Stages of Job Hunting After Graduation with Gemma Collins

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Post-graduation feelings of elation and success – feelin’ on top of the world! Followed quickly by the realisation that you now have to find a job and have no idea where to start.

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Slumping on the sofa and ignoring all your responsibilities. No point starting anything on a Wednesday – it can wait until Monday.

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When you run out of money and realise being broke and moving back in with your parents is NOT the one.

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When it seems like all your friends are getting amazing jobs in impressive companies yet their Instagram is full of prosecco brunches. You found a cornflake in your hair the other day.

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Taking pictures for your LinkedIn, hoping with the right angle and lighting you can trick people into thinking you’re employable.

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When you’ve got great friends who check your applications for jobs and proof read your CVs.

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When you begin contemplating becoming a TV psychic or starting your own bath bomb company to avoid the cycle of rejection.

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When you get rejected from a job you were really excited about and vow to boycott everything they do in the future. They are now dead to you.

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Gussying yourself up for an interview after submitting 358 applications to graduate schemes.

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When somebody finally realises how great you are and offers you a job.

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Trying to look professional for your first day after 4½ months of living in bleach stained joggers and Ugg boots.

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Two days in to your new job, when you’re asked to come good on all the skills you lied about – like web design and Excel.

James Hallett, Volunteering Advisor

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5 Ways To Make Sure You Ace That Interview

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Going into an interview can be nerve-racking.  Sometimes the formality and stakes of an interview create a nervous energy that can be difficult to manage.

Here’s a few tips for helping to go into an interview with a more focused and positive attitude, and hopefully secure the role.

Prepare the essentials

I’ve seen some instances in which a student or graduate writes a script for themselves before an interview.  This approach is more likely to induce stress as you have the added pressure of both crafting your answers, and also remembering a lot of words.  Instead, stick to short bullet points to remember the essentials of each example you want to highlight, and talk through your examples in a more natural and less rehearsed way.

Have a laugh

To borrow an old cliché, laughter is the best medicine.  There are a number of benefits associated with laughter, including reducing stress, focusing thoughts away from negatives and also connecting together positive aspects of the interview experience that shift your perspective.  I always recommend watching something that makes you laugh before an interview, and in the age of YouTube and podcasts, it’s never been easier.  Anything that makes you laugh loud enough to calm your nerves is a starting point.

Strike a pose

Amy Cuddy’s benefits of power posing Ted Talk sparked a lot of debate.  I’m unclear on the scientific principles behind it, but striking a power pose may help ahead of an interview.  An injection of confidence ahead of an interview should never be underestimated, and if power posing helps, then go with it.  How about trying if in front of a mirror to see if you can make yourself laugh?

Breathe deep

Mindfulness and meditation techniques are incredibly helpful when trying to manage aspects of stress, anxiety and nervousness.  Being conscious of your breathing when preparing for an interview can make a big difference to how the interview goes.  I’d recommend recording yourself go through a couple of answers and then watching yourself back.  Have a critical view of your posture and body language, and listen to the pace of your voice.  If you get a sense that you could appear more confident, what might you want to try?

If you feel that you are rushing your answers, practice speaking in a slightly slower pace, and try to use short pauses to punctuate what you say.  Your interviewer will find it easier to listen to everything you say and hopefully will be more attentive to your answers.  Could you also emphasise some of your statements more, by introducing a more dynamic tone to highlight key points of your answers?  Subtlety is the key here, you don’t want to shout at your interviewer, but a more nuanced approach will work wonders.

Smile

Smile and take on the experience of the interview as the starting point for an exciting opportunity in your career.  The reality is that sometimes the answers are secondary to the individual sat in the interview chair.  If you show off the best version of yourself as a professional and as an individual, you’ll leave the interviewers with a great impression of you.  Treat the interview as a learning experience, and always ask for feedback, whether you’ve been successful or not.

… And remember, if you’ve got an interview lined up then come by the Careers Zone, SL62 where we can run through a practice interview with you. We’ll research the organisation to find out what they’re looking for and how they run interviews, as well as offering you real time, bespoke feedback. Just drop us an email (careers@soas.ac.uk) or call (0207 898 4115) to get booked in – we’re open all summer long!

Jai Shah, Careers Consultant

#MondayMotivation: Summer Is Coming

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Eat, Sleep, Library, Repeat – that fun mantra of May & revision hell. Good news is that the end is now finally in sight, with exams wrapping up and Love Island gracing our TV screens once more as of tonight…

What better way to get inspired for the summer than taking some time out to meet some awesome employers, engage in some meaningful discussions around the world of work and generally ponder where your next steps might take you.

