Monday, August 06, 2007

Job Hunting While on the MSc Marketing Course at Strathclyde University

This is a lecture I'll probably never ever make, but it's one I've had in mind for a couple of years atleast.

As an exercise it is aimed at preparing the strathclyde university marketing MSc graduate with some advice, approaches and even tricks in the job market. Further the student should get a grasp of setting goals and planning their career.

It is worth pointing out though that throughout the text these are the highly personal and possibly idiosyncratic views held by DF.

Why do this talk?

Guilt is often a motivator in my life....... as is sheer boredom! The eagerness to share is also there. But mainly it's the guilt of knowing that you folks from the MSc 2007 and 2008 will face not only a tough time getting jobs, but a hell-ride in progressing your career and even occiasionally holding onto a job. No one came and spoke to us way back-when I did the MSc.

I sit here thinking of all the mistakes and false hopes you will go through and the guilt pangs force me to use an hour in an otherwise fruitless week, to someone elses benefit.

The "Real" world

The harsh reality for you is that you have all chosen what is probably THE most competitive business career area in terms of securing a job and advancing your career within any given company.

Just think- you want a job in scotland ? right..the majority of the class are still local or like it so much that they wanna become a jock!

..and you don't want to condescend to work in sales first? And you want a job with training and career progression, early responsibility and strategic input that really uses your MSc??

...okay. Firstly there are not that many jobs in scotland, a theme we will revist of course. But more unfortunetly there is a huge supply of eager would be marketeers.

On the one hand there are what, three or four undergrad degree courses supplying in any year say 100-200 graduates into the local market. Then you have the two or more MSc courses. Okay. Now take a look at the marketing jobs pages in the herald for a monthy or two. Pretty thin on the ground for new graduates.

BUT wait...your prime time focused degree does not only compete with others who "read marketing". Think of all those general business courses at the uni's and colleges. They have to study years more to become an accountant, and let's face it most areas of "business" are er, dull! So you will find yourself working with lots of people from shitty colleges with shitty marketing content who whangled, flirted, thigh-flashed and nepotised their way into a plum wee marketing job.

Finally you have the hoards of those in work, often sales jobs, studying the good old CIM diploma in marketing. An organisation which does not practice what it preaches in my experience with their sloth like customer services.

tough? yep! I'll do a slide on the statisitcal chances to convince you how thin it is. BUT i offer to help you getting your first job and more importantly setting career goals and communicating with prospective employers


The trouble is that there just aren't many marketing departments in scotland, and in general it has a lower level of investment here. Maybe the English like showing off more, or companies like to be near the bigger markets or seats of power with their marketing function.....

You need in my advice, to work at some point in a really big company, and that's going to be in England or elsewhere. In a large company it can be like doing an MBA on the job because there is so much to learn and then all the stats, reporting, analysing, presenting, researching etc to do. Most of it hot air, but you learn to support your arguements fully and also not to be precious- to give up on your ideas when they fall on stoney ground and move on§!

even considering SMEs , there are thousands of good opportunities in England whcih come with more early hands on and better career development or chance to change company quickly down south. Scots are naturally conservative with a small "c" and often are very retentive with their marketing personnel...and the personnel tend to change job LESS OFTEN than people in england. They like it here and are less eager to show ambition.

Jobs there are a plenty in the home counties. But wait, youy don't have to succumb to the commuter rush and all that is negaitve in London. Some people grow toloveit. And of course there are the really rather wonderful home counties and south coast, with woods, country pubs, beaches and nice weather.

Then there's also the M4 corridor, slough to cardiff and even swansea with some real rural lifestyle possiblilties.

Still too far away fra home and ma's cooking? Try the leeds-manchester-liverpool corridor. There are more jobs for firts time graduates and better career development than in three years advertising worth of jobs of the whole of scotland. Umbro, addidas, astra zeneca, henri lloyd to name but a few all had large marketign departments there when I lived there. Thats what i did. I had shitty jobs in scotland after this course and needed to get a proper career boost.

