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Highlights from Day Two of the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

Leaders in industry gave some valuable advice to students and graduates during some inspiring presentations and workshops. Here are some of the takeaways from Day Two.

Neil Chief Economist on Island of Ireland at EY gave the keynote speech. 

Here is what he had to say:

“The most important message for students is to remain positive and upbeat despite what you read. You can very easily feel daunted or intimidating. At a time of change or disruption, there are plenty of opportunities. If you think of it this way, when there is lots of problems, the world needs problem-solvers.”

“Keep your sense of positivity, observe and learn but don’t be intimidated as if that will close down opportunities.”

“The world is always changing. The idea you can map out a career ten or 15 years is not true, you have to keep flexibility in your mind and approach.”

“The place you thought you would get a job, that may not be the case. Think what you enjoy and what you like doing. Think what competencies or skills you have. Be less predetermined in what those opportunities might be.”

“Be open mind and absorb what you can. Recruitment is a two-way thing. It’s not just what you have to do to get an opportunity, it’s asking yourself, can be at my best in that organisation?.”

Lessons from Leaders

Mark McCormack, Head of Technology at Aflac 

“Problem-solving is one of the most important skills you can develop for any career. It’s what separates us from the computers; that and empathy – and the craic.”

“I might work with computers but it’s the people that make the work interesting and fun.”

“You learn that the things that make you successful in one part of your career are not necessarily the things that make you successful later on. You have to learn and adapt. If you are not learning, then you are probably not enjoying yourself.”

“We look for three things: adaptability, resilience and reinvention.”

“Stay flexible, keep learning and find some good people to work with and you can’t go wrong.”

Lessons from Leaders

Mark Dougan, Director, Prince’s Trust NI

“Courageous leaders are stepping up every single day in NI: teachers, nurses, youth workers, business professionals and young people like yourselves… you are quite literally being made into a leader as a result of this crisis.”

“Lead with courage with a small l.”

“The only thing certain is uncertainty. We have to learn to co-exist with uncertainty.”

“You are courageous leaders in the making and at this moment you need to intentionally decide to get in the game.”

“Yes, it’s challenging and you will make mistakes but the more you do, the more rewarding it becomes as you develop your skills as an effective leader.”

“Everyone is struggling with different challenges and none of those challenges outrank others. Think intentionally how you enable others to lead with courage; set them goals and give them clarity that they need to be courageous leaders in their own right and they will bring their best selves to work every day.”

“Be curious. Ask questions, lots of questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question.” 

Missed a presentation or workshop?

You can re-watch on our past events page here:

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

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The Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair in pictures

Some highlights from our recent virtual fair. Don’t forget you can re-watch the presentations and workshops on our events page.

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Why do employers value Degree Plus?

When it comes to articulating the skills you have developed during your time at Queen’s, Degree Plus is a great tool to have in your armour. Here is why.

Degree Plus is supported by employers 

“Employers like EY and Nicva are putting their name to the award – that is an indication of the level of interest and support employers have in students who complete this award,” says Eimear Gallagher, Business Operations Manager at Careers, Employability and Skills, who heads up Degree Plus.

 It quantifies your soft skills

“Degree Plus develops your employability.  Even if an employer has never heard of the Degree Plus award, they will definitely be interested to see that you have completed a significant amount of extracurricular activity. It shows you have stepped up above and beyond your degree programme, and that you’ve managed your time effectively and balanced it with your studies,” says Eimear.

She adds: “The fact that you can present the validation of those activities in the form of a certificate helps to give employers security that everything you are saying you can back up and evidence through both your degree and your Degree Plus certificate.

It shows initiative

“Degree Plus is an indicator of initiative.,” says Eimear. “Degree Plus is not compulsory – it shows you chose to set up and accept the challenge of exploring a new interest.”

It allows you to practice articulating your skills 

Both routes to Degree Plus involve an element of self-reflection during which you will be asked to analyse which of the Degree Plus skills you have developed and how. 

