Why gain global competencies?

Why gain global competencies? Intercultural skills will benefit you whatever your career plans

Are you open to trying out different things – new experiences, different cultures or learning things in new ways? Do you look out for, and exploit new opportunities when other people don’t? If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions you may already have the global competencies and mindset which are fast becoming a part of graduate employer ‘wishlists’. Having these is more than just about meeting business needs in a global economy. They will also equip for you many of the situations you face in your student and graduate life.

There’s no shortage of definitions of global mindset and competencies, and of intercultural skills, a closely-related idea. There’s also plenty of different ways graduate employers break them down when they recruit. For students and graduates what’s important is to have a broad understanding of what they mean, to be able to connect them to your own way of doing things, and be looking out for opportunities to develop them.

DB Arriva, the multinational public transport company, assesses graduates’ global mindset in three ways: if you can explain who and what motivates and inspires you; how you try out different things, without fear of uncertainty about what it means; and if you excel in relationship building and using support networks. You’ll notice that there’s nothing here about languages and international understanding, but for DB Arriva the term ‘global’ can mean international, regional or even relate to another business unit.

Other organisations view global mindset differently. For HSBC’s international banking operations it’s partly about being open to different ideas and cultures, communicating openly, and valuing different perspectives. While entry to brewers Heineken’s International Graduate Programme requires a genuine interest in other countries and cultures, language skills and at least 6 months spent working, or volunteering outside your home country.

What this shows us is that having a global mindset and competencies doesn’t have to mean you want to work for a multinational corporation or be globally mobile. Instead it includes skills and ways of thinking that overlap with many of the other things graduate employers will be looking for when they recruit. Whatever career you want to go into (or even if you have clear career ideas), you will need to work successfully in groups where the members are from mixed backgrounds, communicating clearly, and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. This might be in your part-time or vacation jobs, in student societies, voluntary roles or course groupwork. From time to time most of us will find ourselves having to deal with situations where we don’t have all the information we need, having to take on new roles in unfamiliar situations where we have to work outside our ‘comfort zone’. This might look difficult to start with, but the end results can include a sense of achievement, some stories you can use in your job applications, and sometimes finding yourself asking the question ‘Did I really do that?’.

  • For more information on why a global mindset is important see:

http://www.gradplus.com/graduate-news/graduate-recruiters-say-a-global-mindset-can-give-you-the-edge.aspx

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/study-abroad/uk-industry-needs-global-graduates-but-what-does-that-mean-8613898.html

7 ways to improve your global mindset and become very employable indeed

  • To explore how you can develop your global mindset and other skills graduate employers are looking for please visit your university careers service

Iwan Griffiths (Aston University)

Developing a Global Mindset.

As the employment market becomes increasingly globalised and complex, more and more employers are looking for graduates with an awareness of these issues and an ability to work across countries and cultures. This is referred to in a variety of ways – some call it a global mindset, some talk of global competencies and some are organisations are now looking for global-minded graduates.

It’s important to realise that a global graduate isn’t simply someone who can speak a foreign language or has travelled abroad. Whilst being multilingual can be a huge advantage the term global mindset covers a much wider spectrum of skills and qualities including the ability to understand international perspectives, to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds and can grasp how international business interconnects and operates.

One definition of global mindset from the FT Lexicon is ‘one that combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see common patterns across countries and markets’.

Different employers often include different skills and attributes within the term global mindset or when talking about global competencies. BG Group talk about “the ability to think globally”, whereas Ernst and Young look for graduates with “the ability to work seamlessly across international boundaries”. Some companies ask for graduates who have spent some time abroad and schemes like Heineken’s International Graduate programme want candidates “To have a genuine interest in other countries and cultures”.

It’s possible to break some of the common skills and qualities into three main areas:

Social Skills – working collaboratively across cultures, adapting your communication skills to suit different audiences, being able to negotiate and influence international clients and respecting and understanding other people’s perspectives.

Psychological skills – demonstrating your drive and resilience, showing high levels of self-awareness and reflection, and having the ability to develop new behaviours and skills.

Professional skills and knowledge – having a good understanding of foreign economies and industries and the interconnectedness of the global economy, having good language skills, being able to learn in different cultures and environments and having the ability to form global networks.

A British Council report on intercultural skills conducted research and highlighted some of the following key skills:

By reflecting on these skills and qualities you can then start to see which areas you feel you already have strengths in and which areas you may want to focus on building on and developing during your studies.

There are a number of activities you can engage in during your time at university, to demonstrate your global mindset.  These can include campus based opportunities, such as language learning, attending international guest lectures or cultural events, as part of student union activities.  You may also have opportunities to explore global competencies through module choice options, such as those with an international dimension or international exchange.  Another major way to demonstrate your global mindset is to participate in overseas opportunities through activities such as study placements, summer schools, internships and volunteering projects.

Mundeep Panayi (De Montfort University)

Returning home: employability tips for international students

International students at universities in the UK have a range of career options when they finish.  Many will be interested in the possibility of working in the UK or internationally and the idea of further study, in the UK or in another country will be attractive.  Most international students will return  home, however,  and here are a few tips which will make the transition into work in  your home country easier and ultimately, more successful.

Start planning early

  • You need to think about returning home almost as soon as you arrive in the UK. A lot depends on the length of your course but if you are studying for a 12-month master’s,  for example,   you will be surprised how quickly time passes.  When you arrive in UK you may be overwhelmed by the pressures of a new way of  life but don’t forget to plan your future.

Keep in touch with developments in your home country and be pro-active

  • Follow the graduate recruitment scene on-line. National newspapers and journals will show which employment sectors and growing and which organisations expect to recruit graduates.  Which UK, US and European organisations are active in your home country?  You should target specific sectors  and employers  to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date.   Indian students, for example,  should be following economic trends on such websites as the Times of India

Expand your network and contacts

  • Using social media effectively, particularly Linkedin twitter and facebook is a great way of building contacts with particular employers and helps put you in touch with managers, not just the organisation’s HR department.  Moreover, employers now expect graduates to be  confident users of social media and to be aware of its uses as a business tool .
  • Are there any UK careers fairs for international students you could attend ? As an international student you will probably be welcome to attend  most but check beforehand.  Talking to an employer at a fair after previously making contact through LinkedIn can be very effective.
  • Ask about any networks of ex-students of your UK university who are now working in your home country. These alumni networks are growing in importance and you already have a lot in common!

Be aware of the employment cycle in your home  country

  • Know how and when employers recruit. Employers’ schedules vary: the main season for recruitment in the UK is October-January  but in China activity is concentrated in two period, mid-September-November and March-May.  Employers in Malaysia tend to recruit all year round.
  • Useful websites include Gradlink and Target Jobs
  • Ensure that your CV conforms to what the employer would expect and understand the relevant “application culture.” Employers in the UK value personal achievements and voluntary work but such details tend to be disregarded in India.    Examples of how CVs differ from country to country can be found at Going Global

Understand what you have to offer and what you have gained from your time in Britain

  • What did you gain from your course of study? How could it benefit your employer?
  • Your proficiency in English is important but you will also need to show employers that you are culturally aware and can understand how Europeans do business.
  • You should be clear about your ability to adapt to new environments and learning situations and you will need to explain how you have overcome the challenge of studying and working in the UK. These qualities are vital and you need to sell them in a pro-active way because they will not speak for themselves.
  • Your fellow students will probably have come from around the world so as well as experiencing life in the UK, you have had a truly international experience.

Be realistic

  • You should be aware that employers in your home country may not pay you a higher salary simply because you have a British qualification. The career benefits of your time abroad my not be apparent until you look for promotion.  Be patient and do not give the impression that you know everything.

Be prepared for “reverse culture shock”

  • Do you remember how demanding it was when you arrived in the UK? All your energy seemed to be spent on adjusting to a new country.  How tiring it was to speak English all day!
  • Going back home can feel the same. You will be different and so will your friends and family and they may have little understanding of how your experience has changed you outlook.  The most dangerous time for space modules is when they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.  You may get depressed  and feel slightly alienated from what is now a new environment.  It may not happen but be aware that it is a possibility.

Stay in touch

  • Your UK university stays with you forever and there will be plenty of opportunity to maintain contacts through your Alumni Association and the International Office.
  • In terms of employability most UK universities will still offer you carers advice and information for an extended period after you graduate (typically for 3 years). It’s easy to stay in touch through email and Skype.

Good luck! Peter Smart (Nottingham Trent Univeristy)

Global CVs

Global jobs – CV and application tips

 

So what is a global CV, or what makes a good global application, you may be asking? Having a single CV that could be used for everything would be a dream, but to secure that dream global move requires thinking both globally and strategically. Measurement of technical abilities may be similar worldwide, but application information will be received differently, depending on the type of company, its global culture, and their recruitment needs. Resilience and versatility is required for the people they recruit.

There are numerous sources for developing or perfecting your CV and many will claim to have the ultimate answer, or will charge you money to design your CV for you. When trying to secure jobs in a global market, it could seem like extra help is just what you may require. In essence the global graduate needs to be smart enough to make use of what information is out there, whilst also doing their homework on the country they are applying to. This will enable them to tailor their approach to suit the differing needs of each organisation, which can even vary for the same company, based in a different country.

As you will see from many sources listed below, there are different sections which are more usual or expected in certain countries. Ensuring you get this right will show respect for the jobs market that you are entering. You may be able to gain feedback through LinkedIn networks, or others already working for the companies that you are looking to apply to. Doing your homework can help in creating a customised CV, which can really pay dividends!
The profile statement This is becoming an expected feature
for many CVs or resumes, with different countries using different titles to describe this. Whether calling it a Career Objective, Personal Profile, or my preferred favourite ‘Career Profile’ it should clearly set out what it is that you are doing, what particular qualities that you are offering and finally what position you are trying to secure and the value you could add. I have seen many graduates concentrate on what they are seeking to gain, rather than what they clearly believe they can offer. Offering something is likely to create a more favourable response, the world over.

GradLink UK provides useful articles on the application process and sections you may wish to include in your CV. The example below relates to finding work in China, but you can also use these sources for example CVs from organisations in other countries.

http://www.gradlinkuk.com/what-is-go-cv.php 

General tips for finding and applying for a graduate job in China
With the development of China’s education system, over six million graduates enter the Chinese labour market each year. Competition is high and possessing practical experience and language skills will give you a head-start in finding a job.

Cover letters 
In general, a cover letter is not customary in China. However, some organisations may require one. Cover letters should:
• be around 200 words
• explain your motivation
• explain your specific qualification – give its content and any selling points
• emphasise your outstanding achievements
• mention the added value you may bring to the organisation you are applying to
Templates and examples:
YJBYS.com
zhongguojianliwang.com

CV/resume 
A CV/resume is an overview of a job seeker’s experience, qualifications, significant achievements and personal information. It is generally advised that your CV does not exceed two pages.
A CV should include:
• Personal information (name, date and place of birth, contact details).
• Academic background (university, course name, degree obtained and dates of attendance, content of key qualifications).
• Previous work experience (job title, description of job function and daily activities, dates of employment).
• Critical skills that you have (eg mastery of software and languages).
• Specify the kinds of positions you are looking for and state your career objective.

Templates and examples:
zhongguojianliwang.com
51job.com
gerenjianli.com
guolairen.com
zhaopin.com

GradLink UK, Going Global, Passport Careers, Grad Connection and a host of other sites provide key essentials for writing CVs for different countries, giving you the potential to fit with the traditions and standards of each particular country. Check with your university careers service to see what licenses they have to explore these global resources, as you may only be able to access very basic information. Employers will expect global graduates to possess the ability to research, tailor and adapt their applications to fit with the values and approaches they are seeking. The words you choose can make a real difference.

Example extract for CVs in Nigeria (GradLink UK)
The majority of the Nigerian recruitment websites seem to prefer a maximum of a 2 page ‘standard’ or ‘chronological’ CV, with headings in the following order:

Personal details – full name as the heading of the CV with address, contact number and email address

Profile/Objective – career objective and summary of Education, training and other qualifications – a list of the suggested headings; and new graduates are asked for must provide their class of degree.

Employment History – a chronological order of the jobs, starting with the most recent with details of company name, job title, dates of employment and major accomplishments.

Additional Information – if there is room this section can include hobbies, computer skills, or memberships.

References – not required but should be entered if specifically requested.

How do I start to write my CV?
Key global recruiters that I have worked with have advised the following: “When you look at the classified section of the paper, or read the jobs notice board, make sure you read the advertisement carefully. Decide what aspects of your personality, qualifications, skills and experience you can offer to this new job/career.

Write these down in a list and use strong “action words” – for example: “I am organised, efficient, and hard-working, I have managed and coordinated events and people. I studied and achieved personal and professional excellence and completed a degree in …” (Junaid Mansoor- Global Employability)

It is essential that you have a clear message, which fits with each global company that you apply to. With global jobs, how this fits with your personal stage of development, potential family circumstance and your experience of being in that country will demonstrate to the employer how likely it is you will settle in, perform and add value to their business. It is usually a risk to employ somebody who has not already shown commitment to working globally.

So can I keep the same CV for each position?

Global recruiters, even more than local recruiters, will be able to see how your study specialisms, experience and achievements fit with their vision for their organisation. If you have not matched your CV to your chosen company’s values, business or client aims, it will be difficult for them to see how your achievements, experience and ambitions demonstrate that you are the right candidate to work in that position, or that global location.

Other tips (Target Jobs on applying for positions) 

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/working-abroad/341480-working-in-china#applyingforjobs

Extract from one of their sources on China (Target Jobs)

Applying for jobs

If you have contacts in China, try to use them for networking purposes, as some jobs are never advertised but filled via personal referrals. It’s advisable to secure a job before moving to China as it affects the visa you need to be able to enter and stay in the country.
A short CV or résumé is used along with a covering letter for most job applications. If you’re applying to a Chinese or government-owned company and can speak Mandarin it may be helpful to handwrite your application in Chinese characters.
The information included in your application is similar to that in UK CVs. Provide a summary or career objective at the beginning and highlight academic and personal achievements. Include your academic and work background and if your university features highly in recognised rankings such as the Times Higher Education University Rankings, include the position in your application as this is often highly valued in China.

Take all the advice that you can get!

Within most countries agencies will often recruit. Hays are a major global player, so you can seek advice from them about what they are expecting from quality candidates.

http://www.hays.cn/en/advice-services/EN-CHN_HAYS_373213 Global recruiters- career guides.

The way forward

All of this will take time, but once you start to be curious in exploring global opportunities thoroughly, you may find key pieces of advice coming from contacts that you make.

• Consider approaching companies directly and asking them if they would like some particular format or elements to be demonstrated within their application

• Develop a key facts document (a checklist of skills, values, key words and personality traits you will demonstrate in your CV or application)

• Think about alumni from your university and if they may help you to glean key bits of information.

• Think about establishing contact with people you have spent time with in that country. You never know when you may need their support- so keep them feeling positive towards you.

• Quality checks of your CV or application prior to sending- Ideally somebody working for that global organisation would provide this support, however this may be unlikely.
Think also of others who work in that country. This could include agencies who seeking to recruit the right talent, who have local expertise in CV and applications.

• Remember that what is on your CV, will need to be supported by what is online.
Global recruiters are highly likely to make use of these online resources.
It is their best chance of developing a clearer picture
of who you are, how you act and the connections you have.

Contact your Careers Consultant at your university for their opinion on how you match up to particular company and job specifications.

Potential sources of information

Example extract for CVs in Nigeria (GradLink UK)

http://www.goinglobal.com

https://uk.gradconnection.com/

http://www.passportcareer.com/

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/working-abroad

http://www.globalcareercompany.com/

https://www.everjobs.com/

Good luck! – Chris Steventon (Coventry University)