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Connecting you to your future

Getting started Making career choices Developing skills Applying for jobs and further study Support tailored to you



WELCOME TO CAREERS NETWORK As a student here at the University of Birmingham, you have access to our expert careers support and a wide range of services to help you take that next step towards employment.


SOCIAL MEDIA /careersbham @careersbham /careersnetwork


CAREERS CONNECT www.intranet.birmingham.

YOUR COLLEGE TEAM www.intranet.birmingham.





Campus to Career Meet our teams Careers Connect My Career Journey Ideas to get you started

4 6 7 8 9


Explore your options Mentoring Connect with Employers Careers Fairs Further Study B Start-Up

10 11 12 13 14 15


Work experience and Internships 16 Exclusive Internships 18 Personal Skills Award (PSA) 19 Birmingham Project 19 Enterprising skills 20 Worklink 21


Applying for jobs Application Forms CVs Covering Letters Interviews Assessment Centres Networking Using social media to find jobs

22 23 24 25 26 28 30 31


Equality and Diversity/Access to your Career International Students Graduate Support Postgraduates Colleges

32 34 35 36 38



FROM CAMPUS TO CAREER Your future matters to us, and our dedicated careers team is here to provide you with tailored advice on applying for jobs, finding work experience, preparing for interviews, and much more.

ONE-TO-ONE APPOINTMENTS We offer the following appointments: Advice and guidance Talk to a careers adviser about anything to do with your current career decisions. Whether you have no idea what you would like to do and would like some expert guidance, or you are considering a particular career path or postgraduate study we can provide advice as to how to take the next step. Applications and recruitment A discussion with one of our careers advisers about the recruitment process or about a job application where you can bring along a copy of the following: n CV or covering letter n Application form for jobs n Application or personal statement for further study n Bursary and funding applications

Internship advice Support and advice from our internship officers on: n Finding work experience and internship opportunities n Funding and bursary schemes for work experience and internship placements Business start-up advice Do you have an idea for a social enterprise or business venture and would like to talk it through to check if it is worth pursuing? Our start-up manager is on hand to help you get started. 30-minute appointment slots are available to all University of Birmingham students and recent graduates. Practice interviews If you have a confirmed interview or assessment centre, a practice interview with an adviser is a great way to prepare.

Practice interviews will help you feel more confident on the big day. If you wish to apply for a practice interview,  please complete our practice interview request form at practiceinterview

HOW TO BOOK CAREERS APPOINTMENTS You can book careers appointments using Careers Connect, our event registration system and view job vacancies and work experience opportunities. Current students can log on using their my.bham username and password at www.birmingham. Graduates and other course leavers are all eligible for careers support for up to two years after leaving the University, but to book appointments you will need to contact Careers Network: careersenquiries@


EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS Our programme of events covers a wide range of careers topics, from help with making career choices to meeting employers and writing successful applications. Many are open to all students and we also have events for specific groups such as postgraduates, final year undergraduates and international students. Visit our events page to see what is coming up: careers/events Types of events available: n Top tips and skills workshops n Employer-led events n Events based within your college n Personal Skills Award (PSA) n B-Enterprising events



If you are struggling to fit in an appointment around your busy schedule our e-guidance service is a great alternative to face-to-face appointments. Contact Careers Network via our website for general careers guidance, work experience and internship advice, or with more specific questions about the application and recruitment process. You can also send a CV, covering letter, application form or personal statement, and the adviser will respond. If you tell us what you are applying for we can help you tailor your application. careers/contact

ONLINE RESOURCES Canvas courses Careers Network has a number of courses on Canvas enabling you to access a range of tailored careers information and resources careerscanvas Social media Our social media platforms are a great way of keeping up with current opportunities and events, alongside developments in graduate recruitment and the wider business community. @careersbham

‘Providing careers advice to students is a very rewarding part of my job – offering one-to-one support, providing advice at one of our brilliant careers fairs, or delivering group workshops on how to use social media to find jobs.’ Amy Haworth, Careers Adviser



MEET OUR TEAMS In addition to the staff you meet at appointments and events, we have behind the scenes staff networking with employers, academic staff and professional bodies to provide you with first class careers support.





CAREERS CONNECT Careers Connect is our booking management platform where you can seamlessly search for jobs and events and book appointments with our careers professionals.




Research and apply for jobs, graduate schemes, placements and internships from hundreds of employers

Search and book on to the wide range of events and workshops available

Make appointments with Careers staff for information and advice

JOB ALERT Set your account to receive weekly or daily job alerts straight to your email. Make your filters specific so you only receive job alerts that are relevant to you.

FIND OUT MORE Students Log in to Careers Connect using your my.bham username and password: Graduates To access hundreds of graduate jobs, funded further study and graduate internships and events after you have graduated, register for your graduate account:




MY CAREER JOURNEY Thinking about your career plans can be really daunting, especially whilst balancing a busy study schedule. The good news is that there are lots of steps you can take whilst at university to help you learn more about what you are passionate about and how to find the right career for you. Take a look at the My Career Journey online tool which can help you move forward with your career plans: Even if you don’t have any ideas at all, you can use this exclusive tool to find out more about the opportunities available to you and actions you can take during the coming year.


Taking the right step in career planning can be simple. From your first year at University of Birmingham to your last, you are developing the skills and behaviours that will help you in your future career.  This simple tool can help you take the steps you need to move forward in your career journey. n First years – Start your journey here n Intermediate years – Start to stand out n Finalists and postgraduates – Get ready for graduation Make the most of your time at University of Birmingham, get involved and connect to your future.




IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED MENTORING Learn from someone already working in an area you are interested in. See page 11.

WORK EXPERIENCE AND INTERNSHIPS Gain insight into different careers, develop new skills and find useful contacts for the future. See page 16.

DEVELOP ENTERPRISING SKILLS – LAUNCH A BUSINESS IDEA Enhance your entrepreneurial side and receive advice on creating and developing business ideas with our B-Enterprising programme. See pages 15 and 20.

EARN WHILE YOU LEARN Improve your bank balance and your CV with some part-time work.

