Behind the Scenes of Social Media May 13, 2013Posted by TCG Info in : Industry Focus, Marketing, career profiles , add a comment
You’re part of the Internet generation; you’ve grown up with Facebook and communicating online is second nature. But aside from using social media to chat with friends and share your photos, it’s a vital tool for businesses to both promote their services and build relationships with customers. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, creative career social media could be the perfect industry for you. Sedge Beswick, Social Media Executive at ASOS, shares her story and some tips on how to bag a job in social media.
Firstly, how would you define social media?
Social media for me is an online dialogue between two parties – it’s based on their needs and ours. You could say its social democracy.
What made you get into social media?
How I got involved in social is quite a funny story. I entered a competition on a whim where you had to get the most fans on a Facebook group for a brand, to win £25K to throw the best party ever. I was thrown in as the entrant to make the competition look ‘normal’, up against DJ’s, event organizers – the works! I came second, (everyone at the time hated me as it was all I talked about and completely spammed everyone I know!) rallying together 6K fans within 5 days.
The agency that worked on the competition offered me a job there and then. I said no as I was still at uni, but the brand (Three UK) offered me a job as soon as I graduated.
There are so many different social media channels, the obvious being Facebook and Twitter, but what do ASOS use?
ASOS are on A LOT of social channels, I’m kept nice and busy! We have Facebook which has 2.3 million followers; G+ with 1.5 million followers then we have 67 Twitter accounts, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Spotify, YouTube… The list’s really quite endless but it’s what I love, we like to test things out to get a real feel of our customers wants and needs – once we work out what they’re engaging with, we can then put a strategy in place.
For someone thinking about a career in the industry, what do you love the most about your job?
The thing I love the most about working in social media is that it’s instantly rewarding. I know within a matter of seconds whether something has gone down well and whether it’s been a success. I can take that insight and immediately implement it into other pieces of activity – I hate to say it but I’ve become a numbers girl, I love looking at the reach, the revenue, the engagement. It’s fascinating!
You got into social media in an unusual way, but what tips could you give to others looking for a job in the industry?
Set up a Social channel, whether it’s a blog, a Tumblr account or a Flickr channel that you really focus your time on – this is the first place to look when I review CV’s.
There’s nothing worse than someone promoting Twitter accounts on their CV when they haven’t tweeted in months (sometimes even years!).
Social also takes a lot of TLC and dedication – it never sleeps so you need to know that people can really commit to updating something. I think LinkedIn is really important too, you have to sell yourself. Go get yourself some recommendations.
So if you’d like a career in the industry, set up a social media account and make sure to update it regularly. If you’re not comfortable sharing your personal opinions online, set up an account focussed on your interests, such as fashion or sports and publish updates on the latest hot topics. The main points are to engage with others and show your dedication, and that you’re willing to put the time and effort into it. Additionally, it’s important to keep up to date with the latest developments in this ever-changing industry by reading social media news and blogs, such as mashable.com
If you can, getting some professional industry experience with a brand or agency will put you ahead of the competition. Seek out internships or part-time work in your area. This will enable you to get hands on experience, giving you an insight into what it’s really like to work in social media – not only for the experience but also to work out if it’s the right career for you.
This is an interview with Sedge Beswick, Social Media Executive at ASOS, one of the UK’s largest online fashion retailers.
Getting into Exhibition Design April 5, 2013Posted by Amanda Taylor in : Creative Industries, career profiles, employability and skills , add a comment
Exhibition design may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking of a career in the creative sectors, but as this article shows it can be a hugely satisfying and exciting area to work in.
But what exactly is exhibition design?
Well according to this article exhibition design involves ‘creating experiences in real-time, utilising space, movement, and memory to facilitate a multilayered communication’. What this means is creating a creative space that reflects the needs and objectives of a client to help shape the experience of visitors to an exhibition.
To do this exhibition designers work with creative briefs to create physical exhibitions, using a range of different creative disciplines from, graphic design, architecture, interior design and audiovisual skills.
Interested? So what does exhibition design really involve and what skills will you need to develop to be successful in this area?
