New LinkedIn desktop version: what you need to know!

Well, it’s all change at LinkedIn, and they seem to have finished the roll out of their new desktop user interface.  It has been given a bit of a makeover, to bring it into line with the mobile version which has also changed some of the functionality.  We’re in the process of updating our LinkedIn resources, but in the meantime, here’s our top 5 things you need to know…

  1. UPDATE YOUR BROWSER

You need to be using the latest version of your web browser for it to work best  – not always the case in PC clusters we have discovered!   If it is becoming unreliable when using one browser, try using a another (we’ve found Firefox to be most reliable on campus, and Chrome is usually fairly good too).

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT ‘ME’!

If you want to update your profile, you now need to select ‘Me’ from the top menu.  Most of the functionality there is similar, with a few subtle differences.  To insert a new profile section (like Projects or Skills), the options are on a drop-down menu on the right rather than at the top of your profile as before.  They’ve also removed the option to notify changes to your network from the main profile edit screen, though it sometimes prompts you in each section.  As before, our advice is to switch off notifications using via ‘Me > Settings & Privacy > Privacy > Sharing profile edits’ before you start any complex overhaul of your profile.

  1. PROFILES NOW HAVE A FIXED STRUCTURE

In the past, you could move the sections of a LinkedIn profile to better reflect your experience (like moving Education to the top of your profile).  Not anymore!  It is therefore even more important to have a strong profile Headline and Summary, to highlight your educational achievements.  Check out these 5 tips to give your profile a mini-makeover.

  1. SEARCHING ON LINKEDIN

In the latest desktop version, all searches start with the Search box at the top of the screen.  It is no longer possible to perform an Advanced People Search (booo!) or filter out group searches, but there are still ways to perform specific searches once you know how.

  • Search filters: when you type in some text, LinkedIn will suggest filters you can apply to narrow the results. In the example below, you can specify whether you want to search for jobs, people’s job titles or groups containing your search text.LinkedIn_search
  • Search operators: you can also narrow your results by using 5 ‘search operators’, which allow you to search specific parts of profiles. They are:
    • firstname – Finds members based on first name
    • lastname – Finds members based on last name
    • title – Finds members based on their current job title
    • company – Finds members based on their current company (keyword search)
    • school – Finds members based on schools attended (keyword search)

The example LinkedIn gives is to search for current software engineers not named Doe, who have attended either Harvard University or Stanford University, try:

LinkedIn_Boolean
You’ll notice in this example that it uses NOT and OR to refine the search (you can also use AND too).  These are called Boolean searches and, though at first glance look complicated, are not too difficult to master.

It’s worth taking time to learn how to perform searches on LinkedIn and their help pages are the best place to start. Searching on LinkedIn

  1. ALUMNI SEARCH HAS CHANGED BUT YOU CAN STILL USE THE OLD ONE (FOR NOW)

To do an Alumni search, type ‘The University of Manchester’ into the top search box, or select the logo in your profile.  There is a preview of the new look Alumni search interface but we prefer the old version as it tends to be most reliable at the moment.  (Never heard of Alumni search? Check this out!)

By Suzanne Creeber
Careers Consultant

Gratrick on Gratrick: An interview with my 20-year-old self

Guest post by Paul Gratrick, Careers Manager for the Faculty of Humanities

 

This June sees 10 years since I graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Durham University. Given my current role as Careers Manager at the University of Manchester (thereby speaking to students on a daily basis about life after University) and in anticipation of the upcoming Grad Fair, I have used a real life time machine to chat to my 20-year-old self who is currently in April 2007. Despite a decade passing, a lot of the issues are still the same for current students and so this chat aims to explore some of those.

 

Paul G_Headshot

Paul at 30 – unfortunately we don’t have a photo of the younger Paul as selfies weren’t a thing in 2007…

30 year old me: Paul! Great to see you again, and at 67% of the age I am at now. How are you?

20 year old me: Good thanks, just up from a nap. You still have the same haircut I see. Nice.

30: I’ll die with this haircut. I thought it would be good to interview you, just to see what you think is going to happen in the next ten years, and how you’re finding life right now. What job do you think I do for a living at the moment?

20: Honestly? I’ve no idea, although I would definitely say NOT a full-time Philosopher.

30: Haha, yes your philosophy days are somewhat over, but you’ve kept all your textbooks to keep up the illusion! I work at the University of Manchester in the Careers Service which basically means helping students find and achieve their career goals. That wasn’t my first job though, what do you think that was?

20: First job after Uni? Well I’m currently applying for a lot of marketing and recruitment types roles in London, so one of those… I hope! Otherwise these applications are for nothing.

