Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Topic: Tips & Hints

Battling nerves before an interview

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Interviews, Tips & Hints

nervous

It is natural to feel nervous in front of an interview, but sometimes it can all feel a bit too much. Here are some tips that I follow and that I hope can help you battle those nerves.

Preparation

This is an obvious one but the more you prepare, the better you will feel on the day. Make sure you read the personal criteria or person specification for the job and practise answering questions about the competencies listed. Read through our leaflet for advice on different type of interviews and how to best answer questions.

Brainstorm examples to use, write them down and then practise answering them out loud. Practise with a friend, with your careers adviser or use our Interview Stream software.

In addition, research the company and employer and come up with good reasons why you want to work there.

Be healthy

Get a good night’s sleep! Stay in the night before, watching a feel good movie so you go to sleep with a smile on your face. Being up all night doing last minute cramming won’t look good on your skin and lack of sleep may make you forget all the important points you remembered during the night. Avoid too much caffeine and make sure you eat a good breakfast.

Arrive early

Don’t get extra stressed because a train gets cancelled or a bus does not turn up. Arrive early and instead go for a walk around the area or sit at a café. Getting unduly stressed because of circumstances outside your control won’t help your nerves!

Breathing exercises

If you are feeling your nerves and anxiety are going out of control, try breathing exercises. These can be done in the morning at home, on the train, in the bathroom before you head in for the interview. They work for me, I hope they can work for you. NHS tells you how. Getting into the practice of meditation may also help.

Warm up your voice and body

I feel doing some exercise of the voice and body prepares the whole you for the interview ahead, this has worked for me several times. I have even written another blog post about it. Try it out and see if it works for you!

Be yourself

Don’t try and be someone you are not. Acting or talking like another person won’t be good for your nerves or your confidence. The employer is interested in who you are, not just the skills or the degree you have, show your personal energy and enthusiasm.

If none of this works and you need extra support....

Go and see a Careers Adviser to talk about strategies in how to deal with confidence or nerves during an interview. Together we can look at your experiences and skills to date and support you in articulating them well, giving  you more confidence in your skills and abilities. We also have a lot additional resources for you to read through.

If there are other reasons for why you are feeling anxious or you are feeling low on self-esteem, please go and see the Well-being team. Talk through what is going on in your life that are making you anxious.

We are here to support you!

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality – coming to your assessment centre soon?

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

virtual

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

 

 

Make volunteering count on your CV

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📥  Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Volunteering work can be equally as useful as paid work experience when it comes to applying for jobs and many students forget to emphasize their volunteering experience on their CV or don’t include it at all. Here are some tips on how you can make your volunteering count on your CV.


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·         Some organisations value voluntary experience more than others

If you hope to make a career in the third sector or within international development, you may not be selected for an interview unless you have some volunteering experience! If you have relevant volunteering experience this needs to be emphasized in your CV and show up on the first page, under “Relevant Experience” or “Work Experience”. Too many times I have seen relevant volunteering experience hidden in the achievements or interests section, where employers may not see it. Remember, an employer usually only skims through a CV during the first selection process for a job!

·         Volunteering gives you transferable skills

You may not have any volunteering experience that is relevant for the actual job you are applying to, but that does not mean that your experience wasn’t useful. If you worked successfully in a team, mention it on a CV. If you worked in budgeting, this can emphasize your numerical skills or if you worked in fundraising, this may have increased your skills in persuasion. Look into more details about what skills the job is asking for and have a think about how your volunteering experiences can give you examples of those skills, and remember to include any specific achievements.

·         Tailor your volunteering experiences to company values

Have a read through the values of the company and tailor your volunteering experiences accordingly. Perhaps the company you are interested in have sustainability high on their agenda? Then your volunteering experience in environmental conservation may be relevant. Or maybe the company likes to be engaged in the local community? What then about your volunteering experience in a local charity? Make sure to highlight the most relevant volunteering experiences.

·         Make international volunteering count

Apart from following the tips above, if you have volunteered in certain countries or areas of the world, this may be beneficial for an international company to know about. Your increased interpersonal skills and increased international awareness may be extra worth for companies that have projects or networks in those particular regions.

To summarize, my final piece of advice is to tailor, tailor, tailor your volunteering experiences to the job you are applying for. What would be important for the employer to know about you? How can your volunteering experience benefit the company / organisation? How can your volunteering experience show who you are?

Book a quick query with a careers adviser if you need any support in writing your CV, or attend one of our workshops or talks. Book an appointment or a place on a talk through MyFuture.

Additional resources:

https://www.bathstudent.com/volunteer/

https://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/public-service-charity-and-social-work/advice/288223-volunteer-your-way-to-a-graduate-job

https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network

 

Considering further study? Why not consider studying internationally?

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📥  Advice, Career Development, Postgraduate Study, Tips & Hints

international flags

This tine of year is a prime time for students to think about embarking on a course of further study, most often at masters level but also at PhD level.
So with many courses internationally being taught in English - and not just in English-speaking countries - you might want to consider spreading your wings and going elsewhere for your higher degree.

As well as considering the normal things when thinking about further study - what subject, what course, what institution - there are some other things that are particularly important when thinking about studying abroad.

Firstly, the timescales for applying may be different from here and are almost certainly longer - the Fulbright Commission who advise on studying in the US have a lot of information about timelines and recommend you start in your penultimate year ideally.

