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Four Employers Who Offer Surprisingly Varied Careers for Graduates from All Disciplines

Nobody likes to be pigeon-holed – it stunts professional growth and limits your options. And the same can be said of employers. Just because a company dominates in a particular field or industry doesn’t mean they are only recruiting one type of graduate from one distinct discipline.  In fact, some of the most successful and agile workplaces are committed to recruiting students from a variety of backgrounds to maximise creativity and diversify thought. Here are just four of them.

Chartered Accountants Ireland

‘We embrace diversity and creativity in the workplace – we want to see difference around the table’

“As a body we are keen to attract the brightest and the best but from all backgrounds which isn’t often known or appreciated and we find the employers we work with really welcome and endorse a mixed skillset and really welcome students coming from all degree discipline.

“As a Law graduate, to me, chartered accountancy was boring – it was going to be number-crunching accounting and it was a far cry from what I saw myself doing. I have to say my mind was completely blown. I often get asked will an employer not favour someone from a finance/accounting background and the answer is no. They don’t want to have everyone around their table with the exact same thought process and methodology. They really embrace diversity and creativity in the workplace and that really helps them excel, forcing them to innovate and disrupt the norm which is necessary in the modern workplace. Communication skills are key, which people mightn’t fully appreciate. The ability to make good decisions – to weigh up qualitative and quantitative data, to use critical thinking, to be a strategist and to influence others. So that emotional intelligence is absolutely core to becoming a good chartered accountant because ultimately that is a business leadership passport.”

Sinead Fox-Hamilton, Chartered Accountants Ireland 

PwC

‘It’s not just accountancy – there is a whole range of varied roles across the board’

“There’s lots of areas in PwC you can join as graduates – we don’t require a specific degree. As a Psychology graduate, it was never somewhere I’d considered because I just thought it was very corporate; that it’s all accountancy-based and it’s very professional and it’s maybe not for me. But actually, what I’ve found is that it totally is for me and it’s the right place for me to be. We are an accountancy firm, but there’s so much more than that – so we recruit graduates into consultancy, tax, deals, working with different clients, mergers, audit and of course accountancy so there’s a whole range of things you can do at PwC varied across the whole board.

Consultancy for example is very much working with clients and problem-solving and finding solutions for those clients. Someone might come to us looking to do a new business merger or something like that so our consultancy team would look into that for them and be their advisors.” 

Sarah Delaney,  PwC

NatWest Banking Group

‘I’ve been here 14 years and probably had about 6 different careers.’

“The reason I’ve stayed so long in the bank is that, whilst I’ve been here 14 years, I’ve probably had about 6 different careers in that time. I have done a variation of different roles including business-facing HR consultant type jobs, business partnering jobs…Right now, I’m the HR business partner for three different areas and they are group business areas. I look after three business areas – financial crime and control, fraud prevention and shared services. These are the back-office areas – basically the bits of the bank that keeps everything ticking along, but you wouldn’t necessarily see those parts of the bank because they’re not there on the high street in branches and such. My role looks after about 8000 people and they are spread across the globe – predominantly UK, Poland and India but also I have a scattering of people in the States, Singapore and Japan and other ones and twos over the globe as well. So, I have very much gone from being an Island of Ireland-focused role back when I joined the bank 14 years ago to a truly global role now.” 

Sandra Wright, NatWest Group

Belfast City Council

‘In the council, you don’t just work on one thing, you have to flexible and respond to different demands.’

“We have a community plan which is focal to everything that we do and it’s called the Belfast Agenda and it focuses on Belfast becoming a safe, fair and inclusive city where everyone benefits from the success of the city. We’re looking for analytical skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, communication skills – especially if you’re going out into the communities and engaging with the citizens of Belfast. As well as good written and oral communication skills, because you’d be working with a range of different audiences – so maybe colleagues, managers and members of the public. Researching and benchmarking skills are really important to us, work planning, project management and partnership working. So, whilst you’re at university, try to get as much experience as you can around that. Demonstrate that you’re self-motivated and you’re a good team player, and that you’re flexible in your approach to work. In the council you don’t just get working in one thing, there’s different demands all the time from different people and you have to be flexible in managing that demand, as well as working to tight deadlines.” 

