How to get hired SUPPORTING CAREERS Advice + internships + Job-hunting

How to get hired
Advice + internships + Job-hunting
cvs, applications & interviews
What employers want
Where are the graduate jobs?
A practical guide for job-hunting graduates
Helping you go from
college life to work life.
Graduate Account
To help the transition into your working life, we have
designed the AIB Graduate Account for anyone who
has graduated from full-time third level education in
the last two years.
Drop into any branch • 1890 788 336 •
Terms and conditions apply. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
s a recent or
current graduate, you’ll
be entering one of the most
competitive recruitment markets
in many years. however, it’s certainly not all
doom and gloom – there are still plenty of
opportunities out there and, as the
gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate
Recruitment Trends Survey shows, there are
many reasons to be optimistic about your
future career prospects in ireland.
perhaps most importantly, the study
shows that many graduate recruiters seem
to be ramping up activity again after some
dormant years.
to help you on your way, Aib and
gradireland have come together to publish
this guide for job-hunting graduates, which
is packed full of advice for those taking their
first steps in employment.
As an aid to assist you in the early stages
of your professional career, you’ll discover
how to search for the right jobs, information
on the skills you’ll need to be successful,
direction on how to handle interviews, and
tips for writing winning cvs and
applications. We’ve even included a section
on becoming your own boss for the budding
entrepreneurs amongst you.
You’ll also find features on the practical
elements of entering employment such as
managing your money and what you need
to know before that all important first day
at work. |
The jobs market
2 Your perfect job
4 graduate views
5 the skills you need
Practical advice and help
8 considering your
10 on the job-hunt
12 gaining experience
16 Your own business
18 social media & jobs
20 Applications
23 interviews
25 Working life
27 Managing your money
Welcome to AIB
14 the Aib graduate Account
Sponsored by
Your perfect job
Finding your perfect job
An improvement in business confidence means a positive outlook for
the graduate jobs market according to new research.
espite several challenging years
competitive and almost 30% of firms
for the economy, graduates in
surveyed anticipated challenges in filling
ireland can take encouragement
roles, citing inappropriate qualifications and
from greater stability in the
skills as key issues.
graduate jobs market in 2013 and 2014.
unsurprisingly, most graduate jobs
According to gradireland’s Graduate
(60%) are based in dublin. elsewhere, the
Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey,
rest of Leinster (12.8%) overtakes Munster
the labour market has experienced a return
(11.1%) to move into second place from this
to growth, albeit a modest upward turn.
year’s research. the results also show that
When graduate employers were
accountancy, financial management
surveyed in 2012 they expected
and financial services firms,
to take on an average of 10
along with it companies, are
graduates in 2013. this has
the sectors with the most
increased to an average of
graduate jobs in 2013.
Almost 30% of firms
14.5 for 2014.
the breadth of
surveyed anticipated
this increase is
opportunities for
challenges in filling roles,
certainly cause for
graduates in these
citing inappropriate
optimism and is a result
sectors however, does
qualifications and skills as
of graduate recruiters
not necessarily focus on
key issues.
cautiously re-entering the
the core functions of
market having severely
these businessescurtailed activity during the
opportunities in customer
turbulence of recent years.
service, marketing, sales, project
companies that predict recruiting
management, hr and other business
between three to nine graduates this year
support functions also exist.
climbed to 27% from 24.4% in 2012. in the
same period, organisations seeking 10-19
gradireland’s Top tip
new graduate recruits rose by 3.5%. While
Limiting your job search to one or two industries can
positive trends are certainly emerging from
reduce the number of opportunities open to you.
employers, graduates seeking suitable
The gradireland Careers Report is a free graduate
job-matching and career-planning tool, see
programmes will have to earn their place.
the market is becoming increasingly
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Your perfect job
As public sector
opportunities in health,
Those entering
public administration and
programmes in 2013 can
education continue to be
expect minimum fluctuation
restricted by public
from last year – the median
expenditure cuts, the
€24,000-€25,999. those
starting salary for graduates with specialist skills,
private sector provides
remains at €24,000–
the most favourable
particularly in the areas of
avenue for graduates
investment banking, fund
seeking entry level positions.
management, law (including
the 2013 national skills
legal services and patents), and
bulletin notes that more vacancies
engineering and manufacturing,
continue to be created in niche sectors
can expect higher salaries than the average.
including cloud computing, gaming, mobile
however, the median remains static as the
technology and big data analytics.
majority of entry level positions are in the
government efforts to attract foreign
accountancy, financial management and
direct investment (Fdi) are also contributing
financial services sectors, all of which offer a
to growth in the graduate employment
lower starting salary than the standard.
sector. As the idA continues its work in
Looking ahead
marketing ireland as an attractive
destination for business, growth in sectors
The sectors that are expected to lead growth in the
Irish economy in the future are in emerging
such as information and communications
industries. Agri-business, food, green tech and med
technology (ict), international financial
tech are all expected to figure prominently in Ireland’s
services, digital media, it, life sciences and
future success, while cloud computing, mobile
applications and technical writing are considered as
pharmaceuticals is particularly evident.
graduate salary levels vary by company and
by sector. however, those entering
programmes in 2013 can expect minimum
fluctuation from last year – the median
starting salary for graduates remains at |
potentially significant growth areas.
Graduates should therefore develop competencies
in areas such as sales, marketing, business support
functions, as well as obtain a level of commercial
awareness and understanding of management
techniques and processes. Improving soft skills such
as written and verbal communication, which
employers often cite as insufficient for those at entry
level, will also be crucial for future employment.
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Graduate views
What graduates say
The results of this year’s gradireland national survey of students reveal
that realism should prevail and that optimism is slowly returning.
ith confidence increasing in
the jobs market in ireland,
gradireland’s student survey
shows that cautious optimism
is also the order of the day amongst ireland’s
students and graduates.
gradireland’s national survey of over
8,000 students, independently carried out by
trendence institute, shows that while it’s too
early to declare recovery, optimism is
returning. one indicator of this is the
starting salary that graduates expect to
receive in their first job. this has rebounded
to 2008 levels, with students expecting an
average starting salary of €28,000 – a
considerable upturn on the average of
€25,000 expected by last year’s graduates.
however, given that the actual average
starting salary paid to graduates is €25,000
(see page 3), it’s best to be aware of what can
realistically be achieved at entry level.
