Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Monthly Archives: September 2015

Job-hunting in the UK? 9 things you need to know.

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📥  Advice, Applications, For Taught Postgraduates, Graduate Jobs, International Students, Networking, Tips & Hints


For many international students, starting their job search in the UK is one of their top priorities. But if you've just arrived here, how should you start? What are the key things to be aware of? And is there anything to avoid?

Especially if you have only just arrived and are still experiencing an element of culture shock, decoding the UK recruitment market might seem like a big ask. So have a look at our handy guide to job-hunting in the UK and start feeling more in control!


1. Recruitment starts early

The top firms, who recruit a lot of graduates, like to start early and give themselves plenty of time to select the graduates they are looking for to start in 2016. Even though start dates vary between July and September, some schemes are already open for applications. Many organisations recruit on a rolling basis, which means they continue until all positions are filled. So applying early to them works better; leaving it later means you may miss that opportunity. However, some companies do advertise much later so there will always be jobs to apply for.


2. 'Graduate' jobs are for postgraduates too

In the UK, Masters degrees are not as common as in many other countries and also not required by the majority of recruiters. So postgraduates will need to apply for the same positions as graduates from Bachelors degrees. From the company's point of view, the training they give you will still be the same. However, you may find as a postgraduate that you are able to progress through the company at a higher rate, as you will have additional experience.


3. Vacation time - when it is and when it isn't

Non-EU students are able to work for 20 hours during semester time and full-time in vacations. This means that internships in the summer vacation period are not available to postgraduate students, as their intensive Masters courses count that period as study time, allocated to the research and writing of the dissertation. Check with your Department, and also the International Student Advice Team, as to when you are able to start full-time work following the submission of your dissertation.


4. Don't be in a rush to write your CV

Many students come in and get CVs checked, only to start their graduate job hunt and realise that CVs are not always needed or asked for. Instead, focus on thinking about what jobs you would like to do. If you know, that will make your job search more strategic and targeted. If you don't - don't panic! Come and speak to us - we are experts at helping people work out what jobs interest them and what skills they enjoy using.


5. Do something non-academic!

Employability in the UK is about a whole range of skills, not just academic excellence. Organisations seek graduates who are great team players, have the emotional intelligence to work with a range of people and situations, and that can communicate well with others whatever their status. To develop these skills, join a club or society, take up a sport and/or get a part-time job.


6. Learn the language of employers

For organisations here it is really important to hire graduates who share their values and beliefs - such graduates are more likely to make decisions and choose actions in the 'company way'. So attend some employer presentations, talk to past students and visit the Careers Fair to get the inside track on what matters to each company. That way, you will find out which companies match your own beliefs and values - and you'll be a lot happier working for them.


7. Get connected

You may already be familiar with the saying 'It's not what you know, it's who you know'. It completely makes sense, then, to try and expand your network so that you know more people, and in more places. We encourage students to put together a LinkedIn profile and start building a network - initially within Bath, and with friends elsewhere, and then expanding to include organisations you would like to work with, Bath alumni and outwards. If all this sounds really hard - come to our LinkedIn Day in October or come and speak to one of our Advisers.


8. Read the news

Or watch it, or listen to it, or stream it on the phone when you are waiting for the bus. Companies prize business awareness very highly - if you know what is happening in the economy, or which company your target organisation has just merged with, or what effect the cold weather will have on biscuit consumption, you will come across as exactly the sort of well-informed graduate likely to be snapped up. And starting now means you can do little and often, rather than having to cram it all in in the two days before your interview.


9. Get some expert advice

Careers are complex. The pressure to make 'the right decision' or submit 'the perfect application' is hard to resist. If you would like just to talk it over with someone, or have a friendly pair of eyes look over the answers to your application questions to make sure you are doing yourself justice, then please book an appointment. We are very much looking forward to seeing you! And remember - coming early means you're more likely to make better applications - please don't wait until you have had 20 rejections to come and see us. We can still help you - but better to come in after 2 or 3 rejections to check you're making the most of your applications.



Career building for new research postgraduates

📥  Career Choice, Career Development, For PhDs

I've deliberately entitled this post 'career building' and not 'career planning'. If you're embarking on a research degree this week, you may very understandably feel that the first few weeks of a PhD programme are too early to be thinking about planning your career. I wrote a blog post around this time last year with some thoughts on that, but this year I want to take a slightly different approach.

