#MondayMotivation: Virtually Assessed

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It started with video interviews and has progressed onward and upward from there. Technology is making huge inroads into the graduate recruitment process and it’s not going to go away. On the contrary, more and more major firms are using increasingly sophisticated digital process to decide who will be hired.

First, for those who are a little hazy about what’s involved, some definitions. The three key processes impacting on traditional selection methods are:

Virtual reality: computer simulation of 3D images or environments that allows human
interaction when wearing specialist equipment such as a headset
Augmented reality: using technology to superimpose a computer-generated image on a
user’s view of the real world, providing a more complex experience
Gamification: applying elements of game playing (e.g. rules, scores, competition) to another activity i.e. recruitment exercises.

Still none the wiser? Here are some examples:

  • Banking group Lloyds tests candidates ability to move virtual objects in immersive virtual situations, using calibrated headsets and gloves
  • KPMG takes the traditional in tray or e tray exercise one step further by using a Virtual Office Exercise – practice questions available on line should you want to try this out for yourself
  • Deloitte uses photographs instead of written questions to gauge reaction to specific
    situations; other organisations use videos in the same way
  • EY requires candidates to participate in a mobile game
  • Unilever’s digital job interview comes complete with commercial case study
  • HSBC is using job simulators in selection exercises to see how candidates perform in typical workplace scenarios.

Get the picture?

Currently these techniques are used alongside more established approaches, such as group discussions and psychometric tests, but who know whether this will prevail? Given that the use of video interviews has risen by over 40% in the last few years, hang on to your hats where these new developments are concerned.

As always there’s no substitute for doing your own research into individual recruitment practices, and these will give you a great starting point to exploring gamification and the broader graduate job hunt. Some of the key takeaways are:

  • VR scenarios are often workplace based, but some take candidates to weird and wonderful locations and environments – snowy peaks and ancient temples being just two examples
  • Companies are increasingly using these digital tools to assess behaviours and strengths rather than skills and competencies
  • You might encounter VR, AR and gaming any stage of the application process, not just at selection centres
  • Technology has enabled greater customisation of selection methods for specific firms and jobs.

And finally, here are our top 3 tips for success:

  1. Get confident with technology. Do a bit of basic gaming for instance if you are unfamiliar with this
  2. Do practice tests and exercises at home (or wherever) in privacy and peace before tacking the real thing
  3. Take advantage of any technical help available from the recruiting organisation.

The future is now. Make sure you’re part of it.

Gill Sharp, Careers Consultant

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#FridayFeeling: Options For The Undecided

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You’ve graduated: well done, heartfelt congratulations, wear your degree with pride. But if you haven’t got anything fixed up for the future, what now?

Graduate scheme: a few organisations have rolling recruitment throughout the year, but most have shut their doors until late summer when they begin recruiting 2019’s intake. Either way, given that the selection process is long and arduous, apply now.

Tip: although this is often #1 on a university leaver’s hit list, many apply, few are chosen. Less than 15% of graduates end up on these kinds of programmes. But there are plenty of other possibilities, of which the main contender is….

Graduate job: differs from a grad scheme in scale and depth. The role in question will be geared to the same capabilities and achievement, but the company is usually smaller, fewer candidates will be recruited (maybe only one or two a year) and the training might be less structured, but arguably more flexible.

Masters: the only reason for considering this is that you are unequivocally, unreservedly 100% interested in the subject. Not a cunning way to defer career decisions and unlikely to increase your employability unless paired with experience. Want to go ahead? There may still be places available if you get a wiggle on.

Vocational course: not necessarily a Masters by name, but probably by nature. Aimed firmly at those who know what they want to do career-wise e.g. Graduate Diploma in Law, a qualification in Marketing. Experience is often a prerequisite.

Internship: great way of testing the water, finding out what a sector is really, really like and adding credibility to your CV. Many opportunities are handsomely recompensed.

Volunteering: as for internships, with a feel-good factor thrown in, but without the money (though you should not be left out of pocket).

Year out: your last chance for an extended break with maybe some travel thrown in. Nothing wrong with that providing you can sell it to future employers. Even more valuable if it includes a spot of work. Should ideally be a chance to think hard about your future career and even move towards this. Don’t return to these shores older but no wiser about what your next step is.

