University: Getting A Grad Job

Now, I might not be the best person to write about this, so the simple reason that I don’t have a graduate role lined up. However I’ve been through the application process (both for my placement and for a grad role), and I’m still actively looking for something – so maybe I’m the ‘realistic’ person to talk about graduate employment. I definitely know more people without a job than with one at this point in the year!
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Grad Schemes or Job

I know for the area I’m going to get into (note the determination in that sentence!) the majority of grad schemes are now closed. That’s probably not the case for most industries, and whilst I feel like it should be stressing me out, I’m well aware that there are plenty of graduate-level jobs out there. They might not come with quite as fancy training packages, but they will throw you in the deep end, get you working, and aren’t an option to dismiss.

There are so many sites and companies out there to help graduates find jobs. Spotlight Recruitment is a website specialising in marketing careers. Not my industry I must admit, but I have browsed the site to see what they’ve got – I love that you can narrow down your search by region. Covering categories such as digital marketing, communications and e-commerce, it’s a really easy to use site and has useful tips like on selling yourself in interviews, what to include on a CV (I wrote my own guide here) – all pretty much essential information.

Applications or Recruiter

No doubt about it, job applications can be stressful, long-winded, frustrating. They can involve getting the perfect CV, then answering endless competency questions, completing online tests. Then there’s various interview stages; telephone, face-to-face, assessment centres… trust me, if you get through all of these, get told you passed every stage with flying colours and still don’t get offered the job, it’s pretty damn soul destroying.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with some absolutely lovely recruiters. Whilst no, I don’t have a job yet, they’ve offered help and guidance as to how to hone my CV, I’ve had a few very positive interviews, and the stress and time consuming part of the application is nicely reduced.
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Application Hints & Tips

I’ve written quite a few guides to careers and getting a job before (ironic, huh?!) – but I think the biggest key is to be prepared. Make sure you know what the job entails and how your experience and aspirations relate to it, spend a lot of time researching the company. I would also try and think of a few questions you want to ask – it’s always something you have the opportunity to do, and the right questions give such a good impression and show you’re super interested in the company. But my biggest tip of all? If you do get a rejection, no matter how dreadful it makes you feel, always ask for feedback. Then get your chin up, smile and do 10x better in the next one.

How do you find the job-hunting process? Any tips to share?

University: The Effect of Social Media

As someone who is currently looking for a graduate job, I’m interested in anything and everything job-search related right now. Whether it’s a CV Writing Guide or How To Ace Interview Questions, I’m taking all the help I can get.

 photo Social Media amp Careers_zpspp7s6bze.jpgBut no matter how good your CV is, how flawless your interview technique is, there could be one thing stopping you from getting a job. Bray & Bray have put together this infographic on social media and the workplace – and it’s a really interesting read.

Bray and Bray - Social Media In The Workplace (1)I personally have (I hope!) a really clean online presence. My Facebook is private bar a few posts I’ve deliberately set as public, there’s no drunken photos (a benefit to hardly drinking!), and my blog shows me in a good light. Whilst my blog doesn’t necessarily list my (rather unique) name, it is relatively accessible thanks to a few campaigns – so I make doubly sure my posts aren’t overly controversial. I know from experience that employers will and do have a google of names, so it’s really best to have a clean up every now and again to make sure you’re not sharing something that could damage your career…

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own as always!

Have you altered the way you appear on social media due to employment prospects?

Lifestyle: What’s in my Handbag (Intern Edition)

I read Hayley’s post on Sunday and realised that although I LOVE writing (and reading) these posts I haven’t done an updated version. So, here’s what’s been in my handbag over my internship. And yep, only two days left of this 13-month internship to go…

 photo 638b3354-10f9-4a48-b336-7da8307cf6ce_zpsopgxqswe.jpgI’ve alternated quite a bit between my satchels this year, and I’m actually pretty damn sure all seven of them have visited the office at some point. The one I’m using for the last part of my internship is my Patent Naked Taupe one from my beloved Leather Satchel Company. I absolutely adore the colour of this, though I try not to use it too often to keep it looking pristine (I have found the buckle straps to crack quite easily too with this one). It’s a smaller 14″ satchel so I do struggle to fit everything in…this is the smallest bag I could carry on a daily basis! My 12.5″ which came with me to Italy was a real struggle…

So, what’s inside?

