In June 2021, Action On The Side ran a virtual Work Experience for Level 3 Media students. This article has been written as part of that, by Jaskaran U.
Jaskaran completed the free online course on Public Speaking from Google's Digital Garage. Here is what he learned...
The first steps to a new job
The first thing you have to do is to start thinking about what you have to enjoy and which industries or companies would suit you best. To get to know yourself better, ask your friends, family and colleagues which words they think describe you best and what your greatest strengths are. Once you’ve defined what your dream job could look like, the next step is to identify the skills you have to offer. Begin by writing down your qualifications, academic achievements and ‘hard skills’ — things that can be defined and measured, like a diploma in accounting, years of experience in web design, or a degree in nursing. pinpoint what makes you valuable to a company—beyond your work experience or qualifications. For example, leadership, teamwork and communication skills describe how you interact with others. These ‘soft skills’ are becoming more and more important across all industries and are worthwhile highlighting when applying for a job. To help shortlist your main skills, think of both challenges and successes you’ve encountered in the past, and consider which skills helped you in these situations the most. After identifying your skills, it’s time to think about how you will persuade potential employers you’re right for the role. This will come across in your CV and cover letter, or might happen naturally during the course of an interview. Though a request like “Tell me about yourself” may seem quite general and unstructured, keep in mind what the interviewer is really asking.
Creating a CV
A CV or covering letter is often the first impression you get to make with prospective employers, so it's critical these documents make a mark. Here are some key points you’ll definitely want to include:
your contact information—such as your name, phone number and email;
a summary section at the top, describing in 2-3 sentences who you are and what you have to offer;
details of your previous work experience, including company names, job titles, and start and end dates;
a brief summary of your roles and achievements that emphasise the skills required for the job being applied for.
A good practice is to keep your CV limited to only the most relevant and recent information and share it in a PDF format. Take into account recruiters and employers go through dozens of CVs for each open role. Make sure your CV stands out, and always tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.
Here are the key tips for writing a great CV
keep it concise and clear, placing the most important and recent information at the top
remember to proofread for correct spelling and grammar
avoid overuse of formatting, such as bold, italics or underlining
stay clear of jargon that won’t be understood by your potential employer such as acronyms and company specific terms.
Always make the effort to identify and address the recruiter or hiring manager directly, avoiding generic “To Whom It May Concern” openings where possible. The covering letter is often the first impression you make, so it’s important they feel what they receive was written specifically for them. Finally, close your letter with a clear next step, such as “I look forward to hearing from you” or similar. If submitting a hardcopy, sign it with ink for that handwritten touch.
Now that you have the tools to create those all-important documents, you’re ready to start searching and applying for jobs with confidence. Remember to proofread your CV and covering letters, and always tailor them for the specific job you’re applying for.
Develop your personal brand
Your personal brand is the combination of personal attributes, values, strengths and passions that people know and value you for. It's the perceptions others have about you based on the sum of your actions. A strong personal brand is intentionally cultivated, authentic, and allows you to communicate your strengths.
Let's first take a look at why this is so important. Research shows that most recruiters will check your social media presence to learn more about you, and after employee referrals and company websites, social media is the most important recruiting tool. Next, identify the most relevant sites or social media platforms related to your topics. For example, if you want to become a foodie influencer, your target audience is most likely to be on visual platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. Or to give people insight into your business experience in IT, focus on building your LinkedIn profile and sharing relevant industry-based content other members would find engaging. In addition to social accounts, consider having a personal website to help build your online presence. A website allows you complete control over what is published, and can also help your name rank in search engine results.
Recruiters often have to sift through piles of applications before shortlisting their candidates. Developing a solid and authentic online presence can help you engage recruiters and give them a clear and accurate indication of who you are. When it comes to publishing content, you don’t have to do it all at once. Aim to be consistent in the quality of what you post and set time to do this regularly. But remember it's not just about creating and publishing content- building a strong network of connections of your own brand can also be greatly beneficial to your job search. Always ensure that your personal brand is authentic and a true reflection of who you are. Now, it's time to get started creating and managing your personal brand online. Think about how you can put your best foot forward to impress recruiters and start exploring which channels are the best fit for your online presence.
When creating a LinkedIn profile, ensure your headline is clear and simple and use the summary section to include a mix of the past, present and future ambitions. You should make the most of recommendations from a previous employer or colleague, and publish these on your profile. When it comes to describing your previous roles - ensure you focus on skills relevant to the job you’re looking for and showcase that you have the relevant experience.
Prepare for your job interview
Preparing yourself for a job interview can be the difference between giving in to stress and impressing your future employer. Treat the interview as a conversation between two people rather than as a series of formal questions and answers. It’s a chance for both your potential employer and you to decide if you are the right fit for each other.
First, research the company and job you’re being interviewed for and ensure you’re clear on what the role involves, the skills required and why you would make the best candidate. Always walk into an interview knowing how to articulate how you can add value to the company, and if possible, with examples of how you can help answer their needs. When thinking about your answers, make sure you don't go straight to the solutions but you always tell a story where you explain your thought process. Including data and concrete examples will help you prove your points. Prepare your answers in advance and practice delivering them out loud so that you can approach the big day with confidence. Right before you head into the interview, focus on staying calm and relaxed. Arrive early and take a moment to gather your thoughts. Taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly will also help relax your body and mind.
Moreover, during the interview, 70% of your communication is nonverbal. So remember to keep eye contact, smile, sit up straight and jot down relevant notes. Also, try not to cross your arms, as this can come across as defensive.
After the interview, consider sending a quick ‘thank you’ email to the interviewer, which will demonstrate to them that you appreciate their time, your professionalism and how much you really want the job. As well as thanking the interviewer for their time, use the email as an opportunity to showcase your understanding of the role. End with a friendly and clear sign off, such as “I look forward to hearing from you soon”, or something similar.
With these tips, you’ll soon feel fully prepared and ready to make a great first impression on your future employer.