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

And so the end is nigh.. Nearly finished your degree what next?

Easter vacation is coming to an end and some of you will be handing in dissertations soon.  Does it feel like it’s all over bar the exams?

Obviously exams are uppermost in most minds but use your time well and you could still secure a graduate job or internship starting in summer or autumn.

To do listiStock_000018416955Medium Girl ticking checklist

Graduate Internships at the University are open for applications now.  They don’t all come in at once because contracts finish at different times and then managers have to get permission to recruit subject to budgets. So no, it’s not possible to give you a list of all the opportunities that will come out in future, just keep looking. (there are also some with external organisations) They are an ideal option if you want to get some experience but are not exactly sure what you want to do in the future.

CLINK MGT

 

Manchester Graduate Recruitment Fair 4 May 2017.  The exhibitor list is now up on CareersLink so plan your visit. (it will be on the website soon)gradfair17

  1. Look at the list and see which employers are recruiting for what posts. Don’t rule out employers you haven’t heard of if the job is what you are looking for.
  2. If there are particular employers you want to speak to and impress do some research.  What do you want to find out? If the answers are on their website that wont be that impressive, so think about more insightful questions.  Perhaps…
    • What do you think makes XXXX stand out from their competitors?
    • What do you like best about working for XXXX or in XXXX role?
    • What are the things that really makes an applicant stand out?
  3. Tailor your CV.  There is no guarantee that an employer will take your CV as part of the recruitment process as most have their own online systems. BUT at this time of year when they want to fill places fast it is more likely!  So…
    • Do as much research as you can on the role at that company and do a fully tailored CV.
    • If you are hedging your bets and will be speaking to lets say multiple companies with civil engineering or accountancy jobs then you may get away with a CV tailored for Civ Eng or accountancy. BUT if you are looking at multiple different roles that are using different skills it’s better to create a few different CVs than go for one general one.
  4. Practice your pitch.  Introducing yourself and asking a few basic questions, once you are in a conversation it will feel quite natural. See point 2.
  5. Get your ticket before you go, to avoid queueing.

3  Graduate Jobs in Manchester as well as internships MGT ( Manchester graduate Talent) advertises graduate jobs in Manchester. Some employers will be local and may not advertise nationally so make the most of this opportunity to fish in a small pond!

4 Graduate jobs nationally & internationally.  CareersLink should be your first place to look. We wont get every vacancy in the world, but we will get opportunities from recruiters who want to recruit from Manchester University and that means a lot, you are wanted!   If we haven’t got the vacancies you are looking for use our website to find out the best places to look for opportunities.

5 No clue what you want to do next?  It’s ok you are not alone. But it is time to ask for some help or get stuck in.  It will be much easier to have a chat with careers staff face to face before you leave Manchester in June.  But if you need to wait until after exams and have to dash off we do Skype & Phone appointments too.

6 Last and by no means least what about postgraduate study?  Have you considered doing a Masters course to gain specific skills and knowledge in a particular area or maybe to change direction?

 

 

 

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.

Graduating soon? Here’s what to do next…

You’re mixed with the feelings of sheer joy and absolute terror at the idea of finishing university;  you are purposefully ignoring the fact that you haven’t started thinking about your career despite your jammy housemate securing a graduate scheme way back in November; you feel a little bit sick at the mere idea of job hunting… sound familiar? If so, we’ve got the perfect antidote.

The Grad Fair 2017

  • When?
    We’re holding The Grad Fair earlier than ever this year. Having previously been in June each year, we’ve brought the Fair forward as we found a lot of students were missing it as they had finished their exams, and were off gallivanting around the country celebrating their new found freedom – we don’t blame them! So, just so you don’t miss out on this great opportunity, this year it will take place on Thursday 4th May. Swing by any time between 10:30am – 4:00pm.
  • Where?
    The Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, M14 6HE.
  • Who?
    From large international companies to small local businesses, there will be a whole range of employment opportunities available, spanning across many different sectors (including postgraduate study)! So far we have over 140 exhibitors confirmed so there really is something for everyone this year.
    Just to name drop a few, exhibitors will include Abercrombie, Aldi, City Year UK, Civil Service, Dyson, Explore Learning, Havas Lynx, Manchester Enterprise Centre, MediaCom, Teach First, and many more. There’ll also be a whole host of higher education institutions offering postgraduate opportunities.
  • Why?
    A
     hall full of employers, looking to hire graduates? Sounds pretty ideal for anyone who has not yet secured a job! In addition, there may well be opportunities for summer internships, working abroad and some part-time jobs.

