L Job Search


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L Job Search

  1. 1. Placement / Internship Applications & Job Search. Objective: to consider the why, what, when where how of stages and placements (particularly in the Anglophone market) and how to secure that first job…. WHAT exactly IS a stage / placement (UK) / Internship (USA) and WHY do it? 1. An indivisible part of your academic programme. • It is assessed and evaluated by means of your project report and presentation. • You can USE your early mini-stage experience to inform and improve the quality of your subsequent academic work – an applicational context helps you to fit together many of the distinctive elements and units within your taught Programme and understand them rather more fully. Your larger, end of Semester 2 stage provides the opportunity to gear up virtually the whole of your LPHT learning and to apply it within a workplace context. 2. An opportunity to experience working life in specific areas / sectors of the Industry. • A ‘proving ground’ for you to see and feel how ‘good’ you are, how well you ‘fit’ and how much you like this particular sector / workplace context • A way of reviewing employer and career opportunities • A way of possibly ruling out areas of industry where you do not feel well suited. (Even finding out things you do not like and would NOT wish to work in in the future is a valuable finding.) • To fully understand the practical application of the word: ‘Professional’ in terms of the business culture operating within the Tourism industry. 3. An opportunity to develop yourself. • To evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and address them accordingly • To identify personal training and career development targets so that you can work on them both in your course and beyond. 4. An opportunity to ‘shoot for the moon’. • The chance to do something different, perhaps even exceptional with very low ‘risk’ (as, if it doesn’t work out ideally, you will be returning to the taught programme relatively soon anyway, and you also have the university to help intercede with the stage-offeror if necessary: you have ‘back-up’). Once you are out of University and perhaps dependent upon a high income requirement for your family / to pay the loan on the house (mortgage) you will find it that much more difficult to take a chance or to take a little risk with your full time employment. 5. An opportunity to develop contacts. • Industry is often fragmented – you need to begin to see and feel it as a very loose network with some interesting and critical ‘junctions’. Career paths in industry are NOT as clear as you would perhaps like them to be, so take your stage as an opportunity to develop your own ‘picture’ of how the industry is structured and to identify critical points of contact for your ‘address book’.
  2. 2. 6. A means of producing ‘X’ months of viable and relevant work experience to offer to future employers on your cv. • With an impressive stage behind you, having a ‘referee’ you can identify upon your cv knowing he/she will speak/write well of you and your capabilities. 7. To learn about the world of work • Teamwork • Pressure • Deadlines • Professional reports and presentations • Workload management • Managing ones-self and being managed (‘womanaged’?!) • Networking • Intranets / extranets Conclusion. You could take the stage as just another component of the taught programme which carries a mark towards your final degree classification…. But you really SHOULD NOT. It is an opportunity for you to do so very many things that can improve your capabilities academically AND professionally, but ONLY if you take up the challenge yourself and make the most of it. You can come back from placement unchanged or dramatically impassioned, focused and motivated for a future career with your capabilities immeasurably improved. Which is it to be………………………….;?
  3. 3. Placement and Job Search 1. Before rushing to take the simple option of chasing what is presently offered, take a while to think what it is that you really want? • What interests you in terms of………..? • Industry sector – eg Tourism • Hospitality • Food and Catering • Transport • Travel Agency • Tour Operation • Public Sector Tourism • Voluntary groups / associations / networks / partnerships • Business Function • Marketing • Product Development • Financial Management • Human Resource Management • Technology / Web / Networks etc Clearly if you are interested in a sector and a function (and particularly if you have an aptitude as shown in your studies for such a sector and function) then why not try to find some position that intersects BOTH of your interests which also combines with what you consider you DO BEST? 2. Audit yourself clearly: • what is it that you are going to say to your prospective employer / placement organisation that you want out of your placement in terms of personal and professional development (ie NOT ‘I have to do a stage as part of my educational programme’ – that is NOT a positive reason)? • What is it that you (uniquely) are capable of bringing to the placement organisation/ employing company and the project? • Prior experience in the sector / function • A real interest ………………………… as evidenced by good marks / option choices / specialisations etc • An ability to work as part of an international team The placement (and indeed any employment) is a two-way street:- • What do you want? The organisation needs to know this because if it doesn’t think it can deliver what you want it is best for both parties to know this and not to be under any illusions. • What is the organisation going to get out of you? The organisation needs this for a number of reasons:- • To see how well you can ‘sell’ yourself in comparison to other candidates – it wants the most ‘bang’ it can get for its ‘buck’. • As an indicator that you are seeing the placement from the organisation’s perspective… a ‘halo’ effect.
