Find out what’s going on in the marketplace for graduates jobs and the latest news about employment prospects. We also use this page to share our ideas about what graduates can be doing now to improve their prospects of landing the job they’re looking for, either now or whilst they are still at university.

Assessment day coming up? Brush up on aptitude tests

Photograph: Alamy

The likelihood is that at some point in your job search as a graduate, you’ll be asked to complete an aptitude test. Virtually all large graduate recruitment schemes use psychometric testing at some stage, and although it can be anxiety provoking, this can be greatly reduced by PRACTISING. There are plenty of practice verbal and numerical tests available online, and they will help you familiarise yourself with the style of questions used by employers.

Applicants tend to be most apprehensive about numerical reasoning tests, which assess your aptitude for interpreting graphical and tabular data, and performing numerical operations with the data. Numerical reasoning tests are measuring your innate numerical potential and not your learned mathematical knowledge. They are also designed to be used for a broad cross-section of candidates. According to online assessment experts Assessment Day, the level of the maths involved in a numerical reasoning test is about GCSE level. The tricky part is interpreting the numerical data and figuring out what calculation is required, under the pressure of the count-down timer. The most common calculations you can expect in your numerical test are: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages and ratios.

So check out these other useful sites and get practising!
Practice Reasoning Tests  offer a wide range (and free resource) of practice tests, test training and useful articles. Alternatively, you can brush up on maths at BBC Skillswise, try out tests on Numerical Reasoning Tests and Practice Aptitude Tests.

Tips for a CV recruiters want to read

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Graduates often tell me they find it difficult to keep their CVs short (no more than 2 pages) and to the point. Hiring managers have limited time to review CVs – and applicants have got to make it easy for them to choose the ‘yes’ pile, and not the ‘bin’ pile.

So here are some tips to help your cv land in the ‘yes’ pile:

  • Consolidate your contact information. No need to include your address – if anything, just the city you live in.
    Also, instead of separating your phone number, email address, and social media accounts by line, use vertical bars to divide the information and include everything on one line
  • Don’t take style/ layout shortcuts You might be tempted to trim margins, shorten line spacing, or shrink the font, but those shortcuts stand out to recruiters.You need to maintain the readability of the document and not overwhelm the hiring manager with too much text.
  • What font is the best for CVs? Industry experts recommend using Cambria, with up to 14-point font for section headers and no smaller than 10-point for content.
  • Write concisely and use industry recognised abbreviations
    To tighten up the language on your CV —and save space—avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, or we). Also, use industry-standard or acronyms where appropriate, for example, in most industries it’s known that R&D stands for research and development.
  • Erase ‘references available upon request’, that’s a given.
  • Think carefully about the section on interests as it’s unlikely that this information is going to get you hired.  There are exceptions, such as an unusual hobby that makes you stand out, or one that directly relates to the job. If you’re applying for a position at The Lawn Tennis Association and  you’re a lifelong tennis player, then include it.
  • Mirror the skills the employer is looking for.  Mirroring the language used in the job posting will also help your CV get past applicant-tracking software used by employers to scan CVs for keywords.
  • Eliminate unnecessary section headers. The summary—the three- to four-sentence profile where you highlight what makes you uniquely qualified for the job—should appear at the top of your CV, but you don’t need to label it “summary.”
    Also, instead of creating separate sections for professional and volunteer experience, combine them under one “experience” section. If you’re entry-level, volunteer work can help boost your CV. If you’re more experienced, that volunteer work, like a hobby, could give you an edge over a similarly qualified candidate, if it’s highly relevant.

Job hunting for graduates

millenials job hunting

A recent survey by Microsoft found that 70% of students are most worried about landing their dream job or having financial stability after graduating. And of those millennials in work, two-thirds want to leave their organizations by 2020 according to a 2016 Deloitte survey.

It makes sense to put some effort into working out what you’re looking for in a career before you start applying for jobs.

Start thinking about what you want. This is more complicated than simply ‘following your passion’ (and not many people are clear about what that looks like).  It’s a combination of several things: our values, work we enjoy, work that challenges us and how work fits into the lifestyle we want.

So start brainstorming

  • What are your values?  What values are important to you in a job or in an employer?
  • What do you definitely want in a job?
  • What do you definitely NOT want in a job?
  • Note all of these down – a list, a mindmap, a spreadsheet, a graphic  – whatever works for you

Second step

  • If you’re not sure what type of role or industry you’re interested in, search this wide list of possible career choices. Work through them, discard the ones you’re not interested in and find out more about the ones you might be interested in.
  • If you do know the career or industry you want to work in, then identify the companies in that sector that you are interested in (e.g. a global organisation? SME?)

Third step

  • Set up a simple matrix to map possible careers/ companies (top line) against the list of attributes/ values that are important to you in a job (down the left hand side)
  • Use a scoring system to help prioritise the careers that you want to investigate in more detail and apply for

Don’t ignore your gut instinct! The matrix is a useful tool to help focus your planning and next steps.  If something feels right/ wrong for you, listen to that and feed it into your planning.

Top 10 verbs employers want to see on your CV

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A recent survey of 150 employers identified the top 10 verbs they want to see on your CV – and if you can show that you’ve done the things employers most value, you’ve increased your chances of taking your CV to the next step – interview.

1 Managed – This can include managing people, projects or even time management. It shows employers you have control over your responsibilities, see the bigger picture and drive results.
2 Delivered – Whatever you deliver (a project, some group work?), show recruiters the end product of your work by explaining what you have delivered.
3 Improved – If you can be brought on board to drive positive change within an organisation, you will be invaluable to an employer. Did you have an opportunity to make an improvement (perhaps a process) at a job you had during your time at uni?
4 Planned – Planning is the backbone of success, so it’s vital to show employers that you are capable of methodical and effective planning. Show examples.
5 Supported – Showing that you can support others is another way of proving that you can be relied upon and a strong team member.
6 Influenced – The ability to influence others is a necessary talent for getting others on side and getting things done, no matter what industry you work in. in any industry.
7 Trained – The ability to train others it shows that you have expertise in your field along with communication skills.
8 Resolved – Businesses face problems every day, so if you can show you have resolved issues, you will impress employers.
9 Presented – Presenting can be daunting but it’s a hugely valuable skill for any employee to have and most students will have had the opportunity to practise this at university.
10 Analysed – Data is a vital currency in any organisation, but it’s worthless without staff who can analyse it and understand its implications.

Employers are most impressed by those who can manage, deliver, improve and plan.  Think about the experience you’ve had so far – can you include any of these verbs in your CV?

CV – your personal profile

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I’ve recently been running CV surgeries for young professionals in the City and I was struck by some key themes across most of them. Whether you’re creating your CV to find your first job, or updating your CV for your next role, you’ll have a much better chance of getting your CV read if you have a strong personal profile, or summary. It should be around 4-6 lines and no more than 3 or 4 sentences.

Your personal profile is a snapshot that gives recruiters a sense of who you are, what drives you, what you’ve done and what you’re looking for.

Here are two examples:

Young Professional

A highly motivated and driven insurance broker who thrives on challenge. I enjoy the energy of being part of a diverse team and in my five years experience as a marine broker I have gained a huge amount of satisfaction by delivering solutions that meet the needs of my clients. I was delighted to be awarded Young Broker of the Year at XX’s 2016 sales conference. I am now looking to consolidate my broking and client management skills with a role as an account manager in a global insurance company.

Graduate

A mathematics graduate with a 2:1 degree from the University of X, looking to secure a Graduate Research Analyst position to develop my analytical skills and knowledge in a dynamic and fast-paced environment. One of the experiences I enjoyed most in my course was the opportunity to explain the output of my analysis to others in a practical way. My career goal is to have a role in a market leading company which will enable me to take responsibility for the analysis and interpretation of commercial data and present this to clients.

Job interview coming up? These top tips will help you prepare.

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Great news – you’ve been asked to come along to an interview! So how do you make sure you stand the best chance of landing the role?
Preparation is key.
Firstly, take time to research the company you are applying for – think about the type of information that will show the interviewers you have spent time really getting to know them. This will also give you confidence on the day of the interview.

So find out about:
– services/products/solutions the company offers
– their customers/clients
– their competitors
– which industry sectors/areas/countries they operate in
– recent news or awards
– the company culture and values
– key people in the business, and if possible, the person who will be interviewing you

Where do you get this information?

Start with the company website. This will give you key information about the organisation – what they do, where they operate, who the key people are. And look beyond the specific area you are being interviewed for – get a sense of the bigger picture. Check out their press release. The website also gives you a good sense of the company’s culture.

Then do some research using the available industry publications, and use the ‘news’ search on Google to find out what’s happening in the industry generally and the company specifically.

Use social media for more information, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

If the vacancy is being managed by a recruiter then pick up the phone and ask them about the company you are interviewing at – you may acquire some insider knowledge that you aren’t able to find on the internet and it also shows you’re interested.

And finally, search for the interviewer on LinkedIn and see if you can find out about their role and background – the more information you have at your finger tips, the better prepared you’ll be.

Choosing a career after university

Thinking about how to plan your career after university can be overwhelming – read this School’s Out article to help get you started!

July 2016

Who’s your inspiration?

david nott surgeon

As a coach, I often ask graduates to think about someone they admire, as we consider the values that are important to them when they are about to enter the world of work. Making sure our values are aligned with the organisation we work for is fundamental – all too often I deal with clients who are stressed by the tension between their values and those of their organisation.

So let me share someone I admire – he is David Nott, a specialist vascular and trauma surgeon who works mainly in London hospitals, but also volunteers to work in disaster and war zones and now organises training for others in this emergency work. I’ve been inspired by his sense of humanity and his humility since I first heard a radio interview with him in 2014. His recent appearance on Desert Island Discs was nothing short of amazing – I urge you to listen to his story.

