Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Topic: Applications

Research for your personal statement or cover letter

📥  Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints

 

Writing a personal statement for further study or a cover letter for your dream job can be more difficult than first anticipated but it doesn’t have to be! The key is RESEARCH and I’m going to show you exactly how to do it here…

Of course employers or admissions tutors want to know that you have the right skills or experiences to thrive in the role, but they also want to know that you understand what the opportunity will entail, that you are enthusiastic about what the organisation does and that you’re actually passionate about working or studying with them!

Today I am going to concentrate on 2 out of the 3 points you need to cover for most personal statements and cover letters:

·         Why are you applying for this role?

·         Why are you applying to this organisation?

For today, I’ll leave out ‘Why you? – What skills, abilities or experiences do you have to offer that match the job specification’ as in my experience students struggle more with the above points.

Why are you applying for this role? READ: Why are you interested in this role/further study programme?

·         Have you stopped to consider what it would really be like to be in this role? This is worthwhile contemplating even if it wasn’t going to help with your application; you want to be happy in your career or field of study so it’s an important point to consider.

·         A first step is to ensure you know the job description or admission requirements inside and out. What sort of tasks will you be expected to carry out? Is there a lot of team or independent work? Is this something you enjoy?

·         Think about how this role would differ from a similar role in another organisation. Look at the organisation’s website or utilise careers fairs and alumni where you can talk to people doing the job already!

·         Read more generally about what this kind of role would be like. Make use of websites like Prospects and TargetJobs as well as our very own careers website.

·         You could also ring or email the contact listed regarding informal enquiries. Not many candidates do this and it can be a good way to get more information as well as leave a positive impression of yourself before the recruiters even read your application!

·         Remember, many graduate schemes include rotations in lots of different areas so yes… you will need to research all of them!

Why are you applying to this organisation? READ: Why do you want to work for us? Or why do you want to study with us?

It can be hard to articulate why you want to join a certain company or university and too many candidates rest on vague statements like ‘top University’ or ‘world-renowned company’ without adding anything meaningful to them, or showing that they’ve done any research at all!

Here are some of the sorts of things you could explore…

·         What are their values and do they reflect your own? What about the organisation’s ‘office culture’? Remember you can utilise careers fairs and alumni for this reason too!

·         What sort of products or services do they offer and how does this differ to their competitors? Are there any recent business decisions that you can discuss and reflect on?

·         Try to work out how this organisation is unique compared to the rest of the sector

·         If you’re applying to another university for further study you can look into flagship research projects, academic interests of potential supervisors and make sure you understand what the programme will entail. A top tip is to look into the kinds of modules you’d be offered, especially if you’re applying for a taught programme, and make sure your interests align with some of those areas in your statement.

Employers and further study institutions not only want to know that you’re qualified for the opportunity but also, that you’ll be happy in the position so that is where you’re understanding of the role and organisation really comes in handy.

Remember to check out our Application, CV and cover letter guide and that you can always book an appointment to speak to an adviser directly about your application!

Good luck!

 

 

 

Marketing yourself as a mature student

📥  Advice, Applications

As a mature student you will have a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience, sometimes developed in a variety of contexts. But how can you make sure you communicate these clearly and effectively to potential employers? Here's a few quick tips:

Tip 1 # Think broadly about your experience

Employers value skills developed in a range of contexts, so think as broadly as you can about your experience and how you can use the different aspects of your life to showcase the skills employers are looking for. As a mature student you may have a wide range of work experience, but also involvement in voluntary activities, societies, committees, campaigns, as well as the skills you develop through parenting and caring responsibilities. Focus on skills and behaviours as well as duties and activities; running a busy household can be a great way to demonstrate your time management and prioritisation skills.

Tip 2 # Be positive about your experience

Don't undersell or underestimate your experience. Just because a particular job or activity was short, a long time ago or doesn't instantly appear relevant to the career pathway you're currently pursuing doesn't mean that you didn't gain any valuable skills or experience from it. When reflecting on the things that you've done, highlight your achievements and the things you're proud of, and your personal contributions to team projects. Negative experiences can often be ref-framed to demonstrate resilience and what you've learned from them. For more on how to express yourself positively in CVs, applications and cover letters, see my blog post on How to Sell yourself and feel ok about it.

Tip 3 # Demonstrate how your skills, knowledge and experience meet an employer's needs

Marketing yourself effectively means providing clear evidence to show how you meet the employer's criteria. As noted above, reflect on all of your experience, and use this to provide clear, concrete examples of what the employer is looking for. Match your language to the employer's needs. If you're changing direction from previous career paths, emphasise the relevant points and transferable skills from your previous experience. Avoid industry-specific jargon and overly technical language that won't resonate with your target employer. You may not need to include all of your experience on your CV; as a general principle, keep it to what's most relevant and most recent. Similar roles can be grouped together on your CV to avoid repetition. A skills-based CV, where you organise your experience under the headings of the skills needed for the job, can be a great way to showcase your relevant skills if you've had a varied career path or have the skills for your target job but not any directly relevant experience. Our Application, CV and Cover Letter Guide has some examples of skills-based CVs and how to put together an effective CV if you're changing career direction. See also this useful Guardian article on writing a CV for career change, and these sample CVs for mature students from Oxford Brookes University and The Open University.

Tip 4 # Make the most of your time at university

Getting involved in extra-curricular activities or volunteering during your course can be a great way to boost your confidence and get to know new people as well as build up a portfolio of evidence for CVs and applications.

Tip 5 # Show genuine motivation for your next career move

Employers want to see that you've really thought about why you want to do the job you're applying for and why you want to work for them. This takes thorough research into potential employers and job roles, and also careful thinking about yourself and what's important to you in your next job. Checking out our web pages on researching employers and occupational research, and the Choose a Career section of our website, will help you to think through and research all of these.  You can also book an appointment to speak to a Careers Adviser.

 

 

 

 

Tips for achieving your best! Part 2 - Guest blogger Keon Richardson

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📥  Advice, Applications, Diversity, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Today we continue with our guest blogger Keon Richardson (Sport and Social Sciences graduate 2017) as he puts forwards his 11 tips on achieving your best whatever you are studying ...

1 Make Use of ALL the Services At University!

I alienated myself from societies, students, partying, lecturers and my personal tutor when I first started University. This was because I was quite nervous living away from home and I also wanted to focus on becoming the best Futsal Player that I could be. This came with its positives and negatives. Although I was seeing great strides in my technical ability, I often fell asleep in lectures because of my intense training schedule and I hardly read any Journal Articles that were on Moodle. But when I continued to struggle to write essays and saw Thirds littered across my Assignment Feedback, I decided that I needed to have a better balance of being a 'Student-Athlete' and use the support services that were available to me.

Ultimately, the question I asked myself was – "Why do you pay £9,000 a year to suffer in silence?" Grammar and concise writing were the main areas that I needed to work on to improve my grades, and my personal tutor recommended that I should go to the Writing Centre. At first, I was embarrassed because I perceived that he felt my writing was that poor and I pre-judged the Centre to be for foreign students who were struggling with their assignments in English. But after a few sessions, I saw improvements in my grammar, paragraph structuring and writing flow. At the same time I was in the Careers Services working on my CV. This also added to my writing development as I had to structure three pages (two page CV and one page cover letter) which summarised my experience, personal skills and why I wanted the job advertised, coupled with why I wanted to work for the organisation. As I became a regular face at the Writing Centre and Careers Service, staff members were willing to spend more time with me because I was eager to develop. Not to mention that these services are FREE.

2 Plan Plan Plan!

 

My Dad's favourite quote is, "if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail" and I couldn't agree more. Carefully prepare a plan for your essay or exam which outlines the following: topic, limit, focus, essay/exam instruction word(s), your main argument(s), opposing sides to your argument, key authors to support back elements of the argument, and a conclusion that connects to your introduction. Creating this plan will require a lot of reading and making notes which could take up to 7 days. But once you have your plan you'll be able to write your essays and attack your exams with ease. I had to constantly revise my plan for my 15,000 word dissertation as the data that I collected from my interview changed sections of my Introduction and Literature Review. Even if you are not 100 per cent confident in your plan, at least you have a foundation for your essay/exam and can continue to revise your plan as you go along. Show your plan to your lecturers to gain reassurance and ask them any questions that you unclear about for your essay/exam. I'm certain that my lecturers were sick of seeing me time and time at the end of every seminar to hound them with questions. But I'd rather know that my plan is in the right direction than have no clue what I am doing and unable to contact my lecturers over the Christmas holiday (I've been there before!).

Read more on Keon's tips tomorrow........

For further information on the Careers Service and our resources check out http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/

For information on  Academic Skills Centre (previously Writing Centre) Drop in Sessions available 12:15-14:05, in the Skills Zone. Check website for further details.

 

Postgraduate Study and Personal Statements

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📥  Advice, Applications, Postgraduate Study

Postgraduate Study and Personal Statements

 

I have seen a few students in quick query appointments worried about their personal statements and I therefore thought I would write a quick guide with regards to writing personal statements for postgraduate study.


Event Alert: For those of you interested in postgraduate study in the humanities and social sciences sector, the faculty is running a great information session this Friday December 1st on applying for postgraduate programmes locally, nationally and internationally, and where to look for funding sources. Book your place through MyFuture.


The slight differences in personal statements

Pretty much all postgraduate courses and institutions will ask you to write some sort of personal statements, but be aware that the word limit may be different from institution to institution and each department may also ask you to answer specific questions. It is therefore vital that you always read through the application instructions on the university website before starting. You don’t want to write a two page personal statement and later realise you only have 4000 characters to use.

There are different application formats with regards to different career pathways, for example some postgraduate courses use UKPASS. However, you should always find specific application instructions on the individual university websites, so these are therefore key to research.  See some great information from University of Manchester with regards to personal statements for PGCE and medicine. Getting into Teaching also has great advice on writing personal statements for PGCE.

What not to do in personal statements

Typical errors in personal statements is not being clear about why you would like to do the postgraduate course, poor structure and bad spelling and grammar. It also shows if you have not done the research needed with regards to the university and the course you are applying for. Even if you are applying to similar postgraduate degrees at different universities the particular universities and programmes would still like to know why you are choosing them.

Typical content for your personal statements

Again, always read the specific application instructions for your chosen programmes, but this is the typical content of a personal statement. See our careers resource for more details.

  •  Why this University? Why this programme?

As said above there needs to a clear reason for why you are applying to that particular University and that particular postgraduate programme. Is it the location, what about particular research interest of the academics in the departments? Have you been to campus before? Does the department have good alumni networks or industry opportunities? What about the subject motivates you? Are the particular modules or course options that interests you?

  • An insight into your overall abilities (academic, work, extra-curricular and more) and how these experiences have prepared you for the course

What have you done so far that will make sure that you are successful studying the postgraduate degree? Have you completed any relevant research projects, dissertation, relevant module work? It is important to connect what you are doing now academically to what you would like to study on the programme. Have you had any relevant work experience or any senior roles in societies or clubs at University? Or perhaps you have had some personal achievements that should be mentioned? These experiences should also include examples of skills that are essential to be successful in the course such as communication skills (presentations, written reports, group work) or relevant scientific techniques, analytical or research skills.

  • A sense that the course links to what you have done in the past and how it relates to what you want to do in the future

It is important to connect your past experiences and what you hope to get out of the course to what you want to do in the future. Where do you see yourself working/doing after the course has finished? The admissions tutor won’t find you in a couple of years’ time to see if you are in the job role you describe in your statement but they would like you to have an awareness of career pathways and an understanding of the reasons for taking the course

  • Last but not least, they want to see motivation and enthusiasm!!

This is key to a good personal statement. Your motivation and enthusiasm should shine through and the reasons should be clear. No need to be too emotional, but a reflective and enthusiastic approach and backing these up with evidence is what they would like to see.

Final piece of advice, have your personal tutor read through it as well! Their academic perspective is very valuable when writing a statement.

I wish you the best of luck in writing your personal statement.

Further resources:

 

Virtual Reality – coming to your assessment centre soon?

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📥  Advice, Applications, Graduate Jobs, Interviews, Tips & Hints

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I remember when I first put on those Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, it blew me away! Just to clarify, I am not a gamer at all, the closest I have come to playing a game has been playing free games on my phone! I am, however, a massive sci-fi fan so the idea of being immersed into a virtual universe did appeal to me. Maybe it was this interest that made the journey into the VR universe so natural for me. Saying that, recent research states that 95% of people trying out VR say the same. It seems so real that you automatically act the way you would have done in the real world. Maybe this fact is why employers now are researching using VR in recruitment processes and at least one employer is already using it in some assessment centres. So what do you, as students, need to know?

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate the realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user's physical presence in this environment (taken from wikipedia).

virtual reality

 

For Virtual Reality to work you put on a headset which covers your eyes and ears completely, you are unable to see or hear the outside world. You only see the simulated environment in front of you. With the help of handsets you are able to move around the environment and complete tasks. You have a small space to move around in and the software prevents you from walking too far outside the zone (don’t worry, the likelihood of crashing into walls is low). It is currently mainly used for gaming as it gives the user the feeling of being fully immersed in the game.

Why are more and more employers researching the use of VR in recruitment processes?

Employers would like to be able assess a candidate’s authentic capabilities in doing the job. Compared to competency-based questions, where a candidate can prepare answers which not necessarily are all authentic, the VR environment is unexpected and can’t be prepared for. As research shows that the large majority of people trying out VR acts like they would do in real life, this means that employers can easier match the candidate skills and strengths with the job in question.

Employers are also researching using VR as a way for applicants to get a real feel for a company, how it is to work there, which goes beyond just looking at the website or the interview setting.  Companies would like to show their prospective employees how great it is to work there and VR may help with just that. VR can introduce you to the office, you may get a tour of the building,  meet your co-workers, be introduced to job tasks and real-life business scenarios. You may even be invited to an after work social event through VR! In an article Deutsche Bahn states they use VR to give potential employees the chance to “experience” different jobs on offer before they apply, for example looking over the shoulder of an electrician or a train driver.

It is already in use!

As stated above, several companies are using VR as a way of introducing their companies to potential applicants. In addition, VR in recruitment is already in use by at least one graduate recruiter, which started using VR in their assessment centre selection for their IT and digital graduate schemes in autumn 2017.

They says this on their website:

“By using Virtual Reality the assessor will be able to present situations to candidates that would otherwise be unfeasible in the conventional assessment process. The candidate will have complete freedom of movement within a 360 degree virtual world and will be able to move virtual objects using tracked motion controls. Although the Group cannot disclose what potential graduates can expect to do in the assessment centre, so as to not provide candidates with an advantage, the puzzles they will be tasked with will be designed to demonstrate the strengths and capabilities required of the Group’s future leaders.”

In addition, other companies are considering using VR in their recruitment to better assess candidates’ strengths and cognitive abilities. Although we do not know whether VR will be used by other companies, its popularity is increasing and therefore more may follow..

How can you prepare for VR?

I think it would be hard to prepare for a VR assessment. The employer won’t assume you have used it before, so you should get good instructions in how to use it before you start your tasks. As the employer would like to find a candidate that matches the skills and strengths they are looking for, I believe the best preparation is to be yourself and complete the tasks as you would do naturally. If you have a friend that has VR at home, then you can always ask them for a go, although be aware that the tasks set in the assessment centre probably will be different from VR gaming.

Be open and enthusiastic about it on the day, be yourself and enjoy the experience!

Additional articles for you to explore:

University of Warwick has written an excellent blog article about Virtual Reality.

Two other interesting articles:

https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/rework/latest-recruiting-tool-virtual-reality

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/vr-interviews-lloyds-banking

 

 

Make volunteering count on your CV

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📥  Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Volunteering work can be equally as useful as paid work experience when it comes to applying for jobs and many students forget to emphasize their volunteering experience on their CV or don’t include it at all. Here are some tips on how you can make your volunteering count on your CV.


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·         Some organisations value voluntary experience more than others

If you hope to make a career in the third sector or within international development, you may not be selected for an interview unless you have some volunteering experience! If you have relevant volunteering experience this needs to be emphasized in your CV and show up on the first page, under “Relevant Experience” or “Work Experience”. Too many times I have seen relevant volunteering experience hidden in the achievements or interests section, where employers may not see it. Remember, an employer usually only skims through a CV during the first selection process for a job!

·         Volunteering gives you transferable skills

You may not have any volunteering experience that is relevant for the actual job you are applying to, but that does not mean that your experience wasn’t useful. If you worked successfully in a team, mention it on a CV. If you worked in budgeting, this can emphasize your numerical skills or if you worked in fundraising, this may have increased your skills in persuasion. Look into more details about what skills the job is asking for and have a think about how your volunteering experiences can give you examples of those skills, and remember to include any specific achievements.

·         Tailor your volunteering experiences to company values

Have a read through the values of the company and tailor your volunteering experiences accordingly. Perhaps the company you are interested in have sustainability high on their agenda? Then your volunteering experience in environmental conservation may be relevant. Or maybe the company likes to be engaged in the local community? What then about your volunteering experience in a local charity? Make sure to highlight the most relevant volunteering experiences.

·         Make international volunteering count

Apart from following the tips above, if you have volunteered in certain countries or areas of the world, this may be beneficial for an international company to know about. Your increased interpersonal skills and increased international awareness may be extra worth for companies that have projects or networks in those particular regions.

To summarize, my final piece of advice is to tailor, tailor, tailor your volunteering experiences to the job you are applying for. What would be important for the employer to know about you? How can your volunteering experience benefit the company / organisation? How can your volunteering experience show who you are?

Book a quick query with a careers adviser if you need any support in writing your CV, or attend one of our workshops or talks. Book an appointment or a place on a talk through MyFuture.

Additional resources:

https://www.bathstudent.com/volunteer/

https://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/public-service-charity-and-social-work/advice/288223-volunteer-your-way-to-a-graduate-job

https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network

 

An international student's guide to succeeding in the UK job market

  

📥  Advice, Applications, Career Development, Commercial Awareness, For Taught Postgraduates, International Students, Interviews

Welcome to the first of our international -themed blog posts to mark International Careers Week.

This post is aimed at any international students looking to build their career right here in the UK. We know that many of you are very career-minded so here are a few tips to make sure you are making the most of your time here and giving yourselves the best chance of success.

  1. Get informed
    Make sure you are aware of your rights as regards work permissions. The Student Immigration Service are putting on a talk to refresh your memories on working in the UK after your studies and I really do recommend you go. The rules are complex and ever-changing so find out what the law actually says, and pick up a copy of our advice for employers too.
  2. Get ready
    We have laid on the complete series of our popular workshops for international students this week, as well as an assessment centre workshop, so you can perfect your skills and stand out for all the right reasons to employers.
  3. Get involved
    It's never too late to join a society, start volunteering, maybe even take the opportunity to build up some part-time work experience. All these things will be useful boosts to your CV as well as helping you pick up that sought-after commercial awareness and improve your English language skills.
  4. Get feedback
    Our expert team of Careers Advisers are very happy to give you feedback on your CVs, applications, cover letters and also help you prepare for interviews. It might seem a little scary to come and ask us to give you feedback - but that 15 minutes can make the difference between being on the 'no' pile and being invited to the next stage of the process.
  5. Get Connected
    They say 'It's not about what you know, it's about who you know'. Now this is not the whole truth, but having access to a large network of connections and being ale to ask them for help is surely a good thing, right? So, we have worked together with the Students Union and Alumni to offer you a skills session on networking and getting ahead in business, followed by Get Connected, a chance to ask alumni how they got to where they are now, and get a free drink along the way.
  6. Get ahead
    You'll see we have many jobs being advertised on MyFuture at the moment. But before you excitedly apply to all the ones that look interesting, do make sure you check on the employer website whether they are accepting applications from international students. Not all of them do, and checking will ensure you don't waste a lot of time preparing an application only to have it rejected.

 

Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme”

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Networking, Tips & Hints

Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme”

graduates

 

So, you have applied to several graduate schemes but have not been successful or perhaps you have not had the time to apply, or maybe you are not interested in applying to a graduate scheme at all? Well, there are plenty more opportunities for you.


Laura from Careers Services is delivering an excellent talk on “Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme” on Wednesday 15th February 17:15 – 18:05, make sure to book your place through MyFuture!


It is the bigger employers in certain sectors that offer graduate training schemes. Smaller to medium enterprises (SMEs) generally don’t have the time or the money to develop and plan big schemes. In many SMEs you may find that you can develop your skills more broadly and informally than in a big company. Generally, you may be able to gain experience in different roles with different responsibilities in a smaller company.

So what do you do next? Well, one point you have to consider is that smaller companies tend to only recruit when there is actually a role available, they do not think too much of the timings of an academic year! Some smaller companies may not even advertise at all, and just pick from their earlier trainees or perhaps from speculative applications or from networking. What I want to convey is that you may not find the job you want just by perusing job search sites online!

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Research and find out about potential employers

Find out about companies and organisations out there, think about where you want to work and in what type or organisation you would like to work in. Would you like to work in a small organisation or perhaps would you prefer to work close to home?

  1. Check our Occupational Research section on our website.  This has links to professional bodies, job vacancy sites and other relevant information organised by job sector
  2. Check our Job Hunting by Region section on our website for company directories in all UK regions.
  3. Research job roles on prospects.ac.uk which has over 400 job profiles which include important information about the role, skills needed and also links to job vacancy and professional bodies.
  4. You can also research companies through library databases, see my earlier blog post on how to do this.
  5. Use LinkedIn to identify employers, see earlier blog post on how to do this.
  6. Check MyFuture and look through the Organisations link from the menu bar. This is a list of organisations that University of Bath have been in contact with at some point.
  7. We may have some relevant help sheets for you, specific to your degree. Check our Help Sheet section on our website.

 

Search for job adverts online / hard media

  1. Some of the above links have direct links to job sites online, but there are also other job websites which are normally used, my personal favourite is Indeed, however it can be confusing at first to find what you are looking for. Make sure to search relevant key words.  The University of St Andrews has an excellent list on their website: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/careers/jobs-and-work-experience/graduate-jobs/vacancy-sites/uk/jobhuntingontheinternet/
  2. Check newspapers; local, regional and national websites can have job adverts listed, both in hard copy and online.
  3. Some companies and organisations do not use job websites to recruit new staff and only advertise their new roles on their own website, so always good to check!

Social networking / applying speculatively

  1. Use your contacts: friends, family, co-workers, academics, coaches and ask them to ask around too, you never know what may come out of it. Make sure people around you know that you are looking for a job. A few years ago I was searching for a job and as all my friends knew, I received interesting opportunities in my email inbox every week, especially from friends who were already searching for a job and kept me in mind when trawling through websites online or networking.
  2. Go to networking events, career fairs, sector-specific events, specific employer events, both on or off campus. You can find our events on MyFuture. You never know who you may meet.
  3. Use social media to connect, follow and interact with potential employers. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can all be used, but make sure to stay professional!
  4. If you find a company or organisation you really like the look at, but you can’t find a vacancy, apply speculatively with an email and your CV, but make sure to try and find a contact name  to send it to and write a professional targeted cover letter in the email.

Use recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies may be a good option, check our link on our website  for more information.

Further information

I wish you all the best in your job hunting, if you want more information about this topic, please go to the talk (as mentioned above) or you can find lots of great information in our Finding a graduate job – guide, which can also be picked up in our office in the Virgil Building, Manvers Street, Bath city centre.

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Cracking Careers Wisdom...

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📥  Advice, Applications, Career Development

Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas favourite,  did you know they were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith? He had seen the French 'bon bon' sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper). He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet.

Image result for victorian christmas cracker

Fast forward to 2016 and the Careers Service Christmas lunch. We not only pulled crackers but also attempted to indulge in that old 'lets share our cracker joke'  tradition. Alas we couldn't, as our crackers contained words of wisdom and conversation starters and we missed out on gems like:

What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney?
Claustrophobia!

Or

What's the most popular Christmas wine?

'I don't like Brussels sprouts!'

Never one to dampen the festive spirit, we shared our words of wisdom with one another and thats when inspiration for our last blog post of the year came to me. So here goes, some cracking words of wisdom that will really make a difference to your job hunting in the New Year.

