Top 4 Tips For Graduates Looking For A Local Job


Our four top tips for graduates looking for a local job

July marks the beginning of graduate season. Up and down the country, nervous final year students wait for their degree classifications, hoping for something to celebrate.

But after the excitement of collecting your diploma and chucking your caps in the air for the photo opportunity, what’s next?

According to official UK labour market statistics, around 31% of graduates are not in graduate-level employment. Some graduates look instead to travel, take on a postgraduate course or accept a part-time job while they figure out what career path they want to take, but a good proportion of this 31% also feel lost and unsure of where or how to look for a graduate job.

In addition to this, nearly half of the UK’s Level 3 students (A-levels or equivalent) end up progressing on to a university course, which is up from under 20% just 20 years ago. With the student population growing, some university leavers fear that the graduate job market is becoming over saturated, and that they won’t get onto the lucrative graduate scheme of any of the top-level companies they apply to.

If you’re a university leaver who is anxious about starting your career, or are perhaps unsure of where to start when looking for a graduate job, don’t worry! MNA Recruitment have years of experience helping graduates understand the job market they are entering, and have some expert tips we’d like to share that you may not have thought of:

1) Make sure your CV demonstrates your skill-set, not just your education

You should quite rightly bring attention to your degree and display your classification on your CV with pride, but be mindful that most employers are looking for well-rounded candidates.

It’s crucial that you get the balance of your CV right, so don’t go top-heavy with your academic achievements. Make sure there’s a substantial section that demonstrates your skills in the work environment, which includes any jobs you’ve held, internships, placements or voluntary work you have completed. It can also include any societies you were a member of, any enrichment activities you have been involved in, and even sports teams you have played for.

Remember; it’s important to have the brain power, but if an employer can’t see any evidence of job-related skills, your CV will more likely than not end up in the reject pile.

2) Sell your stories, not your abilities

At every stage of a job application – from submitting your CV and covering letter, to giving a presentation based on real-life situations for your potential line manager – you need to prove your abilities. It’s not enough to say you are organised, or that you are a natural team leader; you need to give solid examples that show you possess these abilities.

Give yourself your best chance by writing an exhaustive list of all your work-related experiences, including notable achievements, challenges you overcame and skills that you learned through the process. Learn that list, so you always have the evidence at hand to back your claims up. This is especially useful during interview, where you may need to give answers on the spot.

3) Look for graduate-level jobs, not just ‘graduate’ jobs

What we mean by this is to look deeper into job descriptions than you may be, because not every job suitable for graduates will signpost itself as such.

If you’re solely looking for jobs that have the word ‘graduate’ in the job description, you might struggle to compile an extensive enough list of positions to apply to.

Look for jobs in broader categories rather than specific job titles and read their descriptions carefully. One job title doesn’t mean the same thing at every company. For example, a marketing executive for a large financial company may have a completely different list of responsibilities than a marketing executive for a small start-up computing company.

If the skills required for the job match at least 70% of the skills that you possess, make an application. The perfect candidate doesn’t exist, and companies don’t expect to hire a candidate that is a 100% match to what they advertise for. Indeed, they will expect to have graduates apply for certain roles and will look for growth potential.

4) Don’t rely on the internet for your job research

Recruitment websites are undoubtedly useful and convenient. They can be a great way to start your search and help you form an idea of the kind of positions you want to apply for. However, relying on the internet to find a job is limiting.

There is a danger for young people to conduct all of their job research on their laptop or smartphone. This is understandable – you might be nervous and want to look into your options from the safety of your home – but finding some inner courage to be more direct with your search can show prospective employers that you’re made of the right stuff.

It’s well-known in many job networks that a lot of the good positions aren’t widely advertised. Show some initiative by calling or visiting a number of companies you’d like to work for. There will be some outright rejections, but you may find yourself presented with opportunities to talk to a manager or director about your ambitions and taking the next step. Even if you can’t secure a solid job, you may end up with valuable advice to go forward with.

It’s also highly recommended to visiting a recruitment agency to enquire about any positions they are filling. A lot of agencies will fill positions using their contacts rather than creating open adverts, so build some connections with recruiters in relevant sectors. Agencies can also help you with your application, including CV writing and mock interviews.

Making headway in the graduate job market can feel like navigating a stormy sea at times, but you will soon find direction. Be confident in yourself and remember to sell yourself as a person, not just as an employee.

