Thursday, July 7, 2011

The advantages of smaller companies...

It's easy to get distracted by the big names. We look for jobs and see the likes of Penguin Books, or Deloitte or Proctor & Gamble, depending on your career choice (Publishing, Consulting, Marketing...) They will probably pay slightly more and have more benefits. They'll even have certain schemes to help you learn the business. This all seems very appealing.

However, the smaller firms is where you really get hands on experience. There is a family feel, and your job can often cover several aspects of the domain. For example, I had some work experience at a publishing house several weeks ago. It was a cute building in a residential area, surrounded by flowers and a welcoming atmosphere. The boss or owner was very nice and helpful, and there was only one other permanent member of staff, other than people that came for meetings now and again. On my first day I was thrown straight into the process, as they asked me my opinion on several final decisions for a book. I therefore felt very important, and was happy to have a tangible influence on the books, something I'd always wanted to do. I knew that people that read this book would have a slightly different experience because of something that I had chosen.

There was a lot of hustle and bustle, and the importance of each move was palpable... but not the stress and unnecessary competition found in some of the bigger companies.

So if I were you I would throw in some of the smaller companies in your search for jobs. However it can be just as hard as finding any job, so make sure your CV is top notch, and maybe even offer an online CV with the like of like I've done.

Happy job hunting!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Law Conversion

What about law as a career? Compared with the likes of publishing, which is renowned for its low pay, jobs in law pay about as high as it gets. Trainee solicitors in London, for example, can expect to make up to £40,000 ... and at some of the newer American international firms, the wage is even higher. Just think what you'd do with all that extra cash!

However, with that extra money comes higher responsibility and workload. Predictable, yes... So it just depends how important money is to you. With the extra cash you could comfortable raise a family and take them on lovely holidays - but you'll have less time in which to do so.

But let's get on with our topic - law conversion. Did you know that almost half of Britain's new lawyers studied an entirely different subject at degree level? The most common, as far as I can tell, are the humanities, so the likes of English and History. But it seems that people with almost any degree is eligible for a law conversion course.

To fund it, you might need to get yourself sponsored with a training contract by a big firm. To do so, you need to begin finding experience shadowing or working in the field of law. Then it is time to apply for funding to some of the schools - a training contract.

Give a CV and see their individual application requests, fill them all out. It may help to have an online CV or blog, like on or to stand out from other applicants.

Good luck!

Image ©

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting that job...

Today I'm going to talk about how to get a job, from a graduate's perspective...

Now, despite being very excited about graduating from University, we are still right at the bottom of the career ladder. This is because so many others have degrees. Those that didn't attend University probably have 3-5 years of work experience that we could never have, and those that did may have managed a reasonable amount of work experience during summer holidays or on weekends and evenings.

So don't make the mistake of only going for the big companies. You have to find the small or independent enterprises as well as the big'ns. Also, don't limit yourself to the well publicised graduate positions. Yes, the pay a lot, but they're extremely competitive! Search online, see where you might fit in, and send them an email and covering letter stating your desire to work for low wages etc just to learn about the business. Even finding this type of work or unpaid work experience is extremely difficult in today's market.

So while the likes of are very helpful in explaining the different career options and highlighting graduate entry level job vacancies, they are not the be all and end all. Find out about companies and what they do and send them an email. Better yet, if you have the courage, give them a call. What's the worst that can happen? Call up someone at human resources and tell them how much you want to work there!

Another idea is to have a blog, like this one, to put on your CV. The internet is the present and the future, so any way of showing how 'linked in' you are... is extremely helpful. You can have online CVs such as the "subtly" aforementioned linkedin or biobble where you have your own biography to show prospective employers or family members - you're life in videos, pictures, and a written biography.

Enjoy job searching! Good luck! :-)

Image ©

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to make friends and influence people

(Not to be confused with the Simon Pegg film, "How to lose friends and alienate people," because there is a slight difference (even if the aforementioned film is loosely based on that book about making friends and influencing people!)...)

Unfortunately, I'm not going to talk about a way of being generally likeable and popular, say, at school or at the office... I'm talking cyber-popularity! Twitter... How to gain followers, and is it important. What can we gain from such a site?

So let's get it important to have a bit of an internet following. It all depends on who you are:


While at university I managed to find some work experience at a company I'd rather not name, because it deflects from the purpose of the article, it's not significant. Anyway, this company needed to improve its profile and I was the man for that job. So, amongst other things (facebook, biobble, myspace...) I created a twitter account. It's quite daunting seeing the 1 follower indicator; I knew I had some work to do.

It's true what the say - mass follow! But you should have an aim. My company had links with sport, so I would search for the word 'sport' and go about adding people. I usually checked that the people I was adding were followers of at least as many people as they were followed by - if that makes sense! That way I knew that they were more likely to follow me back. Yes it all seems rather random and superficial at the moment, I know, but it gets better. There seems to be a code of politesse that deems it rude not tofollow somebody that is following you! So make sure you follow back! Over time you should build up quite a following.

Although it may seem that you are part of an anonymous network of egocentric twitter users, you will find that people do respond to you. They may not reply on your wall, but for example, I noticed a sharp increase in traffic to sites for which I had posted a link on twitter. The increase lasted about 3 minutes, while my link stayed near the top of the homepage, and then came to an abrupt halt. So it is necessary to constantly update, and respond to people, retweet etc. Show that your company has a face, a personality. Once you have over 300 followers, if only 30% of people read your tweets, you are exposing your company to 90 people with each click of a button.

Warning: Make sure that you do not have a large discrepancy between followers and accounts that you follow. People may see through your tactics and see you as a spammer, which in a sense you are ... a spammer with a friendly face. So perhaps unfollow those that don't follow you back within 2 or 3 days. To do this, use Tweeter Karma a tool that does what it says on the tin, it balances out your twitter contacts. It enables you to see and unfollow those that haven't followed back!

