Tag Archives: Advice

Class of 2019: How personal reflection and work experience can help you get on the right track

Jamie Gayya is a recent University of Leeds graduate, currently working as an Employability and Progression Assistant based in the University of Leeds Careers Centre.

Here she talks about how immediately after graduation she felt the pressure of being left behind as friends secured graduate jobs or further study.  However, by reflecting on her skills and values and undertaking volunteering she found a career path she is very much engaged in.

The benefits of University

In many ways, university has been more than just a place to gain an academic qualification. It has been a place that has exposed me to various opportunities and challenges – all of which have significantly contributed to both my career and personal development.  Beyond the accomplishment of graduating, my time at university has been significantly rewarding and memorable, as I have taken part in various opportunities. I have been involved in supporting a candidate campaign during the student executive elections, was a committee member for the Leeds Filipino society, and worked as a Leeds Loves Ambassador to promote the study of Arts and Humanities to secondary school students.

Where to start?

Having these experiences enabled me to gain a range of transferable skills that were useful for the world of work. Furthermore, these opportunities were very helpful in distinguishing what I enjoyed and disliked.  Despite acquiring all these skills, finding where to start after graduation continued to be a challenging and nerve-wracking phase. With my friends securing places for further study, graduate jobs and employment, I felt a lot of pressure that I had to get my career rolling to make sure that I wasn’t left behind. “But where do I start?” was a constant question and thought.

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Life on Mars: A Day in the Life of a Mars Grad

This is the first in a series of careers insights, find out what University of Leeds graduate Jazz does in her role as a Brand Manager at Mars.

Name: Jazz Moodie
Grad Scheme: 1st Year Mars Leadership Experience graduate (MLE scheme)
Job Title: Dolmio Brand Manager
University: University of Leeds, studied Management with Marketing and studied abroad.
Favorite Mars Product: goodnessKNOWS

What I do

My role as brand manager is pivotal in ensuring that the business has a long term view of innovations and product developments coming to market. I am working on projects ranging from packaging redesigns on existing Uncle Ben’s ranges, to scoping out obscure opportunities in Italian, that are way beyond our current capabilities.  What I love about my role on a day to day basis is that I connect with so many different areas of the business.  When I’m scoping out a new product opportunity, I will work with our consumer insights team to understand the kinds of products that consumers would value.  From these insights, the marketing team pull together an array of potential formats that the new product might take to suit these consumer needs perfectly.

From concept to supermarket

One example, Dolmio launched a new range of sauces, bursting with 2 portions of your 5 a day (Dolmio Veggie Goodness) – this was based on the insight that consumers are searching for simple ways to get vegetables into their mealtimes.  Once a concept is decided, we work with our agencies to design packaging that stands out on shelf! We put a lot of effort into getting every detail right – I got to work with an incredible team made up of a Food Photographer and a Food Stylist to make sure our product and meal shots on pack reflects the quality of our product. It’s really interesting visiting our agency offices in London to see where the creative magic happens!  It is so rewarding to then see concepts come to life and land on the shelf in my local supermarket!

Assessment centre top tip

Make sure you sign up to a mock interview at the Careers Centre where they will run through the most frequent questions asked at Mars interviews. Use the STAR method in your interviews and practice going through the steps (Situation, Task, Action and Result), making sure to add what you learnt from the experience! Understand your MBTI personality type and how you work with others.

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Class of 2019: How is customer service experience relevant to graduate jobs?

Many students and recent graduates are fearful that they lack the experience necessary to impress graduate employers, while overlooking their part time work in areas such as customer service.

Charlotte Hamer, an Employability and Progression Assistant at the University of Leeds writes about how her experience in retail has helped her career progression.

 

Those of you who have worked in customer service will know. You’ll just know. The customer service environment is like no other. Yet it has given me some of the most important professional skills I possess, which I’ve been able to transfer into every workplace I’ve been in since.

Working in retail

I worked for the same high street clothing retail brand from the age of 16 to 19, both in my home town and when I moved to university. Over those three years I worked with all manner of different people, from different places, of different ages and with different career goals. My ability to work in, and communicate effectively with, a highly diverse team developed incredibly quickly. I learnt to adapt my methods of communication based on the individual. This was particularly important when taking on supervisory role, in order to motivate disengaged staff. On top of that there was the diversity of the customers. At the age of 16 I had no idea that my ability to navigate a conversation with a very angry customer, who insisted they should be able to return the £6 pair of shoes they purchased two years ago and had worn every day since, because the sole had started to come away, would translate today into the people skills I use in my everyday work life.

