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!

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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?

“Tell me about yourself” Cracking the interview


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!

Hire me! The art of drafting job applications


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.

CV Feedback

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.

 

 

More than money. Lindsay tells us all about her summer internship


Name: Lindsay Christison

College: Halifax

Course: Politics (Ba)

What do you want to do after University?

Not 100% sure but probably something in events organisation/ management within a company- like the CPD Unit/training gateway at York

Where and what is your internship?

CPD and Policy intern- Working on a project for the University of York relating to academic research and its impact on policy in the UK and abroad.

What did you get up to?

In general, I was asked to find out how the University helps academics turn their research into real world policy and where this help could be improved. In many ways, I was granted a lot of freedom in the tasks I had to complete. My goal was broadly to help the team kick-start a long term project on policy influence and therefore anything I completed would probably be helpful. I was initially tasked with internet research and received some suggestions on where to look, but also given the chance to use my own initiative and explore further. Later in my internship I was asked to present my findings and suggestions for the university to various members of staff.

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Initially, I struggled working with such flexible expectations and the requirement to work out for myself what tasks needed to be completed in order to fulfil a broader and longer term goal. As a result of this style of working I have learned how, in the workplace, large projects evolve greatly in their early stages as ideas and leads are tested and evaluated. This experience will be useful in the future as I now have a greater understanding of the processes behind project work. Moreover, I have learned that I can have confidence in trusting and following my instinct. After meeting with my managers and seeing the benefits of my work for the team, I now have greater confidence in my abilities.

What did you enjoy?

The most enjoyable aspect of my internship has been finding out more about the work the university does outside of teaching students. For example I was able to spend some time discovering what groundbreaking research our lecturers do and gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the academic prestige of our lecturers. (I also appreciated the confidence boost a power suit can bring to you on a Monday morning!)

“I have learned that I can have confidence in trusting and following my instinct.”

What was the application process like?

In all honesty, I applied for an internship, like most people, for the cash and to improve my CV. However, on top of this I really feel like I’ve gained a greater understanding of what the workplace expects of me and what I expect of the workplace. It has given me the opportunity to understand my professional strengths which will be helpful when applying to jobs in the future.

Applying for this internship I was particularly nervous as I knew I would be on holiday during the week of interviews and had to consider how to communicate in my application that I was really excited by the opportunity and if they could please still consider my application (in the office I have since found out I was dubbed ‘the excitable one’ when they were considering applications). However, after an hour of failed Skype call attempts from Majorca I had a quick interview and received my acceptance email the following day. The Student Internship Bureau really helped out here as they evaluated my application before it was sent to my employer which meant the interview didn’t need to be very long; this was greatly appreciated after an hour of nervous waiting in a 35 degree hotel room.

“After an hour of failed Skype call attempts from Majorca I had a quick interview and received my acceptance email the following day.”

Any reflections on your internship?

Working with the CPD unit and Research and Innovation team at the University has been absolutely brilliant and I cannot recommend enough, taking on a summer internship. The whole team have been so friendly and not once judged me for the amount of biscuits I bring into the office.

I feel like I couldn’t have had a more informative and yet friendly toe-dip into the world of work.

Find out more about the Student Internship Bureau by clicking here.

A guide to graduate job hunting


Now graduation is over you may have turned your attention to the little matter of job hunting. Here are some handy tips on getting started.

Know what sort of job you want and in what sector?

If you’re not sure what type of job and for what type of company, check out the Get Ideas of the Careers website. Here you’ll find exercises to help you think about what’s right for you. The job sector pages give you background information on a variety of occupational areas and our York profiles give you an insight into the range of jobs York alumni have entered.

Where do I find jobs advertised?

There are lots of graduate level jobs advertised on a host of online jobs sites. Our information sheet, Finding graduate job vacancies, gives a list of suggested general job sites, including Careers gateway, Prospects, TargetJobs and lots more.

Depending on the sector you want to work in, you might be better checking job sites which are particular to certain industries and services. The job sector pages will give you links to specialist sites.

The things nobody tells you

There are some details, which aren’t often covered in advice to graduates. These include busting a few myths around graduate job hunting (“all the jobs are in London”, “I’ve missed all the opportunities”, “all my peers have got jobs”, etc) and what employers really want from candidates.

Some of these issues are tackled in the job hunting toolkit, along with understanding job sdverts and how best to use job sites.

Getting the job

Making applications is only the first stage on, what can be, a long recruitment process. Help with writing a CV or completing a form to sitting aptitude tests and attending interviews is available on the apply for jobs web pages and the info sheets linked from each page go into more detail.

Keeping it local

If you’re keen to stay in York(shire), Yorkshire Graduates advertises vacancies in the region.  Other regional sites include Inspiring Interns (for Manchester and the north of England, as well as London), Graduate Advantage (Midlands), Unlocking Potential (Cornwall); if you’re using national sites, eg Graduate Talent Pool, you can often filter by location.

International work

Whether you’re an international graduate returning home or any nationality looking to work outside of the UK, use the international work resources for vacancy sites and advice.

For international students considering working in the UK, it’s important to read through the information about options and visas on our pages for international students.

Unsure of your next move?

You might feel you’re not ready to start job-hunting yet, and need more time to be sure of your direction.  So, if you need to talk to someone here in Careers, please give us a call on 01904 322685.