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Your Weekly Careers Update Courtesy of Jack

What you know? Who you know? What you know about who you know?

Aah November… It brings all the excitement of fireworks, application forms and careers fairs. Well over 1000 of you came down to our last one (not strictly November, but close enough) so there must be something a little bit exciting about it. We’re aware the Law School ran another one for all you budding lawyers. We’ve collected a couple of wigs that must have fallen off as you all went rushing over.

But looking to the future, you’ll end up heading to plenty more of these events. Jobs aren’t that easy to come by. So how are you supposed to make the most of these events?

It’s about what you know.

It’s also about who you know.

More accurately, it’s all about what you know about who you want to know, and what that person thinks about you.

Bit of a mouthful.

If you are walking into a careers fair with every intention of entering your chosen field, you should be swotting up on who is going to be present and what sort of service they seek to offer. You are going in there to meet your potential employers – to make good impressions.

The same applies to emails too though. Make sure you know what you’re doing and you know who you’re talking to. Remember, this is more than likely the first impression this particular person from this particular company has of you. With this in mind, don’t do this:

 

Dear Mr. Almighty,

My name is Reilly Desperate and i am about too finish my degree in Business at Uni. I really like your company because i’m really good at English and i no this is what publishers do. I have good attention to detail and i am a very committed person.

Please find attached a copy of my CV.

Warm regards,

Reilly

* * *

Dear Reilly,

    Thank you for your interest in our company.

    A crucial aspect of our work includes e-mail communication with our clients, and this requires attention to detail and a professional approach.

   For this reason I have difficulty progressing your application beyond your first message because of its frequent and careless lack of capitalisation and its poor grammar.

    I would imagine that you are a very bright individual. Your time at University proves this. However, you should remember that your message is the only evidence I have of you. I am passing you this advice in the hope that it may help you when you apply for jobs elsewhere.

Good luck for the future,

Mr. Almighty

* * *

Dear Mr. Almighty,

I worked very hard to get to my level and my spelling and grammer has nothing to do with how clever i am. My grammer can be improved, you’re bad manners cannot.

Please take me off you’re system. I would not like to work for you any more.

Regards,

Reilly

 

This is based on a true story from a University in the South. Approach companies professionally, whether in person or in writing.

Don’t just tell them you’re interested in their sector.

Tell them why you’re interested in THEM.

And be warm. Representatives are people too, and people remember other people that they like. They also like to help out the people that they like.

Good luck,

Jack

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Illness – Employers are Sick of It

Illness isn’t great at the best of times. It’s worse when it strikes you down for 2 of the 5 days you had managed to bag yourself within a lucrative business in a different country. Guernsey to be precise.

But it did get me thinking – where is the line between acceptable illness and unacceptable illness? When will an employer agree that you are genuinely too unwell to work? Do you have to turn up first and see how you go? Fortunately I was staying with one of the employees at this business and it was more than apparent to her just how ill I had become. If not, I would have found myself nervously treading the employability minefield – balancing impressing my employer with dedication and self-sacrifice against the overwhelming urge to display the effects of the stomach upon a £3.29 meal deal across my desk.

The short, sweet and simple answer is ‘it depends’. That doesn’t help very much. Here’s why.

Each employer is different. Each employer will have had their own unique experiences with individuals in these circumstances, and a lot is very much down to luck. One employer may see illness as an excuse to skive; another might be genuinely concerned for your health and advise you to stay at home until you are well. Some employers won’t care. Such is life.

But what can you do to mitigate the effects of ill health at work or on a placement? Here are my 3 top tips:

1. Ensure you are well rested and fed–

Being run down is going to mean you are particularly susceptible to bugs and viruses. By looking after yourself, you can do your very best to avoid coming down with these illnesses in the first place and avoid the problem all together!

 

2. Stock up on Immodium –

Maybe not just Immodium. Diarrhea, sickness, headaches, fevers… The effects can be awful to deal with (especially when you are alone in a new city) and may take a while to disappear on their own. Viruses in particular cannot be treated, but the symptoms can be tackled with many over the counter medicines. Build a travel medicine kit and ensure to have it with you, just in case.

 

3. Battle through –

‘Sniffles’ warn us of the impending doom at the hands of man flu/colds. They are not, however, a good excuse to skip work. If you know you can work, battle through. Negative impressions come through being unproductive and this is why illness becomes such a problem. If you can make it there and get through the first few hours, you will maximise your chances of avoiding a negative impression. If you don’t feel better by around midday, you can always head on back home with your employer’s permission. You will have shown just how dedicated you are, how you understand the importance of turning up and your employer will recognise you are genuinely ill and aren’t using this as an excuse to skip work and explore your new city/play Xbox.

