Emilia profile2 Customer Management (Sales)

My first few weeks as a Customer Development UFLP:…

Hi Everyone,

My name is Emilia and I have just joined the UFLP in Customer Development, or Customer Management (Sales) as it’s called in the initial stages of application. I’m currently based in Leatherhead, as a Customer Account Manager on Impulse and Out of Home Ice Cream. Like Alex did, I’m going to give you a bit of an insight into what I’ve been up to in my first few weeks and provide a glimpse into what life is like on the UFLP!

I joined the UFLP following a placement year in 2013/14 between my second and final years at Sheffield Hallam University, where I studied Business and Enterprise Management. On placement I was part of the eCommerce team working with ‘Pureplay’ customers (online only retailers), which was completely different to the current role I’m in!

In the build up to your first/induction week at Unilever, Unilever have a real hands on approach. Whether that’s through providing you with a functional buddy to provide an informal way to answer any of your questions, to relocation support, to organising events/times to meet others beginning the UFLP. By the time I reached induction week I had already met quite a few of the other people joining the UFLP which was great for dispelling any initial nerves.

This year the induction week kicked off in Liverpool, where amongst other activities we were given a tour of the Port Sunlight Factory, which was amazing. This year’s intake all had a photo on the steps of Port Sunlight. It was surprisingly difficult to get a group of adults to pose for a photo, all looking the same way and with our eyes open!

UFLPs 2015

The evenings of the induction week were filled with activities to help us all to get to know each other, from a murder mystery to a night of bowling and karaoke. It was great to not only meet those who were beginning the UFLP alongside me, but also to meet those further on in their UFLP path and talk to them about their experiences so far.

For CD and Marketing, our first few weeks are structured slightly differently to all the other functions, in particular because we complete a field sales placement prior to beginning in role. Field Sales involves many aspects, from checking stock, to negotiating activations with store managers and everything else in-between. Field Sales is a great introduction into Unilever as it provides real exposure to our brands, consumers and customers. I gained invaluable insight into the operational side of our products in store and it’s proved a great platform to build upon.

Whilst on Field Sales, I had the chance to meet my team prior to fully beginning in role, at a team away day in Newquay. Amongst team meetings, we also explored Newquay, looking at what Out of Home Ice Cream looks like in a seaside town. Newquay is also home to a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlour, where we stopped for a photo and an ice cream, or two! It was a great way to begin the transition into my new role, as I was able to meet the team on an informal basis, learn more about what is happening within ice cream at Unilever and also, at a more operational level, get out and about and have a look at what is currently going on in the wider world of ice cream.

Emilia B+J's

Flash forward to my first couple of weeks in role, my first day involved introductions and inductions with the wider team. Everyone was very welcoming and happy to answer all my questions, no matter how stupid I thought the question might seem (Tip: whilst you’re still getting to grips with your role at Unilever, there is no such thing as a stupid question!). I was also introduced to one of the many benefits of working within ice cream from day one… free ice cream! Although everyone here at Leatherhead can have free Ben & Jerry’s every day, the Ice Cream Team also house a freezer full of even more products, which we can help ourselves to, it’s making for a great mid-afternoon treat.

During the first few weeks, amongst getting to grips with my role and responsibilities, I have also had the opportunity to take part in a lot of training, from sessions covering broader companywide initiatives, to specific training for my role. Alongside this, as part of the UFLP, there is a specialised training and learning roadmap for each function. This roadmap builds upon the Unilever training and sets out the further opportunities for training and development all UFLPs have. It’s a really great programme that not only focuses on core development, but also aims to help all UFLPs develop skills that will prove invaluable in the future.

It has been a great few weeks and I’m looking forward to the next few months and beyond!

 

Arjun Business areas

My Summer at Unilever: Arjun Mistry, Customer Development SP

Who are you and what do you do?

Hello there my name is Arjun Mistry, I’m currently on the 12 week summer placement in the Customer Development function based in Unilever’s head office in Leatherhead. My full job title is ‘Customer Executive for Out Of Home Ice Cream on The Co-Operative account’ – a bit of a mouthful I know! Basically my main responsibilities are coordinating ice cream sales and promotions across every single Co-Operative store in the UK. This includes liaising with buyers, supply chain specialists and the marketing team and making sure everyone knows what they are doing – communication is key!

