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Thursday, 17 November 2011

A Student Guide to Leeds

With six universities in the city and its surroundings, Leeds has a vibrant student community and a great place to get a city centre apartment. Many local businesses are aware of the value of the 'student pound', leading to a whole host of offers and tailored student experiences. Students who take up courses in Leeds have a wealth of choices available for nightlife, other recreation, and the day-to-day necessities involved in student life.
 
When it comes to socialising and night-life all Leeds students would agree that Leeds offers a huge variety of top-notch venues. Popular drinking spots include Fab Café, a television and movie themed bar; the Dry Dock, where students can enjoy a wide range of beers and other beverages in the unique surroundings of a landlocked boat; Oceana, a late-night club; Tiger Tiger, an 'all-in-one' venue which offers five separate rooms; and Mojos, a rock and roll cocktail bar.
 
That is not to say that you can't have a good time in Leeds unless you are out drinking for the night. The city offers a whole host of other recreational activities. The city streets are packed with clothes shops and there is a range of cinemas and theatres. The city also offers some amazing museums and galleries for those who want a bit of education with their recreation. The Leeds Art Gallery boasts a renowned collection of British art as well as various temporary exhibitions. The collections on display in the Leeds City Museum run the gamut from 'Ancient Worlds' and 'Life on Earth' to 'Out of Africa' and 'The Leeds Story'. The Royal Armouries Museum has five galleries and a massive 'Hall of Steel' with over 2,500 artefacts on display, while the Thackray Medical Museum tells the story of medicine throughout the ages. All of these museums put on special events and exhibitions throughout the year, so that one visit is never enough.
 
Of course, the life of a student isn't all fun and games, and Leeds City Centre is packed with all the shops that a student needs to provide them with the necessities of academic life. There is a large Waterstones for the purchase of textbooks, while those who are looking to save money can head to the University of Leeds where there is a second hand book store that allows students to sell their old books and buy second-hand copies of the texts that they require.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Lexmark winner!

lexmark-genesis-comp-pageWe have another winner to announce….

We had an amazing number of entries for our Lexmark Genesis Printer competition but sadly there could only be one winner.

That lucky person is Esmee Carre, a student at Winchester Uni. Well done Esmee, your awesome new printer is on its way!

Watch this space for more exciting competitions.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

WKD Winner!

Well done to everyone who entered the WKD Purple competition, not surprisingly everyone got the answer right!

Sadly we only had one case of WKD Purple to give away, and the lucky winner is Charlie Moreland, a student at Heriot-Watt Uni.

Enjoy your prize Charlie.

Friday, 7 October 2011

A great WKD giveaway!

WKD Purple – Staying by Purpler demand!


WKD Purple is here to stay! Yep, you loved their Ltd Edition purple one so much it’s going to stick around.
By Purpler demand WKD Purple will be joining Iron Brew, Blue and Red as a permanent member of the WKD squad. With Fresher’s week upon us it seemed the perfect time to celebrate Purple’s good news.

WKD are offering you the opportunity to win a case of WKD Purple to enjoy with your new mates and this competition question will put your brains to the ultimate test.

What colour is WKD Purple?

Get cracking guys!

To enter, head over to the StudentGems facebook page and leave your answer – one lucky winner will be drawn at random and have a case of WKD Purple to enjoy and prolong that Freshers' party feeling.

www.facebook.com/WKD

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Win a state-of-the-art Lexmark printer!

It’s back! Our latest competition to win a printer, very kindly donated by the nice people at Lexmark International, has just launched.

It’s so easy to enter, there’s really no excuse. Just go to our competition page, fill in your details, and tell us why you should win. That's it!

The printer is the latest up-to-datest vertical all-in-one printer and it looks cool too. You can set it up just how you want it and use it to download apps like Facebook, to make life easy.

No more rushing to the library to get your printing done, an end to begging friends to do your printing… get your very own smart printer, with a supply of ink… enter now!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Application forms part two: Preparation, research and answering long questions

Preparation, preparation, preparation – the key to a successful application form. In order to do yourself justice you will need to put in a good deal of effort. You will also need to show that you have researched and understand the role you are applying for.

Research the role
Use the company’s job description and person spec to learn about the job. You can also have a look at their website to see if they offer any sort of advice to potential employees or further information on jobs and graduate schemes. Try reading the ‘about us’ section to see what information you can gather about the company values and look for phrases such as ‘fast moving’ or ‘high expectations’ which may help to indicate the true demands of the job.

Research the company
Not only will this help to identify relevant information to include in the application form, but it will also give you an idea of what it might be like to work there. Try and find its mission statement or marketing slogan, and look for information on its customer service standards. What is the company culture like? Is there anything you need to know about working hours etc.?

This will all help with answering some of the longer questions on the form, such as: “What do you think are the main challenges facing our company over the next three years? Please answer with specific reference to your chosen function.”