You may need to sit a test - have a look at our web pages on studying abroad to get more information about the sorts of tests and how to prepare for them.

Funding may also be an issue and is one of the reasons that you may need to start early. But of course, one of the attractions of studying especially in Europe is that education fees are substantially less than here. Do check though, the duration of the course - a UK masters course will be normally 1 year but the standard in mainland Europe is 2 years.

Do also pay attention to any information you get about study styles and cohort sizes - lower fees sometimes mean larger classes and more lectures, rather than the small group seminars which are a common feature of masters courses in the UK.

For more detailed information about studying internationally, specific to individual countries, have a look at the AGCAS country profiles for studying abroad. Considerations here include how much of the host nation's language you speak, what the city you'd be based in is like, and what the common customs are that you should be aware of. You could always take advantage of our Foreign Languages Centre to brush up your languages before you start!

Applications may vary considerably - some institutions require only a CV and transcript, others want a personal statement which can be very detailed. So if you would like advice on how to put one together, or some feedback on the application you are preparing, please do come in and see us.

 

Developing a global outlook

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📥  Advice, International Students, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Compass pointing the way to success

In today's increasingly international world, it is becoming quite common to hear organisations talking about wanting individuals with an international outlook. But what is this?

At its simplest, it is an awareness of difference and a willingness to accept and work with that difference. So when you are on holiday in Spain, you find yourself slipping into the way of eating later in the evening because that is the accepted way of doing things there. And you don't complain loudly abut it - at least not if you want to have a meal that tastes good and is served with a smile. You may even try to use a few words of Spanish while you are asking directions or shopping for souvenirs.

So it is with the world of work. Global outlook is a willingness to look outwards. To work with those who are from different cultures, understanding that there may be differences in the way you speak, or the jokes you tell, or other cultural norms - and taking account of that when you do business with those people.

If you want to build a career that spans countries, either by working in a British organisation that operates internationally, or an international company that has a base here, then it pays to develop this cultural sensitivity and also an interest in what is happening in other parts of the world.

And if you are really serious about it, why not think about developing a second language (for the Brits among us who only speak one!)? There are plenty of resources here at the University to help with that, including the Foreign Languages Centre, Self-Access Language Centre, Students' Union Cultural Societies and the simplest of all, talking to the many international students that have chosen to study here.

To deepen your understanding of other cultures and make it easier to work internationally, read news stories about world events and also try reading them on non-British producers - the English version of Al-Jazeera is very good for giving a non-British perspective on events both home and away.

Embracing the global nature of university and work life will develop skills such as tolerance, sensitivity (think emotional intelligence!), flexibility,m adaptability, and inquisitiveness and open-mindedness. Many employers value these particular characteristics, so what have you got to lose?

 

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”

graduates

 

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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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

 

 

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"

Image result for think like a fish

 

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.

 

Exercise tips for your interview!

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📥  Interviews, Tips & Hints

Exercise tips for your interview!

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A few years ago I attended a staff development course on Presentation Skills and one of the important points my presenter made was how to warm up body and voice before using them. Most professional presenters warm up their body and voice before every presentation! The presenter mentioned the benefits of doing so also for interviews, and since then I have had a 3-5 minute warm up routine before every presentation and interview. It has worked wonders for the projection and resonance of my voice and preparing the body has increased my adrenalin on the day and physical movement. I feel much more alive and animated! But lastly, it has improved my confidence as I feel much more prepared both mentally and physically and as I always laugh at myself doing the different (and sometimes silly) exercises, I always come out of it with a smile.

I feel the best time to do these exercises are in the morning or, if necessary, I try and do them in the nearby Ladies before the start of presentation/interview. Do improvise!

So here are my exercise tips to fully prepare for an interview:

Body (in no particular order):

If you are suffering from any health issues, please consult your doctor before attempting these exercises.

Even if you do not have a presentation in your interview process, warming up your body still is beneficial for overall physical movement and feel.

  • The shoulder roll – roll your shoulders backwards slowly x 5
  • The body stretch – reach your arms above your head and really stretch your body, feel that tension and those knotted muscles loosening up.
  • The neck turn – turn your neck (very carefully) to the left and to the right x 5
  • The body shake – shake your body, jump up and down if you can, and look in the mirror and smile!
  • Pick your own stretch or dance exercise that you feel help loosening up your body

Voice (in no particular order):

If you are not in a private room, warming up your voice may be difficult. If I do not have a private room, I sometimes do these exercises whilst walking down a trafficked street (no one can hear you anyways!).

  • The tongue turn – stick out your tongue, move it left to right, up and down (this is also fun to do in front of the mirror)
  • Sing a song / do scales – sing a short song or chorus or just la la la, but go up one note every time you sing it. I usually do “row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream”
  • The choir voice roll – if you have ever sung in a choir, you will know this one. Start with the highest tone ("mmm" or "jaaa" are two good options) you can possibly do and move your voice gently downwards. Repeat this a few times.
  • Rolling your Rs – If you are able to, making a constant R sounds for a short period of time does wonders to your voice and resonance!

There are some good websites out there describing additional exercises, I have picked some I thought were good:

Warming up your voice:

http://www.wikihow.com/Warm-up-Your-Voice

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sing/learning/warmingup.shtml

Face stretches: http://actingforscientists.com/public-speaking-warm-up/

 

Now dance and sing your way to the interview. The best of luck!!

 

 

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.