Four ways to achieve your goals in the new academic year

a-goal-without-a-plan-is-just-a-wish

Whether you are a new student, about to embark upon your first year at University, or you are in your final year – now is the perfect time to start thinking about what you want to achieve over the next 12 months. It’s not just January 1st that gets all the fun! There’s loads of evidence out there that people who are most productive follow some simple ‘habits’ – one of which is making effective plans and setting goals.

Basically, planning, goal setting and organisation are essential for most university students – not just for a new year (be that calendar, academic or lunar!) but every day, week and month. It should be an ongoing process, not something that you just do once then forget about.

Here are a few tips and resources for you to develop some new productive habits – which will hopefully help you achieve what you want this coming year.

Creating new habits

It takes 28 days of doing something every day for it to become a habit. Whether that be exercise, stopping smoking, or learning to play the guitar. There are loads of apps and web tools out there that can help you set and achieve your targets. The main thing that they do is remind you to spend a certain amount of time each day on tasks that you set. Why not set a target of 30 minutes of reading around your subject area each day? Soon you won’t even need to be reminded to pick up that text book – it will have become a habit!

Using your time more effectively

Ever turned on your laptop to do some work, and ended up in a Pinterest black hole, YouTube vacuum or never-ending Tumblr scroll? There are loads of apps and programmes that you can install on your PC that can monitor how you use your time so that you can see where the sucks on your productivity are.

Alternatively, there are also apps that can block certain websites – so if you constantly find yourself on social media sites or gaming sites when you should be working, they will not let you access the ‘banned’ sites for a certain period – giving you some time to really focus on that assignment!

Be more efficient

Have a big project to work on? Don’t leave it all to the last minute – plan ahead and create ‘laser focused pockets of time’ each day to focus on the project. Similar to the habit-forming idea above, if you spend even 20 minutes a day on your project, you can get it done in bite-sized chunks, meaning that you won’t get that fuzzy un-focused blur after concentrating on it for 3 days straight the week before the deadline.

How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time!

Set small achievable goals

Create a to-do list system and use it! There are so, so many different approaches to this one – whether it be online or paper-based – so try one or two out and see how you get on. Some good places to start are Getting Things Done, Bullet Journal, Trello, and Evernote but more are available.

Some ideas for lists are short-term and long-term things that need to be done, things you’d like to do (films you want to watch, books you want to read etc), and things you don’t want to forget. Some of the online systems will sync with your phone so you can access your lists everywhere.

How are you going to get organised this year?

Friday’s Featured Vacancy – 29/08/2014

alton towers hotel

Technical Support Assistant

Alton Towers, Staffordshire
£8.38 per hour

This is an excellent opportunity to be part of our Entertainments Technical Team within our fantastical resort. Lighting, sound, video systems, show control, and special effects – all the things that get a great entertainment technician’s heart racing. There’s nowhere more spectacular than the Alton Towers Resort for you to practice your skills! You will help us deliver world-class shows, themed walk-through attractions, and Fireworks events across the Resort in 2014. This is a really broad role touching all aspects of show and event delivery on a massive scale utilising some of the latest equipment and innovations within the technical industry! These are some of the largest events of their kind in the UK, needing impressive technical know-how, installation and operation skills, and creative ability in order to be brought to life for hundreds of thousands of people. Contracts run from August/September to November 16th 2014.

More information is available at bit.ly/altontw

Register for custom vacancy alerts on the UoC JobShop at http://cumbria.prospects.ac.uk

Be an early bird this summer!

early-bird

Summer is here, exams are over and you don’t have to be back on campus until October – time to put your feet up. Or is it? Well, not if you want to be the career early bird and bag yourself a job before you graduate. Some of the big graduate schemes are already open for business, so there’s no time to waste if you want to get ahead of the pack. 

