Tag Archives: Networking

Spring Recruitment Fair  

Spring Recruitment Fair. Info Web 1jpgThe fair in numbers

On the 27 to 28 April we held this year’s Spring Recruitment Fair, which was at the Careers Service (Tyndall Avenue) for the first time. Despite the cold, two marquees stood on the pavement outside, opening up the fair to passers-by.

40 different employers were present across the two days: Amazon, EY, Teach First, PWC, Aldi, Think Ahead, RBS and Severn Trent, to name just a few. They were offering various positions from graduate schemes, to internships and summer work.

Although it was revision season, over 400 students flocked in to
meet these recruiters, with many leaving positive comments, such as that they liked seeing a wide range of employers and that they felt the fair was helpful and informative with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  

Not just a fair

Other events were held in association with the fair: leading employers gave a talk on how to prepare for
the fair. On day two you could spot the Careers Advisers (wrapped in scarves and gloves!), along with some of the attending employers, in the marquee for speed interviewing sessions. They offered students the chance to practise their answers to some common interview questions under time pressure, gave feedback and then recommended relevant resources to help them improve their skills.

It was also a good opportunity to pick up some of the free publications available at the Careers Service, browse resources, book appointments and get advice on what to do next to prepare for life after university.

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Employers love Bristol students

“Meeting prospective graduates face to face is the best way to get our company known.

(Local Employer)

“The calibre of students was very high and we met some great candidates.”

(Recruitment Agency Attendee)

Employers come to our fairs because they are interested in you! As one employer commented, recruitment fairs are a “good opportunity for students. Companies come to you and want to hire you. Make good use of that”.

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How to prepare for next time

Employer tips:

  • Remember to do some research beforehand; look up the companies attending and what kind of roles they offer.
  • Think about how to approach the employers you are interested in to make them interested in you! One employer found they had “lots of people saying ‘I don’t know you’ or ‘what is your company’, as opposed to ‘I’d love to learn more about your company’”.
  • Don’t ask about pay or visa sponsorship – if they like you then they may be open to negotiation. Find out the essentials beforehand and target the employers relevant to you.

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Dates for your diary!

We have more careers fairs in the Autumn Term, all taking place in the Wills Memorial Building:

  • Investment Banking and Management Consultancy Evening – 3 October
  • Autumn Fair – 11 and 12 October
  • Engineering and IT Fair – 18 and 19 October
  • Science Fair – 26 October
  • Law Fair – 1 and 2 November

Keep an eye on the events pages for these and other events all year round.

Missed Media and Creative Industries Week? Here’s a roundup of what went on!

Last week, more than 15 industry experts – most of whom are Bristol alumni – came in to give talks, workshops and present case studies about all things media and creative. Film, TV, radio, publishing, the art world and the importance of having great ideas were all covered – for a list of speakers and their organisations, see our in-depth summary on mycareer.

Kate and Beth iFeatures1

Kate and Beth from iFeatures

Aside from things you’d expect to hear from creative professionals (expect a varied workload, the importance of getting your foot in the door, be innovative, don’t forget ab
out small to medium enterprises and how there’s no one definitive career path), there were a number of themes which youmight not have expected. This blog post will explore those and hopefully give you the opportunity to stand out in these competitive industries.

Watch, listen, read
Not just the people, shows or books you’re interested in or would like to work for – go bigger, immerse yourself! Watch TED talks (recommended by Laura from Speed Communications, highlighting the one on Airbnb), watch shorts and first feature films (tip from Kate O’Hara, Creative England), go to art fairs (Adriana, IESA) and think carefully about audiences (Rob from BBC History magazine had students in his workshop working out who their perfect reader was).

There are no excuses!

Many of our speakers said this exact phrase, multiple times and they’re right. With the amount of free technology, apps and programmes available, there’s no reason not to make your own content, building a portfolio of your work to take to interview or when shadowing somebody. Make your

Publishing Panel

The Publishing Panel

own demo (that was a top tip from Paris Troy, Heart radio), get some videos online (Will Wilkin, Lead Creative and producer for BBC radio) and practise responding to briefs (Gavin from Perfect Storm).

