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

Rejection? Brush Your Shoulders Off

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We’ve all been there: hours of blood, sweat, tears and a fair amount of googling synonyms for ‘passionate’ go in to crafting the most meticulously put-together application that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that it is your destiny to take on this job, only to hear back from a generic HR inbox that they ‘regret to inform you’ that you’re not The One. Or worse yet – a resounding silence.

Yep: rejection sucks, but, dig a little deeper into anyone who’s gone on to do anything genuinely impressive (no, the Yodelling Kid doesn’t count) and you’ll quickly see that failure is a temporary – and important – step towards ultimate success. As Michael Jordan humbly puts it, ‘I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed’.

Never was this truer than when it comes to landing that elusive grad scheme, internship or part-time job for the summer. A lot of the time it’s purely a numbers game – due to the sheer volume of applications you may not luck out first time round and will need to keep trying. Knowing how to deal with this is crucial, and will only help you on your way to future triumphs.

Don’t worry, help is on hand; so sit back and take comfort in this virtual hug from SOAS Careers…

  • Take time out to reflect

Once the initial rage subsides, it’s worth taking 5 minutes to think through why this particular application didn’t work out. Do you need to get more experience under your belt? Could your application have done with being tweaked a little to really showcase to the employer how great you are for that specific role, or have you been going for quantity over quality recently? If you made it through to an interview, could you spend some time nailing your technique to guarantee that you come across as the dream candidate next time round? If you’ve had a few knock-backs, could you start targeting smaller companies rather than just going for household names?

SOAS Careers can support you with all of this and more. Take a look at all the ways we can signpost you to work experience and volunteering opportunities – both great additions to your CV, which will offer you lots more examples to talk about at interview too. CV & Application Advisers are on hand with drop-ins every afternoon between 1-3pm in SL62 to give you feedback, we can run you through a Practice Interview, offer guidance, help with online aptitude tests and lots and lots more

  • Get inspired

Often even those you assumed were born in to success have had to work hard to get to where they are – no matter how effortless it may all seem. Read the autobiography of any great entrepreneur or successful person, and more often than not it is their resilience that has been their Ace card. Identify someone you genuinely admire and dig in to what coping mechanisms they use to bounce-back.

  • Make sure love is all around

As you dive head first into another set of applications, make sure you’ve got friends and family close by, or ready and waiting for your Facetime call. Don’t underestimate the power of their support on your personal well-being, and vice-versa. Make sure you and your close friends are each other’s Number 1 Fans and regularly remind each other how great you are!

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself

There’s no easy way to say it: putting your all into an application and not hearing back would dampen even Mr. Motivator’s spirits. You’ve got every right to be disappointed, so rather than beating yourself up, treat yo’ self (within reason!) and move onwards and upwards.

  • It’s not you, it’s them

As The Beatles forecast, the road may well be long and winding – and it can be all too easy to forget to keep things in perspective. There will always be other opportunities, bigger and better ones that come at the right time for you.

So next time you get that email from what you’d convinced yourself would be your dream company, see the rejection for what it is – a set-back, nothing more, nothing less. Acknowledge it, learn from it and then move on. Don’t let it own you, rather get out there and own it!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

Survival Guide: Assessment Centres

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It’s that assessment time of year again. How can you maximise your chances and ace the
competition at the Assessment Centre stage of the selection process?

First of all, congratulate yourself: you are one of the chosen few. Your invitation to be assessed means you have beaten at least 90% of the original applicants. That’s the feel good factor. The downside is that this is where the going gets even tougher. Here are four essentials for surviving and thriving during the process…

1. You’re liable to be in a group of approx. 6- 8 likely lads and lasses, all of whom will look calm and confident. Don’t be daunted – they will be quaking inside. Remember that the assessors are not evaluating you against the other candidates but as an individual contender. Don’t measure yourself against the other people in your set, just focus on playing to your strengths. Apropos of which, be very sure what those are, so that you can maximise your impact.

2. In a group situation, speak up and make your presence felt in an assertive, not an aggressive, way. Failure to do so is like going to an exam and not writing anything and will lead to nil points from the assessors. How do you get in to the activity especially if one (or more) people are trying to dominate the proceedings? (Btw console yourself with the fact that those overbearing oafs have just scuppered their own chances – assessors heavily penalise such behaviour.) Stake your claim to a role quickly by offering to keep time, take notes or monitor progress as soon as the activity starts. This gives you the chance to leap in appropriate intervals to summarise, review and move the action forward. You’ll also get brownie points for encouraging and involving the quieter group members.