 

It is very difficult to stay away from work and still leave a positive impression. Try your very best to avoid illness in the first place, make sure you’re prepared for the worst and battle through if you can. It’s tough, but it’s doable.

Jack

See you after Summer!

Dear Fans and Fellow Bloggers,

I’m afraid I shall be leaving you for a few months. I’m going to put all my preachings into practice over the Summer and hopefully secure some potential leads for a future career. With any luck, I’ll have some new found pearls of wisdom to share straight from the mouth of graduate employers.

Given that I’m here to write about the things you genuinely want to hear, it makes sense for me to actually ask you what you want to hear about. Feel free to comment on this post or post on the Careers Service Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/hullunicareers) about what you want to hear the graduate recruiters talking about. The Careers Service is here to provide you with a service – this means you need to tell them what you want!

Or tell me. They like me. I can put in a good word.

Good luck with Summer folks!

Jack.

Never Underestimate the Value of ‘Entry-Level Jobs’

Well I must apologise for neglecting this blog. Unfortunately exams and engaging the full capacity of my short term memory took over my life for a short while. But now I’m back. Don’t worry.

I recently read a piece by a sixth-form leaver who embarked on a project to do some work experience with 60 unique professionals over 60 days. The aims were sound – to experience a wide range on professions before deciding where to specialise. The reasoning was not:

‘With my school days coming to a close I began to think about the summer between high school and university. This can be an awkward time as many students are not qualified for the jobs that are available and most are only able to get work at camps, shops or as entry-level office staff.’

My answer to this: ‘So what?’

Never underestimate the value of retail, or camp or even bar work. Entry-level office work is the coveted gold standard of part-time work for many future professionals. These jobs teach you the basics. Many people enter professions with no idea as to how to deal with people, or how to deal with money, or how to treat and respect the staff upon who – although a tier below you – you shall be relying so much. So here’s how you can get these ‘lowly’ jobs on your CV and get the edge over the competition who consider these roles below them:

Customer Service – Believe it or not, professionals shop too. It turns out they eat, wash and play just like the rest of us. If you’re planning on getting a job in the same area you currently work, and if you’re offering fantastic customer service, you’re going to be remembered. Your future employer could be that person you just informed of that cheaper meal deal available with their sandwich. Saying that, they could also be the person you spat filthy words at when they rudely interrupted your conversation about that ever so attractive individual your colleague had the privilege to serve. Nevertheless, if you have been recognised at work, be it by a customer or your employer, this is to be valued. Professionalism is about delivering a service and keeping customers coming back. Graduate recruiters like this.

Managerial Skills – The exciting thing about retail is that it offers so many more opportunities for leadership and management than many other jobs available to students at this stage. Pierre from Oxbridge has never had responsibility in his life. You, on the other hand, have delegated tasks to effectively achieve those seemingly unrealistic targets set by the higher managerial tiers in your company. You get yourself stuck in when the going gets tough and you are respected for your achievements by those within your workplace. Get it down on your CV (modestly). Tell them in interview (modestly).

People – You get them. You’ve had the opportunity to speak to people and tactfully deal with their problems. You can empathise, engage in conversation about the things real people want to talk about (Britain’s Got Talent, sport, alcohol etc.) and you know which jokes go down better with your close friends, and which ones are safer for your reputation. Pierre doesn’t. Pierre just smokes pipes.

Difficult People – This one is especially applicable to those who have taken part in bar work. Difficult people can be awkward. Drunken people can be intimidating. Having to deal with such people, and dealing with them successfully, is a massively positive reflection of an individual’s character. Having such nerve is impressive and is reflected in everything you do. Be proud of it.

Dealing with Kids – So you get people. You can deal with difficult people and you can stand your ground with drunken people. But this still doesn’t mean you can deal with kids. These are in a league of their own and having the capabilities can open up niche areas of work unavailable to those lacking in such experience. It connotes professionalism, backbone and patience. What sort of recruiter doesn’t want to see that?

Entry-level Office Work – HUGELY important. The office is an environment. It carries its own rules and practices, its own hierarchy and its own skill requirements for survival. Whether you drink it or not, you need to learn how to make a cup of tea. God forbid if you can’t make a half decent cup of coffee! Those photocopying machines require practice and experience. There is a seriously concerning possibility you will fall short of your employer’s expectations if you can’t use one. If you still get really excited when you get to use the shredder, you haven’t used one enough. Try and get some experience through work schemes or part-time office work.

There are plenty more to pick out, but its lunch time. Be proud of the work you have done in the past. The transferrable skills are phenomenally important both for the workplace and for character. Never underestimate the value of entry-level jobs. Your employer won’t.

Jack.

