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Search Results for: school leavers fortnight

The Year in Review on The Capp Blog

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

The Capp Blog launched this year with our first blog post on 17 January 2012. It has been a busy year since then, with 31,514 views of 164 items.

 

Here are five of the most viewed posts that showcase The Capp Blog at its best:

 

#1 – As part of our Performance Management series, Reena Jamnadas and Emma Trenier answered the question What Do Employees Want from Their Managers? As the most read blog of the year, clearly this was a question that you, our readers of The Capp Blog, wanted to answer as well.

 

#2 – Our feature on School Leavers Fortnight in August generated loads of interest, with Reena Jamnadas again leading the way with The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results.

 

#3 – Sharing our learning and development expertise through the lens of positive psychology, my blog On Learning to Learn: Four Positive Psychology Principles had readers re-imagining their own approaches to learning and development.

 

#4 – Throughout June, we ran Female Leaders Month on The Capp Blog, with Nicky Garcea leading the way with her blog Can Only Superwomen Make it to the Top?, originally published on the Financial Mail Women’s Forum.  

 

#5 – Completing our top five of 2012 was my blog on Student Strengths Insights and Strengths-based Graduate Recruitment. This reported the results of the Ernst & Young-Capp Student Strengths Survey, showcasing our work as the leading strengths-based graduate recruiter in the UK.

 

With these blogs – and many more – throughout 2012, we hope you will agree that it has been a great inaugural year for The Capp Blog.

 

We promise to bring you more insights, expertise and entertainment over the next year, but in the meantime, we wish every single reader of The Capp Blog a peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

 

Enjoy your festivities and we’ll be in touch again in 2013!

 

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Reflections on School Leavers’ Fortnight

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Over the last two weeks on The Capp Blog, we have focused on helping school leavers tackle some of the big questions they face as they consider moving into the world of work or undertaking future study.

 

Our blog topics over the course of School Leavers’ Fortnight have taken in topics including:

  • Employability – what it is and how to demonstrate it
  • How to differentiate yourself so that you stand out on an application form
  • Insights into the mind of an interviewer and tips for interview technique
  • How to help students and young people spot their strengths and apply them to their choices about future courses and careers.

 

We hope you have enjoyed reading the blogs and – more importantly – that they have helped you to help the students and young people you know who are grappling with these challenges at this stage of their lives.

 

A recurrent theme throughout our advice over this fortnight has been the importance of helping people to know, understand and maximise their strengths. For this, nothing is better than Realise2, Capp’s online strengths assessment and development tool.

 

If you want to help a young person find their right direction in life, you would be well advised to give them the most powerful gift of strengths. This is what Student Careers and Skills have been doing at the University of Warwick – and it’s making a real difference.

 

Share your experiences and let us know how you get on by using the Comment function on The Capp Blog below.

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The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With A-level results released today, we won’t be surprised to hear, yet again, that double-edged sword of a question: Are exams getting easier or is the intelligence of our students increasing? The pressure for students, nonetheless, is fierce. Places at university, internships, and jobs are more competitive than ever before; choosing the right course or vocation could be career-defining, and the fees for university places are higher than ever before.

 

Capp’s experience of how successful students rise above the rest is by knowing their strengths. Whether you are a parent, guardian, or a careers adviser, there is a significant role that you can play in enabling young people to do this. 

 

Strengths are the things we do well and find energising. People management research shows that when we use our strengths, we experience higher levels of performance, productivity, engagement, self-esteem, resilience, happiness and vitality.

 

As a result, it’s no wonder that graduate recruiters in companies such as Ernst & Young and Barclays Investment Bank are using strengths-based recruitment to hire graduates who are high performers; graduates who have the natural strengths and motivation to deliver exceptional performance in their role.

 

In addition, as a result of graduates knowing their strengths through strengths awareness sessions led by Capp, Warwick Student Careers and Skills at the University of Warwick found a measured increase in self-awareness, self-confidence, career clarity, confidence in writing CVs and articulating their strengths to recruiters.