Be prepared

The funniest comedians and presenters have actually spent a very long time preparing their content. So, not only should you be preparing for applications, interviews and meeting industry experts, you should be developing it as a skill. Paris Troy was the guest speaker who spoke most about this and to do so, said you should make sure your organisation, time management and planning s kills are
up to scratch. Finally, a number of speakers including Will Wilkin, BBC Talent Managers Gaynor, Sas and Helen, and Julian Burrett also said be prepared to keep trying, be prepared to develop resilience and be prepared to do anything!

Tell a story

It’s not just about creating ideas – although the ability to do so helps – it’s about standing out and standing up for who you are (Paris Troy and Laura from Speed Communications). When Will Wilkin was talking about the need to tell a story, especially in applications, he said that you should literally tell a story (see his LinkedIn profile for a

Will

Will Wilkin from BBC Radio

n example) and that everyday life is suitable content. Other tips included create an emotional connection (Gavin from Perfect Storm, Laura from Speed Communications) and don’t be generic (Paris). Alongside this, Julian Burrett said it’s good to be open to creativity from others too.

Specialisms

On one hand, you should be an expert in what you do (Julian Burrett) but on the other hand, you need to be versatile (Will Wilkin). You might be generating ideas for multiple platforms (a magazine with an accompanying app, writing cricket news but cutting film about a match too) but you might also be working in a specialist area within the sector. For example, Laura talked about how Speed cover three main divisions: business and corporate, sports and wellbeing, consumer and lifestyle. Similarly, Adriana from the IESA described how the art world, sitting within the creative industries, has sub-sectors which include the dealers, contemporary art, art fairs, insurance and law, investment and client services.

Want more?

BBCTalentManagementTeam

BBC Talent Management Team

This is just an overview of the key themes but if you want more, check out our in-depth summary on mycareer. There’s a list of speakers on there too, as well as lots of information about the different areas of the media industry and creative sector.

Alumni panel inspires law students with their personal insight into diverse career paths

A panel of four University of Bristol alumni offered a fascinating insight into their careers to Law School students earlier this year. The event titled ‘Alternatives with a Law Degree’ was jointly organised by the University’s Careers Service and the Law School in response to the increasing interest from law students in career options outside of the traditional legal sector.

The objective of the event was to introduce Law students to some of the many options available to those studying for a law degree, including those outside of the legal sector such as EY, one of the ‘big 4’ (professional services) firms, as well as utilising a law degree in a non-law firm environment like the Army Legal Service. Each alumni spoke about their career path and informal networking over drinks allowed the students to meet the panel members and continue their discussions about life after University.
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Reassurance

A key message from the panel was to reassure students that there are many diverse career paths open to them and to encourage students not to feel pressured into making a rushed decision on graduation.

Explore your options

If you are keen to consider the options available with your degree there is a lot of support on the Careers Service website. A good starting point is the ‘Be Inspired’ section.

“The panel helped broaden my mind beyond the confines of commercial law and private practice, and also reassured me that it is ok to be slightly unsure of what I want to do after I graduate, because the transferable skills I will gain from a law degree from Bristol will set me up for a role in a variety of areas both inside and outside the legal sector.” Komal Patel, a 2nd year Law student commented about the event.

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Esther Wride, Corporate Human Resources Business Partner at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, attended the event with Tom Tooth, a Police Officer, and current part-time PhD student at the Law School. She commented, “It was great to meet a variety of students who were interested in finding out about opportunities with the Police and we continue to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider a role in Policing.”

Be inspired by alumni

Attending an alumni event can be a great way to find out what Bristol graduates have done after they left University, but there are other ways to be inspired by our alumni. For advice and information about how you can connect with alumni, including the alumni mentoring scheme, careers network and not forgetting LinkedIn, have a look at the Careers Service Website.SL271880

Meeting Alumni – a Valuable Step in Career Planning

What do you think people from your degree course are doing 10, 20 even 30 years after they graduated? What questions would you ask former students that graduated from the same course as you? This is an opportunity that students from the Biomedical Sciences Faculty got when they helped set-up the first Biomedical Sciences Alumni Evening.

