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Essential guide to planning your future


Welcome to Bath Spa University What Bath Spa graduates do A–Z of Employability at Bath Spa About Bath Spa Careers


Choosing a career – getting started Creating your CV Earn while you learn


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12 17 22

The employer’s view of the perfect graduate Gaining work experience Gaining experience – placements and internships Gaining insight and network contacts – mentoring options Gaining skills – Bath Spa Plus Gaining prestige – student prizes and competitions

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The yardstick – how ready are you? Launch action plan Graduate option: get a job Applications Covering letters Interviews Psychometric tests Assessment Centres Graduate option: make a job Networking Graduate option: postgraduate study Graduate option: studying or working abroad Opportunities for international students

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Your Career Timeline and Freelance Quiz


the little blue book | Introduction | Welcome

Welcome by Adam Powell, Head of Employability Hello and welcome to The Little Blue Book – your essential guide to planning your future. A first for Bath Spa University, this information-packed guide has been written exclusively for you by our very own employability and enterprise professionals. Experts in their fields, the Bath Spa Careers team knows loads about your course, what options lie ahead for you and, importantly, are available year-round to help and support you in your personal and professional development. We’ve drawn together the very best hints, tips, tools and resources on how to get ahead in your career planning, no matter what stage of your degree you’re at, and have organised these in to three easy-touse sections:

Ignite: Thinking about your career, a first look at your CV and working part-time Engage: What employers want, gaining experience, making contacts, developing your skills Launch: Your action plan, applying for jobs, networking, staying competitive It really is never too early to start thinking about what you want to do after university, as you’ll need to use your time at university effectively to help you stand out from the crowd. Whether you want to know more about getting a parttime job whilst studying, securing a placement or starting your own business, The Little Blue Book – and the team behind it – is here to help.

Finally, this year sees the roll-out of a brand new online portal – CareerHub – designed to give you the very latest details on relevant jobs (part-time and graduate jobs), careers workshops and other opportunities as soon as they become available. This online tool also enables you to make and manage bookings for events and appointments online, create and maintain your online CV and portfolio, and access a wealth of information to support your career development.

Best wishes

Adam Powell PS. To make sure you get the most from all our support and resources, visit www.bathspa. today and sign in to CareerHub – we look forward to seeing you online and in person!

So, we hope you enjoy The Little Blue Book and find it a useful companion while you’re here. We’d really welcome your feedback (you’re best e-mailing careers@ to do this or send us any other query) and if you think your friends/classmates at Bath Spa University would benefit from it, do please tell them to pick up their own personal copy from Bath Spa Careers, located within Newton Park Library. the little blue book



the little blue book | Introduction | What graduates do

What do Bath Spa graduates do? Bath Spa graduates enter a diverse range of careers, ranging from public sector management roles and graduate schemes to starting their own businesses (particularly in the creative industries) and teaching.

Each year we contact everyone who graduates from Bath Spa University to find out what they’re doing around six months after the end of their course. This Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey – or DLHE for short – gives us crucial data relating to the career pathways of our graduates and is the same dataset used by newspapers to compile university league tables. Here are some headlines from the latest survey of Bath Spa graduates: • In January 2011, 90% of Bath Spa graduates were in work or further study, six months after graduation. • Of those in full-time employment, over two-thirds (69.3%) were working in graduate-level jobs. • Despite the continuing pressures in the jobs market, 6.1% of Bath Spa graduates were seeking work at the time of the survey, compared to 7.6% nationally. • One in eight graduates (12.4%) entered self-employment, either establishing their own business or pursuing a freelance career. • Three-quarters (73.7%) of graduates were working in the South West of England

In addition to the ‘employers cloud’ above many other local and national organisations including: local authorities, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large and independent retailers, catering and hospitality chains, financial services and utility companies.

21 jobs secured by Bath Spa graduates since 2010…

…21 employers recruiting Bath Spa graduates since 2010

Along with the ‘job cloud’ on the right here a host of other self-employed occupations such as: actor, artist, choreographer, graphic designer, lecturer, musician, photographer, scriptwriter, teacher, textile designer, web designer To find our more about what Bath Spa graduates do – or what options exist within your own degree – visit Bath Spa Careers and speak to a careers consultant. If you’d like a real insight into different job sectors and the wide range of opportunities available, let us know ...we could even help you find an industry buddy or mentor! the little blue book



the little blue book | Introduction | A-Z


of employability at Bath Spa There’s so much to tell you about, we couldn’t possibly fit it all in here. So to help you get started and know what to look out for, here’s our alphabet of Employability at Bath Spa University Achievements Like employers we value your achievements above and beyond your degree Business start-up Turn your commercial ideas in to reality and enter our annual business enterprise competition

Careers support Our team of careers professionals is available to you all year round Diversity We provide impartial, confidential and accessible careers support for all Enterprise We help prepare the social entrepreneurs and creative problem solvers of tomorrow Flexibility Our support for students is available to all, no matter what or how you study Graduates Our talented graduates follow a wide range of career paths into a variety of jobs Help We’re proud of the support you can access from tutors, lecturers, careers staff and industry experts Industry We work closely with business to develop and accredit industry-relevant degree programmes Job Shop We’ll help you gain good quality, local part-time employment during your studies

Know how We’ll equip you with the know how (and the know who) to gain that competitive edge Lectures Every course has employability at its core, delivered through lectures and seminars

Teaching We’ve a long tradition of training excellent teachers, making learning our business

Mentoring Get advice straight from the horse’s mouth, from an influential industry mentor

Universal Our range of interactive career development sessions is available to all students

Networking Secure placements, projects and jobs with our employer networking events Opportunities We broker opportunities to help you gain experience and develop new skills Placements Placements and projects feature in most degree programmes and beyond Qualifications Your degree (and what’s in it) matters – we help you translate this for employers Residencies We’ve entrepreneurs-in-residence on hand to work with you during your course Self-employment Want to be your own boss? We’ll give you the tools and help to get started

Volunteering We’ve loads of opportunities to help you gain some great skills whilst helping others Workshops From freelancing and networking, to interviewing and career searches, there’s a session just right for you Xtra-curricula A growing range of clubs, societies and accredited activities will help enrich your CV You We know that every student is an individual, and we tailor our support to you Zzzz It’s not all about employability and careers though. You’ll have time for loads of fun and catching up on some well-earned sleep! the little blue book



the little blue book | Introduction | The Careers Service

About Bath Spa Careers Bath Spa Careers is an open access careers information and guidance service. Our aim is to enhance your career prospects, whatever you decide to do. We are here to help you plan your future, make the best possible use of your time at Bath Spa University, and to realise your career ambitions. We can help you in the following ways: • Access to experienced and qualified staff, including professionally qualified careers consultants. • Individual careers appointments, drop-in information and advice, e-guidance and live online chat facilities. • A programme of workshops and presentations, delivered through Bath Spa Plus and via your curriculum on a wide variety of topics from ‘Create your Graduate CV‘ to ‘Networking’.

• Access to relevant and up-todate impartial information on careers, postgraduate study, psychometric assessments, work experience and working abroad. • Access to paid, local, part-time and vacation work via our JobShop, including campus jobs. • Current information about graduate employment opportunities, latest news and labour market trends. • Advice on CVs, application forms, interviews and assessment centre activities. • Mock interviews. • Advice if you are considering changing course or leaving university. • A user-friendly website. • Additional support to those students, who may be disadvantaged in the graduate workplace. Careers guidance appointments are available throughout the year, including the summer vacation. Appointments are impartial and confidential, focusing on your needs as an individual. If you have a quick query, you may prefer to see us during one of our regular careers drop-in sessions. If you are unable to attend in person, we can arrange a telephone appointment or you are

welcome to use our e-guidance or live online chat facilities The Newton Park careers centre is situated on the first floor of the Newton Park library. It is staffed 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.00am to 4.30pm on Fridays. Outside of these hours, students are welcome to come and browse the careers resources, when the Newton Park library is open. In addition, a careers consultant is available one day a week at the Sion Hill campus. Please book online, telephone or email to make an appointment with a careers consultant for either campus. For careers advice On choosing a career; skills development; CVs, applications, interviews; where to look for jobs; options for postgraduate study Contact: 01225 875525 For part time work opportunities On campus; external employers Contact: 01225 875864

For advice on our placements and industry mentors programmes Contact: 01225 876211 For enterprise advice On self-employment; business start-up; competitions; enterprise workshops Contact: 01225 875556 The Newton Park careers centre contains a wide range of material to help you with: • Job seeking advice (CV profiles, application and interview advice) • Work/study abroad options • Voluntary work/placement opportunities • Postgraduate study • Permanent jobs • Free magazines on job hunting and graduate opportunities to take away

We are here to help you plan your future, make the best possible use of your time at Bath Spa, and to realise your career ambitions.

Students with disabilities and those with specific learning difficulties are encouraged to make use of the support offered – ideally from early on in their academic studies. the little blue book


Choosing a career Getting started Take the first steps to fire up your employment plan


the little blue book | 1: Ignite | Getting started

What are your options? With any decision there are always choices and preferences – thinking about your future is no different. Essentially, there are four main options when you graduate: • Getting a job, whether a graduate level job or other valuable job experience to start you on your career path • Making a job, whether that’s starting your own business, being self-employed or freelancing • Going on to postgraduate study or another course, to develop your existing knowledge and skills further • Taking some time out – to travel, volunteer, take a temporary job

Whichever route you choose, it’s useful to have some ideas about career areas that interest you. The world of work is quite complex these days. You’re unlikely to come across opportunities if you’re not actually looking. Also, if you’re unaware of yourself and your capabilities, you’re unlikely to connect with an opportunity when it presents itself. Prof Stephen Ward, Dean of the School of Education, says: “For a career in education, think about schools and teaching but perhaps think further. Children’s services include many posts for you, if you want to work with – and care about – children and young people.” Remember: • There’s no short cut to finding out what your options are • Time spent exploring options now will be more fruitful in the longer term than falling into the first thing that comes along • Going on to further study or taking a gap year just because you don’t know what else to do is an expensive way to put off the inevitable thinking you need to do

• Careers evolve over time, so keep in mind that right now you are looking for a role to set you in the right direction • Only you can decide – it’s up to you to work it out. However, the Bath Spa Careers Service can support you throughout There are two approaches to working out what you should do with your professional life. You can look at your skills, interests and motivations and then look for jobs that match them. Or you can look at jobs that interest you and then see whether you have the necessary skills to do them.

Six steps to get you started! Step1: Knowing about yourself To make a good decision about your future, you need to base it on the things that you know you like, your values, what motivates you and where your strengths lie. All this is what makes you different to anyone else and potential employers will expect you to be able to describe yourself in these terms in applications and interviews. You’ll feel more confident and your responses will be easier and more convincing if you’ve thought about your strengths, motivations and interests. Have you ever thought to define what your values are? You need to specify them because if your job doesn’t fulfil them, you’ll end up feeling you’re in the wrong place.

Motivations can be either personal (money, security, autonomy over your work, quick promotion, interesting work, intellectual challenge, travel opportunities) or linked to organisation type (environmentally aware, helping the disadvantaged, public service). But you might have other ones – invest a little time in identifying them, it could point the way to the type of job for you. Try using the web-based tool, which provides activities to help you assess your skills, values and motivators without relating it to actual job titles. It has sections on ‘where you are’, ‘what sort of life you want’ and ‘how you can start working towards your goals’.

Step 2: Identify your skills and attributes Some skills are easy to identify, such as driving a car, word processing or playing an instrument. These are often things you’ve learned and become good at. ‘Soft skills’ or natural attributes are grown throughout life without you taking much notice and are often linked to the things your family and friends value you for.

