Use your Easter vacation to get work experience for summer

eggsin basketJPGIf you’ve not found work experience ( paid, voluntary or work shadowing) over summer yet – it’s time to get on it!

Many of you will go home over Easter or visit friends & family – it’s time to use those networks to help you.  Yes really… these people are your network, where do they work, who do they know, who are their neighbours, friends etc and where do they work?  You’d be surprised who knows whom!

You don’t have to give them the hard sell initially, just say you are looking to get some experience over summer.  They are bound to want a bit more information so …

  • What do you want to do? Are you looking for a particular industry or job role?
  • Do you want to gain some particular skills or knowledge?
  • Are you only looking for paid work?
  • Would you consider volunteering with a charity?
  • How about a few days or weeks work shadowing?
  • When are you available?

Have a CV ready that reflects what you are looking for i.e.  demonstrating relevant skills

You are asking for help so don’t be too picky or disregard opportunities that don’t match your ideal.  Have a chat / exchange emails and think about what you would get out of the opportunity.   Real commercial experience of how any business works can be valuable.

Consider doing a few different things with your summer.

Employers  are realists they know that many students need to work over summer to earn money and not everyone can or would want to intern in the Big 4!

So don’t worry if you have a job in a coffee shop or bar, that’s life, but you could consider doing some volunteering or work shadowing for a short period just to pick up some different skills too.

Get out and about this Easter.

If you want a job over summer and are going to be in that location at Easter – go out and ask!

  • Ask friends  / family in advance if they have seen anywhere advertising for summer jobs. Brush up your CV and head down there neatly dressed to make a good impression.
  • Go on a reconnaissance mission – head down the high street, ask at tourist attractions, hotels and leisure centres.  Garden centres also often take on extra summer staff. What about summer schools and kids clubs?

If they don’t have any opportunities no big deal, keep going.

Remember …

  1. Make an effort to tailor your CV so the recruiter can clearly see you have relevant skills and or experience.
  2. Keep checking advertised vacancies on CareersLink  plus other sites 
  3. If you are a pre final year student and could stay in Manchester this summer consider Student Experience Internships – SEI or Q Step 

 

 

 

Self-employment alongside studying: top tips

Guest blog post written by Lucy Eliza Davis, Management, Leadership and Leisure student running her own fitness website. 

Increasingly, we’re seeing that some graduates want to work for themselves or start their own business after university. Self-employment can offer a more flexible way to live and earn – but isn’t without its challenges!

Some of you may even be thinking about running a business alongside your studies. One of our undergraduate students, Lucy Eliza Davis, has turned her passion for fitness into a business by launching her own website, blog and YouTube channel with the aim of encouraging, motivating and inspiring others to be healthy and active. She’s taken the time to write about her experience and share some of her top tips…

IMG_4323

Lucy Eliza Davis: Student and online fitness guru

I have always been an athletic individual, from cross-country at primary school to swimming nine times a week throughout high school and college, making my debut on the GB team in 2014. After finishing swimming in April 2015, I’ve dedicated much of the past two years into the health and fitness industry.

Being a highly ambitious and optimistic individual, I’ve always wanted to be as successful as possible and dreamt of managing my own business. Over the last two years, I have developed as an individual, and whilst being at university, I have unquestionably advanced the skills I have used to grow and develop myself as a brand. To share one key piece of advice before I go into talking about my website; if you set your mind to doing something, it will always be achievable. You just have to distribute your time between studies and external interests evenly and consistently.

So to explain a little about the process of my website..

In December 2016 I decided to make a move into digital marketing, with the help of my good friend, Elliot Matthews. I was inexperienced in website design, not even knowing how I would go about creating one in the first place, but by using my connections and Elliot, we managed to pull it off. I knew if I wanted to increase my own individual brand awareness, a website was a must. Of course I was feeling a little skeptical and not sure how I was going to manage both university and starting a website, but at the end of the day, I knew it was possible if I continued to be organised and kept thinking how much it was going to benefit me. In February 2017 I finally got round to starting my own YouTube channel. It took a lot longer than I had expected, however I am finally there!

