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.
It’s peak season for placement applications. If you attended our Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair last week, you’ll know that a placement is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door at your dream company. But once you successfully secure a placement how can you make an impact that will lead to a potential job offer? We asked some top recruiters and here is what they had to say…
“The most successful placements are undertaken by students who appreciate the vast developmental opportunity that is presented to them via a work placement. Enthusiasm, active listening and the willingness to learn will result in a successful placement experience for both student and host organisation. Depending upon business requirements, students who contribute effectively, learn from others and ultimately impress during their placement year with Almac, leave with a conditional offer of employment ahead of their final year of study.”
Kim McAllister, Talent Acquisition Manager, Almac Group
Go above and beyond
“A student always makes an impact if they go above and beyond to help others. It could be that they offer to help someone who is struggling to get a job finished for a deadline or just something as small as offering to make tea or coffee for your team.
And ask questions! It shows you’re keen to learn and have a genuine interest in the role.
We also love to see our new members get to know everyone in the office by chatting with them at lunch or attending our social events. We’re a tight knit office so it’s important that people feel part of the team and enjoy the culture at Muldoon & Co.”
Olivia Blundell, Trainee Accountant, Muldoon & Co
Be willing to learn
“Having recently had a Queen’s student on our team, we found that having the willingness to train and learn was a great benefit. Get involved in the team and don’t be afraid to put points and ideas forward.”
Joelene Ridgill , Purchasing Manager at Seacoya Group Ltd
“The best thing to do is to get involved in as much as possible. At Liberty IT, we have the opportunity to sign up for an unlimited amount of training and attend internal and external tech talks and conferences. Our past interns have participated in hackathons, talked at events and helped out with recruitment. There’s no limit to what you can get involved in.”
Birgitta Swanberg, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Liberty IT
“Be eager and demonstrate a willingness to work by arriving on time and with a positive attitude. Look to develop your skills by communicating with employers within the business; ask questions and make sure you seek out those answers. Show interest in the work by keeping up with new technologies within the market.”
Chloe Brown, Corporate Recruiter, MRP
Teach yourself along the way
“Speak up, ask questions, and research topics. We don’t expect you to know everything, but we want to see you proactively learning and engaging.”
Jared Kearney, Senior Campus Recruiter, Citi UK and Citi Ireland
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:
In the know
“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.
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.
“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.”
(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:
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.
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:
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.”
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
How to create an online profile that will stand out to employers at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair on 21 and 22 October
The Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair on 21 and 22 October is the biggest Careers Fair at Queen’s. The fair will be a little different this year as we hosting it virtually on a digital platform called Graduateland. We like to think of this as Tinder, for jobs. Just like an online dating site, you can browse prospective employers to find your perfect match. You can even watch videos and live chat with recruiters. And, just like an online dating site, the more information you put on your online profile, the more you’ll stand out.
Completing your profile
The platform indicates how complete your profile is by giving you a colour coded percentage. Make sure your profile displays as green and as close to 100% complete as possible (you can opt to leave the age and gender fields blank, if you prefer).
Get the basics right
This above video covers the basics of what you will be asked to fill in at registration: degree information, skills etc. The good news is, once you have done this for one event, you don’t need to do it again. So, for example, if you attend Go Global on 14 October, you will already have a Graduateland profile However, for the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair there are a few trickier elements to fill in
Nailing the tricky questions
You can upload your CV, fill in your job history and details of any exchanges or work-related learning you have done. So far, so standard application. Where it gets tricky is an innocuous little box called:
‘Type in a captivating headline’
This is followed by a small box asking you to ‘Add a brief description of yourself that presents your career goals, skills and experience to potential employers.’
We know it can be hard to articulate everything that is fabulous about you in 200 words, so we curated the best tips from across the internet. If you still need help, you can contact our careers team for expert advice on email@example.com.