Tag Archives: employability

How social media can help or hurt you in your job search

LinkedIn is ideal for building a professional network and giving prospective employers a good view of who you are and is a popular medium for recruiting people. However, have you considered your other social media pages when it comes to job hunting? Whether you’re looking for a part-time job, internship or a graduate role, social media can have a key part to play.


Twitter can be a perfect tool to get in contact with organisations. Following a company that you want to work for will keep you up-to-date with company news which could give you an advantage at interview and help you understand the company’s values and brand, plus make sure you see the most recent job vacancies and recruitment dates. You can use it to get in touch with employers too but be careful to remain polite.

You can search for job vacancies on Twitter by searching for key words and hashtags, for example searching for #vacancy or #jobsearch will give you a huge list of tweeted vacancies available all over the world. You could also try tweeting to help employers find you; for example ‘Can anyone suggest a company looking for legal interns? #internship #legal internship #lawgrad #law Thanks!’

Don’t forget that this might lead to employers looking at your profile, so try to choose a sensible username and image. Think twice about what you are tweeting and watch out for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors too. Use the opportunity to present yourself as a suitable candidate.

Employers have been known to check your Twitter after an interview to see if you have tweeted about the interaction so avoid writing anything negative about them or yourself.


Facebook is not really known as a professional network website but many companies and employees are also active on this platform. You could sign up to groups or company pages to help you keep up-to-date with company news and many companies post their job vacancies on Facebook too.

You can post a message on your wall to say you are job hunting – someone in your network might be able to help.

Don’t forget that Facebook isn’t just useful to you – it’s the ideal place for recruiters to check on candidates. Keep in mind your profile security settings as everything they can see on your Facebook profile could affect whether you get invited to a job interview or not.

Don’t think solely in terms of hiding or removing inappropriate content – you can also use Facebook to your advantage. Your Facebook page will hopefully give the employer a good feel for your personality; for example, does your profile show off your interests, skills and experience?

Consider, does the information on your profile conflict with what you are telling employers?

Check out our online information for more ways to research employers: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/careers/find-and-apply/researching-employers/

What’s your USP? – Marketing Yourself with Applications

If all products were the same, how would we choose between them?

A unique selling point – USP – is the attribute that makes a product different from and more attractive than its competitors.

Just as big brands need to hook buyers in with their USPs, job applicants need to find ways to catch the eye of recruiters. So, when applying for jobs, this means showing employers what makes you different, ensuring you stand out from the crowd.

Job descriptions and person specifications outline the skills and qualifications required of an ideal candidate, and in some cases additional ‘desirable’ qualities. However, the jobs market is a competitive place, and many applicants will meet the essential criteria, i.e. many people will be equally qualified to do the job.

This can make the shortlisting process quite difficult – between equally competent candidates, who should get the job? Therefore, as an applicant, you need to be able to offer something extra to differentiate yourself from the others and break that tie. You are aiming to tick all the essential boxes and offer additional benefits too!

Added benefits – USPs

If you think of your application as a marketing exercise, you are essentially promoting your individual benefits to employers and matching those benefits to their needs.

To do this you’ll need to identify your key strengths, experiences and achievements. What do you feel proud of? You are probably more interesting than you may think! Highlight what makes you different and describe the benefits that you can bring to the organisation. Consider all the wider experiences you can draw upon that, in combination, are unique to you.

You will then be able to present yourself as a full and varied package of skills and accomplishments that not only meets the job criteria, but exceeds them.

Of course, you can’t do this if you haven’t sought out opportunities to develop your skills and experience – so now may be the time to find out what you can get involved with to enhance your portfolio of skills.

What might these added benefits or USPs include? Here are just a few examples:

  • Relevant work experience or shadowing in a similar role
  • Further professional or academic study/qualifications
  • Volunteering experience which has developed transferable skills
  • Evidence of achieving personal challenges or goals
  • Commercial awareness – market sector understanding
  • Holding positions of responsibility – e.g. society secretary, course rep
  • Sponsorship or awards in recognition of effort or achievement
  • Engagement with social action or community projects
  • Charity fundraising
  • Evidence of a commitment to a long-held interest
  • Resilience – overcoming personal challenges or extenuating circumstances


The way in which you communicate your skills needs to be confident. Employers are looking for self-assurance (though not arrogance), because they want to be reassured that you have seriously considered the role before applying and know that it is “for you”. You should also look at our list of ACTION words and phrases and incorporate some of this strong, skills-based language into your applications to describe how you have made a positive impact in the past.