  4. 4. • So that it can think clearly in terms of tasks and projects you will be capable of doing and where you may need training / support. 3. Do some research to identify potential placement organisations • Use information gained from your course and perhaps even knowledge / contacts available to you through your Tutor Team. NB. In principle, provided you can show you have done some thinking AND some research before simply turning up at a staff-member’s door, then staff will usually be happy to help you and to perhaps use their own contacts. • Go to the library and look at various company directories (like Kompass). You can usually identify employers by region and by sector. Often these are also available online. Subscribing to some can get you inside their network where stages / jobs are offered online. • Also target potential stage-offering companies direct…. Remember, if a stage is widely promoted you may have LOTS of competition (and your chances of success may be relatively low), but if you make the right speculative approach at the right time with something well-researched and convincing you may just ‘walk’ into the stage / post (the company being so grateful that you have saved them three months and a lot of money advertising or using a recruitment agency). In this case the instant availability of a placement may be low, but the chance of you being able to fill it ‘unopposed’ is quite high. • ALWAYS find the name of the person to whom you need to address your letter. A search on a website or a 30 second phone call can achieve this. Address your letters directly to the person responsible and not ‘Dear sir’ (all that says is that you couldn’t be bothered to find a name to which to address your letter). 4. Preparing your cv You must be aware of how a cv is used / received by a potential stage offeror / employer: As a means of: • identifying whether you meet the minimum requirements of the post in question (qualifications, experience etc) • establishing how well you can present yourself on paper (If you cannot present yourself accurately and attractively, how can you hope to present the company? This is an acid test – so if you have not paid much attention to grammar, spelling, expression, translation, page layout: beware!) • seeing how good you ‘look on paper’ compared to other candidates …. Ranking you with a view to shortlisting for interview. Employers are therefore looking to differentiate you. When you all have the same level qualifications and roughly the same low level of work experience, other indicators such as: voluntary service, responsibilities held (course representative etc), sports participation, other training undertaken can assume a high degree f importance as a differentiator • contacting you. Make sure your name, address, contact telephone numbers (fixed and mobile) and email are all prominently displayed and, above all, accurate. • Regarding email addresses, try to find one which represents your name quite closely. Do not use things like ‘cuddlykitten@……..’ or ‘Rambo69@…’. these are often blocked by incoming mail servers: your mail may not get through the screen. Above all such address formats just do not look professional.
  5. 5. • If sending your cv to companies abroad remember to add the 00 33 code and to bracket the first 0 in the number: (0) CV Preparation (Contd.) Once you have discerned the purpose for which employers use cvs it should be easy enough to set about designing your own. Some advice on cv design: • Length. In France, at your level, the market expects you to present your cv as one side of A4. If you are going for a post with an English speaking company (US / Canada / UK / Ireland / Australia / NZ etc), the normal expectation will be for TWO sides of A4 as such nations’ employers tend to take the view that to differentiate you for the purposes of selection for interview one needs more information to go on and you therefore need more space to provide it. • Personal Details. • Do I need a photo? There is no absolute requirement for this, but the ease of importing an image is such nowadays that most people appear to do so in France: it has become almost normative, particularly for the young. (It is not so commonplace in the UK and US where people are very keen to avoid any hint of accusations of sex or racial discrimination). Male and almost 50 I wouldn’t dream of putting a photo on my cv, but were I aged twenty, female and attractive, I might feel (rightly or wrongly) that this might give me an ‘edge’ in the selection process. (Please don’t take that as a sexist remark – it is not – it is perhaps just a feature of this ‘marketing age’ wherein there are still likely to be more male managers sitting in judgement on your