How to build up evidence of your work and skills for an interview

When it comes to job interviews, one of the most important factors is being able to persuade the employer that you have the appropriate skills and experience to be a good candidate for the job. As a result, it’s good practice to draw together as much physical evidence of relevant previous work as possible.

At its simplest level, this is just a case of listing out your past employment to demonstrate your capabilities. However, the difficulty for students and recent graduate is that you may not have a great deal of job experience, so you’re going to need to put in a little effort now to give you a better chance of landing a job in the future.

blocksHere are some tips on building up you evidence stockpile:

Write for your chosen profession

Whether you want to be a games developer, lawyer, music journalist or particle physicist, getting something published that you’ve written for your industry is a good way of demonstrating your knowledge and interest. There is a wide range of publications for every industry and you’ll be surprised how many of them would be happy to feature your thoughts, ideas or stories.

Start by creating a good list of possible publications and hunt down the contact details, which are usually on the contact us page of the website. It’s important to get a good idea of what the publication features before coming up with your own idea for what to write about. Once you have this, you can then craft a request to your contact at the publication, explaining your idea and why it would make for a good addition to the publication. You can’t expect every request to come back with a positive result, but it’s important to keep persevering to get your work published.

Work experience

This might be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to pass over until the last minute, so try to take some time during the summer to build up your work experience tally. Not only will it give you real experience, but it will also give you an excellent opportunity to get evidence for the work you’ve done and skills you’ve got. Try to think of your time during work experience from this standpoint and keep copies of anything that you’re proud of. It might be a good idea to ask the company if it’s happy for you to do this as a courtesy, but most will just want to help you as much as possible. If your work gets featured online while you’re doing work experience, make sure you keep a record of the URLs to reference during interviews.

Volunteer work

This is very similar to work experience, but it could give you a bit more flexibility in terms of what you do and the kind of evidence you can build up. Approaching charities, clubs, events and organisations with an offer to do something that relates to the job you eventually want to get is another great way to build up evidence. If you want to be in marketing, offer to help with their promotional activity; if you want to be a designer, offer to create a poster or flyer; if you want to be a biologist, offer to go in to do a talk on a chosen subject that might be of interest to the people they support etc. Again, keep a record of everything that you do and refer to it in interviews when you’re trying to take your first steps in the working world.

Get creative

If you’ve already ticked off a number of these, you can take things to the next level by adding video to your evidence log. With smartphones, it’s easier than ever to film yourself or others talking knowledgably about your industry. And with YouTube you can easily post these to the masses and share on social media. It’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’re a confident speaker and you’ve got subjects you’re passionate about then it could be a creative way to evidence your interest and understanding of your industry.

Try to be entertaining, interesting and engaging while filming and don’t forget that if you’re not happy with the initial results, you can always just do another take to get it right.

Create a portfolio

This can either be online or a physical portfolio of your work, but it will act as a strong talking point for your interview. It comes in handy when asked questions about how you might tackle a particular situation, providing you with tangible examples of what you’ve done in the past.

Your portfolio can include any written work you’ve had published for your industry, or if you work in the creative sector then you can include design work, film, apps, games, websites etc. that you’ve worked on in the past.

It’s important to structure your portfolio so that you can easily refer to items without scrambling around, so a tabbed reference could be an option to make it easy to find something specific when you’re being interviewed.


Gerard Harris is the editor of entertainment news and reviews magazine, Tuppence, which has developed a flexible work experience programme to allow budding writers and designers to gain experience, a reference and an online portfolio to evidence their work. Over the last 15 years, Gerard has worked in the digital sector for fashion companies like Office Shoes and UNIQLO, as well as time at other big brands, including Odeon, RAC and Ford.


 

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Why project management is an excellent career choice for graduates

Projects take place in every industry around the world. Think of all the construction projects you see in cities, or of the marketing projects that happen whenever a new product is released.

The world thrives on projects and this means there will always be a need for project managers. Read on to find out what this role entails, why to enter the field and how to get your foot in the door!

What is a project manager?

Project managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of projects. They are results-driven and goal-orientated creatures with a knack for organisation, leadership and communicating effectively.

