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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10 September 2012 09:48 AM

Top Tips For Developing The Skills You Need For A Graduate Job

  • Network, network, network! Family, friends, contacts you meet by chance – it all counts!

  • Go to university careers fairs and employer presentations – not only can you pick up lots of helpful info on the industries you’re keen on, you will also have the chance to make a lasting impression with recruiters.


A final tip - believe in your own abilities and focus on presenting yourself as confident...but not arrogant. No one wants to spend all day working with someone who's full of themselves!

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10 September 2012 09:28 AM

Four Vital Skills for Landing your First Job

Graduate employers aren’t just interested in hiring candidates with the right qualifications – they’re also keen to meet people with the right skills for their company. The top skills graduate recruiters want are:

1. Commercial awareness - this is about knowing how a business works, how it’s positioned in the marketplace and how it relates to the wide economy.
    
2. Communication skills – this vital ability covers putting your point across effectively, public speaking, listening to people, writing well, and tailoring your message to your audience.

3. Motivation – are you someone who can pick themselves up again after a setback? Can you keep persevering when the going gets tough?


4. Confidence – can you be assertive without being arrogant? Can you master business lingo and meet company directors without sounding nervous? 


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21 August 2012 03:30 PM

3 Ways to Top Up Your Summer CV

So, the summer vacation is in full swing, any internships or summer placements are drawing to a close, and it's raining (again) - what's a bored student to do? Far from being a drag, the end of the summer vacation can be a great time to build up your skills and show future employers that you're capable of seeking out opportunities and making things happen. Read on for our Top Three Tips:

  1. Getting a part-time job can be a great way to keep busy, gain useful 'soft' skills such as communication and dealing with customers - and, of course, earn some much-needed cash before the Autumn loan payment kicks in! You can also use even the crummiest job to your advantage on those all-important application forms - click here to find out how.
  2. If jobs are thin on the ground - or if earning money isn't your main priority right now - why not look into volunteering locally? Summer is a great time to give something back to a cause you love. In fact, a lot of employers like to see volunteering on a CV because it suggests you're someone who's well-rounded and socially responsible.
  3. Learn something new! Yes, this may seem like the last thing you want to do after a year of studying hard, but it's a great way to add to that pesky 'Other Relevant Skills' section on application forms. This doesn't need to be a formal qualification - there are plenty of online courses where you can teach yourself a new language, learn some basic programming or brush up on your typing and Microsoft Office skills.

It goes without saying - don't forget to relax and unwind, too! You've got to be ready for the start of the new term and (more importantly) ready to party all night in Fresher's Week!


20 August 2012 04:12 PM

The Perfect Graduate CV: Dos and Don'ts

So, you’ve decided that the whole corporate-grad-scheme-application-form route isn’t for you. You’ve found a couple of entry-level jobs that sound just perfect. They all ask for a CV. You don’t have one. Now what do you do?

Essentially, a CV is a list of your work and educational achievements to date. Note that it’s not a list of ALL your achievements – your future employer doesn’t want to hear about your SATs results or your grade two cello certificate – instead it should be detailed, professional and focussed. Here's a quick rundown of what each section should (and shouldn't) contain:

Contact details
Do:

  • Put your name, address, phone number and email address. And make sure they're all correct. How else will they get in touch to offer you an interview!?

Don’t:

  • Include irrelevant personal information, like your age, religion, marital status, or a photo of yourself, when applying for a UK-based role. This is standard practise in some countries but is considered unprofessional in the UK, and could open the employer up to charges of discrimination based on age, looks, race, etc – so it’s best avoided.

  • Fire off emails from any address containing any the following: random MySpace-style capitalisation (how old ARE you?), the words ‘sexy’, ‘babe’ or ‘hot’, cutesy nicknames, or references to your fondness for all-night benders. If you have any doubts about the professional appropriateness of your email address, it’s not appropriate. Set up an account with a sensible address – you can’t go wrong with something along the lines of firstname.lastname@emailprovider.com.


Personal statement
Do:

  • Keep it short – remember the abstract you had to write for your dissertation? This is the equivalent, so proportionally it should be two or three lines, max.

Don't:

  • Feel like you have to include one for the sake of it. Having said that, it’s quite a good way to summarise your CV for the recruiter – and anything that makes their life easier after reading 100+ CVs is bound to count in your favour. 


