Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Monthly Archives: October 2015

Lacking career inspiration - a cat is your perfect muse!


📥  Advice, inspire, Tips & Hints

We have a lot of cat lovers in the Careers Service, I am shamelessly sharing a photo of my two cats - Sooty and Snowy.


Like all cats, mine are incredibly tenacious, adaptable and know all the 'cuteness tricks' to get us all mushy and give in to demands for food and treats. I think we can learn a lot about job hunting from cats.

  1. Cats know what they want: There is so much pressure at this time of the year -  looking for a graduate job, applying for a placement - you may find all your friends and peers are applying to 'certain' employers and this may not be the right fit for you. Perhaps you're the sort of person who enjoys working for a smaller organisation or that a particular geographical location is more important to you. The two most important aspects of successful job hunting are knowing who you are and knowing what you wantWindmills Interactive allows you to undertake a series of exercises which help you clarify the kind of life you want and how you can start working towards it. Bath students can take advantage of the Team Focus Personal and Career Development Reports which allow you understand your personality and work environments that you are best suited to.
  2. Cats do their research: observe any cat, you'll see they are always watching - they stalk their prey and are researching how they move and react. The same is true of job hunting. The more you research different roles, industry sectors and organisations the more you'll understand how to pitch yourself on paper and during an interview. Do consider attending our employer events or harness tools such as MarketLine and Nexis to stay up-to-date with industry developments.
  3. Cats are incredibly flexible:  Have you noticed the way cats effortlessly twist, bend, leap and flip? They can instantly change direction or jump to amazing heights. If your first choice for placement or graduate job wasn't successful look at the organisation's competitors or their clients. Consider other roles or extra curricular activities to develop the right skills so you can manage and transition your career - I love the 'related jobs' function on Prospects as it can widen your potential job options. Simply search by job title such as 'Economist' and then look at the related jobs link.
  4. Cats are both prey and predator: The advice by Deborah Wheatman is spot on! She suggests, "most animals are lumped into one category or the other: prey or predator. Cats are both predator and prey. To do well as prey and predator requires a high level of awareness and the ability to make a move quickly. Sometimes you may be proactively job searching. Like a cat, you are actively scanning for opportunities and ready to pounce on your target. On the flipside, it is the passive job search that is akin to the cat’s prey mode. For a healthy passive search, update your LinkedIn profiles, have your CV ready and network continuously"

Good luck and don't forget, the careers team are here to help you with all aspects of job hunting. Please book a 1:1 appointment with one of our careers advisers! We promise you are all not mad cat lovers 🙂


Public Sector and Non Profit Graduate Schemes

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📥  Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight

Just a quick note today in response to some comments from students that all the jobs being advertised are for business roles. There are some great public sector schemes either open or about to open which are advertised in MyFuture:

Civil Service Fast Stream ( various different streams) closing date 30th November

National Graduate Development Programme (local government) opens 9th November closes 11 January

Frontline (working with vulnerable children and families) closes 12th November

NHS Graduate Scheme (four different schemes)  closes 7th December

Think Ahead ( fast track scheme for mental health social work) closes Dec 2015/January 2016

Teach First (Teach First Leadership Development Programme 2016) closes Feb 2016

There are few Charity Sector Programmes but this is open:

Cancer Research Graduate Programme closes 15th November

Whilst many employers come to Bath to recruit our students there are many other areas of work that graduates can work in which have alternative or less visible ways of recruiting. Our Careers Advisers have produced a series of information sheets to help students with some of these areas. They can all be downloaded from the information resources section of our website:

  • Alternative careers in science
  • Careers for modern linguists
  • Careers for those studying economics
  • Careers in biosciences & pharmaceuticals
  • Careers in medicine, dentistry & allied health
  • Careers in scientific analysis and R&D
  • Careers in sport
  • International development, international organisations and international relations careers
  • Politics careers, including working in Westminster and Europe
  • Social policy, social sciences and sociology careers
  • Working in the charity sector

Finally note this event:

Working in the Not for Profit/Charity Sector - 2 Bath Alumuni stories
26-Nov-2015 1:15 - 2.05 pm (bookings open Monday 2nd November 9:00 am in MyFuture)
Two Bath alumni with long experience of working in the not for profit sector will come and share their experiences of working in the sector and offer advice to current students.


How to interview well when discussing a disability

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📥  Advice, Diversity

GUEST BLOG: City Disabilities is a charity set up to provide support and advice for students and professionals with disabilities, as well as employers. Liz Dawes has very kindly written a guest blog post which contains excellent advice on how you discuss your disability at an interview.

