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.
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
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.
(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:
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.