 

Make a start

From now onwards it’s possible to make applications for graduate schemes, so use this window of opportunity while you can. Feedback from some of our top graduate recruiters suggests that three-quarters of applications are usually made in the final third of the recruitment cycle. Many employers recruit on a rolling basis so that they start reviewing applications as soon as they arrive; you stand a better chance of scaling that first hurdle if you submit an early application. Leave it too late and the vacancies may be filled.

Before you rush off to start writing your applications, just pause for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a graduate recruiter.  In particularly competitive sectors employers may be reviewing hundreds or even thousands of applications. Some may outsource this function or use applicant tracking systems, but for many it’s still a manual process. And that means reading through application after application – a pretty monotonous task.  They have the unenviable job of having to look for reasons to reject, not select,  applicants and nearly all will carry out a rapid “first cut” to remove the worst offenders.

Mistakes will cost

The stark truth is that for some recruiters, and law firms are top of this list, even one typo or grammatical or spelling mistake can be enough to see you rejected. Don’t rely on spell check to do the work for you and watch out for the (un) helpful autocorrect feature, which can turn a grammatically sound sentence into a syntactical nightmare. You might type something correctly, and find its changed into something far less pleasing.  Autocorrect is particularly prone to change ”your” to ”you’re” and “its” to “it’s”. Always get someone else to proof your document before you hit send. You will read for what you expect to see, a third-party will read what’s there – therein lies the difference!

If you don’t enjoy crafting fluent English sentences, or if English is not your first language, the application process is going to be even more fraught. Keep your sentences and your vocabulary simple and don’t be tempted by the thesaurus. If you try to impress with long words and you’re unsure what they mean, your application will fall flat. At best the application will provided some unintended humour and at worst you’ll frustrate the recruiter who’s trying to disentangle the meaning.  Remember that application writing is not the same as academic writing: clarity is king. A simple sentence which conveys meaning suggests an ability to communicate clearly and is a reasonable indicator that you can write coherent reports, letters of advice and memos. Such writing might see you through the cut.

You may be feeling confident about your chances, particularly if you’re graduating with a (predicted) first, have an internship under your belt and have been a society president. This confidence may be misplaced! If you submit a rushed application littered with errors, your chance of proceeding to the interview stage is virtually nil.

How many words?

Use the information in the application form to guide the length of your answers. If a question has a 500 answer word limit then you won’t be able to produce a compelling answer in 300 or 400 words.  It may sound obvious, but read and answer the question asked – not the one you’d prefer to answer. And don’t think you can just re-hash answers from an earlier application form; recruiters can see through these games and get irritated by attempts to throw them off course.

And finally…

Never copy and paste, always start each new application from scratch as a new document and keep referring back to the question. When you are writing essays you need to answer the question to get good marks – application forms are no different! Remember that we’re here to help and guide you through the application process, but that doesn’t mean we’ll do the work for you.  Will we check applications – yes? Every single one? Certainly not. You need to take ownership of the process and apply the right techniques. Do that and you’re on the road to success.

This post was originally published by Claire Leslie on the University of Warwick’s Careers Blog.

If you would like any help with job applications, you can get in touch with the UoC Careers team by email: careers@cumbria.ac.uk 

Top 5 Inspiring TED Talks

Have you heard of TED? They are a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

I love watching TED and TEDx talks on YouTube, and I thought that today I would share a few of my favourite talks.

Amanda Palmer: The art of asking

TEDxVancouver – Sean Aiken – What Makes You Come Alive?

Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter …

Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, failure and the drive to keep creating

The hidden meanings in kids’ movies: Colin Stokes at TEDxBeaconStreet

Do you have a favourite TED or TEDx talk? Link me up in the comments!

