Category Archives: Applications

Now is the time! Hassan Nasir talks about the advantages of achieving the Bristol PLUS Award

There is just so much to gain”

Hassan secured a role with Dyson as an Electrical Engineer after graduating in 2016 with first class honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and, of course, achieving the Bristol PLUS Award.

— How did the Bristol PLUS Award help prepare you for your career after University? Are you glad you took part?

The Bristol PLUS Award is a catalyst for focusing upon and gaining crucial employability skills. To meet the Award requirements I was motivated to take on more important roles in societies. This helped make me more receptive to taking on responsibilities and becoming a better team player. These are the same set of skills that help set you apart in industry. Most importantly, however, it made me realise how much fun all of it was anyway!

— How useful was the Bristol PLUS Award in preparing you for the recruitment and selection process with your employer?

For the Award, I attended talks at the Career Service and I quickly realised how valuable the guidance I was gaining from these was.

The interview skills workshop was one of my favourites. I received constructive feedback on a mock interview and it paid off immensely when I attended an assessment centre.  Having practised with professionals previously meant calmer nerves during the real thing.

The Award also gave me a good point of discussion during my interview. There are a lot of skills and qualities you can quantify from completing this Award – all of which are relevant to the jobs out there!

—  Is there anything in particular you gained from the Bristol PLUS Award that you feel you would not have gained if you had not taken part?

If it had not been for the Award, there is a good chance that I would have only focused on academic study and missed out on the opportunity to develop the crucial employability skills which are so important for industry.

— Any words of advice or encouragement to current students thinking of taking the Bristol PLUS Award?

If you are interested in making yourself as employable as possible upon graduation then sign up to the Award as quickly as you can! You will realise that it’s not so hard to manage your time between studies and the award activities. There is just so much to gain; all it costs you is determination!

Registration for the Bristol PLUS Award is open until 9 February 2018, making now the perfect time to register and discover more! Visit the website to book on to a compulsory introductory talk now!

Jargon Buster

The terms employers use to talk about their organisation and/or their recruitment process can be confusing. Get prepared for the autumn term employer events and your job applications with our jargon-buster.

Organisations

Magic circle – Nothing to do with Harry Potter. This is the term sometimes used to describe the top 5 law firms in the UK: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter & May.

Silver circle Similar to the above, a group of top law firms that do not quite rank alongside the magic circle: Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith.

The big 4 – These are the 4 largest professional services networks in the world: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG. They offer audit, assurance, taxation, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services.

SMEs – Small or medium-sized enterprises. In the European Union, these are defined as organisations that employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of no more than 50 million euros.

Work Experience

Vacation scheme – This is not a holiday! A period of work experience with a law firm, usually running for 1 or 2 weeks.

Internship – These are often paid placements offered by firms who regularly recruit graduates. Most often in the summer, but there are also part-time, term-time and vacation opportunities.

Job Descriptions and Applications

Hidden jobs market – This is a term often used to describe jobs that aren’t advertised. You can tap into this by networking, making use of contacts and writing speculative applications.

Entry level job – A role that requires little prior experience in the field or profession.

Referees – These are the contacts (usually two) you put on CVs or application forms who can be contacted by an employer to verify the information you have provided or to give insight into your personality. The referee should know you well enough to be able to write positively about you.

Transferrable skills – Also known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘portable skills’, these are skills used in one job or career that can also be used in another, rather than relying on direct experience of the industry. For example, leadership, organisation and communication skills.

DOE – Think it’s a female deer? Think again! Abbreviation for ‘dependent on experience’. An employer will offer a salary within a given range but is willing to pay more for a candidate with more experience.

OTE – Abbreviation for on-target earnings. This is an estimate of actual earnings where pay is made up of both base salary and a variable bonus/commission. Particularly found in job descriptions for sales roles.

Graduate scheme – A structured programme for recent graduates that includes work and training. It can last up to 3 years, though some are much shorter. Completing the scheme successfully often secures a professional qualification as well as a permanent role in the organisation.

Selection Process

Psychometric test – Any activity and assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate candidate performance, including intelligence, skills and personality.

Assessment centre – Usually a day or half day at an employer’s office or training venue involving a combination of tasks and activities to find the right candidates. Involves working in groups and includes a variety of exercises such as role play, in-tray exercises and presentations.

Competency-based interview – This is an interview where situational or behavioural questions are asked. They aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges.

Strengths-based interview – Type of interview style becoming increasingly popular amongst graduate recruiters. It aims to find out what you enjoy doing and hence what engages you the most.

If you would like more information about some of these terms or support with finding and applying for opportunities, visit the careers service website or contact us directly.