 

You can play your part in helping students go from average to A+ through helping them to make the right choices about their future career. The key is facilitating a conversation about the specific activities that they perform well and find energising, and then helping them to align these to their career search, through the steps I set out below:

 

Step 1 – Strengths Spotting through Tasks: Look for things that the person does well, enjoys doing, and picks up easily. What do they have natural motivation for? What do they learn quickly? What do they do when they have the choice? These are all things that can be signs of a strength.

 

Step 2 – Check the Data: Review the strengths that have emerged through the above questions and check this against a student’s past and current academic grades and feedback. If a student has described a passion for being detail-oriented, curious, and being great at conducting experiments, yet have consistently achieved lower grades in Science subjects, you may want to know why.

 

Step 3 – Caution against Learned Behaviours: Learned behaviours are defined as things that we do well but find draining to do. Over-using our learned behaviours has shown to lead to increased levels of stress, disengagement and burnout over time. Be aware of these when conversing with students: If a student’s grades are high in specific subjects, but the interest, energy and motivation isn’t there, search deeper for a student’s true areas of strength because that is where they will excel sustainably. If you don’t, they could burn out over time.

 

Step 4 – Align Tasks to Potential Courses / Careers: Once you have identified possible areas of strengths for a student, start to identify the specific activities that a student would naturally perform well in and find energising. What courses or vocations would provide the opportunity for your student to do these activities and therefore use their strengths?

 

Step 5 – Go for It: When you have helped the student to spot their strengths, distinguish them from their learned behaviours, and match these strengths to their course or career choice, then help them to demonstrate that they have what it takes to interviewers, assessors and recruiters. See the earlier blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight for more help here.

 

As Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. Enabling your students to understand the richness of their strengths is one of the greatest gifts that you could ever give to them.

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Inside the Mind of the Interviewer

Posted by: Emma Trenier, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Interviewers are like everyone else. When they have a long day of interviews ahead of them they feel apprehensive, hopeful, excited and tired. Just like candidates do.

 

Instead of focusing on your fear, focus on how you can best present yourself to your interviewer, the real person, in front of you.

 

From my experience interviewing and working with other assessors, there are three things you should know about us:

 

1. We have short concentration spans. Not all interviewers are exceptional listeners. We find it much easier to listen to the answers of candidate when they are well structured and include strong examples. When you provide all the facts about an example without us needing to ask multiple follow up questions, you make it so much easier for us – and so you’re more likely to impress.

 

2. We want to meet the real you. Interviews often run back-to-back and can be draining for interviewers. We are waiting to meet the candidates who reveal their true personalities. It provides a welcome break to see their passions, motivation and energy coming across. We are hoping to meet candidates who are right for the role and right for the organisation.

 

3. We are imagining how you will fit in. As we meet each candidate, as interviewers we are thinking about how you will fit in with the company. It helps enormously when you show that you understand the company’s values, vision and purpose and show commitment towards these.  

 

In an interview, there are many things that you can’t control. You can’t be sure of the questions you will be asked, what the interviewer will be like, how many other applicants there will be, or indeed how good they will be.

 

There are, however, a number of things that are within your control: your self-awareness, preparation, and ability to talk clearly about yourself for a start.

 

As you prepare to meet your interviewer, human to human, my top tips are:

 

1. Make it Clear Why You. Clarify the three things that stand out most about you as a candidate – the three things that you want the interviewer to remember. As you approach your interview, whatever style of interview it is, be sure to get these three things across.

 

2. Showcase your Strengths. Identify your strengths using Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and practice talking about them confidently. This will help you describe yourself richly rather than using too many clichés.

 

3. Get Feedback. Boost your confidence by asking people who you trust what your best features are and why they would employ you. This way you will be sure that you are speaking truthfully and will feel more authentic describing your credentials.

 

4. Use the STAR Technique. When you give examples, remember ‘STAR’. Describe the Situation (the context), the Task (what you had to do), your Actions (the part you personally played) and the Result (what you achieved). This will make it easy for the interviewer to gather all the facts that they need about you.