A typical project manager will be involved in:

  • Planning the project
  • Budgeting
  • Organising and motivating the project team
  • Setting deadlines and delegating work
  • Carrying out risk and quality assessments
  • Working with stakeholders
  • Solving problems as they arise
  • Ensuring project goals are achieved
  • Delivering the project on time

This is not a job for shrinking violets! Project managers are strong leaders who are capable of organising and motivating people. You must therefore be a team player with an eye for spotting risks and solving problems. It can be a challenging job, especially when deadlines loom or things go wrong, so being able to cope with pressure is essential.

Why be a project manager?

Here are our top reasons to choose a project management career:

  • Project managers are required in every industry and sector. It is true that sectors such as IT and engineering are major ‘project’ sectors. However, every industry performs projects, so creative and humanities graduates are welcome too!
  • Because projects happen worldwide, project managers often get to travel and work with a variety of different people.
  • As every industry requires project managers, this means there are lots of jobs out there. Project managers will always be in demand and this won’t change any time soon. Projects will always exist.
  • Salaries are excellent. Project managers in the UK earn on average £40-£50k. Depending on the industry and how much experience you have, this salary can reach quite a height.
  • Job satisfaction is huge! Being part of a project, watching everything come together successfully and working in a team are all some of the highlights of this career.

How to kick-start a graduate project manager career

Much like any other job, landing a role as a project manager requires experience and qualifications. Here are our top tips for entering the world of project management:

  • Which sector do you want to work in? Many graduates use their current degree as a starting point. However, you can also complete further study after graduation in the form of a PgDip or master’s degree in project management. Bear in mind that if you want to manage projects in a very technical field such as engineering, finance or IT, it is normally essential that you have a degree in one of those subjects.
  • Work experience is vital. Try volunteering or contacting companies directly to see if you can do work experience with them. If you have chosen the PgDip or master’s route, work placements are often included as part of the course.
  • Try getting a project administrator or project support role. These entry level positions give you valuable experience working alongside a project manager on actual projects. Getting an entry level job like this will make it much easier for you to progress onto a managerial role, either at the same company or elsewhere.
  • You might see qualifications such as PRINCE2® or AgilePM® mentioned in job specifications. PRINCE2 is a project management methodology. Agile is an ‘umbrella’ term encompassing many different approaches to delivering software. Many employers insist you gain PRINCE2 or Agile certification, because they will be used on the project. It is therefore a good idea to gain at least an entry level qualification in PRINCE2 or Agile, depending on what your chosen sector requires.

pm-salaries-ebook-thumbnailFind out more

Ready to take the next steps? Check out your university career service for further advice. They’ll have a list of internships or volunteering opportunities to apply for, plus they can help you write a killer CV.

To find out how salaries vary by industry and which parts of the UK are project management hotspots, read this Project Management Salary eBook. It’s essential for any graduate thinking of pursuing a career as a project manager.

AXELOS are the official PRINCE2 accreditation body. You can find accredited and approved PRINCE2 courses on the AXELOS website. For accredited Agile courses, please check APMG International’s website.

PMcourses
SimonBuehringSimon Buehring is the founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train, an accredited PRINCE2 training organization based in London, UK. For over 25 years, Simon has worked as a project manager for a wide range of organizations, both in the UK and internationally, including the BBC, HSBC and IBM.

Why you should work for PwC Swansea..

For more information on vacancies or how to apply, please contact:

Scarlett Seager, Student Recruitment Manager (scarlett.e.seager@pwc.com)

Kate Buffery,Student Recruitment Officer (kate.buffery@pwc.com)

PwC’s graduate and placement opportunities in Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol and Nationwide are live on Unilife Connect

 

5 Great Reasons to Volunteer Abroad

Are your feet itching with insufferable wanderlust? Is your heart longing to do something outside of the norm?  Do you want your next experience abroad to be a step outside of your comfort zone?

Volunteering abroad can become a powerful platform to do all of the above more. It facilitates meaningful cultural exchange between the local community and the volunteer, turning what would have been a normal holiday overseas, into something extraordinary.

