I am so pleased to write that @thebluegraduate now has over 100 Instagram followers and it is time to launch 'Beating the blues', a new mini series where I chat to graduates from across the UK to learn about how they beat the blues within their chosen industry and secured a job related to their field of study. I hope to gain valuable information from each graduate I get the opportunity to speak to, learning more about how they made themselves stand out throughout the interview process and what a day in their life looks like to give you a better insight into how you can go about securing your dream job.
A little bit about me
I graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2018 with a BA (Hons) Marketing and Advertising Management qualification with the desire to work in the marketing industry, specifically social media marketing. I am currently working as a Marketing Communications Assistant within a facilities management company and have been there for just over a year.
Q. What are your top 3 tips for graduates who are currently job hunting?
A: 1. Always stay organised. This can help to reduce stress levels
2. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get the job. Everything really does work out in the end and adopting the mindset 'it is what it is' will help you to become more resilient
3. If a job isn't right for you and doesn't make you happy, leave. Don't be afraid to take risks - they will pay off
Q. How did you secure your current job? What was the interview process like and how did you make sure that you stood out?
A: I was working in my first full-time job post uni which was unrelated to my degree and wasn't what I expected it to be. I knew that I wanted to leave, and decided to take a leap of faith. I rewrote my CV and applied for as many marketing roles as I could. I was lucky enough to find the vacancy I am working in now through Monster.co.uk. To help myself stand out in my interview I made sure that I took visual aids along with me as it can be hard to showcase your creative skills without them. I had two interviews, one of which involved a grammar test, before I was offered the role.
Q. How did you feel when you started your job vs now? What is your day to day like?
A: When I first started my current job, I felt very overwhelmed. Having spent time away from the marketing industry, I was worried that I was a little rusty. Working in such a fast paced, high pressured environment took some time to get used to, but I found my feet. Now, I go into work every day knowing exactly what I am working on and what deadlines I need to meet.
My day to day is quite busy. I work on multiple different aspects of marketing within my organisation including newsletters, social media, internal employee portal and email communications, web stories, events and case studies. My managers work from home so I sit with another team in the office. In the morning, I will open my notebook to view my to do list (I usually write this at the end of the working day ready for the morning) of all the tasks I need to complete that day. I check my inbox, then I check all our social media channels for any notifications from the evening before. Then I will set to work on my tasks for the day - this is usually writing a story for the employee portal or creating an email to send to internal employees. I break for lunch for 1 hour and then return to work and check social media again for any notifications that may have come in throughout the morning. In the afternoon, I will usually plan campaigns for social media, review feedback from work or draft the monthly newsletter. I chase leads to create new stories on the employee portal, so I may also have calls or meetings scheduled in.
Q. What do you miss most about university?
A: I miss the busy city life of Leeds the most, as well as living with my housemate. I love all the unique bars and the huge shopping centre too, and I'm hoping to go back soon to visit!
If you would like to feature on the blog and share how you beat the blues, please contact me!
There's no doubt about it, applying for jobs after you graduate is a stressful process. With so many opportunities available, it is important to stay organised and on top of your game. Here are 3 things you should do when you apply for a job that can sometimes be forgotten about but can help to leave a lasting impression:
1. Check the name of your CV file before you submit it
Creating your CV is a whole other job in itself, so you can end up with multiple files named random things such 'CV v6'. It's important to remember that your employer will see what your CV file name, so make sure you make it clear by saving it as '[Name] CV' so that the recruiter can find it on their computer easily if an opportunity arises.
2. Save the job description
This is such an important one if you want to make sure you are well prepared for any future interviews! Most places will remove the job posting once the application stage closes, meaning that you lose all of the valuable information you need to prepare for your interview. When you apply for a job, make sure you save a copy of the downloaded job description or copy and paste the text into a Word document. This will be so useful when planning your interview answers as it will enable you to make them more bespoke to the job you are going for.
3. Keep a list of the jobs you have applied for
Once you graduate, you may find yourself applying for multiple jobs at any one time. In order to remember all the roles you have applied for and who you are waiting to hear back from, make sure you note down each job role and company. Doing this will help you to be prepared for any phone calls you may receive and can make you appear more organised to recruiters.
At the beginning of my final year at university, I experienced a very quick decline in my mental health. I was suffering from panic attacks and anxiety which made it hard for me to leave the house, and even harder to concentrate or get any uni work done. I somehow managed to get myself through the year (with a lot of help from my parents, friends, boyfriend and the uni wellbeing hub) and come out of the other side with a 2:1, but once I had graduated I decided that it was time to seek help to enable me to manage my anxiety and panic attacks better so I felt more confident and in control in preparation for my graduate job hunt, which can be a triggering situation.