Here’s a run-down of everything going on this week in SOAS Careers…

And a final bit of good news – SOAS Careers is open all summer long, with drop-ins with Careers Consultants available every morning from 10am, application and CV checks from 1pm and bookable guidance sessions from 3pm!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

#MondayMotivation: Taking On Procrastination

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Procrastination: the (ig)noble art of putting off till tomorrow something that should have been done yesterday; of shelving something important until it becomes compellingly urgent and (often) impossible to fulfil. You know the feeling: rather than studying, Facebook seems fascinating, Instagram alluring. Seduced by Snapchat, wooed by WhatsApp. Any diversion will do.

What type of procrastinator are you?

Have a go on this useful little quiz, providing you use it as an enabling strategy, rather than a method of – yes – procrastination. Mainly we delay doing things because they appear difficult or tedious, or we lack confidence in our ability to accomplish them successfully. This is the perception – it may not be the reality.

A few of the most common, and least convincing, reasons for procrastination

“I work best under pressure”. Hoary old chestnut, best summed up by one word. Hokum. Will you really do better in a state of sheer panic overlaid with a surplus of stress?

“It’s hard / boring / complicated”. So how is deferring going to make it easier?

“I’ll put it on my list.” Sounds organised, but often involves postponing the urgent by focusing on the unnecessary. However, ticking off the less onerous items can psyche you up for something more demanding or free up space for more pressing matters.

A tried and tested technique

Thinking about the consequences of delay can have a negative outcome e.g. if I don’t finish this assignment, I will get a poor grade, then an indifferent degree, so I won’t get a job. It’s called catastrophising, and is counterproductive. Better to always look on the bright side of life. Think instead of the positive effects of taking action.

How does this relate to careers? Abraham Lincoln’s view was that “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”  Tough words, Abe.  Tough, but true. And nowhere more so than when it comes to careers thinking, planning and action.

Procrastination about your career means that you:

  • risk graduating with nowhere to go
  • may miss out on your favourite option (because application deadlines are sometimes set so far ahead of graduation, you almost have to put your name down at birth)
  • will spend valuable time filling in forms / sending off CVs which don’t pass muster, or enduring tests, interviews and assessments for which you are ill-prepared, hence unlikely to succeed.

Procrastination = WASTED EFFORT.

There is no Careers Fairy. Lengthy legwork is necessary and can be time-consuming and monotonous. Nothing, from staking out your future to fine-tuning a CV, can be dashed off in an evening – it all requires research, reflection and review.

Remember:

  • you needn’t do it all at once. Carve a seemingly insurmountable task, such as researching a particular company, into smaller chunks.  Slow but steady.
  • contrary to Julie Andrews’ advice you don’t have to start at the very beginning. If it’s less taxing, commence an application, for instance, in the middle or even at the end.

Now stop reading this and start checking out that career. You’ll thank me for it later.

Gill Sharp, Careers Consultant

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek: Taking Care of Yourself at Work

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Mental Health in the workplace is frequently written about, and increasingly becoming part of wellbeing initiatives in many organisations.

Starting out your career, either in an internship or your first job, can sometimes present challenges to mental health. Change in a variety form is never easy and uncertainty can manifest itself in a number of ways, from mild to severe. We’ve put together some suggestions on how you can prioritise your wellbeing and mental health when starting a new opportunity, whether something fixed term like a summer internship, or more permanent like your first role after graduation.

Plan out your basic routine for the first couple of weeks

Starting a new role will likely mean some changes to your normal daily routine. You might be waking up earlier, travelling to a new location and more than likely meeting a whole range of new people in a short space of time.

Planning out a routine and doing a dry run a couple of times before might help with this. In particular, getting a decent amount of sleep might mean an earlier night than usual to begin with to make up for the earlier start. Get familiar with how you’re travelling to work as well, and if you’re relying on public transport, have a plan B figured out.

We’d also recommend taking your own lunch and a couple of snacks for the first few days as you’re settling in to your new role. This is just in case you get stuck for food options or find yourself rushing around and not getting a decent break to begin with.

Prioritise time to collate your thoughts

When you first start a new role, you’ll be adapting to a variety of factors. Getting to know new colleagues, the workplace, the local area and the workplace jargon will take time. Giving yourself the time to take it all in is important.

Whether you taking lists and notes to memorise everything you’re learning or if you use other methods, take the time to reflect on what you learn as well. If you’re able to block out short amounts of time to review your notes and think through your interactions, you’ll hopefully assemble a sense of who does what, and how their roles relate to you. This might also help you to plan out any projects or tasks that you’re anticipating, so you know who to go to.

Ask questions

Whilst you might feel conscious about not knowing everything, the truth is nobody knows everything about their workplace. Asking for support or to find out information is a normal part of every job. If you don’t know who to speak to, ask a colleague with more experience to see who they would recommend. It can feel quite isolated if you have a lot of questions that are hindering your first couple of weeks in a new job, but engaging with your team will hopefully help you to feel more comfortable in the workplace.