SO take the plunge now and come back later- you will find that jobs in scotland which look for 1-2 years experience are often filled by folk who have grabbed the first job they could 'darn sarffh' stuck it for 2 years, got some brownie points and now want to move home. Jobs looking for 3 or more years are often filled by much more experienced professionals looking to "down size" and 'live a little' back home here- or they just like scotland.

That is not to say don't try to get a job here, just be aware that you most likely will need to get on the career ladder by some other means...for example working in sales for a company with a marketing department in scotland, or doing project work through socttish enterprise and the LECs.

It's all in all best to take the pain of relocation now while you have no kids and are used to living a bit erm out of a suitcase, or you need to break with the whole local-yocal thing to build your indpendence.

Now how are you going to get your first job, where-ever you choose, without any experience??

Experience is Not Everything!!!

Most often graduates get all hung up on their lack of experience. Now all of you have ONE YEARS experience in a very practical subject which uses the real world of marketing as it's reference and not academic tomes. That's enough for you to apply to any job looking for a years expereince!! Don't be afraid! You may offer far more than an internal sales person applying for the job for example

For many jobs the MSc course will give you some of the tools you need in researching the market, understanding the strategy, presenting ideas and managing products. But this or any level of years experience is NOT ENOUGH to secure a job through the application and interview process.

I'll introduce you to a little acronym which all readers of crime or followers of frost, lindley,cold case and John Nettles will know and have to heart already


Now can you tell me what it stands for?

Right- Motive, Method and Opportunity.

Most applicants focus on the Method...their experience realistically, we are not talking joinery certificates here.

so it goes like:


How will I do the job? what have I done that is similar? There will be hundreds of really experienced people applying!! Oh dear oh dear, I will never get that job!

Most people totally down grade the Motive element and forget completely about the Opportunity.

I have been pipped to the post by far less expereience candidates in quite senior meaty jobs around PM level by far less expereinced candidates..because I forgot to say and keep on saying why I really wanted to work in this job! Other jobs which I was not all that bothered about but could have been good stepping stones, just went to first interview and the inevitable rejection letter.

No real motivation came across..nothing to convince them that I woudl come and learn their company and be keen and work most of all in marketing, bloody hard to do a bloody good, precise job. You are the holder of the company's image and comms' so you under under a lot of (undue) pressure and livign in a glass house!

So how should the acronym look on a 20 by 60 bill-board for you , given you are apllying for jobs which are within reach..i.e. up to one years experience, maybe related to your first degree or previous work life?


MOTIVATION is not all that you need, but it is the single most important element in the application & interview process. Your letter should reek of it, you should be phoning up to find out more about the company, leaving your name. You should be thinking of showing how motivated you can be as a person and THEN thinking of how your MSC, other knowledge and work experience will be the METHOD for this one job.

Also note the large "O" . As i said this is often forgotten. The opportunity. You had no alibi not to bloody start first september!!!!!!!!! You are mostly above all else avialble and relocatable TOMMORROW. For a marketing assistant or say business analyst job for example, your availability can be decisive. make sure you make the em0ployer know you can start at the drop of a hat!!!! Once again, in letters, initial phone calls, interview and follow up phone calls.

Given a much more experienced adversary in the post interview discussions, you being able to start september 1st can swing it. WHY?

(1/9/2007 for example at time of wriitng and becusiae so many graduate trainng rounds begin then)

1) the other candidate may be playing them for an internal pay rise- standard tactic of the "wise money"- find another higher paid job, threaten to leave, get a pay rise you do or do not deserve!!

2) if they don't start SOMEONE ASAP they may loose the budget for that position- marketing managers are wee empire builders and all know that career development means managing more people

3) they don't want to be otherwise pissing about waiting on relocation or termination periods, and given your very high level of motivation for the job, you win!!!

