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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

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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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Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair: 9 Things We Learned About Job Hunting from Day One

If you missed Day One of our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, you missed some golden nuggets of advice about graduate recruitment. Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together some top tips below. If you want more expert help navigating the graduate recruitment landscape, don’t miss Day Two of the fair.

Register here: https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events

  1. Career paths are not linear

“Your career can be a winding path, take opportunities that come your way. You might find your first job isn’t your dream job but it will allow you to grow into a role that is your dream job.”

Mary McLaughlin, Queen’s Careers Consultant.

2. Networking is a key stage of research

“Networking is so important to learn about the career paths of other people and to where they are. It can help you determine if you are a good fit but also help you learn about other jobs you might not otherwise have heard about.” 

Diane Masson, Queen’s Careers Consultant

3. Virtual Fairs have the same principals as traditional fairs.

“The principals of a virtual fair are the same. It’s about networking with employers. Finding out about the work culture as well. Is it an organisation you would thrive in and develop and grow? Does it sit with your own values and your own interests? It’s also about finding out about job search and recruitment. Asking questions about when employers recruit and how they recruit. What are those cycles, do you know when their deadlines are? What is there selection process? A Fair is opportunity to find out about those things. It is unlikely that you will leave with a job, but you will leave armed with information. The more informed you are, the more equipped you are to make good career decisions. And the better informed you will be about how to perform well in the selection process.”  

Diane Masson, Queen’s Careers Consultant

4. MyFuture contains a wealth of opportunities

“Jobs that are advertised on MyFuture are from employers who are targeting Queen’s students, so employers who are on MyFuture want YOU. 

“You can find placements, internships, Global Opportunities and even insight days, which will enable you to find out about the organisation. International students can access Student Circus to find work in the UK. You just need your QUB email and password to access a range of opportunities. You can set filters for industry and sector and get job alerts specific for you.”

Diane Masson, Queen’s Careers Consultant

5. Read the small print on a job description

“Read the information about a job and the detail. You might dismiss a job without reading the detail and if you read the information, you might discover it is applicable to you.”

Diane Masson, Queen’s Careers Consultant

6. There are loads of places to find jobs

“Websites like Prospects, Target Jobs, GradIreland are a great resources. You also have industry specific sites like Gradcracker – which is STEM sector specific. Company websites are also a good resource. Big graduate recruiters have lots of info on own websites and of course you can also find lots of information of the Careers Service website.”

Diane Masson, Queen’s Careers Consultant

7. It’s never too early to look for jobs

“Don’t leave to last minute. That applies to both your job search and the application process. It is never too early to start your research. That is what this virtual fair is all about. Research sectors you want to work in.”

Diane Masson, Queen’s Careers Consultant

8. Knowing yourself is half the battle

“Knowing yourself and identifying your skills is really important. Think through your experiences and how those are going to help in your career.”

Mary McLaughlin, Queen’s Careers Consultant

9. Don’t downplay your skills

“Sometimes we have a tendency to downplay our skills. Think through part-time jobs and what type of skills you learned. Those are skills any employer will want to have. It’s not just that you stacked shelves at the supermarket, for example, you also communicated with your colleagues and helped others on the team. Those are skills that make you a great fit for any role.”

Mary McLaughlin, Queen’s Careers Consultant

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Some of the 70+ Great Companies You Can Meet on Day Two of The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

(Psst! There are over 300 jobs on offer over the two days!)

Wow! What a jam-packed day of amazing exhibitors we had yesterday at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair. We have over 70+ more organisations coming today, so make sure you come back and check them out. The Day Two event lobby is already open, so you can pop in and check out employers and jobs, request interview slots with selected employers and follow employers to receive alerts.

Here are just some of the awesome companies signed up for Day Two – they are all hiring students just like you! If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here:

https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events

A&L Goodbody

A&L Goodbody is a leading Irish law firm

https://www.algoodbody.com/

Accenture

Accenture plc is a multinational professional services company and a Fortune Global 500 company.

https://www.accenture.com/gb-en

Alchemy Technology Services

Global centre of excellence for insurance software implementation 

https://www.alchemytechs.com/

Almac Group

The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation providing an extensive range of integrated services across the drug development lifecycle to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally.