Here are our top 5 reasons why you should ready yourself to make an impact and get out into the world to volunteer!

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Travel and Cultural Immersion

The most apparent reason. Volunteering abroad gives you a great opportunity to explore global environments in a truly unique way. As a volunteer, you will be able to see a side of that country that typical tourists almost always miss.  You will become truly immersed in different local cultures whilst also making an impact.

Volunteering with Travel Teacher means you get to do and see things that are truly unique. You will be living with sensitive communities and will have many life changing moments that will provide a lifetime of memories.  Picture yourself living inside a local village on the Coral Coast of Fiji, contributing towards the education of young people in The Cook Islands, assisting with a save the beach initiative in The Maldives or helping to plant trees for sustainable growth in India.  These unique experiences will change the way you see and travel the world!

Develop vital transferable skills

Volunteering is a wonderful and proven way to boost your own transferable skills such as confidence, teamwork and communication. It also provides substance for a high quality CV. With competition for jobs becoming fiercer and fiercer, employers are looking for someone who stands out form the crowd. International travel, cultural exchange, self-confidence and practical professional experience certainly combine to offer this.  So at the end of the day, a beautiful synergy has taken place between you and the community.

Some volunteering programs even go a step further than that. Travel Teacher offers participants the opportunity to gain an industry recognized teaching qualification. Our experiences will provide you with a foothold into your chosen career pathway.

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Develop lifelong friendships

It is not uncommon for volunteers to meet their new travel buddy or best friend for life while on project. In fact, it is almost expected. Volunteers are all there for one reason – to do good and help change the world. This shared passion is only intensified as you bond over your experience on the project. Your fellow volunteers will be there for the highs, the lows, and everything in between. And by the time your stay is up, you will have a whole group of people from all corners of the earth to call friends.

Help others in need

Amidst the beauty of our partnered destinations, the spectacular beaches and coral reefs: a magnificent string of islands floating peacefully in the ocean, there are also impoverished rural populations who as yet have not been able to benefit from its strong tourist trade.  As a volunteer on work placement with Travel Teacher your contribution can assist in helping the young people have a brighter future.

Broaden your horizons

Volunteering helps you discover what you really need to be happy, and to appreciate what you took for granted back home. Volunteering gives you the chance to reflect on your role in the world and motivate you to continue being the difference.

Think of volunteering abroad like the cupboard to Narnia, a door to see a country through the eyes of the locals. It is a chance to experience what their lives are like on a day-to-day basis, get to grips with the problems they are facing and how you are a part of the solution. Experiencing this rich cultural immersion changes you as a person. As you become apart of this new community, you are slowly, but surely, transformed into a Global Citizen.

So what are you waiting for?! Book that plane ticket and start travelling responsibly!

Find out more about Travel Teachers high impact, life changing volunteering programs at http://www.travelteacher.co.uk

Meet us on campus! Where and when you can find us

5 Mistakes not to Make at a Careers Fair

So, we are at that time of the academic year when recruiters are on campus actively promoting their brand, engaging with students and actively trying to drive applications onto their graduate and placement schemes. One of the ways companies do this is through careers fairs. Yes you know, those huge scary rooms, full of giant stands, littered with giveaways, brochures and company representatives waiting to speak to you. The good news is that this is really your opportunity to engage with recruiters or employees from companies and build on research to find out about their opportunities. There are however some key mistakes that students make when attending  university careers fairs and I’m highlighting a few to ensure that you’re not the one to make them!

OneNot researching the organisations that you want to talk to
Nothing gets my goat more that when a student approaches my stand and says “So…what company is this and what do you do?”  The first impression I get as a recruiter is definitely not Wow, this candidate sounds great, I want them working for me!”  Researching the organisation before hand, looking through their website on what roles they offer and what qualifications are needed will let you know whether this is a company that is aligned with your own goals. You could look up their recruiter on LinkedIn and maybe even connect with them beforehand.  Try this approach instead
Hi, my name is….and I currently study BA Business Management. I have been doing some research on your organisation as I’m really interested in your 12 month placement scheme, could you please tell me some more about the application process please.”  It’s all about first impressions! When companies are at career fairs they are looking for talent, so if you approach recruiters in the right way then they will respond positively!

