All entries for November 2012

November 29, 2012

Using social media in your job search

social media icons

We've already blogged about the power of social media, but plenty of students are still unsure how to use social media to further their job search. I recently caught up with Tom Bourlet, Social Media and SEO Executive, to ask for his thoughts...

How can Twitter help my job search?

There are a number of useful tools which you can incorporate into your job search. Tweetdeck can allow you to track keywords used in tweets in a well laid out platform. If you're searching for a marketing job in Brighton, type in ‘marketing job Brighton’, and Tweetdeck would list all tweets recently sent out including these keywords. Alternatively you could search for ‘marketing jobs’, ‘jobs UK marketing’ or ‘advertising vacancy Brighton’. And don’t forget to use TwitJobSearch to find jobs on Twitter. A quick search for ‘PR intern UK’ generated 198 results. Not bad for 2 seconds’ work!

Following companies on Twitter that you have an interest in or are applying to and also regularly commenting on their posts can also help your visibility (and credibility) and may help you find a point of difference from other applicants.

If you're going to make your Twitter feed publicly accessible - and it rather negates the point if you don't - then make sure your profile and avatar are professional. Don't neutralise your content to such an extent that it feels bland, but trying to balance the personal and professional. Optimise your bio to include relevant, specific information. Every word counts.

Building a strong profile in your industry on Twitter and gaining regular influencers as followers can significantly increase your chances of hearing about a job position which have not been placed online yet placed online yet. I have received a number of job offers through Twitter simply through contacts I have made while networking on the social platform. But it is important not to overstate its impact - in some sectors (PR, media) you may be heavily disadvantaged by not having a visible Twitter feed; in others it will make no difference at all.

What about LinkedIn – do recruiters really look?

If you’re actively looking for a job, it would be inconceivable to ignore LinkedIn. It doesn’t take too long to simply transfer your CV content onto the social platform. Also consider the judicious use of keywords in your summary to make sure your profile appears in LinkedIn itself and external searches. Join some of the groups based on your industry and if there aren’t any, why not take the initiative and set up your own? Other users might start to gravitate to you as a ‘power member’ – a great way to get yourself noticed. If you're completely new to LinkedIn check out these 'Top tips' to help get you started.

Facebook is my social space - how can it help my job hunt?

You’re probably all aware that some recruiters are checking out potential applicants on Facebook (stats vary - anything from a highly questionable 90% to a more likely 40%) and you’ll all be familiar with the need to manage your profile and adjust your privacy settings to control what information is publicly viewable. Understandably many of you want to keep that distinction between ‘work’ and ‘social’, but don't dismiss the (potential) power of Facebook as a job search tool. And talking of 'search' use this function on Facebook to help you find relevant groups and employers. Finding people with shared career interests and common goals is a quick and effective way of growing your network. Most major employers will also have company pages, so find, view and like the page as a first step to showing your interest.

There are a number of Facebook job search apps, but reception has been somewhat mixed. It may be, for now, that the best way to maximise the power of Facebook is to use keywords, status updates (tell people you're actively looking) and group/company pages to keep yourself updated and informed. It's unlikely that Facebook will overtake LinkedIn as a professional networking platform, but the chances are you're on there anyway, so you might just as well exploit its job search potential.

What about blogging?

Blogging can be another way to illustrate your knowledge, technical abilities and establish your online profile. Writing a blog is very simple to set up, and the benefits are considerable. Set up the blog as your own website with consistent, content rich posts and others will soon recognise you as a strong voice in the field. Having a successful blog can also help place your name in front of organisations that you might consider applying to.

If you do decide to set up a blog, try WordPress as there are a vast number of benefits to this platform, including the wide array of plug-ins which can be used. You could also sign up to Triberr and build a strong blogging community with others in your related field.

Google places a lot of power in authorship, so if you blog regularly and set up rel=author properly, Google will begin to recognise you as an expert in your field – this should certainly wow any potential employers.

What else is out there?

Try thinking outside of the box and consider some of the other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest or setting up a YouTube Channel. A few people I know have actually received job interviews partially based on their work on Instagram, using it to help them connect with people and showcase their skills and creativity. But, it’s not just for the creative or media savvy: neither of these friends worked in creative fields - one is a nutritionist and the other one works as in procurement. What may start off as a side project or interest can potentially generate some interesting career opportunities - at the very least it will demonstrate a raft of skills to potential recruiters. Writing, presenting (if you're feeling bold!), editing, creativity and a general confidence with digital media. Believe me, there are plenty of graduate job seekers out there who don't have these skills...

