What are your strengths? And can you describe them?


Graduates who are self-aware and who can describe their strengths have always been in demand by graduate recruiters. But in my experience, this is something students often find hard to do! Now, more and more employers are asking asking questions about personal strengths (known as ‘strengths-based’ interview questions) as well as the traditional competency-based interview questions, so it is crucial to know what is involved. The Careers Service is offering a new 1 hour workshop about this topic next week on  Wednesday 3 Feb 2016 from 1-2pm in AG24(a)  in the College building. The workshop will enable you to:

  • Develop a clear understanding of the strengths and skills employers are looking for at interviews, assessment centres and on application forms and cover letters
  • Clarify what your own strengths are by using a tried and tested format
  • Understand how your skills are different from other peoples and learn more about the strengths of others
  • Become confident in describing and demonstrating your personal strengths at job interviews and assessment centres

You can book your place on the Strengths Workshop here



Why knowing the current trends in the industries you want to work in can give you a competitive edge

commercial awarenessA frequently mentioned part of what employers want from you as a student or graduate candidate is your commercial awareness. You’ll find many definitions of what “commercial awareness” means and I’ll add another definition now. In a nutshell it’s “what’s going on right now” in the sector/company/environment. Knowing where to start to acquire this knowledge can be mesmerising (damn internet!) but here’s some ideas from the perspective of the IT sector:

  • Blog articles like this one entitled “25 big tech predictions for 2016” – some of the info is particular to the United States but the points on internet connected cars, the oil and gas industry using the Internet of Things to increase revenues and small businesses greatly increasing their use of payment apps caught my attention.
  • Major professional services businesses like Deloitte often produce annual summaries of what they see as major trends in particular sectors. You can read their 2016 predictions for the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) sectors here. You know they are worth reading as these professional services companies get their information from clients that are major players in this sector means this information can be read with a good degree of trust.
  • Gartner is an American marketing, market research and advisory firm providing information technology insights targeted at CIOs and senior IT leaders in industries that include government agencies, high-tech and telecom enterprises, professional services firms, and technology investors. You can read about their “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016” here.

What’s the competitive edge for you as a job candidate? Firstly it will help you answer any questions you get in interview about whats currently happening in the sector. Secondly it could give you an idea of where to target your own job search. Growth areas more often than not need more people to work in them. And that can include placement students and soon to be graduates.