30: Your first job was ‘International Management Trainee’ at a company called Meltwater. You landed this after countless applications and three failed interviews in London. It was a heavily targeted sales role, which you turned out to be quite good at! Lots of sourcing of leads, cold calling, meetings, selling, negotiation, client relationship management. On reflection it was your competitive nature that helped you succeed at it. It’s the kind of job that a lot of graduates did straight out of University and it can be a sink or swim role – you swam for a bit!

20: For a bit?

30: The sales role was fun and good for straight out of uni, but the relentless target culture was something that became too repetitive and you wanted something more stable, and more to do with people development as you enjoyed this a lot once you’d progressed to be a manager at Meltwater. The sales and client management skills you developed are still in use now though, so it was by no means wasted years.

20: So what comes next?

30: You started working for the University of Manchester at their Business School, working with MBA students. It was rather fortuitous as they wanted someone to advise students around the tech sector, and you had worked in tech/software in your sales roles. It just seemed to all fall into place at that time with no real planning…which was good as you were recently married.

20: Married?!

30: Yes – to your current girlfriend. And you also have two kids now – a boy and a girl.

20: What… the…

30: And it’s great. You owe a lot to her.

20: Okay cool. I feel like we’re all ready to leave university but not ready to start a career!

30: To be honest you adapt pretty quickly – you’ve no other choice! Your first job doesn’t start until August and so that leaves a few weeks after graduation to travel and generally chill out. Working 9-5 is tough at first but your weekends just become golden time! What are you worried about at the moment?

20: My dissertation to be honest. Most of it’s there; I just need to write it all up. A couple of people I live with have jobs already sorted and that’s stressing me out a bit.

30: It’s still like that these days. Juggling final year deadlines and finding a job is tough. Like I say, you end up starting a job in August and that’s common for a lot of graduates. The number of vacancies advertised shoots up after Easter and ahead of graduation. There’s a lot of choice, especially with such a non-vocational degree like Philosophy, and there are a lot of graduate jobs out there still.

20: What should I do between now and August, if you’re saying I start a job then?

30: Keep doing what you’re doing. Get a decent grade for the dissertation; you aren’t getting near a First mate, keep applying for jobs that interest you because you will see plenty out there. And lastly just enjoy it, no one tells you these are the good old days whilst you’re in them, and on reflection the three years at university were some of the best in my life – defining in fact – as you meet your future wife and best friends and it opens up doors that you wouldn’t otherwise have been at. A lot of things will happen by chance though, so there is little point in worrying too much about it. Be kind, be honest and be ambitious and you’ll do fine.

20: Is it all worth it? Going to university?

30: Gut reaction – yes. But I’m still only ten years into what will probably be at least a forty year career, so what do I know? The people you see coasting at university tend to coast afterwards for a bit as well, so you definitely get out what you put in. It’s a time I look back on with many happy memories, and you will never again have so much free time so enjoy that whilst it’s here.

20: Okay, well this has been super weird but useful too. Thanks, future me!

30: No worries. Laters.

 

University of Manchester students, any subject and year group, can contact the Careers Service with any queries either on 0161 275 2828, in person at the Atrium 1st Floor University Place or at www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/services/. Whether you have something in mind or no idea what to do we can help.

Money, Money, Money

Growing up I was always taught not to talk about money… Well, sorry Mum & Dad that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this blog post.
Salaries are something we get asked about a lot on the information desk so I thought I’d spend a bit of time answering the most common queries.

What is a ‘competitive salary’?

I’m sure you’ll have come across this term in job descriptions before and been a bit confused as to why the employer is being evasive. Well, there a couple of reasons why. Sometimes it may be because they’re waiting to see what you expected to be paid (more about negotiating salaries later), but more commonly it is because they do not want their market competitors know what they are willing to pay employees.

Basically if an employer is offering a ‘competitive salary’ it’ll be equal to the industry average for similar roles.  A little bit of digging and you should be able to find out what that might be. Look at the job profiles on the Prospects website and research more industry specific websites.

How can I negotiate a salary?

Most salaries will be fixed by HR departments but there might be some instances where you are able to negotiate a salary or when an employer will ask what your expected salary is. The honest answer might be ‘as much as possible please!’ but in reality that really isn’t going to work! You need to be realistic.  There are a few things you’ll need to consider and take into account before deciding on a figure.

    • What is the going rate for that role in that location?
    • Do you have considerable experience in the sector or highly specialist skills
    • What other perks come along with the role (if any)
    • How much do you really want the job?

For further information on negotiating salaries check out our blog post on the topic.

Will I be able to live on that salary?

