Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Posts By: Saiyada Fazal

Its not too late for me to get a job, is it?

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📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

A common question we are asked by final year students in our Quick Queries is "its not too late for me to get a job, is it?".  This is a totally understandable question to ask and one that indicates that many students are feeling anxious about their future, after graduation. The transition from being a student to worker is scary and means dealing with a lot of change (moving cities, forming new friendships, finding a new place to live etc) Not to mention if you are unsure of what you want to do or need to embark on the process of job hunting, it can all feel like it is too much.

Before going any further, I want to be clear, it is not too late to find a job! On MyFuture, (the careers service's vacancy database), we have nearly 700 active opportunities. You may find that some organisations that interest you are not recruiting at the moment, for example some graduate opportunities follow specific recruitment cycles. This however doesn't mean you've missed the boat....

It is important to approach career planning in small steps - if you are unsure of what you want to do then focus on exploring ideas or simply updating your CV may give you the feeling that you are moving in the right direction. Think of where you'd like to be in the next 12-24 months as opposed to determining your final career.

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If you are finding that the anxiety of not knowing what you want to do or looking for work is affecting you, then do consider the tips below:

  • Get things in perspective. What you are feeling is very common – you’re not alone!
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself negatively with your peers.
  • Set realistic targets with small steps you can take towards finding a graduate role. Steps could include seeing a careers adviser, connecting with Bath alumni via Bath Connection or LinkedIN or checking out opportunities on MyFuture.

Finally, don't be afraid to talk about your worries and look out for the signs of anxiety that go beyond normal worries. According to Mind,  "If you've been feeling anxious in a way that's stopping you from doing the things you would normally do, if you're not socialising, and if you've been feeling that way for more than just a couple of bad days – that's the point when you might want to see somebody". The Residential Life and Wellbeing Service  Advisers at Bath give students help and advice on all welfare and wellbeing issues. They run daily drop-in sessions on campus.

Don't forget you can carry on using us after you graduate http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/graduates/index.html.

 

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.

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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?"

 

Your CV has 8.8 seconds to impress!

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Finding a Job, Tips & Hints

Research has shown that recruiters spend an average of just 9 seconds scanning your CV before deciding whether you are a potential fit for their vacancy. You might think this is unfair but as my grandmother always said, "if you want to catch a fish, think like a fish"

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Look at it from the employers pespective: you have an afternoon set aside to sift over 100 CV's whilst juggling your day-today work and a bulging inbox full of urgent emails. You simply won't have the time or inclination to read through every CV in detail; infact according to the Independent the process of reviewing CVs has become  ‘Tinderised’ with each CV given just a few seconds to stand out against the competition before being kept or cast aside.”

My colleague Aste Dahl wrote a fantastic post on five CV mistakes to avoid, which is really worth a read. What else can you do to ensure your CV grabs an employers attention?

  • Get the look right: choose the right font and make sure it is the right size! Use 14 font for your name and 11 font for the rest of your CV. Use Ariel or another clear font style (Times New Roman works) – most importantly, remember your CV needs to be accessible to the reader.
  • Use visual aids: bullet points, line breaks, bold formatting and tabs. These are all simple tools you use to make an impact.
  • Avoid ready made templates: CV's are an opportunity for you to demonstrate your personality and individuality to an employer. Where possible add a personal touch to your CV so you stand out from the competition. Please note, some employers specify specific templates, if this is the case then do as the employer asks!
  • Length matters: an employer potentially has another 99 CV's to look through. If your CV is too long, you'll loose the employer - the general rule is no more than two pages. However in some sectors such as Banking and Management Consulting, recruiters expect a 1-page CV.  Remember, a CV that is too short immediately suggests that you don't have enough experience, which could potentially put you out of the race.
  • Its all about consistency: make sure you are consistent in the use of bullet points, the font size and spacing on your CV. This projects professionalism and conveys strong attention to detail skills.
  • Get feedback: book a quick query with one of our careers advisers for constructive feedback.

 

Should you leave your career planning to chance?

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Career Development, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Tips & Hints

I have been seeing a lot of finalists lately and broadly two 'types' of students  emerge: those of you with a clear plan for what you’re going to do after graduation and those of you trying to plan life after university. Traditional career planning techniques focus on matching interests, skills and abilities to a particular job or laying out a career plan for the next 10, 20 or 70 years. Unfortunately, there are times we become so wrapped up in making the one right decision about our careers, that we forget the importance of chance.

