Some students go to college knowing exactly what they want to do, picking courses like medicine, nursing, or law which set them on a career path from the start. Others figure it out half way through and start looking for the experience or extra skills that will help them get their chosen position. And then there are those who haven’t a clue, get through their final exams and go….what now? I was one of those undecided students, I did my degree (European Studies) knowing that I wanted to do languages and also get a grounding in some other areas like politics and history, for me it was the perfect mixture of subjects. However when I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I finished the course I realised that the course was so broad it really didn’t help me in narrowing down what I wanted to do. This can be a problem for a lot of arts and humanities students, they go through college studying a wide range of subjects and then come out with relatively little practical experience compared to some other courses like law or business which will normally involve some sort of work placement. A lot of my friends who did arts related courses found themselves in the same situation, asking themselves what do I do next? Some decided to use their expertise in languages or history or geography etc. to go on and do a HDip and go into teaching. Some went on to do a Masters and gain more qualifications. Others started applying for jobs but had to ask themselves what jobs am I suitable for? And what ‘relevant experience’ do I have? Scouring job advertisements hoping the hated requirements for specific business or science related degrees wouldn’t appear! It is for these reasons that I have to praise graduate programmes! Previously arts degrees had a lot of stigma attached to them, they used to be seen as ‘airy fairy’ degrees, now a lot of companies will look to balance out their graduate programmes with arts students. They realise that they have a different way of looking at things than more technically schooled students. For all recently graduated students ‘transferable skills’ are key. Your knowledge of French Medieval history may not be relevant to a position you are applying to but your ability to research and present on a variety of topics most definitely is! Graduates need to think about ‘how’ they learnt, not just what they learnt in college. Most popular transferable skills: Team work – those awful group projects you did? They’ll come in useful in interview situations! Communication – gossiping may not count but debating in lectures will. Presentation – we all dreaded them but they had to be done and the experience will pay off now! Leadership – always nominated the speaker in your group work? Use it now! Interpersonal – Matched up with people you didn’t know too well? How did that work out? Organisation – planning a night out for a class of 40-50… Not easy! Organising yourself to get to class after that night out… also not the easiest! Problem solving – no readings done, class in 20 minutes…. quick google/wiki search – resourceful or what? Motivation – deadline approaching…no work done rewarding yourself with a big night out once the project was handed in, also can be seen as ‘setting yourself a goal’. *Disclaimer: These examples are not recommended for interview situations, they are aimed to get you thinking!*
It’s a great time to be in Information Technology in Ireland. Recent Reports quote a lack of qualified local talent, and that there are plenty of opportunities for people with the right mix of IT skills. So how do you choose the contract opportunity that’s right for you? As a contractor the temptation is to take the first offer you get, but it’s useful to take a step back and consider it carefully before accepting. Before you move forward with an opportunity, ask yourself the following questions: a) Is this a suitable role for my skill-set? Be sure you’re comfortable wih the fundamental requirements of the job and your future role on the project team and the position is a good fit with your primary skills. b) If some responsibilities fall outside my skill-set, am I comfortable with that? If you were careful to be honest and set the interviewer’s expectations appropriately during the interview process this shouldn’t be an issue; however, it is important for you to be comfortable with the scope of your future responsibilities and your ability to learn the skills you might lack at the start of the project. c) Are the working conditions and compensation acceptable and appropriate to my skill level? Don’t be afraid to aim high and negotiate, but do consider your relative expertise and existing market conditions to set realistic goals for yourself at this stage. Stay in touch with job boards to keep up with current market rates. Your recruitment agent is also in a good position to determine what the appropriate compensation should be for your skill level. d) Is this a good career move for me? Your first offer may not necessarily the best. Deciding whether to accept any given opportunity is a very personal decision, but do keep in mind that no contract lasts forever. e) Is the job in a feasible geographic location? Though this point is often overlooked when considering an offer, spending several hours a day or more commuting to work every day will impact your finances and quality of life. Now is the time to calculate your transit time as well as the cost of fuel, parking, public transportation, etc. and figure these factors into your salary requirements. f) Do I understand the local taxation and legal requirements of working in the project location? Are you legally entitled to work in the project location? Do you need a work permit or visa to enter the country? If this will be working as an independent consultant, some type of legal structure is required, usually a limited company. Have you decided what type of structure to use? Is it suitable for working in the geographic location where the role is based? What are the tax implications in the working location? Are there any implications in your home country? Typically working in another country will require significant up front investigation on these issues, as there is always some impact on your taxation obligations. If you consider all of these questions carefully and overall, on balance, the role seems like a good fit; it’s time to accept the offer. The choice of consulting opportunity is dependent on many personal factors, but I use this list of things to consider when comparing a new consulting opportunity with my current role. About the author Aidan Duffy is an independent consultant with 20 years international IT experience in Europe and USA, working with blue-chip multinational companies.He writes on Oracle topics at www.ILoveOracle.com and invites Linkedin Contact requests at this link ie.linkedin.com/in/aidanduffy/
People are always looking to better themselves through education in the hope that it will lead to job security or better job opportunities. Further education can be personally and professionally very demanding. It is imperative that perspective students understand their own needs, interests and what time they can give to a part time college course in order to maximise the chance of course completion and doing well in exams. To choose the wrong course is to throw away money and waste time. Colleges have varying options to accommodate the demands of perspective students. Distance learning, Online Courses or Attending Classes are the most viable solutions to completing a course while maintaining a work / life balance. Each option offers advantages and disadvantages: Distance Learning has the advantage of not having regular classes. Courses run by institutions such as Open University (UK based) or Oscail (Irish based) run weekend classes once a month while sending out the necessary relevant learning material and asking the student to submit assignments by pre-set timelines. Unfortunately if student hasn’t the ability to self motivate, or has constant distractions, it is very difficult to successfully complete a course this way. Online Courses do not have any classes at all therefore offering no demand on time for attendance. Online courses offer flexibility on when assignments are done to fit in with a busy schedule. The disadvantages are similar to Distance Learning with the added difficulty of not having the tutors to meet, making it onerous to get feedback on queries or guidance on subject matter. Attending part-time college offers all the advantages of full time college students. There is regular access to lecturers through phone, meetings and e-mail. The opportunity to interact with other students gives the opportunity to learn from others and easy access to libraries enhances the ability to read course material without the cost of downloading or needing to buy literature. In saying that, attending college is very demanding on time. College can consume anything from one to three evenings a week for the duration of the course. Colleges do offer the chance to take a course over a longer period in an attempt to lessen the time pressure on students. Weekend courses are also an option but again do consume a lot of time for attendance. On deciding which form of further education to follow, getting the work / college / life balance right is critical. In order to achieve the end goal, of a qualification and retaining a job, time should be taken to prepare for a new course. Some tips to assist in the succeeding of all aspects of college are: Organisation: Write down the agenda of what needs to be done weeks and months in advance. The start of a course can creep up quickly so creating a diary around attendance, studying and exams will help create a constructive pattern to help in progressing. Don’t forget to make time for food…….”A healthy body equals a healthy mind” Time Management: Institutions give a timetable (for classes, exams, assignment submissions etc.) in advance of the college year. Ensure to know the timetable to avoid the stress of “last minute cramming”. Prioritise: Once the course has started it is important to understand subjects that cause more “work” than others. Ensure to allocate appropriate resources to each subject allowing for the maximum chance of passing the course. Hard Work: Working a nine-to-five job is tough, add the pressure of college, and time will come where sleep feels like the only option available. Focus, take each day and each study session as it comes. When in class or studying, commit to the task at hand. Take as many notes as possible as writing helps solidify what has been taught. Further education coupled with work is tough. Remain focused on the goal, it is worth it. Make friends: Getting to know others studying the same course will help, it is a great way to see alternative ways of thinking about subjects. Other students are in the same boat so will be willing to help each other and empathise with the situation and challenges at hand. On the times you can’t make class, friends will take notes for you so nothing is missed. Persistence: Attend college. The longer the year goes on the harder it can be to attend. Winter nights, the rain, snow and darkness make everything tough. Persistence in getting to class and doing assignments will stand you in good stead come exam time.
From dealing with candidates on a daily basis, a consistent theme is candidate confusion as to how an agency actually works. To help address this, I’ve outlined the recruitment agency process below. Stage 1: Candidate attraction Once a recruitment consultant is requested by a client to recruit for a vacancy in their organisation, the consultant will begin candidate attraction. Candidate attraction comes in many forms, advertising the vacancy on the agency’s website, various national and international jobs boards along with an assortment of social networks. At the same time, the recruitment consultant will activate a search within the agency’s database to try and match live candidates to the position. The recruitment consultant will then compile a shortlist of candidates to contact and inform them of the position, location, salary, benefits, potential start dates etc. If the candidate is interested in the position, the recruitment consultant will conduct an in-depth phone/face to face interview on the candidate to see if they fit the job description as set out by the client. As a candidate, we advise you to always meet your recruitment consultant in person. It is easier to convey your experience, ambitions and motivations in person than over the phone. Also it is the starting point to building a relationship with your recruitment consultant. Stage 2: Candidate Submission Once the recruitment consultant is satisfied that the candidate is a good match for the role, the candidate will be submitted to the client. Stage 3: Interview Process & Feedback Once the consultant receives responses from the client, they will inform their candidate as to whether they were successful in reaching the next stage or not. Unsuccessful candidates will return to the consultant’s active pipeline and will be provided with feedback. Candidates successfully called for interview will be informed by the consultant of the interview details (Location, Time, and Interviewer). At this point the consultant will also prepare the candidate for interview covering potential questions, dress code etc. From CV submission to first round interview it usually takes one week to hear back from the client. Once the interview is complete feedback will be provided and second round interviews will be conducted on successful candidates. An important point to note is that depending on the client, the time taken to give feedback on candidates may vary from client to client due to clients internal procedures. Stage 4: Offer & Acceptance Once final round interviews are complete an offer will be made. Offers are always dependant on the successful completion of references checks which will be conducted by the recruitment consultant. Once the reference check is complete and successful the candidate is formally offered the position. The recruitment process duration will vary from client to client but the most important thing for candidates to remember is if you are interested in a role advertised by an agency fully commit to it and be sure to dedicate time to the process as it will lead to progression in your career. Candidates going though an agency are at a clear advantage as they are better prepared for interview for the following reasons They are pre screened by a recruitment consultant They are advised on CV layout and presentation They are prepared by recruitment consultants before interview
