Archive | November, 2015

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Applying for jobs can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before; each employer has their own processes and criteria for selecting new employees, and you of course want to be successful in your search for the ideal placement job or graduate role. Understanding the recruitment process applicants must go through in order to secure the job can greatly help you throughout, since knowing what comes next helps you prepare better.

If you’re on one of the Southampton Business School UG programmes with a placement, you will already have access to the online preparation course which tells you all you need to know about the job application journey. The University’s central Careers and Employability Services also have a great wealth of knowledge and support available for all our students, not to mention the information and advice that is easily available to anyone through various online platforms and can be found by a quick Google search. So the information is out there, you just need to find it and take the time to learn about the recruitment processes of the companies you’re interested in applying for. Having this knowledge before you apply can really increase your chances of securing the ideal placement or graduate job.

It’s easy to forget that securing a job is a process. It starts from you finding a job advert that you like, and ends in either a job offer or a rejection. Along the way, there are several steps that you are required to take, and at each step there is the danger of falling over and being rejected. What you need to remember is that each step has a purpose. The recruiter is looking for specific information at each stage of the recruitment process, and by preparing thoroughly you will increase your chances of being successful in these various stages.

recruitment process

For all of you who are now applying for placements and graduate jobs, we wish you the best of luck – although getting a good job is more about thorough preparation than luck!


Create a Bright Future Through The Excel Southampton Internship Programme

This Guest Post was kindly submitted by Laura Messenger from Excel Southampton Internship Programme – University of Southampton, Careers and Employability Service.

Create a Brighter Future

Create a Brighter Future

The Excel Southampton Internship Programme has launched again for this academic year and it’s going to be even bigger and better than before!

We’ve had a bit of a re-vamp, changing our name from placements to internships and updating our website, complete with a bespoke video featuring the voiceover talents of one of the team! Despite the update, the basic programme remains the same, offering a wide range of 4-12 week fully paid internships during Easter, summer and term-time.

You might have noticed that we’ve also moved over onto a new platform called MyCareer. After a busy summer we now have all of our Careers offerings in one place. You can book appointments, search for events, and of course search for and apply to all of our exciting internships!

Last year we filled 430 positions, 72 of which were snapped up by students from the Faculty of Business, Law and Art. This year we’re aiming for 500 so there’ll be plenty more opportunities for you to get involved.

blog chart 2



So why apply to an Excel internship?

In today’s competitive job market, work experience is crucial to landing that dream job. In fact, according to the High Fliers Graduate Survey 2015, 31% of graduate job vacancies are expected to be filled by students who have previously worked for an organisation on placement.

There are numerous benefits to undertaking an Excel internship, aside from the obvious perks of getting paid and gaining valuable work experience. All of our internships are project-based and exclusive to students at the University of Southampton, meaning less competition. We also provide you with support throughout, including specialised Induction and Reflection workshops to help you gain the most from your internship.

Opportunities are advertised on the first Monday of every month, for 3 weeks.

Whether you’re looking to find a way into a particular sector, or just want to try out some career ideas, we have something for everyone! Thinking about applying? Check out our website for more details:


Probably the most useful tool I’ve learnt so far

This guest post is from Rhys, one of our BSc Accounting and Finance students currently on placement at IT Industries.

Going through the process of deciding you want to go on a placement and then actually starting the application process was one of the first times a realised the importance of skills in the eyes of an employer.

This may seem like an obvious foresight on my part, but when I say skills I mean those that are generally outside of the norm that you would expect when applying for a job. Rather than shouting about the floods of A*’s and A’s you achieved at A Level and the consistent 1st degree honours you now receive in your work, companies are becoming increasingly more interested in reading a clear, concise section within your CV containing “Skills” and their relevance to a workplace environment and specifically, THEIR workplace environment.

For me, this lead to these sections in my CV:

  • Teamwork and communication;
  • Problem solving and analytical skills;
  • Professional skills and;
  • Information technology

I felt as if my IT skills were always strong so where the other sections contained maybe 3 or 4 lines of solid information, my IT sections included the fact I could use Word, PowerPoint and Excel to what I considered to be an intermediate to advanced level.

I overestimated my IT skills during the application stage.

I overestimated my IT skills during the application stage.

There hasn’t been a day since I started the placement where I haven’t had to use Excel for something and I can see that my skills at the start of placement were nowhere near advance but also nowhere near intermediate but actually incredibly basic. It was not as if anyone within my placement had the time to help me brush up on my Excel skills either (which is likely to be the case in every company) so I had to take it upon myself to learn everything that I needed to use through a lot of Googling and use of external resources (some are mentioned at the end).

More and more companies these days are specifying Excel skills in their job descriptions, so it is incredibly important to have a realistic idea of where your Excel skills are before going to interview.

My advice would be:

  • Test yourself – have a realistic idea of what your skills are and be able to provide examples. The link before contains loads of excel tests where you can see what level you’re currently at and whether you would need to improve for an interview

  • Take examples of your spreadsheets to any interview that specifically mentions Excel skills in the job description and be able to explain them in full. The more complicated the better at this point, but try to make it relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
  • Always look to improve your Excel skills, no matter what level you think you are at – companies will be looking for you to develop your skills with them throughout placement year and so will want to see progress. Always have an idea of what you have achieved, then once you have achieved that, have another idea in mind. Actions like this will be very useful especially when reflecting using the STAR method.
Make use of the free online test to find out exactly what level your skills are at.

Make use of the free online test to find out exactly what level your skills are at.

One last quick note, a course that helped me out greatly was the udemy course and the link can be seen below.

Doing this course will provide you with an excellent qualification and talking point on your CV. Even if you don’t require the whole course, it can be used as a fantastic resource to fall back on should you need reference.

If you don’t fancy shedding out any money for Excel courses or if all else fails…GOOGLE IT!

I have not yet come across a problem that someone else has not already come across and complained about online. There are tonnes of Excel specific forums that are free to view and can provide you with every answer you will need to know. A few of the ones I feel are the best are:

The last obviously not being Excel specific but incredibly useful as it will often show you, step by step, exactly what you need to do.

It may not be the most interesting program to spend a lot of time on (it may even be some peoples worst nightmare), but following a career path based around finance will almost certainly have you using it during your professional life, so it is always important to make sure you are prepared!