What have you enjoyed most?

Working in the fun, dynamic, creative ice cream category during the roasting summer months has been a real treat. One personal highlight have been attending the ice cream brand cascade at London Zoo where we got to see and taste all the unreleased products set to come out in the summer of 2016 – it was great to see new innovations in my category before anyone else. Another highlight was regularly visiting Manchester to conduct meetings with the Co-operative’s ice cream buyer – being able to negotiate and speak in a personable yet persuasive way is one of my strengths so it was great to be able to put this to good use in my time at Unilever. I also had a chance to visit the Walls Pop Up store (see the photo). The key factor that has made this entire experience enjoyable has been the people I work with: the welcoming and friendly company culture that Unilever breeds has made me feel right at home.

What has been the most challenging?

The biggest challenge I encountered was the degree of independence and responsibility that you are trusted with from day one. For example, I was trusted with conveying all the data between our field sales team who work across the UK to the Co-Operative head office in my first week. Although this may sound daunting, the degree of responsibility you are given is beneficial in helping you feel like a valued member of the team and also in your own personal development. You learn a lot through actual project work, including a whole range of transferable business skills.

What advice would you give to someone about to start their placement?

I would say don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to as many people as possible. Everyone in the company has their own specialist knowledge and if you can learn to tap into it, it will undoubtedly benefit you. Also I would recommend that you be as proactive as possible – if you see a project that you believe you could contribute to then get involved! Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

Arjun

A photo of a pal at the Walls Ice cream store

 

Laura 1 Business areas

Introducing Category Management: Laura Jenkinson, Customer Development SP

Hello, my name is Laura and I am currently on my summer placement as a Category Executive for the hair team. When I applied to the Customer Development summer placement I had no idea what category management was – or that the role even existed! However, 7 weeks into my placement I have already given an induction on the category to a key retailer and made recommendations on how they can improve their performance.

Laura 2

Working in category management my team are in charge of overseeing the whole hair category, looking at how the market is performing and working with individual retailers to help them grow the category and meet customer needs. The category team support both the brand teams with how their products fit and are performing within the category and customer teams in order to build relations with retailers.

It is key to our role to ensure we look at the whole category as well as Unilever brands. For Unilever the hair category includes TRESemme, Dove, Vo5, Alberto Balsam and Toni & Guy. Part of my role has involved having inductions with all of the brand teams who look after these in order to understand their products and how they sit within retailers. Hair is a particularly exciting category to be involved in as there are always new products coming to market! One task I recently completed was looking at new products for 2015 across the whole category to see who has performed well and what has been a success. The information I provided on this was then fed back to the Unilever Leadership team.

In my category role I have had the opportunity to work on projects both internally and externally. For instance, internally, I completed a piece of work analysing product exclusives to see if this is something that the brand teams should consider pursuing. Externally, I created a styling update for a retailer so they could track the progress of brands this year. As placement students we are given real responsibility – I know the tasks I carry out are having an impact on important decisions!

I have had the opportunity to learn so much whilst I have been on my summer placement and I am sure that this learning will continue in my final weeks! Even though I knew very little (almost nothing) about category management before I started, I have received proficient training and guidance so that I now feel integrated into and a key member of the team.

 

 

Eva Business areas

My UIIP Experience: Eva Karkoni, Marketing SP

Hi everyone,

My name is Eva and I joined Unilever almost 6 months ago as a Skin Cleansing Shopper Marketing intern.

Let me begin with some things about myself. I studied Marketing and Advertising in Athens and I am currently doing my Master’s in Marketing at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam which-fingers crossed- I am about to finish soon. I must admit that trying to combine work with a demanding study schedule was not an easy thing and if I ever make it I will throw a great party in the Weena Office (Just kidding here)!  However, Unilever provides a quite flexible environment, especially for students, and thus, I did not miss any of my classes I had to attend.