Starting out will never be easy and straightforward, or everyone would do it. But I can give you an insight into making the process that whole lot easier!

Lucy blog.jpg

Snapshot of Lucy’s website

Skills needed:

  • I can’t stress enough how important it is to be organised. And this isn’t just needed for having your own little business. If you are organised at university, I promise you will be making your life 10 times easier.
  • Time management is crucial. Don’t think you will be able to juggle both university studies and starting a business without having your day/week mapped out. Buy yourself a diary/whiteboard and make sure everything you are doing is noted down – your stress levels will dramatically decrease.
  • Innovative ideas will not go a miss. Never ever think an idea is ‘stupid’ just because someone else thinks it is, or you aren’t 100% confident. You will never know the success of an idea unless you share and utilise it!
  • Written skills will always be a useful when having a website aimed at connecting with your audience, and you want them to read your blogs. There is no point in writing something that you are bored writing yourself and know won’t engage people.
  • Having motivation and dedication not to give up when things are not exactly going to plan. You have to deal with failure and setbacks to understand how much you really want it.

Challenges and difficulties I have faced:

  • Over-facing myself with tasks – Sometimes, I forget to take a breather and take a step back when I have a million and one things going on. It’s so important to not take on tasks at that moment when you are already stressed. If you wanted to finish a blog post, and write some more of your assignment but didn’t have enough time – take a breather, make a brew, do your university work (always ensure your academic work is up-to-date over your website), and then if you do have time, work on your blog post.
  • When the assignment period is looming – This is still my greatest struggle with working on my own brand and when its time to start writing assignments. Don’t think you can leave your assignment until the last minute. Start the night you get set it, create a plan to follow… use your time wisely and you WILL be ok. If you don’t, you may do what I did when I was handed my first assignment and spend too much time on your own business, forgetting about your academic work. DON’T do this, it isn’t worth the stress.
  • Being patient has never come easy to me. My website was very slow starting off, and at the time I was worrying so much and didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. But at the end of the day, start-up businesses don’t always take off straight away. You do have to be patient when launching, just like I am being patient with my new YouTube Channel.

Highlights and things I have really enjoyed along the way:

  • The independence. Working for yourself is very satisfying as you get to see the results you have produced. Because I am in the fitness industry, I am lucky enough to engage with many individuals, and to understand how they view my brand.
  • You meet so many like-minded individuals when you create a website. Whether this is through the website itself or meeting with people along the way in the design process.

Top tips for students that would like to do something similar:

  • For organisation and time management – BUY A DIARY. Your diary will be your bible.
  • Use your connections and networks to engage with more and more people.
  • Write your goals down and look at them every morning to motivate you

So if self-employment sounds like something that you might be interested in, visit our website for more information, useful links and a comprehensive guide on how to get started with your own business, self-employment and freelance work.

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:

Why generic CVs and cover letters end up in the bin!

Choices You’ve just sent me a CV & cover letter for a job.  You and possibly several hundred others so I’m going to spend just a few seconds skimming over it to see which pile you fit in.  Yes, No or Maybe.

I have a check-list of all the skills & qualifications I’m looking for and if you don’t tick any boxes you’ll be going in the No pile.

Why generic CVs fail.

  • They often talk about duties you performed not the skills involved.
  • The skills you are talking about may not be on my wishlist.
  • Personal statements clearly not targeted at this job or sector.

Why generic cover letters fail

  • Bad cut and paste jobs – even referring to the wrong company or wrong job.
  • You clearly haven’t done the research into who we are or what we do, why should I consider you? I want to see that you want to work in my organisation not ANY organisation.
  • Completely missing the point of the organisation or job role.

I’m not good at guessing!

I’m not going to just assume you have a skill or qualification either. Just because you say you have worked on a reception desk, I’m not going to imagine what that might have involved or that you might have been good at it.

