Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Careers Service - on-demand lectures


📥  Careers Resources, Labour Market Intelligence, Tips & Hints

Often during our Development programme, we are running multiple sessions at the same time. And that inevitably leads to students telling us 'I would love to go to both, but can't - is there any way I could have the slides for session x?'

Well, we aim to please - and now we have gone one better. We have experimented with the lecture capture system and have recorded a couple of sessions for your convenience.

So, if you are an international student wanting to get a little more familiar with the UK job market, have a listen to our session on 'Understanding the UK job market for international students'.

Also, for any of you interested in further study, our session on 'Postgraduate study - is it for you?' is also available.

You will get the slides and the audio, and as with any lecture that is captured you can skip to the bit that interests you or listen to the whole session. The sessions can be viewed on or off campus - just use your Computing Services login if you are prompted for one.

We would love to know what you think of this service - if you find it useful, we can arrange for more of our talks to be captured next semester. And if you have recommendations for sessions you'd particularly like recorded, do email us at Of course, workshops such as the international students series or the assessment centre workshops don't work but any of the hour-long ones can in theory be recorded - all we need is notice (to arrange recording!)


Get your graduate job hunt on track...

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📥  Advice, Applications, Event, Graduate Jobs, inspire

We know most of you are looking forward to the Christmas break and a bit of R&R at home. But picture this - every time you see your mum, dad, sister, granny, aunt, granddad, great uncle, next door neighbor, your cat, your friends dog, the postman, baby niece.... they all have one question:

"So what are you going to do after you graduate?"

Please don't bury your head in the sand, instead take action! Sign up to our 1-hour webinars designed to get your job hunting on track! From top tips to get started to exploring alternatives to grad schemes; from clarifying whether you want to undertake further study to finding useful sources of funding - we have it covered!

Log into MyFuture  and sign up to one of our webinars below. The best bit? You can participate from the comfort of your own home ....!

How to get your graduate job hunt started!
Tuesday - 15th December, 12.15-1.15 

During this Webinar, we will explore techniques to help you generate viable job options that align with your skills and interests. We will also provide you with a helpful job-hunting timeline.

Alternatives to graduate schemes
Wednesday - 16th December, 12.15-1.15 

We will look at the wide range of positions available with organisations of all shapes and sizes and sectors. We’ll include the harder-to-find sectors such as NGOs, charities, science, sport and many more. We’ll look at how to find these jobs, how to apply for them and, crucially, how to pick the ones that will best match your career ideas.

Postgraduate Study and Funding
Thursday - 17th December, 12.15-1.15 

From pursuing a topic you love, to gaining a necessary qualification for a specific career; people do postgraduate study for a whole range of reasons. This webinar will help you think through your motivations for considering postgraduate study and how it could benefit your career. We’ll look at the types of courses on offer and how to research course availability, content and funding sources, and give some top tips for applications and personal statements.


Being a Final Year –Managing your academic work and finding time to apply for jobs!!


📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs

“No one warned me that my final year would be like this!” said a student that I had seen earlier this week. It’s not easy to juggle academic work and job applications deadlines, as well as find time to attend interviews and assessment centres all in the autumn semester. So how can you survive and ensure that you achieve your desired goals without burnout? Here are some tips for getting through the next few weeks.


Setting Goals - Set yourself specific and clearly defined goals, and make sure that these are realistic and achievable. To do this, you first need to examine your present situation and assess what goals are important to you and what action you need to take to achieve your target. You may decide that getting a 2:1 is your priority and therefore you may have to limit the number of jobs you apply for. Decide which are the most important companies for you to target based upon factors such as closing date, location, degree class required, and chances of getting in.  Have a contingency plan or alternative route to your goal in case you have to change your plans, for example, consider taking a relevant postgraduate course, or a temporary job where you might gain relevant experience which moves you closer to your goal.
Avoid Procrastination – It’s very easy just to do nothing or get distracted on lots of other more interesting activities or tasks and then not attempt the important tasks! Don’t put off starting something which will then lead to further action. Many applications to large employers need to be made in the first term of your final year and if you procrastinate you'll miss the deadlines.
Write a To Do List – Writing a list like this takes away a huge amount of stress as these tasks can then be slotted into your calendar at a time when you think you can get them done. However, do take a look at your list and prioritise those things which need to be done earlier. Keep reviewing your list and updating it.


