Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Topic: Graduate Jobs

Virtual Reality – coming to your assessment centre soon?

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

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I remember when I first put on those Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, it blew me away! Just to clarify, I am not a gamer at all, the closest I have come to playing a game has been playing free games on my phone! I am, however, a massive sci-fi fan so the idea of being immersed into a virtual universe did appeal to me. Maybe it was this interest that made the journey into the VR universe so natural for me. Saying that, recent research states that 95% of people trying out VR say the same. It seems so real that you automatically act the way you would have done in the real world. Maybe this fact is why employers now are researching using VR in recruitment processes and at least one employer is already using it in some assessment centres. So what do you, as students, need to know?

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate the realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user's physical presence in this environment (taken from wikipedia).

virtual reality

 

For Virtual Reality to work you put on a headset which covers your eyes and ears completely, you are unable to see or hear the outside world. You only see the simulated environment in front of you. With the help of handsets you are able to move around the environment and complete tasks. You have a small space to move around in and the software prevents you from walking too far outside the zone (don’t worry, the likelihood of crashing into walls is low). It is currently mainly used for gaming as it gives the user the feeling of being fully immersed in the game.

Why are more and more employers researching the use of VR in recruitment processes?

Employers would like to be able assess a candidate’s authentic capabilities in doing the job. Compared to competency-based questions, where a candidate can prepare answers which not necessarily are all authentic, the VR environment is unexpected and can’t be prepared for. As research shows that the large majority of people trying out VR acts like they would do in real life, this means that employers can easier match the candidate skills and strengths with the job in question.

Employers are also researching using VR as a way for applicants to get a real feel for a company, how it is to work there, which goes beyond just looking at the website or the interview setting.  Companies would like to show their prospective employees how great it is to work there and VR may help with just that. VR can introduce you to the office, you may get a tour of the building,  meet your co-workers, be introduced to job tasks and real-life business scenarios. You may even be invited to an after work social event through VR! In an article Deutsche Bahn states they use VR to give potential employees the chance to “experience” different jobs on offer before they apply, for example looking over the shoulder of an electrician or a train driver.

It is already in use!

As stated above, several companies are using VR as a way of introducing their companies to potential applicants. In addition, VR in recruitment is already in use by at least one graduate recruiter, which started using VR in their assessment centre selection for their IT and digital graduate schemes in autumn 2017.

They says this on their website:

“By using Virtual Reality the assessor will be able to present situations to candidates that would otherwise be unfeasible in the conventional assessment process. The candidate will have complete freedom of movement within a 360 degree virtual world and will be able to move virtual objects using tracked motion controls. Although the Group cannot disclose what potential graduates can expect to do in the assessment centre, so as to not provide candidates with an advantage, the puzzles they will be tasked with will be designed to demonstrate the strengths and capabilities required of the Group’s future leaders.”

In addition, other companies are considering using VR in their recruitment to better assess candidates’ strengths and cognitive abilities. Although we do not know whether VR will be used by other companies, its popularity is increasing and therefore more may follow..

How can you prepare for VR?

I think it would be hard to prepare for a VR assessment. The employer won’t assume you have used it before, so you should get good instructions in how to use it before you start your tasks. As the employer would like to find a candidate that matches the skills and strengths they are looking for, I believe the best preparation is to be yourself and complete the tasks as you would do naturally. If you have a friend that has VR at home, then you can always ask them for a go, although be aware that the tasks set in the assessment centre probably will be different from VR gaming.

Be open and enthusiastic about it on the day, be yourself and enjoy the experience!

Additional articles for you to explore:

University of Warwick has written an excellent blog article about Virtual Reality.

Two other interesting articles:

https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/rework/latest-recruiting-tool-virtual-reality

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/vr-interviews-lloyds-banking

 

 

Research roles in think tanks and social research organisations

📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Employer Visit Report, For PhDs, For Taught Postgraduates, Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