Definition of Alumni from thefreedictionary.com

Definition of Alumni from thefreedictionary.com

 Last November, alumni from the 1980s to the present day came back to the University to talk to current Biomedical students. They came from a huge range of specialisms: including, postdoctoral researchers, medical consultants, clinical scientists, laboratory managers, accountants, medical demonstrators, academics, medics, and strategy consultants.

Current student chatting to Tony Stanley, PolyCoversDirect Ltd.

Current student chatting to Tony Stanley, PolyCoversDirect Ltd.

Students across the year groups found that talking to alumni was a very useful exercise. As well as being inspired to think about careers they hadn’t yet considered and encouraged to explore a range of opportunities, students also had the chance to pose questions to alumni who have gone on to pursue a range of influential careers. For example, they could ask them about what employers valued most from their degree course; what different industries were like; or what advice they would give their former selves when they were back studying at Bristol. Some of the feedback from students included:

‘[The evening] allowed me to discuss the pros and cons of different job opportunities, mainly academia vs industry. It really helped give me a realistic picture of each. I also learnt a lot about pursuing a PhD, travel and MRes courses, which I hadn’t previously heard about’

 ‘Very good! Helpful advice for PhD applications and opened my mind to other career options too’

‘I was able to ask questions about careers I was interested in and get answers from someone who knows the job well’

Speaking to Alumni is an excellent way to explore career ideas, to get the inside information on different sectors and to ask advice from people who have actually been there!

The alumni who attended the event were

Richard Pither, CEO Cytox Ltd, talking to Biomedical students

Richard Pither, CEO Cytox Ltd, talking to Biomedical students

equally enthusiastic. Bronwen Burton (BSc 2007), Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Immunology, said: ‘The event was a great success. The students seemed enthusiastic and engaged, asking lots of questions during the discussion sessions. Several also approached me during the networking session with further questions. The array of different careers which we, as alumni, represented provided an inspiring illustration of what can be achieved after completing a degree in Biomedical Sciences.’

The evening was requested by students and came from feedback during the Faculty Student Staff Liaison Committee that students wanted more contact with alumni. If this sounds like something you could benefit from it’s worth finding out if you have any alumni events that take place in your school or that are run by your course society.

How can you get in touch with Alumni?

You don’t need large events like this to be able to speak to Bristol Alumni. The Careers Service host the Careers Network – an inspirational community of Alumni who are happy to answer questions over email from current students about their careers, professions or entrepreneurial activities. Search the Careers Network to look for Alumni in specific sectors or from the same course as you!

You can also use LinkedIn to connect with Bristol Alumni. Simply create a strong LinkedIn Profile and ‘Find Alumni’ under the ‘My Network’ tab.

Be sure to read the advice and further suggestions about how to connect with Alumni on the Bristol Careers Service Website.

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.

How to use the Law Fair to get work experience

Original URL: http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/

I am a postgraduate researcher in an arts subject (not Law!) but last October, at the Careers Service Law Fair, I managed to get a week’s work experience in a mid-sized City firm – the Holy Grail of the would-be lawyer. I got this purely through chatting to the people I met on each stand. As networking and meeting people is a great way to get a foot in the door, especially for law, I thought I’d share a bit on the blog about how I went about it.

Just ask!

I chatted to a few employers at the firm, and got (alongside a lot of free stuff) 2 business cards, and 1 offer of work experience. At the stand of the firm in question, there were a partner, a trainee and an HR person, and I tailored my questions to each of them. After talking to all three for some time, I asked the lady from HR if there was any possibility of a week, or even a day, of shadowing. She’d already offered to take my email address, and suggested I drop her an email with my CV and the practice areas I’d be interested in. She actually emailed me with a reminder before I’d had a chance to get in touch with her, and once I’d sent my CV, she arranged for me to sit in my preferred department for a week in January.