Organising Your Time – If you are finding it difficult to fit everything in, then keep a time log and see where you might be wasting some time, or be able to make more use of time. When applying for jobs keep copies of all the applications you have made and keep a log of the date you applied, result, and a record of all your interviews, plus any questions you were asked, particularly those questions you found challenging. This will help you to keep track of your progress and spot areas where you could improve.
Break down Tasks into smaller tasks – Getting started on a job application is the hardest thing. So if you have a spare half hour, why not start an application or do a bit of a research on the company for that interview. For example, most applications now are online, information can be saved and returned to at a later date for editing. The first part is mainly your personal details which takes a while, but doesn’t require a huge amount of thought as you probably have all this on a CV. You will feel a sense of achievement that you have started. Then tackle those difficult questions one by one as you have time, but remember to keep an eye on deadlines.
Perseverance -  Learn how to take a positive attitude towards failure. Perhaps, you didn’t get shortlisted for interview or didn’t get through the assessment centre this time. Try to ask for feedback from the employer or come and see us here at Careers to discuss how you might improve next time. Talk things over with your friends who may have similar experiences to share and can offer advice to you. Don’t despair as mistakes are a crucial part of any learning process. It is said that the people who have achieved the most have made the most mistakes!
Be Kind to Yourself! Make sure during your final year you do find time to enjoy yourself and relax. Find time to do some sport or go shopping with friends or have a night out. Reward yourself if you get shortlisted for interview or make it to the final stages of an assessment centre.
Help is at Hand – The Careers Service offers support to all students and graduates. We are open from 9.15 – 4.30pm Monday to Friday. You can come in and have a CV or application checked, discuss what you should do next or book a mock interview. To book a Quick Query (15 minutes) just use your user name and password to book. Longer  guidance appointments can be made by popping in to see us at Norwood NH2.17.
And remember - The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ~Mark Twain


5 essential skills for starting a student business

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📥  Advice, Entrepreneurship, inspire, Tips & Hints

GUEST BLOG:  written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student. The site features everything you need to know about managing money without the migraines: student finance explained, insider info on careers, plus ways to save and scrimp without the stress.


You don’t need tons of experience to start a business: here’s why soft skills matter more.

Working for yourself at uni isn’t just for born entrepreneurs or those with a stash of funds to bankroll it. The truth is lots of the core skills of self-employment are common to campus life – whatever your subject. Student start-ups come in all flavours, from delivery services to tutoring to building the world’s biggest brands. Whether you’re after extra cash, CV sparkle or a whole empire, there’s something out there for you. Here are the skills that can help.

1. Problem-solving smarts
You’ve probably already got life hacks of your own, from smart ways to save money on student essentials to laundry cheats. The key lies in turning your quick fixes into solutions that help other people.

  • What are you good at? What do you love doing?
  • If you could solve a common problem, what would you pick?
  • What’s your dream job, and are there bits of you can do now as a freelancer?
  • Can you capitalise on your hobbies, talents or degree subject?
  • What do folk at your campus/town need? What gets them excited?

There are heaps of businesses you can start – and run – from your dorm room for next to no cost. If you’re stuck for inspiration, try these on for size.

2. Bags of initiative
Anyone can sketch out a plan for world domination on the back of a beer mat: the question is, what are you going to do about it? Here’s how to flesh out your ideas:

  •  What service your business will provide?
  • How are you going to tell people you’ve got a product or service they want, and convince them they need it?
  • Will you have to pay anything to run your business – materials or web hosting, for instance? Tip: stick to essentials to keep costs down!
  • If you need funding to cover your costs, the enterprise team can help you find any business bursaries going – or try a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter.
  • How much will you need to charge to cover costs and make a profit, while still being competitive?
  • How (and when) will you get paid? You can use bank transfers for freelancing, PayPal for web payments, or iZettle’s free card swiper (watch out for transaction fees for the last two, though).

