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Marketing Your PhD on paper and in person

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1 Marketing Your PhD on paper and in person
Rachael Roberts Careers Adviser One of sessions aimed at final year PhD students….to help you to market your research qualification effectively. This is focused on application and interviews outside of academia. While they are getting seated, pass out slips of paper. One side put down the worst application form question, on the other write down the worst interview question. We will address these later in the session.

2 By the end of this session, you will
Be able to identify skills & experience that are marketable for employers in industry Be able to articulate what employers are looking for and why Be able to promote your skills & experience in applications and at interview Have practised answering some application and interview questions Outline aims of session. Outline format and timings for the session – Small Group Exercises Feedback & Discussion Input Opportunity to ask questions Handouts – cover most of the slides and relevant resources. Mention alternative formats available. Application forms for academic posts are generally very straightforward and for some post doc positions you may be the only person for the job. Bear in mind that universities must demonstrate fair and thorough recruitment practise. Even if you have already had an informal offer, still must present high quality application and may be invited to an interview. Warning: Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security if invited to an informal chat!

3 International Students
Much of advice and information resources apply – talk to an adviser Some UK employers will only accept applications from candidates with a permanent right to work in the UK/EU We are focusing on the UK job market today.

4 Career Management Cycle
It’s important to start with this, to show you where in the career management cycle this session sits. The more you understand this cycle and memorise, the more you can use this tool once you have completed your PhD and are developing your career outside of academia. Run through the cycle, if they feel they have not progressed past the first stage, they need to come into the careers service and speak to an adviser to help move them forward. If they feel they haven’t identified where opportunities are or where to find vacancies, again come into the careers service and we can help point you in the right direction. But some (hopefully maybe quite a few) feel they are ready to start applying and that is what this session is about. If this cycle has been moved through properly, you will know: what you are looking for in a position; what you have to offer an employer; identified who is offering positions that compliment both and know about that employers values, culture. As the session goes on, it will become clearer why knowing these things will be absolutely crucial to making a successful application. If you apply and you aren’t ready, most employers will be able to tell who isn’t sure about their decisions for applying and perhaps won’t make offers for employment.

5 What can you offer? As a whole group, let’s spend 5 minutes brainstorming what a medical science researcher has to offer. Include skills, experience, and personal attributes. Call them out! Use flipchart or wipe board and record the skills called out. Leave the list up to use later in the session. Examples include: teaching – communicate with different audiences, designing, delivering and assessing work, administration skills, writing exam questions, leading a group. Research/analytical skills – problem solving, Working within a team, Processing written/complicated information, Working under tight deadlines, Working with limited resources Communication skills – presentation, Creating posters, teaching, Demonstrating and training, Written ability, Working with the press

6 Identifying skills Gain feedback from … Supervisor(s) Colleagues
Appraisals Review meetings Careers advisers Training courses Friends and family JRC Postgrad Skills What is a researcher? University of Leeds What do PhDs do?

7 Recruitment process Advertisement (maybe) Application
cover letter, CV, supporting statement application form Psychometric tests (possibly) Interview(s) Assessment centre (possibly) Job offer (hopefully) For an employer to fill a position, this is usually how it would be done. A written application is typically the first step in the recruitment process – will involve a letter and one or more of the above. CVs are covered in an another session, the dates and times are in your handbook. Key point – you cannot generalise so always check and follow the instructions! If asked to complete the form, don’t write ‘see attached CV’ instead. If an advert is used, be sure to spend time looking over it very closely. An ad in a broadsheet can cost £2000 easily, so they will have thought carefully about every word included. It is your first chance to try to understand what they are looking for in a candidate. Likewise, most organisations will offer a job description and personal specification (whilst this is standard practice in the public sector, you might not be provided it in the private sector – which means you will need to work harder to find out what type of candidate they are looking for). Use anything available to you to learn more about their ideal candidate. We will go over this technique a bit later. Written applications lay the ground for the interview – it’s your opportunity to set the agenda (within limits) and make a positive first impression by highlighting strengths, achievements and relevant aspects of your background. Doesn’t mean can leave ‘unexplained gaps’ in experience but usually degree of choice about what you include, level of detail and prominence. Mention psychometric tests – aptitude tests, personality questionnaires, tell them about online aptitude test and resources on website. Interviews vary from very informal (chat with an academic) to formal panel with up to 8 members. Preparation should be the same for both situations. Easy to undersell yourself in an informal situation and be caught off guard! If face several interviews, possible that each interviewer will have a different brief. Assessment Centres tend to be the domain of larger organisations eg Procter & Gamble, Civil Service, Oil companies. Chance to see you perform in different settings. Mention Workshops. 70% of vacancies are not advertised but process likely to be similar although initial approach may have to be more focused.