For more information about City Disabilities and how they can support you and details of their excellent mentoring programme, please visit their website.


There is no legal obligation to disclose a disability at interview, and many people choose not to. For people whose disability is either obvious, or affects how they do their job, this choice is not available. That being the case, how do you discuss a disability at interview in a positive way, ensuring you are fairly assessed?

Focus on the job
Job adverts come with a person specification. The purpose of an interview is to discover if you fulfil that specification. Like any other candidate, concentrate on showing, through your answers, that you meet the person spec as advertised. If you don’t show how you fulfil the person spec, you won’t be offered the job.

How does your disability impact your work?
If you are going to discuss a disability, keep it in the context of how you will do your job. If you are asked about skills you have that are impacted by your disability, explain this in your reply. So to use a simple example, let’s imagine a person has some hearing loss, and the person spec requires them to use the telephone frequently. When asked about those skills, a candidate can say: “Because I have partial hearing loss, it can be difficult for me to hear conversations over the telephone.” They can then go on to explain what practical solutions will work best for them.

What solutions work for you?
Think through the ways an employer can offer you reasonable adjustments at work, and explain this to them once you have raised your disability. Demonstrate that you have thought through what you need to do at work, and have found solutions to any issues. Consider advances in technology, practical matters of access, and the kind of support you might need. If an employer can see how adjustments can be made, they are more likely to consider you as a candidate. You will also be demonstrating that you are proactive, understand the job requirements, and have a practical approach.

No headlines
Try not to highlight disability as a big deal if you don’t need to. Put it into the context of the job you are being asked to do, and show how it is a practical issue that can be dealt with. There is no need to give the impression that it is an issue, when it isn’t. Ask yourself: What part of the job does your disability affect, how does it affect it, and how do you propose to overcome this issue? This approach reassures an employer that you have thought about the job, thought about the person spec, are clear how you can fulfil the spec and so do the job, and will be a reliable employee.

Accentuate the positive
Employers often ask questions designed to show a candidates resilience, resourcefulness and dedication. Remember that candidates with disabilities have very often faced more hurdles and shown more determination that non-disabled candidates. Do not be afraid of pointing out the issues you have dealt with while still achieving the academic and personal success that has got you to the interview stage.

Beware of inappropriate reactions
Unfortunately some employers are not as good as they should be on these matters. If you encounter a negative reaction to your discussions, think carefully about the employer. If they see disability as a big issue you may find them hard to work for. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t work there, but if you do not believe the culture of an employer is the best for you, then you may not be happy.


Choosing between career options


📥  Career Choice

I've spoken to quite a few people recently who have said something on the lines of  'I'm considering career option x, but I'm also interested in option y; how do I know which is right for me?' If you're feeling this way you might find it helpful to have a 1:1 chat with a careers adviser, but here's a few thoughts on how to go about choosing between options.

1. Recognise that there isn't necessarily just one thing you would find satisfying and be good at, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to narrow things down to just one option. I suspect lots of us are suited to more than one thing.

2. Sometimes fear of making the 'wrong' decision can hold us back from making any decision. The nature of work is changing; it's much more common than it used to be to switch jobs/companies/sectors. Decisions can of course have consequences, but it's worth bearing in mind that any decision you make at this stage is unlikely to be catastrophic or irrevocable. We are constantly changing and developing as people, and our careers are influenced by externals factors such as economic conditions and personal and family circumstances, so even if you do have a fixed career plan at this point you might find that you have a different plan in a few months' or years' time.

3. Do you know enough about what you want from a job? Sometimes I've seen people struggle to decide between career options because they've tried to think too early about particular jobs they could do without having a broader sense of what their looking for from a career. What has motivated you from your course, work experience, extra curricular activities, or life in general? What day-to-day activities do you want to do as part of a job? What type of environment would suit you? Do you want to use your subject? Work in a particular geographical location? Have a good work-life balance? Our online guidance tools can help you answer some of these questions; as could a careers guidance appointment with one of our impartial, friendly careers advisers. Choosing between options can be easier if you have some criteria to weigh your options against.

4. Have you done enough research into the options you're considering? Are there any gaps in your knowledge and how can you fill these? Use our online careers resources and sites such as Prospects and Target Jobs to thoroughly research your options, and wherever you can, talk to people already doing the jobs you are interested in; use social media and Bath Connection to find Bath alumni contacts, and ask people what they actually do day-to-day and what are the best and worst things about their job. Check out any assumptions you have about what particular jobs or organisations are like.

5. Get some experience. This could be work shadowing, a summer internship, or a placement. Check out our Finding Working Experience Guide for more information and advice.

