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Business Courses Make Their Pitch

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Capitalism loves to bang on about competition and the value of the marketplace. So why do does a degree in business deserve your precious business, and what exactly are these colleges trying to sell you?

Professor Anthony Brabazon is the interim dean of the college of business at University College Dublin. We asked him to make his pitch.

“I’d always advise people to study what interests you the most,” says Brabazon. “But many do know when they’re filling out that CAO form that they want to pursue a degree in business. It provides an excellent education that prepares people for a wide range of careers and is proven to be a good choice.”

Brabazon, who worked as a chartered accountant with KPMG before moving into academia, says that he has seen major changes in the world of business over the past 25 years and that a degree can prepare graduates for the changes that will come.

“The biggest changes I’ve seen are globalisation, an increase in the role of technology in the workplace and a transformation in how people view their career with people no longer expecting to have one job for life. These changes have big implications for the design of business education. We need to prepare students for the world they will face so that they can thrive in this environment, so business education has moved from concentrating on the technical aspects of business to a broader focus on communication, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership skills. Cultural awareness is also really important, because careers are so global these days: if you are working for an Irish firm you will be competing internationally and will also work with different people from all over the world.”

Robert Mac Giolla Phadraig is chief commercial officer and founding director of Sigmar Recruitment, which recruits hundreds of business graduates every year. He has a keen insight into what employers want, so are business graduates on their wish list?

“The real benefit of a business course is that it uses case studies to give a broad awareness of a business, and it also helps students to build a network of contacts,” he says. “The world of business is broad, vast and varied and won’t always neatly align what is learned in a module. But what is being assessed when a graduate enters employment is their competencies in areas such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving. The ever-important soft skills are being developed. It’s less about what is learned than how it is learned: with case studies, complex problems to be solved, guest speakers and examples which help to develop an entrepreneurial subculture among students.”

It’s not all about grades and academic learning, Brabazon agrees: a business course helps students to grow into the well-rounded people that employers value.

“There is a war for talent, and companies want the highest-calibre talent they can get. If you are going to have an impact in the workplace you need to be able to communicate well, work in teams, lead teams and collaborate with international colleagues. The best way to show you can have an impact is to show that you have made an impact in the past, so I advise students to go beyond their academic studies: get involved in a sports club or student society, volunteer and take on part-time work. It’s about being able to show you have made a difference in what you have done, not just getting high grades for yourself.”

Increasingly, major firms are less concerned about graduates having high grades and much more interested in assessing their competencies in these key areas, with a range of psychometric tests now common for job applicants.

That said, Mac Giolla Phadraig is far from dismissive of the intrinsic value of the academic content on a business course. A broad business course may contain a selection of modules across a range of areas such as sales, marketing and supply chain management as well as more formulaic classes on finance and business maths, which can help students to pivot and multitask across the full range of a company’s operations.

The alumni network which students build up on a business course is really important, says Brabazon. “As you pass through a degree, you are automatically building up this contact base of your classmates, and that alumni network will mean that you know people all over the world. In our courses, we offer a mentoring programme which connects every student with a panel of experienced alumni which can really help their career progression.”

When it comes down to it, what makes one business course stand out over another? “An internship or placement can be really valuable,” Mac Giolla Phadraig advises.

“It’s really helpful if a graduate has an understanding of what it is like to work in a certain industry, because it helps them to focus on the right fit once they have left. The more examples of experience and relevant skills that a job applicant can bring to an interview, the better. It’s particularly valuable when an applicant can show what they have learned on the placement instead of just coasting through it. We had a management buy-out of Sigmar about nine years ago, and I learned so much of that through doing; business learning does come from real experience.”

No college graduate, of any discipline, can expect that graduation will be the end of their education. Continuous professional development is increasingly important and a good business course should help prepare students for a world where they need to constantly pivot, says Mac Giolla Phadraig. “I’d advise graduates to compete on merit and to show their merit through work, academia and extracurricular activity.”

Would he advise students to opt for a broad, general business degree, or to hone in on a specific area like marketing or accounting?

“Decisions are often driven by influencers such as peers and, in particular, parents. But if someone knows from a young age what they want to do, that is a gift, so they should go for it. For the other 95 per cent of us, it’s probably the case that a broader degree is better.”