Many PhD and Post Doctoral students go through their academic days with the assumption that they will continue their career in this profession once they’ve finished. However, academic posts are limited and there are only a few national research organisations. So when it comes to looking for jobs outside academia, where do you start and how do you convey your educational experience as an advantage? Recently members of Sigmar’s Science & Engineering Division were involved with a career clinic for PhD and Post Doctoral students and the following is our advice. CV Advice For a non-academic role, the emphasis is on the skills and experiences you have that are relevant. Many PHD students fall into the trap of preparing their CV for a non-academic role in the same way they do for a research position. Their CV reads as a typical research track record and there has been no attempt to tailor it for the specific position they are applying for. The key for a non-academic selection is to be selective in what you include and to tailor your CV to each role’s job requirements. For example only provide details of your research/publications if relevant to the position you are applying for. Employers are not just recruiting for your research skills, they also want to see problem solving, report writing, communication, time management, leadership, teamwork and project management skills. In completing your PHD, you already have these skills but you need to articulate them through your CV. Again from experience of writing academic CVs, PHD students tend to write passively and provide dense detail. For an industry position, you should have more “active language” (i.e. in the first person) and avoid technical or specialist terms unless relevant to the position you are applying for. If you have commercial experience, show it! Whether you have industry experience from a 3 month internship or a full time job, make sure to include this in your CV. Employers want to see you have industry experience. To Gain Experience There are a number of ways that graduates can be proactive in obtaining employment. Firstly show your eagerness by approaching companies directly. Find out who is responsible for hiring, email them to enquire about potential opportunities within their organisation and follow up with a phone call. Even though the company may not be recruiting at the moment, it will put you in mind for future roles or they may be able to direct you towards a company that is hiring. Secondly don’t be afraid of an internship! Many PHD students just have aspirations for academic careers, so when it comes to applying for non-academic roles they find they lack work experience. A great way for getting your foot in the door is through an internship. Whether it be through Job Bridge or an unpaid internship, you are gaining relevant experience and it may lead to a position in the end. Finally, with the job climate being as it is, having a PhD unfortunately doesn’t mean you will gain a senior role immediately. Be flexible about available opportunities, start at entry level and progressg quickly up the ladder because of your educational experience.
The scars left from the financial crisis are still fresh so companies are cautious to offer up permanent roles and are therefore quite open to the option of using temporary office staff on an initial basis. Temporary work in the public sector has seen significant increases where many new roles are project related. As the market recovers employees will have more leverage which will see salaries, benefits and the demand for a more flexible work environment increase. Part-time and working from home options are hugely popular with companies tapping into the older workforce and stay-at-home parent markets, who have huge skills to offer once the companies have the technology to support this. From Sigmar’s perspective, screening candidates for technical and cultural fit is key, before sending candidates to our clients. Testing of candidates at the very first stages of the process ensures that candidates are prepped and ready to move as quickly as employers are moving, to ensure employers obtain the top talent available to them. We may not have returned to the days of the Celtic Tiger just yet, when candidates could pick and choose their next job, but we are a million miles away from the dark days of 2010. Temporary candidates in particular are no longer on the market for weeks, it is now more so a case of days and even hours. Companies need to rethink their recruitment strategies if they wish to secure the best talent otherwise they will be swiftly taken from the market. This is shaping up to be a great year for both employers and employees alike with processes running smoother than ever and appointments being filled quickly and professionally. With the market continuing to improve, we again saw a rise in salaries last year, particularly in the latter end. Competition for talent is continuing to increase which is reflected in salaries for skilled candidates. 2016 saw the return of benefit packages with companies pitching their benefits to prospective candidates, as a way of winning candidates who are in several processes at once.It is evident that salary is no longer the number one factor in candidates’ reasons for changing job positions. Companies are having to map out career plans for new employees at the interview stage making interviews very much a 50/50 process between the employer and the employee. We have also seen an increase in counter offers. Counter offers are something to be aware of when assessing a candidate’s motivations to move. Good news for employers is that at entry level salaries have remained constant. Candidates looking for their first step on the career ladder can be very flexible but will still have expectations of a great work environment and culture. Legislation for temporary workers is at the forefront so matching salaries to that of their permanent counterparts is essential. For candidates when looking for an office role researching the company where you are trying to get a new job is key. While there is a huge pool for companies to hire great candidates from, there is still an expectation that all interviewees will have done significant research prior to their interview. Not knowing adequate information about your potential future employer, is a disappointing reason to not get a job role. Companies invest a lot of time and money on their websites, LinkedIn pages, PR etc. It is expected that you will have researched the company and be able to comprehensively answer the question “why do you want to work here?” with great examples from your research. This can be the decision maker when it comes down to two candidates and deciding which of the two deserve the job. A well prepared answer can demonstrate to your potential employer that you want the role more.