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CHAPTER x  |  xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

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The Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) represents

creativity and intellectual rigour that students develop during the

undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Cambridge.

course of their studies here, but also prize the many additional skills

Both within the university and on the national stage, we campaign

they gain through their involvement in clubs and societies. Given the

on the many important issues affecting our members’ lives, and

variety of interests and abilities that students cultivate during their

we also provide a range of useful day-to-day services.

time in Cambridge, it’s hardly surprising that the university is ranked

   CUSU is headed by a team of six sabbatical officers who are

first in Europe and third in the world for student employability,

elected annually in cross-campus elections. Their work is supported

according to a recent joint survey conducted by human resources

by 40 students who volunteer for part-time CUSU executive positions

specialists Emerging and leading employment research institute

while continuing their studies. These voluntary posts provide an

trendence. Recession or not, as a Cambridge graduate you have

excellent opportunity for students to influence the development

an excellent chance of securing your dream job and embarking

of students’ union policy, to increase their skills, learn how to

on a rewarding career.

work in teams and improve their interpersonal abilities.

   To bring you closer to achieving that aim, this book contains

   Over the years, CUSU has been very successful in its equality and

a store of practical information relevant to each phase of the

diversity campaigns, as well as in its access work and its campaigns

job-seeking process. For those of you still in the early stages of

for better funding. Our success in these areas owes much to the

planning your career, there is a handy jobs directory, which provides

commitment and enthusiasm of our hardworking student volunteers.

summaries of roles specific to particular industries. These include

By speaking out and debating important and often divisive issues,

positions in the charity and voluntary sector, as well as the more

they help us to decide the best ways to move forward.

commercial and traditional professions. And if you’re considering

   CUSU has created this indispensable careers guide to support

further study, this book also includes features on a range of

you as you move forward in your own life. Designed to help you

specially selected national and international educational institutions.

make an easy transition from university to the world of work, it

Meanwhile, if you’re ready to begin your career, you’ll find features

offers lots of good advice and is rich with insights that are certain

on a variety of potential employers, from high finance to not-for-

to improve your prospects in the job market. In it, you’ll find tips

profit organisations, many of whom offer excellent opportunities

on writing a great CV, practical advice on interview techniques,

to graduates starting out on their careers.

key job-hunting strategies and guidance on how to use social

   Whether you know exactly what you want to achieve after

media networks as part of your job search. This book covers a

you graduate or have yet to decide, this guide will ensure that

broad range of topics, and the information included is tailored

you are well informed and prepared for the future. You have

to meet the skill sets of Cambridge graduates, giving you a

the potential to achieve amazing things and to reach great

distinct advantage in your search for employment.

heights, and we hope that this book will help you along the

   Of course, the greatest advantage you have is your Cambridge

way. Enjoy your post-Cambridge journey – CUSU wishes you

education. Despite an increasingly competitive job market, Cambridge

the very best in all that you seek to achieve.

students continue to be sought after and valued by employers. Recruiters not only set great store by the independence of thought,

Flick Osborn, CUSU President




CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

010  Embarking on a career

062  The business plan

018  Targeting the top

066  Equality and employment

024  Constructing a winning CV

070  Useful job apps

030 Managing your

074 Rewarding careers:

digital profile 036  Recruitment resources 040 Interviewing 046 Internships 050 Temping 054 Freelancing 058 Start-ups

Cancer Research UK 076 A new social network: The Challenge Network 078 First job in the third sector: Charityworks 080 A chance to shine: The Sutton Trust

008 / 009

embarking on a career Identifying your ideal job and landing a position requires preparation, passion and, above all, perseverance. In other words, hunting for a job can be a job in itself

Job-hunting is a time-consuming task. According to a survey conducted

its ‘What jobs would suit me?’ section. The site also has an

by the Berlin-based trendence Institute, on average, graduates in the

interesting ‘What do graduates do?’ feature where you can

UK sent out 34.4 applications in 2013 before getting their first job.

find out how recent graduates got on in their searches.

   As noted elsewhere in this handbook, there are numerous resources to call on during your search to make the whole process

Beginning the hunt

more effective. However, with increasing competition for each

Once you’ve compiled your list of possible careers, it’s time to

vacancy, ever fewer ‘jobs for life’ and employees’ working lifespans

begin the most daunting part of the process – the job hunt itself.

getting ever longer, your most important tool is to have great job-

But remember, there are many different avenues that students

hunting skills. And since you will probably need these skills several

and graduates can (and should) explore to maximise their chances

times over the course of your career, it is well worth taking the

of rising to the top of the proverbial pile.

time to hone them and to become familiar with all the options.

It’s all about you

Careers services: ‘If you don’t do anything else, use your university’s careers service,’ stresses Chris Rea, Employer Business Manager at

The aphorism ‘know thyself’ is the first step in choosing a career,

Prospects. Vacancy databases are usually the first ports of call for

yet it can be the most neglected aspect of job-hunting. In fact,

most student job hunters, but don’t forget that a good careers

many people apply for jobs they are not suited for and which they

service will offer all sorts of other resources, from careers libraries

would find unfulfilling. So, while there are many reasons for looking

and individual advice sessions to recruiting events, industry seminars

for work – from necessity to the comparative luxury of career

and even interview practice. Your careers office may also provide

development – knowing your interests, abilities and plans is vital

skills assessments, personality tests and employment action plans,

to give purpose and meaning to your job search and to ensure

all of which can help with your decision-making process. There will

that it results in a successful career.

also be advice available on relevant internships and work experience,

   It can help to view your career as a journey encompassing many

as applicable, so it pays to establish contact with your careers service

crossroads, with opportunities to change direction and develop new

office as early as possible, preferably prior to graduation.

interests and talents at life’s different stages. Invariably, there are a number of steps best undertaken at the start of such an odyssey,

Graduate training schemes: Graduates with little or no prior

not least of which is the compilation of a ‘map’ to aid planning and

experience in their chosen field may nonetheless find success

decision-making. So, prepare a list of your ‘dream jobs’, then research

with companies that run graduate training schemes. Such schemes

them to find out how and where to start. But be realistic – many

are becoming increasingly scarce, but there are still placements

television producers and directors, for example, were first employed

to be found in the armed forces, retailing, media companies,

as PAs or runners at local broadcasting stations.

recruitment, accounting, engineering and the public and financial

   The dedicated graduate recruitment website Prospects

sectors. Naturally, they are much sought after, so research the

(www.prospects.ac.uk) is a good place to start, particularly

minimum entry requirements and closing dates for applications

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

010 / 011

as far in advance as possible to stand the best chance of being accepted onto a scheme.    Further to your written application, you may also be interviewed by telephone and asked to carry out online tests before being invited to the organisation’s offices for a face-to-face interview. The format of the schemes varies from company to company, but generally encompasses an introduction to corporate structure and culture, on-the-job training across various departments or disciplines, mentoring support from senior management colleagues, plus potentially further tuition culminating in attainment of a professional qualification. Graduate training schemes can last for 12 months or more, at the end of which you may be offered a permanent position within the organisation. Internships: An invaluable means of developing those all-important ‘employability skills’ while networking with key people in one’s target industry, the internship is becoming an increasingly important recruiting tool for both employees and employers. Companies surveyed by independent graduate recruitment research group High Fliers Research expected to fill more than a third of their available entry-level positions in 2013 with graduates who had already completed a work placement with them. So, those graduates without internship experience could be at a serious disadvantage.    For vacancies, it’s worth checking the Graduate Talent Pool online database (http://graduatetalentpool. direct.gov.uk). Read more in the ‘Internships’ feature in this chapter.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘the aphorism “know thyself” is the first step in choosing the right career’

Job advertisements: Jobs fairs, notice boards, university publications

in accountancy, finance, engineering, technology, science,

and student forums are all prime hunting grounds for initial leads,

computing, public sector, sales, marketing, arts and education.

while specific job advertisements may be found listed on websites,

  The Financial Times lists accountancy, finance, insurance and

in national newspapers and in trade publications. Remember that

sales jobs on Wednesdays (www.exec-appointments.com), while

these ads are designed not just to attract the best candidates, but

The Daily Telegraph (http://jobs.telegraph.co.uk) lists general

also to act as filters to reduce the number of unsuitable applicants.

vacancies on Thursdays. For a list of local newspaper websites,

   In other words, focus on understanding the description,

see www.newspapersoc.org.uk.

responsibilities and nature of the role. If your skills don’t match their requirements, then don’t apply. That said, it’s always worth reading

Speculative applications: Of course, you may decide to dispense

job advertisements as they may flag up an interesting company,

entirely with formal advertisements and approach companies directly.

suggest roles or locations not yet considered, or help narrow down

But make sure you do your homework first. There is little point in

what you don’t want – or are not qualified – to do. Read around

sending out hundreds of identikit applications to every company in

the ads, too, researching industry trends as well as specific company

one’s target sector. However, if there’s a company whose profile

news – good or bad, you’ll need to know what to expect.

really complements your skills and experience, a carefully focused CV and an engaging covering letter could easily open some doors.

Newspapers: Newspapers advertise certain types of vacancies on

If nothing else, they might keep you in mind should a position

particular days of the week. For example, The Independent lists

become available in the future.

vacancies in science, technology, computing and engineering on Online resources: The internet is the jobseeker’s friend, perhaps

creative media, arts, sales, marketing and travel on Wednesdays;

even the best one. Use it as a tool to search for job advertisements

education and public services on Thursdays; and legal, media

on dedicated careers sites as well as for other, informal sources of

and arts on Fridays. Check its online jobs page, too: http://ijobs.

industry-related information, such as networking sites and discussion


forums. You can also search for trade-specific sites, where consultants

  The Guardian (http://jobs.theguardian.com) lists vacancies

specialise in particular professions and industries and can be of

in creative, media and marketing on Mondays; education and

great help to graduate jobseekers. There are also many large, all-

research-linked posts on Tuesdays; health, public services, housing,

embracing job websites that allow candidates to post and update

environment and voluntary sector on Wednesdays; and science,

their CVs and to receive market updates and job news. Many also

computing, technology and engineering on Thursdays.

inform candidates of new vacancies and offer valuable information

  The Times (http://jobs.thetimes.co.uk) lists vacancies in legal,

on everything from what to wear to interviews to CV structure and

general and public services jobs on Tuesdays; secretarial and

content. But remember, CVs should always be tailored to match

administration on Wednesdays; and on Thursdays opportunities

each job (see ‘Constructing a Winning CV’ feature in this chapter).

