Time to take stock


woman-1172718_960_720

You may remember, we spent the first half of term encouraging you to get involved with all sorts of activities from work experience to volunteering, student societies to attending careers fairs.

Hopefully, you did do one or two things – but there’s no point in just doing! We suggested trying things out so you could build up experiences and develop your skills, as well as to have some fun.

So why not take some time to think through what you’ve been doing and what it’s given you? It’s a good idea to record the activities you do and also the skills you’ve gained. This will make a handy prompt when you’re applying for jobs or further study and you need to give some examples.

Not sure how to do this?

If you need some help thinking this through, try the following resources.

Not had chance to do anything yet?

Don’t worry, there’s still time to get involved. Here are some ideas for things to do next term.

  • Volunteering – deadline Week 5 for applications for Summer Term opportunities
  • Placement Year – for 2nd year undergraduates, who don’t have this as an option on their course. Register interest by 20 Jan
  • Network – Careers in… events. Check the events schedule
  • Enterprise – lots of competitions and events coming up
  • Recruitment – Assessment Centre and Interview Experience will run again in Spring. Check the events schedule

2nd undergrads – putting it all into practice

Don’t forget, if you’re a second year undergrad, you can apply for York Award Gold in the Spring Term. The application asks you to describe the activities you’ve been involved with and what you’ve gained, as a result.

Keep a look out for more information – including the application form and deadline – via the Careers Bulletin, delivered direct to your inbox.

Advertisements

Graduate careers: what are the alternatives?


 

At this time of year there are lots of posters, publications, messages and events about graduate jobs, whether they’re schemes run by big companies or ‘mainstream’ graduate careers.

What happens, though, if you’re not interested in working for a large corporate or don’t want to go into ‘traditional’ work after university?

It’s not to say the role of an accountant, retail manager or management consultant isn’t challenging and interesting, but obviously they don’t appeal to every student or graduate.

4 alternative approaches

alarm alarm clock analog analogue

Not working 9 – 5 to make a living

Work doesn’t have to mean the usual office hours. Flexible working is widely available for ‘typical’ jobs, as well as the more unusual working environments. It could involve compressing working hours – working more hours on fewer days during the week or working from home, giving you more freedom for fitting in work and home life.

Portfolio careers (because one size doesn’t fit all)

Why have just one job, when you can have several? In some sectors (eg the creative industries, consultancy, etc) portfolio careers can be the norm. However, it may be an individual’s lifestyle choice, enabling them to have a variety of roles or test out possible career/business ideas.

Our alternative working web page details both flexible working and portfolio careers, as well as self-employment.

daylight environment forest idyllic

The great outdoors (or somewhere other than an office)

You may not know exactly what you want to do as a job, but you might be clear that you don’t want to work in an office. If that’s the case, you need to check out careers in a variety of environments. Try generating some career ideas, using some of the resources listed on the career planning information sheet. Alternatively, see what different jobs entail with Prospects’ generic job profiles. However, be prepared – many jobs may require you to be office-based, so even if you’re ‘out and about’ for most of the day, you may spend some time in an office!

Small is beautiful

The large companies you see on campus are not the only option.  There are also small/medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and in the UK small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector companies in 2017.* So, it’s unsurprising to know that a lot of of graduates go on to work for these sorts of employers.

There’s more information about working for SMEs on our website.

person holding black card

Want something alternative?

Have a look at the resources mentioned above first and then book a careers advice appointment via Careers Gateway to discuss things further.

Science student?

You might also be interested in our Science careers outside the lab information sheet and 10 alternative science careers.

 

* FSB – www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics

Careers fairs – what are the benefits?


LawCareersFairSo, the next few weeks see the career fairs making their appearance this Autumn. Which means lots of employers on campus, showcasing their graduate jobs, placement year offerings and internship opportunities.

Obviously a recruitment fair is not the only way to find work – you can search for vacancies online or even have them sent direct to your inbox, and you can read up on companies via their websites.

So why go to a fair?

Straight from the horse’s mouth (if you pardon the expression!)

You can’t find out about a company and the roles they’re offering any more direct than at a fair. Also, you’ll get a better feel for the culture of the firm and whether it’s a good fit for you.

In your shoes

Often employer reps attending fairs include current graduate trainees, who can give you an idea of what it’s really like to work there. As they were in your shoes only a year or so ago they know what sorts of things are important for you to find out. Their personal insight can tell you so much more than the company website.

Which leads us on to…

Questions their websites can’t answer

You may get a useful amount of basic information from a company website, but what happens if you’ve got further questions? It can be difficult to contact the company and ask them. Speaking to employers at a fair can answer those questions much quicker and more easily.

Make a good impression

Talking with employers in the informal environment of a fair makes it more personal and allows you to show your enthusiasm and interest outside of the pressure of the formal recruitment process.

Don’t know where to start?

If you’re unsure of what to say to employers, the fact that there are lots of other students about, means you can listen-in on some of the questions they ask, to give you some ideas. Plus the format of the fairs means it’s quite acceptable to listen-in without appearing impolite!

All the fun of the fair

Career fairs are usually lively and busy and are actually quite good fun, so why not give them a go?

By the way…

Be sure to do a little reading-up on the companies attending, so you know at least what they do. Employers soon get tired of hearing the opening question of “what does your company do?” – especially when you could have found that out beforehand.

We’ve got more info about preparing for fairs in our information sheet, Making the most of careers and recruitment fairs.

