19 September 2012 08:50 AM

Spotlight on: HR Graduate Jobs

HR has shed its paper-pushing image in the last few years and is seen as an increasingly attractive destination for graduates from all degree disciplines. If you're commercially aware and also a real people person - tactful, empathetic, confident and a great communicator - who wants to use these skills in business, this could be the industry for you.

Watch a real HR professional talking about the best and worst bits of his job here.

HR departments have historically had a bit of a bad rep as the boring, 'computer says no' zone in the company - so part of your role as a modern HR professional is to change this image! HR strategy these days is very much about retaining and developing staff, not just making sure they follow the rules arbitrarily. Your understanding of employment law needs to be top-notch, too, so HR can be a good choice for law graduates who've decided that life as a solicitor or barrister isn't for them, but still want to use what they've learned in a business context.

With many companies recognising the advantages of flexible working, part of any modern HR role is to help the company and staff maintain a work-life balance that's mutually beneficial to everyone. To do this requires tact, diplomacy, empathy, assertiveness and negotiation skills. Remember that you will often be dealing with people who are in difficult or emotionally-charged situations - illness, bullying and work stress don't tend to leave people in the most calm frame of mind.

As well as the day-to-day liaison between staff and employers, HR professionals also have a big role to play in the strategic direction of the company. At a senior level, HR teams will advise on employing the right balance of staff in terms of skills and experience, advise on and help to implement training and development programmes across the company, consult with recruitment agencies, give input on pay scales, ensure compliance with current employment and working practise legislation, and lead company strategy on equality and diversity. Whew!

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10 September 2012 09:48 AM

Top Tips For Developing The Skills You Need For A Graduate Job

  • Network, network, network! Family, friends, contacts you meet by chance – it all counts!

  • Go to university careers fairs and employer presentations – not only can you pick up lots of helpful info on the industries you’re keen on, you will also have the chance to make a lasting impression with recruiters.


A final tip - believe in your own abilities and focus on presenting yourself as confident...but not arrogant. No one wants to spend all day working with someone who's full of themselves!

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10 September 2012 09:28 AM

Four Vital Skills for Landing your First Job

Graduate employers aren’t just interested in hiring candidates with the right qualifications – they’re also keen to meet people with the right skills for their company. The top skills graduate recruiters want are:

1. Commercial awareness - this is about knowing how a business works, how it’s positioned in the marketplace and how it relates to the wide economy.
    
2. Communication skills – this vital ability covers putting your point across effectively, public speaking, listening to people, writing well, and tailoring your message to your audience.

3. Motivation – are you someone who can pick themselves up again after a setback? Can you keep persevering when the going gets tough?


4. Confidence – can you be assertive without being arrogant? Can you master business lingo and meet company directors without sounding nervous? 


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06 September 2012 03:44 PM

The Survival Guide to Freshers Week: Practical and not-so-practical tips

Ah, Fresher's Week...if we could sum it up in two words they would be 'chatting' and 'queues'. You will spend the entire week non-stop gabbing away to all your new housemates, coursemates, randoms you pick up on nights out, and people waiting to register for their student cards. Which brings us neatly onto queues - you will queue for the aforementioned student card, NUS card, medical registration, library registration, etc. Not the most fun in the world when you've got a crashing hangover from one Sambuca too many the night before, but it's actually not a bad way to meet new people, which is the main point of Fresher's Week. After all, you'll be doing too much of this in subsequent uni years, so have fun and socialise while you can!

Practical stuff:

- Before you even think about cracking open that bottle of Malibu, make sure you register for the essential things that will keep you alive - doctor, dentist, student discount card, passport photos, library card, internet passwords, TV license, council tax exemption certificate.

- Store some local taxi numbers and the postcode of your halls of residence in your phone to avoid getting lost - nothing worse than realising you're stuck in a strange town at 3am!

- It goes without saying, really, but don't do anything stupid. 'Stupid' covers walking home alone at night, unprotected fumblings, accepting drinks from strangers, and anything else that would reasonably warrant a slap round the head from your mum.

Now, down to business:


- DON'T sit in your room and feel homesick. Contrary to popular belief, Freshers' Week isn't all about drinking - it's also about meeting people. Even if you're not the loud partying type, make sure you get out there and at least chat to your fellow quiet types - it's likely they'll be thrilled that someone has broken the ice, so don't be scared to strike up conversations. Feeling too shy to know where to begin? This video has some great tips for the nervous...

- Make sure you join at least one society. Societies can be a great way to meet like-minded nerds people with similar interests, so dive in. But don't spend crazy amounts of cash on signing up in your first week - many societies will let you come along to a few meetings first to get a taste for the action.

- Be open minded. One of the best things about university is the chance to make friends with people who are absolutely nothing like you in tastes, background, education or nationality. Don't automatically assume that you won't get on with the loud blonde girl with the double-barrelled name, the Morrissey lookalike with the hipster specs or the shy Japanese engineering student. Some of the greatest university friendships come from the most unlikely places, so expand your mind and give everyone a chance!