012 / 013

Mondays; finance, accountancy and public sector on Tuesdays;

Networking: Rather gallingly for all those jobseekers spending their days scouring vacancy adverts, it’s estimated that the vast majority of jobs aren’t widely advertised. The ‘hidden market’, made up of word-of-mouth recommendations and internal advertising, makes up a large proportion of vacancies. The media, for example, is often seen as an environment where personal contacts are more important than qualifications. But in any sector you should never underestimate the power of networking. With fewer graduate jobs available today than before the recent recession, now more than ever it’s a case of who rather than what you know. The basic principle is simple: stay in touch! Every single person you meet is a potential source of employment, so the more relationships you develop, the better the chances of nabbing that dream job.    Granted, this may conjure up a distasteful image of coolly exploiting one’s contacts to further a personal career agenda, but effective networking could not be further removed from this. Instead, think of networking as getting in touch and staying in touch – it’s about building genuine, lasting relationships with people. It’s also about being able to offer something, rather than calling in favours. In work terms, this translates as marketing your skills and strengths to people who may become prospective employers. Networking is a mutually beneficial process and can be done anywhere, from a careers fair to a crowded bar. Online networking: This is a growing industry, with many websites, chat rooms and forums dedicated to helping people stay in touch. Used in conjunction with social networking sites – particularly business-related sites such as LinkedIn – these can help to expand a networking base and are an excellent way to improve skills, as the pressure of face-to-face interaction is removed. Basic precautions

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

should be followed, though, when using

jobs mentioned before, perhaps because

the internet to network. Divulging personal

they have client companies on their books

details or CVs to unknown persons can be

that use these agencies as their sole

risky, not least in terms of identity theft, so

recruitment resource. Be careful, though,

use each site’s privacy settings judiciously and

when choosing a recruitment agency or

ascertain what data, if any, might be sold on

consultant – jobseekers should never have

to third parties (see www.safer-jobs.com for

to pay an agency to be matched with a

further information and advice).

company, for example. Additionally, a good

Recruitment agencies: Signing up with

you into a role, so be prepared to walk

recruitment agencies – which are paid

away from any consultancy that tries to

by employers to help them find suitable

exert pressure.

candidates for vacancies – might well prove

   Good recruitment consultancies

a canny tactic, particularly if you focus on the

interview potential candidates in depth

organisations that specialise in the area you’re

and face-to-face. They will also clarify

interested in. Even then, don’t think that

the services they offer and spend time

submitting your CV to a handful of different

discussing each candidate’s aspirations and

agencies means that you can sit back and

expectations. Many consultancies also ask

wait for a job to come to you. The vacancies

candidates to undergo various tests, such

they fill will almost always be outnumbered

as psychometric or skills-based exercises,

by the qualified jobseekers on their books.

before accepting jobseekers on their list.

To get the most out of the service they’re

Reputable recruitment consultancies may

offering, you should tailor your application

also provide training or liaise with their

materials to suit their requirements.

corporate clients to ensure training for

   The ‘Recruitment resources’ feature

new graduates. Registering with several

in this book reviews the pros and cons of

consultancies will give you a greater chance

recruitment agencies in detail, but suffice

of finding employment than relying on just

it to say they come in every shape and size

one. Having made contact, and after the

– and with dizzyingly divergent standards

initial or introductory procedures and tests

and services. Certain agencies may offer

are over, be proactive and avoid the ‘out

exclusive access to many of those ‘hidden’

of touch, out of mind’ syndrome.

consultant should never attempt to talk

014 / 015


10 Job Hunting Tips




Get focused Make sure your job search has a clear direction (or directions). Decide what sort of areas you


Get experienced Of course, the main problem with graduate CVs is the great gaping hole where the ‘experience’ section

want to work in and focus on those. Don’t waste

should be. One of the best ways to get this filled

time applying for jobs you are not qualified to

up is to undertake an internship or work experience

do, are unsuited to, or – most importantly of all

placement. These can help build up an array of useful

– in which you have no interest. The key piece of

skills and contacts and may even lead to a permanent

advice is this: know thyself, and then tailor your

position. Voluntary experience can also help your CV

job search accordingly.

stand out from the pile.

Get on with it Don’t leave it too long to begin your search, or you’ll be running to catch up. This particularly


Get some help Remember, you don’t have to do this all on your own. There are plenty of resources out there to help you find

applies to graduate training schemes, the best

that perfect position, beginning with your university

of which are highly sought after, with places

careers service, which can furnish you with advice,

filling up quickly. Begin your job search well

contacts, skills assessments, computer access and

before graduation and take full advantage

interview practice. Recruitment agencies can also

of any job fairs, employer presentations or

be used to help scour the market on your behalf

workshops offered by your university.

for the most suitable positions.

Get your CV sorted Take time to work on your CV, your main lure for snaring an interview. It should be clear, well


Get networking With the majority of positions not publicly advertised, building up an extensive database of professional

laid out and concise (no more than two pages).

contacts is perhaps the most useful thing you can do

On average, recruiters spend just 20–30 seconds

to secure yourself a job. And this is something you can

looking at a CV, so make sure yours works as

do anywhere – friends and family can often provide just

hard as it possibly can. Don’t rely on a ‘general’

as many links as more formal networking opportunities

CV – carefully amend and tailor it for each job

such as careers events, internships and online forums

you apply for.

and groups.


Graduate Talent Pool






The Graduate




Graduate Recruitment


Get online The largest, most information-packed resource there is, the internet, is an abundant sea for anyone fishing for


Don’t get despondent Keep at it. You may be taken on in your dream position by your number one company within

a career. Explore all the possibilities, from job boards,

the first week of beginning your search, but

discussion forums and chat rooms to recruitment

chances are your quest may take a little longer

agencies, dedicated graduate sites and social networking

than that. Stay focused and persevere. And keep

opportunities. You can also use the web to research the

track of what you’ve done – all the jobs you’ve

background and future plans of any potential employers

applied for and all potential leads and job-hunting

in your area.

avenues – on a simple computer spreadsheet.

Get the papers

To do list

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit


In the digital age, this may seem like a slightly oldfashioned way of hunting for jobs, but newspapers are still one of the main places where jobs are advertised. In this particular jungle, The Independent, The Guardian and The Times are the big beasts, but it is also worth hunting the local press. And to save time (and money) you can always use the papers’ online job sites, which allow you to tailor your searches.


Get some practice in Your CV may be world-class and your business suit immaculate, but if you can’t confidently sell yourself in an interview, you’re going to struggle to land a position. So get practising. Interview practice will help you prepare your answers to all those standard ‘What are your career goals?’ type questions. You can get your friends and family to help out. Don’t forget to mug up about the company you're interviewing for, too.

Financial Times

The Independent




The Guardian

The Times





016 / 017

Targeting the top Just as employers rifle through mountains of CVs to find their perfect candidate, graduates should be discerning in their search for a fulfilling job

Graduates across the UK have had good reason to be optimistic about their future careers of late. Compared with the largely gloom-laden reports of recent years, the news that job prospects improved by 2.7 per cent year-on-year in 2013, according to High Fliers Research’s annual review of graduate vacancies and starting salaries, will have come as cause for celebration. And the outlook for University of Cambridge graduates appears to be particularly bright, with a joint survey carried out by human resources consultancy Emerging and leading employment research institute trendence showing that recruiters the world over hold Cambridge graduates in especially high regard.    Reflecting the opinions of thousands of CEOs and business managers from top companies in 20 countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA, the survey ranked the University of Cambridge first in Europe, and third in the world, in terms of student employability. Coupled with numerous reports of economic growth in Britain and beyond, this means that Cambridge graduates can afford to be increasingly selective when considering their career options. As ever, it is vital to weigh the options before taking the plunge.

Exciting prospects The day the first proper payslip lands on your doormat is a memorable one. It’s less about the sum shown on

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

it than what that payslip stands for: independence, success and, hopefully, the start of an exciting career.    Yet, since the first step into the world of full-time, long-term employment often sets people on the path to their future careers, you need to maximise your chances of making sure it’s a positive experience. To that end, you should be selective in choosing your employer.    The question is how can graduates know which companies are exciting, engaging and desirable? Websites can help. Here, prospective employees can learn a great deal about an organisation’s priorities and structure, as well as its environmental policies and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.    The Great Place to Work Institute can help, too. It assesses over 5,500 companies in more than 40 countries to produce annual business rankings. In 2013, the top five of the UK’s best large workplaces consisted of companies in the financial services, insurance, IT and food sectors, while the list of best medium-sized workplaces was headed by a firm that provides leadership development, and the best small business to work for was a digital marketing company.    Those looking for work in these and other sectors could do worse than start their search by considering useful to all job-seeking graduates, however, is the fact that the main criterion for this ranking is the

018 / 019

the companies named by the institute. More broadly

‘If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do’

companies’ employee survey. Employees’

89.1 per cent employed and just 1.7 per

accounts being considered invaluable as a

cent unemployed half a year after leaving

useful pointer, the message clearly is: Talk

university. Subjects allied to medicine

to people who work for organisations you

came second in the list, with 86.3 per cent

like the look of to gain an insight into the

employed, followed by biological sciences.

company culture and structure.

   However, the median graduate starting

   Look at the businesses’ attitude and

salary across all subject areas has not risen

approach as well. Initiatives such as extensive

since 2010, according to High Fliers Research,

training programmes, information-sharing

having remained at £29,000 for the past four

podcasts, online facilities that enable staff

years. The graduate recruitment researchers’

to pose questions to the directors, or

data also shows that in 2013, graduates

generous charitable donations indicate

entering the investment banking sector had

good management practices and also reveal

the highest starting salaries, at £45,000 per

an organisation’s involvement in local issues

annum, followed by those in the legal sector

and environmental concerns, as well as its

(£38,000) and graduates in the oil and energy

commitment to staff well-being.

industry (£32,500).

Attractive sectors

Be choosy

Beyond the inner workings of specific

With the UK’s ‘Class of 2013’ requiring,

companies, however, it is true that

on average, 6.5 months to find their first

certain sectors offer greater graduate

graduate job, according to trendence,

employment opportunities than others.

the question is, of course, whether those

Each year, the Higher Education Statistics

leaving university can afford to be choosy.

Agency (HESA) compiles its Destinations of

The answer, both from employers and

Leavers from Higher Education Institutions

applicants, seems to be ‘yes’ – increasingly

survey, a national poll of graduates that

and unashamedly so.

asks about their occupation six months

   ‘A real shift I’ve seen over the last

after graduating. The 2011/12 data – the

10–15 years is people wanting to understand

most recent available – shows that medicine

what an organisation stands for,’ says Adam

and dentistry graduates progress most

Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV. ‘Wanting to

easily from training to employment, with

understand what is on offer in terms of

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

020 / 021

the training they will get, how they will be developed. They want to know what the organisation does for the environment and for society. Alongside that is a desire that, if they put the right effort in, they will share in the organisation’s success.’    Andy Bond, the former CEO of Asda, agrees: ‘If you look at the young people coming into the workforce, they’re looking for different things out of work – they’re not just looking for an economic equation.’    Indeed, graduates seem to be asking more questions about a company’s practices and ethics, in addition to finding out as much as they can about the advertised role, team members, collaborations and anything else that might impact on what an employee does at work. Frederick Herzberg, a US business management guru and author of the 1968 book One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?, succinctly said: ‘If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.’    Today’s graduates need to invest time into finding an employer that will give them that opportunity.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘Graduates need to derive

meaning from their work’ their company is doing something worthwhile for the wider

research and advisory body The Work Foundation, offers

society – it’s no good just to say: “We’re here to make profit.”

advice for graduates entering the workplace:

Of course, graduates need to tick the boxes around pay, training

   ‘Even in the depths of a recession, really high-quality

and development, and career-progression opportunities – but they

graduates are in demand. I talk to companies that say they

also need to derive some meaning from their work. That might

struggle to find good graduates, and that they’re having

be to do with a company’s green credentials and CSR initiatives,

to compete to attract the right recruits. Some UK sectors

but it’s mainly about wanting to be more than a cog in the wheel.

are facing big competition from international companies,

   ‘The office environment is important, too. Is it an

and they, in particular, look to the leading universities for

environment you want to work in? These things matter.

fresh talent.