Once you’ve got those sorted, there’s no song-and-dance to ‘being in business’. Just let HMRC know and start trading. You won’t have to pay tax if you earn less than the annual ‘personal allowance’ – and if you do, you can use your business costs to reduce what you owe. Either way, keep records of any money you spend or earn, and keep some aside in case to cover tax or other costs.

3. Persuasiveness
Pitching for work, money or resources isn’t all that different to the job applications you’re used to churning out, but with a couple more ways to go about it.

  • If presenting in front of an audience, panel or Dragon’s Den appeals, schedule your meetings face-to-face or by phone and get pitching!
  • Public speaking not your thing? Reach clients and customers with leaflets, any newspaper coverage you can nab, or online through your website or social media.
  • Really not feeling it? Find someone with the gift of the gab and trade your strong points for theirs. That could mean finding someone to go into business with, or hiring the skills you need – try

4. Being deadline-driven
One of the benefits of self-employment is setting your own schedules – perfect for fitting around your studies. Whether it’s your essays or your empire, though, you’ll still need to meet deadlines.

  • Consider your studies and other commitments before agreeing deadlines for paid work or meetings
  • Work backwards from the deadline and set milestones (much easier to stay on track)
  • Use phone alerts or Google reminders if you need to
  • Pick a business you enjoy and you’ll be less likely to skip it!

5. Perseverance
Starting a business can be as simple as outlined here. Staying in business is harder: it can take time to find customers or become profitable. It can be hard to stay motivated if you’re going it alone, but support is out there: project partners, mentors and cheerleaders can all help.

One of the best things about student start-ups is that you can make what you want of them. If something serious and award-winning is your bag – go for it. If you just want a quick gig for cash and giggles, that’s OK too, as is changing your mind, ditching your initial ideas and starting over from scratch.

However you go about it, you’ll have the chance to earn the soft skills that employers want to see on your CV, and even craft your own career. If you’ve ever wondered whether you could start your own business – you can. Give it a go!


Does 'Big Data' present big opportunity?

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📥  Advice, inspire, Labour Market Intelligence

I caught a really interesting programme a few weeks back on Radio 4's PM about the Chinese governments plans to give every citizen a 'social credit score' by the year 2020. In fact this seemingly ambitious goal is very much on track with groundwork by Ant Financial, a subsidiary of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which has created a system which assigns users a score out of 950 based on their credit history and social media presence. Whatever your view of this development, the truth is that every day we are generating a tidal wave of data, from scanning your card at the supermarket, posting on social media sites to streaming a movie....… the list is endless, and it is this huge amount of data is making projects such as China's social credit score a possibility. Cue the buzzword 'Big Data'; which according to IBM is extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

So, how big is big data? Scratch the surface and the figures are quite astonishing. A study in 2013 by research group IDC predicted the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes in size – that’s 45 trillion gigabytes – by 2020. That’s a 50-fold growth in just one decade.  So, essentially big data is concerned with the collection, analysis and interpretation of data from this huge, multi-dimensional numeric world. Yet, according to IDC, less than one per cent of the world’s data is currently being analysed.


Big data underpins every major sector; from investment banking to healthcare to education. In fact according to the LSE Careers Service, the majority of big data jobs are found in the finance, marketing, banking/investment banking, retail and games industries. Big names in big data include IBM, SAS, Dunnhumby, Google, Amazon, SAP, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Accenture, British Airways, Sopra Group, Barclays, Amadeus Software, Aviva, Base 3 Systems Ltd, Capital One, CSP, Department for Work and Pensions, Nationwide Building Society, Office for National Statistics and HM Revenue & Customs, RWE nPower, HSBC, The Home Office… plus many, many more!

