It’s One Planet Week and there have been lots of events running this week on maintaining a more sustainable lifestyle. This got us thinking about what research you can do to find out how important ethical and sustainable practices are to companies you might be considering working for. How important is it to you that the company you work for shares similar values and ethics to your own?
In a 2017 survey by Prospects, the three most common factors cited by respondents as the most important when choosing an employer, were opportunities to train or gain qualifications, generous pay and that a company’s ethical values matched their own.
So how can you find out what a company’s values are?
Search ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and the company name Most large companies will have information on their website about what they are doing to conduct their business in a way that takes account of their environmental impact, social impact and human rights.
Research company values and culture and read their mission statement. These can usually be found on their website
See how they treat their staff, look at staff policies on their website if available. Look at employee review sites such as Glassdoor and search on social media and LinkedIn to see what people are saying about a particular organisation
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 (don’t be put off by the age of the post – it’s still valid!) and GradIreland.
Showing your professional side
It’s a good time to tidy up your online accounts, when you’re using social media in your job hunting. Ensure your privacy settings lock down any posts, which might not show you in the most professional light. After all, photos of partying and silly costumes are best kept to your close friends – you don’t want a potential employer coming across them.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet – and it’s never 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?
There’s some great help and advice on preparing for, and attending, job interviews in our info sheet. It includes thinking about how you’ll answer interview questions using the CAR or STAR technique. Use whichever you find easier to remember, to help structure your reply.
Answering the question
CAR stands for Context, Action, Result. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Questions starting “Tell me about a time when…” can be tackled effectively by using CAR or STAR – talking about the situation you faced and what was required of you, what you did, and the outcome or result, and what you learned. Note that the result does not always need to be perfect! If it didn’t go quite right, you might still have learned something really useful to apply in a future situation.
10 reasons why interviews go wrong (according to employers)
1. Candidate doesn’t give sufficient evidence of what they’ve achieved.
Prepare some concrete examples of what you’ve done.
2. Poor level of knowledge from a candidate, who has gone for a job in a specialist field.
Are you sure you’re right for the job? If so, gen-up!
3. Ill-defined aims or lack of career planning.
You don’t necessarily need to have your future mapped out point by point, but you should be able to express your initial goals.
4. Unable to express thoughts clearly.
Prep and practise!
5. Candidate doesn’t ask any questions about the job.
The company website might be very comprehensive, but there’s bound to be something it hasn’t told you.
6. Poor personal appearance.
Haircut, clean fingernails, clean interview wear and don’t slouch!
7. Candidate doesn’t show any real interest or enthusiasm for the job.
Employers want to feel you’re committed to the role. If you’re interested, you’ll do a better job..
8. Evasive about unsatisfactory performance.
Be honest and show you’ve learned from any instances from your own experience
9. General lack of confidence.
Tough one to address, particularly if you’re nervous. However, if you’ve been invited to interview, you must have shown something to interest the employer, so take heart from that! Practise answering questions and if you’re well prepared that will boost your confidence too.
10. Overbearing, arrogant and conceited.
No one wants that sort of character working in their company. If you’ve achieved lots – great, but you can be modest about it too!
Hello and welcome to this episode of What Do You Actually Do!? My name is Kate Morris and I’ll be your host today. In today’s episode we’ll be talking about the healthcare sector. Today we’re joined by Kate Pyle who works in St Leonard’s Hospice as Compliance and Corporate Services Manager.
KM: So Kate, what do you actually do?
KP: Hi, Kate. I am responsible for managing the non-clinical functions in the hospice that keep us safe. So I matron in high-vis, I manage health and safety, the facilities team… the housekeeping team and catering.
KM: What are the key elements of your role, then? You manage lots of different teams…
KP: Problem solving, probably, and keeping an overview of everything, and making sure that we maintain compliance with the statutory requirements we’ve got, that we can evidence that we’re compliant when we have CQC inspections who are the OFSTED of the healthcare world. So when they come in for an inspection we need to prove that we’re doing the checks on water hygiene, that we are keeping patient bedrooms clean, that our building is safe, and all of that sort of thing.
KM: So you did your undergraduate degree in English… so where did your interest in healthcare and all this health and safety stuff come from?