Make time for your own wellbeing

Having a new job can be a fantastic experience. There can however be a number of times when through various pressures of the role, you have less time for everything you need to get done. Whilst this isn’t unusual, first and foremost you should always prioritise your own wellbeing.

Alongside the examples we’ve highlighted, we would also suggest the following:

Make time to be active – Physical activity has been proven to have positive effects on mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s a walk at lunchtime, a run at some point in the day, cycling to work or taking up something new like kayaking or rock climbing, there are a variety of ways to keep active. Your new employer might even have staff teams for football, rugby, netball or societies for tennis, badminton etc. Other than the physical and health benefits, there’s also the opportunity to enhance your social life through sports and related activities.

Get enough sleep – Various studies in the last 10 years have highlighted the need for around 7-8 hours of sleep to help the body recover. If you find that you are struggling to sleep, try to work out what’s keeping you awake. This might require a conversation with your doctor if there are serious reasons for a lack of sleep.

Socialise – It’s important to spend time with other people that help you to feel positive and energised. Whether that’s going out with your new colleagues, catching up with friends and family, making time for your social life can be an important factor in maintaining your own wellbeing.

Disclosure of mental health in the workplace

Deciding on what to disclose to your workplace, manager(s) and colleagues is a personal choice. Depending on the nature of any challenges that you have with your mental health, you may feel more or less inclined to share your challenges.

Time-to-change.org have some helpful tips that may help to guide you through your decisions.

Further information about managing your mental health and wellbeing can be found from the following links:

Jai Shah, Careers Consultant

#MondayMotivation: Stepping into Academia

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So you’re loving life expanding your mind at SOAS? Tempted to join the hordes of SOAS grads that make their way into the wonderful world of the PhD? Well, you’re in luck! This week we take a look behind the leaning towers of coffee cups, books and papers that surround academic researchers to discover the truth about getting a PhD and working in academic roles.

Last Tuesday we gathered a dream team of PhD Candidates, Early Career Researchers and Professors for an open discussion around their experiences. Safe to say it was an eye-opening panel, and it quickly became apparent that resilience is key to making it in the world of academia. It was noted that the academic career journey can be a bumpy road – and so it’s crucial to be tough, disciplined, confident and persistent. In fact, all the panel were keen to point out that you need to have the right combination of passion and discipline to persevere.

Balance also regularly came into the conversation, and the advice was to consider how you’ll juggle not just the competing demands of an academic role but also making sure you still make time for work, your personal life and those all-important holidays. Anything to make sure you remind your mind that there’s more out there than your thesis!

Realism was a recurring theme – and the panel all agreed that the Higher Education world is tough, with increased regulation and increased competition. There’s no escaping the fact that there are more PhD candidates than academic jobs, and some universities in the UK are going to have big challenges ahead. That being said, their enthusiasm for academia was infectious: it was clear that this route offers personal integrity and the opportunity to change the world!

So, what was their number one tip for making it in academia? They unanimously agreed that while staying in further study might take you on a meandering path, never forget that each experience is giving you something new!

Here’s a run-down of the most pertinent advice they offered up from their experiences:

  • Good communication is key to engaging with students and colleagues
  • Build, develop and strengthen your networks
  • Publish in peer reviewed journals and be strategic with
  • Take opportunities to organise conferences and apply for funding
  • Make sure you get your CV and Covering Letter checked by SOAS Careers

If you’re keen to discover more about academic roles, PhDs and all things further study, an awesome starting point are the resources up on MySOAS Student. Drop in to the Careers Zone, SL62 (Paul Webley Wing) any day between 10am – 5pm, and we’d be more than happy to talk you through what your next steps can look like.

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

#TuesdayThoughts: This is the Week You Get Inspired

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The sun is shining, which can only mean one thing – it must be revision time… While the summer weather can make it even harder to get motivated to actually open a book, the good news is that SOAS Careers is running some awesome networking style events this week to get you pumped for whatever the future might hold.

There’s no denying that this can be a full-on time, so treat yourself to a (small!) break and come along to one of our awesome events this week, meet some inspiring alumni from this great Uni & recharge yourself…

 

  • Academic Careers Networking Event, Tue 8 May, 5pm, SL62: Are you tempted to pursue a career in Academia? Come along to our event with the SOAS Doctoral School & explore everything to do with Academic Careers!
  • School of Arts Careers Networking Event, Wed 9 May, 5pm, SL62: Thinking about next steps after your degree? Curious about how to find job you’ll enjoy? Come hear from SOAS alums working at Africa Salon, Channel 4, the Institute of Contemporary Art, WOMAD Festival + plenty more on this awesome Panel!

No problem if these aren’t the right time for you, or aren’t floating your boat! SOAS Careers is open all week, with a couple of the great Careers team in the Careers Zone in SL62, Paul Webley Wing ready & waiting to help you get inspired with your next steps. Drop by to find out how we can support you!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager