Key messages from the Original Talks Conference

by Jelena
Original razgovori saveti HRova za zaposlenje

For many people, a job is a crucial platform they use to grow all aspects of their human being. We spend the majority of our day (and life!) working – and most likely our minds are still working when we are out of the office. No wonder we find the process of applying for a job and the interview itself so stressful. Here are key messages from the Original Talks conference that was held in Belgrade to help young people better prepare for job interviews. 

I found out that the majority of people all around the world are struggling to prepare themselves adequately for what could potentially be a very life-changing moment – job interview.

By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. 

Benjamin Franklin

Even for a regular day, we have to prepare ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why not doing the same for a job interview?

I was quite lucky to have had a chance to have a 2-day course with Ken Pope when I was doing my Master’s degree studies. We worked in a really fun way on our presentation skills and I picked up some really good tips and tricks from him.

I worked on my elevator pitch, practiced being confident with my answers to common questions that everybody gets on first interviews, started thinking of my 5 and 10-year plan for future and where I want to be… He encouraged us to work on our social media presentations, and that was like 8 years ago!

It was very important to increase the impact of everything you do – every opportunity we had to introduce ourselves was crucial for our future.

We don’t hear questions such as “Tell me something about yourself” or “What are you passionate about?” or “What is the biggest mistake you ever made” only on the job interviews. It would be very wise to prepare ourselves for those opportunities. Why else would anyone remember us in the crowd?

Practice being authentic on every occasion. That means showing up with purpose whenever there is an opportunity. And there are many.

Networking, networking, and networking

This is something that Americans know very well (hint: social media). Over here on our side, we’ve been quite conservative and despite the fact that we “know” that connections are important, not many understood how to create them.

I struggled massively with this one and I still do. I don’t like to observe people through their roles and insist on being friends with somebody just because they are “somebody.” However, I do admit that this kind of mindset is very important in business. I’ve seen how much most of my ideas suffered because I wasn’t that kind of girl.

Anyhow, as somebody very passionate about giving back, I’ve had a very exciting brainstorming session with my team at the Original Magazine. I shared with them how I’d like to help those young people get a fair opportunity and get the most valuable insight on how to be the best sales manager of their brand and skills.

We used our connections to bring over 40 HR managers from different companies and industries to help us do a first interview simulation. Each candidate will have proper feedback – what to improve and how to improve their weak spots. Even though this is not why we are there, some candidates might even get a job.

Speaking about networking opportunity: imagine being in a very relaxed and cozy setting with the people who decide who gets the job in 40 biggest companies, you get to ask them questions, get to know them and learn from them. Quite an opportunity right?

We had 4 keynotes and 2 panels to add to the job simulations for 250 young people aged between 22 and 30.

Takeaways from Original talks #2

On our first panel, we talked about the importance of networking. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of knowing the right people, but also, making yourself known in the right way. We should start using social networks to present ourselves professionally, and not just to get the likes or favorites.

It is always a good idea to go to conferences and meetings organized by student organizations. They have great relationships with companies and will certainly recommend you if you stand out. Companies are always looking for the right candidate, and those ones are hard to find.

Professor Vesna Damnjanović did a great keynote at our conference. She suggested that we should be as concise as we can when meeting somebody and try to describe ourselves in only 3 words. To illustrate this, she described Novak simply as “King of Sport” and herself as “Serbian Harvard.” As she said “Creative and brief, but quite impactful!” (PS. Of course, these descriptions are not relevant or appropriate for every occasion, so it is a good idea to have a few different options)

Vesna also used an opportunity to remind young people how important it is to give and share, and not just expect to be served by others. It is important to contribute to the community with our energy, skills, experience, contacts, and knowledge.

Ask yourself often: “What can I give here; how can I be of service to this person, this situation?” You don’t need to own anything to feel abundant, although if you feel abundant consistently things will almost certainly come to you. Abundance comes only to those who already have it. It sounds almost unfair, but of course, it isn’t. It is a universal law. Both abundance and scarcity are inner states that manifest as your reality. Jesus puts it like this: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Eckhart Tolle, New Earth

Try your best to nurture good relationships among your peers. Practice being respectful, giving and kind on each opportunity, not only when you think it will get you something.

Most of the young people in Serbia go straight from their undergraduate studies to Masters programs without a day of work experience, which is not so common abroad. HRs consider this to be a very negative trend because you need at least 6 months of work experience to get the most out of your Masters studies.