The lesson here is an old one, but it’s true: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you feel a conversation is going well, then why not ask? Some firms, of course, will say no, but you’ve lost nothing, and it’s worth it to get even one yes.

Research, research, research

You’ll probably have heard this already, but research is key to securing legal work experience – even informally. And preparation is vital for law fair success:

  • Before the fair, I made a list of firms I was interested in, why I was interested in them, and what questions I wanted to ask in order to find out more.
  • I also had a think about more general questions I could ask. For example, it’s always good to ask about the structure of a firm’s training contract, as this differs from firm to firm.
  • As I mentioned, I tailored my questions to each person – when talking to a partner, I wouldn’t ask about the structure of the training contract (put that to trainees or HR), but I would ask about practice areas or the firm’s structure.

I met this firm for about 15 minutes and impressed them enough to get a place, and I can only assume this was because of my research. I was enthusiastic and interested, and it showed that I had prepared beforehand.

For more on researching employers, see the Careers Service pages about how we can help with your research. You can come into the Careers Service in person and talk to Information Specialists at our Resources Help Desk, who can help with this.

The Careers Service also runs talks on how to prepare for the Law Careers Fair. You can read our blog post about preparing for Careers Fairs and our blog post with tips for becoming a solicitor or barrister.

Don’t forget to come along to the Law Fair this year: 5 and 6 November at the Wills Memorial Building. See a list of the different firms attending each day on our website.

Lucinda, a previous Careers Service Information Assistant Intern

What aspiring solicitors & barristers need to know

legal

The legal sector has not escaped the effects of the current economic recession and competition for both training contracts and pupillage is still very high.  Many graduates are finding it harder to secure work after their professional legal training (Legal Practice Certificate or Bar Professional Training Course) and many are spending time as paralegals before being able to apply for training contracts.  Available work at the Bar has become increasingly limited due to an increase in solicitors taking on advocacy roles in the High Court.  With the majority of barristers being self-employed, they now have to work harder to find cases even when installed in chambers.

So, here are a few things you should take into account if you are set on working in the legal sector:

  • Make sure you can afford the training

Professional legal training is very expensive and, while these fees may be paid for you if you successfully obtain pupillage or a training contract, you need to be able to cover the costs if you can’t find a position. Fees vary between training providers, and training in London is more expensive but essential with ‘magic circle’ and top tier firms.  Expect to pay £13-17k for the BPTC, £10-14k for the LPC and, if you need the Graduate Diploma in Law as a non-Law student, another £7-10k.  You may be able to obtain a bank loan to cover these costs, but be aware of any debt you are adding to your existing undergraduate costs.  Most providers offer information about payment plans and loans on their websites.  It’s also important to look into bursaries and scholarships, including those offered by the Inns of Court.

Be aware that some graduates will complete the LPC/BPTC and still find no legal work available to them. In this case, you need to be able to identify and market the extra skills and knowledge gained from this training to non-legal employers, so do be prepared for this eventuality.

  •  Get as much legal work experience as you can

Having relevant work experience on your CV is becoming increasingly important in the legal recruitment market.  Along with finance, it has become a sector where many organisations recruit onto graduate schemes directly from vacation and internship programmes, so it’s vital that you look ahead and apply early.  Non-Law students won’t be expected to have done quite as much, but it’s still important to show commitment, so you will need to seek out work experience and shadowing opportunities where you can.  This will require you to contact firms directly and ask what’s available to you, so don’t be shy if you want to get ahead!  Firms want enthusiastic and interested graduates, so approaching them directly is a great way to show off what you have to offer.  Don’t just use email – your message will get lost in a busy person’s inbox – so make sure that you’re phoning the right people as well. Have a look at our ‘I want to work in Law’ pages for employers, organisations and contacts.