If you’d like more help in getting your foot on the career ladder, you can book a call with us to talk about your options, and get some advice on improving your applications. Register your CV here.

What Is The Best Route Into The Care Sector For Candidates?

What is the best route into the care sector for candidates? Star Employment Services

There will always be a demand for care workers, but what is the best route into this career path?

The care sector offers many skilled workers across the UK the opportunity to pursue an enriching and highly respected career. There will always be a demand for care workers, but what is the best route into this career path?

Star Employment Services explore the multiple options open to skilled workers who have interest in entering the care sector, by taking a deeper look into the ideal profile of a care worker, the qualifications and experience needed, and what kind of career progression a care worker can expect.

What does a care worker do?

The main role of a care worker is to attend to the specific needs of and provide support for people who require assistance in their daily lives. The work of a care worker will vary from client to client. Care workers are often needed when their client is not able to get the assistance they need from family or a guardian, or has special requirements than only a formally trained care worker can help with. Care workers work a variety of shift patterns and can either be based in a dedicated facility, such as a care home, or work on call.

Key duties will usually include:

  • Working with clients, their next of kin and other professionals to identify their particular needs, and develop a specialist plan to meet their needs.
  • Providing personalised care to their clients, and administering the correct procedures for any physical or mental difficulties.
  • Aiding a client with errands or tasks that they may struggle with, such as shopping, cooking or studying.
  • Providing appropriate emotional support to clients and their families, and guiding them through any issue they may have.

What are the key statistics I should know about the care sector?

According to government statistics, the average care worker will work between 30-40 hours a week, often on a shift pattern, and will earn between £12,500 to £20,000 per annum.

New starters will have a wage of between £12-16k, with qualified junior workers earning an average of £17-19k. Senior support officers or other senior roles in the care sector will earn upwards of £25k, and some form of further qualification is often expected in order to progress to senior positions.

What skills and attributes should a care worker have?

To be successful in this position, having a passion for helping people is essential. You will need exceptional communication skills and must be tactful, patient and sensitive with your clients at all times, especially when dealing with challenging circumstances (e.g. bereavement, behavioural problems, etc.).

Other key skills and attributes include:

  • A friendly and approachable nature with a good sense of humour
  • Ability to build relationships and to make others feel comfortable and at ease
  • The ability to keep calm under pressure, as clients may sometimes be aggressive or anxious, or you may be faced with an emergency
  • Critical thinking and problem solving

What kind of qualifications do I need to become a care worker?

You can actually start in the care sector on a part-time basis, with no specialist qualifications required. Individual care authorities will have their own set requirements, such as a minimum number of level 2 qualifications (e.g. GCSE Maths and English).

All care workers will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) test. This was formerly known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) test. If you wish to pursue adult social care in England, you need to gain the Care Certificate as part of a 12-week induction programme provided by your employer. The certificate can be completed online as a distance course. Within 6 months of starting in children’s residential care, you’ll need to have or get the Level 3 Diploma for Residential Childcare or equivalent.

You can also get into the care sector through a Health and Social Care apprenticeship or a level 2 qualification that leads to a job, such as a BTEC course or NVQ. There are also level 3 and degree courses that care workers can undertake, in order to move into senior roles. Some of these courses are often known as Health and Social Care, Childhood Studies, or similar. In a lateral move, experienced care workers will often get the opportunity to study for nursing degrees should they wish to.

What kind of career options do I have if I become a care worker?

In the care sector, the career progression path is clear – you can start in junior care positions before working up to senior support roles in a variety of sectors. To speak to a member of our team and find out more about starting a career in the care sector, or to find out about current vacancies register your cv today.

How To Answer The Six Most Difficult Interview Questions

How To Answer The Six Most Difficult Interview Questions Star Employment Services Job Candidate Career Advice Tips

Preparing for an interview? Take a look at six of the most difficult interview questions and how to answer them

Let’s face facts: interviews are not fun. Spending the best part of 30 minutes upwards trying to convince somebody that they should hire you for a job, so you can earn money and build a career, can put you under a lot of pressure.

So how can you make interviews easier for yourself? While we don’t advise memorising answers and reciting them like a robot to future interviewers, practice DOES make perfect. It’s worth knowing what the trickiest questions are to answer and the best approach to take with them to impress your prospective employer.

