Tag Archives: online

FutureLearn Free Online Course: How to Succeed at Writing Applications

future learn

This free three week course will help you produce a perfect CV, application and online profile when applying for a job or course.

About the course

This course will help you to write successful applications, whether you are applying for jobs or planning to study at university or college.

Over the three weeks, we’ll look at different parts of the application process. We’ll help you to understand the skills you have gained through work experience and your studies and show you how you can match them to job advertisements or course requirements.

We’ll share top tips with you to help you write exceptional applications, CVs, covering letters and personal statements and provide insight from employers and admissions tutors on what they look for in candidates. We’ll go on to help you examine your digital footprint and develop a professional profile online.

The course is highly participative and includes articles for you to read, videos to watch and interactive material to help you master the art of application and CV writing. There will also be discussions where you can learn from and support each other, self-reflective exercises and quizzes. Throughout the course you’ll be encouraged to collect a portfolio of your work which will help you with future applications.

By the end of the three weeks we hope you will have the confidence to apply for your dream job or course. And once you’ve written that perfect application, why not check out our next course: How to Succeed at: Interviews.


This course is designed for anyone applying for jobs or courses. It will be of particular interest to those in the early stages of their career, or those who are out of practice and need to update their skills. No prior knowledge or expertise are needed.

Start date: 22nd June

For more information or to join this free course, go to: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/writing-applications

Future learn 2

The rise of the video interview – and how to prepare

Today’s guest post is from James Rice, Head of Digital Marketing at WikiJob, on why more employers are using video interviews, and the best way you can prepare for them.

source: http://pixabay.com/en/macbook-notebook-home-office-336692/

One thing we’ve noticed on the graduate forums at WikiJob is that more and more people are talking about their experiences with video interviews, or asking for tips on how to negotiate them successfully. Recently we’ve seen discussions on video interviews used by Standard Chartered, Nestle, John Lewis, Morrisons and many more large graduate employers. If you haven’t faced one of these interviews yet, the chances are you will soon.

Why do companies like them? The short answer is that it saves them money and time. A video interview cuts the transport costs of getting an applicant or interviewers somewhere, and it ensures a quick way to streamline the candidate pool. If the interviews are pre-recorded, candidates can be more easily compared in a short space of time. Videos also provide the interviewers with a better feel for the candidate than a phone interview might.

For job candidates who haven’t experienced them before, a video interview can be pretty nerve-wracking. All the more so as they are increasingly automated rather than live, with the candidate having a short amount of time to prepare and then answer a pre-designed set of questions, while being recorded. As one of WikiJob’s forum users said:  “The interview made me panic because you only have 90 seconds, yes, 90 seconds…to answer these questions. You have a minute before the question and then 90 seconds to answer.”


Get comfortable

Much of the anxiety comes from unfamiliarity. The secret is to find out how to make the technology work for you, and become comfortable with the environment. Here are some tips on how best to prepare for an interview:

1. Choose an appropriate location.

Find a quiet space with a simple, plain-colour background. Try to avoid anything that could prevent a distraction, such as a window onto the street, or a room beside a road. If you live with others, make it clear to them that you’re not to be disturbed.

2. Dress for a regular interview.

Definitely do not be tempted to wear a suit jacket but then sit there in your boxer shorts. Even if the interviewer never notices, the psychological effect of dressing as you would for a regular interview will get you in the correct frame of mind. Also avoid any bright patterned colours.

3. Test your tech.

Don’t invite catastrophe in the form of your computer switching off or being unable to operate the software the employer uses. Run a dummy test (or several) beforehand, and make sure the equipment you will be using for the interview is reliable.

4. Look into the camera, not the middle of the screen.

In the same way that maintaining eye contact in a face-to-face interview will demonstrate confidence and trustworthiness, so it is for a video interview. The difference being that it’s easy to look at the middle of the screen and not into the camera. If you can move your camera, position it at a natural level with your eyes.

5. Keep good posture.

It’s easy to slump in front of a computer – and it’s easy to yawn or fiddle with items on the desk when there’s no-one else in the room. Consciously sit up straight, and picture yourself in the interview room you’re aiming to get to at the final stage of the process.

6. Use a quality microphone.

Depending on your computer, the quality of the microphone may not be too great. Test it, get someone else to hear what you sound like, and if necessary, buy a better version so the sound of your voice is clear.

Above all, treat it like a real interview!

What do you think of these tips? Have you ever had a video interview, or do you have one coming up? Please let us know by emailing us at careers@cumbria.ac.uk.



A day in the life of Rachel Murray, Digital Marketing Consultant for Hydrant

Rachel is Digital Marketing Consultant for Hydrant in Carlisle. You can read more about Hydrant in Monday’s post here.


How did you become a Digital Marketing Consultant? Did you need any specific training or education?
I graduated with a marketing degree, but I also had a keen interest in digital marketing, and I actually got the job through LinkedIn. I was interested in working with Hydrant as I am quite local, so I connected with some of the staff on LinkedIn, and saw the job advertised there. I sent off my CV, which led to our first meeting and it went from there! They were looking for someone to undertake their digital marketing and so I joined the team as digital marketing consultant; if a client needed advice, I would be the point of contact. Now that I have been there a year, my role has progressed so that I do a lot of face to face work, networking, and marketing Hydrant – letting people know that we are just around the corner!