AquaQ Analytics

AquaQ provides consulting services to several top tier investment banks.

Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland Group plc is a commercial bank operation in Ireland and one of the traditional ‘Big Four‘ Irish banks.

https://www.bankofireland.com/

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) is a health organisation covering Belfast, Northern Ireland

Bombardier

Bombardier is a global leader in the transportation industry, creating innovative and game-changing planes and trains.

https://www.bombardier.com/en/home.html

British Army, The – Army Careers

The Army is always recruiting, and there are a wide range of roles available for both officers and soldiers.          

https://www.army.mod.uk/careers/

British Council – IAESTE

From electronics in Japan to earthquake detection technology in Colombia, an IAESTE placement is a guaranteed way to boost your career. 

https://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-abroad/outside-uk/iaeste

BSG Civil Engineering Ltd

BSG Civil Engineering Ltd is a Premier Civil Engineering Contractor, delivering all Multi Discipline Schemes.

Carson McDowell

Carson McDowell is Northern Ireland’s most dynamic law firm.

https://www.carson-mcdowell.com/

CDE Global Ltd

CDE Global is the world’s no 1 wet processing equipment company.

https://www.cdeglobal.com/

Citi

A global bank providing financial services.

https://www.citigroup.com/citi/

CK International              

CK International is one of the world’s leading waste baler manufacturers.

Clear Pharmacy

Clear Pharmacy is a family run group of community pharmacies

CME Group

The world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace.

https://www.cmegroup.com/

CommScope

CommScope helps design, build and manage wired and wireless networks around the world.

https://www.commscope.com/

Cygilant UK Ltd

Cygilant provides Cybersecurity-as-a-Service.

Department for the Economy

The Department for the Economy is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive.

https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/

DPS Group Global

DPS Group is a global consulting, engineering and construction management company.

https://www.dpsgroupglobal.com/

Dunbia         

Dunbia is a red meat processor that sources and manufactures beef, lamb and pork products for retail, commercial and foodservice markets locally, nationally and internationally.

ESO Solutions UK Ltd

ESO offers an integrated suite of software products for EMS agencies, fire departments, and hospitals.

https://www.eso.com/

EY (UK)

A multinational professional services network (Accountancy Firm).

https://www.ey.com/en_uk

Farrans

Farrans Construction is an established building and civil engineering contractor.

https://www.farrans.com/

fDi Intelligence

fDi Intelligence, a service from the Financial Times, is the largest FDI centre of excellence globally.

https://www.fdiintelligence.com/

FinTrU

Multi-award winning Financial Services company providing resourcing solutions for Global Investment Banks

https://www.fintru.com/

Fox Contracts

An award winning Northern Irish based Civil Engineering company

https://www.fox-contracts.com/

Graham Construction

A large award winning UK construction company. 

https://www.graham.co.uk/

Harbinson Mulholland

Award winning accountants rooted in Northern Ireland,

https://www.harbinson-mulholland.com/

HMRC

The Non-ministerial department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes and other forms of support within the UK.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs

IBM

American cloud platform and cognitive solutions multinational technology and consulting company

www.ibm.com

iManage

Large software company focused exclusively on professional work product management.

www.imanage.com

Infosys

Global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting.

www.infosys.com/

InterTradeIreland – Career Boost

Provider of practical cross-border business funding, intelligence and contacts.

www.intertradeireland.com/

Invest NI

www.investni.com/

Invest Northern Ireland is Northern Ireland’s regional economic development agency.

Jacobs UK Ltd

http://www.jacobs.com/

Jacobs is multidisciplinary engineering company that operates globally. 