While there is considerable variance
amongst different sectors, only 36% of
students surveyed felt they knew what salary
they could command, highlighting the need
for graduates to carry out their own research
into individual sectors and companies that
interest them.
students remain grounded and
understand that landing their first job is not
without its challenges –71.4% feel it will be
tough to get what they describe as a ‘good’
job this year, while 65% expressed concern
about their future career. Almost one-third
said they would definitely leave ireland when
they graduate, while two-thirds of those
polled claimed that moving abroad was
something that they would consider.
encouragingly, today’s graduates are
aware that one of the key criteria that
employers seek is flexibility – 85% realise
that they must be prepared to take on many
different roles from time to time.
At a glance
A snapshot of the findings from gradireland’s national survey of students in Ireland,
which is independently conducted by trendence Institute .
of those
expected to
experience salary
cuts at some point
in their professional
Sponsored by
Ireland’s efforts in
attracting large
foreign companies
here will offer them
a better chance of
securing a job.
felt that
course equipped
them with the
necessary skills
for work.
to work for nothing
to get a good
were prepared to
make sacrifices in
their personal lives
to develop their
careers. |
The skills you need
The skills you need
Knowing what hard and soft skills employers are looking for can give
you an edge in the graduate job market.
mployers are becoming increasingly
be split into two categories – hard skills and
demanding when selecting graduates soft skills.
for their graduate intake. As a result,
Hard skills
securing a role is more challenging
hard skills are specific, teachable abilities
than ever. however, there is some good news
that are based on fact. As they can be taught
for the class of 2013 – the number of
or learned, many new graduates
companies hiring graduates
entering the workforce for the
continues to increase.
those surveyed in last
first time already have many
year’s edition of
relevant skills from their
of employers said they
gradireland’s Graduate
studies. however, there is
expect to face difficulties
Salary & Graduate
still a requirement for
when filling the positions,
Recruitment Trends
citing a lack of applicants with students to take some
Survey hired an average
responsibility themselves
the right qualifications and
for improving existing
14.5 graduates that year,
the right skills as the main
skills, especially since
a significant increase on
employers in this year’s
the anticipated figure of 10
survey report once again
at the beginning of 2012.
that the basics are very often
similar results are expected
this time around too –
these are the hard skills (in
respondents said in January that they
descending order) where recruiters identified
would hire approximately 12 new recruits in
the greatest shortfall:
2013, which should shoot upwards if the
writing skills
trend from a year ago continues.
fluency in a foreign language
however, although there may be an
administration and organisation
increase in places, there’s no guarantee that
basic computer skills
they’ll all be offered. in fact, 28% of employers
said they expect to face difficulties when
project management
filling the positions, citing a lack of applicants
with the right qualifications and the right
As in last year’s poll, writing skills are
skills as the main obstacles.
where employers notice the biggest
so how can you overcome a skills deficit
deficiency. specifically employers want
and secure your place? First, skill sets should
• |
Sponsored by
The skills you need
graduates who can express themselves
clearly and concisely, such as when writing a
brief for colleagues or giving technical
instructions. even if you feel you have
competent writing abilities, focusing on
these areas and gaining demonstrable
experience will give you an advantage during
the recruitment process.
Soft skills
soft skills are more difficult to classify than
hard skills. often subjective, skills in this area
are generally associated with personal
attributes or character rather than intellect.
that’s not to say that they can’t still be
learned, however. And from the findings in
this year’s research, it’s clear that the best
time for graduates to start is right now. this
is, after all, where employers feel that
students could improve most.
these are the soft skills (in descending
order) where recruiters identified the
greatest shortfall:
analytical skills
managing their own learning
problem solving
independent working
As communication comes out on top for
the second year running, it’s important to
understand exactly what employers mean by
“lacking communication skills.” Written and
spoken communication skills (on paper and
online) are perhaps the most obvious.
however, employers also refer to how
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graduates interact with other employees or
stakeholders like suppliers or customers, for
example. they express concern about the
ability of entry-level jobseekers to adapt their
style to suit who they are talking to or
dealing with. being cognisant of this will
help you stand out in a professional role, as
will demonstrating an awareness of other
people’s reactions and responses during
conversations, meetings or presentations.
Sort your skills
so now that you’re aware of where employers
see the gaps, you can do something about it.
As part of the gradireland survey, employers
offered advice on how they believe graduates
can improve both hard and soft skills. they
highlighted the following as possible avenues
that students should explore to prepare
themselves for the workplace.
complete an internship or work placement
gain international experience by studying
or working abroad
carry out team-based exercises at university
gradireland’s Top tip
If you’ve been offered a job or applied to companies in
specific industries, note the main players and draw up
a competitor analysis report on social media tactics,
as well as topics covered and frequency of blog posts.
Presenting this to your potential employer should
impress them. See
for more tips. |
on a leadership position in a student
skills workshops run by careers
in team-based sports at university
the second year in a row, employers
reported that extensive international travel
was one of the least effective ways of
improving skills and capabilities. however, if
you intend on going abroad once you’ve
completed your studies, taking on a
volunteer role or securing a position where
you could learn a new language or business
insight will be a positive boost to your
employability credentials.
by heeding the advice of employers,
graduates stand a better chance of being
selected onto one of the many programmes
offered by businesses in ireland. however,
once you have landed a graduate job, don’t
be afraid to use your own skills too – you’ll
still have to work on the hard and soft variety
mentioned earlier, but that shouldn’t deter
you from offering your knowledge to help
the company. if you blog on a regular basis,
for instance, ask whether or not the
company updates its own blog. if not, offer
to help. this will, of course, contribute to
developing your writing and communication
skills at the same time. the same can be said
of social media – if you’re used to engaging
on social channels and are familiar with the
platforms, you could contribute to the firm’s
output, and possibly improve it. While these
activities will be closely monitored, you’ll be
seen as an employee that can add value to
the business.
Future skills
The Expert Group of
Future Skills Needs
(EGFSN) says that ICT is
the strongest sector of the
Irish labour market right
now. Vacancies in this area
span a wide range of
disciplines such as
managerial, professional,
technicians, skilled trade,
sales and customer service
The EGFSN also notes in a
snapshot of Ireland’s skills
supply and demand report
that multilingual
technicians, finance
accounts managers,
marketing professionals,
financial administrators
and some supply chain
functions are increasingly
difficult to come by.
