Get Future Ready blog - Alice

Appearing on EY’s “Get Future Ready” panel made me think about the best advice I’d received on how to get myself ready for the workplace. So, here are my top tips to help you get your career off to the best start.

  1. When you first start looking, dedicate time to “job-shopping”. It’s so hard to imagine what a role is like until you start doing it. But asking people out for coffee who have jobs you’re interested in (whether that be friends of friends, ex-students from your school or university, or people you meet at careers events) and asking them every question you can think of is the best way to get an impression of the work culture, the skills required, and what they do every day – and most importantly, confirm whether it’s right for you.
  2. When preparing for interview, make a list of the qualities you want to display, and match “stories” of your experiences to those qualities. Visit the website of the company you’re applying to, to find out what attributes they think are important (for example, “passion”, “open-mindedness”, “entrepreneurial spirit”, “innovation”). Once you’ve made a list of these, add the qualities that you would want a future employer to know – and wouldn’t want to leave an interview without telling them (e.g. are you great at working in teams and bringing the best out of other people? Are you super-organised? Are you a persuasive public speaker?). Once you’ve got this list,  think about 10-15 capsule “stories” from your experience so far that you might like to use in an interview – whether that be stories about a student project you’ve worked on, any extra-curricular activities you’re involved in, or a holiday job… and try and match those stories to the qualities. Some stories will work for more than one – e.g. taking part in a team sport might show both “teamwork” and “resilience”. But it will mean that whatever you’re asked in interview, you have a resource of prepared material to draw on!
  3. When preparing to start your first job, immerse yourself in the world you’re entering. For example, for anyone joining my team in L’Oréal, I’d want to know they had a genuine, bubbling curiosity in the world of beauty. That doesn’t necessarily mean reading industry articles about the market, but could mean going into stores to see the brand through the customer’s eyes, getting an impression of how all the different competitors treat their customers, evaluating what made you like a brand or what turned you off, and reading online blogs to see what the “hot topics” are. And if you find you enjoy this stage and it doesn’t really feel like work – you know you’ve picked the right job for you!