Firstly the bulk of your work will not be onsite at the exhibition venue. To create a successful exhibition months of planning and working with computer programmes such as CAD are involved; it’s not all about being there on the big day.
You’ll also need to have great problem solving skills and be able to think critically about whether you can deliver what the client wants to their budget, whilst also ensuring that what a client wants is physically possible.
Going hand in hand with this is the need for you to be a strong relationship builder, as stated in the first article, it’s not just your clients you have to work strongly with; you’ll also need to be great at dealing with a team of different staff from different backgrounds.
Finally when it comes to setting up for the exhibition you’ve been planning for months you will need to have a strong eye for detail to make sure everything looks just how your client wants.
You’ll also need to be aware that even the best laid plans can go wrong and anticipate possible problems. Forward planning, the ability to work under pressure and be confident in a crisis are vital traits that you will need to develop if you want to be successful in this industry.
So if you feel inspired to do something a little different in the creative industries, why not do a bit more research into what a job in exhibition design will actually involve.
Our Top Ten Posts of 2012 December 20, 2012Posted by TCG Info in : CVs, Industry Focus, Interviews, Right side of the Law, Skills and Competencies, career profiles, employability and skills, networking , add a comment
We’ve had a busy year here at Develop your career. We’ve covered loads of career topics like internships, avoiding job scams, networking and, of course, CVs and applications.
If you’re new to Develop your Career, or simply can’t remember all the posts you’ve read in the last twelve months. Here are our top ten most popular posts of 2012
We’re away for vacation now but will return with a new post on 3 January 2013. Do let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover in 2013.
Numbers, Words & Environment December 10, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Science & Engineering, career profiles , add a comment
Numbers, Words and the Environment Week was a week of meet-the-employer events for those Royal Holloway students who wish to use their mathematical or communication skills as part of their future careers. The week was focused on environmental employers, lab based jobs, people jobs and numerical jobs on each day. The job functions included Human Resources, Logistics, Environmental Consultancy, Intellectual Property, Science Publishing, Conservation and Information Technology as well as many others.
- Sue Webber, Surrey Biodiversity Partnership
- Paul Joyce- Mouchel, Surrey Wildlife Trust
- Doug Maffei-, Gilead
- Eleanor Grey, Graduate Entry Medicine
- Clare Holford, GSK
- Charles Clark, Edwards
- Victoria Clarke, TeachFirst
- Les Hopper, Oxford University Press
- Chrissie Wells, Leapfrog
- Andy Kingdon, British Geological Survey
- Jackson Rapley, FDM
- Lucy Hawkings, Runnymede Borough Council
- Dr Boma Doughlas, The Energy Institute
- Anna Kosteletos, Royal Holloway, University of London
- Nigel Reeve, The Royal Parks
Risk and Insurance October 18, 2012Posted by Jeff Riley in : The Careers Group Blogs, career profiles , add a comment
Originally posted at Getting into International Development
The summer of 2009 was not a great time to be trying to get an internship in the City of London. The financial crisis was swamping the banks and many banking professionals were switching over to other parts of the financial services sector. At that time Jakub Chalupczak was a second year statistics student at UCL, looking for an internship to boost his chances of getting on to a reputable graduate training scheme.
Jakub now works at RSA Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading multinational quoted insurance groups, as a Graduate Underwriter. We talked to him at RSA’s office on Leadenhall Street in the City of London about how the crisis led him in an unexpected direction, his current role and how he got there.
What led you to consider an insurance career?
The financial services crisis of 2009 meant it was a difficult time to be looking for an internship, but using the UCL JobOnline resource I found a summer job with an insurance broker. I had never considered an insurance career before but was attracted to this role as it carried great level of responsibility and was located in the City of London, the largest insurance market in the world.
This turned out to be a great experience and made me consider insurance as a long-term career. Towards the end of my internship I asked a senior colleague in the brokerage firm for advice on reputable graduate schemes within the industry and he recommended the RSA graduate scheme – which I went on to research and apply for. And that’s how I ended up here!
What is it about the sector that engaged you?