The second I have put in retro-bold becuase it is really important and something you will never hear as a recruitee but will hear often once you are in management.

Okay so now you know to present your motivation and availablity, not forgetting to place your skills against what they are looking for. But wait, motivation is easy enough to lie about in a letter but are YOU REALLY MOTIVATED?

Focusing, setting goals and planning your first career moves

To BE motivated you have to have a goal - which is both inspriring and high while also being achievable. Then you MUST be able to make smaller goals which you believe will take you towards that goal.

So you want to be a group product manager ? advertising account director? start your own consultancy? That will take you between say five to eight years to get there. That's your first step- the goal.

Now go and find out what it takes..speack ot someone who works as this. ( you may to your chagrin uncover that 90% of PMs have worked for some considerable time in sales, shock horror!) Ask them what their first job or two were and how they got onto that particular career ladder and how they got promoted!

( To job agencies and career advisors this type of thing is part of networking....not directly appklying for jobs but gettting your face infront of people , asking some questiosn adn lookig for a netweok of people to mayeb do the same or maybe, just maybe get a proper interview with....generally I think Networking is a pile of pony-- in fact it's embarressing, parading yourself about asking some useless questions and trying to get more leads. But habing a specific career goal researfch path coudl just put you infornt of someone who decideds to call you up and interview you!!)

Armed with this information you will be able to see that you either need to get into a particular industry career path, for example sales first, or just bloody well get a couple of jobs under your belt with a range of the experiences you will need - be that hands on PR, managing ad budgets, writing marketing plans or building web sites!
You may set a goal which requires a good deal of people-management and admin relating to this. It may be best to take a job in fast food outlet you have been part time in, to get say six month management experience in real people pushing! Or you may duck out of a very glamerous, competitive company and industry to get more senior, hands on people pushing somehwere where it's a lot easier to get into.

It is likely that your first job will be quite crappy! Either a junior marketer, an assistant account executive, a 'telemarketer', a direct markeign IT plod or the likes. This is your foot in the door and first job on the CV, but you want to actually get more out of it than that!!! which Brings me to my next headline relating very much to MMO.


This is the biggest lie told and the biggest fib people tell themselves. It's "percieved wisdom"- mum and dad and big siss' tell you "must get a year under your belt" . Everyone knows you have to stick your first crumby job for a year. Well that's crap!

It's spun about by parents who have goen up the outdated career ladder in heirarchical companies which no longer have heirarchies! Maybe they were "general graduate trainees " in on of the big names and made tea, typed or photocopyied for a whole year! Now a lot of the big companies have down sized and look to take people at the first rung with some experience from elsewhere rather than have them being a burdon as a new graduate.

Also of course it is spun by recruitment consuiltants who are goign to most often be no help to you at in makreting, until you get atleast in your first job/rung of the ladder. They spin the one year thing and then they just go on ignoring your calls and e-mails, taking better cnadidates until one day you are that better cadnidate and they are never off the ruddy telephone!! I hate dealing with them to this day, although they can get you a first sales job. They area lways justa filter with their own hidden agenda and prejudice about holding out for the best candidate and all others being also-rans. They will only "sell int he best" and will actively use you as a comparison- keen but green, etc to sell up the one or two people out of six they sent to interview. Above all they need bodies for interview, so being a bit skeptical and maybe talking with hom you are to be interviewed with can be worthwhile. I usually try to work around them and even use them to get good leads, asking that my details need not be sent to this company. If they send your detaisl they can claim you were from them. Workign around them by guessing hte employer or saying you have already been rejected by that one then scurryingoff to apply, means you get to market yourself in your way and also saves the employer up to £5000 in fees if you are sutiable MMO for the job!!

There are the LEC and Scottish enterprise placement shemes or one-off opportunities or just networekring to SME├Žs. Also there are far more marketing jobs with SEMs now than ever, which can offer you broad marketing funcitonal experience, if indeed they may lack the budget of the big departments. A lot of these are never advertised and your own first degree or previous ( or new found) work experience can cause them to create a wholly new position in marketing, rtaher than say nother accountant or field sales punter.