It’s also worth seeing what articles have been in the news recently, both about the company specifically and also the sector in which they operate.

Excellent – you’re now much better informed!

Filling in the form
As you are working on a copy, rather than the original (see Part 1 of this blog) you can make sure all of your information fits neatly. Above all else you must be honest and truthful in all of your answers – stretching the truth (is lying!) is not acceptable, and will do you more harm than good in the long run. Also make sure you have read through all of the instructions, so you know which parts of the form are applicable to you, whether or not to attach a CV, application deadline, etc.

After you have completed all of the basic info about yourself, you will probably be left with a few ‘long questions’ which are more concerned with your skills and experience. What they are really asking is ‘Can you do the job?’ Got no skills? Wrong! Have a look here to see why.

You can also use examples of your time at uni to demonstrate your skills. Throughout your studies you will most likely have developed skills in communication, teamwork, organisation, research and problem solving. As a student/recent graduate it is perfectly acceptable to use examples from your studies to demonstrate how you have developed these skills.

A blank box
What you may view as the most daunting part of an application form should actually be the best bit. You know, that part that says ‘Any other information in support of your application.’ What better than the chance to tell them exactly why you passionately want this job and why you are a good fit? This is where you can really demonstrate how you have done your homework, you know just what they are looking for, and why you’re the best person for the job.

Keep your answer structured and in a logical order and include as many relevant examples as evidence of your claims. Think about including:
  • Your interest in this job/company and why it fits with your career plans
  • What skills and experience you have and why/how they are relevant, with examples
  • IT and technical skills, if relevant
  • Your personal attributes and values
Keep all of this information balanced and never assume that the employer will know you have 'xyz' skills because of the degree you have studied. Spell it out for them very clearly!

Remember, employers are looking for the person who:
Can do the job...
Will do the job...
Will fit in!

Good luck!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Application forms part one: Easier than writing a CV?

What does September mean to you? A new term and a week or two of fresher’s parties? Fond memories of returning to uni when you were still a student? Or maybe it brings the excitement of moving on to the next stage in your career.

Whatever you are planning this Autumn, if it involves looking for a job (of any sort) then it may well mean filling in an application form. Yippee, that means you don’t need to bother updating your CV, that’s good news, right?

Actually it may not be the good news you first think. The advantages of an application form are:


But what about the downside:

  • Everyone becomes standardised by completing the same form, so you have less chance to stand out from the crowd.
  • You have to answer the questions asked on the form, even if that means talking about something you’d rather not.
  • The order of the questions is dictated by the form – whereas on your CV you can change the order around to suit you and your personal strengths.
  • You can’t always see all of the questions on an online application form, so planning your answers is not always easy.

If you are faced with completing any sort of application form, here are a few tips to help you:

1. Take a copy of the blank form and keep the original safely for the final version. If it’s an online form, see if you can copy all of the headings into a Word document so you can work on the form in your own time before committing your answers.
2. Check the instructions carefully. If it says ‘complete with a black pen’ don’t use a blue one!!
3. Make sure you get the details right, especially if you are copying and pasting from a previous form – you don’t want to mention XYZ Ltd if this is an application form for ABC Ltd!
4. Write neatly or word process, depending on what the instructions say. Black ink is better than blue.
5. Answer all questions. If you think a question is definitely not relevant to you mark the section N/A. Use with caution!
6. Think about why a question is being asked before you leap right in and start answering.
7. Draft your answers first so you can be sure they will fit in the space provided or be the required number of words.
8. Write succinctly and formally, eg. write ‘did not’ rather than ‘didn’t’.
9. Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Yes, yes, we go on about that a lot, but it’s really important! Don’t trust a spell checker and always ask someone else to proofread your answers as an extra check.
10. Copy your draft answers on to the real form. Check again that you have followed all the instructions. If you are including any extra sheets they should be clearly marked with your name, job title and reference number.

Remember to keep a copy of the completed form, so if (when?!) the next stage is an interview, you can remember what you said!

Coming soon – Application forms part two: Preparation, research and answering long questions.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Skills? What skills?

    Work experience can help you to develop a range of marketable and transferable skills that employers will always want. Here are just a few:
    • Customer awareness
    • Problem solving and creative thinking
    • Commercial and business awareness
    • Leadership
    • Teamwork
    • Influencing and negotiating
    • Networking
    • Information communication and technology skills
    • Numeracy
    • Verbal and written communication
    • Time management
    These skills do not reflect area of academic study, they are completely transferable and relevant across all sectors of the working world. Combine these practical/common sense skills with an academic degree and you become the desired employee!

    Skills are developed through different types of work experience as well as through extracurricular activities. A substantial placement or internship will give you real depth of experience in a particular area but short periods of quality experience are also a great chance to learn new skills. Don't underestimate the value of your part time job. It may seem just a means to support yourself during your studies but you will be developing important skills such as time management and financial management, customer service and teamwork. But it’s boring? Fine – at least you have a very clear idea of the kind of job you don’t want to do for the rest of your life!