Jameson Graduate Programme

Part of the Irish Distillers Company.  It is the largest distiller of Irish whiskey.

https://www.jamesongraduateprogramme.com/

Jones Day

Commercial Law Firm

https://www.jonesday.com/en

Kainos Software Ltd

Large NI & UK based software company.

www.kainos.com

Kingspan Group

Building Materials company based in Ireland.

https://www.kingspan.com/

KTP@QUB

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) at Queen’s University Belfast

https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/graduate-support/employers/Knowledge-Transfer-Partnership-(KTP)-at-Queen’s/

Lakeland Dairies

Irish Dairy Co-operative and manufacturer of application specific food ingredients.

www.lakeland.ie/

Marks & Spencer

Large major multinational retailer.

www.marksandspencers.com/

Marsh and McLennan

Marsh & McLennan is the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people.

https://www.mmc.com/

McAleer & Rushe

McAleer and Rushe is one of the UK’s largest design and build construction companies

McCann FitzGerald

Leading Irish Law firm

https://www.mccannfitzgerald.com/

MCL InsureTech Ltd

A high-quality provider of services to the insurance industry.

http://www.mclinsuretech.co.uk/

Mott MacDonald

Consultancy Firm

https://www.mottmac.com/

MRP

Sales & Marketing Innovation That Fosters Business Transformation.

Musgrave Limited

Irish Food Wholesaler

Options Technology

The leading provider of cloud-enabled managed services to the global capital markets.

PA Consulting Group

Consultancy Firm

https://www.paconsulting.com/

PAC GROUP

A UK-based leading provider of a diverse range of electrical and mechanical engineering applications and solutions.

https://www.pacgroup.co.uk/

Philip Morris Limited

An American multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company, with products sold in over 180 countries.

https://www.pmi.com/

PM Group

International Project Delivery Firm    

https://www.pmgroup-global.com/

Puppet

Automation software development company

https://puppet.com/

PwC

Accountancy Firm

https://www.pwc.co.uk/

Randox Laboratories Ltd

Randox provides clinical diagnostic solutions to laboratories worldwide and is dedicated to improving health on a global scale.

Rapid7

Rapid7 powers the practice of SecOps by delivering shared visibility, analytics, and automation to unite security, IT, and DevOps teams.

https://www.rapid7.com/

Specialisterne

A socially innovative company where the majority of employees have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

Synergy Learning

Experts in creating learning with impact. Premium Certified Moodle Services Provider & Platinum Totara Partner.

Terex GB Ltd

Terex Corporation is a global manufacturer of lifting and material processing products and services delivering lifecycle solutions.

https://www.terex.com/

Thermo Fisher Scientific

An American provisioner of scientific instrumentation, reagents and consumables, and software and services to healthcare, life science, and other laboratories in academia, government, and industry.

https://www.thermofisher.com/uk/en/home.html

TLT NI LLP

Commercial Law Firm

https://www.tltsolicitors.com/locations/belfast/

TPICAP

TP ICAP plc is a global firm of professional intermediaries that operates in the world’s financial, energy and commodities markets

https://tpicap.com/tpicap/

TriMedika Ltd

Company developing innovative medical devices.

Version 1 Ltd

Version 1 proves that IT can make a real difference to our customers’ businesses.

WuXi Biologics

WuXi Biologics is a Chinese headquartered organization that provides open-access, integrated technology platforms for biologics drug development.

https://www.wuxibiologics.com/

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My Virtual Recruitment Success Secrets

Queen’s Law graduate Norma Taggart just secured a graduate position as a legal analyst with FinTrU Belfast after a rigorous virtual recruitment process. Here is how she did it.

Norma Taggart

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the recruitment process as employers are forced to shift away from in-person interviews to online recruitment methods. Many businesses have had to quickly become accustomed to online recruiting by using video software and telephone interviews instead of the traditional styles of interviewing. This new approach to recruitment can be daunting to a student or graduate who has not been exposed to this process before. 

However, if the idea of online recruitment intimidates you, I recommend viewing it as an opportunity to upskill rather than as a challenge. By going through the online recruitment process, I have learned how to use numerous video call software, such as Zoom and Bluejeans and have developed my ability to adapt to a changing work environment. As the world becomes more tech savvy and firms are transitioning to remote working, these technological skills will become highly sought after. Students and graduates that have a proficiency in software such as these will stand apart from the crowd.  

I gained first-hand insight into this process as I have recently secured a graduate position as a legal analyst with FinTrU Belfast after completing their 6-week FinTrU Legal Academy. FinTrU is a multi-award winning financial services company that gives local talent the opportunity to work on a global stage with the largest international investment banks. The company conducted three stages of recruitment in order to fill the positions, thus I went through virtual recruitment as opposed to the traditional recruitment process. Although it was a daunting idea at first, I have learned valuable tips and tricks to nail a video interview and get the job. 

