Chinwag's Careers Day @ Digital Shoreditch: Hints, Tips, Feedback & Advice

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We held our first Careers Day as part of Digital Shoreditch on Wednesday 23rd May, supported by Vitamin T, and are extremely proud to say it was a brilliant success.

We've had some wonderful feedback from companies recruiting, mentors and job hunters alike and we're so glad that everyone found the day useful and productive.

Our CV Surgeries were particularly popular, with lines waiting outside the Little Top! If you missed out on a CV Surgery or couldn't make the day, the fantastic mentors have very kindly shared some of their advice below.

You can also see some pictures from the day on the Chinwag Jobs Facebook Page and check out the day's activity on the Careers Day Storify.

We asked our Mentors what they learnt about the state of candidates looking for work in digital and what tips they found themselves giving throughout the day, and here's what they said...

Emma Clifton, Talent Resourcing Manager, EMEA, Dow Jones International Ltd

Emma Clifton“There are some great people out there and it’s a shame more businesses don’t take a “punt” on people that don’t necessarily tick all the boxes but have the right approach and intentions…”

“What is digital??? - Digital is so wide and varied it almost seems to be a buzz word that people use to encompass anything… Having a focus on what you really want to do and being realistic about this is imperative and I found this varied vastly between people I spoke to.”

Top Tips:

  • Self-promotion & getting your details on LinkedIn…From personal experience as the Recruitment Manager for Dow Jones we have moved away from agency usage and have recently recruited 20% of people through LinkedIn…
  • Format of CV, take out too many words, remember not everyone that reads your CV is the decision maker…make it succinct and to the point and make sure that you have key words relating to the job you are applying to
  • Don’t pepper spray your CV – There is nothing worse for a Recruiter or Hiring Manager to think they are just one of many who you have emailed ”great interest to work in their company”…

// Emma's LinkedIn

Charlotte Beckett, Head of Digital, The Good Agency

charlotte Beckett“I was very impressed with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm of the people I met. There’s some talent out there! Most of them had digital experience, though a couple were looking for a career change. Of the latter group, I was slightly surprised at the lack of understanding what digital is, how broad a discipline and how it fits into the marketing mix.”

Top Tips:

  • Research the sector.  Be clear what you want to do, and what you offer to do it.
  • Think about your personal statement:  if you removed your name from your CV would it genuinely describe you or is it just a bunch of generic phrases?   
  • Add your name, job title, mobile and email to the footer of each page. You’d be surprised how easy it is to lose bits of a CV.
  • Network. LinkedIn and Twitter are powerful tools, and get out to as many meet ups as possible.

// Charlotte's LinkedIn

Emma Haslam, Senior Partner, Red Magnet Marketing

emma haslam“I was surprised by how many of the grads had just finished Masters as I was expecting undergraduates not postgraduates. They were a mixed bag in terms of age, gender and nationality, what they all had in common was ambition, passion and energy. There’s definitely as good pool of talent out there wanting to work in digital.”

Top Tips:

  • Emphasise the experience and achievements that apply to the ‘must haves’ in any job description.
  • Add in a paragraph about yourself and your outside interests as it brings across your personality and humanises the CV.
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile to your CV.

// Emma's LinkedIn

Sam Michel, Founder, Chinwag

Sam Michel, Founder, Chinwag"I was surprised the majority of the audience wasn't grads, there was a huge range of skills and experience. Plenty of people attended with great transferrable skills looking to switch from traditional sectors to digital. They might find it a challenge without work experience, but employers would be daft to overlook them. There were a number of well-qualified masters students from outside the EU looking for internships, again, good news for employers. In comparison the preparedness of some homegrown students was a little worrying, but the fact they attended Careers Day shows they're not expecting a CV splatter alone will yield a juicy role."

Top Tips:

  • Treat your CV and social profile as a marketing exercise, think: USPs, achievements, goals and what makes you different but don't be generic e.g. "great teamworker"
  • Enlist your friends - get them to read your CV, ask them what you're good at, they're less likely to be humble
  • If you're updating your CV, update your Linkedin and other social profiles - they will get used and Linkedin recommendations help build your credibility
  • Stick to the facts, avoid hyperbole, don't use over flowery language, do use strong positive verbs e.g. avoid "I plan to", "I am looking to", "I hope to"
  • If you're not sure of which job/discipline you want to pursue, consider internships, work experience and asking people in various roles to tell you what it's like. A quick coffee can answer a lot of questions.

// Sam's Linkedin

Kate Verran, Creative Consultant, Aquent

kate verran“There were a number of candidates looking to move from public sector over to private sector and agency-side. I would suggest reviewing your CV and adapting where possible to highlight more commercially focused activity & subsequent results. Review the visual look of CV to ensure it is not too corporate. Rather than trying to move straight from public sector into agency world, try looking into client-side roles within a private company first, alternative look at agencies that are working on public sector accounts.”

Top Tips:

  • Treat your CV like a corporate brochure, think about hierarchy, typography & layout to ensure it is easy to read & so clients can review your experience at a glance.
  • Be flexible with your CV, have focused versions that you can adapt to specific roles (eg. Digital Producer roles that are very development focused & require technical knowledge / compared to more Digital Project Management focused roles).
  • Include key achievements and tangible evidence to highlight the success of your work – numbers / stats are great to show profit results, sales increase, traffic increase percentages, ROI etc

// Kate's LinkedIn

Laura Smith, Candidate Marketing Executive, Milkround

laura smith“[The job hunters were] savvy, switched on, and keen as mustard but not always sure what it is they want to pursue in the digital world and I think it is vital you have some kind of objective and idea of what role is right for you and remember what it is you can bring to the table!”

