SUPPORTING YOU WITH REDEPLOYMENT
Being at risk of redundancy can be an anxious time. Where at all possible, the University wishes to retain the skills, knowledge and experience that many employees at risk of redundancy have. If you are at risk of redundancy, either due to organisational change or due to the ending of your fixed term contract, then the University wants to show its appreciation for your service and commitment by supporting you in the process of finding alternative employment.
The purpose of these WebPages is to help with that process, by giving you some practical advice and also directing you to further sources of support and guidance.
APPLYING FOR A JOB (WITHIN THE UNIVERSITY)
Should you wish to apply for any job vacancies within the University, opportunities are advertised on the web at http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/. You can sign up for weekly vacancy updates direct to your email address. You should make your application direct to the department concerned, and also inform the Clinical School’s Employee Relations Administrator, Catherine Upton (Catherine.email@example.com) x36925, who will liaise with the HR Adviser for your Department and arrange for a letter to be sent to the recruiting department in support of your application.
Before applying, make sure that you find out as much as you can about the Department / Institution itself. The University website is a good source of information, but it is also useful to ask to speak to someone within that particular area. This not only demonstrates your interest in the role, but can also give you useful information to help in preparing your application.
APPLYING FOR A JOB (BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL TO THE UNIVERSITY)
Once you’ve found a job you wish to apply for, use your application as your “shop window”. It is your chance to show to a potential employer why they should invite you for an interview, bearing in mind that you are in competition with other candidates. You need to convince the hiring area of your abilities and commitment. So focus on how you can add value to the organisation, and less on how the job would benefit you. Below are some tips to help your application stand out from the crowd:
- Understand the job. Study the job description, person specification, and selection criteria. If these are not provided, contact the employer/agency to request the information. This simple step can give you an immediate advantage over candidates who apply for the role without fully understanding it.
- Understand the organisation. It’s vital to find out as much as you can about the organisation to which you’re applying. Look at trade journals, do a Google search, talk to people who know about the organisation. Also, visit specific websites where you can find existing and past employees’ reviews of what it’s like to work for a particular organisation, and even what the interview process is like. The following sites are particularly useful: http://www.glassdoor.co.uk and https://www.linkedin.com.
- Tailor your application to the job requirements, highlighting your relevant skills, experience, personal qualities and measurable achievements. Too many people make the mistake of using one generic CV for every job application, thus missing the opportunity to explain what they can bring to the specific vacancy for which they are applying.
POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN PREPARING YOUR APPLICATION:
- Check your CV / application form thoroughly for spelling and grammar.
- For work experience and education sections, the standard practice is to list the most recent things first.
- If you do not have an extensive employment history, be sure to include part-time jobs and work experience, and what you learned from them.
- If a statement in support of your application is required, be sure to explain how your skills match the selection criteria (particularly those which are deemed “essential”). This can make a big difference to whether your application is successful, so ensure that you take time to get the statement right, including everything you think is relevant and ensuring that you organise the information so that it is easy for the recruiting manager to understand.
- Highlight any skills you have that would be over and above what is required to meet the essential criteria. This enables the recruiter to consider what additional skills you could use to develop further in the role; this can help your application to stand out, particularly where there are high volumes of applications.
- If there are gaps in your employment and education, include a brief explanation as to why. Try to express this in a positive light whilst being honest, for example “I was actively seeking employment” sounds better than “I was unemployed”.
- Always include a covering letter. This is an opportunity to summarise why you are applying and to briefly highlight the skills and experience which make you the best candidate. If you know the recruiter’s name, address your letter to them
- Don’t be shy about following up your application with a telephone call after two or three days (but prepare in advance what you want to say on that call).
If your application is your shop window, the interview is your “sales pitch”. Here are some tips to help you make that vital first impression:
- Double-check the interview arrangements the day before. Do you know where you are going, how you are getting there, where you will park your car, who you are meeting and at what time? What information / documents have you been asked to take with you?
- Get a good night’s sleep before the interview, to ensure that you are alert and upbeat.
- Arrive punctually. It’s better to be 15 minutes early than 5 minutes late.
- Familiarise yourself with the surroundings while you are waiting for your appointment. For example, what is the building like, what do the staff seem like? This is all useful information as to whether the organisation / department is the right fit for you.
- Dress appropriately for the job in question. “Smart but comfortable” is a good guideline.
- Smile, adopt confident body language and use appropriate eye contact.
- Ensure that your answers come across as positive, and support your statements with specific evidence. Try to end your answers on a “high note” wherever possible.
- Think from the employer’s perspective rather than your own. Tell them what you can contribute to the organisation rather than how it can benefit you.
- It is acceptable to take along physical evidence of your work, to bring your competency examples to life. These should be snappy and visual, for instance a copy of a poster or journal article that you have produced, rather than a long report which the interviewer cannot be expected to read there and then.
- Have some questions of your own. This demonstrates genuine interest and enables you to clarify any points on which you are unclear. Always keep your questions job-focused, such as “How would my performance be measured over the first six months” rather than housekeeping questions like “Would I get my own parking space”. Save the latter type of question for when you’re offered the job!
STRUCTURING YOUR ANSWERS
Take some time beforehand to think about the questions you might be asked. It is natural to get “interview nerves” (most people do) but you will feel much more confident if you’ve thought about the answers / examples you might give to demonstrate your abilities. It is also useful to rehearse your answers beforehand with a friend.
Many people find the STAR and CAR models useful in structuring their interview answers in relation to specific aspects of their experience and responsibilities:
What was the Situation?
What Task was required?
What Action did you take?
What was the Result of the actions you undertook?
Context – who, what, when, how, why?
Action – say specifically what YOU did and how YOU demonstrated that competency
Result – say something specific or quantifiable, a learning point or feedback from others
Using these models will help you to keep your answers focused in relation to the specific aspects of the job responsibilities, such as line manager and customer service for example.
And remember to sell yourself – the interviewer will only know you are good at something if you tell them, and an interview is not the time to be modest!
FURTHER ADVICE AND SUPPORT
If you would like advice or assistance in preparing job applications, updating your CV, writing a cover letter, interview skills, or a general discussion of possible job opportunities within the University and externally, please contact the Clinical School’s Employee Relations Administrator, Catherine Upton (Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org) x36925, who will liaise with the HR Adviser for your Department to arrange an appointment at one of their Redeployment Surgeries. Your Employee Relations Administrator can also arrange for you to participate in a “mock interview” to help you hone your interview skills.
The Careers Service provides careers advice specifically for Postdocs and Research Assistants within Life Sciences. Please register at www.careers.cam.ac.uk/pdoc/ to have access to the service and to book an appointment.
Please refer to the following Website:
https://www.training.cam.ac.uk/cppd/ (PPD Personal and Professional Development – University Training Booking System providing support for all employees)