Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Should you leave your career planning to chance?

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some practical actions you could take starting today:

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

 

Play games and score a graduate job!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Five typical CV errors....

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

Five Typical CV Errors

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I have completed quite a few quick queries with students these past six weeks and most of them are CV checks. I have read some amazing CVs and I am very impressed by the range of great experiences you have from previous work, volunteering, sport and/or society responsibilities! However, some CV errors do come up again and again.

  • Not listing most recent first

Some of the CVs I have seen do not have the most recent information about the student on top. All CVs should be in reverse chronological order, which means most recent first. Most employers only spend 8-15 seconds reading through your CV and reading your GCSE results first, on the top of the CV, may not give the best impression. If an employer have to search your CV for your degree information, you know that the CV is not in the correct order!

  • Spelling and grammar errors

Do you know that some employers throw away the CV if they find more than two spelling and grammar errors? It is important that you check your grammar and spelling before you send off your final draft. Can friends and family help? Writing Centre  at the University is also able to help and have drop-in sessions and writing tutorials.

  • Listing every achievement accomplished or activity completed in your whole life

The questions you should ask yourself is: What is relevant for the employer and the role you are applying for? Do you think an employer will be impressed by a Math Award from 2008 or that you won a pie-eating competition five years ago? What are your reasons for putting specific achievements down? My advice is to carefully look through the job description and person specification and make sure your achievements and activities are relevant and tailored to the job and company/organisation you are applying to.

  • Describing previous job role tasks and nothing else

Some of you have some excellent experiences, from work, volunteering, societies and more. However, when you just list your tasks or responsibilities, the employer won’t get the whole picture. What skills did you learn in the job? What did you achieve? What impact did you have in your role? Are you able to give more details about who, where, what, how to make it more interesting to the reader?

  • Not reading our leaflet
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If you are relatively new to writing CVs or have not updated your CV in a while, reading through our leaflet can be very useful. It will give you some good examples to use when it comes to writing well and also give you a variety of CV templates. In many quick queries I have noticed students coming in relatively insecure about writing CVs, but after showing them the leaflet, they walk away with more confidence and return with excellent CVs. If you haven’t already, I really advise you to pick up a leaflet in our Careers Services or you can find it online: http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/docs.bho/cvguide.pdf

The best of luck and I may see you in a Quick Query appointment soon.

How to book Quick Query appointments: http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/one-to-one/index.html

Making full use of your gap year!

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📥  Finding a Job, inspire, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Making full use of your gap year!

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Before I took a year off to go travelling, I was worried that I would return to unemployment and worst of all, having to go back to living with my parents!! However, returning to the job market after a year away, I found myself with a whole new skillset, with new ideas and experiences and last but definitely not least, I returned with a sense of direction and passion which re-affirmed my career path in guidance and advice. So what did this year away teach me? How can what I learnt help you take full advantage of your gap year?

I learnt a new language - After a year in South America I was near fluent in conversational Spanish. I did a beginner’s course while in Buenos Aires, and this course taught me all the basics needed and gave me the opportunity to connect with the locals. In addition I practised my language skills as much as possible, whether that meant on the bus, in the hostel or on a night out.

Learning a new language can open up doors with regards to employment opportunities, not only in other countries but also in international jobs in the UK.

I volunteered teaching English - I had already taken a CELTA  course before I went travelling. With a CELTA I could have easily found a paid teaching job in Argentina but I decided to volunteer, teaching in disadvantaged communities.

Because of my teaching experiences abroad, I had a range of options teaching English when I returned to the UK, although most were low paid. With a CELTA qualification and teaching experience abroad, you will easier be able to teach English in the UK. Although I did not pursue a career in teaching, I continued volunteering teaching English when I returned to the UK.

I learnt that I had no problems travelling alone - I travelled alone almost the entire time and loved it. I found that I never ever got bored, was able to be social whenever I wanted to and had 100% trust in myself to find my way around.

Travelling alone was one of the skills that was highly valued by employers after my travels, and was one of the reasons I gained employment as an international student recruiter, working and travelling in the US for three months.

I learnt that I love people and their stories - What I loved most about travelling was meeting people of all different cultures. I made some intense friendships along the way. I also met random people on busses or ferries who would tell me their life stories. I cherished almost every human encounter and enjoyed listening to what they had to say, whether that was an American woman travelling the world to deal with the grief of losing her mum or listening to Inca women in Bolivia talking about the historical impact of Spanish imperialism.

Increasing my people skills and interpersonal skills re-affirmed my desire to work in guidance and advice. My travelling experience and my increased cultural awareness were also some of the reasons why I gained employment in international student support.

Travelling gave me new energy and direction - One of the reasons why I took a year out was to “find myself”, and I somewhat did! I came back full of ideas about what I wanted to do in both my life and my career, I came back with tons of self-confidence and with a belief that I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I put my mind to it.


So how can my learning experiences from my gap year help you take advantage of yours? Well, here are some pointers:

  •      Think about doing something else than just backpacking, such as learning a new language or volunteer, doing something you are interested in. Employers will look positively on using the year productively
  •      Really think about the different types of skills you acquire, such as people skills, organisational skills or increase in confidence. Show examples of them in an interview, employers will take them seriously!
  •      Think about what you learnt about yourself during your year away. How can this benefit the role or the company/organisation you are applying to?
  •      If you are applying to international jobs, show evidence to employers about your ability to travel, alone if you did that, make decisions, solve problems, communicate in a different language or manage different cultural encounters. These skills are highly valued. Perhaps some of the people you met along the way could help you gain employment abroad? Networking is key.

