Tom wanted help on his UCAS personal statement from scratch so we started with an hour together identifying his knowledge, skills and experience – and all other information about him that could be included in his application. We also gave thought as to why he wanted to study the particular course (law, in this case) and how he could best ‘sell’ himself in writing and make his application interesting to the university admissions officer. After agreeing a broad structure, Tom went away and wrote his statement (at this stage we didn’t concern ourselves too much with the length). Thereafter, Tom and I worked by phone and email and honed the statement to the most important points – ensuring readability, interest and impact – and within the 4000 letters and spaces permitted. This took three hours: £135
John had drafted a personal statement and asked for comments. He emailed it to me and I provided an A4 page of comments for him to consider. These ranged from where information was well-written to where there was too much information, too little information, lack of clarity, spelling or grammatical errors, and so on. The feedback took an hour. John submitted a second draft with his changes and feedback on that took 30 minutes. Total cost: £67.50.
Far too many CVs lack personality, verve and vitality.
These six steps will inject liveliness and enthusiasm into your CV and grab the attention of employers.
1. Layout: Clutter is claustrophobic. Make sure there is plenty of white space to allow your reader to ‘breathe’. Achieve this with clear headings, spacing between paragraphs and an open font (like this one). Bullet points are brilliant.
2. Lively words and phrases: use verbs and adverbs with movement and feeling. Say what you ‘enjoy’, ‘look forward to’, are ‘good at’, ‘find rewarding’, ‘have achieved’. This is a much livelier and more interesting way of writing about your work than merely stating what you do – such as ‘deal with’, ‘handle’, ‘administer’, ‘file’, ‘manage’.
3. KISS – the old adage Keep It Short and Simple: two pages is the maximum for a CV – one page is even better.
4. Use plain English: plain English is saying what you mean using short sentences, simple language and words with fewer syllables. It does not mean writing like a child but it does mean the reader can understand something the first time they read it. Your prospective employers will quickly read your CV on paper or on a screen – so make it easy for them. Use plain English and your CV will be crystal clear and concise.
5. Be relevant: we all have stories to tell – but your CV is not the place to tell them. Don’t give all the background – give the outcome or result. An employer is going to be interested in how you make a difference. If it’s a customer service job – write about how you improved customer service. If it’s a team leader’s job – write about how you increased the productivity and morale of your team.
6. Activities and Hobbies: we tend to use ‘safe’ outside interests – like reading, cinema, football – because we don’t want to be controversial. That’s sensible. You can, however, add detail to an interest that will catch someone’s eye and make them think of you as someone with a bit more about you. For example, ‘enjoy reading, particularly books on famous leaders’ or ‘enjoy running and am preparing for my first half marathon next month’ or ‘chair the school PTA and raised £5000 this year towards a new minibus’.
Follow these six steps and transform your CV! Good luck with your job hunting…
If you apply for a graduate scheme, the process will often start with submitting your CV and being asked to respond to certain questions (I’ll give examples of these in a future blog). If you get through the first stage, you may then be asked to take part in a Situational Strengths Test or Situational Judgement Test. These comprise a number of ‘scenario-based questions’ – in other words you are given a situation and asked to choose, from a set of answers, which one most closely describes what you would do. One of the providers of Situational Stengths Tests – or SSTs – is CAPP and they have an example of an SST for you to work through:
UCAS has just published its advice for results day. See the UCAS website for further details.
Remember, if things do not go the way you planned, there are lots of alternatives to University. Please get in touch for further details.
This is encouraging news for those who have just graduated. The next main tranche of graduate schemes will be advertised around the middle of September although there are some companies which recruit continuously – see Milkround or Prospects and please get in touch if you need any help.Graduate vacancies return to pre-recession high
Graduate vacancies return to pre-recession high
Employers offer nearly nine per cent more entry-level jobs for 2014
The number of graduate vacancies has increased by 11.6 per cent this year, returning the graduate jobs market to its pre-recession peak, according to a report.
Figures suggest a third of graduate employers have stepped up their recruitment in the last six months, contributing to the biggest increase in graduate vacancies for four years. This follows an unprecedented 23.3 per cent dip between 2007 and 2009.
Accounting and professional services firms, public sector employers and engineering and industrial companies lead the way, having expanded their graduate openings to more than 4,400, above 3,400 and more than 1,600 jobs respectively.