4 Top Tips for Landing Your Dream Job (and why I should know…)

Landing your dream job can feel like the stuff of fantasy, but it doesn’t have to if you take the right approach.

As an ex-lawyer turned career coach with experience in property, PR, teaching and copywriting, I know all too well how important finding the right job is and the frustrations of being in a role which doesn’t quite fit.

I also know how much you’ve invested in your studies, the time you spend thinking about your career and that fulfilment can hinge on more than a pay cheque.

So here are my top tips for securing a job which ticks all the boxes:

  1. Know Your Values

Knowing who you are and what you want is essential to positive change. Before considering what kind of company or organization you’d like to work for, ask yourself what gives your life purpose and meaning, in and outside work. Your values might range from money, work-life balance and family to meeting new people, travel or having fun.

If you’re unsure what drives you, ask yourself what you couldn’t do without in a dream day, what you’re doing when you’re happiest or what you’d love to be paid for. If you’re still struggling, ask yourself what you really dislike and turn this on its head. For example, if it’s working long hours with little time to socialize, it may be that work-life balance is top of your list.

Once you know what drives you, focus on organizations which meet these needs and maximize your chances of fulfilment.

  1. Harness Your Strengths In Your Search

If you’ve got into the University of Bristol, chances are you’ve got strong analytical and critical thinking skills – the perfect combination for identifying your dream job! The most fulfilled people are resourceful in harnessing their strengths, helping them narrow down their ideal workplace, prepare for interview and seal the deal.

If you’re struggling to find the time or perspective to research what kind of organization appeals, reach out to one of our career advisors. They’ll help you move from where you are now to where you want to be. Our applications advisor will also have top tips for how to craft a winning CV, covering letter or application form.

  1. Prepare For Interview

Whether you’re a rising star or a Mensa child, intellectual skill and charm are no substitute for interview preparation. The most common pitfalls are being unable to communicate what an organization does, why this appeals and how your experience and skillset set you apart.

Avoid this by thoroughly reading the organization’s website, articles published by key stakeholders and talking to any contacts you may have. Then identify questions you could be asked and practise your answers with a trusted friend or one of our careers advisors. Ensure you tailor your answers to the skills and experience required in the job and person specification. And if you’re asked a competency based question (tell me a time when…), structure your answer around the STAR acronym – check out this handy video for tips.

Finally, be sure to show-off commercial awareness by reading up on market and organizational developments.

  1. Trust Your Instincts

You can read all you want around the firm but there’s no substitute for face to face gut feeling. If you have a good gut feeling, trust it. If not, ask yourself which of your core values aren’t being met and if this is a deal-breaker. Good luck!

 

Calling all finalists – it’s time to put your future first!

I have some simple questions for you.

Are you ready for life after university?   

Do you know what work you want to do?

Are you ready to compete for those jobs?         

Did you answer “no” to one or more of these

questions?

If so, it’s your last chance to prepare for the workplace over the coming months with help and support from the Careers Service.

We are open throughout the summer months, so you can speak with our experts and get information and advice on what might be the right path for you.

Plus we are running an exclusive finalist workshop in June to help you understand what might be the right career for you, and the steps you need to take to get to it! Spaces are limited for these, so reserve a spot today through mycareer.

If you already have a good idea about what you want to do, then we are currently advertising hundreds of immediate start vacancies on our website, posted by organisations hoping to recruit a Bristol graduate.

If you think you need a bit of extra help competing for the jobs you are going to be applying for, you can come and get feedback on your job applications and ask us about how to answer those tricky interview questions.

The Careers Service is your vital link to life after university, so don’t put it off any longer – come and see us to find out how we can help you today!

Using the Careers Service – a graduate’s perspective

Here at the Careers Service we not only help all manner of students from all manner of backgrounds, through all stages of their career planning and development, but continue to support our graduates for up to three years after they’ve graduated! Natalie, a recent Law graduate, has shared her experience of using the Careers Service, and explains how we were able to help her:

I discovered the Careers Service during the first year of my LLB Law degree, as it was next to my accommodation at the Hawthorns. I used the Service in my first and second years by attending events and seminars as part of the Bristol PLUS Award, which was great for building skills, and later put on my CV.

During my third year I lived at home in London, so didn’t have the time to continue this level of engagement – I did, however, book a twenty minute appointment (conveniently on the day) with an adviser to discuss whether my plans and the steps I had taken to become a lawyer were sufficient and appropriate. This was a unique opportunity to get an opinion not only from an impartial third party (which I had not had before), but from an expert. The kindness and genuine interest shown for my concerns and questions was really reassuring, and exactly what I needed during my stressful final exams!

