Why PRH is scheming on recruitment

Penguin Random House UK has launched a new initiative to find four budding marketers to work across their imprints and locations. The first stage is via a digital portal hosting an application form and then there are video interviews, a two day meet-up and then the verdict on whether the candidates fit the bill.

I found the hashtag #TheScheme on Twitter and decided to see what it was all about. I have seen a similar campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi, which launched a “grad” scheme called The Door in January. Now closed for applications, Saatchi was on the look out for five successful applicants for one year’s paid placement, offering “competitive” rates of pay.

The idea behind these reach-out initiatives is simple — publishers want talent from outside the industry and they are looking for new ways to find it.  They want to look smart, show their brand values off, and invite those in who might not have thought about working with books before, or who for whatever reason may have been put off. This is also a good way to promote the fact that a company is looking for a diverse workforce.

The method of applying is self-consciously modern. A web page asks candidates to reply to several questions (“we don’t want to use a boring old CV to do this”). This is followed by the chance to work on a creative brief, after which candidates will need to deliver their ideas via a 30 minute video interview. Those who get through to the next stage will participate in a two-day selection event.

All in all, it’s a neat way to collect a talent pool. There may only be four spaces but there will be far more applicants.

It also means that as an applicant you get to learn a thing or two about the area of employment — in this case marketing. When you are job-hunting it’s hard to look at website after website and not get anything from the companies you are applying to but #thescheme and other initiatives like it mean that you feel like you have entered into something — a community, a real team.

The language in the portal is reassuring. It lays out a clear framework, is open about the salary, and is honest about what will be expected of applicants. It’s also a two-way process: PRH will learn a lot about the candidates, but in turn they will learn a lot about publishing.

The downside? Well there are only four places. But even for those candidates who don’t make the final cut, The Scheme offers a platform into publishing.

Maria Vassilopoulos is buisness development manager at The Bookseller. She tweets about publishing careers at Jobs in Books