Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Monthly Archives: April 2015

Times New Roman is the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview

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📥  Advice, Applications

We all know, your CV is one of the most important items in your job hunting tool kit. So, I was fascinated to come across this blog post by Bloomberg on the best and worst fonts to use on your CV. According to the article, Times New Roman is a comfortable faithful friend, a bit like the equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview. Considering the mindboggling choice of fonts, do you harness the powers of Lucinda, Franklin Gothic or Poor Richard (yep, this font style exists!) on your CV.

Our take is not to get too bogged down with fonts, here are our simple rules:

  • Use 14 font for your name and 11 font for the rest of your CV. Use Ariel or another clear font style (Times New Roman works) – most importantly, remember your CV needs to be accessible to the reader.
  • Capitalise and bold your major headings and use bold for any sub-heading.
  • Be consistent and use use one font style.
  • Use bullet points (consistent style) and avoid a rainbow of colors (unless you are applying for creative roles!)
  • Keep to no more than 2 pages.

Finally, look at different CV styles and formats for inspiration... As a start, check out our CV guide which has lots of example templates.

 

Career advice that is sabotaging your interview performance...

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📥  Interviews

As part of Careers Prep in a Day, we delivered an Interviews & Assessment Center workshop. Inevitably, questions turned to what one should wear at interview and the importance of body language which triggered quite a discussion. This prompted me to write a blog post about body language in interviews and I decided to do a google search to see if there were any interesting views out there.

I was fascinated to come across 'the popular piece of advice that is sabotaging your job search' published by the Huffington Post two days ago. The writer Marianne Stenger suggests that a technique called mirroring, which is said to help build rapport and make us seem more likable in social situations such as job interviews may well have a negative effect; and if you're not careful causing you to inadvertently mimic negative behavior.

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study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that whether you're doing it consciously or not, mirroring can lead you to mimic a person's negative behavior, which cancels out any positive effects it may have had.

To test this, the researchers had group of college students take part in a staged phone interview. Each student was asked the exact same interview questions; the only difference was that for some students, the interviewer's tone of voice was neutral, while for others the interviewer took on a more negative tone. Without even realizing it, applicants matched their tone of voice to the interviewer's. Those who had a negative toned interviewer ended up responding to the questions with a more negative tone of voice, and inadvertently lowered their performance rating.

So, should you mirror or not?

Our view here in Careers is don't discount the impact body language has in an interview all together! Afterall body language is a universal language that we all speak and there is plenty of research out there that backs this school of thought. The mistake we find a lot of students and graduates make is that they over think body language to a point that they are not 'present' in the interview! For example, if you are comfortable with mirroring; than this is OK as long as you don't go OTT about the whole thing. Don't be so focused on mirroring that you stop listening to the questions that the interviewer is asking. And remember your body language is one element of your overall interview performance.

Interviews are a solitary activity, it can be really helpful to seek out objective feedback. So before you go to your next interview, why not book a practice interview with one of our careers advisers? We can give you honest and constructive feedback so that you are confident on the big day.

 

 

 

Turn job rejection into an opportunity...

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, Networking, Tips & Hints

Picture this:

You've been to the interview or assessment centre for your dream job and are now waiting with bated breath for the outcome... You are constantly refreshing your inbox and checking your phone. Then it arrives, the dreaded "thank you but this time there were candidates who had more relevant skills or experiences"

Close, but no cigar!

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So what do you do? Well, this week I came across some interesting feedback from Bath students and graduates which offers a flicker of hope. Below I would like to share job hunting experiences of two students (names and personal information has  been altered for confidentiality purposes).

Student A

Situation: Student A had a telephone interview with a well known Energy firm in December 2014, at this stage they were told they weren't going to progress their application further. Student A had successfully passed the aptitude tests and their application had clearly made the right impression.
Approach: Student A is still job hunting and decided to contact the employers who had rejected their application. A simple email explaining that they were still looking for work and utilised the follow up opportunity to ask if they could be considered for other roles in the company. Student A also listed relevant experiences they had gained since their telephone interview in December.
Result: 3/4 of the organisations Student A followed up with replied and two have asked Student A to undertake a telephone interview for a different role in their company.
Learning point: be creative in your job hunt, you might just surprise yourself.

Student B

Situation: Student B had been to an assessment centre at a Bank in February 2015, at that time they had applied for a back office analyst role. Student B didn't receive an offer.
Approach: Student B was proactive in asking for feedback and took the opportunity to send a thank you note to the recruiter. Student B also connected with said recruiter on LinkedIn.
Result: completely out of the blue, the recruiter got in touch with Student B and explained an opportunity had come up in the technology division. The student was put in touch with a graduate trainee currently undertaking the technology role to find out more about the division and the day-to-day work. Student B thought the technology role was interesting, accepted the offer and is now waiting to receive a contract. Luckily Student B didn't have to reapply, interview or attend another assessment centre.
Learning point: don't narrow your job search and keep an open mind.

So the moral of these two stories? Rejection is a natural part of the job hunting process. It is important not to get depressed and instead to act in a strategic manner, turning the disappointment into an opportunity. Remember that the rejection was for a single job and not for all future opportunities that may appear at the same company.

 

Reflections from Careers Prep in a Day...

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, Tips & Hints

Some of the careers team and over 60 final year students gave up their Saturday to participate in Careers Prep in a Day. This was the first time we ran such an event and were absolutely buzzing at the end. The premise of the day was to support our final year students in getting to grips with all aspects of starting their graduate job search upon graduation. In one action packed day we discussed:

  • Alternatives to grad schemes.
  • How to work with recruitment agencies and how to make speculative applications.
  • Provided practical help with writing CV's, cover letters and completing application forms
  • Explored typical interview questions and assessment center activities

We were blown away by the participants - there were lots of insightful questions, sharing of experiences and tons of positive energy! For those of you who couldn't join the event, here are some of the key  points:

  1.  Decisions are scary: sometimes everyday decisions like "where do we go on Friday night" can result in paralysing doubt. So it is hardly surprising that choosing a graduate career should cause anxiety and stress! Think of career planning in small steps - if you are unsure of what you want to do then focus on exploring ideas or simply updating your CV may give you the feeling that you are moving in the right direction.
  2. Your first job isn't your final job: many graduates think their first job will determine their future career path. It won't. You will change. The world of work will change, so try to think instead about what you'd like to do in the next 12-24 months to make the decision more manageable.
  3. Grad schemes aren't the only option: there are an estimated 5.2 million SME's in the UK. I came across this excellent blog from the University of Leeds which summarises the graduate opportunities within an SME.
  4. 2:2 isn't the end of the world: many students believe that if you get a 2:2 you have no hope on getting on a grad scheme or even a graduate role. This is a myth! There are plenty of graduate schemes that accept a 2:2 - check out our blog post on this very subject!
  5. Harness the power of social media: LinkedIn and Twitter are invaluable job hunting tools, with some employers choosing to advertise only on social media. Start following companies that interest you or join a professional group on LinkedIn.  Social media allows you to tap into the hidden job market.

We understand this is a stressful and busy time for many of our finalists... so it is worth bearing in mind we are open throughout the summer and you can continue using the careers service here at Bath after you graduate.

Finally, if you are a Masters student, we are hosting a Careers Prep in a Day event just for you on Wednesday 3rd June! Please log into MyFuture for further details and to register.

 

Negotiating Job Offers...

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📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

My quick query appointment theme this week has been around negotiating offers. Job hunting in my mind is a two way process. As much as employers are looking for the right candidate, the job seeker has to also find a job that is the right fit. Therefore negotiation is very much part and parcel of the whole process. However as the job seeker, it is worth bearing in mind the buoyancy of the job market and your desirability as a candidate will influence how much flexibility the employer will offer. My general advice is for you to be completely clear about what you want out of any negotiation before you enter any dialogue.  This week I have seen a higher than usual number of students asking:

"I'd like to accept the job but can I defer my start date?"