(I would like to put a disclaimer here, that although hypnosis worked for me, every person reacts differently. I just thought it would be helpful for me to share my experience in case anyone has considered it or is looking for something different to try).
My dad did some research and found some local counsellors, one of which was Absolute Mind, a practice based in Milton Keynes run by Paula and her husband. This was unlike anything I had ever tried before as it was centred around hypnosis, which scared me a little.
I went to a consultation with Paula and we discussed how I was feeling, and she pointed out some of the areas that she thought hypnosis could help with including controlling panic attacks, building confidence and releasing stress. I asked lots of questions, one of the main ones being what it felt like during a hypnosis session as I had seen people being 'hypnotised' during magic shows and the idea of that freaked me out! She explained that it wouldn't be anything like that but instead I would just feel very relaxed, heavy and a bit sleepy. As I regularly practised meditation and was familiar with this feeling and knew I benefited from this type of therapy, I thought I'd give it a go!
What is hypnotherapy?
Taken straight from the Absolute Mind website, Paula explains that hypnotherapy is "a natural state of deep relaxation which allows easier access to the subconscious mind and so assists the process of changing from within. Hypnotherapy is chosen whenever a person feels like they have consciously tried many ways of overcoming an issue without success". From my understanding, hypnosis speaks to your subconscious mind, which is where the anxious thoughts were being created and causing the conscious mind to react (in my case, panic attacks).
IBefore the session, I was really nervous. During my drive over there I felt like I really didn't want to go, but I tried to reassure myself by remembering that Paula was trained, and that I would never know unless I tried.
During the session, I felt exactly how Paula had said I would - relaxed, heavy and sleepy. I couldn't stop my heart from racing a little due to nerves but time went really quickly, and the fact that you can let your mind wander was actually easier for me than meditation sessions where you have to clear your thoughts. In this session, my hypnotherapy consisted of me listening to Paula talk about a situation that was metaphorical to my current mindset, where a small rabbit in a forest reacted to fear by running away.
After the session, Paula warned me that I might have a bad headache due to the fact that my mind had been so relaxed, and I really did. I took some ibuprofen and had an early night.
A few months on
I had three sessions with Paula, who recorded each tape for me to take home and use before I went to bed. I would listen to these tapes 3/4 times a week depending on the level of anxiety I was experiencing, and I could pick between a hypnosis that focused on stress relief, panic attacks or confidence. The improvement to my mental health was gradual so I didn't really notice it at first, but one day I realised how much all the thoughts in my head had slowed, and how much better I was at dealing with a panic attack to the point where I could process it and return to a calm state within a couple of minutes. Again like I said, every person is different, but I was very lucky that hypnotherapy worked so well for me. I still suffer from anxiety, but I have a better understanding of how to deal with it, and having my hypnosis tapes gives me a sense of relief as it feels like I am doing exercise for my brain and making an effort to try and make myself feel better. Now when I listen to my tapes, I even fall asleep before the end!
My first experience using affirmations was around 3 months after I had graduated. I was going to lots of interviews, trying to find my first proper full-time job. Attending interviews can be very overwhelming and rejection from a role I really wanted would leave me doubting my abilities and feeling down for a couple of days. Post university life was also making me feel very unsettled as I had just moved home from Leeds, a city I loved living in and was really sad to say goodbye to. I found affirmations a useful way of questioning unhelpful, negative thoughts and motivating myself to keep going until I found the right job.
Questioning negative thoughts
I first came across the idea of using affirmations when I read 'You Are a Badass' by Jen Sincero. In chapter 17, Sincero writes about how you must question the story that your brain is trying to tell you about who you are and why your life is the way it is by writing down your negative thoughts and then counteracting them by writing down a more positive belief to create a new story.
For example, when I wrote out my negative thoughts during this time (I still have that piece of paper folded in my diary) they included:
I then wrote a statement to counteract these false thoughts:
Write them down and keep them with you
The best way I use affirmations is by writing them down on a piece of paper and carrying them with me in my diary, or sticking them on the back of my bedroom door. When I am having a bad day or can feel a sense of negative judgement from my thoughts, I refer back to the list and remind myself that I am in control of my thoughts and that the negative ones are just trying to throw me off. Reading these before an interview or meeting helps me to feel more confident and not freak out in situations that make me feel nervous.