Panel: How a business course helped me: Julie Bothwell, National Used Car and Internal Fleet Manager at BMW Ireland

“I decided on business and marketing because these were the subjects I really enjoyed in schools and where my strengths were. I wanted a course that would allow me to go into an area where I had lots of different opportunities, so I chose marketing at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

“When choosing my degree, I researched a lot of courses, and I found it really beneficial to speak to friends and family who were already studying business or marketing; this can sometimes tell you a lot more about a course than any prospectus can.

“A business course gave me an academic grounding in the field I wanted to pursue. It was an intense course which was challenging at times, but this gave me great experience on how to prioritise, plan and deliver in the timeframes we were given, and these are the foundations of what you need to do in your daily job. The course covered a wide variety of subjects with a great mix of theory and more practical case study projects. We worked as a team on a projects and this is valuable experience for the workplace. I was also grateful for the level of support and interaction we had with our lecturers at DIT, and lecturers pushed us hard but were always there to guide and support us. The course taught me prioritise, plan and deliver on work.

“In 2008, I joined BMW Group Ireland as a sales and marketing assistant. In that role, I supported the various different sales and marketing functions in the business. Then, in 2010, I took up the position of product manager, which involved product pricing, communication, online management, product training analysis and organisation. In 2012, I became national parts manager which required me to manage all the commercial aspects and the strategic development of the retailer network parts performance and manage the marketing and promotional campaign for parts; most importantly, I ensured that customers were well looked after. From here, I took up my current position of national used car and internal fleet manager in 2015, and I’m responsible for the strategic development of our used car programme for the retailer network, retailer support and used car marketing.

“I was lucky that I chose I course I loved and was able to do it well. The key is to have a consistent approach to working hard to ensure you keep on top of what you need to do. Some of the most important attributes in business are good logic and a lot of cop on. It also helped to have a strong network of friends around me on the course, because we all supported each other - and, in business, your personality and communication skills shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Written by Peter McGuire in The Irish Times. Read the article here.

Posted by Peter McGuire on 27 April 2018

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Social Media For Business 101

