Get to know future employers: find clues on their website!

Businessman pointing at search bar on a virtual screen

Whether you are approaching an employer speculatively about a role that isn’t advertised, or you are applying for a role where you are given little information, looking at the organisation’s website can give you helpful clues about what to include in your application.

So if you don’t have a formal job description listing essential skills, how do you make your application fit what the employer is looking for?

You can find out this information yourself, by learning how to research the company or organisation using their website.

Here are some common areas that you might focus on:

“About us”

Most employer websites will have an “About us” page, which gives an overview of the organisation and what they do. These pages can be really useful for finding out about:

  • Specific services that the organisation provides
  • Sectors the organisation works in
  • Relevant language or terminology that the employer uses to describe their work
  • The ethos or history of the company

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Get fit and get your CV into shape – join a club or society and boost your CV

Did you know that getting involved with a club or society is a great opportunity for you to gain experience and develop your skills, which you can use to demonstrate to recruiters that you have what they are looking for when you apply for a job?

Whether you are going for graduate positions, work experience or part-time work, recruiters look for evidence that you have the ability to do the job. This means they will be looking out for examples of the key skills (competencies) that they require for the role on your CV/application and at interview. So whilst you’re keeping fit, you will also be giving your CV a good workout too and getting it into shape for future applications!

How, you might ask?

First of all, being part of a club or society is a great example of team working, communications skills and initiative. Running events for a club or society can demonstrate organisation and planning skills, and contributing to a newsletter or blog will prove your experience of  written communication skills.

Joining a drama group can help enhance presentation skills, communication skills, thinking on your feet, team working… and the list goes on! Most of all, it shows enthusiasm to get involved with university life outside of lectures, helping you to stand out from the crowd when applying for a job.

Further down the line, there could be an opportunity to get involved with committee roles e.g. president… this demonstrates leadership, responsibility and commitment, all of which are highly valued by employers.  These positions could also be an introduction to management skills.

Once you have had a taste at trying different things and developing new skills,  you can also think about what you have enjoyed and what you have been good at – a great way of working out what sort of jobs you might want to do when you graduate.

Head to Freshers Fair or contact the Students Union to find out what is on offer this year. If you think there is something missing, you could always start your own club or society.

Good luck and have fun!

Make the most of your summer work

trees-1789120_960_720At the start of term and in the sudden cold and rainy weather, the summer can feel like a distant memory. But don’t forget about what you got up to over the holidays because you may well have gained some useful skills and experiences for your CV.

It’s impressive to employers if the examples you use in your CV are quantifiable and specific, so it’s worth making a note now of the abilities you developed over the summer (before you forget the details!) so that you can use them in future applications.

Part-time jobs: Did you work in a bar or in retail or help out in a friend or relative’s business? All part-time work, even casual work, is useful in developing transferable skills. You might be able to use examples from your summer job to demonstrate that you have good communication skills, experience of customer service, or have worked as a reliable and responsible member of a team, for example.

Voluntary experience: Many skills that are valued by employers can be developed during voluntary work. Don’t discount summer volunteering because it is unpaid and for a limited time period; think about the specific tasks you undertook and the experience you gained. Did you do admin work or update databases? Did your voluntary work help you to develop problem-solving ability or experience of independent working on a particular task? Did it give you insight into a particular field or organisation?

Don’t forget we can give you feedback on your CV – call 020 7883 8533 to book a 1-2-1 appointment.

Ten skills your part-time job has given you

ssWhen it comes to writing your CV, an application form or answering questions at interview, don’t under-sell your part-time job. Working in a shop or restaurant etc. will have exposed you to situations that required you to use skills which graduate employers value. The key is knowing how to then make these relevant to the graduate job market. See our examples below. If you’d like to find out more or to get feedback on what you’ve written, visit the Careers & Enterprise Centre.