We have purse, travel bits, keys, phone, phone charger, overnight oats, Filofax, Kindle, and lunch. Then there’s the usual spare knickers, painkillers, allergy tablets, multiple pens and drink bottle.

 photo Whats In My Handbag - Intern Edition - 6_zps8ky5beln.jpgI have tried not to carry my Filofax around too much this year, preferring to leave it on my desk. The main reason for this is I’m completely lost without it at work, whereas I can just about cope in the evenings. As long as I make sure to sync it to my phone calendar each morning…I’m still using my Malden filofax and I still adore it. However they now make the Original in the EXACT same leather as this satchel. I’m desperate for it!

My travel stuff is kept inside a Filofax card holder, which matches my actual Filofax perfectly – I tracked it down via Ebay after a good few months of searching. I love my Travelcard photo. I’d been putting off going and getting it done, and in the end had to get it done about two hours before we piled into the car and moved down to London. After sleeping at W’s parents. With no makeup bag. Luckily I do keep a powder (Bourjois Java Rice) and mascara (no idea which one!) at theirs, and I had a lipstick in my bag from dinner the night before. Turns out MAC’s Lady Danger works quite well in photographs!

I carry around my phone charger because my current phone (for just a few more days!) is very unpredictable. It can last 18 hours between charges, or it can last just 2. It doesn’t take photos, the vibration motor has died, and it overheats like a bitch. Oh, and it occasionally likes to open and close apps incessantly (with the off button taking screen-shots) until it runs out of battery. I am pretty much decided on my new phone, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to do some social-mediaing more reliably during the day. And spam your Instagram feeds.

If there’s one thing I couldn’t live without on a day-to-day handbag basis, it would be my Kindle. Whether its a 20 minute commute or 2 minutes waiting for a bus, my Kindle keeps me sane, stops me from having to make conversation with the weird guy sitting next to me, and makes my whole day so much more enjoyable. I’ve had a Kindle for just shy of three years now, and whilst I do prefer to read an actual book, I do think they are a fab idea. I speak as someone who once took 10 books on a fortnight holiday…baggage workers much have hated me.

 photo Whats In My Handbag - Intern Edition - 4_zpsrtuffmze.jpg photo Whats In My Handbag - Intern Edition - 5_zpscaiztiub.jpgThen there’s an awful lot of food in my bag. Overnight Oats for breakfast (yum), and then lunch. It’s usually a wholemeal-roll-with-ham-and-mustard-and-a-packet-of-ready-salted-crisps affair (seriously, I have had that lunch 90% of the time for the last seven years!), though occasionally I switch to a white-roll-with-chorizo. In winter I’ll take soup, and if I have leftovers I will always take those. Last week was a couscous mix, Greek inspired with plenty of mint and tzaziki, and I picked up some falafel from Sainsburys too (they lived in the work fridge). I’ll also have an “emergency apple” for if I feel faint, and I try to keep a Nakd bar in there for the same reason. And a water bottle, because that’s what Southern Rail recommend 😉

Then the embarrassing stuff. Spare knickers. I don’t actually know why I carry them around, but like Katy says, you never know where the night will take you! I always carry painkillers, because I always get a headache if I don’t! I always carry antihistamines, because I react so easily to traces of tomato. And pens, because I’m always losing the damn things.

 photo caa35e87-ebab-45e1-af91-b8f759c0faf4_zpsy96kzjuk.jpgIf I’m going out after work then I’ll also carry a small makeup bag, usually containing concealor, my Hourglass palette, eyeliner, and mascara. And always, always, always will be the lipstick I put on in the morning. And probably a lipliner too – I’ve recently discovered Kiko ones. I say recently, I picked up two in Italy in June, and recently added another seven to my collection. By far and away the best liners I’ve tried. Full review next week, promise!

 photo Whats In My Handbag - Intern Edition - 7_zpshm7ktmer.jpg photo cd173053-e14b-4dc9-acd6-4994671ab8b4_zps2oxcou0h.jpgLooking back at all this, it’s no wonder my shoulder is stiff when I get in the door of an evening! And apologies for the not-so realistic photos. I wanted to do the ‘tip everything out’ style, but the light is awful when I get in at 6:30pm, and I just don’t love you all quite enough to do it before I leave the house. #sorrynotsorry

What do you always carry around in your handbag?

 

Beauty: From Day to Night, Work to Play

This week marks my last week of work, my last week of a 13-month placement. At the moment I’m feeling pretty emotional and trying to steel myself against shedding a tear come 5pm on Thursday. This week also marks a week of leaving celebrations. Not one to do things by halves, I’ve scheduled a total of three leaving meals, plus drinks. Damn you tube strike for making things difficult…

 photo 0804338b-a8c7-4c57-8024-68e1821be678_zpsckjvjwtx.jpg photo 18f7e2f4-2617-40db-93d2-3a802fa7110b_zpslbat83tz.jpgHeading out after work is something I’ve become accustomed to over the head. Many Fridays were spent legging it to the station with suitcase ready for a loved-up weekend with W. I’ve gone to blogging events, met with friends, and sampled all the local Thai restaurants (multiple times). With an evening out comes the need for a two-minute-touch-up of my daily makeup. And actually, I’ve got the routine pretty much down…

 photo 26930160-731b-478f-a676-b196b04605e2_zpsb5lx5whd.jpgI’ll apply a teeny, tiny dot of eye cream first (I always keep some at my desk, along with lip balm and hand cream), as my eyes get super dehydrated sitting at a computer all day. I’ll then go in with the concealer to hide any dark-circles. I’ll add some grey eyeshadow to my crease, and my lower lashline, smudging it all out for a smokey effect. A quick coat of mascara and my eyes are looking good.

 photo 382b035e-43c0-4655-a9cb-3bd61a64c1d9_zpsqd1zgq3e.jpgBase wise, and my Hourglass palette is a total lifesaver. A big fluffy brush and this is all I need to make my skin look as flawless as it did at 7am – and it will last until I stumble through the door too. I’ll use a combination of all three shades to brighten, highlight and add warmth and definition. The mirror means I can do all my of makeup at my desk or on the train if necessary – major bonus!

 photo caa35e87-ebab-45e1-af91-b8f759c0faf4_zpsy96kzjuk.jpgA quick slick of lipstick and I’m good to go! My lipstick changes daily, depending on what I’m wearing – and I’ll just throw the day’s lipstick in my bag for top-ups if needed. If I know I’ll be eating/drinking I’ll also use a matching lip liner too; I’ll be talking more about these next week but I LOVE Kiko ones.
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I’ve got this routine down to just under three minutes now (yep, I’m pretty impressed with myself!). What are your quick-fix makeup items? How do you take your makeup from day to night? 

 

Lifestyle: A Day in the Life of An Intern

I did a guest post on someone’s blog a while ago (I genuinely can’t remember who it was for, I can’t find the file or the email – sorry!) which described a day in my life. A second-year student at the time, I really enjoyed writing it. Here’s an updated version! I’m coming to the end of a 13-month-long internship in case you are wondering at the lack of training/guidance throughout my day!

 photo Clean Eating Challenge10_zpsrfenfazw.jpg6.45 Alarm goes off. I’m not a grump in the morning, I promise you…

6.47 I’ve pulled myself out of bed, the kettle is on to boil and I’m completing my quick morning skincare routine. I tend to just splash my face with water, swipe with Pixi Glow and then moisturise with my beloved Garnier moisturiser.

6.53 Tea is made (one sugar, strongly brewed, plenty of milk – please and thank-you), moisturiser has sunk in so it’s time to throw some makeup on. I usually just apply a little Rimmel Match Perfection, then 17 Stay Time concealer under the eyes, and a little mascara.

 photo 2015-04-12 12.29.18_zpsvhq9zdvm.jpg6:59 Time to get dressed and inevitably ladder three pairs of tights. I always try to think about my outfit the night before, but it never quite happens. My usual work outfit is a smart-ish skirt, shirt (I love pussy-bow blouses) and cardigan, with a jacket with me in case of an important meeting.

7:10 I’ve thrown some bread in the microwave to defrost, and I’ve topped my Overnight Oats with some seeds and raspberries (it’s a banana and peanut butter combo this time!). Time to sit at my lovely breakfast bar, scroll through some blogs and drink my tea. And the Overnight Oats post is on it’s way – TOMORROW!

7:30 I suddenly realise the time, brush teeth, throw on any additional makeup if I have time (blusher usually). Shoes on, bag packed, out the door.

7:31 Back in the door for forgotten keys.

7:37 Where is my bus?!

