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∂ 1 Making Effective Applications David Henderson Careers Adviser

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1 ∂ 1 Making Effective Applications David Henderson Careers Adviser

2 ∂ 2 Making Effective Applications Why is it so important to submit strong application forms? Managing competency based questions Career based questions Use of language Q & A

3 ∂ 3 What is the aim of an application form?  It standardises the format and content of an applicant’s details  It provides the opportunity to match skills, qualities and knowledge against the job description and person specification  It is used for de-selection – significant number of applicants rejected at this stage

4 ∂ Online application forms Graduate job market is very competitive e.g. Tesco’s 5000 applications for 150 graduate positions On average at least 75% of applicants rejected at the application stage: - Not providing credible evidence of competencies (skills) employers require - Not convincing employer you want the job - Not answering questions fully - Poor grammar/spelling Important that you are not de-selected at the application stage

5 ∂ 5 What are employers looking for?  Evidence that you CAN do the job (skills and experience)  Evidence that you WANT to do the job (motivation, enthusiasm, focus and commitment)

6 ∂ 6 Skills and Experience – What are employers looking for? communication - ability to communicate orally, in writing or via electronic means in a manner appropriate to the audience; teamwork - being a constructive team member, contributing practically to the success of the team; leadership - being able to motivate and encourage others, whilst taking the lead; initiative - ability to see opportunities and to set and achieve goals; problem solving - thinking things through in a logical way in order to determine key issues. Creative thinking is also useful; flexibility/adaptability - ability to handle change and adapt to new situations; self-awareness - knowing your strengths and skills and having the confidence to put these across; commitment/motivation - having energy and enthusiasm in pursuing projects; interpersonal skills - ability to relate well to others and to establish good working relationships; numeracy - competence and understanding of numerical data, statistics and graphs. Taken from Prospects Directory 2011

7 ∂ 7 Skills and Experience – Where is the evidence? Course Internship/work experience Part-time work/vacation employment Volunteering Participation in societies/college activities Outside interests/hobbies Other responsibilities Travel

8 ∂ 8 Skills and experience – Making the most of your experience “Working in this busy pub has given me valuable experience of working long hours in a very hectic environment. I have developed my ability to remain calm when surrounded by apparent chaos, and also how to deal with difficult customers diplomatically, but firmly. I have recently been given responsibility for training new part-time staff. This has given me useful leadership experience as well as improving my understanding of business critical issues such as customer service and staff development.”

9 ∂ 9 Tackling competency questions Answer the question directly – be aware of multiple elements Try not to use the same example for different competency questions Focus on specific examples rather than general ones Be aware of word limits – get to the point quickly; avoid narrative Consider the purpose of the question...what is the employer assessing

10 ∂ 10 Skills and Experiences Q. Describe a time when you have worked within a team. What attributes did you bring to the team and what impact did you have? What did you learn about your own behaviour in this situation and how would you change your behaviour in a similar situation in the future? Assessing how you work with others and the contribution that you can make but also your self-awareness. Q. Give an example of a situation where you have come up with a creative solution to a complex problem. Assessing your problem solving skills but also your ability to think creatively and to cope with challenge. Q. Describe the most difficult decision that you have ever had to make. What made it so difficult? How did you reach the outcome? Assessing the specific manner and process in which you make decisions.

11 ∂ 11 Skills and experience – tackling competency questions e.g.teamwork Situation - describe with clarity and concision e.g. Skills for Success course Tasks - outline what was undertaken e.g. team project to develop a business plan Action - your actions taken e.g. put forward a strategy to divide project into manageable tasks/allocated roles according to interest and experience Result - outcome of your actions - reflections & learning outcomes

12 ∂ 12 Skills and Experience – tackling competency questions Teamwork ‘Describe an occasion where you worked as part of a team. What contribution did you make?.’ (100 words)

13 ∂ 13 Example answer In my position as Welfare Officer for Ustinov College I was involved in working with other members of the College Community Committee to develop a programme of events related to welfare topics. I was able to effectively utilise the relevant knowledge that I had accrued through my role as Welfare Officer to communicate with the team some of the major welfare anxieties expressed by students. I also advocated how the programme might be structured and took responsibility for identifying and contacting appropriate professionals to deliver workshops. The outcome was five very well organised and attended workshops addressing student welfare issues.

