Not getting a placement?
29th Sep 2017
Read on for an insight into employer’s feedback on unsuccessful students.
Feedback from Employers on CV's
The reason many students were not short listed for interview was due to poor quality of CV's.
Employers felt that:
- CVs in the main are not demonstrating ability. Employers want to see examples of where you have used your skills or examples of experience gained either through work or project related efforts.
- Most applications had no cover letter or had poor cover letters (used pre populated text)
- Many students have little or no profile information on their CV. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and is a snapshot of who you are.
- Layouts of CVs are at times poor and it was not clear what skills or experience the student has. CV’s should follow a logical and clear format. It should be easy for the employer to read and they should be able to clearly identify where your skills and experience lie.
- Little or no detail on what the course studied covered by way of topics or grades- It can be confusing for employer’s due to the number of courses and institutions in which technology subjects are covered. Students need to make it easy for employers to identify which technical skills you have been taught.
- Many students are omitting really good experience from their CV’s such as project experience or live work examples, the reason for this is that they think it’s not relevant- It is hugely important that you give examples of live experience to back up your studies/technical skills!
- Many students are prioritising part-time non-Industry work experience such as bar work etc. on their CV and wasting space. Whilst employers want to see that you have work experience, if possible try to prioritise relevant experience and make this a more prominent feature even if it is unpaid or project work.
- There have been many instances of students applying for a large number of opportunities some of which don’t match their skills/experience. Employers get frustrated with this. Try where possible to match yourself to the role, if the employer states x technical skills ask yourself if you are suitable and remember the e-Placement team and your careers service are always on hand to help and offer advice. Don't be afraid to use it.
Students who have been short listed for interview have CV's that:
- Are well thought out
- Are logically written
- Have course information explained in detail, topics covered, grades and what has been learned
- Include sections covering skills/expertise
- Include sections covering work/project experience
- Are good at demonstrating ability
- Have made themselves stand out from the crowd. Most often this is due to experience that they have gained in the workplace, perhaps through placement, during a project or through a passion for their industry out with their studies.
- Included a detailed cover letter with their CV
On the e-Placement student portal you also have a personal student profile. The employer sees this alongside your CV!
Please make sure that these profiles are completed and kept up to date. Many employers have criticised that by not filling in the profile the student may be lazy!
Feedback from employer’s on Interviews
The following is some feedback on why many students were unsuccessful in being offered a placement after being interviewed.
Employers felt that:
- Many students lacked in confidence whilst being interviewed. Displaying confidence in an interview is arguably the most important area to work on. Many employers will view how you react in this situation as a test of how you will perform in their company. Can you communicate effectively? Can you work under pressure? Can you sell yourself?
- Many students struggled to demonstrate their own ability and did not use examples. Employers have your CV; now they want to meet the real you and get a feel for what you have done and where you are going. Where you say you have x technical skill, through questioning you, they want you to give examples in either work or your studies where you have used or applied these skills.
- Students did not display evidence of their contribution in many instances. Employers want to know who you are and what you contributed. If you were involved in a group project, what did you contribute to that work? This allows them to decide whether you will fit into their team and contribute effectively to their business.
- Many students displayed poor communication skills. This was highlighted in a few ways, nerves related and also not having thought about the answer before giving it. Whilst you will never know for sure what an employer will ask in an interview situation you can prepare in advance. Have in your mind relevant examples of where you have used your skills, examples of challenging situations, examples of success. Almost all employers will want to find out what you are capable of so it is easy to pre-empt what they are likely to ask by being prepared!
- Little or no evidence of research into the company prior to interview. This was a hugely common problem. Many employers felt that there was a lack of interest in the technology industry in general and very little research on the company and what they did. Employers want to see students who have a thirst for their industry, students who are the stars of tomorrow and ultimately students who want to work for them. Research the company websites, check out the press, look at their competitors, and keep up to date with industry news. This is what could set you apart from the competition.
- Lack of proactivity about future prospects. Many students didn’t enquire about future prospects within the company. Employers want to see students who are proactive, students who care about their career prospects and have some direction about what they want to do.
- Poor Timekeeping. You cannot be late for an interview. Employers will see this as a red flag instantly and first impressions steer the rest of the interview. Research in advance where the interview is taking place, plan how you are going to get there and always allow time to be early and take a breather to calm your nerves.
- Poor Personal Presentation. Comments were made on the lack of professional appearance and limp handshakes. The old cliché first impressions count really is true if you turn up to an interview scruffy and offer a limp handshake that says to an employer you are not serious about the role. Always dress smart for an interview and if an employer offers to shake your hand show commitment and enthusiasm.
Those who were successful in being offered a placement position did the following:
- Were confident in their delivery;
- Used good, clear and concise examples when answering questions;
- Showed good technical understanding;
- Arrived on time and presented themselves well;
- Showed enthusiasm, examples such as asking about future part time or graduate recruitment prospects;
- Showed an interest in the company, one student asked about the company’s turnover and client prospects;
- Showed their personality and why they would be a good fit for the team and the company.