Social Media For Business 101

Now the most diligent of readers will recall a blog we posted a few weeks ago about the LinkedIn, how to get started and its many benefits. In the introduction, we discussed how LinkedIn has been able to stay the course of the ever-changing social media world and has kept its function and purpose focused while other platforms dilute there USP with too many features. Contrary to this, research has shown that different types of content perform better on different platforms, thus showing that social media has yet to become fully indistinguishable. A company must maintain a strong social profile for a number of reasons, such as advertising a product, building a brand, engaging with customers, providing updates, and strengthening reputation. So, with this in mind, we’re going to strip everything down to basics and highlight the key social media channels a company should use, what to post, and why you should use them. Now there are a many different platforms to explore, so we’ll start with the four most obvious, and then revisit this concept on another blog. So, if we’re starting with the most popular social media platforms, it seems only right we begin with… Facebook At the time of writing this, the population of Earth sits around 7.753 billion people. Facebooks active user count sits at around 2.934 billion, meaning around 36.9% of the Earths population are Facebook users. I’ll give you a moment to digest that one The point of this somewhat sinister metric is that you would be hard pressed to find somebody that hasn’t used or even heard of Facebook. The Meta company as a whole havs dominated the internet space for a long time, and with their recent plans to move forward to Web 3, they are showing no signs of slowing down. With this in mind, it would be wise for a company to establish a presence on Facebook. Not only is it easily the biggest platform in terms of active users, thus leading to fruitful marketing opportunities, it also supports a wide range of media formats, with the option of linking other social channels to your Facebook content. How You Should Use Facebook Facebook is a great platform to provide information and updates to your clientele, and with a character limit of 63,206, you have plenty of space to play with, however just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most people aren’t going to read a massive document of information on social media, so use Facebook to convey information about the company in a max 500-word format. You won’t be penalised for using images or videos either, and with Meta’s Business Manager feature, you can ascertain insights and important analytics about how your posts are performing and engaging with users. Pros Massive active user count Business Analytics Supports multiple media formats High character count Cons Market is becoming saturated Lack of understanding of paid promotion can lead to loss of funds Instagram Continuing with Metas internet Monopoly, Instagram is another fantastic tool for building a brand identity and further engaging with your customers. Given the expansive range of brands, accounts, and content, a ‘slightly less formal’ approach is encouraged.  As a visual platform, Instagram is the place for showcasing your products or services with photos or videos. On the app, you can share a wide range of content such as photos, videos, Stories, reels, live videos, and IGTV for longer-form videos. How You Should Use Instagram Now you’re still trying to build a reputable brand, so hold fire on the Friday Night Cocktail Hour videos (unless your brand is a bar), however, we encourage you to explore your creative flair with your content. Keep your brand colours and design present, by try to get the context of your updates across in visual form. About to launch a new product? Share an exciting reveal photo. Staff day out? Share a few pictures of them having a good time. National saint day or celebration? Find a way for your company to celebrate and mark the event. As a brand, you can create an Instagram business profile, which provides you with rich analytics of your profile and posts and the ability to schedule Instagram posts using third-party tools. You should also take advantage of Instagram’s Story feature to further advertise your posts and to keep your followers engaged with daily content Pro’s Very visual More freedom to post Strengthen branding Use of stories for to keep daily engagement Con’s Less optimised to convey detailed information Danger of being ‘lost in the feed’ depending on post time Bots Twitter For a period of time, Twitter was THE hot social platform to use. What makes Twitter different from most other social media sites is it strongly emphasizes real-time information — things happening and trending right now — and in just 280 characters. Celebrities, business magnates, brands and figures of authority were able to share quick, in the moment information and insights that punctured their separation from the common man and reminded users that these people still go about day to day lives enjoying many of life’s simple pleasures, such as watching Netflix, visiting coffee shops or expressing admiration for a sports team. Despite the sudden impact of TikTok, and ever-growing users on Facebook, Twitter has still managed to enjoy a steady incline in users each year. How Should You Use Twitter? There are a number of ways that a business may utilise Twitter. Many brands use Twitter as an alternate customer service channel. According to advertisers on Twitter, more than 80% of social customer service requests happen on Twitter.  Having a member of your marketing or social team check Twitter on the daily for customer queries will help show your brands care to the customer and dedication to their service. You can also use Twitter to provide quick updates that can build up towards company announcements or events, such as “only a week to go before (***), whose got their tickets?” or “We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on! Here’s a sneak preview.” Pro’s Real time updates Build up hype towards company announcement Easily digestible format Con’s Voted ‘Most Toxic Social Platform.’ (Poll conducted by Forbes Magazine) At least 10% of accounts are spam Information can get lost in the feed. YouTube Never underestimate the value of video content. Having crisp, professional, and high-quality video marketing tools will improve the legitimacy and credibility of your company tenfold.  We all watch engage with video media in our spare time, be it Netflix, YouTube or even TikTok as it allows us to easily absorb stimuli. How Should You Use YouTube? YouTube content can be shared across social media channels via a quick link in a post and provides a nice switch of content from regular photos or text. You should definitely try to get some video content to promote your workplace, be it a marketing package, adverts for vacancies or just interviews with employee’s discussing their time in the company.  Production quality will separate you from the others, so its worth investing in videography if you have any big events or festivities to celebrate. It helps give your company a sense of scale. Pro’s Format easily shared across other platforms Monetisation from original content Con’s Algorithm can cause viewership to drop Consistency is needed to build

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The Benefits Of Contract Work

The Benefits Of Contract Work

The jobhunting period can at times feel quite negative, and many people will be put off contract work as they know they have a date where they will be out of employment after the role expires. Also, jumping between different industries in quick succession can prove a challenge for the Wallflowers in this blogs audience. However, Contract work does have benefits that should not be overlooked both to the short and long-term trajectory of your career. Here are a number of reasons why you should accept contract as well as some added benefits you may not have considered.   Make Connections The nature of contract work dictates that unless you’re offered a permanent position, you will be moving between places of work every 6 - 12 months. The benefit of this, is that you are likely to become acquainted with many business leaders, executives, CEOs, and industry experts along the way. This will prove invaluable as building your contact list of reputable business leaders will provide new connections, long lasting business relationships and an impressive list of references for your next employer to contact. In a world where a person’s experience in the field can be the deciding factor in being chosen for interview, having connections to add to your credibility will only ever benefit your application   Find your job passion It is not uncommon for young professionals to work a variety of roles before settling into a more permanent fulfilling role. This method can provide a multitude of valuable experience, references, and insights into the nature of the industry. Contract work is a good way to dip your toe into the pool of the industry and find out if you are best aligned with the culture and work involved in the industry.   Salary Contracted roles will get you better pay. They offer a higher basic salary in lieu of a benefits package. You can make your experience really work to your advantage. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you meet their requirements, if you solve their problem or need quickly. Employers tend to really value experience, since they want to bring onboard someone who can jump right in and hit the ground running.   Faster Employment Now this of course does not cover all contract work, and you shouldn’t apply for a contract position assuming you’re going to be accepted by 9:30 and start work at 10:00. However, the creation of a contract role may have resulted in a sudden urgency and vacation that needs to be filled, so the onboarding of contracts does move faster than permanent roles.   More Freedom As you are not bound by the standard contracts of the business, you have more negotiating room when discussing hours, pay and location. You may have been brought into the contract role to assist with a sudden influx of work, therefore If you can assure your employer you will complete the work, you can choose working hours that fit for you, which can provide more time out of work for looking at more roles, building your professional profile and networking.   In Conclusion There are many business professionals who have built there who career around contract work and it’s not too hard to see why. Contract work offers more flexibility, better pay, more variation, and greater chance of networking and building a profile within the industry. Understanding the process and careful planning can ensure you are never out of work for lengthy periods of time, and with the flexibility contract work offers, you can use any free time to plan ahead once your contract expires. If you are keen to build your professional CV, build strong industry connections, gain experience and entertain a higher pay, contract work is definitely worth your time

