Graduate of the Year 2017 competition

Guest post by Stephen Pritchard of Adzuna

Looking for a way to make your CV stand out once you’ve graduated? Then you’re in luck, because the 2017 Graduate of the Year competition is open and waiting for your entry.

Hosted by job search website Adzuna, the Graduate of the Year competition recognises the country’s finest graduates, and for the very best, the prizes on offer can really help kick-start your career:

  • Gain on the job experience with an internship at a top UK company
  • Plan your path to your dream job with a 1-to-1 career coach session
  • Brush up on skills you didn’t learn on your degree with £200 to spend on courses
  • Celebrate in style or buy yourself a new work wardrobe with £1,000 cash

The competition is open to anyone who can demonstrate excellence during their time at university, whether that be as an entrepreneur in the making, the MVP of the sports team, or the academic genius who aced every test.

Entries close on June 30, so what are you waiting for? Visit the website to enter today –



CDA – What’s the Point

How many points have you got?


Are you going for 10 points to get the Chester Difference Award? Do you want to go further and earn 15 points for CDA Plus or are you taking those 15 points to an assessment centre to reach the giddy heights of the Chester Difference Excellence Award?

It’s easy to get obsessed with earning CDA points. There are tonnes of ways to earn them and lots of the activities are things you like doing anyway. You could go on and on and earn squillions of points… until you’ve got more points than all your friends…then more points than CareerHub can cope with…then more points than anyone in the whole world has got…for anything… ever!

But what’s the point?!

It’s great to push yourself and be competitive but if you’ve got so many points you can’t even remember what they’re for, isn’t that a bit erm … pointless?

The Chester Difference Award is an employability award and so the whole point of the points is to record, your skills and attributes, your experiences and expertise, your achievements and above all your awesomeness!

When you want to get a job, any kind of job, you need to let employers know how awesome you are. If you don’t, someone else will and they’ll get your job! How rubbish is that?!

Thing is, you can’t just say ‘I’m awesome, I earned 10 / 15 / 150 points and got the Chester Difference Award’, employers want to know what the heck that means and what you’ve done to earn your points.

So what kind of thing should you put on your application or say at your interview?

Something like:

‘I worked part-time in a ukulele shop and gained experience of handling payments and providing   excellent customer service.

‘I completed a 10 week internship as a Communications Officer with Blathermouth’s Incorporated and developed my written and verbal communication skills by writing copy for press releases and answered enquiries over the phone.’

Notice how we didn’t mention the number of points you get for doing these things? Instead we demonstrated where you got your winning customer service smile. We spelt out when and where you developed your banter and your word play skills.

If you do this too, you won’t just tell your employer you’re right for the job … you’ll show them!

Let them know you’re ready for work by saying what you’ve done for CDA and how it’s relevant to the job you want, then whip out that shiny certificate to prove you did it!

The CDA is a tool to evidence your awesomeness!!

Need some pointers on finding these kinds of opportunities?

Just follow the link below and log into CareerHub. The ‘Opportunities’ tab shows what’s recommended for you but you can also search for what you want. Part-time Work, Graduate Jobs, The Chester Internship Programme, they’re all on there. All you have to do is point and click – easy!

We hope that points you in the right direction!


5 Skills Accounting Employers Look For in a Graduate

Close Up Of Female Accountant Or Banker Making Calculations

Guest post by Lauren Wise content writer for The Accountancy Partnership.

For those wishing to pursue a career in accounting, now is an exciting time to start. The tax system is steadily becoming more digital, which means the role of the accountant is changing. Future employers will no longer be searching for just a dedicated number cruncher: instead, you’ll be required to bring a number of relevant skills to the table.

In many ways you will be a mentor to clients, helping to lead them through the new system. This kind of role requires a more varied skillset than previously, as you will encounter different challenges.

Here are some of the skills future accountants should possess if they hope to be successful in job hunting.


Despite what you may have heard, accountancy is a fast-paced business; especially when deadlines are looming. Being able to shift your workload is an important skill if you wish to succeed as an accountant, as you may need to drop all your work to get a set of accounts completed for a close deadline. With ever-changing legislation, it will be necessary for you to adapt to new accounting techniques in order to help your clients become as tax efficient as possible.


Communication is one of the key skills that can’t be ignored if you’re an accountant. You’ll be required to effectively explain to clients what the most tax efficient process is, and why that is. You will also need to communicate with the administration and sales departments to get information on payments and new clients. The more open the communication is, the easier it will make your job in the long run.


Now this is one you would expect to see on the list of skills accountants need. Organisation is a requirement of any accountant, without it you wouldn’t be able to complete a day’s work. Depending on the size of the company you work for, you could have anywhere between 5 and 20 clients to deal with, so it’s important to be able to keep track of each and every set of accounts.

Commercial awareness

Accountants are invested in by their clients to help them become as tax efficient as possible. That’s why it is vital for you, as the accountant, to stay up to date on industry news. You can then keep on top of your accounts and ensure that they are currently tax efficient, because if a piece of legislation changes, what is efficient today may not be tomorrow.

IT skills

This may seem like an obvious skill for accountants to have, as they complete all their work on a computer. However, as Making Tax Digital comes into effect accountants will be expected to understand how it works and use it extensively themselves from the very beginning, which means certain IT skills will make you a more desirable candidate to employers. Make sure you add any relevant IT skills to your CV in order to showcase your talents and clinch that interview!

A Career in Marketing – what are the options?

Guest post by Samantha Cooper – Marketing Manager at Alcumlow Wedding Barn, Cheshire.

If you’re thinking that a career in marketing may be for you, then you may be wondering what the options are.

It’s probably worth thinking about how you can use your degree subject to your advantage although generally companies tend to be more interested in your passion and enthusiasm than the specifics of your degree). For example, if you have a degree in English you could opt for a role which involves the production of content such as SEO, whereas email marketing might be a good option if you’ve graduated from graphic design.

It’s also worth thinking about whether you prefer to go down the traditional or digital marketing route.

Traditional marketing includes a variety of roles including print, broadcast, direct mail and telephone marketing. These roles have been around for many years and the practices are well defined and perfected. Digital marketing (the area I work in) is much newer and with developments in technology and culture it is evolving much faster. Due to this there is more demand for digital marketers and more opportunity to really make a mark on the industry. You can either start with a general marketing assistant role, or enter a specialist area of digital marketing:

Roles within digital marketing:

General digital marketing assistant – a good option if you want to see which area you most enjoy and what you excel in before specialising in one area. Your duties may include helping out in all of the specialist areas and pulling together reports which use data and commentary from each channel.

Many graduates enter specialist roles straight after their degree. Specialist skills (for example expertise with social media or Search Engine Optimisation) are in high demand and  many as there are fewer people in specialist roles you will often be able to command a higher salary.

Search engine optimisation – The main aim of an SEO specialist is to increase a websites visibility in a search engines natural results pages in order to increase traffic to a website. To do this they must ensure that the website is technically healthy and provides a great user experience whilst delivery the information they were looking for as well as getting people in the industry talking about the company online (a bit like online PR).

Pay Per Click Marketing – Shortened to PPC, this refers to the placement of paid adverts in search engines. As well as actually producing the written ads, a PPC exec is required to identify when they want their company adverts to be displayed and how much they are willing to pay in order to ensure that the website is seeing a healthy return on investment.

Email Marketing – Email marketers are responsible for producing and sending out compelling emails to a company’s email database in order to trigger them to take a desired action such as making a purchase. This tends to require some sort of graphic design skill alongside your marketing degree.

Social Media – A firm favourite with the younger generation, social media execs must create and execute marketing campaigns which stand out from the social media noise to; increase brand awareness, increase demand for your product/service, engage with the target audience to form relationships and also provide a level of customer service.

Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketers drive traffic to a website through adverts or offers on third party websites. In order to do this they must form partnerships with other sites, agree on what the company is offering and arrange commission by way of payment with these partners. This must be carefully calculated to ensure a healthy return on investment.


What you can do to make employers want you (yes, you!)

It’s no secret that getting a degree isn’t enough to guarantee yourself a job.

While many employers value subject specific skills, many recruiters are looking for something else. But what is it they’re looking for, and how do you get it?

All employers are different, of course, and it’s impossible to know exactly what each recruiter is looking for. Even so, there are a series of skills, attributes and attitudes valued by many recruiters that can put you in good stead when applying for work.

Remember: it’s not enough to simply possess certain qualities and skills. The important thing is how you talk about them. Recruiters don’t know that you’re perfect for a role – you’ve got to show them, and use evidence!



Communication skills show that you can work well with others. When applying for a role, think about what the employer is looking for and how you meet that need. Will you need to persuade or influence? Does the job require you to train or instruct others? There are many different types of communication skills, including listening!

Develop and talk about this skill:

You don’t have to be a chatterbox to be a good communicator! Become a student mentor and help other students – explain processes for submitting coursework or encourage a shy or nervous peer. By spending time helping others, you’ll develop your ability to listen and build relationships.

When talking to employers about this remember to explain the outcome – did the student gain enough confidence to join a society or write an article for the student newspaper?


Independent Thinking

Thinking creatively about problems, having the determination to overcome barriers, and using personal experiences to understand situations are all qualities of independent thinkers.

Develop and talk about this attribute:

Join a society or volunteer group and learn more about how it’s run. You don’t have to become president. Attend meetings and get to know what problems the society is facing (there’ll always be some!).

Perhaps you know of a great way to raise funds or have an idea for an event? Even if you feel too shy to contribute to a meeting, speak to a committee member afterwards, or drop them an email – overcoming personal barriers is half the challenge of thinking independently!

When you talk to employers about this, describe your thinking process – did you help solve a problem by drawing on a previous experience? How did you adapt it to the current situation? And what part did you play in carrying out the idea (did you write a flyer or bake cakes?)


Time Management and Prioritising

Do you juggle coursework with other commitments? Perhaps you work part-time or are learning a new language? How you prioritise and manage your time can be important to employers.

Develop and talk about this attribute:

Maybe you agreed to work extra shifts at work when a colleague was sick. How did you make sure that you didn’t fall behind on your coursework? Did you cancel a catch-up with a friend to study instead? Perhaps you always plan for deadlines in advance as you know work will be busy at certain times of year?

These things are all evidence of your time management and prioritising skills. Don’t forget to tell employers about the outcomes too – did you manage to help out at work and meet your deadline? What grade did you get? What impact did you have at work that day?


These are just a small selection of the skills and attributes employers are looking for. Pick up a free CV and Cover Letter Guide from the Careers and Employability Centre to learn about others and map your attributes on the Chester Difference Graduate Profile.