You are armed with a business masters from business school which will open doors. However many of those will most likely want some experience and to be seen to be recruiting people who are on the career ladder already. THIS DOES NOT mean you need to stick out a crappy job or one of these LEC projects for a year.

If you get a first job with an SEM or as a junior within a bigger organisation, get a project to do. Market research is often a good one, because it is a strong point of the MSc course and not everyone has hands on experience with strategy in mind too. Make any project achievable in say 2 to three months and keep yourself away from falling into making tea and doing menial tasks. Now use this to sell yourself into a really much better job- the type or company or general industry which you have identified as your first real step towards your main goal.

There is very littel point in photocopying for a year, which does happen! Dont let yourself get pulled into all that junior-assistant/trainee-marketer crap...get something out of your first job if it's a buit crappy and then get the hell out of it!!!

I have seen many, many people come into or get jobs infront of me with just a few months experience in a 'starter job' THe lecs used to run a very good local 'graduates into business' may need to strectht he truth on where you live or are maybe "moving to" but what the hell!

Sales as a first career move

Most of you proibably hate the idea, but Sales for you guys is an excellent way into large and flashy companies. In many 'agency side' roles you will be selling at some point anyway and in any marketing job you always have to convince a skeptical internal audience of sales managers and accountants that your ideas will make money!

As i have touched on, in my experiecne over 90% of PMs have worked in sales and it is really useful- if not a complete prerequisit-e to have been in the same sales force or at least the same inductry for some roles.

Remember your MSc never goes away and you will be able to use it intellectually within a sales role- on both gnerally understainding the business and it s strategy and makeritng itself, as well as appplied in your won job. Think about all the communciatiions and segmenting, competitor positioning, customer personality and prioducts being managed AT you. Before I had even done my MSc I was making messages up which were being used on a national basis!! I was aguniea pig for new saels tactics and they were a it pissed when I left to do the MSc- my boss got fired for losing too many staff!!!!!!!!

sales comes often with a nice company car, extensive training and after some time int he field a how should I put it, 'flexible life style' - experienced sales people know that 80% of business will come from only 20% of customers and with some experience will know to nurture the current ones and focus on those new ones they realistically klnow they can win. Often this means extra work in one period ofset with "working from home" i.e takingit easy later!!

You will get taught and groomed in presenting and arguing in an assertive manner which will stand you in good stead for any career in business what so ever! Even if you go back to the labs or engineering side, this will be good . You didn'dt choose marketing because you are a shrinking violet!!!

Back to first job, it is pretty easy to get a temp job doing some form of sales or customer services which involves handling potential sales, or just working in a shop which has some sales training. This can help immensely while looking for your plumb career sales job.

You probably picked your industry and maybe related it to your first degree- medical sales for the biologists, estate agency for the surveyors and so on. Remember your uSp and the research you need to do to evaluate your career path. You may have to take an internal telesales job, a customer services job or a job at a competitor before you get in the door.

HOWEVER you face an near insurmmountable which I am going to solve fo ryopu at no expense!!

You will be interviewed by sales management, for example the scottish area and national sales managers. What they really hate is people coming in for a year and going to a marketing job, or worse just waiting longer without being at all motivated for the job. They want long term customer relationships and immediate access to present deals across the terratories. What they don't want is trainees all the time leaving the job for marketing. They want someone they understand and can influence, not new people all the time.

It took me about 6 months to be an effecti ve seller and I could/ should have stcuk it but I came back to do the MSc here and then I was stuffed! I'd shown my hand and no sales manager in the country would give me a job! The average is probably a year to be an effective seller from scratch, and then pay-back for the company in sales growth and profits takes another year or more- I heard the average cost of a traiing up a pro-seller in b2b or medical sales is £60K all in for the first year alone.