Many organisations are flexible about a deferred start date but you should not assume this is possible. For some jobs with smaller employers you may be able to negotiate with the employer when you start if it is within a reasonable amount of time. For graduate schemes this may be less flexible when there many new employees starting at the same time and there may be a fixed schedule for induction and training.  Our advice is to check with the employer if it will be possible to defer your start date. If you are planning on taking a gap year and have been applying for jobs in the hope of deferring for a year, you need to check if this is possible before you apply. Some employers may allow you to defer your offer for a year and start at the next intake.

"I have a job offer but I am waiting to hear back from other interviews"

This is a really common issue faced by students and our advice is for you to try and negotiate time to consider the offer. Do handle this diplomatically and reassure the employer you are still interested in their offer. Follow up with any applications in progress and try and get some clarity around their decision making timeline.

"I have accepted the role and have now changed my mind"

If you do find yourself in a position where you feel you would like to reject an offer that you have already accepted; step back and think through your reasoning! It may help to talk to a careers adviser for an objective chat (although we cant give you legal advice / discuss your contract).

"Is it cheeky to ask for more money?"

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It isn't cheeky to ask for more money. However whether there is room to negotiate very much depends on the market and how badly the employer wants you, On large graduate schemes they have a lot of choice of candidates with very similar skill levels, so why should they pay you more? Some great advice from TargetJobs on negotiating salary.

 

Make the most of your Summer!

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📥  Advice, Internships, Tips & Hints, Work Experience

Yesterday, my colleague Ghislaine Dell and I contributed to a session on 'Make the Most of Your Summer'. We loved it and are really looking forward to the participants letting us know what they're getting up to over the summer holidays. If you'd like to join in, just use the hashtag - #MakingtheMost.

 

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We thought we would blog some of the advice we shared:

  1. Come and talk to us: The Careers Service is open throughout the summer and you can pop in to see a Careers Adviser. No experience, career plan or CV required! If you're not on campus we can still help, we offer appointments over the phone, email and skype!
  2. Give your CV an update: This is a great time to reflect on the skills you have developed from your course, extra-curricular activities and your work. Look at the resources on our website and give your CV a face-lift. You may also want to think about creating a LinkedIn profile. Getting your application package ready will get you ahead of the game!
  3. Get on the right websites: use the summer break to get your profile and vacancy alerts set up! This way as soon as employers start advertising you will receive vacancy alerts directly in your inbox.
  4. Develop your commercial awareness: use the freedom from exams to explore different sectors and  industry developments. Read newspapers, follow individuals on social media and reach out to Bath alumni.
  5. Finally, do something! You'll build your confidence, surprise yourself by discovering something new and most importantly show employers you are proactive and not afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

 

Don't ruin your career in 140 characters...

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📥  Tips & Hints

This Saturday, as part of our Careers Prep in a Day event we will be running a session on using social media to develop your career. Seriously, who could have predicted a decade ago that social media would be such an integral part of our day-to-day lives? The rise of social media is both a god send and a threat to potential job seekers. This article from the Guardian makes for excellent reading providing valuable insights on how to get social media right and what to avoid to get it completely wrong!

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With the ever-increasing prevalence of online social networking tools; it is now more important than ever to think about the image or brand that you would like to project, both online and in the real world. We wrote a series of articles on Personal Branding, using Twitter to boost your job hunt and how to use LinkedIn effectively. They are worth a read if you missed them when they were first published.

 

 

Decisions, decisions.....

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📥  Advice, Applications, Labour Market Intelligence, Networking

Lately we are seeing quite a few students trying to weigh up whether to look for a job in an area they don't quite meet the requirements for, or to spend a year studying for a masters degree to bolster their qualifications and fill a perceived skills gap. So they come to us saying 'which one should I do?'

Now, we can do many things as Careers Advisers. We can (help) turn the shyest of students into a more confident person, ready to face an interviewer. We can (help you) refine your job seeking strategy. We can even (help you) write the perfect cover letter to the organisation you really want to work for.

But what we cannot do is make decisions for you. Of course we *could*, but we don't. Because then it becomes our career plan, not *your* career plan. And that one-letter-difference is the most important difference there is.

What we can do is help you run through pros and cons of various options: does the job you want to do really require a masters? what 'other experience' will help you get the job even if you don't have an exactly matching degree? which would companies prefer?