14 ∂ 14 In my position as Welfare Officer for Ustinov College I was involved in working with other members of the College Community Committee to develop a programme of events related to welfare topics. Situation and Task I was able to effectively utilise the relevant knowledge that I had accrued through my role as Welfare Officer to communicate with the team some of the major welfare anxieties expressed by students. I also advocated how the programme might be structured and took responsibility for identifying and contacting appropriate professionals to deliver workshops. Action The outcome was five very well organised and attended workshops addressing student welfare issues. Result

15 ∂ 15 Motivation and enthusiasm…How do I demonstrate this?...opportunity awareness! Research, research, research! Clear understanding of...  Company/Organisation  Job Description and Person Specification  Career Area

16 ∂ Motivation and enthusiasm...relating opportunity awareness to self awareness Relevant academic study – specific modules/dissertation Relevant experience Contact with employer/sector exposure (workshops, presentations, fairs) Professional development (qualifications/training) Relevant skills/qualities (relating to person specification) Independent research (careers websites e.g. prospects.ac.uk, professional journals, business reports etc) 16

17 ∂ 17 Career Motivation Q. Why have you identified information technology as a career choice? Q. Why do you feel that you would be suited to a career in the health sector and how does it fit in with your longer term career aspirations? Q. Please tell us how you arrived at your career choice and eliminated any alternatives? Q. What duties do you expect to perform on a daily basis?

18 ∂ 18 Career Motivation Example application form… Which candidate would you select for interview?

19 ∂ 19 Career Motivation What factors have influenced your choice of career and why do you think you are suitable? (150 words) I have experience of working in retail which was good both at Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer's. I enjoyed the work and dealing with people. I feel as a result I would be suitable for a graduate trainee position in retail.

20 ∂ 20 Career Motivation - example My interest in retail started when I worked as a part-time sales assistant at Tesco’s. I enjoyed the variety of the work, which included checkout duties and warehousing, and being part of a team. Contact with a wide range of people was particularly appealing and allowed me to demonstrate my strong interpersonal and communication skills. During my work experience with Marks and Spencer, I had the opportunity to see the running of a store from a management perspective. Working with staff and customers on a daily basis really excited me and developed my understanding of staff and floor management. It also exposed me to different aspects of retail including marketing and buying. The response I received from colleagues enhanced my strong desire to undertake this role as well reaffirming that I have the necessary leadership, problem solving and customer service skills to perform very effectively in a management capacity.

21 ∂ Strategy – Making a Case Second candidate successfully demonstrated: a long-standing interest in the career the key skills required a good insight into the nature of the work and employer

22 ∂ Other challenging elements…open questions! Personal statement Greatest achievement/challenge Why should you be offered this position What will you personally bring Opportunity to sell yourself to the company so take full advantage but relate answer to job specification! 22

23 ∂ 23 Using language to heighten impact… Experience:  More than 3 years experience in…  Demonstrated skills in…  Extensive academic/practical background in…  Experienced in all aspects of…  Knowledge of/experienced as/proficient in…  Provided technical assistance to…

24 ∂ 24 Using language to heighten impact… Ability:  Extensive training/involvement in…  Proficient/competent at…  Joined organisation to specialise in… Success:  Promoted to…  Succeeded in…  Proven track record in…

25 ∂ 25 Using language to heighten impact… Responsibilities  In charge of/supervised/delegated…  Now involved in/co-ordinate…  Familiar with… Roles:  Edited, established/created/designed, formulated, initiated, implemented, managed, presented…

26 ∂ Concluding comments… Self-reflection: evaluate your experience to date Specific examples in respect of competency questions; emphasis on the ‘action’ part Career questions: your opportunity to showcase your knowledge and understanding 26

27 ∂ 27 Careers Centre 30 minute application appointments (alternatively use quick query apps) DVD: Selection Success in One (25 minute programme on effective applications) Making Applications AGCAS Booklet The Perfect CV, Tom Jackson (Piatkus) Preparing your own CV, Rebecca Corfield CAS Leaflet – Writing Effective Applications, CVs and Covering Letters Online resource: come.asp

28 ∂ 28 Careers Centre Check website for employer presentations and workshops, skills courses, mock interviews, practice assement centres. e.g. Bank of America successful applications workshop 20th October Centrica effective applications live web chat 10th November

29 ∂ 29 University of Durham 49 New Elvet Durham DH1 3PF Tel: DUO Employability & Skills tab Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm (term time) 10am – 1pm and 2.15pm – 5pm (vacations) Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre (CEEC)

30 ∂ 30 Effective Applications… …any questions?


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