Time to take stock


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You may remember, we spent the first half of term encouraging you to get involved with all sorts of activities from work experience to volunteering, student societies to attending careers fairs.

Hopefully, you did do one or two things – but there’s no point in just doing! We suggested trying things out so you could build up experiences and develop your skills, as well as to have some fun.

So why not take some time to think through what you’ve been doing and what it’s given you? It’s a good idea to record the activities you do and also the skills you’ve gained. This will make a handy prompt when you’re applying for jobs or further study and you need to give some examples.

Not sure how to do this?

If you need some help thinking this through, try the following resources.

Not had chance to do anything yet?

Don’t worry, there’s still time to get involved. Here are some ideas for things to do next term.

  • Volunteering – deadline Week 5 for applications for Summer Term opportunities
  • Placement Year – for 2nd year undergraduates, who don’t have this as an option on their course. Register interest by 20 Jan
  • Network – Careers in… events. Check the events schedule
  • Enterprise – lots of competitions and events coming up
  • Recruitment – Assessment Centre and Interview Experience will run again in Spring. Check the events schedule

2nd undergrads – putting it all into practice

Don’t forget, if you’re a second year undergrad, you can apply for York Award Gold in the Spring Term. The application asks you to describe the activities you’ve been involved with and what you’ve gained, as a result.

Keep a look out for more information – including the application form and deadline – via the Careers Bulletin, delivered direct to your inbox.

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5 actions to refine your business idea


Guest Blog written by Stuart McClure, Co-founder of Lovethesales.com

adult-bar-brainstorming-1015568(1)Creating business ideas is exciting. Working on an idea that you have thought of is both liberating and rewarding.  However, narrowing your ideas into one cohesive business plan is a challenge in itself, one which if done right can set you on a path to creating your dream business.

Here are 5 actions you can take to refine your business ideas and ensure you have the best launch pad for your next project.

Choosing the right idea

Having focus is important for an entrepreneur. You might have thousands of half thought out ideas and not know which one to focus on. So how do you know which is your best idea? I’d suggest keeping a list of all your ideas. Then, when you’re ready, you should put each potential idea through this exercise.

Take one of your ideas and write the name for it in the middle of a blank A4 page. Then answer the following questions, writing the answers around the outside of the idea:

  • What problem does this solve? How big is that problem? Why are you sure it’s a problem?
  • Has it already been done?
  • What barriers to entry can you create? (What would make it difficult for someone with more resources to come in and compete against you?)
  • What’s the potential market size?
  • What money would you need to invest to start the business and make it profitable?
  • What skills do you need in your team to get it going? How will you find people with those skills? Can you get it going by yourself?

After this exercise you should be able to filter out implausible ideas and be left with your most viable options.

Putting your proposal into one sentence

You need to have a clear picture of what your business offers, who it will help and what is its biggest benefit. You should be able to put all that information into one sentence, like the one in this template:

(“My business is, _(insert name of business)_, we develop _(define your product or service)_ to help _(define your audience)_ _(the problem you are solving  for them)_ by _(main benefit of the business )_”).

Mine looked like this:

“My business is LovetheSales.com, we are a discount aggregator that brings the sale products from 850 retailers, into one place. We help shoppers save money on the brands they love by finding the best deals across the web.”

This exercise is really useful for the actions below, where you will need to describe your idea succinctly to people (Will they understand it?)

Test your idea

Start sharing your idea with the people around you. Anyone who can spare 5 minutes to hear your proposal. This is a great way to get direct feedback on what’s good and not so good about your idea. Did they understand it? Do they have problems with it? Try to collect feedback from at least 30 people. It would also be an added bonus if some of them are your target customers.

It can be difficult to listen to criticism of your ideas from others, however it’s really important to try to elicit this kind of feedback without getting defensive. It can save you a lot of wasted time and effort. Getting early feedback, no matter how brutal it is, will help you to adjust your plan and give you a higher chance of success.

Tip: Try and get peoples uninfluenced and unbiased opinions. Refrain from interrupting or trying to change their objections with new information. The best feedback is fresh, unaltered first impressions.

Attend regular events related to your industry

You should try and become a mini expert of the industry you’re about to enter. Like a research project, you’re finding out who the major players are, the supply chain, the audience it attracts etc. Don’t try and overload yourself with all the information at once, it will take time and doesn’t happen overnight.

The best way to start is to attend regular events that would concern your business. For example, if you are starting a recruitment company, you want to attend recruitment conferences, business talks and meet ups that involve relevant people in that industry.

Eventbrite is a great tool to find these types of events near you. If you have a niche business and you can’t find events relating to your idea, try broadening your search to general business lectures, Marketing & PR events and so on.

Tip: These events are also fantastic for networking. Set up a LinkedIn and have it open and ready to share with new contacts you meet.

Find a good mentor

Good advice is like gold dust and having the right team around you is a critical part of successfully building your idea. Reach out to your university business professors, the Enterprise team at your university or join the entrepreneur society, try to find people who wouldn’t mind offering you bits of guidance from time to time.

