The City Girl Encylopedia

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just a short snippet of a potential book I may continue to write about how to become a "City Girl" written by a City Girl herself. The in's and out's of working in the UK's central financial district- the Square Mile. Written in a humorous and light-hearted style.

The City of London- the business and financial beating heart of the United Kingdom. The central hub of all things financial, economical, statistical and lest we forget banking(ical).  Originally named Londinium and built in 43AD, it was a Roman settlement (one may assume it is a highly historical City). From Roman baths and heated floors to sashaying sheep across London Bridge, the Square Mile has certainly developed over time. Quite rapidly, it has transformed into an ever-growing vibrant and vivacious metropolis boasting an array of fabulous and high-end boutiques, chic bars and clubs, beautiful people and oh, of course, places of work.
This brings me quite naturally to a short summary of what this book will entail. How is one possibly meant to keep up with a City that is forever in a state of flux? There is an incessant need for workers in, not just the Square Mile, but central districts all around the world, to work hard yet play hard. All in all, working in the City, or any City, requires quick thinking, a schedule that is forever malleable, a tough stance against the world and a good pair of high heels. And a good long lasting lipstick. And a spare pair of skin-coloured tights (always good to be prepared). Oh, and your makeup bag with you at all times (you never quite know who will you meet in this wonderful City).
Getting that interview
Sometimes it's simply a case of who you know and being in the right place at the right time, but what about starting a fresh and from scratch? There are some pretty bizarre methods as to how people have got their jobs in London (or whichever City) e.g. standing outside Canary Wharf holding an "Employee Me!!" placard with an appropriately positioned miniature billboard in tow, pinpointing their key strengths and abilities or waltzing and loitering around a City investment bank performing an emotionally charged interpretative dance balancing a pile of one hundred of their CV's in each hand (exceptionally talented I concur).  Perhaps some may prefer the more direct approach of waiting dubiously outside the building of the prospective employer of choice, then seizing upon a carefully selected Partner or CEO. If you're a particular thrill seeker, perhaps you may opt for the Head of the Human Resources department as, after all, they will be the first to come into contact with your CV. Why not make a lasting impression, rather than be an anonymous being, only referred to as simply "Candidate 57 with excellent team working skills and the ability to pick up eight lattes from Starbucks, for the team, at record speed"? They do want us to stand out from the crowd and be unique after all.
Getting that interview – in a normal fashion

On the whole, and if you'd prefer not to have an awkward, inelegant encounter with a potentially burly security guard, many of us will take a traditional and much less exuberant route to winning a role in said company of choice. Online job websites have become increasingly effective as a form of locating a role whether it be from a secretary to a consultant to a CEO- they're all extremely easy to find with a quick tap of the keyboard and a press of the Enter button. Google will become your best friend- enough said.
A crucial point to remember is that one should never lie on their CV, as tempting as it is and as wonderful the success stories you may hear are. If you say you’re a regular and avid reader of the Financial Times expect to be asked what your stance is on a particular article (on the front page of that day’s paper, which you never read by the way- you pick up Cosmo instead because it contains a free mascara and ‘this week’s hottest!’ sex tips). If your answer is a strained, hesitant “erm” and a nonchalant (but clearly faked) explanation of how the country’s GDP is booming and inflation is at a steady level when in fact it is the complete opposite and you’re simply remembering the one page you actually read for your Economics A Level years back, then you know you’ve dug a deep, dark hole. Always go into an interview prepared to be grilled like a 20oz prime beef burger. Know your stuff inside and out and as mentioned, do not lie on your CV.


Of course you need to sell yourself, you only have a couple of sides of A4 paper to do that, so it is in your best interest to convert your CV into an advert for how fantastic you are after all. Listing previous jobs and responsibilities, achievements, education and awards is obviously the norm but you have to detail them in a way that makes them make you irresistible and in demand. Tailor your CV to the job and field you wish to enter. Financial role? Yes you should talk about the Excel spreadsheet you helped to develop to save time in the department but best to keep the Accounting Day you attended 8 years ago at college out. Economics role? Say what societies you are a member of- do you attend lectures or meetings regularly about the topic? Go ahead and make your CV fruitful and allow yourself to blossom within it.

A point to note is to include jobs that you have been in for a certain length of time- not a 2 week stint at that investment bank where you got caught out giving the department pedicures instead of ordering vital airline tickets for the manager you were the PA for and got dismissed. Think if that work experience is relevant to the role you’re applying for. If it’s your first ever proper office job, perhaps you will have to detail the barista role at Starbucks you used to have but if that job was when you were 17 and you’re now 30 with an assortment of jobs in between, then no- it’s not relevant to your Finance Manager application girl no matter how much you loved the free Frappuccino’s.


