Introducing InterviewStream!

Got an upcoming video interview?

We’re pleased to announce we have just launched InterviewStream – our *brand new* video interview platform, where you can record and practise a number of ready made video interviews or create your own custom interview from a large bank of questions.

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  • Practise whenever, and wherever!

Take your mock interview using a Mac, PC, Android or iOS device.

  • Choose from 7000+ questions

Browse the library of interview questions, organised into themes and sectors, or select a ready made set of questions designed for you, including sector-specific interviews covering medicine, law, business and more.

  • See and hear yourself online

Review your own performance. Practise at your own pace and retry as many times as you need to. Why not try out the ‘umm, like, you know & I mean’ counter to tally how many filler words you’re using!

Sign up with your QMUL email address here to get started.

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Graduate story: Sara’s Civil Service success

SaraHello everyone, my name is Sara! I graduated this summer from Queen Mary with a BSc Economics and Politics and I am now studying MSc Development Economics at another university.

During my last year of my undergraduate degree, I applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream and I received an offer for a place on the Government Economic Service (GES) scheme. However, I decided to defer my entry until next year in order to complete my Master’s first. For me, there were two main reasons behind the decision to do a Master’s.

Firstly, I wanted to specialise in a particular field of economics. During my undergraduate degree, I took Development Economics as an optional module and I found it really interesting, so I wanted a chance to study it more in-depth. Secondly, I’d like to pursue a career in International Development, which is quite a competitive field. Looking at different job opportunities both inside the Civil Service (e.g. Department for International Development) and outside in other organisations like NGOs or international organisations, I realised that most required Master’s level qualifications.

When I applied for the Fast Stream, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. At the time, I was applying for Master’s courses as well and that was my main priority. I applied for the Fast Stream mostly as a backup option and to practise in view of applying to graduate schemes this year while I was doing my Master’s. I did not expect to get so far on the application process, but I was very lucky to have the opportunity of deferring my place to complete my Master’s and I’m very happy now to have everything sorted out for when I finish university!

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Graduate opportunities in the public sector

Want to make a real difference with your degree? Ever considered a a public sector graduate scheme?

Here are 5 top opportunities for graduates in the public sector:

The biggest graduate recruiter in the UK, Teach First places graduates in schools with a higher-than-average proportion of free school meals or in areas of deprivation. After a five-week training course you head straight out into the classroom, working with young people while completing your training. At the end of the scheme, you’ll have a fully-funded Postgraduate Diploma in Education and a salary starting at £20,909 in inner London, increasing to £28,660 in your second year.

Dealing with everything from finance to health, the Civil Service offers graduates a diverse range of roles within which to specialise, while supporting the delivery of high quality services for the public. You will develop a portfolio of experience across different placements in government departments and agencies. You’ll benefit from an accelerated career path to leadership roles, with a starting salary of £28,000.

For schemes working in local government, also check out the National Graduate Development Programme.

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Have you considered working in a small organisation?

Now that graduation is over, many of you are no doubt thinking of your next steps into the workplace. While the structured graduate schemes of the big well-known companies can be a great option, you should also consider the opportunities available at small and medium-sized organisations, known as SMEs. According to Prospects, more than a third of students and graduates are looking to start work in SMEs, and while many won’t run graduate schemes, they will have graduate positions available.

What can an SME offer?

  • Although SMEs by definition employ fewer than 250 staff members, they make up a massive 99.9% of all enterprises in the UK- making them a great place to find graduate opportunities.
  • Their selection processes tend to focus less on grades and more on the skills and work experience of their candidates.
  • Their selection processes are often simpler and less time consuming than larger corporations and vacancies become available throughout the year, compared to the set dates of recruitment schemes.
  • You are more likely to be a part of a wide range of projects- making your job more flexible as well as giving you an opportunity to build different skills.
  • Opportunities for you to take on more responsibility and advance can often become available earlier on.
  • In a smaller team, you will have more direct personal contact with senior management.

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Careers outside London

After studying at QMUL, it might seem like the natural option to look for work in the capital after graduation. The number of possible businesses to apply to as well as the vast and diverse job options available in London is almost too big to comprehend. Many companies have their head offices here and it is also a big centre for industries such as finance, politics and media/arts to name a few.

Typically the salaries are higher too, which is often a big incentive for graduates looking to pay off their student loans as quickly as possible. But there is also a lot of competition, not just from other graduates in London, but also graduates from the rest of the UK and even worldwide.

However, by only looking at London based jobs, you could be seriously narrowing your options and missing out on some excellent opportunities. Tech Nation’s ‘Powering the Digital Economy’ report from 2015 suggests that almost 75% of UK digital companies are based outside of London, whilst this recent article from CV Library which highlights the top 10 locations for salary growth (July 2017) shows that London is some way behind other towns and cities across the UK.

With London in 7th place, with a salary increase of 1.5% since 2016, Sheffield is booming with an average rise of 11.3%, whilst the cost of living is likely to be far cheaper outside the capital.

For more information about regional vacancies across the UK, see this guide from Target Jobs.

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.

Why more graduates are (and should be) considering SMEs

While it may feel like the Holy Grail of graduation to have secured a trainee scheme with a Top 100 company, SMEs (small and medium enterprises – defined as companies that employ 250 people or less) make up a whopping 99% of UK private businesses, thus providing very real opportunities for graduates to start, and develop, their careers. It is easy to see, of course, the draw that many students have to the bigger and more illustrious companies; apart from typically higher starting salaries, who wouldn’t want the career clout that comes with having those names on your CV? But by focusing on these employers alone we risk overlooking the endless possibilities and benefits that come with starting your career in an SME. Consider some of the following advantages:

Early responsibility

Without a lengthy initial training programme, SMEs can be very well suited to individuals who want to get stuck in from the get-go. The relatively flat structure of these organisations, along with smaller team sizes, means that you will be in a position to put forward your own ideas and concepts and help shape business decisions from an early stage. On a personal level, this means that you are more likely to see the fruits of your labour and achieve the career confidence and satisfaction that comes from this.

Career flexibility

SMEs tend to provide less structured career paths which, for the right person, can be a wonderful thing. This puts you in the driving seat and should allow you to shape your career more easily in the way you want it to go, rather than the ‘expected route’ that the company has laid out as part of a longer term plan. Less hierarchy means that you will be given more direct access to major influencers in the organisation allowing you to network with the right people should you decide you want to develop your career in a certain direction.

A more relaxed working environment

Not everyone wants to be suited and booted nor feels comfortable in a workplace that is. This will obviously vary from company to company but chances are, the office environment will feel more relaxed and less bureaucratic. A number of recent research findings have shown that SMEs tend to foster better job satisfaction and more employee loyalty, plus they often drivers of innovation and creativity, making SMEs particularly ubiquitous in sectors like technology. With growing incidents of work place stress in the UK, SMEs are also seen to be more supportive of a healthy work-life balance amongst their staff.

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