March 29, 2016, by Carla
My Semester With The Careers Service
By Nimal Kumar, MSc Aerospace Technologies
After spending a couple of years in industry, I arrived at Nottingham eager to start my masters and determined to make the most of my time here. One of my first stops was to see what the Careers and Employability Service had to offer.
Besides the career fairs that were taking place almost weekly throughout autumn, there was also a packed schedule of smaller events and workshops. I assessed my schedule and booked myself into six that really stood out to me.
1. Preparing a winning application form
One of the first workshops I attended was about filling in application forms – a dreaded, but unavoidable part of job hunting.
We were given a general overview of what to expect, but the two things I found particularly helpful were the skills audit and the PESTLE analysis. The skills audit showed us how to identify our employability skills and then how best to demonstrate them. The PESTLE Analysis was something I hadn’t encountered before, but is a great tool for researching an organisation and demonstrating your commercial awareness.
2. Getting ready for a job interview
Now feeling confident about application forms, I decided to hone my interview skills. This workshop started with an explanation of the different types of interviews used by employers:
- competency based interview
- strength based interview
- technical interview
- case study interview
We were then given the chance to practise answering interview questions using the STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result – and CAR techniques – Context, Action and Result. If you’re nervous about going to an interview or find yourself struggling to answer certain questions, this session is invaluable.
3. Acing telephone and video interviews
Telephone and video interviews are becoming much more common, particularly if you’re applying for jobs in other cities or countries. As an international student, I’m keeping my options open, so this workshop caught my eye.
It focused on how to project yourself, using animated expressions and tone of voice. We were also advised about etiquette and what to expect after the interview – this was really helpful as we all agreed that waiting for a response can be excruciating.
4. Hearing what employers think
I wanted to get some employer insight, so next up was a workshop with Frontline, an organisation working to transform the lives of vulnerable children in the United Kingdom. They talked about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
We we told about Johari Window, a method for exploring self-awareness. It is an exercise that allows employees to explore how they communicate with each other. Although this session was more about life after you’ve got a job, it’s was really interesting to hear what employers were looking for. It will definitely affect my approach to both job hunting and applying for roles in the future.
5. Attending a mock assessment centre
Assessment centres are one of the most daunting parts of the application process, so the opportunity to attend a mock version was something I didn’t want to miss. This session included four of the most common activities:
- a team task
- an in-tray exercise
- a case study exercise and presentation
- a group negotiation activity
We were observed throughout each activity and given feedback. I then had a one-to-one where I was given some individual tips on how I could improve. This session really boosted my confidence and I am looking forward to attending a real assessment centre soon.
6. Careers advice from an expert
With a host of new skills under my belt, my final session was a 30 minute appointment with engineering’s senior careers adviser, Andy – whatever faculty you’re in, you’ll find an adviser that specialises in your subject area. I had my CV evaluated and got some excellent tips on improving my LinkedIn profile. It consolidated all the advice I’d received so far and he even arranged a mock interview for me to practise some more.
Overall, my semester with the Careers service has really transformed my job hunt. Whether you do six things or one thing, my advice would be to just do something.
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