I took part in some of the Faculty inductions for new research postgraduates yesterday, and one of the things I said was that some researchers have a definite career plan in mind, potentially from the beginning of their research, and for others the plan will unfold and evolve over three years. Some people have a systematic approach to deciding what they want do; others let their thinking develop more fluidly and wait until quite late to develop firm plans. Others will feel that they never have a plan but that things 'just happen' or they're in 'the right place at the right time'.

Whether you plan your career or not, you will be building it, simply from engaging in research and in other things that matter to you, and interacting with other people. Some of the things that influence our career do seem to 'just happen' or evolve naturally; other things can be influenced, initiated or directed by us. It can be helpful to view your career as something that has already started, rather than something to come in the future. How have previous events and decisions influenced where you are now, and how might your time as a doctoral researcher influence what comes next?

A good place to start might be to ask yourself why you decided to do a PhD. Here are some common answers to that question, and some thoughts as to what 'career building' might look like in each case:

- I'm passionate about my research topic/subject area. Fantastic. Where did that passion come from? Who needs to know about your research and how will you tell them? Where does your passion sit within the broader research field? How might you develop your ideas into new projects (evidence of research independence and future plans is a key criteria for academic jobs) ?  What will you do if the passion wanes? Are there other passions you might want to develop?

- I have a particular career path in mind. Great. Do you know what it takes to be successful in your chosen field? How can you build experience over the next few years? Who could help you? If the plan needed to change or didn't work out, what would that look like?

- I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I was offered a PhD so I took it. Very common. Start noticing your thoughts and feelings about the PhD and the other things you're involved in. What do you enjoy? What skills are you developing? When do you feel most like 'yourself''? You can do this in your mind, or develop a more structured way of recording your thoughts and reflections.

It's very easy for someone like me to tell you  'should' be spending time thinking about your career. Ultimately it's up to you as to when, how and if you proactively engage with career development. Here are some suggestions for things that might help to build your career, bearing in mind that you're already building it anyway:

- Write stuff. If you're aiming for a longer term academic career, publications is a key area to take action in. Depending on your research field it can take a while to generate any data to publish, but start thinking early about where you might publish and what a successful research publication looks like. Write other stuff too - press releases, blog posts, applications for small or large pots of research funding. If you want to move outside of academia, write stuff for non-academic audiences.

- organise a  conference. Great way to build your academic networks and raise your profile, and the skills you build in administration and organisation are highly transferable.

- test the waters with social media. How are other researchers using it? Which social media tools are potential employers or others in your field using? Scary for some, but undoubtedly useful for building networks and finding out more about career options and opportunities; check out these guides to help get you started.

- wider University life. Student representation? Teaching, supervising or supporting undergraduates or taught Masters students? Volunteering?

- public engagement activities. Our Public Engagement Unit organise a wide range of events and activities, such as their Public Engagement Forum for Research Postgraduates.

- skills training. The University offers a wide range of personal and professional career development training courses for research postgraduates, designed to help you become a better researcher as well as build your career.

- Work experience, including freelance and consulting. Jobs on Toast has some good ideas and tips.

It really is up to you to decide how you will use your time, and what activities need prioritising at different stages in your research. Whatever you engage in, including the PhD project itself, make sure you have some mechanism for recording and reflecting on what you have done and who you've encountered; this great article from The Thesis Whisperer has advice on how to do this. Our career planning timeline has suggestions for career development activities you can be undertaking at different stages of your PhD.

As a Careers Service we can support you at any time with confidential 1:1 appointments, career management workshops, tailored web resources for researchers, the Bath Connection (our database of alumni contacts), and of course the great advice on this blog!


Skype Interview Etiquette

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, Interviews, Placements, Tips & Hints

A few days back, I did a practice interview via Skype with a client, all was going well except I was rather distracted by a less than professional poster on the clients wall and that the candidate was wearing what looked like a dressing gown and PJ's! Truth is that a significant number of recruiters are harnessing technology such as Skype, bringing the job  interview into your personal space. So it is important to treat a Skype interview just like a REAL interview (minus the firm handshake).

The reason why employers are using technology: well, it speeds up the application process and is also cost effective. While technology has many advantages, it also being many perils especially if you are the job applicant. So, below are my top tips to ace a Skype  interview:

  • If you haven't used Skype before, do a test run! Make sure you are all set up and that your Skype name is professional. Consider a practice interview with one of our Careers Advisers.
  • Make sure you have a suitable background behind you. Something plain normally works best as it’s less distracting for your interviewer. Please make sure there are no dodgy posters behind you...!
  • Make sure there is good lighting and that your microphone and webcam is working! You also want a decent internet connection too!
  • Make eye contact, smile and pace your speech - don't talk over the interviewer and do check that they can hear you.
  • Let your personality shine through - sit up straight and demonstrate enthusiasm for the role, consider changing the pace and pitch of your speech.