  •  Build your contacts and use social media

With the majority of students being regular Facebook users, there’s no excuse not to be using social media to stay ahead of the game.  Big firms have their own Facebook pages and Twitter feeds where you can see what’s happening and work out who’s who. Linked In allows you to produce your own online profile, join in with legal group discussions, follow particular firms and view the profiles of legal professionals so that you can build your list of contacts.  Intelligent commenting, use of discussion boards and Q&A features will help to get you noticed. The Careers Service offers regular social media workshops, so sign up if you’re not sure how to make the best of it all.  Don’t forget our own Careers Network, which lists many Bristol graduates who are now legal professionals and can be emailed directly.  Crucially, using your contacts and social media will help you to tap into the ‘hidden job market’ and potentially find vacancies and shadowing opportunities that may not otherwise be advertised. 

  •  Develop your commercial awareness

It’s absolutely crucial to understand that firms and chambers work as businesses, and that they need you be aware of current affairs, events and market trends that will affect legal practice and the firm’s income.  You should be staying on top of the news every day and looking at ways in which items can be interpreted from a legal perspective; this will impress when included in your applications and interviews.  Many of the good quality newspapers are available online, so you don’t even have to buy a copy.  The Guardian has a regularly updated online Law section.

  •  Be patient 

Career paths have never really been that direct but, in these currently challenging times, they can be even more tangential than usual.  You may find that it takes several years before you end up where you wanted to be, so it’s important to keep setting goals that you can work towards, as well as maintaining your contacts so that you can keep up to date with what’s going on in the sector; there’s no point setting your heart on getting a training contract with a firm that is downsizing due to the recession, so stay on top of the news and be realistic.  Don’t forget that you can also continue to use the Careers Service for three years after graduation to help you make those crucial transitions and get help with your applications.

Good luck!

Dr Tracy Johnson & Emma Keen, Careers Advisers

Career profile: Educational Psychologist

child photo

 

A 2010 DEdPsy graduate Cardiff University, currently working as an Educational Psychologist for a local authority provided the case study below about her current role and how she got there.

How did you get your job?

The initial step was to get my first degree in Psychology- I graduated from Aston University in 2001. During that degree I worked as a clinical psychology assistant for the NHS for 12 months. After graduation I worked as a mental health support worker for a year, and decided that I wanted to pursue the Educational Psychology route and taught in a primary school for 2 years following a PGCE.

At the time, 2 years of teaching was a prerequisite to be accepted onto the DEdPsy course, and whilst it no longer is, the classroom experience gave me a firm foundation to then apply for an Assistant Educational Psychology post which then led to successful acceptance onto the Doctorate course.

The course consisted of placements working as a Trainee Educational Psychologist in three different local authorities, a number of research projects and a thesis. I graduated and have been working ever since for a local authority.

What does your role involve?

I work with children and young people between the ages of 0-19 and the systems around them (school, family, community) using a consultation approach in order to facilitate change. There is a lot of multi-agency and liaison work, which involves working collaboratively with school staff, parents, and a range of other professionals (e.g. Social Services, Speech and Language Therapists, Youth Offending Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to identify and support any wellbeing or additional learning needs.

Adaptability and the ability to communicate with others is key. I work with 15 schools including primary, secondary and pupil referral units and work one-to-one with a child using psychological assessments, individual therapeutic work and observations. I also undertake more proactive group interventions to help the children and young people develop social skills, self-esteem and self-regulation. I also work at a systemic level, supporting schools to develop policies and interventions, and provide training to teachers, LSAs and ALNCOs on topics such as self-regulation, anxiety management, psychological approaches and attachment. There is a lot of administration too- I have to research and analyse the effectiveness of interventions, write reports and ensure that I keep up to date with the latest research in order to provide evidenced based practice.

How did your degree help?

If you want to become an Educational Psychologist having the Doctorate in Educational Psychology is an essential requirement by the British Psychological Society (BPS). My DEdPsy involved 3 placements which were invaluable in finding out the variety of approaches which are used in different local authorities. My 50,000 word thesis explored the impact of teachers using Solution Focused approaches in schools.

What advice would you give anyone else wanting to get into educational psychology?

With fewer assistant educational psychology posts available due to funding cuts, you will have to work harder to evidence your motivation for the DEdPsy course.

Tips:

  • Experience of working with young people and children is essential. Get into a school and classroom setting to get a better understanding of the educational and school systems. Experience beyond the classroom is also invaluable e.g. in youth clubs, sports clubs, playgroups, voluntary agencies. This will give you a holistic insight into what children deal with on a daily basis and some of the challenges they face. It is vital that you gain experience of working with children from all backgrounds with a variety of needs and will be key in being able to demonstrate your communication skills and your empathetic nature.
  • Always consider the link to psychology in what you have done e.g. if you work as a learning support assistant or volunteer with a play scheme, think how you have used psychological principles to deal with challenges successfully.
  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm and initiative by asking to shadow professionals that work with children and young people- social workers, clinical psychologists, therapeutic workers. If they can’t spare the time for you to come out for the day, ask if you can at least speak to them – try to gain insights wherever and whenever you can. Ask questions and demonstrate that you’ve gone the extra mile with additional research- contacts can be key to professional development in this field.
  • Get research experience during the summer- seek out psychology research projects and get involved.
  • Consider choosing a dissertation topic related to children or young people. This will not only help demonstrate your interest and increase your knowledge but could also bring you into contact with a range of other professionals who also work with children.
  • Keep up to date with the latest research- journals such as Educational Psychology in Practice, Educational & Child Psychology, developments in the profession through the BPS and if possible attend any appropriate training courses.

Final note from the Careers Service:

For further advice and information about psychology careers see our ‘I want to work in healthcare’ pages. If you miss our ‘Careers in Psychology’ event, don’t forget you can find content on our Careers Downloads page.

Image from: http://www.morguefile.com

The beauty of your CV is in the eye of the beholder

Curriculum Vitae

We see a lot of students at the Careers Service asking how to produce the ‘perfect’ CV, but the truth is that there is no such thing! How you should present your CV and the information you choose to include will be determined by the industry to which you are applying, the specific role you have chosen, and by how you want to present yourself on the page. A colourful and ‘creative’ CV will not be welcomed in investment banking, whereas you could well be expected to produce something unusual and eye-catching if you want to work in advertising.

We have run many exercises where we ask students to play the part of a recruiter and assess a range of CVs for a particular role, and these tasks always highlight how CVs are subject to our personal preferences; the opinions on what makes a great CV differ wildly between individuals as much as between employment sectors. It is possible for a particular CV to attract one recruiter and completely repel another.

A good example of this variation came up earlier this week when a group of second-year Computer Science students taking our Career Management Skills Unit presented their own research in how CV layouts are perceived. After sending six sample CVs to various engineering and IT employers, it was clear that the recruiters in the personnel division of the companies favoured a more traditional CV, whereas the engineers with whom the applicants would actually be working preferred a much more personalised CV, so that they could get a sense of how that individual might fit into their team.

So, how can you produce a CV that is the best possible match for the organisation to which you are applying?

Do your research! It’s crucial to talk to people in the industry that interests you to find out what they expect to see in applicants’ CVs. Don’t just assume that you know what they want. Use Careers Fairs to meet recruiters as well as our Careers Network to get you started with contacts. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are also great places to ask industry experts for advice.

Target your CV. Make sure that the skills you are showcasing match those that your intended employer is looking for.

Get some feedback. Don’t just send in your CV and keep your fingers crossed! Come into the Careers Service and ask if an adviser can look over your efforts. We can help you to target your CV appropriately as well as highlight what you have to offer.

Have a look at our CV examples to get you started. We have a CV booklet that you can download from our web site containing different styles of CVs to give you some inspiration. It’s also worth getting onto Google and seeing what’s out there; sites such as Slideshare can offer examples using tools such as Powerpoint to create more colourful and interactive CVs, if that’s what you need.

