Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What Employers want – by Margarita Dimitriou, Events Placement Student

So last month I attended some presentations at the Students Union run by local employers on how to impress at interviews, understanding your skills and strengths and how to behave professionally in the workplace. Being a placement student at the Careers and Employability Service I was responsible for greeting the Employers before the presentations and taking them to the room which gave me the chance to have a chat and ask them questions about employability skills and how students/graduates can make a good impression. The more I talked with the employers  the more my understanding of what employers want increased.
Being a student I sometimes struggle when it comes to understanding my strengths and weaknesses.  I always focused on what a job has to offer me instead of what I have to offer/add to an organisation. Now I can see that both are equally important. For me a job is not the same as a career.  As I said before, I am not an expert, I am just a student, but in my eyes you can be working in a junior position but wanting a career in marketing, a career is your development and your progress. The road which you take, starting from a junior position and working your way up as high as a Director or Manager.
I will never forget my first interview 3 years ago after graduating from college.  I finished college thinking that my grades and my diploma was all that matters and I was definitely going to get a job but after being let down and not hired I can now understand why and what went wrong in my interview. I was not prepared and ready to start working. I think the question I would ask myself today before an interview is: would I employ myself?
So here are some top tips I picked up from all the presentation that helped me a lot and hopefully will help you and other students.
What recruiters want:
Most recruiters want the candidate who fits in with their company culture and the person who has the right attitude/credentials/qualifications/experience for the job, but how many people actually fit in with the company they are applying for? Some of us don’t even know what it’s like working there and at the interview we find it very hard to convince that we are the right person for the job. So how do you start?
ImageMost employers are looking for someone who can add value to the organisation. They are interested in your personal Skills, your interpersonal skills and your experience.
  • Start with a detailed research of the company’s mission statement, work ambition and culture.  Know exactly what the difference between the marketplace is
  • Find out their mission/goal and ethics, do they match with your ethics? Find out how to link your work ambition with the company
  • Understand their consumer/customers and their competitors.  Also know if they are expanding
  • Think about what they will ask you. Identify gaps and suggest what they could add
  • Go that extra mile and impress the interview panel
Remember:    First impressions count !!
Avoid saying “we” – they want to know what “YOU” did
Drink water, it is okay to bring a bottle of water in the interview room
Interesting facts about interviews
The tone of your voice matters 38% and what you actually say matters 7%
You are the product and the employer is the consumer – it’s time to “sell yourself”
Begin with: Who you are, what you want & what they could give you - Make it clear to them in 40 seconds
Tips: practise, makes it all clear/easy for them.
Self-belief: Think “ I have the job”
Show them you have a desire to develop
Explain your skills as you speak to someone who doesn't know you
Most employers will use the STAR Technique:
Situation: Remember a situation when ....
Task: Explain what the task was
Action:  What did you do about it?
Result: Not Failed - Positive outcome

Professional behaviours in the workplace:
Image: Have a professional image, dress code, personal hygiene, body language, the way you carry yourself (sit at a meeting)
Do you have the ability to “fit” into all situations?
Ideas: put yourself forward/volunteer, be confident, up-to-date and know new theories.
Reputation: your media presence tells people about you, gain attention for the right reasons
Behaviour: be consistent, reliable & patient with others.  If it is your first job observe the workplace, watch, learn & listen. Do not point out people's weaknesses, help them learn instead and do not criticise.
Respect your colleagues - it will help you do your job better
Values and beliefs: demonstrate acceptance, never hold a grudge, always be willing to apologise, know when to ask for assistance.
“Listen do not only Hear” or “Listen more than you talk”

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Managing a successful Careers Event : After the rain comes the rainbow! Part 2

So the day of the fair came all my efforts over the last six months had gone into making the next four hours a success for our team, the University, the enmployers and most of all…the students! 
I dealt with the pressure and having to do three things at a time!  I was at the main entrance making sure that students swiped their cards  (method of recording attendance) at one point there were so many students coming in that I needed more staff to work at the sign in desk.  At the same time a student came up to me asking for directions and another member of staff was ringing me to ask me if we could order more food (delicious samosas).  What I did? I prioritised each action according to how urgent it was.  I directed the student very quickly as to where he needed to be, then tried and direct the students to swipe in and then, when I found a precious moment when there were not too many students, I rang my colleague back to help with the catering order.