There will be plenty of entrepreneurs and business leaders that are happy to pass on their wealth of knowledge. LinkedIn is also a great tool to keep in touch with these contacts.

Author

IMG_3279Stuart McClure is the co-founder of a company called LovetheSales.com – a website that aggregates sale items from 100’s of retailers into one website, helping consumers to find the best deals on products they want.

He has 14 years experience in digital marketing and business management and, before starting his company, worked in a number of multi-million pound businesses in senior positions.

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuartmcclure/

LovetheSales.com – https://www.lovethesales.com/

Graduate careers: what are the alternatives?


 

At this time of year there are lots of posters, publications, messages and events about graduate jobs, whether they’re schemes run by big companies or ‘mainstream’ graduate careers.

What happens, though, if you’re not interested in working for a large corporate or don’t want to go into ‘traditional’ work after university?

It’s not to say the role of an accountant, retail manager or management consultant isn’t challenging and interesting, but obviously they don’t appeal to every student or graduate.

4 alternative approaches

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Not working 9 – 5 to make a living

Work doesn’t have to mean the usual office hours. Flexible working is widely available for ‘typical’ jobs, as well as the more unusual working environments. It could involve compressing working hours – working more hours on fewer days during the week or working from home, giving you more freedom for fitting in work and home life.

Portfolio careers (because one size doesn’t fit all)

Why have just one job, when you can have several? In some sectors (eg the creative industries, consultancy, etc) portfolio careers can be the norm. However, it may be an individual’s lifestyle choice, enabling them to have a variety of roles or test out possible career/business ideas.

Our alternative working web page details both flexible working and portfolio careers, as well as self-employment.

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The great outdoors (or somewhere other than an office)

You may not know exactly what you want to do as a job, but you might be clear that you don’t want to work in an office. If that’s the case, you need to check out careers in a variety of environments. Try generating some career ideas, using some of the resources listed on the career planning information sheet. Alternatively, see what different jobs entail with Prospects’ generic job profiles. However, be prepared – many jobs may require you to be office-based, so even if you’re ‘out and about’ for most of the day, you may spend some time in an office!

Small is beautiful

The large companies you see on campus are not the only option.  There are also small/medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and in the UK small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector companies in 2017.* So, it’s unsurprising to know that a lot of of graduates go on to work for these sorts of employers.

There’s more information about working for SMEs on our website.

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Want something alternative?

Have a look at the resources mentioned above first and then book a careers advice appointment via Careers Gateway to discuss things further.

Science student?

You might also be interested in our Science careers outside the lab information sheet and 10 alternative science careers.

 

* FSB – www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics

Decoding our Events Programme


Every term Careers and Placements organises events on campus. Now that we’re in week 5, you may have seen emails and social media about some of our careers events so far or you may have been to an event or careers fair. We’ve organised over 100 of them for this term alone!  If you haven’t been to a careers event before or you’re not sure they’re for you, here we’ll explain what they are, the different types and what you can expect to happen at them.

Events in your department – information talks led by a Careers Consultant. These focus on career essentials but are tailored to the department you’re studying in. Some examples of topics covered include, making job applications, CVs, interview skills and career options. You’ll find details of these on your timetable and they’re also listed on Careers Gateway.

Skills and Information sessions: Highlight and explore a particular skill or profession e.g. teacher training applications, career planning, enterprise and assessment centre exercises

Employer presentations: promotional talks from a single organisation. Sometimes they focus on a particular skill sought by the company. They provide a good insight into the culture and recruitment process and if it’s a company you’re thinking of applying to, go and meet the staff and use the opportunity to find out as much as you can to help sharpen up your application. Likewise if you’re not sure whether you want to apply to the company, use the opportunity to find out more about them and whether they would be a good fit for you.

UoY_Careers - Careers Fair - October 2018_Alex Holland-95Careers Fairs: large scale recruitment events that focus on a particular sector. We run three fairs in the Autumn term – Law, Technology and a general Graduate Jobs and Internships Fair. At a careers fair, you will encounter large companies with established graduate recruitment schemes who take on a sizeable cohort of new graduate recruits each year.

Panel or networking events: these events bring together speakers from a particular industry and aim to give you an idea of what it’s like to work in that area and how to get there. We try to focus on sectors that typically you wouldn’t see at a careers fair. In the past we have focused on media, arts and heritage, environment and sustainability and also non-profit and public sector. We invite York alumni and individuals to these events who can talk about their own experiences of their role and sector. If you want to find out about a particular industry or what a role involves or just to get an idea of the type of person who works there and the culture of an organisation. You can get all the basics off a company’s website but you can find out so much more from meeting people in the flesh.

 

What’s coming up this week?

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With input from graduate recruiters, come and experience some of the activities used at assessment centres. The event will consist of three employer-led workshops focusing on a particular exercise you could encounter at an assessment centre. Featured employers include Charityworks, Bank of England and Teach First.

You can see a list of what else will be happening under the Events menu in Careers Gateway or in the What’s On section on our website.