So what does this mean if you are a current student or graduate? Well, we can expect to see a rise in 'Data Scientist' jobs for a start. In fact, McKinsey is forecasting that the US will face a shortage of up to 190,000 data scientists by 2018. The evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) will also play an interesting part in the employment needs of big data employees as more specific personal data is produced (especially linked to human behavior, advertising and purchasing). Therefore we can assume the boom in big data jobs will not just be limited to engineering, technology and maths. According to Computer World, big data employers aren't simply looking for technical skills or academic degrees.  Rather, they seem to be after soft skills such as: a curious mind, the ability to communicate with non-technical people, a persistent, even stubborn - character and a strong creative bent.

Whilst we don't quite know the full extent of job opportunities that will arise as a result of big data,  you can take control of managing career by striving to gain relevant skills and by staying plugged into market developments.  How do you do this?

  1. Self-awareness: yes, that old chestnut! It is important to seek feedback from others and proactively identify opportunities for personal growth. This can be by attending a coding course, doing a MOOC or learning a language. You can take advantage of extra-curricular activities on campus to develop the soft skills employers value.
  2. Exploring & creating opportunities: it is important to shift from 'looking for advertised' opportunities to a mindset where you create, investigate and seize opportunities. This means networking - attending employer events, talking to alumni and going to talks that may be outside of your field of study.
  3. Being flexible: This is about having the flexibility to apply your skills into new contexts especially in light of a rapidly changing labour market.

Check in on tomorrow when we will blog about the career opportunities this presents!


New Books in our Careers Library!

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, inspire

We have a small reference library of carefully selected career books in the Careers Service. Come in and have a browse and a read, or find a list of what’s in stock in our online catalogue.

Newly purchased items are listed online and we have recently bought the updated, 2015/16 edition of John Lees’ How to get a job you love.


Now in its 8th edition, this book was first published in 2001, regularly tops the list of best-selling careers books by British authors and comes highly recommended by our careers advisers.  The title alone has instant appeal. Who wouldn’t want to get a job they love when, according to the author, we spend about 10,000 hours at work in a lifetime?

Many students call into the Careers Service for the first time because they would like help preparing a CV. We are happy to provide this support, but often find that students haven’t first spent time exploring what they would like to do after leaving university and the type of work they are suited to. This process is crucial and will save you time in the long-run, but does require thought and effort. How to get a job you love is an accessible guide to identifying your interests, motivations and hidden knowledge, matching these to a job and then securing that job. It can be hard to step back and analyse yourself in this way, but the numerous practical exercises, with details of how to interpret the results, and ‘must do’ action lists at the end of each chapter should help anyone feeling stuck, lost or confused to make some progress.

Please ask at Reception in the Careers Service if you would like to see this book and also note that a whole section or our website is dedicated to helping you Choose a career


Working in the Charity/Non profit Sector - event alert


📥  Sector Insight

The Careers Service is hosting two Bath Alumni who are going to talk about working in the Charity Sector Thursday, 26th November at 13.15 - 14.05. We thought ahead of this fantastic event, we would shine a light on this immensely rewarding sector. Details and booking here:

You may also find this blog about Selling Your Volunteering to Employers useful. The next SU talks on this topic are Thursday 19th November and Wednesday 24th February.

Charities are regulated by the Charities Commission and the Charities Act 2011; there are 164,345 registered charities in England and Wales alone (and another 23,770 equivalents in Scotland and 7,000 in Northern Ireland). Between them they employ over 900,000 people, with 3.4 million volunteers and 945,000 trustees. The charity sector is also described as 'the third sector', 'not for profit' or 'voluntary sector'.

Many charities operating today are highly professional, lean and efficient organisations which are finding new ways to adapt to the changes in funding patterns they've faced over the last decade. If you are considering working in the sector, you may want to think about the type of work you want to do. The sector offers opportunities to work in the UK and abroad; you can work in areas such as:

Community development
Human resources
Campaigning, communications and public relations
Policy and research
Volunteer management and coordination.

Entry points into the sector are varied, some charities offer structured graduate schemes; although quite rare and mainly serve larger organisations.  Far greater opportunities exist as a direct entry route - this is where you apply for advertised vacancies. For more information you may want to look at this Moodle informative resource  produced by the careers team here at Bath. You may also want to follow Beyond Profit a useful Twitter list created by Oxford Careers.  Finally, it is important to demonstrate commitment to the sector through volunteering. This can not only help you in learning about the sector but will also enable you to tap into hidden vacancies.



