October 22, 2020, by Matthew Lumley
How to showcase the Advantage Award to employers
By Matt Lumley, Nottingham Advantage Award officer
The Nottingham Advantage Award gives you recognition for your extra-curricular activities. It is also a great way for you to build your skills and experience.
However, it can be difficult to work out how best to showcase your achievements to an employer. In our modules you will have been introduced to self-reflection and its importance. You may be struggling to take the next steps of evidencing your experience in CV’s and applications.
This article gives my top tips on how to bring your Award experiences together ready for the recruitment process.
You can also find out about our workshop programme.
Start from the beginning
It can be useful to remember why you decided to join the Award in the first place.
Was it to boost your skills in an area you had already chosen as your future career? Were you wanting to try something new and push yourself outside of your comfort zone? Did you just want help making your next career decision?
Doing this can help you in a number of ways.
Firstly, it encourages you to reflect on your experiences again. It may be a while since you finished your last module, so it gets you back in that mindset.
Afterwards, you can decide whether you achieved your goals. Were you successful in completing project ‘you’? Did you manage your time well? Understanding the journey from where you started to where you are now can be immensely helpful.
Finally, telling this to an employer can give them a better idea about you as a person. They can see you are someone who looks for new challenges and invests in your personal development. This lets them understand your motivations.
However, remember to be concise. This is just to give the employer a flavour of who you are, not ‘This is your life’.
Provide context to your audience
If you take away one piece of advice from this article, then this is it – never assume prior knowledge.
We have several employers that support the Award including Boots. However, this does not mean the person conducting your Boots job interview knows anything about the scheme.
Treat the Award like any other experience. For instance, if you undertook an internship, you cannot assume the employer knew what it involved. You would need to describe why it is relevant to them. The Advantage Award is no different.
We often get asked – do employers know about the Nottingham Advantage Award? The answer is – some do, and some do not. What we can say is employers appreciate schemes like this as it shows you are committed to enhancing your skillset.
However, what is important is how you explain the relevance of the experience to the employer. It is not about the name; it is how you explain!
In addition, provide context to your individual Award modules. For example, do not simply say I participated in the Nottingham Consultancy Challenge module. Describe how the challenge was structured, the project you were assigned and how you made an impact.
Remember to be concise. Try to define the Nottingham Advantage Award in one or two sentences.
Identify your skills
Most job adverts will come with a role profile. This will usually list essential and desirable skills. Try to match your skillset to those listed in the profile.
Start by doing a skills audit. If you have not done one before, then begin by listing the skills required in the job profile. Then think of examples in your modules that evidence those skills. You can also rate how confident you are in each area to see if you need to find more examples to demonstrate that skill.
You could also describe what you did on each module to a friend and ask them to identify the skills. They may recognise some of which you had not thought.
When completing your application or CV, make these skills clear to the employer. They may have many to read and be ticking off the desired skills from their list. Therefore, the easier you make it, the more likely they will realise you fit the role profile.
You will often be asked to name a time you have demonstrated a particular skill.
Thankfully, the Advantage Award provides you with a ready-made list of examples. These will have been captured by your reflective assignment logs and presentations.
You may be asked to describe your teamwork skills. Simply stating your skills are excellent is not enough. The employer wants to see evidence of how you have demonstrated your ability to work in a team. Always try to identify what your role was in the team, rather than just saying ‘we did’.
Make sure you use the STAR technique, view this video from one of our colleagues to find out more.
Keep it relevant
Employers may have limited time to review applications. Therefore, we cannot emphasise enough to make sure everything you are saying is relevant.
Your skills and experiences should match the job profile. Like any CV or application, you should tailor them to the job for which you are applying.
Just because the way you showcased the Advantage Award on one application worked, does not mean that it is the correct way for a different role.
Be adaptable and ready to edit your CV when needed.
Embrace the challenges
Just because a project did not go as planned, does not mean the experience was a waste of time. Each experience is a learning curve.
The Advantage Award provides an opportunity to practice, make mistakes and learn before you enter the workplace.
Employers often ask you to describe an occasion where you had to overcome an obstacle. Your response gives them a better idea of how you would cope in a pressured situation. It will also evidence your skills in adaptability and resilience.
Want more help?
Our team now has a workshop programme to support you in the topics above.
These sessions will focus on your Advantage Award modules. Therefore, it is advisable that you have participated in at least two modules or be in your final year. This will ensure you have sufficient material on which to reflect.
You can find out more about each workshop by following these links:
Showcasing your Award experience to employers
Overcoming challenges in the workplace
Discovering your Advantage Award strengths
Contact and Follow us
You can keep up-to-date on the Nottingham Advantage Award via social media, so please like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Want to speak to one of the Award team then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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