Last month I had the opportunity to attend Prospects in the City’s ‘Square Mile Jobs‘ learning event, a project aimed at helping unemployed workers in fringe boroughs to access City jobs.
The event featured a panel discussion from three City employers – Garfield Cameron, Managing Director of Alpine Executive, an SME sustainability recruitment company; Eleanor Nicoli, Recruitment Assistant Manager at top accounting firm, Mazars; and Rob Fryer, Head of Graduate Recruitment at Deloitte, one of the biggest employers in the City.
All three panellists gave great insights and top tips for landing a job in the City (and elsewhere for that matter). Here are some takeaways…
Generic applications don’t cut it
When it comes to applying for jobs, fewer and targeted beats mass and generic any day.
Eleanor shared how Mazars received a whopping 6,000 applications for 120 graduate job openings last year, and though they went through every single one, the initial shortlisting process was quick and easy as all the generic applications were the first to go.
These were people who didn’t have the minimum requirements for the job, couldn’t demonstrate an understanding of the accounting industry, and didn’t give a reason why they were applying for that particular role (see next point).
If you’re applying for a city job, think quality, not quantity – in this case, less is more.
Be honest and personal in your cover letter
Don’t ignore small companies
While Mazars were inundated with applications for a few job openings, Alpine Executive – a firm of 10 employees – only received two applications for an entry role they posted some months back, much to their disappointment.
Many jobseekers, graduates especially, hold ambitions to work for big companies, and while there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, it’s often an unrealistic goal for many, with more applicants than there are vacancies. An often overlooked alternative is to ditch graduate schemes and the likes and look for jobs within smaller companies – there’s less competition with potentially just as much benefits.
Any experience is better than no experience
Despite the recent controversies over unpaid internships, I still fully support temporarily working for free (or expenses) as a great way to build up your skills, knowledge and contacts in your chosen industry.
It was great to hear a similar message from the panel that any work experience – whether paid or free – looks better on your CV than no experience at all.
The trick is to go into a placement with a good idea of what you would like to get out of it, by way of personal and skill development, and apply these eight top tips to help you make the most of it.
Go after those hidden jobs
All the panellists admitted that the hidden jobs market is alive and well and a valuable source of finding work in today’s job market.
Develop and exploit (in a positive way) your personal contacts and networks as part of your job search, using social media where necessary.
With smaller companies, it’s very possible to build direct relationships with significant team members, such as the CEO or Managing Director, using platforms like LinkedIn. It’s also easier to access their contact details online (usually available on the company website) so you can approach them directly with a well-tailored speculative CV and cover letter.
***So there you have it – top tips for getting jobs in the City (and elsewhere), straight from the employers themselves. If you live in Southwark, you’re aged 16-25 and you’re not in education, employment or training, get in touch with The Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey for help accessing these City (and other) jobs.
PS: These brilliant cartoon images were drawn live at the event by the super-talented visual artist, Graham Ogilvie. He was literally drawing as we discussed and produced around 16 detailed A3 images at the end of the two hours – impressive!