Surrey Careers blog

Official blog of the University of Surrey's Employability and Careers Centre

Careers Fair: 3 Questions with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Expedia & Vodafone Group!



At this year’s University of Surrey Autumn Careers and Placements Fair, our roving reporter, Surrey student Giacomo Spagnoli asked 3 questions to graduate recruiters from Expedia, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Vodafone Group. Questions included ‘What’s the best bit about your job?’, ‘What advice do you have for Surrey students and graduates for applying for graduate positions?’ and ‘What’s your advice for being more confident when approaching recruiters at Careers Fairs?’

Find out what the graduate recruiters had to say…

  1. Have a plan! – Enterprise Rent-A-Car

With only a few minutes to make a great impression, approaching recruiters at Careers Fairs can be intimidating. Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Regina Van Burkle gives some great advice about how University of Surrey students and graduates can appear more confident in front of graduate recruiters.

In this video, Regina explains that it all comes down to having a plan…

Regina Van Burkle, who has been leading graduate recruitment with Enterprise Rent-A-Car for over 20 years, shares her advice for being more confident when approaching recruiters at careers fairs.

She recommends having a look through the list of recruiters that are the Careers Fair in order to work out which recruiters you would like to talk to, so that you can do your research in advance.

Regina also recommends having a couple of questions for each employer, in order to break the ice. She adds that great questions for graduate recruiters include ‘What kind of opportunities do you offer graduates?’, ‘What kind of career progression can I expect?’ and ‘What does the recruitment process involve?’

2. Identify which companies to spend your time talking to – Expedia

Next Giacomo interviewed University of Surrey alumni Yatin Vadhia, who is now a Product Manager for some of Expedia’s leading technology products, such as the iPhone app.

In this video, Yatin shares how students and graduates can make a good impression at careers fairs, and why he believes there’s no such thing as a bad question…

According to Yatin, the best thing about working for Expedia is the diversity of people he works with across the globe.

When quizzed by Giacomo about how students and graduates can make a good impression at a careers fair, Yatin responded “be approachable and having information about the company definitely helps. It can help you to identify which companies to spend your time talking to.

When asked ‘What’s the worst question a student can ask a graduate recruiter?’, Yatin’s response is that you can ask almost anything. However, he advises to avoid asking less polite questions to graduate recruiters, such as ‘How much are you paid?’

3. Success comes from really doing your research – Vodafone Group

University of Surrey student Alice Aspdin has recently joined the HR graduate scheme with Vodafone Group as part of the team coordinating graduate and internship recruitment.

In this video, Alice shares with Giacomo the best thing about her job, as well as her top tips for Surrey students and graduates for networking to get the job you want…

Alice believes the best thing about her new graduate job with Vodafone Group is the real responsibility she’s been given from day one. She explains how being thrown in at the deep end on day one has really given her a lot of exposure to different areas of the Vodafone Group business, and how she is able to get involved with many different projects, such as Learning and Development and Rewards.

When asked for her advice for applying for graduate positions, Alice firmly believes that success comes from really doing your research. As Vodafone Group is such a large organisation, she states that candidates need to be clear about the role they are applying to, so make sure you do your research before applying. Alice also recommends how it’s important to treat any online interview as importantly as you would a face-to-face interview!

Finally, her advice for networking to get the job you want is look for events in the areas that you are interested in, in order to meet the right people. Plus, she said it’s critical to check your online presence is professional and bang up to date, particularly your Linked In profile, as it’s a tool that many recruiters use.

Want to meet leading graduate recruiters right here on the University of Surrey campus? Then check out our calendar of free employer careers events right here

Kirsten: “The Autumn Careers Fair completely changed my perspective on the potential I have in the future”









By Kirsten Parry

One of the biggest common student worries is what we’re going to do when we graduate. As a Music student, I am more than used to people telling me that they are worried for my career and future; it’s not perceived as the most “employable” subject to take at degree level. Most people think that it’s a bit of fun for three years and then we leave University, only to have to settle for mundane jobs in a totally non-musical setting. This certainly isn’t the case for the majority of Music graduates, especially from Surrey – they have gone on to do amazing things! And personally, my passion is teaching; I’d love to be a Secondary School music teacher when I finish University.