You will hear a lot of the Careers Adviser's favourite answer. A prize for anyone who can comment on this article and tell me what that answer is.

Now don't get me wrong. We actually love speaking to students about their career paths and helping them work out which way is the best way for them. The skill of career path navigation is a tricky one to learn, and we love to teach it. It is so satisfying seeing students joining the dots.

If you'd like to learn how to navigate your way through your own careers landscape, then there are a couple of ways you could start.

Have a look at our pages on Choosing a career - full of information and suggested techniques. Read these, and use whichever one makes sense to you.

If you already know the career you want but are not sure of the way to get there, have a look at some job adverts, or register for the Bath Connection and talk to a couple of alumni experts. The 'what is the best way to get in?' question is a perfect starter-for-ten.

Or book one of our Quick Query appointments - sometimes just speaking your thoughts out loud will be enough to make one path stand out.

 

Make the most of our summer careers fair!

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Labour Market Intelligence

Did you know we are hosting a Summer Graduate Careers Fair on Tuesday, 28th April from 10am-4pm in Founders Hall? The fair is a great opportunity to explore graduate roles (if you are a finalist) or summer internships / work experience opportunities. You may want to have a look at the fair programme to explore the exhibitor list.

We understand this is a busy time for many of you with project deadlines and exams, so we wanted to share our top tips for making the most of the fair:

  1. Do your research: have a look at the fair programme and explore company websites. This way you won't waste time asking basic questions.
  2. Ask the right questions: make a list of the key questions you want to ask. Think about asking questions that will help you glean useful insights about the company such as: What is the culture like?, What are the key challenges / trends facing the industry? or What are the key skills you look for in applicants?
  3. Take your CV: the fair is an opportunity for you to market yourself, therefore take a recent copy of your CV and if the opportunity arises do hand it to potential employers.
  4. Dress appropriately: whilst there is no need to be suited and booted, do dress professionally! Afterall first impressions really matter.
  5. Follow up: where possible ask for the recruiters business card and follow up! Thank them for the advice they offered or email them your CV. It may also be useful to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Finally and most importantly, avoid going around the fair in a pack! This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to potential employers you are a capable and independent individual. For more advice check out this really useful advice from TargetJobs.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing you at the Fair!

 

I'm thinking of changing or leaving my course...

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📥  Advice

With course work stacked up and exams looming, a number of you are pondering whether you're on the right course. I have certainly seen a higher than usual number of students who are contemplating changing their course for various reasons. You might feel unhappy because the course isn’t what you expected or your coursework isn't going very well. You may feel as though your course is fine but you’d rather be in another place. You might be feeling homesick or finding life lonely and this is preventing you from settling in. You may have health issues that are making adjustment difficult. Whatever the reason for your unhappiness, the most important thing is to talk to someone as soon as you can and here are some of the people who can help you:


Personal Tutor and Director of Studies

If your concerns are related to your course then you can request an individual meeting with your Personal Tutor. Each degree programme has a Director of Studies who is responsible for coordinating teaching and assessment and dealing with individual student progress. You should speak to your Director of Studies if you are concerned about any aspect of your studies including wanting to suspend temporarily.

University Health and Well-Being Team
If your concerns are more to do with life in general at university then there are other people who can help. The Health and Well-Being Team have a good understanding of the issues faced by students in higher education and how these problems can impact on students’ life/work/study.

Student Services
Contact Student Services for advice on the financial implications of your options.

Advice and Representation Centre
The Advice and Representation Centre can offer you advice, information and support on many issues affecting your student life. Download their free Guide to changing courses, suspending or withdrawing.

Careers Service
If you want to discuss whether to change or leave your course then the Careers Service will be happy to help you make the right decision. We are completely impartial, not connected to academic departments, and can help by:

  • Talking through the pros and cons of changing course or leaving
  • Helping you consider different strategies
  • Providing information on: the career implications of different courses, alternative courses and universities
  • Discussing alternatives such as entering employment or taking time out

You can make a private and confidential appointment to see a Careers Adviser by ringing us on 01225 386009 or calling in person at our reception - we're in Norwood House 2.17, on the Parade, between the Library and the Students’ Union. We always aim to see students in this situation within one or two days.