However, a second
language will help to
develop any career path. |
It’s common for most
companies to have a
digital and social media
presence. The ability to
use platforms like
Facebook, Twitter,
Google+ and LinkedIn
effectively is becoming
increasingly essential
while creation and
distribution of a company
e-zine or blog will also
enhance your standing in
the professional world.
Other skills
Most graduates
understand the need
to be flexible on their
career path but it’s
always wise to
remember that it’s a
requirement, not a
request. A level of
commercial awareness
will also be needed so
watch and learn from
more experienced
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Considering your career
Considering your
career options
Your career choice is one of the most important decisions
you’ll make in life, so taking the time to research it is vital.
hoose a job you love, and you will
never have to work a day in your
life.’ some people might disagree
with confucius’ advice, but there is
some truth in it – having a career that fulfils
you and satisfies your needs will contribute a
lot to your future happiness. therefore, it’s
well worth taking time when choosing the
right path.
Know yourself
to know your ideal career, of course, you first
have to know yourself – and understand
what you want to get out of your working
life. Are you looking for a high disposable
income, or would a relatively low-pressure
job with less pay suit you? Are you prepared
– or able – to choose an industry where you’ll
endure several years of unpaid or poorly paid
work? do you need to find your work
intensely stimulating? how important is
work-life balance to you?
it’s important that you really think about
yourself, and the life that you want, to get a
sense of your essential priorities when
choosing a career path. our checklist on this
page should help. only you can decide which
factors to prioritise in your career choice,
though it’s always useful to sound out
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friends and family about the kind of job that
would suit you.
Know industries
When you have a real sense of what you
want from your working life, you can start
researching careers in earnest.
Luckily, the internet has made it easier
than ever to understand what an industry is
like to work in, what opportunities there are,
and what big changes are currently
happening. research as much as you can
online, using sources including company
Checklist – what matters?
Try to identify the factors that matter
most to you in a career choice, marking
each of these from one to ten.
Starting Salary
Total Career Earnings
Lower Stress
Manageable Hours
Varied Tasks
Interesting Day-to-Day Work
Contributing to Society
Travel Opportunities
Stability |
websites, trade media, or
even blogs run by workers
Whether or not
Start applying
in a sector.
you have personal
if possible, you
contacts that can offer their When you think you have
an idea of the best
should supplement the
perspective on the industry, industry for you, there’s
things you read online
you’ll be able to get it at
only one thing for it: start
with personal testimony.
job fairs and graduate
applying. even reading
this is where personal and
and responding to job
family contacts will be vital.
advertisements will give you
don’t be shy about calling
a sense of what you’ll need to
people to see if they would meet
get a foothold in the sector – a faceyou for a coffee and a chat – people
to-face interview will give you even more
are often only too happy to ‘talk shop’ with
information. And of course, if you’re
an enthusiastic potential newcomer to the
successful in getting a first job or internship,
you’ll learn a lot more in just a week of work
Whether or not you have personal
than you can imagine.
contacts that can offer their perspective on
the industry, you’ll be able to get it at job
fairs and graduate events. gradireland runs
gradireland’s Top tip
several events throughout the year where
graduates can talk to companies from a huge
The right path may not be the most obvious one, or
one that your college course specifically trained you
range of industries, getting a real sense of
for. Whatever course you did, you will have portable
what you can expect from different sectors.
skills that can be applied to various sectors – even if
you need further study or an extra professional
You’ll find more information on
qualification to get started. |
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Your job-hunt
On the job-hunt
You can do a lot to help yourself in the hunt for your perfect job.
t’s very easy to get disheartened if
if you’ve graduated already, the careers
your job search isn’t throwing up
services at your college should still be
exactly what you had expected. As
available to you. even if you’ve moved away,
graduation gets closer and the focus
an arrangement exists whereby universities
turns to finding a position that is aligned
will assist graduates of other higher
with your chosen field of study,
education institutions, so you’ll still
the realisation that offers
have access to all the expertise
won’t simply flood in is a
and help you need. (see our
reality check.
panel on what your careers
companies never
however, for those
services can do for you
advertise vacancies. Instead
entering the workforce
they rely on referrals from
later this year, just
Build and tap into your
because jobs may not
other employees or
seem plentiful in typical
colleagues, or expect
creating a network of
places like job specific
individuals like you to
peers, colleagues and other
websites, doesn’t mean
approach them.
professionals has never been
that they don’t exist.
more straightforward than it is
What’s required here is
today. through Linkedin, graduates
legwork, and a lot of it, to track
can search for and connect with
down opportunities that you believe
individuals that could be helpful to them in
you’re qualified for and interested in.
their own careers. however, it’s important to
Where do I start?
remember that this is not a one-way street,
the best place to begin your search is with
and if you want referrals or even the respect
the careers services at your college or
of other more experienced individuals in
university. A mine of information, you’ll
your industry, you’ll have to earn it.
have access to opportunities on your
Luckily enough, that’s relatively
doorstep that you are unlikely to find on
straightforward too. Joining relevant groups
generalist websites. this includes dates for
on the networking site gives you the
upcoming jobs fairs, employer visits to
opportunity to take part in conversations and
your campus, trade publications that you
offer insightful, well composed comment on
won’t find in normal circulation, and
subjects that relate to your market. by taking
possibly even positions aimed directly at
the time to engage at this level, you should
graduates from courses similar to yours.
start to build your network, which, in turn,
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Your job-hunt
can help you to find out about opportunities
and put you in direct contact with people
that could help you.
Take a chance
some companies never advertise vacancies.
instead they rely on referrals from other
employees or colleagues, or expect
individuals like you to approach them.
it may seem like an odd approach to
recruitment but employers who choose this
avenue pay high regard to those who actively
seek out an opportunity to work with them.
begin by listing the companies you
would really like to work for and research all
What can careers services do for me?
All higher education institutions provide careers
services advice. All have the same goal; to assist you
in taking the next step in your journey to finding the
right career for you and finding a position that
matches your skills.
1. Your careers service will have recent copies of
publications, such as gradireland’s career directory,
that can help you identify opportunities both at
home and abroad.
2. Careers services will help you to explore your career
and job options. They can even put you in touch
with alumni to discuss their experience in your
chosen area.
