Categories
Advent Calendar advice Applications competencies Interviews STAR

Careers Advent Calendar: Demonstrate your problem-solving skills

Employers want to know how you would tackle problems. Can you use logic and imagination to find solutions? Better still, can you anticipate problems and find ways to prevent them?

Good problem-solvers possess the following skills:

  • analytical skills
  • innovative and creative thinking
  • a lateral mindset
  • adaptability and flexibility
  • level-headedness
  • initiative
  • resilience (in order to reassess when your first idea doesn’t work)
  • teamworking (if problem solving is a team effort)
  • influencing skills (to get colleagues, clients and bosses to adopt your solutions).

How can you prove your problem-solving skills?

You might be asked in an interview to talk about a time you solved a problem, or you could be given a hypothetical situation and asked how you would respond to it e.g.

Give me an example of a time when you ran into a problem on a project. What did you do?

OR

How would you react if given negative feedback by a manager on an aspect of your performance?

In both these cases, you should refer to the above list of skills and how you demonstrated each when giving your answer. 

Developing your problem-solving techniques 

The following situations are all good examples of using problem-solving skills:

  • Sorting out a technical problem with your phone, device or computer.
  • Resolving a dispute with a tricky landlord in order to get your deposit back.
  • Carrying out DIY.
  • Serving a demanding customer or resolving a complaint.
  • Finding a way round a funding shortfall in order to pay for travel or a gap year.
  • Turning around the finances or increasing the membership of a struggling student society.
  • Organising a student society’s trip overseas, overcoming unforeseen difficulties on the way.
  • Acting as a course rep or as a mentor for other students.
  • Course assignments that involve problem solving

Articulating your skills

You will need to explain how you identified the problem, came up with a solution and implemented it. Follow the STAR technique outlined on our website. If you tackled a problem as part of a team, explain how your role was important in ensuring the positive solution, but also explain how your group worked together. This could be an opportunity to promote your teamworking skills as well – bonus!

For more advice on developing your problem-solving technique, visit the Target website

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 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 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.

Categories
Applications CVs Employers Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduate training schemes internship Interviews

Ask the employer: What sets a winning job applicant apart?

Many graduate recruiters see piles of CVs and interview hundreds of applicants to fill jobs and placement roles. So, what sets a good candidate apart? We cornered some of NI’s top recruiters at the Graduate Recruiter and Placement Fair last week to find out. Here is what they had to say…

Include skills developed through extracurricular activities

“It is important to appreciate that on paper, all graduates from the same degree programme look the same. However candidates who succinctly articulate how their skills and experience meet the essential and desirable criteria outlined on the Job Description will stand out, as this shows they have considered the requirements of the role and thought about how they will bring value to the organisation. I would encourage students to really think about what they have achieved outside of their academic qualification.  Reflection upon the skills developed through involvement in extracurricular activities such as clubs, societies, sports, volunteering and work experience, and setting this in the context of the competencies employers seek, will set your application apart from others.”

Kim McAllister, Talent Acquisition Manager, Almac Group

EDITOR’S NOTE: Queen’s Degree Plus programme provides an opportunity to articulate the skills you have built up through extracurricular activities to employers. Find out more at GO.QUB.AC.UK/DEGREEPLUS

Show that you are keen

“If we get the feeling that you are super keen and can’t wait to get started sometime that is worth even more than a high score in the technical test. “

Elisa Herbig. Talent Acquisition Specialist at AquaQ Analytics

Make sure your CV hits the mark

“Your CV doesn’t need to be elaborate or fancy. A lot of the time what really helps people is having something presentable that is easy to read. For the recruiter who is going to be reviewing it. Making sure the formatting is correct. Making sure there are no typos. Making sure the application is as easy to read as possible. Highlight any relevant experience for the role. Voluntary experience is good to include. Even if you have been working part-time show you have been doing something alongside your academic studies.” 

Adrian McCarthy is the manager of For Purpose

Relax in the interview

“Top interview tip – relax! We are just as nervous as you are. We want to sell you the job as much as you want to sell your skills to us. We want to make sure this is somewhere you want to work.” 

Joelene Ridgill , Purchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd

Include work experience in your CV

“It sounds obvious but, in terms of a winning CV, good grades go a long way. It shows that the applicant knows how to put the work in to achieve their goals. It’s also very important to have some work experience or extracurricular activities since a candidate will have gained invaluable skills and experiences that they can bring into their new role. It also shows their adaptability and an appreciation for hard work. 

