Two blog posts in one day?! It’s like the good old days when I had time to do things, isn’t it!
SO as you all know, I went to the Penguin Living Careers 360 event yesterday, and it was super super great of them to both invite me and give me that nice discount code for you all, so thanks for that Penguin! (And special thanks for this sick badge which made me feel very professional).
The first session of the day was all about applying for jobs, and of course this would be the most useful part of the day to share with you all, and OF COURSE, I missed it because I over slept. But worry not! Here are some of the best tweets from the session (shoutout to the Penguin Living page and BookCareers for their diligent live tweeting), as well as what two super special PubInterns thought of it.
Here’s what Stella had to say about it:
The event kicked off with a presentation from a Milkround representative. She was covering the “The 5 Dos and Don’ts of a Great CV”. The main points were that a CV should be less than two sides of A4, that it should be simple and to the point (employers only look at a CV for an average of 8 seconds and only really read the first 1/3rd of the document!), that the formatting is clear, and that if an employer were to quickly glance at it they’d be able to get the gist straight away.
Next they said to use examples: if you had a placement at a publishers, mention any useful organisational skills or administrative duties. If you are skilled at “leadership”, mention a time in which your leadership (running a society, helping at a charity fundraiser, head of the debate club, etc) was useful. Be specific, don’t generalise and give examples of things you claim on your CV. Tailoring a CV and cover letter (especially the cover letter) to a specific job is something she recommended. Also, the last bit of advice she gave was for us to use social media to our advantage, make use of Twitter and Facebook – if you tweet a company there is a chance that your name will stay in someone’s mind.
The second one was “How to Nail that Interview” with Tim Vincent, who was incredible. His first advice was not to be too hard on ourselves, and main tip for interviews was that “interviewers have no clue what they are doing”. Do your research on the company you are applying to, check the latest news surrounding them, ask questions, be prepared to sell yourself. His said to ask direct and framed questions, so rather than just answering what they ask, you can turn the interview around and make sure that you remain in their mind. When people ask him “do you mind if I ask you a direct question?” rather than “can you give me advice for applying to a job?”, he pays attention to the question more and interviewers will be the same. They now know a question will be asked and that they have to answer, meaning that they’ll actually be listening to you. Add some information about your qualities and absolutely be authentic. He said that your attitude is essential to the interview.
The next part was with Claire Young and Robyn McGirl. Their main point was that enthusiasm is key. “Speak up for yourself because no one else will do it for you.” You should walk into an interview, happy to be there. The Milkround representative at that point said “you can teach the skill, but not the will”. You can teach a person almost anything, but if they don’t want to be there and aren’t interested, it will show.
The last part of the session was “How to Get a Job and Keep It” with Chef Simon Boyle. For him it was about happiness. “The secret of life is happiness, on the day to day — not something to work towards. So find a job you’re happy with.” Develop your story. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re asked “tell me a bit about yourself” and your mind is spinning, drawing only a blank. Look for the positives in your life. He said it’s vital to be on time and be professional. Always be positive, be a team player, and confidence is key to your success. You can practice interviews with your friends. Make sure you can answer questions about yourself, about your interests. Avoid the painful silence. You can look at the mission statement of a company for your research. Be honest, be positive. It will go a long way.
And here’s what Trevor thought of it all:
Francesca from Milkround suggested going for a “person spec” style, giving demonstrations of how one actually fulfilled relevant achievements. She also said, typically, recruiters spend eight seconds looking at a CV. Only the top third is read, so make your profile stands out. Additionally, connect with recruiters etc. via social media channels.
Tim Vincent focused on his ‘Nail Questions’ for interviews. Prepare in sandwich format: set up questions by asking if the recipient minds if you ask a direct question, then give them the why? (Next career step?) Tell a bit about yourself (Eg. I excel in x conditions); then get to the meat. Eg. Where/what do you think would be the best next step? Badabing! Always have at least 10 in your quiver when heading to an interview… The essence is Attitude and Authenticity. Be yourself, rather than what/who you think they want you to be. Nail Questions are (or rather, should be) properly retrospective. What do you want to be remembered for? Best candidates on paper, often lose the post in favour of someone who was relaxed and essentially free-spirited. This often left Tim and his colleagues perplexed. He reiterated the need to be yourself. Finally, he did actually state early in his talk that interviewers invariably don’t really know what they’re doing. They have many far more pressing matters at hand.
Exploratory questions are also a must, as they help you to find out if YOU really want their job. If you do this well enough, they’ll sell the job to you instead. Wouldn’t that be nice? You can ask indirectly, ‘How will this role lead to my dream job?’ And don’t wait till the end of the interview to ask questions. Oh, and in your quiver with the Nails it never hurts to have a few anecdotes at the ready for appropriate moments.