Finally, remember that your CV should be your best representation of what you have to offer, so the person who needs to be the most satisfied with your CV is you!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

(Image from www.writersandartists.co.uk)

Help – I’ve been forced to take a year out!

Help – I’ve been forced to take a year out!

It’s that time of year when many students receiving their degree results have to make a sudden change of plan.  We’re busy right now at the Careers Service seeing people who are rethinking what seemed like career certainties just a few months ago, either because they didn’t get the class of degree for which they’d hoped, or occasionally because they achieved a much higher degree result than expected and they hadn’t applied for any jobs.

Whichever position you find yourself in, it can be a daunting prospect to be graduating into months of completely unstructured time, but this doesn’t have to be a disaster.  Employers are very interested in how people cope with setbacks, as well as how they demonstrate resilience and move on, so the focus should be on treating the unexpected time out as one big potential learning experience.  It could even leave you with a stronger CV than the one with which you start your unplanned year out!

Try to maintain a sense of purpose

What employers will be looking for when you do start applying for graduate jobs is a sense of purpose: that you were able to set goals for yourself, plan ahead and structure your time.  It can be incredibly difficult to motivate yourself when you have empty days looming ahead of you after the bustle of university life, but it’s important to have targets both in the long term – the job you want – and in the short term.  What will you be doing each day to keep moving forward?  How will you organise your days?  It’s crucial to have something to aim towards so that you can maintain your motivation.  Staff at the Careers Service are happy to talk through your ideas and help you to plan ahead, and we are open throughout the summer if you would like to come in for a chat.

Get some work experience

A great use of a year out is to find work experience and sample some different jobs and organisational cultures, as this could help you to make much more informed career choices further down the line.  More work experience can also help to mitigate against the effect of a 2:2, as it can flesh out your CV and show that you are completely capable of doing the kind of work you want to do.  The media has done a great job of convincing people that there are no jobs out there, but we know from talking to employers that this isn’t true.  You will, however, need to be persistent to get your foot in the door.  You can start by looking at the vacancies advertised on the Careers Service web site, and there are several national newspapers that have excellent online job databases, such as the Guardian.

You will also need to make speculative approaches in person, by phone & email and in writing to employers that interest you.  To do this effectively, make sure that you have done your research before you make contact.  Read the company’s web site carefully and make sure that you are clear about the kind of person, skills and experience that they are looking for, as well as reading related publications and web sites to fill in the bigger picture of what is going on in the sector that interests you.  There is information on the Careers web site about how to make a good speculative application.

Finally, try to make use of any contacts that you have to find out about any work experience opportunities.  Talk to family and friends about who they know or get back in touch with any previous employers who could be useful to you.  You can also use the Careers Network of Bristol graduates who are all willing to answer questions about their work and career paths and, in some cases, may be able to offer work experience in their organisations.

Other options

Many students also consider volunteering opportunities, if finances permit, getting involved in a range of projects where you can develop and use skills that employers will value in your applications.  These can be local to your community or they could be an opportunity to travel abroad.  If you’ve always wanted to travel then this could be your ideal time to do it, as long as you can provide evidence of learning and development along the way by taking short-term work or getting involved in development projects.  However, don’t forget that applications for graduate schemes open in the autumn in the year prior to you starting work, and sometimes even earlier, so you will need access to a PC to submit yours on time.  You will also need to be available for interviews should your application be successful.  If you don’t get organised for this crucial period then you might be looking at even more unscheduled time out, so it will pay off to have a plan you can stick to.

Follow up and support

However you decide to use an unscheduled year out, do remember that you can continue to use the Careers Service for a further three years if you are a University of Bristol graduate.  We can provide advice, information and guidance in person, by telephone and also by email, so there is no need to panic if you are on the other side of the world and need someone to give you feedback on your CV!  Just remember to keep track of what you are learning from your experiences, and you should be a solid candidate for the jobs you start applying for in a few months’ time.  Good luck!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser