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My 12 job interviews

Whenever I am invited to talk on personal and career development, I can’t stop emphasising how important it is to train oneself to see opportunities. To be more exact, there are two things which are equally important.

The first one is – if you want to find a job, create it! These words belong to Steve Jobs. It is about your ability to create demand for your services and talents and find those interested to pay for them.

The second one is your ability to see opportunities. And take advantage of them.

This text is about seeing opportunities.

When I was looking for my first job in public relations, it took me 4 months – from May till August – to find it. I had … 12 job interviews.

One could say, “It must have been tough to have so many unsuccessful interviews!” Well, yes and no. The job hunting process gave me many valuable insights. Starting from the 4th job interview I realised that I have the unique opportunity to study PR market from inside even before I enter it. I did not have proper experience in public relations at that time, but I was eager to get a job. Plus I had my education and several years of work experience as project manager in an NGO as my other recource.

So what exactly did I do? Instead of worrying about giving correct answers and impressing my future employer, I chose to ask questions, whenever it was appropriate. I always had a list of them in my mind. To be honest, I did not start doing it from the first job interview. And I did make a lot of mistakes on the way. For instance, I did not properly prepare myself for the interview with international law firm – did not even know their portfolio and which other countries they operate in (while all this info was of course available on their website). I had job interviews with banks, PR agencies, law firms and industrial companies. Each of them had somewhat different requirements for PR manager. Subordination of PR function, cooperation with other departments including marketing also differed. I was EAGER to get to know all these details!

Two business people shaking hands

During the interview with the head of PR department of an international bank I asked about advantages of studying at CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) programme. Me, the then neophyte in public relations, was interviewing head of PR who graduated from this programme while I was considering enrolling. Just think – what could be a better way to learn about practical advantages (and it turned out there were a lot of them) of this professional educational programme? Where else could I learn about the way corporate communications work – internal PR, external communications, and the way PR and marketing departments cooperate?

To sum it up, I saw not only challenges, but also opportunities in the lengthy job hunting process. I did analyse my mistakes and sometimes came to unfavourable conclusions. But most importantly, I got access to valuable information about the work of PR departments in different companies. And when I heard “Yes, we are hiring you” during my 12th job interview, I could feel that I gained a lot of practical experience during the summer job hunting. It was a great feeling. So I would like to say “thank you” to all those who said “no” for all the valuable insights before I heard that final “yes”.

These ideas might help to train oneself to see opportunities in various situations:

1. Generate ideas. Then write them down!

Make notes, use audio recording option on your smartphone – anything goes. It’s very important to record your ideas. And don’t judge them too harshly. Some ideas might not be related to the job search or career growth at all, but please record them as well, especially if you like them! It is important to get used to creating the flow of ideas. I assure you that after some time you will realise that some ideas are not of interest to you any more (and that’s fine!) and that you began to implement others. In my case, I get most insights when I walk in the park, observe nature and beauty. Find you own source/place of inspiration.

2. Become knowledgeable about the area of your professional interest

The sooner the better. The more practice you get, the better. Webinars, open discussions, internships, summer schools, free online courses – anything goes. If you don’t have the experience you need yet, find those people who do have it. Talk to them, ask questions. If they are not in your immediate environment, find them online, reach out to them, read their blogs and posts on social media. You will soon see that you have wider horizons and clearer vision. Your perception of the situation will also change.

It is also a good idea to replace the convenient excuse

“I can’t do it because I am unsure of myself/don’t have work experience yet/don’t speak German/French/Spanish etc”

with more promising statements like

“I will join this online course/study 10 new words in French/learn infographics using free programmes /draft a cover letter for my CV and I will do the first step today”.

3. Learn how to handle information

Information is easily accessible nowadays, yet it is much more important to learn how to handle it so that it benefits you.

Understanding yourself and your desires will also be of great help.

“Do I really want to work in this bank/ Big 4 company/ international organization or this is just a matter of prestige?” It’s quite important to ask oneself this question at the right time.

By the way, that international bank did offer me the job later – in October. By that time I was already working as internal communications specialist in another company, so I declined. Was it a missed opportunity? I don’t think so. I liked internal communications much more than media relations back then. And it is much closer to life and career coaching – my current job which I love.

So don’t be discouraged with all the “no”s that you will hear along your way! There’s always a “yes” coming!


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