I love the fact that no two days are ever the same. There’s lots of variety, with different insurance propositions coming in from places, and each representing a new challenge. To find an insurance solution to these challenges, I have to use my intelligence –analytical and numerical skills are absolutely key to what I do.
The job also involves meeting lots of different types of people – one day you might be out of the office meeting brokers, for example, while another you could be presenting to senior people within the business.
So what is it you do exactly?
RSA is a general insurer and the team I work in handles commercial property insurance – hotels, shops, restaurants, offices, that kind of thing. Each morning, I get contacted by insurance brokers who are working on behalf of commercial property owners who have property that requires insurance. This could be anything from a hotel in Turkey to a windfarm or a factory somewhere. To calculate the insurance solution, though, we have to know a lot about the proposition and take into account any risk factors around it – this includes lots of factors such as the potential for burglary, outbreak of war or how many other insured properties we have in that area. To work out whether we should offer insurance and at what price involves analytical work – looking at the past history of certain types of property, the crime rate in any city or part of a city, the risk of incidences like earthquakes and, of course, the condition of the property. It is my responsibility to work through these issues and get us to a solution and, since graduating, I have been taking professional insurance exams on the job which help me with this.
What was the recruitment process for RSA like?
Fairly quick – from start to finish, it took around a month. Like many graduate programmes, it involved completing an initial application form, a range of verbal and numerical online tests and role plays and interviews at an assessment centre day.
Was it tough?
I was really well prepared, so it wasn’t as tough as it might have been. It did show me how tough competitive the jobs market is, though; one guy had already made a lot of money through running an online gambling site, and another had heaps of experience with a consultancy before deciding to retrain. Frankly if I hadn’t taken the whole job search seriously I wouldn’t have stood a chance.
What did you do to prepare?
My internship experience was invaluable as it gave me something really tangible to draw upon in my interviews. In addition to my degree and the extracurricular stuff I’d been doing – such as ‘life saving’, which taught me to be calm in a crisis – I had lots of real life examples and experiences to talk about and which I’m sure helped set me apart from the competition . I also used the careers service a lot – for practice interviews, CV checking, job search and I got a lot from a Focus on Management course I completed at University.
Employers sometimes say university doesn’t prepare you for the world of work. What’s your take on that?
The course I did was crucial to the job I do now, so I’d disagree with that. It gave me the economic grounding I needed, taught me how to solve problems logically and also gave me the tools I need to work as part of a team as well as on my own initiative – which is an important skill you can take to any job.
Finally, Jakub, what are your top tips for current students?
• Do consider insurance. It’s a great ‘City’ career, with opportunities to work with people across different parts of the business. There are also chances to travel; I’ve already been to Belgium and the Netherlands and once my training programme is completed I could potentially spend more time overseas.
• Prepare. Research the company, the role, take advantage of the careers service at university and practice your interview techniques with friends or family. Keep up-to-date on what is happening in the profession by reading the news every day – especially the business pages of the national newspapers and the financial news pages.
• Look critically at your CV. Make sure you have a good breadth of experience – internships, part time jobs, extracurricular activities – which will give you lots of experience to talk about at interviews.
With a 300 year heritage, RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational quoted insurance groups. RSA has major operations in the UK, Scandinavia, Canada, Ireland, Asia and the Middle East, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe and writes business in around 140 countries. RSA employs around 23,000 people and offers internships as well as an annual graduate trainee scheme. More details
Groupon – The Careers Behind The Deals September 27, 2012Posted by UCL Careers Service in : Industry Focus, Marketing, Advertising & PR, The Careers Group Blogs, career profiles , add a comment
Originally posted at UCL Careers Service Blog
I recently met two graduates who are working for Groupon. Emma; an LSE economics graduate now co-managing the Partner Management division and Rhys; a Geography graduate from UCL now a manager in the Strategic Planning team. Both joined as relatively fresh grads, Emma had previously interned in an investment bank during her degree and Rhys spent a short time in the city as a currency trader. Prior to meeting them, all I knew about Groupon was that it was an ecommerce platform that negotiated bulk purchase deals for customers. Despite initially assuming Groupon was run by a few tech geeks I was keen to find out about the real careers behind the deals. Jeff Riley – UCL Careers
Emma- “We’re not that small, in 2010 Forbes described us [Groupon] as the ‘fastest growing ecommerce company ever’ and we’re still growing. It’s fair to say that we’re now a household name having created a brand new market place and a whole new industry. We have a Nasdaq listing, over 33 million active users globally and are the market leader in the daily deals industry in many international markets including the UK. Having worked at Groupon for 20 months (a lifetime in Groupon years!), it’s easy to see why we’ve been so successful so quickly. Our business model is great-we provide an online marketing platform to local and national businesses whilst negotiating great discounts for our customers-yet it’s the energy, drive and entrepreneurial nature of our employees that’s been key to our success in the UK.