 

5. Let your Body Talk. Be aware of the clues your body language is giving away. Make sure you give a good firm handshake, maintain eye contact and refrain from foot tapping, hair twiddling and putting your hands behind your head!

 

6. Ask Questions. Always come prepared with three questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask questions and this is your chance to engage the interviewer in discussion, showing that you have thought carefully about this in advance.

 

So, with your interview looming, put your fear to one side, and take control. Remember that the preparation you do in understanding and talking about your strengths, motivations and experience will not be in vain.

 

You are the real you, after all!

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Stand Out on Your Application Form

Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

When applying for a job, there are two important opportunities for convincing a potential employer to select you over other applicants: the application form and the interview.

 

Many application forms now ask applicants to explain why they should be considered for the job – which is good news because it is your chance to sell yourself, make a good impression and secure an interview.

 

This means that completing an application form is not simply an administrative task – it’s an important part of the recruitment process.

 

Here are my top tips on how to maximise your impact:

 

1. First impressions really matter – make sure you complete the form fully and accurately and check your spelling. If you can’t complete the form online, keep your handwriting as neat as possible.

 

2. Identify your strengths by completing Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and apply them to the requirements of the job. For example, strengths such as Detail, Order and Planful would be very useful in a job that involves project management, while Service, Explainer and Listener would help you in a call centre role.

 

3. Describe your strengths in relation to the job responsibilities. For example, “I am a good listener and I am able to explain complex ideas to others clearly”. Better still, illustrate with an example – perhaps you ran the debating society or were part of a mentoring programme at school.

 

4. Be specific when you are asked to explain why you should be considered for the job. Build your answer around the job description and the person attributes to show how you fit the requirements – using your strengths examples to illustrate the point.

 

5. Include anything that demonstrates your initiative, motivation and employability – as well as your qualifications. This includes any work experience, paid or voluntary; other positions you have held, such as a team captain at school; hobbies and interests, particularly where you have learnt new skills (e.g., sailing, rock climbing or writing apps).

 

6. Stand out – what have you done that is different to the norm, that demonstrates that you have what it takes to succeed in this role, and showcases your future potential by highlighting your past achievements?

 

7. Seek feedback from other people and ask them to check your application form for errors and improvements before you send it.

 

By adopting these strategies, you increase your chances of being invited for an interview.  They won’t be enough to get you the job – that’s down to you, after all – but they will take you one step further along the process.

 

And remember, all you need to do is ensure you get to the next stage each time. At the final stage, of course, if you’re successful, you’ll be offered the job!

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Employability (Part 2): Five Top Tips for Showcasing Your Skills

Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Often school leavers are caught in a seemingly irresolvable situation: you need a job to develop your employability skills, but you need employability before you can secure a job.

 

But consider this: as a school leaver, you may be more employable than you realise.

 

Here are our five top tips for young people just leaving school and entering the job market, to help you assess and develop your personal employability skills:

 

1. Identify and map your own employability strengths: Understanding your own strengths will help you to assess your employability. You can do this by completing Capp’s Realise2 strengths assessment (www.realise2.com) and then mapping your strengths onto the five elements of personal employability that I outlined yesterday. For example, if your strengths include Personal Responsibility, Persistence, Planful and Drive, what does that say for your level of self-direction?

 

2. Provide concrete examples of your employability: Look for the opportunity on application forms or at interviews to demonstrate your employability. Have you taken up a new hobby, researched it, taught yourself the requisite skills and become competent? Have you planned and arranged a holiday for you and friends? Remember, as a school leaver, employers will not be expecting all your employability evidence to be work-based.

 

3. Use work experience: Have you already gained some work experience, in the evenings, weekends or school holidays? This will have given you some insight into what it is like at work – what has it shown you about working in teams, solving problems or dealing with customers? What difficult situations have you handled successfully?

