“So why do you want this job?” Answering that question should be really easy! Often the answers are:
- Well, I want a job…
- I want to work…
- I want to pay the mortgage/rent….
- I want a promotion, it’s a bigger job…
- I hate the job I’m in, I need to do something different…
- My family are moving so I need to change jobs…
- I got made redundant…
- I’m a bit bored…
- I like the sound of it…
I could go on.
The difficulty with all of those answers is that they may well be true and they may well explain why you have applied for a new job but they do not tell the interviewer any good reason why you should have the job. When you are going for an interview or applying for a job you need to give the interview compelling reasons for giving you the job and that starts with the basic question: Why do you want it?
So how do you give them that compelling reason? By treating this question as an opportunity for your sales pitch. By thinking about what it is that the interviewer wants in a candidate and what it is that they need to hear.
Ever been turned down for a job because you did not sound very enthusiastic? Been told that they were not sure if you really wanted it? It is actually a pathetic bit of feedback to give someone. Surely the correct logic is that they offer and if you don’t want it, you turn it down. If you are the best person for the job they should offer, but, it happens, so you need to make sure that it does not apply to you. This is your chance to sound enthusiastic, if not actually passionate, but how do you do that without sounding gushing and false?
Here are 4 key steps to selling yourself into that job:
When you are asked about why you have applied for this role, why you want it etc… start with:
‘This is a great company /organisation because…….’ Everyone likes to be flattered, so tell them why you think they are a good company, what it is you like about the company….
Describe the challenges of the role, even if it is a job that is pretty routine. What are the issues they face in getting someone to do the role well?
Tell them the things that float your boat, the things you have just been doing, the challenges you really enjoy and give some brief examples.
Think about why they might not want to hire you and refute their logic.
So if I was going for a job in my local Co-op shop I might say:
I think the Co-op is a great organisation, I admire their ethical stance and I was very impressed when they had no issues over horse meat. That’s the sort of company I’d like to be in. I know you need staff who can work shifts, who are good with customers and who will make sure that the shelves are kept stocked and tidy. I really enjoy working with customers, helping them find things, explaining the difference between products and I hate untidy shops. It’s really important to me to be polite and friendly, when I worked in the garage I tried to get every customer to smile before they left! It has been a while since I have done shop work but I don’t think you lose the passion to please the customer and make sure they always come back – I haven’t.
Remember this is your sales pitch and this is where you can bring together your knowledge of them and your enthusiasm. It is all about why they are great to work for not why you need the job.
About Mary Hope
Mary Hope is the founder of Mary Hope Career Success, she works with executives and managers to support them get paid more, promoted faster and feel more satisfied. She has 30 years experience of HR, training and headhunting both private and public sectors, is a published author and career coach. Follow Mary on Twitter @maryhopecareers
University is a great time to get involved in experiences that will help in securing your dream graduate job.
Take On A Responsible Role
Being the leader of a society, or in a position of responsibility in a society or the student’s union, shows employers that you are capable of leading. It will give you great work experience to talk about in interviews, and enhance your CV.
Creating a strong profile on LinkedIn will help your job hunt immensely. It’s also worth checking your privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter and any other social media accounts you have. Getting involved with Pinterest and Instagram is a great idea if you’re looking for a job in the creative industries – follow what’s going on in the industry, and contribute.
Get Part-Time Work
Getting a part-time job gives you experience, stories, and the facts and figures to back up your graduate CV. You also never know who you’ll meet through your work – good connections can be the difference to getting employed easily or not.
Volunteering abroad is not only a great experience for you, it looks great to employers. Volunteering locally looks equally impressive – approach your university and local charities to gain relevant industry experience and make useful connections.
If you’re thinking about a career in PR, marketing, or editorial this is particularly relevant. Improve and promote your writing skills by starting – and sticking with – your own blog. It shows potential employers that you’re willing to invest time and effort into a project that develops your skills and gets you exposure. While blogging use Google Analytics to track your progress, and use these stats in interviews – if you hit a large number of sessions on your site it will impress interviewers highly.
Play A Sport
Whether it’s to represent your university at national and international competitions or just playing for fun, playing a sport shows future employers you’re proactive, a team player, and passionate about something other than work or education.
Make The Most Of Media
There are many opportunities to get involved with university media outlets that can boost your job prospects. Some examples are: writing for the university newspaper, hosting or producing a university radio/TV show or getting involved in the annual fashion show.
Sales is some of the best experience you can get. Things like selling tickets for university events develops your relationship building and negotiation skills, and is experience you can talk about in interviews. Most careers involve working with people, so being able to show future employers that you can communicate effectively is very helpful in the hunt for a job.
Start Your Own Business
This may sound like a huge undertaking, but it can be part-time. Tutor other students, sell things on eBay, get involved in competitions seeking entrepreneurs and put your ideas forward to gain feedback, visibility in the industry, media and potentially funding.