Focus on your specific contributions, and don’t be afraid to use technical terms. Using the correct terminology or key phrases will also highlight your market sector understanding and show that you’ve done your research.


Use simple techniques on your applications to highlight the most relevant information by using bold, italic, headings, sub-headings and bullet points. On a CV, you could use columns, boxes or tables to draw the eye towards your most relevant key skills or qualifications. Be careful not to ‘over design’ though. Consider what’s most appropriate for the industry you are applying to.

If it’s a more traditional environment, keep your presentation professional, simple and direct. If you are applying to a more creative industry, you might go a little bit further with your design skills to demonstrate flair.

Either way though, always ask yourself if your application is easy to read? Is it structured and presented in a way that will help the employer to find the most relevant information about you? Employers don’t have much time to look at each CV they receive, so you really need to make the important parts stand out quickly and easily for the reader.

Passion & Personality

Finally, your enthusiasm for any role needs to be clear. Evidence of a genuine interest or passion for the industry and organisation will impress recruiters and reassure them that you’re serious about sticking around in the role. Enthusiasm that demonstrates your motivation and suitability and gives your application an extra shine that employers are eager to see. If you can show this, alongside a thirst to learn, you will be a more attractive candidate. Ultimately, employers will always choose an enthusiastic, self-motivated applicant over a well-qualified but disinterested one. It can be more than a tie-breaker.

Where will you be in 10 years? Speak to Alumni to find out where you could go!

Earlier this month over two-dozen alumni from the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences came back to Bristol for the annual Biomedical Sciences Alumni Careers Evening, an event designed to help current students find out more about the wide range of careers that are open to them.

The event has grown continually, with this year’s being the largest ever. Over 180 students came along to meet management consultants, university professors, company directors, medical students, wildlife film makers and science communication professionals among many others.

Alumni delivering presentation

The evening gave students the opportunity to hear a number of short talks from the alumni to find out about their career paths since leaving Bristol. Students then had the opportunity to ask their own questions about topics such as how their degree has helped them in the workplace, what different careers are really like and what type of work experience is required for certain careers.

Students from all years of study across the Faculty were welcome to attend, from those who were in the early stages of career planning to those targeting specific positions. Those who hadn’t really given life after university much thought and had no idea what they wanted to do found it very useful to speak to people who had been in their position.

When asked what the most useful part of the evening was they said:

‘Seeing and hearing from people on different career paths highlighted areas that I might consider working in once graduated’

‘I enjoyed that the speakers were so varied in career path, it gave me confidence that I can use my degree for many roles’

‘Listening to speakers who went down different career paths and how they got there and why was very encouraging’

If you want to benefit from speaking to alumni it’s worth keeping an eye out for events that may be taking place in your school or society, in particular for the Faculty of Science Alumni Careers Evening taking place in February 2018.

Don’t forget that you can contact alumni all year round through LinkedIn and the Bristol Careers Network. For more information on contacting alumni and professionals take a look at the Careers Service website.

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.  

The Spring Careers Fair 2017

Our final employer event on campus this term was last week’s Spring Careers Fair.

New for 2017: careers fair app

This year we trialled a careers fair app which allowed students to research and prepare for the fair using our top tips section, filter and search to find the most relevant employers by the types of roles they were advertising and the academic departments employers were targeting, and then highlight these employers on an interactive floorplan.

We had over 500 downloads and positive feedback from students who downloaded the app. One student commented, “very helpful to plan who I’d like to speak to. Made my day more efficient. The map was a great feature.” Other comments included, “very useful resource”, “App very useful for prep”.

After the success of the Spring Careers Fair, we will be using the app for all of the careers fairs this autumn, if you want to get a sneak preview of the main features and benefits as well as check out the employers that are still recruiting and attended the event, the Spring Careers Fair app is still available to download – search for Bristol Uni Careers Fair Plus on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Bristol PLUS celebration

Exclusive to those who completed the employability award, the fair opened early with a welcome and the chance to speak to employers more directly over coffee and pastries.