They send a message about how much your company values

   ‘Graduates have worked hard to get a good degree, and

you and how willing it is to give you the tools to do your

they want a job that enables them to build on their studies and

job – so visit the offices. It’s a good idea to look at unions,

their high potential. Perhaps because of that, senior executives

too. Progressive unions that want to form partnerships with

tell us they’re increasingly being challenged by job applicants.

employers and create win–win solutions are really good vehicles

Graduates are asking organisations to demonstrate that they

for employees to have a voice.

are a great place to work. These graduates no longer believe

   ‘Quality graduates are right to expect all of these things

the rhetoric.

– and they can get some measure from looking at company

   ‘Graduates want to feel connected to the purpose of the

websites, talking to people who work for the company and

organisation they work for. They are interested in knowing that

getting under the skin of the kind of work they’ll be doing.’

022 / 023

Professor Stephen Bevan, a director of the not-for-profit

Constructing a winning CV To clinch that all-important job interview, you must first sell yourself on paper and stand out from the crowd

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Putting together a curriculum vitae (CV) is arguably one of the most

   For your university degree, give the name of the institution,

daunting tasks for job-seeking graduates. Today’s job market is highly

your area of study and your grade or predicted grade, depending

competitive, so applicants need to present their skills and suitability

on whether you have already graduated or not. Add any relevant

for any position in the best-possible way. A concise, well-designed

information about postgraduate study, qualifications that you are

and impressive CV is therefore key to clinching a job interview.

working towards or courses for which you have enrolled.

Those vital 20 seconds

Career history

The average recruiter spends just 20 to 30 seconds looking at a

For employers, this is generally the most important section of

candidate’s CV, which means they merely glance at its most important

a CV and should therefore come before the education history.

aspects. With this in mind, you should aim to keep the information on

However, recent graduates without any significant work experience

your CV to two A4 pages at the most. These need to be clear and easy

should highlight their academic achievements first.

to read, using a classic black typeface – do not try to impress employers

   The career history needs to convince employers of the applicant’s

with your artistic flair or hope to stand out from the crowd through

suitability for the post, so you should make time to tailor your CV to

coloured paper or odd typefaces.

each individual job you apply for rather than sending out the same

Personal statement

one with all your applications. Your employment history should always start with the most recent position and work backwards in reverse

This is your first chance to make a good impression. Recruiters will

chronological order.

read this section to figure out what benefits you would bring to

   A CV that makes no reference to any kind of work (not even

the company, so use it to explain why you’d be a suitable employee.

part-time or holiday jobs) will suggest a lack of drive and initiative –

Highlight any relevant work experience and particular skills you have

not to mention laziness – to potential employers. But if you’ve got

that fit the job description, but do not describe what you want from

nothing to offer here, don’t panic – the National Council for Work

the job and your career – there will be scope to discuss this at the

Experience (www.work-experience.org), part of graduate careers

interview stage.

website Prospects, offers quality work experience ‘for the benefit

Education history

of students, organisations and the economy’. The type of work may be irrelevant to the jobs that you want to apply for, but it still reveals your personal development and confirms that you

CV, there’s no need to list every single qualification and grade you

are prepared to work.

have ever gained. State your A-level subjects and results, but just

   Volunteering experience also demonstrates that you are

mention the number of your GCSE grades plus the results in a few

motivated, committed and willing to undertake any task in order to

selected subjects, such as English, maths and those that are relevant

further develop your skills and improve your chances of long-term

to the job you’re applying for.

employment. At vinspired.com you can source placements by location

024 / 025

Although your education history is a very important aspect of your

or by focusing on the benefits you want to gain, the project you want to join or the charity you want to help.

Transferable skills If you haven’t gained any substantial work experience yet, holiday jobs, internships and volunteer positions will not only show that you are motivated and willing to work, but also give you general abilities that can be used across a number of positions and industries.    For instance, you might be able to include on your CV such employment exhortations as ‘teamwork’, ‘flexibility’, ‘motivated’ and ‘interpersonal/organisational skills’, plus any above-average numeracy and literacy abilities. Such capabilities can also conceivably be acquired from hobbies and home life, while the professed possession of all or most of them demonstrates to recruiters that you are well equipped to change or extend your role within the prospective company, as required.

IT proficiency Most job applicants are expected to possess basic IT skills, especially with commonly used word-processing and spreadsheet software. However, any additional skills in this area should be highlighted for the recruiter’s attention because people with a demonstrably advanced knowledge of IT stand a far better chance of securing certain posts.    Listing any experience in graphics programs, web design and programming will definitely make your CV stand out. If you don’t yet boast such skills, why not book a short training course during a holiday period? See nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk, www.learndirect.co.uk or www.creativeskillset.org for information on free or part-funded IT and digital media courses.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘Volunteering at a local community centre will impress most employers, whereas your love of tropical fish probably won’t’

Additional languages Employers increasingly favour applicants who can speak and understand languages other than their mother tongue, so jobseekers who are fluent in two or more languages will find that they have enhanced employment options open to them, especially with multinational companies. Some universities provide intense ‘crammer’ foreign-language courses (sometimes for free) during the summer holidays, so check with your careers service to see what’s on offer. You can also visit the Learning Space website (openlearn.open.ac.uk), which features Open University course materials, including numerous modern-language units.

Interests Don’t feel tempted to reel off every hobby or sport in which you have participated since you were a child. Only include the interests that you have now and keep the list short and relevant – volunteering at a local community centre will impress most employers, whereas your love of tropical fish probably won’t. If any of your interests could significantly assist your job application, such as fluency in a second language when applying to a company with offices worldwide, list this first.

Last-minute checks Make sure that you have included basic information such as your postal address, phone number and email address. It is wise to check with your referee that they are happy to be contacted and tell them what job you are applying for, so that they will be ready if contacted by telephone to give you a reference ‘on the spot’. mistake. If possible, ask someone else to check your CV and covering letter for spelling and grammatical errors, too, as a fresh pair of eyes

026 / 027

   Don’t risk spoiling a good application by overlooking a spelling

Adam Greys Telephone: 07123 456789 • Mobile: 07835 713355 • Email: a.greys2023@nomail.com

Relevant work experience 2012 (Feb–Aug)

23 School Lane Higher Somerville Shropshire SP3 5TY

Invited back to work through summer holiday following universityorganised placement. Three-month paid summer work experience: reviewed company procedures in business planning and forecasting team, and prepared reports for CEO including recommendations for annual updating.

Highly numerate finance and accounting student with experience working in an international finance company. I am seeking a career in financial advice and planning.

Education 2010 – present

Thrift Financial Services Provider of full range of professional services to new and small businesses in the Somerville area.

2010 – 2012 (Part-time evenings during term time)

The Student Food Stop Late opening fast-food service on campus.

2009 – 2010 (Full time)

Glittering Gifts High street retail outlet for gifts, cards, stationery and toys.

University of Ville BSc in Finance and Accounting (predicted grade 2:1) Course accredited by the Association of Financiers that has enabled me to develop: • • • •

Competence to professional-body standards in financial planning and budget control techniques. Excellent working knowledge of financial and statistical packages, including SPSS and Stata. Ability to communicate researched findings in writing and to groups of students. Competence in all Microsoft Office packages.

Prepared meals and snacks and was responsible for electronic debit machine, financial security procedures, cashing up and closure of premises. Involved completion of stock control inventories, reordering and cash accounting, as well as customer service and managing complaints.

Was responsible for cash register, wrapping goods sold and managing electronic payments. Being employed for a full 12 months developed my understanding of the cyclical nature of gift buying and the need to plan and display stock, and to maintain customer communications accordingly. Developed skills in forward planning, anticipating customer needs and meeting deadlines.

Additional achievements: • •

Nominated for best finalist dissertation on Financial Planning in SMEs. Undertook optional modules in International Banking and Investing in Pensions. • Completed successful six-week, in-course placement at Thrift Financial Services, working with teams managing new-client communications and business forecasting, and providing financial advice to new businesses. • Elected as course representative, which involved communication with senior faculty staff on behalf of students during institutional audit.

2003 – 2010

The Academy High School • A levels: Business Studies (B), Economics (A), General Studies (A) and Physics (C). • GCSEs in ten subjects including English Language (A), French (A) and Maths (B). • Special achievements: Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award and captain of the cricket under-19s, through which I developed leadership and teamworking skills.

Voluntary experience 2011 – present

Volunteer first-aid giver with St John’s Ambulance.


Student buddy/mentor during induction week.

2008 – 2009

Coached under-14s hockey team.

Other competencies First aid

Trained to use resuscitation and acute response techniques.


French: Excellent conversational and written French. German: Good conversational German.


European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).

Referee details available upon request

may pick up something you have missed. Relying solely on

to compiling a CV, such as traditional, skills-based and academic.

a computer’s spellcheck facility may lead to incorrect meanings

The first of these styles is reproduced, with kind permission from

or Americanisations.

Prospects, on this page, while opposite there is an associated

   Learn to be objective about your CV – get a second opinion

covering letter.

and be prepared to make changes until both the covering letter

   Elsewhere, the Student Room (www.thestudentroom.co.uk)

and the CV do the best-possible job of selling you to a prospective

is staffed by ‘CV Helpers’ to whom you may send your CV for

employer. And don’t be discouraged by brief rejection letters

authoritative advice on how to improve it. Likewise, the government’s

that do not even ask you to attend an interview – or, worse, no

careers advice site (nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk) has a CV

reply at all. Employers are often inundated with applications and

builder on its website and offers feedback via email, telephone or

therefore don’t have time to respond to each applicant individually.

face-to-face appraisal. Online recruitment colossus Reed not only

Simply remain patient and positive in your approach to job-hunting –

offers a range of employer-approved sample CVs, but also provides

the right opportunity might come along sooner than you think.

a free CV review service, undertaken by an HR expert.

Superlative CVs


There are fistfuls of expedient, expert and, importantly, free

Offline, take full advantage of your university’s careers service.

resources out there offering hands-on help with compiling

Careers advisers at Cambridge, for example, have compiled two

or improving your CV. For instance, graduate careers website

useful guides: CVs and Cover Letters and CVs and Cover Letters

Prospects features specific examples of alternative approaches

for PhDs and Postdocs. Both books, which are free to Cambridge

23 School Lane Higher Somerville Shropshire SP3 5TY

CONTACTS Courses, tools and work Creative Skillset

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Claire Jones Personnel Manager Midlands Accountants 1 Commercial Road Birmingham B1 3AB

www.creativeskillset.org 15 April, 2013 Reference: VB7 (Accounts Assistant)

learndirect www.learndirect.co.uk

Dear Ms Jones, I am writing to apply for the above position of Accounts Assistant, as advertised on the Prospects website. I am about to graduate from the University of Ville with a degree in Finance and Accounting, and have gained relevant work experience at Thrift Financial Services. The company provides professional services to new and small businesses, and my six-month stint there enabled me to put much of what I learnt on my degree into practice. My tasks included, for instance, reviewing company procedures and preparing reports for the firm’s CEO. I have also worked for the University of Ville’s Student Food Shop and a high street retailer, where I gained a valuable understanding of financial security procedures, cash accounting, stock control inventories and customer service. I hold the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) and am comfortable using presentation software and databases. Having worked as part of a team on several occasions and in numerous customer-facing roles, I am also well practised at keeping a calm and professional attitude while juggling the many challenges that can arise in a busy work environment. In addition, I speak French and German, which I have found invaluable when liaising with international clients.

Learning Space www.open.edu/openlearn National Careers Service https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk National Council for Work Experience www.work-experience.org The Student Room

With my skills and experience, I am confident that I would be an asset to your company and able to thrive in the role of Accounts Assistant. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application, and I look forward to hearing from you. I am available for interview at your earliest convenience. Please find my CV enclosed.


Yours sincerely,

Writing a CV

Adam Greys



www.cvtemplate.co.uk National Careers Service https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/ advice/getajob/cvs/Pages/default.aspx Reed students and graduates, feature sample CVs and covering letters –


see www.careers.cam.ac.uk/library/cvbook.    You should also plunder your local library to source tried-and-

The Guardian

tested titles such as You’re Hired! CV: How to Write a Brilliant CV


by Corinne Mills.

Covering letter

University of Cambridge Careers Service www.careers.cam.ac.uk/library/cvbook

Every CV you send out should be accompanied by a covering letter demonstrating why your skills and expertise make you the ideal

Writing a cover letter

candidate for the job you’re applying for, with reference to the


job description and specifications. Like the CV, the covering letter


should be short, sharp and to the point – it should be no longer


than one page. The Guardian

for the post and the closing paragraph to say when you would be


available for an interview. The phrase ‘at your earliest convenience’


is a useful way of saying that you would be willing to come along at any time.

028 / 029

   Use the opening paragraph to explain why you are applying

Managing your digital profile While many graduates have digital profiles on social networking sites, few know how to use their online presence effectively to find a job

Graduates who can get to grips with the potential of networking

anything online, think of the potential consequences. Take a breath

sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ have an unprecedented

and ask yourself: “How does this look? Am I presenting myself in the

advantage when it comes to finding a job because employers

best light?” If not, then don’t post.’

increasingly use social media to recruit new staff.    It has always been important to network, but before social media

Consistent digital identity

revolutionised the way we make connections it wasn’t that easy to

Like any tool, a networking site is only really effective if used properly.

do. With virtual interactions now easily outstripping physical ones,

Not only does this mean restricting access to your Facebook profile

our capacity to sustain and develop contacts and relationships has

and separating your personal and professional networks, it also

never been greater, and no one has more to gain than the graduate

means being strategic about how you construct and manage your

jobseeker. Now, you can build a professional relationship with

digital identity. Although the sites themselves vary, having a personal

individuals long before you even meet them or join their business,

profile that is consistent across all social media networks is essential

and these people could play a vital role in your fledgling career.

if you want to attract employers and recruiters.

The right impression

   A necessary starting point is to use a single professional-looking profile picture for all your networks, including Facebook. There’s no

Through her company, Winning Impression, Katrina Collier advises

need to use the services of a photographer – a friend or family member

jobseekers and recruiters on how to make the most of social media.

will do just fine – but be sure that the photo you use is a head and

Despite increasingly tough competition for graduate-level positions

shoulders image and that you use it consistently on every site.

in recent years, she has found that surprisingly few graduates use

   Consistency is also important when choosing a cover photo for

social media networks when planning their careers. Fewer still are

your Facebook and Google+ accounts. ‘However, this image should

aware of the need to manage their digital profile.

foreground your personal achievements,’ Katrina says. ‘So, if you’ve

   ‘It is not only crucial that jobseekers create a social media profile

run a marathon, climbed a mountain or raised money for charity,

but also that they create the right impression online,’ says Katrina.

make sure that recruiters and potential employers get to see your

‘For this reason, my advice to graduates is twofold. Firstly, you need to

accomplishment when they find your profile.’

create and maintain active profiles on each of the three most popular recruiter networks – LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. Secondly, it’s

Optimise your profiles

important to clean up your Facebook profile by using the maximum

Having created your various social media profiles you’ll need to learn

privacy settings available and by de-tagging yourself in any potentially

how to get the most from each site. With more than 225 million

incriminating photos, comments or posts that may appear on the site.

members, LinkedIn is the king of professional networks. Profiles act

   ‘Whether you’re socialising on Facebook or networking on

as continually evolving CVs, allowing users to showcase their skills

LinkedIn, it is vital at all times that you use your online activities to

and achievements while tracking vacancies and industry trends.

raise your digital profile and make yourself look good. Before posting

Headhunters are always scouting the site for new talent, and it is

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

030 / 031

possible to increase your chances of being noticed by highlighting

Twellow, TwitJobSearch or Tweetmyjobs.com. Followers are then

your skills and having them endorsed by other users and by creating

informed of openings as soon as they become available – openings

a summary that’s rich with relevant keywords.

that often won’t be advertised anywhere else.

   Another important way to boost your LinkedIn profile is to

   Jen, an aspiring journalist at the University of Cambridge,

join – and contribute to – the site’s dedicated discussion groups.

responded to a tweet from the Commissioning Editor of

One of the many benefits of contributing to a LinkedIn discussion

Cosmopolitan asking if anyone in her area was able to help out

is that your comments may be picked up and included in the

on a feature. Not only was she paid a fee for her time, but the

group’s weekly round-up email, thereby increasing significantly

magazine now also has her details on file should anything similar

your LinkedIn exposure.

crop up in the future. ‘I would never have seen this job advertised

   Remember, too, that Google really likes LinkedIn, so your profile is

if I wasn’t using Twitter,’ Jen admits. ‘Also, responding via a social

likely to be the first result listed if an interested party searches for your

networking site made everything so quick – I secured the job

name. It is therefore very important to keep that profile updated and

within the hour.’

free of any potential embarrassments.

   Tweeting conventions can also be exploited to attract an

   Google+ is also a great place to make your mark. Since it

employer’s attention even when there’s no specific post to apply for.

launched in June 2011, the network has gained 170 million users,

Track popular keywords using services like Monitter.com, include them

60 per cent of whom use it every day. Pitched as a more relaxed

– with the all-important hashtag – in a tweet summing up key skills

version of LinkedIn and a more professionally oriented site than

and the desired job, and recruiters may well take notice.

Facebook, it has become the network of choice for IT professionals, developers and designers.

Building trust

   ‘But whatever your background, Google+ has much to offer

As with any social group, it takes time to build trust in an online

because its hundreds of industry-specific communities are smaller

community, and if a lucrative contract or a permanent position is

than those on LinkedIn and haven’t been swamped by spammers

your goal, social media networking is unlikely to land you your dream

and marketers,’ says Katrina. ‘Plus, it’s also possible to project more

job overnight. Like job-hunting the old-fashioned way, it’s important

of your personality on Google+ than it is on LinkedIn, particularly

to be realistic about what you can expect to achieve in a short time

by using a cover photo in addition to your standard profile picture.’

frame. ‘And since earning the trust of others is paramount, it is vital

Quickfire recruitment

that you take the time to build good relationships on each of the three main social media sites before vigorously pursuing your desired

Twitter messages are famously limited to 140 characters, but it’s

role,’ Katrina says.

amazing what they can achieve. The microblogging site is well

   One way to speed up the process is by also signing up to

established as a cheap and effective recruiting tool. Most major

networking sites that cater to specific industries. Given that each

companies and industry figures have dedicated recruitment

user on these networks starts from a base of common professional

accounts that can be tracked down using directories such as

interest, it is easier to identify both relevant vacancies and valuable

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

032 / 033

‘It is vital at all times that you use your online activities to raise your digital profile and make yourself look good’

contacts. Lawyrs.net, for instance, allows users to create

own website or blog is another excellent way

an online professional profile displaying everything from

to make your digital presence felt. WordPress

education and employment history to legal specialities

is a great choice for the novice as it’s simple

and interests. Helpful tools include an international firm

to use and can be linked easily to your

directory and dedicated discussion groups, while users

Google+ and LinkedIn profiles.

frequently advertise job opportunities that are unlikely

   ‘However, since it requires a big

to be visible elsewhere.

investment of time and energy, you shouldn’t

   Graduates skilled in the visual arts can showcase

set up a blog if you can’t commit to updating

their work on Behance.net as well as on Instagram and

it regularly,’ Katrina says. ‘If your time is at a

Pinterest, while Xing.com is a must for those who are

premium but you still would like to run a blog,

looking for work in the business and finance industry.

a useful timesaving strategy is to present it in

This international networking site is a more sophisticated

video format, which can be achieved cheaply

version of LinkedIn and is cleverly designed to make

and effectively by using a Skype recorder.

job-hunting easier for its users. The spadework of sifting

The main advantage of video blogging is

through job advertisements is done for you as Xing

that it’s faster than producing written posts,

checks every new addition to see if it matches your

each of which need to be carefully edited

profile. More established professionals also use the site

and proofread before being posted online.

to identify potential investors and business partners.

Another good reason to choose video over

   If you wish to keep your skills up to date while

text is that it can help to make you stand

working towards a long-term role, or if your primary

out from the crowd.’

goal is to freelance, you’ll find plenty of opportunities

   Shortcuts aside, in order to get the best

on Peopleperhour.com. Users bid on work outsourced

results from the internet and social media

by employers who award jobs based on profiles

networking in your job search, it is essential

displaying key skills and experience, online portfolios

that you commit a portion of your day, every

and feedback from previous contracts.

day, to contributing to each of your networks

Websites and blogs

and to making your online presence felt. By maintaining a positive and attractive

Of course social media networks are not the only online

digital identity, you are certain to increase

resource available to graduate jobseekers. Creating your

your career prospects.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Dos and Don’ts Do • Create a profile on each of the three main social media networks: LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. • Use the maximum privacy settings on Facebook and de-tag yourself in any potentially embarrassing photos, comments or posts. • Get a professional-looking headand-shoulders photograph of yourself and use it as your profile picture on every social media network you join. • Add a cover photo that creates a positive image of your interests or achievements. • Make it easier for recruiters and employers to find you by creating keyword-rich summaries and bios. • Build a website or blog and link it to your Google+ and LinkedIn profiles. • Remain active and visible online by networking every day on each of your chosen social media sites. Don’t • Post comments or photos without stopping to think of the potential consequences. • Make racist, sexist or other offensive comments online. • Express extreme views of any sort. • Broadcast your personal business to 034 / 035

recruiters and potential employers.

Resources such as recruitment agencies and online job boards are great tools to help you get a permanent contract, or simply valuable work experience

The outlook for graduate job-hunters is improving.

successfully matching candidates with companies, usually

High Fliers Research’s latest annual review of graduate

charging a fee to the latter. So, to achieve the best results

vacancies showed that employers were set to increase

for both parties, try to build a relationship with your

their graduate recruitment by 2.7 per cent in 2013.

consultant. This means accentuating your achievements

However, a look beyond this headline figure also revealed

and ambitions to ensure that you are represented

that the overall level of recruitment was still over 10 per

accurately – tell them about the type of jobs you do

cent lower than in 2007, the year before the recession hit.

or don’t want, and if they are not finding you work,

   So, how can you improve your chances of bagging

discuss why this might be and consider adjusting

that dream first position? As well as exploring all the

priorities and parameters accordingly.

usual avenues – your university’s careers service, careers

   Your consultant should put you forward only

fairs, local and national newspapers’ job pages, the

for jobs you are interested in, regularly update you

internet and any personal networking opportunities –

on progress with your applications and supply you

you may also wish to consider the support and services

with ample information on each vacancy and its

offered by recruitment agencies. Because in addition to

terms and conditions.

potentially helping you secure a permanent contract, signing up to a recruitment agency can be a useful

Finding the right recruiter

way of getting valuable work experience and industry

There are many different tools available to jobseekers.

insight – not to mention a bit of cash – even if only

The recruiting information sites Hire Scores and Jobsite,

on a temporary basis.

for instance, both rank recruitment agencies according

The hunter and the hunted

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Recruitment resources

to feedback provided by candidates, enabling you to find out which agencies have performed well for other jobseekers. These days, many recruiters are specialists

in person to discuss your requirements, help you fine-tune

attuned to the requirements of a particular sector (or

your CV accordingly and proffer ‘insider’ advice. Accept all

sectors) such as construction, publishing, engineering,

such feedback – after all, these people are in regular, direct

IT or law. Their specialist knowledge means that they are

contact with employers from your target sector(s).

able to provide you with good opportunities to progress

   Likewise, it is in the agency’s interest to understand

in your chosen field by tracking down vacancies that are

you and what you offer, as it makes its money by

appropriate for your skill set and ambitions.

036 / 037

A reputable recruitment consultant will want to meet you

‘Your consultant should put you forward only for jobs you are interested in and supply you with ample information on each vacancy’

   Meanwhile, the Recruitment and Employment

making sure to protect any personal data

Confederation (REC) is the professional body for the

through the sites’ privacy settings.

UK’s recruitment industry and provides a comprehensive

   As for which job boards to use, in 2013,

directory of agencies listed by specialism (accountancy,

Milkround was the most widely used graduate

advertising, agriculture and so on) and by location on its

recruitment website for the sixth year running

website. The online directory Agency Central provides

(and for 9 of the last 13 years). According to

a similar service, too, while ads in business directories

High Fliers Research’s UK Graduate Careers

should also indicate the types of work an agency

Survey 2013, it was used by 48 per cent of

manages. In addition, you should seek out word-of-

finalists from the ‘Class of 2013’ during their

mouth recommendations from other jobseekers in

job searches. The site, which has a million

your field.

registered users, also exploits the potential

Widening the net

of social media through its Facebook page and a Twitter feed that graduates can follow.

As well as registering with professional recruitment

Milkround’s competitors include TARGETjobs,

agencies, visiting recruitment websites (also known

Totaljobs, Monster and Gradunet.

as ‘job boards’) is a great way to find out about job openings. They enable you to apply for any vacancies

Direct approach

that may appeal, but you’ll only get out of them what

Finally, a word of caution with respect to

you put in. You can’t, for instance, simply upload an

relying exclusively on recruitment agencies:

unfocused CV to countless websites, then sit back and

many organisations had their staffing

wait for HR directors to contact you. However, selected

budgets slashed during the recent recession

carefully and used wisely, recruitment websites can be

and are therefore reverting to securing new

valuable tools for your job-seeking strategy.

hires directly, often through the jobs section

   To get the most out of them, keep notes of

on their own website. Given this trend, keep

what you’ve posted and where; limit the number

a close eye on the job boards and websites

of job boards you use; sculpt your per-site particulars

of any companies you’d like to work for,

according to the applications you make on it; and

in addition to using recruitment agencies

check and update your details regularly, always

and websites.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit



Agency Central

LA International




Langton Howarth



High Fliers Research




High Scores

Scantec Personnel




Executives Online






Gradunet REC


www.rec.uk.com Indeed www.indeed.co.uk

Badenoch & Clark




Blue Octopus





Only Marketing Jobs



Kelly Services




Michael Page








038 / 039


CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Interviewing Painstaking preparation, presentation and promptness are the keys to ensuring that you get the most out of an interview

The old adage ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is never more true

so far? What do you think you would least enjoy about this role?

than at a job interview. As soon as the interview date is fixed, use

What first interested you in this job? Why do you want to work for

the internet to review your prospective employer’s website and

our company? Why should we employ you? What do you think would

learn the company’s main facts and figures. Interviewers will not

be the biggest challenge about working here? Do you function better

expect total recall, but the ability to demonstrate at least a basic

on your own or with others? Do you like being given responsibility?

understanding of their organisation is essential – the size of the

   Practise your answers to these questions in advance in order to

company, number of employees, major competitors and so on.

be more confident when answering them on the day. You can also

   You should also undertake a wider web search of the company

test out your technique with business leaders, courtesy of Jobsite UK’s

to investigate any related news or PR items – if it has just been taken

interactive interview videos – see www.jobsite.co.uk/bemyinterviewer.

over by another company or announced record profits, for example. Asking applicants what they know about the company to which they

Answering unusual questions

are applying is an approach used by most interviewers. Failing to come

In any case, do not waffle – always answer the question asked

up with relevant information creates a poor impression and reduces

without changing the subject. In addition to the standard questions,

chances of success before the interview has had a chance to really get

interviewers may throw in unlikely queries or statements to gauge

under way. Interviewers know that graduates apply for a number of

how quickly you would respond to the unexpected in a work

jobs, so it is important to be able to explain what particularly appeals

situation. ‘Sell me this pen,’ for example, is the sort of challenge

about each company when you are applying to work with them.

that might crop up in an interview for a marketing or sales job.

   Having done your research, you are now in a good position

Another example might be: ‘If you were an animal, what would you

to assess the areas you have experience in, a natural aptitude for or

be and why?’ Employers pose these questions to test whether an

an interest in learning about. Make sure you bring these up in your

interviewee has the ability to think on their feet, to judge creativity

interview, giving examples and making reference to the information

or to see if something unexpected would cause the candidate to

you have gleaned.

be anxious. There are no right or wrong answers for this sort of

Forewarned is forearmed

question, so try not to be thrown off balance by them. See also ‘Question Time’ later in this feature.    Following any invitation to attend an interview, confirm with the

initiative and the ability to communicate clearly. They will also want

company’s HR department whether the process will take the form of

to see signs of maturity and integrity, and a willingness to learn, so

a group interview, which is an approach often used when companies

think through these qualities and work out how to express them in

have more than one vacancy to fill. If you are scheduled to attend

the interview.

such an interview, aim to show your own strengths without being

   Consider, too, how you might answer common interview

tempted to ‘win at all costs’ or score points over other applicants.

questions, such as: What motivates you? What are your strengths

Group tasks may sometimes be used too to see how each candidate

and weaknesses? What has been your greatest achievement/regret

works as part of a team.

040 / 041

In addition to relevant qualifications, interviewers look for adaptability,

‘Think through what went well, what went badly, what needed more preparation and what could be improved at subsequent interviews’

  Being interviewed by a panel can seem more unnerving than

replies. When answering a question, don’t waffle – if you are unsure

talking to a single person. However, try to think of it as the company’s

about a question, ask for elaboration, and never answer with a simple

way of getting the best out of every candidate by ensuring all the

‘yes’ or ‘no’.

relevant questions are asked. The panel may, for instance, comprise

   Employers are looking for intelligence and confidence, but

staff from various departments. The members of the interviewing panel

not hyperbole. So, while it may be entertaining on TV programmes,

will take turns to ask questions, so address the person who has spoken

claiming to be the most intelligent graduate in the UK will not go

rather than trying to look at everyone on the panel at the same time.

down well in reality. Don’t downplay talents, though – just keep a

First impressions

balance and don’t oversell. It should go without saying that lying on a CV or at interview is insupportable. Exam results and other

Many employers form an opinion about candidates within 30 seconds

such facts can be checked, and any candidate found to be lying

of meeting them, so first impressions are imperative. Turning up early

will almost certainly be rejected as untrustworthy.

is a good start – unexpected traffic jams and delays on public transport

   There are tricky questions, and then there are illegal questions.

do happen! It is far better to be early and use the time to sit quietly,

So, what can’t you be asked during the course of a job interview?

browsing through company literature or thinking through the possible

Well, as with life in general, context and interpretation are key, but

questions in the reception area, than to sprint into the interview feeling

as a general rule interviewers should not make specific reference

flustered. Take the address and telephone number with you, along with

to your place of birth, ethnicity, religious affiliation or background,

a duplicate CV and a printout of the company’s key facts and figures

marital status, any children you may have, sexual preferences, age,

to glance over while waiting. Check the interview’s location on a street

physical or mental health, or personal lifestyle choices, such as

map in advance and work out how long it will take to get there.

recreational drug use. Any such questions posed to you during an

If travelling by car, allow plenty of time to find a parking space; if using

interview, directly or indirectly, could be interpreted as discriminatory

public transport, check for any delays using, for example, regularly

and therefore illegal.

updated travel advice websites.    It’s important to dress smartly for an interview, but avoid new

What to ask

clothes or shoes in which you might not be comfortable. On meeting

Interviewees are usually given the chance to ask their own questions,

the interviewer, look them in the eye, offer a firm handshake and smile.

too. Always take up this opportunity as failing to do so shows a lack

Being nervous is natural, but also keep in mind that you’ve already

of initiative and suggests a lack of interest in the company. This is your

endured, for example, a number of nerve-racking exams before even

chance to ask questions such as: How has the position become vacant?

reaching this stage – and you survived them.

Where does the role sit within the team/department/organisation?

Question time

How is employee performance assessed? What are the long-term opportunities? Is there a training programme or financial help with

Throughout the interview, maintain eye contact as much as possible.

study for further qualifications? Are mentors assigned to new members

Ask for a glass of water and sip it to provide time to consider your

of staff?

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Interview tips


Do your homework

be judged purely on our ability and experience,

Companies are going to be impressed by

but the truth is, appearances matter. Instant

candidates who can display a keen interest in –

impressions count, and you want yours to be

and knowledge of – their business. So swot up

good, or you’ll be running to catch up for the

on the company’s latest facts, figures, reports,

rest of the interview.

products and plans. You should also research recent trends in the industry as a whole – the more information you have at your disposal, the more confidently you’ll perform.


Do relax Easier said than done, of course. But the simple fact is, the more relaxed you are, the better you’ll perform. So don’t give yourself

Do some practice

any unnecessary worries – prepare properly,

Interviewing is a skill and, as with any skill,

plan your route in advance and arrive early.

you’ll get better with practice. If your university

Smile, speak clearly and make your answers

careers service offers interview training, set up a

concise and to the point – don’t be tempted

session. You can also get friends to act as mock

to waffle.

interviewers to help you get used to talking about yourself in a clear, coherent way. Prepare answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, but also be ready to improvise based on your research.




Do ask questions The company has shown an interest in you by inviting you to an interview, so return the favour. When researching the company, prepare some questions – around half a dozen – about the company and aspects of the job, although

Err on the side of caution – too smart is always

be sure not to ask about anything that’s already

better than too casual. In an ideal world, we’d all

been covered in the interview.

042 / 043

Do dress smartly

‘Many employers form an opinion about

candidates within 30 seconds of meeting them’

travel tickets. Ensure that everything agreed at interview stage is reiterated in writing before signing the contract of employment, carefully checking the details of any loan repayments and so on

   You’ll probably only ask two or three questions, but try to prepare half a dozen or so in advance, as some of the topics may be covered

before you do so.

in the interview before this opportunity arises. A word of caution:

Review the interview

this is perhaps not the time to ask about holiday allowance, sick pay

At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer(s) politely and with

entitlement, drug-testing policies or criminal-background checks.

positivity, even if the discussion seemed to go badly – the result may,

Negotiate the best package

in fact, be a pleasant surprise. Even if you felt that there was little connection with the interviewer, don’t be deterred if the job itself

Most first or graduate-level jobs offer little scope for negotiating a

still appeals as that person may not be the line manager for the post.

better salary than that advertised. However, in case the opportunity

Remember to ask about the next step in the application process

does arise, research beforehand typical salaries for graduates

since there may be second interviews for successful candidates.

and entry-level employees in similar roles in other companies.

   Following the interview, take some time to review what happened

Note that London-based jobs often attract slightly better salaries

– being interviewed is a beneficial experience, so learn from it and use

than those located elsewhere in the UK because of the higher costs

it to get the most out of similar situations in the future. Think through

of accommodation and travel in the capital.

what went well, what went badly, what needed more preparation

   Indeed, irrespective of location, costs will mount up when

and what could be improved at subsequent interviews.

you first start to work, so your money may not stretch very far. Most graduates starting full-time employment need to buy smarter

Weigh up your options

clothes, for example, so be ready to be flexible – if the salary

Remember that an interview is a two-way process: some applicants

seems low, try negotiating other aspects, such as an automatic

turn down a job offer if the details of the post do not match their

pay increase after an annual (or, even, six-month) review. In some

expectations or if they feel that the company would not offer them

companies nothing is negotiable, but if a firm job offer has been

enough scope for progress. Weigh up any reservations alongside

made it is always worth asking about any extras before accepting it.

other factors, such as lack of success in applications for previous

   Salary is only one part of a job package, though – there may

jobs. If offered the job but still in doubt, be honest and ask for an

be staff benefits and rewards schemes on offer, too. These can

appointment for another meeting to clarify any concerns. Finding the

include loans to help with a deposit for accommodation; stock or

right job can take time, and for many people the process can seem

stock options; medical, dental and other health benefits, such

disheartening, especially when the inevitable rejection letters drop

as gym membership; bonuses based on performance and/or

through the letterbox. However, if you approach every interview

profit-sharing; help with costs of training or further qualifications;

well prepared and positive, congratulations should soon be

relocation costs; student loan repayments; or interest-free annual

in order.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Contacts Blue Sky Interviews www.blueskyinterviews.co.uk Job Interview Questions www.jobinterviewquestions.org Jobsite www.jobsite.co.uk/bemyinterviewer Monster Careers Advice http://career-advice.monster.co.uk Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk/interview_tips.htm Totaljobs www.totaljobs.com/careers-advice/ interviews/interview-questions What Will They Ask? 044 / 045


Many firms give graduate jobs to those who have already done internships with them, so getting work experience before you start looking for employment is vital

Gaining work experience and making industry contacts through

well-known City firms and global corporations – can offer a diverse

an internship scheme has never been more important than today.

range of placements in sectors such as financial services, law, sales

According to High Fliers Research’s annual review of graduate

and marketing, IT, engineering and HR. Typically, these internships

vacancies at Britain’s leading employers, in 2013, more than a third

take place in the last year of an undergraduate course, enabling

of those jobs were set to be filled by candidates who’d already

students to put their studies into practice and gain vital work skills.

undertaken work experience for their employers.

   Some organisations also offer internships that count towards

   ‘The opportunity for students to get hands-on work experience

a recognised qualification, such as an MBA. However, there are

in their chosen fields puts them in a very strong position when they

costs involved for participation in certain academic programmes,

come to applying for jobs after graduation,’ says Professor Eric

so check whether the company would pay for these in full.

Thomas, who was President of Universities UK until 2013.

   Meanwhile, other employers run part-time programmes during

   Indeed, with a little research and effort, finding the right

term time or make more ad hoc placements, taking on students and

internship can give you a tangible edge over other applicants.

graduates as the need arises. These companies are more commonly

Structured internships

found in the arts sector – media, publishing, advertising and design – and the placements usually require more effort to find and secure.

The type of work and the workload often vary greatly, so it is

   Some smaller employers may not advertise internships but still

important to get as much information about the internship as

be open to taking on students or graduates who show initiative by

possible before you start to avoid disappointment. A summer of

approaching them. So, it is always worth contacting a company to

photocopying and coffee making may yield useful contacts and

ask about the possibility of internships. In such cases, it is advisable

insights, but it is still a world away from the highly structured

to reach an agreement before you start about what kind of tasks

internship programmes that offer involvement in live projects

you will be expected to carry out.

with real business experience.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit


Well paid – or no pay?

and a chance for personal development. They are available in all

Payment for internships is something of a grey area. According to

shapes and sizes and can be as short as a week or as long as a year.

www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns, if an intern is classed

But to attract the maximum number of student applicants, blue-

as a worker, they usually should receive the national minimum wage.

chip employers normally ensure that the internships they offer fall

However, terms like ‘work placement’ or ‘work experience’ have no

within the academic holiday periods.

legal status attached to them, and so the remuneration depends on

   Such companies will usually have a high-profile graduate

whether the intern is classified as a volunteer or not.

recruitment presence and will therefore already be familiar to

   Generally speaking, interns are paid travel expenses and may also

students through their university careers service or job fairs.

receive a stipend to cover other expenses. However, as well as unpaid

Their internships are also widely advertised on company websites

internships there have been worrying examples of students being

and in university media. Many of the organisations – including

asked by companies to pay in order to secure a work placement.

046 / 047

   The best internships offer candidates both practical training

‘the best internships offer candidates both practical training and a chance for personal development’

   Intern Aware is a national campaign for fair, paid internships

opportunities to network. For better or worse, this also

and a good point of contact for anyone who genuinely feels

means socialising. Whether it’s going for drinks at the end of

exploited during an internship and wants to complain about it.

the day, going to company events or even just making small

‘We campaign for interns to be paid because we want jobs to

talk over the coffee machine, it will make all the difference

be accessible to the most talented people, not just those with

to how an intern is perceived.

the heaviest pockets,’ says Ben Lyons, Co-Director of Intern Aware.

   Networking is important because most vacancies aren’t

‘Unpaid internships and paid-for internships put crucial experience

formally advertised but filled through a combination of

and opportunities out of reach of the vast majority of young people.’

internal promotion and word of mouth, meaning that even

   Should you have difficulty in finding an internship position, you

the best CV and covering letter are of limited value if the

can always sign up with one of the growing number of recruitment

people who matter don’t read them. However, networking

agencies, which do not charge interns for finding them a position.

isn’t just about unearthing job opportunities – contacts

And for words of wisdom – and warning – from other interns,

made during work placements may potentially act as

browse Interns Anonymous forum (see Contacts).

The view from the other side

referees in the future and can also provide invaluable insights into the culture of your target industry and the skills needed to succeed in it.

Understanding a company’s viewpoint is key to making your internship

   It is vital to keep up the effort even after the placement

a success. It may seem as though it’s a one-sided arrangement, with

is finished and to get into the habit of exchanging details

you selflessly providing free or barely paid labour. However, many

with anyone who might be useful. And it is also essential

companies invest considerable time and money in recruiting and

to understand that the most successful networkers don’t

developing their interns, too. Even the most minimally supervised

necessarily blow their own trumpet but encourage others

intern still requires explanations, directions and instructions, which

to blow theirs.

represent time away from work for other staff members.

   That is to say, the secret of getting something you want

   Because of this, interns are increasingly recruited to similar

from someone is to get them to talk about themselves and

standards as permanent employees, meaning that references and

their interests and being interested in what they have to

a high-calibre CV are essential. Interns may also be asked to sign

say. It’s not rocket science – people are more likely to think

a letter of agreement or mini-contract before they start, to ensure

positively about someone if they’re seen for what they can

both parties fully understand their mutual goals and aims as well

give rather than what they’re out to get. Offers of help and

as the level of commitment required.

a clear desire to learn about a contact’s industry or expertise

Networking opportunity

will therefore usually attract far more attention than a barrage of job enquiries. So, if you bear that in mind, you’re in a

In addition to boosting skills and enhancing CVs by giving students

great position to reap the greatest possible benefits from

a chance to experience the world of work, internships are great

your internships.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Stepping stones to success • Do your research. Think about what kind of environment is likely to benefit you most and then target appropriate companies. • Speak to a former intern – it will help to build up a clearer picture. •H  ave realistic expectations. Many internships are entry-level and involve everyday tasks – make sure you are prepared to cope with these


for the duration of your stay and keep focused on the bigger picture. • Network – any contacts you make could prove valuable later when you are actively looking


Twin Work Experience

Interns Anonymous


www.internsanonymous.co.uk campaigning

for a job. You are more likely to be informed about vacancies if you get to know employees

Internships Network

Intern Aware

and stay in touch with them.





heightens the learning curve – and may lead to surprising results.

Employment 4 Students

• Ask questions. If the information you need is not forthcoming, ask. Asking questions




determination will always pay off. Learning

Graduate Talent Pool

Aceglobal Group

that a company or profession isn’t the one for



not to be defeated by negative experiences.

Inspiring Interns


Observing how other people deal with



Intern UK

Mountbatten Institute



• Make the most of your internship. Even if the experience doesn’t match your expectations,

you is still a valuable experience. Tell yourself

situations and problems will teach you a lot. •B  ehave appropriately. Impress colleagues with to be remembered. Demonstrate manners and enthusiasm, but don’t let yourself be exploited.

048 / 049

a professional attitude and you’re more likely

temping Temporary employment provides graduates with the perfect opportunity to suss out the workplace

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘in the UK, temporary workers are entitled to paid holiday and the national minimum wage; elsewhere salary and rights may differ’

In recent times, organisations have

   There are many different reasons why

This enables you to determine your own

increasingly needed a flexible workforce

people take up temporary positions, ranging

strengths and development areas.

that can expand, decrease and adapt to

from being between jobs or using it as a bridge

   It is also a great way to get a foot in

various situations. These requirements,

to a permanent position, to wanting to test out

the door of a company you really want to

and to an extent the recent economic

different industries. For graduates, deciding to

work for. Jeff says that about 50 per cent of

downturn, have seen a growing trend for

undertake temporary positions can be a very

temporary workers move into a permanent

businesses to hire temporary and contract

wise move. If you are unsure about where you

position with the organisation they are

workers – a move that can prove beneficial

would like to start your career, temping can

working at. ‘Organisations want to see

to both employers and individuals.

provide ample opportunities to experience

if someone is the right cultural fit or has

different industries and working environments

the correct skills before offering them a

until you’re sure which career path you want

permanent position,’ he adds. ‘In order

Jeff Joerres, Chairman and CEO of global

to take. ‘Temporary work allows workers to

to be a quality worker, it is important

workforce solutions firm ManpowerGroup,

build their skills and experience in a variety of

to be flexible and have an awareness

believes that this is a positive trend.

positions, as well as grow their professional

of surroundings because companies are

‘Recent economic challenges have created

network,’ explains Jeff. ‘We are seeing that

moving so quickly; they need people who

renewed uncertainty, causing companies to

people are increasingly attracted to temporary

can respond quickly and add value to

be extremely cautious in their hiring plans.

employment, and more individuals, particularly

the organisation.’ While it is beneficial for

While employers remain on edge, yet are

graduates, are in an ideal position to spend

temporary workers to have transferable skills,

experiencing some degree of demand for

five or six months in one position and then

which can be applied and developed in a

their products and services, they recognise

move, much better prepared, into a completely

number of industries, Jeff believes that a core

the need for flexibility and agility in their

different career.’

skill such as accountancy, engineering or IT

An opportunity

business with a workforce that they can

is a bonus: ‘In the USA, for example, 30 per

dial up or down as the economy demands.

Challenging misconceptions

This has resulted in a secular trend for

What most people don’t know about

positions are paid more than permanent staff

businesses to hire temporary and contract

temporary positions are the benefits they

because they are being recruited as experts

workers, because it helps them adapt

hold, especially for graduates. While the

to spend a defined amount of time on a

better and faster to economic cycles.

traditional perception is that moving from

specific project.’

Employers can also try before they buy

one job to another looks bad on a CV, it

– assessing whether a worker represents

can actually be of benefit to the candidate,

Reaping the benefits

a good cultural and skills match for an

showing that they are willing to work and

With temporary contracts lasting from

organisation at a time when companies are

interested in learning, building up experience

one day to a year, salary and employment

seeking an ever greater specificity of skills.’

and skills in various environments.

benefits – such as maternity, holiday and sick

cent of temporary workers in higher-skilled

050 / 051

leave, and pensions – depend on the hours worked and employment

is an area in which many companies employ temporary

laws. In the UK, temporary workers are entitled to paid holiday and

workers, but it does mean handling complaints from

the national minimum wage; elsewhere salary and contractual rights

people who are not very happy with the service they

may differ. ‘For example, in France and Italy there is something

have received. Another area is telesales, which can

called Parity Pay, which sees temporary workers paid the same salary

be high-pressured work, but, as pay is boosted by

as the person they are replacing,’ says Jeff. As Chairman and CEO

commission, the more successful someone is, the

of ManpowerGroup, Jeff is well placed to predict what will happen

more money they can earn. In temporary work, it is

to the employment market in the future, and he believes the trend

always important to find out who pays the wages.

of doing more with less is not going away and that the increased

If an agency is providing graduates with these

velocity of change will require employers and individuals to have more

short-term positions then wages will be paid by

flexible mindsets and expectations about work. ‘Similarly, individuals

the agency. With temporary contracts, the hiring

are increasingly looking for more flexible ways of working to strike a

company is also able to terminate contracts at

better work–life balance. Employees are also exercising greater choice

short notice and not be liable for redundancy pay

in which companies they want to work for.’

or unfair dismissal.


   You may have the right to maternity, paternity or adoption pay, and should contact the Advisory,

Undoubtedly, the positions available in temporary work are very varied,

Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) or your

which means that salaries can range from low paid, reasonably well

local Citizens Advice Bureau to find out if you qualify.

paid to very well paid. The more skilled a graduate is, the more likely

Statutory sick pay can also be paid – HM Revenue

they are to get a highly paid job. Specific positions, such as a systems

& Customs can help workers discover what they are

analyst or a specialist IT role, can provide a good temp salary, as can

entitled to. Tax, National Insurance contributions

roles that require particular skills or knowledge, such as HR, law,

and student loan repayments will all be deducted

finance or medicine.

by employers, who will also give temps a P45 upon

   There are a number of positions available in the temporary field

leaving and a P60 if you are with a company at the

that may seem a less-than-attractive option at first glance, but actually

end of a tax year. Further advice and support is

pay a good wage. However, many of these do require dealing with

available from the Pay and Work Rights helpline

customers on a daily basis, meaning that the employee will need to be

on 0800 917 2368 or at www.gov.uk/pay-and-

confident and not easily flustered. Customer care/services, for example,


CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Contacts ADVICE Acas www.acas.org.uk Citizens Advice Bureau www.citizensadvice.org.uk HM Revenue & Customs www.hmrc.gov.uk TEMPORARY RECRUITMENT AGENCIES Activate www.activate.co.uk Adecco www.adecco.co.uk Badenoch & Clark www.badenochandclark.com Brook Street www.brookstreet.co.uk Hays www.hays.co.uk ManpowerGroup www.manpowergroup.com Office Angels www.office-angels.com Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk Reed 052 / 053


freelancing Offering an enticing degree of independence, pursuing the dream of successful self-employment is a positive career choice for many graduates

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Freelancing constitutes pursuing a profession, generally in a task-

can’t guarantee a specific income from month to month; loneliness

specific context, without a long-term commitment to any particular

– many freelancers work from home, usually on their own, and

client. Freelancers sell their time and skills by the hour, day or project,

so isolation is a common issue; reduced employment benefits –

instead of receiving a regular salary from one employer. This way of

compared with their in-house colleagues, many freelancers still get

working offers more flexibility than a permanent job, but carries more

a financially raw deal, such as unpaid holiday leave and not being

risk too; you decide how, when and where you do your work – but

paid when unable to work through illness; working hours – these

you are also solely responsible for your business’s success or failure.

typically extend well beyond the 9 to 5 regime and often take in

   There is ever-increasing scope for self-employment in roles

public holidays, evenings and weekends too.

as diverse as web designers, financial consultants, copywriters and personal trainers. And there are nearly as many reasons why one


might choose to go freelance. The rise in lay-offs caused by the

A fundamental first step on your path to successful self-employment

global financial crisis has resulted in a corresponding increase in

is to research both the appropriate work sector and the field of


freelancing. Use websites dedicated to freelancers to build up a

Pros ... and cons

bigger picture of what’s involved, scout for work and hone your ‘functional’ or skills-based CV. There are numerous sites offering information and advice on topics relevant to self-employed workers,

an office, but its benefits and pitfalls should be considered carefully

such as how to prepare a quote, invoice or proposal, what type of

before taking the plunge. Start by factoring the following advantages

business insurance you might need, what any contract for services

of self-employment into your deliberations: being able to choose the

should include, and where and how to market your services.

most interesting and challenging work in order to build up a distinctive

   Use professional associations, specialist recruitment websites,

and comprehensive portfolio; having greater control over the quantity

freelancer-specific forums and chat rooms to get established, or become

and type of work undertaken than you might as a permanent

listed on sector-specific directories; www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk and

employee; financial incentives – there are various deductions, reliefs

www.freelanceuk.com are good starting points.

and allowances to which self-employed business owners are entitled

   Having carefully researched the market, turn your attention to

that will reduce your tax bill; less travel – freelancers who work from

where you intend to do your freelance work. Homeworkers need,

home are often freed from the miseries of cancelled trains or traffic

as Virginia Woolf put it, ‘a room of one’s own’ – a place where

jams as well as the associated, ever-increasing costs of business travel.

you can focus solely on the work in hand and not on the needs

   Conversely, the disadvantages of freelance life include: its ‘feast

of flatmates, families or pets.

or famine’ nature – workload tends to be sporadic, testing even the

   Most freelancers need their own equipment, including a

most finely honed of time-management skills; budgeting a variable

telephone, computer, printer and fax machine. HM Revenue &

income – banks, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, letting

Customs, with whom you will become intimately acquainted,

agents and many others tend to look unfavourably on those who

has compiled a number of useful leaflets providing guidance on

054 / 055

Freelancing may sound like an idyllic alternative to the daily grind of

‘Most freelancers need their own equipment, including a telephone, computer, printer and fax machine’

managing the potentially complicated finance side of freelance

payments received, not least so as to avoid confusion when paying

living; see www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed.

tax. Small but important costs, such as phone calls and stationery,

Read the small print

must all be logged for tax purposes – to your benefit, in this case.

As a freelancer, life often revolves around contracts: what is agreed with

Long-term goals

a client before the onset of work forms the basis of your relationship

As noted above, almost every freelancer will find that there are

with them. Typically, such contracts include not just the outcome, such

occasional periods when they have no work. This is all part of the

as ‘three illustrations’, but specific project requirements including the

world of self-employment. Keep networking through the dry spells,

period of time the contract covers.

as all contacts can become useful at different times and in surprising

   Contracts also cover the freelancer’s terms and conditions, such as

ways. Use fallow periods to catch up on admin work, too.

project cancellation fees, copyright ownership details and payment due

   Keeping work skills up to date is one of the challenges many

dates. Any changes or amendments to the initial agreement should be

freelancers face, and so a gap in work could be the ideal time for

reflected in the contract: it is the self-employed person’s only protection

a short refresher course in a relevant subject or skill. Many are

from unscrupulous employers and the basis for all freelance business.

tailored for flexible workers, offering a range of topics, times and

If the contract covers 10 hours of freelance work but the project

costs. Your local Business Link offers a whole host of free goodies,

actually takes 15 hours to complete and the extra hours are not

high-quality training courses among them; visit www.gov.uk to

covered in the contract, the freelancer may lose income.

sign up.

   Check those payment terms before you sign anything too,

   Finally, even if self-employment is your long-term objective, many

as these can be quite client-biased; 90 days may be acceptable for

graduates find that it is worth working in-house within the relevant

a large printing firm, but could mean that an illustrator can’t pay

work sector for one or two years first. A period of in-house work

their rent, for example. New freelancers should seek advice about

before starting as a freelancer is an excellent way to learn the basics,

contracts from professional organisations and trade representations.

gain experience, build up your list of contacts and acquire the vital

It is vital to keep accurate records of all invoices submitted and

references to impress those first freelance clients.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Contacts Guru

HM Revenue & Customs




Freelance Advisor

Freelance: UK

People Per Hour




056 / 057

Business Link

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

start-ups A quarter of all students who intend to start a business write their business plan while still at university

Student entrepreneurs can gain inspiration from the website of

university start-up community in the world. CUTEC currently boasts

YouNoodle, a ‘university innovation’ platform that reminds visitors

4,636 members and lists 201 start-ups, while CUE has 108 members

that ‘recent student start-ups include Google, Microsoft, Facebook

and 53 start-ups.

and Yahoo!’