If you’re looking for a graduate job check out a full list of our graduate jobs in London and graduate jobs in Manchester. If you’re looking to hire an intern check out our latest candidates.
About the author
Ben Rosen founded Inspiring Interns in 2009, opening its headquarters in Bloomsbury. Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency connecting talented graduates with top companies and start-up businesses in London, Manchester and the rest of the UK. They have kick-started the careers of over 5,000 young people since 2009 and continue to provide a professional filtering, recruitment and Careers Advice Service.
Looking to land your dream job? Before you can truly interview well, you have to understand what hiring managers are looking for and how that aligns with your job skills and experience.
After all, when they ask you about your strengths or fit, you want to wow them by describing the strengths that they most want and need in a candidate.
Every job requires different technical knowledge and abilities, but beyond that, there is a set of essential job skills and competencies that will increase your value with just about any employer.
We have compiled a list of the 10 most universally valued job skills based on our extensive experience working with recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates. Our findings are also backed up by numerous surveys of employers, including those conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
We’re diving deep into each one so we’ll do it in 3 parts, starting with the top 3 (and stay tuned for the next installments so you can weigh in on where you agree and disagree on the rankings).
These are the competencies that are prized in both entry-level roles and senior-level positions, in industries from technology to medicine to finance.
So naturally, these are also the skill sets to highlight in your resume, cover letter, and interview talking points. And if you’re lacking in any of these areas, we’ve got suggestions to help you develop and become a stronger candidate.
I recommend reading through the list and rating yourself (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being perfection) in each category. This will give you a pretty clear idea of which strengths you should be “selling” (and it’s amazing to me how many naturally modest candidates shy away from properly demonstrating their strengths in interviews) — and which are areas for development (or maybe even your “greatest weakness”).
Most Valued Job Skills 1 – 3
1. Communication Skills
Employers want to hire people who are able to communicate effectively with those inside and outside of the organization.
The communication skills category includes both verbal and written communication skills. That means being able to get your point across in discussions both in-person and virtual.
It’s not enough to be well-spoken. Writing skills are now critical for almost every job because email has become such an important means of communication (and an email is often your first or only impression on a colleague, client, or partner).
In most roles, you must be able to tailor your communications for different audiences. You have to be able to provide the big picture to senior executives and then get down into the detailed instructions for the technical experts. You may be writing directly to customers while simultaneously speaking the right lingo with your coworkers in different departments.
As an employee, you may also be called upon to write reports, newsletters, blog posts and articles, summations, employee reviews, and more. Without adequate (or stellar) written communication skills, your career could suffer.
Why Are Communication Skills So Highly Prized by Employers?
Strong communication skills make you more productive and more effective. When you communicate well the first time, you save a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted on clarifying, answering questions, correcting wrong perceptions, chasing people down, and fixing mistakes.
Great communication skills can set an employee apart. At the very least, they can mean the difference between the potential for advancement and a stagnant career.
Communication skills are also key to getting hired in the first place. After all, the way you communicate your strengths and what you bring to the employer’s table in your resume and during your interview plays a huge role in whether you get hired — or not.
I have seen many well-qualified candidates get passed over due to communication skills. That’s when they come to me for coaching and see the dramatic difference they can achieve with a little preparation.
Once you’re in the job, your ability to communicate reflects, for good or ill, upon the entire organization.
Many times, poor performance can be traced back to poor communication skills.
Effective communication may be one of your strengths if you:
- Served as the spokesperson for your group in college classes (and got A’s on all of your papers)
- Shine when making presentations at work
- Receive positive feedback on written reports
- Handle unhappy customers (or colleagues) with ease
- Facilitate discussions and bring people to agreement
Be sure to mention examples like this on your resume and in your interview as they serve as indicators that you are, in fact, an outstanding communicator.
Sample Communication Skills Interview Questions:
What can you expect your interviewer to ask you regarding your communication skills? Here are a few examples.
- “Tell me about a difficult client/manager/teammate you had to deal with.”
- “Describe a time when you were asked to make a speech or presentation at the last minute.”
- “Tell me about a time when you had to be very careful in communicating sensitive or delicate information.”
- “Give me an example when you had to present complex information in a simplified way to explain it to a superior.”
Tips to Develop Stronger Communication Skills
If communication, verbal or written, is an area of weakness for you, there are things you can do that will help. The good news is that communication skills can be developed — natural talent helps, but anyone can learn best practices.
Consider any of these development options:
- Take a business communication class. You’ll find classes on presentation skills, business writing, and general communications at local colleges, continuing educations providers, and corporate training companies like the American Management Association or Dale Carnegie.
- Sign up for an improv workshop. This is also a great option for those who want to learn how to think on their feet — or just need an adrenaline boost.
- Join your local Toastmasters group. Toastmasters is an awesome organization. You get to practice your speaking and presentation skills and can also meet interesting people from different industries.
- Make a commitment to scrupulously edit and proofread all written work. Don’t over-rely on spell check, but use it and other tools like Grammar.ly if you’re rusty on Composition 101 topics.
- Recruit an editing buddy. Find someone at work who can serve as a second set of eyes on important documents. You can play the same role for him or her. We often miss things in our own work and an objective reader can be very valuable.
- Volunteer for assignments that stretch your communications skills. Ask if you can lead a meeting or take on managing this month’s internal newsletter. This also shows initiative and a commitment to your work.
- Read up on communications best practices. Try classic writing books like “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White (short but enlightening), bookmark Grammar Girl for your grammar questions, read “Crucial Conversations” for advice on navigating tricky communication issues at work or “Getting to Yes” for advice on negotiation.
Take one of our development suggestions (for any of the skills listed in these articles) and highlight it in your annual review to show your commitment to continuous improvement.
2. Teamwork/Ability to Work Collaboratively
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2015 Survey “the ability to work in a team structure” tied with leadership skills as the #1 most attractive job skill for prospective employers, with 77.8% seeking both of these qualities.
Yes, calling yourself a “team player” is a big cliche, but it has become a big cliche or a reason. Hiring managers want to hear that you can get along with others in a professional setting.
Working well as a member of a team requires a combination of qualities — communication skills (see above), being open to collaboration, a generally positive attitude, and the ability to deal with different personalities (especially the “demanding” ones).
Why is Teamwork so Important for Today’s Employers?
Almost every job requires employees to collaborate, or at least get along, with a diverse group of humans. This makes the ability to work with others a highly-valued trait for employers.
We’ve all worked with people who didn’t “play well with others”— and it can really have a negative effect on both productivity and morale.
A team player is able to work with different personalities, can work through disagreements productively, and makes his or her individual preferences secondary to achieving the goals of the team.
Employers like to see evidence of your ability to work in teams when reading through your resume and cover letter or listening to your answers in interviews. For a new graduate or junior-level candidate, it’s important to show that you’ll be able to get along in the office environment.
If you haven’t yet had much opportunity to work on a team in a work setting, be prepared to talk about academic group projects or extracurricular team experiences. You want to show that you can jump right in and get along with your coworkers and clients.
What Makes a Good Team Player?
Here are a few qualities that make someone easy to work with as a member of a group:
- Focus on results, not who gets credit
- Ability to listen
- Respect for all group members
- Appreciation of the perspectives of others
- Communication skills (see above)
- Ability to take constructive feedback
- Reliability and work ethic
Teamwork may be one of your strengths if:
- Coworkers are constantly asking to run ideas by you
- People frequently ask you to join their projects
- You’re often invited to lunch with coworkers to talk shop
- You are regularly called upon to provide an objective opinion or mediate disagreements
- You can find a way to connect with just about anybody
Sample Teamwork Interview Questions:
- Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team.
- Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult person.
- Share an example of a group you’ve worked well with (or not so well with).
- Have you ever had a conflict with a coworker?
- Tell me about constructive feedback you’ve received.
Note: For more information on answering teamwork interview questions, be sure to check out Big Interview’s Answering Behavioral Interview Questions: Teamwork guide and Big Interview’s Answering Behavioral Interview Questions: Handling Conflict guide.
How to Become a Better Team Player
If you have limited experience working collaboratively or feel it is a weakness, there are ways to improve.
Consider these development options:
1) Volunteer for more team projects. Look or opportunities at work, in class, or in your extracurricular or volunteer activities. For new grads, it’s all about gaining more experience that you can describe in your interviews — and looking for openings to work with different people in different environments to increase your versatility.
2) Find a teamwork mentor. Look around for role models who handle collaboration particularly well. You can learn a lot just by observing and emulating. Who do you enjoy working with most? Who is particularly good at neutralizing touchy situations? If you start observing more carefully, you’ll notice people have different teamwork strengths — for example, one person is the motivator and someone else is the hard worker who always finds a way to get things done.
3) Deepen your understanding of group dynamics. Try an assessment like the DISC profile or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). These personality assessments can be useful in understanding your own preferences and those of others. For example, if your boss is a details guy and you’re a big-picture thinker, it can help to know that and tailor your communications to persuade him in his own language.
4) Learn how to troubleshoot teamwork challenges. Read a book like Working with Difficult People to learn strategies for dealing with bullies, tyrants, connivers, and kiss-ups.
Victor Hugo said it best: “Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”
Employers consistently rank initiative as highly important (a 4.4 on a five-point importance scale in this representative survey) across roles and industries, making it a key quality to demonstrate if you want to get hired.
