Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: top tips

Graduate Fair Blog Series: Looking for work locally?

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📥  Advice, Careers Fairs, Careers Resources, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence, Tips & Hints

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This blog entry is a part of the Graduate Fair Blog Series introducing sectors and industries which will be present at the University of Bath Graduate Fair, Tuesday 25th April. Please go here for more information about the fair and the employers present.


So you are graduating soon and you want to stay in the local area, great! There may be many reasons for this, perhaps you are from here or have established family here? Perhaps you love the area so much you would like to stay (like I did 10 years ago)?  Whatever reason, Bath, Bristol and the rest of the South West are lovely places to live and work.

The disadvantages by looking in one region only

Be aware that looking in one region only may limit your job opportunities. In some towns and cities certain industries dominate, while others are under-represented. Limiting yourself geographically may not match with your particular career choices so you need to do your research. Ask yourself how long you are willing to commute? Bath and Bristol are commutable, but you may also want to consider towns like Cheltenham, Swindon and Reading or Newport in Wales. Work out how you will get to work, the costs and how far you are prepared to travel so you can look beyond the immediate locality.

Employers in the Bath area

Bath is not a big city so it is limited in terms of which sectors/industries are located here. The biggest employers in Bath are in the education and health sectors, i.e. the two Universities and the NHS. A wealth of software development firms base themselves in Bath and several internationally recognised architectural and engineering consultancies are found in Bath (source: Bath and North East Somerset Council). See our graduate jobs leaflet for more details on companies and organisations in Bath.

Major Industries in the South West

The major specialisms/growth areas in the SW:

  • Advanced Engineering which includes Aerospace (Bristol), Automotive (Swindon), measuring instruments and medical devices (Gloucestershire)
  • Biomedical and Healthcare (Bristol/Bath and Exeter/Plymouth)
  • Creative Industries (Bristol, Gloucestershire and Plymouth areas)
  • Environmental Technologies
  • Food and Drink (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset)
  • Information Communication Technology (Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, Devon)
  • Leisure and Tourism
  • Marine (Devon, Cornwall and Dorset)

Source: www.gradsouthwest.com which includes more details about these sectors.


Gradsouthwest will be at the graduate fair, do go and ask them any question you may have about staying in the South West! In addition, CIMPA, Decision Analysis Services, Sword Apak and Rise Technical Recruitment have roles in Bristol and London and Country Mortgages has roles in Bath!  Research these employers and the roles they can offer in our Graduate Fair programme.


How to find local work as a graduate?

First, you should make a list of employers that you are interested in.

Find out what employers exist in the area that are in the sectors or industries you would like to work in. Our Find a Graduate job leaflet has some great tips for you:

  • Monitor local job adverts – senior posts will still alert you to potential employers
  • Ask local people which companies they know
  • Tap into local networks of relevant professional bodies or looking for local business groups
  • Look for news items, articles and annual reports in local newspapers and business magazines for potential job growth, e.g. new factories/offices, new product/service launches, organisations relocating, takeovers etc.
  • Keep your eyes open for businesses of interest
  • Building local contacts from your own recreational activities.

You can also find A-Z lists of employers that have been in contact with us on our website.

What are the typical job websites?

You are able to search for local jobs in MyFuture, but be aware that there will be many more jobs available that are not advertised on MyFuture. Bath Chronicle advertises jobs in the Bath area, Bristol Evening Post in the Bristol area. Duport business confidence reports details business performance trends in the city. There are many more local job sites for you to try, please go here for a comprehensive list.

Contacting employers speculatively

As you know, most jobs are not advertised! Therefore, you should be flexible and creative in your approach to employers. Can you apply speculatively? Use LinkedIn in your job search? Get ideas from friends and other contacts? Our Find a Graduate Job leaflet gives you an insight in to different strategies in job hunting.

What else is there to say but the best of luck in your search and maybe I will see you for lunch in Bath or Bristol soon!

