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

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 

The 1 page vs 2 page CV / resume dilemma. What should my CV look like?

CV In the UK the normal format for a CV is 2 pages.  There are some good reasons to use this format but we know there are also some exceptions.

Why use a 2 page CV?

  • Most employers will expect it.
  • It gives you enough space to effectively talk about your skills.
  • If you have a lot of experience you have space to convey this.
  • Mainly the reverse chronological CV is used because it is easy to read, create and update.
  • Sometimes a skills based CV may be appropriate, especially if you are changing career track and need to show transferable skills.  This is usually more appropriate for those further on in their career.
  • BUT don’t pad out your CV with irrelevant detail and waffle to try to get up to 2 pages.

What are the exceptions?

  1. If you are applying to another country you will need to use the format commonly used there. Unless it’s a UK company based overseas when they may prefer a UK style CV. Ask them.
  2. If you are applying to an overseas company based in the UK it’s possible they would like the CV  format they are familiar with.  For example some American companies may like a 1 page CV.
  3. Investment banks generally prefer a 1 page CV especially those that are American companies. See articles at the end. We asked The Gateway magazine what they thought and they recommended 1 page too. If in doubt check.
  4. CVs used to apply for academic jobs – e.g. lecturing. These will be much longer due to referencing papers, research and conferences.
  5. CVs later in your career. By then you will know the industry norm and also what will show off your skills best.
  6. Applying for casual part time jobs. If you are handing out CVs for bar work and have little work experience then it may be that a 1 page CV highlighting all the good stuff with only basic information about your education will be all that’s needed.

BUT how do I really know?

There is no accounting for personal taste. Employers are people and they may have their own preferences, if in doubt check. Use employers websites, social media, talk to them at events and pick up the phone and ring them!

In the absence of any information, it’s unlikely your CV will be rejected if you use one format or the other, the 2 page just gives you a better opportunity to sell your skills.

Resources

As you can see there is some contradictory advice out there!

If you need some 1-1 advice on your CV use our Applications Advice Service. Before you come do your research on the format required and tell the adviser why you have chosen the style you are presenting.

Slides for CV Basics for Postgraduates

Thank you to everyone who attended today’s session – it was nice to see you all!  And thank you to everyone for their contributions to the session – it wouldn’t have worked without you.

Here is a no frills PDF of today’s session Career Essentials: CVs Basics for Postgraduates:  cvs-dfg-2016-web-version

Don’t miss Thursday’s session:

Careers Ecovering-letters-catssentials: Covering Letters for Postgraduates

October 13th 2016
Simon Building Lecture Theatre C – 1pm -2pm,
Your covering letter is a critical part of your application. In this one hour session you’ll find out how to write a compelling letter that will make employers notice you.

 

The simple 3 step approach to applying for jobs

badge-686321_640Don’t worry about your CV until you have found a vacancy to apply for.
Many students are so eager that before they even know what type of job they want to do they are writing a CV and cover letter.
STOP RIGHT NOW.

1 Decide what jobs you are interested in.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a part time job, internship or graduate job, it will make your life a lot simpler if you know what you are looking for. It’s like trying to guess what present someone will like when you don’t even know them.

2 Find places that advertise those vacancies and start looking at them.
Which appeal to you and do you have the skills or qualifications they are looking for?

3 Use the list of skills the employer wants to create a CV  or application that matches their needs.
Employers will expect to see evidence of your competence to evaluate how good you would be at the job. If you have done something similar before that’s great but don’t worry if you haven’t sometimes the same skill gained in a different way is fine.(transferable skills)

Repeat step 3 for every job you apply for. Check and double check that you are matching the needs of that specific role in that specific company.

Avoid common mistakes when applying for a job.

It’s the time of year when new graduates and returning students alike are all looking ahead to graduate jobs or internships. Make sure you avoid some of the top application mistakes. iStock_000018416955Medium Girl ticking checklist

What does the employer want?

The employer has a job to fill, they know what makes a good employee and will have a list of skills, experience and attributes they are looking for. Your job is to correctly identify these and provide evidence that you have them AND information about why you are right for the job. How many boxes on my checklist can you fill?

Most job applications will use a CV, cover letter, application form or some combination of these.

Lets start with the CV

  1. A good clear layout, tabulated nicely.  Dates easy to find, clear chronology and headings. Bullet points usually help. I’m not fussy about the order of the headings or what you call them so much, as long as it makes sense.
  2. Don’t get too creative with boxes, fonts, underlining etc. It’s just distracting.
  3. TAILOR TAILOR TAILOR.  This is the biggest mistake and the most common.  You see a perfectly nice CV and when you read it, there is nothing relating to what you asked for. It’s not because the applicant has no experience, it’s they just haven’t bothered to match it to the skills you are looking for.
  4. Don’t waffle on about responsibilities and duties of the role you were in, tell me about the actions you took and what skills you used.