The second of our posts summarising a panel event on research careers in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This post will focus on working for think tanks and social research organisations - this panel included three speakers.
The first speaker had had a varied career before working for think tanks. He did a Classics degree followed by a graduate scheme and then a post graduate diploma in journalism. He got some work experience at a national newspaper then worked on health magazines and journals before working for a health-related think tank. Health-related think tanks include The Health Foundation, Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund.  The speaker's current role involves meeting with funders as well as conducting research and managing a research team of six.  Think Tanks can be funded in different ways, and they need to demonstrate to their funders how they are making a difference.  His role involves writing press briefings and reports, and it's important to be able to communicate non-academically. Networking and communication skills are vital. In the speaker's view a PhD wasn't necessary. Work experience  is important– do approach think tanks directly for work experience. It can be helpful to have an interest in the policy focus area of the think tank, and think tanks usually have political leanings. The speaker noted that people often do something else before working in thank tanks.
The second speaker, a lecturer, had previously been a researcher at the National Centre for Social Research. During his time there he worked on designing surveys for the government and went on secondment in the Cabinet Office. He still does research for external clients as well as his academic commitments which include teaching research methods. He noted that for research outside of academia it's important to be able to communicate with clients and manage projects. When recruiting The National Centre for Social Research look for hard research skills – SPSS and Excel, and also for a masters degree with a strong research component. It's important to do your dissertation well and to get a good mark. The panellist emphasised the importance of being specific in your CV about which research skills and software packages you have used. Work experience with social research organisations will also be highly valued.

The third speaker worked as a labour market researcher for a social research organisation. He had also had a varied career; after his masters in Economics he did the graduate scheme at IPSOS Mori. His role there involved research design, literature reviews, analysing qualitative and quantitative data and lots of report writing. He noted that IPSOS Mori do both qualitative and quantitative research; there are plenty of opportunities for people who only want to do one or the other.He noted that degrees in history and politics can be very useful for building analytical skills. Projects can last anywhere between two weeks and two years. Amongst the skills needed in his current role, he mentioned skills in persuasion and validating arguments with evidence; he particularly emphasised the importance of being able to communicate the vision and impact of your research – this is essential for think tanks. It's also important to be curious and inquisitive. In his current role he uses some of the same statistical packages he used at university. In his view it’s possible to teach yourself statistics through online courses, and he mentioned a book call ‘Statistics Without Tears’. In the speaker's opinion a Masters wouldn’t be essential but could be useful for building confidence. He suggested that a Masters in research methods  could be more useful for think tanks and a Masters in Public Policy may be more useful for charities.People who work for think tanks often have an interest in the policy area of the think tank they work for.
The speaker said there are about 50 social research organisations in London, and also clusters of social research organisations in Leicester, Manchester, Edinburgh and Northern Ireland. Lots of social research organisations offer internships which are usually paid. Think tanks tend to do new/primary research whereas charities tend to use others’ research.
The third speaker was a PhD student and researcher at a Brussels-based think tank. Think Tanks can be small so multi-tasking and networking skills are important. He commented on the close relationship between lobbying and research; it's important to be able to communicate to lobbyists and explain the value of your research and how/where it would be used in a short space of time. Hard research skills such as stats and SPSS also important.

Useful links

Careers Service guide to social policy and social research careers

Guide to working in think tanks by the University of Oxford Careers Service

Social Research Association - has a jobs board and a list of social research organisations

 

Research roles in parliament and government

📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Employer Visit Report, For PhDs, For Taught Postgraduates, Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

I recently attended a panel event on research roles outside of academia in Humanities and Social Sciences. There was a fascinating array of speakers from central and local government, think tanks, charities and social research organisations. I'm going to write up the information gleaned from the speakers in a series of blog posts - starting today with research in government and parliament.*

Research roles in parliament

The first speaker we heard from was A, a Senior Research Analyst in parliament. A spends most of his time reading and writing, taking questions on aspects of policy from MPs,  and preparing briefings.  He emphasised that his current role uses research skills rather than research methodologies – reading and synthesising information very quickly and working out what is most important. A sometimes needs to challenge or clarify the requests he receives for research – sometimes what people think they need to know isn’t what they actually need to know. He also emphasised the importance of understanding customers’ needs and producing a brief with a coherent narrative that can be understood by non-specialists, and clearly explaining any complex terms and jargon. The role involves gathering together others’ research rather than conducting primary research, and A felt that research skills were more important than specific knowledge, which can be learned on the job.

Before his current role A did a PhD and then a series of short term research contracts. In A's current team of 8,  4 people have PhDs, of which two currently work on topics related to their PhD. A didn’t feel a PhD was necessary to do the job. His advice on getting in to research roles in parliament included showing genuine interest in the job, and highlighting your ability to judge between different information sources and communicate to range of audiences.  He mentioned the good conditions of work, standard working hours and opportunities to work with interesting people. Research jobs in parliament come up rarely, and are advertised on www.parliament.co.uk.

We also heard from B, a parliamentary researcher and PhD student. Before his current role B had had a range of experience and voluntary roles - immediately after his first degree he worked as a campaign intern and then for an NGO. His current role involves  reading local newspapers and reporting back on issues to the MP he works for, doing casework (for which he makes use of the parliamentary research unit) and looking after the MP’s website. In B's view the role is a good way to gain insight into how parliament works. He took initiative to contact the MP and ask for work, and emphasised the importance of internships and work experience; volunteering on local election campaigns could be useful. When working for an MP it is important to have the right political sympathies. B noted that lots of the people he works with have higher degrees; he considered this useful for honing skills in writing and condensing information. Roles are advertised on the w4mp website.

Research roles in government

We heard from three speakers working in research positions in central and local government

C, a researcher in the Department for Communities and Local Government, works on research projects relating to local public services - current projects include analysing the impact of Brexit on local public services. C did a PhD and then short term research contracts for universitiesand economic consultancies. She said she prefers research in government to research in academia because of the greater sense of impact and audience; she also values the team research environment of  the Civil Service. C entered the Civil Service through direct entry – there are quite a few direct entry analytical roles advertised on the Civil Service jobs website. Her role involves gathering evidence to ensure better decision making, using both qualitative and quantitative research skills. She felt she is valued for her analytical and communication skills rather than specific knowledge. She works at pace and has to get to grips with a wide range of policy areas.  She commented on the good work/life balance within Civil Service but also on pressure due to reduced budgets and staffing. She works closely with policy colleagues, and noted that some policy roles are also heavily analytical.

D works for a County Council in the Insight team of 10 people. The Insight team is part of the wider Performance team of 40, which includes analysts, researchers and technical staff. Before his current role D worked in finance and performance management. D’s core business is storytelling with data; he mentioned the importance of  communicating an impactful story in a short space of time. Skills in stakeholder engagement are as crucial to his role as analytical skills. IT and technical skills are also important.

The final speaker in this first panel, E, had worked in the private sector before setting up her own public sector consultancy. E observed that there are lots of ways to do freelance work with organisations like Capita and Manpower. E volunteered for Citizens Advice which was useful for developing the interviewing and active listening skills she uses as part of research. E uses high level qualitative and quantitative research skills to conduct situational analysis of organisations; she analyses what’s working and what isn’t, looks at work culture and aspirations of staff. E noted that there is a move towards action-led research, with a focus on continuous sharing and learning throughout research projects - the nature of her research work is therefore highly collaborative. Like A, E noted that it’s sometimes necessary to challenge the premise of clients’ requests and research questions – sometimes there are other issues than the ones the client presents with or requests research on. It's important to be curious and to be able to challenge views and say no.

See also my colleague Sue's post on working in the Civil Service, and our guide to careers in Politics.

*Names and full details of organisations have been taken out

 

My story: working internationally - broadening your horizons

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Uncategorized

Broadening your horizons – working internationally

international horizons

Working abroad can be an incredible experience. I have worked in three different countries; USA, UK and Norway (I am Norwegian) and I have volunteered teaching English in China and Argentina. I have had some amazing experiences which I don’t want to change for the world, but at the same time it is important to be prepared and realise that applying for jobs and working abroad may bring its own issues as well. This is my personal story on how working internationally has changed me, broadened my horizons and made me who I am today, but I will also share some important lessons as well.

 

Thinking about working internationally?

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You want to work overseas and have a real wish to explore the world? Then go for it! However, do consider any language, visa or work permit requirements of the country you are going to. Finding a job in Argentina without speaking Spanish will limit the job opportunities straight away. In addition, if you would like to work in Norway you are pretty much limited to bar and café work if you do not speak Norwegian. You may also have visa limitations. After going to University in the US, I had a year’s work permit, which I was sure I could extend. I was six months in to a job I loved, with colleagues I loved in a city I loved (Seattle), when I found out that the work permit could not be extended. I did not have a job that fit the visa requirements and had to leave the country within the next 4 weeks, saying goodbye to everyone in the process. My lesson to you is therefore to research as much as possible before you go!

 

Applying for jobs internationally?

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Be aware that applying for jobs and selection processes may be slightly different depending on which country you are looking to work in. After 15 years in the UK I moved back to Norway in 2014. Networking and who you know is very important with regards to applying for jobs in Norway and as I had not kept many social networks, I discovered that in the interview process many of the interview attendees already worked for the company or knew someone in the company. In addition, the interview questions were personality-based (similar to strength-based), as they did not care too much about your skills or experience but instead they wanted to figure out whether you, as a person, would fit in the company. The whole interview normally just turned into an informal chat. Being used to competency-based questions from the UK I must say it took a couple of interviews to adapt! Researching how different countries have different selection processes and also what websites to look at to find work, is therefore important.