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Battling nerves before an interview

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Interviews, Tips & Hints

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

Preparation

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

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

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

Be healthy

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

Arrive early

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

Breathing exercises

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

Warm up your voice and body

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

Be yourself

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

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

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

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

We are here to support you!

 

 

 

 

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’.

 

Top tips to get the most out of the careers fair tomorrow!

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📥  Advice, Careers Fairs, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

The Graduate Recruitment Fair takes place tomorrow in Founders Hall from 10:00am to 3:00pm. We know this is a busy week for a lot of you with dissertation deadlines and exams looming - however investing half an hour to attend the fair tomorrow could open doors, enhance your future applications and help you feel more in control of your future career post-graduation.

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So, here are our top tips to get the most out of the fair:

  • Do your research: have a look at the fair programme and explore company websites. This way you won't waste time asking basic questions.
  • Ask the right questions: make a list of the key questions you want to ask. Think about asking questions that will help you glean useful insights about the company such as: What is the culture like?, What are the key challenges / trends facing the industry? or What are the key skills you look for in applicants?
  • Take your CV: the fair is an opportunity for you to market yourself, therefore take a recent copy of your CV and if the opportunity arises do hand it to potential employers.
  • Dress appropriately: whilst there is no need to be suited and booted, do dress professionally! After all first impressions really matter.
  • Follow up: where possible ask for the recruiters business card and follow up! Thank them for the advice they offered or email them your CV. It may also be useful to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Finally and most importantly, avoid going around the fair in a pack! This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to potential employers you are a capable and independent individual.

For more tips, check out our handy help-sheet on how to prepare for the careers fair. Good luck and hope to see you in Founders Hall tomorrow.

 

How to make the most of your placement or internship!

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📥  Placements, Tips & Hints, Work Experience

It is that time of the year when I start talking to 2nd years accross the Faculty of Science about how to make the most of their placement year. Looking for a placement or internship is like looking for a graduate job. The whole process is so involved and we know how hard you have worked job hunting alongside the pressures of your academic studies. Walking into the office on your first day, you will more than likely feel nervous and excited all at the same time.  With this in mind, here are some tips to help you get the best out of your internship and we hope a ticket to a great job in the future.


  • Set yourself objectives before you start: It’s good to have a think about what you would also like to get out of your time there (beyond being paid!). What are the skills and competency gaps in your CV? What 2 things do you want to leave the internship or placement having achieved?
  • Be enthusiastic: When you’re on your placement, it is really important to be enthusiastic. Don’t be the intern who sits quietly in the corner waiting to be given something to do. Get involved and learn as much as you can about the company and industry. Get to know your fellow colleagues, ask questions and generally be ‘keen as mustard’
  •  Take on responsibility: Once you have built those all-important relationships and you have gained the managers’ trust, make it known that you would be happy to take on any responsibility they can offer you. Show that you are up for the challenge and want to prove yourself. Do be careful though, you don’t want to come across as cocky or pushy. Earn your stripes by excelling in the mundane, and hopefully more exciting things will be put your way.
  • Manage your workload: Your work may come from multiple people so it’s important to remember to manage your time well, prioritise the most urgent work and manage their expectations. If you’re struggling to meet a deadline, you should be transparent about this and tell people in good time – 5pm on a Friday will not leave a good impression.
  • Build your network: One of the best things about being in an organisation is absorbing its culture and getting to know its people. After all, these might be your future colleagues! While you are there, take the opportunity to get to know your department and pretty much anyone you can. Remember to stay in touch, which you can do through email, Linkedin or by phone.

 

 

How to network with confidence!

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Event, Networking

We are absolutely thrilled to be delivering two workshops during the Women in Leadership Conference which is being organised by the University of Bath Students Union tomorrow. My colleague Ghislaine Dell will be exploring the concept of personal branding and I will be talking to the participants about the importance of networking.

