Careers Advise from Glenda Martin: Career Development Consultant

We had Gelnda Martin, Careers adviser for Ulster University   give us a talk on how to correctly prepare for our career development.

Key notes:

What will we get from Placement?

  • Earn yourself some cash
  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Put your academic knowledge into practice
  • Test your career options
  • Build your confidence working with others
  • Develops skills employers want
  • Training and Development

What do we want from a job?

  • Lots of responsibility
  • Finacial Security
  • International Experience
  • Company with good reputation / profile
  • Local / Home experience
  • Work with lots of people
  • Work independently
  • Good training opportunities

The value of placement

  • On average students completing a placement year achieve a higher degree classification compared with those who don’t take placement eg 2:1 compared  to 2:2
  • Placement students are more like to be employed six months after graduation and to have higher salaries than the average graduate

Why placements are important?

  • More than half of recruiters warn that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all, are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.


  • Employers want more than just a degree
  • It is your responsibility to manage your own career
  • Nothing is certain – Future of the labour market consistently changing

What employers are looking for

  • Employers expect to recruit people from university that have not only the relevant academic qualifications but also a wide range of skills and experiences

Desired Skillset

1.Commercial awareness (or business acumen)




5.Problem solving

6.Accuracy & attention to detail


8.Perseverance and motivation

9.Ability to work under pressure

10.Negotiation and persuasion

How do I find Relevant Work Experience?

  • Personal Contacts (family and friends)
  • Previous work experience contacts
  • – map who is in your area
  • Professional Associations
  • Academic support
  • Career Development Centre
  • Internet Searches (jobsites)


How do I write a good Application?

  • The key to a good application is making sure your Skills, Abilities, Knowledge & Experience (SAKE) fit the job and/or person specification.
  • In these highly competitive times, you’re unlikely to get far if you can’t align your SAKE to all or most of the essential requirements.

Preparation is Key

  • Research the company –Its Development, Expansion,  Markets,  Products, Mission Statement,  Its Values,  Its Ethos /Culture.
  • Often the application form will test your knowledge of contemporary issues which face a particular organisation. This is to check that you have done your prep work.


Application Form Checklist

  • Follow instructions, for example about the use of block capitals, black ink, your own handwriting and word limits
  • Complete every section or insert NA (not applicable) if it doesn’t apply to you
  • Pay attention to your writing style. Use action verbs such as ‘organised’, ‘responsible’, ‘managed’, ‘lead’, ‘planned’ to create a dynamic, competent image
  • Check for mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Compare what you have written with the job description – is it concise, clearly illustrating why you are right for the job?
  • Re-read your draft answers to the questions while imagining you’re the employer. Do they impress you? Would you want to interview this applicant?
  • Keep a copy of the form so that you can read it before the interview

Identify three things about yourself that make you the best candidate for the job!

How do you write a CV?

  • Look at the job
  • What does it involve
  • What skills are needed
  • Think about your skills/qualities/abilities/experience
  • Match the two together – and provide evidence!


Design and Layout

Should be:

  • 2 sides of A4
  • Appropriate to role/job being applied for
  • Follow a logical sequence/order
  • Aim to be ordered and allocate space in relation to the importance of the information
  • Draw reader’s eye to important areas


  • Personal Details
  • Career Objective
  • Education
  • Work Experience / Employment History
  • Skills Profile
  • Achievements / Interests
  • Referees (Usually 2)


1.Always tailor your C.V.

2.Sell your skills – always be positive

3.Use bullet points

4.Use positive, action verbs

  • Don’t use weak words such as “did” or “worked”; change them to “achieved” or “implemented”.
  • Include active verbs when describing your activities
  • e.g. achieved, arranged, contributed, established, implemented, initiated, negotiated, organised, increased.
  • Put the most powerful words at the left-hand side of the page – where the scanning eye travels first ie not “While I was at Brown and Co. I developed a new database system”, But: “Developed a new database system while at Brown and Co”.

5.Include covering letter

The interview process

  • Show enthusiasm
  • Smile
  • Be positive
  • Make it easy for the interviewer to obtain information
  • Even if it feels as if things are not going well don’t give up.

Answering Interview Questions

  • Identify the key skills being asked for
  • Reflect on your own experiences to find a suitable scenario which highlights these skills/competencies
  • Good approach – is to use STAR

Situation – describe the situation

Task – what did you do

Action – what steps did you take to complete the task

Result – what was the outcome

  • Try to draw on a range of experiences

On the Day

  • First impressions count
  • How you come across is as important as what you say

-7% words

-38% tone of voice

-55% body language

Questions to ask the interviewer

  • The Organisation

–What are the likely future developments?

  • The work and training

–What projects you would be involved in?

  • Colleagues

–Who would you be working with?

  • Prospects

–What career paths have other graduates taken in the organisation?

  • Timing

–How long will you have to wait before you hear from them








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