When I started this blog, it was because I’d lost my job. I knew that I needed a plan, and I want to talk more sometime about what my personal plan was, but for now all you need to know is that IT WORKED and I USED LOLITA TO GET MY CURRENT JOB. I’m back in employment, in my industry, in a job I really wanted and I’m even paid more than my last job. Being a fashion blogger really paid off!

Here’s an outfit I wore to my NEW JOB! 

Unemployment in the UK

Let me tell you a bit about what unemployment is like here. You have to sign on to a benefit system, which means that you agree to spend 37 hours per week looking for jobs or undertaking activities which could lead you to work and in exchange for that you’re given £250 a month to live on. You also have to log all of your activity on line and attend a meeting about once a week at your local job centre, which is often not that local, so that a government employee can make sure you’re doing enough work.

I had too many qualifications to be considered for most internships or apprenticeships, but just not enough experience to land full time positions in my industry. If you’d like an example, I have about 5 years retail experience, so I got a retail job over Christmas where even though I was told I was doing a great job and received personal commendations from area and regional managers. But, they also told me they didn’t keep me on because I was overqualified, and they didn’t want to go through the trouble of training me up to have me leave for a job that fit my qualifications a few months later. People who tell you to just “get a job” really have lost any idea of the current employment market.

Lolita Got Me a Job!

What I’d really like to do, to help out other people in this situation, is write an interview or two about a topic that’s usually not very talked about in subculture communities: how I used my hobby to get my job. In this case, employability and lolita fashion. Many people think that your hobbies shouldn’t be discussed at a job interview, but it really depends on how you find it easiest to sell yourself.

Today’s interview is with Holly Bell. Holly is the co-founder and one of the moderators (or admin if you prefer) for her local community. Holly has been wearing lolita since 2012, and also runs Lolita Valentines. Holly currently works for a charity, and I wanted to interview her because she is another person who I know that got her job thanks to skills she gained and honed in her lolita community. She is also a wonderful sweet person, so that’s always a bonus!

Interview with Holly Bell

What skills would you say your position in your comm gave you? Or did it allow you to practise skills you already had?

We founded the comm about a year after following my final year at university, where I took on a producing role. The degree I did in Film and Media Production allowed me to gain skills around events management and working with varied groups of people along with other communication and other varied specialisations – this built a great foundation to develop.

Within the lolita community I organise a lot of meets, which similarly involves organising people, understanding needs about travel, and of course budgeting along with a host of other vital communications and people skills.
The time I have spent as a leader in my community has built up the skills extraordinarily; I am an ambassador for the fashion, level head for when events are being put on and along with the previously mentioned practical skills I also have been mentoring others to build on their own skills in events management.

How did you apply those skills in the workplace?

I currently work as a manager in a charity whose core vision is to create a world where everyone can benefit from digital. In my day to day role I manage my team and show them a good example, visit organizations as an ambassador to the company, organise small events and provide support to larger events.

Having an understanding of events management and how much work goes into events has made it much easier to get an overview of how it all comes together. The majority of the interviews I’ve had included questions where I have been able to answer using experience from lolita.

I also feel that digital is a huge part of the lolita community (working at a digital company I am fairly biased though!), and the communication I have had during my time as a comm leader has enable me to ensure that online is used in a beneficial way. For example my role in the workplace involves the majority of conversations being hosted online, so having spent 4 years communicating with lolitas around the world it has enabled me to develop my language into a clear cut and respectful format – essential for professional communications.

How would you recommend that people mention their involvement with the community in interviews?

I think this is best demonstrated with an extract from one of my notes from my last interview. I always recommend mentioning this work in the ‘hobbies’ or ‘voluntary work’ section of your CV as it only supports your experience, but will not be looked as as important as practical paid work – I look at a lot of CVs at work in the recruitment process so this if from experience!

This is how I note my experience when going into an interview for me to refer to:

Fashion Society / Online community – organisation and prioritisation, managing social media accounts, community moderator

  • Events, day trips, meetings and online discussions
  • Mentoring
  • Created a strong working partnership and demonstrating leadership
  • Bringing in new members and ensuring they are welcomed and confident

Dependent on the position I am applying for I may pull on different aspects of my skills, for example if this was a marketing role I would focus heavily on the on line and events side. If this was for a people management role I would highlight the mentoring etc.

Do you remember a particular example that you gave to an employer/company that impressed them?

I recently came into a new role as a manager, and in my interview I used my experience of mentoring people in my community and providing support where it was needed to demonstrate how I would manage a team or varying personalities and people. Along with the rest of my interview this put me in a strong position and I was promoted to management. I also have in the past spoken about using digital to engage and improve my own knowledge when applying for a digital marketing role – meaning I speak to a lot of lolitas around the world who have VERY different opinions and experiences!

Which industries would you recommend/not recommend mentioning this hobby in?

You can pretty much apply any skills gained in lolita to any role that involves talking to other people – being part of a group means you are going to meet people with different personality types and you will (hopefully) have learned to communicate and understand different types of people.

When I mentioned lolita I don’t ever name check it – I keep it very ‘top level’ and focus on the fact that is essentially a society. If you have ever arranged a meetup with more than 5 people that has given you experience there; you may have arranged travel, spoken to venues, considered accessibility and catering. If there is a role that requires any skills relating to organisation or people skills (hate that phrase but that’s what they are!), this this the right role to bring up these skills.

What could people do in their lolita comm that might boost their employability?

EVENTS EVENTS EVENTS! Arranging an event no matter how small gives you time management, resourcefulness, communication, consideration of others, willingness and passion. These are valued skills in an employee and if you are able to show you can put on a successful day out. Start by organising one with another more experienced member of the comm, you can even use events support on your CV at that stage until you build up your confidence to lead on. Even being a mentor in the comm can be used; if you have helped others, made them feel welcome and supported them this will all be valued to an employee – it shows you are considerate of others.

Do you wear lolita to work? Do you think it’s appropriate to wear lolita for work? What tips would you give someone who wanted to cute up their work wardrobe a bit?

I only wear lolita to work when we are having a special event but never day to day. Unfortunately I look very young for my age so wearing lolita to work would not work for me personally to give out the impression I want. In the role I am in I also have to look visitor ready at all times which also mean I have to ‘dress up’ my age wearing fairly standard blouse/skirt or a plain dress. However saying that I am sure my workplace would be very open to me wearing lolita, it is my choice to not. I did wear it at my office Christmas party on 2014 and it was requested I wear it again this year… the people in my office are very aware of my out of work activities and are very supportive and interested.

If you wanted to make your wardrobe cuter I would suggest expressing yourself with brooches, hair bands and even wrist cuffs. Its very much up to you to judge which impression you want to give off in the office and outside of it and decide on your own what you feel comfortable with.

Thanks to Holly for her knowledge and her amazing interview – I hope this has helped you in some way! If you have more employability tips, please leave them down in the comments.

If you have a really great employment story I would love to hear it! Please send me a message or leave a comment.

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