You better work work work work work!

It’s summertime! Time to relax, spend some time with friends, laze about in the sun, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Sure there’s time to do some of that, but the summer vacation is the perfect time to find some work , not only to earn a bit of money for the coming academic year, but also to gain some work experience!

Does your CV have a skills gap? 

Is there something missing from your experience that would be really useful in the future? Which skills do job descriptions ask for, and can you provide all of them? Think about what you want to gain, and look for work experience that will tick that box.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain experience and skills. You won’t get paid, but you’ll be supporting a charity as well as making new friends and learning new skills. Charity shop work can help you develop customer service skills, time management, creativity (think about window displays and merchandising of stock) and organisational skills. Going abroad to help build a school or dig a well will give you cultural awareness, resilience, time management and team working skills. Employers love seeing volunteering on CV – it shows that someone is interested in the world they live in and is keen on giving back.

Some ideas:

Summer camps and language schools

Thinking of going into teaching? Want to gain some leadership skills? Summer camps and language schools could offer you these skills. Look online for local opportunities, and look around on campus – language schools take place across the summer at Canterbury campus, so find out who they are and where they are, and get applying.

Some ideas:

Talk to your friends and family

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” So many jobs are filled by people already known to a company, or someone who works there. Ask around, and see what’s on offer. You could find your dream job!

What your hobbies and interests tell employers about you

When you’re putting together your graduate CV, your hobbies and interests section may seem fairly insignificant, right? Think again.

What you write about in this section can tell a prospective employer a lot more about you than you might think. Often, hobbies and interests suggest a lot about your personality, qualities, what you can offer an employer and what you might be like in the workplace.

The hobbies and interests section of your CV is even more important if you don’t have a lot of work experience (which is not uncommon for graduates). This is because employers are more likely to use it to build a better picture of you and your skills.

As a result, it’s important that you use your hobbies to showcase who you are and what attributes you have. Generally speaking, here’s what employers think about your hobbies and interests.

Travel

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It’s not uncommon for graduates to spend a few months or a gap year travelling, either before or after university. But what do employers think of grads who travel?

The good news is that most employers like to see a well-travelled graduate. This is because travelling usually helps you to develop key skills and character traits that are transferable to the workplace. These include independence, being adaptable and great communication skills.

If you have been travelling, it’s definitely worth talking about it concisely on your CV and mentioning the skills and qualities that it has helped you to develop. Globe-trotting grads tend to be perceived as open-minded, curious and resilient which are all great things to bring into a workplace.

Sport

Playing sport shows employers that you have some fantastic qualities that may include being:

  • Driven
  • Competitive
  • Motivated
  • A team player (depending on the sport)
  • Dedicated
  • Passionate

So many job roles and companies value these qualities so you would be silly not to mention your sporting achievements on your CV.

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Charity Work/Volunteering

From helping to build schools in Africa to walking dogs at your local animal shelter, many graduates have gotten involved in volunteering opportunities. Obviously volunteering is a fantastic thing for communities but it can also help your job application stand out.

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Summer, summer, summertime…

…time to sit back and unwind??!!

By all means take some time to chill out, but sorting out an action plan for your summer break to build up your CV could be the key to getting the graduate job you want.

Graduating may seem a long way off, but any effort you make during this summer break will pay off in the long run.

Here are seven steps to future career success that you can take this summer!

  • Get your CV up to scratch! The Careers and Employability service is open all summer and you can drop in between 10.30-12.30 and 2-4 every day to get your CV checked. The Careers Award on Moodle takes 10-12 hours and will help you produce a top class graduate CV, covering letter and application form. This can increase your chances of getting a graduate job and earn Employability Points!
  • If you are unsure about your career path, then book an appointment with one of the CES Careers Advisers (also via the telephone). Careers Advisers are also around all summer long too!
  • Apply for a career-related summer internship. If you are successful in getting one, this can give your job prospects a massive boost and the edge over other applicants. Good sites to look at include E4S, Gradcracker, RateMyPlacement and Studentladder.
  • Apply speculatively to companies asking for career-related work experience. This will usually be unpaid, but can be a great way to get a foot in the door of your ideal organisation and real experience of your chosen career. Don’t discount smaller companies either! When approaching companies you will need to be clear on what you are asking for and make sure you send a CV and covering letter. The CES offers bursaries to help cover travel expenses if your work experience is unpaid, so you can still take full benefit of the chance to gain experience.
  • Get a part-time job. Even if it is not related to your future career, you will be able to earn money and still gain transferable skills such as teamwork, communications skills, dealing with people and working under pressure. Try the Kent Union Jobshop or look in your local area if you are going home.
  • Volunteer!!!! This is a great way to get experience and do something worthwhile at the same time. Employers view volunteering extremely positively and if you don’t have any work experience on your CV it can be easier to secure volunteering than a part time job. Try these websites http://www.kentunion.co.uk/activities/volunteering/ , http://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/volunteering and https://do-it.org/ .
  • Plan how to maximise your University experience in your second year. Consider joining a University sports team or society, perhaps taking on a committee role. Look into being a student rep for your course, academic school or faculty or a student ambassador.

Don’t forget to make the most of your time off and wow future employers!

Start Developing a Personal Brand, Not Just a CV

What does branding have to do with job-hunting?! A lot actually. It’s all about who you are and where you want to be. Marketing yourself to employers is a skill worth honing during the job application phase. Start building your personal and professional brand from day one. Approaching job seeking as a brand building exercise will help further you career and build a platform on which you can build professional credibility. Here’s how your social media profiles and personal story can impact you finding work.

What’s already out there?

Employers will regularly screen candidates based on what they find online so be clear on what is already out there. Search for your name in search engines and see what they unearth (scary). Remember that society memberships, blog posts, sports clubs, blog comments and old social media profiles may all come up.

  • Have a spring-clean and see whether you can remove anything that doesn’t look great. If you are in charge of a page, you can ask search engines to not index it, so it won’t be found by browsers.
  • If you can’t remove it, create new digital assets like social media posts and profiles that will naturally outrank some of the things you’d rather not promote.
  • Be cautious, or at least mindful, of what your name is associated with online. Especially things that are politically controversial may be detrimental to your future.
  • Create a positive online trail– write a guest blog for the local charity you work for or offer to be featured on their blog. Employers will be impressed if they see you’ve been involved with the community.

Have a targeted and clear profile on your CV

Maximise a vital marketing opportunity at the top of your CV by having a clear and interesting profile. Your CV’s opening statement should be short, punchy and industry-relevant. It’s your chance to put your spin on your entire experience and future prospects, so devote time to getting it right.

Don’t go with something generic like “Recent History graduate looking for interesting role in a dynamic organisation”. Favour something targeted that cites your specific areas of interest and highlights your strengths like “Analytical and process-driven Chemistry graduate looking for a laboratory technician role with growth potential in the agrochemical industry.”

  • Write different profiles to tailor your CV to specific roles and industries.
  • Make your profile short and punchy, rather than overtly descriptive. One or two sentences is best.
  • Be creative and use humour if the industry and role demand it.
  • Avoid using cliché words recruiters see over and over again.

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I don’t care what my teachers say, I’m gonna be a supermodel

I would firstly like to thank the B-KEW bursary team for allowing me to experience a truly useful and inspiring internship which has kick-started my career within PR.

Debenhams is the UK’s leading multi-channel retail company consisting of many thriving and exciting brands, commanded by its dedicated employees. I was welcomed into the PR team where I supported and shadowed an existing PR assistant in daily duties consisting of: sample management, admin, research, blogger/press communication and pr event co-ordination. This experience heightened and matured my natural flair for communication in a professional environment, building upon my love for team work and event-management.

Lydia
It was beneficial to observe PR managers and assistant’s dedication and passion to their role. It provided a fantastic basis for me to discuss in future PR job interviews.

