Dear Diary… Getting Back Up Again

Ahh rejection. What a glorious feeling.

If you’ve been following my blog or have read any of my recent posts then you’ll know that I’ve been in London recently for two interviews for what was essentially a dream job. It involved blogging, events, digital marketing and communications and I really thought my interviews had gone well.

In fact, they did go well! I came second, losing out to a candidate that had three years of experience in those fields. As a graduate there is potentially nothing more soul destroying than losing to someone with experience. I understand experience gives the company that sense of reassurance but when you’re on the other side of a rejection simply due to your age it can be pretty crushing. I have never let a lack of experience daunt me, because let’s face it. 90% of people probably had no idea what they were doing when they first start a job, no matter how much previous experience they have had. Every job will require slightly different skills, use different platforms and have a totally different working environment. So even 50 years of experience wouldn’t necessarily prepare you for that first day.

Now I don’t want to come across as bitter, because I am most definitely not! It’s still a dream company to work for and I’m going to keep pursuing jobs with them, so take this more as a lamentation for how frustrating it can be as a graduate fighting for that first big break. If you read my post on hunting for a job in London you’ll know just how overwhelming it can be, with so many opportunities simultaneously feeling like nothing being available.

However, in this moment of defeat (albeit a small moment of defeat) I am more determined than ever to grab a break and get the London city life I’ve been dreaming of. Whilst it throws our plans of moving into a flat into complete disarray, I guess I will just be even more prepared when the time does come. As a true millennial, I live my life by a great series of inspirational quotes.

What’s for you won’t come past you.

If it’s meant to be, it will be.

As one door closes another one opens.

So here I am checking in, down but definitely not out! I guess if it was easy there would be no sense of achievement and that is my whole motivation for moving to London in the first place.

Barbican conservatory

How to Prepare for an Interview

If you read my post on job hunting in London, you’ll know that interviews aren’t actually something that bother me all that much. This might change as I inevitably become jaded by the constantly spinning wheel of London life, being let down and taken advantage of – or so I’m told! But for now, I’m seeing interviews as a positive thing, a chance to find out more about the company and show them why I’m the right person for the job. Or, a chance for me to find out I’m not the right person for the job and they aren’t the company for me.

One of the major reasons I am able not to feel daunted by big interviews is the preparation I put in beforehand. This might be as simple as reading the company’s website the day before if you are applying for a weekend or after-school job. However as I’m competing in the graduate market since I’ve recently graduated from University most positions I am applying for are hotly contested and I need to put in the preparation to show why I deserve the opportunity.

Research is key!

Before you go in to an interview, I want to know what to expect to give myself the best possible chance. There are a few key points and ways you can research the company in order to arm yourself with all the information you need

  • Google them: potentially exceptionally obvious, but I mean really googling them. Google map the office so you know exactly how to get there, what you’ve got around you and use street view so you can see the exterior of the office so you’re not walking up and down on interview day. Click on the news tab to see when they’ve been mentioned in recent stories and if there’s any breaking news you can bring up during the interview to show that you’re active and enthusiastic about the brand.
  • Know their competitors and what makes them unique: if you’re applying for a marketing job, know who the other main marketing company’s are and why the company you are applying for is different. Brands work tirelessly to promote their USP so by mentioning it and illustrating you understand it they will appreciate your efforts.
  • Check their social media: company’s will often retweet or share information they want to promote and social media is a great way to see what the brand is saying directly from the source. I also think social media is a great way to check out the office culture, see if they include photos or videos of social activities or charity events they participate in.
  • Try and find a recent case study or project and make yourself aware of how the brand created it and what they achieved. They might ask you for examples of their work that you enjoyed or what attracted you to them in the first place and being able to discuss their own work with them shows you are interested in the industry as a whole.

Show your skills

One thing I did recently for a job interview which I think really helped was to print out the job spec and go through each individual pointer and write down how I could display that. For example, the job I applied for included working on events so I wrote beside it a list of events that I had helped organise and what I achieved with each one. This way you know you are going in armed with the right skillset and it can really help affirm that the job is for you.

One question I have always been asked, no matter whether it’s a graduate job in London, a Summer internship or working in my local newsagents, is “Why you?” What can you bring to the job and company. Whether that’s endless enthusiasm, specific knowledge of the subject, contacts in the industry or whatever. Everyone has something unique to offer, so make sure you know what you’re bringing to the table before you go in.