Here are six of the most difficult interview questions and how to answer them:

1. What can you tell me about yourself?

Keep it succinct and avoid rambling. Keep to a structure of five things about yourself that you want to highlight and say a couple of sentences on each. Don’t repeat anything you have already explained in depth on your CV and cover letter. Give a positive insight into what you are like as a person. Discussing your interests and ambitions away from work can help humanise you and show your interviewer what kind of person you are.

2. Can you list your strengths?

Think of three skills you do well that you can back up with evidence. Have a concrete example of a time you have demonstrated a strength ready in your mind. For example: “I think I am a strong communicator, because my colleagues chose me as a representative to discuss introducing a rewards scheme with management and I was successful. I am able to put ideas forward clearly and politely.”

Don’t recite a long list of adjectives, e.g. I’m trustworthy, a team player, ambitious, hard-working, etc. While these are good attributes, they are attributes desired by every employer – you wouldn’t stand out from the crowd.

3. What are your weaknesses?

The cliché answers are that you ‘have no weaknesses’ or giving yourself a backhanded compliment (“I’m a perfectionist”, “I take over other people’s work”). This will not impress interviewers.
Focus on an area of work that needs to be improved and discuss your strategy for how you will improve it. For example: ‘My current weakness is my writing ability. I have increased the amount I read every week and try to teach myself a new word every week. I’m also looking into doing a business writing course.’

Alternatively, you can discuss how you overcame a potential downside of your greatest strength. For example: ‘My work ethic is praised lot and I often work overtime to get a job finished, however this sometimes impacts the quality of work that I do because I rarely ask for help or take breaks. Recently, I’ve started keeping a log of work I do every day, to keep track of how much I do and see if I need help with anything.’

4. Can you provide an example of how you’ve contributed to effective team working? What makes you a good team player?

Teamwork is a vague skill. There are many situations in the workplace that count as teamwork, such as building bridges between two employers that don’t get on, collaborating on projects, or giving training to a colleague.

Think about examples of your past when you’ve demonstrated strong people skills with your colleagues and management. Alternatively, you can choose an example that is not from your professional life. It could be from club or organization you belong to. Highlight the positions of responsibility you had and how you supervised others.

5. What has been your greatest achievement?

Your answer could relate to any achievement, but should show how you applied skills that are relevant to the job. Think about a time when you’ve won an award, organised an event, done something new or overcome a fear. For example: “I ran the London Marathon and planned a fundraiser, which contributed £1000 to my total. I organised a charity gig at my local pub, and had to source local bands, find a venue, plan food and a raffle, and order tickets for print.”

Avoid unspecific achievements that many people who are applying for the same job would have also achieved, such as graduating university or finishing college.

6. Describe an occasion what you had to adapt in the face of a difficult situation?

Choose a specific occasion to describe in detail that had a positive outcome. If you struggle with this, follow the STAR technique: Situation, Task, Action and Result.

  • Present the Situation – what is the dilemma or problem that you faced?
  • Explain the Task – what needed to be done to change the situation?
  • Describe your Action – what did you do to complete the task?
  • Show the Result – what where the consequences of your action?
  • Sticking to these four points helps you structure your answer and keep focus on the question.

Mastering the technique of answering these questions should help you become more confident with interviews. All questions that you are asked try to test how you would handle the job. Make sure you know your CV and cover letter by heart and have plenty of examples to give to show that you would make a good employee. It’s just as important to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Impact Of Apprenticeship Levy On Recruitment Agencies

Impact of Apprenticeship Levy on recruitment agencies - Star Employment

The Government’s new apprenticeship levy, which came into force this month, could be a huge challenge for recruiters within the region

The aim of the new levy, which came into effect from April 6, is to create a national funding pot for training and generate three million apprenticeships by 2020.

The levy means employers from both private and public sectors that have an annual pay bill of £3million and above will have to hand over 0.5% of their annual salary costs to HMRC.

The Government body will collect the levy on a monthly basis through Pay as You Earn (PAYE). However, an allowance of £15,000 will be available to offset against the bill meaning money can be claimed back by employers from the national apprenticeship fund for quality training lasting up to a year.

But with agencies sourcing temporary staff, claiming back money on training is near impossible as most contracts do not last a full year.

The levy will also see the Government apply a 10% top-up on funds. This means the Government will pay into the fund allowing businesses to claim back £1.10 for every £1 they pay into the levy.

Tax chiefs have also stated this new levy will only affect 2% of businesses in the country. However this could still be a huge blow for recruitment agencies.

The way people work within the UK is ever changing and over recent years there has been an increase in the number of freelance consultants and contractors.

