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advice Gradfest2021 motivation resilience self-motivation

‘They will be innovators’

After leaving school at 16 and sleeping rough in London, Scottish born entrepreneur Mike Stevenson turned his life around when he returned to finish his education at the age of 22.  He went on to found an award-winning marketing and design agency and has since built a reputation throughout the UK as an inspirational speaker, trainer and creative consultant through his company Thinktastic. 

As the keynote speaker at Gradfest2021 – a six-week online careers festival for graduates of Queen’s University Belfast – Mike will motivate and inspire university-leavers to persevere in the pursuit of their dreams. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way people live, work and socialise, Mike believes this will accelerate demand for innovation among today’s graduates.  

Mike says: “I really do believe we are approaching the most transformational period in human history and that means there are opportunities, particularly for graduates who are leaving university now with all the skills and attributes that they bring to the world. It won’t happen overnight; they may face pitfalls and rejections. I have been through that, so I can tell them how to make sure that each time they fall, they emerge stronger. I left school at 16, I slept out on the streets of London; I didn’t set up my own business until I was 43 and then became an award-winning entrepreneur. 

“As the pace of change accelerates, extraordinary organisations will shape the future – not play catch-up. They will be creative, fearless and collaborative. They will be the innovators.”

Trevor Johnston, Head of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s University Belfast said: “We are delighted to welcome Mike to Gradfest2021. It goes without saying that this has been a very challenging year for our students and graduates who should be commended for completing their studies under unusual circumstances.  

“The achievements of our latest cohort of Queen’s graduates is a testament to their commitment and resilience and we are extremely proud of how they have persevered and adapted. 

“Mike’s story is one of spirit and determination and we are confident he will inspire our students to stay agile as they press forward, ultimately raising their aspirations as they continue on their career journey.”

Mike joins a line-up of speakers comprising Queen’s alumni, students, business leaders and sponsors who will stream live to students via the Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills Instagram handle @QUBCAREERS throughout Gradfest2021.

Trevor says: “Instagram is a powerful tool to connect with our student and graduate audience. By streaming live on the platform, Mike and his fellow speakers will be able to connect with the audience in real time and respond to questions via the comment box during the live stream. We hope that by using this unique live video strategy, we can show our student audience a less filtered and more human side of our speakers.”

Alongside live streamed employer Q&As, resilience coaching and alumni success stories, Queen’s graduates can search and apply for jobs via the Gradfest2021 site and access careers advice and support via the live chat function. 

Mike Stevenson will be live streaming his keynote speech via the @QUBCAREERS Instagram page on Friday 11 June at 12pm. The recorded video will also be available on demand via the Gradfest2021 site. For more information visit GO.QUB.AC.UK/GRADFEST2021

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Advent Calendar advice Employers Interviews personal skills Skills

Gradfest 2021: Personal Skills Audit

Personal skills

Organisation

Time keeping 

Time management

Planning 

Self-motivation

Work quickly/ accurately

Using initiative

Coping with stress 

Self-awareness

Working to deadlines 

Multi-tasking

Prioritising

Working under pressure 

Assess and evaluate my own and others work 

People skills

Team work

Customer service skills Leadership

Interpersonal skills Communication (oral and written)

Presenting/ Making speeches

Networking Negotiating

Handling Complaints

Management/Supervisory experience

Persuasiveness and influencing

Technical Skills

Collecting and analysing data

Foreign languages

Technical skills/ Knowledge specific to industry

Use sign language

Write reports 

Occupational area specific knowledge/ information

General skills

Problem solving

Decision making

Numeracy

Arrange events and activities 

Business/Commercial awareness

I.T.Skills

Identifying/evaluating options 

Editing/summarising information

Identifying problems (troubleshooting)

Qualities Sought By Employers

Enthusiastic/willing to learn 

Honest Reliable/dependable 

Resilient

Creativity

Can accept criticism 

Hardworking 

Conscientious 

Sensitive to others

 Assertive 

Friendly/likeable 

Outgoing 

Driven/ambitious 

Independent

Proactive

Cooperative

Trustworthy

Fair 

Patient/Calm 

Energetic 

Socially confident 

Optimistic 

Respectful

Polite

Original

Detail orientated

Adaptable/flexible

Able to take responsibility

REMEMBER – when saying you have certain skills you need to be prepared and be able to demonstrate HOW you have EFFECTIVELY used this skill

Some sources of examples:

Placements/internships

Part time Jobs/ holiday work Voluntary work

DegreePlus

Practical/Technical knowledge Project/ research work Student representation

Clubs and societies Enterprise programmes Courses and Seminars

Sports

Music

Drama

Travel Languages Charity Interests

Anything that involves teamwork or skill will be highly desirable

Find out more about how you can develop your personal skills on our website. 