Know Yourself

With that being said, it’s also important to know where your weaknesses lie. Very few jobs are completely independent with no sense of teamwork, so weaknesses aren’t something to be ashamed of. They also are not trying to trick you by asking you this question, they simply want to know what areas you’ll want to lean more heavily on your teammates. However I was always told to pick a weakness that could be turned into a strength. For example, I am so not a morning person. It takes me a good hour or two after getting into work to produce my best, but this means I work exceptionally well in the afternoon and can be even more productive. I’m also super enthusiastic and chatty, and whilst this means I can sometimes get carried away, it also means I’m confident enough to speak to people and put myself out there and have the energy to see a project through. Basically, there’s no such thing as a weakness.

Do you have any other tips? Leave them in the comments so we can all learn from each other and don’t forget there’s a pinnable image at the bottom of the post so you can save it for later!

My tips on how to prepare for an interview, pinnable graphic

The London Job Hunt

Strolling around London on interview day! My London job hunt experience

As a final year student, absolutely the worst question I could be asked was “what are you doing after uni?” My answer was always, “getting a job in London” and I made it sound so easy. I’ll move to London, get my dream job in marketing and start living the city girl lifestyle I’d been dreaming of.

How optimistic was I?! Job hunting is hard anywhere, but the level of competition and opportunity in the capital make it completely overwhelming.

Firstly you have to decide what type of job you want, made ten times harder when you don’t even know what jobs are out there and you see adverts for jobs you never even knew existed! Then you have to decide whether you want to work in a start-up, a small tight-knit team where perhaps you can feel like you make more of an impact, or a larger corporate company with international offices bringing travel possibilities and greater chances of sinking or swimming.

Then you have to actually find the jobs. Trawling through linked in and indeed, career websites and essentially finding the same jobs on every single one of them. Sending off thousands of CV’s to get maybe 10 replies. 7 will be rejections, 2 might be invitations to participate in an online test that will take you about three hours to then be told that all positions are currently full, with only one being a telephone interview that will result in another online test.

It can really feel like one massive, encapsulating and draining circle of application and rejection. But with each rejection or interview you undoubtedly learn something new.

I actually really enjoy interviews. #controversialopinion

At the end of the day, they want you to do well, they need someone to do the job hence why they are interviewing in the first place. All an interviewer really wants to do is find out if you are the right fit for a company. I like to see an interview as the chance to go into the offices, meet members of the team and see whether or not it would be a fit for me, it’s a two way process. I guess it’s a bit like speed dating, you both want to find out each other’s best qualities and see if you have that spark. If you are interviewing for a job you are passionate about then you already know all the answers. You know why you want the job so all you have to do is tell them!

I am by no means claiming to be an expert at interviews. I’ve maybe had 7/8 in my life! But, out of those 7/8 I can say that by seeing the interview as an opportunity rather than something terrifying, I portrayed myself truly and confidently in each one. It’s a hard skill to practise and I’ve not by any standards mastered it, but it’s a skill I am so grateful I was taught at school. As we got older we would have interview practise days, where we would have recruiters or managers brought in and we would be interviewed for made up jobs.

One such interviewer started by shaking our hands as each of us came in the room. We were then split, roughly half and half. The half on the left were told they wouldn’t be considered for a role after their initial handshake. They lacked vigour, intent and firmness. The right half had made it past the first hurdle.

This has stayed with me for two reasons. Firstly, because it was the most savage thing I’d ever seen at 16. Secondly, because it showed me just how important it was to be confident.

So I guess, in amongst the chaos of the city, it’s important to be confident. Remember why you wanted to work in London/that industry in the first place and show that passion to everyone else. People told me I was mad for wanting to move to London, it’s too fast, too big, too crazy, but for me I knew it was the only place where I’d have the career opportunities I wanted. Whilst the dream is seeming a little far away at the moment, in the midst of interviews and researching, knowing that I’m working for it is making it that little bit more exciting.

How do you deal with looking for a job? Do you have any tips for job hunting? Leave them in the comments I’d love to read them!

PS! The photo’s were taken on interview day – keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Work wardrobe staple; to my interview I wore this blue spotty phase 8 shirt dress
My experience of hunting for a job in London as a recent university graduate!