Careers Advice

Ask the Expert: Glasgow Caledonian University

This is the first in the series where we’re asking your careers experts for their best advice. You’ll recognise a few faces, as we tour the country and tap into their world of knowledge.

Published: 18/05/2017

First up, Ellen Gibson, Careers Consultant from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Ellen Gibson GCU

1.    What’s the most important thing to look for in a graduate placement?

When choosing a placement, don’t be put off by the job or placement titles. Take the time to find out as much as you can about the company and what you will be doing, so you can make the most informed decision possible.  

You also need to decide the most important thing you want to get out of your employment. I encourage thinking about the skills you want to develop, whether the role fits with your strengths, the opportunity to have some real responsibility, future prospects within the company and the possible impact of this placement on your future career.

2.    Why would you recommend a ScotGrad placement?

ScotGrad placements allow you to gain experience and work on a real project for a company and provide an excellent foundation for your graduate career. 

3.    What’s your top tip for tailoring applications?

Gather all the job information you have and analyse it to match your skills and qualities to the person specification. If you haven’t got a lot of information, put your investigative skills into practice.  Look on the organisation’s website and find out a bit more about what they are looking for in their employees; staff profiles and company values can be useful sources of information.  Follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn and ask around to see if someone you know can provide some insight.

A good application provides evidence that you can do the job.  Organise your information logically and signpost it clearly so it’s easy for the employer to read. Let your own personality and motivation shine through, this can be done by choosing high quality personal examples and a good introduction.

You can also have your application or CV reviewed by a Careers Adviser for more specific feedback.

4.    How can a candidate stand out during an interview with an SME (Small to Medium Sized Enterprise)? 

SMEs are like any other company to a large extent.  They are looking for someone who is motivated and wants to work for them.  The teams can be smaller in this type of company so personality becomes very important.  SMEs often look for employees that can learn new skills quickly and adapt to all jobs within the department or company.  They like workers who have a strong work ethic, are reliable and have a great attitude. Getting all this across at interview can help you to shine.

5.    What’s the best piece of career advice you have received?

Focus on what you can offer in response to the job description.  Moreover, be willing to recognise chances for development especially when they take you out of your comfort zone.