 

A few things to remember…

Firstly, you are not defined by the degree that you did at university. If you studied Politics, there is no necessity for you to join the local government; if you studied Chemistry, you don’t have to go into Science. The world really is your oyster! The Grad Fair is the ideal place to get a feel for the different sectors and opportunities which are out there.

Secondly, the first full-time job you do does not determine the rest of your life. I repeat, the first full-time job you do does not determine the rest of your life. More often than not, the most successful people will have done a series of different jobs which will have equipped them with key transferable skills. Try to attend The Grad Fair with an open mind and don’t be put off by opportunities if they aren’t exactly what you are looking for – it may help you get to where you want to be in the end.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s free! We do advise that you register in advance to obtain a ticket to attend the Fair, although you can register on the day, too. Make sure to join the Facebook event to keep up-to-date with the Fair, and get some useful hints and tips on how to make the most of it.

Once you’ve graduated, you might find that opportunities like these specifically tailored to you don’t come around all that often, so we strongly recommend you make the most of it. See you there!

Where are all the first year internships?

roo resumes“Where are all the internships?” said the first year.

Finding an internship in your first year can be quite a challenge.
If you were in the very small percentage of First Year students who thought about an internship in the first term, you may have been lucky enough to land yourself either a Spring Insight or a Summer Internship- if so, well done! As for the rest of you, if you have only just started to think about internships you may be finding the search rather difficult. If so, listen up…

  1. Internships tend to be targeted towards people in their penultimate year of study.

The reason for this is because a lot of big companies hire interns in the hope that they may want to get onto their grad scheme and work for them permanently after they finish their degree.

Of course there is no guarantee that the company will be hiring graduates, nor any guarantee that the intern would stand any higher chance of securing the Grad Scheme than anyone else. Nevertheless, you can see why a lot of employers target those who are going into final year as it does kind of make sense.

  1. Internships are just one of the many options you have for getting some experience this summer.

Work shadowing/ experience can be a really good way to get an insight into a company and is often far less structured than an internship.  The benefit of work experience/shadowing is that you can often negotiate your own terms rather than the solidity of a structured internship.
You could also use your summer to get some part time work/volunteering under your belt. There is value in every single job you do, so don’t be put off by working for a slightly less well known company. You don’t have the luxury of a big long summer when you finish University so use your time to try new things!

  1. How do I find an opportunity if I can’t see any advertised online?

Ever heard of the phrase ‘Good things come to those who wait’? If so, ignore it. It’s a terrible piece of advice! The reality is that good things come to those who work hard, network well and are incredibly resilient.

Contacting companies directly can be a really good way of landing yourself an opportunity. This is what is formally referred to as ‘The Hidden Jobs Market’. It’s the idea that there are hidden, unadvertised opportunities which can be snapped up by people who are prepared to do a bit of the leg work.  However, it’s not easy, you should be prepared to have 20 emails ignored for every 1 that gets read so you will need a bit of resilience if you go down this path.

  1. How to a find a contact to email?

Admittedly this can be a bit difficult, but there are numerous ways you can get yourself a contact email address.

  1. Use LinkedIn.
    Don’t have a profile? Make one.
    It’s like the business version of Facebook/an online copy of your CV. You can connect with people and ask them questions and it can also be used for employer’s to head hunt you for jobs. Win, win!
  2. The Manchester Network.
    We have our very own Networking platform which is specifically designed so that students can connect with alumni to ask questions about your Career options.
  3. Manchester Gold Mentoring programme
    Taking part in our mentoring programme is your way of getting information, advice and guidance about your future from a mentor. They could be doing the job you’re aiming for, working in an area that interests you or have graduated from the same course as you.
  1. Call on anyone you have ever met, ever.
    Using your own personal contacts is another good way of getting your foot in the door.

 

With all this being said, there are still a few internships available. Below is a list of some of the ones which are out there, and here is an excellent site which has currently 36 other options available

If you would like an application checked over before you send it off then book yourself in for Application Advice Appointment by either calling us on 0161 275 2829, popping into The Atrium, University Place, or booking yourself one via your CareersLink Account.

Good luck!

Cecily Rooney
Careers Information & Guidance Assistant 

 

 

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

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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:

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