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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to gain a placement by Alexa-Jane Moore

Second year student at Worcester University, Alexa-Jane Moore writes her thoughts on how to gain a placement. 

The graduate job market is tougher than ever and the process of gaining your first job can be nerve racking and laborious. A starting point to this process can be gaining a placement in your second year. 75% of graduate jobs are awarded to students on summer or year long placements. I have gained such a placement and here are my top tips to get through the very long application process!

Refine your job search: you have to think; what do I really want to do? Don’t just apply to every job you see. I would apply to ten jobs maximum. This way you can really spend time tailoring your covering letter and CV.

Visit the careers department: At Worcester Uni. First Point has just opened in the Pierson Centre. This is an excellent place to visit to get advice on how to create a C.V. and possible local opportunities.

Create a ’punchy’ C.V.- I would keep your C.V. to a maximum of two pages. Recruiters are extremely busy and may receive a thousand applications per position. You really need to focus on the skills that the company are looking for and really highlight these. I tend to explain my experiences using the STAR method. Situation, Task, Approach and Result.

Practice psychological reasoning tests: so you have passed the initial application and now it is time for the tests! These tests could include: a personality test, numerical reasoning test, verbal reasoning test, diagrammatic test and situational judgement test. All of these tests are used to make sure you have the right skill level for the company. I practised these tests on www.assessmentday.co.uk and I found lots of books in the careers department.

Research potential questions: so you are now onto the telephone interview. If you have got to this stage, firstly well done! When I reached this stage, I used career websites to research potential questions, that could be asked, and I prepared answers to the dreaded competency questions.

Relax : when I reached the assessment centre, I just thought how well I had done to get this stage. I found out from the recruitment agency that eleven of us had been chosen from one thousand applications. For this particular assessment centre the aim was to see how you worked as part of a team. My main piece of advice would be to talk! If you do not say anything, how can the assessors assess you? However, this does not mean talk over people! Ask others what they think and if someone says something good, acknowledge it.

Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself- I found this really difficult. The final interview was extremely nerve racking. My advice would be to have some answers prepared to questions like, “Why do you want to work for us?” This means you will not be put on the spot. I would also advice trying to guide the interview so you can talk about all the achievements you have. If you don’t, then how will they know how you can bring certain skills to their team.

I have gained a placement to be an Assistant Merchandiser at George. I have found all of this advice extremely helpful. Out of the ten jobs I applied to, I was invited to eight assessment centres. I would say, be persistent and don’t give up. If you don’t get the position, review the feedback and try to improve. Otherwise, maybe that job wasn’t the right job for you!

Thank you Alexa.

For more information on how to ace a graduate interview or tackle assessment centres visit TARGETjobs.