Based on a poll of 18,000 final year students, the High Fliers report also shows that for the first time in four years, the median starting salary for new graduates in 2014 has increased to £29,500, with the most generous entry-level wage on offer from investment banks (£45,000) and law firms (£39,500).
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said it was “great news for the class of 2014 leaving university this summer that Britain’s top employers have stepped up their graduate recruitment so significantly this year”.
According to the report, The Graduate Market in 2014, two thirds of employers now provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students; three-fifths offer industrial placements for undergraduates, and increasing numbers of employers offer work experience places for first year undergraduates.
This is reflective of the findings from the People Management feature on graduate recruitment, which found that more and more employers are looking to “hook” graduates much earlier in their career.
More than half the recruiters who took part in the research suggested that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process, and the proportion of new graduates recruited directly through employers’ work experience programmes has jumped from 26 per cent in 2010 to a record 37 per cent in 2014.
However, figures show competition for places remains high with an average of 39 applicants for every graduate vacancy.
Office for National Statistics figures also suggest that graduate numbers have increased by 85,000 to 365,000 since 2007, which means there will have to be a sustained increase in the number of graduate-level jobs to place the higher number of degree-holders looking for work.
More than two-thirds of employers said they plan to hire a similar number of graduates or expand their recruitment further in 2015.
Thank you to County Woman & homefirst magazine for featuring me in the September 2013 edition, page 95! It is great to receive publicity, especially locally, and to be included in such an interesting, informative and lively magazine.
Most of you are back at school or college now and beginning the experience of the Upper Sixth/Year 13. I am sure you will enjoy it. It is, however, a busy time for those of you doing A2 exams next year, perhaps also having to retake some AS exams – or working towards the IB, Diplomas and Certificates. If you are interested in applying to university, you will have the additional task of identifying universities and courses – and completing your UCAS personal statement.
The UCAS personal statement is a 4000 character, 47 line piece of writing which you include in your university application form. The purpose of the personal statement is to tell the university Admissions Tutor about yourself – particularly what interests you and motivates you towards studying your chosen subject at degree level. You can include how the subjects you are working on at school or college support your application, what work experience you have had and what you learned – and how any extra curricular activities link to your course of study. It is also, though – and this aspect is very important – a chance for you to sell yourself and set yourself apart from other applicants. For degree courses that are over-subscribed, many applicants are of a high standard and will probably have similar grades and academic background. The UCAS personal statement is an opportunity to set yourself apart from others and to explain why you are an excellent candidate. For other courses, where competition may not be as fierce, the university Admissions Tutor will still need to be convinced that you understand the nature of the course you are applying for, that you have thought through studying at degree level and that demonstrate a keen interest in the subject.
There is no need to write in flowery language or to adopt a style which is different from your own. Your personality must come through and your statement must be honest and sincere. When clients come to me to seek advice, I suggest they write as if they are explaining to someone they don’t know very well why they want to study the course and what they feel they have to offer. They should give examples of things that have interested them that are relevant to the subject and mention that they do things outside school or college which directly relate to the subject – showing motivation and commitment.
There is a lot of information available on the web about personal statements. The UCAS personal statement page is a good starting point. UCAS provides a form with questions to prompt your thinking and this helps you gather together all your qualifications, interests and activities. Other sites have examples of completed personal statements; by all means have a look – but don’t use them as it wouldn’t be a personal statement then, would it? (There are also methods used to check copying of statements – so don’t use anyone else’s work.) You may find you don’t like a lot of these ‘model’ statements anyway. I find many of them overblown, arrogant and pushy – and therefore irritating. You can sell yourself much better by writing in a measured, confident manner, using good examples and showing the thought you have put into your statement. Check that it is interesting to read, concise and correct (grammar and spelling!) and your Admissions Tutor will be much more likely to warm towards you and invite you for interview or make you an offer.
I am able to help with your UCAS personal statement using Skype, phone or email – or coming to my home office which is six miles from Junction 14 of the M6 at Stafford – and six miles from Newport in Shropshire. I don’t write your statement for you, but I guide you through the process, giving you feedback and support, until we have a statement you are delighted with. I have many happy clients, of whom I am very proud, and some of them are on my Testimonials page. You are welcome to phone for a preliminary chat on 01785 284849 or 07837 917803 with no obligation to make a booking. My clients say I am friendly and approachable – so don’t worry about getting in touch!
Get in touch
Please get in touch using one of the methods below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Telephone: 01785 284849
Mobile: 07837 917803