So to get back into the swing of posting again, this week, I have decided to describe my journey from handing in my application to securing a job offer at IPC Media. In a few weeks, I’ll be going into more detail in regards to tips. My description of each of the 7 days should give you an accurate understanding of what I undertook and will shed light on why I was ultimately successful.
The other day I read an article on the Guardian Careers blog regarding a graduate whom managed to gain her first job after 10 or so months, after completing relevant work experience. From what she was saying she feels as lucky as can be, and it really makes me think how extremely lucky I am.
Before you make any negative judgements about my quick success – e.g. I only got the job because I had contacts – I had NO contacts at IPC and no contacts that helped me get the job. However the bribes worked (kidding!). Anyway, this is why I believe that it’s not all about contacts, and others (like me) are fully capable of securing a job before graduation.
So, let me take you back to three weeks ago. At this point I had started applying for jobs and had secured zero interviews – to be honest I was getting worried. I had always had in the back of my mind the thought that it would be simple for me to get a job considering the wealth of experience I had already attained. Like other graduates, I found myself resentful at the amount of internships companies were offering with very little of them paid, and certainly never paid well. The applications that I did make were to well-known large companies and obviously the most competitive vacancies. One application I sent out was to a company that I had already done multiple placements with, I had all the experience necessary, but I didn’t even get an interview – that was certainly a shocker.
For each application, I made sure that I tailored every single one to the job vacancy. To be honest after 2-3 weeks of applying for jobs (on average I’m sure that this is a very short period of time), but I was already feeling concerned about whether I would get a job at all in the publishing sector. I had even set myself a ‘cut off’ date, so after x amount of months I would give up on publishing and try other routes – e.g. a PA. However, this outlook changed as less than 2 weeks before I went on holiday I saw a job advertised on the IPC Media twitter page. I immediately emailed to ask for a job description.
Day 1 (2 hours*) The next day I received the job description and started to write my cover letter and CV (of course tailoring it to IPC and the job description). Within 10 minutes of sending through my email application I got an email back from HR offering me an interview. I couldn’t believe how quick they had got back. After receiving this pleasing news I decided to start my preparation. This involved what I was going to prepare for the interview and when. My interview was scheduled for Day 5 so I really had 4 days to prepare myself. On this day, I as well did some casual internet research, but really, I was just collecting my thoughts for a plan of action.
Day 2 (3 hours*) This day was spent going onto the company website, firstly, to find out about IPC Media as a company, and secondly the magazine itself. I extended my research to their press office, which I always find useful in preparation as you can research accurate facts and figures – e.g. the success of the brands etc. I spent about 4 hours on this research and printed out my findings to create a pack for myself. These were all complied into a folder that I would then take with me to the interview in case I needed a point of reference. I also bought the magazine so that I was familiar with it.
Day 3 (8 hours*) I spent more time doing website research for the magazine, the magazine’s website and the Editor. The more I knew, the better I could perform in the interview (I’ll do a blog post on this at a later date). The rest of the day I spent collating a document of all the possible interview questions. This would range from the standard questions like ‘What is your weakness?’ to other killer questions such as ‘If you were an animal what would you be?’ Once I had these questions (I had 8 pages worth) I compiled my answers.
What I began to notice is that the scenario/behavioural type questions would require situations to reference. In this instance, I complied a document that included about 5 situations I had been in that represented different skills – e.g. paying attention to detail and showing initiative. Once I had these situations in my mind, I was able to link them to questions better. Some of the readers may remember a link I had advertised in one of my blog posts, which was basically 50 interview questions with tips on how you should answer them. Websites like these are certainly useful to read whilst preparing.
Day 4 (8 hours*) This is really the last day that I was able to prepare for the interview as it was in the morning on Day 5. Therefore, with my questions and answers, and the research pack I created, I then started to look back through all the pages to make sure I was familiar with it all. Again I turned to internet research because there is never too much research you can do - as long as you remember it and learn from it - it is always useful. As well I researched my interviewer and any suspected other interviewers (I suspected there would be two the HR person who contacted me). This extra research helped me to create my own interview questions for them.
On all the days listed above, I did small bursts of research on my iPhone, which includes podcasts on the Guardian Careers site. Just before I went to sleep I would listen to a couple of their interview podcasts to gain any other general interview tips. In my previous post – The Graduate Jobseeker:Where do I start? - I have supplied links.
Anyway, that is it for now. Next week I will continue with days 5 to 8.
*hours stated give a rough estimate to how many hours preparation I did per day.
Please use the comments box below to post any questions or responses.
Intern opportunities will recommence this Tuesday! (03/07/2012)