After University I learnt that the Careers Service is available to students for up to three years after graduating. Seeing as I was slow to begin the next steps to my future career (waiting around one year after graduation), it was again reassuring to know that this support was available. After a few months of travelling I decided to knuckle down. The first thing to consider was my CV, which I had not looked at since secondary school! The next day therefore I went into the Careers Service to have a browse through their available resources. It was great to have access to such a wide variety of up-to-date books, magazines, and newsletters dedicated not only to the art of CV writing, but also to developing interview skills, and finding out about particular sectors and industries.

Additionally, having computers available for use by graduates and undergraduates at 5 Tyndall Avenue was helpful – I often used these to look at the CV page of the Careers website, which provided plenty of useful examples, as well as top tips written in clear, plain English.

The Careers Service also offers accessible workshops and seminars. All of the advisers are especially welcoming, and provide useful advice, offering the opportunity for questions both during and after their events. Attending the CV-writing seminar, for example, bolstered what I had already learnt from the website.

The final step in composing my CV was to attend a drop-in session – a 10-minute appointment bookable at 8am on the day, during which an adviser will look over your CV, cover letter, or application form. This meeting was particularly insightful as the appointment was one-on-one, and the adviser provided honest advice and helpful suggestions, such as the use of ‘action words’ to make my CV more engaging.

For me, the entirety of the Careers Service has proven invaluable, helping me each step along the way. From the days when I didn’t even have a CV in hand, I am now able write this blog having just been given my first ever interview for a vacation scheme with one of the Top 100 Law Firms in the UK…!

So – if you’ve recently graduated from Bristol, and are looking for advice or guidance with any aspect of your career we can help. For more information visit our Graduate page today!

#GetCareerReady

The Careers Service’s new hashtag is #GetCareerReady. What does this mean? And how can we help you to Get Career Ready?

Explore – what’s right for you and what are the options?

What does a career mean to you? What job is right for you? Before you can answer these questions you need to know what will suit you. The Careers Service guide has some straightforward exercises to complete that will help you think about this. Look at this online or come in and pick up a copy at the Careers Service.

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Exploring is also about understanding what jobs exist out there. Trying to understand the job market can be incredibly hard, there are 1000s of opportunities and unless you have a very clear idea of what you want to do, searching for companies and graduate roles can be daunting. We run regular talks on how to research organisations and industries, plus we have a number of sector guides on our website to get you started.

Develop yourself

Alongside exploring your options you need to be developing your own set of skills, understanding what makes you unique and learning how to manage yourself. Not much then! So how do you do all that?

The main thing you need to do is get involved in activity as part of your degree, as well as away from your studies. It’s important to be active, not passive, do not expect opportunities to come to you. The more you get involved in societies, volunteering, part time work, sports, initiatives within your school, research lectures and work shadowing, the more you will be developing skills and becoming the “all-rounder” that employers look for.

 Jo Hutchings, the Information, Advice and Guidance Manager at the Careers Service says “in my experience the students who come into the Careers Service who have been proactive in getting involved whilst at university, generally have a more mature attitude, a confidence in the way they present themselves and the ability to take feedback and act on it. These are all qualities, that if I notice them in a short 15 minute appointment, an employer is certainly going to see at an interview or assessment centre stage!”

IMG_1837The Bristol PLUS Award is designed to help all students develop skills at university, with opportunities to reflect on your experiences, to gain a better understanding of who you are and your strengths. This enables you to become more self aware, a quality all employers look for.

 

Finally, competing for jobs/further study

So #GetCareerReady is about understanding what jobs are out there and what might suit you. Once you have started to establish this, you need to get applying to compete for opportunities.

And, it is a competition; you need to be prepared to work hard for the opportunities out there. Put time into your applications, research organisations, understand the roles you are applying for and get feedback before your final submission. The Careers Service is well equipped to give you this feedback and advice through our appointments. We also have a wide variety of taIMG_1801lks to help you prepare for the application process. These are complemented by online advice and practical help with our video interviewing portal, Interview Stream and practice selection tests, Graduates First.

So if you want to #GetCareerReady, come into the Careers Service to find out how we can help you, as one of our recent users said:

“The Careers Service is fantastic. Professional and comprehensive. I can’t flaw the incredible service”

Ten Tips to make the most of your Christmas Holidays!

Now that the end of term is approaching and the holiday season will soon be upon us, have you considered how you might spend the break from University? If you want to make the most of the time, this can be a good opportunity to continue your Careers and Employability journey.

Have a look at our top 10 tips to help you maximise the break from University….

