In episode 67 of the Graduate Job Podcast I am joined by Craig Pemblington from the brilliant Charityworks graduate scheme. This episode came about from a listener request, TJ got in touch via email and asked about the best way to get a graduate job with a charity, well, as you will hear the answer to that question is the excellent Charityworks. In this episode we explore the Charityworks graduate scheme in detail, looking at what exactly it is and the types of charities that you could be working with. We delve into how you apply, the different stages of the application process, from initial application, through to the online tests they use, interviews and assessment centres. We cover what you need to do to impress at each stage and make sure you stand out from the crowd. We go into the charity matching process and how they match you with the charity that you will be working with, and we also cover the amazing alumni opportunities open to you as you progress with your career in the third sector. If you have ever thought about working with a charity, voluntary or community group, non-governmental, or non-profit organizational then this is the episode for you. As always, all links to everything we discuss including a full transcript and Craig’s book recommendations and top tips can be found over in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/charityworks.
Before we start a quick request from me, your feedback helps me to create the episodes you want to hear, so I’ve set up a super simple and very quick survey, as I want the show to best serve your needs. It’s got 5 questions and will take you a minute, so please check it out at http://www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. But in the meantime, let’s crack on with the show.
MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- What Charityworks is and why you should apply
- Top tips in how to stand out in your application for a graduate job with Charityworks
- What Charityworks look for in their applicants
- The secrets to impressing in a Charityworks assessment centre
- What to do to make your online application stand out from the crowd
SELECTED LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- The Charityworks website
- Non Profit Quarterly – Craig’s website recommendation
- The Servant Leader – James Autry – Craig’s book recommendation. Buy this book if you applying to Charityworks! Click HERE to buy now from Amazon and help support the show
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE CHECK OUT THESE AS WELL:
Episode 67 – How to get a graduate job in a charity with Charityworks
Announcer: Welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast, your home for weekly information and inspiration to help you get the graduate job of your dreams.
James: Hello and welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast, with your host James Curran. The Graduate Job Podcast is your home for all things related to helping you on your journey to finding that amazing job. Each episode I bring together the best minds in the industry, speaking to leading authors, entrepreneurs, coaches and bloggers who bring decades of experience into a byte size weekly 30 minute show. Put simply, this is the show I wish I had a decade ago when I graduated.
And a big hello for episode 67 of the Graduate Job Podcast where I speak with Craig Pemblington from the brilliant Charityworks graduate scheme. This episode came about from a listener request, TJ got in touch via email and asked about the best way to get a graduate job with a charity, well, as you will hear the answer to that question is the excellent Charityworks. In this episode we explore the Charityworks graduate scheme in detail, looking at what exactly it is and the types of charities that you could be working with. We delve into how you apply, the different stages of the application process, from initial application, through to the online tests they use, interviews and assessment centres. We cover what you need to do to impress at each stage and make sure you stand out from the crowd. We go into the charity matching process and how they match you with the charity that you will be working with, and we also cover the amazing alumni opportunities open to you as you progress with your career in the third sector. If you have ever thought about working with a charity, voluntary or community group, non-governmental, or non-profit organizational then this is the episode for you. As always, all links to everything we discuss including a full transcript and Craig’s book recommendations and top tips can be found over in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/charityworks.
Before we start a quick request from me, your feedback helps me to create the episodes you want to hear, so I’ve set up a super simple and very quick survey, as I want the show to best serve your needs. It’s got 5 questions and will take you a minute, so please check it out at http://www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. But in the meantime, let’s crack on with the show.
Just before we get to Craig from Charityworks let’s have a little message from today’s sponsor who are CareerGym.com. Career Gym is the number one place for you to undertake all of your psychometric tests which you will face when you apply for a graduate job. As you will hear, when you apply to Charityworks you will be made to sit verbal reasoning, situational judgment, and working style tests. You can practice these at CareerGym.com, as well as numerical, and abstract reasoning tests. They are all produced by testing experts, and exactly the same as the ones you will see in the real graduate job tests. You can just practice them as you want, or you can do them in exam mode, under time pressure, and they come all with detailed explanations and solutions, and you can track your progress and see how you compare against your peers.
Now it’s never too early to start revising for pyschometric tests, as you might not get much notice before the test so you want to make sure that you’re ready to go. If you’re going to apply to Charityworks you will have to do them, so pull your finger out now and start revising straight away to make sure you don’t fall at this first hurdle. I’ve been recommending this site for years to the clients I coach and it comes very highly recommended. What’s even better is if you use the code GJP, you will get 20% off of all of their tests. You can’t say fairer than that. So, head over to http://www.CareerGym.com that’s CareerGym.com and use the code GJP to get 20% off and start practicing today. Now, on with the show.