This shift in working trends now allows businesses to access the skills they need without having to worry about full time employment.

Therefore, many agencies managing the payroll of thousands of temporary workers could be hit with this levy yet be unable to claim anything back as a result.

On the other hand many businesses may have never had the opportunity to train their temporary staff members, as only a minority of businesses see value in training short term contractors.

The recruitment sector is seeing a huge rise in the number of temps being put into work every year. In theory, the levy can encourage firms to develop and retain higher skilled apprentices who stay for longer.

Recruitment agencies will have to learn fast to meet the knock-on effect of these changes.

Social Media Is A Mixed Blessing For Recruiters

Social media is a mixed blessing for recruiters - Star Employment

Recruiters are always trying new ways of finding the right person, with technology now playing an increasing part

As usage of social media grows, it opens up more opportunities for companies to use the likes of Facebook and Twitter to identify candidates who may be able to fill vacancies.

German banking group Deutsche Bank has decided to recruit the best graduates by using social media rather than traditional methods.

Germany’s biggest bank now spend time monitoring sites such as Twitter and Linked In to find the right candidate for a career in finance among promising millennials, the generation now coming through universities who have grown up in the digital age.

It launched a programme late last year to monitor the online activity of university students to identify those who might be a good fit but would not apply through traditional channels such as on-campus recruitment drives.

In the first two weeks they identified 250 people with potential, who were then encouraged to take part in the bank’s UK graduate recruitment programme.

With 317 million users on Twitter and 450 million Linked In users I don’t blame the banking giant for taking this route.

However, social media does not always tell a recruiter everything they need to know to make an informed decision.

The person you identify may be over sharing. It is easy for people on social media to exaggerate what they do for a living, or how exciting their personal life is.

It is very easy to talk yourself up on social media but it is equally as easy to talk yourself down. Just because someone isn’t posting about their achievements at work every five minutes does not mean they are climbing the ladder in their business.

So if you are recruiting via social media you may overlook someone due to their lack of online activity, which is why traditional methods, such as recruitment agencies, are always best practice.

Business Awards Sponsor Star Employment Enjoys Busy Year

Business Awards Sponsor Star Employment enjoys busy Year - Star Employment

After a busy and successful year, leading recruitment agency Star Employment Services is delighted to be an associate sponsor of the 2017 Express & Star Business Awards.

Star Employment Services have a success story of their own to share as they continue to provide recruitment solutions both permanent and temporary to meet local employers’ needs.

Having first opened in 2013, the team are looking back at one of their busiest years to date. In the past 12 months the business has opened a new Cannock branch and taken on more staff as they continue to grow. As part of their growth the team have gone from four team members to nine, as well as two managers gained their Certificate in Recruitment Practice.

Star Employment offers placements for skilled trades, engineering, secretarial and administration, sales, marketing, accounts and finance. It also handles senior and executive appointments.
Lucy Cashmore is the agency’s operations director, leading a team focused on delivering a professional employment service from their head offices “at the heart of the community”.

Lucy said: “All of the Star Employment Services team are delighted to be an associate sponsor of the 2017 Express & Star Business Awards.
“As a team, we have a combined total of more than 50 years experience in local recruitment and are enjoying one our busiest and best years.
“Star Employment Services are seen to be at the heart of the community so we are pleased to celebrate local success stories through these prestigious awards.”

In the last six months, Star Employment Services has seen a huge influx of vacancies for engineering staff, with companies across the Midlands pushing for quality, training and development and safety of their workers.

Star Employment Services does not just offer permanent vacancies. They also offer temporary positions and contracted work for skilled workers – these types of workers include electricians, maintenance engineers, welders, setters and programmers.

The team deal with experienced and qualified people on the temporary skill who can be available at short notice.

Shropshire Star Tour For Chamber Group

Shropshire Chamber Tour Star Employment Services

Star Employment Services team join Shropshire Star tour for chamber group

The Shropshire Star welcomed 20 leading business representatives to its offices in Ketley this week as part of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce event.

The group met on Wednesday October 12 where they were able to work together to learn from each other and develop leadership skills.

Members heard from MNA Print MD Graeme Clifford, who spoke about how the MNA has changed its business model due to changes within the industry.

He spoke about how the MNA has launched new businesses, which have been built upon its strong brands and long heritage.

Members then heard from Lucy Cashmore, operations director of Star Employment Services who spoke about the importance of delivering the trust and integrity associated with the Express & Star.