    Employers today want new employees who can start to contribute to their organisation from the day they join. (‘Hit the ground running’ – awful phrase!) They want 'work ready' employees who can take responsibility and use their existing skills to make a difference to their businesses.

    Why employers value work experience

    Could you contribute to an organisation from the day you join? Make sure the skills you have developed through doing one-off jobs and projects are clear to any prospective employer so they have confidence in you from the start. Employers want 'work ready' employees who can take responsibility and use their existing skills to make a difference to their businesses. It’s not that employers won’t offer you training and support, but they do want people who can work independently and effectively and who really want to develop their skills further.

    The working world is very different to the student world. Employers want people who understand the differences and have already shown they can bridge that gap. Make sure you are getting as much work experience as you can and develop those all important transferable skills.
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    Monday, 25 July 2011

    Are you interesting?!

    Your interests and any activities that you took part in at university or college can provide you with great opportunities for demonstrating and illustrating skills that employers want.

    Think about using your interests as evidence in two main ways:
    1. To get across the kind of person you are (eg active, with diverse interests), on a CV. They might also indicate something of your values (eg if you do voluntary work).
    2. To provide evidence for the competency based questions on some application forms and at interviews.
    It’s harder than you might think to list of all your interests and hobbies. Start with a list of two or three things you really enjoy, but then you may find it gets more difficult! It is worth persisting to see what your interests tell you about yourself, and what they could tell an employer.

    What counts as interests?
    Interests and activities can be defined as anything that you have done outside the strict limitations of your course or paid work. Obvious examples include sport, leisure activities, hobbies and socialising. However you can also include voluntary work, care or other work within the family, membership of clubs and societies, including taking responsibility for organisation or committees within such clubs and positions of responsibility on committees at your university or college.

    A list of your interests may tell someone else a little bit about you, but it is not until you think further about how and why you do things that you will begin to have some real evidence about yourself. This may help you identify jobs that you would be suited to or that you will enjoy.

    Do employers really care?
    Employers like to hear about the interests of people that they recruit, provided that the candidate presents the information in a meaningful way. With careful selection, analysis, and communication, interests can be a great resource for matching your past and present experience to skills which are required for a particular job.

    Employers do care about your interests, but not for their own sake. They are looking for evidence that you will suit the post they are recruiting for, that you are a well rounded individual who has interests outside your education and studies and that you have acquired practical and transferrable skills from these non academic activities.

    Your interests are concrete ways of demonstrating your preferred ways of working and behaving. They reveal your personality, your values, and your behaviour preferences. For example, if you apply for a busy sales job but all your interests are solitary activities, then a recruiter might wonder whether you could negotiate and communicate with others.

    You may say that you would love to work in a team; this has far more weight if you can provide evidence. Give an example of your teamwork, even if it doesn't relate to a workplace team, so the employer can feel more confident about your assertion. Employers may sometimes want you to provide evidence of your interests. For example, if you want to be a financial adviser, how do you keep yourself informed?

    Take time to improve your CV
    It really is worth taking time out to think about your interests, work out which ones could really add value to your CV – and the ones that won’t!
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    Wednesday, 1 June 2011

    Are your social networking profiles career friendly?

    This is a guest blog by Keredy Stott of Punch Communications PR Agency. Hear how employers really are checking your online profile...

    Leaving behind the relative safety of education and heading to work can be a hugely exciting yet nerve-wracking time. Suddenly you’re out in the world alone and having to fend for yourselves.

    It is now fairly standard practice, though perhaps a little unfair, for a potential employer to use a search engine to research a candidate. With 600million of us signed up to social networks it’s not hugely surprising that most of us will appear in those search results.

    As you know, the job market is tougher than it has been for many years but because everyone deserves the very best chance to secure their dream job, Punch Communications, a social media, PR and SEO agency has written some tips so graduates won’t fall foul of their virtual best friends - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Facebook
    Everybody loves Facebook, and brilliant as it is for sharing graphic pictures of drunken nights staggering around campus wearing traffic cones on your head, if you leave your profile open for anyone to see, your potential employer could also see your antics.

    Facebook’s privacy settings are fairly bulletproof but it’s worth taking the time to make sure you have them set as tightly as possible to restrict who can and can’t see your profile and picture albums until you trust them.
    Another tip is to make sure that your public avatar is fairly inoffensive, nothing wrong with showing you having a good time but leave the traffic cone in the road for that one.

    Finally, remember that your Facebook status is open to be viewed by anyone who looks at your page and as such you should think carefully about ‘what’s on your mind’.