“So what are Groupon UK employees doing?”
Rhys- “Well part of my job is to manage our regional sales force. We create deals using the knowledge of experienced sales people who negotiate contracts with local businesses. We need peoplewho understand their local market. As a strategic planner, I am also responsible for ensuring that the deals we feature are responsible and have undergone adequate due diligence. We have research and analyst teams that are primarily responsible for the ‘pre quality’ checks, however I will also investigate the business’ history, reviews, website and financial status. We only want to partnerwith high quality businesses.
I also look at the proposed deals to verify that they are going to work financially for both the merchant, the customer and Groupon.
Another large element of my job is to ensure that our platform remains attractive to subscribers so that they continue to open their newsletters and click through our site. I spend time analysing past buying behaviours and ensure that the sales team continue to source a variety of deals; we’ve run everything from hot air balloon experiences to water skiing lessons! And, of course, we stay on top of seasonal trends ensuring that we offer tailored packages around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and other recognised celebrations.
Emma – “I’m Deputy Head of the ‘Partner Management’ department. We’re a front-office team with two key functions; to develop business relationships with our partners whilst project managing the partner’s operational experience with Groupon. In addition, we consult with our partners to ensure they have the tools to maximise their promotion’s ROI and convert their new customers into long-term customers.
We’re the only department at Groupon dealing every day with a complete cross-section of the Company: bridging the sales and creative elements of the business by working closely with our Editors, Sales Consultants, Strategic Planners and board level Directors. We sit at the core of the business.
With regards to our culture, we’re a highly engaged entrepreneurial meritocracy; our standout PMs already hold managerial and strategic responsibilities. That’s the nature of Groupon; we’re driven by results; when you perform, it is quickly recognised and with that comes many opportunities.
What was the recruitment process like?
Rhys -“Very straightforward; a CV and an interview. Initially everyone begins as a trainee for three months, earning a competitive salary, with the view to becoming a permanent employee.
What do Groupon look for?
Emma– “Although we do require a strong academic record, we also value the passion and dynamism of those we hire. We want natural leaders and those with entrepreneurial flair, grads that are adaptable and keen to kick start their career in a young, growing business.
Communication and negotiation skills are vital to the partner management role in particular, given that we are responsible for managing a cross-section of internal and external stakeholders on a daily basis. We’re a social department, having monthly team evenings out, ‘Jubilee’ themed breakfasts and were the birthplace of the Groupon hockey team.
Rhys - “Different departments may need a different mix of skills. For example, in strategic planning our analytical skills are at a premium to be able to look at a proposed deal and to see it from different angles and anticipate the positive and potential negative issues arising from it.
What are the best things about working here?
Emma& Rhys- “You’re given responsibility from day one, the atmosphere is electric, your job is exciting, you’re inspired by the people you’re surrounded by and because we’re still developing everyone at Groupon has a role to play in shaping our future.
UCL students and alumni can find out more about career opportunities at Groupon by visiting http://jobs.groupon.co.uk/?nl=1&jvi=o7DLVfwa,Job&jvs=UCL_Department
Getting started in Policy and Politics September 6, 2012Posted by Jeff Riley in : Politics and Policy, The Careers Group Blogs, career profiles, civil service , add a comment
Originally posted at Getting into International Development
I recently visited Aaron D’Souza, a History and Politics student who had just graduated with a 2.1 politics degree from Queen Mary, University of London. I was especially interested in meeting Aaron because for someone who has just done a first degree he had scored quite a few internships along the way. Leadership programmes at The Young Foundation, Three Faiths Forum, a parliamentary internship and, most recently, a policy and public affairs internship with Cancer Research UK.