KP: I fell into it, really. After graduation I was working in event production for eight years which was just fun, but that gave me the ability to project manage, to plan, to work to schedules, to manage a budget, and then various other industries that I worked in until I was temping in Leeds and I was put forward for a role as a project manager for a new hospital that was being built in the centre of Leeds for the commissioning of it. I was supposed to be on a five-week contract and I was there sixteen years… So I think healthcare is just fundamentally important for everybody and to be able to work within it and make a difference for people is really important.
KM: You’ve mentioned that a lot of the transferable skills that you gained from events and maybe from English as well helped you break into that, but what other personal strengths or qualities as a person do you think you need to have, to work in that kind of role that does involve so much problem solving and overseeing so many different teams?
KP: I think the main thing is being able to deal with the emotional side of things. The hospice that I work in now obviously is end of life care, it’s palliative care… and to be able to deal with that on a daily basis… I’m pretty far removed from it, I don’t have much interaction with the patients or their families but what I do, makes it easier for the clinical staff to focus on what they do. But it’s taken me quite a while to “man up”, to be able to deal with that sort of thing. I think a sense of humor is critical, resourcefulness, quick-thinking, and the ability to change your priorities at the drop of a hat, but that’s what I love about it, that’s the unpredictability of my working day which is really enjoyable rather than having a job where you know exactly what you’re going to be facing on a daily basis.
KM: Is there anything that you find challenging about the job? Anything you don’t like about it..?
KP: There’s nothing I don’t like about it. The things I find challenging are the management kind of things, and this has always been the case where I’ll have difficult situations to manage with performance or behaviors that aren’t as they should be, but the best approach for dealing with that is just honesty and straight-forwardness, and no judgement, which I’m developing. Sometimes you can have multiple things happening at once, and it’s just a case of taking a step back and going “actually, what is the priority I need to deal with now?”. And that’s… again, you learn as you go along.
KM: Can you give me an example of what kind of things can go wrong?
KP: You could be in a situation where, in my previous role, I had numerous elements to my role. So I was in charge of procurement, I could be dealing with month-end reporting or a stock-take which requires detailed concentration, when health and safety incidents happen at the same time. Then you’ve got reporting time pressure plus immediate health and safety incidents: patients just trip down the stairs, something has happened that needs attending to, so it’s that sort of thing – just being able to juggle that. And it genuinely comes down to common sense, what’s the important thing to deal with first.
KM: Also the ability to work under pressure and not be swayed by who’s shouting the loudest, being able to think clearly…
KP: Retaining calm under pressure is really key, I find it exhausting to deal with people who don’t remain calm, it adds to the adrenaline and in those situations you do need to have a bit of distance, a bit of calm, and just get things done quickly.
KM: So what do you think a key challenge will be for the sector over the next few years? I’m thinking of students who might want to break into the sector, what should they be thinking about in terms of how to prepare and what might be coming up that they could be anticipating?
KP: I think the main thing that keeps cropping up in our discussions at the hospice is the ageing population and the impact that that has, we know that people are living longer, that this is unprecedented, so we don’t actually know what the health requirements will be of people as they live up to their 90s or into their 100s, and then the pull on resources as a result of that, we know the NHS is massively stretched, the way that gets funded and managed I think that’s a massive issue that needs resolving, and I’m not sure that anyone’s got a clear idea on how to do it. It’s such an immensely rewarding field to work in, and having gone from the shiny event production and advertising world where everything was fabulous and to go to something that’s fundamentally making a difference to people’s lives is really gratifying.
KM: Any sort of final advice for students who might want to break into this sector? Any tips for getting in?
KP: I think any volunteering you can do, any work experience you can do, I don’t know how the NHS postgraduate management scheme works, ’cause I’ve fallen into the job that I’ve done… But just having good transferable skills, being open, being honest, being kind, and having a sense of humor.
KM: We’ll put details of the NHS graduate scheme on our website, but to get into that it would just sort of be a case of writing speculative applications to a hospice or charity..?
KP: The jobs are advertised online on St Leonard’s website, I think for the more senior positions there are recruitment firms that are used as well. Mine was advertised on Facebook, the job was advertised earlier this year (2018), so they use social media to advertise their jobs as well, but there’s a volunteer workforce of about a thousand across all the different areas of St Leonard’s, and I know there’s been people who have been volunteers who then progressed onto having a paid position.
KM: So that’s a good way to check out and that could lead to other things…
KP: It gives you a good taste for what it is that we do, and I think that just generally having that open approach to speculative inquiries, when I first heard about the job I contacted them and said “can I come for an informal visit?” and then you spend time having a look around the site and meeting the key people and just getting a feel for it, ’cause it has to be right for them and it has to be right for you as well.