TwoBeing dressed like you have just got in from your student night out
Personal brand is everything when it comes to companies looking for their future leaders. If you show up looking like looking like you’ve been out all night and haven’t bothered going home before you come to the fair then you are showing no sense of personal brand. Take some pride in your appearance. Would you turn up to an interview looking like this?  First impressions count in any situation.  I’m not saying you need to come in full business dress, but remember that you want a graduate job, so give yourself the best opportunity to stand out from the crowd by dressing smart, grooming and approaching me with a smile on your face.

ThreeNot having a recent, good CV with you
OK, so you’ve created a good first impression on me, approached me smartly dressed and have done some good research on my organisation. I’m thinking this candidate has potential and I want to be able to follow up with you after the careers fair so I ask for your CV – You don’t have one!  How are you standing out from the crowd now? Take several copies of a generic CV with you (even better if you’ve tailored one before hand as part of your preparation) so that you can leave this behind. Some companies may just tell you to apply online, but encourage them to take the CV anyway or take the opportunity talk a bit about yourself and your skills for the role …show them that your are more than just a name on an application. Another important point is to be open-minded when looking at potential companies. Don’t go to your careers fair with tunnel vision. Many employers at the fair, be it national and international brands down to smaller SME’s have many opportunities that might be what you are looking for and really suit your skill set, so be open minded with the organisations you look at…you never know what gem they might have.

FourFilling up on the freebies with your mates
Yes, most organisations have freebies; it’s their way of keeping their brand visible when you get home and to make their stands look enticing to get you over. Your job is not to fill up as many bags as possible with free stuff in competition with your friends, but to interact and engage with your potential future employer and collect information. It is always good to go out on your own so that you can have some one-on-one time with a recruiter or employee from the company you want to work for, so don’t trawl around in a big pack.

FiveNot getting recruiters details and failing to follow up
The hard work has been done, the fair is over, you’ve met some great employers, left a few CV’s and come away with some great company information. How many contact details did you get? If you want to truly set yourself apart from the competition and give yourself an opportunity to work for your dream company then ensure you collect contact information and then follow up with an email or a personalised request on LinkedIn. This will look great to recruiters; you researched the company well, looked smart, gave a CV on the day; then followed up with an email saying how great it was to meet and how you’re looking forward to hearing back. If you’ve followed those 5 steps… the chances are pretty good that you will hear back!

Martyn Flynn
Martyn Flynn,Talent Acquisition Manager, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Enterprise Rent A Car

Meet Martyn at the Opportunities Fair on 10 November 2016

Placements – your route to a top graduate job!

As a Careers Team we work with graduate recruiters, thousands of them, they all advertise their opportunities with us, hundreds come to our events to meet students face to face, and we’ve got to know lots of them really well.

We talk to them about their recruitment plans, what they look for in graduates, what helps make successful candidates stand out, and what could make applicants end up in the bin.

Over a number of years one of the things which has increasingly began to stand out is that all graduate recruiters really value work experience.  It may not be a big surprise to you to find out that as well as having the right skills, they also like to see evidence of when you’ve used them. But did you know that lots of employers use their work placements as their main method of graduate recruitment?

I visited PwC this week to find out how their 2016 recruitment went and their plans for pwc2017, including their exciting growth in Tech which I’ll talk about another day!  The most interesting thing I took away was that for their 2016 graduate intake around 35% were recruited from one of their placement schemes.  Similar to other big employers PwC offer year out placements, summer placements and other short work experience programmes.

PwC aren’t the only employer to make graduate job offers at the end of a  successful placement or summer placement, this is exactly why companies offer placements.  In fact for many other employers this percentage can be higher and there are some employers who only offer placement schemes!

The most interesting thing I took away was that for their 2016 graduate intake around 35% were recruited from one of their placement schemes.

There’s more information on the Placements section of the Careers site about the benefits of placements and the kind of opportunities students can access.

You can meet PwC this Friday between 11am and 1pm in the Library Student Centre in Treforest, or at the Opportunities Fair in November.

