I met a friend for coffee recently. She announced upon arrival that it was her anniversary.
“Oh congratulations!! What are we celebrating?” I asked.
“Two years of unemployment. Yay for me!” she replied, looking down as she blew the steam from her coffee.
Frustratingly, this is an all too familiar situation for the 16-25 age demographic in Scotland today. The jobs just aren’t there.
Despite this, recent headlines suggest that there is light at the end of the unemployment tunnel. In August, the Office of National Statistics announced that Scotland’s employment rate had reached its highest level since records began in 1992. I must admit, I’m not sure that I’m seeing this on the streets of my town.
When S1 Jobs got in touch with me to ask for an interview about life as a blogger and my career to date, I was happy to oblige, but I couldn’t resist turning the tables on them to get the low down on what’s actually going on in the Scottish graduate employment market from an insider perspective.
Here is the interview:
Hi there GD, how did you become a blogger? Are you “living the dream” career wise?
I wouldn’t consider my blog as a career per se, its more of a hobby really. In “real life” I am actually a lawyer!
I first discovered blogging whilst on maternity leave and have never looked back. I love the freedom of expression that blogging provides and particularly enjoy the self-publishing process and feedback I get from readers on my short stories and anecdotes.
There is a lot of publicity around at the moment about “superstar bloggers,” but I would say that they are the exception in the blogging world rather than the rule. In actual fact, a LOT of hard work is required to establish a firm footing in the blog-sphere. There’s no such thing as easy overnight success and I think that quite a few new bloggers get dis-heartened by this reality. I guess it all depends what you are getting into blogging for, but unless you are very fortunate to tap into the “next big thing,” it probably takes at least six months of posting before you find your own unique voice and following. That said, Scotland has a great blogging community and I am fortunate to call many of my fellow bloggers friends. Building up a social network by promoting on twitter, Instagram and Facebook is also key in developing a successful blog brand.
Setting up a blog can be a great way for job seekers to showcase their talent to potential employers. Skills such as writing for an audience, photography, marketing and also demonstrating the passion and commitment that they could add to a project are central to running a successful blog. It is also a lot of fun!
In terms of “dream jobs,” I would love to become an author or at least a full-time freelance writer. Watch this space!
What was the reason for choosing Aberdeen to kickstart your profession?
Life in Aberdeen tends to lend itself towards working in the oil and gas industry in some shape or form and so when I was a student up there I sought to secure some work experience in the legal department of a company that sells oil rigs. That position not only gave me a grounding in general office work but also confirmed to me that I was heading for the right profession in the right industry. I did actually apply for a range of graduate jobs in Glasgow and Edinburgh around the same time, but was unsuccessful and so aside from an interest in the oil and gas industry, another factor that led me to Aberdeen was the availability of jobs matching my qualifications. Plus, there’s really no place like home!
What were the factors you had to consider when choosing a location for work?
Any graduate will face the age old dilemma of “do I want to work to live, or live for work?”
For me, finding a career with progression potential and transferrable skills were key elements, irrespective of location. When I started out in my career ten years ago, I “lived for work,” particularly during a stint working in the City of London where I rarely got home before midnight! This suited me at the time. I was living alone and there was a great camaraderie at work.
Now that I am a little older, I am still interested in career progression and transferrable skills but job security and quality of life outwith work has risen through the ranks now that I have more responsibilities generally.
Of course, I’m not sure there is as much leeway these days to “choose” a job location. The reality is that graduates may have to go to where the work is to secure a foot on the employment ladder.
What were the challenges you encountered whilst finding work in Glasgow?
Now that I live in Glasgow, my oil and gas experience is not so relevant and so should I decide to return to a legal career following maternity leave, it is likely that I will have to retrain in another area of expertise. I was also working for an energy company as opposed to a law firm and since “in-house” legal positions are less common in the central belt, returning to life as a “service provider” rather than a “client” is likely. A more fundamental challenge for me would be balancing motherhood with my career as part-time legal positions are notoriously few and far between. In the meantime, I shall continue on with blogging, freelance writing and writing my novel and see where that goes!
Time to turn the tables on S1…
Have you seen any changes in recent years of the type of professions being sought in Scotland?
There has been change in the types of jobs that those with high levels of further education are applying for. It would be fair to say that there is more competition for lower pay jobs. This increases the volume of applicants from for those leaving school, college and university for these types of jobs.
How is the graduate job market looking post recession?
Currently, it is tough and competitive. A lot more networking is required of graduates in order to get their foot in the door so to speak. We admit that is not easy so we recommend that graduates do whatever is in their means to be noticed by an employer. That could be attending open days held by organisations, attending events and conferences within their field and generally building up a network of people who may lead them into employment.
What is your number one tip for attracting attention from a potential employer when applying for a job via S1?
It does depend on the employer and what they require. Our best tip would be make sure you show the best example of your skills that match what the employer requires from their desired employee. Don’t exaggerate but make sure your example is true, accurate and displays the skills that that they are asking for.
Thanks S1! To access S1’s job bank, visit their website here.
Happy weekend everyone!