Saturday, 30 June 2012

My Graduate Success – My Journey Part 1

Let me firstly apologise for the delay in writing this blog post. After receiving my job offer and then having a lovely relaxing holiday away in Costa de los pinos, the days have since flown by.
So to get back into the swing of posting again, this week, I have decided to describe my journey from handing in my application to securing a job offer at IPC Media. In a few weeks, I’ll be going into more detail in regards to tips. My description of each of the 7 days should give you an accurate understanding of what I undertook and will shed light on why I was ultimately successful.

The other day I read an article on the Guardian Careers blog regarding a graduate whom managed to gain her first job after 10 or so months, after completing relevant work experience. From what she was saying she feels as lucky as can be, and it really makes me think how extremely lucky I am.
Before you make any negative judgements about my quick success – e.g. I only got the job because I had contacts – I had NO contacts at IPC and no contacts that helped me get the job. However the bribes worked (kidding!). Anyway, this is why I believe that it’s not all about contacts, and others (like me) are fully capable of securing a job before graduation.

So, let me take you back to three weeks ago. At this point I had started applying for jobs and had secured zero interviews – to be honest I was getting worried. I had always had in the back of my mind the thought that it would be simple for me to get a job considering the wealth of experience I had already attained. Like other graduates, I found myself resentful at the amount of internships companies were offering with very little of them paid, and certainly never paid well. The applications that I did make were to well-known large companies and obviously the most competitive vacancies. One application I sent out was to a company that I had already done multiple placements with, I had all the experience necessary, but I didn’t even get an interview – that was certainly a shocker.

For each application, I made sure that I tailored every single one to the job vacancy. To be honest after 2-3 weeks of applying for jobs (on average I’m sure that this is a very short period of time), but I was already feeling concerned about whether I would get a job at all in the publishing sector. I had even set myself a ‘cut off’ date, so after x amount of months I would give up on publishing and try other routes – e.g. a PA. However, this outlook changed as less than 2 weeks before I went on holiday I saw a job advertised on the IPC Media twitter page. I immediately emailed to ask for a job description.

Day 1 (2 hours*) The next day I received the job description and started to write my cover letter and CV (of course tailoring it to IPC and the job description). Within 10 minutes of sending through my email application I got an email back from HR offering me an interview. I couldn’t believe how quick they had got back. After receiving this pleasing news I decided to start my preparation. This involved what I was going to prepare for the interview and when. My interview was scheduled for Day 5 so I really had 4 days to prepare myself. On this day, I as well did some casual internet research, but really, I was just collecting my thoughts for a plan of action.

Day 2 (3 hours*) This day was spent going onto the company website, firstly, to find out about IPC Media as a company, and secondly the magazine itself. I extended my research to their press office, which I always find useful in preparation as you can research accurate facts and figures – e.g. the success of the brands etc. I spent about 4 hours on this research and printed out my findings to create a pack for myself. These were all complied into a folder that I would then take with me to the interview in case I needed a point of reference. I also bought the magazine so that I was familiar with it.

Day 3 (8 hours*) I spent more time doing website research for the magazine, the magazine’s website and the Editor. The more I knew, the better I could perform in the interview (I’ll do a blog post on this at a later date). The rest of the day I spent collating a document of all the possible interview questions. This would range from the standard questions like ‘What is your weakness?’ to other killer questions such as ‘If you were an animal what would you be?’ Once I had these questions (I had 8 pages worth) I compiled my answers.

What I began to notice is that the scenario/behavioural type questions would require situations to reference. In this instance, I complied a document that included about 5 situations I had been in that represented different skills – e.g. paying attention to detail and showing initiative. Once I had these situations in my mind, I was able to link them to questions better. Some of the readers may remember a link I had advertised in one of my blog posts, which was basically 50 interview questions with tips on how you should answer them. Websites like these are certainly useful to read whilst preparing. 

Day 4 (8 hours*) This is really the last day that I was able to prepare for the interview as it was in the morning on Day 5. Therefore, with my questions and answers, and the research pack I created, I then started to look back through all the pages to make sure I was familiar with it all. Again I turned to internet research because there is never too much research you can do - as long as you remember it and learn from it - it is always useful. As well I researched my interviewer and any suspected other interviewers (I suspected there would be two the HR person who contacted me). This extra research helped me to create my own interview questions for them.

On all the days listed above, I did small bursts of research on my iPhone, which includes podcasts on the Guardian Careers site. Just before I went to sleep I would listen to a couple of their interview podcasts to gain any other general interview tips. In my previous post – The Graduate Jobseeker:Where do I start? - I have supplied links.

Anyway, that is it for now. Next week I will continue with days 5 to 8.
*hours stated give a rough estimate to how many hours preparation I did per day.

Please use the comments box below to post any questions or responses.
Intern opportunities will recommence this Tuesday! (03/07/2012)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

My Graduate Success

For those that have kept themselves updated through Twitter or Facebook will probably know that yesterday I secured my first job at IPC Media. I was absolutely thrilled to receive a job offer after two interviews at IPC that happened on Tuesday and Thursday just gone.