Examples of this type of skill are problem-solving, team work, listening, organising, negotiating and leadership. Think about what activities you have done which could illustrate how good you are to an employer. Your attributes or personality can also have some influence on your fit with different jobs. Are you an innovator, a good listener, a leader, an organiser, patient, introverted, outgoing, outspoken? the little blue book



the little blue book | 1: Ignite | Getting Started

Step 3: Finding out what jobs are out there Try working through the Prospects Planner Programme ( Pplanner). This will help you build up a profile of your skills, interests and motivations. It then uses this profile to make suggestions about potential job roles and helps to generate new career ideas by analysing what motivates you, what skills you enjoy using, etc. You could then book a session with a Bath Spa careers consultant to discuss the findings. If you want to explore options related to your course subject, look at Options. In the ‘Options with your subject’ section, you can look up your degree subject and find a list of jobs directly related to your subject, along with jobs where your degree would be useful. An alternative source of detailed information on different careers is

Georgia Leaper, BA Creative Writing with Publishing, Trainee PR Consultant at Marcom PR, says: “Be openminded – I did a Publishing & Creative Writing degree and, although I may still eventually want to work in publishing, getting a job at a PR agency is invaluable experience and has taught me a lot about something I didn’t necessarily think I wanted to work in.”

Step 4: Developing your ideas At this stage, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of ideas/ options that you want to explore in more detail. Doing a bit more research can really help you confirm your impressions about the job or industry sector you are interested in.

Read and research As well as using the Bath Spa Careers Service’s library and online resources to find information, read journals and publications produced by or about the industry/field you are interested in. • Try the Prospects Planner • Bring the results to your careers appointment • Explore career options for your subject

Talk and listen Friends and family can be a great source of opinion and advice in the first instance. However, also find people to talk to who are working or studying in the areas you are interested in. • Get in touch with a Bath Spa graduate through our alumni mentor scheme. • Apply to the Industry Mentors or Buddies Schemes. • Talk to employers at careers fairs and campus presentations. • Go to open days held by organisations or industryspecific taster days. • Ask people you know to put you in touch with anyone in a relevant field.

Look and learn Work shadowing is another way to gain real insight into a job/ organisation. In the same ways as above, you can sometimes get permission to shadow someone in their day-to-day activities for a day. This can help you see a typical role in the work environment and decide if it’s right for you.

Try and test There’s nothing like putting yourself in the way of opportunity – and some careers require that you gain relevant experience to show your motivation and commitment. There are several options you could consider:

• Internships and placements: structured opportunities that employers provide in order to attract talent to their organisation. These are often available to students in their penultimate or final years of study.

• Work experience: can be paid or unpaid and is usually for a short amount of time; you’ll get to carry out real work tasks, observe those in roles you aspire to and make your name known to employers who might consider recruiting you when vacancies arise.

Georgia Leaper, BA Creative Writing with Publishing, Trainee PR Consultant at Marcom PR, says: “Do work experience while at uni (in holidays) – I didn’t and it meant I then had to work for free (at my internship) for 3 months after uni when I had no student loan anymore. It may also help you to decide what you want to do after university.”

• Volunteering: allows you to take on a role within a relevant environment. • Paid work: can get you into a relevant organisation or department. Even in a junior or administrative role you’ll learn about an employer’s business and organisational structures. A word of warning…decide what you want to get out of it before you start and stick to those goals – it’s very easy to just drift along once you start getting paid! the little blue book



the little blue book | 1: Ignite | Getting Started

Step 5: Making it happen

Step 6: Keeping it going

This is the point at which you need to reflect on what you have learned and use it to make firmer plans. Your research to date should have given you information about where to look for vacancies and how to apply. And participating in Bath Spa Plus events will have helped prepare you for selling yourself to an employer or admissions tutor. If you are unsure about these things or need help to organise your ideas, our Bath Spa careers consultants are skilled in helping you find the right solutions – so book an appointment and come and talk to us.

Not only will this be an ongoing process while you are at Bath Spa University, you’ll probably be repeating this sort of self-assessment throughout your working life. We all change as people – our skills, aspirations and needs all alter over time. Also, by being in the workplace you will come across new opportunities that aren’t available to you at this stage.

• Keep thinking about what you might want to do in the future • Keep thinking about what makes you enjoy your work and what you would like to change • Keep your CV up-to-date • Keep prepared for any opportunity that comes your way • Keep in touch with Bath Spa – it’s helpful to the development of our services and courses to know where and what you do in your career and you are eligible to access the Bath Spa Careers Service for up to three years after graduation

Creating your CV Your CV is a marketing tool – promoting your skills, qualifications and experience. It’s a good idea to start one early on at university, so that you can add to it as you gain skills and experience – rather than have to recall everything when you’re under pressure to meet a job application deadline. There’s no universal blueprint for how to set up your CV, as every employer will have different tastes. This gives you a degree of freedom to use your creativity in writing the content and creating the layout. Your CV will be effective if... • It has visual impact to capture the employers’ attention • It reflects your personality and strengths • It fits the industry and organisation you’re aiming for

• It shows that you have specific skills to do the job

2.Clarify your career goals and current job objectives.

Before you start:

3.Think about the kinds of skills, experiences, and qualities needed to do the jobs you’ve described in your objective. Think about what an employer would look for in an employee doing those jobs.

• What do you know about the organisation/industry you’re writing this for? • What are the requirements of the opportunity you’re applying for? • How do your skills and experience match the recipient’s needs?

Constructing the content of your CV How to begin… 1. Draft a skills and experience list - start brainstorming and making notes. Write down every job you’ve had (paid or unpaid), any organisations to which you’ve belonged, any leadership positions you’ve held, any special projects you’ve initiated, any awards you’ve received, any languages you speak, any specialist computer or other skills, any interests, travel you’ve done, or anything else significant to you. Remember that not all of these are likely to be included in your final CV, but it will help to get it all down where you can see it.

4.Return to the items you wrote down in your skills and experience list. Think about which of those most closely relate to your objectives, and which will be valued by potential employers. Think about which demonstrate the kinds of skills that would be needed for the job described in your objective. 5. Select those items – you now have the basic items for your CV. Next you will need to organize them into categories that link to the requirements of the job description. the little blue book



the little blue book | 1: Ignite | Getting Started

The following sections and headings form an initial structure for your CV. You could also include achievements, interests etc.

Other work history

Contact details

Additional skills

Include your address, email, contact numbers and website/blog if it is appropriate. Ensure your email address is professional in nature.

Personal profile This is 3-4 sentences summarising your key skills and experience. It can also include your career objective.

Education and qualifications Put your most recent first; you can include details of your degree studies such as modules, specific skills learnt, final project, achievements etc. You do not have to list all your GCSEs. If your modules are particularly relevant it may be good to include brief descriptors rather than just listing them.

Relevant experience Include the date, your role, name of organisation/company and your duties or achievements. Try to use power words such as ‘initiated, ‘responsible for’ etc. In this section you can include relevant voluntary or unpaid roles.

in this section you can list your jobs, including the date, role and organisation

include any other skills you have. These could be IT, languages, etc.

References You do not need contact details. It is fine just to write ‘references available on request’.

Choose your format CV format is an important consideration. There are three common formats: 1. Chronological: This is the most commonly used type of CV. It is a listing of information presented in reverse chronological order (ie your most recent studies and jobs are shown first). This format is particularly effective if you have relevant experience. 2. Functional / Skills Based: This approach emphasises capabilities and skills rather than job titles or time spent at various jobs. The format is effective if you have limited work experience and want to highlight transferable skills. It can be particularly effective if you have experience that appears diverse or

unrelated but nonetheless supports your suitability/ potential for a position. It can also be useful if you want to change your career direction. 3. Mixed: Since the most important function of your CV is to portray you in the best possible manner, you might find that a combined format works best for you. There is no one right way to do a mixed CV. Visit sample_cvs to see examples of different CV formats

Layout tips

Get creative

• Your CV shouldn’t be more than two pages - some employers such as the media industry, like a one-page CV • Remember, the information on the first page has more impact • Place the sections in an order that ensures that your strengths stand out • Be consistent in font, spacing, text alignment • Have clear headings • Avoid long paragraphs • Use white space between items – if the page is crowded, it’s harder to read • Be sure the document photocopies well and is email-able

An artist or designer-maker’s CV differs from a normal CV, as it is usually sent for a very specific purpose such as an exhibition, competitions, residencies etc.

Trish Brown, BA Music, says: “Update your CV regularly and cater it for each job application. Also ensure that your online presence directly reflects the CV. I use my website as a master sheet really, and then for my CV, I select elements that are specific to the job I’m applying for.”

• The ways your work has developed and where it is going • The materials or skills that you use • The meaning of your work and key themes • Your ambitions • Your intended market • Your influences • Personal reflections • Your personal and professional beliefs/ethics

This CV should only include information that is relevant to your artistic/design achievements and not include any unrelated positions and education. Most artists/designer-makers include a statement about their work and philosophy as an artist/ designer-maker. This can be several paragraphs long and include any of the following:

Joe Bennett, Head of School of Music and Performing Arts, says: “Make sure your web presence is impressive, particularly if you’re putting together an online ‘ showreel’ or other portfolio of creative work. Employers (and sometimes even other universities) will Google you anyway: they will certainly visit your website if you supply a web address. Proof-read your site as fully as you can – some employers will bin your CV straight away if they see a spelling mistake or misplaced apostrophe.”

Part-Time CVs If you need to produce a CV for a part-time job in the retail or hospitality sector, an employer will usually be more interested in your relevant experience rather than your current studies. Since employers may have limited time to read your CV, a simple one page can be effective. The sections and headings for this type of CV can be:

Contact details Ensure you include your mobile number so an employer can quickly get hold of you. the little blue book



the little blue book | 1: Ignite | Getting Started


Power words

Rather than stating your long-term career goal or objective you would want this to highlight your relevant work experience, attributes and your availability to work, ie parttime, term-time only position.

Recruiters have to trawl through many CVs and applications, including some that seem indistinguishable and unremarkable. Help them to find what they want by using direct, positive and appropriate language in your application.

Work history Include your roles and responsibilities - even if you think they are basic, they may be just what the employer is looking for. If you have worked in retail, include that you have served and advised customers, taken payment by cash or card, promoted any special offers, handled any complaints etc.

Education and qualifications In this section you do not have to include a description of modules or what you have gained from your degree unless it is directly relevant.

References It is sufficient to put ‘references available on request’, unless the employer has specifically asked for them.

For useful words and phrases to use in CVs and job applications, go to

Checklist is your CV ready? Tick off what you have done!


Achieved (4)

Done your research Have you identified the skills and qualities needed for the job? Have you looked at the employer’s website? Have you researched what type of CV is most appropriate for the industry you are applying for?

Targeted the job Have you provided evidence that you have the skills and qualities needed for the position? Are you being honest? Can all statements be backed up? Is it concise? Have you only selected information that is relevant to the position? Does the order of the sections help your best selling points to stand out?

Looks professional Is your design consistent in terms of alignment, spacing, etc? Does it photocopy well? Is it emailable? Is the style and language appropriate for the employer / industry? Are grammar, punctuation and spelling correct?

Created visual impact Do the design elements help your strengths stand out without being distracting? Is your CV attention grabbing? Would it stand out from a pile of applications? Does the look of the CV show your style and creative abilities?

Sought Feedback Have you obtained advice from friends, tutors, people in the industry? Have you shown your CV to a Bath Spa careers consultant? If an employer rejected your application, did you ask for feedback? the little blue book



the little blue book | 1: Ignite | Getting Started

Earn while you learn To help prepare for working life, there’s nothing to beat gaining some experience of it. Working part-time while you are studying can give you the opportunity to develop your skills and test out different employment sectors before you graduate – not to mention give a welcome boost to your bank account. Based on the Newton Park campus, the Job Shop is a dedicated student employment service operating during term time. It’s there to support you in finding paid, local, part-time and vacation work during your time at Bath Spa University. The Job Shop advertises a wide range of vacancies in the local Bath area, as well as vacancies internal to the university.

As a guide, we recommend that full-time students work no more than 15 hours per week during term time, to allow time for their academic studies. However, we recognise that many part-time or postgraduate students may have more free time to work longer hours. It is also possible to divide a full-time vacancy between two or more part-time jobs, allowing more flexibility for both you and the employer. If you are interested in finding part-time work, as a registered student, you will be given access to vacancies and receive email alerts with individual vacancy requirements. Job Shop staff will help you through the application process and help you identify the skills you’ll be gaining through these employment opportunities, which will help your future career prospects. The Job Shop is located upstairs above the Library in Room LY.1.02b.

