In an effort to bring you the best careers advice, the ScotGrad team sent one of our own along as a spy to Edinburgh Napier University to report back with all the tips and tricks their careers team covered at their ‘Meet the Careers Team’ Workshop. This snap-shot will be especially useful to any talented graduates (or soon-to-be graduates) applying for ScotGrad placements. Let's begin!
What Employers Want
It can be hard to tell what exactly the employer is looking for from their candidates. Careers adviser Iona Nicolson told workshop attendees that they’re looking for you to…
- Articulate your motivation – Why do you want to work for that company? Showing that you’ve really researched the company will shine through; they want a team member, not someone who’s only going to think about themselves.
- Give evidence of your skills – Lots of people will say all the right things like that they work well in a team, but without evidence it’s meaningless. In an application form, employers want you to give evidence; do you work well in a team? Give an example of a time when that was proven.
- Show you can adapt – They are looking for someone to come in and fit well into their team and environment, so you need to show that you can adapt to suit their company and requirements of the position.
How do you show that you have the right skills?
You need to show that you’ve actively taken steps to develop your skillset. This can be by doing:
- Group projects either at university/college or work
- Any relevant work or internships
- Extracurricular activities like societies, volunteering, clubs etc.
Now, you’ve done all that… So here comes the tricky part; presenting the evidence. It needs to be easy for the employer to read through quickly and glean the information they need to. Think about how many applications they’ll have to read through during the hiring process, the easier you make it to see your skills and evidence the better chance you’ll have at coming out on top.
The STAR System
Careers Adviser Cheryl McCreadie explained how best to tackle evidencing your skills, and presented the workshop attendees with the STAR system.
S – Situation: what was the situation in which you developed your skills? Set the scene for the employer.
T – Task: what was the task involved? A project? Event?
A – Action: What action did you take? Explain what you did in the situation that developed your skills.
R – Result: What was the outcome of the task? What did you learn from it?
By following this simple system, you should be able to ensure you’ve provided the right amount of evidence for the employer. You can visit your own careers service to go over the STAR model in more depth.
After a great afternoon, we came to the end of the workshop! At the end, the careers team gave some general tips:
- Pay attention to the job description and application and read them carefully. Little mistakes can make all the difference; for example writing in blue ink when it asks for black. If you’re claiming that you pay attention to detail, don’t ruin that by making a mistake!
- Keep a copy of the application and what you wrote. If you get invited to interview, they’ll refer to your application, you want to remember what you said. Not only that, but if you do get invited for interview then even if you aren’t successful that time, having a copy of the application will give you something to build on for next time.
- Research the company and try to network and make contacts. It will impress the company that you know about their clients, projects, and ethos. Make sure to keep it relevant though - throwing your research in without proper context won’t bode well.
Review of the Workshop
Overall, the workshop was incredibly insightful and the attendees all said they got a good amount of help and information. The team were all on hand at all times for any questions and advice and we were really impressed!
Visit your own Careers Service, even after you graduate, to get expert advice on applications, CVs, interviews, and much more.
Reviewed by Shannon McFarlane, September 2015