 

4. Gain more work experience: All work experience is useful for developing your employability skills and shows initiative on your CV and application form. Are there any internships available in jobs that interest you? Try searching the Internet or talking to your parents and their friends about opportunities where they work. Consider volunteering – unpaid work is still valuable experience and shows your work ethic to potential employers.

 

5. Find yourself a mentor – think of an adult you know who you respect and can talk to easily, preferably one who has the type of job you would like. This might be a member of your own family, a friend of your family, or the parent or elder brother or sister of a friend.

 

Talk to your mentor about their job and what it is like at work. For example, you might what to talk to them about the following things:

  • How did they get the job? Where was it advertised? What did they include on the application form? What questions were they asked at the interview?
  • What strengths, skills and knowledge are important for doing their job well? What are the challenges of their job and how do they overcome them?
  • Discuss your own strengths with your mentor and how you think they map onto employability. Talk to you mentor about how you can apply your experience to securing a job. For example, you may have been the captain of a sports team at school (which would demonstrate team-working skills and leadership potential) or you may have learnt to rock climb or play a musical instrument (demonstrating initiative, persistence and drive).

 

Leaving school and finding that first job is both exciting and daunting. Whilst having the right qualifications is still important for many jobs, understanding employability and being able to demonstrate these skills to potential employers is key.

 

In fact, it could just be the key that unlocks the door to your first job as a school leaver seeking employment.

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Employability (Part 1): Have You Got What Employers are Looking For?

Posted by: Sue Harrington, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

Employability has become a familiar and commonplace term, used by employers and the media in the post economic-crisis job market. But what does “employability” actually mean and what is its relevance for school leavers?

 

Employability refers to a person’s ability to secure a job, to remain employed, and to progress and perform well in their job. Developing employability skills is important for anyone wanting employment, even those who already have jobs, but it is particularly important for school leavers.

 

Nowadays, there is significant competition for fewer jobs and, unfortunately, unemployment amongst young people is on the increase. Employers often choose to recruit people who have already developed their employability skills through previous work experience in favour of inexperienced school leavers.

 

There are two main areas of employability. The ability aspect is about possessing a good standard of numerical, literacy and ICT (information and communication technology) skills. This includes proficiency with basic arithmetic, being able to write and speak clearly, a good vocabulary, and being able to listen well and ask appropriate questions of others.

 

The second aspect of employability is to do with your personal attributes, strengths and attitudes. Regardless of people’s previous experience or qualifications, employers are seeking people who have the right mindset to flourish at work.

 

Across a wide range of industries and businesses, employers describe a consistent pattern of personal employability skills:

 

  1. A positive mental attitude: a willingness and readiness to take on tasks and contribute; an openness to change and new ideas; a proactive approach to identifying better ways of doing things; and a drive to get things done.  It’s about being a “glass half full” person.
  2. Team-working: being able to get on with others, communicate well and work in a team. This includes being able to deal with disagreements and conflict when necessary.
  3. Self-direction: being able to work independently, keep yourself motivated, manage your own time and prioritise your tasks. This involves taking personal responsibility for your work and seeking and accepting feedback from colleagues.
  4. Problem-solving: showing initiative and having a creative and flexible approach to solving problems, being able to think situations through logically and generate potential solutions. This involves being resilient and bouncing back when things don’t go right.
  5. Business “savvy”: understanding what your organisation does, what “success” looks like for your employer and how your work contributes to this success.

 

Understanding what employability means is only part of the challenge – school leavers also need to develop their employability and demonstrate it to potential employers, if they are to be successful in today’s job market.

 

See Part 2 of this blog tomorrow, when I will explore how school leavers can assess and develop their core employability skills.

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Don’t Despair: Why Your Planned Career Path isn’t the “Be All and End All”

Posted by: Alex Linley, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With A-level results just around the corner, and Scottish Highers results released yesterday, there’s a big, pervasive myth that we need to dispel:

 

It isn’t the end of the world if you didn’t get the grades you need. In fact, it might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.