But most of all, fully immerse yourself in the travelling experience, meet people of all different cultures and enjoy the freedom and confidence that travelling gives you.

Bath Careers have more information about how to take advantage of your gap year: http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/get-work-experience/gap-year/index.html

 

 

 

Do you really deserve that job or PhD?

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how do we keep a lid on imposter syndrome?

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

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

Do I need to use the Careers Service in my First Year?

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📥  Career Development, inspire, Tips & Hints

Firstly, welcome to all First Years! We hope that you have now settled in and are enjoying university life and your chosen degree programme.
Right from the start of this academic year, you will have opportunities to develop your employability skills and build on those skills you already acquired before arriving here. So it’s a good idea to start to think about how you might do this. Getting some work experience or getting involved in student activities – from societies to taking part in many of the volunteering activities that take place in the local community is a great way to do this. These activities can help to develop your team and leadership skills, organisational skills, and communication skills which employers will want to see evidence of. So my advice is get involved as much as you are able to and challenge yourself.8618916280_d68b2c46ac_z-2


At the Fresher’s Fair the other week, a common question from students to the Careers Service team was – “Should I be worried about my career path now?” Or “Do I need to use you already?”
The answer to the first concern is, “no”! There is absolutely no need to be concerned, but it is useful to know the sorts of things we do in the Careers Service and how we can support you and help you to develop your employability whilst you are with us. So in answer to “Do you need to use us this year?” is "maybe"!
Many of you will already have attended or will be attending an induction day on what we offer. However, for those of you that missed these, I thought it would be a good idea to list some of the areas we are here for particularly in your first year.

  • Resources
    Firstly, on our Careers Web pages at www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers we have an extensive range of resources to help you develop your employability. Have a look through our listings and you will find information on
    Choose a Career? – Lots of guidance and tools on helping you to make a career decision over the next few years
    Get Work experience? – How to find guide, information on Gap years and websites to search for opportunities
    Succeed in Selection – Covers anything to do with getting a job or placement - from our interview guide, psychometric tests to practice, to our video interview programme which allows you to practice your interviews.
  • Events and Workshops
    Throughout your time with us, we offer many careers events, including careers fairs, workshops and employer talks. Take a look to see what might interest you or help you in your career journey by going to https://myfuture.bath.ac.uk/
    An event of particular interest - Summer Internships Fair – 25th November – Founders’ Sports Hall
  • Career Appointments – you can talk to a Careers Adviser for one-to-one help either in a quick query appointment or longer guidance appointment. We suggest booking a quick query appointment initially and can help you with the following:
    - Advice on options and modules
    - Advice on changing or leaving your course
    Our Careers Advisers are impartial and can help you understand the pros and cons of changing course. Check out other sources of help .
    - Finding work experience
    - What career to aim for:-
    You don’t need to have decided what you want to do before you speak to a Careers Adviser but you could read our Careers Guide to get you started .
    You can also check out the Choose A Career pages to find out more.
    - CV advice: – useful if you are considering an Insight Week or work experience in the summer
    To book just go to- https://myfuture.bath.ac.uk/
  • Career Drop –Ins For First Years
    Finally, in addition to our bookable appointments, from the 15th November we will be offering Career Drop-in sessions every Tuesday 5-7 pm aimed particularly for First Years. These will be in the Student Services area – just go to 4W.

I hope this has given you a taster of the support that we can offer you on your career journey and ideas for developing your employability skills. You will find a useful guide to employability in your library card wallet.
We look forward to welcoming you soon!

 

Understanding interview anxiety

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📥  Advice, Interviews, Tips & Hints

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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Rebecca Stephens (MBE) joins the Sprint professional development programme

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📥  Diversity, Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry partners:

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Careers Fair 20th/21st October - Top Tips

📥  Uncategorized

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Our Autumn Careers Fair is taking place on Thursday 20th and Friday 21st October which is fast approaching.  For some this may well be your first ever careers fair while for others this may be a very different experience to the job fairs in your home country. So here's some advice to help you make the most of this opportunity to meet a broad range of employers.

  • Each exhibiting organisation has a stand with representatives from the business and they are there to answer your questions.  Some employers will be available to talk to you on both days, where as some will only be there on one of the days. Do have a look at the fair guide and make a list of the employers you'd like to speak with. Make sure you turn up on the right day for your preferred employers.
  • In the UK employers will not offer jobs at a careers fair so you will be using this event to network and learn about the organisation, the sector and available opportunities.If you want ideas on what to ask, check out our blog post on good questions to ask at a careers fair. If you are nervous about starting a conversation, try a bit of practice! Come to the Careers Service stand and talk to us first, this way when you approach employers you are interested in you'll feel confident in yourself. Tracey Wells, our Head of Service says"Wherever possible, try to talk to someone on the stand instead of just picking up a brochure or a free toy; you never know a 5-minute conversation could lead to your dream job"
  • Before you arrive print out the floor plan and mark up who you definitely want to talk to. Saiyada Fazal, one of our Careers Advisers, says "Even if you have a 'hit list' of employers you want to talk to - keep an open mind and talk to representatives from other organisations as well. An open mind can open up possibilities."
  • Ghislaine Dell, Careers Adviser says "Avoid walking round the fair with a group of friends. This is an opportunity for you to network and make an impression with a potential employer which you can only do on your own."
  • Finally, if you feel that the employers who are attending are not in areas of work you are interested in do not despair. It is worth noting that over half the employers are looking for students with no specific degree discipline. There are also many areas of work that do not typically use Careers Fairs as a way of raising their profile. The Careers Service team can help you with identifying how to search for these opportunities so either stop by our stand at the Careers Fair or pop into the Careers Service office to ask for help prior to the big days.