Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Cracking Careers Wisdom...

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📥  Advice, Applications, Career Development

Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas favourite,  did you know they were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith? He had seen the French 'bon bon' sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper). He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet.

Image result for victorian christmas cracker

Fast forward to 2016 and the Careers Service Christmas lunch. We not only pulled crackers but also attempted to indulge in that old 'lets share our cracker joke'  tradition. Alas we couldn't, as our crackers contained words of wisdom and conversation starters and we missed out on gems like:

What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney?
Claustrophobia!

Or

What's the most popular Christmas wine?

'I don't like Brussels sprouts!'

Never one to dampen the festive spirit, we shared our words of wisdom with one another and thats when inspiration for our last blog post of the year came to me. So here goes, some cracking words of wisdom that will really make a difference to your job hunting in the New Year.

Cracker wisdom # 1: Learn from everyone, but never imitate anyone.
The goal of your CV is to stand out from all the other job seekers and be picked for an interview; if you are using the same template as all the other hopefuls you will achieve neither objective. Whilst it is OK to look at example CV's, pick and choose the bits you like and ensure your individual strengths, personality and motivation for a particular opportunity is shining through. Likewise, don't let your inner monologue (also known as Imposter Syndrome) hold you back and crucially don't compare yourself to everyone else.

Cracker wisdom # 2: The harder you fall, the higher you bounce
You applied for your dream job or placement and despite your best efforts your application got turned down. The truth is rejection comes hand in hand with the job hunting process, the important thing is to learn from the process and not make the same mistake. For example, where in the recruitment stage do you stumble? Last year, I wrote a post about Coping with Rejection where I shared strategies on reinventing yourself at ever stage of the selection process. However, it is also important to step back and consider whether there is a message in the rejection itself. Is it that a particular company isn't the right fit for you? Or that you are applying for a role that isn't harnessing your strengths fully?

Cracker wisdom # 3: A goal without a plan is just a wish
For many of you the Christmas holidays are clouded with worries about exams in January. It doesnt have to be this way. You can enjoy the festive season and still stay on top of revision and coursework. Check out our top time management tips around exams to help you feel more in control.

Finally, whilst the end of term is approaching, a little reminder that we are open till Tuesday 20th December and will reopen on the morning of 3rd January 2017. For more information, please keep an eye on our website.

Merry Christmas and the very best wishes for the New Year from everyone in the careers team.

Ps. If you are looking for a conversation starter during your Christmas dinner, this  one got us talking, "would you rather have a nose like Rudolf's that glows or have pointy elf ears?"

 

How to sell yourself and feel ok about it

📥  Advice, Applications, Interviews

I've talked to quite a few people recently who've said they find it really hard to 'sell themselves' in applications and interviews. Rightly or wrongly this phrase can sometimes conjure up images of aggressive Apprentice-style pitches about how great you are. But is this really what employers expect? In a nutshell they expect you to understand their needs and the needs of the role you are applying for, and to articulate confidently how you and your knowledge, skills and experience meet those needs. Doesn't sound quite so scary or aggressive, does it? So how do you present yourself positively and confidently (which employers will expect you to do) without slipping into arrogance?

A few quick thoughts:

  • avoid phrases which weaken or undercut the impact of what you say, 'I only', 'it was nothing', 'I did a bit of'. Don't underestimate the value of a project or piece of work experience to a prospective employer just because it was quite short; highlight what you gained from the experience and the impact you made.
  • use active phrases rather than passive constructions, i.e. 'I organised a conference' rather than 'a conference was organised'; this sounds much more proactive and positive and puts the emphasis on what YOU did and made happen which is the whole purpose of job application processes. If you're a scientist or engineer, and particularly if you're a doctoral and postdoctoral researcher and thoroughly grounded in scientific report writing, it will take a bit of a practice to train yourself out of the passive voice you're used to using for scientific report writing. Think 'analysed data', not 'the data was analysed'.
  • Quantify your experience so the employer gets a sense of the scope of what you've done. How many people were in the team you led? How many years of experience have you had with a particular technique?
  • Employers are looking for people who can make an impact, so emphasise your achievements within a particular role, and quantify those as well. Did you increase sales figures by 10% in that sales assistant role over the summer? Improve efficiency of a process by 20% in your engineering project? You're not 'bigging things up' when you do this, you're simply stating facts.
  • Put more emphasis on yourself and the actions you took within a role than on the organisation you worked for. It's fine to give a little information about companies you've worked for, but don't let this take over or get repetitive.
  • In cover letters and interviews, emphasise your enthusiasm for the job and company you're applying for. Phrase like 'this role really appeals to me because' and 'what particularly fascinates me is' will help convince the employer than you really want to work for them.
  • You don't need to say you're the best thing since sliced bread, but try to find things that may be unique about your experience or skills, and talk about how these will be useful for the organisation.
  • Book a Quick Query and one of our advisers will give you some feedback on how your application is coming across.

 

 

 

Researching employers using library databases

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📥  Careers Resources, Commercial Awareness, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Researching employers using library databases

I recently went along to a careers skills session delivered by Management Librarian Helen Rhodes. The aim of the session was to look at some useful tools to help students find business and industry information through several useful databases which are found through the library website. Even though I had some basic knowledge about the databases before, I was surprised about the extensive and detailed information you could find on employers, including developments and issues, competitors, tweet mentions and news, but also covering sector and industry information, country profiles and lifestyle analyses. At the end you can usually print out a detailed summary as a PDF report! The information you find can absolutely give you an advantage in that graduate interview and your commercial awareness will increase immensely, which is exactly the skill employers say graduates lack the most!

So here is a summary of some useful databases, what they can do and where you can find them. Be aware that there are many different usages of each database and I am just covering a few examples below.

All of these databases and more can be found on our library website.

hoover

Hoovers is a database of 84 million companies and industries. It offers financial and executive details plus a description of activities and competitors of public, private, and government-run enterprises.  By using the search engine on top of the page you search by companies, people and also industries. For example, a quick search for “wind power generation” under industries gave me detailed information about the top companies within the industry, the business challenges and key insights into industry facts and developments. You can also search industries by location. A great tool!

marketline

Marketline has 31000 detailed company profiles, SWOT analyses and industry reports with PESTLE analyses. This is another very useful database, which is useful for researching companies but also for researching a specific industry or sector. For example a search for chocolate confectionary under industry gave me detailed industry reports from all around the world regarding the chocolate confectionary industry!  A detailed pdf report including graphs and tables was available within seconds as well.

passport

Passport also has many company profiles and industry reports, however with passport you can get detailed reports across 80 countries including country reports, market share information and consumer trends and lifestyle analysis. If you are thinking of applying to work in another country, Passport is an invaluable tool for you.

nexis

Nexis provides access to the latest business news and data. It features profiles of 46 million global companies and 3 million UK companies. It includes UK national newspapers and trade press, plus hundreds of newspapers and magazines published worldwide.  A great resource before that very important interview!


Helen Rhodes offers regular workshops on how to use these databases effectively, both through Faculty and through Careers. Have a look at MyFuture in the new year for workshops and talks arranged in the Spring term.

The Careers Service has an excellent help guide on researching employers:

http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/docs/research.pdf