Matthew
Matthew Evans
Central Careers Team Manager

Kick-start your digital career with Acorn’s IT Bootcamps!

So, how could you kick-start your digital career?

IT ScreenAcorn, one of the UK’s leading multi-specialist recruitment and training agencies has a solution: IT Bootcamps. Acorn’s IT Bootcamps is a new initiative to provide graduates with the opportunity to land employment with some of the UK’s leading technology firms, becoming a Junior Software Developer in just six short weeks. Aimed at learners from a range of STEM disciplines, the training Bootcamps have been designed exclusively to meet the demands of the IT industry.

If you’re weighing up whether or not this fast-track course may potentially be for you, we’ve put together some reasons why you should pay attention:

  • There is a skill shortage – in the UK, there is a well-publicised skills gap. Research suggests that by 2020, the UK will require almost 1.3 million STEM professionals and technicians*.
  • We are listening – Acorn has been listening to graduates and businesses, conducting research and hosting focus groups. We are specialists and are here to address candidate and client frustrations now.
  • Bespoke training – we have specially designed multiple courses with the sole aim of ensuring you are an employable, market-ready Junior Software Developer within a six-week period.
  • Permanent job opportunity – if selected by an employer (see below), not only will you be guaranteed a place on the training programme but you will also be employed from day 1 of the course.
  • It’s fully-funded – so you won’t have to pay a thing.

How does it work?

Once we’ve received your application for an IT Bootcamp training and developer role you will be assessed by Acorn and our Course Director, John Holvey.  If shortlisted, you will progress to interview stage where you’ll meet IT companies looking to employ Junior Software Developers.

Following successful selection by an employer, you will be guaranteed a place on our six week training programme, and will be required to complete the course and a final assessment, before starting your permanent job as a Junior Software Developer with your new employer.  Please note, you will be employed from day one of the IT Bootcamp, with a salary in potential excess of £20,000 per annum.

Do you want a career within the IT & Digital arena?

The start date for our next course is 20th June, 2016 – get in touch today via e-mail or give us a call on 01633 760191 to find out more.

For more information on Acorn’s IT Bootcamps >>

*Solving the STEM conundrum: how to bridge the skills shortage | Information Age | February 2016

Benefits of attending Acorn’s IT Bootcamps >> 

it bootcamp

 

5 Tips To Ace An Interview

You’ve got your degree. You’ve written a killer CV and covering letter. Now just one final hurdle between you and your dream job: the interview. Graduate job interviews can be tough, but at Spotlight Recruitment we help graduates into their first jobs every day, so here’s out quick guide on how to shine.

1.    Prepare Answers To Generic Questions

Although every interview is different, there are some questions that will crop up time and time again, so don’t let them catch you out. Before you go to any interview, sit down and come up with a good answer to the following:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What’s your main strength?
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Find guides online on how to answer those questions plus other common ones well, as they are bound to come up a good answer will help you stand out from the crowd.

2.    Research The Company And The Job Role

If you manage to secure an interview, it’s important to come across as well-informed to your potential future employer. So make sure to research the company thoroughly, as they may ask questions such as “Which of our clients would you most like to work with?” to try and catch you out. It’s also a good idea to have a strong understanding of what the role involves. So read the job description carefully and get a good idea of what exactly the job on offer is, rather than going along with what you think a job in that industry will involve, as roles can vary massively between companies.

3.    Learn How To Answer Competency Questions

Another type of question that often comes up in graduate job interviews are competency questions (“Describe a time where…”). The way to answer these is to use the STAR format – describe the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the end result. The best way to go about these is to have a few good examples and twist them to fit different situations, and use guides online to help you get the hang of the format. While still at university, it’s good to get involved with as much as possible so you have some good experiences to draw ideas from.

4.    Present Yourself Well

A lot of jobs involve some form of client communication, so in addition to being qualified, many employers will be looking to hire someone who is well presented. So make sure to dress smartly for the interview, arrive in good time to avoid appearing flustered, and make sure to show your personality and ask questions to appear friendly and personable.