  1. Know yourself – choosing what to do after you leave University is a process that takes time and requires self-investigation, self-reflection and focus. If you’re really not sure where to start spend some time doing some homework on you! Ask yourself questions like: What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What motivates you and how does this fit with your beliefs and values? You may want to chat to friends and family about what they think your skills and strengths are, you may be surprised! There are lots of tools to help you start career planning including the Windmills Career and Life Management resource.
  2. Do some research – investigate the career options that are open to graduates from your degree using the Prospects ‘options with your subject’ Also take a look at the Careers Network to see what Bristol graduates from a range of courses have gone on to do.
  3. Volunteer and boost your transferable skills – December can be a busy time for the voluntary sector with lots of opportunities available, ranging from Charity shops to homeless shelters and residential homes for the elderly. Have a look at Do-It to see what opportunities exist.
  4. Earn some money – part-time work at this time year can be a great way to help you spread some festive cheer and also help you to enhance the skills that all employers value; for example working in a team and communication skills. Lots of companies require an extra pair of hands at this time of year. The Careers Service has information on how you can find part-time work.
  5. Keen to find out more about an area of work that interests you? Contact local employers to see if you would be able to do a day work-shadowing to gain an insight into their organisation and sector. There are employer databases on the Careers Service website to help your research into organisations.
  6. Personal Skills audit – look at graduate job opportunities in a field that interests you and list the skills employers are looking for, then audit yourself against these skills. Once you have identified any gaps, start to plan how you can fill them.
  7. Re-visit your CV – make sure your CV stands out. For more help on CVs look at the Careers Services resources on applications and Prospect’s resources. Maybe one of your parents or family friends would read through your CV for you!
  8. Develop your Social Media presence – LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by recruiters, so it’s important to have an effective profile. LinkedIn publish lots of useful resources for students and some fun clips.
  9. Apply for a summer internship – relevant work experience can be a great way to ‘test-drive’ if a career-path is right for you and help you explore your career options. The UoB Internship Scheme is aimed at Small and Medium size Enterprises in the UK, including charities, social enterprises and Non-Governmental Organisations. There are also opportunities available through the Careers Service website and sector-specific websites like Gradcracker for Science, Technology & Engineering students.
  10. Relax – Don’t forget to enjoy your break from University!

The Careers Service website has lots more support and information.

Disclosing disability, the decision is yours!

Telling a future employer that you have a disability can be one of the hardest parts of applying for a job and preparing for an interview. In a recent study conducted by greatwithdisability.com, 76% of studentssaid they were concerned about informing a potential employer about their disability or health condition. You might be reluctant to disclose a disability or illness because you’re worried about being discriminated against or being seen as a hassle to employers. You’re under no legal obligation to disclose a disability.However, there can be benefits to being open about your situation, for example:

  • You can draw upon your disability to demonstrate certain competencies. Think about the positive qualities you have developed as a result of having a disability. Managing your disability could have given you strengths that are unique to you and may be the most effective way of demonstrating what is being assessed. Remember not to use your disability in every example, make sure you draw upon a wide variety of situations to show a range of experience.
  • Receiving reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process. One reason for telling an employer that you have a disability is to discuss any adjustments you might need to enable you to perform to your full potential during the interview. Do make sure you only share relevant information; you don’t need to go into all the details of your disability.
  • You can be yourself. Being open from the beginning will allow you to talk about who you really are and the strengths you’ve developed as a result of your disability. Trying to conceal it could take a lot of effort that would be better spent highlighting your talents and abilities.
  • You gain control. If you decide to be open about your disability when you are ready to do so, you will have more control over the way it is seen. This can increase your confidence to use it as an opportunity to describe your disability positively and show how it hasn’t held you back.

Finally, it might be reassuring to know that employers are required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace, including adjusting working hours or providing equipment, to enable an employee with disabilities to do the job. See the disability rights section on the GOV.UK website for more information, including the access to work scheme. You may also want to look out for employers who indicate they have a positive attitude to disability. This may be evident from their recruitment information and their website. Employers may use the positive about disabled people ‘two ticks’ symbol, which guarantees an interview to all candidates with disabilities who fulfil the minimum requirements for the job.

Overall remember:

  1. Be positive: focus on your unique selling points and how you match what the employer is looking for.
  2. Address concerns: consider the employer’s point of view, and inform and reassure them.
  3. Keep it relevant: disclose what you need to and are comfortable with, but remember you don’t need to go into all the details.

For more information, there is a helpful section on disclosing your disability on the equality and diversity TARGETjobs website and greatwithdisability.com is a useful resource containing tips and case studies.

And don’t forget, if you need help or support with disclosure of any kind you can come and talk to us at the Careers Service as well, just drop in and see us.