What does a typical day consist of?
I do a lot of business development, sales, and tender opportunities, so I usually start the day by looking at the tender portals, finding sales opportunities and then ensuring that we have all the documents together in time for deadlines. Every day has different demands and priorities and so I arrange my workload around those. I do a lot of Hydrant’s marketing, mostly online, so I will create press releases, blog posts, tweets and things like that. I could also be arranging events, such as our recent tweet-up, other Hydrant events, and so on. As I am also a point of contact for people who are interested in our services, I often have clients phone up for advice, or new clients wanting to work with us. I find that working in an agency, every day is different!


What personal qualities do you think are essential to be good at your job?
You really need to be outgoing and creative to work in social media; you don’t want your online presence to blend in, it needs to be engaging and stand out! It is important that you have the skills to create that sort of online presence. I am quite talkative, which is useful when networking, so I’m not sitting in a corner and not really representing Hydrant – you need to be outspoken and have the ability to form relationships and chat with all different kinds of people. You also need to understand the strategy behind the suggestions you make to clients, you need to know the technical theory behind all of that. This is one of those jobs you can really learn as you go, especially within social media as it is always changing, you need to constantly be aware of new trends and be up to date and on the ball!

If you could spend one day in another job, what would it be and why?
I find social media really interesting but I would love to do it for a really different organisation. My dream job is to work for Heat magazine, working in the office and meeting celebrities. Their approach to social media is completely different, it isn’t corporate at all, and it is about building relationships with their readers which I find very interesting. They tweet and post on Facebook about TV programmes, celebrities and celeb culture, it’s a totally different approach.

What is your biggest tip for someone who wants follow in your career path?
My main advice would be to be proactive, just get yourself out there and let companies know you are available and experienced. Form relationships with companies, and people at those companies, rather than just applying for jobs. So, you could send a LinkedIn request to the company founder, and send him a message letting him know what you are about. When I first came out of university one of the first things I did was to get in touch with local organisations to see if I could work with them for a few days – most companies will say yes to someone offering to work for free! Another important thing to remember is that experience is vital, so the more you can do before you leave university, the better. Working for a company for a few days, or on a short project looks better than a blank CV. If you are struggling to get any experience, you could even start blogging about your chosen career. For example, if you are seeking a career in advertising, you could blog about current advertising campaigns, putting your own touch on them, giving advert reviews etc. This is building your experience and shows employers your knowledge and abilities, and you can use it as a reference or portfolio when applying for jobs. Having something to show an employer goes a long way.

Interested in a career in digital marketing? You can read more on the Prospects website at http://www.prospects.ac.uk/features_marketing_whats_on_offer.htm

FAQ – Can Someone Help Me Fill Out an Online Application Form?

Some of our students clearly think that online application forms are a pain in the back end, and many Careers Advisers partly share this view. This is because it is actually quite hard for us to see what is going on in the world of online applications without starting to apply for the jobs ourselves!

As such online application forms are a bit of a Pandora’s Box – you never quite know what will spring out next. But the main answer to this FAQ is that we are always pleased to hear from University of Cumbria students and graduates by email if they would like a meeting to discuss online forms.

A look at the dim and distant archives of this blog shows that I took a look at online application forms nearly four years ago.  So what follows next is bit of an update on the information offered there:

Copy and Paste

One standard piece of advice is to prepare answers to questions offline and paste them onto the relevant screen. But the most popular tool for preparing drafts is Microsoft Word, which has sometimes been known to cause problems because it generates a good deal of spurious html code.  Assuming the online form isn’t clever enough to weed out the unwanted characters, the applicant can be left finding that they have exceeded the word or character limit on the form for no apparent reason.

If you find this is happening to you, a better way might be to copy and paste the answer into a text editor like Notepad first. If you then copy and paste from the text editor into the form, the extra code will be eliminated and ‘what you see is what you get’ again.  Note however that you may need to re-insert any formatting (e.g. bold, italics) that you want to keep.


Deadlines can cause an extra problem for applications in cyberspace that does not really exist with the paper equivalent.  The scene is that many people decide to apply at the last minute, the company’s server gets clogged up and some applicants in Cinderella-like fashion fail to log on before the clock chimes and the system closes down the vacancy.

So the clear moral of the story is: set your own deadline a good bit before the deadline.

Extra Questions

Online forms often have more detailed questions than paper forms, which may simply ask for “Comments in Support of Your Application”.  Competency-based questions are a common favourite, so it is useful to swat up on them – for example using the simulator produced by the University of Kent.

Large Retail Employers Don’t Want CVs…

…according to the input of Retail Sector members of the Association of Graduate Recruiters at a meeting with Careers Advisers’ representatives last month.

They felt it is particularly important to understand that larger companies only have an online application system and do not accept CVs.


A “Please see my CV” response to questions on the online application has been a recurrent problem for them. Recruiters also say that the questions asked on applications should be approached just as intensively as an interview question.


In particular Asda has noted that despite receiving 4,000 applications online, many were of poor quality and the company is still recruiting.