Opening hours (term time only) Monday to Friday: 12.30pm – 2.00pm Thursday: 12.30pm – 4.00pm Friday: 10.00am – 2.00pm

Contact 01225 875864

Xavier Snowman BA (hons) English Literature with Creative Writing 2008–2011

Kara Rennie Foundation Degree in Publishing 2009–2010

Xavier secured the role of Library Helper, providing assistance to library users and library security outside of core Library opening hours. As well as the requirement for excellent customer service skills, the work involved general office duties and computing skills.

Kara worked 2 days a week for 3 months (Oct to Dec 2010) for The Manning Partnership Ltd as Sales & Office Administrator. Working as part of a team and using her own initiative to prepare for sales meetings, Kara fulfilled a variety of office duties, filing both electronically and physically, ordering samples, liaising with publishers and customers, plus reception duties, etc.

Xavier started a 1 year internship with the London Library when he completed his studies. “I know I wouldn’t have got the Internship if it wasn’t for my experience of working in the University Library”. Xavier sees his library job as a stepping stone to achieving his future career aims. After the internship, Xavier plans to study for a Masters in Information Management and then hopes to work within the area of media research, preferably for the BBC.

Kara found the work interesting and relevant to her degree. Her creative writing skills were extremely valuable when writing and uploading information onto Amazon, which proved to enhance sales and contribute to the success of the business. “My long term career plans are to use my degree, either in an editorial or writing role. The experience I gained in this job will enhance my CV and give me lots to talk about at interviews – having worked in an industry related to my degree is so useful.”

Kim Goddard BA (Hons) Media Communications & Cultural Studies 2005–2008 Kim worked for the small charity Horseworld throughout her time at university (3 yrs) on a part time basis in term time and full time during vacations. She often worked as Duty Manager of the Visitor Centre at weekends, managing 2 staff members. She also assisted the marketing team with leaflet and poster promotional material. Kim’s long term career goal was to get a marketing role within the charity sector. After graduating, Kim was offered a full-time position with Horseworld to run their Marketing Department. “I would like to thank the Job Shop and careers service staff, as without them I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go for this full-time role.” the little blue book


On the journey Gaining experience Practical ways to fuel your career and add skills


the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience

The employer’s view of…

The perfect graduate

By joining clubs and societies, gaining work experience (through placements, part-time/vacation jobs or volunteering), attending skills development workshops or doing anything else to go that “extra mile”, capturing this in an exciting CV or portfolio may well give you that competitive edge over others and move you a step closer to being that “perfect” graduate.

OK, so there may be no such thing as the “perfect graduate”, but there are a number of skills and What do employers want? attributes that will help A report published in March 2011, by the CBI and NUS, describes you stand out from the employability as being “a set of crowd, whether you’re attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants applying for jobs or should possess to ensure they have pitching for business. the capability of being effective in With over 350,000 people leaving university with a degree each year, a degree alone is no longer enough to secure good employment. Employers will look at the skills you have developed and experiences you have gained throughout your time at – and prior to – university, to help them distinguish between potential candidates. It’s therefore more important than ever that you don’t just focus on lectures, modules and assessments whilst you’re here.

the workplace – to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy”. The report, entitled “Working towards your future: Making the most of your time in higher education” goes on to say that the key foundation to employability is a positive attitude, which itself involves “a readiness to take part, openness to new activities and ideas, and a desire to achieve results.”

This positive attitude (sometimes described as ‘the spark’) underpins everything else that employers are looking for in graduates and might include characteristics such as a willingness to take part and openness to new activities and ideas. The main capabilities that employers are seeking include: Self-management: your readiness to accept responsibility, flexibility, resilience, self-starting, appropriate assertiveness, time management, readiness to improve your own performance based on feedback and reflective learning. Team working: respecting others, co-operating, negotiating, persuading, contributing to discussions, your awareness of interdependence with others. Business and customer awareness: your basic understanding of the key drivers for business success and the importance of providing customer satisfaction and building customer loyalty. Problem solving: analysing facts and circumstances to determine the cause of a problem and identifying and selecting appropriate solutions.

Communication: your application of literacy, ability to produce clear, structured written work and oral literacy, including listening and questioning skills. Application of numeracy: manipulation of numbers, general mathematical awareness and its application in practical contexts (eg estimating, applying formulae and spotting likely rogue figures). Application of information technology: basic IT skills, including familiarity with commonly used software. Recent surveys of UK businesses all agree that the majority of employers value these kinds of employability skills in graduates more than specific occupational, technical or academic knowledge/ skills associated with the graduate’s degree. This highlights that such skills are essential for all graduates in today’s job market. Indeed, even as a selfemployed freelancer or businessowner, possessing a similar range of employability skills will give you a greater chance of success when working on your own or in partnership with others.

There will, of course, be certain levels of skills, knowledge and experience required as pre-requisites when entering specific industries, detailed in many job adverts, job descriptions or sector-specific web resources. However, an awareness of these generic skills and how you can demonstrate your level of ability against each one is crucial when applying for any job (regardless of sector) and will stand you in good stead for success, whatever you aim to achieve. Bob Mytton, Owner and Managing Director at Mytton Williams Ltd, says: “Mytton Williams has worked with some excellent students and graduates from Bath Spa University over the years, either employed in permanent roles as designers or on work placements. They’ve been good team players, creative and very willing to learn. They also demonstrated real attention to detail and been able to think clearly and logically about a problem.” the little blue book

The key foundation to employability is a positive attitude… a readiness to take part, openness to new activities and ideas. CBI and NUS



the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience


Work experience The top UK employers say that half of all posts will be filled by individuals with previous work experience or individuals who already have work experience with their particular company. These days you’ll want something in addition to your degree to give you an edge in the graduate employment market. Employers tell us that they look for evidence of work experience, as it helps to show transferable skills and demonstrates that you are willing to make an effort. If you undertake work experience, you’ll find jobs more quickly and easily. If you don’t have work experience, you may have to get it after graduation before moving into paid roles. Trish Brown, BA Music, says: “Try and get as much market specific work experience as possible. That way you’ll discover whether you really do want to work in that industry whilst also enhancing your knowledge and understanding of the sector.”

There are a variety of ways you can get work experience and the best way to do it depends on your situation. Options include working during holidays, part-time alongside your course or through volunteering in your spare time. Consider approaching organisations of interest to you, to see if they have any opportunities to help you gain experience.

Tips for successful work experience

When choosing and undertaking work experience or volunteer work, make sure it helps you to develop skills and experiences that will enhance your job applications or qualifications.

Be proactive: ask for tasks or identify things that need doing; don’t just wait for work to come to you.

Prior to starting, outline your objectives so that you are clear about what you want to learn. During your work experience, review your objectives now and again and make notes about things that stand out to you. Afterwards, reflect and note what you have learned and what skills you have developed, along with what it means for your future. This will help you get more out of the experience, prepare you to explain your learning to employers and provide content for your CV.

Show development: demonstrate your ability to learn on your own without supervision and use the opportunity to impress.

Be enthusiastic: a positive and helpful attitude will make a good impression and may get you involved in more interesting or important projects. Clarify uncertainties: if you are not sure what your employer expects of you, ask questions. Get feedback: during as well as at the end of your work experience, so that you have the opportunity to develop areas that you are not doing so well at (if any).

Placements & internships Network: use the time wisely; learn about the organisation and career possibilities by talking to people in different jobs; get to know people; stay in contact afterwards with people you have met – they may be a good reference for you or may offer you a job someday. Seek support: if you are having problems, talk it over with a tutor or careers consultant.

Placements are a useful way for you to gain an insight into a work environment, acquire new skills and make informed career choices through first-hand experience. Emily Foster, BA Graphic Communications, says: “It’s always important to be flexible. You do all sorts of things really – I was often doing elements in publishing that I didn’t expect. So go in with an open mind and enjoy the placement for what it is: experience!” Any time is a good time to do a work placement, but the earlier the better. Some formal placement schemes are only open to penultimate year students. If you’re looking for these, then you need to start planning and applying during the Autumn of Year 2 of your degree. It can take time to organise, so allow enough time to research opportunities and to prepare your CV, application form and covering letter.

Top five essentials for securing a work placement 1. Sort out the CV Before you contact companies, create or update your existing CV. Your CV must be targeted to the organisation you are applying to. Why not come to one of our Bath Spa Careers workshops on CVs running throughout the year. Remember to include a short email message or a cover letter explaining why you want to work for them, and what skills you can bring. Be clear why you are contacting them. 2. Pick up the phone Sometimes, it’s just better to pick up the phone and speak to people. Businesses get dozens of emails every week, so a chat over the phone could set you apart. Be ready to send on your CV afterwards though. 3. Find companies to contact Get on the internet and search for companies within your field, check out company websites for advertised placements, and don’t be afraid of the little blue book



the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience

the yellow pages and business directories. Speak to tutors and careers consultants at Bath Spa Careers for ideas of where to look. 4. Don’t just set your sights on one company It’s a good idea to spread things out so you have a better chance of being successful. 5. Follow it up For the speculative application to work - this is a must! Most people don’t do this, but it shows how motivated and enthusiastic you are, as well as reminding them about your CV. Be prepared for a few knockbacks, perseverance is the key.

It will probably be your responsibility to take the initiative and find a placement or internship… the following websites can be a useful start: • _experience • • • • • •

Assessed placements For some students, a work placement will form part of your academic studies, where you are required to gain work experience in order to put your academic studies into practice in a real environment. You are then assessed on the reflective journal you write about the experience. Assessment also includes feedback from the employer. Those students who have completed a placement as part of their award tend to get better jobs and higher salaries when they graduate. A designated tutor in your School of study will help you if you are doing a placement linked to your award. An assessed placement with academic credit is over a minimum period of 140 hours, which can be undertaken one day per week for 20 weeks or within an intensive time period such as every day for four weeks. Assessed placements are run directly by your department or through an ‘Open Module’ available to most students across the modular scheme. You will be assigned a relevant tutor, who will monitor your progress over the

placement period. Your tutor will be able to supply you with a placement handbook, which outlines the employer, student and tutor roles and responsibilities during the placement process. Simon Barbato, Managing Director of Mr B & Friends Creative Ltd says: “In the last three years, we have recruited three high quality students in either placements or internships with two of those going on to join us full time. On each occasion we have been delighted with the level of enthusiasm, capability and comparative intelligence from each recruit.”

Internships (Non-assessed work experience) For other students, it may simply be a case of participating in a non-assessed placement – also known as an internship - in order to develop new skills, make new contacts, enhance your CV or find out more about your chosen career path. These will be overseen by the University’s placements coordinator.

Rosa Watkins BA English Literature & History

Andy Bevan BA Graphic Communications

Rosa undertook a very wide range of tasks on a three month placement with SW Foundation, including contributing to grant management, organising and running events, research towards funding applications and support for high level meetings. She met many different and interesting people from other charities and community groups. Specifically, she gained skills in writing and producing reports, research and data handling, running events, attending conferences, representing the Foundation, taking minutes at meetings, website design, database administration, and learning about fundraising strategies.

Andy volunteered for a twelve week work placement with Big Squid, which has led to a permanent job with the company as well as teaching opportunities at the University. Big Squid is a small Bristol-based company, which combines creativity and technology to provide titles, content graphics and special effects for TV and corporate projects.

Rosa says: “It has been such a great organisation to be involved with and I feel I have learned so much more about the third sector and community/voluntary organisations. It has been such a friendly and interesting place to work and I really appreciate being able to get involved in lots of different areas, learning lots of new skills”.

For Andy, the long term placement brought the following benefits: • The opportunity to develop commercial awareness and bridge the gap between the academic and business world • A developing network of contacts • Increased confidence to deliver projects to clients “We have had the privilege for the second year running of placing a young, talented and hard-working Bath Spa University student, who we have been able to continue to employ.” Richard Higgs Managing Director, Big Squid

Andy says: “I learned the great difference between educational design and commercial design, and how to understand the expectations of clients in terms of deadlines, attitude and the finished product. My job prospects were dramatically improved with the benefit of commercial experience, as well as knowledge of how to approach and converse with clients.”