Impressions  I cannot believe how time flies by when you have an event!  I’ve been planning this event for 6 months and there it was all my efforts and plans in just 4 busy hours! It’s like going on holiday, a week away and you feel it has just been a day!  I have to say this was the busiest day of my life; I met hundreds of people, made useful contacts and understood so much about managing events, managing time, team work and managing staff.

 (Picture on the left: Jaguar Land Rover displaying one of their cars at my event)
Any surprises? One of my biggest fears was that the time to open the doors would come and ….bam! No students. But no! My fear was just a fear!  Students did come and not only came but queued outside the entrance for 15 minutes before we opened up!  

Picture on the right-  Grad Jobs Fair at its busiest moments – and this is just one part of the venue. (900 students in 4 hours)

Another major factor which contributed to the success was having several students giving out flyers and a student playing guitar and singing, wearing a pink t-shirt saying “GRAD JOBS FAIR NOW” while the event was on.

The mistakes students make when applying for jobs
That was an experience! Having to recruit students meant I would have to advertise the vacancy, shortlist the candidates and then interview them.  We’ve had 2 adverts, for a musician and for 3 student ambassadors. On the student advertisement, we’ve asked the students to explain in 50 words or less “why should we choose you”.  It made me realise that one of the biggest mistakes students usually do when they apply for a job it’s that they actually don’t read the instructions, and this can tell a lot about someone’s attention to detail and sometimes their personality.  Some students send their CVs or an email with far more than what we’ve asked them to.  Almost all the emails were the same.  I know that 50 words it’s not too much when it comes to applying for a job and describing something, but if you can be creative and come up with something unique in 50 words then it shows you can follow the instructions and maybe you can go that extra mile. 

The job advertisement was put on JobShop for only one day and we’ve almost received 80 applicants! I remember one person sent the same email 10 times – Mega Fault when applying for a job.  I had to separate the emails; I created a folder with the No’s and a Folder with the Yes’s.  The No’s included the ones which exceeded the 50 words.  Even if what was said was unique and they had a lot of experience, if they couldn’t follow the instructions, I couldn’t shortlist them.  In the end I shortlisted the 5 best answers and invited them for an interview. The interviews went well and I tried to be fair. After all 3 out of those 5 people were going to get the job. Having student ambassadors and a musician promoting the event, immediately created a lot of interest.

Personal reflection
What I’ve learned: team work is everything, I wouldn’t have managed to deliver the event without a great deal of help from my colleagues
Managing staff: Managing and positioning staff where appropriately and according to their strengths is very important
Dealing with pressure and difficult situations can teach you a lot about yourself.  No matter how well prepared you are, pressure will always find its way in, what matters the most is how fast you deal with it and how effectively you manage it.

 Multi-tasking and time management: prioritise each situation and act fast!
 Last minute changes: No matter how prepared you are you always have those.  Be prepared and find easy and fast solutions!

Measuring the success
Student attendance numbers, Organisations attendance numbers, Employer feedback, student feedback, finding out how many students got a job from each company.

Overall the venue was full with students from the time the doors opened until the closing time. This year there were more than 900 students attending (almost 200 more than last year).  Knowing that I have planned and executed the biggest Careers Fair, both in regards to employers and students attending, at the University of Huddersfield gave me great satisfaction and pride. And the fact that the Vice-Chancellor is aware of the success of the event, as he mentioned it at one of his talks this week, makes me think of one thing: After the rain comes the rainbow!

The best value I’ve gained from this event?  The confidence and expertise which I needed when dealing with events - now I can start building my Events Career!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Managing a successful Careers Event : After the rain comes the rainbow!

rainbow_elam_cr_2Three weeks ago I executed my biggest event as an Events Management Placement Student in the Careers and Employability Service at the University of Huddersfield. I started my placement in June 2012 and before that I’ve been attending, taking part and working on different small and big scale events around campus. This was crucial for my understanding in events and certainly provided me with a lot of experience but none of them gave me such experience as the Grad Jobs Fair. For most people (students, employers and staff) this event was another event added on their calendar, but for me it was more than that. For me this was my project, an exciting project which not only I would gain but also give back.


This event filled me with experience, having to deal with difficult situations which I will introduce further on, working as part of a team and also by helping the students gain employment gave me great satisfaction.

On the right our Twitter Hashtag which was used for a Twitter competition on the day

The event


The Grad Jobs Fair is an annual event which most Universities in the UK plan for the students and their recent Graduates. Some Universities name it a Careers Fair, Be Employable, Meet your Future but I wanted to keep it the Grad Jobs Fair since this is how it’s been established for years.

Picture on the right: Grad Jobs Fair at its busiest moments – and this is just one part of the venue. (900 students in 4 hours)

My events experience

I’ve also been attending other events as part of my role in the Employer Services Team, such as the Employer Partnership Board meetings at the University of Huddersfield, the Yorkshire Employer of the Year Awards in Leeds and the Kirklees Business Conference. All these events gave me an inside view. Networking at events is very important and building relationships with organisations can benefit the University and the Students.

Being a student myself I feel that I can relate to student needs, but each student is different and I wanted to have a variety of Employers coming. In some Universities, events like the Grad Jobs Fair are sometimes organised by a team of experts who have been doing it for years.

Knowing that the event plays such a key role in maintaining the employability status of the University of Huddersfield (top six of English Universities and top in Yorkshire for graduate employability in the latest league tables) made me more aware of the fact that I have a great responsibility on my shoulders, not letting myself down, the employers, my team and most importantly the students.

On the day itself, not everything goes as planned

• Some organisations had bigger stands than stated therefore the floor plan needed to change.

IMG_1318• We had a few cancellations on the day which you cannot predict.

The point is to always make a decision
which satisfies everyone and find a quick
solution for everything.

Next week I will write more about how I coped with all these challenges and you can read about whether our event was a success!

Picture on the right: Me on the left with my colleague Louise  after a long busy day at the Grad Jobs Fair !

Monday, 29 October 2012

Preparing for the Grad Jobs Fair

Don't you just love it when you come up with the idea of throwing a surprise party for your bff (best friend forever) or planning a party with your friends?  At first, is that great feeling of excitement that you are going to be putting it all together, all your friends are going to be there, your bff knows nothing about it and no matter what happens the party will be a success. Well, that's probably how you get your first experience in events management, before even entering high school and discussing with your parents what you wanna do for the rest of your life.  Throwing a surprise party at age 12 is probably a little bit different with being 22 and organising a major event for a big organisation.  The feeling and structure might be the same, for example demonstrating the idea, telling everyone about it, planning who is coming, sending invitations, ordering catering and executing the event.  But it is that simple that when you are 12 you don't really think that something might go wrong, don't have a 5 page bulleted point Action List and the event doesn't take up to 6 months to plan.  

Am i loving it? Yes, a challenge is always welcomed in my life and events are always challenging !

My Big Event, the Grad Jobs Fair, is in 2 weeks !  What goes on in my mind atm? 


I need to create the poster, oh wait before i do that i need to find the sponsors. 

Once you find the sponsors you can proceed with printing your promotional material.  This year our main sponsor will be Cummins ! 

I need to do the floor plan, oh wait before i do that i need to: make sure i know who is coming, know how many people are coming and order catering, then create a catering area.  