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What Is LinkedIn?

What Is LinkedIn?

It’s difficult to comprehend what our lives in 2022 would be like without the various platforms and interconnectable mediums we use every day. The Nokia 3210 has been replaced by the iPhone. TV Cable has made way to streaming platforms, and much of our music is consumed via Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. However, the most poignant example of the increasingly connected age we live in is that of Social Media.   In the race to dominate the social platform, businesses are constantly updating their sites and apps with new ways to digest content, integrating features such as videos, shops, posts, blogs and stories. Though the intention of drawing in a diverse clientele is understandable, it results in a saturation of the market, thus making it difficult to ascertain the USP of a certain platform. Snapchat’s quick photo/story update features can now be found on Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger command our 4G instant messaging services, and Facebook, well, Facebook does everything.   However, there is one of few platforms that’s focus has managed to remain consistent since its creation, and that platform is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world's largest online professional network. You can use LinkedIn to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your career.   In essence, LinkedIn is the main social media hub for employers and businesses. For some, checking LinkedIn every day is like checking the newspaper, except unlike other social media platforms LinkedIn is optimised, professional, well presented, practical, focused and ultimately good. Now I have not been monetarily compensated by LinkedIn to write anything on their behalf, however I do believe that the importance of LinkedIn cannot be stressed enough, especially if you are looking to progress into the upper echelons of the corporate world. To those who have yet to utilise this platform, or simply want an overview of what it is and how it works, read on.     Who Should Use LinkedIn? Given that the main focus of the site is to connect businesses, establish relationships and help companies advertise jobs, your average LinkedIn user will fall into the category of ‘business professional.’ It is a platform for people looking to advance their careers, including people from various professional backgrounds, small business owners, students, and job seekers. LinkedIn members can use the platform to tap into a network of professionals, companies, and groups within and beyond their industry. Though LinkedIn’s homepage features a feed where users can post updates and developments in their personal lives as well as photos and videos, the content still centres around the professional working life, so you may have to look elsewhere to get your cute animal fix.     Why You Should Join LinkedIn LinkedIn is the key that will open the door to the interconnected landscape of business. Your profile will display your various accolades, previous work experiences, qualifications and personal bio, along with any personal hobbies and interests you wish to share. Now you might be thinking this sounds a lot like the criteria one would find on a CV, and that is not an unfair comparison to make. Many job seekers use LinkedIn as their primary tool of self-marketing to send to companies who have advertised jobs, and employers can use it to search for candidates and present them with opportunities to work. Thus, a fleshed-out, optimised and slick LinkedIn profile can prove to be an invaluable tool as you progress through your professional life.       Where Do I Start Like many social media platforms, the best way to learn more about the features of the site is to simply jump in with a freshly created profile and click your way around the site's menus. However, we have a few suggestions to get you started:   1. Create a Profile Though this may seem obvious, LinkedIn does allow you to explore most of what the site has to offer without the need of completing a profile. However, having a cprofile will allow the algorithm to tailor your experience on the site to your own personal preferences. Jobs advertised will become more closely linked to your current profession, and industry-related content will appear more frequently on your feed. Naturally of course, if you already have a reason in mind for signing up to LinkedIn, then one assumes your profile is ready to go. Do take time when creating your profile. As previously mentioned, LinkedIn can function as an online CV, so consider this when uploading a profile photo and writing your bio. Include all relevant experiences and skills you have within your profession to add further employability to your page.   2. Build your Connections The network you create will play a crucial part in unlocking the power of LinkedIn as it will help you understand what is happening in your industry and professional circle. You can begin by adding your family, friends, past or current classmates, and co-workers to your network. You can also follow people, companies, or topics by navigating directly to the "Follow fresh perspectives" page, which displays recommended sources to follow.   3. Browse the Catalogue of Jobs The job search is one of the standout features of LinkedIn. You can use the job search to research companies in preparation for an interview, reach out to hiring communities or simply see what current roles are being advertised for. LinkedIn is one of the top platforms when it comes to advertising vacancies, so there’s a high chance a specific role or a role in a less well-known or advertised industry will appear in your searches. You can also save job searches and/or notify your connections and recruiters that you’re open to job opportunities.   4. Engage in Conversation Though LinkedIn as a platform caters more to the professional world than traditional social media, you can still connect and talk to people as you would on any other platform. Feel free to engage in updates and posts from the companies or individuals you follow. This can even work as a catalyst to establish further connections with new like-minded individuals.   5. Post Content And finally, post stuff! Don’t be afraid of uploading content onto your page. Keep your connections updated with any recent developments in your professional career, reach out to industry experts for advice, stimulate debate and even alert people to vacancies in your place of work.   In Conclusion LinkedIn is an invaluable tool used by many as a catalyst to progress further in their working life. The benefits of LinkedIn should never be understated, and once you’ve begun to explore the site and engage with content, you’ll wonder how you ever navigated the job market without it.