James: A very warm welcome to Craig Pemblington from Charityworks Graduate Scheme. Charityworks is an innovative graduate scheme which places graduates across a range of charities here in the UK. Craig, welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast.
Craig: Thanks for having me, James.
James: Craig, starting at the beginning, could you tell the listeners who Charityworks are and what is it they do?
Craig: Yeah, so Charityworks is the UK non-profit sector’s graduate scheme. So, essentially, we are a graduate-level route into the non-profit sector. We do so essentially by providing a 12-month paid placement, a full-time job working for one of our non-profit partners, and alongside that, a Charityworks trainee will essentially undergo a leadership development program that is endorsed by the Institute of Leadership and Management over a period of 12 months, and it covers a number of different things such as mentoring, peer learning, peer coaching, research assignments. Essentially, the aim of the program is to build and develop future leaders for the non-profit sector.
James: Brilliant, and how many charities is it that you work with?
Craig: At the moment, we’re working with around about 85 in total. So, we place around about 150 trainees into just over 85 organizations, and they’re very, very diverse in terms of the organizations that we’re working with. Essentially, they are large and small charities, they cover a number of different course areas so trainees could be providing vital business support and evaluation at a big national children’s charity like NSPCC, or they could be leading on the improvement of infrastructure projects at a housing charity or the National Housing Federation, or they might be driving into national business with the RNLI, or running campaigns for an organization like UNICEF. It’s very, very diverse in terms of the types of role, and also the types of cause areas that our partner charities are working.
James: 85 different charities, there’s going to be lots of different types of work there as you mentioned. So, maybe if we explore, at the beginning, just a bit more about the graduate scheme, and then we can get into the application process and what the application process looks like itself. So, you mentioned the 85 different charities. Do people apply to a specific one or do you just apply, generally, to Charityworks, and then you get matched later down the line?
Craig: Essentially, the way the process works is that a candidate will apply to Charityworks as a whole, so there will be a Charityworks graduate trainee throughout the process, and essentially, they will undergo a process of placement matching. What that means is a perspective trainee will tell us their preferences, and those preferences can be mixed in terms of they could be around location in terms of where they want to be working. The scheme is UK-wide, which means that they have a fair bit of autonomy over the area in the country in which they’d like to work, as well as that they will give us an indication of the type of role that they would like to be doing. So, whether they’d like to work at the coal face, in a front-line role like volunteer management or working directly with service users, they might be really keen on research and policies, so conducting research, writing reports, conducting data analyses. They might be really interested in HR, internal comms, we have external comms campaigns, business development, fundraising. It may be that, actually their preferences that they’re quite led by the type of role that they’d be doing in a charity, and then thirdly, they will give us an indication around the kind of cause area that they’d be interested in working in. So, whether that’s international development, or disability, it could be environmental or wildlife. They give us an idea around those three preferences and we use that along with the jobs and opportunities we have available on the program that year to take them through a process of placement matching, and it’s very much a two-way process. So, it’s very much the trainee telling us what they’re looking for and us coming back and trying to find them as close a match as possible, and it’s very much for us trying to meet the needs of the organization on which we’re hiring into in terms of what they’re looking for for a candidate. So, very broad and diverse, but very much a two-way conversation during that process.
James: Brilliant, and you mentioned it’s a one-year placement. So, what happens then at the end of the one-year process?
Craig: A number of different things can happen at the year end. A number of our charity partners, if they’re satisfied, if the placement has gone well, offer that trainee a continued full-time or permanent role. So, we see that happen quite often on the program. Sometimes, trainees will move on from the Charityworks program onto something else. It’s pretty much all of them staying within the non-profit sector because it gives them such a great footing, and it’s fast becoming recognized as an incredible kind of thing to have to demonstrate your commitment to their non-profit sector as well as the leadership development process that you’ve gone through. What essentially happens, though, to every trainee is that if they’ve successfully completed the program, they join our fellowship network, and it’s part of that fellowship network they are continuously connected to other fellows on the program. There’s a great sort of fostering a sense of great kind of collaboration on the program both with trainees and organizations. So, they’re rarely, if anybody does come together at the program and aren’t, for whatever reason, retaining their placement, they’re rarely out of work for long. Actually, what we found is that graduates are highly desired. In the first five years that we ran the program, we typically saw around 98% securing employment within three months if they were looking for it in the non-profits that really, really strong statistics to our perspective, and it just goes to show how strongly not just the experience of being in placement, but also the leadership development component and the networks and network building that comes along with that really, really helps out in terms of their future development.
James: After five years, you must have a lot of alumni climbing up the senior ranks in different third sector charities?
Craig: It’s quite incredible, actually. I mean, the program has been running since 2009, and actually, over the years, we’re now seeing people move into roles of really senior positions in some very large charities. We even see trainees. I mean, we’ve had trainees who have been on the program for one year and then they’ve moved into a middle management role, and as a result, it’s really important for us to keep seeing that progression. Ultimately, the aim of the program, like any program aimed at a non-profit sector, should be to support the beneficiaries that are dependent on the charities, and what we need is really talented, socially-minded graduates that want to see that happen, and we believe that, actually, it’s great university talents that will make that happen, that will essentially get paid to change the world, and that’s how we like to see it, and actually, every time, we look, our alumni are doing some incredible and wonderful things. It’s really, really great to see.
James: As you mentioned, the networking options, the networking possibilities and the alumni group, as a whole, will be a great place to be if you do want to move on at the end of the placement.
Craig: Yeah, and actually, during the program, a trainee will be in a cohort of around about 20 other trainees, all of different charities. As well as that, you will have a mentor, and that mentor is external to the charity in which you’re working, so it’s really a great place to go when you’re thinking about talking about your future career development. Then, of course, as well as the learning sessions, which are very cohort-specific, so you come together with this cohort of socially-minded trainees at different charities. You’re also in a position where you can attend national conferences, and we have some great speakers come in from all sorts of different charities, all kinds of different organizations, different levels of seniority, and we want to kind of foster a network not just in and amongst trainees, although that definitely, certainly happens, but also with our client and host organizations as well. We think it’s a really important way that the sector can develop for a graduate trainee. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get really involved in the sector.
James: Brilliant, and you mentioned the conferences and opportunities like that. What other leadership and development is there over the course of the year?
Craig: Over the course of the year, there’s a number of different ways in which the leadership development program pans out for trainees. So, every trainee gets a program manager, and that program manager is responsible for managing their learning throughout the year.
One of the things that trainees will do, we’ll conduct pieces of what we call impact research. That research is, essentially, not an academic piece, not normally what people are used to from university, but actually, it’s a piece of work that’s usually conducted and led by the trainee’s line manager that must have a tangible impact on the organization in which they’re working.
Actually, what we found in the past, to give an example, one of our trainees was placed at the National Housing Federation, which is a body that oversees social housing in the UK. She put together a piece of impact research as part of her assess component of the Charityworks program, essentially giving a briefing as to how the social housing crisis will be impacted by Brexit, and it became one of their sort of lead policy documents, and she’s delivered that to various different events. We really see the research component as quite integral to the leadership development.
On top of that, there’s learning sessions, and those learning sessions cover a number of different aspects of management, but contextualized to the non-profit sectors. So, whether it’s about generating money, or measuring social impact, whether it’s about managing yourself and others, and then as well as the national conferences, there’s also, as I’ve mentioned, network mentoring, but also peer coaching. So, trainees get paired up with other trainees at different charities, again, about fostering those networks. It’s quite a comprehensive year, actually, that the trainees are involved in for that 12-month period whilst they’re on the program.
James: Definitely, and I know listeners who want to get involved in the charity sector will be getting very excited at this point. So, Craig, let’s move onto the application process and starting to think about what it is that you look for in applicants. I know you’ve got some requirements: 2:1 being one of them and also experience demonstrating a commitment to social change. Could you run us through what it is that you’re looking for with these?
Craig: The 2:1 is a hard stipulation of applying for the program. Although, those with a 2:2 that do have mitigating circumstances, we would, of course, naturally welcome their applications too. The piece of experience that demonstrates your commitment to social change is really just about seeing that you’re committed to having a career in the non-profit sector and that you’re motivated by social change, more broadly. It doesn’t actually have to be anything tremendous. Some people have had experience where they’ve gone off for a year and they’ve done work overseas, and some people will demonstrate that because they’ve had caring responsibilities for a family member, or they’ve tutored somebody, or they’ve been involved with an organization such as a student society where they’ve run something quite socially-minded for their university. Actually, that can be really broad, and we’re not looking for experience as such. What we’re looking for more is potential and potential to have a social impact with your career. Those are really the main things that we’re looking for, as well as a list of competencies that are available on our website. Of course, because of the way the program’s structured, the placement matching process happens after you’ve been assessed and made a program offer to join Charityworks. So, we can’t assess you for a very specific role, so what we’re doing instead is looking for a series of competencies that we like to see from all our trainees, and like I said, they’re all available on the website. That’s what we’re looking for during the assessment process.