Work experience
Do:

  • Start with the most recent job and work backwards, making sure that you list any useful skills or responsibilities.
  • Get the balance right between inserting buzzwords that the recruiter will pick up on when they scan through the CV, and resorting to clichés. Positive, action-filled words like ‘organised’, ‘managed’, ‘coordinated’ and ‘responsibility’ are all great – generic sentences like ‘I have great customer service skills’ are less useful and fill up valuable space. A sentence like this is only acceptable if followed by ‘…because I did x and y while working in job z.’

Don't:

  • List every job you've ever had from babysitting to bar work. If, for example, you've had a succession of bar jobs plus one or two internships, it’s worth listing those first in more detail, then summarising the less relevant bar work in one or two lines – unless, of course, you’re applying to work in a bar!


Education
Do:

  • List your educational achievements reverse chronological order, starting with your degree and working backwards.
  • List your A-Levels in full.
  • Consider putting 'Education' at the beginning of your CV you’re a recent graduate with no work experience but who boasts a shiny new 1st from a top university.

Don't:

  • List all your GCSEs if you're pressed for space. It's fine to put something like ‘9 GCSEs at grades A*-B, including English and Maths’ – this shows employers what they need to know without boring them with the finer details of your GCSE French coursework.

Relevant skills
Do:

  • Include things like unusual software packages you can use, organizations or societies you belong to, positions of responsibility you've had - anything that adds to the impression that you're a nice, well-rounded, professional person who'd be great to work with!

Don't:

  • List mundane things that 99% of people do in their spare time like 'Going to the pub' or try to be funny - the only exception to this is if you are applying for a very select group of industries i.e. certain branches of media and advertising. Tread very carefully here - and if in doubt, keep it friendly but professional.

Final thoughts
Most people put off writing a CV until faced with a job application deadline, but it’s worth keeping a generic version of your CV up to date at all times, which you can then tailor to suit each job you apply for. Warning for the unwary and/or lazy: when we say tailor, we mean just that – NOT rewrite two sentences, stick in the name of the company and press send!


14 September 2011 10:51 PM

Guest Post: After your degree...

Your degree is an important milestone on the path to a career but unfortunately it is not a passport to the job of your dreams. You will still need to make an impression in your interviews so that you are selected for the position above all the other candidates. So, what can you do to stand out from the crowd after your course?

Practise Your Interview Skills.

Even the most qualified applicant can be moved to the bottom of the list after a poor performance in an interview. Employers do not only use interviews to assess your knowledge and enquire deeper into the skills you have listed in your CV. They also use the interview to assess you as an individual, see whether your personality will mesh well with their team dynamic, and generally get a feel for you as a person. These aspects of your interview are especially important for positions related to media and communications management as forging personal connections and similar people skills are an essential aspect of your role. The only way to know whether your best qualities are coming across in interviews is to receive honest, frank feedback from a friend or professional interview coach.



Know Your CV Inside and Out.

Before your interview, it is essential that you read through your CV and make certain that you can justify and elaborate on all the skills that you have listed. Think through the work and education that you have included and try to assess which elements of that experience are most relevant to the position for which you are applying. Your interviewers will likely question those entries that show excellence as well as those that they may be concerned about, so it is vital that you can explain precisely why you have achieved what you have.



Research the Job and the Company.

You should demonstrate your enthusiasm for this particular role that you have applied for and the company with whom you are interviewing. A general knowledge of the industry will not impress the interviewers. Rather, you should make it clear precisely why you wish to work for this particular company. Researching the company also allows you to show why you are particularly suitable. For example, a company with an environmental ethos may be interested in any environmental advocacy you were involved with at university. This may require a large amount of research, but will really pay off in the interview.



Keep up to Date with Industry Developments.

Your degree is a great foundation for the knowledge you will need in your role, though remember after leaving university practises change and your knowledge will start to become dated. By keeping up to date with new legislative or best-practice advice you show the interviewers that you are self-motivated and potentially ahead of your peers in your current knowledge base. Your peers will all have completed similar degrees, so any individual learning that you have done will help you to stand out as a more qualified applicant and could be the sole reason you are accepted for a job over everyone else.



Volunteer, Intern or Innovate.