Cover letters

  1. …and in at number 1 the most common mistake is not telling the employer why you want THAT job.  It’s all very well banging on about the company and the wonderful work they do, but why does that interest you. More importantly why does that particular role interest you.  It’s called motivation and it shows that you have correctly identified what is important and that it matters to you too.
  2. What skill do you have that are relevant?  Entice me to read your CV.
  3. Please don’t just cut and paste from your CV , I’m going to look at that too and who wants to read it twice.
  4. Dont be negative about yourself, I don’t want to know what you haven’t done and skills you don’t have, I can work that out for myself. Tell me what you have done successfully so that I see you in a positive light.

Application forms with competency questions or personal statements

READ ALL THE QUESTIONS FIRST

This will help you identify the breadth of what they are looking for and what sections you can use to highlight which evidence.

  1. If there are strength or competency questions – try to understand why they are asking them. They relate to the role somehow,  this will give you some context and help you think about how to frame your answers.  Perhaps one of your skills examples is better than others?  For example if they are asking about communication skills and it is a job where you have to be able to communicate to different stakeholders or to a particular group, have you got an example of where you have done something similar?
  2. If the bulk of the application after basic details about your education and previous employment is given over to the why do you want this job section then aim to write 1-2 page A4 UNLESS they state otherwise. It can be useful to write down all the elements of the person specification as headings and then write a short paragraph for each one. You can decide if you remove the headings later.
  3. Don’t leave any questions blank
  4. Don’t say  – see my CV

Some applications will involve all 3 elements CV, cover letter and application form. It may be a judgement call how you split the information in a personal statement out from the cover letter.  Be led by the phrasing of the questions and don’t leave any information out.

Finally

Recruiters are not stupid, we know it’s time-consuming to write a great application and we appreciate it when it is done well.  It makes our job easier and gives you more chance of getting an interview.

 

Don’t give up!

If you’re graduating next month (well done!), chances are you’ve been sending off job applications left, right and centre. If you’re lucky, you’ll have had a couple of interviews and maybe even been offered a job. But unfortunately employers only have a finite number of positions to fill, which inevitably means that some candidates will be disappointed.

This time last year I’d just finished my degree and couldn’t tell you how many jobs I’d applied for. By the time of my graduation ceremony in mid-July I’d had five interviews and was only offered one of those jobs (my current Marketing role here in The Careers Service).

weights lock up

Persevere!

When it feels like you’re just firing off CVs into the void and not getting the responses that you’d hoped for, it can be tough to stay motivated and keep persevering. However it’s important to keep in mind all of the skills you’ve gained from your degree and all of the things on your CV – whether that’s part-time jobs, work experience, internships, volunteering, society membership, etc. – and remind yourself that these make you unique, interesting and, ultimately, employable.

In January of my final year I applied for my absolute dream job: a really exciting graduate scheme with The Engine Group, a huge marketing agency whose clients include Coca Cola, Disney, Sky, Santander, Unilever and Warburtons (the Muppets and Giant Crumpets advert? That was Engine). I got through the first stage – a CV, cover letter and application form – and was excited to face the second stage – a creative brief that required you to creatively present part of your CV. But this was where the dream ended. I was rejected after my creative piece and never made it through to the third stage – an interview.

Three months into my current job in The Careers Service, I met with Engine again at one of our October Careers Fairs. Putting my bitterness aside, I approached their representatives and explained how I had applied and missed out last year. The reps were great and gave me some really constructive feedback on how I could do better if I applied again.

So I did.

I applied for the 2016 scheme and this time – with their feedback in mind and the experience from my current marketing job under my belt – I made it through all four stages of the recruitment process (including a gruelling 10am-6pm assessment centre in London) and was offered a place on the scheme to start in September 2016.

Although it had been hard to take at the time, the fact I had been unsuccessful in my first attempt made it even sweeter when I was offered the job on my second go. The truth was that I hadn’t been ready for the graduate scheme when I first applied, but after a year of working in a professional environment I was more confident in myself, my strengths and what I had to offer Engine.

Sometimes rejection can be a sign that it wasn’t the right job or company for you. You can sense this yourself during interviews when you hear more about the position on offer and ask your questions about the company and the role. Other times rejection means you’re not quite ready yet – it’s a push to go away and get more experience and try again, as with myself and Engine. Persevere and you will find something that will help you get to where you want to be.

