A number of organisations attended our summer jobs fair in March with available roles still being advertised on our vacancy system. In this blog we hear from a student currently working for FGH Security. Thomas isn’t a Hope student but we hope that by sharing his story we can encourage you to apply to FGH, currently ranked the 23rd Best Company in the Northwest to Work For.
Get paid to work at a range of festivals this summer by joining FGH Security’s Festival Team (& don’t forget to share your festival story with us afterwards so next year’s blog is from a Hope student!)
Here in the Careers and Employability Team we love hearing, and sharing, the experiences of our graduates in the workplace. In this blog we hear from Denis, A Geography graduate from Hope, who’s now working for BDO LLP in Liverpool.
What is my job role?
I work at a large accountancy and business advisory firm called BDO LLP. I work in the firm’s Shared Service Centre (SSC), which is based in the Liverpool office, and my job title is SSC Assistant. I do bank letter coordinating for various BDO offices, mainly for London and Leeds. This means that I am constantly in communication with banks around the world and our Audit Managers to provide account balances for our clients end of year audits. This requires careful management of large databases consisting of hundreds of entities and client private banking information. At the moment our team is relatively new, so we are always implementing new ways of improving the process that we do. Read More
As part of the inaugural Angel Field Festival the Careers & Employability team hosted a workshop focusing on employability in the creative arts on Thursday 28th March.
The session was titled ‘How to Start Your Own Business in the Creative Sector,’ and was led by Kelly Forshaw – Managing Director of Jack All Productions. We were delighted to welcome Kelly on as one of the leading video content producers in the city.
Kelly said she started the company alongside her business partners after many years working in marketing and communications.
“We tell the client’s story.”
Kelly spoke of how the company uses their expertise in video production and PR to tell the stories of businesses and companies. “Some clients know what they want, some have no idea”
Kelly delved into the challenges she faced when starting a business. The first point she made was understanding the difference between cost and value. She said initially when pricing up their service for a client she was thinking only in the cost of tangible things such as equipment or travel expense, and that this a common mistake for creative businesses.
She stressed the importance of factoring in the value of your skill. Whether that be as a musician, composer, writer, designer, director etc – as a creative you have a skill that not everyone has. The analogy she used was of paying someone to paint your house. They wouldn’t charge just for the cost of paint, they also charge for their time and professional skill. She warned against creative skills not being as valued, and to know your value and ensure the client does.
“Add value to what you do.”
Kelly spoke of how you should always look to add value to your product/service to make you stand out and to make your clients as happy as possible. She realised they were creating videos for clients but many didn’t know what to do with it. They then offered a social media plan and targeted marketing which increased the range of their promotion, improved their package to clients and increased the amount of money they could make with a more premium service.
“What is it you can do that others can’t?”
Defining a unique selling point was another key challenge explored. Kelly said it was vital to search for what made your product or service different, why should clients to come to you out of everyone in your industry. She said it was important to know your audience, to know who you’re making your product for and how to let them know that.
“Make sure you’re the first person they speak to.”
The next key point was networking. Kelly admitted this can be tough and not everyone enjoys this aspect but if no one knows who you are then you won’t have any business. Kelly said the first place to start is within your own circle of friends. She admitted hesitations over putting herself out there, of setting herself up to fail, but that she had to get over those insecurities or she’d have no clients.
Kelly said if you can let your friends and social media network know of what you’re doing, they’ll likely come to you first over a random company as they’ll trust you. From there your business can grow.
Other bits of advice in this area centred on not being afraid to ask for introductions, putting yourself out there at networking events and being a nice person. She said asking people to go for a coffee and for advice is a subtle way to build relationships.
“Create a portfolio of what you do. Sell your story.”
Kelly touched upon marketing being an important factor in building your business. She highlighted social media as a key tool as it is free advertising and that you should let as many people as possible know what you do in as many different forms. She said the likes of photos and blogs will help build a picture of who you are and what you stand for and will help to sell you and your ideas, not just your product.
Kelly rounded out her challenges by examining contracts, payment and insurance. She said this is crucial in protecting yourself and your equipment and ensuring you are prepared for all circumstances.
“Ready. Fire. Aim.”
Kelly’s final advice touched upon taking the plunge and putting yourself out there. She said that when she first started she hesitated with many projects as she wasn’t quite sure if it was the right client, or if the content was ready and ended up missing out on an opportunity.
She said without being too gung-ho, often you’ve just got to go for it, take the chance, and refine as you go. Learn from experience and mistakes and make sure that next time you take that on board and change your approach. Every project or client is going to have drawbacks in some form and if you wait around for the perfect opportunity with no risks you’re just going to be left waiting.
The session was well received by the budding creative entrepreneurs who attended. One student said “She was so inspirational and really motivated me to start thinking about my own business.”
Thank you to Kelly Forshaw of Jack All Productions for such a motivational and eye-opening talk that has really benefited our students.
On Tuesday 12th March a panel of speakers from the film and video production industries shared their stories, knowledge and experience with first year students on the Film and Visual Culture course at Creative Campus.
“Do your research, know the companies, know what they stand for and how you can contribute.”
The first speaker was Maureen Sinclair from Clapperboard UK. Maureen told the students her incredible story of how she started as a writer for Mersey TV working with home grown luminaries such as Phil Redmond, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Jimmy McGovern on the groundbreaking soap Brookside.
Maureen gave advice on the power of collaboration and a shared vision in the writer’s room and on set, and also the importance of being focused at all times while working and pulling your weight.
Maureen spoke about Clapperboard and their work with school children aged between 12 and 17 to help them write scripts, make them into short films, and showcase them at an Oscars-style awards ceremony with famous names and experts from the industry on the panel.
Her reason for starting the company was to give opportunities to young people in Liverpool that they may not otherwise get. “We’re a city of storytellers,” she told the students.
Maureen closed with advice imploring the students to research production companies, watch their films, understand their mission statement and let them know what you and only you can bring to that company.
“Whatever your project is, make it the most exciting in the world.”
Kelly Forshaw, the managing director of Jack-All Productions, spoke about how she started her company after extensive work in acting, media, marketing and communications.
Jack-All Productions is a video-led creative content agency. Kelly said they specialise in producing engaging digital moving image, starting with the creative concept right through to delivery.
Kelly spoke about how she wanted to work with organisations to amplify their story, to tell it in an exciting and engaging way in which they may not be able to, as she believed in their cause.
Kelly’s story introduced the students to another avenue for their skills in filmmaking. Kelly’s advice included how to network and how to get yourself known by production companies.
She advised students to be as friendly as possible and to put yourself about. To get yourself known, take people for coffee and ask for advice.
One nugget of guidance that struck a chord was to treat every project you work on as the most exciting in the world, to make the ordinary become extraordinary by using your skills as a filmmaker and storyteller.
“Tell me why YOU want to make films. Tell me your story.”
The final speakers were Jay Podmore and Jason Lamar of Avengers Media, a start-up film company created by two actors who wanted to create their own roles and shape their own futures.
They spoke about their obsession with filmmaking and story and how they were fed up of waiting for the phone to ring, fed up of rejection, and decided it was time to make their own films.
Jay told how he had not been to film school but took the knowledge he had gained from working on many film sets and started to shoot his own short films.
He showed the students examples of his work and gave advice on throwing yourself in to challenges, not being afraid of asking for help, and to create your own opportunities rather than waiting for others to give you them.
Jay’s advice to students looking for work experience or looking to make films was to be sure of what it was they wanted to say in their filmmaking. He said he looks for individuals who are passionate about telling stories only they can tell.
“Be nice, say yes to things, everyone knows everyone.”
The closing message to the students agreed by the panel was that film is a tough business, but it’s those who work hard and with a smile on their face that will prosper.