Employers want self-starters who are constantly looking for ways to contribute instead of sitting around waiting for assignments. The goal is to have employees who proactively seek out ways to propel the business forward.
Many employers also see initiative as the ability to take ideas and run with them, to persist in the face of difficulty and inertia, and see a project through to completion.
Why is Initiative Important to Employers?
In today’s competitive and fast-moving business environment, companies are always looking for an edge on the competition. To position yourself as an ideal hire, you need to show you will go above and beyond the job description and really contribute.
Initiative is attractive in any candidate, but it’s particularly desirable for certain types of positions. For example, startups typically look for people who can wear multiple hats. Many teams within larger organizations also find themselves tasked with “doing more with less” and greatly appreciate a candidate who can contribute beyond their formal job description.
For employers, it’s hard to know if a candidate has initiative through their resume alone. Smart hiring managers will use behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time…”) to get a sense of how the candidate has approached work in the past and if he or she has a history of taking initiative on the job.
Initiative may be one of your strengths if you:
- Prefer to start projects early to ensure you’ll have time to do a fantastic job
- Seek out new assignments, especially those outside your comfort zone
- Never say, “That’s not my job.”
- Rarely say, “What else do you need me to do?”
- Are known as someone who gets things done, even in the face of obstacles
- Volunteer for committees or special projects
- Look for training opportunities to help you contribute more
- Read up on industry trends in your spare time
Sample Initiative Interview Questions:
- “Tell me about a time when you took the initiative on a project without being asked.”
- “Tell me about a time you improved a process or procedure at work.”
- “Give me an example of a time you went above and beyond your job description.”
- “Describe a major obstacle that you had to overcome.”
- “What is your greatest accomplishment?”
Tips to Develop/Show Initiative
If you’re not someone known for showing initiative, the good news is that you can change that perception pretty quickly. “Initiative” is less about having some innate ability and more about looking for opportunities and putting yourself out there.
Here are some ways to show more initiative in your workplace.
- Think Differently. Make time for brainstorming new ideas that could benefit your team or company. Schedule an hour into your week or set a quota of x new ideas per month to research. Not all of these ideas will be winners, but you’re certain to find a few gems along the way. This process also trains you to look for new ways to improve and contribute on a regular basis.
- Be Your Best. Take full advantage of all of the training options available to you. You have to be proactive because if you wait until you “have time for training,” that time may never come. First, explore the training opportunities available to you through your job (whether company-provided or company-reimbursed). However, don’t limit yourself to the obvious options. Look at free courses available through organizations like Coursera and EdX. Even if you have to pay your own way (some companies are unfortunately stingy with training), seek out ways to develop your skills and knowledge. This can help you show initiative in your current job and will also make you more marketable for future opportunities.
- Ask for Input. If you’re having trouble finding ways to take initiative, talk to your manager about where you can add the most value for the group. Ask how you could make his or her job easier. This can help you identify new ways to contribute — and just asking the question demonstrates initiative.
- Act on Constructive Feedback. If your manager or a colleague gives you constructive feedback, act on it and let them know that you acted on it. For example, if your boss mentions that your writing could be more concise, sign up for a writing class or pick up a book on writing skills, then make a point of thanking your manager for the advice and mentioning how much the class/book has helped you.
How do you rank in each of these Top 3? Where could you make improvements? How could you do a better job of demonstrating these attractive qualities in your resume and job interviews?
12 Most Valuable Qualities/Skills for a Job Candidate Quality/Skill Rating
- Communication skills 4.6
- Strong work ethic 4.6
- Teamwork skills 4.5
- Initiative 4.4
- Interpersonal skills 4.4
- Problem-solving skills 4.4
- Analytical skills 4.3
- Flexibility/adaptability 4.2
- Computer skills 4.1
- Technical skills 4.1
- Detail-oriented 4.0
- Organizational skills 4.0
(5-point-scale where 1=not important; 2=not very important; 3=somewhat important; 4=very important; and 5=extremely important) *Description of Valuable Job Skills below.
Description of Valuable Job Skills
Communication Skills: Demonstrate proficiency in both verbal and written communication skills (resume/cover letter, interview, thank you letter, etc.).
Strong Work Ethic: Being professional, diligent and caring about your work and the people you work with. Examples: Completing your work on time, not wasting the time of your colleagues, sending professional emails without typos, offering your help to others when they require it, etc.
Teamwork Skills: Effectively cooperate with others in the performance of job assignments.
Initiative: Taking responsibility for beginning or originating a project, new ideas or methods and the ability to think and act without being urged.
Interpersonal Skills: Ability to relate to others successfully to accomplish goals and tasks of the job.
Problem-Solving Skills: Identify problems and review related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. Analytical Skills: Ability to visualize, articulate, and solve complex problems and concepts, and make decisions that make sense based on available information.