Declan McGlynn BA Creative Music Technology “The graduate placement scheme at Future was invaluable. It put me right in the middle of a worldwide media agency and the experience was something I believe will not be easily attained without these types of schemes.” “If I could have given the graduate a job, I would. He is continuing to do freelance work for the magazine. I will keep in touch as we are about to expand with the development of the new Music magazine website.” Daniel Griffiths, Editor Music Magazine, Future Publishing the little blue book



the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience

What the students said

Gaining insight & network contacts

Mentoring options Buddies Many courses now embed industry ‘buddies’ in curriculum programmes – check out whether your course is one of them. Limited numbers of students on these courses are matched with a Buddy from a related industry sector and then meet with them several times over the course of the academic year. Buddies are real professionals from real companies, who volunteer their time to pass on the benefit of their experience and commercial insight into their industry. It’s a light touch form of mentoring that could help you make career decisions as well as giving you something to mention at interview or on applications. You also reflect on the experience and what you have learned as part of your course work.

Industry mentors programme Bath Spa University’s industry mentors programme can offer you the opportunity to receive expert advice, guidance and access to business practices from businesses and organisations in your chosen field. You will be matched with a mentor relevant to your career aspirations and then it’s over to you to get the maximum experience from a six-month mentoring partnership with your dedicated mentor. Benefits to you include improving your employability skills, gaining knowledge about business dynamics and developing a network of industry contacts. As well as clarifying your career direction, it can also lead to opportunities for employment and commissions of work, plus a valuable experience to enhance your CV. Further detail at Matt Graham, BA Graphic Communication: “I was mentored by Roger Proctor at Proctor & Stevenson throughout my final year, gaining amazing insight into the design industry. Having the opportunity to gain such valuable advice was amazing. I

displayed my current projects and received useful feedback and was encouraged to explore new areas, new digital mediums to make myself more employable. Roger laid out a plan and said at the end of my year he would host a mock interview for me, allowing me to experience what a real interview would be like. This led to an actual interview for an internship with Proctor & Stevenson in competition with other students. A few days later I was offered the internship and I’ve loved every single day. I would not be here if I had not signed up to the Buddy Scheme. Best decision so far!” Sabrina Hazelwood, BSc Environmental Science mentee 2009, says: “The mentoring programme has been a great experience – they are a really great team of people. I have been able to achieve the key aims of my mentoring agreement with Cain – I’ve developed experience of working with an environmental business, met new contacts and explored different job opportunities. Above all I have received valuable, practical experience, which reinforces the knowledge gained at university.”

Amy Tuckwell, BA Media Communications mentee 2010: “The mentoring scheme has been brilliant and as far as I’m concerned I would be happy to continue it less formally. My mentor has been a constant support for me, allowing me to come to certain shoots with him, putting me in touch with the right people and advising me on how to contact them. I honestly don’t think I would have achieved as much as I have without his guidance and as such I am now thoroughly prepared for the world of work in ways I’m not sure I would have been without him. I would hugely recommend it for future students.” Caroline Lain, MA Design (Ceramics) mentee 2009: “Jessica has been the best mentor. It has been a real privilege working with her. Her expertise and knowledge has been invaluable, always going out of her way to provide me with any useful resources and advice. It was also really refreshing to meet with someone in industry, gaining fresh perspectives on business marketing. The mentoring programme is a wonderful

opportunity to gain essential skills, knowledge and experience in business and I highly recommend this opportunity to any aspiring Bath Spa student” Helena Parson, BA Dance mentee 2010 “Alan [Harding, Bodyjack] helped me mainly by looking at all the skills that I have and the areas of the industry that I could work in. It was very useful to talk about the ideas that I have and the things that I need to consider. He asked me how I might go about certain things such as leading workshops, which made me think of things that I hadn’t realised. Alan also looked over a contract for me before I agreed to join an agency company. Talking with Alan really made me positive about all the things that I am capable of doing, and helped me make some decisions about where I go next, and what this would enable me to do in the future. The mentoring programme has been really useful for me!” Gurminder Phull, BA Business & Management mentee 2010: “It was great having somebody to talk to who understood the areas

of business that I was looking to get into. As an overall programme I have found it very helpful. Each meeting really helped me to put a structure around what I need to do and also forced me to provide clarity on my own development, as very early on what I considered to be my objectives and goals were in actual fact quite flimsy and not well defined.” Max O’Brien, BA English Literature mentee 2010: “My time with my mentor was spent discussing the publishing industry in quite general terms; the company’s structure, how the different departments work together etc, as I became aware that I had little knowledge of the industry beforehand. We discussed possible areas in which I could work and ways into those careers upon leaving university. I spent some time at the SFX offices where I spoke to the staff on their role within the company and their background experience previous to working there. We also spoke in some depth about the application and interview processes for certain roles and what I could expect when looking for a job. the little blue book



the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience

What the mentors said

I found the whole mentoring experience incredibly useful and felt in particular it had prepared me for the practicalities of moving from education into employment. Overall I was very happy I took this opportunity and am sure it contributed to me getting a job in the industry faster than anticipated”

“We recently took on a Bath Spa University Graphic Communications student following a very successful student mentoring experience. This has worked out really well and he is currently working and delivering on paid projects. We’ve were impressed by his professionalism and ‘can do’ attitude, plus his attention to detail – an excellent testament to the student and their grounding.” Roger Proctor Managing Director Proctor & Stephenson

“Sabrina’s proactive approach has ensured that the mentoring process is a positive experience for both parties. Staff of Ecosulis Ltd have really enjoyed working with her and we are glad that she has had the opportunity to gain some insight into the workings of an environmental consultancy. Sabrina’s help on our projects has been really beneficial and it is through mentoring and similar programmes that we hope to meet future employees.” Cain Blythe Managing Director, Ecosulis Ltd

Alumni mentors Looking for job market information? Trying to break into an industry new to you? More questions than answers about your chosen career or profession? If you are exploring career options, work environments or company cultures, getting in touch with an Alumni Mentor could be a great way to learn, network and gain a real-world perspective. Many graduates keep in touch with Bath Spa University and some volunteer each year to be Alumni

Mentors, so that they can pass on to you the benefits of their experience of entering certain industries and challenges they faced and have overcome. An alumni mentor can help you with detail about what’s involved in their type of job, what it’s like working for their employer or being self-employed, their experience of the industry they work in, and tips on the recruitment process or breaking into a particular profession. By registering into the scheme and expressing an interest in making contact with an Alumni Mentor, you will be able to see the online directory profiles of Alumni Mentors and make contact by email or telephone to ask them something specific related to your particular career development interests. This could be something to do with skills, career opportunities/paths, perspective on specific industry functions and expectations, etc. We hope that in years to come after you’ve graduated, you too will want to join the ranks of Alumni Mentors!

Gaining skills

Bath Spa Plus It’s free. It’s for you. It’s here to help you acquire essential personal and professional skills whilst at Bath Spa and equip you with invaluable tools and techniques for life beyond university.

Bath Spa Plus is for you if you want to do one or more of the following: • Acquire new skills and brush up existing ones • Develop your CV and self-promotion techniques • Improve your learning • Stimulate new ideas and new ways of thinking • Enhance your employability • Achieve your enterprise potential • Network with employers and industry experts

You’ll find enterprise skills workshops, employer events, sessions about volunteering from Just V, workshops from Careers and the Student Study Skills Centre and a host of activities throughout the academic year. For details and booking, go to Georgia Leaper, BA Creative Writing & Publishing, Trainee PR Consultant Marcom PR, says: “Make the most of events such as the networking one held at the uni

– not only can they provide useful connections but they are also just a good confidence booster and great practice for meeting/greeting and communication skills. They also look great on a CV if you havn’t much work experience.”

Careers workshops and events What employers want: learn about the attributes, skills and experience employers look for in a graduate; 10 tips for success when aiming for a graduate level job. What you can do with a your degree (for Psychology, History, Sociology, Geography, Food & Nutrition, Biology, Music, Creative Writing, Business & Management): take a look at the skills you have developed on your particular degree, investigate different career paths related to your subject and where to look for vacancies. The ethical career path: reasons for choosing an ‘ethical’ career; types of job sectors; how to research ethical organisations. the little blue book



the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience

Routes into teaching: different options for teaching careers; PGCE; graduate teacher programme; how to secure work experience in primary/secondary schools; how to structure an effective PGCE personal statement. Discover graduate recruitment schemes: what they are; understanding the application process; know where to look for opportunities. How to write a brilliant CV: whether starting from scratch, updating your CV ready for graduation, creating a CV for parttime jobs or needing to include a range of experiences as a mature student, these workshops explore the various options for the best type of CVs for your own circumstances; how to create a great impression by ensuring your strengths and experiences stand out; how to effectively tailor your CV to vacancies and speculative applications; what to include as well as what not to include. Get to grips with covering letters & speculative applications: top tips to create a great impression; formats; what to include as well as what not to include; identifying and avoiding typical mistakes.

Stand out in application forms: tips on completing application forms; how to use the job description and person specification and make a positive impact; identifying and avoiding common mistakes; methods to demonstrate your skills and experience.

Secure a work placement or internship: the link between work experience and employability; how to independently find an opportunity and negotiate the terms of your placement; tips for managing the placement and recording skills development for your CV.

You’re hired! interviewing for success: interview preparation and research; creating a positive impression; popular interview questions and tips on how to answer with confidence; practice answering typical interview questions in a fun and supportive environment.

Applying for postgraduate study: options for different types of courses; the application process; how and where to apply; tips for personal statements; potential sources of funding.

Succeed at assessment centres: learn about what an assessment centre typically involves and other interview activities; have a go at some assessment activities in this practical workshop; know how to effectively prepare; strategies for coping on the day and dealing with group exercises. Maximise your job search: where to look for graduate jobs; discover the best websites, journals and newspapers for vacancies; how to access the ‘hidden job market’; using networks and social media for your job search.

Working abroad: factors to consider; typical types of work, where to look for country-specific opportunities; teaching English as a foreign language.

Enterprise and business start-up workshops If you want to develop enterprise and business skills to enhance your career ambitions, these workshops, one-to-one business advice and networking opportunities will help you. A typical range of workshops is shown below. Sign up for them at Bath Spa Plus. Negotiating & influencing skills: there are times when we need to negotiate conditions, timings or price and in these situations it can be vital to get what you want. This workshop introduces you to the tips used by the best influencers and could be useful if you are thinking of starting a business, freelancing or being self-employed after university. Business start up – the basics: the majority of new businesses fail in the first 12 months due to lack of direction and preparation. This workshop starts you off with some practical skills and tools for analysing and realising your business idea.

How to structure a business plan: helps you document and write your business plan in a clear format that includes strategies, customers, marketing and forecasts. Market research for your enterprise: takes you through the practical aspects of techniques, customer and competitor profiling, and using market segmentation and trends. Marketing & advertising for your enterprise: know the difference and use your market research to put you on the path to substantial growth for your business. Sponsorship & fundraising for your enterprise: tips on starting your sponsorship efforts as early as possible and being organised in your approach. Useful for those undertaking enterprise projects as part of their studies. Financial recording & taxation for start-up businesses: identifies the records you must keep as a business or selfemployed person and how to keep them up-to-date efficiently.