Lockdown has been tough for so many people, and each person is facing their own personal challenges during this time. For me, it is so important to maintain some sort of routine like I would have in my normal life to stay happy and healthy. Here are some things I have found that have helped to maintain routine:
1. Use time to organise your day
Since I began working full time I realised how toxic having so much free time during university was for me. Following my normal routine of waking up early, going to work for 9am, breaking for lunch at midday, and travelling home from work at 5 to have a relaxing evening helped me to maintain a healthy mind. So, during lockdown I have tried to stick to a similar routine of waking up early, working out during the time I would normally drive to work (following a workout by @ZLRFitness on Instagram), doing an activity until midday, breaking for lunch, doing another activity in the afternoon, and signing off from any 'work' (I have been working as a freelance marketer) to begin winding down for the evening.
This has helped me to make sure I am eating well as I have a habit of forgetting to eat if I'm busy, and fitting in a daily workout to start my day with a positive mindset whilst feeling some sense of 'the norm'.
2. Plan your meals
As food is sparse, I have found the easiest way to eat healthy and reduce food wastage is by planning my meals based on the food I have in the house. I usually write down my meal ideas, keeping breakfast the same each day. Sometimes, I'll cook for my family or I'll batch make a meal so I can eat it over a couple of days. Planning my meals helps me to focus my mind on other areas and makes me feel less stressed.
3. Write to do lists
To do lists can help you to stay motivated by giving yourself a reason to get out of bed in the morning as you know what you are working on each day and you can tick off your progress, which makes you feel good! It also helps to declutter your mind and reduce the pressure to remember important things.
4. Have some fun
We will (hopefully) never experience a time like this again in our lives, so it is important to make the most of it. Spend time with family who would normally be busy working or at university, start a project you never felt like you had time to do before or play a game. Do something that takes your mind off the current situation and helps to make you laugh.
5. Stay accountable
Set yourself deadlines (but don't be too harsh), or ask a family member to check up on you if you have university deadlines to keep you accountable and motivate you to get things done.
It can be a little overwhelming...
Looking for jobs related to your field of study after you graduate can seem daunting. It is easy to procrastinate because it seems like the mountain is simply too big to climb, but the key is to take small, progressive steps until you reach the top. Read more to see our tips on preparing yourself for your graduate job hunt including CV preparation and creating a life outside of work.
1. It's okay to take a break
Everyone is different, and people take time out for a number of reasons. Leaving university can be daunting, so taking time out to travel or explore other career options can be a great way of helping you to decide what you really want to do with your career.
2. Use your resources
3. Don't take rejection personally
Spending hours on a job application just to receive an automated email explaining that 'after careful consideration you have not made the cut' can be demotivating, and even negatively affect your self-confidence. Be mindful of the fact that sometimes a job just isn't right, and try to adopt the "it is what it is" mantra. You don't want to work for a company that doesn't see your potential or doesn't feel like you are the right fit for the job, take some time out to process what happened and then take action - adjust your CV, get back on the internet and set yourself some new challenges to take your mind off the rejection.
I was rejected for so many jobs until I secured my first role post university and when I sat at my desk on the first day I finally realised why all the other jobs hadn't worked out.
4. Stay up to date with the competition
The people you see online or in your interviews are your direct competition. Take note of the courses people are studying, the style of CV people are using, and the amount of experience they had prior to their job offer. It can be useful to check out the LinkedIn profiles of people you know or people who work in the industry or job role you want to do. Have a look at their journey - although everyone's is slightly different, what have they done that helped to make them more suitable for the job role than you? If it was an online course, see if you can complete one similar; if it was an internship, consider contacting some professionals to see if you can gain similar experience. It isn't about comparing yourself, but it is about staying on top of your game and being mindful of the competition so you can be prepared.
5. Always ask for feedback
Free constructive criticism following an interview is rare, so take the opportunity for self-improvement when it arises. This can be the difference between you securing your next job interview or not. Understanding why you weren't offered the job can help to reduce the impact the rejection can have on your self-esteem, and motivate you for your next interview.
6. Have a life outside of job hunting
As well as professional experience, recruiters want to see some personality. They want to know what you can bring to a team and the business and what hobbies and personal interests you have. You are going to spend the majority of your life working, so make sure you are using some of your time to get to know yourself, building good relationships with your friends and family and discovering hobbies you love (and if like me, you discover something somewhere down the line that you love, you could always try and turn this into a career!).
7. Stay focused
There are a range of techniques that you can use to help you figure out the best way to keep yourself motivated. Mood boards, spiritual manifestation, affirmations, lists, physical activity, talking to friends and goal-setting are all suggested ways to keep your mind on track and remind yourself of your overall goals. Check out our 'Setting affirmations: This will work!' blog post for tips of how to make affirmations work for you!