7:43 I so could have left later…

7:57 Angry passenger kicks ‘out’ the door of the bus because the driver didn’t stop (he hadn’t pressed the button).

8:01 I wander along Platform 13 at Clapham. I know now exactly where to wait for the carriage that will get me closest to the stairs at Redhill. PS – ridiculously proud of my Travelcard photo!

 photo 4c23ecfc-9b6a-49fa-ab9b-7e0f972c5744_zps2ynqlyhl.jpg8:08 Battle onto the train. Luckily I usually get a seat, so I’ll cosy up with my Kindle. I haven’t missed my stop yet…

8:30 Train pulls into Redhill, I head off on the three-minute walk to work. I am trying to use this extra half-hour to build a little exercise into my day, so if I’m not ridiculously busy in the office I’ll take a brisk walk.

9:00 By this time I like to be logged on, checking my emails and have a ‘important tasks’ list written for the day. I generally have a Weekly To Do list, and then prioritise tasks each day.

9:15 I’m also currently training my replacement, so try to check he has enough work to be doing whilst I am busy each morning. At some point before half 10 I try to eat my breakfast too…

Until 13:00 Various bits and bobs. This involved a weekly team meeting, creating a presentation, wrestling with some SAS code, and writing a piece of VBA to make all characters selected in Excel capitals…

 photo IMAG0081_zpsrvtfiifh.jpg13:05 Make it to the park, find an empty bench and sit in the sun. I try to get outside during my lunchbreak as I find it really perks me up for the rest of the day. I sit and read my Kindle, catch up on blog emails, and eat – usually a sandwich.

14:00 Drag myself back inside. I spend the next hour on the phone to different branch managers (the joys of month-end).

15:27 Get an urgent task to do. Spend five minutes instructing my replacement on how he can help, then concentrate solely on this for the rest of the day.

16:58 Why does someone always ring with a really important query just before 5?! Luckily this one is something that can wait until the morning, so I scribble a post-it for myself.

17:01 Home time! I try to leave on-time, despite most of my office rarely leaving before 7pm. I have never struggled to complete work, though I’m often busy, so I don’t feel too much need to stay late. I like to think I’m not slacking!

17:19 Jump in the inevitably late train.

17:45 Rush through Clapham (always full of people who never seem to know where they are going).

17:48 Waiting for a bus.

17:51 Bus turns up. Why does nobody in London know how to queue to tap their Oyster card?!

18:03 Battle through bus to doors, only for driver to close doors as I get to them. Stand until the next stop before shouting a sarcastic ‘thank-you’ – it happens at least twice a week.

18:06 In the door, kettle on.

Ponds Cold Cream photo 89963951-3b97-43bf-a85a-954e935b323d_zpsenqn8ofw.jpg photo Clean Eating Challenge6_zpswpgkj2mz.jpg18:30 By this time I’ve removed my makeup, showered, washed hair (I always do it in the evening) changed into some PJs comfy clothes and started on the dinner prep. We’ve recently trialled a Go Fresh box which I really enjoyed. It’s too expensive for us on a regular basis but I’ll definitely consider it in future.

18:45 W usually get in around this time, so we crack on with dinner and talk about our days.

19:30 Time to wash and clean up. I tend to do the washing, W the drying. Though we can’t do this at the same time as the kitchen isn’t big enough! I’ll also make my Overnight Oats for the next day.

19:55 I’ll sit down for an hour to do some blogging or some graduate applications – scary stuff! I haven’t even started final year and I’m already applying for grad roles…

21:02 This is unwind time. We’ll either watch an episode of Breaking Bad, or I’ll sit and read. On days where I’m really behind on the blogging I’ll do a little more.

22:15 I try to start heading to bed around now. I know its early, but I’m a bit of a grump without enough sleep!

 photo 4b86491a-f68d-48d1-bc74-2f6a5190a775_zpsnjvjyk1x.jpg22:57 Lights out before 11 if I can help it – avoiding the aforementioned grump!

I now can’t work out if I have really busy days, or if I don’t do a lot! I’ve had to stay pretty brief about what I do at work for confidentiality reasons obviously, but my work day is usually packed…I’m often pretty exhausted when I finish! Though I am definitely not complaining, I’ve absolutely loved my placement and can’t believe I only have three weeks left.

Do you enjoy this type of post? What’s a typical day like for you?

