Gavin Smillie

Gavin Smillie

I am a part of the Careers Service information team providing employability support.


  • @RichardMurray Yes you could include it in a work section
    That section could be called "work and volunteering experience"

  • This will come up later. (But in the UK it would not be common practice to include a picture)

  • As best you can, treat it as a normal interview where you don't know anyone. I hope this course helps.

  • Just follow a normal sentence structure. Look out for proper nouns

  • Hiya, sentence case unless it is a proper noun

  • We read through the comments. But for the most point we allow the community to interact with one another.

  • No, as the video says, smart clothing is key.
    I don't tend to wear belts and wear either black or brown shoes

  • No at the moment, but you might want to have a look at a job advert to see what they expect of you. The further you go through the course the more skills you will pick up in order to write a good CV

  • It depends on your writing style - there is no hard rule. I tend to use shorter sentences or bullet points

    You'll see some examples in week 2

  • @CaroleBenew Great response

  • We all wish you look going forward!

  • Yes, it can be optional.
    That being said is the personal profile adding anything which isn't in your covering letter.

  • When using bullet points you can do this as you are not writing whole sentences

  • How many do you think and why?
    Other people may want to answer

  • I think always give it a try.
    You never know what has happened that day to that person. All you can do is your best and then think about those things later. Otherwise it will cloud your thinking and judgement in that moment.

  • Great range of comments here

  • @MaAnnaLizaGancenia really interesting comment. Also with your example the interviewer will be able to ask themselves do your values match up with the organisations.
    If you're ever struggling to answer a question, just think why are they asking me that. with that comment they want to hear more about you as a person, will you fit in, how can you be motivated,...

  • Let us know how you get on and good luck :)

  • So I have. I was about 21 having an interview for a type of HR role. I was asked about a time where I had to break bad news to someone, how I dealt with it etc.

    At that age I didn’t have that many examples and it was a question I didn’t expect.

    After taking a few seconds to think about it - I used an example of managing a football team and not selecting...

  • That sounds like your browser is preventing you from downloading the pdf

  • That's great to know Alice! That being said, your hard work is the reason why you got the job. So be massively proud of yourself.
    Good luck in the new role!

  • While I understand what you mean, the term "game" is changing over time. "Simulation", "interactive material", "game" can all fall within in the same bracket. For me personally, I think "gamification" of both learning & working will be one of the main alternations in society within the next 50 years.

  • I actually think the opposite can be the case. Often when interviewing we find that some of the best examples can come from volunteering. These opportunities tend to be completed alongside a full time job, it shows fantastic drive, dedication and ability to showcase a different skill. A job title does not define us, I am interested in all aspects of that...

  • Great advice

  • I wouldn't suggest copying and pasting your answers from this into a job application. Instead this is to mentally jog your memory to keep track of what you have done.
    Personally, I do the opposite to this. I write down which skills I don't have and try to work on those. But either way it is about developing and then becoming comfortable articulating those...

  • Throughout this course we hope to help with this questions, as it is difficult. So many times I have seen CVs that include everything about that person. What I am more concerned is, can you do the job that I am recruiting for? You need to reflect on if you are showcasing skills that direct relate to that. If I had 3 tips for a good CV it is tailor, tailor,...

  • Good question, you'd pick a couple of skills, which link to the person specification. This is how you tailor each CV to each job

  • This course should help with that

  • We would say normally 2 pages are enough. But please do look at the application details, previous job adverts have made specific requests i.e a one page CV

  • Good question and possibly you are right, but that's when your experience comes into play as these will be unique. While this course is a great framework, it is up to you to provide yourself with opportunities to differentiate yourself through a range of methods; mentoring, volunteering, work experience, active reflection and adaptation. This is how you truly...

  • I am sorry you didn't get the role. However, well done on putting yourself forward. Keep going and never stop trying!

  • Hi Virada,
    I would have a look through each page to make sure you have ticked the "Mark as completed" button.
    You'll also be able to see which sections you are missing from the "to do" section at the top of the page.

  • I hope the interview went well

  • Normally a SOP is required at overseas universities. In the US it is common.
    We'd actually suggest pretty much the same advice.

    Two important aspects are:
    - Reading through the information and follow instructions - word count
    - Tailoring it to what they are looking for

    Terminology can throw people off, but if you follow the information on the left...

  • Because of this comment I looked up him up. Really interesting answer, thank you for sharing @LornaMcCluskey

  • Fantastic comment

  • This is more of a personal thing however I:
    Set up a Excel spreadsheet with the link to the role I am interested in, the closing date, and with any further reading I need to do
    I also have a folder on my desktop called jobs and then sub folders for each role I apply to. The sub-folder has the information connected to the role (person spec job description and...

  • @LornaMcCluskey conversations like this is the reason I love reviewing these courses

  • @RebeccaWilliams just to add to that, I often say you can fake a lot of things. Enthusiasm isn't one.

  • I am interested to see who responds to your question.

  • 7 weeks is a very short time. Depending on how long you have worked for, it would be unlikely that they would ask.
    Fundamentally you are trying to feel better, but allowing time for self introspection, evaluation and being able to implement those changes would be a positive.

  • I agree with you, for me this is the most complicated section as there are so many variables. Going to the summer job for example, I have known employers look at that information in great detail especially as you become more senior. They want to know that you have hands on experience at all levels and worked your way up. Dedication getting your hands dirty...

  • While I understand what you mean, "would you like to join us" is a closed question which can be answered with one word. You are looking with this question to see not only research skills but what motivates the candidate. Hence an open question, why.

  • It depends on what they have done. Due to my work experience I have two sections, "relevant work experience" and "other previous employment". I use more space on the "relevant" section than "other previous employment" section. This comes back to tailoring my application for each role.

  • As per Joanna, pick 4 skills and write a short paragraph. Tailor to the role you are applying to. We would suggest not going beyond 2 pages.

  • This is a really good point. What you will find is that most jobs will include similar skills - this means that a lot of people will use the CV for multiple roles. What will differentiate you from other applicants is tailoring each application to each role and organisation.
    A good exercise to try is pick two organisation in the same sector and identify their...

  • Did you do anything while waiting for your visa, volunteering etc

  • While extra skills are a bonus, normally recruiters are looking for something specific.
    The analogy I previously used with my departments was imagine food shopping for a friend. That friend gives you a list of exactly what they want. What would you return with.

  • I think all of us taking the course will offer you luck!

  • Glad you enjoyed it. Good look in your next application!

  • Hi Minakshi, what are your views and why?

  • Like what Lynn said, not always is the first step to a small organisation. Both large and small companies have respective strengths and weaknesses. It is good to think about these before applying.

  • How did your interviews go?

  • Do you tend to dive into the answer straight away. You may consider using a tactic where you allow yourself 5 seconds before you start your answer.
    The issue with writing lots and lots of information is you will end up answering the question you planned, not what was asked.
    What I suggest is looking through the person specification and look at what skills...

  • I understand the comparison but do you not think it shows that you have developed, being promoted to a more senior role? Could employers can use it as a method of plotting your development? If you were an employer and you saw an applicant who started at a low level role but now is in a much more senior role within the same sector what would that tell you about...

  • @MUNINDHARMACHERLA Thank you for bring this to our attention. I think as you can't open the document it would be best if you leave it, as it will have no impact on your learning on this course.

  • Hi Bev, I hope you find the course useful

  • Hi Vincent, hope you enjoy the course

  • What do you mean by profession? Can you give an example?

  • Gavin Smillie made a comment

    Thank you for taking part in the course, hope to see many of you for the "How to succeed at interviews" course

  • Remember to read the instructions of the task... (in no more than 100 words)

  • To a certain level yes. An application form however allows you to go into more detail as they are normally looking for specific examples.
    My personal opinion with a recruiting hat on is I prefer using an application form as I can structure it in a way where I can get the applicant to focus on the specific skills I need for a role

  • Thank you all for taking part. I hope that that the course was of use.
    Remember to keep trying. You won't always be successful, but half of the battle is putting yourself forward in the first place.

  • That's great!

  • I think that's a good idea. For me the biggest difference between a good CV and a great one is tailoring to the specific role you are applying too.

  • Absolutely, not only is there not a perfect CV it may even change over time. Styles change and so does your opinion. It'll be interesting to hear if anyone has an old and new CV and what changes are there.
    Also I think your caps lock might be on, thanks Aida

  • Good question. For me it depends on a number of factors; the importance of the level of education needed for the role, when you finished studying and your working accomplishments since completing study.
    So I personally have a relevant work experience section, other work experience, then education due to the fact that I believe my work experience is now more...

  • We will cover STAR shortly, 4 lessons time.

  • @DennisMarkAnecito Well if you perform your best but the employer has already made a decision based upon preconceptions, is that someone who you want to work for?

    That being said it is easy to pass responsibility. Is there anything else you can do to improve your language skills. Having a pen pal is something which I have found very useful, while others...

  • Yes, normally you tend to see this when people try to remember the exact wording of an answer they have prepared. They become tense and/or robotic.