So, despite my Marketing background, I decided to do an internship in Customer Marketing, a field closer to Customer Development than Marketing. I did so, because I think it is preferable to wander around different positions and fields before deciding what you are mostly interested in. Honestly, if you think about it, internships are a good opportunity to explore your skills, talents and interests as well as gain experience and insights from different teams and departments.

The most interesting thing of my work is that being part of the CD department, means that you work for more than just one brand. Therefore, as a Skin Cleansing intern I work for Dove, Radox, Lux and Zwitzal (i.e. the baby care brand) which is much more interesting that you can imagine. You have to handle plenty of projects on a daily basis, brief agencies, collaborate with the Brand Development teams and other teams as well.

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To be more specific, Customer Marketing is Marketing at the Point-of-Sale, i.e. creating the appropriate displays, key visuals, call-to-actions and make them match with the brand’s personality in order to raise awareness and drive purchase intent. As part of my daily activities, I am in constant contact with our agencies responsible for developing the assets and the visuals. It is a role involving a lot of people and responsibilities due to the variety of brands and tasks. Along with some big projects, we also have to handle other minor ones that pop up during the day. This is great as it adds a splash of variety in life!

Of course, there are days that nothing goes well. I must admit that I encountered many difficulties especially in the beginning – the transition from careless student life to being a full time employee is not the easiest thing in life!

Something else that also fascinates me is the international environment we live in. It is fantastic to interact with people from all over the world on a daily basis and be acquainted with different personalities and cultures. If you think about it, there are 500 people in the building with different backgrounds and habits. On one day, you may find yourself talking about the Brazilian carnival and on the other day discussing the Arab Spring!

Furthermore, UL has some of the most famous and successful brands in the FMCG industry. It is thrilling to work for Dove, Ben and Jerry’s or Magnum and know that you are a part of their success and that you have contributed to their beautiful story.

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Therefore, now that this 6-month experience ends, I must admit that working for Unilever has been a very exciting and interesting period of my life and it gave me the opportunity to gain work experience as well as invest in my self-development in both professional and personal terms. I became more proactive and decisive as well as learnt how to operate efficiently under tight deadlines and a high level of pressure.

Overall, being part of the amazing team of UL is an experience I will always remember. I am happy for these 6 months and it was definitely worth it.

That is all from me for now!

Stay tuned from more stories of the wonderful world of Weena!

Eva

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Arjun Business areas

My First 6 Weeks in Customer Development: Arjun Mistry,…

Hello all,

My name is Arjun Mistry, and I am six weeks in to my summer placement at the Unilever head office in Leatherhead. I belong in the customer management function – which is where the execution of products lives or dies. Specifically the responsibilities of my role are looking  after all the Ice Cream that goes to The Co-Operative supermarkets.

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As an avid ice cream eater myself, being able to work with well recognised and popular brands such as Magnum, Ben & Jerry’s, Vienetta and  Cornetto has been an engaging and interesting experience. Before I started my role, I had no idea about the amount of careful planning and negotiating that goes into all the products you see on supermarket shelves! From the way that products are set out, to the type of promotion, to all the co-ordinated marketing, it was great to learn more about how multi-faceted the FMCG industry is.

Before I had even begun my role, I was contacted by a current graduate at Unilever who put me at ease with all the various questions I had about the company. It was comforting to know that I had someone to talk to about the intricacies and also the simpler queries I had about the role. Then it was on to our induction at a sumptuous hotel in Dorking: all the industrial placements and summer placement students had a chance to meet, socialise outside the office and really get to know each other. This meant that on my first day within the office I already knew a bunch of people which was useful.

When I met my team I was made to feel welcome and we had a nice lunch on the first day. What struck me was how friendly and sociable everyone is – ask anyone for help and they will give it to you. My line manager had a laptop and mobile phone waiting for me and I was able to crack on with getting settled in straight away. Straight away my calendar filled up with meetings and I became immersed in the day to day business activities that gave me hands on experience.

In terms of responsibility, Unilever is like no other employer. I was given a set of projects that I could work through in any way I liked, and by week 4 I was presenting the findings of my project work to the buyer at the Co-Operative headquarters in Manchester! By being given this level of responsibility, it really made me take pride in my work and also meant that I could demonstrate my own effectiveness to my manager. It was great to not be micro managed or having someone constantly breathing down my neck, yet being able to talk openly and honestly with anyone in my team, if necessary.

So I am now just beyond the halfway point of my placement and I can honestly say there has not been a dull moment. I have fully acclimatised to the getting up and doing a working day (something I was nervous about before starting!) and feel very well settled in to my team. In fact, I am dreading the thought of having to leave come September! Some highlights for me have been the regular meetings with the Ice Cream buyer in Manchester; attending brand cascades and trying new flavours of ice cream before they have been released and helping co-ordinate the winter range. Again, I am amazed by how the scope of my own involvement will make a tangible difference to all the Co-Opertaive stores throughout the UK.

Every day is a new challenge, and I hope to learn more and more in my time here. Bring in the next 6 weeks!

Gus-Kennedy Customer Management (Sales)

A not-so-typical day in the life: Gus Kennedy, Customer…

Hi! I’m Gus and I am spending the year working in Customer Management on the Industrial Placement Scheme. Customer Management or ‘CD’ as we call it internally (Customer Development) is essentially a function that focuses on working with our customers to achieve an outcome that achieves great results for us, our customers and most importantly our consumers (insider tip- this is known at Unilever as a “triple win”). I work in the Impulse/Out of Home Ice Cream business and it’s my role to lead the 2015 Visibility agenda. This basically means I am overseeing the procurement and design of all of our point-of-sale marketing materials, and ensuring they get to market quickly, efficiently and effectively to help our customers sell more ice cream. The role is massively cross-functional, and I often find myself spending more time with our marketing team than our sales team! Visibility is a massive part of the OOH Ice Cream business’ operation and to be given such a massive amount of responsibility from day one is an awesome opportunity that keeps me incredibly motivated and is testament to why the Unilever Industrial Placement is so well thought of.

As cliché as it sounds, there really isn’t a “typical day in the life of” for anyone working for Unilever. As the market and the needs/wants of our customers change we have to flex and adapt. This is true of almost every role I can think of. On almost a daily basis everything your role can change and the goalposts can move as all aspects of FMCG come with a massive degree of unpredictability and variance- this is what makes it so much fun. In my role for example, I could spend the morning in a London design studio and the afternoon in a wholesale depot. Each day all my skills are tested, and whether I’m creatively challenging our art agency to make a Magnum pavement sign look as “on brand” as possible or analytically planning the optimal route to market for 7500 Flying Banners… I am certainly never bored!

My top tip for applying to Unilever would be to really spend some time thinking about the strengths you want to communicate and whether or not these demonstrate the Unilever Standards of Leadership. When applying, you’ll have a whole bank of life experience you can draw on to show what a great candidate you are however it is the candidates who are selective about what they choose to draw on during selection who are successful. “Cherry-picking” different strengths (and evidences of strengths!) that demonstrate the Standards of Leadership is what the talent selection team are looking for. As I mentioned, from day one I was amazed (and a little scared) by what a huge chunk of our operation I was responsible for. Very quickly it becomes clear exactly how necessary the ability to lead is… There’s no one you can offload work to or expect to get ideas from- it’s all you from start to finish!

cd-2 Customer Management (Sales)

Welcome IPSP Customer Management (Sales)!

Welcome to our 2014/2015 Industrial and Summer Placement Customer Management (Sales) students!  Here they share with you their profiles, what attracted them to Unilever and top tips for future applicants:

Anna-Reid

Name: Anna Reid

University: University of Exeter

Course: BA Business Economics

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Commercial Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Working at Unilever gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in working with a diverse range of brands that I know, use and love.  My attraction to Unilever also stemmed from the desire to work in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry – every day is different and you are continuously adapting to new situations. This is especially true in Customer Management. Through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) and their sponsorship of non-profit sustainable organisations such as Enactus, Unilever demonstrates its commitment to sustainable business growth – to me, these company values make Unilever an attractive place to work. As placement students you are given a real role in the team and real responsibility, thus the opportunities to learn and develop are vast.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Firstly make sure you are aware of Unilever’s Standards of Leadership and that you can demonstrate these throughout the application process and during the placement.  Secondly, the more research you do the better!  Make sure you know Unilever’s position in the market and their main competitors. Additionally, make sure you understand the Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry and the opportunities /threats the market and environment present to Unilever.  Thirdly make sure you have as much relevant experience as possible, either at University or work that reflect your ability to work effectively in teams.