Temp job: breathing space with the added bonus that it can build up your employment credentials and boost your commercial awareness. Any downside? Easy to find that, several months on, the short-term role has become a pleasant and undemanding way of life. Resist the temptation to settle for this if, for you, it’s a second best.

Self-employment: working for yourself has a few drawbacks – cash flow issues, no paid holidays – but many attractions. For those who are ready, willing and able it’s an attractive idea, but be sure that it will pay enough initially to keep you in reasonable style.

Entrepreneurship: not to be confused with the above but a very near relative. It hinges on an innovative idea allowing you to tap into grants and funding.

Need more information? Get inspired with your next steps on MySOAS Student here.

Gill Sharp, Careers Consultant

Insight From Your Fellow Student: Being Realistic & Demanding the Impossible In Your First Job

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Harmanjit Sidhu, BA History (grad 2017) and Ambitious Futures Graduate Trainee at SOAS for 2017/18, takes an inspiring look at how her first job actually cemented the world-changing qualities SOAS had instilled in her.  

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My first lecture at SOAS was H101: Approaches to History, taught by a fantastic lecturer who left me believing that I could change the world. Three years later, I was trying to make my degree in History ‘marketable’, drawing on all of my ‘transferable skills’ (which were often the bits about my degree I enjoyed the least) for long and arduous application forms. I was lucky, and managed to grab a spot on a great graduate scheme called ‘The Ambitious Futures Graduate Scheme for University Leadership’ based at SOAS. I’ve had a great three placements, and I’m currently on my way to new things in October, but starting out in the world of work after a SOAS University experience is not easy.

My first day at work in SOAS consisted of working through several spreadsheets, and at times summoning the will to live. That’s not to say that the work wasn’t interesting, or important but rather that my own expectations were tripping me up. Most of the students here at SOAS have things that they are passionate about, and as the JCR so aptly summarises, ‘be realistic- demand the impossible’ we are taught to believe in our ability to make the world a better place. As was the case during my very first H101 lecture, I truly did believe it, but going in to the world of work with a narrow view of this belief planted so firmly in to your head can do wondrous damage to your mental health and your self esteem. During my first few months of work, I struggled to map up everything I had been taught and everything I believed in with the work I was doing. I had spent years researching revolutions and social justice movements, but how did this correspond with my 9-5 desk job? And if I couldn’t figure out how it was all connected, surely that meant I had failed somehow?

These were the thoughts I had to contend with in my post-graduation phase, and speaking to others has confirmed my suspicions that there is a commonly held belief that you have to eventually ‘settle’ and leave behind your aspirations and dreams in favour of living and thriving in the ‘real’ world. This belief didn’t sit right with me, yet I continued to struggle to make sense of it all to conjure up a real alternative. That’s when I stumbled across a brilliant article by Toni Morrison, which gave this advice-  ‘You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.’  We can not allow the work that we do to  become a measure by which we judge ourselves. In the same vein, Maya Angelou once said, ‘People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.’

That’s when it clicked- my education at SOAS had informed the person that I was, and that person wasn’t going to change depending on where it was that I worked. I let this advice change up my world view, and actually accept that no, my job was not going to let me change the world in ways I thought it would. What it could do, if I opened up my mind to it, was to give me the skills I needed to change the world around me in small and significant ways. What it could do, was provide me with financial means to help to develop myself further and contribute to causes that were close to my heart. What it could do was allow me to make connections with people who allowed me to see things in new and better ways. This to me was not ‘making peace’ with my situation, rather it was a revolutionising and liberating way of bringing 100% to my work, and recognising all the many ways my efforts have had important and meaningful impacts on the processes, and most importantly, the people around me.

As a SOAS graduate you have so much to give, so be realistic and demand the impossible but open yourself up to interpreting and implementing this in new ways. The world will be so much the better for it.

Harmanjit Sidhu

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk

 

Careers as Depicted by Drag Queens

Accountant

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You actually know how to use Excel. Your pay check reflects this.

 

Teacher

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You are always marking. Always. You get hyper defensive when people bring up summer holidays.

 

Counsellor

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You have a calm and collected demeanour until alone, then you scream into pillows.