So it's a dilema- you know you need to work in sales for only 12 to 18 months before you can move into say an APM role but you now know that sales management don't want you to do this- and they call the shots!

You have over me, the advantage of not having already worked in sales and also a "tight" labour market. Now lets use tactic number 1-

1) The papers always have a "sales and marketing " section- use that name and say you wanted to work in that field and wanted a related business qualification. Say this is as against a general business graduate, S&M is your personal focus. marketing is the closest degree to this aim and will be very uiseful , will it not, to a career which is in this area....the next thing will be they immediately ask when you actually want to move into marketing, and you can answer if you want as follows in 2-

2) say you believe that PMs are chosen from successful sales people with around 5 or more years experience with a track record in sales...which is kind of true for some, but maybe not what you are going to do. This is a realistic time period to be employed in sales from entry level in the eyes of a SM- now you can aslo say that you will be still part of the team, influencing and selling on ideas with say 5 years experience infront of individial customers under your belt.

3) now remember your MMO in the short term- you love this company and it's products, you feel you could really sell them. Offering bloody long hours of hard work is both method and motivation enough for anyone who can hold a conversation to get on in sales. Leanr about the company and seloloing in general on the web- a huge amount of free stuff is out there now which I never had any access to - it just was never published on paper but now it's all cut and pasted on the internet from varuious (dubuious) internal sources!!!

4) PHONE UP for more information ont he job and prepare four or five questions for them before you send an application. Make sure you leave your name and don't offer too much information at this point. Refer to the fact you will send an application to them. This is a big, big tick box in their wish list and will get you interviews believe me, even if all you ask is four easy questions. Stay off salary and cars - focus on what type of customers, how many products at one time, geographic area, type of person they are looking for, type of motivations they expect, how many hours it is etc choose a sleect few which expand on the job advert.

later, phone up the guy who inteveiwed you- get his/her business card - you never know you may have someothing to offer them in six months even if you don't get the job.

5) Be a good listener in the interview- & ask quite a few questions using the open ended answer often but not always. Stop in your speils about yourself and ask questions about what they think of this in terms of suitabliilti a) for the role b) for the team/working for them. Be consious about stopping in your speils and be focused on your message to them..basically they are looking for someone who is self aware and confident, motivated in their acadmeic career , able to tell a stroy in a convincing fashion and can ask open ended questions in an intelligent dialogue. If you can convicen them you really want to work for that company and in sales for several years building a succeessful trakc record then you will have our pick of jobs!!!!

Strategy in Going thorugh sales

Now you have some tools, remember your career goal. Once you get second or further interviews you will probably get a one to one with the personell manager... you can ask them about becoming a PM eventually, and you don't have to lay it on so thicky. They are the internal poachers helping take people out of sales to fill new and open PM postiioins, anmd often for the reason of head-coutn (see "O" baove) they are pretty keen to take someone like you with even six months in the field into sales. If you are really lucky you may meet some PMs and the marketing director at lunch- get away fromt he SMs and talk candidaly about thei r expectations of promoting people from the sales forve, their own background, It may be worth not mentioning your MSc- many of them will not have a marketing quilaification and will, belive you me, find you a threat!! Charm them and keep on being pally walley with them if you get the job in sales- they may phone you up if they have an APM oppening and as they are wee empire builders looking for ,man-management experience, they need to fill it asap! use it or loose it.

You may find that an initial interview opens you up for a wider graduate training programme or fast-track programme becuas of your masters, with the expectation being say 18 months in the field. Often you will get maternity cover or a high turn over terratory or be part of a commando sales force- these roam the country on empty terratories or bolster exisiting sales with more calls on new products or new er, bribe methods to get in with customers. This is all good for the company and the SM's becuawe you are better than nothing and they may be able to get their teeth into you for a long term sales career anyway.