For more information on 60 Jobs in 60 Days:

http://careers.guardian.co.uk/careers-blog/work-experience-job-shadowing

http://sixtyinsixty.com/

Confessions of a Recruitment Consultant

Dear all,

This piece is incredible. A lot of you finalists will be looking for jobs very, very soon (hopefully). You’re probably making a few of these mistakes. I know I was.

Read it and be realistic in your applications. Get yourself noticed. Don’t tell them about your ‘bird of prey’. Read on. You’ll see what I mean.

Confessions of a Recruitment Consultant.

Jack.

Max Lands! And tells us how easy we have it.

The Careers Service has hosted a German Marketing Intern this week. We’re going to call him Max. He’s quite kindly agreed to do my job for me. And I’m getting paid for it! Enjoy!

Guten Tag everyone,

I am Max from Germany visiting my friend Jack in England.

I really have to admit, British people are weird. Especially British people at universities. Just the thought of someone with a philosophy-degree doing a job as manager… that would never happen where I come from.

In Germany much fewer pupils start a course in university after their A-levels (or Abitur, as we call it). But if you do, you have to decide beforehand, in which field of jobs you want to work as most employers would not even consider employing you if you have not a fitting degree. So I got to say, you English people really have better opportunities after university. You have so many chances!

That also explains to me why you have to have such huge CV’s with a lot more additional activities than we Germans use to have. You guys still have to prove that you are fitting for a job- we already did by studying a matching subject.

Nevertheless the German job-market is lacking of well-qualified employees. This is a result of a massive decrease in the birth-rate in the last 20 years. German parents became lazy one could say. Most companies and employers can’t even fill their apprenticeships, not to talk about post-graduate jobs.

Especially the healthcare-sector is in desperate need of labour-force. Why’s that, you could ask me? Are Germans that sick? In fact we are not- at least not usually. But good old Germany has become exactly that: old! Nearly half of the inhabitants (around 46%) are at age 50 or above. And as you know, with age often come the minor ailments.

Furthermore engineers are really wanted. You sure know BMW, Volkswagen and all the other major automobile-companies. They are the reason why. German industry is a great deal about producing machines, especially cars. At least this is what we are famous for in the world! But we can’t do that without engineers and others specialists.

Speaking of which… why don’t you guys help us out a bit? Some of you need jobs and we need qualified students. And with a more or less fitting degree, your chances are not bad at all, especially since all of you speak English very fluently (at least I hope so), which is one skill most companies are looking for. And in many cases you don’t even have to have German language skills. They would be really helpful though but a lot of Germans speak English anyway.

So maybe, if this could be an idea for you, why not just talk to the friendly advisors of your career service or have a look at the website of the international placement service of Germany (Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung)?

http://www.arbeitsagentur.de/nn_572444/Navigation/Dienststellen/besondere-Dst/ZAV/arbeiten-in-deutschland/EN/Startseite-EN-Nav.html

So much for today from me. I’d really like to meet you in beautiful Germany.

Auf bald, euer Max

Internships – Free work for the sniff of a job.. Until now.

It hardly seems fair does it? You know you’re good at what you do. One day you’re going to be the CEO of (insert the name of the biggest company you know). Why should you have to provide free work when you can’t afford to feed yourself and your degree is a full time job in itself?

Well the thing is, (the biggest company you know) doesn’t know howgood you are at what you do. An application form can only tell you what qualifications a candidate has. An interview can only tell you how good at lying about said qualifications the candidate is. Working tells you outright how good a candidate is at working.

The argument is pretty evenly balanced. However you don’t have a job. The employer does. He has a 3D TV at home. He doesn’t need Dominos vouchers to afford ‘posh pizza’. He has a team of Italians working in his kitchen. He doesn’t even like pizza.

The point is, you’re in no position of power. The status quo is that you’re going to have to put out, and if you don’t, Pierre is going to do it instead.

“But why is this the status quo?” I hear you cry! “Why aren’t we starting a revolution?”

Well we are.

The Hull University Careers Service is working on a scheme with employers to get you access to paid internships! That’s right! You’ll be able to afford ‘posh pizza’ without those crazy coupons AND you’ll be showing a potential employer just how good you are at working!

These are fantastic opportunities to get your foot in the door. We have a few up there at the moment, but keep checking back as this will be updated regularly:

http://www2.hull.ac.uk/student/careers/students/vacancies/paidinternships/graduateinternships.aspx

That’s quite enough excitement for one day.

Good luck,

Jack

Interviewers are people too…

Interviewers are people too… Did you hear the one about the accountant who, in a bid to escape from a fair lady of questionable gender on a drunken week in Thailand, found himself diving headfirst onto the sandy beaches of Haad Rin? Naked?