6. Work out your decision-making style. How have you made decisions about other aspects of your life and how could this help you in your career decision-making? Evaluative decision-makers like to engage in a process of self-reflection and identify long-term career goals. Strategic decision makers like to weigh up the pros and cons of options to reach a fixed solution. Opportunistic decision makers will seize opportunities when they come along.

7. Favourite resource alert! I really like this tool from Careers - in Theory by David Winter, which helps you to think through the similarities and differences between any career options you are researching and considering.

8. Take the wide-angle view. Where are you now and what would you like your life to look like in five years' time? Sure, we can't always know/predict/control these things, but sometimes having a longer-term 'vision' for your life or career can help provide clarity on short-term decisions.

9. Visualisation. This can be a helpful technique if you've done lots of research and are still finding it hard to decide between x and y. Imagine yourself in each situation. What is happening? Who else is there? How do you feel about it? Do you have any regrets about roads not taken?

For further help and resources, take a look at the Choose a Career section of our website.




5 top tips for getting started on LinkedIn


📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

We know many of you have LinkedIn accounts already, but some of you aren't sure whether it will be useful, or have an account and don't know what to do with it. This Wednesday we are celebrating our own "LinkedIn Day" to help you get more out of it - come to one of our workshops, or attend our drop-in profile feedback session - you can even get a new photo taken! Details of each session and booking information are on myfuture.

Here are some top tips to get you started:

1. Register on

2. Create your profile: upload a sensible photo, add a professional headline, move sections around and add skills, projects, experiences, etc

3. Connect with people you know - friends, classmates, employers

4. Join relevant groups - e.g. University of Bath Alumni Community

5. Sign up for job alerts in the jobs section

For more great tips go to


Careers support for disabled students

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📥  Advice, Diversity

The careers team are mindful this is a really hectic time for a lot of you - some of you may be considering placements, applying for graduate jobs where as some of you may be trying to clarify your thinking about what you want to do. All this can sometimes feel really overwhelming... and more so if you have additional needs arising from disabilities and health conditions. You may be worrying about whether you disclose your disability and how employers may view this in the selection process.

Please let me assure you - there are lots of good, inclusive employers out there who will take on board individual circumstances, and will view your disability positively. My role in the careers service is to support you and I can help you in a number of ways such as:

  • discussing when to disclose
  • clarifying reasonable adjustments and helping you to explain these to potential employers
  • helping you to identify inclusive employers

To book an appointment  please contact the Careers Service or email me, Saiyada Fazal, directly at Our conversation is confidential. Do also keep an eye on our events programme; for example next Wednesday, 28th October, City Disabilities will be delivering a webinar on disclosing your disability from 1.15-2.05pm. We also blog useful advice and opportunities so keep checking back.



Strengths Based Interviews - what are they?

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📥  Interviews

As you probably know, one of the ways the Careers Service supports students is by offering Mock Interviews. Last week, I was helping a student prepare for an Interview at EY, one of the early adopters of strengths-based recruitment. This is a growing trend; recruiters such as Nestle, Barclays and Standard Chartered have also moved away from competency based interviews. Many of you will be familiar with competency-based questions. These look for evidence of transferable skills (such as team-work, leadership, communication etc) all designed to answer the question “Can you do the job?”  This style of interviewing is about your ability to do the job and it has its flaws! Just because you can do the job doesn't mean you want to!


The Strengths based approach is different. Whilst it recognises the importance of skills and abilities, it also acknowledges that skills can be learnt. In a strengths-based interview recruiters are not looking for rehearsed answers to competency questions, instead they are looking for animation, energy and passion. It’s a very different approach. This video from EY explains why they use strength based approach really well.

Below are some examples of strength based questions:

  • Are you a starter of a finisher?
  • What do you love to do in your spare time?
  • What do you find quick to learn?
  • How would a close friend describe you?
  • What qualities would you bring to this team?
  • Are you a big picture or a detail person?
  • What activities give you an energy buzz?
  • Give me an example of a weakness?

As you can see, the interviewer is focusing on the things you love doing! Therefore being authentic and letting your passion shine through helps!  The questions are more personal and interviewers will look at body language and listen for other signals like tone of voice to identify whether you take pride in what you have been doing. Our top tip is to think about your interests and what you enjoy doing before the interview! Make sure you consider all aspects of your life - not just your academic studies! Finally and most importantly, be yourself! Allow your natural energy and enthusiasm to permeate your answers... Good luck!

Demystifying the Careers Fair!

