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How to find graduate jobs and successfully apply for them. Psychology . Nicola Urquhart Careers Adviser Careers and Employability Service What is Employability? .

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how to find graduate jobs and successfully apply for them psychology
How to find graduate jobs and successfully apply for them. Psychology
  • Nicola Urquhart
  • Careers Adviser
  • Careers and Employability Service
what is employability
What is Employability?

‘A set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace – to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy.’ (CBI, March 2009)

what do employers want
What do employers want?

Commercial Awareness

Degree awarded at 2.1 or above

Work Experience

Extra-Curricular Activities

Professional attributes

Employability skills

what skills and attributes do employers want
What skills and attributes do employers want?





Contextual/cultural awareness

Self awareness

Report writing


Problem Solving


Positive attitude




Team working

Capacity to develop


Drive and resilience

Project management


IT skills

Business and customer awareness

Planning and organisation



what skills and attributes do employers want1
What skills and attributes do employers want?

Transferrable skills





Drive and resilience


Enthusiasm and passion

Self awareness and confidence

  • Communication (oral, written)
  • Negotiation
  • Team working
  • Planning and organisation
  • Time management
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
why are employability skills so important
Why are employability skills so important?

Increased competition – over 400,000 graduates leaving university each year.

  • ‘Our latest UK recruitment campaign closed having attracted c.24500. The bank will offer c.475 places in 2012.’HSBC newsletter April 2012
  • Saatchi & Saatchi – 3000 applicants for 12 summer internships 2012.
  • Kent Probation – 300 applicants for 6 jobs in October 2012.
  • ‘An average of 73 candidates chasing each vacancy, up from 30 applicants per job before the economic downturn.’ Guardian June 2012
what do psychology graduates do 2011
What do psychology graduates do? (2011)
  • Employed 66%
  • Further study 26%
  • Unemployed 6 %
  • Not available 1%
finding vacancy w ebsites for your sector
Finding vacancy websites for your sector
    • Job sectors
    • Graduate jobs in…
    • Employers and vacancy sources
related to psychology
Related to Psychology
  • NHS
  • (currently advertising 4 Trainee Psychological Practitioner posts – closing date 5/3/2013)
  • (including Assistant Psychologist positions
  • (also offer work based placements)
  • (includes Research Assistant Posts)
  • HM Prison Service, Probation Trusts (35)
  • (including support worker roles)
  • Local Government Jobs
  • Civil Service
  • Charity and third sector
where to look for vacancies
Where to look for vacancies
  • Check job vacancies to find out about the types of roles being advertised

  • Graduate directories
  • Careers and Employability Fairs
  • Social Media
  • Recruitment Agencies
using social media to job search
Using Social Media to Job Search


  • Follow organisations @BPSOfficial @PsychologyNow
  • Follow @unikentemploy
  • Get industry updates
  • Remember everything is public
  • ‘Like’ company pages (Civil Service Fast Stream, NHS Management Scheme
  • ‘Like’
  • Is your profile professional enough?!
  • Search for jobs.
  • Use key words in your profile.
  • Follow companies.
  • Connect with people in the industry.
  • Join relevant groups.
vacancy sites graduate www kent ac uk careers graddirector ies htm
Vacancy Sites -
  • www
other resources
Other resources
  • Professional bodies
  • Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
  • Chartered Institute of Marketing
  • Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development

  • Recruitment agencies
  • FASHION - George Ellis Recruitment
  • MUSIC - Handle Recruitment
  • ACCOUNTANCY - Hays Accountancy Personnel
  • SECRETARIAL - Nice People Employment Bureau
  • Local papers e.g. Kent Messenger
  • London papers e.g. Metro
  • The Guardian
  • The Telegraph
  • The Times
recruitment agencies
Recruitment agencies

Organisations ask recruitment agencies to find the most suitable person for their job vacancy. You will usually have an interview with the recruitment agency and then the organisation if shortlisted.