Tom Bourlet is a Social Media and SEO Executive for Directline Holidays, a freelancer and consultant for a number of companies including SNC Direct and Omprakash. Tom graduated from Brighton University with a degree in Business Management. You can find Tom on Twitter @tom_bourlet

November 26, 2012

If only…3 things graduates would have done differently

RegretUniversity can be a great experience: it's a time to try new things, broaden your horizons and make memories that last a lifetime. Enjoy what's on offer and you'll find yourself in a win-win situation: having fun whilst accumulating the skills and experiences you need to compete for jobs later on. Just don't leave it too late. Every year, some grads look back on their time with regret; wishing they'd got more involved, and taken time to prepare for life beyond the bubble. Well, hindsight is 20:20 so find out what our grads 'wish they'd done'...

I wish I'd got involved in extra curricular activities

  • It's never too late to rectify this one. Have a look at the SU societies page to see what's going on. Getting involved with clubs and societies is a great way to acquire the skills and qualities employers are looking for. Team work, leadership, communication, problem solving skills - societies provide fertile ground for developing and enhancing these 'transferable skills'. However, you do need to become an active member; passive participation will not create the opportunities or experiences you need to persuade prospective employers. Don't worry if you're not a budding Olympian - there are over 200 clubs and societies, so you're bound to find something that chimes.
  • Try to manoeuvre yourself into a position of responsibility: social secretary, treasurer...or maybe president? Not only will this provide rich pickings for future applications (great for competency questions) but it sends a clear signal to employers that you can handle responsibility and lead from the front.
  • You don't need to stop at societies: if you're politically inclined, there are campaign groups or perhaps you'd like to hone your journalistic talents by writing for the Boar, or contributing to RaW.
  • Have you considered volunteering? Over 10% of our student population are involved with Warwick Volunteers, many of whom find this enormously worthwhile and life-affirming. The projects are challenging and diverse and there's plenty of scope for you to flex your organisational and management skills if you decide to apply for a position as project leader.

I wish I'd applied for internships sooner

  • In some sectors paid, structured internships are used to feed the graduate talent pipeline; if you want to compete (seriously) for jobs in banking and finance, you'll need to go the internship route. And apply early in your second year. Most internships are open to penultimate year students, so you can't afford to adopt a 'wait and see' approach.
  • Don't get too caught up with the semantics. The term 'internship' has morphed into a 'catch all' word for a period of (substantive) work experience, but whether your interest lies in engineering, law or PR you'll need to get some work experience. In some sectors you'll need to be much more proactive in seeking out potential opportunities - speculative approaches may be the way in, so don't sit back and wait for things to happen.
  • Try before you buy! It doesn't matter if you change your mind and decide career success lies elsewhere. Work experience plays an invaluable part in shaping your career ideas. Finding out what you don't want to do, is just as important as realising what you do.
  • If you're not sure where to start, then come along to our work experience drop-in, 10-12 Monday to Friday in the Learning Grid (term time).

I wish I'd used the Careers Service

  • This seems to be a recurrent theme: every year graduates tell us they wish they'd used the services on offer. That's not to say you won't reap the benefits if you return to us as a graduate, but it's much easier (logistically if nothing else) to make the most of the Centre whilst you're on campus, or living nearby.
  • We're not suggesting that you formulate a detailed plan of action mapped out for the next 5 years - starting early can pay dividends but it doesn't mean you're committed to a specific career path. Gathering information about different sectors, understanding what recruiters look for and using this intelligence to shape your university experience and build your CV, is time well spent. We can help whatever stage you're at, whether it's helping you explore your ideas, find work experience, practise your interview technique, hone your CV or apply for postgrad study.
  • It's not unusual for some students to claim our employer focus is too narrow, and overly reliant on the big corporate giants; this is sometimes (conveniently?) cited as a reason for career apathy, "there's nothing here for me". Well, it's true to say the city and finance firms have a strong campus presence, but don't let perception cloud your judgement. We are actively working with 98 of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers and have a flourishing sector event programme covering areas as diverse as retail, HR, arts, public sector, technology and international development. Add to this an increasing range of niche events available in your department; many of which are led by your careers consultant or in collaboration with target employers. So, what's stopping you? Check out the schedule and come along.

November 21, 2012

The art of self–promotion

Rachel Guthrie Self-promotion isn't a dirty word: it's a vital part of the graduate job search, particularly if you're looking to establish yourself in the arts world. Rachel Guthrie, final year history of art student and aspiring art critic, tell us how it's done....

Self-promotion has never been an easy idea for me. I’m a wannabe art critic, who's always liked to think that my writing could do the work for me – speaking of my ability and drive to write about the arts alone. But in the world of journalism, and even more so in the sector of the arts where critics, writers, reviewers and reporters are now all freelance and battling for every commission, self-promotion has never been more important. Having an active online presence is key to my future as an arts journalist – it’s the way in which I get known, as well as being the means of getting my writing out to a wider audience of readers and commissioning editors.