Flexibility/Adaptability: Ability to adjust to your circumstances and ‘go with the flow’ of chance as necessary. Computer Skills: Demonstrate proficiency in computer software necessary to completing your job tasks.
Technical Skills: Demonstrated knowledge of and proficiency in the “tools” of your trade. While mostly thought of as Information Technology related, mechanical, electrical or craft skills can also be considered technical skills.
Detail-Oriented: Ability to notice and pay attention to the small details.
Organizational Skills: Demonstrated ability to utilize skills and techniques to make you more productive and efficient in completing work tasks. www.mesacc.edu
Assessment centres are a common way of conducting group interviews. Large employers often use assessment centres when recruiting graduates or for a number of different positions. For the candidate, however, an assessment centre can be very intimidating, so here are some tips to help you prepare for your interview.
How Does an Assessment Centre Work?
Assessment centres vary according to the recruitment needs of the employer, but they do have many things in common. The core purpose of an assessment centre is to test a candidate’s competency skills. There will probably be at least one formal interview during your assessment centre, but you can expect to take part in a number of other exercises, too. These typically include group exercises, presentations, e-tray exercises, role-play, and case studies. Some assessment centres only last a few hours; others may run over two or three days.
For the employer, an assessment centre is a cost-effective way to interview a large number of candidates, but if you are unfamiliar with this method of interview, it’s painfully easy to make a mess of it. Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward.
Research Your Employer
Most of the exercises and interview questions will relate to the skills the employer is looking for. To prepare for what is to come, research the key skills required for the position you have applied for. For example, for a customer service role, your employer will be looking for candidates who are empathetic, personable and approachable. If you can demonstrate these key skills when you take part in the group exercises, you are one step ahead.
Check online for any information you can find about what to expect on the day. Websites such as Glassdoor offer a wealth of information. Candidates often leave detailed reviews of the employers, including the questions they were asked during the interview and what their assessment centre experience was like. Your own experience will not be the same, but it gives you a good idea of what lies ahead.
It’s helpful to prepare some notes to take with you. For example, if you know you will have to do a presentation on the day, think about the type of topics you will be asked to cover and put together a few notes. It’s also a good idea to prepare for competency-type interviews by thinking ahead of scenarios you can use as answers. Check out interview tips resources such YouTube videos and this infographic from www.acuitytraining.co.uk. It’s not easy being put on the spot by a panel of interviewers, so the better prepared you are, the more confident you will feel on the day.
It’s very important to participate fully on the day and be yourself. You will be watched at all times, even when you are not aware of it. Interviewers will look at how you interact with your fellow candidates, as well as how genuine you are.
Try to relax as much as possible. Whether you get the job or not, this is good experience for future interviews, so just do your best.
There are many things that you may wish you had done (or not done) while at university, but here are some tips on where to start after you graduate and make the most of your time. It can feel pretty daunting coming out of education, especially if you have nothing lined up afterwards. You are now supposed to be an ‘adult’, even if you don’t feel like it and you are expected to get a ‘real job’. This can be tough, especially in this current economic climate, so any job you can get to start with will still benefit you in the long run.
Experience, experience, experience
This is the key to getting any job and is often more important than what degree you studied. Even a part-time shop assistant vacancy will often require you to have worked in one before. Try and contact as many companies in your chosen career as possible. Even just going in for one day will be beneficial if a full placement is not practical. I have struggled with this myself and cannot stress how important it is to teach you the ropes as well as showing your determination and perseverance.
Take your time
You might not know what career you would like to have when you graduate, this is perfectly normal. Take this time to think about what you enjoy doing and maybe try out some different things. Many people don’t fix onto one career for many years so no need to panic.
Get more knowledge and experience
In some cases you may need to do an extra course or training depending on the path you have chosen. Don’t assume that your degree is always enough and definitely don’t think that being a graduate means you know everything.
If you’re early enough you might be able to get onto a summer internship or placement straight after you graduate so if this option is available to you grab it! It will greatly help you when it comes to applying for jobs.
Focus on the good stuff
At some point you might end up in an unfulfilling job that you may not like. There could come a point where try as you might, the thought will pop into your head: I could do better than this. The trick to this I have found is to appreciate everything that you are getting from that job; be that good friends, building up experience in a recognised company or just the economic benefits.
Relaxation is key
Take some time to relax and enjoy having no deadlines or exams approaching. Meet up with your friends, go on holiday or simply binge on all the TV you’ve missed in the last three years. Personally Sky+ is my saviour but also my nemesis at the same time. The amount of new or repeated TV shows I have stumbled across is ridiculous. Don’t get too stressed if you don’t get that dream job straight away.
If you really want something go for it! I applied for my current job four times as I kept getting an interview but was told each time that I’d done well but someone else had the experience. I kept going though which helped in the end; if your name keeps cropping up people will know you are really interested and that might give you the edge.
