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Advent Calendar advice Cover letter

Careers Advent Calendar: The Perfect Cover Letter

DO

1. Be succinct and to the point, your letter should be one side of an A4 page.

2. Use the same high quality paper used to print your CV.

3. Address your letter to a named person wherever possible for maximum impact.

4. Tailor your letter to the job advert and include the skills they are looking for.

5. Get someone else to proof read your letter, don’t rely on the computer spellcheck. 6. Use a professional formal letter layout and make full use of the space available. 7. Ensure you have the company name, address and details correct.

8. Read your letter out loud and delete any unnecessary or irrelevant

9. If posting on hard copy leave space at the bottom and sign your name in pen

10. Show your enthusiasm for the company and the vacancy

DON’T

1. Don’t repeat what is written in your CV.

2. Don’t spill over on to a second page – you’re writing too much.

3. Don’t share unnecessary personal details.

4. Don’t focus solely on your qualifications and forget about your experiences and transferable skills.

5. Don’t include any spelling or grammar mistakes.

6. Don’t address it ‘To whom it may concern’ – use a named person

or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’

7. Don’t send the same cover letter to every employer.

8. Don’t forget to include your correct and complete address, including postcode. 9. Don’t send a letter (or CV) with any marks or stains on it.

10. Don’t fold your documents, use an A4 envelope where possible.

For more cover letter tips, see our help sheet

Categories
Advent Calendar advice Applications Graduate success

Careers Advent Calendar: Job Application Tips

  1. Give yourself time. Some employers expect that you will spend around 6-8 hours completing their application form – including the time taken to research the company/industry. It’s better to do a few good quality applications than lots of poor quality applications, so choose wisely which companies you want to apply to.

2. If completing a personal statement, make sure you address each of the criteria in the personnel specification/job advert. If you haven’t received selection criteria, research the company to identify what they are likely to be looking for.

3. Online forms may time-out so read the questions first, then draft your answers, then copy and paste into the form. This also means you can spell and grammar check your answers.

4. Keep a note of the answers you submitted.

5. Try to include many points, described concisely, rather than one or two points expanded at length.

6. You don’t need to use the full word count, but writing too little means that you’ve probably missed some key points.

7. Use the STAR format when answering questions about competencies: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Employers usually provide details on their website of the competencies they are recruiting against.

For more job application tips, visit Target Jobs

Categories
Advent Calendar advice interview interview tips Interviews

Careers Advent Calendar: Interview Questions Decoded

Question 1

What they ask: Tell me about yourself

What they mean: Talk me through your CV and tell me how your experiences relate to this particular job.

They don’t mean: Tell me your life history, hobbies and interests and take 20 minutes to do so.

Question 2

What they ask: What do you know about the company?

What they mean: Are you up to date with what our company is currently doing, our main successes and where we plan to go in the future. Prove you want to work here.

They don’t mean: Please recite the first page of our website like everyone else and show you have done no original research.

Question 3

What they ask: What skills do you have for this job?

What they mean: Give me a summary of your top three skills and make sure you’ve taken them from the Essential Criteria. Prove you know the job.

They don’t mean: List me over 20 skills and make sure 90% will not relate directly to the job.

Question 4

What they ask: What is your main strength?

What they mean: Pick something from the Essential Criteria that you believe to be most relevant to the position and give me an example of how you have used it. Prove you can match your skill to the job.

They don’t mean: Tell me something totally unrelated to the job and don’t explain it. Or

tell me the heaviest weight you can lift in the gym.

Question 5

What they ask: What is your main weakness?

What they mean: Tell me about something work related you struggle with and how you have been taking steps to overcome this. Show me you are proactive and looking

to progress. Prove you have self-awareness

They don’t mean: Tell me something critical to the job that you can’t do or that you have no weaknesses. Or tell me about a health condition you have.

Question 6

What they ask: Can you give me an example of a time when….

What they mean: Talk me through a practical, relevant example that will show me you have experience in this area. Tell me the Situation and set the scene, explain the Task, detail Action and what YOU did then tell me the Result (STAR). Prove you can transfer your previous

experience to this job.

They don’t mean: Please spend 20 minutes rambling about a story and with as much excess and unnecessary information as possible so that I forget the question.

Question 7

What they ask: Why should we hire you?

What they mean: Give me a summary of your key skills and how they fit this position.

Prove your suitability and your passion

They don’t mean: Give me an arrogant answer that will negate anything good you have previously said.

Question 8

What they ask: Do you have any questions?

What they mean: Ask me something original and relevant that shows you are serious

about wanting to work here. Prove you can use your initiative.

They don’t mean: Tell me I answered them all in the interview without saying what you had planned to ask.

For more interview tips, please visit the Careers, Employability and Skills website.

Categories
Advent Calendar advice Applications consultants CVs

Careers Advent Calendar: CV Buzz Word Bingo

Useful Phrases/Verbs 

More than……………years extensive and diverse experience in

Expertise and demonstrated skills in 

Extensive academic/practical background in

Experienced in all facets/phases/aspects of Knowledge of/experienced as/in 

Extensive training/involvement in 

Experience in….

Responsible for….

I like to….

I’ve been told….

I feel…. 

ALWAYS use numbers and measure to quantify and prove your work. 

Proficient/competent at
Initially employed to/joined organisation to specialise in
Provided technical assistance to
Worked closely with
Constant interaction with
Promoted to
Succeeded in
Proven track record in
Experience involved/included Successful/Proficient in/at
Reported to
In charge of
Now involved in
Familiar with
Employed to
Assigned to
Edited
Established/ Initiated
Formulated
Implemented
Managed
Instrumental in
Coordinated/Organised
Designed and developed Updated/upgraded
Attained/awarded 

Useful Words 

Ability – Capable-  Prominent-  Substantial – Abundant – Thorough-  Achieve-  Courtesy-  Lasting – Definite-  Loyalty – Resilient- Useful-  Advance –  Guarantee –  Agreement –  Helpful  – Notable  – Reputable –  Ambition –  Determined – Opportunity –  Appreciate – Effective –  Perseverance –  Approval  – Efficient  – Improvement –  Practical  – Aspire Enhance –  Service  – Attain –  Enthusiasm  – Integrity –  Excellence  – Progress 

Word to avoid

Best of breed
Go-getter
Think outside of the box Synergy
Go-to person
Thought leadership 
Value add 
Results-driven
Team player 
Bottom-line
Hard worker
Strategic thinker 
Dynamic
Self-motivate 
Detail-oriented
Track record 

(Sources: www.forbes.com and www.prospects.ac.uk)

For more CV help, check out our CV checklist

Categories
Advent Calendar Clubs and Societies DegreePlus Homework clubs placements

Careers Advent Calendar: Giving Back with Degree Plus

Ruth Cummings

The Degree Plus initiative at Queens means that you have the opportunity to earn an extra award alongside your degree. One of the biggest appeals of university for many people is the opportunities it gives you to meet new people and engage in activities which interest you and might help you make further decisions with your future career. And with Degree Plus you actually get credit for doing this!

There are numerous ways you can earn your Degree Plus, here are just a few;

Volunteering opportunities – something that always looks great on your CV, helping people for free! Within the university you will hear about many different volunteering opportunities, one of my personal favourites is Homework Club. Volunteering at Homework Club is the perfect activity if you are considering going into a career in education as it allows you to practise the skills needed to help other, younger students learn. And even if a career in education doesn’t interest you, Homework Club gives you skills in communication and is all round just a fun thing to do on a free afternoon!

Homework Clubs at Volunteer SU

Work experience – Any kind of career placement you do (as long as it’s not already part of your degree) can also earn you a Degree Plus. Personally, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t do this. Placements are already great things to do as they give you an insight into your aspired career, give you skills that will make you stand out, and help you make contacts which will be highly valuable when you graduate. Once again, this is an activity that most people would want to do anyway and with Degree Plus you rewarded with more than just the experience!

Society Committees – Another example of activities that contribute towards a Degree Plus is joining a society committee! This is something which I highly recommend you do anyway, it’s a great way of meeting new people with similar interests and making friends, and much like everything else it helps you develop new skills to add onto that ever-growing CV. Joining a society committee is about as university as you can get, it’s something that you’ll never have the opportunity to do again, so go for it!

These really are just a few of the opportunities to earn your Degree Plus here at Queen’s. Hopefully it has given you some sort of idea as to what you can do here alongside your degree to make you stand out from the crowd. So, the bottom line is, go and discover a new adventure with Degree Plus! You never know what it might lead to.

You can check out the full activity lists and details of how you apply on the Degree Plus site

Categories
Advent Calendar advice Applications CVs Vmock

Careers Advent Calendar: How To Get The Most Out Of Our Vmock CV Checker Service

Here, your step by step guide on getting the most from Vmock

Start by logging on to the CV checker and download the guidance notes and CV templates.

  1. Write or tailor your CV

2. Once you are happy click the upload button and select the PDF version of your CV

3. CV checker will assess your CV against a range of measures and provide you with a score

4. Try not to focus on score. Look at the detailed feedback Stronger points are shown in green and weaker points in red.

5. CV checker provides feedback on three different elements

Impact – this section ensures your CV is action orientated and avoids overused or ineffective words

Presentation – this section will give tips on how to improve the visual aspect of your CV like length font, structure and grammar

Content – thissection will give feedback on how well you have demonstrated in demand competencies like communication, teamwork and leadership.

6. The feedback is colour coded by three zones: green, amber and red.

Red – Further work needed.  You need to spend some more time on all 3 areas within your CV. Read through the targeted feedback for each of the 3 areas. Make amendments to improve your score and upload once again. If you are still in the red zone, book an appointment to see a Careers Consultant or Placement Officer to help you get on track (and bring the feedback with you)

Amber – You are on track to presenting your skills and experiences to good/best effect.  If your score is in the high amber zone (70+), you have done a good job in presenting your CV.   

Note this is an automated system, so you should still exercise good judgement in deciding what to accept and what to consult on with Careers/Placement staff.  You may still need to make some further/final refinements to really showcase your skills and experiences to best effect.  

Green – Great job.  Your CV is meeting the main expectations in terms of presentation, how you are showcasing impact and your personal capabilities/competence. You may wish to ask a Careers Consultant or Placement officer to give you final feedback before sending on to an employer. 

7. Once you digested your feedback, make the appropriate changes and upload it again to CV checker.

8. It may also be beneficial to ask a Placement Officer or Careers Consultant to make a final review before sending out to employers.

9. Stand out when you apply for your next role. 

Need more CV help? Check out our website.

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Advent Calendar Feedback Prizes surveys Trendence UK

Careers Advent Calendar: How The Trendence Student Survey Could Net You A £500 Gift Card

Hands up who is due some good luck in 2021? 

How would you like to win a £500 gift card to spend in a shop of your choice including Amazon, Argos, ASOS, GAME, JD Sports, John Lewis and M&S? 

To be with a chance of winning, all you have to do is take part in the Trendence Student Survey. It takes just 15 minutes to complete and you’d be doing your bit to help us out, too, which has gotta be good karma, right?

Start right here >>> Go.qub.ac.uk/studentsurvey

Your feedback matters

Employers across the UK want to know your thoughts about the future and, most importantly, what you think of them. Your survey answers could help shape how employers treat graduates in the future. We want to know what your dream employer looks like. Does a company need to have status and prestige or a strong record of promoting equality and diversity? Would you sacrifice having a good work-life balance for a higher salary? Or do you think you can have it all? 

Tell us by taking the survey today.

More prizes than ever

The prizes on offer this year are bigger and better than ever, including: 

  • A £500 gift card

(Choose from ASOS, Uber, Argos, Amazon, John Lewis, GAME, JD Sports and M&S – two given away)

  • A pair of Apple Airpods

(Two given away)

  • £100 Amazon gift card 

(Given away every week – 14 to give away)

What are you waiting for? Take the survey today and let’s start building a bright future for the world of work.

>>> Go.qub.ac.uk/studentsurvey

Read: More about the Trendence Survey