cvs than females). Such a strategy might ‘risk’ being employed for ‘the wrong rerason’. • Your name. Make sure this is written in larger type and stands out. • Contact details. These need to be prominent and not ‘lost’ in a corner of the cv. Do not make your potential employer ‘work’ to find you! • Don’t forget other things like clean driving licences…. • Educational Experience. • Organisation. Reverse chronology works best: put the most recent and most impressive at the head of any list. • Level of detail. • Employers are interested mostly in what you are doing NOW because they are trying to work out what you are capable of doing NOW for them, so you should spend far longer on explaining your present academic programme than your secondary school education. • Titles are NOT self explanatory. Give the full title of your programme and don’t just resort to LPHT / MICAI etc. Tell the employer a bit about what the programme contains and particularly what it intends to produce in terms of graduate output capability. • Titles do NOT translate. If you are applying outside France you will need not only to translate your cv but also the terminology: ‘Licence’ or ‘Licence Pro’ mean precisely nothing to the UK market. If you were to explain that Licence means ‘Degree’ (BA / BSc) then they would begin to understand. Saying the LPHT, for example, is effectively a ‘Top-up’ degree year following 2 years of foundation studies in Business would explain even more clearly. • Subject titles help the employer only a little. ‘OK, so you have studied ‘Marketing’… but what can I expect you to be able to DO for me as a
  6. 6. result: can you put together a brochure… create a marketing strategy…. do market or marketing research??? Put yourself in the employer’s ‘shoes’ here. • Work Experience. • Organisation. Reverse chronology works best: put the most recent and most impressive / relevant at the head of any list and develop these significantly. • Job Title tells little. OK, so you worked on the Customer Service counter for SuperU during the summer and every Saturday for the last three years so what does that tell an employer: Not much…. But what if you were to explain the skills you developed and employed which are perhaps generic and transferable to other contexts (such as your potential employer’s) … wouldn’t that look and sound that much more impressive??? Wouldn’t it show the employer that you are giving him exactly what he is looking for? So, SuperU Customer Reception has given you what, exactly (that you can put to use in other situations and from which a future employer may benefit?) … • Customer reception / welcome experience • Flexibility – had to lean how to deal with any problem that came along as it arrived • Time Management – had to prioritise claims on time in terms of importance and urgency and organise workload accordingly • Dealing with irate customers face to face and on the phone – • learning to listen, • de-fuse a situation, • assess a problem, • consider various options for a solution, • communicate and deliver solutions with tact and diplomacy • Retain the customer if humanly possible. It is well known that a happy customer may well tell 2 or 3 people…. but a very unhappy one will make it his business to tell everyone that he knows – ie 10 x the number a happy customer will tell….. (TJ NB. Walusa case study) • Delegated Responsibility for a customer services budget. Showing Management trusts your honesty and your judgement. The KEY POINT here is that employers are less interested in a job title and the name of a previous employer than they are in what SKILLS and CAPABILITIES you learned and practised there, such that they can have a clearer idea of what you will now be capable of doing for them. You MUST put yourself in your prospective employer’s position.
  7. 7. • Other Experience / Responsibilities / Interests Given that at your age, all doing the same programme, all interested in the subject, all broadly equally qualified and experienced; the main elements of your cvs are all going to look roughly the same. This does not enable an employer to do his job or differentiation between all the cvs competing for his attention…. So what might help? • Voluntary service of some kind that shows a commitment beyond what is required of you by school, work or university – this adds another dimension to the ‘personality’ that the reader sees. • Course representation / event organisation. Shows you volunteered (others don’t); you were elected / selected (others weren’t); you acted not on your own but on behalf of others possibly acting ‘upward’ having to deal with your profs / external clients etc • Sport… not just an interest, but a real engagement and commitment that is