Employability tips from Exeter Alumni

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We asked a group of Exeter alumni for their top-tips on being employable, here’s what they said:


“You would be surprised how many job applications are thrown in the bin because of spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Check, check and check again.”


“Companies will know if you’ve made a generic application and just changed the name of the organisation. Do your research and tell them why you want to work there rather than anywhere else.”


“The average CV gets less than 30 seconds viewing time. You need to get all the right information in the right place on the front of your CV.”


“The rise of social media has changed the way that recruitment works. You need to make sure that your Facebook, your Twitter, anywhere that your name appears online, is what you want an employer to see.”


“To be employable you need to have an enquiring mind. When you are at an interview make sure that you ask the prospective employer some questions!“


“Use your Careers Service. It’s free, they have a wealth of knowledge and advice, and if I’d had some of the services that are available now, I’d have saved myself a good few years.”


“Reliability is key, if you say you’re going to meet someone at 10am or deliver a report by a certain date, do it – people will remember you for the wrong reasons if you don’t.”


“Build up strong relationships with recruitment agencies – there are some out there which specialise in placing graduates in their first roles.”


“Be honest, be yourself.”


“Communicate clearly and concisely – especially in email – it is so easy for your thoughts and feelings to be misconstrued.”


“Develop IT and people skills! These will always be useful.”


“Be nice to everyone you meet. You never know who you may meet again later on.”


“Scrutinise the criteria on any job description and write your personal statement to show that you can evidence meeting the required skills and experience.“


“Be interesting and independent-minded, ready to work with others, but also have your own opinions and vision.”


“Remember you are on interview from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, not just in the formal interview but in the car park too!”


“To me, the biggest surprise for starting a career was how personality-based it is. Coming from university where the focus is on the best grades, it surprised me how many of the development focuses were behavioural. “


“Network, Network, Network!”


“Whatever it is that floats your boat: do it! Put it on your CV and be prepared to talk about it at interview. Otherwise, how will your CV standout from the other 200 I might get?”


“Be passionate about what it is you want to do, know the job that you are going for. If you’re applying for a job in bar then go and drink in that bar, if you want to be a writer and are submitting a play, go and look at the venue or theatre company. Really know what they are doing and how you can fit in and offer something to that.”


“If you’re straight out of university you won’t have had a chance to get years of experience in a particular field, but you can show that you are committed to it by doing a lot of volunteering and by getting good references.”


“Give yourself time to figure out what you really want. Internships and work experience are a great way to see what a routine day in a business is like.”


“Involve yourself in a wide range of experiences and demonstrate your ability to do things well with perseverance, resilience and a smile on your face.”


“Articulate the transferable skills that you have been able to develop both on and off your course.”


“I would say the most useful thing to date has been working hard and networking – you never know when an opportunity is going to come up and the more people that know you and can recommend you, the better.”


“Think clearly, be hungry, be willing to take opportunities that present themselves. Be personable and presentable especially at interviews for unless you are successful at those your career will come to a full stop.”


“Always treat everyone as you would like to be treated. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking to the director of a company or to the person who does the photo-copying, treat them all the same: you never know when your paths might cross in the future and it makes for a more conducive and positive working environment for all.”

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