Artists Access to Art Colleges Scheme 2014 (AA2A)

AA2A

The AA2A project (Artists Access to Art Colleges) is offering 90 placements, giving artists and designer makers the opportunity to undertake a period of research or realise a project using art college facilities e.g. workshops, IT facilities, lending library, and lecture programme. AA2A schemes aim to benefit students and institutions through their interaction with practising artists

For full eligibility criteria and details of how to apply visit:  http://www.aa2a.org/apply

• Access is free, for at least 100 hours, between Oct 2014 and April 2015
• AA2A has a Hardship Fund, primarily for artists on benefits providing support of up to £200
• Closing dates for applications vary but all are in September 2014
• Artists on AA2A schemes run from 2012 to 2013 or before can now reapply
• All applicants must have at least one year’s professional practice
• This year M.A. students with at least one year’s experience as an artist, can apply in the same year they graduate
• Applicants should be able to work with minimal technical support

To see current AA2A artists’ work go to http://aa2a.biz or read previous artists’ stories here.
AA2A particularly welcomes applications from applicants with disabilities, from culturally diverse backgrounds and non-graduates.

Map and list of our 21 schemes with links to their application information: http://www.aa2a.org/colleges
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular, updated information.

7 Questions You Should Ask to Be the Most Impressive Job Candidate

Most interviewers follow a basic model these days called “Behavioral Interviewing.” The purpose is to see how a candidate has acted in the past in certain scenarios, because most of the time, past behavior will predict future behavior. Along with this interview style, there are also seven questions you as the candidate will most likely be asked. My boss in our career center refers to them as the Seven Deadly Questions. This includes: “Tell me about about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in 2–5 years?” These are loaded questions that if answered wrong can ruin your chances of getting the job.

So if these are some of the questions the interviewer asks, what should you as the candidate ask? After all, aren’t you interviewing them too? Do you know for certain before an interview if this somewhere you want to work for the next year, two years, five years? If this is somewhere you want to work, then how can you be the most impressive job candidate?

Believe it or not, many times, the best way to show an interviewer you have done research on their company and industry is not through the answers you give, but through the questions you ask.

Here are 7 questions you should ask to be the most impressive job candidate.

What are the common attributes of your top performers?

This questions serves many purposes. First, you didn’t ask “what are the common attributes of your worst performers?” The reason being is that you want to show them that you want to identify with and be one of the top performers, and not one of the worst. You will probably have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview, so to show you share common traits with the top performers, you can either reiterate an answer you gave earlier in the interview when you hear their answer about top performers, or mention your matching skills in a follow-up email and written thank you letter. You should be sending both.

What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company?

Based on the research you have already done prior to the interview (you did do research prior to the interview, right?), you should have an idea of what is the answer to this question before you ask. This illustrates to the interviewer that you understand the position you are applying for fits into a bigger company picture. This is not the “you” show. The company has a need and you are trying to convince them your background and skill set fits that need better than anyone else and you will make them more successful than they already are. You are part of the “thing” that drives results.

What do employees do in their spare time?

This question helps you gauge how you will fit in with the people working there. “Fit” has become a big focus for companies these days. You may have the skills to do the job, but if you are socially awkward or your personality does not make the interviewer feel comfortable with you they will probably pass on hiring you. Also, this question will help you understand the job/life balance at the firm. One too many jokes about “what spare time?” from the interviewer and you may want to consider whether you are willing to put in the hours this job may require.

How do you plan to deal with _____?

This question will end with an industry-specific issue. Maybe it is regulatory like the Dodd/Frank Act that hit the financial services industry a few years ago, or maybe in doing your research, you discovered a new player entered the market. My advice to you is be CAREFUL with this question. If the company does not have an answer for the issue yet, you will make the interviewer defensive. Focus on the positives if you want to show you have done your research. Ask something like “how do you plan to spend all the money you are going to make with this new product’s sales?” I’m kidding of course, but on the serious side be careful in choosing to ask about an issue.

How do you measure success of the people currently in this position?

This questions differs from the question about attributes of top performers because you are not asking what they think makes someone in this position successful, but rather how do they measure success. The point you want to make with this question is that you plan on being successful so you want to know what goals you should focus on. Also this question may lead to a conversation about commissions and bonuses, not specific numbers probably—and do not push for that—but it will give you an idea of expectations and how realistic they are.