JOIN A SOCIETY These are a great way of meeting people, discovering new interests and developing skills. www.guildofstudents. com


PERSONAL SKILLS AWARD (PSA) Exclusive employer-supported employability programme open to all University of Birmingham undergraduates. See page 19.

Come along to career fairs and employer-led events to find out more about the careers that interest you. See page 12.



MAKINGHandbook CAREER CHOICES 10 Careers 2019



Many students are unsure about what career path they want to pursue and it may feel like a daunting decision, but don’t panic! We’re here to help you explore your options. With a little research and some planning, your career goals will become a lot clearer.

What is important to me? Think about what your degree course, work experience and extra-curricular activities say about you. Start identifying what you enjoy doing and identify how you prefer to work. If you still haven’t joined that society or sports team or applied for that summer internship, why not do it today? These experiences will not only make your CV stand out, but will also help you discover new interests and realise what your career priorities are. Enrol on the ‘Making Career Choices’ Canvas course, which can help you select the career options most suited to you: careerscanvas/careerchoices What are my options? Once you have started to think about your career priorities, you’ll want to consider the range of roles that might suit you. To develop your awareness of the roles available, visit websites such as and for more information and case studies.


Where do Birmingham graduates go? Birmingham students go on to do a variety of things after they graduate. Many successfully apply for graduate schemes with national and international companies such as those listed below. n NHS n Deloitte n PwC n Ernst & Young n Goldman Sachs n Rolls-Royce n Birmingham City Council n Tesco n Marks & Spencer n British Army n Jaguar Land Rover n Royal Bank of Scotland Others choose to work for smaller and medium-sized companies (SMEs) or go on to further study. A large percentage of graduate level job vacancies are not advertised, they are found through networking and work experience. Look at the results of our survey to find out what our graduates have gone on to do after university. Graduate Outcomes: graduate-outcomes



Develop a strategy Once you have started to think about your priorities and your options, your next step is to put this learning into action and make some decisions. n Use the Guild of Students to help you access clubs, societies and volunteering opportunities n Speak to Worklink and the Guild ‘Jobs, Skills & Volunteering’ department to find out about part-time work available to students n Book an appointment to meet with a careers adviser or one of our internship officers for advice and support n Join our Personal Skills Award (PSA) scheme to develop key employability skills and self-confidence – see page 19 n Visit the Careers Network events page to find out about upcoming fairs, events and workshops: careers/events



YOUR MENTORING JOURNEY Start your mentoring journey now – Mentoring is a great opportunity to receive one-to-one support from a professional in your chosen sector.

We have a range of mentors in areas such as arts, banking, computing, finance, engineering, health care and many others who are located in the UK and across the globe. They volunteer their time to help you build a career that is right for you. What is mentoring? Mentoring is much more than providing advice, it’s about motivating and empowering the other individual to understand themselves and their aims, and how to reach their goals. It is a one-to-one confidential partnership where a mentor shares their knowledge, skills and experience to help another mentee progress in his or her own life and career. Benefits for you n Increase your confidence to find a career you enjoy n Gain real insight into the working environment and culture n Build your professional contacts

Meet fellow students with a similar drive to succeed n Seek advice on developing your skillset and understanding your strengths n

How it works Mentors kindly volunteer at least one hour a month to offer their advice and share their experiences. The process involves submitting an application form, which is your opportunity to explain why you would like a mentor and how you will successfully facilitate the mentoring relationship. We offer support for mentees throughout the mentoring scheme. All mentees must complete an induction training course before commencing the scheme. As part of the induction it will be explained that you and your mentor will have to agree initially on preferred communication methods, expectations and the outcomes you hope to achieve.

‘I have a better understanding of firms which work closely with the public sector and the opportunities offered in these.’ Ekta, Economics Former Careers Network mentee and now current mentor

Mentoring support for you We offer mentoring schemes that allow you to choose your preferences for a mentor. This can be related to: n Insight into working life – you can select your preferred location and sector choices n Support for LGBT students – you can select an LGBT mentor to explore coming out in the workplace n Being a future leader – expand your potential and meet leading alumni mentors who motivate you to be the best you can be n Support for after graduation and postgraduate taught students – gain support with transitioning into employment after you graduate

FIND OUT MORE careersmentoring and hear from other mentees and mentors about their experiences.


MAKINGHandbook CAREER CHOICES 12 Careers 2019



Connecting with employers is a great way to research different careers and to build relationships for the future.


The ‘Getting to Know...’ employer nity to presentation series is your opportu a range get to know graduate recruiters from of ty of industry sectors. Attend a varie s skill presentations, drop-in sessions, ut abo sessions and workshops to find out n employment opportunities, selectio looking processes and what recruiters are for in their graduate workforce.

Use Careers Connect for searching opportunities and vacancies and to book your place at employer events. careersconnect


If you love Birmingham and want to make your career here, why no t join Birmingham Connections – a netwo rking group with local businesses and alu mni. Whether you’re in your first year or about to graduate, students of all subject areas are welcome. Meet loc al employers, find out how our alumni have gro wn their careers in Birmingham and join the community.


ortunity ‘Insight Into…’ events offer the opp ors, sect stry indu and er care to explore ls ona essi prof from hear to you enabling els, pan aker spe via ors sect of e from a rang ts. even g orkin netw and ions Q&A sess HR, Past events include Insight into , IT, arts tor, sec l lega the ice, public serv finance and many more.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? For up to date employer activities and event information see our website careers/events

MAKING CAREER CHOICES Careers Handbook 2019 13

CAREERS FAIRS Careers Network is proud to offer a wide range of recruitment fairs with each focusing on specific industry sectors. These fairs are attended by a wide variety of employers ranging from smaller businesses through to large multinational organisations.


d employer ing any fairs an od Before attend you have a go so ch employers ar se to re , so ts al d en ev sation, an of their organi g in nd s ta tie rs ni de un nt opportu have any curre find out if they . s with them you can discus ghlight plan ahead, hi ill be busy, so w irs fa ns g tio bi es e Th e your qu oyers and mak pl em y ke e m so count! you ir app to help our Careers Fa e us to e day. th re su on e e B perienc aximise your ex m d an e ar ep pr to d events, aim g employer-le in nd te the at m n he fro W ss card tails or a busine de t ally ac re nt e co t ov ge it could pr ing the event; st ho ny pa m co ch. future job sear useful in your d ting people an e great for mee nd ha re fo Workshops ar sure be ills, but make learning new sk irements. qu re e for your that it is suitabl


WANT TO KNOW MORE? Download the Careers Fair App to help you prepare for and get the most out of attending employer fairs. Search for Careers Fair Plus on the App Store and Google Play Store.



