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Top Tips for Application Forms from Skills4Work Panellists

Joe SSprecher11 May 2018

Sally Brown – UCL Careers Advisor

On the 3rd October, UCL Careers welcomed four speakers from different companies to speak to students about their application processes and to offer some ‘top tips’ about completing application forms. What was clear was that although every company has their own way of shortlisting candidates, some specific annoyances regarding poor applications were common to all recruiters.

Online application forms

All the panellists stated that their company asks you to fill in an online application form. They often ask for the same information that you will have on your CV – such as your academics and some personal details – but often in a format that suits the needs of the company. The representative from PwC was keen to highlight that due to the desire for social mobility, many companies (inc. PwC) do not ask for your work experience at this stage – understanding that some graduates may not have had the opportunity to undertake relevant or unpaid work experience/internships during their studies. So don’t worry if you feel your current work experience – such as bar work or retail – doesn’t directly relate to the industry you are applying to, they will be looking for a breadth of transferable skills they can build on.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Talk to people already doing the role you are interested in
  • Check whether it is the right ‘fit’ for you through researching the role and company thoroughly before applying.

Online: Motivation and Competency questions

Online questions regarding candidates’ motivation to apply to the company, their industry knowledge and basic common competencies (such as team-work) were common amongst the companies represented. It was also common that some candidates offered generalised responses that could be applied to any of their competitors.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Research! Research the role as well as the organisation.
  • Take your time – allow 1-2 weeks to fill in the in the application.
  • Research the industry to build up your commercial awareness – reflect upon how current issues may affect the company.
  • A ‘real human’ will read this – all the panellists agreed that their companies do not use software to filter candidates.

Video Applications

Yes the 21st century is here! Both the panellists from Unlocked and the Bank of England stated that they use video as part of the process. This is where you receive some written questions, get a few minutes to prepare your answer and then you are filmed saying your responses. These are reviewed later, as there is no one on the other side of the camera whilst you are speaking. The aim is to find out what you are like as a person and your communications skills.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Check what else is in view of the camera e.g. remove the picture of you and your friends at a Halloween party, lock up the cat etc.
  • Dress smartly
  • Find a quiet place, but not too quiet that you are inclined to whisper.
  • Try to look directly at the camera and not at the ‘thumbnail’ of you.
  • It is acceptable to jot down key points during the preparation time and refer to the paper during your answer – but avoid reading from the notes like a script.

Online testing:

Two of the panellists – from PwC and The Bank of England – stated that their company uses some online testing that may include numerical, inductive (sometimes called logical reasoning) or verbal reasoning tests, work style preference questionnaire, or a personality test.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Don’t lie or second guess yourself on the latter two – they are there to help the company work out a ‘best fit’ for you regarding departments.

Five Top Tips for applications:

  1. Don’t copy and paste information off the website for your application.
  2. We know what we do – show us why it interests you and discuss how you would be a good asset.
  3. Take opportunities offered – reply to e-mails that offer you information, meetings or chats.
  4. Be specific to the firm you are applying to – show a genuine interest.
  5. Research! How can you show motivation about something you know little about?

 

NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)

ManpreetDhesi23 December 2014

This post originally appeared on the QM Jobs blog

The NHS Scientist Training Programme will open in January 2015. The STP is a graduate-entry programme for scientists, where you are paid a salary by the NHS while training.

Postgraduate training for the STP leads to a specifically commissioned and accredited master’s degree and certification of achievement of work-based training following one of nine themed pathways:

For more on the STP application process see here. And if you’re a scientist and want to talk about your career options, why not book an appointment to see one of our Careers Consultants? www.ucl.ac.uk/careers

How to prepare for our Career Fairs…

ManpreetDhesi30 September 2014

Every year UCL Careers holds a number of Careers Fairs to help you talk to employers and find out first hand what they are looking for. You will get more out of the Careers Fair if you spend a little time preparing…

Be aware that there will be a mixture of all kind of employers from all kinds of sectors exhibiting each day and you might find an employer that you had never really considered before as being a front runner for you. To help you prepare effectively we’ve put some handy tips together to get you started:

Before the fair

We strongly encourage you to do some research on the exhibitors before the fair: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs

As well as reading the exhibitor profiles, click through to the organisation’s own website to find out more about them.

You can then decide which exhibitors you particularly want to talk to, and you will be able to ask more informed questions. Try to prepare some questions in advance and think about the main points that you would want an organisation to know about you – it can help you feel more confident.

At the fair

At the fair, each exhibiting organisation has a stand and their reps are there to answer your questions about what the organisation does, what jobs they offer to final year students and graduates, what internships/placements they provide to earlier year students, and any other opportunities that they offer.

Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure. Use the opportunity to ask your questions face-to-face.

If you are feeling a bit nervous about approaching your first choice organisation, it can be a good idea to visit some other stands first to practise your technique.

If you are given a business card, make a point soon afterwards of noting on it anything that it would be useful to remember. Have they suggested you email them with further questions? Did they give you advice on their recruitment process?

Even if you have a ‘hit list’ of exhibitors, consider other organisations at the fair that are less well known. They might be offering just what you are looking for.

Remember to bring your UCL ID or GradClub ID card as you won’t be able to enter the fair without this!

Other hints and tips

  • Remember that many of the opportunities are available to students of any discipline
  • Staff on the exhibitor stands are often relatively recent graduates who can tell you what it is really like to work in their organisation
  • If you want to have a CV ready to hand over, arrange an appointment at UCL Careers before the Careers Fair to ask for some CV feedback
  • The fair may be busy when you arrive – don’t be put off. People tend to congregate by the entrance, so head to another part of the fair where it will probably be quieter
  • Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. The exhibitor may not realise that you are interested in them, and you could miss out because your friend happens to be more talkative than you!
  • If you feel overwhelmed, and don’t know what to do or where to start, make sure you visit the UCL Careers for help.

For further information about the fairs, please visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/fairs