Keeping it professional

Self-documentation has always been a more comfortable concept. I began my post-school education practicing art 9-5, and my number one hobby is still photography – I love to document what I see, do and feel. This is in some ways what drew me to criticism because I couldn’t help but respond to the exhibitions I was attending and so I set up a blog (originally a blogspot, now a wordpress) when I left school. It was a commitment I made with myself and the wider web to write about every exhibition I saw. It would be my online portfolio of writing, increasingly building over a period in which I was not writing as part of my education. Here’s where twitter came in: it was a means of documenting, but not simply a list of the day’s activities one by one, but always putting an evaluative slant on all that I did.

Foremost, my twitter account was set up to be a professional rather than a personal account. But at the same time, it had to be personable, culturally all-rounded. If I want to be a critic, I am putting myself in a position where I sell myself as a beacon of good taste. I have to be trusted by readers, I have to seen to know not just what I am talking about (therefore have a good education in art history), but also be able to decide what is good and what simple is not, in the exhibition scene. This is why I’ve linked my twitter into my blog so that people can read how I’m spending my time – how, essentially, I’m broadening my horizons.

Building your persona

Moreover, as a critic, you have to be a persona. This is quite different to general journalism – to your trained news reporter – I have to have a distinctive voice. The most well-known (and fearfully respected) art critic is Brian Sewell. He hates more or less everything he sees, but he is a 100% memorable, recognisable. He is himself a brand, and this is what a critic must be. And as a critic of the visual, I have to create a brand that is visually appealing, hence I have a blog with a clear aesthetic, which hopefully reflects my writing style and artistic [contemporary] preferences, and business cards which too mimic those graphics.

My active online presence – I speak mostly of my blog and twitter account (which I believe should be seen as a form of micro-blogging) – is then a matter of self-documentation and promotion. My blog is the place in which you can find my CV, photographs and read my articles without asking for them, thereby cutting out the middle-man. My website is essentially an advertisement for my expertise, and in being cheeky enough as to suggest that I should be paid for what I love doing, I have been.

Twitter is great for this too. By following key organisations (those you’d like to work for) and including them in your tweets you can catch their attention, and they can catch yours when they mention job opportunities, competitions and the like. I also have an automatic setting so that everything I publish on my blog goes on twitter (as I have more followers on twitter where the things I speak about are broader than those on my blog), and I tweet with hashtags to gain the kind of followers that may be useful for me. By making the most of the internet, I find unknown opportunities arising helping to widen my potential.

Rachel was voted Best Arts Writer at The Boar (2011-12) and shortlisted for critic of the year at the 2012 Guardian Student Media Awards. Rachel blogs and tweets @rachelguthrie8

November 17, 2012

The graduate recruitment process


The graduate recruitment process can seem really daunting: even if you survive the initial application sift, you can still look forward to a further two or three stages before you reach the final hurdle. But the key to success lies in preparation and understanding what the interviewer is looking for, so I caught up with Claire Jones, Student Recruitment Officer at PwC, to ask for her top tips to beat the odds.

Whichever opportunity you're applying for at PwC (or anywhere else), there are some things that you should be thinking about so we've put together some hints and tips:

Do your research

We'll expect you to be able to talk coherently and confidently about PwC, the position you're applying for, the business world in general and yourself. The more you know about these things, the more prepared you'll be, so you'll have to get researching.

Think about investigating the following sources of information:

  • Our brochures and website (careers and corporate)
  • The financial media (press, television, internet)
  • Relevant professional bodies (especially if they offer a qualification you're interested in pursuing)
  • Anyone you know who works for PwC (or a similar firm)

Don't just give them a quick glance the day before your interview. Examine them, understand the issues and keep yourself up to date.

Completing your application form

Remember first impressions count so the application form is a major opportunity to sell yourself. Before you complete the form, you may find it useful to gather accurate details of your university and secondary education exam results, work experience and employment. While completing the form, remember to:

  • Read and follow instructions carefully.
  • Proof read everything you write including checking grammar and spelling.
  • Be concise as you can elaborate at interview.
  • Don't repeat statements you've read in our brochures and website.
  • Don't be vague or lie about your results as we will check your academics at a later stage in the process.

Taking the tests

These tests help to determine your numerical, logical or verbal reasoning ability.

  • You can practise taking the tests before you sit the real ones.
  • The test will be timed and you should work as quickly and accurately through the questions you're presented with.
  • Ensure you read each question carefully and that you understand what's required before committing yourself to an answer, especially where multiple choice answers appear similar.

We'll also ask you to complete an Occupational Personality Questionnaire and you may be asked to complete a Student Talent Questionnaire.