The purpose behind an interview is to get to know you as a person. A real person. Employers want to hire someone who will work well in their team. They want you to be the person who will get involved with the weekly 5-a-side or come along to office drinks. Successful professionals balance work and play. Successful professionals are liked.*

You can’t take a course in being a likeable person. These things come with practice. ‘What should I practice?’ I hear you call… Why drinking of course!

Get involved with societies! Get down to socials! Learning how to speak to people is so incredibly important, and yet we take it for granted. It can be very, very hard. We can only learn from our mistakes, and social mistakes can be unbelievably embarrassing. I’m betting you would much rather make them in front of your friends than that potential employer who is trying so very hard to like you. He really is trying. You’re just making it incredibly difficult for him.

I should mention at this stage that you don’t have to drink to be successful. That would be a very wrong message. Alcohol has, however, become a very large part of social culture and this is very difficult to deny. The advantage of not drinking is that you can develop your social skills sober. Societies are generally very welcoming of non-drinkers and this should not be seen as a bar (pun very much intended). Drink virgin cocktails and learn to dance/sway as well as your drunken peers. Offer to be the sober first aider for socials. There’s nothing better than CPR to strike up social bonds.

To sum up in one phrase – Learn to talk to people. Do not underestimate the power of rapport. It will make or break that interview.

Jack.

*Liked at interview by their potential employers. ‘Liked’ does not necessarily represent the opinion of the public at large.

Memorisation

So it’s coming up to exam season again. It’s mid-Easter and you really cannot be bothered to make a start. You’re procrastinating. Suddenly E4 is a lot more interesting than you remember. Who knew American television could be so hilarious and diverse?

If you know full well you’re not going to start revising until you come back to Uni and it’s inevitably going to be too late, here are a few tips that might increase your chances of success. I’ve also taken the liberty to try and explain why it works.

Sleep

Fact: How much you can recall will increase with a good night’s sleep.

Science: There are two parts of your brain called the hippocampus and the cortex. The hippocampus acts as a short-term storage area for new information (your revision notes). The cortex is responsible for deeper levels of learning and storage (the stuff you will remember in your exam). The link is sleep. When you sleep, the hippocampus tells the cortex the important things you’ve learnt that day. The cortex will take it all in and make links with everything else you have learnt and from the same area or other areas of your shosen subject, deepening your understanding of the subject as a whole.

What this means: This does not mean you can learn everything the night before your exam. You need time and experience. The more nights you have to sleep, the deeper your understanding of the work you have done and the higher your chances of success. Don’t complain. I’m advocating sleep. Not too much sleep in one go. That would be silly. Find balance.

Subconcious

Fact: Your subconscious is much more powerful than your conscious.

Science: Your subconscious works hard. Constantly. Even while we are awake. It is also responsible for your understanding.

What this means: Have you ever experienced a ‘click’? You hate a subject. You just don’t get along with it. Suddenly, a month before your exam, it all makes sense! This is your subconscious working whilst you don’t even realise it. So take regular breaks. Take the time to mull things over. Try it.

Diet (which means ‘eat stuff’)

Fact (ish): There are well founded claims that oily fish and plenty of water will improve your concentration.

Science: A wealth of research suggests that the fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 improve concentration and memory. They can even help with depression funnily enough (quite fitting given the looming gloom). Furthermore, even slight levels of dehydration (it is claimed) can have a surprisingly adverse effect upon concentration.

What this means: These are claims. Very well founded claims, but claims all the same. It might work, it might not. It more than likely will. If it doesn’t work, it’s a pretty handy placebo. Start eating some oily fish. Make sure you’re getting enough water. All inclusive bills? Go to town.

Lapse of Time

Fact: We forget things. The more you go back over your notes, the more you will remember.

No science here. We all know it’s true. We just don’t want to admit it.

Make sure you are going over your notes. Don’t just skim. Take the information in again. Open your mind to it. Fight the urge to go play Xbox. Drive that caffiene addiction. You’ll regret it after your exams, but you won’t care. You’ll have a first*.

*This is no guarantee. It just seemed like the right thing to say. Push your ambitions and stuff.

Good luck.

Jack.

You DO NOT need to know what you want to do. You DO need to start finding out.

Me: “Why haven’t you used the Careers Service?”

Student: “Because I don’t know what I want to do.”

“…”

Me: “So why haven’t you used the Careers Service?”

 

It is incredible how often I get this reply. It makes so little sense when you think about it:

These people are here to help you.

They know which degrees lead to where.

They have loads of free booklets dedicated to each subject area offered at university.

They know what jobs are available.

They know the entry requirements for different jobs.

They can advise you on and help you to improve your CV.

They can help you get a paid internship.

 

Why are you still reading this? Why aren’t you talking to the Careers Service already?

Jack.

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