Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: applications

Virtual Reality – coming to your assessment centre soon?

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


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:



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”



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 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:
  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.






Top tips for pre-reg pharmacy applications

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources

Its that time of the year when our Placements team at Bath are busy organising careers talks and events for our Pharmacy students as the deadlines for pre-reg applications start looming. So, I thought I would share some tips to make impactful applications.

pharmacy cross
  1. If you are applying for a particular sector, then we can assume that you are keen to work there. If this is the case, then enthusiasm counts for a lot. Try to get this across in your statement. What is it that attracts you to this sector? What experiences have you had in the past?
  2. Your CV should be a maximum of 2-pages, succinct and mistake-free. It is always good to have a few people review it before you start applying. After you’ve seen it time and again, the tendency is to gloss over typos or grammatical errors that a fresh pair of eyes might catch. So, run it past your tutors or book an appointment with one of our careers advisers.
  3. For set application forms, make sure that you read the question carefully. Think about what information is being asked for. Most application forms are electronic these days and in some cases, free text answers may have limited space, so try to be concise with your answer and make sure you are answering the question asked.
  4. Prioritise relevant experience and consider ways you can differentiate your experience from your peers. For example, you have all done some amount of clinical activity and gained pharmacy experience. The key to a unique application is to highlight activities that other candidates may not have experienced. For example, in a community setting did you experience working in a travel clinic, were you involved in the management of asthma or did blood pressure testing? Within a hospital, were you involved in drug manufacturing or any specialist work for example in mental health or pediatrics.
  5. Don't forget to highlight any research you were involved in or extra-curricular activities such as being a student rep for your year group.
  6.  Tailor your cover letter to the company or hospital trust you are applying to. You really want to convey your motivation for the role and demonstrate an understanding of what you'll be doing day-to-day. So, if you are applying to a particular NHS trust you may want to look at their annual report, have an understanding of their specialism and also the patient demographics. The 'about us' section on the Trust website is usually a good starting point.That said, do not just copy and paste information from the relevant websites. You need to try and interpret the information you have read and why this is important to you.

Check in next week when we will share our tips for pre-reg interviews!



Recruiters' most hated CV phrases revealed...

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources

How long do you spend reading a potential candidates CV? New research from the New College of the Humanities has revealed that recruiters on average make their minds up in less than 60 seconds. The findings came after researchers interviewed over 860 recruiters, with 20 per cent said they discard a CV before getting to the end, while on average they spend an average of just three minutes and 14 seconds looking over an application.

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The research also looked at the biggest employer gripes with a CV, with the biggest being spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, followed by a too casual tone including using terms such as ‘you guys’ or signing off with ‘cheers’. Other turn off’s including using jargon and clichéd quotes, such as using ‘perfectionism as a weakness, and having a CV over two pages long.

These are the top 10 phrases on CV's that enrage employers.

  • "I'm a hard worker"
  • "I work well under pressure"
  • "I can work independently"
  • "I'm a team player"
  • "I am a problem solver"
  • "Good communicator"
  • "I'm proactive"
  • "I am a good listener"
  • "I'm enthusiastic"
  • "Excellent written communication skills"

If any of these phrases appear on your CV and you are not sure how to convey your skills; then book a drop-in with one of our careers advisers. In less than 15-minutes we can help you transform your CV.



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📥  Applications


I have to admit it, my heart sinks a little when someone says to me that they have brought in their 'general CV'. I'm always happy to look at CVs - every one is different, and I learn so many interesting things about people and the world in general.

The trouble is that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn't deliver effective results. If you try on a piece of clothing, odds are that it will almost fit. Sometimes it will fit better than others, but hardly ever perfectly. And *that* is why the 'general' CV doesn't work. There will always be a gap somewhere wherre the fit is not perfect.

Imagine that you were fortunate enough to be able to have bespoke, made-to-measure clothing. The feeling when you try that on, and realise it fits, everywhere, is great. *That* is what you should be aiming for with your CV, and is why it is worth taking the trouble to produce tailored CVs. (Yes, the analogy is an apt one!)

Of course, you can formulate a CV that holds all your experiences and skills and that you use as a repository to draw on each time you submit an application. But it is so much easier to do that if you already know the sort of job you are applying for. That way, you'll be able to refer to the skills required, or put in the 'right' words. And if you have a specific employer in mind, it is going to be an even closer match as you will have the company buzzwords to give you a feel for the tone of your CV.

Have a look at our Applications, CV and cover letter guide for some advice on how to make an employer have that 'bespoke CV moment' - and if you would like some feedback on whether your tailoring skills are up to scratch, book a Quick Query appointment with one of our advisers.

Are you considering applying for graduate schemes this year?

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📥  Event, Graduate Jobs, Tips & Hints

It seems every year, graduate scheme applications open earlier and earlier! However as a general rule of thumb, the application period for graduate schemes starts in at the end of August and will end in December 2015 or January 2016. A significant proportion of employer shortlist on a rolling basis, therefore it is important to apply early!

To give you the best possible start, the  Careers Service will be offering a series of 1-hour webinars (you can participate from the comfort of your home) aimed at students embarking on their final year and students who have recently graduated.  The #getahead programme covers all aspects of career planning, from understanding the graduate job market, improving your applications to considering postgraduate study. You can participate in all the sessions or choose the ones that are most relevant to your circumstances.

How to begin your graduate job search
14th September 2015

This is a MUST if you are considering applying for a graduate scheme this year! We will provide information on where to look for grad schemes, how to market yourself and will also share alternative options.

How to ace aptitude and other psychometric tests
15th September 2015

If you are thinking of applying for a graduate training scheme chances are you’ll have to complete some sort of psychometric tests as part of the selection process. During our informative webinar we will discuss typical psychometric tests and will signpost you to resources to help you develop your confidence.

Improve your CV and applications
16th September 2015

In this session we'll look at how to improve your CVs, cover letters and applications forms through interactive activities allowing you to 'sit in the recruiter's shoes'.  Understand what employers are looking for, how they assess your applications and how best to market yourself effectively.

Considering a PhD or a Masters?
17th September 2015

Whether you’re considering a Masters or a PhD, this informative sessions will give you space to consider your options. We will share tips on writing personal statements and will provide advice on sources of funding.

For more information and to reserve your place, please visit MyFuture.

Personal Statements for Academic Jobs

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📥  Advice, Applications, For PhDs

I've been reading a few of these of late. Here are some thoughts on suggested structure and content, answers to 'FAQs' on personal statements and thoughts on pitfalls to avoid.

Before you start

It's very tempting to jump in straight away and start writing the statement, especially if the role is precisely in your research field, at your dream university and the deadline is midnight tonight. However, it's really important before you start writing the statement to do thorough research into the Department/Faculty/research group and university you are applying to. Academic job descriptions can vary widely in how much information they give about the precise content of the job. If anything seems unclear or you feel you would like more information, do make use of the commonly-given opportunity to contact the recruiting manager (usually the Head of Department). This will give you the opportunity to find out more about the teaching/research responsibilities of the role and give you the opportunity to make contact and demonstrate your enthusiasm before you even apply. Setting up email alerts from sites such as will help avoid a situation where you see an advert for your dream lectureship six hours before the application deadline.

Read any instructions carefully; for some positions clear instructions will be given about what to include in the personal statement, so do make sure you follow these. Read the job description and person specification carefully and think about examples from your experience to show that you meet these criteria.

Putting the statement together

Your statement needs to be consistently tailored to the particular post you are applying for. Realistically you may be taking material you have used from previous applications, but it's vital to reorganise it and rewrite it for the current application. It will be obvious if you have simply cut and pasted generic material.

What to include:

- A brief opening statement including information about who you are and what your current role is. Including a key achievement in relation to the role you are applying for can work well here.

- your reasons why you are applying for this particular job. If you are applying as an internal candidate or to a department where people know you well already, don't assume these will be obvious. You need to give clear reasons to demonstrate your interest; the research you have done into the role, department and institution will be helpful with this

- evidence of how your research interests fit with those of the department. Do your research into the profiles of existing staff members and think about who you could collaborate with and the unique contribution you would make. This type of information could be included in your reasons for applying.

- clear evidence and examples to show how you meet the criteria on the person specification. It's not enough to simply say 'I have excellent presentation skills'; how can you demonstrate this? In terms of structure, you may want to avoid listing each of the criteria individually as this can be tedious; think about grouping similar criteria together, or structuring your statement according to research, teaching, and administration, depending on the focus of the job. Try and use the language and phrases given in the person specification where you can; this will make it easier for a busy academic recruiter to see quickly that you have the required skills and experience.

- Information about your future research plans, including clear goals and potential funding sources. This doesn't need to be hugely detailed and lengthy, particularly as many jobs will ask for a separate statement of research interests, but it does need to be there. Link your goals with the research strategy/goals of the department you are applying to wherever possible.


- proof-read your statement carefully and check for grammatical and spelling errors and typos. If you are like me you will need to proof-read a hard copy as well as an onscreen version

- save a copy of your statement to refer to if you are shortlisted

- be positive about your achievements and future potential

- get feedback on your statement from academic colleagues. You can also get feedback from the Researcher Career Development Adviser.

