10 Career lessons from Buddy the Elf

For me Christmas movies fall into 3 categories – the classics (A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life & Miracle on 34th Street), family faves (Elf, Home Alone & The Grinch) and the Channel 5s (I can’t think of any off the top of my head which says a lot).  However I also feel that one film and in particular one character could fall into the genre of careers advice. The film is Elf and the character the one and only Buddy!

Perhaps not he most down to earth person to listen to but Buddy really has some useful tips for any recent graduates…… elf

 ‘I thought maybe we could make gingerbread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating and maybe even hold hands’

Buddy had a detailed (fun filled) plan for the day spent with his father.  When job hunting it’s a good idea to do the same. It might not sound as fun but having a plan for the week can help keep you on track.  What applications are you planning on working on? What closing dates are coming up? Prioritise what’s most urgent but also allow yourself some down time.

‘Santa! I know him!’

Met employers at any of our events or career fairs this semester? When making applications don’t forget to mention your conversation and who you spoke to. It might not be as big a name drop as Santa but will make you application more memorable.

Not attended events this semester? Don’t panic find out about our events for 2nd semester on CareersLink.

 ‘Who the heck are you?’

Even Buddy realises the importance of tailoring. Firstly employers want to know who the heck you are and why you are right for the job.  The job description provided tells you what they are looking for in a candidate – In your CV you must outline how you meet their criteria by talking about the relevant skills/ experiences that you have.

Similarly in your Covering Letter you need to demonstrate you know who they heck the employer is. Remember generic letters not work, mistakes can happen and EY really won’t be impressed to hear why you’re so interested in working for PwC (Believe it or not I’ve seen examples like this in the past!)

‘You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job everybody – It’s great to be here.’

Everyone likes a compliment – even employers!  In your Covering Letter you need to explain what first attracted you to apply to this employer – Why do you want to work for them? What makes them different? Why this organisation and not another in the sector?

‘It’s just nice to meet another human who shares my affinity for elf culture’

If you are still struggling to explaining you motivation for applying I suggest trying to get a feel for the culture of the organisation. To do this search employer websites to find out about the ethos and values they hold– Do they align with your own? Why are these things important to you?

‘You sit on a throne of lies’  

This one is pretty straightforward and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you – You need to be truthful in any application you make / interview you attend. Just as the ‘fake’ Santa in the film was eventually found out by Buddy employers will eventually find out the truth – it’s not worth it!

 ‘I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite’

Demonstrating the right body language in an interview is just as important as the answers you give to questions.  Keep a neutral / friendly facial expression (no furrowed brows!), maintain eye contact when appropriate (but don’t state), avoid unnecessary hand gestures (same goes for folded arms) and speak at a natural pace (unlike me who tends to forget to breathe when nervous). Our presentation skills guide has some useful tips on how to do these things.

Having a telephone interview? You need to get your enthusiasm and passion for the role across through voice production alone – Some people find that walking whilst on the phone instead of just sitting can help with this.

‘Buddy the Elf… What’s your favorite colour?’

At the end of an interview employers will usually ask if you have any questions so have some prepared in advance. Try to be more original than Buddy though – ask questions not answered on recruitment websites and that demonstrate your interest in the organisation/ job role. Do you want to know more about the team that you might be working in? About possible training & development opportunities? What about longer term career opportunities with them?

 ‘I passed through the 7 levels of the Candy Cane Forest, through the Sea of Swirly- Twirly Gumdrops & then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel’

Searching for a graduate job is never straightforward but just as Buddy did on his trip to New York you need to stick it out and keep going – it’ll get easier and eventually you’ll get there!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from everyone here at the Careers Service

Remember the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

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