Wednesday, 27 August 2014

LET'S TALK: Job Hunting and Interviews

This may seem like an odd post for UC but a very relevant one for a lot of people in a similar position.

Right now, I'm job hunting. I can't sugarcoat it - it's an effort. I don't mean to sound lazy...but it really is. Job hunting is a job within itself - I'm sure you've heard a million times. So I wanted to share a few little ways I'm going about it all. So know, I feel your pain but we all know, a little effort put in now will help us reap the benefits when we find that job.

So, lets get to it...

1. CV - 2 pages? Well mines 2 and a half already so I probably fall at the first hurdle in terms of do's and don't's. The problem is, I've done such a variety of jobs that it really is tricky to condense it. The way I have done this, however, is to have two CV's - one standard CV that has everything and one that is targeting the specific area of jobs I am search (which is marketing). My first CV, the long one, is the one I don't really send, it's more for my reference and one I can create a more condensed, more specific CV from. My 'marketing' one, we'll say to avoid confusion, is the one that has all of the relevant responsibilities and skills on it that are relevant, whilst either deleting or shortening the ones that aren't so relevant.

Head with your name, address, telephone number, email address, follow with a little opener to catch attention, jobs (most recent to first), education, other mentionable skills or achievements, hobbies (I always do this - you would be surprised how many interviews this has been brought up in over the years) and then references (if you would rather not include actual names/details, I just put 'References available upon request)

2. Cover Letter - again, I probably fall at another hurdle with this - mine is LONG. However, it includes every example of experience/skills relevant to marketing. I've also included all of my administrative experience as that is always worth a mention - every job includes some form of admin in some way. A covering letter is there to sell yourself to the potential employer or even to encourage a recruitment agency to pass forward your CV for a job role. I would say aim for a page to a page and a half or it will seem a bit of a waffle!

For mine I include these headers - qualifications and experience (which is about uni, jobs I've had with relevant responsibilities for the role I'm applying for), customer service, project management, personal experience (including blogging and freelance work) and a little summary at the end. 

3. Recruitment Agencies - I used to be very skeptical about agencies - my only other dealings with them have shown me pushy staff putting people forward for any roles just so they can get commission. Thankfully, I haven't had that experience but, if you are using agencies, make sure you stand your ground and tell them exactly what roles you want and don't be afraid to say no to anything you do not want to be put forward for. It is there job to find you suitable roles, don't feel pushed into something you know isn't or won't be right for you! Make sure you have a minimum salary in mind and also how far you are willing to commute to a potential job. I've signed up with at least 5 agencies as all of them will have different contacts, some smaller companies, some larger, so I have found it is a really good idea to help widen your job search. 

4. Reed/CV Library/Total Jobs/Prospects - sign up to all of the bigger job sites. I find Reed is probably the best one and you will probably come across the same roles posted across several of the other job sites as well. I have used all of the ones mentioned but have found I get more responses from Reed.

5. Be organised - my dad suggested this, which I initially grumbled at but it was definitely the best idea - use excel to whip up a simple spreadsheet to keep track of roles you've applied for - I used these headers: 


I have found it makes life much easier as when somebody calls me about a job, I have a slight clue what job role it could be. However, maybe marketing jobs just say 'assistant, executive, planning manager' etc. so it may not always be helpful but at least you can keep track of responses.

6. Be honest (almost!) - Recruitment agencies and employers aren't silly - they know some people will exaggerate their skills and CVS to an extent - BUT don't lie about something - ie. an internship for 12 months - they will ask for references and if they don't, they will more than likely realise when you are asked about it that it didn't happen. Same with qualifications - a lot of employers ask for certificates. Extend the truth if you must - ie. that website design you did once in school for a company as project, you actually had dealings with them further from it etc. - but never 'I designed their whole website which they still use now and want me to do it in the future'.

7. Dressing for an interview - make sure you're smart - this may seem like common sense but it's better to be a little overdressed than underdressed. I usually wear a below the knee pencil dress with smart, small heeled black wedges. I have seen some girls interview in the shortest, tightest outfits and, in my eyes, that won't come across well to whoever is interviewing you!

8. Be confident, be yourself but be smart - it really is true - the more you relax, the better you come across. In interviews, obviously be yourself in a composed and polite way but don't try and be somebody you aren't. An interview isn't just to see about your skills and experience, it is also to see what type of person you are and whether you will fit into the business. AND the same goes for you seeing what time of business and people you would be working for.

9. Prepare - IMPORTANT - when get offered an interview make sure you read up on the company, go through the job specification and pin point your experience/skills to their required ones but also think of some examples you could give them of scenarios you've had relating to what they're after. Think of around 5 questions to ask at the end - you could relate them to something you've seen on their website or social media, ask if there's travel involved with the job (if they have other sites etc) imaginative. I would suggest avoiding asking about the wage, holidays etc. 

10. Don't be disheartened if you don't hear back from applications and also, if you don't get the job - there is a lot of competition in the job market BUT you will get your chance - look at JK Rowling, she didn't get published straight away and now look at her!

11. Don't frown at temp jobs - I was adamant when I returned home from travelling I wanted to get back a find 'the job'. That's not always as easy as it sounds and it's not always a quick route. I did a 7 week temping job, which I actually really enjoyed. Recruitment agencies can usually find a temping job for those signed up with them literally within a few days. It's also a really good way to get your foot in the door to finding a permanent job, should you enjoy the company you work for. Give it a go - it's a temporary solution, regular money, another thing to add to your CV and the saying is true, it's always easier to find a job when you're in one!

This may all seem really obvious (AND really rambled), you may not take any of this on board but for those moments of panic -we al have been through this tedious job hunt BUT WE WILL GET THERE! It sometimes may not feel like it but we will. So if you get those knock backs, pick yourself up because the things you want are achieveable.

Something I always bear in mind - even if I don't get offered a job I interview for - the experience and feedback will get me closer the next time!

If any of you have any tips or are going through a similar thing at the moment let me know on here or on Twitter. I would love to hear from you!


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