When you start working chances are you’ll be better off than when you were a student, but with a larger bank balance comes larger numbers of bills and taxes.  Certain deductions will be taken before your monthly pay goes into your account including income tax, National Insurance pension payments and student loan repayments.   NatWest have created a salary calculator which enables you to calculate after all of the typical deductions are made, what you take home salary will be.

You’ll then need to take into account rent, Council Tax (something you were exempt from as a student) food, travel costs and things like phone & internet contracts. What’s left will be your disposable income that you can choose to spend however you want (in my case shoes!)

Writing a personal statement for a Masters course

computerUnless you are applying for Teaching or Medicine through UCAS this will be a completely different process for you.

There are some universities which use the UKPASS system but most require a direct application to the postgraduate admissions contact for the course you are applying to. (You will find this on the university website when you search for the course details.)

What does the application look like?

  • For some it’s an application form, where you will fill in details on your education & experience and then have to write a personal statement explaining why you should be considered for this course.
  • Some will ask specific questions about your reasons for applying.
  • Some will require a CV too.

Personal statements – what can go wrong?

  1. Poor structure & disorganised ideas.
  2. Lack of research.

Typically your structure would include the following unless you are given instructions to the contrary.  The order you present the information in is largely dictated by the story you want to tell, but this is a reasonably logical progression.

1    Why this university?

Be specific – don’t make generic statements such as “Because you are an internationally renowned university with an excellent academic reputation”.
If the university itself made a difference in your choice – what was this?

  • Have you studied there before and enjoy the environment?
  • Is it’s location and the opportunity to gain work experience locally a factor?
  • Has it got a strong reputation in this particular field of research?
  • Are there specific academic staff you want to do research or study with?
  • Perhaps it offers something else unique?

2    Why this subject?

  • Your motivation – When did you become interested in this subject and what have you learned about it?
  • What is it about the structure of the course, the choice of modules, the learning methods that appeals to you? Did you attend an open day or talk to lecturers?
  • Demonstrate subject knowledge, through relevant prior learning, projects, dissertations, case studies etc. It could also come through relevant work experience in this field.

3    Academic ability

  • Academic achievement – have you got what it takes to do this course? Grades in key relevant subjects.
  • Academic prizes
  • Does it match your learning style – can you demonstrate this? Will you have to do group projects can you demonstrate teamwork or leadership?
  • Can you demonstrate the dedication and resilience required to complete the course? Ability to use initiative, problem solve, manage workload, work to deadlines, work under pressure.
  • Other academic skills relevant to the course, computing skills, knowledge of relevant scientific techniques, analytical or research skills etc.

4    Personal skills & experience

You can talk about work experience, volunteering and extracurricular activities in more depth here, but make sure you are evidencing key knowledge or skills needed for this course and your future career options.

5    Your future?

What are your career aims? How will this course help you achieve them? Knowledge, skills, accreditation with professional bodies etc.

How long should it be?

  • Some Universities will give you a word length. Do not exceed it!
  • If there is no guidance I would say write no more than 2 pages of A4. 1 page may be a little brief but it depends what you have to say and how you say it.  Think of the poor admissions officer who has to read hundreds of these. Keep it concise and to the point.

Style of writing

To some extent this is a reflection of who you are but in most cases this is a persuasive argument backed up with evidence.  Flowery or emotive language is rarely used in the UK.

If you are applying to a course like journalism your written style may be judged as part of your application.

Make sure it is grammatically correct and spell checked.

International applications

Expectations may differ country to country so do your research, contact the admissions officer to ask if there is any advice, what are they looking for?  Do you write in English or the language of that country?

If you need help with your application – book an applications advice appointment

 

Have you got the right skills for the job? Think hard before you say no!

Find JobFaced with a job advert it is easy to give up, shrug and say I can’t do that I don’t have what they are looking for. It may not even be that clear what they are looking for!

Don’t give up quite so easily – print out that job description, have a good rummage on their website and get yourself a highlighter pen. Now let’s do this…

To make a good application you need to be clear:

  • Why you want to do the job? You need to be able to write knowledgeably about it.
  • Why you want to work for them? (not a competitor or anyone else just them)
  • That you have the skills and experience they are looking for.

Some companies will have a full job advert backed up with further documentation such as person specifications and job description. These are great, they can help you decide if you can do the job and craft a clear and well evidenced application or CV.

Step 1 – deciphering the job description or advert.