3. Your careers advisor can be invaluable when helping
you complete job applications. With their help, you
can hone your CV and cover letters to ensure they’re
relevant to the position you’re applying for.
4. You’ll also find that help in preparing you for an
interview is available at the careers services.
5. If you are seeking a work placement, your careers
service may be notified of positions available
before they are advertised through more
traditional channels. A full list of contact details is
available on or via the Association
of Higher Education Careers Services, |
aspects of their business. then tailor your
application specifically for each organisation
– recruiters at this level can spot a generic
cover letter and cv in an instant so it’s a
practice best avoided.
in your application, clearly state why
would like to work with the company and
why you think you’re a good fit.
Consider alternatives
When you’re starting out, it can be difficult
to enter an organisation at the level you
think you’re capable of. if this happens to
you, there are alternative approaches to
slotting into the role you really wanted from
the beginning.
1. consider opportunities at sMes (smalland medium-sized enterprises). You’re
more likely to get some level of
responsibility in a smaller company than
you are at a multinational or larger
corporation, which can help you develop
your skills more quickly.
2. taking a stepping stone approach in larger
companies can be helpful in your
progression. by starting at a lower level
than you originally wanted to, you’ll learn
about the company itself and how it
operates. then, when an opportunity
arises in the department that you had
targeted from the beginning, you’ll be well
placed to seize it!
gradireland’s Top tip
Make sure that your profiles on social networking
sites are always up-to-date. You never know when
somebody important will drop by to sneak a peek!
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Gaining experience
Cutting your teeth
An internship or work experience placement is a great way
to get a start in your chosen industry, and learn essential skills.
hen employers are choosing
there are many ways to access an
their ideal hire, someone
internship, including Jobbridge the
with relevant experience will
government’s national internship
often have an edge over their
programme, offering internships in various
peers. As a graduate starting out, you can
industries for periods of between six and
either accept being at a disadvantage, or do
nine months. gradireland’s research points to
something about it.
the virtual necessity of gaining some form of
getting a suitable internship or work
work experience, with over 80% of
experience placement, though,
graduates saying that they would
isn’t just about having
be seeking, or have sought,
something on your cv – it’s
some work experience.
a way to get real-life
employers, backed up by
Whether you
experience of the work
research from the higher
take a placement through
environment, and to
education Authority,
JobBridge or a private
develop your skills to be
also say they are far
arrangement, it’s important
more effective.
more likely to hire
to make the most of the
applicants with work
experience, building up the
A changing pattern
experience and that
skills and contacts that will
traditionally, internships
these candidates
benefit your career.
were offered by larger
generally settle into a job
firms recruiting top talent
at a quicker pace.
from universities: these big
companies got to see potential
employees first hand, while the
graduates gained experience and the
opportunity to shine.
While these opportunities still exist
gradireland’s Top tip
more companies of all sizes are offering
Even if you start out doing something fairly menial,
internships or work placements. they enable
don’t be discouraged. Often, a company will initially
companies to benefit from skilled labour at a
assign the most basic tasks to an intern before
gradually increasing their responsibility. Just stick at it
low cost, and more graduates than ever can
to show you’re ready for more challenging work.
benefit from on-the-job experience.
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Benefitting from experience
Whether you take a placement through
Jobbridge or a private arrangement, it’s
important to make the most of the
experience, building up the skills and
contacts that will benefit your career.
For example, your placement will be far
more valuable if you show initiative in the
workplace. if you’ve gone through the tasks
that are assigned to you, don’t hesitate to ask
if there’s anything else that needs to be
done. Also, be willing to give your input when
asked for it – a well-run organisation will
always welcome a fresh perspective.
You’ll also give yourself an advantage if
you ask questions about the work, about
your host company and what makes it
different, and about the industry in general.
once you’re not pestering people, you should
find that they are only too happy to share
their views and experience with you.
demonstrating that you’re genuinely
interested will encourage your co-workers to
help you improve, and boost your chances of
a permanent job offer.
Your rights
Useful resources
Even as an intern, you still have employment rights that
your host organisation should respect. You’re entitled to
regular breaks, time off on public holidays and annual
leave. You also have protection from harassment and
discrimination, as well as the right to join a union. |
At the end
even if you complete your internship and
aren’t offered a permanent job, remember
that the experience has benefited you. After
all, you’ve had the opportunity to work in a
business, hopefully applying the skills you
learned at third-level to real-life situations.
What’s more, you’ve made contacts that you
can call on for advice and you should have a
body of work that you can cite in any future
job interview.
These resources should help you benefit from an
internship programme.
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Welcome to AIB
Welcome to AIB
For many graduates, their first year of work offers their first taste of the
real world. To help make your transition from education life to working
life as smooth as possible, we have designed the AIB Graduate Account.
With a range of unique benefits, it will make it easier for you to stay in
control of your finances. And if you need advice on managing your
money, our dedicated AIB Graduate Centre is there to support you with
your banking needs.
Who can apply?
the Aib graduate Account is available to anyone who holds an Aib student plus Account and
has graduated from full-time third level education in the last two years, or anyone new to
Aib who has graduated from a full-time third level course of three years duration or more in
the last two years.
the Aib graduate Account and associated benefits are valid from the date you convert
to or open your account for a maximum period of two years. the preferential benefits of the
Aib graduate Account are only available to Aib graduate Account holders.
For full details of the benefits available check out
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Welcome to AIB
How can we help?
if you have questions, need more information, or simply want to talk to one of our team, you
can contact our dedicated Aib graduate centre. We have a specialised team that’s available to
provide you with ongoing support and advice. We have a range of products available which
are specifically designed to suit your needs, for more information:
the dedicated Aib graduate centre on 1890 788 336
(8am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm on saturdays).
•call into any Aib branch.
How to apply
Already an AIB Student Plus Account holder?
if you already hold an Aib student plus Account, we will automatically convert your account
to the Aib graduate Account after four years - we’ll write to you to let you know this is
happening. Alternatively you can simply call the dedicated Aib graduate centre on
1890 788 336 to convert to the Aib graduate Account or drop into your local Aib branch.
Thinking of switching from another bank to the AIB Graduate Account?
it’s easy to switch your existing account to the Aib graduate Account. simply download
the Aib personal current Account switching pack at, or call the dedicated
Aib graduate centre on 1890 788 336.