Developing skills

When I first started working in retail I had never known pressure like it. Seeing a queue of customers building up so long that it snaked around the store while having a pile of returns to complete and a rack of clothes to put out on the shop floor could have been enough to send me into a frenzy. It took me some time but I soon learnt to use the pressure to increase my productivity and effectiveness without becoming stressed. Being able to stay calm under pressure is so important in any position that involves conflicting deadlines and with this being a key theme in graduate recruitment you are sure to impress recruiters with this skill.

Commercial awareness is another skill recruiters are eager for their employers to possess. Being able to express sector specific commercial awareness is usually enough to get you the mark. But you can go one step further by demonstrating a time in which you possessed and acted upon commercial awareness to make a business more profitable. It doesn’t have to be anything big. For me it was noticing when an item of clothing closely resembled that of an item of clothing I had seen on reality TV the previous day and placing that item on the most visible displays to increase sales. It is something simple but really effectively demonstrates to application of commercial awareness.

Valuable experience

I share this with you because so many students have worked at some point in customer service. Yet so many don’t see it as a ‘proper job’ that will impress employers – well I am here to tell you this is not the case. I have made connections with recruiters over shared experiences of customer service and made them laugh with the hilarious stories we customer service veterans have all come across at one time or another.

My advice

So be proud of your customer service background. If it was in retail like me, the restaurant business, or any other area, you’ve already developed so many of the skills that make you incredibly attractive to employers. Whether it’s communication skills, the ability to work as part of a team or under pressure, think creatively about how you can translate these skills to the requirements of a graduate role!

Read more about what is available to you as a member of the University of Leeds Class of 2019

And don’t forget you can continue to access the Careers Centre services once you graduate.

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10 things students should know about the UK graduate labour market

 

As 2019 begins here is a myth busting insight into the graduate recruitment market.

University of Leeds Careers Adviser Suzie Bullock  summarises the keynote speech from the Institute of Student Employers conference delivered in December 2018, by:

Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, and Charlie Ball, Head of HE Intelligence at Graduate Prospects.  For more information, see the full presentation: 10 things you should know about the graduate recruitment market

So, the UK graduate labour market, what should you know?

  1. It doesn’t exist.
    Instead there is a series of discrete, usually urban regional labour markets that often influences the markets around them.  Remember, most people in the UK are not graduates and most jobs are not at graduate level.
  2. It is quite stable.
    The past is a fairly accurate guide to the future. Graduate jobs next year will probably be the same jobs as last year. Don’t expect radical changes. Graduates should see a steady salary increase.
  3. It doesn’t look too bad right now.
    For graduates, the recession ended in 2013. There is low unemployment among graduates and the postgraduate career development loan system is working. But warning signs are showing.
  4. The B word.
    A recession is looming and that, combined with Brexit, is likely to lead to economic vulnerability. Recruitment is slowing down but the impact on graduates is less.
  5. Place matters.
    London is the biggest graduate job market in the country, followed by: Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – around a third of all graduates started work in these four cities in 2017 .  London is the least cost effective city to live in, Derby is the best, with Sheffield, Newcastle, Plymouth and Southampton close behind. Graduates are becoming concentrated in larger cities with local towns finding it hard to recruit graduates.  The cost of living is making graduates less mobile – to live in London it is estimated that a starting salary of £29,000 would only just cover the cost of living. This is having an effect on employers and, for example, PwC is moving out of London to more regional centres as they recognised that only a third of graduates wanted to move to London.
  6. Employers are using a mix of approaches to recruitment selection.
    While most employers say they rely more on a competency-based approach, 55% are combining approaches to include competency-based questions alongside strengths- based questions, technical questions and values-based questions. Employers continue to use different approaches to recruitment with 89% of Institute of Student Employers’ organisations reporting that they use assessment centres, 71% use psychometric tests, 71% use face to face interviews, 66% screen CVs, 58% screen by degree classification and 39% screen by phone interview.
  7. There is a significant shortage of graduates now.
    There are severe shortages in these roles: nurses; programmers and software development professionals; HR and recruitment; medical practitioners; welfare and housing associate professionals; business sales executives; IT user support technicians; sales account and business development managers; marketing associate professionals; general and specialist engineers; managers and directors in retail and wholesale; design and development engineers; web design and development professionals; vets; chartered and certified accountants.
  8. Life isn’t fair.
    Former public and independent school pupils dominate the UK labour market. But employers say they want to increase their intake of students from state schools and improve the diversity of their workforce so are trying out blind recruitment techniques and removing potential barriers, such as UCAS points.
  9. Graduate schemes aren’t everything.
    Other options to consider are larger companies recruiting ‘direct to desk’; large companies that aren’t big enough to have a graduate scheme; SMEs; non-graduate roles; and self-employment.  30% of graduates went to work for companies with fewer than 250 employees.
  10. There is a lot we don’t know.
    Most data comes from very early in a graduate’s career. Someone graduating in 2018 is likely to still be working in 2070. Based on those figures, someone retiring now, would have started work in 1966.