For more tips check out this excellent article from the Guardian and Bloomberg.


Are you considering postgraduate study?

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📥  Postgraduate Study

According to HEFCE, in 2011-12 there were 501,330 postgraduate students studying in institutions in England and Northern Ireland, a 50% growth in the market. These last few weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of students coming in with personal statements applying for further study. However deciding whether postgraduate study is right for you can be a bit of a minefield.



It is worth stepping back and reflecting on why you want to pursue a postgraduate qualification. Are you doing it for the love of the subject or putting off deciding on a career path? Do you love being in an academic setting or are you scared to enter the jobs market? Do you want to study at home or abroad? What do you want to do after your postgraduate study? The list of questions goes on and on. However it is important to ask yourself these questions and to spend time reflecting and researching the answers.

Some research pointers…

  • Visit the University: much like the research you did when applying for your undergraduate degree, do consider visiting the university you are applying to so you can get a feel for the environment. Talk to the course tutors, administrators and current students. You may in particular want to ask them about the careers their students have gone into.
  • Funding your study: explore the funding options available – are there scholarships or departmental grants that you can apply for? Is part time study an option or do you need to apply for a career development loan? Would an employer cover the costs of the qualification if it is recommended for the role?
  • Do you need to? Don’t assume that a postgraduate qualification will guarantee entry into your chosen career. Do your research carefully and make sure you get the employers perspective.
  • Added value: are there opportunities to gain work experience or go on a placement whilst studying for your postgraduate course? Can you gain professional accreditation?

So, what now?

If postgrad study is something you are seriously considering then I would have a look at the resources on the careers service website. Why not make an appointment to see a careers adviser for a chat too? We can help you navigate this minefield and give an honest assessment based on your personal circumstances.


Opportunities for UK graduates in China

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📥  Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight

Yesterday, George Osborne announced a feasibility study to link the London Stock Exchange with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, this initiative would enable Chinese and British shares to be traded in both countries. This announcement comes off the back of a £2bn deal under which China will invest in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station. In recent years, a number of recruiters have created graduate schemes which harness the skills and experiences of UK educated Chinese students but is there scope for UK nationals to start their graduate careers in China?

During the economic downturn, many graduates chose to move abroad to start their graduate careers, statistics show that between 2008 and 2011, there was a 27% rise in the number of British students moving overseas. Whilst China produced over 7.27 million graduates in 2014, according to McKinsey employers in China are reporting skills shortages in particular lack of technical training, inadequate English, and soft skills, such as the ability to work in teams, critical thinking, and innovative flair.

Major industries in China include: mining, textiles, chemicals, consumer products, telecommunications equipment, satellites, metals, machine building, food processing and transportation. According to TargetJobs, UK graduates with skills in manufacturing, engineering, medical or environmental technology, IT, production and tourism are in high demand.

So, if all this has drawn your attention east-wards, here are our top tips on starting your graduate career in China:

  1. Language skills: having some knowledge of Mandarin will help with job hunting but also help you understand the culture in China. The Language Center at Bath offers a number of courses which you can take alongside your studies.
  2. Join Clubs & Societies: the University is a really diverse place welcoming students from all over the world including China. Consider becoming a member of the ChinaRen society and learn about the Chinese culture whilst growing your network.
  3. Gain experience: consider doing a summer internship in China, organisations such as CCRC Asia can help with finding opportunities and there is funding available through the British Council and other partners.
  4. Harness contacts: jobs in China are filled via personal referrals, connect with Bath Alumni in China to support your job hunting.
  5. Speculative Applications: the British Chamber of Commerce in China has details of member businesses that are active in the UK and China.

For more information look at the excellent guide to working in China produced by TargetJobs. 


Welcome Freshers and Returners!


📥  Advice

If you’ve just started at The University of Bath or are returning after the summer break and you’ve already found this blog, congratulations! You rock!

Brand new fresher?

If you’re going to the Freshers Fair this week, you’ll probably find yourself signing up for clubs and societies or other activities like volunteering or such crazy things as a sponsored bungee jump! All of the above are great CV fodder, as potential employers look for students who can demonstrate their initiative, have strong communication and organisation skills (e.g. the ability to juggle coursework with extracurricular activities!), have held positions of responsibility and are generally ‘well-rounded’ people. And remember, it’s never too early to be thinking about your career too.

Stop by at the Careers Service stand and say hello (we think we are a normal bunch!) and find out how we can help you. Alternatively, Like our Facebook page and check out our website.