Will a robot take your job?

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Labour Market Intelligence

Following the report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills about the future of jobs in 2030; futurologists warn that it would be wrong to assume that today’s money spinning careers such as banking or law – will remain the best paid jobs of the future.

In fact, Oxford University academics Michael Osborne and Carl Frey have calculated how susceptible to automation each job is based on nine key skills required to perform it -  social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others, originality, fine arts, finger dexterity, manual dexterity and the need to work in a cramped work space. You can even go to the BBC Technology page and type in your job title to see how susceptible to automation your job may be. Job titles that do not exist now, such as a “vertical farmer” or a “body part maker”, could be mainstream professions, in much the same way that social media consultants have emerged in the past five years. In fact I am seriously considering changing jobs from Careers Adviser to Robot Counsellor!

The overwhelming message coming through is that as individuals we need to take greater personal responsibility for acquiring and continuously updating skills to remain employable in a rapidly changing workplace. The Careers Service are hosting a really interesting workshop this Wednesday led by Work Ready Graduates. The focus of the session is to equip you with the skills needed to spot opportunities and to effectively harness and develop your skills to ensure you remain employable in the future.

You may also want to look at this excellent inforgraphic created by the University of Kent and Headway Recruitment that shows how current desired job skills, contrast expected future skills.

Headway Infographic


Asking for reasonable adjustments...

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📥  Diversity

GUEST BLOG: Blind in Business is a charity set up to support students and graduates who are blind or have partial sight into employment  Jessica Luke is their Graduate Coordinator and has shared her personal insights as a visually impaired job hunter along with practical tips on requesting reasonable adjustments at work. Blind in Business will also be delivering a talk on campus in Semester 2, details will be available on MyFuture nearer the time. For more information about Blind in Business, please visit their website.

Blind In Business

As a visually impaired graduate and job-hunter, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from employers during the recruitment process. I’d heard of the term reasonable adjustments, but I didn’t really know what this meant in practice.  Google says that reasonable adjustments are changes that employers make to enable disabled workers to work without being at a disadvantage to others. But it’s hard to know which adjustments are reasonable in the eyes of an employer and how willing an employer will be to make changes when they could just employ someone else.

From my experience of the graduate recruitment process, a majority of employers were prepared to allow alterations to the process that enabled me to perform equally with other candidates.

I asked for extra time in psychometric tests and for mobility support at my assessment centre and I was allowed to use my laptop instead of a flipchart during an assessed presentation. As long as I could justify the need for support, graduate employers were willing to help.

Here are a few things that are worth knowing about reasonable adjustments:

1.     Don’t be afraid to ask for adaptations that allow you be assessed equally with other candidates.

While it’s essential to present a can-do attitude to a potential employer, it is better to be honest about what help you need. Disclosing a disability can be worrying, but I would advise it, if you are applying for graduate schemes.

2.     Don’t make out that you cannot do things that you can.

Maybe maths is not your forte and you would prefer to avoid a numerical reasoning test or perhaps the idea public speaking is terrifying and you think that your disability could help you to avoid being asked to present. Employers today, particularly graduate employers, are increasingly aware of disability requirements. They will have an idea of what is and isn’t possible for a disabled applicant and it will reflect badly on you to opt out of tasks that you are capable of doing.

3.     You may have to chase employers to put reasonable adjustments in place.

I would normally advise graduates never to hassle HR staff about the progress of an application. This said, when places are given out on a rolling basis, waiting to for adjustments to your psychometric tests can mean that places on your chosen scheme will be taken before you have a chance to get through the process. I work for the charity Blind in Business, which helps sight impaired graduates to get good graduate scheme jobs. We are happy to advocate on a candidates behalf to arrange extra time or a scribe for recruitment tests.