- Bring something to share with your new housemates on the first day. Everyone brings cakes or biscuits, so try something a bit off the wall - how about a football, party poppers, bubbles or a frisbee? It doesn't really matter what you go for - the point is to break the ice.

- Make sure you eat something involving fruit or vegetables to stave off the dreaded Fresher's Flu. At least once during the week.

- Make sure you register for all your classes on time - you don't want to start week two and be met with blank looks from your lecturers! 

- Most importantly, have fun!

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06 September 2012 09:09 AM

Guest post: Cybersecurity Sector Seen as Secure Employer for Graduates

 

With the continuing instability of many key UK employment sectors, a sure thing is hard to find. However, cybersecurity has been heralded as an extremely secure career option for graduates with the right skills to offer.

Thanks to the rising demand for online security services and the relative scarcity of qualified candidates, the genuine difficulty faced by many job hunting graduates of ‘too much competition, too few openings’ doesn't apply in this dynamic employment sector. Both private sector and government institutions need the services of hundreds more experts in the near future to combat the rising tide of cyber-related attacks, as well as the more mundane annoyances of low-tech spammers that plague today’s internet.

While the majority of the cybersecurity industry creates tech support jobs that deal with the daily countering of these low-tech nuisances, at the other end of the scale experts are needed to fend off more sophisticated cyber-attacks. These can take the form of defrauding attacks designed to steal or misappropriate capital, or in more deadly instances they can target critical digital infrastructure that can cripple power grids or banking systems with impunity.

Cyber-related attacks are a global threat with a cost to the British Government that not even the most well-informed experts can agree on, but it certainly runs into billions of pounds every year. While the demand for cybersecurity is there, the supply doesn’t measure up to it. Edwin Kanerva, Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, recently said: “It’s tough going out there. Every company is looking for the same thing. There’s just not enough of them. The gene pool is small.”

Given the job security and relatively high salary that a cybersecurity expert can expect to enjoy, the number of new graduates who are entering the field remains disproportionally low. Perhaps the most obvious reason for this 'small gene pool' of employable graduates in this field is the fact that students who study computer science are being lured away by the bright lights of computer engineering or software development.

The most exciting tech companies, who have Silicon Valley headquarters and a large presence in the UK, are proving to be too much of an attraction to eager young graduates with computer science degrees. The large salaries and inherent coolness of innovative tech companies means that careers with Google, Microsoft and Oracle are highly sought after, drawing computer studies graduates away from online security firms and government departments. These tech giants are also increasingly reaching out to pluck potential candidates from the graduate pool to employ them in Java jobs, as the programming language has come under fire recently for its supposed security issues.

While software development jobs with this kind of employer may be an attractive option, graduates with computer related qualifications should certainly consider the variety of excellent employers looking for cybersecurity experts. The generous salaries, job security and relatively lower levels of competition make it an excellent employment sector.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/umdnews/5257657315/


03 September 2012 09:50 AM

Behind the scenes...

It's been a busy few weeks at CareerPlayer Towers. Our Sales Team visited possibly the best office reception in the world at Volkswagen - sadly they didn't throw in a free VW campervan!

And no, we don't know why Tom looks so shifty either...maybe he was planning to drive off in one?



We also went to film on location at the Chartered Insurance Institute - think Hogwarts but a teensy bit posher. They had a throne, Ladies and Gentlemen. A THRONE.

Which Rob enjoyed perhaps a little too much. He is one cat away from being a Bond villan...

 


31 August 2012 12:13 PM

Summer in the office: A slight pest control issue

We have a slight fly problem in the kitchen, thanks to someone else in our building leaving banana skins lying around. To say this has brought out the team's hunting instincts would be an understatement...

Sadly, our flies seem to be immune to fly papers, and fly spray seems to make them even more excitable, if anything. Sigh.   

Not that that has stopped Rob from doing his best to blast them out of the sky. Just look at that concentration and focus!



He waits. That's what he does.

22 August 2012 10:58 AM

Postgraduate Study: The No-Nonsense Facts

Thinking about postgraduate study? Read this first! There are pros and cons to the postgrad route, and lots of potential traps for the unwary, so make sure you're informed.

The good...

  1. A postgraduate qualification can help you get into your chosen profession - for example, if you want to be a lawyer or accountant, you'll have to suck it up and do the necessary exams. Fortunately, you'll often be funded through these by your employer if you can secure a job with them first, so make sure you explore this option.

  2. If you get to the end of your course and decide you actually want to do something else, a postgraduate degree or conversion course can give you the qualifications needed to make the switch - think law, teaching, psychology or medicine.

  3. If you've got 1st class grades across the board and your whole world revolves around 14th century stained glass, cellular biology or solar physics, you might be one of those people who is cut out for a career in academic research. If you're one of those people for whom the world of academia fits like a glove and you can't imagine being happy working as anything other than a mildy eccentric professor, go for it! 

The bad...