We have some excellent links and resources on our website, also Prospects and TargetJobs have wonderful resources and country guides for you to look through,

 

Working internationally

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So you have researched where you want to go and have successfully applied for a job overseas. Well done, your year(s) ahead may be full of new adventures, new friendships, perhaps learning a new language and, of course, a new job. In my last job in the US I worked at a US-Asian NGO and I learnt so much in few months I was there (before my visa expired) and met some amazing people from the US as well as many Asian countries. In some ways it laid the basis for the person I am today, I learnt to work with people from different cultures and with different ways of communicating and working. For example, any decision whether small or large always had to be made together, so I attended lots and lots of meetings in this job with people from all levels of seniority. In addition, I learnt the importance of company health insurance in the US and the very limited number of holiday days you get! In Norway, on the other hand, I learnt that in addition to your normal sick days, as a mother (or father) you get additional sick days for your child. You learn quickly that there are different ways of working, of communicating or solving issues. These are just some of the charms of working abroad and will really benefit you in any jobs and teams in the future.

Apart from the job, you now have the opportunity to explore the city and the country you are in. Be a tourist, be a local, try new food, connect with people, learn new customs, find new activities, explore your new life! I still think that some of the best seafood I have ever had is from Seattle harbourside, the best food overall is from China, I have visited old castles and palaces, volcanoes and mountain ranges, learnt that I actually do like walking in nature and have met some wonderful people along the way.

 

After working internationally

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So, you have decided to come home again from working overseas.  I have learnt a lot from working abroad, but it is my ability to adapt to different circumstances and different people which I value the most. You learn different ways of working, different ways of applying for jobs and you get to know a different country, often getting to know the country “the local way” if you stay long enough. In addition, I have learnt a lot about myself in the process, increasing my self-confidence and awareness of myself and other people, whatever area of the world they are from.

Employers in the UK really look positively on people with international experience, as they bring back valuable skills, a creative outlook, different experiences, networks and the ability to adapt to any situation and communicate to people from a variety of backgrounds.  Maybe you can find a job in an international company that can take advantage of your expertise in a specific country? I have found that my international experience has interested employers, it is usually a topic of conversation in interviews and I have gained employment at least in some part owing to my experience overseas. Therefore, if you feel up to the challenge and think you will truly enjoy and thrive living in a different country, then go for it! It will be an adventure of a lifetime and you will change as a person.

Want to get to know other people who have worked abroad? Have a look at our international case studies.

So what happened to me?

I still work “overseas” as I have found my second home here in the UK, learning to live life “the local way”.  Now I can’t imagine to be anywhere else. I have lived here for nearly 16 years in total. So be aware that “a few years working abroad” may turn into a lifetime........

 

 

 

Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme”

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Networking, Tips & Hints

Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme”

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So, you have applied to several graduate schemes but have not been successful or perhaps you have not had the time to apply, or maybe you are not interested in applying to a graduate scheme at all? Well, there are plenty more opportunities for you.


Laura from Careers Services is delivering an excellent talk on “Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme” on Wednesday 15th February 17:15 – 18:05, make sure to book your place through MyFuture!


It is the bigger employers in certain sectors that offer graduate training schemes. Smaller to medium enterprises (SMEs) generally don’t have the time or the money to develop and plan big schemes. In many SMEs you may find that you can develop your skills more broadly and informally than in a big company. Generally, you may be able to gain experience in different roles with different responsibilities in a smaller company.

So what do you do next? Well, one point you have to consider is that smaller companies tend to only recruit when there is actually a role available, they do not think too much of the timings of an academic year! Some smaller companies may not even advertise at all, and just pick from their earlier trainees or perhaps from speculative applications or from networking. What I want to convey is that you may not find the job you want just by perusing job search sites online!

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Research and find out about potential employers

Find out about companies and organisations out there, think about where you want to work and in what type or organisation you would like to work in. Would you like to work in a small organisation or perhaps would you prefer to work close to home?

  1. Check our Occupational Research section on our website.  This has links to professional bodies, job vacancy sites and other relevant information organised by job sector
  2. Check our Job Hunting by Region section on our website for company directories in all UK regions.
  3. Research job roles on prospects.ac.uk which has over 400 job profiles which include important information about the role, skills needed and also links to job vacancy and professional bodies.
  4. You can also research companies through library databases, see my earlier blog post on how to do this.
  5. Use LinkedIn to identify employers, see earlier blog post on how to do this.
  6. Check MyFuture and look through the Organisations link from the menu bar. This is a list of organisations that University of Bath have been in contact with at some point.
  7. We may have some relevant help sheets for you, specific to your degree. Check our Help Sheet section on our website.

