This recent article in The Guardian highlights the work of Specialisterne (Danish for the Specialists) – a charitable organisation which has now spread to 13 countries, including Britain, where for the last two years it has placed people on the spectrum in positions in the BBC, the NHS and Lockheed Martin in Glasgow among others.
If you are a Bath student or graduate who has autism and would like to discuss your disability and how to present it to employers, please book an appointment with one of our careers advisers. You may also find our blog post on disclosure and advice for disabled students of interest. Remember we are open throughout the summer holidays!
This morning I have been exploring the DisabledGo routes at Bath. This is a fantastic resource and will I am sure be of huge help to our prospective and current disabled students. DisabeledGo provides invaluable information about the accessibility of our facilities and route plans around the campus.
Within the Careers Service we are committed to offering an accessible service to all our students, some of the ways we can help are:
- We can provide handouts in alternative formats and on request can photocopy certain resources on colored paper to support our dyslexic students.
- Access to a dedicated disability Careers Adviser, Saiyada Fazal who can offer extended careers appointments.
- Our students are invited to declare their disability when booking a careers event and where possible appropriate arrangements will be put in place to facilitate attendance.
Making our service accessible is an ongoing job so please tell us if you have other ideas on how we can further improve our support.
"Email is where keystrokes go to die"
Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft employee has made a simple but important point. If you want to get in touch with busy people, you must know how not to waste their time. Far too many of us use email to communicate, it is easy, fast and offers a veil from the embarrassment of approaching someone face-to-face. Yet, a staggering number of emails get ignored... so what can you do to make an impact?
Make your subject line specific: think of the subject as a headline of an article. If it is catchy it will prompt the reader to open the message and read it. If you met a graduate recruiter at a careers fair for example, you may want to consider the following subject line, "Hi Beth, we met at the Bath Careers Fair on Thursday". It is more catchy than, "Following-up," or "Hello...".
- Keep it short: a long rambly email isn't likely to get read - it will either get deleted or flagged for later, once this happens the chances of getting a reply get slim. Where possible include bullet points and get to the point of why you are contacting them. According to the Huffington Post, you might want to draft your email first, then see whether you can cut it by at least 25 percent.
- Consider when you hit send: According to Mailchimp, more people open emails during the day than at night and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays as opposed to the rest of the week.
- Don't send group emails: networking is about connecting with an individual, the last thing you want to do is send an impersonal email to a group. Try and tailor the message to the individual, a little praise helps, "... your advice to look at the psychometric test samples on your website was really helpful..."
- Read email out loud: before you hit send, read your email to yourself out loud. This will force you to proofread it slowly and make sure there aren't any typos.
Sometimes getting started can be a real challenge, I think the advice from Wetfeet is excellent. Finally, do follow up if you haven't heard back. However don't be annoying, follow some of these tips by Lifehacker.
Every time I deliver a interview skills workshop, inevitably someone asks, "how can I answer the weakness question?". If I charged a £1 every time this horror question comes up in my training sessions, I would be a retired millionaire sailing in the South of France. Instead, here I am blogging about how best to answer what I think is a dreaded interview question.
Firstly, it is important to try and understand what the employer is looking for. They want to see:
- How well you respond to pressure. Can you provide a thoughtful, considered answer without crumbling? Are you able to maintain your composure?
- Honesty and integrity. All of us have ‘weak spots’ but a strong candidate will take ownership of their weaknesses, showing both insight and self awareness.
- Evidence of personal growth. Being able to identify your weaknesses and take corrective action.
Secondly, in answering the weakness question, it is important to be honest! Try to find something that you've struggled with in the past, but are now trying to overcome. You don’t want to be too candid and start checking off weaknesses like a shopping list, so it’s best to identify one particular area and share your ‘journey’ through a brief narrative. For example:
“I’m not the most confident public speaker and recently a number of my modules have involved course work requiring individual and group presentations. I have also been researching the placements application process and noticed that many employers expect candidates to deliver a short presentation as part of the selection process. I therefore decided to take practical steps to overcome this weakness. I am also aware that being able to present with confidence is a valuable skill and one that I will need to use in my placement and future career. My first step was to meet with my Careers Adviser, who signposted me to training workshops. I also undertook online research and identified tips such as using memory cards to help my confidence. Finally, I delivered two mock-presentations and asked for feedback from the careers team, which not only helped me improve and also pointed out areas of development. As a result of this, my presentations are much improved and I recently took lead in delivering a group presentation where I spoke for 15 minutes. I personally received excellent feedback and our group presentation was chosen as a winner by the judging employer"
Finally don't talk yourself out the job, therefore make sure you avoid the following mistakes:
- Don't play the perfectionist card, Warwick Careers summarise why!
- Don't for example say 'chocolate' and expect the recruiter to have a funny bone.
- Don't refuse to answer the question or say, "um, I don't have any weaknesses".
- Don't reveal a weakness that raises a red flag which may jeorperdise your ability to do the job.
If in doubt, book a quick query or a practice interview with one of our expect careers advisers!
There are lots of different routes to self employment, we wanted to summarise key pathways and signpost any Bath students considering self-employment to useful resources.
Freelancing: there are a number of roles where freelancing is common. These include many creative jobs such as journalism, web design, photography and also areas such as translation, proof-reading, computer programming and consulting. Usually freelancing
involves working on a specific project for a client. Some freelancers work for an agency which will match them to clients and there are also sites such as Freelancer where candidates can advertise their skills.
- Franchising: this is where you buy into an established business. The company provide the raw materials, training, support and a recognised brand name. Beyond this you are largely autonomous and responsible for generating your own profits at a local level.
Franchise Direct gives you an insight to the range of opportunities on offer.
- Business owner: here you set up and run your own company, either as a sole trader or in partnership with others. www.gov.uk has useful information on the processes and advantages of different kinds of business arrangements.
If you are considering self-employment, here are out top 5 considerations:
- Get the legalities right - the HMRC website has lots of useful information on how to register your business as a sole trader and the tax requirements. If you want to set up a limited company you will need to register with Companies House.
- Expert advice - the process of starting your business can be a bit of a mind-field, to make the process easy to navigate consider getting expert advice. The Prince's Trust are a useful starting point as are Start Up Donut.
- Funding: according to the Federation of Small Businesses, over 90% of businesses are started on less than 10k. Some common ways of funding are Crowd Funding and Hubbub, matching services like Funding Store and banks and building societies.
- Research and test the market: its important to make sure your business idea is actually viable, and refine it if necessary. Start Ups UK provide some excellent tips on researching the market.
- Create a business plan: a business plan will not only provide your start-up with a clear direction and contingencies in the case of unexpected events, but it can also be vital in securing investment. The Prince's Trust website has some excellent advice and you can download templates.
The Bath Careers Service will be offering a series of 1-hour webinars (you can participate from the comfort of your home) aimed at students embarking on their Final year and students who have recently graduated. The #getahead programme covers all aspects of career planning, from understanding the graduate job market, improving your applications to considering postgraduate study. You can participate in all the sessions or choose the ones that are most relevant to your circumstances.
Decisions, Decisions…How to begin your graduate job search
13th July 2015
14th September 2015
Are you still unsure about what career to pursue? Can’t decide between further study, applying for grad schemes or taking time out? Are you terrified of getting it all wrong? We understand decisions about your future career can be really hard and stressful. Our interactive webinar will give you an insight into the following:
- How to make sense of the graduate job market
- Explore what’s important to you and understand your decision making style
- Generate potential options and learn how to narrow down choices through research
How to ace aptitude and other psychometric tests
14th July 2015
15th September 2015
If you are thinking of applying for a graduate training scheme chances are you’ll have to complete some sort of psychometric tests as part of the selection process. During our informative webinar we will discuss typical psychometric tests and will signpost you to resources to help you develop your confidence.
Improve your CV and applications
15th July 2015
16th September 2015
In this session we'll look at how to improve your CVs, cover letters and applications forms through interactive activities allowing you to 'sit in the recruiter's shoes'. Understand what employers are looking for, how they assess your applications and how best to market yourself effectively.
Considering a PhD or a Masters?
16th July 2015
17th September 2015
Whether you’re considering a Masters or a PhD, this informative sessions will give you space to consider your options. We will share tips on writing personal statements and will provide advice on sources of funding.
For more information and to reserve your place, please visit MyFuture.
Our political leaders have been through the most public and grueling interview for the top job and according to the Guardian, job seekers can learn a great deal from our politicians when it comes to interviews. Below is a summary of the key points from the article:
- Be mindful of body language: good eye contact, a firm hand shake and simply smiling all project confidence and demonstrate good interpersonal skills in an interview.
- Practice: the more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel. Try and brainstorm typical interview questions you might be asked and practice answering them. If you are able to, then book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser.
- Research: research the company you are interviewing with and have a good understanding of issues and developments within the industry. Forbes provide excellent tips!
- No white lies: it can be tempting to stretch the truth, but making promises you can’t keep in a job application or at an interview is a massive no-no. You’ll soon be found out if you don’t live up to the expectations you set.
- Show a little personality: employers interview many applicants at a time for the same position, so being likable and memorable is beneficial to you being considered for the job.
What other topic would we have for today's blog? If you do want to stand as an MP here are some facts:
- You must be over 18 years of age, be a British citizen or citizen of a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland
- Candidates must be nominated by ten parliamentary electors of the constituency they wish to stand in.
- Authorisation is required to stand for a specific party, otherwise candidates will be described as independent or have no description.
- A £500 deposit is required when submitting the nomination papers - returned if the candidate receives over five per cent of the total votes cast.
- Certain people are disqualified from standing as an MP - check the Electoral Commission website for further details.
Standing as an MP is not the only way to be involved in Politics. For more ideas you should go to our information sheet.
A common question I have been asked by final year students in my Quick Queries is "its not too late for me to get a job, is it?". This is a totally understandable question to ask and one that indicates that many students are feeling anxious about their future, after graduation. The transition from being a student to worker is scary and means dealing with a lot of change (moving cities, forming new friendships, finding a new place to live etc) Not to mention if you are unsure of what you want to do or need to embark on the process of job hunting, it can all feel like it is too much.
Before going any further, I want to be clear, it is not too late to find a job! On MyFuture, (the careers service's vacancy database), we have almost 800 active opportunities. You may find that some organisations that interest you are not recruiting at the moment, for example some graduate opportunities follow specific recruitment cycles. This however doesn't mean you've missed the boat....
It is important to approach 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. Think of where you'd like to be in the next 12-24 months as opposed to determining your final career.
If you are finding that the anxiety of not knowing what you want to do or looking for work is affecting you, then do consider the tips below:
- Get things in perspective. What you are feeling is very common – you’re not alone!
- Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself negatively with your peers.
- Set realistic targets with small steps you can take towards finding a graduate role. Steps could include seeing a careers adviser, connecting with Bath alumni or checking out opportunities on MyFuture.
Finally, don't be afraid to talk about your worries and look out for the signs of anxiety that go beyond normal worries. According to Mind, "If you've been feeling anxious in a way that's stopping you from doing the things you would normally do, if you're not going to lectures, if you're not socialising, and if you've been feeling that way for more than just a couple of bad days – that's the point when you might want to see somebody". The Counselling & Wellbeing team at Bath are great as are organisations such as Nightline.
One of the UK's largest graduate employers is to scrap using UCAS points as entry criteria for its graduate scheme, something which could lead to a huge shake-up in the recruitment sector.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is believed to be the first major employer to exclude UCAS points from its employment process, in the hope of recruiting a broader talent. Critics have long argued the practice of using UCAS points discriminates against students from poorer backgrounds; who may have attended weak secondary schools but who have gone on to perform well at university. Graduates applying for jobs at PwC will now be primarily filtered on university degree results, followed by online assessments, before reaching the interview stage.