Get your highlighter out and identify skills and abilities they are looking for

prjobdeschighlighted

Step 2 make a list

  • Research skills
  • Communication skills written & verbal
  • Organisation skills
  • Accuracy & attention to detail
  • IT skills & including social media
  • Analytical skills
  • Creativity
  • Report writing
  • Persuasion
  • Ability to absorb information quickly

Things like administration or marketing are not skills in their own right, there will be a bundle of skills for each task. Unpick the tasks and add and extra skills to your list.

Sometimes it’s not that easy, there may be little information on the role or skills required?

So how can you find out more?

  • Look on the company website is there any further information that helps? Graduate profiles, day in the life articles?
  • Many job advertisements list a contact to talk to about the role. It’s a really good idea to ring them, it makes you look serious about your application. Have a list of questions prepared but make sure they are not things you could have found out for yourself, do a bit of research first.
  • Have you seen similar sounding jobs advertised with other organisations? Do they have clearer information about the role? It may not be the same but it can be informative to see how it compares.
  • Use the profiles on the prospects website. They are great for giving a list of typical work activities and skills or aptitudes that you will need to show evidence of on your application.
  • Google it – put the job title in a search engine and see what other similar sounding jobs come up, it might give you some clues as to what the role involves.

Step 3 Evidence your skills

Use our skills list to help you think about ways you may have gained skills. Remember you don’t have to have done this job before,  you could have gained these skills in other jobs, volunteering, at university or via sports or hobbies.

Employers won’t just take you at your word, you need to show that you are competent by using evidence. Use the CAR model car-sandwich

  • CONTEXT – what was the situation?
  • ACTION – what did you do?
  • RESULT – what impact did you have that shows your competence.

The CAR sandwich has thin bread and a nice thick filling of actions.

Now you are ready to start that job application, remember your CV is only part of the picture, it gives the evidence but not the motivation. So make sure your read our cover letter & application form guides.

If you need help with your application – book an applications advice appointment

See also:

How to do your research for a CV or cover letter

How to do your research for a covering letter or personal statement

Employers want to be sure that not only do you have the relevant skills for a particular job but you also understand what the organisation does, how this role fits in and what it involves.  They want people who are making informed decisions and have a genuine passion for the job.

You may always have wanted to work for Virgin, KPMG, Rolls Royce etc. But now it’s time to put that onto paper and it’s not that easy!

Lets break it down:

In any cover letter & most personal statements you need to cover 3 things:

  1. Why you are applying to this company? – What makes them stand out from other similar companies?
  2. Why you are applying for this role? – Your motivation for applying, show your understanding of the role.
  3. The skills and experience you have that match the job description.( see next blog post)

1 So why do you want to work for us?

It’s often a question that’s asked at interview so do your research at the applications stage and you are saving time.

Often it’s a gut feeling, I’d love to work there, or I love their products or they are highly successful. But what do you REALLY know about the business and the way they work?

Here are some ideas for things you can investigate.

  • What makes this company different? What are their unique selling points – what differentiates them from their competitors? E.g. Tesco vs Sainsbury’s or HSBC vs Barclays. Why would YOU chose one over the other, how would you decide?
  • What products and services do they offer, and what do their competitors do? What are the differences and why is that important?
  • Who are their clients? Perhaps they work with a particular sector, demographic or country, why does that appeal to you?
  • Where are they based and where do they do business? Find out about company size, location and business catchment area.
  • What are their values & ethos, do they fit with yours?

You can usually find all this information on their website. BUT look at the website as if you were a prospective client or wanted to purchase something from them.

If the organisation has a public presence like a shop, hotel, leisure facility or bank visit some of their branches to get a real feel for what they do. Be a mystery shopper for your career!

If the organisation makes a product that is sold in supermarkets or stores, go and look at the products, who are they competing with, what’s the branding like, who buys it?

Do they advertise? Check magazines, TV adverts and billboards who are they aiming their marketing at?

2 Why are you interested in this job?

This one is all about the actual role. Now some graduate schemes cover a number of roles so  it’s helpful to investigate them all and have an initial opinion of where you think you fit.

Have you REALLY considered what working in this job is like?

  • Read the job description – what do they say the role is all about. What are the tasks, what will you be working on, in a team or on your own etc?
  • Read between the lines – what do you think it would be like in this organisation why might it be different to other companies? You might get some hints about this from the recruitment website, graduate profiles, talking to them at events.
  • Read up about what typically this job is all about. Prospects profiles & our Which Career? pages will help.

Don’t forget if a contact is listed on the job advert and you have questions give them a ring! Most people don’t bother, so taking the initiative could be the difference between your application and everyone else’s.