How to Get the Interview and Succeed 

The first step in succeeding in the virtual recruitment process is to utilise the Queen’s Careers team. The Careers Department have been an invaluable resource in preparing me for both recruitment and the world of work. The Careers Team support students and graduates with all aspects of career planning and decision making. They offer practical, tailored advice for every step of your career journey. My advice is to seek their help long before you need to start applying for internships, graduate jobs or placement. 

I was fortunate enough to work as a student assistant in the Student Guidance Centre where I witnessed first-hand the amount of work that goes towards helping students get ready for the world of work. I took part in CV workshops and one-to-one CV sessions with experienced Career Consultants where I was able to tailor my CV to the industry I was applying to. Your CV is the first impression you make to an employer; therefore, it is important it is up to date and well laid out. 

The Graduate and Placement Fairs organised by Queen’s Careers Team are an excellent source of information for students and graduates. I recommend going to as many as you can throughout your time at Queen’s as they give you insight into both the industries you are interested in and the ones you are not. For example, I did an undergraduate degree in Law which often has a very traditional career path associated with it. The Graduate Fair, alongside employer panels, insight days and employer presentations organised by the Careers team, allowed me to become more open-minded to different career routes available and develop my skill set beyond strictly legal skills. Therefore, when the opportunity arose for me to apply for a career in the financial services sector, I knew I was capable of adapting and succeeding as an analyst.

MyFuture also can act as a vital tool in your job search as it is constantly updated with new opportunities and it is where you can book Career Consultations with experienced members of the Careers Team. Participating in different employability programmes and events will make you more of a well-rounded candidate and show employers that you are not afraid to go outside your comfort zone. The Careers Team are there to help you in every stage of your job hunt, therefore I recommend taking advantage of their help as soon as possible. 

Tips for Virtual Recruitment 

The virtual recruitment process for the FinTrU Legal Academy consisted of an online application where you expressed why you want to work in the financial services sector and for FinTrU specifically. The second round of the recruitment was a telephone call and the final round was a video interview conducted over a software called Bluejeans.

I had never done a live video or telephone interview before. It was daunting as it is difficult to convey the same enthusiasm over a phone or webcam than when you meet the recruiter in person. Technology can also be temperamental so I was aware that a lot could go wrong. To combat these concerns, my top tip for the next student taking part in virtual recruitment is to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be and the more you can focus on the task at hand. 

In preparation for the interview, get familiar with the job description and the specific skills they are looking for in a successful candidate. You can familiarise yourself with the company and its employees by attending graduate fairs, industry insight days and employer panels. Using the STAR method, identify times throughout your career where you have used or developed the skills in the job description. This will show the interviewer that you have a number of transferable skills that will benefit their company if you were to get the job. 

On the day of the interview, log onto the software early to download it and test your internet connection. Confirm that your camera and microphone are working as soon as you agree to the interview. I made the mistake of waiting until it was time for the interview to click the link to join. I then had to download the software which made me stressed before the interview even began. The more you do to mitigate stress before the interview, the more comfortable you will feel. 

Set up a space in your house where you will not be disturbed and ensure that the lighting is appropriate. If the interview begins and you realise that they cannot see you properly, this will put you on edge and you will lose your concentration on answering questions. If you are in a well-lit area without distractions, it will also show the hiring manager that you are professional and taking the interview seriously. 

You should not memorise answers to questions as this will come across impersonal and rehearsed. One of the benefits of a virtual interview is that it allows you to have your CV and notes beside you. Utilise this to your advantage and have your preparation close by. Employers will go through your CV in depth so make sure you have it nearby so that you can reference it in answers. 

Do not forget to dress to impress. Even though the interview is being conducted online, employers still expect you to look presentable and interview ready. This is good practice for when you get the job as clients and senior management will expect the same level of professionalism when you are working alongside them, whether that is online or in person. 

