Applications, Applications, Applications! Too Many Deadlines and Not Enough Time?

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We all know that the golden rule is don’t leave your job applications until the last minute but with jobs coming in thick and fast, course work deadlines, life in general and with a nod to the fact that next term you can add interviews, psychometric testing, assessment centre presentations and their requisite travel into the mix, we thought we should just run over what to do when you spot your dream job at the last minute.

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Firstly, don’t give up, if this job is everything you dreamed of, you need to buckle down and hit that deadline. Make sure you have a copy of your CV and the job description in front of you and if you haven’t already started to compile a document with a list of key skills required by employers and examples of how you have fulfilled the requirement, then get it done now. Whilst one answer does NOT fit all, most application forms are built on establishing whether you have certain competences, so you can take phrases and examples from your earlier applications, CV or even your UCAS personal statement. This isn’t a cut and paste exercise, you need to read the questions carefully and answer what is being asked. If the question asks you to describe a situation where you have had to negotiate a solution to a challenging team situation, and you select your teamwork example, you must then focus on how you resolved the problem your team faced. The key components needed to solve a problem are communication, persuasion and negotiation skills and the format of the answer is context (I was.., I had to …), action (I planned …, I did …), result (the outcome showing determination, negotiation, adaptability, ability to work under pressure etc.). To get you started the top 10 skills shortages among graduates according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters  report – Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century, are:

              Skill Shortage                    % of employers surveyed
1. Commercial Awareness                                       67%    
2. Communication Skills 64%
3. Leadership 33%
4. Ability to work in a team 33%
5. Problem solving 32%
6. Conceptual ability 21%
7. Subject knowledge & competence. 19%
8. Foreign languages 19%
9. Numeracy 19%
10. Good general education 15$

So the clock’s ticking and your back’s against the wall, where should you start? Your first task is to scour the job description, this applies to every application you make because it’s the only way to make sure you avoid writing a generic answer and tailor you’re application to the job in hand. Once you have a list of the job’s essential and preferred requirements, you need to demonstrate your ability to fulfil them. For example: Employers are looking for employees to have a bit of oomph about them. The work environment can sometimes be challenging and they need to know that you’re the type of person who has enough drive and determination to persevere even when the going gets tough. Whenever you write, always ask yourself whether you have fulfilled both the question you’re being asked and the job description’s criteria.

As a very general rule the first question is likely to be along the lines of:

What motivates you to pursue a career in the property industry and become a chartered surveyor with [name of the company you are applying to]?

Try and give a personal outlook on what it is that interests you about property, land and real estate. Show that you understand the role of a chartered surveyor and then explain why you want to carry out that job at [name of the company you are applying to]. Mention clients and projects (most firms have a ‘research’, ‘publications’ and ‘news’ section on their website). It is also the point to refer to what you enjoyed about any industry placements you’ve completed. Say what appealed to you about the work; if you worked in a different sector (be that commercial, residential, investment, public, private etc.), say why you think you’d be better suited to the sector to which you are applying.

If you haven’t got industry work experience, you need to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the sector. For example commercial sector transactions tend to take longer and relationships with clients are more constant than those in the residential or public sector. So you could say why you are suited to long-term projects and client relationships.

The second part is more time consuming as it relates specifically to the employer in question. If you can find an employee or someone on Student Surveyor who has completed a placement there, connect with them and ask for tips. Searching is easy. Go to the members page (Network > Members) and type the name of the company you are applying to, into the search box on the top right hand side.

The secret here is to avoid any clichés about wanting to work for a ‘leading, international firm’. Recruiters want to know what particular aspects of their firm appeals to you. You need to be specific and say why they are important to you. For example, you could mention:

  • their strength in the market sector that you are looking to enter and why that is of interest to you.
  • Their training and APC pathway, such as rotational training; or
  • The opportunities to learn on the job

Look for ways in which [name of the company you are applying to] differentiates itself from its competitors, such cross-department teamwork; regional focus (if you are applying to a regional office); good level of contact with senior staff etc.

Another popular type question is:

Tell us about a recent deal or development in the property industry which has caught your interest?

Note the question asks for a (one) deal or development and your choice should be relevant to sector in question. The employer wants to test the extent of your interest in property and your understanding of the market as a whole. Don’t just choose the most recent deal playing out in the property press. Find one which genuinely interests you and provides you with the chance to talk through the results and consequences on the stakeholders. When considering the effects on the firm, consider the commercial aspects (e.g. how it may affect the firm’s net income or earnings, the consequences for shareholders, whether it may bring in further business), as well as how it could affect the advice the firm gives to clients.

Another alternative is:

What do you think are the main challenges facing [name of the company you are applying to] over the next 12 months?

Again this is company specific question, so it can be time consuming. A starting point may be to check how the firm’s main income is derived and consider whether there is a particular division producing the bulk of that income? If this is the case, look at what challenges may be faced in trying to further grow that sector. Alternatively, look at the company’s key clients and consider the impact of the world’s economy, the shift to online shopping etc. and consider how it affects the advice given to their clients and how they may retain them as their property needs change.

Don’t try to shove everything into your answer, stick to the question and focus on the main challenges. They are testing your ability to identify the most important threats to the business, so use bullet points and keep to the word count (normally between 2-300).

Whatever happens, make sure you leave yourself enough time to read through your work. If it’s covered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors you will have completely wasted your time.

 

HEADS UP AND GOOD LUCK

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