  1. Not knowing what you want to do is NOT a good reason to do a postgraduate course. You'll end up in a pile of extra debt, and it'll be hard to explain to a potential employer why you chose to do the course if you didn't have a good rationale behind it at the time. You'd be much better off finding a job and saving up some money, or doing some voluntary work and building up skills and confidence.

  2. Postgraduate life is not like undergraduate life, so if you're thinking of doing another course just to prolong the student experience, think again. Being a postgraduate student is much more like having a job - more lone working and less socialising! It can be really rewarding, but it's definitely not the same experience.

  3. Postgraduate study costs a lot of money upfront as there are no undergraduate-style student loans available. In fact, there is very little funding to go around. To be in with a chance of getting funded, you'll need to be an exceptional student. It often makes better sense to either try and get a job in the field that will fund your studies, or save up some money and study for a postgraduate qualification part-time while you work.

  4. Sadly, many universities and education providers will try to convince you that their postgraduate courses are the best thing since sliced bread without giving you realistic facts about the tangible benefits of the course or the effect on your employment chances. Remember that they are primarily after your money! There are often far more postgraduate students taking a course at any one time than there are jobs available, but it's not in the course provider's interests to tell you that so they are likely to minimise it. If a postgraduate course promises the earth yet demands suspiciously low entry grades, it pays to do your research and go in with your eyes open.


In summary, there are three good reasons to do a postgrad course:

  1. If you absolutely adore your subject AND you have loads of research ideas, fantastic grades, glowing references from lecturers and the patience to write endless funding applications, by all means don't be put off. If you want to be a university lecturer, this is the necessary route, so go for it!

  2. You've known for ages that you want to be a clinical psychologist/solicitor/maths teacher and while you have good work experience and knowledge of the field, you have to do the course to get into the job you want to do. Generally speaking, if you are this organised at 21, you're unlikely to rush into anything blindly anyway. We trust you :)

  3. You have secured a job in a field you want to work in, and the employer is prepared to fund your course OR you have secured a job that means you can afford to fund a part-time postgraduate course alongside it.

No ifs, no buts. There are really no other good reasons to do a postgraduate course, let alone put yourself in debt in order to do so. We know it sounds harsh, but it's for your own good...

If you can't decide, why not take some time out? Remember that you can always go back to a postgraduate course in a few years' time, with more money saved up, some work experience and a better idea of what you REALLY want to get out of the experience.

To find out more about careers in academia, click here. To find out about choosing a career and assessing your options, click here.
 


22 August 2012 10:21 AM

5 Things You Need to Know About Engineering Graduate Jobs

Engineering can get a bit of a bad rep, unfortunately, which is a shame because it has the potential to be one of the most satisfying and stable careers out there. Read on to find out five things every aspiring engineer must know:

  1. It's not just for the guys! Watch this film to find out what women who work in engineering have to say - the general consensus seems to be that not only is it not nearly as 'blokey' as you might think, it's also easier to get noticed for being good at your job when you're the only woman on the team!
  2. There are plenty of jobs in engineering companies for non-engineers - think Sales and Marketing, Project Management, HR, Logistics. A graduate scheme at an engineering company can be a great way to get transferable business skill that will translate to a wide range of careers.
  3. It can offer some of the most flexible hours of any professional job - many companies offer perks like flexitime, and some even give you every Friday afternoon off - yes, really! 
  4. Some engineering graduate schemes will consider candidates with a 2.2 - so this industry can be a good choice if you've not quite hit the grade you hoped for.
  5. Engineering can offer the option of lots of international travel if that's something that takes your fancy - definitely worth bearing in mind, we say!

For more information on careers in engineering, click here.

Or click on the image below...

 


21 August 2012 03:30 PM

3 Ways to Top Up Your Summer CV

So, the summer vacation is in full swing, any internships or summer placements are drawing to a close, and it's raining (again) - what's a bored student to do? Far from being a drag, the end of the summer vacation can be a great time to build up your skills and show future employers that you're capable of seeking out opportunities and making things happen. Read on for our Top Three Tips:

  1. Getting a part-time job can be a great way to keep busy, gain useful 'soft' skills such as communication and dealing with customers - and, of course, earn some much-needed cash before the Autumn loan payment kicks in! You can also use even the crummiest job to your advantage on those all-important application forms - click here to find out how.
  2. If jobs are thin on the ground - or if earning money isn't your main priority right now - why not look into volunteering locally? Summer is a great time to give something back to a cause you love. In fact, a lot of employers like to see volunteering on a CV because it suggests you're someone who's well-rounded and socially responsible.
  3. Learn something new! Yes, this may seem like the last thing you want to do after a year of studying hard, but it's a great way to add to that pesky 'Other Relevant Skills' section on application forms. This doesn't need to be a formal qualification - there are plenty of online courses where you can teach yourself a new language, learn some basic programming or brush up on your typing and Microsoft Office skills.

It goes without saying - don't forget to relax and unwind, too! You've got to be ready for the start of the new term and (more importantly) ready to party all night in Fresher's Week!

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