Reflecting on when I started working, I really lacked confidence; especially when it came to networking and striking conversations with people I didn't know. I think lack of confidence is something that plagues many women. And there’s nowhere less comforting than a networking event – those crucial get-togethers in any sector that can to an extent determine the success of our careers. So, I wanted to share some personal tips that have over time helped me feel more comfortable in networking situations:

  1. Arrive early: Often, the most important people will arrive early to make sure the event is set up. If you arrive before the main crowd, you may get chance to speak to the main organiser, who will often then facilitate introductions to guest speakers, the event sponsors, or other attendees. It also means you don't have to break into existing and established conversations.
  2. F.O.R.M small talk: If you haven't seen it, you must watch the origins of small talk! Small talk needn't be awkward and can often lead to deeper and meaningful conversations. F.O.R.M. it is a memory tool for when you are in social situations and you want to get to know the person you are talking with. F.O.R.M stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Message -four areas you can use as conversation helpers in just about any social situation.
    1. Family: ask where they live, how they traveled...this gets the person talking about themselves and gives you a chance to learn about them.
    2. Occupation: what do you do for a living? When they tell you what they do, you have a great opportunity to ask them about their job-if it's in an industry you are familiar with you can comment about how competitive it is, or how challenging. If you are unfamiliar with their industry, here's your chance to learn about it.
    3. Recreation: this one's easy! What do you do for fun? If they participate in a sport or interest that you enjoy as well, you can swap stories and really build a memorable relationship with the person.
    4. Message: when you feel the conversation winding down, or you want to move on to meet other people in the group, have your "message" that you want this person to remember about you ready to go. It's something like your elevator speech, but much more personal to the individual you are talking to. For me, my message is simple. "It was great to meet you, Steven. If you ever need help with any professional development training or you run into someone who needs careers related help –then let me know, I would be delighted to help”.
  3. Watch your body language: Your body is giving constant signals the entire time, so make sure these, too, are geared towards projecting confidence and are open and welcoming. Little tricks like, shoulders back, head up, hands unclenched, arms unfolded can make a huge difference. Switch off your mobile phone and put it away so you are not tempted to hide behind it. Do watch this TED X talk to find out more about this interesting piece of research on body language.
  4. Know when to leave: I always set myself a target: have five good conversations and meet the key people I set out to meet. This means I know I have an end in sight and don't out stay my welcome or linger!  If asked, I say I have somewhere else to be and exit graciously.
  5. Follow up: As soon as you leave the networking event, spend a few minutes jotting down key points from the individual conversations you had. Within 24-hours, send a short email and simply say that you enjoyed meeting them and try to reflect back on a point from the conversation. The tips from Forbes on how to master the art of networking follow-up are excellent!

I hope these tips help and if you are attending the Women in Leadership Conference tomorrow, do put them to practice!

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Demystifying the Careers Fair!

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📥  Careers Fairs, Event, Networking, Tips & Hints

This afternoon a number of students have been asking me questions about the Autumn Careers Fair taking place on Thursday and Friday this week. For some students this may well be your first ever careers fair that you are going to while for others this may be a very different experience to the job fairs in your home country. So, I thought a quick blog explaining how the fair works and what to expect, may help some of you.

  • Each exhibiting organisation has a stand with representatives from the business there to answer your questions. If you want ideas on what to ask, check out our blog post on good questions to ask at a careers fair.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the UK employers will not offer jobs at a careers fair, this is your opportunity to network and learn about the organisation, the sector and available opportunities.
  • Try and arrive early, company representatives aren't robots - they will be knackered near the end of the day.

I also asked some of my colleagues for their top advice for making the most of the fair, here goes:

Tracey Wells, Head of Service "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"

Ghislaine Dell, Careers Adviser "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!"

Kate Maton, Information Assistant "Smile, be enthusiastic and enjoy the fair"

And finally, last bit of advice from me - 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.

Ps. This image has no link whatsoever to the blog post. We adore the penguin and thought we would share it with you.

 

 

Questions to ask employers at a Careers Fair

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📥  Advice, Event, Networking, Tips & Hints

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This image is from China Daily of a Job Fair in Beijing. Whilst we aren't expecting quite such a crowd at the Autumn Careers Fair this week;  you may want to spare a thought for the representatives from various companies who get asked the same questions, are giving out the same information and by the end of the day they may not even have had their lunch.

