Ride the wave of opportunity and stand out.
Contribution by Gillian Jackson.
The world is changing. Your world seems upside down, and it’s hard to stay optimistic and make clear rational decisions. Everyone is asking the same questions. What will my future hold? How will I pay my bills? How will life change? And what will the new normal be?
The period of huge societal, cultural, and technological transformation we are in, means ALL businesses will need to find a new path. And if you are clever about it, there are some ways you can stand out and stay ahead, even securing a job during lockdown.
Recruitment will not stop. But during this time and in a post Covid world, businesses will value skilled young people more than ever. So this is your time to harness your age as an asset, your experience of future technology as your USP, and your ability to innovate as your weapon.
You are self-taught, you might have a business idea that rivals brands you look up to, and you know about new trends and technology your friends are using. You have the capacity to inject energy and new ideas into every aspect of a business.
It is this energy and attitude that will bag you a job, but to make life a little easier here are some key steps you can take to make sure you’re well prepared to surf the wave of success in this remote world.
Use your expertise – You are a digital native. Each new generation challenges the one before. This has always been the case, but the last few months have shown that the information and experience gap has never been larger. The internet has changed everything, and post lockdown, the need for digital will be bigger than ever. Every business will need this energy in their teams, consulting into their strategies, and driving radical change within. Don’t feel that you have no experience, when your understanding of new technology will be a big asset to a business. Current leaders are from an older generation who simply take longer to adjust and are therefore looking for leadership from new, younger people. Think about what platforms you use and what skills you have that you could bring into a new role.
Reach out to people two steps away from where you want to be – People have more time for others now, their routines are entirely different, they have no commute, and some have been furloughed from their jobs. Now is the time to spark a relationship with someone in the industry you are hoping to get into. Find them on LinkedIn and send them a message. I’d suggest asking for a 10min chat to find out how they got to where they are now, it’s a great starting point. Make sure you prepare what you are going to say, why you want to contact them, and have some clear questions. It won’t work well if you are not prepared. And don’t be late to join the call!
Embark on some online learning – There are so many amazing resources available that explain the job market, and the more you know, the better equipped you will be to get the job you want. One of the biggest challenges most people face is knowing they want to work in “music” or want to work in “tv” but not knowing what jobs there are or what route they should take. But there is help out there! www.thisishow.uk was developed by @LivityUK and is a fantastic resource for getting into digital. Check out industry professionals that you follow too; James Blake is doing an instagram live about getting into the music industry on Mondays for example. You can also Google “industry breakdown” for specific industries that you are interested in, and there are some amazing articles out there.
Start working in the job you want now – Embark on a project that showcases your skills. If you are interested in marketing, can you come up with a campaign for a brand that you like? If you want to work in the music industry, can you create a cool project for an artist you like or a label you want to work for? This is a great tool to use when emailing a company you are interested in and will show your skills. You can also use it to build a portfolio if you did more than one you could make a website. You could also volunteer your services. I would always usually suggest not working for free, but given the current climate, this could be a good way to build your portfolio.
Get a mentor – Mentors help to connect you with a network of professionals, they provide a window into the industry you are trying to get into, and they are a helpful sounding board for advice you might need on your professional journey. You can get a formal mentor from lots of schemes like the BIMA mentoring programme, via Livity or through Creative Mentor Network, or you can contact people via Linkedin and ask someone if they will mentor you.
Make a CV – You should think of your CV as the best version of you, compacted down to 2 pages. Some of the worst CVs I’ve seen are usually because someone hasn’t spent a lot of time putting it together. Make sure you remember to spellcheck and check the formatting! There is nothing like a misspelling to put a prospective employer off. Tailor each CV you send out, depending on the job, company, and employer, so it looks as though you are perfect for that specific role. Get someone to check it for you. Make Your CV is your opportunity to tell the company that you want to work for that you are exactly what they need! Put passion, energy, and enthusiasm into it.
Clean your online presence – What happens when you google yourself? In the current climate, employers will only be able to judge you via your online presence. Do you have a public instagram account? How can you make your existence as professional as possible? Make sure you delete or change the names of anything that might get in the way of you getting your dream job.
Go left of centre – Don’t just apply for jobs you see online, contact companies and brands that you want to work for as well. If you want to work in music, which labels do the music artists that you like belong to? If you have seen an advert that you like, which agency made it? Contact the companies you have found on Linkedin or The Dots, and arrange a call with someone there by sending them a Linkedin DM. It’s good If you are already in contact with these companies, you will be front of the queue for a job.
Practice for an interview – If you are lucky enough to have an interview during this time, think about your background. Where are you? Is it well lit? Ensure there’s no distracting background noises. Does the internet work well? Make sure you are wearing something professional too! This is important for all professional video calls, use this advice when you are booking mentoring sessions with professionals too! Turn to online resources which will give you an idea of the kind of questions you may get asked. Be prepared to talk about what you can do.
Prioritise your mental health and wellbeing – You can only be the best version of you when you are looking after you. Finding a job can be hard, and it is crucial to take time to check in with yourself. Now, this is more important than ever. Give yourself a routine, and make sure that it includes 20% for wellness, whether that is physical exercise or meditation.
Gillian Jackson has been Head of Engagement for Livity for the past 7 years, offering weekly careers advice and mentoring to their youth network, but leaves to join the House of St Barnabas as Director of Engagement on 4th May. Get in touch with @LivityUK if you want further employment support, to find a mentor, or to join their opportunities platform for work and events during lockdown.
Contribution by Gillian Jackson.