  • Recruitment consultant may know the organisation well so can help you to prepare for your interview
  • Can save time with CV writing as you may not have to tailor it to each role
  • Some agencies have exclusive access to jobs so you can only apply through them
  • Usually a free service for you


  • They may not have your best interests at heart, the consultant is paid commission upon your employment
  • They can be very persuasive and make you believe a position is suited to you when it is not
  • Some recruitment agencies may play on your weaknesses and insecurities to convince you to take a job
careers fairs
Careers Fairs

Graduate Events

The Summer Graduate Fair

ExCel, London, 5th June 2013

TARGETjobs/The Careers Group

The London Graduate Fair

Business Design Centre, Islington 20th March

For fairs elsewhere in the UK, see

speculative approaches
Speculative approaches
  • The BBC say a third of jobs are never advertised (others say 70-80%)
  • Send your CV and cover letter (to the correct person)
  • The organisation can see that:
      • You are interested in them specifically
      • You have initiative
      • They could avoid recruitment advertising fees
getting work experience
Getting work experience
what employers say
What employers say…

"Few students are able to articulate what they have gained from their experience in higher education." (Association of Graduate Recruiters, 1995)

what is the purpose of a cv
What is the purpose of a CV?
  • To inform the employer about your education, work experience, skills and interests
  • To show how you meet the criteria so the employer can not deselect you
  • To ‘sell’ your qualities and to persuade the employer to invite you to interview
matching up your cv with the position company
Matching up your CV with the position/company
  • It is not ‘one size fits all’, you need to tailor your CV to each position you apply for.
  • Research the organisation. Do they have a mission statement or core values? What will they be looking for in you? Who works there at the moment? What are they passionate about?
what makes an effective cv and covering letter
What makes an effective CV and covering letter
  • Right format
  • Well presented
  • Proof read/consistent tenses
  • You have included all the necessary information
  • Your skills and abilities are clearly evidenced
  • Conveyed your understanding and enthusiasm for the job
  • Targeted it to the job
what does it need to contain
What does it need to contain?
  • Personal details
  • Education and qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Interests and additional information
  • References
don t be constrained by headings
Don’t be constrained by headings.
  • Languages
  • Scholarships/Awards
  • Voluntary work
  • Relevant experience
  • Positions of responsibility
  • Publication/Presentations
  • Conferences attended
  • Research skills
  • Additional skills
hints on wording
Hints on wording
  • Avoid personal pronouns - No “I’s”
  • Avoid producing a passive CV
  • Start with verbs wherever possible
  • Use short sentences & concise phrases
  • Focus on accomplishments
  • Refer to specific projects with quantifiable results
  • Try to incorporate wording used in that sector
make use of action verbs
Make use of Action Verbs

created instructed analysed produced

negotiated designed calculated maintained

administered controlled reviewed observed

consolidated delivered founded increased

studied invented supplied detected

programmed recommended distributed

developed solved prepared installed selected

arranged formulated solved started

application forms online
Application forms (online)
  • Read the question!
  • Re-read and highlight the main points
  • Write your answer
  • Check you have covered each point
  • Include key words
star approach online
STAR approach (online)

For questions where you are asked to ‘explain a time when…’, it is useful to use the STAR approach:

  • Situation – set the scene
  • Task - what needed to be done/achieved?
  • Action - this should take up about 80% of the answer, what action did YOU take?
  • Result - this is the ‘proof’ that you succeeded, try and give evidence such as statistics if possible
applicant tracking systems
Applicant Tracking Systems

Some major recruiters rely on Applicant Tracking Systems to initially scan through CVs, covering letters and application forms. If you do not pass this stage, your application may never be seen.

Case Study: Olu – Business and IT

I applied for 120 placement schemes, the most disheartening thing about it was receiving rejections at 1am in the morning. My applications weren’t even getting to a human being! Allianz was my last shot, and for the first time I made my application relevant, I used key words and I practiced psychometric tests. Not only did I get the placement, but they asked me back after graduation, so I have now started on their graduate scheme.

beating the system
Beating the system
  • Use their KEY WORDS from:
    • Job description
    • Person specification
    • Values and mission statement section
    • ‘What we look for’ section

Example: Candidate must have strong communication skills and must be fluent in German