Alison Long, Belfast City Council

To access more inspiring advice from business leaders, catch up on our Employer Panel series by re-watching our past events here:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/careers-events/pastevents/

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Are work-related superstitions holding you back?

Whether it’s wearing your ‘lucky’ shoes to a job interview or carrying a lucky charm, some superstitions can benefit your job search, while others could be holding you back.

Do you have a ‘lucky’ interview suit? Research at the University of Cologne found that lucky charms can work – but it’s all to do with the confidence they give you, rather than any magical forces at play. However, other work-related superstitions can have a negative impact on your career – especially when it involves negative self-talk. Read on to discover the superstitious chat you need to cut from your work lexicon. 

“Everything happens for a reason”

When it comes to job searching, peddling the narrative that you are not in control can absolve you of the responsibility of trying to improve. Obviously, there are certain things in life that we can’t control and when bad things happen to us, all we can do is try and learn from it and do our best to move forward. But when it comes to our career and looking for jobs, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that our decisions and actions have a role to play. If you don’t get a job interview, for example, look at how you can improve for next time rather than shrugging and blindly putting it down to fate.

“I’m having a run of bad luck”

If you have been knocked back for a series of job opportunities, it’s tempting to look for a pattern when there is none. Instead of putting a bad run down to bad luck or that you are ‘cursed’ in some way, examine your own behaviour and actions and look at ways in which you can improve for next time.

“I’m no good at that”

We should always be striving to improve and upskill throughout our career, so allowing yourself to be pigeonholed as a poor public speaker or disorganised, for example, can limit you. Look at any perceived weakness as an opportunity to improve and get better at something. This way, you won’t rule yourself out of a great role down the line. 

Want more help with your job search? Check out our website for advice on CVs, application and interviews.

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/CVsMakingApplicationsandInterviews/

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Highlights from Day One of The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

If you missed our inspiring lessons from leaders and workshop on strength-based interviews, on Day One, here are key takeaways. Don’t forget, you can catch up on all our past event here:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/careers-events/pastevents/

Takeaway 1: There is psychology behind the graduate application process

Sarah McKeag, Associate Director, from EY Belfast, who also sponsor the event, gave an insightful talk on their strength-based recruitment process. They engage the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology to help assess students. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Sarah explained that strength-based recruitment is not about the experience you have had, but about your potential as a leader.

“The different between strength and competency based interviews is that competency can be learned. Strength-based assessment is all about your natural energy and enthusiasm. The challenge for students is how they portray that energy during the virtual recruitment process, she said.

Takeaway 2:Some of the key strengths employers look for

Sarah listed the ten strengths EY assess against – have them in your mind during the graduate recruitment process:

  • Accountable
  • Analytical
  • Agile
  • Adaptable
  • Curious
  • In the know
  • Number savvy
  • Resilient
  • Strong communicator
  • Team Player

“We are not looking for students to have reams of work experience or to have done work experience with us or another accountancy firm,” said Sarah. “In our assessment centre, we will give candidates a situation or a task and we will ask them how they feel about that. We may give them a number of tasks and ask them to choose their preferred five. We may give them a group activity. Afterwards, we ask them to evaluate what they would do differently,” said Sarah.

Takeaway 3:How you cope during lockdown could help get you hired

Being adaptable and resilient is huge for students who we have onboarded in last six months. This year, many students started uni in a different way than they would have envisaged. Things are changing for us all. It’s how you manage that change process,” says Sarah. 