With the Provider Verified route, this might involve a presentation or form at the end of the programme. For Combined Experience, you will be asked to complete an application form to evidence the skills you have gained during two extracurricular activities. 

Either way, this self-reflective element forms a key part of the award. 

“We want you to learn and gain practice in articulating the skills that you are gaining from Degree Plus and the extracurricular activities you have been involved in so you can convey those with impact in an interview situation,” says Eimear. “To be able to articulate these things and how they’ve helped you; how your employability has developed through them – that’s an important skill in itself.”

Eimear Gallagher is the Business Operations Manager at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills.

To contact the Degree Plus team, email degreeplus@qub.ac.uk

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Degree Plus Five-Minute Explainer

Whether you are graduating this year or just want to bank the award early, Eimear Gallagher, who heads up Queen’ s employability programme, is here to answer all your burning questions.

What is Degree Plus?

“Degree Plus is about encouraging you to get involved in extracurricular activities in and around Queen’s, but also to give you the opportunity to get a reward for that; to get an accreditation from the University and have it recorded on your Queen’s QSIS record,” says Eimear.

She adds: “At graduation, in addition to your Queen’s parchment confirming your degree, you also get a Degree Plus certificate. That is confirmation from the University that you completed an activity or activities and it will name the specific activities you have undertaken as well.”

What counts towards Degree Plus?

“There are a large number of activities to choose from, the last count was over 180. There are two different routes – Provider Verified and Combined Experience,” says Eimear. 

View the Provider Verified menu

View the Combined Experience menu

Provider Verified is the most common and straightforward route – around 2,000 students each year gain the award this way.

Combined Experience offer an opportunity to put yourself forward for the award -around 300 students gain the award this way each year. 

Learn more about the two types of Degree Plus here

Who can apply for Degree Plus?

It’s open to all students, both postgraduate and undergraduate, and you’ll get a Degree Plus, Graduate Plus or Researcher Plus certificate at graduation, depending on your study level. 

For enquiries about Graduate and Researcher Plus, please contact The Graduate School.

“There is no compulsion to do it,” says Eimear. “It’s for people who want to differentiate themselves and to stand out from the crowd; stand out from others with whom you’d be competing in graduate labour markets.”

Eimear Gallagher is the Business Operations Manager at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills. To contact the Degree Plus team, email degreeplus@qub.ac.uk

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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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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

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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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Four Cool Things happening in Graduate Recruitment Right Now

The graduate job market looks a little different this year, but the era of remote working has paved the way for tech advances in the way companies recruit students. For starters, Queen’s Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair is going digital this year allowing you to browse employers’ virtual stalls, watch company videos and find out what it might be like to work at a particular company – all from your laptop. Here, some recruiting companies who have flexed the way they recruit to meet the challenges of virtual recruiting.

1.Employer-led online skills sessions

Accessing training with experts from top companies is just a click of a button away. Take Deloitte who are running skills sessions online throughout Autumn. Available to watch live or on demand, topics covered include building confidence, research and communication – all skills that will stand you in good stead in the future.

Get more information and register via our events page

2.Immersive company experiences

The digital world allows you to get under the skin of a company and get a feel for what it’s really like to work there. Take EY – they are running a Build Your EY Experience Week from 5-9 October. With a live welcome address from their partners, the week promises insight into the people, clients and culture that make the company unique.

Get more information and register via our events page

3.Virtual recruitment ‘parks’

Imagine creating a virtual avatar that can virtually walk around a company, meet the people who work there and take part in events. Sounds like the stuff of a sci-fi movie but PwC’s Virtual Park allows you to do just that.

Discover more information and register.

4.Live chats with employers 

There are more opportunities than ever to live chat potential bosses. At Queen’s Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair, employers can filter candidates by their student profiles and invite candidates with the skills they are looking for into a live chat or video call. Make sure you stand out by completing your online profile in as much detail as possible.

Register now via Graduateland.

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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