SHOW ME – I want evidence that demonstrates your effectiveness.

  • You don’t necessarily have to have done the same job before, i’ll happily look at a skill gained in another context.
  • If you have done similar tasks or roles in the past I want to see specific details – now you have me really interested.
  • If it sounds believable and consistent you’ll move up the pile.
  • If you have more ticks on my wishlist than other people i’ll interview you to see if you live up to expectations.

So go on make the effort, even a bar job deserves a CV tailored at typical bar work skills!
Check out our CV & cover letter guides 

See also:

How to do your research for CVs and cover letters 

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.

Are you a Global Graduate?

Global Graduates is an exclusive programme for University of Manchester students, offering the opportunity to meet with alumni in host cities across the world (thanks to the generous funding of donors). This year’s programme will take 32 lucky applicants to Hong Kong, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Singapore and Toronto – an amazing opportunity!

The 2017 programme is now open for applications from eligible undergrads (not in the final year of study), and we’re holding information sessions in February and March with further details – including application hints and tips. Not to be missed.

If you meet the criteria, I doubt you’ll need further convincing to apply….but if you do, one of last year’s Global Grads, Alasdair Irwin, has written about his experience.

Deadline for applications: Sunday 19 March

global-grads-2

Alasdair in Hong Kong

“When applying for the Global Graduates programme, Hong Kong was the destination that filled me with the most wonder. Given the surge of China in recent years and Hong Kong’s long standing reputation as an economic powerhouse, it is somewhat surprising that Hong Kong remains an enigma for many in the West. Since starting at university, I’ve been determined to learn more about China and I saw this programme as the perfect way to do so.

After arriving in Hong Kong, it wasn’t until taking the late night shuttle bus to the hotel that I began to appreciate that I was somewhere special. Driving through an illuminated labyrinth of skyscrapers, it was hard not to feel overawed. This was a feeling that I was to experience a lot over the following week. The week consisted of meetings with alumni from The University of Manchester across a whole range of disciplines – from finance, to insurance, to engineering. Navigating around a hot and humid Hong Kong for 5-6 meetings a day without being late was challenging at times, but I’m glad to say we pulled it off – for the most part!

Before visiting Hong Kong, I had no idea that the University had another Manchester Business School based there. When we visited, we were told that we were now part of this global network and that we would always be welcome. This really brought home how lucky we were to be chosen for the programme.

A personal highlight of the trip was visiting Black Point Power Station operated by China Light & Power. We were treated to lunch with senior staff members and shown around the plant. I was also made aware of potential internship opportunities with the company which I will definitely enquire about further.

Although we had a busy schedule, this gave us more opportunities to learn from the alumni. After returning to the UK, I didn’t remember the times feeling tired or jet-lagged; the lasting memories were of the meetings with the alumni and being absorbed in a new culture in breath-taking surroundings.

This experience has given me confidence when dealing with professionals, allowing me to lose my inhibitions when networking. We learned what the alumni expect from graduates applying to work at their companies. This has given me invaluable insight which will be of great benefit when seeking employment. I would like to say thank you to all of the alumni volunteers for allowing me to have this life changing experience. I hope that in the future I might be able give back to the University as they have done!”

global-grads-1

Alasdair and colleagues in Hong Kong

Explore your interests at My Future Fest

mff-blog

February is one of the coldest, darkest and wettest months of the year. January exams are over, semester two has just begun and summer feels like a very long way off. But that magical time of the year without exams or assignment deadlines will come around sooner than you think, and it’s also the ideal time to do something a bit different and build your skills away from the University. Which is why we’re bringing you My Future Fest – a day packed with opportunities to help you plan for your summer and discover what you might like to do in the future.

Here are three reasons you should pop down to My Future Fest on Tuesday 7 Feb, regardless of where you are in your studies.

  1. Discover opportunities that may surprise you.

You might think you know what you’re going to do this summer, but our exhibitors will have opportunities that you hadn’t even considered. Become a coach with SPORT Manchester or have a real overseas experience with the British Council’s Study Work Create programme. Coming down to speak to exhibitors can spark something that you just can’t get by trawling through a website.