 

Search for job adverts online / hard media

  1. Some of the above links have direct links to job sites online, but there are also other job websites which are normally used, my personal favourite is Indeed, however it can be confusing at first to find what you are looking for. Make sure to search relevant key words.  The University of St Andrews has an excellent list on their website: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/careers/jobs-and-work-experience/graduate-jobs/vacancy-sites/uk/jobhuntingontheinternet/
  2. Check newspapers; local, regional and national websites can have job adverts listed, both in hard copy and online.
  3. Some companies and organisations do not use job websites to recruit new staff and only advertise their new roles on their own website, so always good to check!

Social networking / applying speculatively

  1. Use your contacts: friends, family, co-workers, academics, coaches and ask them to ask around too, you never know what may come out of it. Make sure people around you know that you are looking for a job. A few years ago I was searching for a job and as all my friends knew, I received interesting opportunities in my email inbox every week, especially from friends who were already searching for a job and kept me in mind when trawling through websites online or networking.
  2. Go to networking events, career fairs, sector-specific events, specific employer events, both on or off campus. You can find our events on MyFuture. You never know who you may meet.
  3. Use social media to connect, follow and interact with potential employers. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can all be used, but make sure to stay professional!
  4. If you find a company or organisation you really like the look at, but you can’t find a vacancy, apply speculatively with an email and your CV, but make sure to try and find a contact name  to send it to and write a professional targeted cover letter in the email.

Use recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies may be a good option, check our link on our website  for more information.

Further information

I wish you all the best in your job hunting, if you want more information about this topic, please go to the talk (as mentioned above) or you can find lots of great information in our Finding a graduate job – guide, which can also be picked up in our office in the Virgil Building, Manvers Street, Bath city centre.

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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.

Image result for planned happenstance and your career

 

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.

 

Where are the jobs for me? 5 tips for looking in the right place

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Graduate Jobs, Internships, Networking, Placements, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints

I'm starting to notice a theme with a number of students I have been talking to. They feel like there are plenty of jobs being advertised as well as employer events going on but there is nothing for them. There is no single reason for this but hear are some tips if you recognise this feeling:

1. If you know the kind of job you are looking for then make sure you understand how the jobs for your particular interests are advertised. Some areas of work have obvious graduate entry points like Graduate Training Schemes or the need to get a postgraduate qualification. Other areas of work may need a more creative approach. The timing of all these will be different. Read our Finding a Graduate Job Guide which will help you get started with your job-search, from graduate training schemes to the jobs which are never advertised (campus only). Download it or pick up a copy from our office. For resources for specific job areas see our webpage on Finding out about Occupations.

2. If you are looking for something related to your subject or in a particular field then check some of our specialist resources we have produced aimed at some of the subjects studied at Bath and their related areas of work:

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

3. If you have a dream job in mind then you will need to start tracking back so you can find the starting point or points for you as a new graduate/placement/work experience student. Think about who would employ you in your dream job. Check out their website. Use networking techniques to see if you can speak to someone from the relevant organisations to get an expert view on what experience you will need. The Finding A Graduate Job guide contains advice on how to do this.

4. If you feel that the job you are looking for is difficult to research then talk to us. Our Careers Adviser know about a broad range of occupations and even if they don't know they can help you get started.

5. Don't be a sheep. If you want something different from your friends and course mates don't worry about it. Work out what your job hunting plan is and get on with it. It may mean that your friends are frantically applying while you are still researching but no matter as long as you know your timetable is fine for what you are trying to get into.

 

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The Fast Stream and Beyond - some insights into Civil Service Recruitment

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📥  Careers Resources, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

Civil Service overview

The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. More than half of all civil servants provide services direct to the public. If you want to know more about the Civil Service and it's purpose then go here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service/about. If you are interested in the work of the more than 60 government departments and over 100 agencies then these can easily be found on the https://www.gov.uk/ website where every department and agency has a space.

Jobs within the Civil Service can range from administrative positions within departments to embassy posts with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).  There are also a number of professions employed within the Civil Service including economists, statisticians and scientists . Staff may work anywhere in the United Kingdom and possibly overseas, although the majority involved in policy work are located in London. There are increasing numbers of opportunities within the devolved regions and some departments are based in locations such as Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

The ‘Professional Skills for Government’ framework ensures that all staff are able to operate effectively in operational, corporate services and policy roles. This is particularly true of the Fast Stream which can often be thought of as a purely policy role.  Increasingly special advisers and senior posts are filled from outside the ranks of existing civil servants.

