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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!

 

Getting the most out of your summer job

For some, the summer vacation is the opportunity to travel or volunteer in other parts of the world. Some will have been lucky enough to secure a summer internship in their chosen industry, and some will choose to earn money through a job seemingly unrelated to their career plan. If you fall into this last category, and think that your summer job is simply about saving up for the next academic year…think again.

Working in industries, such as retail, tourism and hospitality, offer you an excellent opportunity to develop, and provide evidence of, your employability skills.  These skills, which are “the skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job”, were ranked by employers as the most important factor when recruiting graduates (CBI Education & Skills Survey, 2016).

Throughout your summer employment, take the opportunity to reflect on what you do, and look for ways to develop and demonstrate your skills.  Doing this now will provide you with practical examples to provide to future potential employers when applying for graduate jobs.

Here are five skills you could develop while working this summer:

  • Communication

Customer service roles are an excellent way to demonstrate how you communicate.  Think about all the people that you interact with (customers, colleagues, managers), how you communicate with them (face-to-face, telephone, email) and the purpose of your communication (greeting, explaining, persuading, listening).

  • Initiative

Even if it is a temporary job, show your initiative by looking for opportunities to accept more responsibility or make a positive difference.  Consider offering to train a new team member, or considerately suggest a new process that could improve sales or business performance.

  • Readiness to Improve

Request feedback and act on it to improve your performance. Not only does this show professionalism and a desire to be the best that you can, it will help you to identify any areas for improvement before applying for graduate jobs.

  • Problem Solving

This doesn’t have to be something worthy of a global news report! Solving a problem could be implementing a new email filing system that improves the speed of responding to client enquiries, or appeasing an upset customer.

  • Team Working

Whether you are working for a small business or a large organisation, it is likely that your summer job will enable you to demonstrate how you work with other people. Think about how you cooperate with others to complete a task and how working together can improve efficiency or business performance.

No matter what job you do, make sure that you get the most from your summer job by investing time in reflecting on your experience, and updating your CV to demonstrate the skills that you have.  

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!

Why PGRs should do the Bristol PLUS Award

This year we’ve been running new tailored PGR Introductory talks for the Bristol PLUS Award and suggested work experience and intensive skills activities that are relevant to PGRs thinking about academic and non-academic careers. This has seen up-take of the Award amongst PGRs increase by 667%! Below Miquel and Oli talk about what benefits they got from doing Bristol PLUS.

Miquel Perello-Nieto: Computer Science PhD

The Bristol PLUS Award encourages you to be more proactive during postgraduate study. To complete it you must accomplish a set of requirements, involving different skillsets. By participating in the PLUS Award you increase your chances of getting a job by attending workshops on, for example, job hunting, networking, or interview skills.

The workshops

I attended a workshop about creative job searching that offered a set of useful tools to find jobs, and emphasised the importance of networking in this process. I also learnt about assessment centres and what to expect in the selection process, and attended a very useful workshop about enterprise, innovation, and communication for researchers. These helped develop my skills in giving effective presentations of my research, and a clearer mindset for tackling common problems faced by researchers. I am now more confident when presenting my research, and am also more organised when preparing for meetings, taking notes, and summarising afterwards.

The benefits

The Bristol PLUS Award has improved my skills, and is really useful in encouraging a proactive habit for learning and appreciating a set of skills not acquired during a postgraduate degree. I am now more prepared to find a job and make a good impression – the next step is to find a job!

Oli Bell: Medicine PhD

The Bristol PLUS Award allowed me to gain accreditation for work I was already performing, and helped strengthen my applications. It will demonstrate to potential employers that I take career development seriously, and that I am taking strides towards enhancing my employability skills.

I first read about the Bristol PLUS Award whilst browsing the Bristol Doctoral College’s course system. When I attended the introductory talk I had already completed the vast majority of tasks required to complete the award. The mainstay of tasks I completed were in relation to my intended future career path in teaching and research, so it was easy to fit in around my study.

Work experience and workshops 

Throughout the Bristol PLUS award there were several workshops and opportunities available through the Careers Service, as well as the possibility to use external workshops. To develop my teaching skills, I worked as a tutor with the company MyTutor, who offer online tuition for GCSE and A-level pupils in an interactive online classroom. I attended education workshops and undertook the ‘starting to teach’ course offered by the Bristol Doctoral College, which constituted my intensive skills activity. During this time, I gained insight into the challenges of teaching in university, and began to work on techniques in teaching. I also gained skills in lab demonstration, and this will undoubtedly strengthen any future applications I make in this area.

The benefits

The booking and submission process were easy, and fully-integrated online, allowing you to submit from anywhere, and to complete the Award at your own pace. This was very convenient for me as I needed to fit work toward it around my busy schedule.

In summary, I feel the Bristol PLUS award can only strengthen a CV, as it helps you develop core skills that serve to enhance future job applications.

 

Further information:

For more information and to find out how to sign-up for Bristol PLUS next year, read our Bristol PLUS Award webpages.