be counter-offered by their current employer – research has suggested that over 50% will be. However, there remain very good reasons not to accept a counter offer (https://www.recruitment-software.co.uk/7-counter-offer-statistics-every-recruiter-needs-know/)
  • In our view these conditions make it the perfect time to evaluate your job options – salaries are high, employers are fighting each other to hire and the record number of vacancies takes the risk out of moving jobs
  • If you are considering a change, we would recommend doing so in the next month – in December things will slow down and interviews will be harder to arrange, and savvy candidates are aware that the best vacancies for early 2019 will be interviewing and offered before the Christmas break
  • We are noticing freelancers are moving into permanent positions. This is due to the more aggressive political/tax stance towards the self-employed, a narrowing in the gap in earning potential between freelance and permanent, and employers being more willing to consider flexible working arrangements. Historically employers have been nervous about offering permanent positions to candidates who have freelanced long-term, however a number of our recent placements have been on a “temp to perm” basis to tackle this – it gives both parties a trial period before committing

If you would like further information about the current market, to assess your options ahead of the New Year, or to take advice on salary, appraisals, career options etc then please get in touch at [email protected] or on 0207 359 8244