One obstacle associated with virtual recruitment is that it can feel impersonal. It is difficult to express your enthusiasm for the job when it is over a webcam. You cannot shake the interviewer’s hand over a webcam; therefore, it is essential that you monitor your body language. It is important to sit up straight and look into the camera when speaking and not at the screen. Ask a friend or family member to run through possible questions with you over a Zoom call so that you can get feedback on both your answers and the impression you make with your body language. 

Know your chosen employer inside out and stay up to date with the industry. I attended numerous employer panels where I was given the opportunity to ask questions about the world of work and the skill sets needed to succeed. I was told to stay informed with the industry I want to go into by reading the news, following relevant outlets on LinkedIn and keeping an eye on exciting developments in the area I was looking to qualify in. By doing this, you can display your enthusiasm for the industry by asking the interviewer relevant and informed questions. 

Join Norma at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on 22 Oct for more top tips.

Register here: https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events

 

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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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How to impress an employer at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

We asked some top NI employers for their careers fairs tips ahead of our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on Oct 21 and 22. Here is what they had to say:

Do your research

“Employers are impressed by students who have taken the time to do some research before the event.  Appearing informed about the organisation and industry that is of interest to you demonstrates a genuine motivation and creates a great impression. Doing research beforehand and targeting relevant organisations also ensures that the student gets the most out of the event, making the best use of their valuable time.”

Kim McAllister, Almac Group, Talent Acquisition Manager

Have questions ready

“I notice students who have already done a bit of research and know what they are looking for. Have specific questions about the company and the role itself then I’ll definitely remember you.”

Elisa Herbig. Talent Acquisition Specialist at AquaQ Analytics

Come prepared

“Being prepared if you are going to speak to a recruiter. If you are going to a stand whether it’s in person or virtual maybe having researched that organisation a bit beforehand and having a few questions in mind that you might like to ask them. It does really stand out if someone has looked into your organisation beforehand and if they have shown kind of a real interest in it.  Often times as well, the people who are going to be at these recruitment fairs are going to be working for the HR department or the recruitment team for the organisations that they are placed with. Sometimes they have graduates who have been hired there as part of the recruitment team, so it is really good and it does stand out if people have done their research beforehand.”  

Adrian McCarthy, Manager, For Purpose

Be willing to learn

“By asking questions about the company and the careers available. Being open to discuss entry level careers and willing to hear the success stories of people who perhaps started off in summer/temporary roles and are now directors.” 

Joelene Ridgill, Purchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd

Read around your industry

“An obvious passion for software engineering goes a long way. If you’ve been coding in your spare time, tell us about it. If you’ve read anything interesting about the software engineering industry as a whole, tell us about that too. If you’ve been to any Liberty IT tech talks or events, let us know what you thought of them.”

Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT

Tailor your CV to the role you want

“Come to the recruitment fair prepared, with an up-to-date CV with you, ensure you are presenting the best version of yourself. Dress for the role that you want; display good communication skills. Speak confidently and articulate your skills and experience clearly. Don’t be afraid to approach us and ask any questions.” 

Chloe Brown, Corporate Recruiter, MRP

Use the opportunity to find out about the company

“Show interest in the company. Ask questions that are more specific. We bring along colleagues of different levels to have a chat and give you the opportunity to find out more.”  

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

Have you registered for the fair yet? If not, you can do so here:

https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events

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70+ Great Companies You Can Meet on Day One of The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

You may have heard that our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair is going virtual on Oct 21 and 22. Did you know the event lobby is already open, so you can pop in and check out employers and jobs, request interview slots with selected employers and follow employers to receive alerts.

Here are just some of the awesome companies signed up for Day One – they are all hiring students just like you! If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here:

https://virtualcareersfairs.qub.ac.uk/events

Abbvie

Pharmaceutical Research & Development

https://www.abbvie.co.uk

ACCA

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

https://www.accaglobal.com/in/en.html

AIB Group

Financial services group

https://group.aib.ie

Aiqudo

Artificial intelligence-based technology

Aldi Stores Ltd

Supermarket chain

https://www.aldi.co.uk

Allen & Overy LLP

International law firm

https://www.allenovery.com/en-gb/global

Allstate Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s largest IT Company