 

Events Manager

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Everybody thinks life is one big party but you spend most of your time shouting at your Blackberry. Who even has a Blackberry anymore?

 

Lawyer

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You are successful. You work 19 hours a day. You are dead inside.

 

Curator

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You go to the best parties. You do the work of 8 people for the pay of half a person.

 

Interpreter 

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You rarely actually know what people are saying – you are /that/ good at making things up.

 

Journalist

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You are nosy.

 

Politician

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You are morally ambivalent and proud. 

 

Human Resources Officer

You are always making the best of a bad situation.

 

Chef

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Your Instagram is full of gorgeous looking food. You primarily eat microwave meals when not working.

 

Administration

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You hear your name said 458 times a day. If you take a long weekend the office burns down.

 

Banker

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People might think you’re evil but your pay check makes you cry tears of joy.

 

Fitness Instructor

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Your Instagram feed is full of pictures of Greek yoghurt. Any passion or joy you experienced from exercise has gone.

 

Librarian

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You had to do a postgraduate degree but people only ever want to know the Wifi password.

 

Folk Musician

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People don’t believe this is your actual job.

 

Flight Attendant

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You’ve seen the inside of hotels in all 7 continents.

 

Academic

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You have your own office. You sleep in it. You are 30.You have so much debt.

 

Management

You used to love people. Now you are emotionally deadened.

James Hallett, Volunteering Advisor

Stages of Job Hunting After Graduation with Gemma Collins

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Post-graduation feelings of elation and success – feelin’ on top of the world! Followed quickly by the realisation that you now have to find a job and have no idea where to start.

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Slumping on the sofa and ignoring all your responsibilities. No point starting anything on a Wednesday – it can wait until Monday.

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When you run out of money and realise being broke and moving back in with your parents is NOT the one.

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When it seems like all your friends are getting amazing jobs in impressive companies yet their Instagram is full of prosecco brunches. You found a cornflake in your hair the other day.

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Taking pictures for your LinkedIn, hoping with the right angle and lighting you can trick people into thinking you’re employable.

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When you’ve got great friends who check your applications for jobs and proof read your CVs.

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When you begin contemplating becoming a TV psychic or starting your own bath bomb company to avoid the cycle of rejection.

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When you get rejected from a job you were really excited about and vow to boycott everything they do in the future. They are now dead to you.

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Gussying yourself up for an interview after submitting 358 applications to graduate schemes.

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When somebody finally realises how great you are and offers you a job.

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Trying to look professional for your first day after 4½ months of living in bleach stained joggers and Ugg boots.

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Two days in to your new job, when you’re asked to come good on all the skills you lied about – like web design and Excel.

James Hallett, Volunteering Advisor

Rejection? Brush Your Shoulders Off

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We’ve all been there: hours of blood, sweat, tears and a fair amount of googling synonyms for ‘passionate’ go in to crafting the most meticulously put-together application that proves beyond all reasonable doubt that it is your destiny to take on this job, only to hear back from a generic HR inbox that they ‘regret to inform you’ that you’re not The One. Or worse yet – a resounding silence.

Yep: rejection sucks, but, dig a little deeper into anyone who’s gone on to do anything genuinely impressive (no, the Yodelling Kid doesn’t count) and you’ll quickly see that failure is a temporary – and important – step towards ultimate success. As Michael Jordan humbly puts it, ‘I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed’.

Never was this truer than when it comes to landing that elusive grad scheme, internship or part-time job for the summer. A lot of the time it’s purely a numbers game – due to the sheer volume of applications you may not luck out first time round and will need to keep trying. Knowing how to deal with this is crucial, and will only help you on your way to future triumphs.

Don’t worry, help is on hand; so sit back and take comfort in this virtual hug from SOAS Careers…

  • Take time out to reflect

Once the initial rage subsides, it’s worth taking 5 minutes to think through why this particular application didn’t work out. Do you need to get more experience under your belt? Could your application have done with being tweaked a little to really showcase to the employer how great you are for that specific role, or have you been going for quantity over quality recently? If you made it through to an interview, could you spend some time nailing your technique to guarantee that you come across as the dream candidate next time round? If you’ve had a few knock-backs, could you start targeting smaller companies rather than just going for household names?