Calum-Owen

Name: Calum Owen

University: Manchester

Course: Geography

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Summer Placement Discounters

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever plays a large part in the everyday lives of so many people. It is very much a global company, shown through the diversity throughout the organisation. Unilever continues to invest in graduates and future talent and has a strong ethical rooting which is shown by its commitments to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. You get the chance to be the part of a company which aims to enhance livelihoods whilst growing in a difficult and competitive market.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Find things out about the company, you don’t have to be an expert but a bit of knowledge about the history, current performance, products and the competition can give you a head start. If you ever have any questions make sure you ask them, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s stupid, you’re guaranteed not to be the only person wondering about it and it’s always better to know than to guess. Throughout whatever you do with Unilever or any other company, try and relax and be yourself, it definitely can be easier said than done but stress can cause mistakes to happen and for you to not perform at your best. Finally work hard and chase what you want to achieve, motivation is an important trait and the opportunities are always available providing you push for them.

Eleanor-Boyer

Name: Eleanor Boyer

University: Bristol

Course: English

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: eCommerce Innovation Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Company culture, recommendations, prestigious company and working with exciting brands

Any top tips for future applicants?

Relax. Even if you’re nervous it pays to be friendly to everyone and be someone they would want to work with.

Emma-Houslander

Name: Emma Houslander

University: Bournemouth University

Course: Business Studies

Function: Customer Management Industrial Placement

Role Title: Customer Account Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Unilever is one of the largest Fast Moving Consumr Goods companies and has a wide range of career opportunities starting with spring/summer/industrial placements and the UFLP (Graduate) scheme. I wanted to gain real life experience in a successful global company to put theory I’d learnt at uni into context. I particularly like the open plan, friendly atmosphere in the office and the importance placed on having a positive work life balance.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Carefully study the Standards of Leadership and think of your own relevant examples of each. Be open to learning new things, fast, and ask as many questions as you can.

Gemma-Weighill

Name: Gemma Weighill

University: University College London

Course: Chemistry with Management

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Discounters team – project manager for customer marketing activities at Lidl, analysing, reviewing and monitoring promotion plans, researching opportunities with Aldi

What attracted you to Unilever?

The friendly, hardworking yet supportive atmosphere. I feel that Unilever give you a lot of responsibility so that you are pushed and feel like you are making a difference, yet there is also plenty of support if you need it. It is also great that when you walk into the shops and see the Unilever brands you know that you were a part of a team to get that end result.

Any top tips for future applicants?

If offered a chance to work here, make the most of every opportunity and find out about other functions that you’re not focused on to get a good overview of Unilever.

Gus-Kennedy

Name: Gus Kennedy

University: Loughborough University

Course: Politics and Geography

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Customer Executive- Impulse and Out of Home Ice Cream

What attracted you to Unilever?

I loved the idea of working alongside so many iconic and exciting brands for a company that is able to remain so massively competitive and win in the market place whilst still retaining its great ethos and core values

Any top tips for future applicants?

Just know your strengths as much as possible and use the application process as an opportunity to communicate these as clearly as possible to whoever is assessing you!

Jack-Warner

Name: Jack Warner

University: Lancaster University

Course: BBA Management

Function: Customer Management/ Sales

Role Title: Commercial Executive, Boots

What attracted you to Unilever?

The chance to sell hugely successful products, the diversity of people, size of firm, the huge pledge to the Sustainable Living Plan and the free Ben and Jerry’s.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Research the position properly – when being interviewed by either telephone or person, have examples that back up skills and traits needed within the job role. Further, knowing the products and positions Unilever hold in the marketplace won’t do you any harm. Try to consult careers advisers before sending the applications in as you only get one shot!