I recently attended the University of Surrey’s Autumn Careers and Placement Fair, on Wednesday 12th October 2016 in the marquee on the PATS field. This was an amazing opportunity for students to explore the career possibilities available for them not only after they graduate, but also during their degrees.


For those of you who didn’t attend this year, “the Autumn Careers and Placements Fair at Surrey is the biggest event in the Employability and Careers Centre’s year…an exciting opportunity for students and graduate employers to meet and to network, the Fair creates an informal, friendly space for you to kick-start your career journey, explore options and ask questions to representatives of companies with an active interest in Surrey graduates.”


I had never actually attended the Autumn Careers Fair before – I either didn’t get round to registering, was busy with my course or felt that it “wasn’t for me”. How wrong could I be! Going this time round completely changed my perspective on the potential I have in the future.

At the Careers Fair, I was drawn to the various employers looking for teachers to join their schemes – this included TeachFirst, Teach Surrey and many others. I found that the exhibitors were incredibly friendly and approachable, which encouraged me to communicate clearly about what I want to do in my career and the impact that I want to make.


There were 150 different companies and employers there, and the event was free and open to all students; what an amazing opportunity! So after I’d chatted with some of the exhibitors in the realm of work that I’m interested in, I went round the fair and met various employers from companies I’d never heard of. I learnt about companies looking for engineering and computer science students, such as BAE Systems, AECOM and TRL, and also companies who employ Languages/Arts/Social Sciences students such as Jacobs Douwe Egberts.


There was a company handing out loads of free chocolate (Express Vending Ltd) which was one of my personal favourites! But from going round the fair for a couple of hours and having the opportunity to chat with all of the exhibitors, I got the impression that many roles in these companies can suit the individual, meaning that you don’t have to fit a really strict mould. Individuality is still valued, and there are so many exciting work opportunities out there.

For a full list of the companies that were at the fair, and further information about what kind of student they are looking for as part of their various schemes and placements, follow this link.

The companies all had varied and attractive stands, piled with information and freebies. Plus, it was an excellent opportunity to stock up on all of those pens you miraculously lost after Freshers’ Fair… and to get your hands on all sorts of quirky merchandise too! There was food, stationery, an array of water bottles, keyrings, bags and all sorts of other fun freebies to take away and remember the companies by. The variety of companies present at the fair really gave a sense of community and the atmosphere was buzzing throughout the event.


I think that the Careers Fair is really important for students to attend, as well as all of the other exciting opportunities for personal development that the Careers Service provide. Particularly for second years thinking about placement and final years thinking about postgraduate opportunities, this is a unique chance to really explore what’s out there and ultimately make the decision about what you want to do when you leave University. I know it feels like it’s a while away, but the time flies at a scary rate and it really does pay to be prepared!

If you feel you want some help at any stage during your degree, The University of Surrey has an active and approachable Careers Service. They run tons of events, workshops, CV writing skills sessions and opportunities to meet employers, as well as one-to-one sessions with careers advisors. The Careers Service website is also really useful, highlighting the numerous sessions that students are able to go to. They occur almost daily – check out the event’s calendar right here!

Guest Post: Personal Branding & Your LinkedIn Profile


We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Jack J Collins, Editor of

Something that’s absolutely key in the finance industry is building your own personal brand, and one of the foremost ways of doing so is through your use of Social Media. Here at AllAboutFinanceCareers, we’ve put together a checklist of how you can make sure that your LinkedIn profile (perhaps the most important weapon in your social media arsenal) is consistent with what you’re trying to convey.  With more than 300 million users on the site, you need to do something special in order to stand out. Here’s our top tips on how to do just that.

Buzzwords in Useful Places

One of the most utilised features of LinkedIn that employers use when looking for the right people to employ in their firm, is the specialised search function. This search function allows employers to locate profiles which contain keywords related to the industry they are a part of, in order to sift quickly through large numbers of candidates and identify those that they will be taking further in the employment process – after all, they’re looking for the people who have the skills to move the company forward.  What this means is that you need to have industry-specific keywords scattered around your profile.

Your headline, personal summary, job descriptions and skills are all prime spots to list your abilities and relevant skills, so make sure that you don’t sell yourself short.


Your headline is the first (and sometimes the only) thing that employers read, so you need to make sure that it does you justice as a candidate. Decide where you’re going to focus your applications and then fit as much industry or job-related information into your headline.

Get your most relevant current position in first, and then follow it with some skills and perhaps a key achievement, in order to make sure you cannot be overlooked.

Filling Out The Gaps

LinkedIn offers numerous different sections to your profile in order that you can add as much information as possible – this is so you can show what you’re capable of and what you have achieved to employers who are on the lookout for fresh blood. You need to utilise this as fully as you can – if you have qualifications, put them in the qualifications section! If you’ve won awards for any particular reason, and an employer might be impressed, get them in the awards part of your profile.

There’s no point hiding anything that might make you stand out from the crowd, so spend some time filling out as much of your profile as possible. Some employers will have a soft spot for those who have participated in a particular sport or were part of a particular society, so it’s worth sticking them in just in case – you never know who it is that is looking and what they are looking for!

Endorsements and Testimonials

In the search function, LinkedIn scans your testimonials for keywords and uses this data to rank you in their listings, so it’s worth requesting industry-focused testimonials that add to your personal brand. If you’ve highlighted the parts of your character that you think are relevant to the industry and will impress employers, ask the people recommending you if they could include these key words within their testimonials.

There’s no shame in asking those recommending you to focus their praise on a specific part of your work or a particularly impressive project that you worked on together. It’s worth it because getting those specific, brand-focused testimonials will do wonders in improving your ranking and therefore, your employability!

Guest Post: Aptitude Tests for Graduates – Explained


We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Ed Mellett, Director at WikiJob

If you’ve spent the last few years studying and you have now finished your degree, it’s time to enter the world of work either through a graduate program or regular job with a leading firm. The majority of large employers now use what’s known as an aptitude test to evaluate a number of skills in several different areas. The aptitude test is commonly found in various graduate level vacancies because employers use them to determine how well you will perform in the role you have applied for, rather than relying on your qualifications as an indicator of performance. But what exactly are these aptitude tests, how do you prepare for them and most importantly, how can they help you secure employment?

Aptitude tests are frequently used in the recruitment process as a method of shortlisting candidates or to ensure that the applicants recruiters have shortlisted are suitable for their organisation. As with anything, if you know what to expect beforehand and you have read a little on aptitude tests, you will be more prepared if you are asked to sit them when applying for graduate jobs.

Aptitude tests or psychometric tests as they are sometimes refereed are impersonal, objective and standardised. There are several different types of the tests which are used to assess various skills and competencies. Employers place a great deal of emphasis on these assessments as part of the selection process because they are thought to be an accurate method of evaluating the strengths of the applicant in a workplace situation regardless of your educational background.

Different types of aptitude test

The aptitude test is often used at various points throughout the recruitment and selection process including immediately after submitting your application, at the first interview, at the final interview or at an assessment centre. Sometimes you may be asked to sit the same aptitude test twice with the second test used to confirm the result of an earlier test or you may have to sit several tests at different stages in the recruitment process. It very much depends on the employer so it is always worth finding out if you are applying to a specific firm.