https://www.allstate.com/northern-ireland.aspx

Analog Devices

Semiconductor manufacturing company

https://www.analog.com/en/index.html

Andor Technology

Manufacturer

https://andor.oxinst.com

Arm Ltd

Semiconductor and software design company

https://www.arm.com

Arthur Cox

Legal Firm

Arup

An independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists

https://www.arup.com

ASM Chartered Accountants

Chartered Accountants

Avolon Aerospace Leasing

A Global leader in aircraft leasing

Baker McKenzie

Law firm

https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en

Baker Tilly Mooney Moore

Accountants & Business Advisers

British Council

Cultural relations and educational opportunities

https://www.britishcouncil.org

Cadence Design Systems

Computational software

https://www.cadence.com/en_US/home.html#

Cavanagh Kelly

Chartered Accountants

https://www.cavanaghkelly.com

Chartered Accountants Ireland

Membership body representing 26000 influential members throughout the globe.

https://www.charteredaccountants.ie

Colgate Palmolive

Global Household & Consumer Products

https://www.colgatepalmolive.com/en-us

Collins Aerospace

The Future of Aerospace and Defence

https://www.collinsaerospace.com/en

CyberSource, a Visa Solution

 E-commerce credit card payment system management company

https://www.cybersource.com/en-gb.html

DCC

International sales, marketing and support services group

https://www.dcc.ie

Deloitte UK

Audit, Consulting, Financial Advisory and Tax 

https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en.html

DLA Piper

A global law firm

https://www.dlapiper.com/en/uk/

Dynamic Signal

Trusted Employee Communication

https://dynamicsignal.com

Electricity Supply Board (ESB)

State owned electricity company operating in Ireland

https://esb.ie/who-we-are/about-esb

Energia Group Limited

A modern customer centric utility focusing on renewable energy and technology

https://energiagroup.com

Entekra Ltd

Off-Site Construction

https://www.entekra.com

EY (UK) EVENT SPONSOR!

Consulting, assurance, tax and transaction services.

https://www.ey.com/en_gl

First Derivatives

A leading provider of products and consulting services to some of the world’s largest finance, technology and energy institution

https://firstderivatives.com

Foods Connected Ltd

Offers all modules and tools connected on one cloud-based system for ultimate time and cost efficiency

https://www.foodsconnected.com

GEDA Construction

A leading Building, Civil Engineering and Property Development Company

Global Payments

Payment technology and software solutions

https://www.globalpaymentsinc.com/en-gb

GMcG Chartered Accountants

A leading professional services firm providing a range of strategic and practical Accounting, Taxation and Business Advisory solutions

https://gmcgca.com

Grant Thornton

Network of independent accounting and consulting member firms

https://www.grantthornton.co.uk

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Leading professional services businesses

https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com

Hutchinson Engineering

British made engineering of the highest quality

https://www.hutchinsonengineering.co.uk

Instil Software

Software products and learning experiences 

https://instil.co

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Promotes, develops and supports chartered accountants and students across the world

https://www.icaew.com

Intel Ireland

Advanced manufacturing, cutting edge research and design

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/jobs/locations/ireland.html

Kerry Group

A public food company headquartered in Ireland

https://www.kerrygroup.com

KPMG (NI & ROI)

A wide range of audit, tax and advisory service

https://home.kpmg/ie/en/home/insights/2020/04/kpmg-in-northern-ireland.html

Liberty Information Technology

Innovative technology solutions

https://www.liberty-it.co.uk

Lidl Ireland

Supermarket chain.

https://www.lidl.ie

Metaswitch Networks

A pioneering network software provider.

https://www.metaswitch.com

Mills Selig

Corporate and commercial law firm.

https://www.millsselig.com

Moy Park Ltd

One of Europe’s leading poultry producers

https://moypark.com

Muldoon & Co

Firm of accountants in Belfast

https://www.muldoon-accountants.co.uk

NantHealth

Precision medicine and software

National Treasury Management Agency

Asset and liability management services to Government

https://www.ntma.ie

Nikon Precision Europe GmbH

A leading global supplier of Semiconductor lithography systems

Northern Ireland Audit Office

The Local Government Auditor

https://www.niauditoffice.gov.uk

Olenick

Software Quality Engineering services

PayPal EMEA

Online payment solutions

https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/country-worldwide

PepsiCo

Multinational food, snack and beverage corporation 

https://www.pepsico.com

Pinsent Masons

International professional services business

https://www.pinsentmasons.com

PKF-FPM Accountants

A leading accountancy and business advisory practice

Proofpoint

Cybersecurity solutions

https://www.proofpoint.com/uk

Royal Air Force

Aerial warfare force

https://www.raf.mod.uk

Ryobi Ltd

Manufacturer of components for automobiles, electronics, and telecommunications industries.

