A recent article in HR Magazine about Generation Y, (that’s you!), states that 42% of 16-24 years olds would rather work alone in a team than collaborate with others, five percentage points higher than the average workforce. However, this is only part the story. Your attitudes to work and working relationships differ to older age groups , you are apparently more relaxed about chatty colleagues, not feeling them to be wasting time; more happy to build relationships after work or over a coffee; and very comfortable with interacting digitally and face to face, where professional and personal networks blur.
WHAT DO THINK?
What’s interesting is this may not be news to you, but it could be to recruiters so make sure in applications and cover letters you get across the message that you can talk to people, interact face to face, be tolerant of co-worker’s differing behaviours and are are good at building strong and effective relationships.
Take a look at the following feedback from employers who took part in a recent student mock interview event. Are you meeting their needs?
Take notes if the interviewer gives you feedback.
Articulate what your achievements say about you. If you swam for the county, for example, that says you are committed and competitive.
Relate extra curricular activities to skills employers are looking for. Use army cadets experience, for example, to demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills.
Take an interest in the outside world, current affairs and business. Prepare an answer to the question ” what has grabbed your attention in the news recently”.
Answer the “tell me about your weaknesses question” very briefly, stop speaking and wait for the next question. Don’t fall into the bear pit by rambling on about your weaknesses.
The Placement Careers Centre sees students up to two years after graduation. If you would like careers or interview help, book a session with a careers consultant today by emailing email@example.com, stipulating your degree course and student number.
It’s always a good idea to review our presence on social media from time to time. So check your privacy settings on Facebook and ensure you are only revealing what you are truly happy with everyone seeing – including prospective employers – because believe me, they do look.
Create a profile for yourself on Linkedin if you don’t have one already. Recruiters expect you to have a business profile on the web.
And don’t spread yourself too thinly on social media. As a recent Harvard Business Review article suggests, there are too many platforms (Pinterest, Instagram, tumblr, twitter etc) to master them all, so focus on using a smaller number very effectively. As author Dorie Clark writes: “Indeed, if you have a Twitter profile with 35 followers, or a MySpace page that hasn’t been touched since 2007, it often looks worse than having nothing at all.”
I met a graduate recently who’d missed more than 20 job opportunities by not checking his email inboxes. He’d spent time completing application forms, well presumably as he’d be called for interview, but was too disorganised to scroll down or filter key information, to realise recruiters were interested in him. A crying shame in this tough jobs market.
Inboxes can get overwhelmed at times, but is is essential to stay on top of incoming emails as missing the most important ones could cost you an opening or, as in this case, an interview for your dream job. Student recruiters the Graduate Recruitment Bureau advise:
If you’re registered with several recruitment services, use a separate email address or filters to handle the incoming alerts.
Set your preferences to only receive the roles you are interested in.
Open them! It only takes 2 minutes to scan emails so keep an ear to your inbox.
Remember also to send an email to thank interviewers for their time to get yourself noticed and remembered. Keep it personalised and short. Use a maximum of three paragraphs. One to thank them and reiterate interest, another to briefly state strengths that ensure your ability to excel in the role and a third to communicate anything missed in the graduate interview. Sending a letter through the post can be a great touch instead of an email and has more chance of being read. Take time over your handwriting though!
Eager to beat the crowd and rise above the scrum that is the grad jobs market? Take a closer look at small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). According to a recent article they are crying out for people with modern skills and drive. That means you. SMEs are often often overlooked by graduates as they appear not to have the glamour and kudos of big corporates, nor do they have large advertising budgets to attract the recently qualified.
However, SMEs , especially start-ups and those in growing sectors like technology and media, offer fantastic opportunties for recent graduates. You become involved in the company quickly, arguably have a greater say and more impact than in a large organisation, are less of a number and more of a partner. There are lifestyle considerations also. Techy and start up companies may often be found outside London and in business parks (where the rent is cheaper) so housing is often better value for money in the surrounding areas, Get involved early and you may even find yourself an equity holder , owning a small slice of the company.
So look at ALL companies and don’t discount the SME. It could be the answer to your dreams.
You’ve got an interview and it’s for a role you really want. It’s taken ten applications to get to this point and you do not want to blow it. So what do you need to do to land the job?
