After months of emails, cover letters and CVs I have finally managed to secure myself a job, and not just any job, a proper, grown up and slightly nerve racking marketing job. After studying PR and Journalism at University, Marketing was always a strong career option for me, I felt like I fitted in better with the whole social media and business aspects of it as opposed to the cut-throat world of Journalism. I know I am incredibly lucky to have secured my first job, however luck was just a portion of it. I feel that I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without my degree, various different work experiences and above all, my blog. For someone wanting to go into Journalism, marketing, PR or advertising having a blog and relevant work experience is imperative in boosting your CV and putting you ahead of the other thousands of graduates looking to get their foot in the door. I want to put my experiences to good use so in this post I will be giving you some tips on how to ensure your CV is put to the top of the pile.
1: Start a Blog
I don't think there is anything more rewarding than starting your own blog from scratch. Its your own little online space where you can write about anything that takes your fancy, without having an editor to answer to, and potentially using it for work prospects. I have no doubt that my blog was the sole reason for my success with securing work placements and my current job. I had a beauty and fashion work placement at Closer back in 2013, and I continuously mentioned my blog on my application, which I assume was a contributing factor to why I was picked. My blog has helped me to improve my writing throughout University, it has helped me to understand the world of social media and SEO and it has also allowed me to use it as a tool to promote and grow my own 'brand', if you like. Nurturing the blog and creating readable content is key, and if your audience is continuously growing then your work opportunities will too. Doing a degree and gaining a bit of writing experience at your local paper is fine, however employers love someone who has created something off their own back and has stuck with it. It shows productiveness and a keen interest in being successful.
2. Get Linked In
If you are at Uni and you’re not on LinkedIn, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? LinkedIn is one of the most popular social network sites for employers and future employees. It is a great tool for job searching and connecting with various different people in your field. Personally I love using it to see what my peers are up to work wise and to have a little peek into what experiences top magazine editors have on their CV, as this will give you an idea into what you need to do if you want to be at the same stage as them.
3. Work experience
These days a degree is not enough, It doesn't really matter if you get a 1st, employers want to see that you have gone out and got yourself some experience in the field you want to go into. My course heavily relied on work experience and we were constantly pushed to secure some, which was helpful. However I knew from the start that the communications and business industry would be a tough nut to crack, so I made sure I secured work experience throughout Uni, starting in first year. Looking back I am so glad I made the effort as I have had so much experience within both Journalism and PR and it enabled me to learn and decide which career was for me.
4. Quality over quantity
When it comes to your CV you want to be concise and accurate, there’s no point having paragraphs and paragraphs dedicated to your 'about me' section as employers don’t want to read this, and truthally, they haven’t got the time. Think about all the other candidates going in for the role, and wanting to stand out, you need to hit the ground running and get your experience and skills down straight away so they can instantly see what you can do. I would opt for a simple design, and try to keep your personal profile to a short paragraph, if that. I tend to have my objectives at the top of my CV, and then my key skills listed so they are easy to see, I then have my work experience and a paragraph about each one, I wouldn’t write too much as they wont want to read it all, Just make sure you list your key responsibilities and what you learnt on the job.
5. Don’t lie
I think this is a common mistake that many people do without thinking, whether its putting a B instead of C on your GCSE results, or saying you did 4 weeks at a placement when really you did 3... these things will catch up on you and you will be found out if your are lying about work placements. Its better to be honest and to ensure your CV is 100% legit as then you wont be anxious.
6. Your degree doesn’t define your future
I think one thing to keep in mind, is that you have the option to try different career paths post Uni. If you are in your second year of an English language degree but find you hate it and want to do something along the lines of PR, then there is no reason why you cant. If you know now that you want to go into that career then try and get a bit of work experience. In my experience PR is easier to get that journalism as many PR companies want an extra pair of hands to help with admin work for no charge. Do one day a week at a company along side your degree, or do a 2 week placement over summer, you have so much time to gain experience so don’t waste it worrying about your future. Perhaps start a blog on your preferred career. If you have a strong desire to be a political journalist and your studying Art, write your thoughts in a blog, if you have the talent, this wont go un-noticed and writing down regularly will propel your chances of securing your dream job.
7. Stay positive
I think the hardest thing for graduates, and undergrads is staying positive, especially in todays society where jobs are scarce and there is so much competition. The best thing to do is to just keep plodding on, keep badgering that Marketing firm that you so desperately want work experience with, keep on writing on your blog, as soon enough it will be noticed and you will be thankful you started it. Make sure you use your spare time at Uni to increase your employability like joining societies and gaining work experience. For graduates, it gets tough because this is when the job hunting begins, personally I have found directly contacting companies has been better for me as opposed to going through recruitment, who for me have proven to be a bit of a waste of time. If you have applied for 20 jobs and have heard nothing back, don’t wallow and give up, keep applying because chances are there will be a job out there for you and you will have a larger chance of securing something if you set some time aside to apply for them.