Keep your chin up
You will feel like giving up sometimes and wondering how those who messed around at school are seemingly doing better than you. However, everyone keeps telling me that good things come to those who wait and I will get there in the end. Fingers crossed!
By Emma Slattery graduated three years ago and has been collecting writing and journalism experience ever since. A former English and History student, she currently works part time in a supermarket and a city library while keeping her eyes open for her future dream job.
Graduate jobs; you’ve seen them advertised online, they sound like a great starting point but the only problem is your age. Who do you picture working within graduate roles? Fresh-faced 21-year-olds who have just graduated and are ready to take on their first job? While this can be the case, don’t write yourself off. If you often wonder “Am I too old to apply for a graduate job?”, we’re here to clear things up.
First and foremost a graduate job is essentially an entry level role. Companies are looking for employees that they can train and develop in line with the way their business operates. The reason employers tend to stipulate that these types of roles are to be filled by graduates is because they will, presumably, have a reasonable level of intelligence and can bring some great transferable skills with them.
Therefore, when it comes to graduate jobs, it’s less about age and more about your skills and your level of experience.
Why apply for a graduate job?
First things first, a graduate job differs to a graduate scheme. Graduate schemes are extremely competitive, rigid and impersonal training programmes, usually offered by larger businesses. These are great ways to break out into a particular industry, or get your foot in the door of a big corporation. However, they have their drawbacks. Some people struggle with these schemes because it’s very hard to tailor them to every individual – everyone works and learns differently. Additionally, there can often be lots of graduates vying for the same position at the end of the scheme. Many graduates, on completion of their grad scheme, have found themselves back at square one as there simply wasn’t a position available for them.
On the other hand, graduate jobs can offer much better prospects. These tend to be with smaller businesses and allow you to hit the ground running. Your training and development, while it’s up to you to drive it, is much more tailored and personal. You can move forward much more quickly and, as long as you prove yourself, it’s your job for the long haul! These types of roles aren’t as focused on ticking boxes or fighting for survival, but on working hard, gaining industry knowledge and growing as a professional.
Can I apply for a graduate job?
If you think about it, anyone CAN apply for a graduate job, but it’s more important to decide whether you SHOULD. So, what type of person would benefit from a graduate job?
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the first type of person is the recent graduate. You may have decided that corporate graduate schemes aren’t for you or you may still be weighing up your options. Whatever your situation, if you’re newly graduated and ready to embark on your career, a graduate job is a great place to start. You will receive in-depth training and be given to opportunity to prove yourself. There is usually scope for fast progression, too!
What if you’re not a fresh grad? Don’t worry. If you took time out to travel the world, went full-time at your part-time job or got stuck in a couple of dead-end roles after university, it doesn’t mean that you’ve missed your chance. Most businesses will consider older graduates for their entry-level roles and others will actually prefer them. You’ve got all the same skills and accolades as a new graduate, but you’ve gained some great life experience and have a more mature head on your shoulders. Companies who hire older graduates tend to find that they are ready to work hard and are more focused, as they’ve taken their time to carefully choose their career path.
Why do I keep getting rejected?
If you’re a more recent graduate and you’re being rejected for graduate jobs, remember that these types of roles are highly sought after. They may not be as cut-throat as graduate schemes, but competition is still fierce. If your applications aren’t striking the right notes, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Make sure that your CV is the best it can be, brush up on your interview techniques and, if necessary, give your skills a boost.
For older graduates, it may be a little more complex to pinpoint why you are getting rejections. If you’ve followed the above advice for new graduates and still no luck, maybe you’re not the right fit for a graduate job. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean that you’re a lost cause! Far from it, it seems a little cliché but you simply could have too much experience. If you have quite a few different jobs on your CV and a relatively long work history, then maybe a graduate job isn’t the best fit. Remember, these are entry level jobs and employers are looking for someone who is comparatively new to working life. It may be worth applying for slightly more senior roles, or if you’re trying to break out into a new industry, trainee jobs might be the best way forward.
What it all comes down to is finding the right kind of job for your level of experience, whether you have a little or a lot, there is a job out there for you. The lesson to be learned is: don’t let your age hold you back!
While every job has its own specific criteria for success, there are a few universal skills that will help you excel no matter which career path you choose to go down. Caroline Wilson, Head of HR at security specialist Evander, shares her pick of the top 5 skills that will help you find success in any job.
In order to be successful in any role, there are a number of particular ‘ingredients’ that need to come together. Obviously, your competence in any line of work will be determined by things like your skillset and enjoyment of the job, but in general, there are five key skills that should stand you in good stead no matter what the role. Learning to cultivate these skills can help you to achieve more, work well with others, and even help to secure you a pay rise.
Adopting and honing these important skills can improve your relationships with colleagues, clients, and customers alike, so read on to find out where you should be concentrating your efforts when it comes to your professional development.