What is very wise is relocation to the part of the country the HQ is in- this means you will get called in more often, have the chance to drop by and also be a guniea pig for new marketing or just the mandatory 'field visits' PMs are expected to do. This is one area where it is important to be realistic with yourself- it is fairly unlikely that you would go to a competitor with a say socttish HQ as a PM directly, so you may have to think hard about your location and career route. You don't want to be doing 2 times 2 years in two companies or more years in sales if you know it is not your main amibition. If say moving to scotland as a PM is your goal then it may take you quicker to go through say 6 to 18 months sales in the "home counties" and 18 months again as a PM than having to start again later with a company which 'promotes' from the scottish area- that is to say most often you need to take the pain of relocation as soon and as short as you can to get up the career ladder to be in an excellent position to CHOOSE your job back in scotland or wherever.



Anyone tell me this?

Yep, unique selling point or proposition. Should turn it on it's head to be a unique buying point! Hee hee, customer cetnric approach.

Everyone here has a USP for any given marketing job. Most likely it will be to do with your first degree, previous work experience, second or other native languiage, hobby or maybe MSc Project.

Also it can be your availability as above, your willingness to relocate or ability to work long, long hours which make you ,abvove other candidates, unique.

Also it can of course be your personality....and this can be determination, communication, caring/listening and above all Motivation of course.

For a job you may find you have two apparent longer a usp? well as I say it is as mucha single over-rdigin reason to buy or at least a JND - just noticeable differenec given there are four identical candidates or a confusing picture with no otherwise clear winner. Listen to them, probe what they want and then postition your best USP. You may findout that this is what all the other candidates have, so use no.2 in the same way later. Also rememebr MMo, perhaps they will find their own UBP without you knowing .

Above all elese a USP can make up for a lack of general marketing experienceand place you a little unfarily even, above the competiton!... especially when it relates to language or a technical degree

Thinking of USP will now open up quite a few more jobs for you and allow you to choose a USP as you apply and go throught e interview process. Find out their weakness or taste...fidn out when they need to get someone in place and why. FocYou can dare and try a littel bit of SPIN...i.e. if they don't get someone like you then they risk having someone who does not understand the product or market or language! SPIn is risky but the best business people use it- finding hte weak point and over-emphasising the risk or ratehr escalating the implications should I say ....

Quantity or Quality

This is an age old dilema in job hunting. Do you get as much market air-time as you can? OR do you target market yourself and add the personal touch?

In my experience, quantity of applicatiosn is NEVER a winner. However, quanitity of research, lead finding and company information IS worth while. But in applications, realistically you have to be able to present a very clean , tidy application whitha very plausibel MMO using your USP

Phone up for any job ad' with a name on it and be preapred with a few simple questions as for a saels job. Be also prepared to drop it - if theyt are busy or seem harrassed. Note their name but maybe don't leave yours unless you are asked.

Also who do you go to? Most often personell people are actually not the best to send an open application to. they can be good to network to...get information from or perhaps a temp job "in the door" . But they struggle with budgets and wnat to make their own mark on recruiting so often are a hindrance. You want to go direct to the marketing manager or director or in an SME it is best to go to the managing director- in fact you may even replace a marketing manager who is no use!!! Remember your MSc is a threat to many unqualified Marketeers or those who struggle, so going to the top means you don't face this kind of petty jealousy. The personnel or marketing managers under the 'big boss" will now bend over backwards for you to arrange interview , becauase keeping el cheifo happy is their number one priority in the working day

Your goal in applicatiosn should be at this stage and later in career to get your name noticed and talked about internally to the company before they read your CV in any depth. You need to break thorgh the 'outisder' barrier to be the nice new freindly person, motivated specificallyt to talk to this company about opportunities. This means, like a little coke advert on the subway, you wnat to pop up surreptioscloulsy maybe three times before you actually get your CV read. Once in the door and taliing to them this personal feely approachg will win you the emotiuonal are a person and no longer a have got them to see you and meet you!