Aaron, you were pretty busy for an undergraduate student?
By the time I entered my third year, I think that would be true; I took my first year very easy – perhaps too easy looking back. It was only until I started a part-time internship in my second year working in the office of the Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee that I really became busy juggling university work and other ‘career-related’ work. So by the middle of second year I definitely think I was busy compared to many people in my year, but I don’t regret it at all. I remember I was studying the British Politics module at the time, and for me my internship became such a bonus: at university I was learning about the way the House of Commons operates and influences, and here I was working and at the same time actually doing the things I was learning about; writing EDMs, written questions and other documents for Mr Vaz. And most importantly I realised, by being in an office that was constantly on its toes every day, what standards I would need to reach to work in such an environment and compete with others who wanted positions like this.
Do you think most undergraduates don’t realise this?
I think all undergraduates know that they will need experience to help find their desired job. The real problem is the lack of drive and determination to keep plugging away at finding the experience because at another level it is too easy if you get a knockback – like a rejection letter or no response – to not keep rolling the dice and see what might happen. Here, I think most give up and leave getting any work experience until after studies are over by which time you really want to be looking for a full-time paid employment and not your first work experience.
I remember quite a few of my colleagues at Queen Mary (I think most were international students) had done some really cool stuff: some had worked in European Parliament and others for big international corporations. For many this can be intimidating and a tad overwhelming; it certainly was for me at first. But I think the difference between me and some of my other colleagues was approaching and getting up to that benchmark. I started doing gap analyses, trying to find what I could do, be it training or attending talks, so I could also be qualified enough to do the same experience that they’ve done. It was difficult at first, sometimes I felt I just wasn’t good enough, but then I realised that outside the Queen Mary bubble there are lots of organisations offering experience – and there are lots of students getting out there to get them as well. It was perhaps only when I was working for Mr Vaz, having conversations with people who had graduated 3 or 4 years ago and understood what they had done that I realised how much was possible and how many people out there want to help people like us.
So what did you come across that inspired you?
The first thing that inspired me was my parliamentary internship. It’s not difficult to try and get experience with your local MP. I was lucky that I approached Mr Vaz just after the 2010 General Election because he needed someone to help with the backload of work in his office and help begin the next parliamentary term. But I remember telling my friend to email her local MP and ask for a week of experience in the Westminster Office. She did and after a bit of negotiating got a week; when she went, the MP was impressed and offered her a longer stint. So definitely try and talk to your local MP.
My internship led me to take on two additional leadership programmes in my final year.
* The Three Faiths Forum offer a year year-long programme – Undergraduate Parliamentors – for undergraduates of different faiths and beliefs (including non-believers) to be mentored by parliamentarians and create social action and community empowerment projects with support from leading NGOs
* The UpRising programme by The Young Foundation provides great training to help young people transform their communities with support from leading journalists, politicians and activists.
Both are fantastic experiences and probably the best decision I made was doing UpRising; this programme, working from the offices of Bethnal Green is going national and soon global. They are recruiting now so get applying!
I do think the best thing I got from all the programmes, but especially my internship with Mr Vaz, was being plugged into how business leaders and politicians operate. I don’t think you appreciate how busy an MP is until you work for one; I saw how Mr Vaz networked with constituents and business leaders; how he communicated with CEO’s; how he maintained relationships with journalists – I could go on. This sort of thing even affected how I dressed at work. I initially started working in Parliament wearing the suits to I’d worn at school. But having attended three events at which millionaires were present and other leading politicians and public figures, I quickly bought some fitted shirts and new suits. Looking back I do laugh at myself, but it made me feel I belonged in that environment and I am sure these people began to take me more seriously also. I was around people who were making things happen and it was really exciting.