A lack of communication is the cause of the majority of problems we have with others. Think back to when you’ve had a challenging time at work and consider the impact that better communication may have had.
Of course, being able to communicate any concerns or issues in the correct way is just as important as communicating in the first place. For instance, if your workload is heavy and someone is asking for help you’re unable to provide at that time, being firm but calm is usually the best course of action. Snapping back with, ‘I haven’t got time now,’ or similar can be counterproductive — remember that the person asking you for help is just trying to do their job too. Apologising for being busy and then pointing them in the direction of someone who may be able to help will show that you have considered their request and, while you haven’t been able to help directly, you’re still aiding in finding a solution.
Working well with others is just as important as being able to work well on your own and, while you may have some good ideas about how a certain job needs to be done, there’s a lot to be said for considering the opinions and ideas of your colleagues. Working well with others is an essential part of most jobs, as well as personal relationships outside of work.
Being able to listen to and entertain the ideas of others, as well as having the ability and willingness to adapt your own ideas, shows that you’re a team player. Leaving your pride at the door and working towards helping the business, rather than just yourself, is an attitude that many employers covet.
Being able to take criticism is vital, as there will be a natural learning curve that comes with any role. Of course, if you are being criticised in an unfair or scathing manner, this should be taken up with a manager. Constructive criticism is a different thing altogether, and it says a lot about a person when they can admit genuine mistakes and have the willingness to learn what to do differently next time.
Giving criticism in the correct way is also important, as it can cement decent working relationships with your colleagues and mean that they’re not afraid to ask you for help. Showing someone how to do something in the correct way, without shouting, using inflammatory language or implying that they are useless or stupid is hugely important.
4. Can-do attitude
Having a can-do attitude is a brilliant motivator for both yourself and your colleagues, but it’s essential that the correct balance is found. If your can-do attitude means that you’re overloaded with work because you’re trying to do everything yourself, then this can be counterproductive. However, coming into work with a positive attitude, a smile, and a willingness to get stuck in goes miles towards strengthening a good reputation.
This attitude is very important when you first start a job, as it shows you’re keen to be productive. Requesting more work, asking questions about the role and offering to help before you’re asked will put you in a good light. What’s more, you’ll learn a lot faster and help cement a great relationship with your peers.
Finally, having confidence is always a beneficial skill to draw upon. Showing that you have the charisma to ask questions, speak up, and be clear with your intentions and concerns will demonstrate that you have what it takes to make a success of yourself in the role.
Of course, stopping short of cockiness is paramount, as confidence can very quickly grow into something altogether more ugly. Being too cocky can cause issues with both colleagues and customers — finding the right balance may well also depend on the personalities of those you’re working with, so being able to adapt to this will help hugely in the long run.
Whether you’re just starting your climb up the career ladder or you’ve been working for years, keep these five tips in mind and you’re sure to excel in any job and give yourself the best chance of success.
Resumes can seem like a constantly-changing beast. Sometimes, you go several years without writing a resume. When you need one again, you need to dust your resume off and freshen it up, again! You’ll likely find the conventions for what’s acceptable format-wise has changed.
(By the way, it’s always worth taking the time to update your resume even when you aren’t looking for a job… but I digress).
It’s hard to keep up. Buzzwords roll in, become stale and then meaningless. However, the fundamentals of a great resume haven’t changed in years: they need to tell a story. They need to be full of accomplishments; quantifiable ones. What they shouldn’t be is boring, boilerplate or full of outdated terminology.
With resumes often receiving only about 6 seconds of scrutiny by recruiters and managers, you can’t afford to have useless jargon in there. You definitely can’t afford terminology that sends the opposite message to what you’re going for. We’ve put together a list (from a 30-year recruitment expert) of terms that still show up all the time on resumes that simply need to go. I mean the terms that should be wipe-your-hands, never-see-them-again gone, but still manage to worm their way onto live resumes coming into my recruitment practice every day.
Phrases that are meaningless
These words have become meaningless by their repetition. The words that recruiters and hiring managers just glance past that are taking up your precious resume real estate.
Everyone is “highly motivated” on a resume, yet anyone who’s held down a job knows that not everyone is highly motivated. Something doesn’t add up – and it’s the fact that this buzzword doesn’t actually describe anything.
“Ability to accomplish objectives”
Show your objectives and accomplishments rather than describing your ability to complete them.
A list of publications, speaking engagements, board memberships or other extra-curriculars speaks louder than this buzzword.
This phrase just sounds old-timely.
Again, show the results and let them speak for themselves.
Your resume itself is a document attesting to your communications skills, so using this word is like ending an essay with the phrase “this is a very good essay.”