The main types of aptitude test include;

  • Numerical Reasoning – Your ability to read, analyse and interpret data, carry out basic calculations or identify patterns in data
  • Verbal Reasoning – How well you read and understand written information and evaluate arguments
  • Non-Verbal Reasoning – The way in which you use diagrams and images to identify patterns
  • Logical Reasoning – If you can follow information through to a conclusion using existing experience or knowledge

Each of the aptitude tests will include a set of approximately 30, multiple choice questions which you have to progress through under timed conditions. Typically, you will have 30 seconds to a minute to answer each question so it is important that you learn how to approach the tests and progress through the questions quickly and accurately.

There are currently two types of logical reasoning test including inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning so it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with each.

Inductive Reasoning


Typically found in particular industries such as IT, engineering or science inductive reasoning tests are part of the recruitment process in technical roles. Each question will present a series of pictures but there will be minor differences between each image. You may be asked to look at a set of pictures and select the one that would complete the series.

Deductive Reasoning


Another method of logical reasoning, deductive assessments are designed to evaluate a different kind of problem solving. In this test you will be expected to evaluate a number of rules and then apply these rules to make predictions on the likely outcome of a given scenario. These assessments are used in roles where you are required to create new solutions or think up creative ideas such as design or development.

An aptitude test is specifically designed to evaluate your ability to learn a new skill required for the job that you are applying for and the type of test will be determined by the sector and role you are applying for.

The importance of practice


Aptitude tests are not something that you can succeed in without completing any preparatory work beforehand. As they are very fast paced it is important that you perfect your technique and accustom yourself to the nature of the assessments. The best way to approach an aptitude test for a graduate vacancy or training scheme is to familiarise yourself with the questions and format of the tests. You will also be able to identify weaker areas or certain skills that you need to work on. If you have a numerical or verbal reasoning test to complete as part of the recruitment process there are several things that you can do to prepare. Firstly, you should polish up on your mathematical skills. Numerical reasoning tests don’t require advanced numeracy such as trigonometry or algebra; they simply demand a good grasp of the basics. Focus specifically on percentages, ratios and basic calculations. If you are sitting a verbal reasoning test brush up on your spelling and when you read a newspaper or magazine think about the statements, their meaning and how they could be interpreted.

With the internet it is now possible to access aptitude tests online through careers websites and dedicated test practice sites. It is well worth taking the time to sit as many of these tests as you possibly can so you are as fully prepared as possible and you can sit the test on the day of your interview with confidence. Practice is really important, not just so you can familiarise yourself with the style and structure of the test but to make sure you get your timing right and you avoid making common mistakes such as misunderstanding the question or marking your answer against the wrong question when working under pressure.

Aptitude tests are certainly not impossible provided that you research them and carry out the necessary preparation. Your college or university will have lots of information and advice on these tests and the Internet is a great resource too. If you prepare properly there is no reason why you can’t succeed and secure your ideal graduate employment opportunity.

Guest Post: Personal Development in Your First Year of Post-Graduate Employment

We are delighted to welcome a guest post from Samantha Condliffe – Digital Marketing Exec at Infinities

Time Management

As soon as you embark upon your first post-graduate role you will commit to a brand new schedule. If you are taking on a full time job, you will usually be expected to work between 35 and 40 hours per week. Office based jobs usually adopt a ‘9 till 5, 5 days a week’ kind of policy, however customer facing roles may require more varied hours. This will naturally add more structure to your life and you will become accustomed to a new routine. Attendance will be more crucial than ever as you will be under the watchful eye of your employer or line manager who will need to document any absences and if you don’t already do so, you will be expected to achieve impeccable time management. This is something which is transferable and extremely useful in other areas of your life. The routine of your new job will shape your personal life to a certain extent and with less time on your hands, you will learn how to be more productive with the time you have and also learn how to juggle relationships.


You will likely spend the first few weeks of your new job getting to know the ropes but once you are settled in, you will take on the responsibility of fulfilling certain duties or tasks for which you will be accountable for. You will have experience in completing tasks for deadlines at university. However failing to complete assignments would only have a negative impact on yourself, whereas failing to complete tasks in your new job will have an impact on the business which employs you.

You may also be given objectives or targets which you will be expected to meet and preferably exceed. Your employer or manager should ensure that these are fair and manageable. By taking on this kind of accountability, you will learn how to manage responsibility and become more confident in delivering results.

Communication & Networking

A new job means a new group of people. The number will be dictated by the size of the company you work for or the size of the office in which you are based, but it is encouraged that you get to know all of the people that you work with day to day. You will also get to meet or at least speak with external figures including clients, suppliers and other associates. This will develop your communication, relationship management and networking skills and provide you with connections in numerous different industries. You will be surprised how useful these connections can be at various occasions in your later career, even if you don’t realise it at the time.

Within your role you will most likely be asked to report on performance or pitch new ideas to management. A popular method of doing so is presenting, something which you may have had some practice in at university. It can still be nerve wracking presenting to a new group of people to start with but the more you do this the more comfortable you will be communicating in this way. This is such a valuable skill and it is transferable to any other role you may move to in the future.


I am going to end on self-confidence as the three personal skills above all contribute to this. The knowledge that you have great time management and are highly responsible gives you confidence in yourself to fulfil both tasks and new roles. Having great communication skills will naturally make you more confident in speaking to new people and this is something which will shine through. On top of this, the work skills which you will also acquire will give you more confidence in fulfilling your current job and the belief that you can adapt and grow into other roles.

How to be employer friendly on social media


A two-page CV is no longer the only information your employer will see when you apply for a job. 90% of those offering positions now admit to looking at your LinkedIn to suss you out, and over half will then try to get a scoop about you from Facebook and Twitter (Jobvite).

We look at the important social media steps you must take to be sure you are not ruining your career chances.

Keep your private life private
As many as 58% of us in the UK are allegedly revealing all on social media by sharing our profiles publicly, according to a study by The Safe Shop. That means your profile can be viewed in its entirety, by anyone, at any time.

The first step to address this is to selectively privatise your profiles. You can choose who views your photos, posts and other important information. With careful attention, you can afford to post as you would, without worrying that your latest holiday snaps are being spied.

To make your Facebook and Twitter profiles are private, follow this step-by-step guide.

Monitor your mates
Whilst your friends might not see the harm in a funny shot from the weekend, tagging you in a photo could cost if you wouldn’t be happy for your potential boss to see it.

Keep on top of the content you’re involved with, especially if it’s not your own post. Facebook has introduced a feature allowing you to review and accept or deny any content that you are tagged in, meaning you can pre-empt any potential professional pitfalls.

To monitor posts before they upload to your Facebook Wall, follow this tutorial.

Avoid needless negativity
It’s good to have opinions, but be careful to balance the views that you would be happy to share with your close friends, compared to the millions of people online. If you can see a certain view flaring heated responses, or rubbing up a potential boss the wrong way, then steer clear.

You can review your social media profiles, which means employers can to. So, aside from biting your tongue on occasion it’s equally important that you look retrospectively at posts you have shared in the past. The views of your 17-year-old self may not present the mature person your employer is in search of.


Keep up with your industry
Aside from the tip-toeing you must do to give a best impression online, another study found that 65% of recruiters use social media to see if prospective candidates present themselves professionally. If you use this to your advantage, you’re in with a much better chance of getting that interview.
On Twitter, follow the key influencers in your employers industry and retweet and favourite related content.

If you show your own initiative by writing about your industry, then share this on your social platforms to demonstrate your extra-mile.

And if you do get the job…don’t bad mouth work
Industry commentary? Yes. A tweet that names and shames your annoying boss? Absolutely not.
Not only does moaning about work detract from any professionalism and hinder your future prospects, but many companies actually have their own non-disclosure agreements that you’ll sign upon your employment. Breaking that agreement can land you back in the job-seeking pond.

With a competitive job market, it’s vital that you don’t risk an opportunity for the sake of a status. Avoid being judged unfairly by keeping these steps in mind and using social media to promote, not hinder, your chances of a dream job.

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