4.     Speak up, if you are not given the adaptations that you need.

I sat many psychometric tests when applying to different graduate schemes and on one occasion I felt that I was at a disadvantage because of the test structure. I receive extra time in numerical reasoning tests because my restricted field of vision means that it takes longer to find the relevant information from graphs and charts. I found that with extra time, although I was often timed out before completing the last couple of questions on a test, I was able to answer enough questions correctly to pass. This particular test had a time limit for each question. This meant that I was repeatedly timed out. I wrote an email to HR explaining that I couldn’t read the graphs and charts quickly enough when there was a per-question time limit and the recruiter arranged for me to re-sit the tests with a global time limit instead. This option is now given as standard to visually impaired people who apply to this employer.

The government scheme Access to Work is there to help provide any equipment or support that you need in the workplace. For information on the scheme, visit:

Diversity is important to make an organisation thrive and employers are more open to recruiting disabled graduates than in the past.

If I had one piece of advice to give, I would say to remember that employers may not have first-hand experience of working with someone with your disability. So put them at ease. Show them how small adaptations allow you to do a great job. If you present them with access solutions and a can-do approach, you are much more likely to get the job.


Applying for research jobs in industry

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📥  Applications, For PhDs

I was speaking to a recruiter to research roles in industry recently, and she shared some useful feedback on what does and doesn’t work in applications for industry:

Do: - Research the company thoroughly. In cover letters and personal statements it’s very important to not just talk about your current and past experience and achievements; you need to demonstrate how what you have to offer would add value to the organisation you are applying to. You also need to have clear reasons why you are applying to that company, which takes careful research via the company website, newsletters, social media and professional contacts. Check out these articles on researching companies and explaining why you want to work for a particular company. Keep your reasons positive; you may be thinking that you want to leave academia because of the lack of security or high levels of competition, but prospective industrial employers will want to hear about your pull factors, not your push factors. What do you know about how working in industry is different and why does this appeal to you? Who have you talked to or collaborated with from industry? It's probably best not mention personal circumstances; the recruiter doesn't need to know that you have relocated with your family.

Do: - keep your CV to two pages for outside of academia. Take a look at the researcher CV examples on the Vitae website, and also Sarah Blackford’s advice on CVs for industry and academia.

Do: - expand on examples and provide clear and specific evidence that you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Use the STAR technique (Situation, task, action, result) to structure your examples, and talk about measurable outcomes and impact of your efforts and projects.

Do: - be aware of the broad range of skills, both technical and transferable, that you have gained as part of the PhD, and be prepared to explain these clearly and confidently to the employer. I've read a lovely article this week from Cheeky Scientist about the transferable skills that recruiters in industry are looking for; if you don't think you have all these skills, YOU DO; come and have a chat with a careers adviser and we'll help you identify them.

Do: - be positive and confident about your experience in both applications and interviews. Steer clear of apologetic and negative phrases (‘While I don’t have any industrial experience…’) and, don’t undersell or underestimate the value of both your technical research and broader skills. Just because you have never had ‘programmer’ in your job title doesn’t mean you don’t have the high level programming skills that are exactly what the company is looking for.

Do: - break cover letters and CVs down into separate paragraphs. Lack chunks of text will seem intimidating to a busy recruiter. The same principle applies to CVs.

Do: - proof-read all application materials carefully. Typos look unprofessional and hint at laziness.

Don’t: - repeat information. Busy recruiters don’t have time to read the same information twice. If you’ve written in earlier sections of an application form that you have a relevant undergraduate or Masters degree it isn’t necessary to repeat this in a personal statement.

Don’t: - include long lists of publications/conferences/posters. At most you could include one or two examples of particular interest to the company you are applying to; it can be better to briefly refer to having a strong publication record as evidence of communication skills or scientific impact, and include a link to your LinkedIn or Research Gate profile that the employer can look at if they choose.

Don’t: - include a photo with your CV for UK recruiters.

Don’t: - make the employer dig for the information they really need – use clear formatting, relevant subheading (e.g. research experience, research techniques, project management), and appropriate (though not excessive) use of bold to draw attention to your key skills and achievements, which should be tailored to the skills the employer is looking for.