So keep the two quantities reasonably even, always following back those that follow you, and deleting those that don't follow you back. This isn't a very romantic idea and it is not Twitter's original purpose - but hey, this is business after all. If you want to check news and philosophical titbits, I suggest the BBC website or a search engine... Are we so lazy that we need up to the minute newsfeeds straight to our Twitter homepage? Twitter is the way to raise your company's profile, and influence people - if you build it (contacts and influence), they will come (to your site) - fact! (probably!)

So give it a go!

Friday, June 24, 2011

So you want to write...?

Whether you want to write articles for a magazine, reviews in papers, or stories in the form of a novel, writing is often more difficult than it should be!

Journalism and Publishing

Finding a job as a critic or journalist is increasingly difficult. This is because the industry is absolutely flooded with job requests from aspiring graduates. More and more, graduates are taken by the idea of writing for a living as the contrast to the nightmare scenario of 'the office job'. People don't want to be confined to offices, typing away mundanely think about what might have been.

Because of the popularity of industries such as publishing and journalism, companies are able to keep salaries low. So these are extremely competitive industries with relatively low pay! So make sure that this is really what you want to do before setting your mind on it. In order to find a job at one of the big papers, browse the net for anything that you can find, and whether or not you consider the position below you, go for it, because even getting your foot on the lowest step of the ladder is a success in our current climate.

In publishing there is a lot of business involved, so you could come at it from that angle, whereas jounrnalism is more concerned with writing and finding an interesting scoop. A lot of people who are unable to find permanent positions or don't have the time to uphold a full-time job become freelance journalists. Again there is a constant pressure to come up with a story in order to support yourself financially, as well as feeling inferior in meetings with newspaper editors. A stressful existence.

Novels, Books...
If you want to write, do not presume that somebody will publish your book just because it took you so much effort and time to write it. It doesn't work that way, and thousands of people spend years on their oeuvre d'art only to see it deemed worthless or at least unpublishable. So to be a writer you often need resilience.

One of the most difficult aspects of writing, is not being overwhelmed by your work. How is it possible to write so much without losing track of your original idea? As I personally have never had a novel published, I am unable to offer a solution. What I do know is that it is extremely rare for somebody to create a good text by sitting down and writing on a whim. If you plan most of the scenes, the dialogue itself can be manipulated and improvised at the time of writing.

One great tool for implementing this momentous writing task is Celtx. It is free to download and can be incredibly helpful! The different templates designed for specific genres such as screenplays, novels and comic books, help to perfectly plan your work. In the novel section there are places in which you store the names and details of every character, and there is one page on which you can plan each chapter.

In addition blogs and internet sites, such as blogspot and biobble, allow you to practice your writing style and upload your work. Biobble is particularly interesting since your work will be left there for future generations to enjoy.

So there you have it - 'write on' people!

Image ©

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Part 2 - The sequel

So I've spoken about Google Alerts, but what else is there on our Orwellian web that can compare? After all, what is the point in all of this online information if we cannot access it? Information like this is often costly, so here I will talk about several free web 2.0. tools that can be used to make sense of and take advantage of the constant online information, statistics and surveillance.

There are, for example, free RSS feeds such as Google Reader or Netvibes. These allow you to find out whether the sites to which you 'subscribe' have e-published anything noteworthy. RSS feeds allow you to access this information if it is difficult to find. It is a bit like Twitter's original purpose, to gather all your stories in one place. So these sites will cover interesting websites, blogs, message forums, etc... But what about social networks?

With 'Hyper Alerts', you can monitor pages on Facebook as though you were the administrator! You are able to receive emails with it all included, much like the Google Alerts system, but with Facebook pages. In addition, there is Yatterbox, a site that enables you to monitor what your favourite (or least favourite!) politician is saying anywhere online. This system currently covers the UK and the USA. And with Biobble, you are able to find biographies of people and celebrities, perpetually reserved online. The great thing with this site is that you are able to find out more about the people on them, rather than Wikipedia, which adheres to extremely strict guidelines.

As for Twitter, software such as Tweetdeck or Seesmic are quite remarkable. Tweetdeck, for example, allows the user to organise his tweets in columns, which is extremely helpful in being able to read all the most important parts of what the people you are following are saying. Once you follow over 100 Twitter users, this job is impossible without the software.

These are, in my humble opinion, the most important tools for monitoring and managing your online news, social media, blogs etc etc... Best of all, they're all free!

Bonne chance!

Big Google Brother?

Oh Mr. Orwell, you knew us too well. 1984 seems to have arrived in a sense, albeit 20-30 years too late and nowhere near as dramatic. (Unless it has crept up on us so slowly that we have become accustomed to our quotidian of surveyance). First, the CCTV generation and now the dot-com years. But let's not dwell on the ostensible lack of romance or free-spirited nostalgia of the 60s. We live in the era of internet technology - the internet age - and I for one suggest that we celebrate.

Anyway, I digress... I wanted to talk about Google's new 'Alerts'. It's a new way of monitoring your own online presence. A dream for the paranoid (or entrepreneurial) "internaut" (As far as I can tell, the French coined this term, to mean internet user). This tool effectively enables internet users to monitor in further detail their online image, or "e-representation".

If you find the Alerts tool on the Google site, open it up and type in your name, site, product or any other information that you would like to monitor. View a preview which will show you the sites in which your name is mentioned or talked about to get a better idea of what they are offering. Then subscribe to the free email, with the option of it being daily, weekly, or just an email accompanying each appropriate mention or citation. The email(s) will subsequently be dispatched with all the gory details!

et VoilĂ  :)

Image ©