Work experience is an important consideration for employers and most companies looking to hire you it is almost seen as a requirement for you to have the experience under your belt. This is something you can gain this experience before your first interview. A great place to start is during out of term time whilst your university course is still on going, the best being during the summer where you will have a few months to really get stuck in to an internship program. Making sure that you are well prepared before the term ends is a must though, as the summer internships can be very popular and become unavailable quickly. Also while you are waiting for interview or applying for jobs you can easily apply to be a volunteer for short internships in the field. This is a great way to show both a willingness to gain additional experience and an added level of ability to show on your CV. If you cannot find an official position as a volunteer or intern, it is still possible to gain experience on your own. Even something as simple as setting up a blog where you discuss current developments in the industry or your own thoughts on your field can make a positive difference.

Guest Post by Media Masters Degree course provider Middlesex University


14 March 2011 02:12 PM

Graduate Interview Questions You Dread...

Graduate Job Interviews. They're fairly predictable nowadays. Look smart. Smile. And have all your competencies prepared...can you work in a team, can you demonstrate leadership, why do you want to work for us? But every so often you get confronted with a killer question. You know the one - where you're doomed whatever you say.

Knoweldge being power we thought we'd arm you with a few choice questions. Here's what we found out when we corned a group of people to ask about their trickiest interview experiences...


13 August 2010 03:23 PM

Graduate Jobs In Advertising...

You want a job in Advertising. Excellent choice.

You want to meet companies on campus to discuss your options. Ah.

Lots of Industries are really well represented on campus. Like banking, law and consulting. But if you're interested in the creative industries you're in trouble.

The Oxford Advertising Society got started for this very reason, as its president explains: if you want a career which doesn't involve wearing a suit then you're going to struggle to find information on campus.

A big hurdle for students is that it's actually very hard to establish which companies exist that can offer them a job. Few are household names, in fact most of them don't have names but funny acronyms. And if they're not on campus it's pretty much impossible to establish where to apply.

To help you all out, here's a starting list. Lots of Ad agencies who recruit grads, information resources for the industry and some marketing and advertising specific job boards. Aren't we lovely!

Happy hunting... 

P.S. To research your options don't forget our graduate jobs in advertising section.

www.brandrepublic.com

www.ipa.co.uk

www.agencyrepublic.com

www.amvbbdo.com

www.bartleboglehegarty.com

www.bmbagency.com

www.brothersandsisters.co.uk

www.chiandpartners.com

www.circuslondon.com

www.daredigital.com

www.ddblondon.com

www.dlkw.co.uk

www.eurorscg.com

www.fallon.co.uk

www.freud.com

www.gluelondon.com

www.grey.co.uk

www.hmdg.com

www.hurrellanddawson.com

www.irisnation.com

www.jwt.com

www.krowcommunications.com

www.leagasdelaney.com

www.leoburnett.com

www.loweworldwide.com

www.loweuk.com

www.mcbd.co.uk

www.mccann.co.uk

www.mcsaatchi.com

www.motherlondon.com

www.ogilvy.co.uk

www.piperprivateequity.com

www.rkcryr.com

www.saatchi.co.uk

www.stlukes.co.uk

www.tbwa.com

www.theredbrickroad.co.uk

www.vccp.com

www.wcrs.com

www.wklondon.com


16 June 2010 09:05 AM

Using LinkedIn for Graduate Jobs...

Social networks. There can't be one of us that doesn't use one! But can they actually help in your hunt for graduate jobs?

Facebook, by far the most popular social network amongst students, is starting to be used by stacks of graduate recruiters but few go beyond a token presence. And perhaps more importantly, many students feel pretty uncomfortable about using a personal tool for for professional ends.

Which brings us to LinkedIn, a pure business networking tool. It should be a dream for students trying to stand out from their peers but it's surprising how many are stumped by it. Partly this is because it seems to work best for people who already have a professional network. It may also lack relevance for the biggest graduate employers who have more formal recruitment processes. But for the hundreds of small to medium sized companies often priced out of traditional campus recruitment, it's a different story. We recently stumbled upon this video which gives a really simple introduction into how to use LinkedIn and why it should be in every student's armoury in their hunt for graduate jobs.

Yes it's slightly U.S. focussed and yes it's from LinkedIn who naturally want you to join their network but it makes a pretty powerful point.

Have a watch and see what you think...

 

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