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Friday, 30 March 2012

Standing out from the crowd

How is your application going to stand out from the crowd? Not by using incorrect spelling, grammar and punctuation.
You’ve seen a job that you would like to apply for and now you are going to make your application.
Stop. Think about what the employer is looking for in a successful applicant before making your submission. Fast forward, and they now have an inbox brimming with applications. How is yours going to stand out from the crowd?
Employers are busy people and you need to grab their attention for the right reason. Your written application is probably the very first contact they have had from you. It only takes them a second to eliminate you and something as simple as one spelling mistake will consign you to the trash.
At StudentGems, we continue to emphasise the importance of checking and re-checking job applications. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), more than half of all CVs received by recruiters contain spelling or grammatical errors, and the REC report that ‘graduates are twice as likely to make such mistakes as non-graduates.’
Let’s take a couple of recent examples from applications made through StudentGems for copywriting jobs.
1. ‘my names is [fred blogs] and im interested in becoming a writter’
2. ‘Hi I would like to apply for this job, as i feel not only my self, but your self would benifit as I am competant with my writing, research quickly and come up with origanal content’.
How did the applicants ever expect to get even an acknowledgement let alone an interview?
It doesn’t matter if the job is temporary, a one-off project, part-time or a full-time graduate job; the same rules apply. Our employers highlight poor spelling and grammar as the key cause of rejection.
An application must be immaculate, relevant and the perfect example of correctly written grammar, punctuation and spelling. Employers are looking for people who can represent their businesses. If you send in some half-hearted, sloppy and badly constructed application, you have just successfully consigned yourself to the 'reject without interview' pile.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A career in hospitality

Ever thought of a career in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism?
Eating and drinking is never going to go out of fashion so it has to be a good bet particularly if you are a people person. The hospitality industry already employs over two million people nationwide, which means that 1 in 14 jobs throughout the United Kingdom are in this sector. This is expected to grow so it’s got to be worth looking into it as a career option.
It was only when looking at that you realise just how many varied roles and career paths exist within the hospitality industry. The website states that they are “the ultimate resource for anyone interested in the dynamic hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry”. On first sight, it certainly seems very comprehensive.
The resource section of the website shows you how many diverse opportunities there are within this this sector. There is so much succinct information on each of the 14 career areas, which encompasses all manor of options such as coffee shops, holiday centres, visitor attractions, tourism, travel, youth hostels, events, fast food, hotels, pubs & nightclubs, restaurants, gaming, membership clubs and food service management.
It is packed with case studies ranging from apprenticeships to activity instructors, bar managers to baristas, chefs to caterers and room service managers to travel writers plus so much more. It offers an excellent insight into all manner of real life experiences within the industry. The size of the businesses range from one-off restaurants to a small chain to massive global brands so there is plenty of choice on the size of business that you might want to join
The industry also takes training seriously so skills can be improved all the time, particularly in the areas of management and customer service. We all enjoy good customer service and are far more likely to recommend a place where we feel that we have been looked after properly. It’s good to know that an industry such as this offers the opportunity to personally improve all the time.
Plus there is a great opportunity to win a week’s work experience on the Orient-Express right now!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Cobham crowned apprentice team of the year

Eight young people from aerospace firm Cobham in Dorset have been named ‘apprentice team of the year’ following a six week contest against other teams from some of the country’s leading employers.

The Brathay Apprentice Challenge pitted eigapprentice-of-yearht teams of apprentices against each other in a range of challenges designed to test young people’s business acumen, team working and even physical endurance.

The finals, at the Brathay Trust’s Cumbrian HQ, saw the Cobham team narrowly beat seven other teams from Balfour Beatty, Bentley Motors, the Co-operative, MBDA Missile Systems, the National Apprenticeship Service, Rolls-Royce and Virgin Media.

The two-day event in Cumbria tested teams’ problem solving and physical endurance, culminating in a 10-mile whaler boat race across Lake Windermere and built on six weeks of fundraising and communications challenges.

The Cobham team raised almost £4,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation by cycling around the Isle of Wight, hitchhiking from Dorset to Cumbria and other fundraising activities. In addition, the team secured support from celebrities, including Matt Cardle, conducted talks in schools and raised the profile of the competition on Twitter and Facebook.

Team captain, Nick Shipp, said:
“It’s a real honour to have won the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. It’s been a tough competition, with the other teams really pushing us to the limit. We’re really proud of our achievement, not only at the finals in Cumbria, but also in raising £4,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation.”

Gerry Bishop MBE, Employee Development Manager, congratulated their apprentices and said:
“Our apprentices are an integral part of our talent pipeline and the future of our company and indeed the whole industry. We’re thrilled to have come away with the top prize against formidable opposition – it’s a hugely positive sign for the future of Cobham that our apprentices are already showing they’re the best in the country.”