1. Customer service
Businesses are only too aware that providing excellent customer service is vital for retaining customer loyalty. Demonstrating that you know how to deliver friendly, polite and considerate service to customers will help you when you are applying for jobs after graduation. Don’t be shy to talk about times when you have gone that extra mile for a customer either.

2. Problem solving
What did you do when problems arose at your workplace? Did you decide to tackle the issues yourself, or work with colleagues? What did you learn from the experience? Being able to solve problems when they arise is a skill needed in every type of employment. Using the STAR technique (Situation Task Action Result) is particularly useful when structuring your answers to demonstrate the skill to employers.

3. Initiative
There may have been times when you used initiative in your part-time job, so why not show this off! Did you spot a way of making customer care more effective, for example, or of increasing sales in your department? Perhaps you came up with a way to motivate the rest of your team? You might think that your idea is not much to shout about, but to a potential employer it demonstrates initiative and commitment to improving your work environment.

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Impress employers with your soft skills

A recent study from the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) suggests that almost 50% of employers think that graduates don’t have the skills expected of them at the point of hiring. On average they reported that a quarter of their graduate intake are lacking essential soft skills.

But what exactly are soft skills?

They could be defined as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’, and essentially they cover your personal qualities, whereas hard skills are more about your ability to perform a task or activity. Soft skills could include things like teamwork, time management and verbal communication amongst others.

Depending on which course you’re studying, there might be plenty of opportunities to get involved in group projects, presentations and working to tight deadlines, but employers like to see that you’ve gained and developed skills from a range of activities (which could include part-time work, volunteering or joining an on-campus society).

Soft skills are transferable, i.e. they can be used in many different working environments, and will give you some excellent examples to use in an application or interview.

In this helpful article from the Independent, they list 7 key soft skills as essential for every graduate job-hunter. Remember, you’ll often see these skills listed in a person specification when applying to a role, so you could be asked to demonstrate them at an interview. By developing these skills across your studies, work experience, volunteering and getting involved in clubs and societies, you’ll have plenty of great examples to choose from.

We offer 1-2-1 appointments with a Careers Consultant where we can give you feedback on your CV, cover letter or application, to make sure you’re really selling your skills! Call 020 7882 8533 to book.

Free environmental auditor training for students

The Sustainability Team are offering free auditing training for students on the 1st June – this training opportunity will be valuable to students that are interested in working in the sustainability sector especially, but also students who would like experience of auditing in general.

Gain practical experience of environmental auditing to make your CV stand out in the competitive environmental sector.

sustStudents will receive:

  • A certificate to provide evidence of their experience
  • Highly interactive training lead by qualified auditors
  • Practical experience of conducting an environmental audit


9.30am–1pm – Auditor training and free lunch
2pm onwards – Students conduct at least 1 audit on campus in pairs

If you’re interested, sign up by emailing or filling in this Google form.

Enhance Your Employability & Develop Your Skills in the SU Elections!

nominations_17_facebook_post3Are you looking for a role where you will have a meaningful impact? Interested in working at a multi-million pound charity and social enterprise? Then look no further than the 2017 Students’ Union elections. There are over 40 positions you can nominate yourself for including full-time paid positions (salary £24.5K per annum) and part-time voluntary positions. Elected students will have a unique experience that gives them an incredible insight into the workings of the University, Union and commercial services, boosting your CV and enhancing your employability.

Elected students set the direction of the Students’ Union, deciding on student policy and running campaigns and projects to improve the student experience. For a full list of the positions available, click here

Becoming an elected Officer at your Students’ Union offers excellent work experience that can be applied to a number of sectors, including the Civil Service, NGOs, the voluntary sector, social enterprise and the commercial sector.

Running your own campaigns and initiatives is a fantastic way to prove your initiative, resourcefulness and creativity to a future employer. You are supported to fulfil your ideas and take responsibility for your own projects, allowing you to stand out from the crowd and develop skills which are highly desirable in today’s competitive jobs market.

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