It was lovely to have Mildred Talabi visit us in Greenwich last week. She shared some of her insights into job-hunting and recruitment. Mildred has written two books – 7 Keys to a Winning CV and, recently, The Science of Succesful Job Hunting. Copies of the latter are available to borrow from the LRC at both campuses.
So, what’s it about and does it live up to the hype?
It’s about job-hunting and yes, it does live up to the hype. Job hunting and recruitment are subjective and the book aims to cut through that to arm the job seeker with not just the tools but the right attitude. Attitude, mind-set, is incredibly important when job hunting. It is very hard not to take rejection personally and yet very very few people succeed in every job application they make. Mildred’s book gives you some important key principles that will help you position yourself as best as possible for the job you want.
What I really liked in the book is that she doesn’t start by believing everybody knows exactly what job they want. She spends time helping you understand your career options. At the event last week I spoke to a GSM alumnus who, when I asked what industry she wanted to work in, said “events”. Through the following discussion she began to understand that this wasn’t good enough. She had to be much more specific. There is a huge difference between organising a family wedding and a high profile political conference. Yet both are event management. Applying for jobs in political conferences needs a different approach to applying for wedding planner roles. If you don’t get that right, the rest of Mildred’s book just won’t work for you.
In her talk Mildred also covered the importance of social media as a job hunting tool. It was interesting to see that whilst many students had Facebook accounts, few used twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram not Google+. Mildred argues in her book that by not having an online presence you can really hinder your potential. Indeed when I have recruited I’ve searched google for the candidates that applied and grew suspicous when they didn’t have any online presence. As Mildred says, there will be online content about you somewhere so why wouldn’t you want to make sure your online presence is as professional as possible and control that content?
Of course I don’t agree with everything Mildred says. For example, she suggests adding colour to a CV to help it stand out. I would urge a lot of caution on that and you’ve really got to think about your target audience and how they’ll respond. She also suggests contacting employers speculatively for unpaid experience. In a survey we did of GSM London students earlier this year, most preferred relevent unpaid work experience over paid less-relevent work. However asking employers to work unpaid is effectively inviting them to break the law – they MUST (honestly, very few exceptions!) pay the national minimum wage. But the principle is right – proactively engaging with employers can yield great results. Typically about 5% of all graduates find their first job through such a speculative approach.
That said, there is so much to recommend this book. It’s an easy to read guide to the fundamental principles of job hunting. And the GSM Careers team can help you achieve every element of that as you go. Mildred has sought opinions from many employers and industry experts in writing this book and it echoes the messages we provide in the work we do here at GSM London. The challenge is for students to listen and respond to those key messages.