- upload a copy of your CV including lists of publications and conference presentations. Check out the advice and CV examples from Vitae.

- keep the statement to two sides of A 4.


- simply repeat all of the detail in your CV, for example lists of publications or modules you have taught; pick out a few key highlights where appropriate

- write in big blocks of text - break the statement down into short paragraphs. Subheadings can work well.

- get drawn into talking at length about your research interests. You will need to mention these, but make sure you focus on research achievements and future goals as well.

- be tempted to use short forms, e.g. 'etc', or say 'see attached CV' rather than provide evidence that you meet a particular criteria





Applying for jobs in academia - resources round up

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📥  Applications, For PhDs

As the time of year is approaching when I spend quite a bit of my time giving feedback on academic job applications, I thought it would be a good time to draw together some useful resources on applying for jobs in academia. I doubt very much that this is an exhaustive list; do share any other resources you have found useful in the comments.

Vitae - sample academic CVs from across the disciplines, an extensive list of interview questions, advice on writing a statement of research interests and finding funding

Manchester Academic Careers website - advice on CVs, covering letters, personal statements and interview presentations, as well as video career stories of current academics - articles on a range of topics relating to careers in academia, including this one on writing personal statements for academic jobs. They also have a range of free e-books on topics including academic job interviews and covering letters for research jobs, and last year ran a Google Hangout on academic job interviews.

Cambridge Early Career Blog - Steve Joy writes engagingly on a range of topics. I particularly liked his advice on talking about teaching in interviews and academic cover letters.

The New Academic - tips and stories from Nadine Muller and other early-career lecturers, including a detailed article on academic interviews.

Check out also our in-house guide to finding postdoctoral research positions, which includes on applications and interviews.

I appreciate that most of these resources are UK focussed. Our vacancies web page for researchers contains links to vacancy and information sites on academic jobs outside of the UK, and a previous post also contains resources on global academic careers.

Careers advisers can provide 1:1 support with academic job applications, including CV feedback and practice interviews and presentation practice.



Grammar rules for your CV!

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📥  Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

I came across this really helpful blog post on 'grammar rules for your CV'. We understand grammar can be a challenge for many of our students; for example  you may be dyslexic or English may not be your first language. Therefore, as part of International Careers Week, we are offering our students the opportunity to improve your CV content, and sharpen your English with support from Careers Advisers and English language tutors.  Just pop into the Careers Service in Norwood House this afternoon, and wait your turn to be seen. For more information visit MyFuture.


How to sell Your Volunteering to Employers

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📥  Applications, Interviews

Spend any amount of time looking at CVs and you discover how amazingly generous university students are with their time. I'm constantly surprised by the  volunteering our students manage to be involved in which is often over and above their academic work, activities or paid jobs. I remember talking to a graduate recently who said his volunteering was his equivalent of watching East Enders! He saw it as a much better way to spend his time. As a Careers Adviser I am often out and about in the summer visiting graduate employers and it is common to come across noticeboards or staff newsletters championing their employees volunteering and community activities. Employers think volunteering is important so you should think carefully about promoting your volunteering to employers when you apply for a job.

A simple thing to consider is how you include it on your CV. Is it out there and proud or languishing somewhere on page two? Is it in a separate section or is it part of your work experience section? I see many CVs where volunteering has given someone much more significant skills than their work experience yet the placing of it on their CV is done without thought. The same is true in interviews. You don't want to use your placement, for example, in every answer you give. Add a bit of variety by using your volunteering experience too. The fact that you didn't have to volunteer may impress an employer more than a compulsary or paid activity. Or you may be able to show leadership in a voluntary activity while a paid job may not afford you that opportunity.

If you want to find out more we are running a session on the Students' Union Skills Programme on March 11th called "Selling your Volunteering to Employers" where I will be sharing my thoughts on the best way to do this. You'll need to sign up on the SU website.

SVW 2015

If you haven't done any volunteering yet then you should think about it. It's Student Volunteering Week now so keep an eye out for events on campus or go to The Volunteering Office as they can support you with finding a volunteer placement or with putting your own unique ideas into practice.

If you fancy working in the Charity Sector as a career then check out our Charity Careers Networking Event on Thursday March 12th from 16:00 to 18:00 at the Careers Service. You can sign up and find out who is coming by checking the Events listing in MyFuture. Meanwhile check out our information sheet "Working in the Charity Sector". Come in and talk to a Careers Adviser if you want to discuss this careers option. We don't just know about business, science and engineering jobs.