developing you. Last year a student put down one word: ‘Basketball’ on his cv, nothing more…. it turned out he was a player of regional / national standing and for three years he had become sole coach to the under 15s team and they had won the league last year…. So much for being modest! That told us he had: • Developed a high level of personal skill • Commitment and determination • Taken official coaching training • Learned how to teach • Learned team-building and motivation skills What a differentiator that would have made to an employer!!! That is a sign 3 metres high (like most basketball players it seems to me!) saying: ‘Hey, look, I’ve done something different, I’ve learned from it, I can use it in your organisation’… and the unwritten subtext: ‘I bet no-one else has something like this’. The result is a big and immediate: ‘He’s on my interview list’ employer response. • Creative things. ‘Interested in films and literature’ doesn’t say much, but if you have scripted a play for the local amateur dramatic society, acted on stage, write music or poetry or perhaps are teaching yourself a new language or instrument in your spare time, these all ‘speak’ about you in terms of interest, commitment, willingness to learn, presentation ability, and creativity. You must appreciate much of management is about change, and change requires people who have vision and can be creative. There are particular fields where creativity is highly prized: PR and advertising agencies for example, where the employers will be ‘trawling’ your cvs for hints and clues like this…. Make sure they don’t have to work too hard! There is also a chance that your prospective employer or one of his family might be involved in exactly the same sort of thing: hence it has value to him and you have just produced the ‘Halo Effect’: ‘look – I’m just like you…. So employ me’ and, feeling ‘comfortable’, employers often do just that. • The cv presentation itself. • Keep it simple and ‘clean’ • Make sure it is ‘easy on the eye’ and that you line things up with columns and tabs wherever possible. • Don’t go overboard on coloured paper or backgrounds, watermarks or gimmicks – these can make you stand out for all the wrong reasons! • Don’t squash too much on the page. (Don’t waste space either!)
  8. 8. 5. The Covering Letter • Why do you need one? • To address your cv to the right place • To introduce your cv courteously • To tell the secretary who opens it to whom it should be given and for what purpose • To build upon your cv:- • Grab attention • Hold it • Get the recipient to want to turn the page and read the cv • Provide strong reasons: • Why you wish to be considered for the stage / job • What the company will get out of YOU! NB. Most covering letters only do the former, whereas most employers tend to be primarily interested in the latter! • To prove that you can set out and write a business letter impeccably in perfect French / English which articulates concisely what it is that you want and why the organisation should respond positively to you. (ie it needs structure and content). When you are not writing in your native tongue, ALWAYS get your cvs and letters ‘finessed’ by a native speaker. • Because the covering letter gives you even more of an opportunity to positively differentiate yourself from your competitors and impress. A covering letter should never be viewed solely as a sort of long-winded ‘compliments slip’ under which to submit a cv: you MUST see it as a golden selling opportunity. It is akin to the American so-called ‘Elevator Pitch’ whereby the applicant has only the time that it takes his prospective employer to take the elevator from the ground floor to the company restaurant to produce a completely compelling argument for his employment/ project/idea. In the case of the covering letter you have the recipients eyes rather than his ears…. But for about the same amount of time – one can scan such a letter perhaps in 30 to 40 seconds… and during that time you MUST make a (positive!) impression which persuades the reader to DO something (put you in the ‘For Interview’ pile). • Writing the Covering Letter • Set it out according to the conventions expected of you by the recipient • Use the salutation expected by the recipient (his / her actual name is ALWAYS better than Dear sir / madam….) • In English for example • Dear Mr. Jolley,  Yours sincerely……. • Dear Sir,  Yours faithfully • Always date it properly (remember the Americans use a different system!) • Always insert a heading a couple of lines of space after ‘Dear ……’ such as ‘Re: Stage Opportunities with XYZ Co during 2008’. This is important, the reader should NOT have to work out what it is about by having to read the whole letter!