Check out our cover letter, application form & CV guides

If you need help with your application – book an applications advice appointment

See also:

Presentation or death?

microphone“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” (attributed to Jerry Seinfeld)

Most of us dread public speaking of any sort and yet it is something we can’t avoid as often we’re required to make presentations to our peers or even to a prospective employer. How can we overcome the fear? Well, as with most things in life, practice makes perfect: the more you do it the better you’ll become. Therefore avoiding it is not helpful as sooner or later you’ll have to do it. Conquer your fear now! Start now taking the steps that are going to lead you to become a confident public speaker. Take small steps like asking a question during a lecture. Take inspiration from the people around you who you consider good speakers: what do they do? Can they give you any tips? Public speaking is a performance, you don’t actually need to be yourself when delivering a speech, you can emulate somebody you admire.

Be prepared

Become familiar with what you want to say. This sounds quite obvious but it’s the main point. The more you are confident about what you’re going to say, the better you’ll do. Even if the nerves take over your brain or your body, if you know what you’re talking about you’ll go on automatic mode and deliver. Prepare your script in advance and practice. Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Look out for voice tone and little mannerisms that will get in the way of your message. Many years ago, when I was a trainee teacher, my supervisor videoed one of my first classes and I couldn’t believe how much I run in front of the room, from one corner to the other while speaking. You would think my students were watching a tennis match, their heads turning left and right very quickly to follow my movements! If you have the chance to video or record yourself while practicing, do it. Yes, it is very embarrassing but also very useful.

Visualize

I find particularly useful to be in the place where I’m going to speak the day before or at least sometime before the presentation. I go to the exact place where I’m supposed to be delivering my speech and visualize what will happen. I mean visualize my surroundings and delivery, not my audience in any state of undress as it is so often suggested. In my visualization, the audience is always interested in what I have to say and yes, they’re fully dressed. I also make myself familiar with the “machinery”- where are the lights, how to turn on the equipment and make it work, etc.  If this is not possible, I try to at least be at the venue a few minutes before to take everything in and to actually see the audience coming in, making eye contact, smiling, maybe chatting if appropriate so that they are not strangers when I start speaking. Most audiences are friendly; they want you to succeed so try to connect.

Be human

Let’s assume your audience can read. It’s not particularly interesting for them hear you read slides, they can do that themselves. If you put all the information in your slides and read from them; then what’s the point of your presentation? You might as well just print out the information and disseminate it. Your audience wants to see the human.  A good presentation is about you being there delivering a script. Don’t let the slides replace you.

 Have three “take away” ideas

The average adult attention span is 5 minutes! What three main ideas do you want your audience to retain? People are more likely to remember information that come in threes so don’t overbear them- if possible trim your script down to the three main ideas you want them to retain and work around that.

Repeat yourself

Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you’ve just told them (see what I did there? Three things!). This helps the audience to remember the most important points of your message. Think of the most memorable speeches in history like Martin Luther King’s – he repeats the word “freedom” twenty times, the word “dream” eleven times and “I have a dream…” eight times in a period of only a few minutes. Repetition helps to retain the message.

Have a contingency plan

There will always be things out of your control that can go wrong. Think them through beforehand so that you’re prepared. Do you have a backup of your presentation? Perhaps you can email yourself a copy. What can you do if you can’t use your slides due to a technical issue? Can you have backup handouts? Make sure to have a plan B.

If you need support, there are resources available to you at The University. You can find workshops and online resources on My Learning Essentials. Recently they advertised two workshops that sounded really useful: “Speaking out in groups” and “Group work: play to your strengths”. They also have a few short courses online about presentations: “Present like a pro: the art of delivery”, “Present like a pro: visual victory” and “Start to finish: present like a pro”. Keep an eye on what is advertised on My Learning Essentials.

The Careers Service has a Presentation Skills Starting point guide.

Keep in mind though that no amount of reading can replace experience in a practical matter as this. You can’t learn how to swim without getting in the water. So dip your toes first, start today to take little steps towards conquering your fear.

Applying for the NHS Scientist Training Programme, 2017

2017 STP – opened 16th January, closes Monday 13th February at 5pm

conical flasksThe NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is open for applications! Thousands of scientists and engineers of all disciplines work for the NHS, and the STP is how they recruit most of their Clinical Science trainees each year.

Many Manchester students and postgrads apply to the STP, so we update this blog post each year to help you navigate the process.  We will also update this post over the next few months when there is new information to share with you.

N.B. Some of the resources mentioned in this post may only be accessible by University of Manchester students. If you are not a Manchester student, have a chat with your own Careers Service about the support available to you.