    Twitter
    Twitter is slightly easier to control, for starters it is text based so there aren’t really the same sort of risks as there are with Facebook’s photograph albums. That said, as you may have seen in the news, it’s really very easy to come unstuck with a comment that you might have thought was innocent but others might not.
    As a general rule, if your Twitter ID represents your actual identity, think twice before you hit send – firstly, do you really need to swear. If you need to rant away then we’d suggest adopting a pseudonym and keeping it to yourself and those you trust.

    Twitter has the option to protect your tweets unless you approve the viewers, depending on how you use it this may be a good option, particularly whilst job hunting.

    If you do choose to have a publicly viewable profile, as well as what you Tweet, be mindful of who you follow and retweet as this could also reflect on you as a person.

    LinkedIn
    You may not yet have a LinkedIn profile but I suggest you sign up; it’s essentially the number one business to business social networking platform. It’s used mainly to connect with colleagues and people you have done business with as well as others in your industry but it’s used by some agencies to headhunt new staff.
    LinkedIn follows a fairly rigid structure so it’s not particularly easy to make the same mistakes as with Facebook and Twitter, however because it’s a means to further your careers it’s worth double checking spelling, grammar and format of your profile just to make sure it’s as it should be.

    Nevertheless, a feature on LinkedIn is the ability to link it to your Twitter feed, so if you choose to connect the two networks be aware both audiences will be viewing your tweets. You can selectively choose which content goes into your LinkedIn feed when you connect it to your LinkedIn account but do be careful on those payday nights out!

    General advice
    For any social network, you could run a ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ account, this is very common and it does eliminate some of the risks associated with a ‘one for all’ approach. If you choose this route it’s probably a good idea to include your professional social profile details in your CV. A potential employer is less likely to search for you online if you provide them with the information. This also shows an understanding of the growing importance of social media in the workplace.

    Social networks are the place to share so do so with snippets of information that interest you, such as news stories or articles, particularly ones that are applicable to the field you are hoping to enter. Doing so will display a dedication and enthusiasm to your pending career that could stand you in good stead above other candidates.

    Most companies will have an ‘acceptable use policy’ for the internet or social networking sites during the working day. At an interview, a pertinent question might be ‘What is your position on social networking as a way of communicating with your customers and promoting the brand?’. You should get a fairly conclusive answer, and if it’s a ‘no-no’ then resist the temptation to log on during the day when you should be doing other things. If you do have access, show your propensity to become a social brand ambassador and don’t become the latest ‘I hate my job’ Facebook status statistic.

    Don’t let the world of work put you off social networking as it can be hugely advantageous, particularly when colleagues and business associates connect with you outside of work. The Golden Rule is to think twice before you hit ‘send’ or ‘upload’ a picture. Ask yourself what would a potential employer make of it?
    Stick to that and you’ll have long and prosperous careers, and we at Punch Communications wish you the very best of luck with them. If you’re looking for jobs in PR, social media or SEO, visit our site; you might be just what we’re looking for but make sure your social profiles are career friendly first!

    Tuesday, 31 May 2011

    The Advantages of Temping

    Flexible, local, experience for your CV, learning new skills… just some of the advantages of temping.
    It’s a bit of a catch 22 though, temping agencies like to use people who have experience of temping, so how can you get experience in the first place?! This is where any experience that you have gained through StudentGems ad hoc projects can be invaluable. Add it to your CV so you can demonstrate your skills and knowledge to temping agencies.

    There are obvious parallels. StudentGems jobs are temporary. They are paid. They require you to have good business standards and commercial awareness. These are all the things temping agencies will be looking for.
    As soon as the summer exams are over, go to a couple of agencies and see which ones you like best. Sign up early so they know they can count on you over all those long summer holidays. The great thing is you can be available when all the regular office workers are flying off for 2 weeks in the sun!

    Office Angels have some guides to temping here.
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    Wednesday, 25 May 2011

    And the winner is…

    Congratulations to Janine Johnson, a 2010 graduate of Liverpool John Moores University, for winning our competition. She will very soon be the proud owner of a shiny new Lexmark Genesis S815 printer. In the opinion of the judges, Janine’s 140 character entry was the best.

    Competition winner Janine
    It’s so nice being able to deliver good news, so on a lovely sunny day telling someone they have just won a great prize is a very positive way to spend part of the afternoon!

    Janine is absolutely thrilled to have won and said: “I would just like to say thank you to everyone at StudentGems and Lexmark, when I first saw the competition I thought it was an amazing prize and knew I had to enter. I never actually expected to win so I am absolutely over the moon and so shocked. I can't wait to use this fantastic printer, it is going to make such a difference to me since I am just starting out as a freelance writer and this will make my work look very professional. Thank you to everyone who judged this competition it really means a lot to me.”

    Well done Janine and best of luck with your career.
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    Monday, 23 May 2011

    HR Departments Need to Manage Talent

    HR needs to be more innovative in its management of talent, according to UK HR professionals. A better approach is needed to both retain and attract talent. By being more effective at identifying and managing talent, organisations will build a strong foundation for future development.