Takeaway 4:Teamwork matters

“Listening to colleagues, make them feel valued and supported. Everyone has an important role to play. We are one big family. Leadership and Teamwork is about integrity and treating colleagues and our teams with respect whilst modelling and expecting excellence by helping others fulfil their potential.” said Sara Venning from NI Water

Takeaway 5:Challenges keep work interesting

“I’ve been Chief Executive for siz year. I love my job I love that no two days are the same. I’m always learning something new, constantly innovating and problem solving, and I love that what we do makes a difference to people’s lives across NI,” said Sara Venning from NI Water

While Natasha Sayee from SONI Ltd added: “I am passionate about what I do. If it’s challenging, then I bring my best every day. If it forces me to drive hard, then it is something I will stick with.

Takeaway 6:You can’t be an island

“To be truly successful, you need to take your passion and use it to collaborate with and motivate others. Passionate people are fierce; we are strong. Don’t do a solo run, find your squad, you will achieve so much more together,” said Natasha Sayee from SONI Ltd.

Takeaway 7:Go in strong in a virtual interview

“Plant yourself like an oak tree and allow yourself time to blossom,” said Natasha Sayee from SONI Ltd. 

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Career advice from top employers

At our recent Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, we hosted over 130 top employers from all industries and sectors. We took the opportunity to grill them for their best career advice, so you can learn from leaders at the top of their game. Prepare to be inspired…

Use Queen’s Careers Service

“I would advise students to engage with the University Careers Service.  Guidance from careers advisors in making applications, developing your CV and identifying future career paths is invaluable. The University Careers Service works closely with employers such as Almac, they know what we are looking for and can really provide added value through employability training and support. Programmes such as Queen’s  Degree Plus Award provide students with a great opportunity to develop and hone the key skills needed to succeed within the workplace.”

Kim McAllister, Talent Acquisition Manager, Almac Group 

Keep an open mind

“If I was to go back in time, when I was starting my career, the key thing I would say is to keep an open mind. Back when I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do but I ended up going down a route I wouldn’t have imagined in terms of working in recruitment and HR. I studied drama and English initially and the field of work I am in now is really focussed on people. I actually draw on a lot of the stud I learned in terms of communication styles and people from my undergraduate degree into my current role. So yeah, keep an open mind when you are finishing your degree about what it is you want to do. Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while to find the right kind of fit for you when you are graduating. Even in your first year or two of a graduate role you want to get everything right from the first go. It is okay to make mistakes along the way so be patient with yourself.”

Adrian McCarthy is the manager of For Purpose

Back yourself

“Always take the opportunities, don’t doubt yourself. You don’t know where they will lead and what you will learn along the way.”

Joelene RidgillPurchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd

Build up your work-related experience

“I’d say, try to get as much experience as possible whether it be through part time jobs, internships or volunteering. For example, working in a shop or restaurant…if you can handle angry customers, you can handle anything! 

“Also remember that it’s not just about having the grades. Yes, they are important, but transferrable skills such as proficiency in Microsoft packages, time management, first aid training or experience in organising events, to name a few, are also important. A well­rounded individual who can adapt to different environments and maybe bring something new to the table is very appealing to employers.”

Robbie Barr, Partner, Muldoon & Co

Engage with employers

“Go to as many events run by employers as possible. They really give you an idea of the culture of the workplace and a feel for the people that work there. Liberty IT have a Tech Carnival event which we make as reflective of our culture as possible, it’s pretty casual, has a focus on our people’s passion for technology and is full of employees that are happy to tell you anything you want to know about working for LIT.”

Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT

Have a career plan

“Know what your end goal is and plan your next move from there. Know what you need to do now to get where you need to go. Look for opportunities, even if you take small steps, those steps might take you closer to your end goal, whatever they may be. Be patient but don’t settle. Do your research and make a plan. This will help you when you want to apply for promotion or career advancement.”

Clodagh Mckeefry, Corporate Recruiter, MRP

Try new things

“Try new things and put yourself out there. You could end up in the best position by taking a chance and trying something new. Sometimes it is good to fall outside of the box and not to limit yourself to obvious career choices. Skills are interchangeable.”