The Civil Service is at its smallest size now the second world war and yet Brexit may mean more staff are required to carry out work previously done in Brussels. It is hard to know how this will play out. We know the 2016 Civil Service Fast Stream recruitment numbers were increased after the selection process had been completed.  After the selection process candidates hear whether they have got a job offer. They are given an overall score  out of 20 and then ranked with offers being made from the top down to the recruitment level for that year. We know of some good candidates who initially missed out but had an offer come through later as numbers were increased. We don't know if that can be attributed to Brexit or the change in government departments that Theresa May bought in when she became PM but this might bode well for the next round of recruitment.

Civil Service Fast Stream

This is the accelerated development programme for graduates which is open annually between end of September (29th in 2016) and end of  November (30th in 2016). This includes entry into the Diplomatic Service. It is also possible to apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream even though you are working within the Civil Service. See http://www.faststream.gov.uk/and follow their Facebook page. There are several different Fast Streams:

Analytical Options (AFS):

  • Government Economic Service (GES)
  • Government Operational Research Service (GORS)
  • Government Statistical Service (GSS)
  • Government Social Research Service (GSR)

Corporate Options:

  • Generalist (GFS)
    • Central Departments  (GD)
    • Diplomatic Service (DS)
    • Houses of Parliament (HoP)
    • Science and Engineering (SEFS) (only open to postgraduates)
  • European (EFS)
  • Northern Ireland (NIS)
  • Commercial (Commercial and Finance) (CFS)
  • Internal Audit (Commercial and Finance) (IAFS)
  • Finance (Commercial and Finance) (FIFS)
  • Human Resources (HRF)
  • Government Communication Service (GCFS)
  • Digital and Technology (DAT)

Other Civil Service Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes run by individual departments can be hard to find out about so keeping an eye on the Civil Service Jobs website is important as not all have dedicated webpages available to see year round (see  section below).

It is also worth noting that many Civil Service graduate schemes make offers of jobs at the grade below to ‘near misses’. This happens in the Fast Stream too. Those that scored only a few points below the overall benchmark may be made an offer or an interview for a role at Executive Officer grade (the grade below the one Fast Streamers start on). This isn’t always well publicised because employers don’t want to raise candidate expectations but it is worth being aware that applications to the Fast Stream or other Graduate Scheme can be a good entry point into the Civil Service.

Other services who recruit graduates include MI5 https://www.mi5.gov.uk/careers/, MI6 https://www.sis.gov.uk/explore-careers.htmland GCHQ https://www.gchq-careers.co.uk/apply-now.html

Other Civil Service Jobs

The place to look for all Civil Service vacancies is https://www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk. Create an account and you can then set up some preferences and then receive regular job updates by email. You will need to click "Show more" to be able to select Job Grade as a preference. Why should you look here? Because there are many jobs that would be suitable for graduates within the Civil Service that are not part of the Fast Stream or other Graduate Schemes.

Frequently spotted on Civil Service Jobs :

  • HMRC Social Researchers
  • Temporary Statistical Officers
  • Temporary Assistant Economists
  • Various individual Scientist Posts suitable for both undergraduates and postgraduates
  • Graduate Internships at Executive Officer level

Work Experience

There are two schemes available:

  • Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) is only available to those in their final year at University, with an ethnic minority background, those with a disability or those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Early Diversity Internship Programme (EDIP)

You will find that placements are available through your placement office in some government departments and others may be advertised through the Civil Service Jobs website mentioned previously. There is not a strong expectation that you will have gained experience within the Civil Service before applying for a graduate job there. Think about the competencies that they recruit against and develop your experience to demonstrate these.

Understanding Grades in the Civil Service

I cannot guarantee this is accurate but it gives an idea.

Grade descriptions are used as follows in descending order:

Grade 6/7 £40,000 - £60,000

Senior Executive Officer/Higher Executive Officer £28,00 - 38,000 (this is where you enter the Fast Stream). Fast Streamers are expected to accelerate from HEO to Grade 7 quickly (3/4 years), whereas the climb to Grade 7 outside the fast stream is much slower.

Executive Officer c £20,000 - 28,000 (this could be a good entry level job for a graduate)

Administrative Officer/Administrative Assistant £16,00 to 24,000 (this could also be an entry point into the Civil Service but I would tend towards Administrative Officer level therefore at the higher end of this salary range.)

Nationality Requirements

There is strict criteria regarding nationality for entry to the Civil Service and comprehensive guidelines are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nationality-rules. Any job in the Civil Service is open to applicants who are UK nationals or have dual nationality (with one being British). About 75% of Civil Service posts are also open to Commonwealth citizens and nationals of any of the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), although at some point this latter group will have their status changed once the UK's exit from the EU is settled. I am advised that the Civil Service is not a Tier 2 sponser.