James: Definitely, and listeners, if you apply to Charityworks, you need to make sure you know those eight competencies like the back of your hand. Links will be in the show notes so that you can check out the full transcript for today, and also links to everything we discussed including the Charityworks website at GraduateJobPodcast.com/charityworks. Craig, going back to the demonstration of a commitment to social change, are all of these, then, ranked equally? So, would a paid work experience have a higher rank than voluntary work experience, or do you have a hierarchy of different types of experiences that you look at?
Craig: Not at all, actually. The way we assess candidates, essentially, and through the application form, and through the assessment centre, which is probably the two times that that experience is drawn on is really we’re looking for answers that demonstrate the competency.
One of our competencies, for example, is that somebody can communicate with impact, for example. Actually, you may have done that in a paid work placements. You may have done it in a part-time job. You might have been working in a supermarket, or a coffee shop and demonstrated that skill. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. What’s more important is that you are able to articulate it in the best way possible during the application process. Actually, what we’re not looking for is somebody who’s had the most experience. Although, if you have had great experience, then great, please, when you’re writing your application, draw on it as part of demonstrating the competencies, but we definitely don’t rank in terms of what that experience looks like. We’re aware that, actually, graduates are very, very diverse. We’re not looking for a particular degree discipline either. What we want to see, instead, is a diversity of candidates that are able to meet those competencies wherever that comes from.
James: Speaking of diversity, you’re open to applicants from overseas as long as they’ve got the right to work in UK?
Craig: Yeah, so essentially, we’re open to any applications from anybody. They must have the right to work in the UK when they start in what will be September 2018, so yes.
James: Moving on then to the different stages of the application process, we’re recording this in September and you’re open in October, is that right?
Craig: That’s right. So, it’s the 3rd of October is when applications all open online, and they will close on the 28th of February 2018.
James: Listeners, do not leave it to the 27th or 28th of February. Make sure you get your applications in nice and early so Craig and the team have plenty of time to have a look through them. Speaking of the application, then, Craig, the first stage is the application form: four questions. How can people stand out amongst those four questions?
Craig: The questions on the application form apart from, obviously, the background information that we want from you, the questions are designed to draw out some of the competencies on the website. So, the first thing I always suggest is that somebody goes and checks out what we’re looking for in terms of the competencies, and thankfully, you’ll already have them on your website so that people can look at them. The best piece of advice, actually, that I can give to anybody is to make sure that you’re answering the question as it’s asked and all parts of it.
Craig: It really is, because, actually, we see it, and people will probably roll their eyes as if they’ve been told this so many times, but actually, we see it so, so often that somebody tries to highlight a really great experience that they’ve done, but it’s not structured or written in a way that actually answers what we’re looking for, and as a result, they can’t score well. Then, the only other thing I would suggest with answering the questions is draw very broadly from different experiences for different questions, but actually, it often works best if you just pick one specific piece of experience per question and build a real answer around it. You have a word count to work to, but actually, what we find is that the best answers come when people follow writing techniques, like the STARE technique, essentially, which is outlining the situation, writing down the task, giving us the action, telling us the result, and then the best answers always give us a point of evaluation, a point of reflection for learning, and they’re always relevant to what we’re asking. So, it’s possibly one of the most important things, I think. If I could urge anyone to do anything, it would be to consider the way they’re answering the questions. It’s often more about articulating your experience rather than, actually, there being anything wrong with the experience that you’ve given. Often, people will just fall down in articulating it in such a way that it can’t score as well as we would have liked it to.
James: That’s brilliant advice, and as you said, listeners, might be rolling their eyes, but the number of times you see an answer which is, “Here’s my answer. It doesn’t really matter what the question was. I’ve written this answer before, and I’m just going to have to cut and paste it in.” Yeah, those answers don’t get through the first pass of the review. So, listeners, make sure you follow Craig’s advice there. We talked offline, Craig, about how you had five and a half thousand applications last year for the 150 places. So, what proportion of people will fall at this first step of the application form?
Craig: It’s a really good question, actually. Actually, what I would say is that, probably, and probably in terms of applications, because the online tests are packaged up as part of this, so actually, what happens is you complete an online test after you’ve submitted your application, and then, actually, it’s if you passed the online test, your application goes through to shortlist it.
Essentially, to get through that stage and the application, we maybe see around about one in three make it through that process. But, actually, what I would say, in case that puts anybody off, is that a number of applications are in a stage where, actually, they probably shouldn’t be considered. There’s always a number every year where they’re incomplete, or they haven’t quite drawn well on experience. So, if you follow the kind of advice that we’ve given around articulating an application, there’s no reason why, at that stage, that you shouldn’t get through to the next stage of the process.
James: Moving on then to the tests. We mentioned it just then, three types of test: verbal, situational judgment, and working style. Any advice on answering these?
Craig: Firstly, I really hope that listeners appreciate that there’s no numerical tests in there, because, actually, it’s the one thing that often comes up is there’s a fear of a numerical test, although there shouldn’t be. There really shouldn’t be any sense of worry, actually, around these tests. My best advice is to relax. In the verbal reasoning test, in particular, we’re simply asking you to understand some written information and to draw reasonable conclusions from it. It’s something that you’ll do every day at university in your work, and probably, at any points in your life irrespective. The situational judgement test really is just testing and assessing how you would proceed as a course of action in any given situation, and actually, that’s a useful step for you as much as it is for us, because if it’s a case that, actually, you find that quite a challenge, it may just be the program isn’t well-suited for you. It might work because it definitely works both ways, but probably my best advice would be don’t be discouraged, and these tests are purely to help us determine how likely you are to make the most of the program and for you to get a feeling for whether it’s a good fit for you too. The one thing about online tests is it’s frustrating to kind of give any kind of concrete advice for, but I think those tips are probably really useful in terms of how you would approach those online tests more generally.
James: Just me jumping in here, as Craig mentioned when you apply to Charityworks you are going to have to go through all of the psychometric tests. So don’t put it off, check out today’s sponsor who are CareerGym.com and start practicing verbal reasoning, situational judgment, and working style tests now. You can just practice them under time pressure in exam mode, and they come with detailed explanations and solutions, and you can track your progress and see how you compare against your peers. What’s even better is if you use the code GJP, you will get 20% off of all of their tests. So, head over to http://www.CareerGym.com that’s CareerGym.com and use the code GJP to get 20% off and start practicing today. Now, on with the show.
James: Definitely, that’s good advice, and listeners, if you want to delve further into the topic of online testing, check out my episode with Ben Williams at GraduateJobPodcast.com/test where we delve into how Ben comes up with the tests and the different things to look for at each stage. I’ll recommend that one, definitely. With the work style tests, Craig, is there a right and wrong answer, or is it just a question of helping you to shape where you put people later on in the matching process?
Craig: It’s a bit of both, actually, James. So, partly, it is to give us an idea about the kind of area in which you’re interested in working, the kind of style in which you would be working. We gather a lot of information about that separately, and a side of those online tests, and part of it is used to weight your application score, but overall, it’s not a large component, and actually, from our perspective, my best advice is to answer those questions as honestly as possible. Firstly, because it means that if we are looking to placement match you, if you are successful, we’ll have the best and most accurate information to help build up the right match and the right role for you. Secondly, really, because it gives us and yourself an authentic idea about the kind of placement that you might like.
For sure, that is possibly my best advice for that and all of the assessment process, but particularly the online test and also the situational judgment is just to answer it honestly and approach it as honestly as you can, because it really does give us just an idea of that kind of fit for a given role.
What you must remember too is that the roles are very varied on Charityworks. There are some data analysis roles, and there are some campaigning roles. Well, it may be that, actually, somebody who is really well-suited to working with data would not be very well-suited to working in a campaigning role in the same way someone who might feel that they’re quite extrovert may really want to be involved in campaigns. It very much varies and it varies on personality type, and it varies on your skill set. There isn’t, often, for us, it’s not as clear cut as you couldn’t do any of the roles, that’s for sure, but we’re looking for a general standard, I guess, to move you through the next stage of the process.
James: Yeah, honesty, definitely, is the best policy when it comes to the test. Don’t be trying to think about what they want. It’s just be honest and that always helps in the long run. Moving on, Craig, after the online test, you then get to, hopefully, be invited for the assessment centre. What would an assessment centre for Charityworks look like?
Craig: It’s a full-day assessment centre, first of all, and we hold them across the UK. Essentially, an assessment centre is, first and foremost, our opportunity to finally meet you and to put a face to the name and to continue to assess our competency. So, this whole process about assessing against those eight competencies on the website, it starts, essentially, actually, quite pleasantly, and it’s quite an enjoyable experience. I know I say that assessment centres can be liked. We spend a good couple of hours in the morning in an assessment centre just briefing you about the nonprofit centre, giving you an opportunity to network with some of our host organizations. We’re actually not doing a great deal of assessment for those first couple of hours, and that’s partly to get you up to speed about the program, but it’s partly also to help you to see whether or not the sector is a good fit for you. Hopefully, it enables you to relax, and then we carry out a number of exercises. For the most part, those exercises, there are many that are group-based, and those group-based exercises are basically us trying to find out how you would work well, such as in a team-based situation or when you have to do some kind of presentation to a small group. We conduct a panel interview.
Somebody like myself in the Charityworks team and one of our partner employers will be there to ask you some competency-based interview questions, and there are also written exercises to carry out on the day. They’re half an hour written exercises where we will ask you a question, sit you in a room that’s kind of like an exam-style setting, and you rotate between your interviews and those questions. It’s a full-day experience, and actually, what we find is probably the most enjoyable part is the fact that you’re suddenly in a room with a lot of socially-minded people that care a lot about the non-profit sector, and time and time again, people feel just comfortable and that they’re in a really great place. But, of course, you’re there to be assessed, and my sort of general tips and thoughts around assessment centres are, firstly, be yourself, because we’ve noticed it before, and we’ll definitely notice again if you’re lacking a level of authenticity or you’re trying to play a particular role, and we do see that from time to time. Be aware that assessment carries on throughout the day. So, even though we’re not formally assessing you, you’re in a professional environment, so maintain that level of professionalism. Actually, possibly the best piece of advice I can give is to be mindful of your, what we would call, overdone strengths. So, actually, if you’re naturally confident, you might need to be countering tendencies throughout the day to be overpowering in a group exercise. If you’re less confident, it might be that you’re finding ways in which you can contribute and intervene in discussion. Some people will take on the role of timekeeper, for example, if they’re not particularly confident to lead a discussion. Never think that just because it’s a leadership development program, we’re looking for the most boisterous in their candidate, because we’re definitely not. We like a mix.
James: I think The Apprentice has a lot to answer for. It’s got people tending to think you need to walk in and be the alpha male or female, and take control. The thing I always tell the people I coach is, in an assessment centre situation, if there’s 10 good candidates, there’ll probably be 10 job offers. You know, there doesn’t tend to be a limit on the number of people you can accept. So, it’s in your interest to bring out the strengths of the people around you as well. So, don’t just see it’s a competition, because it’s not.
Craig: Absolutely. That’s really good advice, James, and actually, where we see it particularly at the Charityworks assessment centre that there is a little bit of sense of collaboration, and we’ve rarely seen people, and I’ve witnessed it at other assessment centres, or actually, whilst it is a highly competitive process, what we find is that people tend to be more encouraging of one another, and I think that’s definitely the best place to be. I mean, we could see 30 amazing candidates at one assessment centre and we could make a program offer to all 30. It just completely depends on the day. So, definitely, very good advice.
James: How do people tend to let themselves down at this stage? What are some of the common things where you think, “Ah, you shouldn’t have been doing that,” or, “If only you’d been doing X”?
Craig: Actually, I think an assessment centre, one thing I would say that people sometimes think they’re letting themselves down for, but actually, they probably aren’t in the long run, it’s the initial bit of nerves at the start of the day. We kind of are aware that that’s happening, and we’re factoring that in. But, I think what possibly is the way that people would let themselves down the most is if they don’t stay relevant during an exercise. Actually, it’s those people that kind of would choose to withdraw from an exercise, and actually, even if you’re in a group where somebody’s really confident, and they’re almost sort of taking over, I’m well aware of that, and we’re watching that, and people that do that aren’t scoring extremely highly. From our perspective, we want to make sure that you’re continuing to stay relevant to keep talking, keep getting your opinion across, make suggestions, make yourself useful during the task of the exercise. The worst thing that you can do at an exercise is withdraw and actually, at the end, when we come to discuss the candidates, we don’t really know what you did, because during that process — it’s a very finite piece of time, but we’re assessing you across the day and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove us wrong. In an exercise, you might have 20 minutes, and if you don’t say anything for 15 of them, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. So, definitely, stay relevant. That’s probably my strongest piece of advice.
James: That’s good advice, and I like what you mentioned when you said there’s plenty of opportunities over the course of the day. I’ve been in assessment centres where people have come in nervous, and the first stage, whatever it’s been, hasn’t gone well, and then you can almost see just that confidence and they will be there thinking, “Oh no, that’s not gone well,” and you can see them worrying about it and they think it’s all over because they’ve made one mistake. If you’ve got over the course of the day, you can afford to fluff one of the exercises if you do well in the other ones.
Craig: Of course, you can. Well, we’ve seen it, actually, time and time again. We have some really, really high-ranking candidates that do great that, actually, at one point in the assessment, a particular activity might have just not been for them or it might not have played to their strengths. We know not everybody has the same strengths. Some people will perform better in written exercises than they will in a group activity, and it’s definitely, definitely true that if you’re in that position and you’re in an assessment centre and something does go wrong, don’t worry about it. Pick yourself up and move onto the next exercise. It certainly hasn’t written you off for the day.
James: See, listeners, make sure you go in with the right mind-set and you stay confident throughout the course of the assessment centre. So, fingers crossed after that, Craig that they then get the offer and the matching process begins. Are they actively involved in the matching process or is it just a question of then, you do it yourselves based on all of the information that they’ve given you over the course of the process?
Craig: We start out by getting everybody, whether they were successful or not at that stage, because at the end of the assessment centre, it takes a little bit of time for us to sort of rank candidates in order of how they perform, and it’s very much a merit-based system, so actually the offers of being on the program will go to those that have performed best overall across the whole process, and essentially, that stage is when a candidate will fill in a form to give us the preferences I was talking about earlier. We then take those preferences and begin the placement matching process. Normally, what that means is we will start putting names next to certain employers, considering who might be better placed for a particular role. We will then normally send an email out to the candidate, telling them of the role that we’re considering them for, and that’s the opportunity when that two-way conversation opens up. Essentially, a candidate has an opportunity to tell us yes, that seems like a really good fit. Some will say that we have read their placement matching form, but actually, they’ve changed their mind about what they want to be working in or what particular area, and that’s when the process really picks up. What I would say, and it’s possibly the best advice I can give with regards to the placement matching process is stay open-minded. If you, as a candidate, have a real, real passion or interest for a particular cause area, I think that’s really great. But, if you’re really interested in a cause, say, environment, then you might need to be flexible a little bit more on the type of role or the type of location. Many times, we can match people to all three things, but sometimes, particularly considering that it’s the first role in the non-profit sector, it’s a great chance to be on the leadership development program. We would say that, actually, a lot of candidates come to us and they’re not really sure what they want to do, but they think that they want to do one particular role, because actually it’s the only role that they really know of in the non-profit sector. So, work with us and let’s have a conversation about where you could end up. It’s definitely a two-way process. People do not get placed where they don’t want to be working. It’s in nobody’s interest for that to happen, and ultimately, it’s a great opportunity once we make that right fit for you, moving forward.
James: Definitely. I mean, if you look at it from a long-term perspective, it might not be, initially, what you thought you had in mind about the skills you’re going to develop and the things you’re going to learn just across the charity sector, whichever placement you’re going to get is going to stand you in good stead for progressing in your career as you go forward.
Craig: Absolutely, and that’s probably the best way to consider it because it’s all from us. It’s about you getting that experience in the non-profit sector as a whole, and where possible, I think it’s good to be as open-minded. There will naturally be some things that you just cannot change. You might be really settled where you are, and location may be the hardest factor for you, but the more open you can be about these things, the better, essentially.
James: Unfortunately, Craig, time is running away with us, so one final question before we move to our weekly staple questions. What advice would you give someone who is in two minds about whether to apply to Charityworks?
Craig: If you’re in two minds, the first thing that I would suggest is come and talk to us. Facebook, we’re always available and contactable on Facebook, and via email, and tell us what your questions are. My advice, really, is that if you are in two minds and you think that it may be for you, it sounds good, I would rather see your application and give you the opportunity to take it from there. I think it’s always best to get an application in. Get all of them as soon as possible, and then let us take it from there. As the process continues, bear in mind, we’ll probably be visiting your university at some point as well, so there’s always an opportunity to have a conversation with us. You’ll learn more and more about the program. As time passes over the next six weeks or so, there’ll be more and more marketing information available that we can share with you. Get yourself over to the website. Click on “Express your interest” in the top left, fill in your email address, and I will definitely keep you in the loop as to what’s happening, give you the advanced notice that we’re about to open on the 3rd of October, and share a lot of our resources with you. We have plenty of times where even if we’re not on campus at your university, or you haven’t seen us stroll there, well you can engage with us online.
We run an online national webinar where, actually, you can sit on YouTube and send over your questions as we talk about the program. We do a similar webinar with a panel of our trainees where, essentially, we have trainees that are currently on the program answering your questions live online. It’s a great chance to engage with us, and that’s what we like to see.
James: Excellent. When you do bump into Craig at your university, do say hello and make sure you tell him that you listen too in the podcast, as well.
Craig: Please do. That will be exciting to hear.
James: So, Craig, putting you on the spot now for the weekly staple questions. First up, question number one, what book would you recommend that listeners should check out?
Craig: That’s a really, really interesting question. I was kind of torn between giving them something to read for pleasure and, potentially, for work purposes, but I might land somewhere nearer work side of the scale, and actually, we often talk about the non-profit sector, something called servant leadership, which is a leadership style where, essentially, you’re empowering other people. So, probably check out the Servant Leader, which is a book written by an author called James Autry. That is probably going to be my book of recommendation.
James: That’s a new one for me, so definitely worth checking out. The links to that book will be in the show notes at GraduateJobPodcast.com/charityworks, and get yourself a copy and namedrop it throughout the application process. I’m sure it will stand you in good stead. Moving onto question 2, Craig, what internet resource or website would you point listeners to?
Craig: At Charityworks, we do a lot of reading around what’s going on in the social sector more generally, and probably my recommendation, besides visiting the Charityworks website, is to get yourself over to a website called Non Profit Quarterly, which is www.nonprofitquarterly.orghttps://nonprofitquarterly.org/.
James: Is that a news site or research?
Craig: Yeah, it’s been running for a little bit. It’s a site that actually covers a mixture of practice thinking within the sector, some thought leadership pieces, some news going on in the sector more generally, so yeah, quite a broad mix.
James: Finally, Craig, what one tip would you give listeners that they can implement today to help them on their job search?
Craig: My thoughts are that, actually, today, very first thing that you can do is to get yourself online, certainly check out Charityworks. But particularly, if you’re thinking about the non-profit sector more generally, my best tip would be to get out there and go on website like CharityJob. Have a look at some of the roles that are available. Try and think a little bit beyond, perhaps, what you think charity jobs are, which might just be fundraising or something on those lines, because when you get to the stage of the Charityworks process, when you’re in placement matching, you’ll be so thankful you have a much broader understanding of what the jobs look like in the sector.
James: That’s brilliant advice, and a good place for us to draw the interview to a close. Craig, thank you so much for appearing on the Graduate Job Podcast today. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you and the work that you do?
Craig: Firstly, visiting the website, which is www.charity-works.co.uk. Like I said, if you click “Express your interests” in the top left and put your email in, I would definitely be in touch with you. The other way to get in touch with us is to email us, and you can email us email@example.com. Probably the best way, I think. Any questions that you have about us or about the program, pop it in an email, they’ll be forwarded to me, and I’ll do my best to get in touch with you as soon as I can.
James: Craig, thank you so much for your time today.
Craig: You’re more than welcome. Thanks, James.
James: Many thanks to Craig for his time today. Come on, you’ve got to agree that Charityworks is a brilliant graduate scheme. You’re not going to find a better way to get a graduate job with a charity, NGO, or not for profit, where not only are you going to get brilliant experience, but you are also going to do it in a cohort of like-minded people across a range of different charities. So don’t miss out, you have until the 28th of February to get your application in, so don’t delay, and get it in nice and early so the graduate recruitment team at Charityworks can take their time going through it. So there you go, that is everything for me, one thing before we finish, if you would like to support the show one way is to buy your goods from Amazon via one of the links from the shownotes at graduatejobpodcast.com/charityworks. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but helps to keep the lights on here with hosting and like, so if you could do that it would be much appreciated. Got any questions, or need some coaching and help as you look or apply for a graduate job, then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you. Do join me next week when I speak to Korin Grant and Tristam Hooley as we discuss their new book, You’re Hired – The Graduate Career Handbook, it’s a goodie! All that remains to say is I hope you enjoyed the episode today, but more importantly, I hope you use it, and apply it. See you next week.