How to boss your graduate job search, the "Queer Eye" way
With a record number of people in the UK currently stuck in “covid jail” (thanks, Omicron!), there’s never been a better time to delve into your Netflix queue. I, for one, am not ashamed to admit that I’ve already spent an inordinate number of hours splayed vertically in front of the TV, laughing (and occasionally crying) along to Season 6 of Netflix’s hit makeover show, Queer Eye.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, Queer Eye on Netflix is a revamped version of the early Noughties series, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Each hour-long episode focuses on one “Hero” (normally an individual, but sometimes an organisation) in the Deep South as they undergo a much-deserved “make-better”, courtesy of the show’s hosts, each of whom have individual expertise in fields ranging from Culture to Interior Design. The result, more often than not, is heartwarming, as you watch the Heroes’ confidence skyrocket over the course of a week, and you realise the physical transformation is, truthfully, just an outward sign of something happening much deeper.
“What does this have to do with the graduate job search?” I hear you cry, and to that I say: …not much. Hear me out, though! In many ways, we all have something to learn from the Fab 5. Sure, you might not be from Texas and have terrible taste in shoes, but the graduate job market in 2022 is competitive and I’m willing to bet you, like every grad, has had a moment over the past two years when you’ve wobbled and considered giving up on the job hunt altogether.
So, with no further ado, here’s how to “make-better” your graduate job applications, the Queer Eye way:
Jonathan: Grooming (Beautify your CV)
“You’re strong, you’re a Kelly Clarkson song, you got this.”
One of my favourite parts of each Queer Eye episode is when Jonathan spins the hairdressing chair around so the Hero can look at their haircut in the mirror for the first time. Physically, the change might be small, but it never fails to pack an emotional punch.
Likewise, things like keeping your CV to two pages or condensing your experience into bullet points might seem small when you’re first starting out on your job search but could mean everything to the tired Hiring Manager scanning your job application on Monday morning. If I could give one piece of advice to every grad that would improve their chances of getting an interview, it would be to upload their pre-existing CV into a template from Canva and then save it as a pdf (NOT a Word document). I promise you: it’s a game-changer.
Tan: Fashion (Dress for the job you’re interviewing for)
“I’m never massively concerned about what someone is wearing, as long as it makes them feel good about themselves.”
We’ve all heard the old adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”, but what happens when you don’t know what job you want? A lot of us have been brainwashed by university job fairs, which (at least in my day) were dominated by Magic Circle law firms and Big Four banks, where suits are not just expected but required.
However, as we at BrighterBox can attest, this isn’t necessarily the case for startup employees. My advice, then, when trying to pick out an outfit the day before a job interview is to consider where you’re applying and what their office culture looks like. Remote-first teams might be happy for you to rock up to your Zoom meeting in anything that’s not pyjama bottoms, whereas most of the companies BrighterBox works with will ask candidates to dress in “smart-casual”, which normally means a shirt but no tie.
Bobby: Design (Declutter your workspace)
“Coming home to a tidy, pulled-together space will help everything in your life feel the same way.”
A study conducted by the Office of National Statistics found that, in 2020, almost 40% of the UK workforce worked from home. In an ideal world, this transition would have happened seamlessly as we all shuffled from shared office spaces in the centre of town to our luxurious home offices, where the coffee is always hot and the wifi never drops. Unfortunately, for many people, this was simply not the case. Many grads in London, for example, live at home with their families or else in rented house shares, where landlords won’t even allow them to stick posters on the walls, let alone demolish a whole room in the name of “home improvements”.
Still, there is something to be said for the “tidy room, tidy mind” mantra. Like everything, this will be easier for some people than others, but even something like organising your email inbox into folders can make a huge difference when applying to jobs - and will make sure you’re less likely to miss job offers when they do come through!
Antoni: Food & Wine (Connect with your community)
“I’m a romantic. The idea of bringing together two people who were meant to be…I think that would be really sweet.”
Sadly, I’m still trying to figure out a way that somebody could make food a part of their job hunt, beyond bribing your interviewer with a 12-pack of Crosstown doughnuts. However, the thing about the work Antoni does on Queer Eye is that it’s rarely just about making food. For the most part, it’s an invitation for the Hero to find different ways to engage with the people around them, whether that be their family, their friends or those in their local community.
A lot of the time, we tend to view job hunting as a solitary activity, but like most things in life, it gets easier when you invite other people on that journey with you. Obviously, I’d like to think you’ve already uploaded your CV onto BrighterBox, but if not, now is the time! As graduate recruiters, it’s our job to make the application process as smooth as possible.
Karamo: Culture (Become an expert)
“Being an adult means being a person of action.”
In a job market like this one, it’s not enough to say you can do things; you have to demonstrate. Anyone can say that they want to launch a career in marketing but not every grad is going to go to the effort of enrolling on (much less completing) the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course on Google Digital Garage. Equally, anyone can say they like tech, but not every grad is going to make the effort to keep up to date with new outlets like TechCrunch or listen to a WIRED tech podcast. Those who do have already put themselves at a huge advantage over the competition.
And there you have it…the Queer Eye method to smashing the job hunt, broken down into five manageable steps. Go get ‘em, honey!