For an interview, it’s easy to say but just try to relax and be yourself. Your CV already shows many of your skills and this is a chance to show your personality. Remember that interviewers are just people, and someday it will be you in the interviewer’s seat!”

Sarah Fleming, Senior Manager, Muldoon & Co

Read assessment centre instructions

“At Liberty IT, we don’t ask for your CV when you apply. We only ask for your basic details such as what you’re studying and what year you’re in. If you meet the criteria you will then be invited to complete an online coding test through Codility and if you’re successful in that you get to attend our recruitment centres. 

The recruitment centre is broken up into four sections to make sure we get the best idea of your skills, experience and potential. To do well, make sure you read the advice we’ll send you, be yourself and try to enjoy the experience.”

Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT

Tailor your CV for the role

Information within a CV needs to be clear and concise. No long paragraphs.  Ensure your skills and experience are easily identifiable throughout. Remember the recruiter looking at your CV doesn’t know you so highlight your relevant experience using the job description. To help you refine your CV to the role and make it stand out from the pile. Finally don’t forget to include personal achievements. Competing in team sports is a good indicator that you work well within a team and have competitive nature. 

Clodagh Mckeefry, Corporate Recruiter, MRP 

Show who you are as a person

I want to see what you do in your free time. An academic record is fantastic but I want to know about your volunteer experience, part time jobs, clubs you’re a part of, etc. It’s all about showing people that you are capable of doing more and pushing yourself.

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

Categories
advice Applications Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduate training schemes graduateland postgraduate

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. 

Categories
Applications CVs Graduate recruitment Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair Graduate success graduate training schemes graduateland Job Hunting job search Online profile postgraduate

Virtual Recruitment Fairs: Build a Stand-Out Online Profile

At the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on Oct 21 and 22, employers will use your online profile to find you. How do you build a profile that stands out from the crowd? Read on and find out.

You can upload your CV to your profile, so that will let an employer know what you’ve done. The key is to articulate what you have learned and the skills you have collected along the way. Employers want to know what skills and experience you can bring to the role. Below you will find a list of top skills employers told us they are looking for in student and graduate recruits, along with a brief explainer. Tag as many of these as you can to your online profile ahead of the event.

Cognitive/intellectual skills, such as:

  • Problem solving:  Ability to analyse issues, identify barriers and offer/implement potential solutions. This may involve prioritising tasks, coping with complexity, setting achievable goals and taking action.  It may also involve innovation at relevant points.

(Other terms might include – Thinking creatively/Decision making)

  • Applying subject knowledge and understanding: potentially from the degree pathway.

(This might also include researching the types of industry/roles that the subject knowledge could lead to and mechanisms for doing this.)

Professional attributes/attitudes such as:

  • Communication skills: the ability to communicate effectively in a range of professional contexts (both orally and in writing).

(Could also include body language, presentation skills, listening skills, communication styles)

  • Teamwork: the ability to work with others in a team, to communicate, influence, negotiate, demonstrating adaptability/flexibility, creativity, initiative, leadership and decision-making.

(Might include knowledge of their teamworking style, types of teams, working with remote teams, leading teams, running meetings)

  • Interpersonal skills:  includes ability to engage with and motivate others, sensitivity, global and cultural awareness, moral and ethical awareness and the ability to adjust behaviour accordingly.

(Other terms might include – Emotional intelligence, self-awareness, building on strengths, self-management)

  • Leadership skills: leading other individuals or groups through a set of complex decisions as part of goal achievement within projects or significant and challenging activities.   

(Leadership styles, leadership theories, performance, motivation)

Technical skills such as:

  • Utilise modern technology: associated with work place or work-related activity.  
  • Information technology skills: includes ability to learn, apply and exploit relevant IT programmes.

Business and organisational skills such as:

  • Business operational skills/ Commercial awareness: understanding of relevant commercial, marketing, management and/or financial processes/principles. Awareness of differences in organisational cultures and practices.
  • Business communication skills:  Written, verbal and/or online.

(Could also include – Business etiquette, coaching, collaboration, influencing others)

Language Skills and Cultural Awareness 

  • Proficiency in foreign languages: developed through courses or overseas experiences. 
  • Cultural awareness/intelligence: and the ability to implement this in a variety of multicultural contexts.

If you haven’t registered for the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair yet, make sure you do it today. Use your QUB email to enjoy uninterrupted access to our virtual platforms and register for both days so you can experience everything on offer.

Register now