Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: skills

Researching employers using library databases

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📥  Careers Resources, Commercial Awareness, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

Researching employers using library databases

I recently went along to a careers skills session delivered by Management Librarian Helen Rhodes. The aim of the session was to look at some useful tools to help students find business and industry information through several useful databases which are found through the library website. Even though I had some basic knowledge about the databases before, I was surprised about the extensive and detailed information you could find on employers, including developments and issues, competitors, tweet mentions and news, but also covering sector and industry information, country profiles and lifestyle analyses. At the end you can usually print out a detailed summary as a PDF report! The information you find can absolutely give you an advantage in that graduate interview and your commercial awareness will increase immensely, which is exactly the skill employers say graduates lack the most!

So here is a summary of some useful databases, what they can do and where you can find them. Be aware that there are many different usages of each database and I am just covering a few examples below.

All of these databases and more can be found on our library website.


Hoovers is a database of 84 million companies and industries. It offers financial and executive details plus a description of activities and competitors of public, private, and government-run enterprises.  By using the search engine on top of the page you search by companies, people and also industries. For example, a quick search for “wind power generation” under industries gave me detailed information about the top companies within the industry, the business challenges and key insights into industry facts and developments. You can also search industries by location. A great tool!


Marketline has 31000 detailed company profiles, SWOT analyses and industry reports with PESTLE analyses. This is another very useful database, which is useful for researching companies but also for researching a specific industry or sector. For example a search for chocolate confectionary under industry gave me detailed industry reports from all around the world regarding the chocolate confectionary industry!  A detailed pdf report including graphs and tables was available within seconds as well.


Passport also has many company profiles and industry reports, however with passport you can get detailed reports across 80 countries including country reports, market share information and consumer trends and lifestyle analysis. If you are thinking of applying to work in another country, Passport is an invaluable tool for you.


Nexis provides access to the latest business news and data. It features profiles of 46 million global companies and 3 million UK companies. It includes UK national newspapers and trade press, plus hundreds of newspapers and magazines published worldwide.  A great resource before that very important interview!

Helen Rhodes offers regular workshops on how to use these databases effectively, both through Faculty and through Careers. Have a look at MyFuture in the new year for workshops and talks arranged in the Spring term.

The Careers Service has an excellent help guide on researching employers:



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!


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:




Get ready for International Careers Week!

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📥  Career Development, Event, International Students, Networking, Uncategorized

Next week sees the return of our annual internationally-themed week of events. We have tried to have a little bit of something for everyone so do have a look at our events for that week to see what takes your fancy!

The week kicks off with Mars China coming in to talk about their management leadership opportunities for Chinese students wanting to return home after their studies.

We then focus on Japan, with DISCO International talking about opportunities for Japanese bilinguals - as well as PwC talking specifically about their opportunities for international students. With UK recruitment currently tightening up for international students, this is a great opportunity to meet a company who embraces internationalism. Also that day we host Withers & Rogers talking about the future of global organisations and how IP Offerings and protection are a key way to enhance that.

Thursday brings the Fulbright Commission here, offering their annual tips session on Postgraduate Study in the USA. We know that many of you are interested in this, so do come in and speak to the experts!

Added to all these external presentations, our Careers Service experts are offering a programme of workshops to help students both home and international prepare themselves for an international career. There are two assessment centre group exercise sessions - it's peak season for assessment days just now so book your slot soon. We also have repeat sessions of our popular workshops for international students looking at covering letters and also interview skills. If you are finding these hard to master then come along and learn how to demystify them and feel more in control of your approach.

You may have heard us talk about networking and advise you to develop and make best use of your LinkedIn profile. If you know you should but aren't sure how, book onto our workshop on Wednesday afternoon which will give you tips and strategies to boost your profile and show you how to extend your reach by leveraging the Bath Connection.

Finally, we are delighted to say that this year we are working with Alumni Relations who are offering one of their highly successful Get Connected sessions right here on campus on Thursday evening. It also has an international focus and the experts are all either international alumni or alumni who have worked overseas during their careers. Added to this they are launching a Get Connected webinar on Friday, for those of you who'd like the chance to ask your questions remotely.

Hopefully this will have whetted your appetite but do remember, if you'd rather just come in and ask one of our Advisers your questions, we are available every day for 1:1 appointments - we're looking forward to seeing you!


Channel your inner monkey for a successful 2016!