“A number of students/grad I had spoken to had some great experience but didn’t always optimise it on the big white blank spaces to show their true potential – remember, use the space to your advantage.”

“They didn’t utilise the world of networking enough and potentially missing a big gap in which they can connect with like-minded people to help them in the job hunt.”

Top Tips:

  • You need to stand out in this competitive industry so why not include reference quotes from your work experiences and include a simple one liner from an old manager or colleague you worked alongside – this should ultimately jump out on the page and acts as another opportunity to impress employers by making you look like the right person for the job.
  • Make it relevant: if you’re applying for a role in animation then don’t talk too much about previous experience related to social work and nothing really to do with it – draw as much as you can on the most relevant and topical experience.
  • Don’t waste the employers time and more importantly don’t waste your own time: If the job spec is asking for music lovers and you’re not that into music - then ask yourself are you really the right person for the job? If you haven’t got any of the skills or elements of experience needed for the role then it probably isn’t right for you… right now! Build up experience first.

// Laura's LinkedIn

Peter Hill, Managing Editor at Buongiorno UK & Presenter/Trainer at Media Trust

“It was encouraging. Two patterns emerged: candidates rejecting City jobs to seek creative roles, and a focus on UX for giving technical specialists an element of creative expression.”

Top Tips:

  • Brevity. Most CVs were too wordy, heavy on cliche ('team player'; 'self-starter') and tautology. Structure and layout were a common problem, muting that all-important sense of career progression.
  • Very few candidates had personal websites, which was a surprise, as they server as proof of enthusiasm when seeking a creative role.
  • I was impressed by the sense of positivity, and told everyone to persevere in search of their perfect job.

// Peter's LinkedIn

Emily Braham, Creative Consultant at Aquent 

emily braham“The candidates I spoke to were not necessarily in the digital field but wanted to get more involved in it. I suggested to them to highlight any experience that they had in that field whether it be at any level such as interests and internships and really go into detail about their experience. What projects they were doing day to day, what they learnt, how they developed from the experience and what they achieved throughout that time.”

“I also encouraged them to show what they were doing to improve their development and learning in the digital area whilst looking for work to show that they were motivated and constantly developing their knowledge and skills. I also said to use their relevant previous experience in a way so that they would be transferable into the digital areas.”

Top Tips:

  • If you have a link to your work/showreel then put it on your CV!
  • Clean easy to read CVs. Nice typography and layout. A lot of graduates get told to make their CV stand out, but a nicely designed CV that is clear and simple will stand out more than any others.
  • Although it may be time consuming look at each job spec carefully and match your CV to it using key words from the job spec.

// Emily's LinkedIn

Michael Queally, Talent Attraction for News Corp: News Int, Dow Jones, Fox Entertainment, Harper Collins & Fox International Channels

Michael Queally

"We [Michael and Emma Clifton] thoroughly enjoyed it and met some great people along the way. A common theme with the people I met was the desire to career transition which can be a difficult journey to make in these austere times as employers can have the false impression that there are hundreds of applicants available for each role. We of course know this not to be the case however very few people had made the effort on their CV to demonstrate transferable skills."

Top Tips

  • Quality applications over quantity. I took people back to a time before an 'Apply Now' button even existed (not long ago really) and asked if they would be able to apply to as many roles. Advised people to consider each application they make, applying only for the roles they really want and tailoring the CV. 
  • Having a master CV with everything and then cutting the superfluous information for each application type - there's no such thing as having one CV.
  • Creating a CV which is both optimised for electronic search and to catch the eye of reader who browses at a glance. Keywords need to be prominent.

// Michael's LinkedIn 

What about the job hunters?

We also asked what job hunters what they had learnt from Careers Day and the CV Surgeries.

Sarah Darwin, Intern at Mixlr

sarah darwin"I met Emma Haslam from Red Magnet Marketing. I've had a lot of people look over my CV before, but Emma also gave me her views about the impression she got of me from looking at my CV. It was really insightful because when you're making a career change you it's difficult to know how your mixed experience will be received. She also pointed out strong points in my CV, and that's always good to know.

"Emma was really friendly and helpful, and as well as going through my CV, she also gave me some suggestions about groups to join and people to get in touch with... From the rest of the careers day, I learned that it's a good time to be a software developer!"

// Find Sarah on LinkedIn or Twitter (@sah_mile)

// Sarah's Intern Blog

Gia Rossini, Educational Technologist

"[The Careers Day] was a fabulous opportunity to get my feelers out and talk to companies directly.

What I have learnt from the experience is that most of the exhibitors found it quite hard to pigeonhole my broad skills set into actual job roles. I had always thought that diversity of skills and flexibility were my greatest assets, but apparently this is too confusing for employers. What a great shame!

I found the CV surgery session extremely valuable, and I picked up some useful tips and tweaks. - The fact that John (?) rated my CV as one of the best he had seen all day cheered me up considerably!"

// Find Gia on LinkedIn or Twitter (@GianninaRossini)

Artwork thanks to the fantastic Better Things.