By Gemma Lewis, Director - Research & Insight (APAC)
We receive a lot of calls from graduates throughout the year applying for jobs that are often a level up, or asking for advice on how to launch a career in Marketing and Research/Analytics.
We get it. You've nailed your studies, you're ready for the big wide working world and you're perusing the job aisles for your first career role. You'll be seeing adverts that inspire you, that seemingly match your talents, interests and your academics and it can be frustrating to get past the application.
What you want to know is: how do I make the leap from eagerly ambitious to gainfully employed?
This article only speaks in regard to our specialist area of recruitment for clients such as Market Research Agencies (globals, boutiques), Customer Analytics Agencies (loyalty, category, sales etc) and Strategy Consultancies (brand consultancy, innovation consultancy etc). It's based on our own day to day recruitment experience and there are no hard and fast rules, but hopefully it will give you a few pointers to set you on your merry way....
Why? We want nothing more than to see an increase of talent drawn to the industry. Often undersold, or unknown in comparison to the more typical Marketing, Communications, Finance etc career paths, we know just how rewarding, vibrant and diverse careers will be. There is also a shortage of experienced talent further up the ranks and our clients are crying out for candidates, so we may have a long term plan for you too!!
Graduate recruitment is a very small part of what we do. We're industry not graduate specialists and the vast majority of our clients directly hire their fresh graduates because they don't need our services in the same way and truth be told - they don't want to pay a fee for you.
If you do see us advertise a graduate/entry level role, it's on so please apply! You're also more than welcome to apply for more experienced roles but in all likelihood the best we'll be able to do is keep your details on file for the future and apologies now but with the volume of applications we receive, you won't always get a personalised rejection.
It's therefore very important to be pro-active for yourself.
Here I boil it down to 5 areas of action:
1. CV - The obvious one but oh so important to get right. Not to intimidate you but let's acknowledge the volume of competition you're up against. Your CV needs to be precise, concise and tailored for purpose for busy people to read and acknowledge.
This isn't a CV workshop so I won't cover the basics but instead highlight some Do's and Don't for our clients:
2. Cover Letter - Especially when applying directly a cover letter is important and is an opportunity to expand upon some of the information in your CV. It's an opportunity to connect with an employer by writing in first person, drawing their attention to key skills and also directly relating to their company or their job and explaining why you are seeking out their interest. It's not about any graduate job, it's about them specifically. This is very easy to do if you spend some time on the company website to get a sense of their services, culture, goals, company statements, or indeed carefully reading any job description.
We don't want war and peace, as again people are busy but a well-written, well-formatted and well-checked offer letter will support your application. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of checking your grammar and spelling. Teaching you to suck eggs? You'll be surprised what we see and what clients pick up on and discount!
3. Map the market - Now who to send this brilliant information too?? Get busy doing your online desk research. If you've been looking at adverts and have an idea of what you want to do, then Google the hell out of it!
Search various combinations of your personal interests and location: Research agency Sydney/ Qualitative insights & Sydney/ Consumer insights agencies & Melbourne/ Category analytics & Brisbane/ Semiotics & consumer research/ Big data agencies/ Global quantitative research....you get the drift.
With a little effort, you will be able to build up a picture of the market and find agencies that excite you.
Through spending time on their websites, you'll get to understand the differences between service offerings, learn the language and hopefully start to understand what you like more and less.
Company websites might show jobs they're filling directly, or useful information on who or how to apply generally. There doesn't have to be a live job - it's still worth reaching out and being proactive!
Look at the big agencies - they often have annual graduate intake programs, but equally look at the independent agencies which hold big sway in the Australian market and also take on entry- level staff.
4. Network/Linked In - When you are finding companies you like, cross reference this with professional networking sites like LinkedIn. You'll often find more information on the business, staff, key people and contacts.
Jobs are also posted on LinkedIn so you can use your list of potential companies you've already mapped, and start following them for relevant updates and job postings.
Build up on your own profile and start growing your network. Please ensure that your profile matches the information on your CV accurately and is up to date. You can invite new connections when you start making contact.
I also firmly believe there is nothing wrong with a bit of nepotism and using your contacts. You need and want this foot in the door, so if you have friends or family who can make personal introductions or recommend you then work it!
5. Professional Bodies - Seek information from the professional bodies in the industries you're interested in. For example there is the AMSRS - www.amsrs.com.au which is the Australian Market & Social Research Society. A brilliant source of information on courses, networking, industry news and even a company directory and job page - hint hint!! Other industries will have similar professional bodies and websites to peruse.
Now it's a case of pulling it all together. Combine your new industry knowledge, your potential list of employers and jobs, your contacts and your supporting documents. Send out tailored emails that explain the reason for your contact and don't forget to attach your documents and correct contact details. Again tailor your emails, communicate well, be eager, be available and be flexible.
Whilst ultimately you might express your search for a permanent role, is it worth suggesting work experience, or an openness to a contract or internship? All these options could be the stepping stone you need.
Then sit back and keep your fingers crossed.
Undoubtedly you'll still need a bit of luck and timing on your side, but you'll definitely be moving in the right direction.
It's great to have a strong sense of your ultimate job, but try and keep your mind and your communication open at this early stage of your career, and certainly at interview stage. You don't want to be too prescriptive and count yourself out of any potential interviews and networking opportunities. I'm not suggesting you stray far from your goals, but you'll learn more in person than from assumptions and often one opportunity leads to another.
I'm also not suggesting you flood every agency in the market, and you start following up on all your applications 2 days later demanding feedback. Be targeted, be relevant and be patient.
Finally be ok with rejection. Some companies won't have roles, some will reject you, some will have just filled their position and others will plain blank ignore you. Remember, all you really need is one golden ticket and in my experience if you have quantity and quality the odds are in your favour.
All that remains to be said is get busy and good luck!!!