Preparing for interview

Interviews can be nerve wracking, but the more prepared you are the more relaxed you should feel. Ensure to:

  • Do thorough research prior
  • Remind yourself of the things you've done that can help you demonstrate the skills and qualities we've listed
  • Think about the questions you're likely to be asked and your responses
  • Come up with questions you want to ask

We'll be looking to find out:

  • Why you want to join PwC
  • What you understand about the work we do
  • What you think about the vacancy you've chosen

During the interview

Be truthful and concise, answer the exact questions asked and don't ramble about irrelevant things. Our interviewers are not given a set list of questions to go through but you can expect most to be in relation to our 'Global Core Competencies' such as:

  • What do you know about our business?
  • Why have you decided to apply to us?
  • Are there any issues or current affairs that interest you?
  • What has been your biggest challenge?
  • When have you worked in teams?
  • How are you able to juggle your commitments?

Remember, we're not expecting you to be perfect but preparing for some of these questions will certainly help you to feel confident that you've given it your best shot.

At the assessment centre

  • Prepare what you're going to wear beforehand - if in doubt, dress conservatively.
  • All materials required such as paper and pens will be provided for you. You can bring your own calculator but if you choose not to, one will be provided for you.
  • Make sure you bring all necessary additions eg reading glasses, inhaler, prescribed medication.
  • You'll undertake numerical, logical and verbal reasoning tests (depending on your business area) so prepare yourself for these and work through the practice information sent in advance.
  • During the written exercise, you'll be required to read the briefing materials and prepare a written report on the given subject.
  • You'll participate in either a group discussion or individual exercise so ensure that you speak clearly and audibly so that the assessors can hear you.
  • There'll probably be at least one and up to 11 other participants attending the same assessment day but remember you're not in competition with them but judged on your own, individual merits.

And finally - good luck!

November 15, 2012

Blogging as a career strategy?

Student blog

Back in the summer I asked Can you blog your way to a job? and today's guest post from *Robert Brandl continues the theme, looking at how, when and why to start blogging...

Looking for ways to stand out from the crowd? Why don't you start blogging? Do it well and it could put you ahead of the competition. You do have to be prepared to really delve deep into the subject area you are involved in – or want to get into. The objective is to make a name for yourself and become recognised within your industry. So, what's next?

Why blog?

If your subject is in a media-related field, such as marketing or web design, the benefits from having a prominent online presence are obvious. After all, you are likely to be working on website or social media content in your job too. But, in principle, you can set up a useful website on any kind of topic - technology, culture, politics.

A blog can also allow you to steer your career into a completely new direction. Perhaps you've realised that you'd much rather be a photographer or travel writer? Then a dedicated blog or website is your chance to really immerse yourself in the subject and gradually build up your expertise. You do need to feel truly passionate about your chosen subject otherwise boredom or apathy can set it, and writing will become a chore, not a pleasure. If you want to make this work you must be absolutely committed to it.

You will need to feel some level of affinity for the medium. If online media are not really your thing, then ask yourself if you are prepared to spend a lot of time on it from now on? But if it's just the technology that puts you off the idea, then don't worry: you’ll be surprised how easy to use website builders or blogging platforms like Wordpress are.

Think about your content

There are two types of content you should consider:

  • Static information and resources
  • News and social media links.

If you are already working in your chosen field, or have a degree in the subject, you can use the background information and knowledge you already have to create the static content of your site. In your blog meanwhile, you can write about your everyday experiences and challenges, or thoughts on issues relevant or topical to your industry. You can also share tips about software or online tools that you are using. In almost any line of work, tips on improving productivity and time management are almost always appreciated!

Remember: you should never divulge confidential information about your employer. Keep information anonymous, or, if you need to mention company names, make sure you have cleared this with your employer first.

Start thinking about your content early (certainly before you start blogging), as it can take time to build your blog and develop an online following. Before you launch have a number of posts in reserve ready for posting; you don't want your blog to look sparse.

Use social media

Your next step is to use social media networks. Set up a Twitter profile if you haven't got one already, and follow people who are influential in your field. Use Twitter to let the world know about your own website and blog. And don’t forget Facebook and LinkedIn. Read other people's blogs too, and leave useful comments, making sure you link your comments back to your own website or blog. This way people will notice you and find out about your work. This may all seem like a lot of effort. But it’s worth it for the chance of landing a great job.

If you're looking for an example close to home then watch out for next week's post from Rachel Guthrie, History of Art student, future arts journalist and seasoned blogger. Rachel's blog has helped sharpen her critic's eye and elevated her online profile within the arts community. Seems like a winning strategy to me!

*Robert Brandl created WebsiteToolTester as a resource to help beginners build their own web presence.

November 2012

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