Remember, we are here to help you with all things career related;  making choices or plans, supporting you with applications, interviews and more.  See our Careers Centre website for details on how we can help you.

 

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A career in Recruitment – what’s it all about?

Annie Moss2

University of Leeds English & Philosophy graduate Annie Moss completed her degree studies in 2018, she now works for Xpertise Recruitment.  Annie’s placement year in a recruitment consultancy  helped her to understand that this fast paced challenging, rewarding profession was for her.  Here she offers insight and advice on how it could be the right career for you.

How I got into Recruitment

I graduated in 2018 from Leeds University with an industrial degree in English and Philosophy, then I went straight into recruitment. Possibly not the most obvious choice considering my degree background, but definitely the right one for me.

I got into recruitment when I was researching industries for my placement year. I didn’t know anything about recruitment at this stage and was looking at roles in marketing, supply-chain, HR, (you name it, I applied for it)!  Then I came across recruitment and after spending one day in the office to have a look round, I realised that it was a really good fit for me.

Why a career in recruitment?

Because recruitment is a fast-paced, lucrative, challenging profession. In the words of my manager, “if you want to progress in your career and achieve your financial goals quickly, then recruitment is a great industry to be in.”

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How I got my job: Digital Marketing and PR

Lucy Bolland

Lucy Bolland graduated in 2017 in MA Advertising and Marketing from the University of Leeds. Currently an Outreach SEO & PR Specialist at Hub MDP she also has her own blog Life of Luce. Before moving to Leeds to study she completed a BA in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland.

My first graduate job

In September 2017, roughly two hours after handing in my dissertation, I bagged myself a role as a Marketing Assistant at a designer ladieswear shop in Sheffield. I ultimately wanted to stay in Leeds, but with huge competition from other graduates and no real digital experience other than my own blog and social media channels, I began to realise how I may have to make personal sacrifices at this early point in my career.

In my first role since graduating from my masters, I discovered more about a website’s CMS (Content Management System). I’d very much recommend setting up a blog before graduating, as I already knew the basics of navigating a websites backend which really helped me with my first role.  I also learnt the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which would then lead me into my next role.

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Your first employee handbook: what to look out for

advice-business-colleagues-1161465

This guest post was written by Jamie Costello, a Business & Communications student based in Manchester, drawing on experience working alongside Manchester solicitors and business law specialists Gorvins. As a freelance writer, Jamie writes on topics ranging from employment to strategy planning for entrepreneurs. Jamie can be found on Twitter at @Jamie88Costello.

Some new jobs will provide you with an employee handbook. The majority of the time it tends to be the larger businesses that publish these to their staff, but if you happen to be provided one, it’s good to know what you should be looking out for to protect yourself in your role. Here’s an outline of what you should be wary of.

Standard of Conduct

When you first step into a place of work, your main aim is to remain professional and conduct yourself appropriately. On occasion, some staff members can become laid back with their attitude within the working environment. For example, dress codes are provided as a guide on what attire is deemed appropriate in the workplace. In some cases your colleagues may adjust their attire for their own comfort, such as some staff choosing to wear all black trainers rather than shoes that would otherwise hurt their feet. If this is the case, you may be inclined to do the same, but be sure that the attire you choose is within reason. Read thoroughly through the rest of the conduct section so you’re aware of how you should conduct yourself at work, as this discusses disciplinary action and related policies. Serious breaches of conduct can escalate, with some cases becoming legal matters.

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