Nataliya Babicheva, BA Business & Management 2010, says: “The finance event helped me build an effective cash flow for my business plan.� Selling your services & closing the deal: whether intending to freelance, set up a business or be an exceptional employee, this workshop gives you tips on the art of salesmanship to convince customers and clients to invest in your business and buy your goods or services. Concept to reality 1-2-1 advice ressions: gives you the opportunity to discuss your business idea with one of our entrepreneurs-in-residence. the little blue book



the little blue book | 2: Engage | Gaining experience

Penny Seume, MA Design (Textiles & Fashion) 2010, says: “The one-to-one Concept to Reality sessions with the Entrepreneur-inResidence made me think of lots of items I wouldn’t have known previously, such as useful organisations for me to network with and also try for funding.” Presentation skills: whether you need to pitch for business, persuade a potential investor to fund your enterprise or convince a competition judging panel, this workshop will help you create a presentation with a clear message and deliver it with confidence. Successful freelancing in the creative industries: freelancing can be a rewarding and flexible way of working. This workshop is designed specifically for artists and creative practitioners and will show you how to go about it. Introduction to project management: introduces you to processes and techniques, to help you take part in projects with confidence.

Georgia Leaper, BA Creative Writing & Publishing, Trainee PR Consultant Marcom PR, says: “I attended the one day project management course in my final year and WISH I could have done it in my second year because it would have taught me very useful time/ project management skills that I could have applied to my uni work.”

Gaining prestige

Student Prizes & Competitions Student prizes and awards Enhance your CV with a prestigious Student Prize award in recognition of excellence and endeavour above and beyond the academic curriculum. Prizes are sponsored by businesses and organisations related to specific subjects, as well as internally by departments.

CV competition Bath Spa Careers runs a CV competition in the Summer, including for creative CVs, and offers a cash prize. The CVs are judged by a panel of experts.

Business enterprise competition Enterprise skills and experience are assets on a CV, whether you find a job with a small business or a larger company. Taking part in the annual Bath Spa Business Enterprise Competition could be the next stage on the journey to your career. It’s also an opportunity for students to win substantial funding to invest in business start-up ideas. The competition supports enterprising students to develop their idea into a workable business plan. There are helpful workshops, advice from entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentoring throughout the Autumn and Spring terms. The competition can be a useful structure for those students thinking of self-employment, freelancing or running their own business after graduation. the little blue book

Rosanna Campbell BA Music & English Literature 2010, says: “Whilst at University, I highly benefitted from the excellent services offered by the Bath Spa Plus enterprise events. In my final year of studies I developed a business idea – Musica – with the guidance of the Entrepreneur-in-Residence through the Conceptto-Reality 1-to-1 advice slots, and from this won the Bath Spa University Business Plan Competition and later the Ivita Best Social Enterprise from the Universities Southwest Enterprise Awards. The enterprise workshops provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to run a successful business, and I am now able to explore the options of expanding. Without the activities, I would definitely have struggled in turning my creative idea into a successful business”


Getting there‌ Getting out there How to be absolutely ready for take off!


the little blue book | 3: Launch | Getting out there

Here are a few key issues to consider as you work through…

Your Final Year

There are still jobs out there! There’s a lot of news in the press about the number of applications for each graduate level job. Don’t let the statistics put you off applying for a job!! Competition is tight which means: 1. Apply to lots of jobs – not just the ones advertised, consider speculative approaches. 2. Apply early for jobs – don’t wait until the deadlines. 3. Remember – a lot of graduate schemes are advertised in the Autumn term. 4. Produce a high quality CV or application for every job. 5. Get support and help from our team of professional careers staff. Our Careers team can help you get started and give you feedback on CVs and applications.

Ring us on 01225 875525 to book a careers appointment, or drop in to one of our careers clinics run daily Monday to Friday, see website for current times. 6. Build your networks. Apply for an industry mentor to gain insight and contacts in your chosen field; ask people you know (family, friends, former employers, etc.) for help and advice on how best to find a job and names of other contacts who might be able to help. 7. Consider postgraduate study or other qualifications, especially if it could improve your employability in the long run. There’s a wide range of postgraduate study opportunities at Bath Spa University. Why not talk over the pros and cons with one of our Careers Consultants? 8. Continue to develop your skills. In case you don’t find a graduate job immediately on graduation, think about developing skills through parttime work, internships, placements, self-employment and voluntary work.

How ready are You?

Do a spot check on how prepared you are for the graduate job market… (opposite page) How did you do? – see our guide to scoring results below

Under 10

Not ready yet! There are key things that you urgently need to be doing to get that job. Draw up an action plan of what you need to do and make an appointment to see a careers consultant for advice.


Almost ready – but still need to brush up some areas! Take action now on areas where you didn’t score so highly. See a careers consultant if you need some help.


You’re good to go! Everything’s in place and you’re in a good position for finding and making a successful application to the vacancy that’s right for you.

The Yardstick Test

Question Score

Your Score

Do you know what job or career you are aiming for? I know exactly what I want to do after graduation 4 I have a good idea of what I want to do after graduation 3 I have a few ideas but I’m not sure yet 2 I still have no idea 1 How much do you know about the graduate labour market? (you can pick more than one option) I have some good work experience relevant to what I want to do 4 I have some work experience but it’s not what I want to do 3 I have attended employer presentations / careers fairs this year and/or had an industry mentor this year 2 I have talked to people / alumni mentors doing the type of work I’m aiming for 3 Where are you looking? (you can pick more than one option) I am registered with Graduate Prospects 3 I know where vacancies for my type of industry career will be advertised and am checking them regularly 3 I’m registered with some recruitment services as well as researching in a variety of places 4 I’m making speculative applications by sending my CV and covering letter to potential employers and relevant people recommended by personal contacts 5 How well will you stand out? I’ve got a clear and concise CV with relevant detail 4 My CV still needs some work on it 3 I’ve got so much to put on my CV that it’s now several pages long 2 My CV describes the content of my course modules 1 Overall Total the little blue book



the little blue book | 3: Launch | Getting out there

Launch Action Plan A clear action plan can really help you get what you want. It can make it easier to see where you are now, where you are going and how to get there. The type of action plan you draw up will depend on what stage you are at in your progress towards graduation and deciding on a career. Build your action plan by asking yourself the following questions: 1. What do I want to achieve? Think about your personal priorities – researching your options, deciding on a career, applying for a job, etc? 2. When do I start? What’s the timescale? When should this be finished by? At what points should I stop and review progress? 3. How do I achieve it? What resources and help will I need? Are there people I should talk to or events that I need to attend?

Specifically defining your goals and the steps necessary to achieve them can help move you along the path of personal development. Goals can relate to features of your academic work or developing competencies or skills. Equally, they can be exploratory or directed at specific career goals. It’s important to choose goals that you can realistically achieve.

An action plan is a statement of a goal that you want to achieve followed by a list of actions necessary to achieve that goal. It’s good practice to set goals and create action plans at the end of each term in order to plan what you will do for the coming term.



Timescale Resources

(what are your aims?)

(tasks involved)

(to complete actions)

eg Decide on career choice

Review options using careers websites Oct – Nov

(what/who can help?) Prospects Careers consultant

Look at destinations graduates from my course have gone to Oct – Nov Bath Spa Careers

Apply for an industry Bath Spa mentoring mentor Oct - Nov coordinator

Talk to people who work in the areas I’m interested in

Get some work experience Bath Spa placements in relevant sector Nov – Dec coordinator/Tutor

Discuss options with Bath Spa Careers a careers consultant Jan – Feb Tutor

Evaluate all information

Nov – Dec

Mar – Apr

Alumni mentors

Graduate Option:

Get a job What is a graduate job?

Here’s how you might set out an action plan for yourself. Make an appointment with one of our careers consultants to discuss how to make this work successfully for you.

Progress Made (record/date of achievement)

The term ‘graduate job’ can be confusing, and people often equate a graduate job with a place on a graduate training scheme. However, other types of graduate level jobs might be advertised by organisations at any time, as and when the need arises. Richard Godfrey, Founder & CEO at iPrinciples and KoodibooK, says: “Bath Spa University has provided iPrinciples with some exceptional talent over the past four years, providing a great internship programme and enabling us to hire four outstanding and creative graduates who have proved critical to our business.”

Graduate Training Schemes Structured graduate training schemes only represent a small proportion of the overall number of jobs suitable for graduates. These schemes are common for some types of work in general management, finance, accountancy, engineering, etc. However, in sectors like media and the creative industries, ad hoc opportunities are more the norm.

Graduate training schemes tend to work to an annual recruitment cycle and have a long ‘lead in’ time - you would usually apply early in the autumn for a start the following September – so timing for these is crucial. Where to look for graduate training schemes: • • • • • Where to look for graduate job opportunities: • Search for opportunities, latest news • Search for opportunities by sector and region • Search for jobs, career fair listings, latest graduate news •www.gradplus. com: A comprehensive graduate careers website • A graduate recruitment website • graduate-jobs: Look for graduate jobs, employers For a complete list of useful websites for graduate job opportunities, go to the little blue book



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Speculative Approaches Don’t forget - you can make jobs come to you! Most websites have RSS feeds which you can use to receive regular updates on latest news and opportunities. You can also make speculative applications, make the most of your contacts and consider social networking sites! Trish Brown, BA Music, says: “Don’t be afraid to work in a completely different area to what you ultimately aspire to. With the job market being very tough (especially for creative jobs) it’s all about transferable skills and demonstrating that you are a pleasant and productive employee who isn’t just another graduate who’s decided to not work because they can’t get immediate employment in the industry they want to.”

Short-Term Contracts and Grant-Funded Work Short-term contracts and grantfunded projects are becoming increasingly common, particularly where companies have specific projects to be completed during a limited time period and particular skills are in demand. Whilst this option may look unattractive to you because you are looking for full-time permanent work, contract positions can lead to valuable experience and offers of permanent employment.

Temporary Jobs If you are uncertain about your career plans, temporary jobs can help to clarify career interests. It gives you the chance to test out different work environments and explore career possibilities whilst generating income. It can lead to skills development as well as offers of permanent work. A successful period of temping can provide a foot-in-the-door as well as evidence of flexibility and ability to learn new systems quickly and effectively.


There’s no getting round it – application forms are a stepping stone on your route to a job and they are often your first introduction to a potential employer without you even being present. So they are important. Whether on paper or online forms, the same general principles will apply for completing them.

Tips for Completing Application Forms • Read the whole form before attempting to complete it. • Take a photocopy (or print out an online form) and draft your answers on the copy so you can be sure your answers fit into the space provided. • Use examples from all aspects of your life eg education, work, volunteering, interests and hobbies. • Make yourself sound positive and enthusiastic. • Clearly communicate your qualifications, skills and experience. • Fill in every section – even if it means putting ‘not applicable’. • Don’t leave gaps in your life – it looks as though you have something to hide. Explain what happened honestly

and positively. • Remember recent, relevant and robust – your answers must stand up to scrutiny. • Don’t enhance your grades – you will be found out! • Check for grammar and spelling mistakes (make sure your spell checker uses English UK language). • Ask your referees’ permission before you use them. Try to get at least one referee who has seen you working, eg during work experience placements or in a part time job. • Keep a copy of your final version for interview preparation. • Submit or post the form before the closing date. • You can see a member of the Bath Spa Careers team for an application form review. Here are some common questions on application forms, which you could prepare for. You could also come and discuss them with a careers consultant. • Why do you want to apply to X company? • Why have you applied for this role? • Think of a time when you were

doing something as part of a team. • Give an example of when you had to use effective communication skills. • What is your greatest achievement and why? • Tell us what you perceive to be your most challenging/fulfilling work experience.

Target your responses Employers use application forms to get information about you specific to their own needs and the job requirements. • Research the career itself using relevant careers websites such as • Analyse the job advert and person specification • Research the organisation via their website / brochure • Meet the recruiter at careers fairs and open days • Talk to careers consultants, tutors, and alumni who may know about the organisation. • Read the sector’s professional magazine or business press • Speak to the professional body if appropriate the little blue book



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Personal statement In requiring a personal statement, the employer is asking ‘Why have you applied for this role?’ This is your chance to impress them by matching your skills and experience to what they’re looking for. Let them know: • what attracted you to this job • how your qualifications and experience are relevant • how your skills match the job’s requirements • what you’re willing to do to upgrade your skills or qualifications - especially if there’s something in the job description you don’t have • which aspects of your personality show how you will fit in • how activities you’re involved in demonstrate those personality traits • why this is a logical move forward for you and how does it fit in with your long-term career aims. Focus on what you can contribute and what distinguishes the organisation from its competitors. Research the organisation’s position in the market; consider the culture they promote, structure, training, technology, staff retention etc. Try to include any contact you’ve had with the organisation’s

people through careers fairs, presentations, work experience. Talk about the impressions they’ve left with you.

