Tips about finding work online / via social media, managing your online brand, freelancing / working remotely, preparing for video or telephone interviews or digital assessment centres, and finding virtual careers fairs or online employability workshops.
If you assumed that COVID-19 has caused a nationwide recruitment freeze, think again! Even in badly affected creative industries you can still find many remote-working / online roles, freelancing opportunities, or vacancies and internships that will just start a little later in the year.
Also, keep in mind that a survey in 2019 by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) revealed that 86% of UK recruiters are not fussy about the subject students studied! So whatever you’re studying, you still have many options available to you.
What we’re trying to say is ‘don’t give up!’ However, keep in mind that there have been major changes to the way many organisations work and recruit, so you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your job-search strategy if you want to track down those ‘missing’ opportunities to keep your career on track. Here are some new tricks for your job-searching tool-kit…
Work on your online brand
More than ever, it’s important to spend time carefully crafting your ‘online brand’, since many of us now feel like we exist online more than we do in the real-world!
Your ‘online brand’ is what your ‘online presence’ says about you. You’re ‘online presence’ is everything a potential employer could find out about you by searching the internet. It includes your public social media pages, networking profiles, websites, YouTube channels, any CVs you ever uploaded to jobs-boards and anything you might have publicly published, and anything published about you!
For tips on taking control of your online brand, take a look at ‘Managing your online brand’ on MDXworks.com (You’ll need to log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks.com to request a PDF version).
With a little internet research, you also may be able to find branding advice relating to a specific subject or industry, such as ‘Building your social media brand as a film professional’ or ‘Building your social-media brand as an actor’ on Mandy.com.
Some quick tips for your online brand:
- Google yourself! Carry out a quick internet search to see what pops up when you search for your name. you may find stuff you want to hide, or if you can’t find anything, you may want to create a website or networking profile that others can easily find. In case you are wondering… I get a Harry Potter actor with the same name as me!
- Keep your posts professional. Before you post anything that can be viewed publicly, consider whether you’d be comfortable with potential employers seeing it! Remember… not everybody holds the same opinions as you on politics, religion, sport or Eurovision!
- Check your privacy settings for social media and networking sites. You’ll want to hide your personal life, but you’ll still want recruiters to be able to find your professional profiles on networking sites. If you’re actively seeking work, check that your privacy settings don’t prevent you from appearing in recruiter searches.
- Demonstrate your passion for your chosen degree subject or industry. You may be able to display examples of your work or demonstrate your skills through your website, online portfolio, YouTube channel, blog or similar. But even if you aren’t creating original content, you can still share relevant posts or articles to show your interest in a subject or industry.*
(*You often see this on LinkedIn when people share a photo from a conference they attended with a comment saying something unoriginal like ‘inspiring talk today from blah blah blah…’. Even if it was a really dull conference, they just want everyone in their network to know they’re keen!)
- Keep track of where you’ve uploaded stuff. You’ve probably already uploaded your CV to a few job-search sites, so keep track, because in a few years, when you’re looking to progress to a more-senior role, you don’t want people finding your old first-draft CV that you’d forgotten about.
Job-search using social media
Your job-search strategy will be more productive if you use a range of different sources to identify vacancies. Don’t rely solely on jobs-boards; Networking, speculative applications, careers events, and social media are also effective ways to find opportunities.
High Fliers Research ‘The Graduate Market in 2019’ mentions that 94% of employers use social media to promote graduate opportunities.
With a quick search of sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook, you’ll discover a number of job-search groups relating to a particular industry. These job-search groups often also share useful insights and information as well as vacancies.
Social media groups can change regularly, so it’s best if you carry out your own search, however, here are some current examples from Facebook:
- ‘Social Media, Marketing & PR Jobs’ on Facebook
- ‘Journalism Jobs & Grants’ or ‘Journalism & Media Vacancies’ on Facebook
- ‘Performers Job Posts’ or ‘Performers UK’ on Facebook
- ‘Music Jobs UK’ on Facebook
- ‘The Stage Jobs’ on Facebook
- UK TV Runners’ on Facebook (You can also find a great list of Facebook groups for TV on TVwatercooler.org)
Tip: Make sure the group you want to join is based in the same country / region where you are looking for work!
Faculties, tutors, and various members of the MDX community, have set up useful groups for students, graduates and employers to join. For example: The MDX Moving Image Mentoring Group or Advertising, PR & Branding on LinkedIn. You can also connect with MDXworks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with our latest employability news, events and opportunities.
Other professional networking sites include…
You can also gain insights, learn about opportunities and keep your industry knowledge up-to-date by following organisations you’d like to work for on social media. You may also find societies, unions, industry think-tanks and other groups that share relevant information.
For more great tips about social media, read ‘Social media & job-hunting’ on Prospects.ac.uk. For help with your LinkedIn profile, read our ‘Unmissable guide to improving your LinkedIn profile’ (log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks to request a PDF version). MDX students can also contact MDXworks for further guidance or feedback on their LinkedIn profile.
Jobs-boards for remote working & freelancing
It’s still worth checking your favourite job-search sites… you might be surprised what you find. In case you come up empty-handed, here are some jobs-boards that focus on online / freelancing jobs:
You might also find it helpful to read: ‘Tips for finding remote work or working from home jobs’ on LinkedIn or ‘Tips & Insights into online freelancing’ on e4s.co.uk.
For useful information about some of the most common freelancing roles, take a look at ‘Freelancing’ on Prospects.ac.uk.
For a straight-forward overview about self-employment (including information about registering with HMRC, completing tax returns and insuring yourself) take a look at our ‘Introduction to self-employment’ on MDXworks.com (log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks to request a PDF version).
For freelance creatives & artists, you can also find useful resources at ‘FreelanceArtistResources.WordPress.com.
Practice your Video / Telephone interview skills…
You might have thought companies aren’t interviewing right now, but you’d be very wrong! Most organisations have simply switched to telephone and video interviews, using platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
Make sure you are confident using platforms such as Zoom or Skype, download and test these apps well before your interview date, and make sure you practice your interview skills. You could start with ‘Video interview tips’ on Prospects.ac.uk or read our ‘Successful guide to answering interview questions’ on MDXworks.com (log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks to request a PDF version).
We also recommend that you contact your Employability Advisor at MDXworks, as we can arrange a mock telephone / video interview or give you feedback regarding your prepared answers to common questions.
One of the great advantages of video / telephone interviews is that you can keep prompts or notes to hand. Make sure you hide these from view (perhaps stick them to the wall, just behind your screen) and practice to ensure that you don’t look or sound like your reading from notes!
You need to be persistent, to secure an interview, but if you keep getting rejected, don’t just keep trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result! Make some changes to your applications and get some extra support from MDXworks.
Have something to talk about at interviews
Extra-curricular activities and interests can really help you to stand out from other candidates and make a memorable impression on recruiters or interviewers. Despite lockdown, there are many opportunities for you to do something inspirational for your community, share your creativity, or learn a new skill. For some inspiration, take a look at our recent blogposts on MDXworks.Wordpress.com:
- ‘COVID 19: Showcasing your creativity during lockdown’ includes inspirational examples of creative people sharing their talents or supporting their communities during lockdown.
- ‘Using time & Home to increase your skills & employability’ includes lots of useful links and resources for learning new skills or getting involved in creative extra-curricular projects.
You can find more great ideas in ‘7 ways to improve graduate employability in lockdown’ on Prospects.ac.uk.
MDX students also have access to LinkedIn Learning through MDX’s library resources. LinkedIn Learning can help you develop technology and creative skills through more than 5,000 online courses. You can also add completed courses and related skills to your LinkedIn profile to help demonstrate your skills to employers.
For help with your LinkedIn profile, read our ‘Unmissable guide to improving your LinkedIn profile’ (log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks to request a PDF version). MDX students can also contact MDXworks for further guidance or feedback on their LinkedIn profile.
…and be prepared for assessments
Don’t assume that social-distancing meant an end to group assessments and selection processes! Many companies are still running individual or even group assessments online. Learn more about different types of assessment and practice your assessment centre skills with our ‘Astounding guide to succeeding at assessment centres’ on MDXworks.com (log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks.com to request a PDF version).
Also, Smart Resourcing Solutions are running helpful webinars on a number of useful employability topics, including telephone and video interviews, digital assessment centres, online tests and more (if the hyperlink above doesn’t work, you might need to cut and paste the following link into your browser: https://mdxworks.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/57ba6-srs-bookwebinars.pdf).
Create a digital portfolio
Pre-lockdown, you might’ve wanted to impress your interviewers by showing them a physical portfolio of you work, particularly if you’re working in a creative industry. You can still do this with a PDF portfolio that you can send via email, or by creating your own online portfolio / website.
Quick tips for your PDF portfolio:
- Be selective. Only choose the best and most relevant pieces of work for your portfolio. Aim for ‘quality’ not ‘quantity’.
- Keep the file size down. Your digital portfolio needs to be small enough that you can email it without difficulty. Generally your digital portfolio should be around 4 to 6 pages and perhaps 500MB maximum.
- Use good quality images. Ensure they are not pixelated.
- Show your process from ideas through to finished product.
- Always keep back-ups of your digital portfolio.
Your online portfolio:
One of the advantages that an online portfolio has over a PDF version is that you can use hyperlinks to link to it from your CV, cover letter, email signature, or similar. This could really help to make your applications stand out.
You can also include more of your work in an online portfolio than you can fit in a PDF version. Try to show how your work developed, as this is something employers often look for.
For more portfolio tips, read our guide: ‘Perfecting your Creative-visual portfolio’ on MDXworks.com (log in to MDXworks.com to view this resource or email MDXworks to request a PDF version).
Virtual careers events & workshops
Understandably, most ‘live’ careers fairs appear to have been cancelled for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, however, some have moved online, so keep an eye out for virtual careers events or open days. Carry-out some online research, use social media to ‘follow’ companies you’d like to work for, and sign up for email alerts and career / industry newsletters.
Currently we’re hosting weekly ‘pop-up’ online workshops (usually every Tuesday and sometimes Thursday at 1.00pm) on a wide range of employability topics. Next Thursday 28th May we have a guest speaker from Mandy.com talking to MDX students about acting careers. For details of how to join, get in touch with MDXworks.
Get support from MDXworks
If you’re an MDX student or recent graduate, you can still access careers & employability support from MDXworks during the current lockdown.
You can also access a wide range or useful stuff on our online portal at MDXworks.com, including resources specific to each faculty and careers across a wide range of industries. We’ve recently added a ‘Careers during COVID-19’ page where we’ve collated useful links and resources to help you keep your career on track.
For other concerns relating to COVID-19, current MDX students can find a COVID-19 update on MyUniHub, including useful information and details of available support.
We hope you found this useful. Post a comment below to let us know about your creative projects.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with MDXworks if you need any employability support.
Good luck & stay safe.
– Matt Lewis (Faculty Employability Adviser – ACI / Media & Performing Arts)