It’s hard to stand out amongst the crowds of students and graduates at careers events. Although you may be well aware that you should do some serious research and planning in advance of your visit, it can be difficult to know where to start. Consider the answer to these questions:
- Can you stand out from the crowd? Will you be memorable (in, of course, a good way…)
- Imagine you were given five minutes to ‘pitch’ for a job with an employer, what would you say? What is your key message and could you condense it if you had less than two minutes for it?
- If a company rep puts you on the spot and says – “so what’s your Unique Selling Point?” – will you have a ready answer or will you run for the door?
Here are some questions that can help you find the answers to the above:
- Firstly think about what you’ve done so far on your course. List the options you’ve taken and think about where you gained your best results. Now write down what you’ve enjoyed about the course. Any work experience? Make a note of that too, whether you did it for your course or to generate income. All of this is your starting point for reflection about your achievements as a student. And guess what – even if you enrolled last month you’ll still have started to gather evidence.
- What do you want to do after graduation? Or, what are your plans over the next two / three years of your course? Summarise your career goal. Think of how few words you can use to say it and then shorten it again. The most powerful statements are short and sweet, such as ‘focused on a career within IT’, ‘I am planning to teach’ or ‘training as a Solicitor is my goal’. The beauty of this point is that your answer need not be permanent. If you change your mind by the start of November? Believe me, most people do exactly that.
- Can you appear confident? This is all about making bold statements. This isn’t the time to be worried, or appear under qualified – and neither is it the time to be arrogant or to talk about your training needs. Believe in yourself – look at how far you’ve come whilst at university! State your skills and let potential employers know what you can do e.g. ‘The report from my placement employer highlighted my strengths in …’
None of this is easy and it certainly takes time. But you can use your findings to help you with application forms and interview questions in the future too. This self reflection can also help you think in a different way about which direction you want to take after university as well as what sort of employers might be right for you.