It was a similar experience on the Undergraduate Parliamentors programme having been mentored by Lord Boateng.. Another example came from a conversation with my business mentor, Prem Goyal OBE from the UpRising programme about the option of continuing my studies with a Masters. He suggested Harvard; I laughed at him then, but now I’m thinking about it – even trying to find CVs of students who’ve been there to see if I could match them. These kind of things are audacious but it is so valuable: it makes you think global rather than local and changes your mindset making you think if he can make it, I can do it also.
What was the parliamentary work like compared to college?
Well one of the main differences is that my work had a direct connection and an impact to the real world in a way that undergraduate study in the university just can’t have. As I mentioned before, I was studying British Politics and learning about the role of the Commons, Lords, Committees etc. and by working for Mr Vaz, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, I was experiencing all of this first-hand. I remember at the time Raul Moat had gone on a rampage in Cumbria and our office was inundated with requests for interviews from media including the BBC, CNN, ITV and Sky. I had only been there a short while, and I was helping write briefs for Mr Vaz and accompanying him to the studios at Millbank. Another time, Mr Vaz was interviewing Andy Coulson on phone hacking at a Committee hearing and I had 15 minutes to find information that was disputing the evidence Mr Coulson was giving so Mr Vaz could quiz him, You learn a lot about prioritising work, and meeting deadlines under that kind of pressure. Additionally, you learn the difference between academic writing and the kind of writing you need for politics environment. At first I was submitting material in the academic style that suits university, very wordy briefs or draft speeches, most times saying the same thing in three different ways. Mr Vaz’s feedback was that it was ‘too wordy’ and that he didn’t have time to read that much background; in this role you won’t get anywhere with waffle. I gained so many and such diverse arrays of skills that I can always talk about in interviews or use in cover letters; the job is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it really is beneficial and a great insight into how Parliament works and MPs operate.
So what’s next?
I couldn’t decide which masters course I wanted to do when I graduated, so I’ve decided to take a year out to consolidate what I’ve done and get some more experience. I finish this public affairs and policy internship with Cancer Research UK in September. I am then planning to go to the Florida, USA for about 5 weeks from October 2012-November 2012 to work on a Congresswomen’s campaign there and hopefully Obama’s presidential campaign.. I had found this opportunity through UpRising and by browsing the internet; initially the opportunity was to be a campaign intern and mentor sixth form students who will be going out for the last two weeks of the US elections but will now over the course of the 5 weeks get experience on a senate campaign, a governor’s campaign and the presidential campaign. We will then finish in Washington for a few days visiting the White House and Capitol Hill. It’ll be really exciting. After that I’ll be coming back to the UK and looking for more work experience through internships (hopefully paid) and consider where to go for my Masters course in September 2013, in England or abroad. I plan to be flexible; if a great opportunity or a job comes up then I will take it and perhaps do a masters in 2014. In the long term I think I would like a career in national politics or be promoting British interests abroad in a diplomatic/foreign relations role.
Getting an internship after you graduate May 15, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Marketing, Publishing, career profiles, employability and skills , add a comment
Internships have traditionally been targetted at penultimate year students but increasingly graduates are seeing them as a useful means of gaining professional experience. Indeed The Careers Group has a specific internship programme open only to graduates.
At a recent conference for employers, the benefit of having a graduate internship was stressed by Middlesex University alumnus Abdul Ahad who undertook an opportunity with Dennis Publishing. Abdul had already undertaken paid positions in other organisations but decided that he needed a career, not just a job.
In this video Abdul explains to an audience of employers and professionals why he found his graduate internship so valuable.
Our Careers: Charity administration April 23, 2012Posted by TCG Info in : Our Careers, career profiles , add a comment
Kings College London careers adviser Emma Baker continues our series of posts about our former careers.
After graduation, I wanted to travel and spent two years working in temporary administration jobs between trips abroad. I eventually decided it was time to get a ‘proper’ job. I wanted ain HR job for a charity as I didn’t want to work for a commercial organisation and I had enjoyed the HR related module of my degree.