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This is why I am a huge fan of John Krumboltz; a leading career theorist who suggests that chance or unplanned events have a place in the career-planning process and has put forward the theory of Planned Happenstance. In a nutshell, Krumboltz suggests that a career is something that will gradually unfold and encourages you to make the most of opportunities as they arise. Therefore, if you are experiencing difficulty clarifying what you want to do, it could be you are trying too hard to rationalise your thinking. Instead, actively seek out and explore new career ideas and pursue interesting things as they arise. For example the more people you speak to, the more likely you are to find out about jobs you might enjoy and opportunities which may not be advertised.

According to Krumboltz, you can engage in five behaviours that can enable you to turn chance events into productive opportunities and these are:

  • Curiosity: Explore new opportunities – Get on Twitter, talk to people, go to events, say “yes” to new experiences, research, explore the “unknown”
  • Persistence: Exert effort despite setbacks
  • Flexibility: Be ready to change your attitude/mindset when new information/opportunity arises
  • Optimism: View new opportunities as possible and attainable
  • Risk-taking: Take action in the face of uncertain outcomes.

Here are some practical actions you could take starting today:

  • Meet new people and do new things. Join clubs, volunteer, play sports, go to careers events, talk to your peers, lecturers and alumni.
  • Take an interest in the new (or investigate the very old!). Keep an open mind.
  • Understand yourself and consider learning skills which might lead to new opportunities.
  • Learn about the world: What’s happening in technology? Industry? Society? What opportunities do these present?
  • Expose yourself to different viewpoints: Study abroad, read papers you think you’ll disagree with and engage in debates.

 

Play games and score a graduate job!

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📥  Advice, Applications, Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence, Tips & Hints

I have a confession to make... I have got to level 409 on Candy Crush and have three stars in all the levels! Whilst this fact will never make it to the top of my CV, I have recently learnt that gamification psychometrics is coming and in a big way! I know what you're thinking (the thought crossed my mind too) - why won't employers leave us alone in our safe gaming heaven away from the realities of the world?

I guess one way of looking at this is that, the reliance on verbal and numerical reasoning can be a cause for anxiety for many candidates. Where as gaming can create a relaxed and informal approach to selection and employers have the opportunity to tease out those all important transferable skills such as resilience and creativity.

Gaming in the selection process isnt a 'thing'! A number of graduate recruiters are harnessing these tools. For example, KPMG in Australia started testing out their own game on applicants for internships and at PwC they’re using gamification in recruitment at their Hungary branch. This trend isn't limited to professional services firms, in the UK organisations such as Unilever are using gaming as part of their psychometric assessment and have partnered with Pymetrics.  I actually gave the pymetrics games a go and found it really interesting. Once I completed the games, I was sent a personal traits profile which I believe could be useful in helping you clarify your future direction. Companies such as Siemens use gaming to simulate and bring to life specific jobs; Plantville offers applicants the experience of working as a plant manager. Players are faced with the challenge of maintaining the operation of their plant while trying to improve the productivity, efficiency, sustainability and overall health of their facility. Google has been organising a Google Code Jam software-writing competition for 12 years as a way to find fresh, new talent to work for the company.

So does this mean that my level 409 in Candy Crush makes me some sort of exemplary and highly sought after candidate? Sadly not... Employers who use gaming are looking at uncovering specific behaviours and strengths. Arctic Shore, who are leading in this field have developed three games designed to uncover distinct strengths:

  • Firefly Freedom - assesses innovative behaviour
  • Cosmic Cadet – tests for intelligence and resilience
  • Yellow Hook Reef – Tests General Mental Ability

You can download these from the Apple Store and Google Play. Have a go and let us know what you think of this trend in graduate recruitment.

 

Do you really deserve that job or PhD?

  

📥  Advice, Career Development, Diversity, inspire, Tips & Hints

This week I saw quite a few students who have been wrestling with:

"..... I am not good enough - to apply for a PhD, my dream placement or propose an idea to my group"

This made me reflect on the concept of Inposter Syndrome where an individual struggles to credit their success to their ability. Rather they see their success as being lucky or working harder than others. This is further compounded by the person assuming that at any moment others will see through the facade and know they are not as talented. Reading Jo Haigh's post brought home to me that no one is safe from feeling like a fraud - regardless of achievement or fame.

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Half of the female managers surveyed by the Institute of Leadership Management reported self-doubt in their ability compared to men. In my mind this is in part down to the fact that there are fewer female role models and the ones that have made it there have, in the past, often had to take on masculine characteristics. This is one of the reasons why the Careers Service is hosting the Sprint Development programme aimed at female undergraduates, bringing together successful women from industry to talk about their careers.