 

I didn’t make the grade when I applied to Oxford University while doing my A-levels. In fact, I didn’t even want to go to university at that point, but I reached an agreement with my dad (who hadn’t gone to university, and so was desperate for me to do so), that I would go for one year and see how I got on…

 

So, off I duly went to the University of Leeds to start a four-year Russian and Philosophy degree, with the first year being entirely Russian to bring us all up to A-level standard in that year. And guess what – after one year, just as agreed – I left (albeit with a 2:1 and a Fail in Phonetics), because I didn’t want to be there.

 

Many adventures later (having worked in Moscow, run my own business, and stacked books in a book warehouse), I decided that I was ready to go to university – and so Leicester it was, this time to read Psychology. Warwick followed Leicester as I did my PhD before going back to Leicester as a Lecturer, which even then was just the prelude to starting Capp.

 

Could I have predicted any of this at the tender age of 17 years when I was making my university choices and completing my A-levels? Not a chance! In fact, as I often say to my children when they ask about careers – “My job didn’t even exist when I was at school – I invented it.

 

The upshot of this is that I don’t believe that anyone should be constrained by the career path they might have in mind at 17, 18, 19 years – or indeed any age – because there is always so much that can and will happen, that we just can’t predict. As a result, I say to my children, “Do what you enjoy and what you’re good at, work hard (always work hard), and then see what opportunities you can create...”

 

And contrary to the received wisdom, this is actually how careers develop for many of us, as Herminia Ibarra shows in her excellent book.

 

So if you, your son or daughter, or a young person you are helping, find that things didn’t quite work out as planned with your A-level results, don’t despair!

 

It could well be that you are just taking the path that so many of us take, the one that is emergent (and I think exciting), rather than the one that is prescribed and carefully planned.

 

After all, this indirect path that makes the most of what we have, rather than lamenting what we don’t have, is so often the route to an even better future than we imagined.

 

Has this indirect career path been your experience through life? Share your learnings with others through using the Comment function on The Capp Blog below.

 

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Launching School Leavers’ Fortnight on The Capp Blog

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea, as part of School Leavers’ Fortnight

 

With Scottish Highers results published today, and A-level results looming for many in England and Wales on Thursday 16 August, we are launching “School Leavers’ Fortnight” for the the next two weeks on The Capp Blog.

 

Throughout this period, we will share with you a series of blogs that cover topics including how students can differentiate themselves on application forms and at interviews, insights from the mind of the interviewer, how young people can use their strengths to enhance their employability, and what advice you can give as a parent, teacher or careers adviser to young people making key decisions at this point in their lives.

 

We know from the myriad statistics and reports being published that a university degree might not always be the best option for everyone, and that more and more people are turning to apprenticeships or moving directly into the world of work. Supporting this trend, many large graduate employers are questioning whether graduate schemes are the right talent feeder pool for them, or whether they would do better to work at attracting and recruiting junior talent from further down the feeder pool – straight after A-levels, through apprenticeships, or via work placement schemes.

 

It has been assumed for a long time that universities were the natural sift for the talented to progress, but increasingly this view is being questioned. With rising university fees, ever higher levels of student debt, reduced degree class differentiation, and tightening graduate employment opportunities, both potential employees and graduate employers themselves are asking if there is a better way.

 

We are witnessing profound social change in the transition of young people to adulthood and the world of work. As with any major change, this creates risks but also huge opportunities. There is real cachet awaiting the organisations capable of reaching out to this emerging junior talent pool and finding the right ways to attract, select, recruit, develop and retain them through their early career years and beyond.

 

As we will explore throughout the blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight, helping young people to recognise, develop and make the most of their strengths is critical in enabling them to be their best at work. Through helping young people to discover what they do best and love to do, we can help them discover the careers that will give them success and fulfilment for years to come.

 

We hope you enjoy the blogs of School Leavers’ Fortnight over the next two weeks. Share them with your colleagues, share them with other parents, share them with young people and school leavers themselves.

 

It’s time to start thinking afresh about what school leaver career paths can look like.

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