UPDATE (Added 7/2/2017)
Scotland operate their own recruitment programme for Clincial Scientist Trainees and you can find details on the NHS Education for Scotland website. They tend to advertise their vacancies after England and Wales, and I spotted today that they have started advertising for Medical Physics trainees. They have 9-10 vacancies in the Grampian region and the closing date is the 1st March. Bookmark this page if you are interested in training north of the border!


UPDATE (Added 3/2/2017)
I have updated a short slide presentation with some extra tips on tackling the application form and online tests. If you are a University of Manchester Biological Sciences student, you should have been emailed the link already by your School. If you are a University of Manchester graduate, contact the Careers Information team to obtain access. If neither of these apply, contact your own uni careers service ‘cos they may have their own special help too!


Tips for applying 

You have until 5pm on Monday 13th February at the latest to submit your online application and (for anyone who isn’t an in-service applicant) until 5pm on Wednesday 15th February to complete two online tests – but get in as soon as possible as applications are reviewed as they come in.

The National School of Healthcare Science website has so much information for applicants it can be overwhelming – however, if you want the best chance of getting into these super-competitive posts, you’ll hoover it all up and use the advice in your application. A good place to start is by reading the STP Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants 2017.

The list of specialisms by location will be updated throughout the application window, and includes a new specialism for this year, Andrology. The list was updated 6 times last year, so check back regularly for additional vacancies (as of 27 Feb, there were 255 posts across 24 specialisms). You’ll have to inspect each specialism individually, but as it’s better to focus on a specific specialism in your application, it does make sense. (Applying for lots of different specialisms just to train in a specific location has never been recommended, never mind the fact it’d be tricky to tailor your application for multiple specialisms given the word count for each section!).

stp-vacancy-table-27-feb

We were told last year that only 3 candidates are interviewed per post, so the competition is red hot.  You’ll therefore need some great answers to the essay questions, so set aside some time to do your research, think about your experience and craft your answers – you need to do yourself justice here.

Online application form

The online application form is near on identical to last year, so if you applied last year, you know what to expect. Frustratingly, there is still no easy way to preview all the questions before you start to fill it out – so we’ve had a sneaky peek for you.

Top Tip
As you go through the online form for the first time, you can’t advance on to the next page without completing the mandatory sections. However, you can review and change most of the answers once you get to the end – just don’t press “Submit” until you have filled it all in and checked it!

There are lots of mandatory sections, and once you fill in some answers, other mandatory questions may appear.  Be prepared to answer A LOT of questions about eligibility, fitness to practise etc before you even get to the bit where you fill in your education!  You also need to supply the details of three referees, one of whom must be your most recent education supervisor (or line manager, if you have graduated and are in work).

When your application form is read by the people who will shortlist candidates for interview, they will not be able to see the choices that candidates have made. Hence, if you choose two different specialisms your application will go to both short listing panels, who will not know if you have ranked that specialism as first or second choice. They also will not see any candidate names – it is done completely blind.

Essay questions

The form asks the same four questions as last year and, again, you are allowed a maximum of 250 words per answer. An implicit test here is whether you can write accurately AND concisely.

1.      Your knowledge, motivation and commitment to the Training Programme

In less than 250 words, please state why you have applied for the Healthcare Scientist Training Programme. Give details of your motivation, suitability and future career development or aspirations. Describe what actions you have undertaken to increase your knowledge, experience and understanding of healthcare science and the training programme for your chosen specialism(s).

2.      YOUR COMMITMENT TO HEALTHCARE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

In less than 250 words, please describe your commitment, interest and enjoyment of scientific practice and technology. Please provide examples of how you seek to develop, improve and adopt innovative processes in your work or studies.

3.      VALUES AND BEHAVIOURS

The NHS Constitution* values and behaviours are paramount to the delivery of healthcare services.  In less than 250 words please describe how within your own experience you would display these qualities.

(*Have you read it yet? You can find it here)

4.      TEAM WORKING AND LEADERSHIP

In less than 250 words describe occasions where you have worked as part of a team and outline the skills you used to benefit the outputs of that team. Also, please describe a situation or situations when you have taken the opportunity to lead others and identify how you managed any challenges that arose.

There’s help on completing application forms on our website, including a useful hand-out. We definitely recommend taking the Context-Action-Result approach to structure your answers, to help keep them concise. Always take time to proof read your answers before you submit them (a good tip is to read them backwards to spot typos). University of Manchester students and recent graduates can get assistance from the Applications Advice service in the Atrium in University Place and also look out for Appointments in your School.

Online tests

After you submitted your online application, you have two tests to complete before the deadline, and you have to get through each of these for your application to get considered.