 

Graduate Policy Adviser at HM Treasury - report on a visit by a Careers Adviser

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📥  Employer Visit Report, Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

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This graduate scheme closes on 11 November 2016 http://www.hmtreasurycareers.co.uk/.

Careers Adviser Sue Briault visited HM Treasury on a very stormy wet day in July 2016. This is what she learnt about HM Treasury's Graduate Scheme.

Alumni Contacts

In 2016 there were two successful candidates from Bath but not many from Bath applied so conversion from application to job was good. There are three alumni on Bath Connection working in the Treasury who you can talk to http://www.bath.ac.uk/alumni/help/engage/bath-connection.

About HM Treasury

HM Treasury is the government’s economic and finance ministry, maintaining control over public spending, setting the direction of the UK’s economic policy and working to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth. It’s responsibilities include deciding how tax is collected, deciding how public spending is operated across the whole UK public sector and working to influence the financial sector by working with stakeholders like the Bank of England and the FSA. HM Treasury is not only concerned with domestic issues. They work to stimulate international initiatives that will enhance the UK’s prospects on the global stage so there are EU and International opportunities. For this reason it is described as being at the heart of government for, without it, other government departments would be unable to work. The Treasury is structured in groups, each specialising in a different field or activity. The website is pretty good as explaining this and includes a range of case studies http://www.hmtreasurycareers.com/inside-hmt/.

The team is small, totalling 1300 at present, and will be reduced down to 1100 within 4 years however the turnover, mainly to other parts of the Civil Service, is quite high and so they will continue to take in around 80 new people a year. The team is also young; 40% of staff are under 30 and 71% are under 40, and the gender balance is good: 43% of top management are women.

HM Treasury Graduate Scheme

The recruitment is usually for 80 people and there are two intakes a year: September and April.

Unlike the Civil Service Fast Stream this graduate scheme is totally policy focused so the attraction of the Scheme is that it is very intellectual. Although they do make candidates take a numeracy test the level of this is the same as most ordinary graduate schemes and not at the level of those run by Investment Banks. The level is GSCE and the need to test is that policy work does involve looking at numbers and drawing conclusions but is not number crunching. It was emphasised that most candidates should, with practice, be able to pass the numerical test.

Policy Advisers work on a specific area of economic or financial policy and projects.  The roles are varied and graduates specialise in a policy area ranging from banking regulation to health spending, to how individuals are taxed.

Typically they could be involved in:

* researching and gathering information from a variety of sources;

* analysing and evaluating complex data and evidence to develop or enhance policy ideas;

* writing submissions and briefings for Ministers, senior managers or officials;

* responding to written questions from MPs, individuals from organisations and members of the public;

* working collaboratively with other teams across the Treasury,  Government departments and external organisations (The Bank of England, regulatory bodies, private sector companies etc.) to debate and shape policy;

* leading projects in high profile policy areas which may include line managing a member of staff;

* working flexibly to meet deadlines and priorities (e.g. before the Budget or Autumn Statement or to respond to urgent pieces of work).

Register your interest to keep up to date with events at the Treasury http://www.hmtreasurycareers.co.uk/register-interest/.

Structure of the programme:

There are two 18 month placements and candidates can indicate their preference although we were told that most who express a preference will select EU and International areas so applicants should think more widely.  The second placement is a mix of what the graduate wants combined with business need and it is common to change to a totally different area as HMT see this as an advantage.

Required qualifications and experience:

* good educational background including a 2.1 degree (in any discipline) (successful candidates do come from a broad range of subjects so don’t be put off applying)

* research skills

* experience of analysing complex quantitative and qualitative information;

* experience of summarising and integrating key information in succinct written reports

* evidence of a quality focus and attention to detail

* ability to work independently and balance long-term and short-term priorities

* ability to build rapport and work collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders

* evidence of an interest in political and economic affairs (at a national and/or international level)

*motivation to work in policy and understanding of the role of the Civil Service and Treasury

* strong stakeholder management and influencing skills

* flexible approach

* IT skills including Word, PowerPoint and Excel

* candidates must also meet Nationality requirements of Civil Service. You can apply for as long as you are a UK national and need to have lived in the UK for three years. In addition these posts are open to Commonwealth citizens and currently still to nationals of any of the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) provided they meet requirements. At some point this latter group will have their status changed once the UK's exit from the EU is settled Civil Service are never in a position to apply for a work visa.