In addition to participating in personal development training, what else can you do to manage imposter syndrome? The first step is to understand a rather obvious truth: nobody can see inside anyone else’s head. So your inner monologue – the voice that keeps on telling you 'you’re not good enough' – is the only one you ever hear which means your reasoning is a tad skewed.

Have a look at the traits below, do they apply to you?

  • Ignoring compliments
  • Assuming everything in your life will self-destruct for no reason
  • You feel a compulsion to be the best
  • Letting self doubt become a constant fixture
  • Fear of failure can paralyse you
  • You focus on what you haven't done
  • You don't think you're good enough

It may also be comforting to know you aren't alone in your thinking. These tweets compiled by the Huffington Post really do capture  the fact that imposter syndrome does not discriminate and when it rears its ugly head, we can be pretty irrational in our thinking. If left untamed, imposter syndrome can negatively affect your academic studies and professional career.

So how do we keep a lid on imposter syndrome?

  1. Recognise it: If you hear yourself say, “I don’t deserve this,” or “It was just luck,” pause and note that you are having impostor syndrome thoughts. Self awareness is the first step to tackling imposter syndrome.
  2. You are not alone: Imposter syndrome’s so common that, if you tell a friend or colleague about your self-doubt, they’ll almost certainly reply by telling you they feel the same.
  3. Get objective: keep reminders of success to hand! Be it your CV or that 'well done' email from your manager when you were on placement. All these will hopefully remind you of your self-worth.
  4. Accept and give compliments: for one day, give meaningful compliments to your friends or colleagues and see how they respond. If they deflect, call them out. Likewise, accept every compliment you receive, simply say 'Thank you'.

Finally, accept that everyone everywhere—no matter how successful—experiences the self-doubt that underlies impostor syndrome. It is part and parcel of becoming accomplished and successful. There is nothing unusual or wrong about feeling these things. Leave no cognitive space for them to grow, and you will regain control of your life and your future.

Understanding interview anxiety

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

Despite of advising students for over 10 years, I still find myself riddled with anxiety when I attend an interview. There’s something about being in the spotlight; that one chance of either securing the job or being rejected, that is guaranteed to bring me out in a sweat. I recently stumbled upon this this article from The Muse  which made me reflect on why do we all fear interviews so much?  When I ask students, what worries them about interviews the most, these three consistently make it on top of the list:

  • Mind going blank
  • Not being able to think of an example
  • Stress and anxiety bubbling over
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So what is the solution? Well to a large extent it is about practice and self-reflection. Interviews are a solitary activity and most of us would rather not ask for feedback or reflect on our performance. However a sure way of improving your interview technique is to get objective feedback. One way is to book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser or to use InterviewStream which enables you to record your interview and review your performance.

That aside, what is the solution for the three biggest fears?

  • Mind going blank: you can’t stop your brain freezing, however you can control how you respond if this happens. My top tip is to acknowledge what’s just happened, and start again. Or you may wish to ask the recruiter to repeat or clarify the question buying you precious time.
  • Not being able to think of an example: another form of brain freeze! Again, it is all about composing yourself. Feel free to ask the employer for a few minutes to think about the question. If inspiration doesn’t strike, then consider answering hypothetically… “Although, I haven’t experienced such a situation, if I did this is how I would tackle it…”
  • Stress and anxiety bubbling over: I think this article from the Guardian offer excellent tips on how to tackle anxiety before and during the interview. I would add that it is OK to be open about being nervous, it makes you human and the interviewer will relate to you better.

Finally and most importantly, interview anxiety can get out of hand if you build the interview up in your mind to a point where you start to loose perspective. Take a moment to consider: this isn’t the only job out there. They wouldn’t be interviewing you if they thought you lacked potential for the position. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: ‘I could get the job’ rather than ‘I might not get the job’.

 

Rebecca Stephens (MBE) joins the Sprint professional development programme

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📥  Diversity, Event

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Applications are now open for Sprint; a fantastic professional development programme for undergraduate women. Sprint enables female undergraduates to reach their fullest potential, focusing on key topics such as how to use your personal power, identify individual values, recognise personal strengths and learn how to use assertiveness positively.

This year we are delighted to welcome Rebecca Stephens (MBE), the first British woman to climb Mount Everest, to the Sprint programme. Alongside inspiring female role models from organisations such as AXA, Microsoft and Arup, Rebecca will talk about how women can embrace fear of failure to achieve their professional and personal goals.

The first three days of the programme will run during the inter-semester break as follows:

  • 30 January 2017 - FULL DAY
  • 31 January 2017 - FULL DAY
  • 1 February 2017 - FULL DAY

A final 1/2 day of training will take place on the afternoon of 22 February 2017.