The tests are numerical reasoning and logical reasoning, and you can practise here. We guess they’re using logical reasoning tests to find people who are good at spotting patterns and trends (useful for diagnostics) as well as deductive logic. These tests can be very challenging if you’re not familiar with them, so do take time to practice, especially as only one attempt is permitted per email address!  Previous applicants tell us that with practice you can learn how to answer the logical reasoning questions accurately, so it is worth working your way through example tests.

What is the next one in the sequence?

What is the next one in the sequence?

You might also want to check out the psychometric test info on our website, including practice test materials. We have a new resource this year, Graduates First, which provides worked solutions for the answers you get wrong in its tests. I’d definitely suggest using a proper calculator when completing the numerical reasoning test and not the one on your ‘phone.

You’ll be able to do the STP tests at any time until the closing date but don’t leave it until the last minute: what would you do if you suddenly lost your internet connection or the site crashed with the weight of all the last minute tests being taken.

If you have a disability or a condition like dyslexia, you can request extra time to complete these tests. You’ll need to send evidence to support your request  at least 3 working days before the aptitude tests deadline date i.e. the 11th February!  If you fail to notify the team before the deadline date, you may not be granted the extra time you need.

Being optimistic …

If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets invited to interview, you might want to check out the interview dates for your specialism and keep the date free – looks like there’s no flexibility, so move heaven and earth to get there if you get invited.

Good luck – we are rooting for you!

10 Career lessons from Buddy the Elf

For me Christmas movies fall into 3 categories – the classics (A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life & Miracle on 34th Street), family faves (Elf, Home Alone & The Grinch) and the Channel 5s (I can’t think of any off the top of my head which says a lot).  However I also feel that one film and in particular one character could fall into the genre of careers advice. The film is Elf and the character the one and only Buddy!

Perhaps not he most down to earth person to listen to but Buddy really has some useful tips for any recent graduates…… elf

 ‘I thought maybe we could make gingerbread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating and maybe even hold hands’

Buddy had a detailed (fun filled) plan for the day spent with his father.  When job hunting it’s a good idea to do the same. It might not sound as fun but having a plan for the week can help keep you on track.  What applications are you planning on working on? What closing dates are coming up? Prioritise what’s most urgent but also allow yourself some down time.

‘Santa! I know him!’

Met employers at any of our events or career fairs this semester? When making applications don’t forget to mention your conversation and who you spoke to. It might not be as big a name drop as Santa but will make you application more memorable.

Not attended events this semester? Don’t panic find out about our events for 2nd semester on CareersLink.

 ‘Who the heck are you?’

Even Buddy realises the importance of tailoring. Firstly employers want to know who the heck you are and why you are right for the job.  The job description provided tells you what they are looking for in a candidate – In your CV you must outline how you meet their criteria by talking about the relevant skills/ experiences that you have.

Similarly in your Covering Letter you need to demonstrate you know who they heck the employer is. Remember generic letters not work, mistakes can happen and EY really won’t be impressed to hear why you’re so interested in working for PwC (Believe it or not I’ve seen examples like this in the past!)

‘You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job everybody – It’s great to be here.’

Everyone likes a compliment – even employers!  In your Covering Letter you need to explain what first attracted you to apply to this employer – Why do you want to work for them? What makes them different? Why this organisation and not another in the sector?

‘It’s just nice to meet another human who shares my affinity for elf culture’

If you are still struggling to explaining you motivation for applying I suggest trying to get a feel for the culture of the organisation. To do this search employer websites to find out about the ethos and values they hold– Do they align with your own? Why are these things important to you?

‘You sit on a throne of lies’  

This one is pretty straightforward and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you – You need to be truthful in any application you make / interview you attend. Just as the ‘fake’ Santa in the film was eventually found out by Buddy employers will eventually find out the truth – it’s not worth it!

 ‘I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite’

Demonstrating the right body language in an interview is just as important as the answers you give to questions.  Keep a neutral / friendly facial expression (no furrowed brows!), maintain eye contact when appropriate (but don’t state), avoid unnecessary hand gestures (same goes for folded arms) and speak at a natural pace (unlike me who tends to forget to breathe when nervous). Our presentation skills guide has some useful tips on how to do these things.

Having a telephone interview? You need to get your enthusiasm and passion for the role across through voice production alone – Some people find that walking whilst on the phone instead of just sitting can help with this.

‘Buddy the Elf… What’s your favorite colour?’

At the end of an interview employers will usually ask if you have any questions so have some prepared in advance. Try to be more original than Buddy though – ask questions not answered on recruitment websites and that demonstrate your interest in the organisation/ job role. Do you want to know more about the team that you might be working in? About possible training & development opportunities? What about longer term career opportunities with them?

