Welcome to the Employability and Careers Centre.
Discover the career that is right for you. Develop the skills you need to succeed. Dive in with work experience and professional training.
During the Autumn and Spring terms Employability and Careers Centre offers Surrey students a wide range of employer-led skills workshops and careers fairs. The sessions cover key employability skills such as interview techniques, video interviews, assessment centre workshops, networking practice, CV writing and using social media apps such as LinkedIn to find graduate roles.
Professional training is an integral part of life at the University of Surrey and is a fantastic opportunity for all Surrey students allowing them to experience life after university. The experience, maturity and confidence our students gain whilst out on placement either in the UK or abroad sets them a cut above the rest when they graduate, which shows in our consistently low unemployment rate after graduation, another reason to choose Professional Training at the University of Surrey.
GoinGlobal offers country-specific career information developed by local career specialists. The information is updated annualy and features recommenced websites and detailed resource descriptions on employment topics.
With more than 2,300 professional partners, and a score of more than 95 per cent graduate employability for the past five years, the University has been ranked second for its partnerships and as one of the top universities for its graduate employment rate. Overall the University was ranked 121-130 in the world for the employability of its students.
We’ve made it to Week 11! Well done to all Surrey students for your hard work so far this semester. As the Winter Vacation approaches, we hope that you are looking forward to taking some time out, even if you have a hectic schedule planned. Perhaps you have a busy revision timetable, will be returning to your part-time job, or will be volunteering for a good cause over the festive period. Of course, all of these activities will be valuable additions to your CV, but perhaps you can also set aside time to reflect on your career plans and ideas for the future.
You’ve successfully made the transition to university, so you definitely deserve to enjoy some quality time on campus or at home! However, now is a good time to reflect on your current position:
Having made inroads into the first semester and kept up with your 2nd year schedule, you are making good progress.
Professional Training Placement Students:
Hopefully settled into your working environment, you are developing essential work-based skills that will strengthen your CV and future applications.
Fourth Year, Final Year and PGT students:
The start of your professional career is getting closer.
Whatever stage you are at, remember the Employability and Careers Centre is here to help you with your ideas and plans. Your future is exciting!
In addition, it will be important to return to university feeling refreshed and ready for 2018, so do enjoy the vacation, catch up with family, friends and sleep, and have fun joining in the festivities…
Happy Winter Vacation from the ECC!
On the 3rd of July I started my year-long placement in the sales team at a company called allbranded (www.allbranded.co.uk), a promotional products company with its foot firmly planted in the promotional merchandise world. The allbranded team are a fun and friendly bunch whilst being extremely driven and highly skilled in their knowledge of the industry and a team that I couldn’t wait to be a part of.
Starting my placement was a nerve-racking experience as this was my first office based job. I prepared for my first day by making sure that I knew the background of the company to show that I had an interest if anyone asked. I also feel that planning the route to work beforehand is a must, just to make sure that nothing goes wrong on the first day. Other things like making sure you know what you’re going to wear, sorting out lunch and other mum things like that save a lot of time and make the morning rush easier!
Within an hour of starting my first day I felt right at home and felt welcomed by everyone. From the start I was eager to get to learn the sales role and put some of the skills that I had learnt from my Business Management course into play and start closing some deals. My skills were immediately put to the test as within my first week I found myself co-managing the Love Island water bottle account. Since then I have worked with numerous multinational companies from various industries; all requiring different kinds of promotional merchandise. This is far removed from what you think would happen when you are sitting in your first and second year lectures.
Having been with allbranded for a few months now, I have learnt a whole range of skills that are going to equip me for the rest of my career, wherever I end up. Undergoing a placement at allbranded has given me the practical skills that I wouldn’t have learnt at university in the day to day lectures. Undergoing a placement year has taken me out of my comfort zone and has really promoted personal development in skills that I already had and in new ones as well.