Make your skills and competencies recommend you You are bound to be asked to give evidence of certain skills and competencies on your application. Think of the definition of that skill/ competency and which tasks are needed to undertake it. This will reveal keywords to include in your answer. For examples of some of the competencies or skills you may be asked to demonstrate and how to answer on an application form, go to

Covering Letters

A CV – and some applications – should always be sent with a covering letter. It will often be the first document the recruiter sees. The purpose of a covering letter is to convince the recruiter to invite you to interview because it captures your personality and enthusiasm for a particular job. It should be no more than one side of A4.

An effective cover letter is just as important to your job search as is an effective CV or a clearly completed job application form. You have written your CV or job application as a document that represents you; the employer has written a job description that reflects its needs; something needs to tie those two documents together, and that something is your covering letter. That is why there isn’t such a thing as a good generic cover letter. Whilst you are still the same person, each job you apply for is different. A good covering letter will immediately demonstrate to the employer that you have read their job description, that you understand what the job is about, that you understand and meet the basic qualifications for the job, and that you understand something about the business the employer is in. A general-purpose covering letter cannot do that and, if used, will be a much less effective tool in your job search. Ideally, the main text should occupy no more than two thirds of a page. Proofread your covering letter carefully. Try to address your letter to a named person rather than ‘to whom it may concern’.

Opening: State your reason for writing. Name the specific position for which you are applying, including the job title and reference number (if any). Mention where you found the job listed (company website, university careers website, newspaper, etc.) For speculative approaches, be clear about what you are asking for eg work shadowing, placement etc. Middle: There are two sections to this: why them and why you? Why Them: Explain why you are interested in working for this particular employer and/or in this particular type of job. Demonstrate by what you say that you know something about the company and understand the basics about what the job entails. Avoid being vague, find specific reasons why you want to work for that company. It is also important to convey passion and enthusiasm so the employer feels that you really want the job and that your letter isn’t one of 20 identical letters being sent out.

Why You: The second paragraph should highlight why you would be great at the job - so emphasise your major selling points. Don’t merely reiterate information from your CV, but highlight items that match the requirements the employer has stated. Closing: Avoid telling the employer that you know you are “the perfect person for the job”, or that you are their “ideal candidate.” You don’t know that. Instead, reiterate your strong interest in the position and state when you’re available for interview. If it’s a speculative application indicate that you’ll follow up with a phone call, usually in a week or two. Don’t forget - ‘Yours sincerely’ is for a letter to a named person and ‘Yours faithfully’ for an un-named person. If you have a disability you may be wondering whether or how to put this across to the recruiter. There are no “rules” about this. You may find it helpful to talk this over with a Bath Spa careers consultant. If you are an international student your covering letter would be a good place to state your eligibility to work in the UK, if appropriate.

For examples of common mistakes made in covering letters and how to avoid them, go to


An interview is a two way process – you are deciding whether the job, recruiter and work environment is right for you; and it gives a recruiter the opportunity to: • Find out more about you, your knowledge, skills and experience • Assess whether or not you are suitable for the job • See if you will fit into a particular team or department • Assess whether you can work effectively for their organisation. Georgia Leaper, BA Creative Writing & Publishing, Trainee PR Consultant Marcom PR, says: “Have something to show: I worked as the publisher on MILK magazine and I also kept a blog about digital publishing while at uni - this gives you something to take to an interview or a quick way for potential employers to look at examples of your work online (or at least get a feel for your interests or writing skills, etc).” the little blue book



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After any interview, record what areas you felt went well, together with what preparation work was useful and any problems that arose. This will help improve your performance at future interviews.

conversation or chat about the job and your application. Others can be more formal with the interviewer asking all candidates the same set of questions and making notes on your answers.

Interviews come in many different forms. They vary depending on the kind of job you’re applying for and the organisation you’re applying to. Your invitation to interview will normally tell you what style of interview to expect. If you haven’t been told what to expect, contact the recruiter and ask for more information.

Competency interviews: a style of interviewing used to evaluate your competence (what you can do). The interviewers are looking for you to demonstrate that you have a particular skill or a “key competency” the organisation is looking for. Estimates indicate that a third of all recruiters use competency interviews. If you had any questions on your application form that asked you to give situational examples, it’s likely you’ll be asked some competency based questions.

Initial or first interviews: used by some recruiters who have a fairly lengthy selection procedure. They will offer you an initial interview to establish your overall suitability and whether or not you will go on to the next stage. Telephone interviews: over a third of recruiters who recruit graduates use a telephone interview as a first interview. One-to-one interviews: are just you and the interviewer. Sometimes one-to-one interviews can appear to be fairly casual, a two-way

Strength-based interviews: focus not simply on competencies but motivation (what you love to do). The interviewers are looking for energy and authenticity. Rather than asking open questions, strengthbased questions are shorter and closed so that the interviewer gets an immediate response eg ‘do you have a wide circle of friends?’, ‘what activities energise you?’, ‘when do you feel you are most like yourself?’

Body language and other signals like tone of voice will also be used to identify your enthusiasm, motivation and pride in what you’ve been doing and your achievements. Panel interviews: consist of a number of people who are involved in the selection process asking you questions in turn. There could be anything from two to five or six people present, probably consisting of a department manager, divisional manager, the role’s immediate line manager, a HR representative or others. Technical interviews: if you have applied for a job or a course which requires specific technical knowledge, it is likely that at some stage in the selection process you will be asked technical questions or have a separate technical interview to test what you know. Questions may focus on what you’re doing in your final year project and why you’re approaching it as you are, or on real or hypothetical technical problems. Be prepared to prove yourself but, equally, be prepared to admit to what you don’t know, while stressing that you’re keen to learn.

Group interviews: you are amongst a group of candidates and will be asked questions in turn. A group discussion may be involved where you may be invited to put questions to the other candidates. Assessment centre: this is normally the final stage in the selection procedure.

What do interviewers look for First impressions are very important. So even if you’re very nervous try to create the best first impression you can. Studies have shown that someone forms judgements about you within four minutes of your meeting and that these judgements inform their subsequent impressions. Give a good impression to your interviewer from the very first moment you meet. Shake hands confidently, smile and introduce yourself. Be polite but outgoing, assertive but not aggressive and aim to be every bit as professional as the interviewer who is assessing you. • Sit in a relaxed, upright position. • Maintain eye contact with the person asking the question

• Smile occasionally. • Don’t fold your arms. • Speak clearly, at a reasonable volume. • Be positive and enthusiastic, show a genuine interest in the organisation. • Avoid yes / no answers and expand as often as possible. • Be aware of language. Try to speak clearly and avoid any verbal bad habits such as repeating fillers eg “um”, “er”, “OK” or “you know?”. • Be positive. Don’t undersell yourself with words like “I have only been a…” • Listen to the questions carefully. Be precise and to the point in your answers, don’t ramble. • Try and answer to every question but, if you have never met the situation in question or have no knowledge about an issue or subject, don’t be afraid to say so. • Use examples from different experiences. • If you need time to think, explain what you’re doing and ask if you can return to the question later. • Don’t be flippant. Be careful about the use of humour – take the lead from the interviewer. • Don’t interrupt.

• Be assertive but don’t be aggressive. • Above all, try and be yourself! • Ask relevant questions to the interviewer at the end. Laura Jane Jackson, BA Study of Religions, Executive Assistant to Head of International Financial Institutions, says: “Dress as professionally as possible for the interview, this always helps me feel professional and prepared. Be yourself, give a big smile. Don’t be afraid to ask for time to think about a question before you answer it. This could help you ensure that you answer the question that was asked rather than rabbiting on tangentially, as can easily be done. If you don’t get the job, try not to take it to heart. It sometimes means something much better is around the corner.”

How to Cope with Difficult Questions Sometimes you may be asked a question that you just cannot answer, eg if you were asked about a particular IT program that you have not used. The best way to deal with this is to be honest. Say you have learnt other packages quickly and feel confident that you the little blue book



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would do the same for this one. If you really don’t know how to answer then say so – don’t waffle. Ensure that you’re able to answer the most obvious interview questions such as: “Tell me about yourself...” This often can be a difficult question to answer. Quickly summarise your qualities and experience in a way that will attract the recruiter. Two or three minutes should be enough to do this. Researching the organisation and the job requirements will help you prepare. Why do you want this job? Describe experiences, which show you have knowledge of the work and actual ability wherever possible. If you don’t have much work experience, describe other life experiences which show your ability to learn a job quickly and your keen interest and enthusiasm. Sentences such as ‘I know I would be good at this job because...’ and ‘I would be able to make a contribution to this organisation because...’ help to instil confidence in the recruiter that you are confident about yourself.

Other general questions might include:

Knowledge of organisation • Why have you decided to apply to us? • What do you know about our business? • What do you think of our application form/brochure? • Who do you see as our major competitors? • What do you consider to be the main difficulties facing our management?

Situational questions • What would you do if…? • How would you cope with…? • How would you deal with…? These cannot always be anticipated but try to think beforehand what situations you might have to face in the job you’re applying for eg how would you deal with a difficult customer, what would you do if a member of your team was underperforming, how would you persuade someone to buy this product? If you’re asked a situational question “what would you do if…”, ask for a moment to think about it and then give your considered answer.

Competency questions • Give me an example of when you’ve worked as part of a team. • Tell us about a difficult problem you’ve had to solve • Describe a project you’ve had to plan or been involved in • Give me an example of where you’ve shown initiative These are designed to test out your personal skills and how you used these skills in past situations. Use the person specification to anticipate the likely questions and prepare examples on the STAR model:

Situation (give context, ie where were you)

Task Action (what did you do,

try to isolate your contribution)

Result (what was the outcome) Career motivation/direction Questions Why have you applied for this type of work/career? This is your opportunity to show you have exactly the right skills needed for the job. Think about how you could add value to the organisation. Make

brief but telling comparisons between the job description and your ability to meet their needs. State what you can offer and back up anything you say with evidence and examples. What do you see yourself doing in 5/10 years? Thinking about your future is seen as being positive because it shows you’re committed to the work. It’s a good idea here to research future progression within the organisation and consider functions and responsibilities you’d like to take on.

unrelated graduate schemes or jobs, it will cast doubt on your motivation. However, if you show you have made a few well researched applications and reiterate the reasons again for applying to the recruiter, it will show you are career focused and committed. What salary would you expect to receive? Normally you will be told the salary in exact terms. If the salary is negotiable, think about it beforehand and be prepared to negotiate firmly but within reason. Ask Bath Spa Careers for information on average salaries for a particular job.

Tell me about your vacation or part time jobs. Describe what was involved in your previous jobs, including the skills you used, any responsibilities you had, people you dealt with, equipment used. Emphasise the particular relevance to the job you’re applying for. Remember to mention relevant unpaid work that you have done.

What are your weaknesses? Be prepared to talk about one weakness but try to turn it around into something positive if possible. For instance, “I used to get nervous about giving a presentation but I have been on a short course and now feel more confident when I give presentations as part of my course”.

Where else have you applied? This will show you how well you have researched and thought through your chosen career area. If you just list a long series of

Prof Robert Mears, Head of School of Science, Society and Management, says: “Make a list of three of your strengths (with examples/

evidence) and one weakness. Now, what are you planning to do about the weakness? If you’re not sure where to start, talk it through with your tutor, our careers consultants or even the Students’ Union. They’ll be able to help you develop an action plan which turns that weakness in to yet another great strength.”