Mark-Hayes

Name: Mark Hayes

University: University of Bath

Course: International Management & French

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Impulse & Out of Home Customer Development Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

Compared to the other Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies out there, Unilever really stood out from the pack for me due to its innovative marketing campaigns that have helped build some of the country’s most popular brands. Sustainability also goes to the very heart of the business which I believe will be seen as an increasingly important model for companies in the future.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you come armed with questions on why the business is moving in certain directions based on in depth research into the company and the industry as a whole. This will show you are a curious and analytical which are key skills that will help you in whatever function you choose.

Megan-McCluskey

Name: Megan McCluskey

University: University of Cambridge

Course: Geography

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: Summer Intern

What attracted you to Unilever?

I really liked the way that Unilever seemed to pioneer change in the business world. An example of this is their commitment to sustainability which has resulted in innovations such as compressed deodorants.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Make sure you fully understand the function and tailor your application accordingly.

Rosie-Churchill

Name: Rosie Churchill

University: University of Reading

Course: Business & Management

Function: Customer Management

Role Title: eCommerce Customer Account Executive

What attracted you to Unilever?

One of the best Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies with a prestigious placement scheme. Also the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan played a big part in separating Unilever from its competitors for me.

Any top tips for future applicants?

Relate everything to the Standards of Leadership

future Application Tips

Top 10 Tips for Graduate Job Hunters

Hi All,

We all know that job hunting as a graduate isn’t easy. The process is constantly growing in length with extensive application forms, multiple psychometric tests, telephone interviews and of course, extremely demanding selection boards. The process is most definitely challenging and on top of other deadlines that you may be facing (exams, coursework deadlines etc.) it can be a stressful time. As a recent graduate who started at Unilever in 2013 I remember clearly the pressure of job-hunting and the challenges it created. I thought therefore it would be helpful to offer my top ten tips for graduate job-hunters. Some are specific to Unilever and some are slightly more general. These are by no means the holy grail of securing a graduate job but hopefully for those who are feeling the strain they may help;

1.    Know yourself

It sounds so simple but isn’t always something that people remember to consider. Joanne Lucy (Capability Director, Enterprise Technical Solutions at Unilever) who is regularly involved in Selection Boards highlighted the importance of candidates understanding and being able to articulate their own Unique Selling Point (USP). Know what makes you stand out from other candidates and don’t be afraid to share this. Consider your strengths but also be able to identify any areas where you would like to improve. Most importantly, be yourself. It’s easy to recognise someone who is saying what they think recruiters want to hear so honesty really is the best policy.

2.    Avoid generalisations

You don’t have to be a ‘certain person’ to fit a particular role. My degree was in Sport Management and my work background was mainly focused around Communications and Marketing but I am currently a HR Management Trainee. Unilever do not look for specific backgrounds but rather where the individual wants to be in the future. Don’t be deterred if you have studied something that isn’t naturally connected to the role you’re interested in. As long as you can justify your interest and demonstrate potential you have a chance.

3.    Preparation is key

Preparation is important for every stage of the recruitment process and should never be underestimated. Make sure you’ve done your research on Unilever as a company, our history and our culture. Keep up to date with news on your chosen function and be able to justify your opinions. Understand the function that you have applied for and how it applies to other areas of the business. Ask yourself why you are interested in this area and what can you bring to the role and to the company. It’s also worth making sure that you have an awareness of the external market – how are Unilever performing against our competitors? How are we navigating the challenges faced? Sources such as The Economist can help with this. Finally, ensure that you have a good grasp of Unilever’s Standards of Leadership as these are a critical part of the selection process.

4.    Be specific – use examples

Think carefully about the examples that you can use to back up the skills/strengths that you have. Interviewers want to hear about specific challenges/experiences that you have had and how you reacted in this situation. Try to structure your answers using the STAR technique;

S – Situation – What was the task/challenge?

T – Task – What did you need to do to complete the task/overcome the challenge?

A – Action – What actions did YOU take to complete the task/overcome the challenge. Be specific here. Think in terms of ‘I’ rather than ‘we’.

R – Result – What was the outcome? What did you learn during the process?