How to get in touch
Call us
1890 788 336
Call in
drop in to any branch
Click on
If you have any questions, just ask.
terms and conditions apply. Allied irish banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the central bank of ireland. |
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Your own business
Starting your own business
If you want to create your own dream job, why not become your own boss?
ome graduates aren’t thrilled with
the idea of working for someone
else or taking part in a job-hunt for a
role that matches their skills. in
some cases, they’ve got a great idea for a
business and decide to go it alone. if you’re
one of those people, why not make your own
opportunity by becoming your own
Is it for you?
When you’re weighing up the pros and cons
of starting up on your own or with some of
your fellow graduates, so much depends on
whether you’re personally cut out for
entrepreneurial life. Are you self-motivated,
and able to work hard without external
pressure or supervision? Are you
creative in your response to
problems or unexpected
Perfect timing
situations? Are you able to
You should
traditionally, people
put in long hours, and
start by writing a solid
started their own
willing to put up with
business plan, with
businesses after working
relatively low pay for
projections about revenues
in an industry for a few
your efforts initially? can
and costs. This should help
you motivate other
years, acquiring industry
you see the strengths
people to help realise
and life experience. but
and weaknesses of
your vision?
today, opportunities at
your idea.
if you answered yes to
entry level are harder to
these questions, then
come by and, depending on
starting up on your own may
your qualifications, you may
well suit you. it’s a hard road at
need to kick-start your career by
times but, if you’re self-reliant, hard working
and resourceful, it could prove a very
Aside from this, there are benefits to
rewarding one.
starting a business when you graduate.
You’re less likely to have a big family or other
Getting help
commitments, meaning that you can invest
that’s not to say, however, that
more time towards the business or accept
entrepreneurs are expected to make a go of
lower take-home pay while you’re starting
it with no assistance. in fact, two state
out. And even if your idea doesn’t take off,
agencies have been key to many business
you’ll still gain contacts and experience that
success stories.
you can use later in your career.
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enterprise ireland supports
businesses with a strong potential to
export goods or services outside of ireland
and create jobs here. the assistance they
offer includes matching grants for business
development and export research, as well as
informal and formal advice. visit
www.enterpriseireland to find out more.
the city and county enterprise boards
are geared to help small businesses targeting
the domestic market with information,
advice, and some grant support. You can find
out more about their work by visiting
even if you don’t engage with either of these
agencies when you’re starting out, it’s vital to
plan ahead before you dive right into things.
You should start by writing a solid business
plan, with projections about revenues and
costs. this should help you see the strengths
and weaknesses of your idea.
every business plan should include a few
core elements. You should be able to identify
what your product or service is, who is going
to buy it, and how you are going to reach your
potential customers. realistic projections
about the kind of revenue you will make, and |
the kind of expenses you will rack up, are also
essential. if you don’t know where to start,
the city and county enterprise boards have
useful resources to help.
Get it done
When you’ve got your plan in place, there’s
no better feeling than perfecting your
product or service, talking to would-be
clients, and starting to make sales. the
entrepreneurial path can be tough, but it can
also be hugely rewarding. And who’s to say
that it won’t be you seeking to recruit the
best graduates to help grow your business in
a year or two.
gradireland’s Top tip
Some people are nervous about sharing their idea for
a business with family or friends – don’t be. After all,
if you can’t pitch your plan to the most important
people in your life, how will you sell it to strangers?
Your market research should go beyond friends and
family, but those closest to you should be able to
highlight strong and weak points in your business
plan to start with.
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Social media & jobs
Get social in
your job-hunt
Social media is not just a handy way of catching up with
friends and family; it’s a highly effective job-hunting tool too.
hile social media won’t
Facebook is primarily about
get you a job
connecting with people you
overnight, it is a
know offline but twitter
great way of
actively encourages
presenting your best
networking with
One-third of
attributes to a wide range
people outside of your
employers who scan
of potential employers.
usual social circles.
social media profiles said
twitter also allows
social media enhances
they have found content
you to use and follow
your networking activities,
that has caused them not
hashtags to narrow
giving you direct access to
to hire a candidate.
your online job searches
contacts you may never have
– a cork-based it
met in the offline world. And
graduate can get targeted
with more than half of hiring
results using hashtags like
managers using social media to
#itjobs and #corkJobs, for example.
post vacancies, it is also a great tool for
targeted job searches.
Key points for social media
Which platform?
savvy job-hunters use a number of social
platforms to increase their prospects.
Linkedin, basically an online cv channel, is
ideal for business networking. if you’re not
sure how to best present yourself on
Linkedin, examine the profiles of
successful people in your chosen field for
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1. Make sure your online
profiles are a true
representation of your
achievements and
career objectives. Don’t
make claims on social
networks that you
can’t back up in real
2.Create your own list of
industries and
companies that you’re
interested in. This will
help you understand the
style of communication
used by organisations in
your chosen industry as
well as keep you up to
date with competitor
and sector news. |
Beware the overshare
the most common interview question, “tell
me about yourself” is rendered redundant if
you’re one of the many people who shares
all of their private information online. in
fact, one-third of employers who scan social
media profiles said they have found content
that has caused them not to hire a
candidate. so, before you start interacting
online, it’s wise to check your privacy
is too cold and robotic, you could be
overlooked. be genuine and engage with
potential employers online, don’t spam
them. recruiters will appreciate the human
touch and your network will expand
organically. recruiters aren’t just looking for
the graduate with the most qualifications –
they seek out well-rounded candidates that
fit with a company’s culture too.
Be social
gradireland’s Top tip
remember, sites like twitter and Facebook
are called social networks for a reason. if
you create a professional online image that |
Be active and useful on social media. Share content
that will add value and be of interest to your peers,
potential colleagues and mentors.
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How to apply yourself
Every day recruiters have to sift through hundreds of CVs and application
forms, so how do you ensure that yours grabs their attention?
hether submitting a cv or
filling in an application form,
applying for a job is all about
persuading employers that
you’re the right candidate. however, the first
step is always the most difficult as the
information you provide is likely to be the
first time that the recruiter or hiring
manager has come across you. With some
straightforward advice, however, you can
make your cv or application stand out.
highlight your key skills quickly and
Avoid vague or clichéd statements like
110%” or “problem solver.”
the third person without personal
pronouns, i.e. “highly experienced sales
supervisor with a proven track record of
managing large teams and exceeding sales
tailor your personal statement specifically
to the role you are applying for.