So we have plenty of 30-year-olds with little or no significant work experience, with Masters degree expecting to get a higher ranked and higher paid jobs. The market doesn’t accept this.

Ivana Mihajlović, HR Manager of Direct Media, one of the biggest media buying agencies in Serbia, shared on our morning panel “How to brand yourself in business” her experience with young people. Most of them come to work with lots of enthusiasm but lack of patience. They see lots of opportunities where they can contribute, but they don’t understand why it takes so much time to see the change within corporate structures. She advised that we should do our best to respect all the steps while climbing to the top of the ladder of success. Again, key word here is patience.

Today, we have many opportunities to start our own business and become entrepreneurs. Brana Antović, the author of a blog called Brana’s divine world and the participant on one of our panels suggested that we should take advantage of this digital era and create our own digital CV through social networks or blogs. Eight years ago she sent her CV to more than 20 places and never even received a reply. So instead of waiting, she started her blog and within a month job offers started arriving to her inbox. Today she employs 7 people and says

I am now living my own dream and not someone else’s

To me, this is the strongest message we can send to young people out there who are part of our community of “Originals”. With clear purpose, passion and enthusiasm we can create opportunities on our own.

I would like to use this opportunity to remind us all that what we do is not necessarily who we really are. Our job is just one of the many roles we take on throughout our life. It has expiry date and we should never take personally any of the lessons we learn while we work. We will make mistakes, we will be successful, we might fail, lose a job or even quit. All of those are just lessons and opportunities for us to grow. That is the purpose of every role we have in life – to help us grow and be better, never worse. Never a victim. Only students.

The goal is to stay human despite tough trials.

As Slavimir Stojanović Futro said in his keynote:

In life, you should try to do only things that are easy for you. Until they become difficult. Then continue doing them until they become easy again. That’s the key to success.

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Padma Rajan March 7, 2019 - 9:24 pm

Such an insightful blog post!! And you are just 32 with this kind of extraordinary wisdom – amazing! “The goal is to stay human despite tough trials.” Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts so beautifully! Loads of love from Florida, -Padma

Kristina Lalova March 8, 2019 - 1:08 am

Hi Jelena,

I love this post. Everything you mention is so true. Maybe technology has made us more impatient and eager to achieve and have everything in an instant, while this is impossible in real life. When we post something on social media, we will likely get an immediate reaction and outcome as a result of our decision. However, real life doesn’t work this way. To achieve something, you need to work on it daily, consistently and persistently. I have learned it from my own personal experience that there is no elevator to success and I have come to terms with the fact that I will need to take the stairs for some time. And, it often happens that after I achieve something, I am happy for a minute or two, and then I ask myself what I want to achieve next. Therefore, this goes back to your saying that our jobs don’t always capture who we really are. To be honest, my current job doesn’t capture who I really am, which confuses me a little bit. I want to educate, motivate and inspire children to be their best versions through the job of a Professor, while I am not there yet. I know I will get there some day but I am in the beginning of my journey and every beginning is difficult, as I have learned.
This also relates to the idea that the journey matters more than the destination itself. Most likely everyone reaches the destination but the question is whether we reach this destination ethically, conforming to our core values and beliefs, and whether the benefit of personal satisfaction with reaching the destination actually outweighs the price that we have paid in terms of time and sacrifices. I have reached the conclusion that I want to live my life following my dreams – whether I reach them or not is up to many factors both outside and inside of me, but I just want to enjoy the journey and every single step that I am taking. Looking back I have actually achieved more than I have set out to achieve. And, I can see that I can achieve more which is both a relief and a burden. It is a relief because I know that my hard work will pay off but it is a burden because I know that there will be times when I will need to be strong and I will need to overcome certain obstacles. It will not be an easy journey. And, I also do realize that my career is not the most important value in my life Each and everyone of us has other significant roles outside of our jobs. Often these roles are more important than the role we take on in our jobs. I personally believe that the most important and precious role that everyone could ever have is that of a parent. My parents and relatives have shown me what it means to build a stable family, and I dream of having my own one day. It might have been said a billion times but I will say it one more time – our children are our future and it is our responsibility to bring up kind-hearted and responsible individuals so that we can create more inclusive and thriving societies. Education is the most important variable in the equation of life. I look forward to reading future blog posts.

Much love and peace,

Julie March 8, 2019 - 8:19 pm

“Our job is just one of the many roles we take on throughout our life. It has expiry date …” – Definitely something that rings a bell to me these days.
Well done for creating all of those opportunities for so many people. It truly is wonderful.


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