So far my most memorable moment working at allbranded was when I closed my first sale of over £1k. I felt a real sense of accomplishment at the time which seems funny now as a £1k sale really isn’t much at all in comparison to some of the other sales I’ve made since then! At the moment though I am really looking forward to seeing what the remainder of my placement year here at allbranded has in store for me with hopefully some more memorable moments to come!
I would recommend a placement year to anybody studying any course as it really does bridge the gap between the work you do in the classroom and the working environment as it is nothing like any previous part/full time jobs I have ever done. A placement year has also really helped me to work out what kind of business sector I want to go into after I graduate from university. I love being part of the sales team at allbranded as it gives me such a sense of accomplishment when you close that killer deal and hit your targets!
What are they?
They may sound rather threatening, but in reality they are nothing more than a series of multiple choice questions based on the kind of situations that you might very well meet if you got the job you’ve applied for. They may or may not be timed.
Why are they used?
Most employers still use competency based questions as the basis for their application forms and interviews. These are designed to find out how you have performed in the past with regard to activities such as teamwork, decision-making, problem-solving etc. However, it is possible to construct impressive answers with sufficient practice and coaching. Consider the following two answers to the question – “Can you describe a team activity in which you have engaged?”
The point is that both answers could easily be referring to the same discussion but it is clear that the second has been structured to sound far more impressive.
As a consequence, employers have sought alternative ways to assess candidates. SJTs have been designed to test competencies from a different perspective.
Could you give me an example?
The following is entirely fictitious (and a little light-hearted!) but should give you some idea.
You are a human resources manager and you notice one of your staff playing computer games on their pc during office hours. Do you:
A Ignore it because you know everyone needs a bit of relaxation while at work
B Warn them privately that this contravenes office policy and they are in breach of their contract
C Ask them what game they are playing as it looks like fun
D Reprimand them immediately in front of their colleagues in order to make sure everyone is reminded of the rules
The expected answer would be (B) but you might be tempted to take either of the two more lenient responses (A or C) or even the “I need to show them who is in charge” response (D).
Whilst your answers don’t guarantee how you would actually behave, they at least provide an indication. In particular, if your answers are way off the preferred response, the employer could reasonably assume that you might behave inappropriately if faced with similar real-life situations.
What advice would you give when answering?
The recommended way to answer is to imagine yourself in the situation and respond honestly. After all, even if you thought that alternative answers were more likely to be preferred by the employer you might still guess incorrectly. In any case, would you really want a job where you were expected to behave in ways which made you feel uncomfortable?
Are they all like the example above?
The example provided is possibly the simplest style you are likely to face. Some tests probe a bit further by asking you to provide both most likely and least likely responses while others ask you to rank your answers. In many SJTs the choices provided for each scenario are designed to be very similar which clearly makes the test much harder. The apparent absence of an obvious answer demands careful analysis and consideration before reply.
Is it possible to practise?
It’s a good idea to get as much practice as you can beforehand. You might find the following web sites helpful.
Sites of general interest
www.assessmentday.co.uk; Scenarios based around a position as a market research assistant
www.jobtestprep.co.uk; SJTs for customer service and graduate/managerial positions
www.practiceaptitudetests.com; Measures a number of competencies sought by graduate level recruiters
More specialised sites
http://eydemosst.situationalstrengthstest.com/; SJTs relevant to Ernst and Young applications
faststream.blog.gov.uk; Designed specifically for Civil Service Fast stream applicants
www.prometric.com; Tests designed for applicants for administrative posts in the European Union
www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk; Tests designed for medical students proceeding to the Foundation Programme
www.ukcat.ac.uk; Provided for applicants taking the UK CAT (Clinical Aptitude Test) as part of their application for medical and dental training programmes
Is there any other preparation which you would recommend?
As with every application, you should research the employer and the job role thoroughly. This should provide valuable information about the range of competencies they are looking for and hence clues concerning the types of scenarios which you might face.