Back in January I was a guest on an Alumni panel back at Lancaster University. I sat next two of my former, and now very successful class mates, and two very impressive, intimidatingly ‘together’ women that had graduated before me. Each one of us was following a slightly different career in the arts. An actor, a producer, a project manner, the line up read like a very cultured nursery rhyme.
We’d each been asked to prepare a bit of a speech and presentation on our career since leaving university and pack it full of advice for the current students, most of which will now be graduating. My presentation was rubbish, and my speech was fumbled, I knew what I wanted to say, and I knew what advice I wanted to give and the advice I wanted to believe in, but my belief had recently been shaken. I’d left one job, moved back home, was back waitressing in the same pub I’d worked in after I had just graduated and I was lost.
I sat on that panel and listened as eagerly to the other guests advice as the students did.
When I did stand up, after I’d finished messing up the radio microphone, I managed to eagerly and enthusiastically profess that they should just, er, like, be really nice, and yeah, learn stuff, and erm, just be nice, to everyone.
Last week I received an email from Webucator, asking me to write a post about the skill I would tell this years graduating class as being their most marketable. The skill I think is the most forgotten but most sought after in today’s scary job market.
I had slightly cringe worthy flash backs to the Alumni pannel, but this invite wasn’t coming at a time when my own self belief had been shaken, this invite popped into my inbox two days after having started my new job.
Alot has changed for me over the past six months, as regular readers will know. I’ve performed my solo show in a professional theatre, I’ve recieved my first commission, I worked on an amazing dementia project and now I’m sat in my first rented flat excited about the career path, I am now, undoubtedly firmly on.
So, with a deep breath I opened up the notes I’d made for my Alumni speech and looked at the advice I had tried giving and had tried believing: and as I read over my own words I realised that I had proved myself right.
In today’s job market you are competing, and I hate to be this honest with you, against hundreds if not thousands of people with the same degree as you, the same institutional qualifications. On paper you could well all be the same. But the fact is you aren’t the same. We constantly strive to tick boxes, to reach grades, to formally accredit ourselves as the best and I think in doing all of those things, we forget how important it is to be ourselves.
‘Be yourself’ might be the most overused clichéd piece of advice going, so I will go one step further to say this, in everything that you do, you should in some way be working on yourself, on your passions, your interests, your contact book, your blog, your photos, your writing, your happiness, your drive…
Do you see where I am going with this? Passion, is one of those words we throw around in interviews, slap on our personal statement, tick the box of, but if you start tailoring everything you do to shape yourself into the person you want to be, then you don’t have to tell people your passionate or driven, because you just are.
I’m not sure this post is making any more sense than my Alumni speech did, so let me strip it back. Before going into the job market, sit down and really think about yourself, think about the things you want in life and the things you are good at. I’m not saying you have to find your perfect job straight away and only apply to that, hec, you probably have no idea what your perfect job is, but just see every interview, every opportunity, and every meeting that comes your way as a chance to learn something either about yourself or something to put on your cv.
I thought I wanted to be a marketer, so I learnt to build websites, something which saved me a fortune when having to create a site for my theatre company. I thought I wanted to work with children, for now that isn’t my interest but it led me to other projects other invitations, because the people I met liked me, liked my enthusiasm and stayed in touch. I am where I am now because of two things 1. I was nice and 2. I saw everything I did as a chance to learn something… even waitressing – after all how else would I have found the material for my first show Confessions of a Waitress?
Those aren’t things I can put on my cv, but they are things that have shaped me as a person, and at the end of the day, people not pieces of paper get employed.
So to sum up I guess I was right you should like, er, yeah like be nice & learn stuff x
Ps. Webucator have a bunch of great offers and advice for 2014 graduates and people looking to get ahead in the workplace, including free Microsoft Skill Courses, and have a bunch of posts from other great bloggers about what they think is the most markeable skill, which you can keep up with on their twitter page! For me practical computer skills and what have you have helped me so much in being self sufficient and in ticking those pesky boxes that get you through the door to meet the people you need to wow!