17 January 2013 10:26 AM

Dos and Don'ts for getting on with your parents during uni holidays...

So, the Christmas holidays are over, and If you're anything like most graduates these days, you'll have spent them at the Hotel of Mum and Dad. For many this will have been your first trip back home since they dropped you off at the beginning of freshers' week.

The first visit home can be a bit of a shock to the system for both parents and students - suddenly you're swept from your newfound independence back into a world of folded towels and having to phone home if you're out past 10pm, while your parents are confronted with an adult version of their darling child, who's no longer willing to account for their every move and may have picked up new and different views on life. Cue a few fraught weeks of arguing over milk, cleaning rotas and whose turn it is in the shower - think life in halls but with added parent-child angst. So, if you've had a few clashes with the family, here's a few things to bear in mind for future trips back home - or for when you have to move back in after graduating!

Do:
> Be gracious - remember that it's your parents' house, after all! Offer to cook a meal, wash up, entertain Grandma or walk the dog.

> Prepare yourself for a different atmosphere from the one you remember - you may feel very different since moving away, but chances are your parents won't have caught up with this yet. Patience will go a long way!

> Spend time catching up with friends from your hometown - share tips on how to survive! Plus, some time away from your family will make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.

> Acknowledge how your parents and younger siblings are feeling, and be prepared to compromise on the small stuff. If your dad gets annoyed about people leaving dirty dishes unwashed overnight, is it really going to kill you to do it his way for a few weeks?

> Use the holidays to do a bit of graduate career research

Don't:
> Allow yourself to be pushed into a 'child' role again - although this might make your parents feel more comfortable in the short term, it's not conducive to a positive long term adult relationship with them.

> Revert to teenage sulking if conflict arises - you'll just sabotage your chance to show your parents that you're a mature, reasonable adult.

> Assume that because you've been to university for a few months and have taken a couple of debating classes, you are now in a position to be dismissive of your parents' religion, life choices, political affiliations or stance on the EU. Constructive discussion, yes. Hectoring, no!

> Get stroppy with them when they offer unsolicited advice. Of course, this is easier said than done - you may have the type of parent who wants to help you find your feet by asking 'helpful' questions like "Have you tried searching for a graduate job on the internet yet?" Grin, bear it and remember that in a matter of weeks you'll be back to the wonderful world of parties, cheap vodka and a diet of super noodles - so enjoy that home cooking while it lasts!

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11 January 2013 10:12 AM

Do graduate job-hunting stunts work?

A 24 year old unemployed graduate has recently made the news by hiring a billboard in London to promote his video CV – and he’s not the first by any means. As grads feel the pinch, we’ve seen cases of ‘Hire me’ messages scrawled on mortarboards, roadside hoardings, and countless ‘clever’ job applications. We’re all told that we need to ‘stand out’ when making graduate job applications, but just how far is too far?

Good…
- Intelligent, no-nonsense written and spoken communication
- Individuality tempered by a sense of professional decorum
- An appropriate sense of humour
- An accessible online portfolio
- An awareness of the culture of the industry you’re applying for – creative flights of fancy will go down a lot better at an ad agency than at an accounting firm
- Avoiding coming across as either desperate or cocky – confident competence is the name of the game
- Having a presence on LinkedIn
- Getting peoples’ names right!

Less good…
- Trying too hard to be witty – this can be interpreted as an attempt to cover up less-than-stellar grades, poor experience or a lack of commitment to the industry
- Going for style over substance – think about what can you actually bring to the business and why that’s worth hiring, not just what you think the employer wants to see
- Trying these techniques in the wrong industries. For example, the guy mentioned above, who hired a billboard, is looking for a job in TV production. However, his tactics would be far more likely to impress someone looking for advertising or marketing talent. TV production teams tend to be a practical, behind-the-scenes bunch – they have to be in order to get the creative stuff done and let the ‘talent’ shine. And the job he states that he’s aiming for – junior producer – isn’t actually a job title that exists in TV production. It may seem harsh to nitpick, but it really doesn’t look good to prospective employers in the TV industry – imagine if a law graduate turned up for an interview and didn’t seem to know the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?

What were you thinking…?
Anything that could be remotely construed as stalkerish. Gifts, repeated unsolicited messages or workplace visits to people you don’t know is weird, and the fact that you want a job from them doesn’t suddenly make it ok! If any of your self-promotion ideas have even a whiff of ‘restraining order’ about them, think again.

One of the problems noticeable in a lot of new graduates (as evidenced by Mr Billboard) is the tendency to mash ‘media jobs’ together as if they were one conglomerate. Saying ‘I want to work in media’ is about as meaningless as saying ‘I want to work in an office’ – the obvious question any prospective employer will ask is ‘Yes, but doing what exactly?’ 

If you’re interested in a job in advertising, marketing or PR, a very cleverly executed ‘original’ approach might very occasionally pay off because it shows you’re happy to take risks, drum up publicity and use social media to your advantage – all of which are pretty handy job skills in these areas. But if you’re interested in working in any other creative industry, the best way to get a job is to be better at what you do than most other applicants. Not better qualified, not louder, not more personable, not a harder worker – just better. Whether your creative outlet of choice is writing, programming, filmmaking, graphics, costume designing or video editing, the harsh truth is that you need to be really, really good at what you do. Your portfolio needs to shine. You need to have talent, realism, aptitude, vocation, passion – ‘Well, that sounds quite fun and glamourous’ isn’t going to get you anywhere. Jobs in creative industries are as rare as hen’s teeth and don’t tend to pay well, but if you’re (honestly) as good as you think you are, you’ll get a foot in the door at some point without resorting to gimmicks.

Find out more about careers in TV

Find out more about careers in advertising and PR

Find out more about publishing careers

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02 January 2013 09:49 AM

New Year, New Job-Hunting Strategy? Tapping into the Hidden Graduate Job Market

Graduate schemes only make up about 20% of grad job destinations each year - so while it might feel like the world and their dog is heading off on an all-singing, all-dancing graduate programme, it's really not the case. It's estimated that around 70-80% of all job vacancies never get advertised - so you need to get proactive! Here'a few handy hints for making sure you're in with the best chance of success with speculative applications:

> Networking is key. Building contacts in the industry you want to go into is always a good idea - click here to find out how to start your own graduate recruitment network.
 
> Research the industry. To make a good targeted speculative application, you'll need to really stand out as someone who wants to work in that field. Recruiters can spot a generic CV a mile off, so take the time to tailor your application to each company.

> Try and find a contact to address your covering letter to - 'Dear Sir/Madam' just doesn't cut it! If necessary, phone up and ask. LinkedIn can also be useful for stalking key decision makers finding out names and roles.

> Be creative - if a company isn't hiring right now, offer to do some freelance work for them or even a free trial (if you can afford to). This is a pretty standard way of getting into certain creative industries, and it'll help your name stick for when a position does come up.

> Make sure your CV is top-notch
- click here for more info on writing the perfect graduate CV.

> Don't give up! Whether you're applying for huge graduate schemes or sending your portfolio off to tiny creative agencies, you're bound to get the odd knock-back. It happens to the best of us, so pick yourself up and try somewhere else - and don't take it personally! Find out more about motivation here.

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