Returning to second or final year?
So, you’re back after the long summer break! Now’s a really great time to be thinking about your career. Do you know what you want to do when you graduate? If not, you could consider booking an appointment with one of our careers advisers to discuss your options. We have a bumper TWO DAY careers fair in Week 3, where you can meet with over 150 employers!

Over the coming months, we’ll be blogging on things such as:

  • Making the most of the careers fair
  • Aceing interviews and assessment centres
  • How to start your internship and job hunt
  • Alternatives to Grad Schemes

.......and much more! So make sure you check in regularly!


Personal Profiles on CVs - Yes or a No, No?

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

This week, we are running our #GetAhead webinars; I am just finishing writing the CV's and Applications talk and found myself in a debate with colleagues over personal profiles on CV's.

Career profiles, personal profiles, career objective, personal statement - are all variations on the same theme, if you google CV tips you'll comer across as many CV's with as you will without personal profiles. The million dollar question is "do you need one?" A quick poll in the office split the vote: some of the team swear by them and others don't (I sit in this category). No wonder students are confused with all this contradictory information.

So, how do you decide whether you should have one?

Firstly, the purpose of a CV, is to grab the attention of the reader and get them interested in knowing more about you. The CV by itself won’t lead to a job offer or a place on a postgraduate course, but it may well be the deciding factor in whether you are shortlisted for an interview. Think about a film trailer. The whole point is to grab your attention enough to make you buy a ticket and watch the whole film. There are good and bad film trailers; some pretty much leave you feeling like you've seen the movie already. Therefore, you need to take the same approach with designing your CV. What can you tell the reader that'll grab their interest and make them want to read the rest of your CV. You don't want to give it all away either...! It is a fine balancing act.

Career profiles, personal profiles, career objective, personal statement... will be the first thing and employer reads about you. They'll form a judgement or two, so if you are going to include one; make sure it is having the right impact. There is also a distinction between a personal profile and a career objective. A personal profile highlights your current situation, skills and unique selling points (USP). A career objective describes the type of job you’re looking for, and where. University of Warwick careers provide useful examples:

Career objective

Computer science graduate seeking challenging position in software development company to fully utilise my Java programming skills and confidence with concurrency and multi-threading.

Personal profile

A highly motivated computer science graduate with a first class degree, experience in Java and award winning undergraduate dissertation.

In practice, often the two often merge to create a hybrid statement, along the lines of:

Highly motivated and enthusiastic  graduate, with an excellent academic credentials including first class degree. Looking for a graduate position, where my Java programming knowledge and strong problem solving skills can be fully utilised.

I will let you judge whether the above make an impactful first impression or not. BUT, If you are going to add a profile, do consider these tips:

  • Avoid a bland statement awash with a collection of vague adjectives and buzzwords.
  • Tailor your profile for each employer and role, highlighting those areas of experience most relevant to the specific job and ensuring your career aspirations exactly match the role on offer
  • Do a blind test - would your personal statement apply to 10 other people? If yes, then re-write it. Think what makes you unique.
  • Read your statement aloud and apply the ‘so what’ test? If your intended audience could respond with a ‘so what’, the chances are they will.

Now to answer the question, personal profiles on CVs - Yes or a No, No?

My personal view is; that it is very difficult for a student or recent  graduate to offer the range of experience and knowledge that transforms a bland, generic statement into an impressive, eye catching profile. I usually advice against unless you are changing careers or have significant experience in the field you are considering. I would be interested to hear the views of our readers, so do please comment.


Is it time to talk about my future?

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📥  Advice, Applications, Career Development, Tips & Hints, Work Experience

Today, I had a 1:1 meeting with a Bath graduate, towards the end of our appointment she said "I wish I would have thought about my future much earlier"
Many of you will be excited about coming to Bath, frantically packing and looking ahead to the array of freshers activities. For our returning students, you may well be looking forward to catching up with friends... Now, I know I sound like a party pooper, but you may want to consider giving your future a little thought.

As a first year:

  • If you don’t join a club or society now there is a good chance you won’t have the time or motivation later. You will make new friends and gain the skills that employers want by getting involved and helping out.  By starting in your first year there is a good chance you will be on the committee by your final year and have great experience on your CV.
  • Get a part time job. Earn money, gain skills, learn what it is like to have to manage your time effectively and understand the work place. Many employers complain students are not work ready so prove them wrong.
  • Take notice of the jobs people do, consider if you might like to do that and use the careers support available to help you.