Do not assume that it is easy to do the floor plan.  Companies cannot just simply be placed in a random order.  Companies who have high stands/boards need to be placed in a certain area of the room where the ceiling is high enough, oh wait some companies do not know what their board height is yet! Well you cannot wait or assume, so the ones who do not know just go in the high ceiling area. Also you need to think about companies who need plugs, internet and the most important, company competitors.  It is silly to place competitors next to each other.  

Marketing:  So you want to market the event?  

There are hundreds of ways you can market an event but first you need to know all the laws and Uni regulations regarding social media, flyers, posters etc.  Before you start with marketing, make sure you know who is the event for and why is it for them?  Think about demographics, know your target market.  For example in my case the target market is University of Huddersfield students who will be graduating this year, or have graduated already.  There's no point advertising the event to my 50 year old neighbour or my aunt who lives in London.  So i now know the event is for students.  How do i get their attention?  That's where my life starts to get busy.  Make sure that staff know about the event so they advise their students in class or by emails asking them to attend.  Print posters and send out to each School in the University.  Facebook helps a lot.  Display power point slides on plasma screens around campus, put it on our careers 
website, University website, flyers and the list goes on.....  

Jaguar Land Rover will be displaying a car once again !  Watch out for one of their cars on campus!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

So you want to be an Events Manager?

My First Event...

The reason i haven't been blogging lately is because i found out, for the first time in my life, what the word "BUSY" means.  So if there is one thing i've learnt during placement, it is that 37 hours a week is not enough for someone who wants to be an Events Manager. My summer and new term have been crazy, especially when the dates of the events come close.  I was involved with the promotion of our JobShop on tour and  JobShop Clinic weekly, attending team meetings, presentations, attending business events such as the Kirklees Business Conference and the Yorkshire Employer of the Year Awards and planning my events.  You need an action plan, a right time management and a fantastic team who will help you both before and after the event.  It is crazy to assume that planning an event is easy.  Once you start planning, you are faced with new challenges and problems and things that need to be done.  Am i loving it? Yes, a challenge is always welcomed in my life and events are always challenging !

As an Events Placement Student, at the Careers & Employability Service i hosted my first event, 2 weeks ago.  The Part-time Jobs and Volunteering Fair on Wednesday, 10 October 2012.  The event was held in the Atrium at the University of Huddersfield, probably the busiest venue since it's located next to the library.   The event was held  about 1 month before the Grad Jobs Fair which is on 7 November 2012 and despite being a small event, I believe it did prepare me a lot for what the next event would be like.

The Fair started at 11 am and finished at 2 pm.  The focus for the fair this year was part-time jobs and volunteering therefore all the employers who attended were promoting paid vacancies and volunteering opportunities.  We’d booked 12 organisations to attend on the day but because the event turned out very popular, there were 15 organisations on the day and some on the waiting list.

Organisations attending included G4S Events, Coral Cay Conservation, 4 Yorks, Restless Development, Kirklees Council, Lifeline Kirklees and many more.  As a student currently on my placement, I think the event went really well and we had hundreds of students attending on the day.  The organisations who attended found the event very successful and one organisation received almost 100 CVs within a few hours.

Finding Employers

With the current economic climate, getting employers to attend your event is becoming harder each year.  My aim for this year is to get more than previous years. Last year there were 32 organisations attending, and this year we've got 34 coming so far, and as every year there could be last minute bookings. 

Some of the things on my Action List atm: 

Send Emails to employers about the fair
Update the website
Create and then order promotional material (flyers, guides, posters)
Take posters around Uni, Student Accommodation and Library
Design and print evaluation forms
Make a powerpoint for employer interesting facts about their organisation
Arrange plasma screens for the event
Arrange a big projector to be at the event (making sure the color works)
Book stands
Prepare the floor plan 
Email students & staff
Compile Staff Rota 
+ Much more !!! 

Next Event: My Big Event, the Grad Jobs Fair, in 2 weeks!