Jared Kearney, Senior Campus Recruiter, Citi UK and Citi Ireland

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Eight Things We Learned from the First Employer Panel of the Semester

Leaders from PwC, Citi, Deloitte and FD joined our first employer panel to give an insight into graduate recruitment in Northern Ireland. Here are eight takeaways from the session.

1.Skills matter more than your discipline

“It doesn’t matter what degree you have, it’s more important that you have the right skills – you can develop those skills at uni. A lot of these skills you already have. We want to know you can lead yourself and others. What was your role in a sports team, in uni projects, and at the Students’ Union…”

– Stephanie Gowdy, Senior Manager, PwC

2.You can flex outside your subject

“Lift your head from academic study and look at the type of work a potential employer gets involved in. Then look at the skills you could bring to that work. We have English Literature graduates who are bringing great analytical skills to PwC, for example.” – Stephanie Gowdy, Senior Manager, PwC

3.A global mindset begins at home

This is about more than where you have travelled (though if you do want to broaden your horizons, don’t miss Go Global Week). “We want to see that you are global and inclusive. That you can network and work with different individuals. Have you worked in a team where someone worked differently? It’s about showing you can be understanding of how different personalities work together.” – Stephanie Gowdy, Senior Manager, PwC

4.Store takeaways from employer events

“Aside from the right skills, we are looking for graduates who are interested and can tell us something about the company. Show us you have a passion for the industry. Come to events like this and pick up tips and share them.” –Carla McGlynn, Technology Site Lead, Citi Belfast

5.Influencing happens outside of Insta

“We look for collaboration. How do you work with others and bring them along? It’s all about how you can bring staff along with you.”  –Carla McGlynn, Technology Site Lead,  Citi Belfast 

6.You can develop the skills you need at uni

“The skills we look for are: Management, Problem solving, Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Social Skills, Negotiation, Digital Know-How and Emotional intelligence. A lot of activities and skills you develop during uni will be appliable.”  – Karen Butler, Director in Consulting and Head of Talent, Deloitte 

7.There are opportunities to travel and make friends

“Take the chance and be open to new ideas and try new things you won’t know where it takes you. Our graduate recruits have gone to New York, London, Australia, Munich – you can go anywhere where we have clients. There is a big social aspect to it as well.” – Jordan Hendricks, Frist Derivatives

8.Use lockdown wisely

“Now is a good time to use the extra time to critically think about own skills and what you want to do.Use this time to optimise your CV – personalise your CV for each job. Do your research on the company you want to work for. Follow the  industry, look on LinkedIn… that genuine knowledge comes across well in interview.” – Jordan Hendricks, Frist Derivatives

Don’t miss our next employer panel featuring KPMG, EY, FinTrU and Allstate

Register here: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/125/4qlqlu22

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How to make your LinkedIn profile stand out

Guest blog by Jordan Hendricks, First Derivatives

Whether you’re trying to build your personal brand or enhancing your profile for your job search, LinkedIn is a powerful tool.

The first step in building a LinkedIn Profile that will blow recruiters away is to know what industry and types of roles you are interested in. This will help you decide which of your skills to highlight more prominently and which keywords to use. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it’s time to get to work on the specifics.

First Impressions count!

First and foremost – your name. You should only use your full name on LinkedIn, you don’t need to add any degree qualifications, nick names, initials, etc to your public name. You’ll also need to upload a profile photo – this is your opportunity to show how you present yourself! Make sure the photo looks professional, dress smartly and have a plain background.

The headline you choose here should be relevant to you – and get creative! This is the first thing people will read about you, so make it count. Your headline should be short, snappy and clear. Don’t forget you can also customise your URL!

Highlight your unique skills in the ‘About’ section

Imagine you’re in an interview and you’re asked, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Your ‘About’ section on LinkedIn should sum up this answer. Take some time to expand on what makes you unique, highlight key achievements and portray who you are and your values. This is your opportunity to highlight your personal brand!