Meet the Graduates

Mark - Policy Adviser, Inheritance Tax and Trusts, Personal Tax, Welfare and Pensions

Mark studied History and he loves the work because he says it is intellectually challenging. There are many puzzles and problems to look at. He also enjoys the ministerial engagement. He said he found his degree was useful because he was used to using sources to identify relevant material and scrutinising opinions. He said there is variety in the placements you do. Previously he was in Building Societies but now he is in Inheritance Tax. This latter role requires him to be more cautious when dealing with stakeholders as Inheritance Tax is a much more emotional issue. His advice for applicants is to engage with the Civil Service Competency Framework https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-service-competency-framework as this is key to getting through selection but also in framing your future career. The other advice was to be broadly read. He said reading a broadsheet newspaper and thinking about the implications of what you read on government policy and learning about government policy and relating that to the work of the Treasury.

Akash - Policy Adviser, Sanctions and Counter Illicit Finance, International and EU Group

Akash studied Global Politics and he was attracted to the role because it was wholly policy work unlike the Fast Stream. He also applied to Strategic Consultants including PWC and Deloitte and was successful at getting through the Fast Stream as well. This is his first posting joining in 2015 and he is working on the Financial Sanctions Regulation regarding Iran. This has involved travel to Iran, USA and OECD. He feels his degree has helped him in understanding the viewpoints of different countries. He talked about a very flat hierarchy so he says you have a lot of early responsibility and find yourself reporting to quite senior people from the outset. He said challenging a point of view is an essential part of the work and you need to stay true to that even in the recruitment process. He was asked if he found it frustrating being the adviser rather than the decider but he said that most of the time advice is taken and if the Minister doesn’t there is usually good reason so you just have to move on. It wasn’t a problem for him.

He said he found the work unexpectedly fast-paced. He responded to a question about work-life balance. He described his work as not being 9 to 5 as such but he knew he had a better work life balance than his City peers. He described there being a positive attitude to flexible working, an encouragement to take time back when you have worked long hours, and a possibility that you can prioritise your personal life over work from time to time. He also emphasised for candidates to get to grips with the Competency Framework.

The downside to working in Government is that there are no perks in terms of bonuses, travelling first class, eating out and secretarial support but he didn’t regret the trade off with the intellectual content of the job.

Akash is being supported to a Graduate Diploma in Economics.

Kathleen - Policy Adviser, Energy and Carbon Taxes, Business and International Tax

Kathleen studied Geography and came out with a BA however she did study some Physical Geography in her first year which she found useful for her current role in Energy and Carbon Taxes. Previously she worked in the Central Budget Office. She felt her degree was useful as you need to be able to look at the bigger picture, condense a point of view, meet deadlines; it was normal for there to be very short deadlines, and she found the writing style very different to what she was used to. She had done two years on a graduate scheme in business before joining the Treasury. She was surprised by the young dynamic environment.  She recommended getting some work experience in the Civil Service if you can although HR said that all kinds of work experience was useful. Her proud moment was going to the OECD as the UK Energy Delegate.

Application Process

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We were told of the main pitfalls of the application process and areas for improvement for candidates.

Situational Judgement Test: Don’t be intimidated by this. It is selecting candidates out rather than in so there is a bar to pass rather than the top scorers being selected. It’s testing judgement, prioritising and decision-making skills. Make sure you are familiar with the Treasury values and understand impartiality as this will help with context. This test requires high level reading skills.
Interviews: You need to be able to explain what you personally did in the example you are using and be able to identify strategies for addressing challenges you faced. In particular you will be asked what you will find challenging in the role and how you will address this. Most people tend to just answer first part of the question. The Civil Service still interviews using competency questions with some scenario questions to draw out required competencies. The Civil Service Competency Framework runs through the heart of the Civil Service recruitment and its development of staff so get to know it.
Presentation: Stick to the brief, cover everything requested, manage the time given, avoid jargon and consider the audience. Economists often resort to jargon when their audience is clearly indicated as a non-economist. Watch effective presentations – e.g. TED talks
Written exercise: Manage the time so you do everything required. Make sure you connect your analysis to your recommendations. Anticipate and deal with objections. Make sure you present a balanced argument with pros and cons. This task was seen as a common failing in candidates who otherwise excel. The skill is very different to writing essays and candidates with work experience are often better at the type of writing required. Much of the writing is for non-experts.
PhD candidates are very welcome to apply but they should be mindful not to come across as too academic. You do not need to know everything before writing something. The work is fast paced so you need to be able to write confidently without deep dive research.