It may help to think about examples around key competencies (e.g. communication, leadership etc) in advance as this will help you to develop a sense of self-awareness that can be extremely useful in interview situations. Also where possible try to use a broad range of experiences rather than the same scenario in every example. This can help demonstrate versatility and breadth of experience.

5.    Be confident but realistic

Confidence in your own ability and what you can bring to the company is key. Be proud of your achievements and learn to sell yourself and your skills. You are your own best advocate and this is an opportunity to share the reasons why you stand out from other applicants. You should however be realistic in what you are saying. Exaggerating your skills is unlikely to get you far and is a risky approach. Also be aware of areas where you may need to improve. These may not necessarily be ‘weaknesses’ rather areas that you recognise as not being as strong and would like to improve on.

6.    Be flexible

As a Unilever Future Leader a certain degree of flexibility is required. For some functions this means geographical flexibility (e.g. Supply Chain, HR, R&D). For all functions flexibility in the roles carried out and the tasks within these roles is a must. Take time to consider if this sort of flexibility is something you are willing to take on. Personally, the opportunity to move around the country experiencing different elements of HR is one of the key reasons I chose the scheme. It’s exciting and a fantastic learning opportunity but this may not be for everyone.

7.    Ask questions

I can’t advocate the importance of asking questions enough. Yes, this can include prepared questions that you have thought of in advance, but also ensure that during your interview/assessment day you listen to the interviewer and respond where possible. Asking questions helps demonstrate engagement and enthusiasm which is important. When asked for his top tip for graduates at Selection Boards, David Sprent (Vice-President Customer Supply Chain UK and Ireland) spoke about looking for ‘genuine enthusiasm and energy around Unilever and its brands’. Asking questions is a great way to demonstrate this. However, do make sure that your questions are relevant and situation-appropriate. Also try to avoid the ‘obvious’ questions that are answered elsewhere as this could imply that you haven’t done your research.

In addition, if you have any questions before your telephone interview/selection day feel free to contact Unilever’s current graduates via our Twitter / Facebook pages.

8.    Make a contribution

This is specifically in regards to the ‘group task’ element of Selection Boards which are never the easiest tasks to get through. The best advice is to make sure that you make a contribution. You are being assessed against key competencies throughout the group task and if you say little or nothing this will inevitably affect your rating. Be assured and confident throughout the discussion and try to demonstrate interpersonal and team skills. Working as a team rather than as competitors will stand you in much better stead so consider your team mates and try to engage with those who may be struggling to find their voice. If you do disagree with another comment, explain why this is a case and suggest an alternative. Try not to become too consumed with finding the ‘right’ answer. How you get to a final solution is often the most important part.

9.    It’s never too early to network

The word ‘network’ is constantly used in the business world and whilst at first it may seem intimidating or irrelevant to where you are at, the importance will quickly become clear. It really is never too early to start building your own network. Keep in touch with as many people as you can – course-mates, past employers and lecturers as well as friends. All can be a good source of information and may be able to offer inside knowledge about the function that you are looking at. You might want to consider building a ‘LinkedIn’ profile so you can connect with people in the sectors that you are interested with. It’s also a great place to document your work history, show yourself off and find out about different careers.

10. Stay calm

Interview processes are not the most relaxing of experiences but it is important that you stay calm. Whilst nerves are usually inevitable try to not let them impact your performance. If possible, arrive to the venue with time to spare to enable you to familiarise yourself with the surroundings and avoid any last minute panics about being late. Specifically in regards to the assessment centre remember that there is more than one task during the day. Don’t panic if you feel that you have done badly in one task – this won’t ruin your chances of success and the chances are you are judging yourself harshly. Move on and tackle the next task as a new challenge. It’s a long day but whenever possible try to remain upbeat and interested until you’re on the train home. Remember, you can only do your best and the assessors genuinely want you to do well!

I hope this has been helpful. If you would like more specific tips about Unilever’s recruitment process take a look at Nick’s blog from February this year. If you do have any questions about the recruitment process feel free to ask in the question box below or contact the current grads via Facebook/Twitter. We are happy to help where possible and reply to all questions!

Good luck to everyone!