    This was the opinion expressed by top HR professionals , when they came together to discuss the future of the profession in a series of roundtable events held by specialist recruiters Badenoch & Clark.

    That’s not news to us here at StudentGems – we see the level of talent of our students and graduates on a daily basis and it is pretty impressive. We would like all HR departments to consider using students and graduates for projects to see what they could be missing.

    If you know any HR managers, point them in our direction please!
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    Monday, 16 May 2011

    2012 Olympics are fast approaching… are you involved?

    It seemed such a long way off when, in 2005, London was confirmed as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games. Now, six years later they are just around the corner. Have you bought your tickets?

    If not, maybe you can still go. Have you thought about working at the games? Adecco has been named the official recruitment service provider for the 2012 Olympics in London and have said that the total workforce needed for the London Games will reach 100,000. With an on-site team of 13 already working on 269 permanent roles and 129 Games time roles, Adecco are set to grow their team as they build a diverse workforce of 6,000 temporary and permanent roles.


    Additionally, a new scheme was launched last week to encourage at least 20,000 college and university students across the UK to participate in activities related to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Podium, the FE and HE unit for the 2012 Games, joined forces with the NUS to launch the 'Be a Champion' scheme, which is being funded by Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola and the Higher Education Funding Council For England (HEFCE).

    More than 100 students' unions are expected to appoint a Student Ambassador under the programme to highlight the opportunities available to learners, ranging from sport volunteering, to culture and community participation.

    We think these opportunities will be snapped up, so if you are interested act now!
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    Wednesday, 11 May 2011

    Top 10 Tips for Completing an Application Form

    Sounds easy huh? You might be surprised at how many basic mistakes are made when completing job application forms. When employers are looking at a pile of forms they will instantly dismiss those which are incorrectly completed.  Make sure yours is not one that heads straight for the bin by following our top tips.


    1. Take a Photocopy of the Blank Application Form
    Keep the original safe and clean (no coffee cup rings or creases) and use a photocopied form and a pencil. If the application form is online, write your draft in Word and then copy and paste it into the application from.


    2. Read the Form First!
    Read the instructions thoroughly from start to finish before beginning your application and then follow them carefully. This will show the employer that you are able to follow instruction and that you pay great attention to detail. Many handwritten forms state ‘use black ink’ – so whatever you do, don’t use blue!


    3. Eye for Detail?
    Make sure you use the right company name and job title throughout your application, especially if this is one of many applications you are submitting. Copying and pasting can be dangerous!


    4. Provide Evidence
    Employers often say exactly what they look for when finding a candidate for a specific role but don't just repeat these requirements. Make sure you know what is needed in each question, identify which of your skills is relevant and then back up your answer with evidence or examples.


    5. Answer All Questions
    Sounds simple, but check that you haven’t missed out any questions. You should answer all questions, unless instructed otherwise. If a question really does not apply to you, write n/a (not applicable) clearly in the box.


    6. Why Are They Asking Me This?
    It is very tempting to dive straight in and answer a question at face value but this may result in superficial answers. You will be more convincing if you relate the question to the job tasks, your skills and what you know the company requires.


    7. Write Legibly or Word Process
    Use block capitals, black ink, or type: whatever the employers want. Word processed applications look much smarter and most are completed this way but beware – is this a test of your handwriting skills?


    8. Write Formally
    Avoid abbreviations, acronyms and write in full, for example, write wouldn’t as would not and don’t as do not.


    9. Check Your Completed Form Thoroughly
    First impressions count and no matter how brilliant the content, grammar, spelling and punctuation errors can result in your application landing in the bin. Beware of computer spell checkers - get someone else to proof-read your document. Actually, get two or three people to proof-read it if you can.


    10. Keep a Copy of the Completed Form
    As part of your job hunting process you will probably fill in numerous application forms, so you need to methodically keep copies of each one. Then when you get an interview you can easily look back at what you told that particular employer.


    Good luck!
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    Wednesday, 4 May 2011

    When do you first need a CV?

    We recently conducted a survey to find out when students put together their first CV. The results were very clear with more than three-quarters preparing a CV whilst still at school/sixth form and a further 10% during their first year at university.

    That’s really great to know, because it clearly shows how keen students are to embrace the world of work and that they realise the importance of self marketing with a CV. Although many job applications ask for some sort of application form to be completed, either online or offline, at some point in the recruitment process most employers will ask to see a CV.

    What is really important, however, is to keep your CV up to date. It isn’t a document that you can think ‘Yes, done that, tick the box, don’t need to do it again’. Try to keep it updated regularly, particularly after you have done any kind of work experience or project which has highlighted your skills.

    You might think you will always remember what you did in that short stint at Widgets Incorporated, but in six months time will you really remember the detail of the responsibilities you were given? Will the precise dates of your last few jobs all merge into one?