To tweet or not to tweet. Managing your online presence


Social media – great fun, isn’t it? Keeps you in touch with friends and lets you share your experiences (partying, travelling, trying new things) and thoughts (what you really think of the latest Celebrity Big Brother…).

Your use of social media gives an impression of who you are, but don’t forget employers use it too to let you know about their business.

Get the lowdown

Following organisations or individuals you’re interested in on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is a great way of getting an insight into different companies and being among the first to know when they advertise a new job opportunity. You can pick up lots of snippets that might be useful when applying for jobs or going for interview too.

Join York Alumni Association on Facebook and LinkedIn as your fellow graduates do post opportunities to those pages and it’s a great way to badge your profile to strengthen your personal brand.

There are also some handy tips on using social media in your job hunting from Prospects  and GradIreland.

Showing your professional side

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet – and don’t think it’s too soon in your career to have one! – take a look at LinkedIn’s guide for students, which will talk you through creating a good profile and then using LinkedIn to find out about employers.

LinkedIn is great for finding out the latest in sectors/industries, as well as hearing about employers. It’s also a useful networking tool, helping you to make contacts and add to your knowledge.

So, if you’re going to spend some time on social media anyway, why not use it for your job hunting too?

“Tell me about yourself” Cracking the interview


There’s some great help and advice on preparing for, and attending, job interviews in our info sheet. It includes thinking about how you’ll answer interview questions using the CAR or STAR technique. Use whichever you find easier to remember, to help structure your reply.

Answering the question 

CAR stands for Context, Action, Result. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Questions starting “Tell me about a time when…” can be tackled effectively by using CAR or STAR –  talking about the situation you faced and what was required of you, what you did, and the outcome or result, and what you learned.  Note that the result does not always need to be perfect!  If it didn’t go quite right, you might still have learned something really useful to apply in a future situation.

10 reasons why interviews go wrong (according to employers)

1. Candidate doesn’t give sufficient evidence of what they’ve achieved.

Prepare some concrete examples of what you’ve done

2. Poor level of knowledge from a candidate, who has gone for a job in a specialist field.

Are you sure you’re right for the job? If so, gen-up!

3. Ill-defined aims or lack of career planning.

You don’t necessarily need to have your future mapped out point by point, but you should be able to express your initial goals

4. Unable to express thoughts clearly.

Prep and practise!

5. Candidate doesn’t ask any questions about the job.

The company website might be very comprehensive, but there’s bound to be something it hasn’t told you

6. Poor personal appearance.

Haircut, clean fingernails, clean interview wear and don’t slouch!

7. Candidate doesn’t show any real interest or enthusiasm for the job.

Employers want to feel you’re committed to the role. If you’re interested, you’ll do a better job

8. Evasive about unsatisfactory performance.

Be honest and show you’ve learned from any instances from your own experience

9. General lack of confidence.

Tough one to address, particularly if you’re nervous. However, if you’ve been invited to interview, you must have shown something to interest the employer, so take heart from that! Practise answering questions and if you’re well prepared that will boost your confidence too

10. Overbearing, arrogant and conceited.

No one wants that sort of character working in their company. If you’ve achieved lots – great, but you can be modest about it too!

Hire me! The art of drafting job applications


Naturally, you’re keen to land that first job, so it’s tempting to send off lots of applications to ensure major coverage. It’s quite quick to write an application and then copy and paste with a few changes, where needed.

However, it’s more effective to spend the time on a few high quality, well-tailored, applications than lots of generic ones. It may take longer, but a personalised, well-researched application will be more likely to hit the mark with an employer.

Preparation is key

Take time to research the organisation and the job, and to reflect on your experience and skills (including your degree and time at York), before you start an application, and check out this guide on what to do.

There’s also a helpful info sheet on what to include in your CV.  (This resource includes a personal profile in your CV, but this is optional so only do this if it works for you.)  Use active words to let employers know what you’ve done and the impact of it – here’s a helpful list.

CV Feedback

We’re always happy to give York grads feedback on their CV – just send it to us via Careers Gateway and one of our Careers Consultants will have a look at it for you; often it’s just a case of a couple of tweaks to make more impact.

 

 

Where do I go from here? Exploring career directions


You may wish to you have a job, which draws on and actively uses your degree subject knowledge. Start with Prospects’ ‘What can I do with my degree?’ and click on your subject or the closest one to your programme.

This resource will give you ideas of jobs which are either directly related to your degree or where the subject would be useful.

The information here also covers the sorts of skills you will have acquired through your studies, as well as destinations of graduates from that same subject area.

What are other York grads doing after University? 

You can get ideas by looking at the career stories of other graduates from your department in York Profiles and Mentors.  (You need a York log in to ask alumni questions direct, but if there is anything you particularly want to ask, get in touch with us at careers@york.ac.uk, and we’ll see what we can do.)

The profiles make interesting reading with alumni covering a range of topics, including what they do, how they got there, the recruitment process, and advice and tips for others.

What’s right for me?

Sometimes a personality assessment can be helpful in identifying your personality strengths and preferences, and how these might relate to your career choices.  The SHL Direct personality questionnaire, for example, analyses your strengths in eight key competencies, helps you understand what these are and how could use them in answering interview questions.

There are other tests available, some free of charge and others charging for a more detailed profile, eg Team Technology’s personality and careers tests, What career is right for me?, Career choice profile.

These resources are intended to help you think about your next possible steps, so don’t think you have to have your entire career mapped out straight away! As always, we are still available to help you, whether that’s through a chat with one of our staff or a pointer towards information that’s relevant to you and your situation.