All 3 entries tagged Fairs

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October 19, 2012

Applications: are you hearing the message?

Megaphone manAs you've probably noticed, the careers fair 'season' has kicked off in earnest. Last week saw the first of our autumn fairsImpact – and Stephanie Baravelli, final year philosophy student (and careers rep) popped along to get the employer lowdown....

As a student, one of the most stressful things we encounter are job applications. The world of graduate employment is a competitive one, and the right application can easily mean the difference between getting an interview or not. So how can you give yourself the best chance of getting through to the next stages of the recruitment process?

We spoke to a multitude of different employers at the Impact Fair, concerning the most important piece of advice they would give to students who are applying, and one resounding message emerged from almost every employer. The key to giving yourself the best chance is a simple one, but is something that many students fail to do and a source of great frustration to employers; read the material provided by an employer and use this to tailor your application to that specific company.

Employers want to employ graduates who match the needs of the company and the team they will be working in. This may seem like an obvious statement, but many students fall at this hurdle by submitting either a destined-for-the-bin ‘general’ application or a more specific application tailored to the field, but not to the company; an IBM representative at the fair said that success “is in the details”. Many of the employers spoken to said that if a recruitment team looks at your application, and can’t see clearly why you would be a good fit for the role, your application is unlikely to go any further.

Fear not though: companies are not trying to catch you out with this process. We asked one employer what advice he would give to students to better their chances; he handed us a booklet and said read it through. It seems many students and grads are failing to do this. It may sound obvious (because it is!) but read the material thoroughly – don't just leave the glossy brochures gathering dust at the bottom of your fair goody bag. Booklets that are handed out by employers at careers fairs or through the careers service contain within them, under all the jargon and superlatives, key information that you can and should utilise when applying. One of the things that frustrated the employers I spoke to most was that they provide so much material for students – including things like details of the company ethos and the person specification – and yet this is seemingly ignored in many applications.

So, for those of you about to apply for graduate jobs, or any other type of job, make sure you are paying attention to what the company wants and tailoring your applications. If the company has put their ethos in bold on the front cover of their booklet, it is obviously important to them, so you need to think how you can show them you understand and embody that ethos. The materials the companies provide are there for a reason – use them, and you are giving yourself a much better chance of making it through to the next stage of recruitment.

And if you would just allow me a quick 'NB' it is this: please don’t ignore grammar and spelling. You may think this doesn't need saying but according to many employers – including big companies like Coca-Cola – spelling mistakes run rampant throughout applications, and are a real turn off to employers. An error filled application makes you seem lazy or careless – or possibly both! Remember that most of the large employers will be looking at hundreds of applications – try to make their jobs easier by running a quick spell check or getting a friend to read through your covering letter. Many of the graduate recruiters will only 'permit' one or two small errors throughout your application: don't screen yourself out on the basis of a few silly mistakes.


May 03, 2012

Work that fair

Careers FairIt's the summer fair season again (although I use the word ‘summer’ advisedly!) and plenty of opportunity for you to scan the job horizon and see what’s out there. Careers fairs can be quite daunting – particularly for the uninitiated – it seems everyone else is smoothly working the room, chatting to employers, picking up brochures and placing one foot firmly on the career ladder. In reality, many students fail to play the 'fair game' and miss the chance to make a really strong impression on a potential recruiters. With some basic preparation and an open mind you can turn this around. Just make sure you know 'how get the most out of careers fairs'.

We’ve got some great feedback from employers who came to our autumn term fairs and have a pretty clear idea about what they want to hear. Make yourself memorable for the right reasons. Here's what they had to say:

Some of the best questions...

  • What is the company's direction in the short and long term?
  • What is the best way to make my application successful?
  • What motivates you to go into work every day?
  • How has the economy affected your business?

And the worst...

  • What do you do? Who are you? What are you about? Not a good opening line
  • What freebies have you got? And yes, students do still ask this
  • Can I have your number? It's not an opportunity to pick up a date (the recruiter's words, not mine!)

In terms of general tips, the recruiters pretty much covered what was in the Guardian article, with much of the emphasis directed towards good research, commerical awareness and the right attitude: be confident, enthusiastic but also respectful. A careers fair isn't a social occasion – don't treat it like one.

I'm going to have the final word (it's a habit I'm trying to break...) and remind you that many graduate and internship opportunities are open to students from any degree background. Don't count yourself out before you even started, keep an open mind and entertain new possibilities.

Ok, that wasn't quite the final word, but this is: remember it's our Summer Careers Fair on Tuesday, 12-4pm in Rootes. See you there, just don't forget to read the fair guide first....


May 02, 2012

Calling all finalists…

Career Success Toolkit brandingAre you a finalist still looking for a job, or even some direction? This summer the Centre for Student Careers and Skills is running a series of events, workshops and sessions, to help mitigate the rising panic that often accompanies the third term of your final year. Yes, we know that our reputation is built on a mantra of 'plan early' (it's still not bad advice....) but we're savvy enough to recognise that a pretty big – and often silent – majority are simply not ready to tackle the challenges of job hunting and form filling until now.

It's something of a cliché, but true nonetheless, to say finding a job can often feel like a job itself. Opportunities don't just create themselves and people rarely fall into jobs; it takes effort, commitment and a hefty dose of resilience to help you aim for success, but also prepare for (temporary!) failure. Some of you have, no doubt, spent a fair few months on the application treadmill, and it can be really demoralising if you're finding that job offer – or even interview slot – remains elusive.

Whether you are suffering application fatigue, or consider yourself a complete careers novice, there is something in our 'Career Success Toolkit’ that should tempt, or at least offer a fresh perspective. If you're happy to leave your assumptions at the door, then we're happy to address some of those misconceptions about career planning, job hunting and inevitably the graduate job market.

Our launch event – the Summer Fair – will give you ample chance to talk to employers across a range of sectors, and can feel a little less intense than its autumn term counterparts. Over 40 employers will be there, many of them offering jobs and internships. You can also sign up for some employer and centre-led skills sessions, so check the fair guide to help you plan what to do and when. We’re all decamping to Rootes for the day, come and find us on the Careers & Skills stand. We’ll happily field any question you might have, just don't ask which employer has the best freebies – we like to keep that secret!

Understandably, finals will be occupying most of your time and energy between weeks 4-7, so we’ve concentrated most of the events and sessions in weeks 3, 8-10. Hopefully this should give you sufficient time for post exam recovery before getting to grips with your future plans. The sessions are deliberately pitched to reflect and accommodate the different stages of career readiness and with over 50 to choose from, you should find something that resonates.

There are familiar themes – applications, interviews and assessment centres, but we have also taken a few creative detours along the way and you’ll find sessions on workplace transitions, building ‘bounce back’ into your job search, commercial awareness and finding your strengths. You can attend as many – or as few – as you like, but whatever you do make this your summer of career success.


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