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Advent Calendar advice Commercial Awareness personal skills Skills

Careers Advent Calendar: Understanding Commercial Awareness

Employers often look for commercial awareness in candidates. Here are three things we learned from the Open University’s free Commercial Awareness course:

1. How to understand an organisation and how it creates value

When researching an organisation, you shouldn’t just look at what an organisation does, but how it does it; explore the activities and processes within an organisation. From the outside, two organisations may appear to be delivering equivalent services or products in the same way. They may have broadly similar suppliers and workforce sizes, their location and other large-scale features may even be comparable. Yet the costs incurred by processes inside these two apparently similar ‘black boxes’ may be vastly different. So, although what goes into each organisation and what comes out may seem pretty much the same, the ways in which they create value could be radically distinct.

2. How to understand an organisation’s value

An organisation is a machine for adding value. In its simplest form this means it takes an input at one value and, if successful, converts it to an output at a higher value.

The concept is seen most clearly in manufacturing, where raw materials are worked on to produce finished goods that customers value and are prepared to pay a premium for. Whilst the raw materials or components already had worth, the process of manufacturing added more value.

Commercial awareness means being aware of how change to one aspect of an organisation’s system can have disproportionate, far- and wide-ranging impacts on many other components.

3. Where you fit in in the value chain

The course mentions three components in the value chain: 

  • creativity: coming up with a new product or process
  • manufacturing: churning out the product (this is the tangible part of the chain but it adds less value than you might think)
  • marketing, branding and advertising.

When it comes to applying for a position within an organisation, ask yourself

  • Does your role fit neatly and exclusively into one of these three stages?
  • In terms of a value chain are you closest to the ‘inputs’ or the ‘outputs’ of your organisation? (Roles close to the input end might be procurement, enquiries, goods received, etc., those nearer to the output end might be invoicing, delivery, after-sales services, etc.).
  • We talk of a value ‘chain’ – but to what extent does a linear chain (receiving work and passing it on, with added value) represent your work situation? 

Reflecting on the above will help you demonstrate your commercial awareness to a potential employer. 

Access more useful resources to build your commercial awareness on our website

Categories
advice Job Hunting job search luck rejection superstitions

Are work-related superstitions holding you back?

Whether it’s wearing your ‘lucky’ shoes to a job interview or carrying a lucky charm, some superstitions can benefit your job search, while others could be holding you back.

Do you have a ‘lucky’ interview suit? Research at the University of Cologne found that lucky charms can work – but it’s all to do with the confidence they give you, rather than any magical forces at play. However, other work-related superstitions can have a negative impact on your career – especially when it involves negative self-talk. Read on to discover the superstitious chat you need to cut from your work lexicon. 

“Everything happens for a reason”

When it comes to job searching, peddling the narrative that you are not in control can absolve you of the responsibility of trying to improve. Obviously, there are certain things in life that we can’t control and when bad things happen to us, all we can do is try and learn from it and do our best to move forward. But when it comes to our career and looking for jobs, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that our decisions and actions have a role to play. If you don’t get a job interview, for example, look at how you can improve for next time rather than shrugging and blindly putting it down to fate.

“I’m having a run of bad luck”

If you have been knocked back for a series of job opportunities, it’s tempting to look for a pattern when there is none. Instead of putting a bad run down to bad luck or that you are ‘cursed’ in some way, examine your own behaviour and actions and look at ways in which you can improve for next time.

“I’m no good at that”

We should always be striving to improve and upskill throughout our career, so allowing yourself to be pigeonholed as a poor public speaker or disorganised, for example, can limit you. Look at any perceived weakness as an opportunity to improve and get better at something. This way, you won’t rule yourself out of a great role down the line. 

Want more help with your job search? Check out our website for advice on CVs, application and interviews.

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/CVsMakingApplicationsandInterviews/

Categories
advice Employer Panels Employers First Derivatives Graduate recruitment Graduate success graduate training schemes Job Hunting job search Linkedin Networking Social Networks

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

Categories
consultations CVs Interviews Job Hunting MyFuture MyFuture App on campus jobs

Five Cool features of MyFuture

Student blogger Dara O’Donnell from our MEDIA programme offers a crash course on MyFuture and her top tips for getting the most from Queen’s careers portal.

MyFuture is your very own online careers portal, which enables employers to advertise specific job opportunities, placements and internships relevant to you throughout your time at Queen’s. This platform promotes vacancies both on and off-campus, as well as advertising positions that are located further afield. This means you have access to life-changing opportunities abroad too. 

The virtual presence and function of MyFuture provides you with invaluable access to work experience, careers advice and systems that can all help pave the way to you landing that dream career in the future. You simply use you Queen’s student ID to log in and get started!

Here are five ways to best utilise the platform:

  1. You can upload and tailor your CV

The first step to landing your dream role through MyFuture is by creating your own profile, adding a charming personal statement, past employment history and any experience and skills that you possess that will make you a promising candidate. Noting the degree you are studying when signing up to the platform will enable the system to specify job opportunities that directly relate to your desired career. This is helpful in saving time scrolling through boundless unsuitable posts you would on regular job-seeking sites! Additionally, you can attach your own personal and professional CV to your profile, providing employers with further insight to your individual history and aspirations. Make sure you proofread your profile and CV or, alternatively utilise a MyFuture shortcut to the VMock CV Checker, located on the website’s main menu page, ensuring there are no silly mistakes that could stand between you and your desired future career. 

2. You can find events relevant to you

MyFuture will help you gain further understanding of different pathways you can take to achieve your individual career goals. This is through providing a constantly updated calendar of different careers fairs and employer events that are taking place on and off- campus, as well as this, providing various links to upcoming careers workshops that you can attend. Being pro-active and attending these events will allow you to explore your options during your studies and may open your eyes to possible opportunities abroad that could enhance your employability skills and ultimately may transform your mindset on your future career journey. 

3. You can practicse your interview skills.

By joining MyFuture you will have already shown a desire to begin your career journey and start finessing your future employability. Why not take this a step further and make use of the information resources and mock video interviews available on MyFuture? There are multiple practise interviews to take, ranging from general interview questions to graphic design and business management interview scenarios. Unlock your potential and learn how to best flex your skills in an interview, giving you a one up on your competition!

4. You can book a Careers Consultation. 

Within MyFuture there is an option to book a one-to-one careers appointment with one of Queen’s own consultants, to help guide you in successfully managing your own future career path. During the pandemic, these meetings are being offered virtually through video call. If you are feeling lost, like many students often do, do not be afraid to ask for advice and guidance when it is free to you! This is an invaluable service offered to us by the University’s Careers Department and should be taken advantage of. 

5. You’ll automatically be kept informed

Regular emails and job alerts will allow you to stay up to date on the opportunities that are available on MyFuture. Make sure to download the MyFuture mobile app so you have it readily accessible at all times to browse potential future careers, whether that be while passing the time on your daily commute or filling the minutes in between classes. 

Lastly, it’s important to stay positive and remain optimistic in working towards your future career goals, especially throughout this unimaginable tough period for everyone. MyFuture is a reassuring platform for students and graduates alike and is here to help us progress and succeed. As a nearing graduate myself, now more than ever, the future seems daunting, however, being equipped with a system such as MyFuture, I feel confident and motivated in taking the steps towards my future career, while being supported by Careers at Queens through access to a system such as MyFuture.

Download the MyFuture app for Apple and search for Queen’s University Belfast

Download the MyFuture app for Andriod and search for Queen’s University Belfast

Categories
graduate training schemes

All You Need to Know About Graduate Training Schemes

If you want to break into a big organisation, receive expert training and get well paid in the process, a graduate training scheme could be for you.

1. They are offered by big organisations

Graduates schemes are typically offered by big organisations such as the Civil Service, PwC and the NHS.

2. They are fixed term

Training schemes are typically offered to graduates for a fixed term of between 18 months and two years.

3. They are competitive

Graduate schemes are a great opportunity to work and train in a real job. As they are well-paid, they are competitive and many require a degree classification of 2:1 or above. 

5. You need to apply early

Don’t wait until graduation to suss out a scheme – applications will be open from the autumn of final year and typically close by Christmas. Check out MyFuture for details of graduate schemes relevant to you.

6. You can find them online

With a bit of desktop research, you can find details of graduate schemes across the UK and Ireland. Here are five sites to check:

Prospects 

Search graduate training opportunities with huge organisations including Google, Amazon and BBC. 

TargetJobs

From the Royal Navy to Bloomberg, search for graduate training opportunities.

Milkround

Search graduate jobs, schemes and internships.

Gradireland

Search graduate jobs, schemes and internships across Ireland.

Gradcracker

Search graduate opportunities in Engineering and Technology.

Categories
CVs Interviews Job Hunting

8 Common interview questions decoded

Queen’s Careers experts explain what an employer really wants to know when the ask these common interview questions.

Q: Tell me about yourself 

What they mean:

Talk me through your CV and tell me how your experiences relate to this particular job. 

What they don’t mean:

Tell me your life history, hobbies and interests and take 20 minutes to do so.

Q: What do you know about the company?

What they mean:

Are you up to date with what our company is currently doing, our main successes and where we plan to go in the future. Prove you want to work here.

What they don’t mean:
Please recite the first page of our website like everyone else and show you have done no original research.


Q: What skills do you have for this job? 

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What they mean:

Give me a summary of your top three skills and make sure you’ve taken them from the Essential Criteria. Prove you know the job. 

What they don’t mean:
List me over 20 skills and make sure 90% will not relate directly to the job. 

Q: What is your main strength?

What they mean:

Pick something from the Essential Criteria that you believe to be most relevant to the position and give me an example of how you have used it. Prove you can match your skill to the job.

What they don’t mean: 

Tell me something totally unrelated to the job and don’t explain it. Or tell me the heaviest weight you can lift in the gym.

Q: What is your main weakness? 

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What they mean:

Tell me about something work related you struggle with and how you have been taking steps to overcome this. Show me you are proactive and looking  to progress. Prove you have self-awareness 

What they don’t mean:

Tell me something critical to the job that you can’t do or that you have no weaknesses. Or tell me about a health condition you have. 

Q: Can you give me an example of a time when….

What they mean:

Talk me through a practical, relevant example that will show me you have experience in this area. Tell me the Situation and set the scene, explain the Task, detail Action and what YOU

did then tell me the Result (STAR). Prove you can transfer your previous experience to this job.

What they don’t mean:

Please spend 20 minuthteesmrawmobrlikngto find it. about a story and with as much

excess and unnecessary information as possible so that I forget the question.

Q: Why should we hire you? 

MRW I am updating my resume

What they mean:

Give me a summary of your key skills and how they fit this position. Prove your suitability and your passion.

What they don’t mean:

Give me an arrogant answer that will negate anything good you have previously said. 

Q: Do you have any questions?

What they mean:

Ask me something original and Do you have any questions? relevant that shows you are serious

about wanting to work here. Prove you can use your initiative.

What they don’t mean:

Tell me I answered them all in the interview without saying what you had planned to ask.

For more top tips on interviews and graduate job hunting, download GradGuide2020 via the GradFest2020 site.