Exam time coming – settle those nerves

keep calm

Follow these tips and take out some of the stress in the run up to end of year exams – they’ll help you approach your revision in a steady, balanced way.

When you are feeling overly stressed or panicky, your body changes. Your ability to think rationally, make considered decisions and allow facts, figures and information to sink in is significantly reduced. You breathe differently and this in turn changes the blood flow to the brain. The fight or flight response kicks in – awfully useful if you’re being chased by a wild animal, less so if you’re trying to focus on revision or solve a complex problem!

When you’re putting together your perfectly colour coded revision timetable, add in time to make sure you sleep well, eat well, exercise and allow for some fun.

So how do you regain a sense of balance?

  • In the moment, start by acknowledging how you feel and recognise what’s happening.
  • Then pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in deeply, hold it for a count of 3, then breathe out slowly. Do this a couple of times.
  • Accept where you are now, and think about where you want to be and the actions you need to take (finish a chapter/ write up notes?)
  • Let go of negative ‘noise’ and stories telling you it’s impossible and that you’ll never get through it. Be kind to yourself. Think of the positive steps you’ve taken. One helpful question to ask yourself is ‘what would a good friend say to me now?’

    When you are feeling calm, your revision will be so much more effective.

  • career list

    Career-guidance

    If you’re unsure about the range of possible careers open to you, Careers Gateway has a great list to start from: http://www.careers-gateway.co.uk/Careers/

    Start by quickly reading through it, score out what you’re definitely NOT interested in, then make two lists – (a) definitely interested and (b) need to know more. Match the careers on (a) against your strengths, skills and interests and prioritise. You now have the beginning of a plan!

    Rabbie Burns – still relevant

    Robert Burns2

    Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, was born on January 25th 1759. A farmer, a man of the people, he was known for his empathy and his ability to understand the human condition, often writing in Scots dialect. He gets to the heart of the matter.

    O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion

    Why is this relevant to career coaching? Amongst other things, having a coach gives you the chance to get immediate feedback on how you come across, how you look, how you answer questions, your body language (‘to see oursels as ithers see us’) as you prepare for interviews. Are you happy that you are presenting yourself to a potential employer to best advantage? Is there anything you should change to make the impact you want? (it wad frae mony a blunder free us). You have the opportunity to refine your answers to questions and make sure you say what you really want to, and how you really want to in a supportive environment. It greatly increases your confidence as you plan for interviews – and your chances of getting the job you want.

    facebook cartoon

    When you apply for a job, don’t forget to review your social media presence – make sure you’re consistent across your professional and personal networks!

    Gen Z? Don’t forget your Ps and Qs in the workplace.

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    Employers are impressed (if sometimes a little daunted) by the current crop of new entrants (Generation Z, i.e. those born around 1995 and beyond) to the workplace and their ease with all things technology. They’re helping to push the boundaries in this area.

    But it’s a different matter when it comes to understanding business protocol.

    What employers want: clear boundaries around communication, especially as they are seeing a blurring of the line between professional and private networks. This can make for an uncomfortable working relationship. Managers don’t want to be friends on Facebook with their junior colleagues.

    What Gen Z employees want: instant feedback on their performance that is open and honest and that they can act on. They also expect their manager to be interested in their career development – not just an annual appraisal that is a ‘tick box’ exercise. This group also expects to challenge the business more, often from an ethical standpoint and they expect their opinions to be heard. Personal values are important to them and they want to make sure the organisation’s values are aligned with their own. How do their employers behave as corporate citizens?

    What graduates need to think about.
    When you start a new role – don’t assume. Ask your manager and colleagues what the culture’s like. What are the unwritten rules of the company? How formal/ informal are you expected to be? How are you expected to communicate? How do you raise issues? How does the company engage with you regarding your personal development? And spend time with your manager to agree how you will work together, for example, how feedback will be given.

    Don’t overlook your Careers Service – they are an important resource

    career word cloud

    Settled into seminars, lectures, made new friends, discovered the joys of ultimate frisbee? Great!
    Time now to use some of the other resources available at your university or college. Start getting to know the Careers Service and think of this as an extra module you research and spend time on throughout your course.

    “By engaging with your Careers Service early on, you will definitely be gaining a strategic advantage.”

    Here’s are some of the key areas where they can provide expert help:

    * access to temporary job opportunities whilst you are studying – a good source of extra income and it looks good on your CV
    * access to your alumni network – always a good source of advice, information, work experience and possibly, jobs
    * information events – giving you a chance to find out about professions or industry sectors you know little about, but may have the perfect skill set to be successful
    * helping you to create an eye catching CV and LinkedIn profile that will help you stand out from the crowd

    You are making a significant investment in your degree – it is up to you to take advantage of everything that’s on offer to maximise your chances of career success.

    Off to uni? Check out these tips to make the most of it

    Are you starting uni, is your child starting uni? Read this article to make sure you get off to the right start as you make The Next Step. http://bit.ly/1KJqSbq