In our employability series, our Kickstart Marketing Assistant, Joanna, shares her experience of working with us and her journey to change career path following her studies. This series of blogs provide insightful knowledge from the book From Learner to Earner by Sophie Milliken, independent research and relatable stories about the process of finding employment. Use these blogs to support, inspire and encourage Kickstart team members in your organisation and anyone you know seeking employment.

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How do you find a job when you don’t actually know what you want to do? How do you find a job when you eventually do know? Where do you even start?

These are the very questions I asked when I was seeking employment and I am still learning the answers to this day. Since leaving education, I have been unemployed twice for two months in total. Whereas this isn’t an awfully long time, most of my employment since 2020 has been casual work in hospitality with no promise of a full-time contract and I yearned for the stability of a full-time job in a career field where I could put my education to good use. Marketing sparked my interest but where do you begin?

After graduating, I spent months hearing nothing from failed applications of trying to paint myself as a skilled marketer for several entry-level marketing roles and eventually anything that sounded similar to marketing. I got nothing. 

The days, weeks and months started to pass and I was panicking about my lack of full-time grad job so I gave up. The only logical decision to me at the time was to head back to uni to complete a PGCE, which, if you’ve read the first blog in the series, didn’t work out. The feeling of being back to square one after one year and five months after graduating is soul destroying. The feeling of failure can really tickle depression and anxiety demons, but my solution was to jump straight back on the job search train instead of wallowing in self-pity.

I decided to speak to a career’s advisor. An advisor will tell you how to get your foot in the door, but you have to do the leg work. Look for volunteering roles, internships or even entry level roles in the industry. Any previous experience whether you were a treasurer for a society at university, volunteered for a family friend selling cakes or participated in a sponsored walk for charity is all considered experience, so perhaps you have more skills than what you think.

In Sophie Milliken’s book From Learner to Earner, she recommends analysing the sector or industry in your job search. This way you will find out about organisations, events and information about what you will be doing. By doing this, you will find out about employers in the industry in your preferred location. She then recommends you research the organisation. Start with the company website, learn about their values to see if the culture fits with your own values and aims. Research the job. Find out what it is you will be doing and existing employees of the company.

Having a LinkedIn profile is by no means necessary, but it can be useful for finding potential opportunities. Widely used by many professionals in a variety of different sectors, LinkedIn advertises jobs, events and is used to interact with other professionals. You can use LinkedIn as effectively as you like in your job search, for networking, finding work experience or simply requesting information from employers. As LinkedIn is a professional site, you should treat it as your portfolio as well as your other public social media accounts which you can read in more detail in my next blog Marketing yourself to employers.

Online is not the only place you can find vacancies. It is the employers preferred way of you applying for the role due to the data protection changes in 2016, but you can attend careers fairs or visit an organisation in person to find out more if online isn’t your preference. This way, they are getting to know who you are and what you are like as a person which can better your chances for getting an interview if you choose to apply.

Before you attend a careers fair, Sophie Milliken recommends in From Learner to Earner you make sure you are clear on why you are attending. Whether you are seeking employment or just weighing up your options, the recruiters at the fair will likely want to know why you are there. Dress appropriately. The last thing you want to do is turn up in loungewear, it is still a professional event and you want to make a decent first impression. Network and make connections. It is far easier to influence people you know than strangers. Follow up your conversations. You might consider sending them an email thanking them for their time or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

It has been two years since I graduated and I am yet to attend a careers fair. However, there is definitely still time for me. If you are like me and have graduated within the last 2-3 years, you are still considered a recent graduate. Check out your universities job vacancies for graduates, many employers advertise through universities.

The most useful thing I have learned in From Learner to Earner is to make yourself memorable. Employers will be a lot more impressed if you do the work, research their business and ask more specific questions about the company than if you ask the same old generic questions everyone else asks.

You can find more useful information about searching for jobs through Sophie Milliken’s resources from her book and online articles such as the article ‘how to find the right job for you’ by The Guardian.

All the best in finding the best place to let your amazing skills and strengths shine!

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Read more about Joanna in Our People and our other blogs in the series to get top tips from Jo about CV writing, her journey to us, applying for jobs and job interviews.