I knew that lots of charities advertise with the Guardian so I started looking for jobs on their website. It soon became apparent that as I didn’t have any HR experience, I was going to have to start as an administrator. Many of the jobs were advertised through agencies that specialise in charity work so I contacted three that I thought would be able to offer the kind of work I was looking for. I sent them my CV, where I put my temporary jobs at the top to demonstrate my experience in administration. All the agencies wanted me to go and meet them to talk about the kind of roles I was interested in and I found I had to be quite assertive about only being interested in HR as I think they would have put me forward for any admin job to get their fee!
Two of the agencies started sending me details of jobs they thought I would be interested in and I agreed to have my CV sent on to the companies. One of the agencies just didn’t get in touch and I found I had to keep ringing them to remind them I was still looking. I was shortlisted for interview with a few charities. It seemed that competition was much tougher for international aid charities than for less popular UK based ones. I found going to the interviews a really good way of getting a feel of the culture of the charities and there were a couple that I didn’t think I would have enjoyed working for.
I was eventually offered a job as HR Administrator for a national charity supporting people with addictions. Although some of the administration I was doing was repetitive, I really enjoyed the HR work and in particular the training and development work. I had a great relationship with my manager and he made sure that I had plenty of opportunities to try new things including delivering some training. The charity also paid for me to do a training qualification. After a couple of years, I felt I had enough experience to apply for a more senior role as a Training and Development Officer.
Our Careers: Recruitment March 16, 2012Posted by Andrew Falconer in : Our Careers, career profiles, city jobs , add a comment
Louisa Davies is a careers adviser with a background in the recruitment industry. Here she continues our series of posts about our professional careers.
In my final year at Durham University I spent a couple of hours completing an application for a graduate scheme, attended an assessment centre and an interview and was appalled when I didn’t get accepted. “What? You don’t want me? But I’m an all-rounder!”, I shrieked (not literally). I was so put out that I stopped filling out forms, stopped being interested and dedicated myself to enjoying my final year instead. No doubt a common story. Thus I found myself, post-finals, sitting in front of a computer trawling through job boards looking for something I could do. And so I ended up in recruitment.
As it happens, this was in fact a good fit for me and it made the most of my skills in relationship management, sales, organisation and many others. I took to it pretty quickly and because I was relatively good at it, found myself getting promoted up the ladder. It was an exciting environment, with big highs (emotional and financial) when things were going well, but then long stretches of boredom and stress when there wasn’t much business around. We worked to targets which I found very motivating and the rewards were great. On the other hand, missing targets could be extremely frustrating and nerve-wracking. I spent all day on the phone, speaking to candidates and clients; trying to understand what the client was looking for, getting to know the candidates and working out where they would fit, negotiating salaries and more importantly, our sales margin. We worked long hours and it’s the kind of job where you are never finished. There is always another person you can call.
I learnt that recruitment is basically sales. Persuading people. Influencing. Communicating effectively. These are the skills I nurtured in recruitment, along with a good head for business, an understanding of how to make a profit and a taste for expensive holidays. It was good, but it was hard.
After five years in the industry I was tired and had had enough. I was now responsible for other people’s targets, which was even more stressful, and I wanted more from my work. It would have been very easy to move within recruitment but I realised that this would only give me a temporary reprieve – I had to get out and make a proper change. I actually had to engage my brain and think about my own careers for a change.
I started by trying to work out what I actually liked about my job. What elements of it did I still get a buzz out of? What did I think I was really good at? What did my bosses praise me for? And then conversely, what areas had become unbearable? What exactly had I had enough of? It boiled down to the fact that I still loved talking to my candidates, trying to understand them, their skills and their motivation, but I was tired of it all coming down to profit.
Next I started looking at job sites and started avidly reading job descriptions. I would highlight bits that sounded good about a role and slowly I started to build a picture of what I wanted. And then, well frankly, I got lucky. I stumbled upon my ideal job. As I read the job description my heart was racing! I was genuinely excited as I read the person spec – now I had a name for what I wanted to do. From here on in it was much easier to find opportunities, and three months later I started work for The Careers Group as a Careers Adviser.