Ask the Recruiter – November 2018

How can I make sure that the company I am interviewing for is the right one for me?

It is important to see the interview as a two-way conversation – it is your opportunity to sell yourself, and the company’s opportunity to reciprocate.

Before any interview I would suggest doing some research. Start by looking at reviews on Glassdoor and Google. These should not be fully relied upon, but you can pick up on any repeat comments or trends, ready to ask about them during the interview process. You can back these up by taking references from former employees of the company – I have noted the imbalance between most companies taking references but few prospective employees doing so! It is easy to track ex-employees down through Linked-In etc.

I would also try and get a sense of the company culture through the website and the person interviewing you. Does the company make an effort to give you a transparent insight or not? If it is the latter, it should flag a concern that they might view employees as commodities rather than people!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about whatever aspects of the company that you want to hear about during the interview. These should include how any commission or bonuses work. The interviewer should be prepared to be open and, if not, you can draw your own conclusions from their approach.

Make sure you meet some potential peers at the company rather than just the management/senior management team. This may be through a formal meeting or going for drinks etc and will give you an idea of what the culture is like.

Finally, think about how straightforward the interview process is. If it moves quickly, is clearly set out and decisive it suggests that the company has a clear vision, working practices and decision making process. If there are delays, hesitations and a lack of clarity then perhaps the company has a muddled approach to management.

With my annual appraisal approaching, what is the best way to negotiate a good pay rise?

One of the most important aspects of negotiating is to be able to understand the thought process, flexibility and constraints of the person that you are negotiating with. It is also important to make sure that what you are asking for is realistic.

As first port of call I would look at the company performance, plus that of your team and you as an individual. Logically a pay rise should mean that you are now delivering more for the company (i.e. are more productive) than you were at your last review. How has the company performed during this period – has its revenue and/or profit increased? How has your team performed – again, has there been an improvement? Likewise, how have you done? Knowing these things will give you an understanding of not only whether you are due a pay rise, but whether there is the money to award one.

Next you should build your case for how much more you will offer between now and your next review? How will you continue to improve and offer more to the company? Can you back it up with any facts and figures?

Remember that when negotiating you should start at a higher point than your expected outcome. Likewise it is likely that your line manager will offer you a little below the maximum they possibly could. Start high and plan to meet in the middle.

If you are disappointed with the financial settlement, think about how else you could add value for yourself. Perhaps a bonus could be added in based upon a certain level of performance, or a guaranteed further increase in salary upon meeting particular milestones. Also you could ask for additional paid leave, lighter hours, better benefits or pension payments in lieu of salary.


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

Client Focus – Smart Grid Forums

Smart Grid Forums is an events business that focuses on emerging trends and innovations in the renewable energy sector. The company has been active since 2011 and has been able to develop a portfolio of high-quality, large-scale events in that time which inform decision makers in the Smart Grid sphere. Smart Grid Forums pride themselves on being at the forefront of industry developments and facilitate market developments by creating a platform for business critical information to be shared and discussed. In this review we focus on Smart Grid Forums and give an outline of what life is like at the company.


Who is Smart Grid Forums?

  • Setup in 2011 by Mandana White who previously worked as a conference producer for media firms such as WBR, EMAP, and UBM
  • Smart Grid Forums are on course to more than double in size over the next two years
  • The company are passionate about driving clean energy usage
  • Smart Grid Forums have a high rate of repeat business and run events in Europe – locations include London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Prague, Frankfurt,


Considering working for Smart Grid Forums?

  • Rapid growth means that you should be someone who thrives in and is excited by a fast changing, dynamic, entrepreneurial environment
  • It’s an exciting time to be part of what is an ever-evolving, growing sector – the capacity of the renewable energy industry in the UK has just overtaken fossil-fuel capacity for the first time
  • Core company values are ACE: Ambition, Customer Centricty, Excellence
  • They are about to move into modern, open-plan offices in Euston – office hours are 08:30 – 16:30, Monday to Friday


Current Vacancies:

  • The company are currently recruiting a Head of Conference Production – applicants should have a strong background in conference production in a technical market, and have experience of managing a team
  • With head count due to more than double over the next couple of years, there will be opportunities across Sales, Marketing, Conference Production, and Operations and Logistics in the coming weeks and months


Keen to learn more?

How to start a career in medcomms

Last week saw the inaugural joint webinar presentation with Media Contacts and The presentation and subsequent discussion with Julia Walton (Media Contacts) and Peter Llewellyn (First MedComms Jobs) focussed on getting your CV ready to apply for MedComms jobs. The feedback from all who attended was great, so you’ll be pleased to hear we’ll be doing more! Next time we’ll be focussing on interview preparation.


If you’re interested in MedComms Jobs, this video is well worth a watch!

Creating the perfect CV

Your CV is your ticket to an interview – you want to do everything you can to make it an easy decision for a hiring manager to choose to interview you. Throughout the process of creating your CV, you should be regularly asking yourself: “What would the hiring manager want to see? Will this make them want to interview me?” Much of this, of course, will vary depending on the company and the position you’re applying for.  However, some things are universal. Here are some tips on creating a top CV.

  • Keep the format clean and simple – unless you’re applying for a job in graphic design, there’s no need to showcase your design skills.
  • Stick to two A4 pages. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t spend much time looking at a CV, so there’s no need to include your whole life story.
  • Tailor your CV to each job and each company. If there is a job ad or spec, match your CV to it – ensure that each requirement is clearly covered. Research the company to work out what skills or experience they value.
  • Be sure to include a personal statement, right near the top of the first page. It should include reasons why you’d be good at the job and reasons why you want to do the job – remember, flattering a company never did anyone any harm!
  • Make sure any gaps are explained – if there is no explanation for a gap between jobs, you’re leaving yourself open to suspicion.
  • Explain your responsibilities in each job AND specific achievements. If you’re in sales, how much revenue did you bring in? If you’re in media relations, how many articles did you get placed and in which publications?
  • Make your CV keyword-friendly – but not so that it reads robotically! Recruiters and hiring managers search online job boards, so make sure your CV will appear in relevant searches.
  • Tell the truth! That thing people say about everyone lying on their CV? Yeah, that’s a lie. Not worth getting yourself in hot water later in the application process.
  • Never rely on spellcheck.
  • Have at least one other person read it to check grammar, spelling, sense and tone.
  • Read it out loud. This will help you find mistakes.
  • Check it again.

Good luck out there!

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?


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.