 ‘I passed through the 7 levels of the Candy Cane Forest, through the Sea of Swirly- Twirly Gumdrops & then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel’

Searching for a graduate job is never straightforward but just as Buddy did on his trip to New York you need to stick it out and keep going – it’ll get easier and eventually you’ll get there!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from everyone here at the Careers Service

Remember the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Keep your cool this Christmas

So that’s it, semester one is almost over and many of you are getting ready to head home (or elsewhere) for the winter break. Whether you’re a first year student that’s just made it through your first ever semester at uni, or a seasoned postgrad that knows these winter breaks like the back of your hand, there can be so much going on at this time of year that your future career probably won’t be at the front of your mind. Which is fine… you’ve got your upcoming exams or dissertation to tackle while smiling politely through family dinners and social occasions. Until that dreaded question comes up: what are your plans after university? What do you want to do with your degree?

Cue awkward silence, followed by a muttered response about travelling the world, being snapped up by a major company in London or finally writing that best-selling book.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in hating that moment – whether you know what you want to do with your future or not. I graduated over four years ago and still get irrationally annoyed whenever someone asks about my career plans. So I thought I’d share my top tips on dealing with this social anxiety and being that cool, calm and collected person with everything under control.

reindeer

High quality decorations in the Careers Service office: Rodney the Reindeer

What to tell the family this Christmas

Friends and family are bound to ask about what you’ve been up to this semester and what you plan to do next. To handle this question like a pro, I have three tips:

  • Don’t be scared to say that you don’t know what you want to do yet. Many people don’t – so many that we have a whole webpage dedicated to just that. There is no shame in spending some time to work out what you enjoy and deciding what might be right for you.
  • Even if you’ve spent the semester enjoying yourself and making friends, fact is you WILL have developed your skills. It doesn’t matter how you acquired them – are you a better communicator now that you’ve worked with (or maybe even had a few clashes with) people from very different backgrounds to yourself? Have you learnt about time management the hard way, having left your work until the last minute? Don’t panic about what you’ve not done, but focus on what you have achieved. Use these skills as a starting point.
  • Rejection is nothing to be ashamed of. Learning to deal with a set back and turn it into something positive is one of the best lessons you can learn. So don’t fret if you didn’t get that job you wanted; pick yourself up and keep going. If you need further inspiration, check out these celebs, all of whom were rejected before making it big.

Socialising, socialising, socialising

There are so many social events at this time of year, it can be exhausting. And don’t worry, I’m not going to say “any event is a networking opportunity”. You should enjoy yourself and switch off sometimes. But I will say this:

  • Be honest about what you are thinking about for your future. You may find that friends and family have suggestions to help you out – maybe by putting you in touch with someone useful. No pressure.
  • By all means, have fun, but be aware of what you’re sharing on social media. Are you tagged in any pictures on Facebook that an employer may not look favourably upon? Are there photos on your Instagram that you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see? Here are some tips on managing your digital footprint.
  • If you’re exhausted from being sociable in real life, why not spend a bit of time on your professional profile online? Join LinkedIn if you haven’t done already, and put some time into creating a great profile. Get started here.

Don’t freak out about being “last minute”

Got friends that have already secured an internship for the summer, or landed that grad scheme? That competitive panic can creep in….but it’s all part of the plan, right? Remember that:

  • Yes, many of the graduate schemes with big companies close in October/November. But these schemes only account for a small proportion of the UK job market. There will be graduate level jobs advertised all year round – especially in the education sector, media, arts, charities and smaller companies. Look at employers that you might not know much about. There is plenty of time to find the right opportunity for you.
  • There are still summer internships out there – just search on CareersLink for those still advertising. Alternatively, our Summer Experiences Internships programme, in which second year undergrads take an internship either within the Uni or a not-for-profit organisation, is not even open for summer 2017 yet. So nothing to worry about yet, is there?

Exams & Dissertations

Feeling stressed about having to do some work and revision over the winter break? Try to keep on top of things while you’re away from uni to prevent too much stress when you’re back. Here are a couple of things to help:

  • Exam support workshops in AGLC every day between Monday 9 and Friday 20 January. Check out what we’re offering here.
  • While you’re not on campus, remember that the University provides a wealth of online resources to help with things from assignments, dissertations, presentations, or, well, anything really! Search for what you’re after here. I guarantee there will be something to help.

So that’s it for my tips for being in control over your winter break. Of course I have other tips, like don’t eat a full packet of mince pies in one go (speaking from experience, you won’t feel great afterwards). Don’t spend all of your money on overpriced mulled wines (ditto). But above anything else, have a great break and we’ll see you in the New Year!

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