    As much as anything, keeping your CV up to date will help when you come to complete full-time job applications when you graduate and also with any internship applications for summer jobs. These days the process for internship applications is as time consuming and lengthy as for a full-time job. Having all the information you need on your CV can really help with completing the details.

    Then there are all the ‘competency based’ questions which are all over application forms. They’re the ones which are styled something like ‘tell me about a time when you…’ These are crucial. If you have kept your CV current with all your achievements, training and development, the basis for the answers to those tough questions will be right there in front of you.

    That’s not to say that your CV needs updating every week, or even every month, but don’t make the mistake of writing it while you’re in the sixth form and thinking it will still be acceptable a couple of years later!

    Not sure what format a CV should take? Have a look at our advice pages for more info.
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    Thursday, 21 April 2011

    Work experience during studies - getting ahead of the pack

    This is a guest blog on behalf of Middlesex University.
    With record unemployment figures facing the country and the number of young people out of work between 16 and 24 now nearing one million, the jobs market is becoming increasingly competitive in the UK. To stay ahead of the pack, graduates in particular are faced with extra demands in order to secure a position after university because employers are asking for more understanding and expertise than ever.

    In order to learn more about a chosen industry, many people are utilising the internet to network with contemporaries and learn more about their trade from the people who make headlines in the industry. Others, meanwhile, feel the need to extend their skillset through education at postgraduate courses at Middlesex University in London or other institutions. However, there's nothing better than some hands-on experience, particularly if it can be done in conjunction with studies.

    Work experience not only provides you with a great understanding of your future; it also gives you lots of practical experience to boost your CV. Without directly involving yourself in employment, it's often tough to truly understand what you're good at. Particularly when you're a student, it seems only right to give yourself the opportunity to try it out because you may find that you're better at something else or simply don't like the job you're trying for. After so much hard work, as well as money spent on associated courses, you could find your choices to be a wasted investment.

    Of course, the biggest bonus of working while you're a student is that it helps you meet experts in the field and will give you the opportunity to build up a network of contacts that may be able to give you career guidance. Furthermore, if jobs come up in your sector with businesses you've worked with, your previous commitments could see you shortlisted for such roles without having to go through what are often lengthy application processes.

    Naturally, a major pay-off with work as a student is the money you'll make directly from the experience. After all, student fees are rising; three out of every four universities are now charging the full £9,000 for one year of studies. Getting a job, could therefore be the best way to balance career progression and also lower your debts following undergraduate degree. Even better, it could help pay for your next step, such as a postgraduate course.
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    Welcome guest bloggers

    Do you blog? Would you like more exposure for your blog? If you would like to write a guest blog please get in touch.

    Maybe you are a journalism or PR student looking for ways to build up your writing portfolio. Or are you a business with a message for students? Perhaps you are just someone with an opinion on anything to do with freelance students, graduates, small businesses, outsourcing and jobs.

    If you have something to say and think the StudentGems blog is an appropriate platform let us know.
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    Thursday, 14 April 2011

    From StudentGems to Stardom?

    If you’ve visited our YouTube channel you will have seen the video made by ITV West which they broadcast last year. It featured Saskia, one of our talented students who has been paying her way through uni by doing one-off jobs and projects, largely through StudentGems.

    A talented writer, she has has had numerous copy writing, PR and design jobs through the site, but her first love is singing. She has just released her first single and the review in New Beats Media compares her to artists such as Lily Allen and describes her as ‘a promising young star’ and talks of her being propelled to stardom! Of course we could have told them that ages ago!

    Want to listen? Free download here!

    Well done Saskia, from everyone at StudentGems… remember us when you’re an internationally renowned diva!!
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    Tuesday, 12 April 2011

    Bradt/Independent on Sunday Travel Writing Competition 2011

    Here's a great competition for all you talented writers...

    Once again, Bradt and The Independent on Sunday have combined forces to seek out the very best in travel writing. Entrants can be first-time or experienced writers.

    The prize is an amazing holiday for two in Eastern Turkey through Anatolian Sky Holidays, plus a commission for an article to be published in The Independent on Sunday. There is an additional prize, only open to previously unpublished writers, of an overseas travel-writing course courtesy of Travellers’ Tales.

    This year’s theme is ‘Up the creek…’ which can be interpreted metaphorically or literally.

    The closing date is noon on Friday 20 May so get writing now!  


    Further details and rules can be found at www.bradtguides.com.

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    Monday, 11 April 2011

    Can you develop iPhone/Android apps? Apply here…

    Ok, that could be slightly misleading because as you are reading this there may be no app-developing jobs currently posted on StudentGems.
    apps                 
    But we are often asked for students who can develop apps for any or all of the mobile platforms and it seems that universities are lagging behind in equipping students with the hands-on skills that businesses want right now. I am very happy to be contradicted on this by any unis out there who are teaching app development (and also ask them to tell their students to register with us, so they can get paid experience and help SMEs into the bargain.)

