Don't be narrow-minded about media recruitment

Recently I was fortunate to be involved in a pitch for The Edge Foundation. This is a charitable organisation dedicated to the promotion and enablement of vocational working for young people as a credible alternative to the conventional university route.

It is personally funded by a man who built his own catering empire this way, and it is his own £80m that powers the endeavour.

I personally learnt through my father's insight: "Son, you are a lazy git. Instead of studying for a degree, use that time to try and find a career to get passionate about. Go out to work."

Generously, he was thinking about me and not about himself, and his insight changed my life for the better.

Thirty-one years later, I find myself with two children at the very age I was when my dad advised me.

My daughter is very self- powered and clear about what she wants and how to get there.

My son has been cursed with some of my genetic faults, such as no attention span and energy peaks and troughs.

His talents are equally distinct and instinctive.

Would you advise him to enter our industry, assuming that he even could, without a degree?

Recruitment policy dictates that we filter out non-graduates and by and large this makes it virtually impossible to break through the system.

Yet many of those now at the top never had a formal education and, ironically, blossomed because of this and not despite of it.

Many of the skills required in media, be it agency or media owner, involve selling, communication, free thought and charm.

None of these assets can be taught, but are born qualities that are often in conflict with being assimilated into a system.

For the life of me, I do not know why - in an industry so reliant upon attracting distinctive people - we can be so narrow-minded and biased about where we recruit this talent from.

So I am going to encourage my boy to follow his unique side and to consider that he might not automatically compete to look like everyone else.

- Jonathan Durden is president and co-founder of PHD, jonathan.durden@haymarket.com.

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