Summer is around the corner …

The clocks might have only recently changed, but it’s not too early (or late) to think about getting experience in the summer.

Getting experience really makes a difference.  It looks great on your CV, and is highly regarded by employers.  The skills you develop will make you stand out from other candidates when applying to roles in the future.  Experiencing different jobs and organisations can also help you make decisions about your next steps. In fact work experience is often the best way to find out whether a particular option is right for you. You could discover interesting job roles you had never heard of, or perhaps find that what you thought might be your dream job isn’t really for you at all. The people you work with could also be useful for networking in the future.

Essential for employers: Employers want to see evidence of experience and transferable skills on your CV, as if you can prove you have used your skills effectively in a work related context in the past, it is a strong indication that you can use those skills again in the role you are applying to. In other words, it convinces the employer that you have the ability to do their job. Previous experience demonstrates initiative, drive and the motivation to get involved with activities outside of your degree – all characteristics valued by employers.

Choose wisely to meet your needs: If you don’t have much evidence of a specific skill on your CV, such as leadership or project management, find an opportunity where you can enhance and develop that skill e.g. organising a fundraising event for a charity. Whatever your degree and interests, there will be relevant experiences available.

Be open minded to avoid missing out on opportunities: Experience doesn’t necessarily have to be in the role or industry you are interested in.  Any work experience in sales, for example, will be a useful way to build your negotiation and client focus skills, which are useful in many non-sales roles. Think beyond just formal work experience schemes. It can be gained from part-time work, volunteering, extra-curricular activities, work-shadowing, or even starting your own business. 

Apply with care: Don’t assume that applications for part time or voluntary work don’t require time and effort. Always tailor your applications, as you still need to convince the employer that you have the relevant skills and are genuinely interested in the organisation. Remember, your application may be the first impression they have of you, so make it positive and professional.

If you are not sure where to apply see the Knowledge Bank for information on job hunting and our industry guides. Book an appointment with a Careers Consultant for further tips and to get feedback on your CV when you apply.

Study Yourself Employable: 4 Things Ambitious Students Should Be Doing Now

Smart students already know that success requires great grades (two-thirds of companies require at least a 2:1) and relevant work experience (half of hiring managers won’t hire graduates without any). But these qualifications alone won’t make you stand out from the crowd. The average number of candidates for each job is 39, and that figure rises into the hundreds for competitive industries.

Want to shine? Here’s what you should be doing long before graduation:

  1. Write Your Graduate CV

Many students will have a CV which they made for their part-time job, but few Freshers will have bothered to write one for the job they expect to have after university. This is a mistake. Recruiters are busy people routinely faced with more applications than they can handle. The easiest way they can cut the pile down to a manageable size is by discarding any and every CV that doesn’t appear up to scratch at first glance.

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To avoid this fate, your CV needs to be perfect in two respects. Firstly, it must show that you meet all the basic requirements. Secondly, it must be clearly formatted, correctly spelt, and easy to read. That is why starting to work on it early is essential.

Placing everything you can offer on paper makes it easy to spot any glaring gaps in your experience while you still have plenty of time to fill them. Have a look at some job specs from the types of industry or job you want to go into. You’ll probably notice that a lot of them ask for some specific skill, such as pivot tables or Adobe Photoshop, which you can learn to use in your free time.

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Graduate story: Emmeline

Emmeline Wilcox, 2016 History graduate

emmelineIn my first week of university I remember sitting in the History department’s freshers welcome lecture. The department had asked those who had just graduated what advice they would give to the incoming freshers. One piece of advice cropped up over and over again: take full advantage of what the university has to offer. I am ashamed to say that I did not do this – especially when it came to the careers service. I did get involved with the Students’ Union and I did have a part-time job throughout my degree, however I rarely even thought about my career. It was all too easy to become wrapped up in my degree and not to think about my future.   

Following the end of my third year exams, I was offered a temporary position in the careers department as an admin assistant for the QConsult programme. QConsult was based in the Careers & Enterprise Centre which opened my eyes to how outstanding our careers service is. The staff are incredibly friendly and they really are on your side, working tirelessly to make sure that Queen Mary students are given the best advice and opportunities. One of the things that struck me most after working in careers office is just how much everyone loves their jobs. Because of this, they all strive to make sure that each student they encounter is given the best experience.

The QConsult programme in particular is a very unique and exciting opportunity and I would thoroughly recommend all students to apply. One of the best things about this programme is that students are recruited on ability, rather than experience. This means that the programme provides an invaluable opportunity for students to get out of the ‘no work experience’ cycle: you need work experience to get a job, but you need a job to get work experience. The feedback from students on the programme has been so positive and I am very proud to have been part of it.

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Preparing a CV for part-time work

Joe Cronin, Application Adviser

Now that Freshers Week is over, you might be thinking about taking on a part-time job while you study. These are increasingly valued by employers as evidence that candidates are familiar with a working environment and possess some of the skills (organisation, time-keeping, interpersonal skills) that are essential to working life.