Phone personell, ask about the company In general- marketing can be a turn off for personnel with no jobs there buit 100 in customer services to fill! then maybe get a name in marketing to speak to at the end of the general conversation. Always offer to call back later or come in in person for a 5min chat and maybe an introduction. When you get a lead lawys mentuion you had a nice chat with the persn in name and they said it might be okay, if you had some time to talk to you more abot the career in this type of general role...two threats down- you have an IN from personnel and ytou are looking for general uinformation and not applying in your face right now.

I once had a 1/8th page in t he herald with my name on it and do you know how many people called up for further details? None got through to me anyway!!! Think thorugh your questions and remember ytou are interviewing the company as muych as they you- it is the sutiablitiy of the company to your own motivations as much as the other way around!

Job hunting while unemployed can be a pretty thankless task, sending out anonymous applicatiosn and on spec letters. But using on it as an extended information searhc and focusing on finding out about companies and careers and wondering yourself if it suits you reduces the streess level, gets you used to persinal contact and gets you plucked out of the pile of other applicatiosn who didin't go that extra mile. Time is used a lot more constructivly in OPENing doors rather than hoping and getting them closed on you.

Getting a foot in the door can be a double edged sword- okay a customer services, tlelmaerkting or any other old job in a company can seem like a good foot in the door- a chance to mingle - but you may be tarred with the brush of being "them" from the "us" of the marketing department at war with customer services. Or they will be a bit snotty when they get an application from you, the temp! Once again not a lot of epople in marketing even have a BSc in the subject so you are quite threatening. So getting some exposure to your industry it can be wise to find out IF your no.1 company prospect DO advertisie internally and DO take internal candidates from themps. Otherwise it can be wise to work for a COMPETITOR and come in with knowledge from that angle. Foot in the door jobs are a bit challenging like sales as the more direct line to marketing rols

Your Letter

I take this before the CV because it is often what is read first, not just out of curtousey but to check you are applying for the right job and what plausible story you may or may not have.

Often in fact, I have noticed that they haven't really read your CV- they are so impressed by the letter- this is a bit problematic and recently I completely over-sold myself in a spec mailing, attended two promising first little 'chats' and got sent home to think again on that count!

But your letter is going to of course go through the different screening and be read for MMO! Most people themselves will be looking for method in everything because that is what appeals to the 'level headed' but I reckon most people actually recruit on the emotional- that is why Motivation is so big a part and needs to shine through.

Motivation should be in most paragraphs of a four to six paragraph letter. Which job and why you are apllying of course. Then maybe a little on the industry/ market appeal and why you conisder yourself suitable. Then maybe throw in your USP in relation to this and the specific job on offer and that company

Finally a more general "work, hard, acheive' paragraph and a bit about yourself in this light and generall y people ability is to come before the usual "look forward tro hearing from you regarding this exciting opportuntiy' slips in.

remember to be abkle to back up all that you claim with practical examples- more on that in STARS later

You probablyu have USP, you definetly have MM now some O- remembver Opportunity to rlocate and start at short notice or immediately even. Be keen!

Pre-letters: it can be worth, even for an advertised postion to write an open application on spec anyway. You don't need to include your CV and you can write to several people at the same time without annoyuing anyone with loads of bits of paper. Some bright spark in marketing or personnel should put two and two together and contact you in regards to the actual position. This means you have had air time already. Follow the letter up with a brief call to personnel and then get a name in marketing to speak to. Hold back on your details, deflecting questions on your experience to 'i'll send an application, but would like to know more about the role'

These days people no longer have junk flyers and telesales- they have endless junk mail and a full inbox! So when applying it can be more noticeable for a job with many applicants to send in a quality paper Letter and CV, in a non fold envelope to several people- mark it private and confidential, addressee only- this gets you past the cheeky wee secretary jealous of university types! Your CV or any application is a very private matter! People now will get only a handful of envelopes per day with maybe just one external with a hand written adressing and licked on stamps i.e. clearly NOT juynk mail.