5.    Be Specific

The way to set yourself apart from other candidates in the interview is to be specific. When the interviewer asks why you want the job, don’t just say why you want to work in the industry, say what it is about that particular role that appeals to you. Likewise, when they ask why you want to work for their company, say something specific about the company, whether it be a client they are working with, the company culture, or charity work they have done. And when they ask for your strengths, don’t just say you’re “creative”, give them an example of a great idea you have had.

Things to do while you wait for your results

You have done all you can; you’ve sat your exams, handed in your assignments and great thingscompleted your projects.  You have been so focused on your studies, its time to think about other things you can do.

Here’s a few ideas from USW Careers of things to do while you wait for your results:

Set yourself up

Develop your Linkedin profile

  • If you haven’t already, set up a Linkedin account and link with the University’s, Alumni’s and Careers’ Linkedin.
  • Link with your work experience provider, project leader, part time work/volunteering manager… and ask them for a recommendation
  • Build your network by linking with uni friends and colleagues.

Establish a list of referees

  • Choose two or three individuals to serve as your referee
  • Ask them first if they can be listed then list their information on a separate sheet to be provided on request
  • Consider requesting a letter of reference for your portfolio

Capitalise on the careers resources

Other things you can do while you wait

If things don’t turn out as expected or you want to re-think your career plans, speaking to a Careers Adviser can help put things into perspective.

More on what USW Careers can offer you: http://careers.southwales.ac.uk/whichwaynow/

 

Why you should prepare an elevator pitch when searching for a job

Many of you may be familiar with the elevator pitch. You’ve probably seen it on the television show Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs attempt to persuade a panel of judges with their business ideas. Creating an excellent elevator pitch is a great way to consolidate what you are trying to achieve and what you can offer a company. It’s very closely linked to developing a personal brand.

MWhat is an elevator pitch?

The idea behind an elevator pitch is a short statement which combines who you are and what you can offer a company in a couple of minutes (maximum). The idea behind it is that you only have a short time to convince an employer to hire you, about the same time it would take to travel from the ground floor to the top of a fairly tall building.

How can you use an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch can be used during many stages of the recruitment and job searching process. It’s a great tool when you meet employers at job fairs, it’s useful to keep on track with your message at interviews and if you attend any networking events, you can use it to demonstrate your skills and passions to the people you meet there. But one of the most useful things about an elevator pitch is the fact that it allows you to spend some time focusing on what your key skills are and how you want to present them to potential employers. Having a clear idea of what you can offer the job market is really important, and can save time in the long run.

5 great tips for creating your elevator pitch

  1. Remember it isn’t about you

Although you are trying to market yourself to a future employer, remember that however nice and friendly they seem, they probably don’t want to hear about what you’ve been up to, but rather what you can do to help them. Work out how your experience can benefit their company, and ideally how you joining their team will solve a problem. You want to be an essential employee, someone they can’t cope without.

  1. Just like your CV, you should tailor it to the audience

As well as tailoring it to different jobs. Firstly, what your audience do will change what people want to hear. Those interviewing you will be interested in different points to the staff you meet at recruitment events. You are trying to show off what makes you the number one applicant and don’t have much time, so you should only include what’s relevant. Highlight your leadership qualities for a graduate management scheme or your digital skills for a job in technology.

  1. Leave them wanting more

You’ve got a maximum of two minutes to tell them what they need to know, so you need to focus on the really interesting, exciting stuff. Let them know about your expertise , and the areas in which you really shine. Don’t give away all the good stuff though.

  1. Have a call to action at the end

It’s important to finish your pitch by making a request or handing over your business card. Saying that you’d love to have an in-depth discussion about how your experience could help their business. Remember, you didn’t come just to tell them about how great you are, you also wanted a follow-up meeting / interview / introduction.

  1. Practice

Sounding natural is really important. You don’t want to sound like you’re trying too hard to sell. If you can, practice your elevator speech on friends and family. Don’t over prepare, you want to sound conversational, and remember, it’s ok if you don’t get it perfect. It’s the message that’s important. We’re always impressed when candidates have taken the time to find out how their skills could be useful to the work that we do. If you want to learn more about the opportunities available at Enterprise then check out our latest vacancies.

Enterprise Rent A Car