They say there are two sides to every story and never has this been truer than in today’s job market. While we constantly hear about industry-wide skills gaps sweeping the UK, stories about candidates going above and beyond to secure a job continue to emerge, leading us to question just how candidate-led the market really is right now.
Just last month, University of Gloucester graduate Jade Delaney saw her bid to secure a work placement go viral when she painted herself gold to emulate Wall Street’s ‘Fearless Girl’ statue before parking herself outside of McCann Bristol's office. The stunt worked, with Jade offered a one-month trial placement there as a creative.
Asked about her successful stunt, Jade said: “There aren’t really any advertising jobs. They come up and then go the same day. I don’t know what role I want, so I wanted a placement to try different roles, I need to find an agency that fits me – I can’t just rock up and say, ‘give me a job’.”
Jade isn’t the only one who’s gone above and beyond to get noticed. Back in March, Anastasia Glover caught the attention of a recruiter (and the world’s press) with her grime rap that detailed her struggles landing a marketing job after full-time education.
Texan Chase Zreet successfully applied to work for Sprite through marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy with a love rap about the drink. And then there’s Adam Pacitti who famously spent the last of his money on a billboard appealing for someone to give him a job. After going viral, Adam received 60 job offers and ended up taking a role at marketing agency KEO Digital.
All of these innovative job seekers have one thing in common; they’re fresh out of education and lack experience. So, despite the skills gaps, it seems that employers are still looking for the holy grail of a creative and driven graduate who also possesses work experience. Students are encouraged to explore work placements while they’re at university, but it’s not always financially viable, especially when a high number of those opportunities are unpaid.
So, what’s the solution? Here are our top tips for graduates who lack work experience but want to bag that all-important first role that will kick-start their career.
Highlight ALL of your skills
It might sound obvious, but you’ll have accrued more workplace skills than you think while studying. IT, communication, administration, research and problem-solving skills are all valuable to employers. And remember, softer skills like professionalism and friendliness go a long way too.
If you can’t afford to take a free work placement, the next best thing is to get to networking events in your area that potential employers and recruiters will attend. Introducing yourself to key players and making a great first impression could help you get your foot in the door.
Know the industry
Get immersed in the latest industry news that affects your potential employers. Not only will this give you a better idea of the movers and shakers in the market, but this level of awareness will help you stand out from the competition in a face-to-face situation.
The most important piece of advice is not to panic. Most professionals have been there themselves, so understand your situation. Impress them with your personality, drive and determination, and you’ll be sure to secure an opportunity in no time.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing an exclusive series of articles on LinkedIn that examine the agency career journey, from graduate to client services director, detailing exactly what professionals need to do to ensure they achieve continuous progression. Stay tuned for more information and in the meantime, speak to the Henry Nicholas team who can provide the help and guidance you need to further your career.