Be sure to keep in mind that this is a summary of your accomplishments, make sure it’s not too long. You want someone to be able to read it quickly and get a feel for who you are; if your summary drags on, readers may skip over important information!

Your profile is your profile, so it makes the most sense to write your summary and details in first person.

Your Experience and Education

If you’re looking for your first professional job, don’t panic about the experience section. Focus your efforts on the Education section – list the modules you took that are relevant to the job role you’re after. Were you a part of any clubs or societies? Note those down!

If you have had work experience, summarise the company you worked for and your role. Don’t include anything sensitive or confidential, like the names of clients you may have worked with. Highlight your key contributions to the role and the skills you use.

Don’t make this section a copy of your CV, use this as an opportunity to expand!

Your unique skillset

LinkedIn is the perfect platform to list out all of your key skills. Take the time to select at least 10 core skills to add to your profile. This will help recruiters to identify what talents you have, and help you to find jobs that align to your background. If you spend some time endorsing your colleagues, it will also help boost your profile if they endorse you back!

Whether you’re looking for your first job or just boosting your online brand, investing some time in your LinkedIn profile is never a bad idea. At First Derivatives, we’re excited for you to be taking that next step! Are you ready to join the #FDFamily? Take a look at our current vacancies here.

Want more top tips from employers, including FD, Citi, PwC and Deloitte? 

Join our Virtual Employer Panel on 30th September between 1-2pm

Register here https://event.webinarjam.com/register/114/q7v7vtro

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Queen’s Careers Service Recognised for Excellence as they Support Graduates through Covid-19

The Careers Service at Queen’s has been awarded an AGCAS Membership Quality Standard for their service to students and graduates, as the university climbs the Guardian League table to 11th in the UK for student employability.

The Careers, Employability and Skills Team at Queen’s has been awarded Membership Quality Standard by AGCAS,the expert membership organisation for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

The award comes as it’s revealed that the University is now ranked 11th in the UK for career prospects after 15 months by the Guardian University Guide 2021

Trevor Johnston, Head of the Careers Service at Queen’s said: “Our AGCAS membership is testament to our ongoing commitment to supporting the best possible career outcomes for our students. This prestigious award is a result of the incredible hard work of staff across the Careers Service who have worked tirelessly to build online provision for career support and guidance amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

 “We recognise that the pandemic is having a huge impact on students and graduates. We remain committed to supporting our students and graduates to access the tools they need to maximise the career opportunities available to them.” 

As a result of government-imposed restrictions in the wake of Covid-19, the Careers, Employability and Skills team at Queen’s moved their entire programme of activity online overnight.

“From offering virtual one-to-one consultations to the increased use of live chats and virtual events and masterclasses, we’ve been able to offer our students and graduates access to the guidance and support they need to develop their employability,” said Mr Johnston. 

Recent Law graduate Norma Taggart said: “The Careers Service is a tailored, student-friendly accessible service. The staff genuinely care about your career path and work tirelessly to help you with practical advice on CV checks, interview skills and techniques to ensure you enjoy great success at Queen’s and beyond.” 

The Careers Service was quick to respond to lockdown, offering targeted support to graduates with the delivery of Gradfest2020, an online careers fair swiftly organised in June, in lieu of the cancelled Northern Ireland Graduate Recruitment Fair. 

“Gradfest2020 comprised bespoke workshops designed to help graduates navigate job uncertainty while developing key employability skills during the crisis. We have also played a key role in linking our students and graduates with our partner organisations, facilitating student-employer networking opportunities in the digital space, such as the upcoming virtual Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair,” said Mr Johnston. 

He added, “We are proud of our staff and students, particularly our graduating cohort, who have successfully navigated a challenging end to their university experience. With our continued support, we hope they’ll build the tools and resilience they need to enjoy a positive start to their careers.”  

The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair is taking place on 21 and 22 October 2020 between 2-m and 6pm. Go.qub.ac.uk/Careersevents