GOING ON TO FURTHER STUDY For some students, the next step after graduation is to continue with their education. Whether you’re considering a Masters, PhD, professional qualification, or you’re not sure where to start, why not talk to a careers adviser or come along to one of our events for students interested in further study?








FREELANCE, START-UP, ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. START HERE. University is a great place to try new things, meet interesting people and start something. We help you take action on your passion, especially if you: n Want to freelance or consult n Have a business idea (or not!) n Want to run a business alongside your career or studies n Want to work for a start-up company n Want to become more entrepreneurial to positively impact your studies, career or life


Apply for between £100 and £500 to test an idea you have and take those crucial first steps.

FREELANCE QUICK START Everything you need to know to kick start your freelancing career in an engaging and informative way.

BOOT CAMP Generate ideas with students from a range of degrees and work with employers such as Virgin and IBM.

TRY NEW THINGS NOW! Mateusz is a final year Business Management student who got involved with B Start-Up throughout his studies. He took part in the Boot Camp, participated (and won) competitions, attended start-up workshops and 1-2-1 business advice appointments and applied for funding from the Ideas Fund to help him set-up two businesses. This year, Mateusz has undertaken a Start-Up Internship and is also the president of the Start-Up Society.

START-UP SERVICES We have a range of services and programmes to help you with your enterprise and entrepreneurial journey, from specialist one-to-one advice to workshops.

FIND OUT MORE b-enterprising @benterprising @benterprising_brum

SIDE HUSTLE? Katie graduated in 2017 with a Social Sciences degree and now works in telecoms and media. While she was studying at the University of Birmingham, she turned her passion for photography into a business and created a business called Instant Memories. Instant Memories are a Polaroid service and the company’s vision is to capture special moments in people’s lives whilst raising awareness of social issues.

DEVELOPING SKILLS 16 Careers Handbook 2018

WORK EXPERIENCE AND INTERNSHIPS Careers Network is here to help you find the right work experience and internship opportunities that will help you learn more about what you are passionate about.

We know that having a good degree is only part of the package graduate employers are looking for. As a result, the University has a dedicated work experience team providing expert support with finding work experience as well as giving students financial support to make it happen. Our internship officers source high quality work experience and internship opportunities with global companies, leading graduate recruiters, and small and medium sized enterprises. Why do work experience? n  Build contacts in the industry n  Boost your CV n  Test out your career ideas n  Develop essential employability skills n  Build your confidence

WORK EXPERIENCE BURSARY SCHEMES These provide support to eligible undergraduate students at the University to undertake work experience over the summer vacation period for low/unpaid opportunities. There are different bursaries that students can apply for, with funding from £500 to £2,000 available. internships/funding

‘Careers Network work experience bursaries make the world so much smaller – now no opportunity is too far away to be a reality!’ Esther Simisola Sule, Gateway and International Bursary Recipient

‘The Gateway Bursary took away any financial worries I had moving away for my placement! The team completely support you during the application process and even run workshops on making the most of your work experience after you’ve secured the bursary as well. They make it possible to secure any opportunity, no matter how far!’ Zainub Butt, Gateway Bursary Recipient and EPS student


WORK EXPERIENCE Often a shorter term and more flexible type of work placement than an internship


WORK SHADOWING Spending time observing individuals within a company to gain an understanding of work involved in that occupation



Structured, formal work placements eg, over the summer or year long


Worklink offers jobs on campus

VOLUNTEERING Giving up your time to work with a charity or organisation on a voluntary and usually flexible basis

The Guild of Students can help you find part time work

Primarily designed for first-year undergraduate students with an aim to provide an insight into the organisation and how they work


online portal, Careers Connect, lists hundreds of vacancies for students: Exclusive University of Birmingham internships: You can also find lots of information and useful links on various work experience  and internship schemes in the UK and overseas at:

DEVELOPING SKILLS 18 Careers Handbook 2019








Challenge A fully-funded once in a lifetime opportunity to work within a leading overseas global company Birmingham Undergraduate Internship  Programme (BUIP) A range of unique positions working for the University of Birmingham during the summer vacation Enterprising Internships  Develop enterprising skills and undertake a paid internship with a local social enterprise Santander Match Funded Graduate Internships  Three-month paid placement opportunities working with exciting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

‘My role during the internship was to support the implementation of the company marketing plan. Right from the start I was thrown in at the deep end. The internship gave me invaluable awareness of business issues such as understanding the market, customer preferences, the impact of regulations and competing products and services’ Harris Hyatt Babar, French Studies, Glaxosmithkline Marketing Internship, Morocco

FIND OUT MORE Find out more about these exclusive opportunities at: careers/internships-and-work-experience/opportunities/ bespoke-opportunities


PSA AND BIRMINGHAM PROJECT Recognising and articulating skills effectively is essential when entering the graduate job market. Careers Network offers bespoke programmes to get a head start in developing and identifying employability skills.

THE BIRMINGHAM PROJECT Personal Skills Award The Personal Skills Award (PSA) is an optional and exclusive employer-supported employability programme open to all University of Birmingham undergraduates. It enables you to be recognised for the activities you may already be involved in, as well as over 240 other on-campus extra-curricular activities. We also recognise a range of Careers Network workshops, bursaries and programmes included in this handbook. When you join the PSA you get access to online and face-to-face courses in professional skills and attributes in preparation for work experience and graduate employment, and you will undertake an assessment designed to enhance your employability in preparation for the graduate recruitment process.