  1. Get ahead of the crowd.

Whether you’re in your second year planning for the summer, or a final year student looking for graduate jobs, My Future Fest provides not only exhibitors with current opportunities but also access to staff who can give you expert tips and advice on developing your interests and skills – and putting it into words to help you land the job that you want. We’ll be there providing info on our Student Experience Internships and Manchester Graduate Talent programmes, and there will also be plenty of support for those of you facing the dreaded employer selection tests.

  1. Competitions and freebies!

If that’s not enough to convince you, there will be freebies on the day (including ice cream and cake), not to mention a number of competitions that you can enter if you head down to Uni Place. Prizes include £300 of travel vouchers, £100 Amazon vouchers and a Level 1 Coaching qualification for a sport of your choice (worth £150). Really, it’s too much to miss out on…

So make sure to join the Facebook event for further updates, and head down to University Place between 10am and 4pm on Tuesday 7 February to make the most of My Future Fest.

These students got involved last year and didn’t regret it…

Help! I need to ring or email an employer, what do I do?

phonelaptopjpgAs part of your job search it is inevitable that you will have to write to or ring employers.  You may be applying speculatively for work experience, asking for more information about a job or have a query about the application process or interview.

Employers are not ogres but they are busy and will have expectations about how you should communicate with them.

  • Some employers will put their name and contact details on a job description. They want you to ring / email them and ask questions, it helps candidates  and should mean the applications are of a higher standard. Don’t expect an immediate response though they do have jobs to do, recruitment may only be a small part of it.
  • If no contact for enquiries is given you need to get creative, look on the company website, ring their switchboard and ask for HR, graduate recruitment, the head of marketing or whatever function you are applying to.

You need to be professional in your communication at all times, this will create a good impression and make the employer more likely to take you seriously. Really, you would cringe to see some of the emails I have received with regard to jobs I have advertised.

By email

  1. First decide – is this an appropriate conversation to have by email? If you need information quickly or to explain something complicated it might be better to ring.
  2. Are you contacting the most appropriate person for your enquiry? Do your research first.

Your email should be a formal business communication, the language you use should be similar in may ways to a cover letter. See examples in this guide

You should be quite formal starting your letter with Dear XXX  and signing off appropriately.  If the recruiter chooses to reply using Hi XXX then it would be acceptable to mirror this in your next communication. However, don’t make the mistake of becoming too informal, this is not a text to a friend.  If sending emails from your phone encourages you to be brief and take short-cuts in your language and grammar, wait until you can get to a computer and do it properly.

  • Be polite.  It is easy to send an email that sounds quite demanding or aggressive.
  • Get to the point, be clear and concise. No one has time to read long emails.
  • Answer any questions you have been asked.
  • Read it again and check for spelling and grammar errors.

By phone

Are you ringing a switchboard and asking to be put through or ringing a specific person on their number.  You need a game plan, what happens if the person is not available, will you leave a message or find out when to call them back?

What specifically do you want to know from the call, and how will you ask? Good preparation helps you sound, and feel, more confident.

  • Be clear, who are you, why are you ringing, what do you want?
  • Be polite, is it convenient to talk now?
  • Make notes – what do you want to say, what information did they give you.

A note on Social Media & LinkedIn

If a company has a graduate recruitment Facebook page or Twitter account, you can ask questions there. Again be polite and don’t expect an immediate response.  It’s also likely that any response may be quite generic or measured as this is a public arena. Be aware also that by doing this you are practically inviting that recruiter to look at your profile, make sure it’s respectable!

LinkedIn can be a good way to find out information about companies, and you may be applying to jobs advertised here too.  This is a professional networking site so if you are asking questions be polite and professional in your language and approach, and again make sure your profile is up to date. See our guide on LinkedIn  and our Jobsearch guide for tips.

%d bloggers like this: