I found my job in Personnel Today

Where were you working before, and what were your duties?
I was assistant director of workforce development at Lewisham College in London. My duties included working with blue-chip companies, government agencies, colleges and schools to set up employability projects and programmes for under-achieving young people or unemployed adults. My role also required me to provide training and development opportunities for employees in our partner public sector organisations including the police, Lewisham Council and University Hospital Lewisham.

What were your reasons for applying for the job?
I had been at Lewisham College for five years, and was ready for a new challenge in a different sector. I felt that the job at the University of East London (UEL) would offer this.

What attracted you to the role?
I had really enjoyed the part of my role at the college that dealt with employability issues and welcomed the opportunity to apply for a role where I would have total responsibility for driving this agenda.

Who interviewed you, and what form did the interviews take?
My first interview was with a consultant from Chartwell Search & Selection, and consisted of an informal conversation exploring my past employment history. This was followed by a 45-minute panel interview at UEL with members of its corporate management team and an external adviser. I also gave a 10-minute presentation of my strategy for my first six months in the role.

What will be the duties in your new role?
Head of employability is a new role. It gives me the opportunity to develop strategy, drive the agenda in this area, and put programmes and activities in place for students, graduates and staff that will deliver an improvement in employability skills. I also manage the careers service, which I am in the process of reshaping and revitalising.

What will be the biggest challenges?
Changing the academic culture to ensure employability becomes part of the curriculum, and that our graduates will leave with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to allow them to succeed. I also need to motivate and enthuse my team so that they can help deliver the university’s employability strategy.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
I hope to raise the university’s profile, and that of our graduates, with local, regional and national employers, and help develop confident, motivated graduates.

What interview tips can you offer other jobseekers?
Research the role, its context and the company thoroughly. Be confident and passionate on the day, and remember to dress for success.

The University of East London has more than 18,000 students. It was recently rated one of London’s leading modern universities, according to The Guardian.

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