Educational record questions • What class of degree are you expecting? • Why did you choose this subject and your particular course? • Do you regret choosing this subject/your university? • Why did you choose to go to University? • What have you got out of academic life? • Can you explain to me what your project is about? If you are asked any questions about poor educational performance in school or at university, don’t apologise too much. Speak positively about how you have learned from your past experience and about your current good progress and strengths. the little blue book



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Questions on your personal skills • Give me an example of when you’ve worked as part of a team. • Tell us about a difficult problem you’ve had to solve. • Describe a project you’ve had to plan or been involved in. • Do you find it easy to take risks? • Are you the type of person to take the initiative? Do you have any questions for the panel? Any questions you ask will depend upon the interview and will vary according to the circumstances. Don’t ask questions that the recruiter would expect you to know from simple research. Focus on your reasons for asking questions. These could include: • filling in gaps in your knowledge and understanding • to prove that you were listening • to make the employer aware that you are a sharp candidate • to demonstrate your planning and research • to be remembered - you will stand out above other candidates Here are a few possible questions you could ask: • How do you define the training period for graduates? • What would be a typical career pattern for graduates entering....?

• Can you give me a fuller picture of your graduate training programme? • What has happened to the graduates who have been recruited in the last 3-4 years? • What do you envisage being the greatest changes in this organisation in the next few years? • When can I expect a decision on my application? • Where would I be based?

Telephone Interviews An increasing number of recruiters now use telephone interviews for initial screening of applicants and for first interviews. Prepare for a telephone interview as you would a face to face interview - the same general principles apply.

How to deal with a telephone interview Most recruiters will use a telephone interview to assess whether you are serious about your application. Prepare to be asked questions about why you have applied, why you want the job and how your experience, skills and abilities match up to the organisation’s requirements.

• Have your CV/application form in front of you. • Keep calm. • Choose a quiet environment. • Check your mobile network coverage or use a landline number. • Stay focused on answering the question and not on your notes. • Have your diary with you. In a face-to-face interview, lots of cues and signals are given by non-verbal communication – your posture, clothing, gestures and mannerisms. On the telephone, you will not have this additional method of communication. Ideally, you need to be somewhere you won’t be disturbed or distracted. You will have to rely on what you say, how you say it and what is said to you and how that is put across. Make sure you remember what you said in your CV or application form as you’re likely to be asked questions based upon it. You may find it more difficult to gauge the interviewer’s response to your answers. Jot down key words as notes for reference. Feedback on your performance, to encourage you or let you know if you’re on the wrong track, is more difficult to obtain during a telephone interview. A further interview may have to be arranged. For further tips on telephone interview techniques, go to

Mock Interviews

We can arrange a mock interview, to give you the opportunity to receive feedback and advice on your preparation. Contact Bath Spa Careers to book an appointment. We also have a number of DVDs on interview skills, which you might find helpful for your preparation.

Psychometric Tests

There are a variety of psychometric tests. The types of test used in a recruitment process will differ according to the job you are applying for. Most tests use one or a combination of: • written information (verbal reasoning) • numbers, charts, graphs, business case studies (numerical reasoning) • abstract figures (diagrammatic or spatial reasoning) • questions about how you do things (personality questionnaire). Verbal, diagrammatic or numerical reasoning tests are sometimes used before a first interview. At this stage there is often a ‘pass mark’ or cut off score which you have to achieve to

continue your application. Unless a job requires a very high level of numeracy, numerical tests are not likely to be any more difficult than GCSE level Maths. Tests are administered under exam conditions and are strictly timed. A typical test might allow 30 minutes for 30 or more questions. There are frequently more questions than you can comfortably complete in the time. It doesn’t always matter if you do not finish the test. It is the number of correct answers which counts. Your score is compared with how other people have done on the test in the past. This ‘norm group’ could be other students/ graduates, current job holders or a more general group. This helps recruiters to assess your reasoning skills in relation to others and to make judgements about your ability to cope with tasks involved in the job. Tests are used in conjunction with other selection methods. It’s your overall performance which is important. Your test score should not carry more weight than other elements such as an interview.

Personality questionnaires are not tests as such but carefully designed questionnaires which gather information about how and why you do things in your own particular way. These indicate: • how you relate to other people • your workstyle • your ability to deal with your own and others’ emotions • your motivations and determination and your general outlook • how you react or behave in certain situations and your preference and attitudes. There are no right or wrong answers. Questionnaires are usually untimed. Answer the questions as honestly as you can. Don’t lie or try to guess the ‘right’ answer. Give the first answer that comes to you. Guessing what the recruiter is looking for could be counter-productive, as you may consequently find yourself in a job which does not really suit you. To practice the psychometric test experience, go to the little blue book



the little blue book | 3: Launch | Getting out there

Assessment Centres

Most large recruiters run events that are called ‘assessment centres’, ‘assessment days’ or sometimes just ‘second or final interviews days’, as the final part of their recruitment process. You are not necessarily competing against the other people at your assessment centre. Recruiters often run a number of assessment centres and will select the best candidates across the whole series. Assessment centres are designed to assess your suitability for a particular role. Your performance in a variety of different work related tasks, including interview situations, will be assessed by a number of trained assessors, usually from the recruiter’s staff. Most major recruiters use a competency based selection procedure. This involves testing, across all stages of the recruitment process, for the skills and attributes required for a particular role or more generally for a graduate training programme that might offer various different roles. Assessment centres are typically held on one day. Occasionally they are extended over two days by

adding additional group exercises or interviews.The structure of a typical one day assessment centre is shown below: 09.00–09.45 Arrival, administration, ‘ice breaker’ introductions 09.45–11.15 Psychometric Tests 11.15–11.30 Coffee 11.30–13.00 Group Exercise 13.00–14.00 Lunch 14.00–15.00 Presentations followed by interview 1 15.00–15.15 Tea 15.15–16.00 Interview 2 16.00–17.00 Feedback on tests etc. and final briefing

Most recruiters accept that assessment centres are quite daunting events. Our best advice is to try to relax and be yourself and prepare as much as you can. • Read the instructions you’ve been sent. • Re-read your application form and/or your CV. Pay attention to any areas that gave rise to any difficult or searching questions at your first interview. • Make sure you are fully aware of the requirements of the job and the skills that are being sought for that role. • Get up-to-date with any recent news stories and events involving the recruiter. • Become familiar with the context in which the organisation operates, eg who are its competitors. • Be aware of major current affairs issues by listening to radio/TV news and by reading a quality newspaper for a few days before the assessment centre. For further information on assessment centres, visit the Careers Library and watch our DVD.

Graduate Option:

Make a job Do you have an idea you think could make a business?

Does the idea of running your own business attract you? Perhaps working on an idea during an enterprise module has been the inspiration to want to develop a potential business? Approximately 10% of workers in the UK are self-employed, meaning they’ve set up their own small business and provide services directly to customers. Starting up a business can be a very real and viable career option. If carefully planned, it can develop into an exciting and valuable experience. Self-employed individuals may employ people to work for them or they may be on their own full or part-time, on a casual freelance basis or they may run some type of franchise. Benefits of being self-employed include being your own boss, flexibility to decide your own work hours and choosing to pursue

work that you enjoy. If this an option that appeals to you, bear in mind that typically selfemployment will require you to be extremely self-motivated, working independently from home and being able to sell your talents or your products to generate income. Sometimes it can be easier to become self-employed after you’ve gained some experience and understanding of your markets and customer types. The range of enterprise skills training workshops available from Bath Spa Plus can put you in a stronger position to successfully pursue the self-employment option after graduation. Carly Etherington, BA Dance, Freelance Dancer/Choreographer, says: “Research what support is available to you. As a freelancer, I was able to access workshops, jobs, commissions, funding and performance opportunities. is good for putting all of your work in one place, especially if you are creative in many different ways. Make your own website if you can. I found this really useful and Wordpress is good as a starting point.

I started by performing my work and choreographing at a school for free. In order to do this, I had to hold down two other jobs to support myself – so it’s tough on your time and you have to be very organised. If your work is good, it will inevitably lead to getting good paid work. It took only a couple of months to prove myself and then that was that – I was soon teaching at a different place each day.” Portfolio working may be a sustainable option after graduating from university. Portfolio working refers to a variety of working patterns such as working with more than one employer on a part-time basis or being both employed and selfemployed. If you have entrepreneurial interests and want to test the waters, it could allow you to develop a small business idea whilst still bringing in income from other sources. Having multiple income streams can contribute to financial security. You will need to have a high level of organisational skills, the confidence to adapt to different work styles and the ability to work to deadlines. the little blue book



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About 80% of available jobs are filled by word-of-mouth before they are advertised. This means you need to plan ahead for networking in similar ways to going for an interview. Networking is simply developing relationships with people. Whether you’re looking to ‘get-a-job’ or ‘make-a-job’, joining professional networking groups and knowing how to make situations work for you will be an important element to success. Daunting though it can be to walk into a room of strangers, view it as an opportunity to market yourself informally and develop a network of useful contacts. If you are a first or second-year student, it may seem too soon to be thinking about networking. However, not only do employers want you to seek them out as a student, but being a student makes it easier to approach employers because you have less to lose. At this point, you aren’t interviewing for a job – you’re just establishing connections with a view to defining your career prospects and gaining some work experience.

Prof Tim Middleton, Head of School of Humanities and Cultural Industries, says: “To get ahead in the creative and cultural industries (that’s fields like publishing, TV, journalism, PR, arts marketing, etc) remember it is who you know and who you are known by that counts - so build your LinkedIn and other on-line profiles; cultivate your Twitter stream, and above all network with as many people as you can in the sector you want to work in.” Networking for career information involves you contacting and talking to people who work in jobs, or recruit people to work in jobs, that are of interest to you. You may feel hesitant about contacting people but remember that people usually enjoy talking about what they do and it is rare for someone to say they can’t spend a few minutes talking about their career to help a student sort out career options. Talk to more than one person in a particular job type, so that you gain a balanced perspective.

Here are some basic tips as recommended by the UK strategist, networker and marketer Warren Cass, to help make attending a networking event a more productive, less intimidating and overall a more enjoyable experience. • Ask for attendance lists in advance – Many networking events will distribute these anyway but if not ask! This will give you a chance to find out a little about key targets in advance. • Remember your cards/ portfolios – So many networkers break the golden rule by making it hard for people to contact you after the event! • Think about the impression you want to make! I know it seems obvious but the amount of people that turn up to events wearing inappropriate clothing or bad breath etc is unbelievable! • Prepare an elevator pitch – This is a short, clear introduction to you (or your business) designed to entice more questions and interest (see below). At the event: over the page are a few things you should do to make life easier for yourself…

• Arrive early – If you don’t like approaching people to introduce yourself arrive first. Then they have to come to you! • Ask the host for introductions – They will probably know many of the people in the room so ask for connections. • Take CVs/literature – There will probably be an area to leave literature, examples of work. If not, scatter some around anyway! Whilst speaking to someone: You have made the effort to attend, possibly paid to be there, prepared successfully. Here are a few pointers to make the best impression. • When joining a conversation make eye contact with whoever is speaking so you are invited into the group. Never interrupt. • Show genuine interest in the people you are talking to. Be yourself and give them your attention. There is nothing worse than someone looking over your shoulder when you are talking to them. • Listen and ask open questions – Remember networking is neither selling by traditional means, nor an appropriate time to ask for a job! You are there to establish

rapport and trust. Opportunities, experience or business will follow. • Write on the back of their card – This helps to remember key parts of the conversation or actions you commit to for when you follow up. • Make connections – If you think you can help someone or you have spotted a connection introduce them. They certainly remember you for it! After the event: This is without doubt the most important part. • Always follow up – Even if just an email to say it was good to meet you and do it within a couple of days of the event while you are still fresh in their minds. • Deliver on your commitments – if you have promised an introduction or quote etc do it promptly. • Book follow-up meetings – if someone was of particular interest develop the relationship further by inviting them for a coffee. Try and help them. • Be patient – Never expect quick results. Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and effort. Work on developing your network. the little blue book

Wendy Allan graduated from Bath Spa University in 2010 BA (Hons) Fashion & Textiles. Whilst still an undergraduate, Wendy prepared the way for starting her own design business in textile art. She had access to, and took full advantage of, a wide range of enterprise support. This included the University’s annual business plan competition, student enterprise society workshops on business planning topics and the industry mentors programme. The support of an industry mentor with an artistic background for a six month mentoring partnership provided valuable insight into the demands and complexities of working in the textile creative arts sector. One-to-one business start-up advice sessions with the University’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence helped to keep the business planning on track within achievable means Wendy says, “I was given lots of ideas and help from people with very experienced and appropriate backgrounds. All the training and support has contributed to where I am now and to have the courage of my convictions. I would thoroughly recommend just doing the training because of its value, which cannot be underestimated.”



the little blue book | 3: Launch | Getting out there

Preparing your ‘Elevator Pitch’ The 30 second pitch or ‘elevator pitch’ is a short, punchy, positive statement which can make an employer or potential contact take notice, especially in networking situations where time is short. It should tell people what you are looking for, your key selling points and why you stand out. This statement can also be used on your CV and to answer interview questions such as ‘tell me a bit about yourself.’ To help you get started have a go at completing the different sections.

My future goal/ career:

Speed Networking pitch pointers… • Include your skills, experience and knowledge that is relevant to the job/industry • Make sure you can back it up with examples and evidence • Vary it according to the person you are approaching, and industry you are targeting

What I am currently doing:

Questions that can help to break the ice at a networking event…

The aspects of my skills/ achievements/degree/experience I feel most proud of:

• What do you do as a ....? • How do you spend a typical day/ week? • What do you find most/least satisfying about your job? • What is the competition for jobs like in this career? • Where are opportunities advertised? • What advice would you give me in order to stand out? • Do I appear to lack any skills, qualifications or experience that would be necessary?

My Pitch…

• What are the toughest challenges that your organisation/industry is facing? • Can you suggest anyone else to whom I might talk? Look out for Bath Spa Plus networking workshops and events. Whatever your degree or career aspiration, networking is an essential life skill.

Graduate Option:

Postgraduate & Professional Study Options Postgraduate study can provide the training you need for the next step along your career path. You may already have experience or a qualification relevant to the field in which you wish to work, however specialising can give you an advantage when applying for your next career move. Membership to a professional body is often mandatory for entry to some professions and a postgraduate course can often top up your existing qualifications to achieve this. It also gives employers the confidence that you have the right depth of knowledge and skills for the job. Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas are usually delivered by universities and take one year full-time or two years part-time. They are taught programmes with classroom elements plus a research project. Many professional training courses are at this level. The entry requirement is usually an honours degree, sometimes in a relevant area. Many professional programmes are very competi-

tive with centralised application processes that need applications as much as 12 months in advance. Other programmes can be applied to through individual universities closer to the start date. Taught Masters degrees – MSc or MA – are usually one year fulltime and two years part-time. An honours degree is usually a requirement, often in a relevant area and sometimes with a minimum 2:1 classification. Both academic and vocational/ professional programmes are available at Masters level. Applications early in the academic year prior to starting are advised. Masters degrees and doctorate by research – MPhil or PhD – take a minimum of two or three years, often longer. They can be done part-time alongside teaching work in the institution you are studying in. Programmes are research based with little or no taught element. A high 2:1 or 1st in a relevant honours degree is usually required for PhD study, with some MPhils having less demanding entry criteria. You need to have a strong research background and demonstrate interest in your particular chosen field. Some PhDs will be advertised as specific funded studentship projects, whilst others will result from approaching departments/ academics to develop research

proposals. You have to be determined, organised and committed to complete a PhD. Take time to research general background information on courses, institutional and departmental profiles and go to postgraduate open events and open days. There’s lots of general advice out there on writing applications and personal statements, and where to apply to for funding. Bath Spa Careers also offer training sessions and appointments to help you explore these opportunities. Useful for investigating options for further study: • • • www.postgraduate •, • If you’d like to continue your studies at Bath Spa University, its taught postgraduate awards provide opportunities for advanced study that are both academically challenging and vocationally relevant. The current range includes MA, MSc, MFA, MMus and MTeach. In addition there is a lively research environment at Bath Spa, with opportunities for supervised, original research leading to the degrees of MPhil and PhD. the little blue book



the little blue book | 3: Launch | Getting out there

Graduate Option:

Studying or Working Abroad Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be a great way to immerse yourself in a different culture. Through the Erasmus programme, which is supported by the European Commission, you can apply for a study placement in one of our partner European universities during your second or third year. Placements can be for a whole academic year or a shorter period. Your study abroad will count towards your Bath Spa University degree. You might learn a new language or develop current language skills, and you will develop an international network of friends. It is also a great way to enhance your CV and your employability. For general information on studying abroad:

For study in the USA, the Fulbright Commission – through their US Educational Advisory Service – provides objective, accurate information and advice to any student considering study or research in the USA (

Working Abroad

Working abroad could develop your skills and shape your career path by providing you with a new perspective on yourself and a greater understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Activities and experiences gained from structuring your time effectively could be an asset when having to sell yourself at interview. However, don’t jump in without considering potential pitfalls associated with working abroad. These can include the costs involved and the likelihood of increasing debt, missing out on employment opportunities in the UK while you are gone, lack of support in a strange country, a language barrier, and a lack of understanding about cultural issues. You will need to fund yourself and future employers may ask about this.

If possible, avoid working abroad in jobs that require limited experience such as hospitality, catering, waiting staff and seasonal and manual jobs. Look for jobs that could help you develop your career such as teaching English as a foreign language or sports-related coaching. If you intend to be a TEFL teacher, it’s recommended to obtain a TEFL qualification before you go, as most organisations won’t offer the required training. Work that may require a certain level of experience may include environmental and conservation work, aid/development work and social or health research. Planning a gap year to do volunteering or overseas work experience can be time well spent, if it gains you useful and interesting experiences before work or further study. The selection of useful organisations and resources below will give you a starting point for investigating opportunities and finding a solution that’s right for your circumstances. Bath Spa Careers runs an International Employability event for Bath Spa students interested in working or teaching abroad and also has a library of helpful information on

working abroad, work and resident permits, visas and employment rights. • Prospects for country-bycountry profiles for graduate jobs abroad and information on TEFL. • Japan English Teaching Scheme (JET), administered by the Japanese Embassy, is aimed at English-speaking graduates who wish to spend a year in Japan. • The UK-China Graduate Work Experience Programme offers high-calibre British candidates the opportunity to live and work in China or Hong Kong. • Going Global has world-wide job openings and internship notices plus country-specific career information. • International Job Online is an overseas vacancy advertising service. • Camp America offers a range of summer work opportunities in US summer camps. • for essential advice for gap year travellers. • The National Academic Recognition Information Centre can check that your qualifications are recognised within a European country. the little blue book



the little blue book | 3: Launch | Getting out there

Opportunities for international students It is worth getting involved in university life. Joining clubs or societies and attending extra workshops, such as those on enterprise, will really demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to employers. It will also help you to develop proficient English language skills, which is a key requirement of graduate employers in the UK, and gain a deeper understanding of UK culture. As an international student looking for a UK job, there can be challenges. The following will give you some starting points: • Target jobs with employers that have international links, require international skills or experience, or those that have said they will hire international students. • When making applications, emphasise the skills and qualities that you have developed through being an international student. For example, studying in another country demonstrates commitment and flexibility as well as developing

communication and organisation skills. • Have your CV proof-read for grammatical and spelling mistakes by a native English speaker. • Translate your overseas qualifications for employers so that they understand how they compare to UK qualifications. The National Recognition Information Centre ( can provide advice and information in translating qualifications. • Be prepared to explain to employers what (if anything) needs to be done in order for you to secure a work permit. • Networking with potential employers and making them aware of who you are can significantly increase your chances of finding work. In particular, focus on those companies where your particular language skills and knowledge would be an asset to them. • Work experience related to your career interests can help to improve your CV but is also a way to introduce yourself to potential employers. Employers are much more likely to take on graduates that they know. Work experience can develop your commercial awareness, as well as enabling you to earn some money too. Part-time work can be found through the JobShop.

• If there is a placement linked to your award, this offers an excellent chance to do quality work experience that is often project-based with a high level of responsibility. Your tutor can give you further advice on how these placements are organised. Bath Spa Careers can help you with workshops on writing CVs and filling out application forms, how to apply for part-time jobs and has information resources on postgraduate study and work visas. The UK Council for International Student Affairs ( uk) has a variety of information for international students related to studying and looking for jobs in the UK. International Job Online is the UK’s first online graduate vacancies site for UK-educated international students. It also has links to databases of employers who are interested in taking on international students. Prospects offers general careers advice for international students: ShowPage/Home_page/ International_students/



Self-assessment and personal development planning Actively research different job Engage with the employability-related opportunities delivered through your degree course

Investigate what jobs or further study you can do Participate in Bath Spa Plus e with your degree Gain work experience, paid or voluntary work Develop your employability skills Start developing your CV

Update CV & personal profile

Find out when work experience fairs are taking place and prepare

Explore graduate level employ options in detail

Join student members’ groups of relevant Develop application skills professional societies

Get involved in campus activities that will help you develop Attend careers fairs, employe new skills and experiences

Consider exploring career options through work shadowing Prepare and apply for placem Learn about the importance of networking and work towards building your network of contacts

Make career decisions and cr

Consider study abroad programmes such as Erasmus

Learn about interview skills

Investigate what previous graduates are doing now

Use the Careers Library of inf


Getting OUT there [YEAR 3]

bs and identify those of interest

Considering postgraduate studies at Bath Spa? Talk to your tutor about possibilities.

events and workshops

Apply for graduate training schemes in large organisations (majority advertised in the Autumn term)

Finalise CV and review it with a Careers Consultant

yment and further study

Attend relevant presentations from employers, careers fairs or postgraduate fairs. Write a covering letter and review this with a Careers Consultant for format and content

er campus visits and careers talks

Develop a job search strategy and become familiar with job postings from online resources and elsewhere

ment year

Identify organisations that are of interest to you and make speculative enquiries

reate a career action plan

formation and resources

Submit application forms Attend interviews Start employment, self-employment or further study

Your Career Timeline

Gain relevant work experience

Your Career Timeline Use the timeline under this flap to consider what you need to be doing during each phase of your studies.

Making yourself more employable by developing more than your academic ability isn’t going to happen overnight – it takes time, so start as soon as you get to Bath Spa University. Make it manageable by drawing up an action plan and book an appointment or drop in to Bath Spa Careers to discuss the best options for your own particular ambitions.

Freelance: Have you got what it takes? According to a survey conducted by the University of Brighton with 250 microdesign businesses, 80% of respondents wished they had been more prepared when setting up, since their basic business practices could have been much more efficient and their businesses could have developed much faster. The qualities and skills listed below were identified as important for preparing creative graduates for self employment. Use them to identify your own abilities and knowledge: Tick on a scale of 1–5 to identify your own current abilities and knowledge (1 being poor and 5 excellent)

Personal Qualities

Ask yourself if you are… Organised Independent Self-confident Committed Flexible Proactive Self motivated Willing to learn Able to delegate A good communicator

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

Personal Qualities and Attributes Ask yourself if you can… Evaluate yourself and your work Negotiate with clients in connection with your work Solve problems Make independent and critical judgements Value and seek advice from others Take advantage of opportunities Use contacts and networks Cope with uncertainty Promote yourself and your work Take risks Have a vision of the future

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5

Business Knowledge Ask yourself if you are confident with the following… Knowing the market Being able to place yourself and your work in the market Costing and pricing work Marketing and methods of selling Your ability to construct a marketing and financial business plan Managing projects and commissions Managing contracts, invoices, payments etc.. Tax and insurance Your legal rights as an artist / designer

How does your profile look in that checklist? The more responses you have in the right hand column the greater your chances of success. Many of the business skills listed are essential for getting started. You may not yet have the skills but they can be acquired through your degree, work experience/placements and extra-curriculum activities. Use the checklist to identify the areas you need to address! Adapted from ‘The Design Trust Business Start Up Guide’

01225 875525

Visit the Bath Spa Careers centre on the first floor above the Newton Park library.

01225 875525

The Little Blue Book  

An essential guide to planning your future. Written exclusively for Bath Spa University students by the University's employability and enter...