Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

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.

 

Alternatives to Grad Schemes and Public Sector Grad Schemes

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

Just a quick note today in response to some comments from students that all the jobs being advertised are for business roles. It is not strictly true as MyFuture carries many opportunities with a wide range of employers.  We strongly recommend that you look our two job hunting guides:

Public Sector Graduate Schemes

There are some great public sector schemes either open or about to open some of which are already in MyFuture:

Civil Service Fast Stream (various different streams) open now closing date 30th November
National Graduate Development Programme (local government) opens 24 October 2016 and close on 11 January 2017
Frontline (working with vulnerable children and families) closes 21st November
NHS Graduate Scheme (four different schemes) Opens in around 11th October closes early December
Think Ahead ( fast track scheme for mental health social work) closes 1st December
Teach First (Teach First Leadership Development Programme) closes 30th June 2017
Imperial College London's Graduate Management Training Scheme closing date 30th October 2016
Ofcom Graduate Scheme 2017 closing date Jan 3rd 2017
Health and Social Care Information Centre Graduate Scheme ran in 2016 and opened in February, no information yet if the scheme is running this year.
IntoUniversity Trainee Graduate Education Worker closes 7th January 2017

Charity Sector

Check out Careers in the Charity Sector on Moodle for resources.

Two Grad schemes open at the moment:

EVENT: Working in the Not for Profit/Charity Sector - 2 Bath Alumina stories
1-Dec-2016 at 1:15 - 2.05 pm We have invited two Bath alumni to come and talk to you. One has a senior role in a national charity and the other is part of the CharityWorks Graduate Scheme.

Graduate Jobs other than Grad Schemes

Whilst many employers come to Bath to recruit our students there are many other areas of work that graduates can work in which have alternative or less visible ways of recruiting. Our Careers Advisers have produced a series of information sheets to help students with some of these areas. They can all be downloaded from the information resources section of our website:

  • 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

 

Find your meaning at work - 6 things salary can't buy

📥  Uncategorized

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During the summer I read an article in the New Scientist called 'Finding your meaning at Work: 6 things salary can't buy'. It was the result of a sociologist collating research on this topic and finding that there were six characteristics that help. It is worth a read as it is very short.

I was interested because as a Careers Adviser I spend a great deal of time talking with students about what they might be looking for in a job.  By the way, it is true that you can talk to a Careers Adviser even if you have no idea what you want to do.  Sometimes students already know these things they are looking for because they have reflected on them but don't know which job they apply to. Other students I meet need prompts from me to get them thinking. What I hear the most is that students are looking for a career that has meaning for them. Other words they use is something worthwhile or putting something back.  These are all very individual concepts so part of my job is actually helping students to work out what that means for them. This New Scientist article might help but there is other advice and information in the Choose a Career Section of our website.

No-one says it is going to be easy trying to work out what you want to do with your life. Think about what’s your story. What are the common themes in the things you have done so far? What skills are you most drawn to using? What are you interested in? What do you find boring and why? What are your values in relation to the type of work you do or the employer you will work for? Being open minded and aware of your strengths, skills and interests is more important than pinning a label on your future job title.

Be curious and get talking to people doing jobs you could do. You can learn a lot from people who enjoy their work. We organise for employers to come onto campus for Careers Fairs and individual employer events. Talk to family and friends, lecturers and anyone else you might know. Use the Bath Connection (google on University website) to contact Bath Graduates and use LinkedIn Youniversity  to find Bath alumni

Ask for help because everyone needs help with big decisions. Engage with Careers Service resources and our Team because it will take a while to work through this but we can help you every step along the way.

Other blogs on this theme:

Revealed: the secret to career success

When's a good time to see a careers adviser?

Choosing between career options

Find out facts not fiction about jobs

 

 

Procrastinating on your graduate job search?

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Tips & Hints

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Early career bird lands a job!

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📥  Advice, Applications, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs

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I can picture the scenario, you've had a super summer and it can be a bit of a drag getting back into academic studies. This is even harder if you're a finalist and returning from placement as adjusting from the freedom of work (and earning money) to being a student is tough. Fear not, you have 9 months after which the big wide world beckons. So, what can you do to harness the career early bird and bag yourself a job before you graduate? Some of the big graduate schemes are already open for business, so there’s no time to waste if you want to get ahead of the pack.

  1. Make a list: yep, that old chestnut! However, making a list of the key employers you are interested in by application deadline will help you plan and prioritise your applications. The Careers Service's MyFuture site along with GradDiary are really useful. You can search by company and sort by application deadline. Key is to make a start and actually apply, especially as many employers recruit on a rolling basis.
  2. Haste makes waste: before you rush off to start writing your applications, just pause for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a graduate recruiter.  Many employers will sift through thousands of applications - its a pretty monotonous task. Therefore they'll be looking for reasons to reject, not select, applicants and nearly all will carry out a rapid “first cut” to remove the worst offenders. Spelling, grammar and general attention to detail are key when writing applications.
  3. Get it checked: the best thing you can do is get a second opinion against your applications. A fresh pair of eyes will spot little mistakes that you didn't event notice. Simply, book a quick query with one of our careers advisers.
  4. Go to stuff: our employer team have been busy bees over the summer putting together an excellent programme of employer events. This includes a two-day careers fair, skills sessions and information presentations. Really worth attending as you'll pick up little tips and insights that will not only make your application stand out but will also help you articulate your motivation to future employers.
  5. Believe in yourself: Many of us watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon this year. He plainly believed in himself and his ability and was able to put his past disappointments to one side. The same personal confidence is essential to successful job hunting. If you don’t believe that you can do a good job, then you stand no chance of being able to convince an interview panel that this is the case!