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📥  Advice, Tips & Hints

Many of our students and graduates will be welcoming the Year of Monkey today and the Bath careers team would like to take this opportunity to wish you all Gōngxǐ fācái. We understand that according to Chinese astrology, the monkey is intelligent, witty, and inventive animal. People born in the Year of Monkey are problem solvers, capable of group work whilst simultaneously demonstrating independence. The nimble monkey is playful, youthful in nature, and is a fun to watch as they move from activity to activity.

The qualities associated with people born in the Year of Monkey are also the very qualities many employers look for in their future employees. Depending on the career sector you choose to work in, there could be very specific skills, abilities and knowledge needed to do the job. However, complementing these are general competences and behaviors that are essential for successful working. These are often overlooked by candidates, but they are the things recruitment professionals want to see evidence of.

TargetJobs have identified the top 10 skills that graduate recruiters want, you may want to view their very handy video and consider whether these skills are reflected in your CV and the job applications you are making. If not, consider what you can do either on campus or as part of your extra-curricular activities to develop these essential skills. TargetJobs provide useful tips on how to develop employability skills which are worth exploring.


However, there is one skill that the Monkey possesses which is universally valued in the workplace and this is enthusiasm! Enthusiasm is an attitude, a frame of mind that is exemplified in what you say and do. You can demonstrate enthusiasm with a positive tone in your voice, upright posture, eye contact with others and by showcasing your knowledge of a particular company, sector or job role. Therefore, developing you commercial awareness can be an incredibly powerful tool in demonstrating your enthusiasm. A few months back, my colleague Ghislaine Dell wrote an excellent post on how to develop your commercial awareness which is worth a read. I also think this article by Career Empowering provides excellent tips on how you can convey enthusiasm.


How can women develop leadership skills?

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📥  Advice, Diversity

This Saturday, the University of Bath Students Union are hosting our first ever Women in Leadership Conference.  The careers team are thrilled to be part of this event and we will be delivering workshops and offering 1:1 careers support to the delegates. Our blog this week will focus on providing tips and support to our female students and we are kicking off our first blog by sharing our top tips on developing leadership skills.



  1. Understand yourself: Dee Hock, founder of the credit card giant Visa and the author of the 'Art of Chaordic Leadership puts it succinctly, "To lead others, you must first lead yourself. This comes from understanding yourself, your professional strengths and what motivates you". Within the Careers Service you can access online tools which will help you understand more about your personality. If you are attending the Women in Leadership Conference, do consider attending the workshop on Effective Leadership which will introduce ways to increase your self-awareness, and how you  might use this knowledge to develop your leadership skills.
  2. Build a network: Networking is no longer a dirty word.  It just means building relationships with colleagues with whom you have something in common—giving, as well as asking for, input and advice. Why not reach out to Bath alumni via Bath Connection or access sector specific groups such as the Women in Engineering Society.
  3. Cultivate and project confidence: One global study of male and female leadership found that most women tend to downplay their accomplishments, which it dubbed the “Female Humility Effect,” while men tend to promote their accomplishments, which it named the “Male Hubris Effect.” Successful women don’t leave career success to chance. They learn how to promote themselves like men do, and figure out a way to do it that’s authentic and effective. After all, if you don’t market yourself, who will?
  4. Learn to say NO: BUT…Have the courage to say yes when faced with a challenging, but career-advancing, opportunity.

The hard truth about soft skills

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, Tips & Hints

Sometimes it seems as though the list of skills and attributes that employers want in their potential employees is getting longer and harder to attain. And, worst of all, it's full of unmeasurable, intangible 'soft skills'. Things like 'interpersonal skills', 'communication', 'team working' and the like.

You may also be sick of reading that the graduates of today are woefully lacking in skills and it is up to today's universities to help students develop such skills. And you have probably been to at least one careers  or placement-related talk where the importance of developing such skills has been mentioned.

I'm sure you get really fed up reading these articles....but think about it. For so many articles to be published along these lines, employers must be seeing something (or not seeing it, maybe).

Not just 'tell them about it'

We Careers Advisers know (we have seen your CVs and spoken to many of you) that you put a lot of effort into accumulating these skills. You play team sports, volunteer, take on leadership roles in societies - so what is going wrong here?

It is easy to fall into the way of thinking that it is your degree that is most important, and certainly employers do highly value your degrees. But when everyone who applies has a 2:1 and 320 UCAS points (becasue that is where the employer has set the bar) then it is only logical to assume that it is the 'extras' that are going to make the difference.

Yes, yes, yes, you may be thinking. We know that's the reason why we have to write the answers to those really annoying and tortuous questions on application forms. And we've done the activity, so we just need to tell them about it and that's the skill demonstrated.