Applications for these types of jobs are generally much more straightforward than for graduate careers, but there are still some important points worth bearing in mind. In particular, the CV you send to employers for part-time work should be different to the one you use for graduate applications. Here are a few tips for preparing a CV for part-time jobs:

  1. Reshuffle

When applying for graduate jobs, the Education section of your CV should come before Work Experience. However, when applying for part-time jobs, reversing this order can be a good idea so that you emphasize what the employer is more interested in.

  1. Emphasise skills

You don’t need to stress your academic achievements as heavily (so no lists of the modules you’ve taken, for example), but you do need to draw attention to the broader skills you’ve gained at school or university or through other jobs. If you haven’t done this before, think about what these could be: being a prefect at school shows evidence of responsibility, for example, while being a captain of a sports team shows leadership and organization skills.

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Common CV mistakes

Applications Adviser Emily Hogg takes a look at 5 common mistakes students make when writing their CV, and how you can avoid them.

  • Formatting problems: Different industries have different CV requirements. For example, banking and finance CVs should be one page long, and engineering CVs should include details of projects you have worked on during your degree. Research the particular requirements for your career area. If you are an international student applying to jobs in the UK, note that British CVs should be 2 pages maximum (except for banking and finance CVs), they should not include a photograph, and they should describe explicitly how you have the skills the employer is looking for. Also, it’s best not to use the Europass CV to apply for jobs in the UK – have a look at our online resources for examples.
  • Including long paragraphs of text: You want to be detailed in your CV and ensure that you give the employer all the relevant information, but you also need to make sure that they read it and notice all your excellent experience! Because recruiters tend to receive many applications, they prefer easy-to-read formats. Blocks of text look like they will take a long time to read. Instead, use bullet points to break up the information and short sections to highlight the key details.
  • Sending generic CVs: Don’t send the same CV to every job you apply to. This might seem like a time-saving approach, but it is less effective than tailoring your CV to each vacancy. Employers are different and similar-sounding jobs have different requirements. Take the time to explicitly show how your previous experience has helped you to develop the specific skills the employer is looking for; you can find these skills in the job description and person specification.

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Careers & Enterprise: Who we are

It’s the start of a new term – welcome back to all our returning students, and a big welcome to everyone who’s just joined QMUL! We hope you’re settling in well. You might have already got your student ID card, enrolled in all your classes, been to fresher’s fair (hope you got lots of good freebies!) … and you’ve now found your way to Careers & Enterprise. So we thought we’d tell you a little bit about what we do and how we can help you during your time here.

Whether you need help finding a part-time job, writing a CV or cover letter, or preparing for a graduate scheme, we can help.

Where are we?

queensThe Careers & Enterprise Centre is based in the Queens’ building (pic on left) on the Mile End campus, which is number 19 on this campus map.

We’re in room WG3, on the ground floor, near the Octagon and the Student Enquiry Office (where you’ve probably been already to pick up your ID!). Head to the corridor on the left-hand side and follow the signs.

What can we do for you?

We help QMUL students and recent graduates (up to 2 years after you graduate) in practically everything to do with their careers, from writing a CV to exploring your options after graduation. A career might seem a long way off if you’ve just joined us, but whatever stage you’re at on your QMUL journey, come and see us! Even if you’ve never even thought about life after university, we’re here to help you …

Appointments with Careers Consultants

We offer 20 minute 1-2-1 appointments with a Careers Consultant, either in the Careers & Enterprise Centre or your department. Appointments can cover any careers query, including: CV & application feedback, finding and applying for jobs, or deciding what to do after graduation.

Job hunting

Whether you’re looking for part-time work or a full-time role after graduation, take a look at our jobs board, Job Online: www.careers.qmul.ac.uk/jobs. This is updated regularly and

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The Basics: Cover letters

What is a cover letter?

A cover letter (sometimes called a covering letter or supporting statement) allows you to personalise your job application and explain your CV, explaining your motivation for the job, your enthusiasm for the particular role and, most importantly your understanding of the organisation that you are applying to. You should always send a cover letter with your CV unless you are told otherwise. 

  • It’s a single page letter, which is a tailor-made personal statement for a particular job and organisation.
  • A cover letter is not just a repeat of your CV.
  • The advice below is also applicable when completing an application form and responding to: ‘Please use the space below to indicate why you feel that you are suitable for this post, including details of relevant skills and experience’ (but this will not be addressed to a named individual).

How do I write a cover letter?

Your cover letter should have a clear beginning, middle and end.

Beginning:

  • Address your cover letter to a named contact whenever possible to show you have sent it to them personally. You will usually find these details in the application pack – make sure you have spelt them correctly!
  • A clear introduction – explain who you are (e.g. a recent QMUL graduate), what position you are applying for, and how you heard about the role.

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