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 –



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!

The Chester Difference Graduate Profile

From guest writer Natalie Webster (3rYear English Literature student and Careers & Employability Information Point Assistant)

As a third year student, the thought of making the next steps in my career is very daunting. You can easily go through the whole of university thinking that you haven’t done much at all to become employable, but this is completely untrue. Luckily, Careers and Employability have created The Chester Difference Graduate Profile to help you to identify all of the attributes you have gained and help you understand where you need to improve.

General Skills

Within the graduate profile, the general skills section contains thinking, communicating and delivering. Communication is a skillset which develops immensely throughout university in all aspects. The constant stream of assessments we have to complete ensure that our written communication and presenting skills are always being developed. Listening, negotiation, teamwork and debate are all skills which are consistently exercised through lectures and seminars. Your critical and creative thinking and ability to deliver quality work to deadlines are also aspects you will have learnt from being at university. That’s a lot of skills already, and this is only within the educational environment! These skills are all enhanced by extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, work experience, being a StAR and many other activities. I am president of a society which involves so many of these aspects: managing social media accounts; teamwork within the committee; communicating with students; recruiting new people; managing the budget. Even living in halls and interacting with new people will have added to your interpersonal skills. Until you stop and think about it, you often don’t realise how many responsibilities and experiences you actually have to boast about.


If there is one thing that I could say has changed massively since I joined university, it is my confidence. I feel that studying, working and living alone has made me a more self-aware, assertive and independent person. These all contribute towards the kind of mindset you need to secure a graduate position. There are many scenarios that you encounter that will demonstrate your flexibility, reliance, curiosity, resilience and your initiative. Ensure you recognise and remember these instances for applications, personal statements and interviews.


Ah, the dreaded interview question: ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ What a difficult question to answer, especially as it is often so easy to be harsh on yourself. It’s so important to recognise the qualities that set you apart from the crowd, and also aspects you may need to improve on in order to make yourself more employable. You have probably learnt a lot about where your talents lie through university assignments. Do you excel at presenting but not so much at writing? Is your work good but often left until the last minute? Do you find planning difficult or easy? I often have to begin my assignments by running my ideas past a friend or lecturer, which really illustrates how much I value teamwork and collaboration. Evaluating your performance in assessments is a brilliant way to start to understand how you work best. An interviewer might also ask you to talk them through your CV. This is a time where you have to justify the academic and professional choices you have made throughout your life. Have a look through your CV and think about why you decided to take on a particular role and how it has impacted you. Be prepared to explain any gaps in a positive way.


Real World Experience and Awareness

Almost two thirds of students have part-time jobs while at university. It is a great advantage to have experience in the world of work before pursuing a graduate career. I feel that having a part-time job has definitely increased my awareness of how various companies operate and has given me an insight on working life in various sectors. However, if you don’t have a part-time job, you probably still have experience from work based learning, volunteering or work shadowing. No matter how short the placements are, these experiences are still incredibly important. It’s also a good idea to keep up with current events, especially by continuously researching the sector you are interested in. You can do this by looking at job profiles, following companies on social media, reading relevant news articles, and speaking to people in the industry. Make sure you know about any advancements or trends within that sector, show the employers how interested you are!


Personally, networking is still quite a baffling idea to me. It conjures up images of running around at a drinks reception frantically trying to introduce yourself to everyone. However, this is not often the case. Almost any interaction you have with colleagues and university staff can be considered networking. It’s a great idea to build a good rapport with your lecturers; not only will you need them for references but they may also have contacts that could be vital to your future. Think about the University of Chester network you already have: your community of peers, housemates or course-friends, may provide to be vital contacts in the future. Additionally, work shadowing, sending speculative applications to companies you are interested in and making a LinkedIn profile are all brilliant ways of networking.

Specialist Skills

There are probably a lot of skills you have learnt from your course that are specialist. Whether it’s computer programming, a foreign language, excellent writing skills, design skills or music. These all help you to stand out within the application process and throughout your career. Even if they aren’t particularly relevant to what you’re hoping to do, they show commitment, passion and diligence.

The Chester Difference Graduate Profile has definitely helped me evaluate my academic life and identify key experience and skills I have gained. How can it help you? What makes you stand out?


The pros and cons of a graduate scheme- a case study.

blogMany students work towards getting on a graduate scheme with a company that embodies their values and that they are passionate about, others don’t know what a graduate scheme is. We had the opportunity to talk to Robert, a graduate who started his training after he finished his Masters. He outlines the pros and cons of this path of employment and explains what you can expect if you choose this route.


What is your job title and how long after graduating did you start this job?

My title is Management Trainee and I am currently a team leader of 9 people in customer service. I started 9 months after graduating and held a role in marketing prior to this role.


What feels different being a graduate employee compared with being a student?

You have more responsibility especially with an ambitious graduate scheme like mine. However the studying doesn’t stop after your degree if you are lucky enough to have your company pay to train you. The expectations of graduates are that you will work and drive your career, which both opens up huge opportunities but can be equally testing. Earlier mornings and more structured time off is also a change to your routine!


How does it feel different from other jobs you had (e.g. part-time, vacations)

It feels like I’m working towards progression and becoming an expert in an area which is advantageous, it’s better pay and more benefits and I enjoy working for a company who reward hard work and commitment. Avenues for progression will be open to me and my employer will give me every tool to succeed.


Apart from the money, are there any other advantages?

The training is great, I’m currently studying to get my qualification in Insurance and if you work hard there is a good progression path. You also become very aware people are checking in on you and it is nice to be a person of interest.


And any disadvantages?

It’s hard work, but at the start of your career and if you ambitious, you don’t mind this. If you want a 9 to 5 job and no weekend work I wouldn’t recommend a graduate scheme.


Were there any unwritten rules you just had to work out?

Everyone works in different ways and is motivated by different things so you have to ensure you key into this as a manager. It can be quite a steep learning curve, and it is important you don’t rub people up the wrong way.


Advice to final year students about starting their first graduate job?

Look for a company you admire and one that is in the field you are interested in and go for something that is going to give you as many training and progression opportunities as possible. Your career will be long so you want to have the resources available to you to keep yourself challenged. Also start applying early in your final year!