    Maybe it’s not a big enough area, maybe course content takes a while to change. Perhaps all those students with the right skills are fully occupied developing apps already! Whatever the reason, we have thousands of web developers/custom programmers signed up, but when an app needs building they all go strangely silent.
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    Thursday, 7 April 2011

    Social Media: Facebook, whatever next? Part Two - LinkedIn

    So you're on facebook. You've started using twitter. What else can you do to improve your online presence? How about LinkedIn?


    LinkedIn has often been referred to as the 'professional person's facebook' and that's a pretty good analogy. It has recently undergone a massive revamp and now has plenty of whistles and bells added. With over one million new members signing up every week they must be doing something right!


    The theory behind LinkedIn is based on the networking principle that an introduction is always better than a cold call. Whether you are talking about a business lead or a new job, there is far more credibility attached to a personal recommendation.


    To get started on LinkedIn you register and create a profile - all sound familiar so far?! This is very much a work based profile, with options to add all jobs and education institutions, plus links to your blog, twitter account, even your StudentGems profile!


    Then you need to build your connections; a two-way process (unlike twitter) where you are not 'connected' until the other person 'accepts' your invitation. Once you are connected you can see who that person knows as well as 2nd/3rd level connections, some of which could be very useful to you in your future career. Once connected, you can ask for introductions to people who may be able to help you with your job search, or give you information about a potential employer. LinkedIn also serves as an effective way for employers and job seekers to review listed professional information about each other.


    Unlike facebook, this is one network where you DO want your boss listed in your connections, and if you can get them to write a recommendation so much the better!


    LinkedIn is growing all the time. Have a look and see what it could do for you!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    Social Media: Facebook, whatever next? Part One - Twitter

    So everyone knows that facebook is the social media must-have for students. Much has been written about the need for privacy settings being set to stop employers finding out a little too much about potential employees.

    But what of all the other social media offerings? None have yet been favoured by students to the enormous extent of facebook, yet could be of more importance in the job-seeking world.

    Take twitter for example. Sure, some students have embraced twitter and regularly engage with their followers. The majority still 'don't get it' or perhaps don't want to get it! Twitter has been adopted by the business community much more readily because they can see the benefits of an instant online presence and the ability to engage with their customers and potential customers almost on a personal level. They have not been slow to add it to their marketing mix.

    So does it follow that students can also use twitter to market themselves to businesses who are a potential employer? The answer is an emphatic "Yes!"

    Twitter is being increasingly used by organisations for recruitment.The benefits are obvious - after all, how long can it take to write 140 characters to say you are hiring  a new xxxxx? Additionally there are plenty of job boards feeding their latest vacancies on twitter in real time, including us, as well as feed aggregators who try to feed all jobs across multiple sources.

    If you think twitter might help you in your job search process, here are some tips on how to go about it:

    1. Create a twitter account (with a sensible name) and make sure you complete all of the profile information including a photo/image.
    2. Follow people who interest you, whether that's because they are personal friends, celebs, interesting businesses, potential employers or just entertaining tweeters. Try and develop a good mix of people to follow and then by tweeting interesting things yourself you will build up your own list of followers. Responding to other tweets generally encourages people to follow you.
    3. Tweet regularly about things which interest you so that anyone looking at your profile will begin to build up a positive impression.
    4. Think about using an application like tweetdeck to organise your followers. then you can categorise them however you want, eg. friends, celebs, uni, news, employers, etc.
    5. Remember, twitter is instant. Be ready to react if you see something interesting. Comment straightaway while it's topical. If you see a job opportunity get details of how to send your CV immediately (and make sure your CV is up-to-date ready for that crucial moment!)
    Is it really likely? Here's an example of one student, Sophie, who did just that. Following a well known businesswoman, Sophie saw a tweet saying they were hiring. Within 10 minutes she had replied and got an email address to send off her CV. Within another 5 minutes she had checked her CV, tweaked it slightly to emphasise the relevant bits for this particular role, and sent it off with a covering email reminding them she had seen the job on twitter 15 minutes earlier. Ok, this was for an internship not a full-time job, but she was successful and got a great high profile internship for her CV. Oh, and it was paid too! 

    Finally, follow us on twitter for all the latest jobs, news and general ramblings! @studentgems - say hi and we'll follow you back :-)

    Coming soon - Social Media: Facebook, whatever next? Part Two - Linked In

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    Monday, 21 March 2011

    This season's must have accessory... sales skills!

    Sales: A dirty word or a potential gold mine?

    Whatever your viewpoint there's no doubt that sales skills are invaluable. At some point you will need them, whether it's to sell yourself to a future employer or to sell widgets for a future employer.

    So why do students (huge generalisation here...) shy away from sales jobs? Is it the fear of rejection?

    Speak to any business person and they will recognise the value of sales skills. That doesn't necessarily mean being locked into a career as a sales exec, but just think of what you gain by developing sales skills: Negotiation, communication, tenacity, commercial awareness, product knowledge, time management, persistence, self-motivation, the list could go on and on.

    As part of your job hunting, not only would you be able to claim you have these attributes, you would be able to give really good examples to prove you have them. Anyone who has been through the recruitment process will know the importance of being able to answer the question "can you tell me about a time when you..."

    We have plenty of sales jobs on StudentGems and to be quite honest there are never as many applicants as there should be. Given the very real benefits of having commercial sales experience on your CV, maybe you should think of adding it to your profile now!

    Monday, 28 February 2011

    Another fantastic prize from Lexmark!


    Lexmark are giving away one of their latest, most stylish printers, the Genesis S815. You can read all about it over on Lexmark’s website here, but you can see from the picture that this is no ordinary printer! It’s super fast, has a touch screen and you can download apps to make life easy.

    Just imagine, no more queuing for the printers in the library, have your own personal printer. Yes, we know ink is an additional expense, but Lexmark are throwing in an initial supply of ink as well, so this awesome printer is ready to go!

    Last year our prizewinners were over the moon to have won, this time IT COULD BE YOU!

    To enter you can go to the competition page, enter your details and tell us in no more than 140 characters why you should be given a Lexmark Genesis. Alternatively you can enter through the StudentGems Facebook Page, or simply tweet your entry to @studentgems.

    HINT: Try using the words StudentGems, Lexmark and Genesis in your entry!

    Don't miss your chance to win a FREE printer.

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    Friday, 25 February 2011

    Today's young people the most financially-pressured in history.

    Apparently today's 25-year-olds need to be earning 55 per cent more to live the kind of lifestyle their parents took for granted. They would need to earn 74 per cent more for houses to be as affordable as they were when their parents were the same age. As a result, Britain's heavily indebted young people are having to delay key milestones on the road to adulthood, or put them off completely.

    Young Britons need to earn 55 per cent more if they are to live the lifestyle their parents took for granted at their age, new research reveals. The study from first direct reveals the average Briton in their mid-20s would need an annual salary of £39,720 to buy a house, pay for a wedding and have their first child – all milestones their parents’ generation had passed at that age. This far outstrips current average earnings of £25,500 by some £14,000, or 55 per cent.

    These financial pressures are forcing Britain’s youth to delay key life stages. Whereas three in 10 of their parents were married and on the property ladder by 25, money worries mean the average young Briton today does not expect to pass these milestones until their mid-30s.

    And far from living a carefree existence, more than three in five young Britons admit money worries are preventing them from making the most of their youth.

    Three quarters of Brits think today’s young people are the most financially pressured in history.

    Those aged under 25 have an average of £11,467 debt from their university days. One in three  admit that they need to borrow more just to make ends meet – the under-25s’ most common reason to get into debt.

    You have to wonder, what will a similar study show five years from now, when the first crop of students paying the increased university fees have graduated with record debts?



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    Wednesday, 23 February 2011

    Hooray for predictive text!

    I have just downloaded a brilliant and award-winning Android app  called SwiftKey which takes predictive text to another level. Your next word is predicted with incredible accuracy and a third of its suggestions are right first time without the need to press more than two letters. By downloading and processing all previous texts you have sent it remembers how you write and it creates a dynamic understanding or your texting style. I just sent a text with 26 characters and only tapped the keyboard 6 times. Talk about quick!

    So with the hilarious uploads on damnyouautocorrect.com is it really a good thing to have your smartphone telling you what to say?
    From DamnYouAutoCorrect.com
    For me, anything that gets rid of the ubiquitous ‘txt spk’ can only be a good thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with text speak, just so long as it is confined to SMS texts and doesn’t stray wantonly into emails or, God forbid, letters!

    We have an onsite messaging system on StudentGems for students and graduates to use to make contact with potential employers. From the day we launched we were amazed at how some students did not grasp the concept of ‘first impressions’ and how important it is to make it a good one. Feedback from employers as early as May 2008 was that communication needed to be prompt, polite and correct. After one employer raised it on BBC’s The Learning Curve back in May 2008, Libby Purves took the point further in her column. To her it was the single most important issue.

    An example? This is a message from a student to an employer sent yesterday (the username has been changed!):

    this is acandi can u send me the details of the job to acandi89@email.net.

    Not very impressive. We have made it our mission to stress the importance of a professional standard of communication and have information on the site to help.

    Of course it’s not fair to imply that all students are incapable of stringing together a sentence. Most are highly articulate and create a very good impression with their high standard of communication from the outset.

    For those who still have a lot to learn, I highly recommend downloading an app like SwiftKey so you can see what a sentence looks like with properly spelt words. Maybe as our phones get smarter the need for text speak will disappear completely.

    C u l8er J

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