 

What do research staff do next?

📥  Academic Career, Career Development, For PhDs, Uncategorized

I've just finished reading Vitae's newly-published report on where postdoctoral research staff go when they leave academia. The report is based on a largely qualitative survey of researchers' career paths and experiences on leaving academic research posts, and includes insights into how people made decisions around whether to leave and what to do next, how they adjusted to new cultures and environments, what they find satisfying about their new roles and what they miss about academia.

Now, as I've been reading the report I've been thinking constantly about how some of these ideas and data can input into my own thinking, workshops and the ways I support our research staff here at Bath. But, useful as this report is for people like me, the primary intended audience is the current postdoctoral research community, so I've also been asking myself the question, 'how can research staff use this report?'

Given that you probably don't have the time or inclination to wade through forty-nine pages, here are some quick thoughts as to how you can make use of this report:

  • scan through the sections on 'Making the transition' and 'Advice to other researchers' sections (pp.12-17). Read any sub sections that grab your attention. Notice the practical and emotional challenges people faced in moving into new roles and contexts and how they dealt with these.
  • gather some data and insights into roles and sectors you might want to explore further. There are short sections of the report with overviews of popular sectors with research staff, namely research outside of HE, research policy and administration, professional roles in HE, public engagement and science communication, teaching, writing and publishing, and 'other' occupations including business analysts, financial economists and patent attorneys.
  • look at sample job titles and possible employers within sectors of interest.
  • Check out the 'competencies old and new' section within each sector overview to get a sense of how researchers used their existing skills in a new context and which skills they needed to develop.
  • Read the mini case studies to find out how people find their new roles and what helped them make the transition.
  • Full case studies are available on the Vitae website.
  • Many of these case studies include a link to the person's LinkedIn profile. Use this to see where they have worked, what experience they built up, which groups they are part of (so you can join groups relevant to sectors of interest) and how you might be connected to them. See if you have any mutual connections and ask them to introduce you.
  • Have a think about how you can develop skills and knowledge within your current role
  • Research sectors and roles of interest further using our web pages for researchers, Bath Connection, and a one-to-one chat with the Researcher Career Development Adviser.

 

Investment banking - application deadlines

📥  Uncategorized

If you're interested in applying for graduate programmes or internships in investment banking for 2017 you'll need to take action quickly - most schemes close by October/ November, if not earlier. Efinancial Careers have just published a helpful list of application deadlines bank-by-bank:

http://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/careers-in-finance/223976/bank-by-bank-graduate-and-internship-application-deadlines-london-2015-2016

 

Returning to academia after a career break

📥  Academic Career, Diversity, For PhDs

I've been reading this research report by jobs.ac.uk on views around returning to academia after a career break. A welcome and fascinating report on a much-discussed but under-researched topic.

Key findings of the report include:

-89% of respondents who had taken a career break returned to an academic role
- 34% of respondents had taken more than one career break
- the main reasons for taking a career break are maternity leave and redundancy/reaching the end of a contract.
- People's perceptions of career breaks are much more negative prior to taking it.
- a long career break is more likely to result in someone returning to work part-time
- the majority of academics stayed in contact with people in their field during their career break.
- 39% returned to their former role
- 45% returned to work with a different employer

If you are currently taking a break from an academic or research career or are considering doing so, there are lots of schemes and organisations offering advice and support:

The University of Manchester have a list of fellowships and bursaries for people who have had career breaks, as well as a list of case studies. The Daphne Jackson Trust and the Dorothy Hodgkins Fellowship Scheme in particular offer opportunities for scientists to return from a career break and to work flexibly.

The Wellcome Trust have produced a guide to getting back into research after a career break.

The Royal Society have produced some excellent case studies of researchers who successfully combine academic careers with family life as part of their parent-carer-scientist campaign.

WISE have role models and career stories of women who have returned to science after a break.

 

How LinkedIn can help you find employers

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📥  Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight, Social Media, Tips & Hints

LinkedIn-left-behind

We are going to shamelessly link to the University of Leeds Careers Centre Blog as they have done an excellent job, through three blog posts, in writing about how you can use LinkedIn to find relevant employers. Thank you Team Leeds!

"Whether you’re looking for experience, placements or a graduate job, it can sometimes be hard to identify potential relevant employers.  This is particularly so if you’re looking outside of the large multi-national organisations. Opportunities with other types of employers, or in other sectors, may not be as widely advertised, and many people actually find jobs and experience by pro-actively approaching employers of interest on a speculative basis. In this 3-part mini series, we’ll show you 3 easy ways you can leverage LinkedIn to identify potential employers of interest."

3 ways LinkedIn can help you find relevant employers: Part 1 - outlines how the advanced people search function can help you identify potential employers.

3 ways LinkedIn can help you find relevant employers: Part 2 - outlines how you can use the company search feature to identify employers by location and sector.

3 ways LinkedIn can help you find potential employers: Part 3 - shows how you can use two features of LinkedIn to help you find similar organisations to those you have already discovered.