Personal statement
Your CV
the first thing that a potential employer
should see on your cv is a personal
statement, a short summary that outlines
your skills, attributes and suitability for the
role. What you say here can determine
whether the recruiter reads on or throws
your cv in the reject pile. Furthermore, a
well-crafted personal statement will also
enable the recruiter to quickly identify the
strategic value of adding you to the
organisation. here’s some quick pointers to
help create yours:
Keep it brief. 100-150 words is standard,
200 is the upper limit.
A cv is a record of academic learning and
qualifications, as well as work experience
and skills you’ve acquired so far. in just two
pages, your cv has to persuade employers
that you are a candidate worth
interviewing. there are many different
ways to structure a cv but, as you will see
here, there is no one-size-fits-all format –
you simply need to find the structure that
best showcases your skills for each
position you apply for.
gradireland’s Top tip
You can find out more about CV’s and applications
online at
Sponsored by |
Types of CV
Skills-based CV
Key Points:
• Most commonly used format.
• Lists experience and qualifications
starting with the most recent.
Key Points:
Key Points:
• Showcases your attributes rather
• Uses reverse chronological
than listing experience in
structure but emphasises skills
chronological order.
gained under each role.
• Often includes a personal statement
to summarise your skills.
• Allows skills to be noted first,
which helps if you’re short on
work experience.
• Useful if you don’t have an
extensive work history.
• If you’ve been out of work for
• Certain roles or qualifications will
extended periods, it puts the focus
merit more description than
on skills rather than previous
others, which can make your CV
feel unbalanced.
• Can be more difficult to structure.
• Some employers are less familiar
with this format and find it harder
to grasp.
• Useful if you have lots of
• Easy to follow.
• Easy to write.
• Employers are most familiar with
this style.
• Can highlight gaps in your
employment history.
• Past work or education history
may not be particularly pertinent
to the job you are applying for.
Combination CV
CV Do’s and Don’ts
Most advice relating to CVs is
open to debate. However, there are
some golden rules that everyone
can agree on.
• Make it as easy as possible for
recruiters to conclude that you are
a strong candidate. Remember,
they may be viewing hundreds of
CVs in a day so highlight your best
attributes early. Recruiters typically
scan a CV in 30 seconds or less!
• Use action words that express the
skills you used and developed in
previous roles or in the course of
your studies, such as “led a
ten-person team” or “created a
successful marketing plan”.
• Keep your CV to a reasonable
length. Two pages is ideal, three
pages is the absolute limit.
• Explain all noticeable career gaps.
Recruiters can assume the worst if
you don’t acknowledge them.
• Proofread your CV thoroughly.
Spelling mistakes, typos and
inconsistencies indicate an error
prone or sloppy candidate. Print
out your CV and recite it aloud to
ensure it reads well.
• Don’t shrink the font to fit more
content in. If a recruiter has to
squint they’ll be much less likely to
read it.
• Don’t lie. These days it’s very
easy for an employer to find out
if you’re not telling the truth.
Even a small fabrication can
have serious consequences for
your career.
• Don’t waste time trying to make
your CV look flashy. A simple,
well-formatted document is all
that recruiters require and
• Don’t ever describe yourself as
the next Richard Branson or
Steve Jobs.
• Don’t use descriptions like ‘guru’
or ‘unique’ – they can be viewed
as arrogant and pretentious.
Cover Letter
Your cover letters complement the
information in your CV and
introduces you to the employer so
it’s crucial to get it right.
To start, you should always mention
the job you’re applying for in the
first sentence (companies often have
numerous job postings) and then
outline your suitability for the
available position. Here are some
useful tips to help you get it right
first time.
• Keep your cover letter brief – a
maximum of one A4 page.
• Don’t regurgitate the information
contained in your CV. Instead,
target your cover letter to the job
you’re applying for.
• Highlight key skills and how they
apply to the role advertised. |
• Whenever possible, address the
letter to a named person rather
than “To whom it may concern”
or “Dear Sir/madam”. It shows
you’ve done your homework.
• Sign-off in a way that
encourages further
communication e.g. “I look
forward to hearing from you
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Application forms
With the rise in online job applications,
jobseekers are increasingly finding
themselves applying online as well as
sending CVs.
Completing applications can be
challenging as candidates have to
input skills and qualifications in a
predefined way. This cuts down on
your ability to personalise your
application. But by following the
tips below, you can maximise the
chances of making a successful
impression on employers.
• Read all of the questions before
filling out the form.
• Compose your responses in
Microsoft Word or another word
processing programme first. This
way it’s easier to get an overall feel
for what you’re submitting, the
text will be easier to edit and
you’re less likely to overlook
spelling and grammar mistakes.
• Don’t overly rely on spell-check.
Instead, have a friend or member
of your family read your responses
for errors.
• If any section asks for further
information, think carefully about
your response. This is your
opportunity to sell yourself to the
• Try not to fill in too many
applications at once – you’ll get
burnt out and your applications
will suffer. If you feel yourself
Things not to include in your CV
Writing “Curriculum Vitae” at the top of the page is a
waste of valuable space. Recruiters are well aware of
what they’re reading.
Unnecessary personal information: You’re not
obliged to disclose race, marital status, sexual
orientation, religion, political affiliation, or a
Most people write “references available upon
request” but even this is not obligatory. A recruiter
will generally assume that a job applicant will have
references and will ask for them if necessary.
With more than 200 million members worldwide,
new graduates would be smart to supplement their
paper CV with a profile on LinkedIn. However, before
you do, make sure there are no noticeable
discrepancies between the two. This will be an instant
red flag for employers.
While CVs are static, LinkedIn is interactive, easily
updateable and allows jobseekers to attach
multimedia content that showcases their talent
(videos, photos, online articles). If you want potential
employers to learn a bit more about you, you can
include a link to your LinkedIn account in your CV.
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getting fatigued get some fresh air
and continue your job search later.