Phrases that send the opposite message to what you’re trying to convey
“Responsible for” or “Duties include”
This is the death-knell of resume effectiveness. When one of our candidates sends across a resume with this kind of language, we almost always help them extensively revise. The reason? You want to send the message that you’re able to handle a multitude of responsibilities, but this kind of phrasing makes it sound like you’re filling a seat rather than contributing in a meaningful way.
You want to seem as though you take a creative, personal approach to your job, which is great, but this actually ends up sounding a bit arrogant. No one can credibly call themselves a visionary.
You’re trying to send the message that you’ve been around the block and dealt with a variety of situations, but it tends to make you sound a bit outdated. It also makes you sound like a Sunday roast.
“Able to meet deadlines”
You want to send a message that you have great time management skills and can work under pressure, but this phrasing actually sends the message that you’re sort of happy with the status quo. You’re “able” to meet deadlines, rather than going above and beyond.
Bonus: Other outdated resume practices
- Using an email with an old-school domain like AOL or Hotmail. This is a surprising one to a lot of people, but it sends the message that you’re not up to date with technology.
- Saying “references available upon request.” This can be assumed.
- Including your date of birth and/or marital status.
- Including a list of skills, or a profile summary at the beginning of a resume. These are recently out the door, but they’re out of date nevertheless.
We totally get that resumes are hard, and you have to fill them with something. They’re even harder without being able to use the common terminology that we often see. But trust us that working without these kinds of words is a worthy exercise. And stay tuned for our next article where we’ll dive into how to use action words, metrics and accomplishments to show your excellence as a candidate, rather than relying on buzzwords.
About the author: Bronwen Hann is President and Senior Partner of Argentus.com, a boutique recruitment firm that specializes in recruitment for Supply Chain Management and its related functions including Procurement, Logistics, Operations and Planning.
The job of an asset manager is essentially to make money from money, and with as little risk as possible. They are investors, responsible for diversifying their clients’ portfolios between the likes of stocks, bonds and hedge funds etc., whilst working within a specific set of guidelines so as to accrue more wealth.
Like all areas of finance however, asset management is its own industry and as such offers many different jobs beyond that of a fund manager. From analysts and economists, to sales and marketing people; traders, accountants and tech specialists – the openings are almost endless.
That said anyone wanting to get their foot into the asset management door must still possess a reputable arsenal of skills and qualifications. This is a competitive industry that moves at as fast a pace as the money being shifted around.
Generally speaking, the only route in will be a degree in finance and for undergraduates wanting to go into asset management the best course of action is to take as many statistics and accounting classes as possible. This is an industry that requires a hefty amount of number crunching and financial modelling even at a base level and so literacy with programs such as SPSS and Excel will be a prerequisite.
Without an MBA or CFA, candidates serious about working in asset management should consider starting in sales and marketing and be prepared to climb the ladder one rung at a time. This may sound tedious and intimidating but there are many opportunities to be had once you are in with a firm and can prove your worth.
Employers will also be looking for more general attributes such as strong communication skills as well as any managerial potential. Being able to manage a team of people as well as your limited resources is vital in any role of responsibility within asset management. The same applies for decision making and fast thinking in the event of any loss. Time is of the essence in every nook of finance.
Entry-level jobs within asset management include the following:
- Fund accountant
- Junior research analyst
- Quantitative analyst
For candidates of more experience and qualifications, suitable roles may include:
- Buy side research analyst
- Sell side research analyst
- Portfolio manager
- Financial advisor
- Relationship manager
- Sales manager
With the Internet continuing to reshape the financial sectors on a global scale, asset management is coming into its own. The future is looking good for firms in this industry and so a move into asset management is worth considering for finance professionals.
To increase your chances of landing the interview and then a job offer, make sure you can demonstrate how you’ve:
Made Or Saved Money
If you work in sales, tell them how you’ve increased revenue – give them examples of deals you’ve closed or new customers you’ve acquired. If you’ve done something to increase margins, optimized resource utilization or saved costs – tell them.
Have you improved the forecasting process? Automated process of signing up new clients? If you’ve made your prior organizations more effective, make sure you have these examples ready before an interview.
Influenced Other People
Do people want to work with you/for you? If you’re easy to work with, can work effectively with other departments and people want to work for you, this will increase your chances of getting the job. Make sure you have STAR examples prepared of how you’ve influenced others or managed successful teams.
Contributed To Culture
If you’ve come up with some new initiatives, created a mentoring program and so on, prepare some examples.
Especially in more senior roles, if you’ve had the foresight to prevent something bad happening to the company, employers will be impressed with such ability.
Make sure you have examples demonstrating these skills ready and your chances of getting that job will skyrocket!
If you want some help in preparing for competency-based interviews, you’ll love my FREE 3-day e-course ‘How to win at job interviews’ which contains a wealth of other interview tips, too.
By Margaret Buj
My name is Margaret Buj and I specialize in helping professionals get hired, promoted and earn more.