Application Skills Jenny Keaveney Careers and Employability Service 7th March 2013

Application Skills
Jenny Keaveney
Careers and Employability Service
7th March 2013
with acknowledgement and thanks to
Unilever and the Bank of England
The Application Form
 Initial Thoughts
Basic do’s and don’ts
Work Experience and Extra-Curricular Activities
Competency-Based questions
 Real Life Examples
The Good
The Bad
The Ridiculous
The Hopeless
The Application form
 Initial Thoughts:
“Its easy”
“I’ll definitely get through this bit”
“My qualifications will impress them enough for me to sail
“I don’t need to try that hard”
“I don’t come over very well on paper/online but I know I can
impress them at an interview”
 The facts
Its not easy!!
Academic qualifications are just the first hurdle
You need to impress on paper/online to have a chance of
getting an interview
Before you start
 Attend presentations and careers fairs –most employers
keep a note of students they were impressed by
 Make sure you meet the employer’s requirements, e.g.
academic achievement, languages or other skills
 Review your life - what you have done, when & why.
Catalogue your achievements – academic / work
experience / social activities / other. Expand on these
achievements and the skills and knowledge required for
each achievement.
 Research the Employer
How to get to the top of the pile in a very competitive market
place? Do your homework. Research, Research, Research.
(Carl Gilleard, Association of Graduate Recruiters)
Researching employers
 Don’t just give a standard answer about your interest
in that field: make your answer specific to the
 What is unique about the employer? What do they
offer graduates, placement students or interns?
 Don’t just copy and paste information from their
website/brochure, include information from resources
such as the BBC business pages, directories such as
Best Companies to Work For and other news sites
(e.g. Reuters/Bloomberg for finance)
 Name drop –attend a careers fair or presentation and
say how your interest has grown as a result of
speaking to xxxx who told you yyyyy
The Application form
 DO…..
Research the company, and what it is looking for
Answer the questions asked!
Perform a spell check
Get someone else to proof-read
Sell yourself - how did you make a difference?
Save your form and complete over a few visits
 DON’T..
Copy and paste between forms
Leave any gaps
The Application Form
 Work Experience and Extra-Curricular Activities
All work experience is good work experience!
Most experience is good experience!
You can categorise into sub-divisions e.g.
– Positions of responsibility (and awards received)
– Leisure and hobbies
Use diverse examples, e.g.
– Sport
– Societies (especially if you sit on a committee)
– Travel
– Languages
– Arts
– Personal achievements - what’s important to you??
Use your experience to sell yourself!
The Application form
 Work Experience
How? Why?
Was this the
“My role as a intern at xxx was of the most benefit as
I increased my confidence. My team had a high
degree of autonomy and it was a demanding
working environment where I was often required to
work long hours, followed by presentations to senior
managers. The role particularly allowed me to
experience the many different functions that exist
within a business. It was also a great opportunity to
experience new cultures”
How is this
But did you
have autonomy
+ demanding
What did you
present and
And? What
did you
learn? How
has this
your career
Why do you want to work for us?
… and why should we interview you?
 “I have a genuine interest in advertising, as
demonstrated by …”
 “my high first-year grades in the xxx element of my
degree demonstrate my ability to…”
 “I am keen to begin my career learning from the very
best in xxxx and your recent award for …
What are Competencies?
 “underlying personal characteristics that influence
individual performance”…
 “behaviours which are linked to personal values”
 Competencies are made up of:
skills - what you know how to do
knowledge - what you know
self-image - how you see yourself
values - what you think is important
habits - things you do without thinking
motives - what drives your behaviour
Top 5 competencies that the Top
100 employers look for:
• Teamwork
• Communication
• Problem-solving
• Commercial awareness
• Creativity
Competency Based Questions
 “Give us an example when you….”
 “What did you do?”
 “How did you make a difference?”
 “How did you bring others along with you?”
… in other words, you you you!!!!
Competency-based questions
 The good:
Throughout my A Levels, I worked part-time with Flora Motley, initially as a
sales assistant although after one year I was promoted to Weekend Accounts
Within my extended duties, which also included bookkeeping and budget
plans, one of my principal tasks was to increase the intake of Store Account
Card customers, as Head Office was concerned that the branch was underperforming in this area.
To tackle this assignment, I took the initiative to introduce new selling
techniques and to increase staff awareness in relation to the account card and
our customers' specific needs.
This involved running fortnightly training sessions and monthly meetings to
monitor our progress as a branch. I also developed an incentive scheme, which
offered prizes or additional paid time off, to reward staff upon completion of
continually increasing targets. As a result of this work, the branch's customer
account card uptake rose by 45% over the year, and our store's nationwide
ranking in this criteria escalated from 40th to 6th position. My efforts received
commendation in the Flora Motley Monthly Newsletter.
High performer
The problem
Identified a
solution …
… and
implemented it
A positive
Competency-based questions
The bad…..
The biggest challenge whilst carrying out the assignment was conducting a
financial analysis on the company. I was assigned this task, as I had
previous experience in this area as I have carried out two financial and
accounting modules during my University degree. I conducted a full ratio
analysis on the company, which included analysing Next's Profit and Loss
Account and Balance Sheet. I presented the ratios and included details of
the company's current financial position, along with an explanation of how
the company could improve their position.
The Presentation involved presenting our group's report on Next Plc to the
rest of the Marketing group. Our group conducted a Microsoft Powerpoint
presentation, to ensure it was conducted in the most efficient and
systematic way. Each member presented their individual section, the final
section then included contributions by all group members. Our group had
practised the presentation on numerous occasions prior to the final
presentation, which ensured a smooth running. Each member of the
Marketing class was given a feedback form to report their opinions of the
presentation. Our group received all positive feedback and were all
awarded a 2:1 for the presentation, this contributed towards the final
outcome of or Marketing modules.
Apathy- did
not put self
forward for
Competency-based questions
The ridiculous...
Mealtimes are a difficult and challenging time as this is one affair
when my friends and I are truly tested in our decision making
There has been more than one occasion where a unified
agreement on what to do about dinner has proven to be a
problem. I therefore take it upon myself to be the spokesperson
for the group. One example would be where two of my friends
wanted chicken nuggets and hence wished to go to McDonald’s
while three others preferred the Chicken Royale from Burger
King as opposed the the McChicken Sandwich one can get at
McDonalds. Using my initiative, intuition and lateral thinking I
suggested that we all go to KFC instead. My reasoning was that
this was that KFC do chicken popcorn and are a far better choice
than chicken nuggets. While their Fillet Tower Burgers are a step
up from the standard Burger King Chicken Royale as they have a
hash brown in them as well. Thus using some originality of
thought, a certain degree of diplomacy and a persuasive tongue I
convinced them all to join me at KFC.
Does not
bring the
group with
of others’
Competency-based questions
 …and the hopeless ...
 I do apologise for not completeing the
following sections, i have not had enough time.
I graduate in a week and am extremely busy. I
hope you will consider this application.
Thank You !!!
What Can You Do Now?
 Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail…!!
 Make a List (consider competencies):
Use All Areas of Your Life - sports, clubs, societies
Work Experience & Projects
Leadership & Teamwork Situations
Positions of Responsibilities
 Pick the Most Illustrative Examples & Think Them
 Focus on What You did and why
Further sources of information
 Careers and Employability Service booklet CVs, Covering Letters and Application Forms
 AGCAS DVD Your Job’s On-Line
Good Luck!
Careers and Employability Service
At the entrance to Keynes driveway
Open 9-5, Monday – Friday
[email protected]