• Many businesses have
implemented automated CV
screening technology. So, if you’ve
been asked to upload your CV
along with your application, and if
the system has a technical issue
with it, it may never reach an
actual recruiter. To ensure your CV
makes it past this automated
process, keep the formatting
simple and streamlined – fancy
fonts and special characters can be
troublesome for the software.
• Always keep a copy of your
application form so you can refer
to it before your interview.
A recruiter speaks
At Aib, we recognise that the recovery and
success of our business depends on the
professionalism and dedication of our employees.
We are continually seeking new, academically
successful, talented and motivated individuals to
work with our existing talent to help us deliver on
our vision and strategy. As recruiters we look for
skills we believe are a good fit for our organisation
in graduate candidates. pay attention to the role
and responsibilities the recruiter is seeking in the
vacancy notice and look at your past experiences in
education and/or the workplace for an opportunity
to demonstrate you have the expertise to match
specific requirements. Many of our roles have a
customer facing element, internal or external, so a
customer focus and communication skills are an
Enda Daly, Recruitment & Selection, AIB
gradireland’s Top tip
Finished tailoring your CV and cover letter for a
particular job? Ask a friend to read them over and guess
the job they’re designed for. If they can’t figure it out,
you may need to make them more targeted. |
for an interview
Knowing what to expect in an interview can go a long way in settling
any nerves, and can help you focus on presenting yourself as best as
you possibly can.
anding an interview for your first
best advice anyone can give you is to
professional job is a significant
prepare, and then prepare some more.
milestone in your career.
there can be a tendency to focus
on the job specification – a
it’s the first time that
blinkered view that you
your skills, cv, application
It can be
must match your own
and desire to work in an
extremely disconcerting
skills and background to
industry have been
to attend an interview
elements set out in the
recognised. however,
expecting a one-to-one
criteria for a particular
while the initial
conversation only to find that position. While this is
recognition is
you will be in front of a panel true, you should
important, the hard
remember that your
work is still ahead.
or subject to a technical
interviewer is also likely
examination of your
What to expect
to ask about your
When you have received
knowledge of the company
notice to attend an interview, the
itself. here, understanding the
company’s history, its culture and
position in the market is crucial. being able
gradireland’s Top tip
to demonstrate that you have put in the
To start your interview off on the right note, make
effort to research more intimate details
good eye contact, smile and give a firm handshake
about the organisation will help you
when you first meet your interviewer .
stand out. |
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understanding the format of the
interview is key too. if you’re not sure or if it
hasn’t been clarified in advance, make sure to
ask. it can be extremely disconcerting to
attend an interview expecting a one-to-one
conversation only to find that you will be in
front of a panel or subject to a technical
examination of your skills. (see panel below
for an explanation of interview types).
may be feeling ahead of the interview itself.
however, once it starts, remember that it’s a
two-way process and your interviewer is
likely to be nervous too. they’re under
pressure to select the right candidate for the
job and you can help them by displaying your
skills, knowledge and passion for the
industry and the company.
It’s time!
preparing well and being aware of the
format should relax any anxiety that you
Types of Interview
There are a variety of interview formats so it’s best to
know in advance which one you’ll be faced with
before the big day.
Telephone or Skype Interviews
This type of interview is usually used by recruiters to
create a short-list for a position. Plan ahead and make
sure you’re somewhere quiet with no distractions
ahead of the call.
Face-to-face interview
Face-to-face interviews are usually carried out by one
or two people, although there is a possibility that you
will have to face a panel (see below). As well as asking
about your skills, these interviews are an opportunity
for both parties to engage in a two-way conversation
about the role. Typically, face-to-face interviews can
last between 30 minutes to two hours.
Panel Interview
In a panel interview, several people will be involved.
Make sure to make eye contact with the person
asking the question, but acknowledge all of the
interviewers by looking around at everyone when
you’re delivering your answer.
Competency or technical interviews
Here, you will be tested on specific skills and technical
capabilities related to the job. As well as tests, expect
technical questions from your interviewer too.
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What Recruiters Want
During an interview, the recruiter will be assessing
more than just your ability to answer questions or
how you talk through your CV.
Does this candidate want the job and can
he/she really do it?
If you can demonstrate that you have a good idea of
the duties involved in the job, you’ll put some of the
doubts in your interviewer’s mind at ease. Also, while
you won’t be expected to start work as a fullydeveloped and clued in employee, you should
demonstrate that you have the ability to learn quickly.
Your employer will want to see potential and
willingness from you from the beginning.
How do I feel about the candidate?
If you don’t know the answer to a question or aren’t
sure exactly what it is the interviewer is looking for,
be up front and admit it or ask for clarification.
Also, if there are any circumstances that are likely
to affect your behaviour during the interview, such as
a bereavement or illness, make sure to mention it at
the beginning. Your interviewer or your panel of
interviewers will be more likely to be understanding
of your situation if they are aware of it.
Is this candidate the best fit?
As well as examining your skills and capabilities, your
interviewer is likely to be assessing your ability to fit
in at the company. Generally, employers favour people
who are likeable and have developed good
communication and interpersonal skills. Some of the
questions you are asked can be revelatory in this
respect so be aware that there is more method behind
statements like “Tell us about yourself” than you
might expect. |
Working life
Get off to
a good start
Many graduates say that they experience something of a
culture shock when it comes to starting their first ‘proper’ job.
djusting to life in the
become accustomed to early
starts and other weekday
professional world
Just because
habits like eating lunch
can be difficult
you saw workers in
strictly between 1–2pm.
when you’re
dress down mode during
starting out in your
You’ve got mail
your interview, don’t
working life. however, you
When you start in your new
can make it easier on
assume that this
job make sure to familiarise
yourself by following some
applies to you.
yourself with company email
of our helpful hints.
and internet usage policy. it may
Wake up!
be that it’s against the rules to use
When you start a new job you’ll need to get
email for anything other than business
your body clock into a routine. if you’re
functions and communication so don’t make
working 9–5 Monday to Friday, this can take
the mistake of telling friends and family how
some getting used to but you’ll quickly
your first day is going on your company |
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Working life
account. Also, there may be
restrictions on using the
internet or personal email,
even during lunch and break
don’t want to cross. even if you’ve
graduated with top marks, your
co-workers are likely to have
more experience in your
field so be respectful and
the best graduate
employees are those
who show enthusiasm
and commitment.