First you need to know that the recruiter believes you can do the job, otherwise they wouldn’t have called you for interview. Your task now is to convince them they were right , and not wrong. There is a wealth of guidance on how to succeed in interviews but here are three key pieces of advice, which work all the time.
•One : Be prepared to stand out. Imagine the recruiter’s day, booked full of graduate interviews, where candidates are blending into a homogenous mush. What is it about you and your background that will make the interviewer remember you? Can you namedrop a couple of brands they’ll know and have a connection to (for example,”I did work experience for company X where one of our key clients was Pepsi”, “While volunteering I rasied money for Oxfam”). It’s about pressing the recruiter’s buttons and finding a connection with them. When asked to describe yourself, try and think of an interesting nugget of information (an unusual hobby or activity – one student I saw recently mentioned she was a part-time mystery shopper). Typically recruiters will remember the beginning and end of an interview – be sure to be impactful throughout, but it will certainly matter more at the start and as the interview concludes.
•Two – Promote yourself. If you don’t big yourself up, no-one else will. As long as you make a statement about yourself and back it up with evidence, you’re fine. Say you’re great with people, but then show how. So many of the students and graduates I meet are really very good at what they do but feel a bit shy about saying so. This doesn’t get them anywhere because not only are they competing against people who are good at their jobs and also at self-promotion, but, sadly, they are competing against the people who are just good at self promotion.
•Three – Practise your answers. I can’t stress enough how important it is to rehearse your answers before an interview, especially if you’re new to this game. Get a friend or family member to take you through a typical set of interview questions . Your answers will be so much more refined and relevant by doing this. The “mock” interview ( either informally or via your career consultant) can transform you from an unsure and nervous interviewee who did not get the job that had their name on it, into a targetted and polished performer with a dream role.
As regular readers of this blog will know I’ve been known to slip in the odd one or two references to music to my postings. It’s a shared passion alongside an irrational love for a certain tangerine-clad Scottish football team. A solvent one. So it seemed fitting to borrow a song title from the untouchable Jeff Buckley to give notice that this will be my last post in this present guise at least. Today I move on to take on a new but similar role at City University, London.
Thank you for taking the time to read my posts. I know grads have found real grad jobs through it because they’ve told me. I’ve really enjoyed making it a forum for both career advice, and employers opinions on what they’re looking for from you. I hope beyond hope that you’ve gained confidence from my concerted efforts to give the REAL recruitment picture out there for you as a graduate. I’ve only been heckled once in all my postings so I think I must have been doing something right.
I leave you in the capable hands of Brunel University’s Placement and Careers Centre. A new correspondent will be found. The url and title of the blog may change but the quality of advice will not.
Two last things. I’m about 60 hits short of the 35,500 mark so see if you can help me break that barrier by the end of today. And the other thing? This isn’t the blogging last you’ve heard of David Gilchrist. Keep an eye out.
Bit of a double plug this one. Firstly for GradU8, an online careers forum/fair which has already taken place but which you can catch up on by reading the various online discussions between employers and students which took place and for Ashley Hever’s clip which contains some excellent advice on not giving up and seeking out that feedback from employers when your application is unsuccesful or you are unsuccessful after assessment centres/interviews.
So many of us shy away from asking for that feedback. We get the stock response that “Please don’t contact us as we can’t handle additional requests for feedback” when in actual fact very often they can. The reason companies often say that they can’t is because if they said any different they’d be inundated and would have no time for anything else.
So, pick up that phone. Send that email. See if there’s any more they can tell you. And ask them nicely…
Recent conversations between the university and employers have again stressed the value employers place on candidates with volunteering experience. This time it’s Barclays who were keen to impress that on us.
And I’ve come across a new model of doing Volunteering work in the shape of UN Volunteers. Now, they aren’t asking for volunteers to don blue hats and stand in the middle of conflicts but they are looking for people to undertake real project work which perhaps crucially you can often do from home. It’s a really interesting and flexible way of doing things and whilst you may miss the face to face contact it does still involve you collaborating with others remotely. An ability becoming increasingly important and sought after by employers as the world moves in its global direction. Put it this way, there are countless people now managing and working within global remote teams.