(ensure highlighted words feature in your application)

here comes the computer science bit concentrate
Here comes the (computer) science bit… Concentrate!
  • Never send your CV as a PDF: Applicant tracking systems (ATS) lack a standard way to structure PDF documents, info can be mis-read
  • Don't include tables or graphics: ATS can't read graphics, and they misread tables
  • Call your work experience, "Work Experience": The computer might completely skip over your work experience if you haven’t labelled it as such
  • Don't start your work experience with dates: To ensure applicant tracking systems read and import your work experience properly, always start it with your employer's name, followed by your title, followed by the dates you held that title.
interviews do your research
Interviews – do your research
  • Be familiar with the employer website
  • Re-read employer information/ your application form
  • Remind yourself why you find this employer attractive
  • Keep up to date with current affairs
body language
Body Language
  • Shake hands warmly, but wait to be invited to sit down.
  • Smile
  • Try to relax - don’t sit on the edge of your chair, but don’t slouch.
  • Speak clearly and not too fast
  • Don’t fidget
  • Keep up good eye contact with the interviewer
interview questions
Interview Questions

Interview questions may be:

  • Hypothetical (what would you do if…)
  • Competency based (describe a situation where you…)
  • ‘Traditional’ interview questions (tell me about yourself)

In your answers, keep in mind the skills and attributes the employer will be looking for.

Be honest.

prepare answers to obvious questions
Prepare answers to obvious questions
  • Why are you applying to us?
  • Who else have you applied to?
  • What do you know about our competitors ?
  • What makes you suitable for this placement/job?
  • Why should we employ you?
  • What do you know about the company/industry/scheme?
  • Tell us about yourself
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • Why did you choose to study Psychology ?
prepare for competency questions
Prepare for Competency Questions

Describe a situation where you had to .....

  • show leadership
  • make a difficult decision
  • overcome a difficult obstacle
  • work with others to solve a problem

What would you do differently?

hypothetical questions what would you do if
Hypothetical Questions – What would you do if ………?
  • What would you do if an irate customer complained about the length of time they had been waiting?
  • What would you do if you disagreed with something your manager was doing?
  • What would you do if a person became aggressive when talking to you?
thinking on your feet
Thinking on your feet
  • Used precisely because it's impossible to work out your answer beforehand
  • Tests your ability to think quickly, logically, produce practical solutions
  • Don't panic! Take a few seconds to think - this shows confidence
  • There may be many possible solutions.
difficult questions
Difficult Questions
  • Ask for some thinking time
  • Tell them you would need to research the answer
  • Ask if you can come back to that question later
  • “I’m afraid I don’t know” is better than waffle
  • Keep the answer short if you are operating at the edge of your comfort zone
prepare some questions to ask
Prepare Some Questions to Ask
  • Will I have a mentor in the workplace?
  • How many people work in the team?
  • How did you progress to your role?
  • Would I have a role in the project you described?
postgraduate courses what do selectors look for
Postgraduate Courses – What do selectors look for?

Apart from your current degree, they will look at:

  • Your motivation. Why this course? this university?
  • Your skills: critical analysis, time management, written communication
  • Your referee’s report
useful resources
Useful resources
  • I want to work in ….
  • What can I do with my degree in
  • Interviews (includes assessment centres and psychometric tests etc.)
  • Example CVs & Covering
  • Employability Skills
  • Postgraduate Study
  • Choosing a Career
undecided about what jobs would suit you
Undecided about what jobs would suit you

Spend time thinking about your values, skills and attributes and which jobs would give you the opportunity to use these.

  • Planner)

(Choosing a Career )

  • Make use of the Careers and Employability Service
speak to an adviser
Speak to an adviser:
  • Quick query, drop in and speak to an adviser 10.30am -12.30pm and 2pm-4pm Monday to Friday.
  • E mail @careerhelp and an adviser will respond to your query.
  • You can also book a longer career guidance appointment over the phone or pop in.
action points
Action Points
  • Research how the sectors you are interested in recruit
  • Sign up to the relevant websites
  • Learn to use social media in your job search
  • Produce a graduate level CV
  • Continue to build up your skills and experience (stop-gap jobs, internships, work shadowing, etc.)
  • Network - discuss your career ideas with as many people as possible
  • Employ creative job-hunting techniques as well as conventional methods
  • Use the Careers and Employability Service
stay up to date with what is happening
Stay up-to-date with what is happening
  • Follow us on Facebook at University of Kent Student Employability
  • Follow us on Twitter at @unikentemploy