Job hunting is not easy. It is not easy to begin with even in one’s home country, let alone trying the job market in a new environment that has an altogether different culture and lifestyle. So having tried to do so in the UK for nearly half a year now, here’s a few tips for aspiring job applicants.
Your character will make or break your application
One of the first few interviews that I was invited for was by the investment bank, Goldman Sachs. I expected to be drilled about the technical details, as well as on my knowledge and skills. And yes, there was one interview that was purely technical. But for that one technical interview, there were four other “competency-based” interviews. And it is in these interviews that they drill you with questions about your character. They want to know what you would do in certain situations that call for moral judgements, or what you have done that demonstrates that you are a good person. Note the word person. It is not about whether you are a good worker, but a good person in general.
Interviews with other companies run along the same lines. Yes, you must possess the skillsets required for the job. But what makes you different? What makes you you? They are not looking to hire robots. They are looking for people that they would be happy to work with. People hire for attitude, then train for skill.
Spend time on character development
Other than focusing on building the correct skillsets, go ahead and pursue extra-curricular activities that help shape and develop your character. The University of Southampton has many opportunities for its students to grow and cultivate themselves. There is always something to be done. Examples of excellent opportunities would be Enactus or Student Formula. You can also try out volunteering. If you have hobbies such as composing, theatre, travelling etc., do not be afraid to pursue them. But whatever you do, make sure it is really helping you to grow on your character, and not just for the pursuit of a career – people usually see through glory-hunters quite easily.
Learn how to market what you have
Okay, you would argue that you have already indulged too much in all these activities. But what you have to do next is to market yourself properly. When I went for my first few interviews, I always had the mindset that I needed to demonstrate that I would be a good worker. I never thought that, nor did anyone tell me that, I would need to use my character as a selling point. But this is exactly what you need to do. Humility is a great personal trait, but do not overdo it. I am sure that everyone is special in their own way. So make sure you demonstrate yours!