 

Remember:

  • Do your wider research – Alongside researching the company and the role, read up on the sector or industry the job or company operates in. Know what this line of work involves. Be aware of current news, issues and recent trends.
  • Tailor your CVs and cover letters – Don’t just send off fifty of the same applications. Recruiters will see right through it. Take the extra time to target your CVs and cover letters to the specific job and company you’re applying to, and in doing so show your enthusiasm for this opportunity in particular. Find out more about CVs and cover letters.
  • Be clear on why you want this job or want to work for this company – Review the skills required on the job description and emphasise your development and enjoyment of these skills. Consider what it is about this company that makes you want to work for them. How are they different to their competitors? What work have they done recently that you have really appreciated?
  • UOM_CAREERS_ILLUSTRATIONS_A3_v7

    Reflect!

    Interviews – Learn from your previous interviews. Self-reflection is tough, but really ask yourself what you could have done better. Request feedback from the interviewers for the jobs you didn’t get and use this going forward. Make sure you’re asking good questions at the end of (and, where appropriate, during) the interview to show your enthusiasm for the job and company. Ask about the company’s future plans, their thoughts on current industry trends, what the best and the most challenging things are about the job, and what it really involves day-to-day. If you’re stuck, Google some. Get help with preparing for interviews here.

  • Persevere – Don’t give up! If job hunting is getting you down, you’re not alone. Talk through your concerns with friends, peers, family, and us! Find us in The Atrium (1st floor, University Place) every weekday 10am-4pm during the summer, or if you’re away from Manchester you can contact us by phone, email, live chat and even Skype.

Preparing for your summer internship or vacation job

Exams are nearly over, it’s time to celebrate and look forward to summer.iStock_000018416955Medium Girl ticking checklist

Many of you will have something lined up for summer, an internship, work experience, volunteering, a vacation job or a working holiday perhaps?

Before you head off to meet the challenge there a few things you can do to be prepared.

  1. Have you got the right outfits? Do you know what your dress code will be? Ask around and check you have a few outfits to get started.
  2. Do you have all your paperwork, passport or other ID, visa etc to start work. Ask HR what you will need on day one to get you on payroll!
  3. Do you know how to get there? Nothing worse than turning up late on your first day.
  4. Have you got a bus or train pass? Advance ticketing may be a cheaper option.  If you are driving will you have a parking pass?

While you are there

  1. Get stuck in – it’s only for a short period so be enthusiastic, make the most of opportunities to learn a new skill or make a difference.
  2. Be professional – even if things are not exactly the way you might have hoped this is an opportunity to learn something and get a reference – so be nice!
  3. If you have had a particularly good (or bad) day – reflect a little – what went well or badly, what were your actions, how did you contribute? What would you do differently in future?
    1. The good stuff you will put on your CV.
    2. Store the reflections of what didn’t go well and learn from it, sometimes you can be asked about these examples too and they can be a great way to show you have learned to adapt your behaviour or strategies.
  4. Think about the future, would you like to work here again?
    1. If yes: find out about opportunities for graduate roles
    2. If no: are there other roles or opportunities you could find out about before you leave. Simply talking to people about their jobs can help you decide what direction you want to take.

Make a note

  1. Skills you gained or improved (it’s easy to forget what you did)
  2. Actions you took that made a difference (evidence for your CV)
  3. What you liked or didn’t like. (So you can make informed choices next time)
  4. Contact details of managers and people you worked with. Not just for references,  link with them on LinkedIn and be part of their community so you get the insider info!

Good luck and enjoy it.

How to write a CV to use at a job fair

CV Sam Routledge3These are the 2 most commonly asked questions:

  • Should I take a CV to a careers / job fair?
  • What do I put on my CV?

Firstly not all job fairs are the same

Summer / graduate careers fairs: Recruiters at these fairs are looking for candidates to start work almost immediately for graduate entry level jobs or in some cases summer internships.  They are more likely to consider a CV as an initial method of application. (You may still have to apply formally too if they need more information)

Autumn Careers Fairs: Many of the recruiters here will be recruiting for schemes (graduate and internship) that start the following summer. This is often the beginning of the process for them so it is an opportunity to engage your interest and get you to apply.  Few of them will take CVs actively because they will expect you to apply online.

Part time job fairs: The recruiters at these fairs are likely to want CVs and to get candidates started quickly.

Specialist fairs: There may be mini fairs organised for particular degree subjects or types of work. Find out about the recruiters and the jobs on offer and consider the type of work they are offering. Immediate start = more likely to take CVs

Find out who is attending and what jobs they are advertising for

Big careers fairs organised by The University of Manchester Careers Service always provide an online list of recruiters with links to the opportunities available (smaller specialist fairs or fairs run by other organisations may not always do this). This enables you to work out who you are interested in and what the requirements are for the jobs available.

  • So now you have a list of the organisations you are interested in
  • The jobs you will apply for

Writing the CV

Under normal circumstances your CV should be tailored specifically to the job you are applying for with a specific company. It’s not a multi use document, one size does not fit all.

So if you are giving it out at a fair to more than one employer you need to be sure that it is going to hit the ballpark!