8 Application forms Vary enormously depending upon the job and the organisation….. straightforward employment record supporting statement competency based approach Application forms will vary as to how methodically they approach the task. Range from - straightforward Employment Record Form (eg Newcastle University) where you are often requested to also supply a supporting statement -competency based form, often completed online (eg Procter & Gamble, Civil Service,) And variations of above eg NHS form’ Describe the relevance of your background to this position. This session will look at both approaches. In all cases, you need to understand what the employer is looking for and have plenty of evidence to convince them you have it! This should be your starting point.

9 Do your research job advertisement, application pack
further occupational resources website, institutional/company reports press articles, trade press, THES networks alumni, supervisors, friends, work colleagues make contact before you apply Careers Service Hopefully you will already have a good understanding of the role and possibly the organisation (hence your application) especially post-doc or internal vacancy. If the position has been advertised, then you have an application pack which typically includes a person spec – READ IT BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Everyone else will have the same information. You’re experts in information gathering – make the most of this. Guaranteed to impress. Feedback from recruiters about candidates shows that when you take the trouble to understand what they are looking for and make the match it really stands out. Academic position - read recent papers, research output, RAE and QAA performance, progress of team members…. If a speculative application, then your background research is even more important especially as you may be following a casual suggestion and have less time to impress (reader never invited your approach!). The more you know about your target, the easier it’ll be to ‘grab their attention’. As well as helping you to make a good ‘sales pitch’, the more research you do, the more you show you want the job. Remind that Careers Service can direct you to vast amounts of information on opportunities.

10 What are recruiters looking for?
At all stages of the recruitment process, they are looking for evidence that you CAN do the job WANT to do the job FIT with the organisation In general, what employers are look for falls into three categories: CAN and WANT are assessed in the application and all three (including FIT) are usually established through face to face interaction at interview, assessment centres, personality tests. CAN - Need to understand what the job involves. Competency based applications are most straight forward as explicit about skills required for the job however, still have to decide most relevant examples of evidence may still have sections for further information or limited space to describe interests that forces you to be selective about the information you provide WANT - What have you done that shows an interest in this work? Application forms are used in the initial screening to check you have the qualifications, skills and desire to be able to do the job. DISTRIBUTE EXAMPLES OF JOB DESCRIPTION & PERSON SPEC Evidence is the only thing that counts. What you have done! Passionate claims of a lifelong interest are unconvincing without action. Do you see now why going through the career management cycle is helpful? You already know what you have to offer, what you want, and how that position and company match both of those two areas. If you have spent time on the previous steps, it doesn’t only make it easier on you, you have much better evidence and justifications.

11 Job Advert Exercise Take a look at the job description and the person specification In small groups, identify the types of skills, experience and interests the employer is looking for in a potential applicant Put these under the headings: CAN, WANT, FIT Give 10 minutes for this exercise and 5 minutes to feedback, record on flipchart.

12 What can you use as evidence?
Academic achievements including scholarships Work Experience industry placement, casual, voluntary, commercial, military service Research Project & Training Publications & Conferences Funding Professional interests & training (UKGrad) Committees and societies Interests and positions of responsibility Publications - papers, industry reports, patents, research articles Funding applications - size, contribution

13 Selecting evidence match it to the job requirements
choose your strongest examples make every word count make sure the space and position you give information is related to its importance use a variety of experiences especially when applying outside academia If PhD not essential, don’t give the impression that it’s all you have to offer. A well rounded package will show that you can develop and excel in different environments and have something to offer in anew field. Make the most of the chances you have to show awareness of the skills and qualities needed in the job eg What aspects of your education and research have you enjoyed? Describe your interests and what you enjoy about them. Open questions about relevant skills and experience.

14 STAR quality Does your answer have STAR quality? Situation Task Action
Result Run through example of how you might use the STAR approach – Ask someone to offer example of an everyday activity eg teaching, demonstrating, lab work, running a meeting or club etc. Explain the group task evaluation exercise.

15 Answering skills based questions
Situation Describe the situation/problem Why was it challenging? Task What was required? What was your objective? Actions What did you do? How did you do it? Results What was the outcome? How did you measure success? Need to draw evidence from a variety of situations and experience Cannot rely on your PhD all the time! May need more than one example…give me one, then another and another etc.

16 Supporting statements
Please give your reasons for applying for this post and additional information which shows how you match the person specification. This can include relevant skills, knowledge, experience, voluntary activities and training etc. Need to have a very clear understanding of the requirements of the job to enable you to decide…. What evidence to include, Level of detail needed hence space allocated Order of information

17 Competency based questions
Describe an occasion when you have successfully communicated with and influenced others. Please give a brief example of when you have developed a new approach or offered a new idea that led to the success of a project. Decide position you are applying for……

18 Group exercise Individually: decide why the question is being asked
prepare your answer what evidence will you include? how will you structure your answer? Feedback in your groups Use the two questions from the previous slide for this group work….

19 …a conversation with a purpose
An interview is… …a conversation with a purpose To assess your suitability for the position and NOT to judge you personally Their agenda is to Verify your claims and dig deeper – be prepared to build on what you’ve already told them Evaluate your verbal skills and professionalism Establish the relevance of your skills and experience See if you ‘fit’ their organisation and team. Remember – two way process.

20 Preparation Read the advertisement and application pack
Pick up the phone & talk to the named contact If appropriate, arrange a visit Research the organisation Ask around and use your networks Read your application Make sure you are clear what you can offer Think about the questions they might ask Try and anticipate difficult questions Will depend upon the position – If you have a job advert and application pack this should be your starting point. read the vacancy information. Identify the requirements for the job in terms of qualifications, experience, skills and personal qualities. If not, you’ll have to work harder! If a speculative application, just as important to do your initial research. Academic position – Look at recent publications from the group Talk to people in the field Have an opinion on current and future trends in this area Communicate with the named contact in the advert to start your application and introduce yourself Other opportunities…… Job advert & application pack Company website, Annual reports etc, etc Presentation, conferences, industrial collaboration, other contact Occupational information – Prospects Graduate Connections, own networks

21 Expect to be questioned about …
the position the employer/organisation your reasons for applying your achievements and background skills, qualities, experience and weaknesses

22 What will you be asked? What makes you a suitable applicant? (ability to do the job) Tell us how you arrived at your career choice and eliminated alternatives? (motivation) Why do you want to work for this organisation? (shared values)

23 Skills based questions
Give an example of a time when you have led a group exceeded expectations made a difference influenced others Make sure your answer has STAR quality

24 Other tough questions Break into small groups. Each group will have 5 minutes to discuss a tough question. Identify why the interviewer is asking it (i.e. CAN, WANT, FIT) and prepare an answer that one person will present to the group. Use questions given at the beginning of the session. If no hard ones, include: What are your two main weaknesses? Strengths? Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Why do you want this position? What do you have to offer over other candidates? Why haven’t you published any articles whilst doing your PhD? (something direct) If appointed, what do you think would be the main challenges you would face?

25 How will you answer? Please tell me about your research in two minutes. I have no prior knowledge of your subject. Can you HOOT? Hook them Outline Outcome Towards How many answered the question in two minutes? Any difficulties? What were they? Need to be articulate on tap. Have to remove technical jargon. Strike a balance between what research is about and why relevant. Can you HOOT? Hook them – Why should they be interested? Possible application? Relevance to the outside world? So what? Outline What does it briefly involve? What is the task? Outcome What is the intended outcome? Towards – What do you want them to think about? Do?

26 Managing interview stress
Difficult questions -seek clarification -if in doubt, be brief Breathe deeply Body language Maintain eye contact Don’t forget to smile! Listen carefully

27 What impression did you make?
Smile and give a firm handshake Speak slowly and clearly End positively Be enthusiastic and positive avoid ‘I feel…. I think I can…. use action words…advised, organised, mention key outcomes Thank the interviewer and make sure you are clear about the next stage of the process and when you can expect to hear from them. Be enthusiastic. Good responses include …. “…which resulted in… ” “….….so that……” “….the benefit was..” “..the advantage was…” Mention anything you do not feel you have had the opportunity to raise.

28 What do you want to ask? Structure of the organisation
Time given to each part of role Typical projects Variety of work Performance assessment Opportunities overseas Training Salary?

29 Final thoughts Get feedback Evidence is all that counts
Think ahead – most people underestimate how long it takes to complete an application

30 Further help Resources for postgraduates Duty careers adviser UK GRAD
Future sessions in Research Handbook

31 Questions? Thanks for your time, please complete the evaluation form sent to you on-line.

32  Careers Service 2nd Floor Armstrong Building (off the Quadrangle)
10 am - 5 pm Monday to Thursday 10 am pm Friday Duty Careers Adviser 11.00am – 4.30 pm For those of you who need to work on some previous steps and need to speak to an adviser – here is where we are and when we are open.

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