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Hoping To Get A New Job in 2020? Here Are 5 Tips To Help You With Your Search

Hoping To Get A New Job in 2020? Here Are 5 Tips To Help You With Your Search

Searching for jobs is a job in itself. It can be challenging and time consuming but there are ways of making this task a little easier. If you are planning on finding a new job, Sigmar Recruitment has devised a list of top 5 job searching tips to help you in your pursuit of the perfect job this new year.   Get Employers to Come to You Uploading your CV online can increase your chances of being seen by employers. Most job searching websites like; Jobs.ie and Monster.ie allow job seekers to create an online profile using their CV content. This profile can then be viewed by potential employers. There is also an option, when you create your account, to highlight specific jobs and organisations you’re interested in and receive email notifications when positions become available. This is handy for any job seeker as it does the hard work for you and allows suitable job opportunities to come directly to you.   Update your LinkedIn Profile The first thing you should do before applying for a job is ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date with all your relevant work experience. Often employers will search for you online while reviewing your CV. It’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date as it could be the reason you get called for an interview. Extra Tip: If you are unemployed and don’t have an issue with making your employment status public, you may want to update your LinkedIn profile headline to something like, “Currently seeking (insert type of role here) in (insert location here)”. This will let your network know that you are currently job seeking​   Target the Right Companies It’s important to know what type of company you are looking for. This all comes down to your personal preference. Knowing what you want will make it easier. Would you rather be; “a big fish in a little pond” or “a little fish in a big pond”? By eliminating the type of companies you don’t want in your search, you will narrow down the available jobs suited to you. Extra Tip: If you know of a company you think you would like to work for, search for reviews of the company online. Glassdoor.com lets you search millions of reviews of companies that are all posted anonymously by employees. This is a great way to get an honest appraisal of organisations you’re considering applying to.   Network Use the contacts you have to enquire about available jobs and get the word out that you’re looking for a new position. Often jobs can be found through people we know so it’s a good idea to get in touch with any relevant contacts you may have. Building on your current network can also give you an advantage in your job search. Attending conferences and job expos are a great way to network and find out about career opportunities.   Be Positive Finding the perfect job isn’t easy and may take time. As rejections start coming in, it’s important to always try to stay positive. It’s only natural for you to feel deflated when things aren’t going according to plan but try to use the rejection as a motivation to work harder. The right job is out there for you and you will find it if you stay persistent and optimistic.   Don’t have the time to job search? If you find yourself not being able to find the time to search for jobs properly, you can contact us in Sigmar Recruitment. You can upload your details and CV to our website and create an online profile that will be accessed by our specialist recruitment consultants to review your details and contact you with potential job opportunities.