Careers: Getting THAT Work-Life Balance

This is it, my biggest bone of contention. I love the career I’ve chosen for myself, but I hate that I’m pretty much going to be a slave to it for the next few years. I’ll be working full-time and pushing through some of the hardest exams there are (whoop for 30% pass rates!), I’ll be completing 3-years of work based skills and hopefully I’ll have qualified by the time I am thirty

 photo Life vs Work_zpsy46vepz5.pngI’ve actually been working over the last 13 months, doing an extended internship as part of my degree – I’ve loved it, I’ve worked with some amazing people, and with just four working days left to go I’m tearing up as I type. It’s not been easy, far from it. The job is technical, there’s complicated mathsy stuff, lots of learn, legalities to take care of, and then there’s working 9-5. I thought my work ethic was good at university but nothing prepared me for a full working day. For the first few weeks I was constantly exhausted and relied far too much on One Pan Mac’n’Cheese. As with everything though, finding the balance is key. It took me a while, but I eventually got there!

It was the struggle to get the balance right that led me to be totally interested in the Work Life Balance Quiz compiled by Simply Health. I did this honestly, but wasn’t at all surprised by the results – as expected I’m a “Volleyer.” Good at prioritising, I’ll switch from integrating and separating work and fun stuff, depending on what the situation calls for.

So, what’s the key for balancing my life? Well…

 photo 4fb9dacd-00b9-4020-ab50-d1deb97658db_zpsb7644b64.jpg photo 2015-01-10 20.09.54_zpsyk0ey3wo.jpgPrep and Plan Meals. I mentioned that I survived for far too long on easy, stodgy meals when I first started work, and not only did that make me feel pretty bloated and lethargic, it also didn’t help with some sneaky weight gain. Far better is to spend a little while at the weekend working out what meals to have. I’ll plan when I’m likely to have to work late, when I’ve got anything planned socially, and what I fancy eating. I’ll even do bits like chopping veg in advance – and obviously batch-cooking and freezing meals is a great little tip too.

Plan Evenings Off. A busy social life is great. Spending all evening typing away at blog posts makes me feel super-organised. At the end of the day, everyone needs some down time, and so I try to plan evenings when I don’t do anything but read, paint my nails, and think.

Have Me Time. Failing whole evenings off, just plan a bit of you time into every day. I like to sit in the park and read at lunch – even if it’s only for ten minutes when I’m really busy. I like to sit in bed each morning with a cup of tea. I like to read a few chapters of my latest book before bed.

Don’t Bring Work Home. I’m lucky in that company policy when I started dictated that I didn’t receive a laptop – so I couldn’t physically bring work home. I know if I did I’d always be tempted to do a little here, a little there, and I’d never fully switch off. Obviously I know its not always practical, but my aim is to try and keep my job limited to working hours as much as possible – whilst still getting everything done.

 photo 2014-09-24175026_zps64eef189.jpgWork Smart. When you are working, work. No checking twitter (guilty), emails (guilty) or texting the boyfriend (double guilty). If you work smartly you’ll get tasks completed quicker, leaving more free time. To-Do lists are something I rely on hugely – I couldn’t live without carrying my Filofax around with me!

Cut out Perfectionist Tendencies. I’m a huge perfectionist, I hate having uncompleted work or making errors. I’ll constantly check my work for mistakes, I’ll take on more and more responsibility in projects to retain control, and none of this is particularly healthy. Sometimes you need to accept that things do go wrong. By all means do everything to the best of your ability, but don’t stress over it.

Enjoy It. Above all, enjoy what you do. Enjoy your job, enjoy your life out of work. If not, the balance is clearly off!

Disclaimer: I was invited to take the quiz and share the results, however this is not a sponsored post and no money exchanged hands. And as ever, all opinions are my own!

How do you make sure you have the right work-life balance? What kind of a worker are you?

Careers: Getting the Most from Interning

My degree includes a ‘Year in Industry’ which is essence is like an extended (and paid!) internship. I’ve recently been asked to stay a little longer with my company so I’ll be working up to the end of August – something I’m thrilled to bits about as the thought of leaving isn’t something I’ve come to terms with yet! I thought I’d put together a post with a few hints and tips about how to get the most out of your internship.
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Treat It As A Job

I think the biggest mistake you can make whilst interning is thinking of it as ‘just’ work experience. Yes it might be temporary, but temporary jobs have a habit of turning permanent for the right person. If you pretend it is your final career you are much more likely to be motivated, and in turn you’ll get all the more out of the experience.