MNA Digital MD Andy Hill then wrapped things up by speaking about being able to offer affordable and measurable services to all businesses within the region whatever their size and budget.

He also spoke about the challenge of innovating in such a fast paced environment and the importance of not being afraid of failure.

The group were then given a tour of the editorial department by editor Martin Wright followed by a tour of the press rooms by operations manager Danny Saxon, where the Sandwell Chronicle was being printed.

The event was arranged by Peter Guy, who is the Chamber’s President as well as the Star’s advertising manager.

Richard Sheehan, the chamber’s chief executive, said: “It was clear from the presentations from our host that there is a continued focus on digital, which is responding to the needs of the market and real world where all businesses are having to go.

“The patron members also got together to provide an update on their circumstances. We never cease to be astounded by the level of positivity, success, growth and indeed recruitment activity that is going on within this group.”

The Pitfalls Of Hiring Staff In The New Year

pitfalls of hiring staff in the New Year Star Employment Services

The start of 2017 will have brought a host of New Year’s resolutions, with work appearing high up on many people’s lists

Like cutting down on alcohol or introducing a new fitness regime, January is a time when minds turn to finding a new job or even changing career.

Any business recruiting can generally expect a large response as people seek out somewhere new to work.

However, this surge in interest poses a challenge for recruiters as there will often be dozens of applications sent in when there is only one job on offer.

Given that many employers in the engineering industry report a skills shortage, how do employers overcome this challenge and land the right candidate?

For me, there has to be a balance between utilising skilled staff and training new workers to become established in the industry.

Apprenticeships are certainly one option. They are a means for someone to gain experience on the job next to an experienced worker while also working towards a qualification within the chosen skill set.

Also, working on short term contracts via agencies is a way for people to gain experience that can be easily transferable across other businesses.

Gone are the days when temporary work should be classed as employment for people that cannot get a permanent position.

Instead they are a way of showing flexibility and reliability. Employees can work over a shorter period to prove their worth for a permanent position.

For recruiters facing a flurry of January applications, it is worth considering the following:

Why is the candidate looking to leave their current role? You need to be sure the person is serious about moving and are not just suffering from short term January blues.

Are they looking for your job or just any job? Recruiters can gauge a candidate’s commitment by establishing how much research they have put into their potential new employer.

What aspirations do they have and why have they applied for this position? This may seem a standard question but we are often surprised by how many people put themselves forward just to see how far they can get.

All of these questions could appear obvious but that is the point.

If someone gives you a standard answer to these questions then, regardless of whether it is January or not, you should ask yourself whether they are just paying lip service.

It is far better to be thorough than to appoint a New Year candidate whose commitment is gone before the clocks go forward.

Leading The Way In Investing In Youth

Ellie Taylor Star Employment Services Investing in youth apprenticeships

A leading recruitment agency in the West Midlands hopes to encourage young people to get on the career ladder by taking on an apprentice.

Ellie Taylor joined the Star Employment Services team as the agency’s resource apprentice, where she is responsible to helping the team based in Queen Street in Wolverhampton city centre.

The agency welcomed resource administrator apprentice Ellie, who joined the team in October.

Ellie said: “I have really enjoyed my first few months at Star Employment, and I have definitely noticed how much I have progressed since starting.

“I thought I would be doing really basic tasks but that has not been the case at all.

“The team have allowed me to speak to clients on the phone, which is really helping me develop my phone manner.

“I am also enjoying the environment that I work in as the team are so friendly. Not long after I started it was my birthday and they celebrated it on the day with me.

“I also enjoy the fact that I am also learning and gaining a qualification at the same time.”

Once Ellie completes her one-year apprenticeship she will have earned her Level 2 NVQ in Business.

Ellie was taken on by Star Employment as part of their investment in young people training within the local area.

The agency hopes to be a leading example for their clients in the benefits of taking on an apprentice and show how it can help the business grow.

Operations director Lucy Cashmore said: “At Star Employment Services we are committed to helping people secure their dream job, so it was only right that we helped someone discover their dream career.

“We hope that by taking on Ellie as our apprentice it will give her the skills she needs for a long and happy career as well as investing in young people within the region.

“When I started out my career I was an apprentice and the lessons I learnt from early on have stayed with me as I worked my way up the ladder.

“Ellie is a fantastic addition to our ever growing team and we look forward to watching her progress.”

You can read an update on Ellie’s progress with her apprenticeship here.