Cracker wisdom # 1: Learn from everyone, but never imitate anyone.
The goal of your CV is to stand out from all the other job seekers and be picked for an interview; if you are using the same template as all the other hopefuls you will achieve neither objective. Whilst it is OK to look at example CV's, pick and choose the bits you like and ensure your individual strengths, personality and motivation for a particular opportunity is shining through. Likewise, don't let your inner monologue (also known as Imposter Syndrome) hold you back and crucially don't compare yourself to everyone else.

Cracker wisdom # 2: The harder you fall, the higher you bounce
You applied for your dream job or placement and despite your best efforts your application got turned down. The truth is rejection comes hand in hand with the job hunting process, the important thing is to learn from the process and not make the same mistake. For example, where in the recruitment stage do you stumble? Last year, I wrote a post about Coping with Rejection where I shared strategies on reinventing yourself at ever stage of the selection process. However, it is also important to step back and consider whether there is a message in the rejection itself. Is it that a particular company isn't the right fit for you? Or that you are applying for a role that isn't harnessing your strengths fully?

Cracker wisdom # 3: A goal without a plan is just a wish
For many of you the Christmas holidays are clouded with worries about exams in January. It doesnt have to be this way. You can enjoy the festive season and still stay on top of revision and coursework. Check out our top time management tips around exams to help you feel more in control.

Finally, whilst the end of term is approaching, a little reminder that we are open till Tuesday 20th December and will reopen on the morning of 3rd January 2017. For more information, please keep an eye on our website.

Merry Christmas and the very best wishes for the New Year from everyone in the careers team.

Ps. If you are looking for a conversation starter during your Christmas dinner, this  one got us talking, "would you rather have a nose like Rudolf's that glows or have pointy elf ears?"

 

How to sell yourself and feel ok about it

📥  Advice, Applications, Interviews

I've talked to quite a few people recently who've said they find it really hard to 'sell themselves' in applications and interviews. Rightly or wrongly this phrase can sometimes conjure up images of aggressive Apprentice-style pitches about how great you are. But is this really what employers expect? In a nutshell they expect you to understand their needs and the needs of the role you are applying for, and to articulate confidently how you and your knowledge, skills and experience meet those needs. Doesn't sound quite so scary or aggressive, does it? So how do you present yourself positively and confidently (which employers will expect you to do) without slipping into arrogance?

A few quick thoughts:

  • avoid phrases which weaken or undercut the impact of what you say, 'I only', 'it was nothing', 'I did a bit of'. Don't underestimate the value of a project or piece of work experience to a prospective employer just because it was quite short; highlight what you gained from the experience and the impact you made.
  • use active phrases rather than passive constructions, i.e. 'I organised a conference' rather than 'a conference was organised'; this sounds much more proactive and positive and puts the emphasis on what YOU did and made happen which is the whole purpose of job application processes. If you're a scientist or engineer, and particularly if you're a doctoral and postdoctoral researcher and thoroughly grounded in scientific report writing, it will take a bit of a practice to train yourself out of the passive voice you're used to using for scientific report writing. Think 'analysed data', not 'the data was analysed'.
  • Quantify your experience so the employer gets a sense of the scope of what you've done. How many people were in the team you led? How many years of experience have you had with a particular technique?
  • Employers are looking for people who can make an impact, so emphasise your achievements within a particular role, and quantify those as well. Did you increase sales figures by 10% in that sales assistant role over the summer? Improve efficiency of a process by 20% in your engineering project? You're not 'bigging things up' when you do this, you're simply stating facts.
  • Put more emphasis on yourself and the actions you took within a role than on the organisation you worked for. It's fine to give a little information about companies you've worked for, but don't let this take over or get repetitive.
  • In cover letters and interviews, emphasise your enthusiasm for the job and company you're applying for. Phrase like 'this role really appeals to me because' and 'what particularly fascinates me is' will help convince the employer than you really want to work for them.
  • You don't need to say you're the best thing since sliced bread, but try to find things that may be unique about your experience or skills, and talk about how these will be useful for the organisation.
  • Book a Quick Query and one of our advisers will give you some feedback on how your application is coming across.