KM: That’s really helpful, thank you so much for sharing your story today, and see you next time!
KP: Thank you very much.
Thanks for joining us this week on What do you actually do? This episode was hosted by myself, Kate Morris, and edited by Stephen Furlong and produced by both of us. If you loved this podcast, spread the word and subscribe.
Naturally, you’re keen to land that first job, so it’s tempting to send off lots of applications to ensure major coverage. It’s quite quick to write an application and then copy and paste with a few changes, where needed.
However, it’s more effective to spend the time on a few high quality, well-tailored, applications than lots of generic ones. It may take longer, but a personalised, well-researched application will be more likely to hit the mark with an employer.
Preparation is key
Take time to research the organisation and the job, and to reflect on your experience and skills (including your degree and time at York), before you start an application, and check out this guide on what to do.
There’s also a helpful info sheet on what to include in your CV. (This resource includes a personal profile in your CV, but this is optional so only do this if it works for you.) Use active words to let employers know what you’ve done and the impact of it – here’s a helpful list.
We’re always happy to give York grads feedback on their CV – just send it to us via Careers Gateway and one of our Careers Consultants will have a look at it for you; often it’s just a case of a couple of tweaks to make more impact.
If you’re job hunting, you’re likely to be spending a lot of time online – and while you’re focussed on your job hunt or application, it can be easy to miss warning signs that all is not as it should be… Read on to find out what to look out for and how to stay safe.
Protect your identity
Your CV will include basic contact information – your email and phone number; it doesn’t need to include your address, and don’t include details such as your National Insurance number, passport number, date of birth or bank details in your CV. This kind of information is not needed until you have a definite job offer and are sure the opportunity is genuine.
Resist pressure to apply quickly
Yes, you do need to apply before closing dates, and be aware that some jobs close early if they have enough good applications. But if you are being pressured to apply immediately, this should be a warning sign. Look for the company website to check their vacancies, phoning to confirm if necessary.
Hold onto your money
Don’t be tricked into paying upfront for fake security checks, certification or training, or into sending money in advance for interview travel. Reputable companies will reimburse interview travel expenses and would certainly not ask you to pay in advance for any part of the recruitment process.
If you have a phone interview, you can expect to be given a landline number to call. Make sure you check and do not call a premium rate number (these usually start 070 or 09).
Check emails carefully
It might look like an official email address – but is it? Fake email addresses can look convincing – have they changed a letter in the name for example? Several employers have warnings on their websites about people imitating their email addresses. Equally, the use of a personal email account rather than a company email address is unlikely to be genuine.
Be suspicious if you get an email about a job you haven’t applied for, or an email requesting personal information or bank details. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar are also clues to look out for.
Be realistic – don’t get scammed!
If the employer is not interested in your skills and experience, or is offering a job paying a large salary with “no experience necessary”, then you should be cautious. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Students sometimes ask us about job ads for a book keeper or funds processor, offering high pay for minimal work – this is a money laundering scam using your bank account for clients to pay in money, which you will then be asked to transfer on. There are serious legal consequences – if the worst happens and you are scammed, make sure you report it to Action Fraud.
Choices, choices…but if you’re still thinking about jobs after graduation, where do you start?
You may wish to have a job, which draws on and actively uses your degree subject knowledge. Start with Prospects’ ‘What can I do with my degree?’ and click on your subject or the closest one to your programme.
This resource will give you ideas of jobs which are either directly related to your degree or where the subject would be useful.
The information here also covers the sorts of skills you will have acquired through your studies, as well as destinations of graduates from that same subject area.
What are other York grads doing after University?
You can get ideas by looking at the career stories of other graduates from your department in York Profiles and Mentors (you need a York log in to ask alumni questions direct).
The profiles make interesting reading with alumni covering a range of topics, including what they do, how they got there, the recruitment process, and advice and tips for others.
What’s right for me?
Sometimes a personality assessment can be helpful in identifying your personality strengths and preferences, and how these might relate to your career choices. The SHL Direct personality questionnaire, for example, analyses your strengths in eight key competencies, helps you understand what these are and how you could use them in answering interview questions.
These resources are intended to help you think about your next possible steps, so don’t think you have to have your entire career mapped out straight away! As always, we are still available to help you, whether that’s through a chat with one of our staff or a pointer towards information that’s relevant to you and your situation.