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📥  Careers Fairs, Event, Networking, Tips & Hints

This afternoon a number of students have been asking me questions about the Autumn Careers Fair taking place on Thursday and Friday this week. For some students this may well be your first ever careers fair that you are going to while for others this may be a very different experience to the job fairs in your home country. So, I thought a quick blog explaining how the fair works and what to expect, may help some of you.

  • Each exhibiting organisation has a stand with representatives from the business there to answer your questions. If you want ideas on what to ask, check out our blog post on good questions to ask at a careers fair.
  • Some employers will be available to talk to you on both days, where as some will only be there on one of the days. Do have a look at the fair guide and make a list of the employers you'd like to speak with.
  • If you are nervous about starting a conversation, try a bit of practice! Come to the Careers Service stand and talk to us first, this way when you approach employers you are interested in you'll feel confident in yourself.
  • In the UK employers will not offer jobs at a careers fair, this is your opportunity to network and learn about the organisation, the sector and available opportunities.
  • Try and arrive early, company representatives aren't robots - they will be knackered near the end of the day.

I also asked some of my colleagues for their top advice for making the most of the fair, here goes:

Tracey Wells, Head of Service "Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure or a free toy; you never know a 5-minute conversation could lead to your dream job"

Ghislaine Dell, Careers Adviser "Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. This is an opportunity for you to network and make an impression with a potential employer!"

Kate Maton, Information Assistant "Smile, be enthusiastic and enjoy the fair"

And finally, last bit of advice from me - even if you have a 'hit list' of employers you want to talk to - keep an open mind and talk to representatives from other organisations as well. An open mind can open up possibilities.

Ps. This image has no link whatsoever to the blog post. We adore the penguin and thought we would share it with you.



Questions to ask employers at a Careers Fair

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📥  Advice, Event, Networking, Tips & Hints


This image is from China Daily of a Job Fair in Beijing. Whilst we aren't expecting quite such a crowd at the Autumn Careers Fair this week;  you may want to spare a thought for the representatives from various companies who get asked the same questions, are giving out the same information and by the end of the day they may not even have had their lunch.

So, how can you make a positive impact and also come away with relevant information to help you progress your job hunt? (instead of being told to look at the website). Well, its all down to you! You set the agenda and by asking insightful questions that go beyond the superficial and obvious - you can easily gather helpful information whilst establishing a strong relationship with company representatives.

So what questions should you avoid:

  • What does your company do?
  • How much can I expect to earn?
  • Why should I apply?
  • What can you offer me?
  • Can I have the free toy / pen / teddy / chocolate bar (etc)? (and then walk away!)

Instead ask these questions:

  • Job Satisfaction and Motivation: What do you enjoy most / least about your job? How much of the subject knowledge you gained from your degree do you use on a daily basis at work? What is the most satisfying aspect of the job?
  • Details of the work: Can you describe some actual examples of the sort of activities that your job involves? If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? What skills do you use most often?
  • Career progression & development: What is the typical career progression in this field? How has the job changed in the time you've been doing it? How do you see this job developing in the future?
  • Organisation culture & environment: How would you describe the organisation culture? How is the culture at x different from its competitors? In what way is performance measured at x?
  • The sector: How is the industry changing? What are likely to be growth areas over the next few years? What threats does your business face?

What else?

Well, consider asking similar questions to a number of organisations this way, you can compare and contrast the responses and make an informed decision about who to apply to. Take a notebook, jot down key points and the names of individuals you have spoken to. When it comes to applying you can name-drop the people you spoke to and draw on any insider information to help convey your motivation.

Finally, dress to impress and make sure you take copies of your CV just in-case!

What are you doing on Thursday and Friday this week?


📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Event, Graduate Jobs

If you answered "attending the biggest ever careers fair on campus" then everyone in the careers service bows to you! If, however you haven't got the fair in your diary, then you're missing out - big time!


Our Autumn Careers Fair, sponsored by PA Consulting and Shell will be held over two days, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 October 2015 from 11am to 4pm (3pm Friday), and will be at the Sports Training Village (Netball Courts). Over two days, you have the opportunity to meet 200 employers from a wide range of employment sectors who are interested in YOU!

Have a browse through the full programme or download the list of companies offering placements. Consider our top-tips to make the most of the fair:

  1. Research the fair thoroughly as well as the employers exhibiting at the fair before you go.
  2. Dress to impress, first impression do matter.
  3. Plan your visit and meet representatives from companies you are particularly interested in first!
  4. Prepare some intelligent questions for the recruiters at the fair, don’t ask the same questions as everyone else, be original.

We know thinking up good questions isn't easy, so keep an eye on our blog tomorrow - we will post a list helpful questions you can ask at the fair.