The below is my interview with Imogen from ‘I’m Hired’ career advice. (www.im-hired.com). As an ex-recruiter, she knows all the tricks of the trade when it comes to finding jobs and impressing employers. Below she talks about:
- her career path so far
- her 7 career advice tips for young people
- what they should teach in school/uni but don’t!
- her career advice business and the services she provides
- the kinds of questions young people come to her with
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path (degree, jobs since graduating, the thought process behind them etc)
After school, I did an apprenticeship in business, and from there I fell into recruitment. I worked in various roles in recruitment; screening, interviewing, placing candidates, and managing a small team of recruitment consultants.
Over the years I learned lots of great career advice and started thinking of blogging about what I knew. However, it was difficult juggling a full-time job and trying to grow something on the side. In Oct 2017, I needed to focus more on my blog so I got a job that would allow me to do part-time hours.
In the beginning, I was constantly checking how many people looked at my website. It was so slow in the first few months that I was seriously considering whether I should go out on my own.
For the first three months, I concentrated on getting my name out there, figuring out how to promote myself, also getting advice from those who had done it before. I also spent a lot of time networking. I was surprised at how helpful everyone was!
It is quite scary when you start out on your own. When you are working for a company you don’t need to think about scheduling, accounts, life insurance, etc then suddenly you have to do it all!
While all of that is quite daunting in the beginning, it’s quite exciting to see lots of people reading your article or looking at your website! At the start, the hits on my website were negligible. Then in early 2018, I started having days where I’d get 500 visitors!
See below for some career advice nuggets from Imogen:
1. Be Patient
I would advise people in their 20’s to slow down a little bit and be patient, and it will all come!
When I was younger, I wanted everything then and there. I missed out things as I was too focused on the end goal; getting that promotion or raise. Now that I’m older, I realise you don’t need to have everything at 18! You may well spend the next 40 years working, so you have plenty of time to make things happen.
Also, if I made a mistake at 21 or if I did something wrong I’d lose sleep over it. Now in hindsight I know it’s not that important and wouldn’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes! Don’t be worried about failing. There is always a second and third time to try something if it doesn’t work out the first time around!
2. Dealing with recruitment agents
Look at recruitment agencies in the sector you want to work in and target them.
You want to be in the forefront of recruitment agents’ minds when they are talking to clients so don’t be afraid of speaking to them on the phone. If you are not comfortable doing that then send them a Linkedin message.
You don’t realise the sheer volume of candidates and applications they will see every week, so you need to be in regular contact to ensure they won’t forget about you.
3. Make your CV really stand out
Forget about how many CV’s you send out; focus on the quality. Spend time modifying your CV to fit the relevant role. Highlight the top 10 keywords in a job description, and then pack your CV with them.
Structure is also very important. If the person reviewing your CV gets 50 other CV’s, will you be confident of yours making the top 5? Is it easy to skim read and be impressed? Or is it too text heavy? Does it have too many sections? Is it too long? Make it simple and concise.
For more great CV tips from Imogen, check out the CV section of her careers advice blog
4. How to do a great interview
- The most important thing to do is to try and build a rapport.
- You will get a lot of people just regurgitating rehearsed answers to questions. Try to be as personable as you can. There is nothing worse than being robotic.
- Also, make sure you ask some good questions. The interview should be more like a two-way conversation.
- Have lots of competency examples prepared so you can answer a broad range of questions.
- If you think you need some help with interview skills, the national careers service offers very good free advice. If you are looking for paid advice, I provide coaching on interview skills. Usually, that would consist of doing a normal interview and then providing advice and feedback on how they could improve each answer.
For more great interview tips check out the interview prep section of Imogen’s website
5. Be Proactive
Make a list of companies that you would want to work for and target them. Keep an eye out for jobs on the careers sections of their websites. Check out whether they post jobs on job board or social media. i.e. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter.
6. Advice on starting your own business
- Have a strategy and a plan in place. Know exactly what you want to get out of having your own business and work towards that goal, as it’s not going to happen overnight.
- You need to be very self-motivated, and be able to plan you schedule every day, as there is nothing stopping you from watching daytime TV all day long!
- Take lots of advice from other people, especially in the niche you want to work in. People are always willing to help.
- Focus on pre-promotion as early as you can. Make sure people are aware of your blog going live.
- I didn’t do that much promotion in the beginning, so it took a bit of time for things to pick up after going live. If I could go back in time, I’d put a lot more effort into promotion. I used to do social media for a few hrs a week, now it’s a few hours a day!
- Do lots of your own research. I’m still learning new things every day, it’s a very steep learning curve, but I’ve really enjoyed picking up all the different skills along the way. I constantly feel like I don’t know how to do things, but I just set about figuring out a way to do it.
7. Find people in the same position and leverage what they know
[PAUL: When I was writing my book ‘1000 Years of Career Advice’, I had no idea about writing, blogging, marketing, editing, etc and found the amount of info on the internet overwhelming, how did you navigate through all that info?]
Once you find some good advice on a blog/website, you can probably assume that the rest the stuff on there is of a similar standard. Another good tool I found was Facebook groups. Find one in your niche and you will see lots of Q&A that are really helpful. People in these groups have usually done it and are speaking from experience so leverage that knowledge as much as you can. For instance, there are loads of career advice groups on Facebook that will contain lots of young people asking the same questions, which you can see some great answers to!
Great career advice tips Imogen, thanks! A couple of more general questions now to finish. What should they teach in school/university but don’t?
I think they don’t teach you the life skills that they should in school/uni. When I was younger, I wanted to progress in my career, but simply didn’t know how. I wasn’t aware of the basics like networking, CV writing, how to communicate with your manager.
Also, I think graduates would really benefit from some guidance on little things like taxes and how to handle your money. The working world is so different from education.
The career advice you get can be very one dimensional unfortunately. There is no information provided on how to be self-employed or entrepreneurship.
Tell me more about your career guidance business? www.im-hired.com
I do a lot of freelance writing about careers or employment in general. I’ll write career advice pieces for job boards, magazines, blogs, newspapers, etc.
The coaching I do is based on what the individual needs. My career advice services range from what to include in a CV, what the employer expects from you, interview practice and feedback, to guidance on how to change careers. I help a lot of people to tell the story of what their transferable skills are to prospective employers.
What kind of career advice questions do students/graduates/young people come to you with?
A lot of them have very vague questions, they don’t know what they want to do. A large proportion come to me having sent out 50 CV’s to employers and received no response. I help them to make their CV and applications stand out
They also struggle with giving examples of work experience when they have none. I help them sell their educational experience to make up for their lack of work experience.
How can people find you?
My blog has weekly career advice articles to support people in your job search but if they looking for some more tailored or one to one advice head to my contact page and drop me a message.
Whether they want an expert to review their CV, give them some interview support or just generally have any employment question, I am happy to discuss the services I can offer.
For more career advice from 100 graduates 10 years out of university, download your 40 page free sample of my book from here
You can also check out my interviews with
James host of The Graduate Job Podcast who shares the top tips from over 70+ episodes
Emma from 25 before 25, who talks about what she learned trying 25 careers before the age of 25!