The Birmingham Project The Birmingham Project is an optional two-week long event held at the end of the summer term. For first year undergraduate students only, this exciting opportunity allows students to work together in multi-disciplinary groups to develop an innovative information resource in response to a real world challenge. The challenges are set by our Challenge Leads – normally University of Birmingham academics – and our external business partners who have included IBM, KPMG, Transport for West Midlands and PwC to name just a few. During the two-week journey, participants will develop their employability skills and confidence in a fun and supportive environment. Along the way, students also have the opportunity to attend various training sessions, including; project management, presentations, digital media and intellectual property.

The project concludes with group presentations followed by a celebration and awards afternoon where we recognise all the hard work of the students and announce our winners. birmingham-project

‘The PSA means that, as a graduate recruiter, I will be able to meet students who are switched on and engaged, always looking to better themselves and their employability skills to ensure they secure that graduate position upon leaving university.’ Julia Speed, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Graduate Recruiter


DEVELOPING SKILLS 20 Careers Handbook 2019

DEVELOPING ENTERPRISING SKILLS There are a number of ways that you can learn to become more enterprising and at Careers Network we can help you with your ideas. SOCIAL ACTION Make a positive difference by coming together with others, helping to improve lives and solve the problems that are important in our local, national and international communities. Participate through: ‘Up Our Street’; Enterprising Internships Programme and wider initiatives eg, student societies.

COMPANY TREKS Seize the opportunity to visit a range of organisations, from small to large; social to corporate. Explore different companies to widen your options, meeting employers to gain lots of insider info. Discover what triggers your interest and motivations.

GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK Join a celebration of Start-Up each November. Fun activities, events and competitions will introduce you to enterprise and business Start-Up, opening your mind to new possibilities. Get creative, hear speakers and collaborate with others to bring ideas to life through our Bootcamp.


IMPACT CHALLENGE A one-week work experience opportunity in June for students from a widening participation background. Support small, local organisations by working in teams on real-life projects, offering solutions that may generate a big impact to their business.

FIND OUT MORE b-enterprising @benterprising


WORKLINK Worklink is the University of Birmingham’s internal student work agency. We link University of Birmingham students to diverse and relevant on-campus casual work opportunities. Why work on campus? Worklink can provide you with essential work experience that is flexible and convenient, fitting around your studies and offering you the opportunity to earn while you study. Developing your employability skillset while networking with staff and students can give you the advantage that you need in the graduate job market. Worklink Services: n A range of paid work opportunities to match students’ experience n Online registration to receive advertisements for part-time work on campus n Online application process for on campus work opportunities through the Worklink website n Selection and recruitment process for on campus work opportunities n  Support and advice with part-time applications n  Advice on interview techniques n  Monthly payments for work completed through online timesheets n Opportunity to participate in the national Student Employee of the Year


Ambassadors Week Assistant n Mobile App Developer n  Digital Communications roles n  Hospitality and Catering n  IT based roles n Events Assistants n Media Analysis Support n  Research Assistants n Fundraising n Administration/Reception n Welcome



FIND OUT MORE To find about more about Worklink, please see below: Follow us on Twitter: ‘Like’ us on Facebook:  Connect with us on 



22 CareersFURTHER Handbook STUDY2019











n  Demonstrating

n  30

n n n

enthusiasm for the job vacancy and a desire to be part of the organisation Showing why your skills and experiences make you ideal for the role  Making it clear that you will fit in with the organisation’s culture and ethos  Showing your potential to learn and develop as an employee 

n  Apply n n n

yourself workshops minute ‘Top Tips’ session Quick guides: download and keep  Online resources on canvas  and careers network website One-to-one 20 minute bookable  appointments with an adviser


APPLICATION FORMS Get ahead of the competition and make the most of your skills and experiences to progress to the interview stage.

Application forms They are your opportunity to provide evidence that you have what it takes to succeed in a role. Ensure you demonstrate your reasons for applying for that specific position and organisation, and show you will be a dedicated employee. Before you start n  Find all of the information needed to complete the application form, including details and dates of your qualifications, work experience, positions of responsibility n  Research the employer by looking at their website and social media channels to understand the company culture and business environment n  Read the job description and application guidance notes thoroughly and follow any special instructions n  Seek permission from your referees as early as possible and double-check their contact details n  Allow yourself plenty of time before the closing date

Filling in the form n  Check spelling and grammar n  Stick to the word limit n  Only attach a CV or additional documents if requested n  Use the same professional tone and writing style as you would for a covering letter Tailoring your application n  Tailor your application to the specific role and company. An employer will spot a generic application. n  Use the job description as your guide, making sure you answer all of the essential criteria. Ensure that your desire for the role, and to work at the company, comes across in your application. n  Use action words and an active writing style, eg, ‘I organised a charity run’ rather than ‘a charity run was organised’. n  Put yourself centre stage whilst avoiding exaggeration.

n  Explain


how this is a logical career move for you and how it fits in with your longer-term goals. Show that you are prepared to learn  and develop within the role.

BEFORE YOU SUBMIT THE FORM Don’t let yourself down and consign your application to the ‘no’ pile through careless mistakes. Before you click the send button, check and double-check the following: Did you follow the employer’s  instructions exactly? Have you read through the form  and checked the spelling and grammar? Have you completed all the  sections, been accurate with dates and made sure there are no gaps? Have you saved a copy? 



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A QUICK GUIDE TO A GREAT CV A CV needs to prove that you have researched the opportunity and the organisation, understand what the employer wants and can clearly identify what you have to offer them.