If you’ve kept up with my blog then you’ll know that since the last time I posted (mid-end of May time) I was job hunting. During that time I had applied for a few jobs but I never heard back. It wasn’t until after an application for a job at Woman & Home and Homes & Gardens magazines that I got my first interview offer. It was a bit daunting knowing I had my first graduate interview, but I was determined to succeed and as I stress on my blog so often – interview preparation makes all the difference. Luckily I did succeed and without the preparation, I wouldn’t have secured the job. Might I just add that I didn’t have any contacts within this company, and much to my dismay none of my contacts proved useful when I was searching for jobs.

Anyway you can find out the one-week process I went through, from day 1 (receiving an interview date) to day 7 (receiving a job offer) on Saturday the 30th of June. Unfortunately I’m not going to be posting anymore blogs until that date as I’m holiday. Once I return I’ll resume the usual schedule.

By the way, for any grads out there still out of work and reading my blog, make sure you stay positive and keep working on your applications. The graduate job climate isn’t good but it’s still possible to get those interviews and job offers

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Intern Opportunities: 12th June 2012

Are you looking for a paid placement?
  • Bauer Media is looking for a marketing intern for 3 months. The placement is suitable for someone seeking summer work experience. Click here to apply

Are you looking for your first job?

Have you heard about....
Elle wants interns to edit their October 2012 edition. If you want to get involved then click here to find out more.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Interview Preparation: Tips for a successful interview

To date I have done many blog posts regarding interviews and this is because they are such an important aspect of the recruitment process. I’ve previously stated that being offered an interview in the publishing industry is like receiving one of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket and I stick by that statement. It is important that when you are offered an interview you should try to make it as successful as possible to ensure your chances of being offered the job. 

1) Make a good impression 
Doing the significant research during your preparation is a sure way of making a good impression at your interview. It’s as well important to keep up your good impressions before and after the interview – in other words stay in interview mode until you’re clear of the building. Aimee Bateman speaks about this in her video ‘The One Mile Rule’. 

2) Practise ahead of time with sample questions and different interview styles 
Rehearse your sample questions and answers. The rehearsing will encourage you to think clearly about your answers and the questions that the interviewer may ask. Creating a document of sample questions and answers will allow you to rehearse different interview styles, examine and improve any of your answers. If you are stuck for inspiration, there are plenty of sample interview questions to view online. 

3) Ask good questions to the interviewer 
It shows interest and it shows that you’ve done your research. Asking the interviewer questions is practically necessary – check out my previous ‘Interview Preparation: Asking the Employer Questions’ blog post. 

4) Leave a good impression by sending a follow up letter 
The interviewer will probably expect a follow up letter that will thank them for their time, it doesn’t need to be very long and at the very least it is polite to do so.  

Do you have any interview stories? Post them in the comments thread below.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Intern Opportunities: 6 June 2012

Intern Opportunities

Are you looking for a six month paid placement?

Are you looking for your first job?
  • Macmillan is looking for a marketing assistant for a temporary contract. Click here to apply

Have you heard about....
Elle wants interns to edit their October 2012 edition. If you want to get involved then click here to find out more. 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Interview Preparation: What to wear for an interview

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It hadn’t occurred to me that I should write a blog post regarding interview attire, and it was only when someone requested it that I started to think about the implications of what we wear. Let me start by saying - employers have the tendency of using the phrase ‘informal chat’ to refer to an interview. Immediately you may ponder what an 'informal chat' is and thus whether your outfit should reflect this. The answer is that employers will want to calm your nerves and will use the phrase 'informal chat' as opposed to 'formal interview'. No matter what phrase they use formal attire is appropriate – unless they’ve stated otherwise. 
Below I’ve created a few pointers that you should consider when preparing for your interview.

1) Invest in a new outfit
If you don’t have anything relatively new, by this I mean younger than 2 years, then invest in a brand new outfit. When choosing a new outfit you should consider the employer and what other people who work in the company look like. If you’re not sure then you can’t go wrong with a classic black suit. In this situation it’s best to look overdressed than underdressed. After all, an outfit is the first impression that the employers will get – and you’ll want to give them the best impression possible.

2) Pay attention to detail
Don’t forget to pay attention to the small details. For example, make sure that your hair is clean and styled appropriately. Check that your nails are clean, and if you’re female, make sure your nail polish is tidy. Lastly, shoes will need to be clean and not scuffed. Trust me - all these small details will be examined by the interviewer.

3) Don’t take the ‘informal’ phrase lightly
Okay, I know some industries will vary. For example, if you’re going for an interview at Abercrombie and Fitch, then clothing and style is an important aspect of the interview, and so a formal suit won’t be necessary. If you’re in doubt keep your outfit formal and professional as most of the time this is what the employer will expect.

4) Other extras to consider
If you have any tattoos or piercings then cover those up because you’ll want to look as professional as possible. This is appropriate during the interview too, so remove any chewing gum and keep your mobile phone switched off.

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