A highlight for me was being given the responsibility to play a large role in the management of a Matthew Williamson SS16 Press show at the glamorous Ritz hotel. I bought, and distributed goody bags, invited attendees, taking photographs for social media, and circulating the room, talking to many journalists from the likes of Vogue Italia and Harper’s Bazaar. This event gave me a real insight into the preparation, management and exposure of the event. I later monitored attendees’ social media pages, examining the success of the event for meetings with the PR team.

The success of this three week work experience brought about a job opportunity with the company that I am being considered for in August 2016. This proved to me how important work experience is when kick-starting your professional career, it can help build upon your networking skills with the possibility of job opportunities.

– Lydia Poulteney is a recent graduate in Film from the University of Kent

Consider a career outside of the capital

Laura Hodgkinson is the entrepreneur behind UKswegways.com alongside online brands in four industries making a multi-million pound turnover; all whilst only in her mid-twenties. Laura, gives her view on why graduates shouldn’t all rush to the capital when crafting their careers. When university ends and the graduation gowns have been hung up once more, it’s time to think about the next steps; what do you want to do and where do you want to be? For many graduates, the journey to crafting a career will take them to the capital, in fact twice as many graduates choose to settle in London than any other UK city. However, the bright lights of the big smoke aren’t for everyone and at a time when there is a focus of devolution of power from the capital, now more than ever is an exciting time to look elsewhere.

The Shift

Over the last couple of years, the government has taken steps to make areas outside of the capital more attractive to businesses, offering support and financial help. The biggest example of this is the “Northern powerhouse” which has seen over 150 science and tech companies to Manchester as well as mediacityUk now home to BBC and ITV. Across the Pennines, Leeds is the second biggest financial centre outside of London and is tipped to one of the UK’s fastest growing cities. This fast paced growth is offering up opportunities and opening up room for innovation in cities not only in the North but in locations across the UK.

Living Costs

There is definitely a price to pay for living and working in the capital. It’s reported that London employees spend on average around £3561 on costs which are directly related to their jobs. Throw in the high cost of rent on top of that and it all starts to add up. Now of course thousands of graduates manage the move to London every year and the costs shouldn’t put you off completely, but it’s definitely a factor which you should consider when weighing up your options.

Think Digital

We live in a digital age which is constantly breaking down geological boundaries. In the digital era you can set up a business from your laptop at home and be trading with audiences UK wide or further afield within the week. Exciting start-ups are using this to their advantage. Without a real restriction of location on their business, it is allowing them to set up base in less popular real estate areas, taking advantage of lower rent. With so much potential for growth in the digital industry, these start-ups are an exciting place to be and are often looking for fresh talent to add to their pool.

Transport Links

Doing business outside of London doesn’t rule out ever working in the capital. With transport links ever improving and HS2 on the horizon, businesses far and wide are interacting and trading in the capital daily. Look around on a morning Virgin train to London and it’s teaming with professionals putting finishing touches to proposals and prepping on the way to see a client. Taking the leap into the world of work after university can be an extremely daunting one but remember it’s also an incredibly exciting time. Where ever you decide to settle, it’s important to weigh up all your options and make sure it’s the right decision for you.

Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)

We’ve all heard about people who have found a job through creative means…there’s the Kent graduate who wore a sandwich board around London, the graduate who paid to have a poster on a billboard, and the advertising professionals who used Twitter to “hustle” themselves jobs… but how does creative job hunting actually work in practice?

Know your audience! It’s not going to work if you are applying for a job at a firm who are asking for a CV, covering letter and transcript from university. Sending them a box of chocolates with a DVD of your video CV probably isn’t the best way to get a job with them. If there’s a specific, pre-defined way in which the organisation would like you to apply, then use that. But if you are applying speculatively, that is to say when a job is not specifically advertised (on the off-chance, you could say!), then go for it!

An excellent example of someone who has understood when to be extra-creative is Elski Felson, who created a video CV using Snapchat, when applying for a job there! He hasn’t, as yet, heard back from them, but using the tool that the company manages is a fantastic way to grab attention.