Below our Twitter Badges and my wonderful team from the Careers and Employability Service, on the day of the Part-time Jobs and Volunteering Fair!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Experience Continues !!!

I haven’t really talked about what my placement is all about.  I am responsible for organising, developing and promoting the annual programme of careers events with a particular emphasis on the use of social media for marketing purposes.

Primarily responsible for organising a series of high profile careers events throughout the year and publicising these to a wide range of employers, to all our students, recent graduates and University staff.

Also i will be managing and developing relationships with existing and new organisations wishing to recruit or offer opportunities to our students.

Administrative tasks: include room bookings, catering orders, and updating employer records on the Dynamics system.
To be honest I am still learning more and more about past events and this excites me.  The more I research the more I realise how many great opportunities there are in the future. 
There’s a lot going on every day in the office and everyone seems to be quite busy.  With a busy workload I find myself busy too.  At the moment I find myself planning for the annual Grad Jobs Fair (November 7th) at the University and try to find new marketing strategies and creative ideas.  This event will be a “big thing” for me. It is one of the most important events i could work on.  Last year’s Fair there were almost 40 graduate employers in attendance, including national big names such as Mazars, Santander and Rolls Royce, and local graduate employers such as Cummins and Weir Valves.  Approximately 800 final year students and recent graduates attended.  Being able to organise an event for such highly developed companies, not only will it look good on my CV in the future but it will also give me the type of experience I’m looking for.  Although the event is in 4 months, I need to prep for this now.

In a few months (September) we will also be attending the Fresher’s Fair at the University of Huddersfield helping students to get to know us and our services.
Also to help the students we have decided to start a Jobshop Clinic and Jobshop on tour. The Jobshop Clinic includes presentations lasting approximately half an hour in the Careers Library, explaining how to register with JobShop, how to save email preferences, and helping people if they have brought a laptop and are struggling to register on Jobshop.  Jobshop is just one the resources students can use in their search for jobs, they also get to use the service for Careers advise, Quick Query sessions or have their CVs checked etc.
JobShop on Tour:  Happening once a week, starting from the beginning of October.  Each week it will be held in different Schools of the University in Huddersfield and the Barnsley Campus to promote our Jobshop to students offering guidance on how to use it.
This week (week 4) i’ve learned how to use the Dynamics system.  The Dynamics system is very useful for the office and i can start adding organisations to it and my marketing list for my events.
In a few weeks I am also attending an event with our Chancellor Sir Patrick Stewart which I am looking forward to asking him questions about his career path.
Next week I will be attending an event for Graduates in the Job Centre in Huddersfield which the University Careers and Employability will having their own stand to promote their services.  

The University of Huddersfield:
·         One of the UK's top 10 providers of sandwich courses and student placements
·         Our chancellor is Professor Sir Patrick Stewart (English film, television and stage actor) most widely known for his television and film roles, such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its successor films, Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series

·         Huddersfield was ranked joint first out of all West Yorkshire Universities for high quality staff and lectures in the Opinion panel Research survey in 2007.  The University achieved the highest ranking of any mainstream university in the United Kingdom for assessment and feedback in the 2011 survey

·         The University achieved the highest ranking in the 2011 International Student Barometer conducted by the International Graduate Insight Group
The Careers and Employability Service:      
·         It is available to all staff and students of the University and to graduates for up to three years after graduation.
·          A team of Careers Advisers offer advice and guidance on career choice and planning, support with the applications process and the development of lifelong career learning skills.
·         A programme of workshops and presentations devised and delivered with the assistance of local recruiters, help students and graduates to prepare for employment or further study.
·          This team of staff also work closely with the academic schools, offering teaching sessions and the benefit of their expertise in regards to employability on a consultancy basis.
·         AGCAS National Awards for Excellence – Overall Winner 2011
·         AGCAS National Awards for Excellence – Technology Award 2011
·         Times Higher Award for Leadership & Management – ICT Initiative of the Year 2011