Suits you!
before you start in your new job,
find out what the dress code is. don’t
make the mistake of going in on your first
day in smart casual wear if you’re expected
to dress in a suit. And just because you saw
workers in dress down mode during your
interview, don’t assume that this applies to
you. Ask your direct report well in advance
about how you should present yourself on
your first day.
It’s a fine line
be respectful to other employees and
understand that there is a very fine line
between arrogance and confidence that you
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Commit yourself
Many employers believe
that the best graduate
employees are those who
show enthusiasm and
commitment to their roles, and are
willing to help out in other areas when
required. even if you’ve been assigned to
filing reports duty, it’s your chance to learn
more about the business and show that you
are indeed a team player.
gradireland’s Top tip
It’s never a good idea to show up for work late, but
tardiness on your first day is a potential disaster. So, if
you’re not sure how long it’s going to take you to get
to work, do a practice run in rush hour before your
start date. |
Managing your money
Protecting your pay packet
Effective planning and smart saving can help you to manage your money
and avoid a debt spiral.
ost graduates understand that
managing money on a weekly
or monthly basis is a fact of
third level life. however, once
you’ve landed your first job and received your
first pay slip, try to resist the urge to spend,
spend, spend. instead, transfer your hardearned economising skills to your professional
life and you’ll reap the benefits in no time.
here’s how.
Jennie Fitzgerald, student officer at Aib’s
ucd branch, has some savvy financial advice
for graduates. “Most graduates, like many of
our customers, are very sensible when it
comes to managing their money. in fact, we
find that the majority of loan applications
tend to be geared towards investment in
further education rather than discretionary
items like holidays or cars, for example.
“one of the most common difficulties for
those entering the workforce after graduation
is how they manage their salary each month.
After all, it’s likely that many won’t be used to
receiving a relatively large amount of money
on a regular basis<” says Jennie. For help and
guidance, graduates can call Aib’s dedicated
graduate centre or drop in to a branch for a
chat with one of the many student officers
available throughout the network.
“Also, to assist graduates in keeping tabs on
income and expenditure, we’d suggest setting
up online banking. it’s a very straightforward
process and allows users to monitor their |
spending habits as often as they like. What’s
more, graduates can register for Aib phone &
internet banking for free,” adds Jennie.
student officers and advisors also
encourage graduates to open a savings
account, where they can transfer any extra
funds that they may have each month. this
obviously helps when it comes to making
major purchases, but also has the added
benefit of establishing a good savings routine
that will be crucial later in life.
Track your spending
the first step to being financially sensible is to
keep track of how you’re spending your money,
and more importantly, what you’re spending it on.
it’s a simple process – Aib has a number of
calculators and tools available through its
website and Mobile & tablet banking Apps for
iphone and Android but, if you can’t fork out for
a snazzy gadget, the old-fashioned notebook
will do the trick.
if you get into the habit of recording your
daily outgoings, you’ll have a clear picture at
the end of the month of where you need to cut
back – or better still, how you can reward
yourself for being so thrifty!
Make a budget
once you’re aware of where your money is
going, draw up a monthly budget to match
your incomings with your outgoings as best
you can. Again, you can use pen and paper but
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Managing your money
Beware false economies
the ‘my money manager’ tool on the new Aib
tablet banking app is even better as it allows
you to track your income and expenditure and
see how you are spending your money. it will
also provide you with the ability to create
budgets and set savings goals. After two or
three months, you should start to see trends
in your financial situation emerge.
Your budget, once you stick to it, should
help you avoid serious debt. so, if your basic
accounting skills are on the money, then your
bank balance should be too.
Your friend may seem able to afford going
out on the town every night decked out in
designer gear, but that doesn’t mean you
can. You have to live within your own budget
– deal with it.
Change your attitude to saving
Get drastic with plastic
budgets tend to get a bad rap because people
see them as the reason they can’t do all the
fun things they want. this kind of mindset
makes saving feel like a real chore. instead
remind yourself what you’re saving for (a
holiday, a car, or even financial independence)
and motivate yourself towards that goal.
You’ll soon start to take pride in what you’ve
managed to squirrel away.
it doesn’t take long to run up large debts with a
credit card, particularly if you have a high credit
limit. visa debit cards*, which are available to
all students and graduates with Aib accounts,
allow you to make payments online without
the risk of finding yourself in the red.
however, if you do land yourself in hock
with a credit card, making the minimum
repayment won’t cut it – in fact, it’s unlikely
to dent the interest, let alone the principal.
so avoid being pennywise and pound foolish
when it comes to plastic.
Create an emergency fund
if possible, add in an extra field in your budget
under expenditure and call it “emergency
Fund.” this is the cash that you’re going to set
aside each month in case you need a relatively
large sum at a moment’s notice.
try to add to your fund as regularly as you
can – you never know when it’ll come in handy.
Sign up
if you’re an Aib customer, register for Aib’s
phone internet banking so you can download
the Mobile & tablet banking apps. As well as
knowing your balance (and limitations) in an
instant, you can also keep tabs on your
account in case any unexpected payments
are withdrawn.
Sponsored by
being frugal today can often cost you more
money tomorrow. that digital tv contract you
signed up for because the first two months
were free might not seem so appealing now.
Don’t live someone else’s lifestyle
Deal with your debt
debt accumulated over your college years
should not be put on the long finger. interest
can build fast so work out a repayment plan
as soon as possible. but make sure your plan
is manageable – having to borrow to meet
your repayments really defeats the purpose.
*debit cards are liable to annual government stamp duty. currently,
€2.50 applies where the card is used for an AtM/in branch
transaction and €5 per card applies, where the card is used for both.
Check out… for more
useful tips on how to stay in control of your cash. |
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Further study
At Aib we understand the challenges facing
our customers and it is our aim to support
them at all times. We are delighted to be
involved in this new publication which will
provide support and advice for graduates and
will help them on the road to their chosen
Aib is committed to working with irish
companies and are pleased to partner with
gti ireland in producing this graduate
Allied irish banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the
central bank of ireland.
gti ireland is the official careers publishing
partner of the Association of higher
education careers services and works closely
with them and their member careers services
to publish the gradireland and
postgradireland series, the websites and,
several national fairs and an annual
employers’ awards event. More details
on the work of Ahecs can be found at
14–16 Lord edward street
dublin 2
+353 (0)1 645 1500
[email protected]