The Ins and Outs of Psychometric Testing

Written by Daniel Soloye

If you didn’t know, finding the right employee is of huge importance to recruiters and they will go to extensive lengths to source suitable candidates that fit the company culture, way beyond just qualifications and experience levels.

Psychometric testing is a scientific evaluation method used to measure individuals’ mental capabilities and behavioural style, usually consisting of numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning tests.

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If you are applying for places at large graduate employers, chances are you’ll be required to undertake a psychometric test. These tests are generally within the initial stages of the recruitment process as a filtering mechanism to see if your characteristics match what the company is looking for.

With any type of test, you can improve your success rate by practicing and conducting prior research. But don’t sweat, if you’ve done your homework, you can approach this test with confidence, as you’re in a great position to excel just like anyone else.

When will you be tested?

Psychometric tests may be used at different stages of the recruitment process ranging from:

  • After submitting an initial application.
  • At your first or second interview.
  • Part of an assessment centre day.

Prior to applying, you must ensure that you are fully-prepared to complete the test as they generally can only be taken once, meaning you have to jump out the blocks flying, no time for false starts!

Sprinter

Types of test you may face

Numerical Reasoning: Assesses how well you interpret data, graphs, charts and/or statistics. These tests will demonstrate how well you are able to deal with numbers, quickly and accurately with questions that may include knowledge of ratios, percentages, cost and sales analysis, rates, trends and currency conversions.

Verbal Reasoning: Assesses how you well you comprehend written information and evaluate arguments and statements. These tests will generally involve reading short passages of writing and answering questions based on your comprehension of the text.

Diagrammatic reasoning: Assesses how well you use logic to make conclusions based on limited information, current experience or general knowledge.  These questions are usually multiple choice against the clock or a set of rules which need to be applied new scenarios for a positive outcome.

Tips for performing well

Practice: Just like any another examination, practice, practice and more practice. Practicing test questions and training your brain to identify foundations for solving problems will significantly improve your chances of attaining a great result. Most tests are administered online; therefore it’s important that you revise in the same manner that you will be tested.

Plan your time and set milestones: Most psychometric tests are timed but only 1 – 2% of people can actually finish it. Here’s the good news, you don’t have to complete all of the questions to get a perfect score, and easy questions score the same as hard ones. The best strategy is to set milestones and if you don’t know the answer to a question, save time and complete others as there’s always a possibility that you can revisit the question at the end.

Read and increase your English vocabulary: Start delving into industry specific content regarding the job you are applying for to increase your vocabulary. It will help you grasp verbal reasoning test questions quicker, answering them faster and subsequently improving your score.

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Extracts taken from: CareerOne

How Does Brexit Affect Students?

Written by Daniel Soloye

For decades, British students, graduates and working professionals have enjoyed the freedom and fluidity of Europe, in context of employment and educational opportunities as well as other frivolous privileges including healthcare and mobility. However, after today’s shocking verdict that ultimately sees the United Kingdom leave the European Union, we are left to evaluate the potential impact Brexit has on British students.

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Impact on Student Mobility

Britain’s previous EU membership ensured that citizens were able to live and work anywhere within the 28 countries of the EU. Subsequently, the terrains in which British students can work and travel in European countries may become rigorous, requiring visas that could significantly impact the chances of acquiring foreign job opportunities.

Sorana Vieru, the vice president of the NUS, has adhered to the notion that the leaving the EU would severely limit the amount of job opportunities for young people in Britain today.

In her acknowledgement, Vieru stated:

 “Freedom of movement across the EU currently means young people have a wider pool of graduate jobs to choose from, as more and more organisations work across Europe or specific targeted industries graduates find attractive are booming in other EU countries,”

She continued by stating:

“Restricting freedom of movement means finding a job abroad becomes much harder for young people.”

Impact on Employment

As it is still early, the impact on employment is heavily dependent on Brexit’s economic performance. If in the scenario that Britain’s economy performs well as proclaimed by many, then we can expect more professional opportunities for students and graduates undoubtedly. However, if in the scenario that Brexit does prompt a recession, students and graduates will be emphatically on the receiving end.

According to a study by PathMotion, approximately half of the country’s top graduate employers will be forced to reduce their graduate recruitment in-take with the banking, finance, retail, media, technology and law sector at the highest risk of downsizing. These sectors are collectively employing over 50,000 graduates each year with top firms expected to hire at least 5,500 graduates in 2016.

The main reasons cited for downsizing are the impact on the economy and, therefore, on the volume of business, general uncertainty, and a lower talent pool of EU graduates applying for jobs.

Impact on Higher Education

As university admission fees sour at almost 3 times the rate in comparison to 2011, some students have responded by choosing to study abroad where prices are significantly cheaper, especially in destinations such as Germany or Netherlands. It’s noted that more than 200,000 UK students have studied and worked abroad through the Erasmus mobility programme whilst more than 125,000 EU students were enrolled in UK universities. Given the UK’s exit from the EU it’s safe to acknowledge that visas will become more difficult to obtain and fees may be more expensive. Sorana Vieru in another soliloquy noted that:

“I think we can safely assume that if we’re not part of the EU, we’ll be paying international student rates in Europe if those institutions charge them”

Mike Hill, CEO of Prospects also highlighted to potential impact of Brexit on universities across the country suggesting that:

“A Brexit will affect the ability of young people to work and learn in the EU. We will be slamming the door in the face of some of our most motivated and talented individuals,”.

The United Kingdom is entering a new era which may affect all of us in the foreseeable future. Whilst it may not be all doom and gloom with potentially more opportunities for British people, one thing is for certain, significant change is looming. We will have to wait and see what the future holds.

Read Another Interesting Post: Five Ways You Are Killing Your Chances of Employment

Sources: Telegraph, Pathmotion, All About Students, Prospects, NUS

The UK University System May Be Failing Both Students & Businesses

New research conducted by Intern Tech has revealed that UK graduates have been let down by their university education. A survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed that 28 percent of British graduates felt that their education was outdated. 41 percent of degree holders have taken entry-level jobs upon leaving university as opposed to graduate roles.

45 percent of graduates, on the other hand, have praised internships, stating that work placements have been more valuable than their university degree. In addition, 35 percent of graduates revealed that they have had to undertake additional qualifications and training in order to get the skills they need to pursue their desired job.

An area of concern within the UK employment sector is the technology sector, where jobs are high in demand. The most sought after roles in the tech industry include social media managers, app developers, data scientists and cyber-security specialist, however, 48 percent of graduates do not know what these jobs entail or how to secure them. In addition, 93 per cent of UK firms in the growing tech sector has also expressed that the shortage of skilled workers is preventing their businesses from moving forward.

On a positive note, 30 percent of graduates have expressed that the country’s departure from the European Union will benefit their job prospects, highlighting less competition from overseas professionals as a major topic.

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Do Graduates Have Unrealistic Salary Expectations?

Written by Freda Nomo

A new report has revealed that 47% of graduates expect an average of £9,000 more than what is generated in their first graduate salary. Recruitment specialists Pareto Law discovered a difference between salary expectations and reality.

The survey shows 65% of graduates are earning less than £16,000 and working in industries unrelated to their degrees. Graduate salary expectations for a first job range between £21,000 and £30,000 however only one in six are currently achieving this figure.

A majority of graduates (87%) have expressed that higher education must equip students with commercial skills that businesses value. In addition, 40% of graduates feel their university has failed in teaching skills suitable for the working world.

This study highlights the pressure graduates currently face in today’s working world. 82% of graduates feel that employers have higher expectations compared to previous generations. On the other hand, 62% of graduates still appear to be optimistic about the future of their careers.

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Top Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

Written by Sarah Oladokun

Setting up your first business venture is very exciting, but can also be extremely daunting. It’s an incredible experience to grow an idea from an initial concept to a full-fledged product, and with the right preparation, you can genuinely enjoy the ride. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you take that leap.

NEW POST ALERT: Do Graduates Have Unrealistic Salary Expectations?

Know When to Say No

Many first-timers make the mistake of jumping at every opportunity that comes their way, and end up either getting sidetracked from their main goal or diluting their key brand messages.

Stick with your original project and have faith in your idea. It’s better to at least get one aspect right than to do a lot of mediocre things. Spreading yourself too thinly over multiple projects will weaken your core concept and jeopardise your business. Be wary though, as if you do repeatedly feel the need to jump, something may be wrong with your original concept.

The best businesses are based on genuine interest and love of the industry, whatever that may be; so don’t start a business simply for the sake of starting one. A business built around your strengths and passions will have a greater chance of success, as well as leaving you feeling more fulfilled at the end of the day.

Last but not least, have a think about whether it would be prudent to undertake a little business-specific education before taking the jump and becoming an entrepreneur. Arming yourself with as much knowledge and understanding of the business world will mean you’re ready to deal with all the ups and downs as they come.

Make a Clear Business Plan

No bank or investor is going to give you money on the sole basis of your idea, and no one’s going to lend you any unless you’ve got some collateral you can put up. Back in the 80s when many of the big entrepreneurship success stories began, it was a much different economy and you could pretty much enter a bank, mention that your business was something to do with the internet, and walk out with a big cheque. Unfortunately, those days are now well and truly over.

After years of financial disparity, it’s now become harder than ever to secure investments or financial backing. You need to have a clear plan to persuade investors that you’re worth investing in. When it comes to becoming your own boss and being an entrepreneur, there is no ‘one size fits all’ guide to writing a business plan, but start by writing out your goals, where you are now, and signpost exactly how you intend to get from A to B. Include as much detail as is relevant, but don’t just blurt down every little thing you can think of – editing is the key to clarity.

The steps to becoming an entrepreneur can most definitely be the scariest but with the right mindset, and plans, you will get there.

All the best!

3 Ways Your References Can Negatively Affect Your Chances Of Securing The Job

So, you’ve had your first and second interview, it’s looking very promising and all that’s left is to provide your references. Perfect, but how can you ensure that your references provide you with a glowing review? In some cases, your best references can negatively impact your chances of getting that job you so desperately wanted.

How is this possible? We’ve listed a few different ways that your references can subtly sabotage your chances of getting the job.
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Talking Less About Career And More About Personal  

Depending on the relationship you had with your referee, they may emphasise personal qualities over career and employment skill-sets, therefore losing sight of what the hiring manager is looking for.

Bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with being genuine friends with your referee, however, it is important that your competencies are the main topic of discussion.

How to handle this?

Only submit names of people who know more about you in a professional context. You can go even further by outlining the job responsibilities so that they have a better understanding of what they need to say to the hiring manager.

Poor Response Rate

Everyone has 101 things to do and people get busy, therefore references may forget to respond and this is not uncommon. References don’t do this intentionally, however; these things do happen and subsequently can leave your hiring manager in a sticky situation as to whether to proceed with you.

How to handle this?

Employers tend to be crystal-clear on when they plan to reach out to your references. It’s your duty to frequently update your referee so that they are conscious of when your hiring manager will contact them.

Talk way too much

Some employers may have short scripts to keep the conversation brief and avoid getting sidetracked, so a reference veering off topic is pretty much the last thing you need.

How to handle this?

You can address this with your referee by kindly reminding them that there is a job on the line. You can also notify them of how long the phone call will be, precisely and the type of things they should say.

ACCA Advise Young People To Think About Doing Apprenticeships

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) launched its first apprenticeship – the ACCA Accounting Technician Apprenticeship – offering young people and school leavers five powerful reasons why apprenticeships are a viable and credible route for a successful and exciting career in accountancy.

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ACCA’s Accounting Technician is offered at Level 4, leading to a Diploma in Accounting and Business, and gives another direction to the globally in-demand training offered by ACCA. This includes options to eventually progress to the full ACCA Qualification, pursue a BSc with Oxford Brookes University or an MSc from the University of London.

And with the Level 7 Accountancy Trailblazer standard expected to be approved by the government soon, ACCA is aiming to bring employers and apprentices an apprenticeship pathway all the way through to Chartered Certified level in the Autumn 2017.

John Williams, head of ACCA UK, says: ‘Our Trailblazer programme gives apprentices the opportunity to gain professional training and qualifications, building their experience and earning while they learn. And the training is funded by the government through the employer – so apprentices don’t have to pay anything as employers can use the apprenticeship levy funding to train employees.

“But career and training choices can be overwhelming, so we have five robust reasons why we think school leavers should think about an apprenticeship. We hope this makes the choices clearer for them.”

These are:

  1. Earn while learning– starting salaries for trainee accounting technicians start from £15k.
  2. Secure a life balance– work, study, live. An apprentice will have time and money to enjoy life outside of work.
  3. Gain a recognised qualification– ACCA is a respected brand that future employers will take seriously.
  4. No debt– unlike university, an apprenticeship is free, leaving the apprentice to focus on development and where they want their career to go next.
  5. Get ahead– an apprentice can start and finish on the career ladder well before their peers at university have even started.

John Williams concludes: ‘We recognise apprenticeships to be very much a win-win for all involved. They’re not an easier option, simply a different one for school leavers to consider. As an apprentice, they’ll work, study and be mentored by an experienced professional, for at least 12 months, and keep a diary showing the skills and behaviours they’ve learned. When their employer feels they’re ready, the apprentice will write a statement reflecting their learning and then take a final ACCA exam. On successful completion of both elements, they’ll be qualified as an Accounting Technician Apprentice – skilled and ready for the next step on the career ladder as a finance professional, adding value to their employer’s workplace.’

So if you are a young person or school leaver and interested in ACCA apprenticeship programme, you can find more details at www.accaglobal.com/eng/apprenticeship.

Good luck!

Internships and Volunteering This Summer

Spring is finally here, which means summer, exams and coursework are around the corner. But, as your days at university draw to a close and summer finally arrives, you may be tempted to push your anxieties about the future to the back of your mind and simply enjoy what you consider to be your last summer break. However, not using this time effectively could be the difference between a relatively short job hunt and a painstakingly long one. There’s no doubt that your degree will impress employers, but hands-on experience goes a long way when you face tough competition. An internship or voluntary placement relevant to your career path is the best way to gain this experience, as they offer a valuable insight into whether this is really the right job for you.

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Internships

Internships offer intergral experience and insight into a job role, therefore making it a great option if you know what job you’d like to pursue. A big advantage is that the majority of internships are paid (even though the sum is often modest), which is why competition for placements is so fierce. Internships can last a few weeks, months, or even a year depending on the company. You’ll be assigned to a project during this period and maybe even a specific role.

Completing an internship is very attractive on a CV and a great talking point in an interview. You can highlight exactly how you’ve developed specific skills required for the job on offer and talk about your exposure to this particular working environment. Perhaps the most significant advantage of an internship is the prospects of being offered a permanent role within the company, once completed.

To secure an internship you’ll probably face an assessment centre or interview once you’ve submitted your application. The employer will want someone who shows a real passion for the industry, company and role on offer, so be sure to display your dedication.

Lastly, the best thing about an internship is that you get an overview of what a job in that specific field will be like. If your expectations aren’t met, then at least you know this field isn’t something you would like to go into and you can take up another search from there.

Volunteering

If you’re still unsure about the right career path and are looking for something rewarding, then a voluntary placement could be a better option. You can develop life skills which will be transferable no matter what career you decide. For example, you’ll improve your communication, organisation and teamwork skills. A placement abroad can also see you learning a language.

Give some thought into your choice of voluntary placement because there are many opportunities to choose from and you’ll to be disciplined. What do you enjoy doing? Once you’ve identified the type of experience that suits you best, start exploring your options.

UK voluntary placements are often flexible so you can fit one around other commitments. Placements abroad can last weeks or months depending on the project you’re involved in. Unfortunately, you will not be paid (although some offer accommodation or food/transport allowances), but the rewarding feeling you receive when helping others will certainly help you to overlook this aspect. In addition, employers will acknowledge and respect your efforts to gain valuable experience.

So if you can, in your free time, brainstorm ideas and job roles that you will be interested in. Getting your foot in the door and being aware of opportunities that you can grab during the spring and summer holidays will be very useful. You’ll never know unless you try.

Good luck!

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To Whom It May Concern: 4 Ways To Write A Tailored Cover Letter

Want to make a substantial impression on a potential employer? Then perhaps consider dropping the one size fits all approach to your cover letter, because it doesn’t cut it anymore. Whilst tailoring your cover letter to the sector and position may take time, it can improve your chances of gaining an interview. So consider using the tips below so you can make an impression on your future employer.

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Address it appropriately

Always address your cover letter to the person who will be receiving applications for the vacancy, if you find that there isn’t a name that you can use, simply ring the company and ask who you should address your cover letter too. If you are unable to do so, a better option would be to use the job title of the person who is likely to receive it, such as ‘Recruiter’ or ‘HR Manager’.

Mention Contacts

If you have any connections in the company or you’ve previously taken a role within that company then perhaps mention it in the first sentence of the letter. It’s the perfect place to mention this, and if you’ve been referred to the vacancy by an employee within the company then this may help your application in the long run.

Utilise Keywords

Every industry and job role has keywords associated with it, and knowing these keywords can improve your cover letter significantly. Read through the job advert and make a note of any repeated phrases or keywords, you can also take a look at the company’s website to discover the terminology they frequently use. Once you have gathered a list of keywords associated with the position, include them throughout your cover letter to improve your chances and move past the application stage.

Include Relevant Skills

Your cover letter needs to back up your CV where you would have presented the skills and experiences that you have accumulated. Therefore your cover letter needs to re-emphasise your relevant strengths and talents. Ensure that you have included all the essential skills/qualities in your letter by taking another look at the job description.

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4 Steps To Finding & Communicating Your Unique Selling Points

How do you stand out and distinguish yourself from the competition?

It’s difficult to stand out from the crowd when you’re unsure of how to do so but the trick is to know your unique selling points (USPs) and how to communicate them effectively.

Identifying your unique selling points is a difficult process. It requires you to think critically about your skills and the work experience you have gained. Once you have identified your main strengths, communicating them in terms of benefits will be essential.

You can use this 4 step system to help you discover your USPs.

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Step 1: Evaluate

Self-analysis is crucial in evaluating your strengths as a worker. This includes listing your skills and experience.

Step 2: Differentiate

What makes you different from others?

Use the list of skills and experience as a method of identifying how you are different from others. You can use figures, places and dates to make your points more appealing.

Step 3: Research

Research is crucial when applying for any job; be sure to examine the company’s personal requirements. By examining these requirements, it will enable you to identify which strengths and skills will be most beneficial.

Step 4: Compare

The first list will detail your skills, strengths and experience, whilst the second will show what the employer is looking for in a successful candidate. Highlight the reoccurring skills on both lists and use that as a starting guide for creating your unique selling points. You will be able to demonstrate unique skills whilst showcasing attributes that are most required by the employer.

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