There you are, staring at a job description which is perfect for you (or at least a job that will do for now!)…you click ‘Apply’ hoping to upload your CV and get through this application quickly as the deadline is at midnight… when you suddenly remember that you never quite got around to writing that CV. Or perhaps you did, and it’s saved on a USB stick somewhere, but you cannot remember the last time you updated it…you realise you are in for a long night <<groan>>
Before you start, take a look at these 5 common pitfalls to avoid when drafting your CV.
Mistake #1: Maybe we have been thinking about CVs all wrong
Most of us see CV writing as a chore, and fall into the trap of starting from an online template, or copying a friend’s CV, without too much thought.
But what if you flipped this process around and allowed your creative juices to flow? Why not start by asking yourself the question ‘What is it that I want a prospective employer to know about me?’
One way to do this is to forget about your laptop or CV template for a moment and grab some post-its (yes actual paper!) and write down those things that you would want an employer to know about you. They might be things like
‘I studied abroad and now I find it easy to connect with people from different backgrounds’
‘I have done a variety of customer service roles and I’m really good at dealing with awkward customers’
‘I am great at…?’
Only after brainstorming what you want your CV to say about you do you then think about where these would go on your CV by sticking the post-its on different sections of a template.
Another way to do this is to ask a friend to write down things they think an employer should know about you as it’s often easier to big up your friend than it is yourself. Which leads nicely on to the next point which is…
Mistake #2: Not blowing your own trumpet
Why do some of us find it so hard to let others know about our own achievements? Whatever the reason, your CV is not the place to be shy. You got a First? Then make sure you say that in your profile. You have the SALA award from Hope? Make sure it goes on there.
If you find it uncomfortable, then use the Careers Advisers here at Hope as your ‘critical friend’. We can talk to you about what you’ve done to get a full picture of your achievements and uniqueness and then review your CV to check that you are doing yourself justice and that it truly reflects the value that you bring to an employer.
Mistake #3: So what?
I am a team player and can also work on my own.
I am a people person.
I am hardworking and quick to learn.
So what? If you have any of the above or similar statements on your CV, do they pass the ‘so what’ test? These statements have become clichéd and overused. They take up valuable space on your CV and add nothing if not backed up with evidence.
Another example of failing to pass the ‘so what’ test is mixing up responsibilities/what you did/job description with actual achievements/skills. For example, which of these following statements would come across well to a prospective employer?
A I worked as a waiter in a restaurant and delivered food to the tables and cleaned the kitchen.
B I worked as a waiter in a restaurant in a customer facing role where I dealt with members of the public in a fast-paced environment, delivering excellent customer service whilst ensuring that quality and health and safety guidelines were adhered to.
Both are true but clearly B illustrates more of the transferable skills gained.
Re-read your CV applying the ‘so what’ test after each statement. If it doesn’t pass, then rewrite or delete!
Mistake #4: Matching (alternatively known as the ‘Jedi Mind Trick’)
When you get busy or under time-pressure it is easy to just send off a standard version of your CV and hope for the best. What this means is that you miss the opportunity to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for.
The purpose of matching is not simply to engage in buzzword bingo on your CV, mindlessly throwing in the words that are in the job description. Instead, this is about making it easier for the employer (and any recruitment software they might use to screen your CV) to see that you are a match for the job, at least on paper.
Using the same job title on your CV as in the job description (if appropriate) can help, as can identifying key action words from the job description and using them in your CV.
Mistake #5: Not using the right CV format for you
Did you know there is more than one type of CV? From a chronological to a creative CV, and everything in between, it is possible to choose the format which provides the best showcase for your experience. Trying to land a job which is unrelated to your degree subject? Then maybe a skills based CV will work for you. Looking to start a career in the creative industries? A specific creative CV for your sector or even a visual CV might be the best way to showcase your portfolio.
Whichever format you choose, try to avoid the above pitfalls. You have (according to research) about 7 seconds to impress a prospective employer with your CV. How will you do it?
For help creating your CV, use Hope’s CV Builder on MyCareersCentre here https://mycareerscentre.page.link/CVbuilder Once you have a draft and would like feedback, drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at firstname.lastname@example.org