Last couple of points. If you get asked stupid questions, use this as an opportunity to deflect and give a story from your quiver. Remember, interviewers LOVE talking about themselves, so don’t be shy to gently encourage a spot of self-indulgence. The icing on the cake? You will mostly be remembered for your body language and tone of voice, and oh yes, be yourself.
In my opinion, it seems as if a lot of the advice given was a bit obvious, and stuff we all already know. I mean..
Would anyone not do that for an interview? Come on Chef Simon Boyle.
The rest of the day, which I did manage to make, looked a little like this:
All of session two was really interesting, and I was feeling very girl power about it all. However, a lot of what was being said wasn’t really all that useful for people in our kinds of positions. It was all very “if you act confident then you’ll definitely get a payrise”, and “if you present yourself well then people will respect you” – confidence and presentation aren’t the reasons interns and entry levellers are underpaid and undervalued!
Alice Olins and Phanella Mayall were both really fascinating, and their book, the Step Up Club, is essentially about how women can take the next steps in their careers, which is awesome. They have five steps to doing that:
- Create a strong and compelling personal brand, that you feel able to sell to others.
- Create a narrative around your accomplishments, listing these isn’t as effective as telling a story.
- Take the credit you deserve.
- Get feedback on what you’ve done.
- Promote yourself widely within your company and network, not just to your boss.
They also discussed finding a role model at work, who may be good at presenting themselves to others, and how you can observe and listen to them in order to learn this skill too.
Next up were Sue Unerman and Kathryn Jacob, both of whom I kind of want to mentor me about how to live my entire life. Very cool ladies. Their book, The Glass Wall, is about success strategies for women at work. They discussed this interesting concept, of how the glass ceiling has allegedly been smashed, and yet women are still being held back in the work place. The glass wall is the glass ceilings replacement, and there are still barriers being put up for us to break through.
They told an interesting anecdote of a woman suggesting an idea at work, and it being rejected, and then when she suggested it in terms of a football analogy her boss was excited about it. If you feel different to those working around you and that this will mean you’re getting left behind, you have to learn to speak their language.
Last in this session was Caroline Goyder, a voice coach and keynote speaker (thanks Wikipedia). She spoke about her book, Gravitas, and how to be taken more seriously at work. We did a couple of exercises on how to be more serious (we all had to introduce ourselves, first with our hands out and palms facing down, then palms facing up. Turns out with palms down, our voices are lower and more serious, and palms up makes it friendlier and more approachable… Or so she told us (I totally didn’t notice the difference)). We also had to close our eyes and feel our feet on the ground and bums in our chairs, to make ourselves more grounded, or something like that. Yeah… I wasn’t buying it, but maybe it works for some people!
Next up in session three, possibly the least relevant for us, changing careers and setting up your own businesses were discussed. Again, all the speakers were really interesting and spoke a lot of sense, but I’m just not sure how good it is for us. The primary take away I got was that if you’re not happy with your career, you can just quit and set up your own company or become a singer and an author and everything will be fine. I’m totally broke and barely have a pot to piss in, but sure guys, okay!!
Bill Burnett talked about his book, Designing Your Life, and about how we’re probably going to have several careers throughout our lives, so to get good at learning to adapt.
Kevin Rodgers talked about how he was a banker, and decided to give it all up to write and sing, and how changing careers isn’t as scary as it seems. His book, Why Aren’t They Shouting, is about the changes in banking.
John Williams, author of Screw Work, Break Free, talked about going freelance and setting up your own business. He said that you needed to start small and work your way up, and that you needed to have established clients before you went big. He also gave an example of a woman who takes professional pictures for people to use on their Tinder profiles which is just… Who has the money to pay for these things?!
Finally we had Shaa Wasmund in what was probably one of the most intense half hours of my life. She recommends, if you aren’t happy with your career, burning all your bridges and moving on to what you think is right. Someone asked her what she recommended doing for a person who had their family relying on them for their career, and her advice was to take care of themselves first, and then their family. Seriously. Her books, Stop Talking, Start Doing and Do Less, Get More, seemed to be along this same theme. She’s certainly had a very impressive life and all props to her, but I don’t think I’ll be taking her advice.
What did I think overall?
Well, it was a great idea and all props to Penguin Living for planning it all. However, it did seem a lot like a whole day of “here is an author, they’re going to say something somewhat relevant and then you can go and buy their book outside”. There was A LOT of selling. It also seemed to be marketed as some kind of great careers day to give people like us advice and tips that we haven’t heard 2435 times before, which it didn’t really do.
Was it worth the £40 ticket price? Absolutely not, and I would think that anyone who paid full price would be a little peeved. Was it worth the £10 price? Yeah, probably, and if I were invited again I’d probably go. It was an interesting day, and it was good to see people who I’d have no idea about otherwise, but it wasn’t really what it was marketed as.
That said, there were some interesting insights, and if you haven’t already I’d recommend checking out the #careers360 tag on Twitter to see if there’s anything for you in there.