Evidently something is missing in many students' answers, though, for employers to say they just can't see the skill demonstrated clearly enough.

How does it feel?

Here is a little trick that may help make this easier. Of course, you should still use your STAR*, or CAR*, or whichever acronym works for you as a means of evidencing your soft skills (more on that later). But before you do that, take a minute to think about what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that skill, really well demonstrated.

Let's take teamwork as an example. That's one of the skills we find students have a hard time demonstrating well. Leaving aside the overuse of 'we' when they need to be talking about 'I', there is an emphasis on process rather than rationale.

So, how do you know when you have been in a team that works really well? Or seen a team working well? Maybe you saw lots of supportive feedback on performance, or good listening to everyone's input, or letting everyone know what the progress towards the task is. Did that make you feel valued? That your contribution was important?

Then, think about a team experience you have observed or participated in that was not good teamwork. Possibly you saw, or heard, only one person's voice? No idea whether performances were as expected, or not? Tasks being handed out with no attention paid to who might be best at them, or prefer to do them? Then think about how that team felt.

Now, back to the employers' questions. If, in your answer, you only talk about the bare bones of the process and give no 'colour', an employer will not know anything about your approach to teamwork and can't guess at whether you show good or poor teamwork behaviours. So it is very important to tell them!

Include some R&R

I'd like to emphasise the importance of the R (&R) at the end of the STAR/CAR formula - Results (and Reflection). So, when crafting your evidence, reflect on what you learned about, say, the best way to distribute tasks, or to ensure a harmonious team performance. That way, an employer will be sure to see that you have considered the importance of teamwork and know how you will go about ensuring it in your teams in the future.

Run it past us

If you'd like to be certain your answers are hitting the spot, why not book a Quick Query appointment so a Careers Adviser can give you some constructive feedback?


* STAR: Situation - Task - Action - Result; CAR: Context - Action - Result. Common methods for answering competency/behaviour questions - for more detail see our Application, CV and cover letter guide.


How to be more commercially aware

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📥  Commercial Awareness

Many employers love Bath students. They are well-qualified, intelligent, active, have experience - but sometimes they don't do as well in employer selection processes as the employers (or the students) were expecting. When we dig a little deeper, this tends to be because they were lacking in what is termed 'commercial awareness'.

So, what is 'commercial awareness'?

When I try and define it, I find it really difficult to do, so no wonder it is a difficult thing to make sure you develop. It's even more difficult for those of you who aren't interested in 'big business' - maybe you think you don't need to bother with it at all? Or aren't sure how to translate it into your kind of organisation?

So, being as Bath is a fairly sporty kind of place, I'm going to try and explain how to develop commercial awareness with a sports analogy.

Imagine you are a fan of, say, Liverpool FC. (Absolutely no declaration of interest here - just one I picked out of  many).

You probably know, then, who plays for them. Who manages them. How long it has been since they last won a game, or played in Europe, or beat Man U. Who they are likely to beat hands down, and who might be a bit more challenging. You'll maybe know who owns them, and whether the fans like that. Who the shirt sponsor is. Where they are in the league - and, if you are a fairly obsessive sort of fan, how many matches there are left in this season and who has to win which ones for Liverpool to win the Premiership/get into the Champion's League. Not to mention why it is crucial that this or that player is picked for the next match.

So - that is commercial awreness, or business knowledge, whatever you want to call it. It's knowing the organisation you want to work for. But not just that. It's knowing their competitors, and where each stands in the marketplace. Who does what best. What the most recent innovations have been. How effective your organisation of choice has been lately.

You might be reading this and thinking 'Well, I don't know or care about football. What is she blethering on about? It would take ages to find that lot out'.

And that is exactly my point. If you are, genuinely, interested in Liverpool, you'll know this stuff and writing it down would be simple. If you have just decided to apply and you actually support another club, you'll still know some of it but the details might need a bit of work. But you'd know where to look. If you are a football novice but thought the job sounded interesting, you may need intensive help.

Commercial awareness is very difficult to develop overnight.

Start by identifying the general area in which you are interested. In this case - start reading the sports pages, focusing on football.

Identify the key players (maybe the top 6 clubs in the Premiership). Look on their websites. Look at match reports. Who is doing well? Why?

Before this football analogy is completely exhausted - remember, we are here to help you and if you would like a bit of help identifying a strategy to develop your commercial awareness, please come in and talk to us.

Remember -  to make commercial awarenss work for you, simply substitute your organisation and field of work of choice for the sports clubs named here. And start that reading up now - before you get left on the bench.