Further information, including how to apply can be found here. We welcome applications from all undergraduate women and those students who identify as female.

Industry partners:

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Procrastinating on your graduate job search?

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Tips & Hints

OK, I must confess. I have been meaning to write this blog post for the last three days, but each time I have found something else to do. One of my many useless strengths, is my ability to engage in 'task displacement' -  also commonly known as procrastination.

This morning whilst eating my breakfast, I found myself thinking - why do I avoid doing certain things? In my case it is often the fear of getting it wrong, thinking I am not good enough or simply getting distracted by other, more fun things (for example, lately I seem to playing this game called Crush and popping balloons easily ends up in an hour or two wasted).

I think this TED video by Tim Urban provides a very insightful look into the mind of a procrastinator.

The truth is, some of us hide under the umbrella of procrastination when in reality we are struggling with genuine anxiety with regards to the task at hand. I often observe this with the students I work with. A common confession I hear from students is; "I find the whole job hunting thing really overwhelming" or "I cant seem to find anything I can do". Occasionally students also tell me how they worry about getting things wrong when job hunting (this could be getting the application, interview or even choice of career wrong). Therefore, it is all to easy to find distractions and to not confront the real issue.

If this sounds like you, below are some tips to help you take that first step:

  • Overwhelmed: my granny always said to me, "you can't eat an elephant whole". Putting aside the fact that this is a rather gruesome analogy, there is something in it and applies to job hunting. It might be helpful to break the whole job hunting thing into smaller manageable actions such as: book a quick query with an adviser, attend one event on campus or spend an hour exploring what Bath graduates have done. Small action can lead to big clarity.
  • Perfectionism: If I had a pound for every student I have seen who was waiting until they were sure that they were applying for the right opportunity, I’d be a a very, very rich woman. John Lees (who is a superb writer on all things careers) suggests the 70/30 rule. If you feel engaged with 70% of the role you are considering (and meet 70% of the skills required), then it is worth applying. The other way to view this is to approach job hunting as a series of small controlled experiments. Give yourself permission to give things a go and along the way you'll not only gain clarity about your future direction, you will also pick up useful skills. Do remember, the job you do now, isn't something you'll do for the rest of your life.
  • Fear of failure: have you ever stopped yourself from applying for a particular placement or job because you think 'you are not good enough'? Self-sabotage is one of the ways we try and protect ourselves from failure. More often than not your perception of your self is far more critical than the reality. Therefore one approach is to challenge your self-perception by actively seeking feedback.  Instead of thinking you aren't good enough,  pop in and see a careers adviser who can help you identify your strengths. Hit the send button and get a few applications out, it is the surest way to test the market.  After all, you really don't know your limits until you try.
  • Easily distracted: the best way to tackle this is by eliminating time wasters. Be honest, what do you waste time on?  Yik Yak? Facebook? Twitter? Stop checking them so often. One thing you can do is make it hard to check your social media – remove them from your browser quick links, switch off notifications and your phone. Schedule set times to browse and perhaps reward yourself with social media time when you tick an action off your to-do-list. The same approach applies to Netflix, you tube etc.
  • Fear of change: it is easy to put off the fact that your university life will come to an end. Some students apply for a Masters course to procrastinate and to put off career decision making for a further year. At some point, before you know it, you will have to confront career decision making. However you don't have to work through this on your own. The careers team are here to guide you, inspire you and help you feel more confident about your future. Do consider booking a guidance appointment - it is only 45 minutes of your time, so what have you got to lose?

 

How to make the most of "your careers service".

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Career Development, Careers Service Update

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We are really looking forward to welcoming you at Bath. I understand amid all the excitement you may also have moments of being nervous about this stage of your life. I thought I would pen some hints and tips about how to make the most the careers service and what to expect.

  1. University careers support is different to what you may have experienced at school. You can make an appointment as soon as you arrive and you don't have to know what you want to do. Instead, we can help you clarify your thinking and most importantly we won't tell you what to do.
  2. Throughout Freshers week, our careers advisers will pop up during lectures or as part of formal induction talks. This way you'll know who they are and how to make contact.
  3. Your engagement with the careers service doesn't have to be face-to-face. We arrange loads of skills training events and talks. You will also be able to meet employers on campus.
  4. You can come and see us as often as you like! (even after you graduate).
  5. Its OK for your career thinking to change, just give yourself the time and space to consider different options. Don’t rely on student gossip about what to do when. Make sure that you have the time frames and application windows clear in your mind. Your careers adviser will know.