Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finding the dream job

Read this very insightful blog by Galina and help her get her dream job :)

My name is Galina and I am a graduate. Just like hundreds of thousands of other young people, I am currently trying to find a job in my industry of choice, which happens to be Advertising. So far, I have not been successful but I have learned a lot in the process and I would like to share my experience with you. In addition, I would like to ask you for your help. Please visit this page on Facebook – The Graduate – and click on Like. The last paragraph of this blog post gives more details as to why.

A few days ago, I watched a video on YouTube in which a girl was claiming that universities/colleges are “a scam.” She also argued that since having a degree does not automatically secure a job for you, there is little point in spending all that time and money on obtaining one. I couldn't disagree more!

I worked very hard during the four years of my classics BA and graduated from one of the best universities in the world. I developed a range of highly transferable skills such as conducting a thorough research, time-management, analytical thinking and collaboration. All of these skills are valued by employers, regardless of the industry in which they operate. You might say that these are skills that are uniformly found among graduates and, thus, an inadequate criterion for differentiation. I say, it's great that we all have them because we all need them in order to find a job before we even start thinking about applying these skills in a professional context! Any recruitment manager will be able to tell if an applicant has properly researched the position and organisation to which he or she is applying. They will also be able to judge if this applicant is right for the role by the content of the CV and cover letter in front of them. The degree itself occupies a single line. The rest should be carefully targeted towards the particular position.

I don't pretend to be an expert. I have not yet managed to get my Dream Job. But I have learned from my mistakes. Last year I applied to WPP, The Engine Group, JWT, DDB, Ogilvy and several others. I wasn't invited to a single interview. Looking back, I realise that the reason was not that I am not the right candidate. It's simply that I failed to apply the skills I mention above. I approached the application processes completely unprepared. It is true, I attended several presentations, I knew the characteristics of a role as an Account Executive (the positions to which I was applying) and I had watched some of the campaigns produced by these agencies. But that was about it. I did not research the industry, ignored the nature of the job and focused on showcasing my creativity and unorthodox thinking. No wonder my applications did not come across professional and engaging.

This time around, I see each application form and each brief as a business project and it is beginning to pay off! An advertising agency that rejected me straight away last year, has put me through to their second stage this year. I believe this is due to my more in-depth research of their organisation and the use of that information in my application form. What's more, I thought about how I would fit in and made that very clear in my cover letter. Each organisation prides itself on something specific. Find it, consider whether it applies to you and, if it does, tell them how! This shows commitment and enthusiasm, not the fact that you were the captain of the football team at uni. A representative of a management consultancy firm who was visiting my university to talk about his job and throw some light over the application process, told me that they get so many applicants who say they have been presidents of football teams that they were wondering whether there were enough players left to make up the numbers! The point he was making is that in order to 'stand out', we don't have to fill our CV with 'keywords'. We simply need to demonstrate thoughtfulness in how we connect our skills to the job for which we're applying. In my case, I have used the fact that I have lived in three different countries and worked in Hospitality (haven't we all?), software start-up, museum and a direct marketing company as an illustration for my adaptability in an application to a company which emphasises the importance of diversity.

If I had to draw a conclusion and give you a single piece of advice that would be: have a Just Do It attitude. Application forms don't write themselves and recycled cover letters are painfully obvious. Take the time to do it well and it will pay off eventually. Let's face it, not all of us will get our Dream Job straight after uni. I might have to wait yet another year, or two, before I make it through all stages of an application to an advertising agency. I know that this is what I want and I am giving it my best shot. It might take a while but it will be totally worth it when it finally happens. Meanwhile, I might have to get another job – something that will bring me a bit closer to my goal. It might not be what I want to do but I've simply got to do it. Just like weekly essays in uni.

I'll write another blog post in a few weeks when I know how my applications have gone. So far, I know I've done my best and that I have put 100% effort into each letter, each form and each task. Even if I am not offered a position, the fact that I tried has given me enough. For example, I was invited to write this guest blog because I created a Facebook page called The Graduate as part of an application to an advertising agency. In order to complete this task successfully, I have to generate as many Like's as it is humanly possible. I figure, a few thousand. I decided to try to do something that would be of value to others, too. The page is supposed to function as a hub for people to share their experiences, tips and stories about finding their Dream Job. The 353 likes I've got so far tell me I might have to start this particular application process again next year. Unless, of course, you decide to help me out! Please, visit The Graduate, click on the Like button and help me get a bit closer to my Dream Job!

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