Top tip: sneak a peek here to find out what role you might play in a team.

3. There’ll be individual exercises too, often including a presentation. Key advice? Keep it simple and don’t try to cram everything in. Not only will your audience appreciate both your brevity and clarity, but if you are asked questions after the event, you won’t have exhausted your store of knowledge and hence will be able to answer your interrogators with aplomb.

Top tip: if you get a chance practise your presentation beforehand, ideally recording
yourself. That way you’ll get the timing right to the nearest nanosecond, and you’ll also be able to iron out any weak links in your speech, tone and pace.

4. Terrified of tests? You may get these at assessment centres too and they could comprise any or all of the following – e-tray exercises, case studies, situational judgement questions, psychometric tests. If you’re new to these notions, get in some practice. We can send you some examples – just send us a message on careers@soas.ac.uk! It may not make you perfect, but it will send your scores up a notch or two. You can find a massive range of useful resources on the Careers Pages on MySOAS Student too.

Being prepared means preparing to succeed. Good luck.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant

Interviews For the Uninitiated

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Got an interview? Well done! But the hard work isn’t over. In fact it’s just beginning. Let’s
take it step by step…

What’s the set up?

Employers can take their pick from the traditional face to face scenario a phone or Skype call, a video question and answer session. If all interviews are somewhat disconcerting, the video version is reckoned by many students to be the most unsettling of all. It involves no human contact whatsoever, just a series of questions which have to be prepared and answered in a set time frame. However unnerving it might be for candidates, the video process is quicker and slicker for employers to deal with, so it’s here to stay.

What will you be asked?

Whatever the type of interview it, questions fall into a few discrete groups. You want those categories? They are…

  • Motivational: your reasons for applying
  • Biographical: your academic and personal experience
  • Skills and strengths: what is unique about you?
  • Competency: do you meet the criteria necessary to be successful?

So, broadly speaking you will be asked why you want to do that job with that organisation, what benefits (skills, experience) you can bring, whether you are a fit for their brand, values, working culture and how much they will have to invest in you. Not that they’ll put it quite like that of course, but they are really probing how committed and knowledgeable you are, and hence how much it will cost to train you. Your job is to reassure them on all counts.

How do you prepare?

From your perspective, it may be better not to dwell so much on which questions will be posed but rather on what you want to tell them. In other words, after dealing with each initial question as it comes (“I want to work here because…”) promote your suitability for the post in the follow through. (“I can offer the company x, y, z”). But all your answers must be backed up with detailed evidence. So have up your capacious sleeve an example that verifies what you are saying otherwise it becomes a meaningless assertion. In other words, rather than just stating that you have worked in numerous different teams, give them chapter and verse on a time when you have (successfully) participated in a team activity.

Above all, know your skills and strengths inside out, back to front and upside down!

Anything else?

Plenty, but it can be summed up by “Do your homework”. Arm yourself with information and deploy it strategically.

Go beyond the organisation’s website – look at news articles, company reports, their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Be ready to make objective and original comments on these, if required.

More than this, know their competitors. What are they up to? What can “your” firm do to
complement or trump their activities? Understand the sector in which they operate. What’s happening there? How do current political and social issues impact on this?

Above all, show what you know!

Good luck and remember that if you have a interview secured to make use of SOAS Careers’ Practice Interview service, where a careers consultant will prepare questions specific to the sector, employer and job you have applied for so that you are prepared for the real thing. Just email careers@soas.ac.uk to get booked in.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant

5 Ways to Make Sure You Smash it Every Day!

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Ever had one of those days when everything just goes your way? Imagine having that awesome feeling every single day…

This really is within your grasp: this really insightful article takes a look at 5 habits you can take on to make sure that you’ll end every day feeling incredible!

TL;DR –

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

2. Reduce Context Switching

3. Create “If/When-Then” Plans

4. Exercise—Even if Only for a Few Minutes

5. Have a Shutdown Ritual

Alexis Fromageot

Something for the Weekend: Are your social media posts costing you that dream job?

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Photo Credit: HowToStartABlogOnline.net 

Social media got you glued to your phone? There may be more to those selfies you’re uploading, those comments you’re liking and that latest article you re-tweeted…

More than ever, employers are now taking a vested interested in social media posts when analysing how suitable you are for a job.

Head here for more details.

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Officer