Ask Questions

When I first started at my placement I’d sit in team meetings, abbreviations thrown in everywhere, wondering what the hell was going on. I wrote a list of anything I didn’t understand (that first week it was just shy of two sides of A4!) and went through it with my supervisor. I found I was too nervous to ask alllll the questions in front of the whole team, so speaking to just one person made it bearable – but make sure you get those niggly questions answered. You’ll never do the job to the best of your ability if you don’t know what others are doing…
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Make Notes

On the back of my last point, make notes. Whether this is notes regarding a task you are instructed to do (so you don’t get halfway through and completely forget the next step), or notes about background information…they are SO important. There are some I still refer to now – for instance with each client case I’ve made notes about how I dealt with them, and I’ll flick over them once in a while if an unusual situation comes up. I have 2 massive folders full of notes from this year, something I didn’t expect!

Ask For Feedback

Every time you do a task, get feedback on how you did, how you could improve. In addition, try and find out how your work will be used. Will your research be used to build a model, will your analysis be presented to a client? That way you’ll build up the bigger picture and be able to target your work in a more effective way.

Volunteer Yourself

If there’s work going on in the department that sounds interesting, say you can help out. My manager was working on a massive project when I started, and within a few months I asked if I could help. I’m still working on the project now having (if I say so myself) done quite well on the research stage.
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Explore Other Areas

Yes, you are generally assigned to one team, one department, but that doesn’t stop you talking to people in others. I myself have performed a questionnaire of different departments to gain feedback for our team – and find out about their jobs in the process – but this could be done informally or socially too. Of course, getting involved in a multi-department project is always great!

Enjoy Yourself

Above all, enjoy yourself. Put a smile on your face, socialise with colleagues and make the most of it. Now i feel all emotional about getting ready to leave placement…

NB: If you are currently searching for internship opportunities, I highly recommend looking at Inspiring Interns, a UK graduate recruitment agency

Have you even done an internship or work placement? What tips to you have for making the most of it?

 

Careers: Preparing for Competency Questions

“Tell me about a time when you saved the world whilst dancing on your head?”

There’s an example of a competency question, albeit a rather silly one. But they are often seen as the most difficult part of a job application process, and so they’re worth getting right. A competency question simply asks you to demonstrate your ability at a skill, or set of skills, using your own experiences. I’ve sat in on quite a few careers seminars which aim at helping with competency questions, so feel I can help you out a little.
Competency Questions photo WRITE THE PERFECT CV 1_zps8x7scfsc.png

Examples

Here’s a few examples of competency questions. These are ones I have actually been asked in interviews or on application forms – but no, I’m not revealing by which company!

  • Please describe an example of when you have successfully completed a complex task or project. What was the task, what obstacles did you face, and what was the outcome?
  • Please describe an example of when you have built a successful relationship with a colleague or a customer. What did you do, why did you do it and what was the outcome?
  • Give an example of a time when you’ve been an effective team member.
  • Describe a time when you have challenged convention and found an opportunity to improve things. What did you do and how was it received?
  • Describe when you have built a strong collaborative relationship, how you achieved this, and what were the rewards?
  • Describe a difficult situation and how you have resolved it.
  • Please describe a time you’ve used analytical thinking to find a simple solution to a complex problem.
  • Tell me about a task that you have delivered under a tight time constraint. How did you plan your time to ensure you delivered what was required?

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Preparing

The best bit of advice I ever heard was to create a grid detailing key skills, with examples next to it. This should be just short, just one page, so you can memorize the examples and the skills they gave, or use in a telephone interview.

I always have a spreadsheet which lists all the competency questions I have ever been asked, alongside full answers. I go through every couple of months and update answers if I feel like they need updating. This keeps things fresh in my mind and reading through before an interview means I should never be stuck for something to say!

Answering

You want to make sure your answer has a good structure. What you did. Why you did it. How you did it. How you demonstrated the skill in question. What was the outcome and how did you influence it. How would you improve next time.

Above all, make sure you answer the question. If you are asked one about teamwork, don’t talk about an individual project. Teamwork questions can be tricky as you want to make it all about your skills, whilst demonstrating how you worked as a team. A good answer might be something like ‘we worked on X, I suggested we split the work up and look the lead on Y, this meant we were on time and working in manageable chunks.’

Also ensure you use examples from your own experience – there’s nothing more awkward than being asked further details and not being able to provide them!

And my top tip?

Make sure you have examples for each of the skills you mention in your CV. Interviewers are bound to pick up on these, so if you have said you are skilled in a particular programming language, have an example of a project using it ready to wow!

Do you have any tips for dealing with these types of questions? What part of the job application process do you find the most difficult?

University: Jobs After Education

I remember going into sixth form (gulp, five years ago!) pretty much determined that I wasn’t going to university. I didn’t see the point of the expense, I was set on an accountancy course. My parents have never pressured me to do anything, but they’ve always made me find out about each option – something I’m so grateful for as quite clearly I changed all my plans!

 photo Employment After Education_zps5rzlkw4d.pngKnowing how difficult I found it deciding what to do, I’m pleased to bring you this guest post talking about various employment options after university;

“You’ve taken your first steps, made the journey through school and now you’re embarking on your career. If you’re still unsure of what you want to do, read on to find out more about the potential routes you can take.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a great option as they enable you to train on the job while also bringing home a weekly or monthly wage.In many cases, if an apprentice impresses, they could even be offered a permanent position after completing their studies.

They’re available in a range of sectors and some of the UK’s biggest companies offer them. For example, Nifty Lift offers a wide range of engineering apprenticeships, which could be a great way into this tough industry for the right candidate.
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University & Graduate Schemes

University is a great option if you want to continue their studies or attain a career where a higher level qualification is needed. However, after graduating, it can be difficult to secure a job that makes use of new skills.

Graduate schemes are a great entry route to well-paid positions in some of the world’s leading companies. Competition can be tough though, so CVs need to stand out from the crowd if they are to be selected for an interview.

More information and tips about graduate schemes can be found at Save the Student.

Don’t Feel The Pressure

Pressure (from yourself, friends, teachers or parents) to get your head down and hit the books runs the risk of stress, overload and reluctance. Setting unrealistic expectations will place extra stress on yourself — it’s the last thing you need while deciding what they want to do for a career.

Just try to do the best you can do and take your time in choosing the most suitable route for you. Remember, academic paths aren’t for everyone and you can still succeed via alternative means.”

I hope you find this useful – I know I would have really appreciated some simple, short, down-to-earth guidance when I was thinking about what to do. In a way I’m still in the same boat as I’m applying for grad roles and deciding what kind of actuary I want to be. I think I know, I’m just having a case of ‘maybe the grass is greener.’ Growing up is so confusing!

*Sponsored post

How did you find the job search when you finished education? I’m so nervous for applying to grad roles!

Careers: The Job Hunt

Having secured myself a year-long placement in my chosen field I was pretty damn chugged with myself, so I thought I’d so a little career series. I talked about how the write the best CV a few weeks back, but now it’s the turn of hunting down those opportunities.
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Make a List

More specific for graduates hunting down post-university roles I guess, but having a list of potential companies makes hunting down jobs a lot easier. Despite not even heading back to university I’ve already start a spreadsheet of companies, whether they offer specific graduate schemes and, if so, requirements and anticipated opening dates. Better overprepared that under!

Utilise LinkedIn

I cannot recommend this enough. I’ve recently been headhunted to apply for a graduate scheme ahead of the competition through LinkedIn, so whilst it might not directly get you a job it will get your noticed. Keep it up to date with your skills and experience, and share interesting industry news. Treat it as your professional facebook!

Search Often

Obviously it depends on how desperate your are, but I would suggest searching a couple of times a week. I know a lot of jobs that are filled on a rolling basis rather than having a specific closing date, so keeping a close eye is the best plan.
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Think Outside of the Box

I would never have gotten my placement had I not researched lesser known insurance companies. I had never heard of my company and know a lot of people have no idea who I’m talking about – it really does pay to search around.

Take Risks

With my placement I also tried an area out I hadn’t previously been too interested in – turns out I love it and it would be great to come back to it after graduation. Try something new out, you might end up loving it!

And above all – Don’t Lose Heart

I think the key to job searching is don’t give up. It can be sole-destroying when nothing comes up (believe me, I’ve been there) but if you keep at it the right opportunity is out there.

What are your top job-hunting tips?