 

 

GUEST BLOG: The Recruitment Wish List – what skills do employers look for?


rawpixel-660716-unsplashGuest blog written by Jessica Ching, Digital Content and Marketing Executive at graduate recruitment experts,  Give a Grad a Go

It can often feel like employers are looking for a very specific person in terms of qualifications and work experience – but in reality, there are a number of other things that employers look for in their graduate hires.

If you can show that you have these desirable attributes on top of your degree, you’ll make your job application stand out from the crowd:

  • Transferable skills – A degree is an important part of any job application; but if you can demonstrate the skills you’ve learnt throughout your education, and relate them to the particular role you’re applying to, you’ll show the employer what you can offer their business. “Soft” or “transferable” skills can include communication skills (an employer favourite!), teamwork, time management or problem-solving skills – and can be demonstrated through your achievements, involvement in extra-curricular activities throughout school and university, and other hobbies or interests.
  • Commercial awareness – Employers across the board are becoming increasingly interested in hiring graduates who can demonstrate commercial awareness (an understanding of the business world). Show you have an understanding of businesses work by reading up on the market, taking an interest in news and current affairs, running your own business venture at university, or organising a fundraising event.

  • Culture fit – As much as skills and attributes are important to employers, they’ll also be looking to hire someone who will fit into their business and work well with their team. The best way to get a feel of the company culture before you apply is to check them out online (LinkedIn, Facebook, even a quick Google search). If you think you’d be a good fit for their company, show the employer your enthusiasm and dedication to the role throughout the interview process!
  • MemorabilityThe graduate jobs market is incredibly competitive – so if you can make yourself memorable to an employer this is a huge plus. They’ll read thousands of very similar CVs – so a unique design or an interesting combination of skills will make you stand out from the crowd.

  • Research – Preparing for an interview and doing your research around a company is looked on very favourably by employers. If you can drop things you’ve read about their organisation, product or service into an interview, you’ll show that you have a genuine interest in their company and the wider industry.

Find the latest graduate jobs on Give A Grad A Go’s website!

Careers fairs – what are the benefits?


LawCareersFairSo, the next few weeks see the career fairs making their appearance this Autumn. Which means lots of employers on campus, showcasing their graduate jobs, placement year offerings and internship opportunities.

Obviously a recruitment fair is not the only way to find work – you can search for vacancies online or even have them sent direct to your inbox, and you can read up on companies via their websites.

So why go to a fair?

Straight from the horse’s mouth (if you pardon the expression!)

You can’t find out about a company and the roles they’re offering any more direct than at a fair. Also, you’ll get a better feel for the culture of the firm and whether it’s a good fit for you.

In your shoes

Often employer reps attending fairs include current graduate trainees, who can give you an idea of what it’s really like to work there. As they were in your shoes only a year or so ago they know what sorts of things are important for you to find out. Their personal insight can tell you so much more than the company website.

Which leads us on to…

Questions their websites can’t answer

You may get a useful amount of basic information from a company website, but what happens if you’ve got further questions? It can be difficult to contact the company and ask them. Speaking to employers at a fair can answer those questions much quicker and more easily.

Make a good impression

Talking with employers in the informal environment of a fair makes it more personal and allows you to show your enthusiasm and interest outside of the pressure of the formal recruitment process.

Don’t know where to start?

If you’re unsure of what to say to employers, the fact that there are lots of other students about, means you can listen-in on some of the questions they ask, to give you some ideas. Plus the format of the fairs means it’s quite acceptable to listen-in without appearing impolite!

All the fun of the fair

Career fairs are usually lively and busy and are actually quite good fun, so why not give them a go?

By the way…

Be sure to do a little reading-up on the companies attending, so you know at least what they do. Employers soon get tired of hearing the opening question of “what does your company do?” – especially when you could have found that out beforehand.

We’ve got more info about preparing for fairs in our information sheet, Making the most of careers and recruitment fairs.

To tweet or not to tweet. Managing your online presence


Social media – great fun, isn’t it? Keeps you in touch with friends and lets you share your experiences (partying, travelling, trying new things) and thoughts (what you really think of the latest Celebrity Big Brother…).

Your use of social media gives an impression of who you are, but don’t forget employers use it too to let you know about their business.

Get the lowdown

Following organisations or individuals you’re interested in on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is a great way of getting an insight into different companies and being among the first to know when they advertise a new job opportunity. You can pick up lots of snippets that might be useful when applying for jobs or going for interview too.

Join York Alumni Association on Facebook and LinkedIn as your fellow graduates do post opportunities to those pages and it’s a great way to badge your profile to strengthen your personal brand.

There are also some handy tips on using social media in your job hunting from Prospects  and GradIreland.

Showing your professional side

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet – and don’t think it’s too soon in your career to have one! – take a look at LinkedIn’s guide for students, which will talk you through creating a good profile and then using LinkedIn to find out about employers.

LinkedIn is great for finding out the latest in sectors/industries, as well as hearing about employers. It’s also a useful networking tool, helping you to make contacts and add to your knowledge.

So, if you’re going to spend some time on social media anyway, why not use it for your job hunting too?