  9. 9. Covering Letters (Contd.) • You need a strong opening / introduction to the letter, your request, the cv attached etc. This could be something like: “I am writing in response to the placement opportunity in Tourism Development and Planning as advertised on your corporate website. I would very much like to be considered for this position and am therefore attaching my cv for your consideration from which you will see that I have not only studied Tourism Planning but have 9 months relevant work experience in this area”. In very few words you have ‘hooked’ the reader….. now you need to keep him/her interested….and develop your case’. • Then a ‘middle’ showing: • What you really want of a placement / career • What you can do for the company • That you have done some research about the company. Don’t just drop in a fact unrelated to the content of your letter, weave it in eg: “With the company’s record expansion over the past three years and the new strategy to open up Anglophone markets, it is clear that XYZ co is going to need staff that have Tourism knowledge, intercultural experience and English language fluency. …..” • Some distinguishing fact or feature about you: your qualifications, experience or interests that sets you apart from competitors for the post and gives the employer a reason to put you in the ‘for interview’ pile. For example: “Having lived and worked in England for two years, honing my English language skills and cultural knowledge, I feel I am already well equipped for a post profiling the English market for XYZ co and will be able to make an immediate contribution to the company in this area.” Here you are showing not just theoretical knowledge, but applied experience. In addition you are also telling him / her that you will probably need less training than others, less time to get you up and ‘running’. For a manager less time = less money = more profit! • A stylish ‘outro’…. • Round the letter off showing that you really want the job and that you are prepared to provide any further information required and to attend interview…. Maybe something like: “Assessing myself candidly against the person specification / job description, I believe I possess all the ‘critical’ and most of the ‘desirable’ attributes required of the post and accordingly I sincerely hope that you will give my application every consideration. I am of course available for interview and would be only too pleased to furnish further information should you so require. I now look forward to hearing from you…” The covering letter is essentially like a good song: 1. a great intro that grabs your attention, impresses you and sets up the song and your expectations of it 2. a strong structure with a ‘hook’, usually the chorus, the key message that is occasionally repeated for effect. Clever ‘bridges’ / links between chorus and verse. 3. a great ending where the song actually finishes and doesn’t just fade out because the singer / writer / producer doesn’t know what to do with it.
  10. 10. Songs like that we remember - they pass:‘The Old Grey Whistle Test! ‘ (TJ Story) 6. The Role of Job Ads, Descriptions and Person Specifications. These are used extensively in: 1. English speaking markets generally at all levels (US / UK particularly) 2. Larger organisations (public and private sector)… because they have to relate a given job’s rate of pay to other jobs on the ‘pay spine’ to make sure no-one is paid less than someone else when the post is more technical, requires higher qualifications, holds more responsibility etc. 3. Recruitment Agencies… whose reputation depends upon getting the right person for the right job, so they need to know both what the job entails AND what are the characteristics of the person (qualifications / experience / personality etc) likely to do the job best. 4. Posts at management level The Job Description. This identifies what the job entails in terms of responsibilities, daily tasks (normal and exceptional) and relationships. This needs to be clear in order to ensure that the applicant knows what he/she is applying for. If an applicant has little real idea of what the job entails he is just as likely to be disappointed as pleasantly surprised and high levels of labour turnover (people leaving their jobs) occurs - the highest level within 6 months of starting! Recruitment as an activity takes time and money and has heavy direct and indirect costs. It needs to be successful: econmical (not cost too much), efficient (not take too long) and effective (get the right person first time). The very basic requirement therefore is surely for both employer and future employee to have a clear and shared idea of the job they are both talking about! So, if a Job Description is available (in addition to the Job Ad): 1. Get it! 2. Read it! 3. ‘Tune’ your covering letter (and cv if necessary) to the specific job…. A ‘standard’ covering letter is unlikely to work at all as a result: you are not applying for any old job – you are after THIS particular one! The Person Specification Again, always ask the organisation if there is a Job Description or Person Specification – if others don’t ask and you do you are at an advantage AND you have already shown your prospective employer that you are thinking and working where others are not. The Person Specification then seeks to identify the qualifications, experience, technical and professional skills / capabilities and personal qualities the organisation feels the ‘ideal’ person for the job will possess. Often it identifies which of these things are considered ‘essential’ and which are ‘desirable’. You can therefore expect someone reviewing your cv and covering letter to USE the Specification to decide whether or not to call you for interview. (Remember for a management post one might choose to interview perhaps 8 people from maybe 80 applications – so the company needs to ‘screen’ some applications out. Using the Job Description and Person Specification to ‘audit’ you on paper is an obvious first stage – you may even find that a junior member of the secretarial/personnel/HRM staff will do this with a simple checklist created from the Description and Specification.