Read the person specification and the job description thoroughly Gather together all the relevant details you might want to include in the CV Consider how you can tailor this information to fit the job description by identifying the key words used by the employer

PRESENTATION n n n n n n n


Use a clean and easy-to-read font, no smaller than 11 point. Put your name at the top, not ‘Curriculum Vitae’. Be concise and use short, snappy statements that catch the reader’s attention. Leave out unnecessary details, such as date of birth and marital status. Break up the text with headings, subheadings and bullet points. Put education in reverse chronological order. No more than two sides (although note that there are a small number of exceptions to this rule, such as academic CVs. Careers Network staff can provide you with more guidance about this). Check (then double check) your spelling and grammar.


n n n


Choose your headings wisely – with only 20 seconds to impress, what do you think they need to know first? There is no set template and no correct or incorrect order for the sections, as this is your personal advert. However, you may wish to research any industryspecific requirements first. The aim is to get the employer interested and wanting to find out more – that’s where your covering letter comes in. Highlight achievements within your academic life, work experience and extracurricular activities. Provide evidence! Don’t just list duties you have undertaken, responsibilities you have had or courses you have completed. Show what you have gained from these and how this relates to the job description, therefore showing what you have to offer. Demonstrate the impact you have had in previous roles using persuasive and positive language.


n n n n n

Always tailor your CV to each application – sending the same CV to several employers is not acceptable and will be obvious! Don’t leave any unexplained gaps Never exaggerate – only make statements that you can back up Never undersell yourself – remember, this is your personal advert! Don’t use online templates or copy a friend’s CV Always send your CV as a PDF to ensure that the employer receives it in the format you intended


Careers Handbook FURTHER STUDY 2019 25

WRITING A COVERING LETTER A covering letter is your opportunity to show in more detail your motivation, interest and enthusiasm for the post and the organisation. There is no standard format, but a successful covering letter should be no more than one A4 page and should highlight your strengths, relevant skills and experience in a concise manner.



n  At

n  Keep






the top include your address, the name and address of the organisation and the current date  Begin with a short introduction stating the name of the position to which you are applying and where you found the vacancy  Use evidence for your skills, competencies and experience to demonstrate that you are the right fit for both the job and the organisation  Tailor your evidence to the job description and person specification, focusing on the main criteria required for the role  Articulate your reasons for why you want to work for this organisation specifically and what interests you about the job  Conclude with an expression of anticipation and interest in the interview process


n n n n

it formal and use the correct modes of address: ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ will have the sign-off of ‘Yours faithfully’, while ‘Dear Mrs Jones’ will end with ‘Yours sincerely’ Wherever possible, always address a letter to a named  person – if in doubt, phone and ask who to address the letter to Avoid jargon, clichés and unsupported claims  Use positive language  Check the spelling and grammar!  Send the letter as a PDF to avoid formatting issues 

FIND OUT MORE Find more online help on our ‘Apply Yourself’ Canvas course: applyyourself


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INTERVIEWS Preparation is essential n  Research the skills and attributes the employer is looking for from the job description and identify skills and experiences you have which are relevant for the role n  Research the company using their website and social media n  Practice answering questions out  loud on your own or with a friend/ family member n  If you have a disability and require  special arrangements to be made, let the employer know in advance (see pages 32 and 33 for more info about equality and diversity in the recruitment process) n  Book a practice interview – practiceinterview n  Visit the ‘Apply Yourself’ web page  course for interview help and resources employability/careers/events/ apply-yourself n  Attend one of Careers Network’s  interview workshops

On the day n  Arrive on time and make sure your phone is switched off n  Smile, make eye contact and shake the interviewer’s hand n  Be clear and to the point in your answers n  Be honest and truthful whilst not underselling what you have to offer n  Emphasise your enthusiasm for the role and why you are the best person for the job n  Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions, stay calm and maintain eye contact n  Don’t be afraid to give yourself time to consider a question before answering, and ask them to repeat the question if you don’t understand it the first time n  Always have some questions at the end regarding the role or company

The employer says ‘Always research the company you are going to see and be prepared to answer the “classic” questions, for example: “What are your weaknesses?” Also be prepared for technical questions about the subjects you’ve studied and the role you’re applying for. Remember the interviewer only knows about you from what’s on your CV or application form, so remind yourself what you wrote and don’t lie! Be confident and ask them questions to help you decide if the job and company are right for you.’ Tom Earles, graduate liason consultant, Matchtech Group plc.

Careers Handbook 2019 27

VIDEO INTERVIEWS Video interviews can be necessary due to logistics, particularly if a candidate is applying for a position abroad. Approach a video interview exactly as you would a face-to-face interview, following the advice given above. Also, as with a telephone interview, ensure you are in a quiet space without any interruptions, and check that you have a strong Wifi signal. Interview Stream – free tool for students Practice your interview skills before doing the real thing with Interview Stream our interactive online video interviewing tool. Find out more and get practicing: careers/apply/interviews


S. T. A. R.

Situation: Provide context by presenting a recent challenge or situation. Task: Explain what was required of you. Action: Say why you did it that way and what the alternatives were. Result: Summarise the outcome of your achievements, what you did to achieve this and whether you met your objectives. What did you learn and have you put this knowledge into practice?

PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS Used by an increasing number of employers, psychometric tests are a way of measuring aptitude, personality traits, interests, and other aspects of the way we behave in job-related situations. Although they can seem daunting, psychometric tests are just another opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills, and they can also be useful for teaching you more about yourself. For more information and access to practice tests visit: psychometrictests

FIND OUT MORE Advice on interviews: Interview Stream video interview practice tool:


28 CareersFURTHER Handbook STUDY2019

ASSESSMENT CENTRES Assessment centres are used to observe the way you operate and interact with others. They can test work-based activities such as report writing and presentations to see how you handle them.

What to expect: n  Longer than a conventional interview, they can be anything from half a day to two days including an overnight stay n  Different activities test your abilities and attributes relevant to the job n  Your performance in each activity may be evaluated by a different assessor n  Semi-formal elements such as lunch with employees, giving you the opportunity to network n  Assessment centres will involve a number of candidates An assessment centre is not a competition between you and other candidates. Many employers who use assessment centres will have multiple jobs on offer and in some cases, everyone in attendance may be offered a position.