I have an interview: what do I do? What do I say? What do I wear?
A successful CV will clearly lead to an interview. Hurrah! You did it. You got the interview that you so tirelessly worked for. Sending out hundreds of CV's and repetitive cover letters has finally paid off and trying to re-word your personal profile to make yourself stand out from the crowd (without sounding like you spent a week ransacking a thesaurus) has finally done the job!  However, where do you go from here? Now comes the build-up of anticipation for the big day. A job interview is much like your wedding day- it's a big event where lasting impressions are made. It can go either of two ways- a fantabulous occasion where you are the star of the show and the interviewers love you or a limp-handshake and the wrong dress later, has you made equivalent to a stood-up bride at the altar with your supposed groom having eloped to Iceland with the wedding planner.


You need to go to your interview in your most sensible, executive outfit. Don’t be so blasé and wear leggings and a shirt with a hole in the armpit and don’t even think about going down the route of wearing a dress more suited to a scandalous night out in your local nightclub which has the risk of exposing a bum cheek if you sit in the wrong position. Of course the fool-proof and safest option is a little black dress with black heels and a minimal black bag that screams prim and proper business sophistication but personally I beg to differ. All the successful interviews I have ever had have involved a red dress. Red?! Isn’t that a little too saucy for an interview? It is a fact that red makes you appear more attractive and as red is the colour of warning and alert, it is a great way to, not necessarily attention seek but to grab the mind of the interviewer. If they have interviewed 10 girls in black dresses that day and you have sashayed in in your best scarlet coloured pencil dress, it will be difficult to forget you because you stuck out like a sore thumb- in a good way. Red is the way to go! But of course be mindful of the style and be mindful of the organisation you are applying to. If you’re of a larger bosom capacity, then exposing them is probably not ideal for an interview no matter how much you think it can diverge from the fact that no, you do not know what the firm you are being interviewed by actually does, you just liked the fact it was conveniently located near Selfridges.


Preferably wear heels for an interview. Not too high however- you don’t want to look like a walking sky scraper with the frame of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you do want to wear heels of a substantial height please do be mindful of the location of the firm you are attending the interview with and your journey there- know what you are dealing with in advance. Stay on the inside of any pavements and avoid the cracks. Assess the floor as you walk, keep on a firm lookout for drains and grids as you do not want to stumble onto your hands and knees into a fresh puddle and turn up to the interview looking like a wet dog. If walking over a grid becomes inevitable, one must take appropriate caution (and please do not feel embarrassed to let out a strained whimper to whichever member of the public is standing near you). If walking into the road is a no-go (stopping traffic really is ideal but not always achievable when a line of angry traffic has formed whilst you hobble to safe ground. Sometimes your sweetest smile doesn’t cover such emergencies), then it is time to suck in your pride and brave the grating. Simply tip toe across, concentrating on the balls of your feet but hope to the highest of heel heavens, your balance does not wave and your heel suddenly becomes wedged in said grid. This would then require you to attempt to calmly and inconspicuously attempt to dislodge the heel but with this, there is always risk involved. You do not want to break your Louboutins or Blahniks, they are prized possessions, and nor do you want to be late for your interview (it’s in 10 minutes and you’re still a good walk away). Now is a good time to seek help and act as a forlorn damsel in distress and hope a good hearted gentleman will use his muscles to get you out of this treacherous mess. It’s worth asking him whether perhaps he wishes to carry you the rest of the way to the interview however you may receive an odd look and a taxi maybe a quicker option.

Cobblestones. Walk away now. Don’t even attempt these on their own as you will end up on your back with a ladder in your tights and an embarrassment level located at the top of the Shard. No matter how late you are, hitch a ride on the back of a passing Banker’s back, grab onto an unassuming passer-by’s arm and use them as a support mechanism or hail a taxi- there is no real other way to get past this hazard. Cobblestones should be banned or an obligatory red carpet should be strewn through the middle for any people in heels of a risky height. Suggest this to a local MP and hope for change.

If heels are not your thing or you are of a sensible nature and wear ones of an appropriate height for an interview, then opting for a stylish pair of flats will have to be. It is advisable not to pair pumps with a skirt or dress which is nearing your ankles unless you are of substantial height. This will essentially make you look shorter and also makes the outfit look less extravagant and less dressy. Pair flats with a knee length or just below knee length dress or skirt and you will be fine. If you do want to wear heels but are put off by the pain and discomfort they cause (you’d rather not turn up to the interview grimacing and limping), a tip to consider is to combine wearing skin coloured tights (to lessen rubbing) and placing talcum powder in shoe to act as a lubricant for the foot. Think gel pads and plasters too- it’s better to be comfortable than to display an exasperated facial expression upon arrival at the company. Of course pain is sometimes necessary in both fashion and in beauty but as human nature has developed we have come to know of various ways to alleviate such hindrances.


(To Be Continued)


Submitted: August 11, 2013

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