The Bristol PLUS Award provides a framework to help you enhance your CV, develop a variety of employability skills and be more prepared for the interview process. A degree is no longer enough to make you competitive in the recruitment process. The Bristol PLUS Award rewards University of Bristol students who have gained significant skills and experience through activities outside of their studies.

Careers Service pop-up event & Bristol Opportunities area

One of the marquees outside the event held a Careers Service pop-up event with lots of taster talks open to all students as well as offering specific advice for postgraduate students. For those students still confused about their career options staff were on hand to offer one to one advice. The other marquee was the Bristol Opportunities tent, offering a list of immediate vacancies in the city, the chance to meet some local employers and advice on applying to the UoB Internship Scheme.

Employers love Bristol students

With a leading global reputation, and one of the highest rates of employability in the UK, your degree from the University of Bristol will help you get wherever you want to be. The quality of today’s students attracts many recruiters.

Employers from a diverse range of business areas attended this event including media, charities, consulting, finance, teaching, hospitality and IT, to meet with students and promote their organisation as well as upcoming and available opportunities. Around 2 thirds of these were SMEs with the rest being larger organisations. Many commented on the calibre of students and the conversations they had.

“Very inquisitive students.”

“It was a pleasure to meet the high quality students at Bristol.”

“It’s always great to visit Bristol Uni – lots of interested students with lots to bring to the charity sector.”

“A fantastic event for students to drink with cups from the fountain of business knowledge from fossils like ourselves.”

Missed out? You can still catch up

We are here to help you get to where you want to be when you graduate, offering you careers support in person, online and over the phone. The Careers Service opening hours are Monday to Friday 9:30 pm to 4:45 pm and in vacation 1:30 am to 4:45 pm. You can download the app to research employers and get ahead for next year. Our employer events programme will resume in the autumn term so check mycareer for updates.

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 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.


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?


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.


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.


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

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.

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!


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.


Madeleine Dwyer, 3rd year Psychology student 

Media Careers Conference

Every year the Careers Service puts on an event dedicated to finding out about careers within the media industry.  So if you think you’re the next Jon Snow, Arianna Huffington, or even Don Draper (see Mad Men!) then this is the conference for you. Last year the conference took place at the beginning of Easter and all students could choose two pathways and attend workshops linked to those pathways. These were: JournalismFeatured image Publishing Advertising, marketing and PR Creative industries Broadcast (TV and radio) Film and production The speakers at the conference ranged from recent alumni now working in film production through to the former Director of BBC World Service and Global News. The conference gave students the opportunity to talk with employers and alumni and find out more about different areas of the media industry. Last year speakers included representatives from

  • BBC
  • Dorling Kingsley
  • McCann Erikson
  • Films@59
  • The Sun on Sunday
  • Cardiff School of Journalism
  • Heart FM
  • Immediate Media and many more

What did the participants have to say about the conference? “I went into the Media Conference not knowing much about the Media Industry; I came out knowing more about the ins-and-outs of what a job in media entails. We heard from a wide range of people within the industry, covering journalism, social media and documentaries. They described what it takes to work in the industry, what experience you need, and what to expect from a job in media. This conference helped me understand what I do and don’t want from a career, finding out more about any job you’re considering is definitely worth doing to help point your future in the right direction for you” Madeleine (Current UoB student) How else did the course help the participants?

“I learnt about the processes and differences between jobs and companies”

“Learnt that journalism is something I’d love and learnt what to do and how to get there”

“Realise that post production is something I would really enjoy doing”

“Found a company I am interested in contacting”

“Made contacts and have a clear idea of different career paths available to me”

“Have specific areas in marketing and PR I’m interested in”

“Understand that there isn’t one set way/importance of contacts and networking”

“Eliminated some career paths and became more interested in other areas”

Media Careers Conference 2015 This year’s conference is taking place on Monday 30th & Tuesday 31st March 2015. To book your place, go to the Careers Service website “I found the media conference really helpful, mostly as it let me know that what I was doing was the right thing, and I also got a few pointers on how to get work experience.” Max, UoB Graduate 2014, now working as a Sports Journalist