As a 2nd year:

  • Catch up on first year if you missed out!
  • Work towards getting a summer internship – you need to be fast if you are interested in some of the larger companies as they tend to open applications in September.  Smaller organisations tend to recruit a bit later in the year.
  • You could volunteer – more flexibility than a job, but great experience. It can be the ONLY way to get experience in certain sectors.
  • Get a part time job. Earn money, gain skills, learn what it is like to have to manage your time effectively and understand the work place. Many employers complain students are not work ready so prove them wrong.
  • Start planning what you want to do when you leave. Explore and experience as much as you can by attending events and talking to each other, and us if you like 🙂


  • Time to start making applications now for jobs or further study after you graduate.  If that fills you with horror then it’s time to ask for help.
  • It’s not geeky or stupid to use the support and advice around you at the University. Most students won’t own up to being a bit lost, those that do, get help and find their way forward.
 First posted on the University of Manchester Careers Blog.


Careers Advice, what is it all about?

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📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

Yesterday, someone asked me "what is careers advice all about and what do you do?" Got me thinking, we often assume our students know what we do and how we can help them, but I imagine the reality may be quite different. So, I thought it would be good to write a blog post about what we do and bust some myths!

Myth # 1: In order to see a careers adviser, I should have some idea of what I want to do.
Let me ask you this, do you go to your GP armed with a diagnosis and full treatment plan? Yet for some reason there is a myth that in order to see a careers adviser you need to have a clear idea about your future. You'll be surprised to know, a vast majority of our clients aren't sure of what they want to do. We can really empathise with how you must be feeling, I was in that exact same situation when I was at Uni. So, please don't hesitate and book a 1:1 appointment. We can help you clarify your thinking, suggest career ideas to explore and crucially give you a starting point so you feel more in control of your future.

Myth # 2: Careers advice was useless in school
I know as  a profession we have an image problem and almost every month there is something in the press about how school and HE careers support isn't effective and that we are out of touch. The reality is we spend a huge amount of time visiting employers to learn about their recruitment practices and we actively research different sectors so that we are up-to-date with developments and opportunities. So, please don't let past experience colour your view, give us a go and decide for yourself.

Myth # 3: All they do is check your CV
I hold my hand up, we do look at a hell of a lot of CV's and application forms. But we also offer practice interviews, have tons of jobs on MyFuture, organise events, careers fairs and keep track of what Bath graduates do upon graduation. That's not all, we have an impressive information library with resources on further study, funding, taking a gap year and working abroad.

Finally and most importantly, we are totally focused on supporting you:

  • We will listen and help you explore your motivations, interests, values and how they fit in with your future career choice.
  • We will support you in identifying your skills and gaps.
  • We will support you to understand the labour market, interpret market information and point you to other helpful resources.
  • We will guide you in creating a job hunting strategy.
  • We will support you with all aspects of your career from finding a job to applying for further study.
  • We will give you space to talk about your fears, concerns and anxieties in confidence.

And along the way, we will have a giggle with you too!

Top tips to get into Investment Banking!


📥  Advice, Applications, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints

Typically Investment Banking graduate schemes have one of the earliest application deadlines with some closing as early as Mid-October! Whether you're applying for an internship or a graduate scheme, the top tips will help you stand out and make you feel more confident about the selection process.

Investment Banking photo
  1. Follow the markets: avidly follow the world and local markets. Be aware of the impact key political issues may have on the markets: If the Bank of England increases interest rates, what impact will this have on the markets? Bankers read the Financial Times and The Gateway Newspaper. Both are a great way of finding this information in an easy to understand format.
  2. Be open minded: "Front office" roles in an Investment Bank are highly competitive. Why not consider other roles such as Risk and Operations for example? They offer excellent career advancement, opportunities to travel and in some cases a better work life balance. If you aren't sure of the different roles within Investment Banking, do read this excellent guide produced by Inside Careers.
  3. Take advantage of diversity schemes: Banks like all forward thinking employers recognise the value of diverse teams. Look our for schemes for those with disabilities, women and under represented ethnic groups.
  4. Get application savvy: Several banks including Barclays and Nomura ask applicants to submit a CV along with their investment bank application form. Other finance firms, including Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, require a covering letter as well. Almost without exception, your CV needs to be 1-page long! Since competition for these graduate roles is fierce, with the industry having seen highs of 141 applications per position, it’s key you get your CV and covering letter right.
  5. Talk to people in the business: Seek out opportunities to speak to, and develop relationships with, people working in the sector, for example, by attending employer presentations on campus. Also check out Bath Connection and Bath Alumni Group on LinkedIn and talk to graduates working in the sector.