Claire Wrixon
Career Adviser

How to sell your skills and experiences to potential employers. It’s not as difficult as you think!

Spent this year working part-time in Burger King, and wondering why graduate recruiters would be interested in your application? However irrelevant you think your experience might sound, you might be surprised to discover that for a number of graduate and entry level positions, recruiters are more interested in identifying potential. Yes, it’s true that some jobs require specialist knowledge that only specific work experience or a degree can provide. However, at this stage in your career, transferrable skills can play a big part in how employable you are: the key is to make them sound relevant to the job you’re applying for.

So what are transferrable skills?
Transferrable skills refer to the competencies you gain in one particular setting, which you can carry over into other areas of your life. They particularly come in handy when you’re starting your career and don’t have directly relevant experience of working in a specific sector or a similar position before.

There are a number of core skills that most employers are after. Here are a few examples:

  • self-management,
  • communication,
  • problem solving,
  • team working.

When putting your application together think closely about the skills you’ve developed and the experiences you’ve had and how an employer might view them. Remember to provide specific examples of where these skills were gained. Doing this will make you more memorable to employers and will stop your application from sounding too generic.

How do I gain them?
The good news is you will already have some!  Skills are picked up throughout your life: through education, work experience, extra-curricular projects or volunteering. If you’ve worked in a bar or in retail then you will have had experience of providing customer service. Being friendly and approachable and solving customer problems effectively are key skills relevant to all employers. Also being punctual, reliable and trustworthy demonstrates good self-management – these skills will be an attractive prospect for any potential employer.

Alternatively if you’ve ever been involved in a group project at university, or if you play sport, then you’ve worked as a team. This is an opportunity for you to tell employers about how you can recognise and understand the viewpoints of others, appreciate the contributions made by all, and how you have built strong interpersonal skills. Furthermore if you ever had to settle disputes or disagreements while working with a group of people, this would show employers that you possess the ability to problem solve.

Help, I don’t think I have any transferrable skills!
If you feel that you lack some key skills, there is still plenty of time to gain them. Being at university is a great chance to build upon your talents. If you want to improve your communication for example, there are a variety of societies you can join which will help you with this, such as debating societies, drama groups or even the magic society. Additionally you can develop your communication skills by delivering presentations as part of your course. By getting involved in this type of activity, you will be able to demonstrate to employers that you can adopt your style to suit different audiences, and that you are able to speak publicly while overcoming nerves.

The important thing to remember is- you should not be discouraged from applying to something just because you haven’t been in a similar role before. Recruiters look for potential. They want someone who has the right aptitude for the role. So if you can show in your job application or at an interview that you have previously used the skills that they’re after, that you have enthusiasm and the ability to absorb new knowledge, then you will have a great chance of being considered.

Pagan Aspinall, Graduate Intern

Using Video Resources at the Careers Service

The videos provided by the Careers Service are not a resource to be ignored – hearing from graduate recruiters themselves about what they are looking for in graduates is valuable information. The videos are split into several easy to understand sections; CVs & Cover Letters, Interview Techniques, Assessment Centre Advice, Job Hunting, Self-Employment, & more! Each video focuses on a specific aspect of employment, like ‘How to write Work Experience on a CV’, and features testimonials from the people who see hundreds of CVs and Cover Letters everyday – this is the information YOU need to know to land that dream graduate job!

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In currently trying to land my dream graduate job and facing the prospect of scary assessment centres, I found the videos explaining what tasks and activities I should expect to happen at an assessment centre particularly useful. Assessment centres can vary widely in terms of what tasks they ask you to complete, from presentations and straightforward group tasks, to trying to convince others what celebrities to put in a hot air balloon! When tasks can be as strange as this it is important to understand what key skills employers are looking for: prioritisation, confidence, communication skills, listening skills, persuasion etc. Assessment centres aren’t just about how you compare against others, succeeding in the task is not always about being correct, it is about demonstrating your skills.

Another important tip I learnt from the videos is that you are being assessed outside of the assessment tasks too – from the moment you enter the centre to the moment you step out of the door to go home, your behaviour and how you communicate with others is being carefully analysed, even during coffee breaks! Make sure you have an in depth knowledge of the organisation, as well as their partners and competitors – having commercial awareness will help you stand out over other candidates.

I definitely feel more confident and prepared for my upcoming assessment centre now that I’ve received this advice from employers themselves. Whatever aspect of employment you’re struggling with, I recommend using the greatly informative videos provided by University of Bristol Careers Services.

https://careers.bristol.ac.uk/

Madeleine Dwyer, 3rd year Psychology student