Jaine Bolton, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, presented the awards to the winning team and said:
“Team Cobham are an example of how, in this new era of higher quality Apprenticeships, young people can really help the nation’s businesses grow. The winners are a real asset to their company and the Brathay Apprentice Challenge has been a fantastic way to recognise the incredible talent and success of the nation’s apprentices.”

Jez Anderson from the Brathay Trust, commented:
“The Challenge has recognised the vital role apprentices play at their firms and also helped the competitors’ personal development. The search for the apprentice team of the year has not only demonstrated the formidable skills of the nation’s apprentices, but helped demonstrate the range of careers available to young people.”

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Dealing with difficult interviews

Guest post from Edward Mellett of the graduate jobs website
I hope this article will be useful for everyone looking for graduate jobs and worrying about how to deal with difficult interviews.
For anyone going to an interview they can be quite a nerve-racking experience! Whether it’s your first ever interview or your twentieth, every interview is different from one another. The interview process varies from company to company as every business has its own way of carrying out candidate assessments.
Some of the basic things to do before going to any interview are:
  • Thoroughly research the company and assessors who will be interviewing you.
  • Have questions prepared to ask about the role/company.
  • Aim to get to the location of the interview early in case there are. problems/traffic while travelling.
  • Be dressed in smart office wear (suit).
  • Take a copy of your CV and any other documentation you feel is relevant with you to the interview.
Something increasingly likely with both large and small companies alike, is that their interview process for graduate level jobs tends to begin with an assessment centre. An assessment centre allows companies to assess numerous candidates at once with a number of job related tasks to find the most suitable candidates for their workplace.
These assessment centres can be difficult if candidates do not prepare for them. But if you do not know much about this type of interview, there are a number of graduate job preparation websites designed to help you out, such as There is a large amount of great advice and tools on WikiJob, designed to help you prepare for the diverse range of tasks and tests found at assessment centres, from psychometric tests, to group and scenario exercises to verbal and numerical reasoning tests.
I once had to go to an assessment centre for a graduate job and I had no idea what to expect. As you can imagine I didn’t do very well. At the end of the assessment, I was talking to a couple of the successful candidates and they said they prepared for this difficult interview process by practicing verbal, numerical reasoning tests and so on, for days and even weeks in the run up to the interview process. So for the next assessment centre I was invited to, I made sure I prepared well for the tests and tasks that I would encounter.
One of the worst things about group assessment centres can be suffering from nerves! To help with this, I always make sure I’m hydrated (which helps me avoid the dreaded “dry mouth” situation) and take a bottle of water with me to interviews. I also take my time and don’t rush when answering questions – I try to speak as clearly and slowly as possible. Well not too slowly, but I know that when I’m nervous I can talk quickly! This also helps me not to ‘umm’ and ‘err’ too much. I also try to keep eye contact with my interviewer and remember to always shake their hand at the end of the interview, no matter how rattled I may be!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Freelancing is the future

Julie Meyer has written a particularly interesting guest blog article on the KashFlow blog entitled ‘Where are the Jobs’ looking at the thorny issue of reducing youth unemployment.

Julie is well-known for founding First Tuesday, the largest global network of entrepreneurs, which many credit for igniting the Internet generation in Europe. As well as being CEO of Ariadne Capital,and Founder of Entrepreneur Country, Julie is also one of the two dragons on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den online, a columnist for City A.M.and regular contributor to The Daily Telegraph’s business pages.

She sums up her blog post by saying “The world of 2012 will force you as a job seeker or employer to be more creative, more sales and marketing-focused, more curious about the world, and more of a business person than ever before.”

How very true.

By acknowledging that the government is no longer in a position to help (there’s no money left in the pot) and that the world of work has changed out of all recognition, she quite rightly points out that job seekers must make the effort to sell themselves into a job. Effective communication has never been so easy and connecting with like-minded people and organisations can be instant. She goes on to say: “Many of those who are unemployed will end up working for themselves. We used to call this freelancing, but it’s become rather fashionable, and many find that the flexibility and freedom outweigh the unpredictability of personal income.”

Her three steps to creating more employment are:
1. Be patriotic
2. Leverage the digital native skills of the UK’s young people
3. Seek out your natural allies

Of course, it was Number 2 that really struck a chord. StudentGems has been doing that since 2007!

We’ve noticed a shift though. We now have more graduates registered with us than ever before. Many are following the freelancing path and it’s great that we can help them build their portfolios of freelance projects. It’s also great to get comments like this on twitter from @Slozbabble: "@studentgems Just want to say, you're responsible for most of the money I've made in the past few months! Thank you so much :)”

So whether you’re an employer, a graduate, a student or just someone concerned about the level of youth unemployment, please read Julie’s blog. Following her three steps is also highly recommended!