Confident communication skills help us to make and maintain good connections. They are essential for securing a job and vital traits once you are employed. Each year the gradireland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey reveals communication to be one of the core areas of concern for employers when it comes to graduate recruits. In an interview situation, nerves and stress can be a factor, no matter whether it is your first interview or your fifth. But you have the capability to communicate confidently, you just need to know how to and when. To enhance your communication skills during an interview, EMPLOY the following tips;
- Eye contact. It is important to smile and to make eye contact with your interviewer/interviewers as you meet them and throughout the interview process. This creates a non-verbal connection between you and them, it inspires their trust in you and conveys your confidence and people skills.
- Modulate your voice. We can all develop the habit of speaking in the same tone. By modulating or changing our voice we keep people’s interest. It gives the impression that we are interested in and enthusiastic about what we have to say. People want to work with interested and interesting people. There are a number of skills you can use to achieve this variety. The first way is to raise the pitch (height and depth) of your voice when making a new point. Think of it like telling a story, some parts require more emphasis, and a different pitch, than others.
- P Don’t be afraid to pause before answering a question, or during an answer. It will give you a chance to gather your thoughts, take a breath if needed, stay or regain calm and allow your interviewer to absorb what you have said. By practising pause, pre-interview, it can help you to identify filler words to avoid, such as “Eh…. Um…. Like”, and filter them out of your vocabulary! Don’t worry about creating tumbleweed moments; a pause will feel much longer to you than to your listener. Pausing can stop panic in its tracks and communicates confidence and that you are comfortable with taking the time to think before responding.
- L Being an engaged listener is an essential communication skill. Taking the time to comprehend and be interested in what is being said ensures that you can take in what is being asked. Listening intently keeps you focused, calm and in the present, enabling you to think more clearly and to express yourself more effectively.
- Open Your Mouth. When you get nervous, your jaw becomes susceptible to tension, which means we may not open our mouth freely, resulting in our words sounding mumbled. Alleviate this tension by yawning, massaging the hinges of your jaw and stretching your face. Just make sure you do it pre-interview! Sometimes it’s just a matter of focus; remembering to loosen up and articulate yourself properly. As you practise for interviews, exaggerate your articulation by “over” opening your mouth. It may feel over the top, but this is just to get your speech moving and out of your mouth and it won’t sound or look nearly as strange as it might feel! An Open Posture is a confident posture. It features chin parallel with the floor, shoulders unraised and back, arms and legs uncrossed and top it off with a firm handshake. Before your interview, find a private space to practise a power posture by standing with your feet more than hip width apart and your hands on your hips, or raised in the air, creating a V shape.
- Your attire. Bare in mind, as you dress to impress, that you will express yourself best when you are comfortable. Have a dress rehearsal as you practise your interview to ensure that you can move, sit, breathe and speak easily. Every little helps in interview situations so give yourself the best possible chance.
Emma Coogan helps people to express themselves clearly, with confidence and charisma. She runs the Emma Coogan School of Speech and Drama. Visit her on Facebook or keep up to date with Emma on Twitter. For some videos on confidence techniques that work, have a look here .
Maybe you’re just starting out in your career, maybe you have just changed job or maybe you have just returned to the workplace; whichever it is, remaining focused, motivated and effective is of course central to obtaining your career ambitions. But it’s a reality that it is also very easy to lose focus, and become easily distracted and less productive, so here’s some helpful tips to keeping your workplace edge sharp this summer.
Remember the good stuff
Like the fact that you have a job. Remember the many applications, the increasing pressure and the lack of money that accompanied college life or spending time unemployed. If you’re not walking into your workplace with the same spring in your step, try to remember what made you want to apply for the job in the first place, remember the sense of achievement when you got it and the accomplishments you have made in the work you do. Your work is important, you need to remember that and use it to keep motivated.
Take care of yourself
Work is important, sure, but not as important as you. Spending hours hunched like a contortionist over a keyboard is not going to do anyone any favours, least of all yourself. Spend some time away from the desk, it helps clear the mind, problem solve and reminds you of the wider world. Get some exercise too, whether it’s during your commute to work or something you do after work. And remember to eat well, not just whatever is most convenient. Bringing your own lunch to the office saves a fortune and you’re probably going to be eating healthier too. Also, remember to talk to your colleagues. We are all busy but it’s far more rewarding to share your workplace life with others, where possible and reasonable of course, and it can also remind you that there are people around you who should be willing to help if you’re feeling snowed under. Of course, it helps with your motivation if the people around you are motivated and enthusiastic too. Also, if you have a problem at work, and if you thiink you’re dealing with something, or somebody, that you shouldn’t have to then it’s important you address it right away with your manager or colleagues. Nobody should dread going to work.
Maybe you’re stuck in a rut and your job has just become ‘easy’. It’s important that you challenge yourself. That could be as simple as writing a list of tasks every day and trying to get through them, or else it could mean a chat with your manager and you seeking more responsibilities within the company. Whatever it is, it’s important to seek new challenges. Neither you, or the company, will gain anything long term by you standing still. Another way to motivate yourself in your career is by setting some goals which are linked to personal ambitions, such as travel. Always keep your goals realistic and ultimately attainable, even if it’s going to take months or even years. Focus on small changes which you can make to your lifestyle which can put you closer to what you want to achieve. If you can transfer this to your work then you’re going be far more rewarded and productive in what you do.
Visit here for information from gradireland on what you can do to make a winning start to to your career.
Laura Jordan of Stylesavvy.ie advises female graduates on the best interview and workplace dress tips. Next week it’s the guys’ turn!
Interview dressing is the holy grail of outfit choosing; what you wear really does matter. Workwear in general can be tricky, but the time to hit the nail on the head is when you are trying to get the job in the first place.
Your image reflects your competency and overall professionalism, a harsh truth perhaps, but true it is. Approach this task with as much precision and thought as you would your interview answers, and you can dress for interview success.
This is not the time to stand out for the wrong reasons. If it’s a corporate job you’re going for, remember that the corporate world has a particular style that should be broadly adhered to; even if you are interviewing around the outskirts of this industry.
Be memorable for what you say, not for what you wear.
The way to show your personality through your outfit is to accessorise with style. The way to show your style through your personality is to let your colleagues get to know you…over time. A luxury not provided by interview alone.
Many people ask me why workwear is so important, since they may not be client-facing, or the prevailing culture in their office is cool and casual. My answer is the same every time. Your clients don’t give you a promotion. Your colleagues do. So dress like you mean business. With this in mind it’s time to hit the shops. The key time for workwear purchases is August, as the Autumn/Winter stock arrives – right now we are in Spring/Summer limbo; the trickiest season to address in the office.
For the Summer months consider pencil skirts or tailored trousers with silk tops, or shift dresses and cropped blazers.
Capsule workwear wardrobes are your best bet; separates are more cost-effective than dresses as they allow for more combinations of outfits.
However, for interview (which can be at short notice), choose a dress. I break my own rule here as your ‘interview dress’ is your ‘uniform’- once time and thought has gone into choosing it, it’s done. Not something to have to worry about the night before.
If you are in a second interview position, then go for separates. You will have a better idea of the vibe of the workplace and can choose this outfit armed with more information. A dress has a smaller margin of error in terms of tucking, co-ordinating fabrics and texture and considering lengths and exposure.
Below you will see some options in the shops right now. Pencil cut or shift are the way to go – with a cap sleeve, or a light blazer / tailored jacket worn over. Avoid a skater or flared style, they appear girlie, not professional and are best left to the weekends. Fabric should be on the heavy side, even in Summer (this doesn’t necessarily mean dark) and texture or print are fine, as long as, like we said earlier, they don’t distract from the pearls of wisdom you are imparting!
Shoes are very important. Firstly, heels are almost always essential; the height is in your hands. Never go for a platform, always a pointed or round toe. At this time of year you can’t go wrong with a nude pointed or round-toed court. In Winter, a block-colour in suede has the same effect. Just note that the only patent shoe you should buy for work is black or nude, colours can look cheap and tacky.
Bring a bag large enough to carry documents (an extra copy of your CV, hard copies of references etc.) but small enough to sit on your arm or shoulder and not prove too cumbersome when meeting your interview panel. Your accessories let you show some of your own personal style – statement necklaces with a high or round neck add interest and focus, whereas a bangle or cuff can look great with a three-quarter-length sleeve. Choose a dainty piece if wearing silk or another light fabric.
Laura Jordan is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Design. She works as a fashion stylist and image consultant, specialising in corporate style and workwear wardrobes through her popular ‘StyleWorks’ seminars.
When you have your interview wardrobe selected, make sure to stop by gradireland.com for interview advice and tips!
European-wide search for aspiring-tech entrepreneurs begins
The University College Cork (UCC) launch of the EU-XCEL European Virtual Accelerator on April 15th marked the start of a European-wide recruitment campaign seeking out talented aspiring entrepreneurs in the field of information and communication technology (ICT). This hunt for tech-savvy graduates offers the opportunity to participate in an innovative virtual accelerator programme, focused on finding entrepreneurs who are ready to operate in a business ‘incubator’ environment.
“Our mission is to provide the optimum virtual and physical platforms to enable aspiring ICT tech entrepreneurs to flourish and become incubator ready after our international five month acceleration programme,” said programme Director, Dr Brian O’Flaherty.
Successful applicants from across Europe will participate as part of newly formed international start-up teams alongside some of the most promising and talented tech entrepreneurs in 5-month intensive, specially designed entrepreneurship training and mentoring programmes.
Successful applicants to the European Virtual-Accelerator programme will receive:
1: A week-long training and mentoring ‘start-up scrum’ in one of six countries – Ireland, Germany, Spain, Greece, Poland and Denmark.
2: Access to a bespoke virtual accelerator of supports to assist teams develop and refine their start-up idea
3: The opportunity to pitch to and connect with venture capitalists, angel investors and successful tech entrepreneurs in the EU-EXCEL Challenge
In addition, all successful applicants will receive:
- An opportunity to win a significant financial prize
- An opportunity to travel to one of six one-week long European start-up scrums with free flights & accommodation
- Access to peer and mentoring networking/entertainment events
- An opportunity to become part of an international EU-XCEL team and meet potential co-founders for the new venture
- Fast-track access to a European accelerator programme
EU-XCEL is a horizon 2020 funded project and part of Start Up Europe. The wider project partners outside Cork are made up of universities and incubator centres from across the European Union, including Denmark, Germany, Greece, Poland and Spain. “The internationalisation of entrepreneurship is a major component of this programme and the exchange element of the programme will enable cross-fertilisation and the pursuit of new ventures across a number of European countries,” says project director, Dr Joe Bogue of UCC.
For further information, please see http://euxcel.eu/ or contact Siobhan Bradley, EU-XCEL Project Co-ordinator, Department of Business & Information Systems, UCC on firstname.lastname@example.org or T: +0035321 490 3404.
For more on opportunities in the tech sector, read gradireland’s sector hub on careers in the IT and tech sector
Matthew Foyle from Griffith College Dublin was crowned National Student Challenge winner at the annual competition held by gradireland, writes Fergal Browne.
Bringing together over 50 of Ireland’s brightest students – who were the top performers in an online assessment specifically set to mirror the qualities employers are looking for – and some of Ireland’s top graduate recruiters like Lidl and PwC, the event was branded a success by both the competitors and the graduate recruiters.
“It’s been really stimulating. The most valuable part I’m going to take away from the day is a new way of thinking in stuff like supply chain management, and communicating,” said eventually winner Matthew Foyle who was the first National Student Challenge winner from Griffith College Dublin.
Matthew, who received a cheque for €1,000, highlighted that the event is also a brilliant networking opportunity. “The networking part is vital for me. I’m applying for a lot of graduate programme positions and this is an opportunity to talk to employers about what they are looking for and how to tailor my CV appropriately”, said the 2015 champion.
The event saw six employers – Lidl, the Public Appointments Service, PwC, EY, Bank of Ireland and AbbVie – challenge students in a range of tasks and competencies which were designed to be fun but demanding.
“We have been really impressed by the standard of students here. Some of them seemed to have the complete package; brains, personality and charisma. It’s great to see,” says Susan Murdock, Graduate Programme Manager at Bank of Ireland (BoI).
BoI set students the task of designing a mobile phone app in small groups. “We are looking for imagination and creativity because these are the qualities that we look for at Bank of Ireland”, says Susan. BoI is bringing on 80 students from across all disciplines for its graduate programme. “We are happy to consider anybody from any discipline. If they have creativity, there’s a place for them here”, adds Susan.
Major pharmaceutical firm AbbVie, which has manufacturing plants in Sligo and Cork, alongside offices in Dublin and internationally, set students the challenge of working in small teams to design and fly paper airplanes.
“What we were looking for is a good attitude”, says Angela Haran, AbbVie’s Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist. “We are very much a team-orientated environment, so a great attitude is a major part,” she adds.
The importance of a positive attitude was highlighted by Lidl too. “We are looking for three things; for students to enjoy themselves, contribute to the overall team effort and throw themselves into the task”, says Lidl’s Graduate Programme Manager, Russell Palfrey.
Lidl’s inventive task involved blindfolding four students while the other team members led the blindfolded students to certain parts of the room by directing them only by using whistles. “It’s directly linked to our business because we have trucks leaving our warehouses everyday to reach our stores,” adds Russell.
“The Lidl challenge was brilliant fun. It’s a great mix between doing something fun and serious team building,” says Stephen Brennan, a final year Engineering and Electronics student from TCD who took part in the event.
It’s the second time gradireland has run the GRADchances Language Fair in the RDS, which this year saw 20 employers advertising jobs for those with fluency in almost every European and world language.
One of the companies at the event, Wayfair – an online store specialising in furniture – came to the language event to source German and French speakers for customer service positions for its base in Galway.
“It’s been a great event”, says Jess Delahunt, Senior Recruiter at Wayfair. “Some of the CVs I received today, I actually wrote ‘hire’ on them, because I plan on getting these candidates interviewed next week and my recommendation to managers will be the get these people on board,” he says.
Most companies at the event were seeking to recruit immediately as many are expanding their operations in Ireland. One company, Cork-based Voxpro, currently has 700 employees with plans to expand to 1,000 by the end of this year and 1,700 by 2017. “We are looking for everything at the moment. If you have a European language, we’re interested”, says Catriona Flynn, a recruiter for the company.
Claudia Escobar came to the language fair to network with employers and see what jobs are out there. She arrived in Ireland from her native Mexico three and a half years ago and is finishing up her degree in Business Studies with a specialisation in Marketing at Independent Colleges in May.
“I’m really interested in doing either marketing or human resource management. I’ve been really surprised by how friendly all the employers are here. They are happy to answer all my questions and it’s given me a really great idea of what I can do with my Spanish and English when I finish college”, says the Mexican native.
Almost all the employers agreed one of the most difficult languages to source great talent for is German due to the large amount of positions available for those with that language.
“This really surprised me”, says Kyra Maron, originally from Nuremburg, Germany, who is studying European Studies in Trinity College. “Straight away when I told employers I speak German, they wanted to take my email address and were telling me how much they need German speakers. It’s really eye-opening to see how in demand the language is”, she says.
With studies giving contradictory conclusions on Ireland’s educational performance, questions remain about the quality of education at a time when the Irish economy needs to complement its return to growth with skilled jobs, writes Fergal Browne.
At the recent Irish Economic Policy Conference 2015 in the Institute of Banking, work by Tony Fahey (UCD) entitled “Family and Fertility in Ireland: A Human Capital Perspective” highlighted both positive and negative study results with regards Irish education.
The Pisa education study of the 35 most developed countries in the OECD, which measures amongst other things literacy and numeracy of 15 year-olds, found Ireland to be the fourth best performing nation in these measures.
Coupled with this, Ireland has the fifth highest birth rate in the OECD. Only Mexico, Turkey, Chile and Israel have higher rates.
This, according to Fahey, left Ireland in the unique position of all the countries studied in having high birth rates and strong educational performance.
While that seemingly bodes well, Fahey pointed to another more recent study, entitled PIACC, which presents Ireland’s educational performance poorly. The study, unlike Pisa, measures the numerical and literacy ability of adults not 15 year-olds in developed countries. It found Ireland is the third worst performing nation for educational aptitudes amongst developed nations and well below average overall.
“The only way we can explain this contradiction between the two studies is that they are not looking for the same factors”, says Fahey.
Taken together, these major comparative studies give unclear conclusions of Ireland’s educational performance.
Meanwhile, concerns have been highlighted that students are not being taught the necessary work skills at third-level, especially with regards the high-skilled multinational sector.
25,000 more people are employed in the multinational sector now than in 2011 meaning it comprises 10% of Ireland’s total workforce. Multinationals favour employees with strong problem-solving skills most, something Irish students are below average at compared to other developed countries, according to both of the above mentioned studies.
The American Chamber of Commerce has highlighted concerns previously about Ireland’s skill shortage. In 2011, it said US companies in Ireland were looking for 2,000 skilled workers, particularly in IT, but the jobs could not be filled due to the lack of the required skill set in the Irish economy. This was at a time when 440,000 people were on the live register.
In response the government launched the Springboard initiative where the state subsidises students who wish to study in areas where there’s a skill shortage.
The complexity of Ireland’s educational difficulties and bridging the gap between education and working skills is highlighted in a further OECD study, which showed Ireland has the highest amount of 25-34 year olds in Europe who have finished a third-level education course.
Conversely, at 21% Ireland also had the highest amount of NEETS, which are 15-29 year olds who are neither employed nor in education or training, according to the 2012 study. The average in developed countries is 15%.
Despite these difficulties, the perception amongst the American multinationals based in Ireland remains extremely positive with the belief amongst the 400 members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland is that we are getting it right both politically and economically.
“The key ingredient most acknowledged by the parent companies back in the US is the ‘can-do’ attitude of the Irish workforce”, Mark Redmond from the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland told The Irish Times.