Your CV

The CV for most of you is only important in the manner it presents information. It should also present motivation to reinforce your letter in a more fomral way. It should explain as much about ytour presonal qualities as it does your first degree work, your part time jobs and your masters course.

Also it has to stand out- putting a colour photo on the top right corner in line with the address details can get you picked out. Do this!

The other practical thing is that people always like to write in the margins and spaces so make them large. Use prose for the introduction, what you achieved in jobs or in projects and any paragparh on hiobbies if they are rleevant or show more about you in terms of this role and MMO.

the first parpagraph can be - "An outgoing and hard working person, actively looking for roles within x industry. Has relevant education for this industry/career ...has a usp... currently completingmastersat business shciool in marketing with motivation to have a career in xxx. Available for interview and can commence work immediately/short notice"

this can run to maybe even three paragraphs with sub headings like 'personal qualities' 'lifetime achievements' 'Acadmic Record Summary'

You can also blend in project work and achievemnnets with work in a chronilogical career summary or just 'experience and achievements' . this forces the reader to think about you and ok, it hides your lack of work experience in amongst other interesting and RELEVANT experiences. Now e need to finish off with STARS becuase this is the final impressive technique qwhich will get your abilities noticed and understood.


situation, task, actions and results

I have a mate called James Hosea who is always goign on about what "we did" and what " we acheived" . He is a clever bloke and good at getting other people to do stuff, and also at taking praise when maybe he doesn't deserve it. He does howver avoid the "i" a lot.

Now in an interview situaion this is the kiss of deatrh. Personnell are good at using this as a n attach point to throurghly discredit you or puyt you on the spot. Think about the situation and rsults in terms of the team but the task and YOUR actions personally.

It may be that you did something quite minor but it shows you understood a team problem, you got a task given or defined it yourself and you did something and you understood the postiitive impact it had on the team.

Think of all your project work and work ecperience in this light. Choose some which are just you and some which are a team, some where you just followed on and others where you took the lead. Put a littele note on the acheivemnent or general task in the CV and be prepared to talk about it. You can also of ocurse use a as star in your letter, or even a couple, to support your personal abilitieis in rleation to this job.

Other than STARS I think the Career setrvice at strathclyde offer an excellent intervirw coaching service which is of really international clibre in my experuience! SO they can prepare you for the ype of quesitons and general way interviews work. STARS will help you a lot in answertinbf some of those hard " give me some examples" questions.

You know, that really ends all I have to say in this first badly spelled draught of the talk to be erm published. Personally I hgave undoubtedly had more interviews than the whole of your class put together in the course of 20 years in the work market, widest possible sense of course at my still tender age!

I hope to give this talk one day, and use the stats I got hold off and the more clever reducing the odds pyramid

Myself I had a hell career in many ways , with lots of hours many of which wasted! My ny biggest failing was not to set career goals ..."any road will take you there if you don't know wher eyou are going" I am excluded from many jobs by being too old and just too capable to go back and start in a new direction.
ALso I lack any concrete man- management line reporting to put on the CV for positioins which actually fit my bloody psychographic profile and general attitudes!
If I had been more serious about doing what I said I would, makerting genetic products, then I would have gone and spoken to more people about it ...maybe I would have chosen not to go in becuase of the percieved need' for aPHd . Certainly it is a habit to get into in phoning up and getting known, and it gets TOO easy now...too easy to presume and ask the tight questions which dont' expand the pososibility. Too easy to lean on my many years experience and too easy to forget my motivation element.

There must be many interviews I went away from leaving the interviewers unimpressed by my lack of real interest and real motivation to work for them rather than just thinking aout the job as a pay cheque each month. Motivation is not all about jumping up and down enthusisatically - it is about focusing on what you want and if you do this, following a path which will get you places

good night and good luck!

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