  1. Are all the roles you are applying for broadly similar e.g all in chemical engineering?  If not,  e.g. you are applying to retail graduate schemes and marketing grad schemes then you will need 2 CVs to show off 2 different skill sets.
  2. Look at the requirements for all the graduate / internship schemes of the same type that you are applying to and make a list of the skills, attributes and experience they are looking for. You will hopefully see a trend appearing. These are your top 5 or 10 skills to get in your CV.
  3. Context: are all the employers in the same sector – creative, scientific, engineering, teaching etc. This could have an impact on where you draw your skills from – what might you consider relevant experience?
  4. If you have a decent LinkedIn profile make sure it is on your CV.
  5. Use the CV guide 

What about a personal profile?

Any occasion where you are giving out a CV without a cover letter is an opportunity for a well crafted personal profile. BUT if you can’t do it well don’t use one, a bad profile can work against you.

  • Keep it short 2-3 lines
  • Make it relevant – it will only work if you are looking for a challenging role in social media marketing with all the companies you give it to.
  • Don’t make unsubstantiated claims. If you say you have 2 years of marketing experience, or proven editorial skill make sure the evidence is there on the CV.
  • Consider your unique selling point – what do you want to draw their attention to on your CV?

Benefits of applying later

A fair is an opportunity to ask questions to make informed choices, but also to get the information you need to make your application better. If you can find out what really makes a good applicant, or more about what a role in XXX is like then you have an opportunity to improve your application. So it’s not always a good idea to rush out a CV at a fair if there is an opportunity to do it better afterwards.

Can I get help?

If you are taking a CV to a fair or planning on applying later we can help. Use our applications advice service to get feedback and tips on how to tailor that CV for the purpose you want to use it for.

 

 

 

 

 

Why do you want to work for us and other tricky questions

Person Holding Hire Me Sign in CrowdQ. Why do you want to work for us?

It’s implicit isn’t it that if I take the trouble to send a CV off or fill in your overly complicated application form OBVIOUSLY I want this job.  Why on earth are you asking me this question?

Actually it’s a really good question that measures your motivation and understanding.  Have you just seen a job and banged out a CV or do you really want to work for them and understand what they do?

So what is the employer expecting?

  • Cover letter or personal statement that explores your reasons for choosing them and the role.
  • CV – tailored to the role
  • They may even ask this exact question on the application form.
  • At interview it may be asked and they will expect a more in depth answer.

How to answer…

Use your research skills to critically assess the company.

  • Most companies provide a service or make or sell something to clients or the public. Find out about what they do /make/ provide.
  • If you were a client looking at their website and or their store what would you see as the main reasons for choosing them over any other organisation doing something broadly similar.
  • What are their unique products? What is their unique selling point?
  • Where do they fit in the commercial landscape? Who are their competitors and how do they stack up!
  • Who are their main clients? or who is their target group?
  • Are they local, national or international?
  • You can also look at the training they provide and what you would be expected to experience working for them.
  • What is the company ethos? How are they portraying themselves – what do they care about?

Now ask yourself – why does that appeal to me?

Q. Why have you applied for this role?

The employer wants to know that you understand what the job involves, and have carefully considered how you fit in and what you have to offer.

So you need to ….

  • Read the job or person specification carefully. These can be quite lengthy and give a good idea of the level of skill and breadth of tasks you will be expected to perform.
  • Read between the lines – sometimes the information can be vague or brief so you need to dig a little.
    • Is there a person listed for informal enquiries? It would be foolish not to ring really (and not many do! ) Ask sensible questions that you really can’t find out the answer to.  What would a typical day be like?
    • Look for similar job titles with other companies – are they broadly the same across the board?
    • Try prospects for generic job role information, it will give you the basics of what the role is usually like. https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles
    • Are there other jobs advertised on the company website – where does yours fit in?
  • Ask yourself why does this appeal to me?
    • Be specific – an organisation could have hundreds of  roles. So why this one in particular?
    • What aspects of the job do you find most interesting? Working with a particular client group? Working on a particular product?
    • Is there an opportunity to use specific knowledge, strengths or talents?

Q. Do you have any questions for us?

Another question that is often fumbled at the end on an interview. Lets face it often you just want to get out of there, but wait… don’t drop the ball now.  This is your opportunity to have proper conversation.

Often questions will come up naturally along the way so if possible ask them in context but if not store them up and remember them. Ask questions that open up an opportunity to find out more about the role or company. But be prepared some of these questions could get flipped on you.

  • What would I expect a typical day to look like?
  • What do other graduates in this role find most challenging?
  • What roles do  graduates typically do after the graduate scheme?
  • What do you find most exciting about your job?
  • When will I hear if I have been successful?

 

For more interview questions check out our Guide  or ask about our interview feedback file and see if anyone else has been for an interview with the same company.

 

 

 

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