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How to Sell Yourself in Unilever

In: Business and Management

Submitted By liencherry
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Before you start writing your application for Unilever, you’ll need to have done this essential preparation: * Checked Unilever’s application timetable * Researched Unilever’s internships and graduate schemes * Reviewed Unilever’s graduate competencies
Key thing to remember if you want a graduate job at Unilever:
Unilever’s graduate programme is specifically designed to train graduates as managers, the idea being that they will be ready to take on a management role after two years. If your career goals don’t include management, then this may not be the scheme for you.
If you’re sure the scheme is right for you, it’s important to keep this in mind throughout the application process. Make sure you learn Unilever’s key competencies (tellingly called ‘standards of leadership’) and take every opportunity to demonstrate your leadership potential in your application form and at interview.
Answering questions on Unilever’s graduate application form
Each competency and motivation question on Unilever’s graduate application form must be answered within a maximum of 250 words.
For each of the questions, Unilever helpfully provides a list of additional questions you should address in your answer. It’s important to look carefully at these, because this is extra information that Unilever recruiters want from you, and which any good candidate would provide.
Question one: ‘What attracted you to apply for the Unilever Future Leaders Programme? What attracted you to your chosen function within Unilever?' * What attracted you to your chosen business area/function within Unilever? * What actions have you taken to find out about Unilever and your chosen business area/function? * What appeals to you most about working for Unilever? (core values/principles, employment sector, suited to long term career ambitions etc) * Please indicate why you think Unilever should employ you
Point of question: tests motivation, understanding of the role, career goals, level and quality of research done.
DON’T:
* Forget to answer both questions – it’s easy, but not advisable, to skip the first in favour of the second. * Focus solely on your long-term career goals. You need to show that the programme itself is of interest, not just where it might take you.
Here are some things that you could consider to help tailor your answer: * Identify the key elements of the future leaders programme that appeal to you. Is it the fast-paced nature of the programme? The focus on honing your business skills? The opportunity to travel around (and possibly outside) the UK? Show that you know what the programme involves, and explain why it would suit you. * Consider what kind of work you might be doing in the role you’re applying for. It’s worth reviewing the graduate profiles on Unilever’s careers site for job-specific information, and there are further profiles and interviews on its Careers UK and Ireland YouTube channel. You could also look into Unilever’s recent projects and developments: research and development specialists might want to work on innovative new products like the Dove Spa anti-wrinkle food supplement, while marketing hopefuls may be interested in major deals such as its sponsorship of online media content from Viacom and News Corp. * Show your enthusiasm for your chosen business function by mentioning a relevant interest. For example, if you’re applying for the business and technology management stream, you should have a view on how technological innovation can help drive business, and you could explain how you like to keep up to date with the latest technological developments through IT magazine subscriptions or buying the latest gadgets. * Think about what it is about Unilever and its culture that appeals to you. Is it the company’s vast portfolio of big-name brands? Its friendly culture and relaxed dress code? Or perhaps it’s Unilever’s focus on sustainability, such as its recent teabag recycling programme in Essex? Think about how you would fit in, and use this to personalise your answer.
Question two: ‘Describe a time when you came up with an idea that required you to get the support of others.’ * What was the situation? * What idea did you come up with? * How did you come up with this idea? * Who did you need to convince and why? * How did you approach this?
Point of question: tests ability to think creatively, persuasion skills, leadership potential.
DON’T:
* Skimp on the details – you need to be specific about what you said and did. * Mistake this for a straightforward communication question – you need to demonstrate innovative thinking too.
Here are some things that you could consider to help tailor your answer: * The example you use could be an idea you came up with spontaneously. Explain how and why you came up with the idea, and what the consequences would have been if you had failed to get support for it. * As well as showing your creativity, think about what other skills you used – particularly in the context of Unilever’s standards of leadership. The process of coming up with the idea and seeking support demonstrates a bias for action, but could the situation also show your ability to work in teams? * Persuasion skills are important in a customer-focused company like Unilever; the situation you’re being asked to describe is essentially like pitching an idea to clients. Try to think about your example in a business context, even if it wasn’t originally a business scenario.
Question three: ‘Describe an occasion when you have had a big issue to solve and you needed help.’ * What was the problem? * What impact was it having? * Why did you need help? * How did you identify who to ask for help? * How did you reach out to this person?
Point of question: tests ability to handle difficult situations, judgement, confidence to ask for help when needed.
DON’T:
* Use an example in which you caused the problem yourself; this may reflect badly on you. * Make excuses about why you asked for help, or blame other people. Everyone needs help sometimes, so pretending that you’re infallible could make you seem overly proud.
Here are some things that you could consider to help tailor your answer: * Choose an example where you sought help but didn’t entirely abdicate responsibility for the situation. Accountability and responsibility is one of Unilever’s standards of leadership, so it’s much better to explain how the extra help gave you support and enabled you to resolve the issue than how someone else swooped in and saved the day. * Keep the needs of the future leader programme in mind here; you could inadvertently suggest that you’re not suited if you use an example that mirrors the graduate scheme experience. For example, since Unilever graduates are expected to take on at least three different placements during the programme, an example in which you struggled to adapt to a new role may not be appropriate. * Who you asked for help is an interesting issue, and could show Unilever something about the way you work. Do you always go to someone in management, or do you involve other members of your team? Or would you look outside your immediate circle for the answer? * Consider including a comparison with a similar situation which happened later, to show how you learnt from the initial experience and worked towards personal development.
‘Describe a time when you spotted an opportunity and made it happen.’ * What was the situation? * How did you spot the opportunity? * What prompted you to get involved? * How did your experience/skills/offering fit in with what was required overall? * What feedback did they give you? * How valuable was your help do you think?
Point of question: tests initiative, tenacity, drive to achieve goals, ability to identify good opportunities.
DON’T:
* Limit yourself to work-based scenarios. This is a very open question, so try to think laterally. * Repeat your answer to the idea-based question. Recruiters will be looking for different examples in each.
Here are some things that you could consider to help tailor your answer: * Your example could be anything from spotting a chance to appeal to a new group of people to getting votes for a position you've held, to getting an internship with a particular career goal in mind. The answer is really about how you went about achieving your end goal, rather than what you were trying to achieve. * Think about what obstacles you faced. How did you work around them? Did you have to be flexible in order to overcome them? Unilever is looking for ‘dynamic people’ with a ‘bias for action’, so explain how you reacted to things that stood in your way, and how you took a proactive approach to the situation. * One of Unilever’s corporate principles is ‘continuous commitment’, so try to think of an example in which your commitment stretched beyond the initial opportunity. For example, if the situation involved setting up a new Facebook or Twitter profile for a sports or social club, have you continued to update and manage it since then?…...

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