HOW TO GET READY Research: Read the information from the employer carefully, noting the activities involved and whether you have to prepare anything in advance such as a presentation. If anything is not clear contact the employer for clarification. Preparation: Look over your application, the job details, company information and read the employer’s website. Look at news websites and broadsheets for current issues relating to the employer and the relevant business sector. Careers Network offers preparation workshops on the key aspects of assessment centres. These will help you practice and gain feedback. Practice interviews can also be arranged if you have an upcoming assessment centre. Go to Visit our online Canvas course on applying for jobs:

Careers Handbook 2019 29

TYPES OF ACTIVITIES Group Working with a number of other candidates, you will be given a task or discussion in order to show your teamwork, communication, problemsolving and time management. n  Join in, ensuring that anything you say is relevant and has a positive impact. n Be supportive and engaging with the other candidates, acknowledge good ideas and encourage feedback. If you disagree, frame your comment in a positive and constructive manner. n Don’t dominate the group, interrupt others or dismiss anyone’s ideas. Role Play You will put your skills and experience into action through role-playing activities such as dealing with a difficult client, selling to a customer or carrying out a meeting with an underperforming member of staff. n The role will be related to the job description, read through any

n n

preparation materials you have been given Act professionally throughout, but try to be yourself You might be asked about your performance, so be prepared to reflect on your performance honestly

Presentations Show your knowledge, public speaking skills and your ability to deliver information clearly and concisely. n Make sure your presentation includes an introduction outlining the topic and a conclusion that summarises your key points. Keep the structure simple and don’t try to pack in too much. n Introduce yourself and acknowledge the people in the room. n Speak clearly, confidently and not too fast, making eye contact with the audience. n Practice makes perfect. Have notes as a prompt, but don’t just read from them.

In Tray Exercises Show employers your ability to prioritise and how you work under pressure by completing business simulation exercises in a set period of time. n You may be asked to prioritise a number of tasks, draft responses to a number of emails or summarise key points from a report n If they surprise you with an additional task during the exercise, don’t panic and work out how this affects the other tasks n You may be asked to reflect on the reasoning behind some of your decisions

FIND OUT MORE Also, visit our online Canvas course on applying for jobs courses/28384


30 CareersFURTHER Handbook STUDY2019

NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS Networking is important for building a future career, but there is some confusion and fear over what it is and how to do it.

What? Networking is about establishing and maintaining connections with a wide range of people who may be able to assist you in building your career. This can either be face to face, by social media or by both. You probably are already networking even if you don’t realise it. It can be as simple as chatting with someone at a party or asking a relative. Why? n Get a good variety of advice and support from different sources n Discover what a company or industry is like to work for or how to approach an application form and interview n Find out about new opportunities and business areas n Tap into the hidden job market, as 70% of jobs are not advertised n Demonstrate you are a proactive person with good interpersonal skills n Develop the communication skills needed for the world of work

How? n Identify contacts you already have in areas of industry that you are interested in. Ask them politely if they can help you. They will probably be flattered, and at worst all they can say is no. n Careers Network has a number of careers fairs and employer presentations that enable you to meet recruiters. n Attend conferences, courses and other events in your area of interest. n Join a professional association as a student. n Research the people that you might want to talk to at a specific event, as this will make it easier to think of questions. n Don’t come across as too pushy when approaching a contact. Ask for help and advice rather than asking for a job straight away. n Good networking is like a good friendship, try to bring something to the network as well as getting something from it.

n Use

LinkedIn to network with alumni and other connections. (See next page). n Apply for one of the Careers Network mentoring schemes (page 11).

THE ELEVATOR PITCH This is a 30 second synopsis of your experience, skills and aspirations. Make sure the skills that you describe are relevant to the industry. Tailor your pitch to the audience and sector.


USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO FIND JOBS Social media is a part of our daily life, and is used by employers as a way of finding potential recruits – so use this to your advantage!

Businesses use social media as a way of marketing the culture, values and recruitment activity of the organisation to potential employees. Employers are targeting talented individuals and building relationships through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram and other networks. Using social media both in your personal life and to find employment is a tricky balance. You may wish to use some social media platforms for work, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and make others private so you can use those on a purely personal level, such as Facebook. Remember that nothing is completely private and once something is online it is hard to remove it. Build your online brand Once you have decided which platforms to use, there are some strategies to adopt to make sure you are found online and make an impression. n  Use an appropriate photo for your profile n Use keywords in your profile that relate to the sectors you are interested in, read profiles of people that inspire you, look at job adverts you are interested in and explore the sector online n  Stay professional, build connections and engage positively with others in the network



n  Ensure

You can use LinkedIn to explore career paths, network, find jobs and get found by potential employers. n  Use the alumni tool on LinkedIn to see what careers people who have done your degree are doing now n  Ask for recommendations from people who know your skills and abilities, particularly those attributes that relate to your chosen career n  Perfect your profile by customising your headline, writing an engaging summary and showcasing your experience n  Connect with people on your course, people you have worked with and start to grow your network n  Follow company pages and join sector-specific groups

your bio is clear, professional and includes a link to your CV. n  Take your time to listen first, follow people and organisations you’re interested in to get a grasp of the tone that’s used, find out what the important sectors are. n  Keep your tweets professional, informative and interesting. Mention other people, alongside news, articles and research that is relevant.


your privacy settings to ensure that only the content you would like employers to see is visible n  Update your status to let friends and family know you are looking for employment, an internship, or to connect with someone in a particular sector n  Follow the pages of organisations you like, join groups, and get involved

More info and help on our new LinkedIn Canvas course for students: careerscanvas/linkedin

FIND OUT MORE careers/socialmedia



32 Careers Handbook TO YOU 2019

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY The University of Birmingham has a longstanding commitment to the promotion of equality and undertakes a wide range of activities to promote better outcomes and meet the needs of different groups of students.

DISCLOSURE It is your decision what you disclose to an employer regarding your personal circumstances, and when you do so. Deciding if, how and when to disclose can be stressful, but there are a number of resources to help: Careers Network All our advisers can assist with equality and diversity concerns, and will help you to consider your options and the best way to approach the recruitment process. Target Jobs Provides a wide range of online information relating to equality and diversity issues. If you are invited to take an interview, psychometric test, or assessment centre, you may decide that your personal circumstances could disadvantage you. If this is the case, the best course of action is usually to contact the employer for advice and see what reasonable adjustments they can make.

FIND OUT MORE Find out more at: careerscanvas/a2c Or email:

KEEP IN TOUCH For more information about how Careers Network supports these initiatives visit: careers/equalityanddiversity

Careers Handbook 2019 33

Access to your Career (A2C): Access to your Career (A2C) is a programme of support activities designed to provide services for students from a widening participation background. This includes: n  Access to Birmingham (A2B) n  Routes to the professions (R2P) n  Registered with a disability n  Care Leavers n  First generation of the family into higher education n  In receipt of a grant or scholarship n  Lone parent n  From an ethnic minority Access to your Career (A2C) offers: n  Exclusive workshops and events n  Work with employers to solve real-life problems n  An applications advice service tailored to the needs of A2C students n  The Gateway Bursary to assist with financial support for internships and work experience n  The opportunity to gain real insight by visiting a company to see how they operate n  The opportunity to connect with successful A2C Alumni

OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND SUPPORT: Additional support at the University If you would like to discuss issues relating to any personal circumstances, you can access support networks on the University intranet: DAMSA The University’s Disability and Mental Health Students’ Association provides representation for all students who identify as being disabled or having a mental health condition. My Plus Students Club An organisation that provides application and recruitment information for students and graduates with disabilities and long-term health issues Change100 | Leonard Cheshire Disability Change100 brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students and graduates to offer three months of paid work experience. employment-programmes/change100 LGBTQ Association Provides representation for all University students who consider themselves to have a minority sexual/romantic orientation or gender identity.


34 Careers Handbook TO YOU 2019



‘BEST CAREERS SUPPORT’ at the NUS/UKCISA Internationalisation Awards 2016

International students are given an extensive range of support and opportunities to build their employability skills and market themselves during the job hunting process. For international students, we provide a wide range of services, including a dedicated International Careers Consultant, working exclusively on your behalf, with assistance from a team of International Student Ambassadors. Our dedicated support includes: n  One-to-one advice on career options n  Job seeking strategies n  Skills development n  Global labour market information n  Assessment centre preparation n  UK business etiquette n  The language of selection and recruitment n  International students’ careers management workshops in the Autumn term Finding jobs in your home country Careers Network can help you search for a job in your home country after your studies and offers labour market information, international employer events

on campus, and access to websites such as Passport Career (an online global job market website and career search system) globalcareers We host events specifically for Chinese students who are planning to return to China after their studies. These can include employer-led skills sessions on the Chinese job market or participation in events and fairs. This year we hosted the Joint UK Universities Career Fair in Shanghai, participated in the China Graduate Returner Career Fair in Warwick, and visited employers to gain market insight in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Meeting Employer Expectations We offer a series of International Careers Management Skills workshops covering topics such as networking, job-seeking strategies and finding work outside the UK.

STAYING IN THE UK AFTER YOUR STUDIES Find the current work permit regulations at: and organisations/uk-visas-andimmigration

FIND OUT MORE careers/international and you can also book a careers appointment with one of our advisers through Careers Connect. profile  @globalUoB


Careers TO Handbook 2019 35 YOU



As a graduate you will have access to all of our services for up to two years after graduation. Even if you have moved away, we can provide advice by telephone, email or Skype and you can continue to access our online careers information and job vacancies for as long as you need.






This scheme is a great way to seek advice from a professional currently working in the area you are interested in. Our mentors can offer career insight, industry knowledge and top tips about transitioning from university life to the working world. If you have any questions, please email




Visit the graduate webpage: graduatecareers


Contact Careers Network: careers/contact


36 Careers Handbook TO YOU 2019

CAREERS SUPPORT FOR POSTGRADUATES In addition to the careers services available for all students, we understand that as a postgraduate you will have specific requirements in order to help you take the next step.








Tailored Support We have a range of events and services tailored for postgraduates, and our advisers are always here to provide you with the necessary support throughout the year.

GET IN TOUCH For further information and resources go to: @CareersPG



38 Careers Handbook TO YOU 2018

COLLEGE OF ARTS AND LAW Supporting undergraduates and postgraduates from the Schools of: n  Birmingham Law School n  English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies n  History and Cultures n  Languages, Culture, Art History and Music n  Philosophy, Theology and Religion Our services Our careers team offers a range of services to help support you in your career journey including; advice on job options and career planning, CVs and applications, internships, in-curricular placements, and further study. We also organise alumni events and run interactive workshops throughout the year.

We offer a Professional Development Module for some schools within CAL. What do CAL students do? CAL students go on to a variety of different careers including: Communications Officer, Researcher, Museum Enabler, Freelance Journalist, Translator, PR Account Executive, Editorial Assistant, Graduate Sales Executive, Trainee Fashion Buyer, Events Coordinator, Family Support Worker, Parliamentary Assistant, Social Media Account Manager, Trainee Accountant, Management Consultant, Research Analyst, Recruitment Coordinator.

‘Careers Network have helped me pursue and secure my dream internship. Their support has been invaluable in each step of the process.’ Katherine Piets, BA Hispanic Studies graduate 

‘As a first-year student unsure of what career path to pursue, the advice and support of the Careers Network team has been invaluable’ Shadé Owomoyela, BA English Language student

GET IN TOUCH @CALcareers artsandlawcareers@contacts. careers/college/cal


COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES Supporting undergraduates and postgraduates from the Schools of: n  Chemical Engineering n  Chemistry n  Computer Science n  Engineering n  Mathematics n  Metallurgy and Materials n  Physics and Astronomy Our services We offer a range of services to help support you in your career journey including: n  One-to-one advice appointments n  Practice interviews and longer advice and guidance appointments n  Summer Skills Programme – this is a three-day event held in June where undergraduate students from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences work with employers and University staff on activities which develop their employability skills

‘I just wanted to say thank you for all your help with my CV and tips for preparing for a graduate scheme interview; both of which were key in helping me secure my dream job!’

What do EPS students do EPS students go on to a variety of different careers including; Actuary, Analyst, Bridge Engineer, Business Development Manager, Consultant, Design Engineer, Development Chemist, Patent Attorney, Process Engineer, Quality Control Analyst, Software Engineer and Systems Developer.

GET IN TOUCH @EPScareers careersenquiries@contacts. careers/college/eps



40 Careers Handbook TO YOU 2018

COLLEGE OF LIFE AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES Supporting undergraduates and postgraduates from the Schools of: n Biosciences n Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences n Psychology n Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences Our services n Bespoke careers events in each school with professionals and alumni speakers including Greener Prospects – environmental and ecological careers, Bioscience careers in and out of the lab, Psychology Careers seminar series and Women in Sport & Science n Enterprise and work-integrated learning initiatives within specific modules across the college, including an offsite consultancy project in Earth Sciences n Up-to-date opportunities and events relevant to you via Work Opportunities Wednesdays and school newsletters n Expert and tailored advice available online and in person for support with careers, applications, interviews and internships

What do LES graduates do? n Biosciences – Genetic Technologist, Graduate Science Advisor, Medical Writer, Molecular Biologist, Secondary School Teacher n Earth Sciences – Engineering Geologist, Graduate Environmental Consultant, Graduate Soil Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Graduate Hydraulic Modeller n Environmental Sciences – Hazardous Waste Chemist, Marketing Specialist, Waste Enforcement Intern, Police Community Support Officer n Geography – Graduate Planning Consultant, GIS Officer, Market Researcher, Graduate Surveyor, Assistant Project Manager n Golf – Golf Professional, Golf Coach, PGA Professional, Fitness Instructor n Physiotherapy – Physiotherapist, Sports Coach, Fitness Instructor, Vice President of Food & Nutrition n Psychology – Assistant Clinical Psychologist, Graduate Management Development Officer, Brand Intern, Consultant, Mental Health Support Worker Applied Behaviour Analyst

‘I have learnt a great deal from the Life and Environmental Sciences  Careers Network team at many different stages of my ‘career journey’ during my three years at UoB.’



Sport & Exercise Science – Performance Analyst, Personal Trainer, Sports Massage Therapist, Strength & Conditioning Intern, Trainee Wellbeing Coach Sports Coaching – Secondary School Teacher, Sport & Recreation Officer, Active College Sports Facilitator, Sports Coach

GET IN TOUCH @LEScareers careers/college/les



CareersTO Handbook 2018 41 YOU

COLLEGE OF MEDICAL AND DENTAL SCIENCES We work across the College locations, including the Student Services Centre in the Medical School and the Dental School. Our services Offering you a range of services, whether face to face or by email, we provide support with applying for jobs and further study, including Foundation Programmes and Pre Registration applications. Appointments for one to one careers advice and practice interviews can be booked online. Working closely with your courses, we ensure you have the necessary information and support to make your job and further study applications. If you are on a broader based course, take advantage of the many events that take place, from careers fairs through to employer presentations and workshops. Keep updated and informed via our web page and the careers sections on Canvas.

What do MDS students do Many will be employed in the health sector as doctors, dentists, dental therapist and hygienists, nurses and pharmacists. Almost half of Biomedical/Biomaterials Science students continue their studies: this includes taking Masters or PhD programmes, or training to be doctors, dentists or Physician Associates. Other careers include research assistant, clinical trials and data management, as well as medical and pharmaceutical sales.

‘Your support and help changed my life in more ways than you can imagine and I appreciate all your help and support – I wouldn’t be going to medical school without you.’ Year 3 Biomedical Science Student, 2017

GET IN TOUCH @MDScareers careers/college/mds


42 Careers Handbook TO YOU 2018

COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES Supporting undergraduates and postgraduates from the Schools of: n  Business (undergraduate only) n  Education n  Government and Society n  Social Policy Our services Our careers team offers a range of services to help support you in your career journey including; advice on job options and career planning, CVs and applications, internships, in-curricular placements, and further study. We also organise alumni events and run interactive workshops throughout the year. Appointments with the College of Social Sciences careers team are held on campus in Muirhead Tower. Professional Development Module All College of Social Sciences students have the opportunity to do a work placement as part of their degree. The college careers team supports and provides placements for the Professional Development Module – a final year accredited module option for undergraduate students in the Business School, the School of Education, the School of Government and Society and all programmes in the department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology.

What do CoSS students do? Graduates from programmes in the Business school go into roles in Business, Finance and Consulting including roles such as; Auditor, Investment Analyst, Tax Advisor, Marketing Executive, Buyer, and HR Assistant. Graduates from programmes in the schools of Education, Government and Society and Social Policy go into a range of roles in the Public Sector, Charity Sector and Private Sector including roles such as; Teaching, Social Work, Recruitment Consultant, Human Resources Co-ordinator, Researcher, Press Officer, Police Officer and Web Marketing and Communications Assistant.

‘Careers Network gives you the feeling that there are endless possibilities for everyone out there, you just have to believe and invest your time in helping yourself to develop the best skills that employers are searching with the help from Careers Network.’ (CoSS student, Pass it On 2016)

Many of our students go on to further study including Masters degrees and take Professional Qualifications or a conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law.

POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS Postgraduate students of Birmingham Business School or members of the Business School’s postgraduate alumni community can access a bespoke service from the Careers in Business team. Phone: 0121 415 8012 Email: careersinbusiness

GET IN TOUCH @CoSS_careers careersenquiries@contacts. careers/college/coss



your future

44 Careers Handbook 2019




2AFTERYEARS GRADUATION 16968 © University of Birmingham 2018. Printed on a recycled grade paper containing 100% post-consumer waste.

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Careers Network Handbook 2018/19  

The Careers Network Handbook provides an introduction to the services and opportunities available to University of Birmingham students and r...

Careers Network Handbook 2018/19  

The Careers Network Handbook provides an introduction to the services and opportunities available to University of Birmingham students and r...

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