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Career planning competencies Employers GradFest2020 Interviews STAR

Gradfest2021: 4 Ways to prep for a job interview

This four-point interview prep checklist has been put together by our awesome Careers Team to help you nail that all-important job interview.

1. Cover the basics

Be in the right place, at the right time

Make sure you know who you are meeting, when and where. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people mess up the logistical details of job interviews – either by miscalculating the time it will take to get to the interview location and arriving late or by noting the time or location down incorrectly. Confirm the date, time and location, along with your attendance when you respond (promptly) to the interview invite. Avoid awkward introductions my memorising the name of the person you are meeting.

If it’s a video, skype or phone interview, make sure you are in a quiet location that has a good connection.  For video or skype, make sure that your surroundings and the clothes you are wearing look professional.

For more tips on virtual interviewing and assessment  centres, check out our Career Resources on the GradFest2021 site.

2. Do your research

Employee testimonials can give you a feel for company culture

Look up the company’s website, paying particular attention to their mission, strategy and values – try to weave these into any answers you give about why you want to work for the organisation. Learn who their clients/customers are and who their competitors might be. Don’t just look at what a company says about itself (many employers provide company information via MyFuture), but what employees and past employees say about them. Review sites such as Glassdoor allow you to read what employees say about the company culture as well as interview experience. 

Take time to investigate what is going on in the relevant industry and how that impacts upon your prospective employer.

For top tips on how employers are navigating the post COVID-19 workplace, check out our Masterclass on adapting to the changing world of work.

3. Know what job you are applying for

Research what you’ll be doing and who you’ll be reporting to

Read and re-read the job description so you can refer to it in your interview answers. Look at the company website for more role information and how that fits in the structure of the organisation. Look for networking opportunities to speak to people in the company or the industry.

Our LinkedIn Masterclass has loads of tips for networking online. 

4. Sell yourself

You are awesome – you just have to show them how

Once you have an understanding of the organisation and the role for which you are interviewing, think about your key selling points and how they relate to this job. Evidence with examples each of the elements in the person specification.
It can be useful to use a mind map to remind yourself of elements from your degree, your extra-curricular activities and your work. Or to use a timeline for the last few years to draw out the key milestones and what you gained from them. Pay attention to the things you really enjoyed and the challenges you overcame.
Use this evidence to prepare STAR-formatted answers for each of the skills elements in the person specification.

Check out our employability skills resources for key skills employers are looking for and how you can develop them.


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advice Applications CVs Vmock

Gradfest2021: 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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advice Body Language interview interview tips

Gradfest 2021: Body Language

First impressions are crucial. From what you wear to what gestures you make, be assured, that people will take note. In fact, studies have found that non-verbal cues have over four times the impact on impression you make than anything you say. Here are some common non-verbal cues: 

Arched Eyebrows – When we raise our eyebrows it means we are contemplating what we’re listening to and that we’re mildly intrigued.

Direct Eye Contact – Means we’re interested, we’re listening, and that we’re focused on you

Feet Facing Forward – It shows that your focused on the other person.

Positive/ Open Body Language

Akimbo Arms – Planting your hands with your thumbs backward on your hips and elbows out in a ‘V’ shape displays dominance and authority.

Mirroring – Mirroring someone’s body language means they’re interested in you and trying to build rapport.

Negative/ Closed Body Language

Shaking Your Legs – Means you’re anxious, scared or impatient.

Lowered Head – Means you’re ashamed of something, shy or have something to hide.

Squinting – When people see what they don’t like, feel threatened, or are unhappy, they squint their eyes.

Blinking Too Much – Means we are nervous or anxious.

Arms Crossed – presents a barrier and suggests an image of defensive, reserved and uncomfortable.

Common Non-Verbal Mistakes Made During an Interview

26% Have a weak handshake

21% Close their arms over their chest

33% Fidget too much

21% Play with their hair or touch their face

67% Fail to make eye contact

38% Don’t Smile

33% Have bad posture

Quick stats of first impressions

First impressions are formed within 7 SECONDS of meeting someone

In a survey of 2000 managers, 33% claimed to know whether or not they would HIRE someone within 90 seconds

80% of information people remember is Oral & Visual

In a study, researchers identified 5000 DISTINCT HAND GESTURES in humans

55% of first impressions are formed by your dress, act and walk through the door

38% of a person’s first impression is determined by TONE OF VOICE and just 7% The words you choose to say

65% Of hiring managers say that clothes can be a deciding factor between two similar candidates

Don’t let your clothes talk for you. Choose something neutral avoiding distractingly bright or coloured heavily patterned clothing 

For more top interview prep tips, visit our website

Categories
advice interview interview tips Interviews

Gradfest 2021: 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
advice Applications consultants CVs

Gradfest 2021: 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
Blogger Career planning Clubs and Societies Degree Plus Global Opportunities Media and communications MEDIA Programme Queen's sport Student blogger

WHY QUEEN’S CAN GIVE YOU MORE THAN A DEGREE

Órla Mallon

A degree might be the main reason you go to university, but as Órla Mallon, a third year Liberal Arts student and blogger from our MEDIA programme discovered, there is so much more to gain from the Queen’s experience. Here, she lists 8 things she’s gained on top of her parchment. 

  1. New Friends

This might be an obvious one – but maybe the most important! At Queen’s, you’ll get the opportunity to make new friends, and forge a lifelong relationship, at every turn. Although this year has been a little different, Queen’s runs many events (either in person or online) during Freshers week, and more throughout the academic year, giving you a chance to socialise! If you decide to live in Queen’s accommodation, you’re sure to become best friends with your fellow students. 

2. Degree Plus

We all have hobbies or activities we love to do – at Queen’s you could get a formal recognition of them! Degree Plus is an award that formally recognises your extracurricular experiences, and is sponsored by employers. With over 100 activities that you can participate in, you’ll be spoiled for choice! From volunteering to peer mentoring and learning sign language (BSL), these skills deserve recognition. You can get an extra accreditation on top of a degree, build networks and gain experience for your future career – what’s not to love? To find out more, click here

3. You could meet your partner!

We can’t guarantee it, but it does look like love is in the air around the Queen’s campus. Just take a look at some of these Queen’s Love Stories. You never know who you might run into at Queen’s!

4. Career opportunities are endless

Your dream career is never too far away at Queen’s. Our Careers, Employability and Skills Service is always on hand to help you find your way into the world of work. No matter what career path you are interested in, there is always an opportunity to get ahead. They run careers and placement fairs, give you advice when it comes to interviews and CVs, and Queen’s is ranked 11th in the UK for career prospects after 15 months! Students can access virtual 1-2-1 appointments to hear how to make the most of their degree. Check out the Careers page to see all the opportunities. 

5. Belfast City

Even though Belfast student life is little different this year, it still has plenty to offer Queen’s students! Our student areas are vibrant and exciting, with endless cafés, restaurants and shops to explore. Or, take a walk through Botanic Gardens, or even Cavehill for a birds’ eye view of the city. 

6. Global Opportunities

Queen’s offers so many opportunities to go global – and while travel has been limited this year, there is still the opportunity to discover other cultures through virtual internships, language courses and international clubs and societies. 

For all of our Global Opportunities, click here

7. Queen’s Sport

If you love keeping active, Queen’s is the perfect place! There is world-class sporting facilities at our PEC – where students can join at a discount – and join any of our fitness classes. We also have a wide array of sporting clubs and teams to choose from. From martial arts, rugby, tennis, and gaelic football (all for men and women!), you can keep active, make new friends, and maybe win a nice trophy or two. Find out more about Queen’s Sport here

8. Clubs and Societies

Queen’s has over 200 clubs and societies for you to join. You can help out in charitable causes, get political, or, get creative with art and photography, you can even improve your language skills from home, and that’s just a few! Not only will you be expressing yourself and making memories, but a club also always looks good on a CV!  For a full list of clubs check out the SU Page!

What has made your Queen’s experience special? This year, Development Weeks is themed ‘Celebrate, Reflect, Introduce’ – send in your video to share your experience with the wider Queen’s community.