  • Gavin Smillie made a comment

    Congratulations on finishing the course, we hope you found it useful
    The entire team wish you the best for the future

  • Good question and a one without a specific answer as it really does depend on the situation.
    I have given different advice at different times, however the normal first step is understanding why you don't want to disclose and taking it from there

  • Normally you don't get to steer the questions you will be asked. The interviewers will roughly ask candidates the same questions so that they can compare and contrast them. Rather than focusing on directing what the next question will be, instead try to answer, as best you can, the question that they are asking you.

  • Rather than give an example of my own I am going to suggest a couple of tasks:

    Get a piece of paper and write down all the skills you think you have.
    Next to these words write an example that illustrates that skill.
    (As the way to avoid clichéd responses is to have a method of backing your claim up. Most people will just say common buzz words without an...

  • We wouldn't send an email but you can show them your progress which is located in the top right. Once the course is complete it should say 100%

  • Good spot.
    Also It's a good thing that you don't agree. Hopefully others by the end of this course will be able to take what they have learnt and adapt it to their personal style. My opinion is when people find their own unique personal selling points they move away from words like hardworking - for the exact reason you have said.

  • Good luck with the course everyone and get involved in the comments.

  • @HajraAhmed Sometimes the skills you learn at work help you in your personal life and visa-versa

  • Good question, it doesn't have to be work based. Most recent grads may not have a lot of examples to draw upon so something more personal would work just as well. the biggest thing to think of is if they are looking for an example of a certain does what I am about to share show that skill.
    On a personal note while I have great experience in project management...

  • Gavin Smillie replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    That sounds great. While the advice here will help, it is through repeated practice and hard work that will see the greatest improved. (I am not going to lie, it is really hard. But it's worth it in the long term).
    Good luck!

  • What I would normally tell people to do in this instance is when they feel they speaking too quickly, pause for a couple of seconds. I often find having a drink of water half way through an helps me focus and quell nerves. I also take a drink as a method of buying time during the end of a question.
    You will find you are more thinking about nerves than the...

  • Gavin Smillie replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    The biggest issues for someone who “talks too much” is that they go off topic and forget the original question.
    What will help you later in this course is framing your answer using “STAR” (situation, task, action, result). If you manage to do that your answers should follow a lot better.

  • How did you answer that?

  • So you are asked why are you interested moving from your current employer?

    Simply, you could talk about the positives of the role you are applying too.

    “While I enjoy my current role this new position means I can…. (develop my skill sets in a number of ways including) (better fits my skill set through ….)

    By concentrating on positives rather than...

  • @RichardViscariello Really interesting question - I like your reply too.

  • With reflection, why do you think you were asked this question?

  • Hopefully a part of this course will help with this issue in particular

  • I hope this course will help you

  • Bring a nice handkerchief and deal with it when it occurs. Interviewers get nervous too and will understand. If anything they will think, this person is aware of this and has planned to do something about it.
    Acknowledge it, and move on.
    Having this as a built in system will reduce stress as you will know what to do. It's not about no sweating and feeling...

  • @CatherineK Exactly, I would normally warn my references that they may expect a phone call or an email from a prospective employer too.

  • Whatever happens you can learn from it for next time

  • Out of interest what kind of role are you looking for?

  • I like this discussion.

    I'll just add something too. If you are driving a car and something happens in front of you, you make adjustments. That could be stopping for instance. This is a learnt behaviour you are taught while learning to drive. You can use the same idea to help you with pressure.

    Everyone works in different ways but find something that you...

  • I'll just add - you can put "references upon request" at the bottom of your CV

    Doing some volunteering work is an excellent way to get another reference

    While some employers won't look for references, it should be in their best interest too.

  • Interesting question. Disability is one of the grey areas where there is no definite answer.

    I think it would depend on why you want to write about it and what it adds to your application.
    We will discuss covering letters later in this weeks course and personal statements next week. The information there I think will help you answer that question.


  • We will come to specifics like that later in the course. But it is a key skill that you should sell.
    In a connected world knowing multiple languages is a massive selling point. As someone who only speaks English, I really admire those who speak multiple languages. Be proud of your achievements and skills.

  • For a standard UK CV we would say no. Knowing what someone looks like should have no impact on the application process.

  • That will come later in the course. But at this stage knowing what skills you have and what you bring to the organisation will act as your foundation

  • We try as best to allow others, like yourselves to take the lead. If we keep voicing our opinions others may feel nervous about responding. We do read the comments though. Don't worry we are with you all the way! :)