What does a career path look like at this company?

When you ask this question you want to make sure you get the point across that you are looking long term. Do not ask, “how long does it take to move up?” or anything like that. You are there to fill the job at hand and add value immediately. The point of asking this is to show you are in it for the foreseeable future and that you are again coming to this job with an attitude that you are a good fit and will be successful.

I am really excited about this opportunity; what are the next steps?

If you don’t tell them you are really excited about the job, how will they know you are? They are excited about filling it; you should be excited about the possibility of being hired.

If you are in the process of interviewing for a few jobs, and you should be, then this is when they can tell you it may take a few weeks before you hear anything or that there are more interviews coming. If you get an offer from another company a few days after this interview, you know you may have to ask that company to give you more time to decide, because this company told you it may take a few weeks to get back to you. Any question you ask should show either that you did your research on the company and industry, or that you are there to fill the need they have and be successful. That is what will make you the most impressive job candidate.

This post is reblogged from: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/7-questions-you-should-ask-the-most-impressive-job-candidate.html

Don’t let social media ruin your job prospects

dont-let-social-media-ruin-your-job-prospects

As the physical world continues to slip into a digital slumber, social media offers a very personal and public insight into our lives. While its methods of communication have been lauded, our personal profiles are providing a much more astute depiction of ourselves than a CV ever could, and this has resulted in employers becoming much more tech savvy when searching for future staff.

While your CV may list your academic and professional achievements, employers are just as interested in who you are as a person and increasingly, Twitter and Facebook is becoming the information source of choice. In the lead up to an interview, candidates rarely think about how social media can affect their employability, although with just a little attention, they could prevent their online identities from sabotaging their real life self.

Profile picture

First impressions count and a beer helmet, neon paint and flaming skull t-shirt hardly scream consummate professional. When businesses search for you, your profile picture is the first thing they’ll see, and how you appear here implies what you are like in reality. This doesn’t mean you need a professional headshot as your photo, but maybe choose something a little more respectable and a little less Crimewatch.

Check your bio

Your Twitter bio is supposed to sum up who you are in just a limited number of characters. Firstly, it’s important to have one. Not having a bio robs you of personality and also suggests that you don’t know how to use social networks effectively. On a basic level, your bio should tell people who you are and what you do, although don’t be afraid to be creative. What you can’t afford to do is put people off and wasting characters with favourite band names and love hearts shows a shallowness and immaturity.

Consider multiple accounts

If you’re accustomed to using social media for strictly social purposes, don’t be afraid to set up a professional account. Many of us just can’t be trusted to hold back when we’re online and profanity and strong opinions aren’t the most desirable of traits from a business perspective. Setting up a new career focused account, unlinked to the original, will allow you to present yourself in a professional manner and network with those in the sector.

Don’t forget LinkedIn

For many, LinkedIn is the forgotten cousin of the social network, with its corporate driven ideology resulting in users spending less time on it than it’s more ‘social’ competitors. Many employers will search for you on LinkedIn to view your professional credentials, but failing to update your profile could do you a disservice. LinkedIn should show you at your best and staying on top of it will present you as an organised and polish candidate.

Control your privacy settings

Regardless of the open and closed nature of different networks, adjusting the privacy settings allows you dictate who can see what, if anything at all. You can use these settings to make you more difficult to find or just to hide certain statuses and photos from all but friends. This can be a great way of concealing your online self and stopping employers from seeing that dreaded ‘Magaluf 09′ album.

While your social media presence shouldn’t be the main deciding factor for an employer, it all goes someway to painting a picture of who you are. While the above methods are by no means foolproof, they should save you the unenviable task of having to delete the most offending articles from your respective accounts, while at the same time making you that little bit more employable.

This post is reblogged from: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140722131113-147032790-don-t-let-social-media-ruin-your-job-prospects