So, how can you make a positive impact and also come away with relevant information to help you progress your job hunt? (instead of being told to look at the website). Well, its all down to you! You set the agenda and by asking insightful questions that go beyond the superficial and obvious - you can easily gather helpful information whilst establishing a strong relationship with company representatives.

So what questions should you avoid:

  • What does your company do?
  • How much can I expect to earn?
  • Why should I apply?
  • What can you offer me?
  • Can I have the free toy / pen / teddy / chocolate bar (etc)? (and then walk away!)

Instead ask these questions:

  • Job Satisfaction and Motivation: What do you enjoy most / least about your job? How much of the subject knowledge you gained from your degree do you use on a daily basis at work? What is the most satisfying aspect of the job?
  • Details of the work: Can you describe some actual examples of the sort of activities that your job involves? If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? What skills do you use most often?
  • Career progression & development: What is the typical career progression in this field? How has the job changed in the time you've been doing it? How do you see this job developing in the future?
  • Organisation culture & environment: How would you describe the organisation culture? How is the culture at x different from its competitors? In what way is performance measured at x?
  • The sector: How is the industry changing? What are likely to be growth areas over the next few years? What threats does your business face?

What else?

Well, consider asking similar questions to a number of organisations this way, you can compare and contrast the responses and make an informed decision about who to apply to. Take a notebook, jot down key points and the names of individuals you have spoken to. When it comes to applying you can name-drop the people you spoke to and draw on any insider information to help convey your motivation.

Finally, dress to impress and make sure you take copies of your CV just in-case!

Reflections from Careers Prep in a Day...

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📥  Advice, Graduate Jobs, Tips & Hints

Some of the careers team and over 60 final year students gave up their Saturday to participate in Careers Prep in a Day. This was the first time we ran such an event and were absolutely buzzing at the end. The premise of the day was to support our final year students in getting to grips with all aspects of starting their graduate job search upon graduation. In one action packed day we discussed:

  • Alternatives to grad schemes.
  • How to work with recruitment agencies and how to make speculative applications.
  • Provided practical help with writing CV's, cover letters and completing application forms
  • Explored typical interview questions and assessment center activities

We were blown away by the participants - there were lots of insightful questions, sharing of experiences and tons of positive energy! For those of you who couldn't join the event, here are some of the key  points:

  1.  Decisions are scary: sometimes everyday decisions like "where do we go on Friday night" can result in paralysing doubt. So it is hardly surprising that choosing a graduate career should cause anxiety and stress! Think of career planning in small steps - if you are unsure of what you want to do then focus on exploring ideas or simply updating your CV may give you the feeling that you are moving in the right direction.
  2. Your first job isn't your final job: many graduates think their first job will determine their future career path. It won't. You will change. The world of work will change, so try to think instead about what you'd like to do in the next 12-24 months to make the decision more manageable.
  3. Grad schemes aren't the only option: there are an estimated 5.2 million SME's in the UK. I came across this excellent blog from the University of Leeds which summarises the graduate opportunities within an SME.
  4. 2:2 isn't the end of the world: many students believe that if you get a 2:2 you have no hope on getting on a grad scheme or even a graduate role. This is a myth! There are plenty of graduate schemes that accept a 2:2 - check out our blog post on this very subject!
  5. Harness the power of social media: LinkedIn and Twitter are invaluable job hunting tools, with some employers choosing to advertise only on social media. Start following companies that interest you or join a professional group on LinkedIn.  Social media allows you to tap into the hidden job market.

We understand this is a stressful and busy time for many of our finalists... so it is worth bearing in mind we are open throughout the summer and you can continue using the careers service here at Bath after you graduate.

Finally, if you are a Masters student, we are hosting a Careers Prep in a Day event just for you on Wednesday 3rd June! Please log into MyFuture for further details and to register.