https://www.ryobi-group.co.jp/en/

Signifyd

Industry leader in fraud prevention

SONI

The electricity system operator for Northern Ireland

http://www.soni.ltd.uk

SpotX

Video advertising platform

https://www.spotx.tv

Susquehanna

Trading and technology firm

https://sig.com

Synopsys

Electronic design automation company 

https://www.synopsys.com

Teach First

A charity that develops and supports teachers and leaders

https://www.teachfirst.org.uk

Telestack Limited

Bulk material handling solutions

https://www.telestack.com

Tracey Concrete

One of the largest precast concrete manufacturers

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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

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HOW TO NETWORK WITHOUT CRINGING

FORGET PALM PRESSING AND SWAPPING BUSINESS CARDS, NETWORKING IN THE REMOTE WORKING ERA IS AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, TWEET

As a university student, you’ve probably been advised to start building your professional network while you are still at university – but what does that mean and where do you start?

Sandra Scannell Head of the Employer Engagement Team at Queen’s explains: “A great degree can get you far, but the network and connections you build at university can help you get there faster.  While the old adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is not entirely accurate – a brilliant academic qualification makes you more likely to get a job than a non-graduate (89 per cent compared to 72 per cent, according to the Department for Education) –  networking remains an essential part of the graduate job hunt. According to recent statistics from LinkedIn, as much 85 per cent of jobs are filled via networking. No matter what way you cut it, it’s important to know people.”

Networking without the stress

Traditionally, networking on campus might have meant completing a circuit of the Whitla Hall at the annual Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, collecting handshakes, business cards and solid job leads. All very well if you are the confident type; slightly awkward and stressful if you are not. This year, however, the event is being hosted virtually – levelly the playing field. 

“The virtual platform dispenses with a lot of the embarrassment and stress that comes as part of a traditional networking environment– especially if you are more introverted or less confident,” says Sandra. “You can ask questions directly to recruiters and companies via live chat instead of navigating the throngs to speak to a busy recruiter, who is already being bombarded with questions.  You can hone your ‘elevator pitch’ into a succinct 100-word introduction on an online profile, giving you a stronger chance to get noticed. A few simple clicks and you can add you CV and the URL to your LinkedIn profile. Names and key details are displayed on screen – meaning awkward introductions are also dispensed off.”

As easy as Instagram

The good news is, if you’ve ever used Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you know how to network online. “The Instagram generation are more than capable of flexing to new ways of working and are very comfortable networking in the digital realm,” says Sandra. “Facebook was launched in 2004, meaning students enrolling in 2022 will be the first generation of university students for who social networking has always existed. You have the tools to build an online brand: whether its chronicling your life on your Instagram grid or presenting a professional profile picture, you are more than ready to network from your laptop.” 

The golden rules

While modern day networking is as easy as clicking a button, some golden rules still apply, of course. “Preparation is key,” says Sandra. “Doing your research on a company and making sure your CV is tailored to the job you want, for starters. Our Careers Consultants are still on-hand to walk you through the recruitment and application process. But, rest assured, you already have a lot of digital tools in your armour – and you know how to use them.”

She adds: “Professional networking sites like LinkedIn allow you to sell your personal brand with key words and phrases relating to your target industry, well-written profiles and a strong professional headline. You can join LinkedIn professional groups, participate in conversations and pick up industry intel. Twitter allows graduate jobseekers and recruiters to connect through hashtags like #hiring #recruiting and #gradjobs. You can follow potential employers, Tweet organisations and ask about graduate opportunities… The online networking opportunities for students are endless.”

Ready to start networking?

Register here for our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on 21 and 22 October