SOAS Careers can support you with all of this and more. Take a look at all the ways we can signpost you to work experience and volunteering opportunities – both great additions to your CV, which will offer you lots more examples to talk about at interview too. CV & Application Advisers are on hand with drop-ins every afternoon between 1-3pm in SL62 to give you feedback, we can run you through a Practice Interview, offer guidance, help with online aptitude tests and lots and lots more

  • Get inspired

Often even those you assumed were born in to success have had to work hard to get to where they are – no matter how effortless it may all seem. Read the autobiography of any great entrepreneur or successful person, and more often than not it is their resilience that has been their Ace card. Identify someone you genuinely admire and dig in to what coping mechanisms they use to bounce-back.

  • Make sure love is all around

As you dive head first into another set of applications, make sure you’ve got friends and family close by, or ready and waiting for your Facetime call. Don’t underestimate the power of their support on your personal well-being, and vice-versa. Make sure you and your close friends are each other’s Number 1 Fans and regularly remind each other how great you are!

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself

There’s no easy way to say it: putting your all into an application and not hearing back would dampen even Mr. Motivator’s spirits. You’ve got every right to be disappointed, so rather than beating yourself up, treat yo’ self (within reason!) and move onwards and upwards.

  • It’s not you, it’s them

As The Beatles forecast, the road may well be long and winding – and it can be all too easy to forget to keep things in perspective. There will always be other opportunities, bigger and better ones that come at the right time for you.

So next time you get that email from what you’d convinced yourself would be your dream company, see the rejection for what it is – a set-back, nothing more, nothing less. Acknowledge it, learn from it and then move on. Don’t let it own you, rather get out there and own it!

Alexis Fromageot, Marketing Manager

Survival Guide: Assessment Centres

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It’s that assessment time of year again. How can you maximise your chances and ace the
competition at the Assessment Centre stage of the selection process?

First of all, congratulate yourself: you are one of the chosen few. Your invitation to be assessed means you have beaten at least 90% of the original applicants. That’s the feel good factor. The downside is that this is where the going gets even tougher. Here are four essentials for surviving and thriving during the process…

1. You’re liable to be in a group of approx. 6- 8 likely lads and lasses, all of whom will look calm and confident. Don’t be daunted – they will be quaking inside. Remember that the assessors are not evaluating you against the other candidates but as an individual contender. Don’t measure yourself against the other people in your set, just focus on playing to your strengths. Apropos of which, be very sure what those are, so that you can maximise your impact.

2. In a group situation, speak up and make your presence felt in an assertive, not an aggressive, way. Failure to do so is like going to an exam and not writing anything and will lead to nil points from the assessors. How do you get in to the activity especially if one (or more) people are trying to dominate the proceedings? (Btw console yourself with the fact that those overbearing oafs have just scuppered their own chances – assessors heavily penalise such behaviour.) Stake your claim to a role quickly by offering to keep time, take notes or monitor progress as soon as the activity starts. This gives you the chance to leap in appropriate intervals to summarise, review and move the action forward. You’ll also get brownie points for encouraging and involving the quieter group members.

Top tip: sneak a peek here to find out what role you might play in a team.

3. There’ll be individual exercises too, often including a presentation. Key advice? Keep it simple and don’t try to cram everything in. Not only will your audience appreciate both your brevity and clarity, but if you are asked questions after the event, you won’t have exhausted your store of knowledge and hence will be able to answer your interrogators with aplomb.

Top tip: if you get a chance practise your presentation beforehand, ideally recording
yourself. That way you’ll get the timing right to the nearest nanosecond, and you’ll also be able to iron out any weak links in your speech, tone and pace.

4. Terrified of tests? You may get these at assessment centres too and they could comprise any or all of the following – e-tray exercises, case studies, situational judgement questions, psychometric tests. If you’re new to these notions, get in some practice. We can send you some examples – just send us a message on careers@soas.ac.uk! It may not make you perfect, but it will send your scores up a notch or two. You can find a massive range of useful resources on the Careers Pages on MySOAS Student too.

Being prepared means preparing to succeed. Good luck.

Gill Sharp, Senior Careers Consultant