  11. 11. The Person Specification (Contd.) If you have few of the essential attributes your chances are between nil and very slim: they will normally only interview those who have most, if not ALL of the ‘essentials’. The ‘game’, then, is to clearly show that you have the essentials, but that you also have a good number of the desirables as well: you offer ‘added value’ and move you up the ‘pecking order’. The Specification effectively offers you a checklist of things against which you can candidly assess yourself and hands you a menu of things to make sure you demonstrate on your cv, covering letter (and hopefully later at interview). This then helps you to look at your candidature, as the company will: • if you have nothing in the way of what they consider essential – is it worth wasting your time? • if you are a little short on ‘essentials’ can you compensate, buy showing that you are keen to take training in this area, but you do possess most of the ‘desirables’ • it gives you the opportunity to ‘fine tune’ your cv and especially your covering letter…. The more you use their own terminology and items on their checklist, the better. • It aids preparation for interview: you already KNOW exactly what they are looking for: where you appear strong and where weaker. Knowing this in advance gives you a clear idea of what questions they are going to ask. For example: Q. “We were ideally looking for someone who had worked in the UK for 2 years, you have only worked for 1….” (This is a statement inviting you to convince them….they are not always going to find the ‘ideal’ person… They perhaps know they haven’t got anyone on the shortlist with 2 years). Ans. “Yes. I only worked for one year in the UK, but I studied there for a further year giving me additional cultural knowledge, language capability and confidence, in addition to which I undertook a project on my Masters concerning Market Profiling of the UK – so I think that I have other things to offer in this respect even if ‘technically’ it wasn’t a full 2 years of employment”. That sounds pretty convincing. Because the Specification allows you to see yourself from the company point of view it gives you the opportunity to think and plan ahead for the almost inevitable questions. Don’t spurn this opportunity!
  12. 12. CONCLUSION 1. This is NOT a simple process: it is a HIGH STAKES COMPETITION 2. Average, ‘one size fits all’ approaches are almost certainly doomed to failure. 3. WORK on your cv to ‘finesse’ it in terms of content and layout, making absolutely sure you are focusing on your capabilities NOW and not just the subjects / titles of things you have studied 4. Research the company to which you are applying. Find out the name of the person to write to and his/ her title. Find out some important facts about the company to show that you have made some effort to get to know the organisation for which you wish to work. 5. Read the job advert closely. Ask for a copy of the Job Description and Person Specification if available. Candidly audit yourself against them to see yourself as the company will see you. 6. WORK at your covering letter. It needs to be technically PERFECT in terms of grammar / salutation / convention and to create impact and interest sufficient to persuade the reader to read your cv. Do this by ensuring the contents are closely aligned to what the company says it wants in the advert, Job Description and Person Specification. Make sure the letter is clearly structured (beginning / middle / end) and that you are not just saying ‘give me a job’ – it must be TWO way – show them what they will be getting if they employ YOU. 7. Use the JD and PS to prepare for questions that you ‘know’ you are likely to get asked. Also prepare questions to ask which show interest in the company and your future with it – things like training and professional development opportunities and NOT: “How many holidays do I get?”
  13. 13. TASKS TASK 1a. The Person Specification Individually, take a job you could imagine wanting to do upon graduation…. (eg: Marketing Executive, Financial Planner etc…) then create a list of criteria you would be looking for in the post-holder. Consider these under two headings: 1. General personal characteristics / capabilities 2. Role-specific capabilities / knowledge required • NB. Under each heading, classify these criteria as either ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’. Then consider how and where in your cv and/or covering letter you can get these issues across to the employer who receives your application for the post. How will you convince him to put you in the ‘For Interview’ pile? TASK 2: SPEED DATING This is inspired by an advert in Le Monde of 6th Oct 2007 which advertised a: ‘Meet your Future Employer’ Recruitment Fair. Now imagine that you are one of the employers attending with potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants wanting to be ‘screened’ for a job. You turn to the idea of ‘speed dating’ to enable you to process the volume. With each candidate you will spend just three minutes across a table from one another to determine whether this is someone in whom you could be interested or not. 1. What critical questions would you ask, and why? (given that there is NOT time for big long answers) 2. What would you be looking for from the applicant? If we have time…. We may try this out!!!!! HOMEWORK In the light of all we have discussed today:- 1. Review your cv and make changes as appropriate 2. Review your covering letter and make changes as appropriate Make copies of these revised and enhanced cvs and covering letters and be prepared to come to the next class to share them and have them critiqued mercilessly (but positively!) by one of your colleagues.