Han Meets London: working in the City.
About a month ago I posted a Twitter poll asking what you lovelies would like to see more of on this blog. And the reality of living in London came out on top. Naturally as a blogger I knew I could make this into a series and, here is the first: working in the Big Smoke.
Originally I was going to stick to the logistics of fun stuff, but as I have mentioned before, this is not the blog for ‘nice’ all the time. This is a space of honesty. And in order to live the ‘nice’ stuff, you have to have a couple of things in place.
The first one is Work.
Let me break it down for you: working in London is not easy.
Or at least getting work is not easy.
However, you should not be discouraged by this.
I had the old argument of ‘do I go for a grad job because it is safe, well-paid and would sort me for a couple of years’. But I know it’s not for me. I have been head-hunted a couple of times for schemes. However the only argument for me in that was that it would ‘sort me for two years tops’ and ‘I wouldn’t have to worry about money’.
If you want to go into a specific field that a grad scheme can offer, then go for it! If you want to gain skills for a job, then go for a grad scheme!
If you’re thinking it’s the easiest way in. Don’t do it.
I knew I had to change my perspective.
Back to the shop floor:
Fortunately for me, I have built my CV up over the years. So when I presented my CV to certain companies they were impressed by my experience for my age, however they then “didn’t know what to do with me” or they couldn’t find a place for me. Companies would even right me back after I sent in my application explaining that my experience was impressive but I was missing ‘the years’ or particular ‘field knowledge’.
Just before I set off to Paris in October, I sent my CV in to a couple of shops. I got back and had two interviews. Which I got successfully.
After five years of not being behind the till, I hated it. And I gave my immediate notice after a week and a half.
Again, for money and being able to say that I live in London, it wasn’t worth it (for me). Customers were even ruder and I couldn’t be flexible with my hours because I was coaching at that time.
The morning I gave in my notice to the shop, I had a group assessment for a recruitment agency that afternoon.
My friend had recommended I sign up with them. And the day after they had a job lined up for me in luxury fashion. My dream at that time.
That worked well for two weeks. It was a lot of data-inputting but the atmosphere was exhilarating.
And then I was fired. On my birthday. *Insert cry laughing emoji*.
The week after I spent two weeks working for Deliveroo in one meeting room with nine other women doing the SEO tagging their menus. One Monday morning at 9am I found myself in the lift with the Founder. In his trackies. Trust the entrepreneur to look like this, amirite!?
From there I worked as a receptionist in a law firm and then in customer support for an app.
It’s quick, it’s varied, you meet people from all walks of life and you never know what you’ll be doing. You’re dispensable.
While I never actually considered myself unemployed, I was for a couple of weeks at a time. Unless you have a lot of savings, I highly recommend never getting stuck without work in London. It becomes scary. Money goes out of the bank very easily.
I’m feeling super uncomfortable reliving those memories even now.
A term you might hear a lot to begin with. If you choose not to go for a Grad Scheme and go straight for the ‘big job’.
Like I said before, companies didn’t know what to do with me. ‘London Experience’ was a term I heard a lot. I had a lot of ‘experience’ for 23, but I didn’t have ‘London Experience’.
This is where I had to eat a massive slice of humble pie.
In a big city, image is everything and with that comes relative industry experience, specific to big cities.
Because I have ‘Director’ on my CV, companies gave me feedback. Because I had no work experience in London or specific to, for example fashion, they couldn’t give me the interview.
You will need to be prepare to go crazy with CVs, cover letters and applications. A couple of places I applied for multiple roles and only heard back for one. You just never quite know.
Now I have my foot back in London, it’s strongly on to dusting the CV and giving LinkedIn a facelift.
Temping has been a wonderful way to try different fields and get to know what I am and am not prepared to do in work. For example, I am happy doing admin but don’t like answering phones.
But having a room, that I pay rent for and will be in for a few months now, I want to build a life.
“Build a life, not simply a career” – Lady Boss Blogger
A great job and/or career is great, but you have to want the lifestyle too.
So my next step is to create a career that builds the life I also want.
What is the life you want?