Our Employability workshops for graduates start at the university this week, so currently immersed in reading what employers say they want. I love Catherine’s Career Corner and will urge our grads to use it as a resource.

But even for an older researcher the amount of advice online can be overwhelming. So for clarity and focus I’ve shaped priorities into a minimalist formula of POE – and aim to have everyone thinking : Presentation, Organization, Evidence.



  • real obvious stuff, but good grooming favouring neutrality is usually safest choice. You can always lurk outside potential employers to clock dress code and then turn up as a smarter version of , if in doubt. Employers want to see you – not the latest from All Saints – unless you’re going for a job there or in fashion, of course…
  • warm yourself up beforehand physically – a walk or dance with the cat will do – get yourself breathing and moving, and you are less likely to be self-conscious about nerves.
  • pause and breathe before answering questions.
  • it doesn’t necessarily matter that you appear nervous – it means the opportunity is important to you. But it does matter if you appear to be arrogant, disinterested, unenthusiastic and not up for learning…
    The majority of employers seek good attitude, above skills, as their top criteria.
  • be open and ask if you do not understand anything – even if it is just what chair to sit in. Make plenty of eye contact and aim for relaxed composure in body language.


  • practise aloud and there is no such thing as being over-rehearsed. But while you want to plan and rehearse key themes ahead, don’t learn answers to questions. Your script may not fit with the questions.
  • create for yourself a mental carousel of 3-part examples from your cv which show your best qualities. The AAA formula is useful for this: describing Assignment, what the situation was, followed by what Action you took, followed by what your Achievement was. These are essential to show how well you fit with the role.
  • really obvious again – but absolutely everything you can research about the employer beforehand is useful.
  • use organization to keep yourself motivated. Do an an early task every day as a step forward. Put tasks in your diary so you don’t feel there is just gaping, infinite white space there…
  • learn from every endeavour in your Project GetaJob. Review what went well and what could have gone better – and then decide what you could have done differently and will do differently next time.



  • Evidence sounds like it is entirely rational and objective, but often human beings do not make decisions this way. Candidates ‘feel’ right or ‘would fit in’. Interviewers imagine about and empathize with candidates as well as reviewing the evidence.
  • But evidence should be clear and is helped by coherent narrative. Story is one of our main sense-making devices. Get feedback on answers and your AAAs: are they too succinct or bogged down with detail for instance? They need some vividness and much clarity.

And Edgar Allan Poe, whose portrait is just here? You probably know he was the first person to try fully earning a living as a professional writer. Even more relevant for our purposes he invented the detective genre – and anyone after a job these days has to become a career sleuth.

Here’s to your fruitful investigations.

By szcz

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