   ‘Student entrepreneurs are heavily supported by the Cambridge

   ‘Pursuing higher education does not necessarily mean your

entrepreneurial ecosystem,’ says Liz. And CUTEC alumnus Lukasz

research is purely focused on the academic,’ explains Liz Williams,

Mlodyszewski adds: ‘Apart from learning how to start your own

Chairman of the Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise

business, CUTEC is also an excellent platform for students and

Club (CUTEC). ‘Much of the research at Cambridge University can be

young professionals to discover and explore alternative career

applied to provide novel technology, which in turn can be spun out

paths. I recently began working for a leading early-stage venture

into a successful start-up. An example of a student-led entrepreneurial

capital firm, and the wide range of skills I gained during my time

venture is that of Billy Boyle and Owlstone Nanotech. Billy’s PhD

at CUTEC definitely helped me get the job.’

research at the university was directly applied to the formation of

   CUE also hosts the student-run Entrepreneurs’ Business

nanoscale chemical-detection chips, which, due to their reduced

Creation Challenge. Since 1999, the contest has awarded more

cost yet high sensitivity, have made Owlstone Nanotech a leading

than £500,000 in prize money to more than 40 start-ups.

company in this field.’

Collectively, CUE alumni companies have gone on to secure

   A report by the Prince’s Trust and the Royal Bank of Scotland

more than £42 million of investment. Cambridge also boasts

in early 2013 revealed that one in four 16–30-year-olds expects to

a Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, which ‘aims to spread

be their own boss within the next five years. In addition, more than

the spirit of enterprise to the university’.

one in four unemployed young people would rather try to set up

   In addition, Downing College offers its students and alumni the

their own business than continue to job-seek in today’s competitive

chance to win up to £25,000 to fund a business idea. Among the

market. Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show

winners of the Downing Enterprise Business Plan competition are

the number of self-employed young people has already risen by

former CUE competition finalist (2008) Mikhail Chepkin and fellow

71,000 since the start of the economic downturn.

mathematicians from the University of Cambridge.

   Indeed, billionaire investor Warren Buffett recently urged university students not to shelve ideas or aspirations because

Start-up support

of today’s ‘unfavourable’ financial climate, even joking that a

Outside college walls there are numerous other influential and

young entrepreneur postponing a start-up would be like ‘saving

graduate-orientated business start-up support funds, competitions

sex for old age’.

and schemes, such as Shell LiveWIRE UK, which is feted for its awards programme in particular. The acclaimed National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE) also offers a myriad of

YouNoodle has rated Cambridge University – encompassing CUTEC

invaluable support services and structures, including its prestigious

and Cambridge University Entrepreneurs (CUE) – as the third-best

Make It Happen programme.

058 / 059

It starts here – and now

‘CUTEC is also an excellent platform for students and young professionals to discover and explore alternative career paths’

   For students wishing to start a new business in Wales, the Welsh European Funding Office provides comprehensive support. While in Scotland, the Scottish Institute for Enterprise offers several programmes with graduate entrepreneurs in mind. Advantage NI, in Northern Ireland, promotes starting a business as a realistic and viable career option to young people aged 16–30. The company offers individuals advice and guidance on starting, running and growing a business.    Looking online, graduate careers website Prospects provides advice on funding with regard to start-ups. Similar information can also be found on BusinessFunding. co.uk, which independently researches more than 1,000 sources of business funding and finance. And StartUp Britain, a government-backed campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, offers advice for budding business people, while its sister campaign, PopUp Britain, enables start-ups in the retail sector to promote their wares at selected stores across the country.    Startups.co.uk also runs an awards ceremony every year that enables the winners to impress potential investors. They also benefit from a great amount of press coverage, which raises the company profile. The NCEE also collaborates with many partners and organisations across the UK and internationally to support students and graduates who want to start a business.

Advantage NI www.advantage-ni.com BusinessFunding.co.uk www.businessfunding.co.uk

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit


Cambridge University Entrepreneurs www.cue.org.uk Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club http://cutec.org Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk Downing Enterprise www.downingenterprise.co.uk GOV.UK www.gov.uk/browse/business/setting-up Morgan Foundation Entrepreneur Awards www.mf-awards.co.uk NCEE www.ncee.org.uk Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk Scottish Institute for Enterprise www.sie.ac.uk Shell LiveWIRE www.shell-livewire.org StartUp Britain www.startupbritain.org Startups.co.uk www.startups.co.uk Welsh European Funding Office http://wefo.wales.gov.uk YouNoodle 060 / 061


CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

The Business Plan Got a brilliant idea? Great. Now write a business plan to support it and get your venture off the ground

Considering floating your idea in the sea of big business? Then you’ll

Business description

need an unsinkable business plan. It is the ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘when’,

Quite literally getting down to business, this

‘how’ and ‘who’ of your ‘what’ that will attract investors, including

section sets out the background to your

banks, and persuade grant providers, potential partners, suppliers

idea. Compose a succinct description of the

and even customers to support you. And it’s not just a document

business opportunity: who you are, what

prepared for everyone else’s reference – a well-prepared business

your proposal offers, why, where, how and to

plan will help you flesh out and focus your idea, confirm that you’re

whom. Include information on how your idea

ready to take it forward and provide a blueprint for doing so.

has developed into its present form; how it

   So, how to go about writing this cornerstone document?

will stand out from others in the same sector;

With concision, clarity and credibility, that’s how. Your proposal

what your prospective customers will gain

must be rigorously researched, effortlessly explained and financially

from it; and how the idea might be developed

sound. All supporting information, such as technical data or market

to meet changing and future needs.

research statistics, should be allocated to the appendices.    Ask your local enterprise centre or university careers service

Management team and personnel

for help with preparing or reviewing your plan. There are numerous

The skills, commitment and experience of

generic templates available, too: Almost all of the banks offer free

your management team can be an influential

business-plan software, and there are rich pickings on the internet,

variable in investor decision-making, so

especially from the Microsoft Office website.

use this section to parade your credentials

   You might also gain inspiration from one of the more than

and those of anyone you plan to recruit.

500 sample business plans available from www.bplans.co.uk.

Include expert advisers, such as accountants,

Simply choose the industry category that most closely matches

lawyers and other supporters or mentors.

that of your own business, then click through to one of the

Detail relevant achievements and abilities

sector specialist plans therein.

(consigning full CVs to the appendices) and demonstrate the advantages that your

Your business plan should consist of the following:

Executive summary Bank managers and venture capitalists are known to make provisional

team will have over present and potential competitors. Indicate how you’ll tackle weaknesses or omissions in your team, too.

Product, service or technology

snappy, avoiding technical jargon or corporate spin, both of which

What makes your business idea unique or

will undermine a plan’s credibility. If, after perusing your pitch, an

distinct? How does it work? What benefits

investor understands what your proposal is about, the executive

does it offer? Why will customers buy it?

summary has done its job.

What are the key features of the sector(s)

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decisions based on this front section alone, so keep it short and

‘A well-prepared business plan will help you flesh out and focus your idea’

in which you plan to operate? What competition exists? How will your

Operational details

idea be developed? How might you diversify? Summarise any patents,

Or, how your eureka moment will translate into business

trademarks, intellectual property or design rights that you’ve applied

practice. Where will your business be based? What are

for or already hold.

the pros and cons of any premises? Who will be your

Customers and competitors

suppliers? How did you select them? What manufacturing facilities will you require? What equipment? Do you need

Describe the market for your business idea: What is its size? How fast

your own facilities, or would it be cheaper to outsource

is it growing? What are the market’s trends and drivers, and why do

any manufacturing processes? How will you deliver

they exist? How is the market broken down into segments or sectors?

the product or service to your customers? What is your

In which sector will your idea feature? Which competitors already

information-technology strategy? What management-

service this sector? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Why will

information systems do you have in place for stock

customers leave them and come to you? Which competitors might

control, management accounts and quality control?

service the sector in the future? What is your strategy for the medium and longer term? How are you planning to respond to any anticipated


changes in the market? How might your competitors do so?

Hold tight: This is where you transform everything

Sales strategy

you’ve claimed in preceding sections into actual numbers. You should provide a summary of your

How will you identify potential customers? How will you pitch your

financial forecasts (noting the assumptions behind

idea? How will you price it? How will you sell it? Who will do the

these projections); a two- to three-year sales forecast;

selling? How long will each lead take to line up? What percentage

a two-year monthly profit-and-loss forecast; a profit

will turn into sales? How long will each sale take to close? How soon

forecast for a further two years; a break-even analysis

can you start selling? How much will you be able to sell? What will

(noting all assumptions behind it); a two-year monthly

be the average sale value? Do you have any customers already lined

cash-flow forecast (noting timings of, for example,

up? Will there be any minimum order figures? Will there be any

salary payments, sales, etc.); a projected balance

repeat sales? Is there scope to increase profit margins or sales?

sheet (opening day to year end); and an indication

What will be your payment terms? How much income can you

of any investment you’ll need, noting how you plan

expect each month?

to repay any borrowings.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

   Undertake a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of your plan, listing all risks that could affect your figures. Finally, consider presenting your personal finances here, too, or at least an outline of how you will support yourself and the business while it’s in its infancy.

Future prospects What are the qualitative and quantitative objectives of your business idea? How will you measure their achievement? What contingency arrangements do you have in place to overcome risks such as those identified through your SWOT analysis? Will these arrangements be articulated in terms of funding? How much finance will be required? How will you afford it? Will there be any shareholdings? What prospects are there for the


investor or lender? Bplans

My Own Business



Your business proposal must be backed up by hard


Reed Business Information

facts, such as marketing statistics; detailed financial



of key personnel; target customer analyses; testimonials

Business Plan Services

Teneric Business Plans

from potential customers, suppliers or sponsors; and



Appendices The devil is in the detail, and the detail is in the appendices.

calculations; technical diagrams; product literature; CVs

data will add credibility to your business case.

064 / 065

competitors’ product lists and costings. All such external

Equality and employment Discrimination at work remains all too common to this day, but advice, support and assistance are available from various places

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘Discrimination can take many forms … It can be blatant or subtle – neither is acceptable’

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly

employment opportunities but also bullying,

   In any suspected cases of

at work and to be free of discrimination on

harassment and not being able to access

discrimination, it is important to keep a

grounds of age, race, gender, transgender

certain areas of the workplace due to

detailed record of the incident, including

status, disability, sexual orientation, religion

disability. It can be blatant or subtle –

the date, time and names of possible

or belief. Yet, despite many decades of

neither is acceptable.

witnesses. Trying to address the issue is

campaigning and legislation, workplace

   The Equality and Human Rights

very important; the first step is to consult

discrimination and unequal treatment in

Commission (www.equalityhumanrights.com)

a line manager or a member of the HR

employment remain rife in the UK.

offers extensive and excellent advice in relation

department to seek advice or mediation

to particular forms of discrimination at work.

if necessary.

Your rights

These include:

To reiterate, then: it is unlawful for any

• employment issues for disabled people

Information and advice

employer to discriminate against you,

• s ex discrimination

For more information and advice on

or treat you less favourably, in the terms

• r ace discrimination

making a complaint about discrimination

of your employment or the conditions

• a ge discrimination

in the workplace, see www.direct.gov.uk.

under which you work because of your

•d  iscrimination based on sexual orientation

The employment section features a useful

age, gender, race, disability, religion or

•d  iscrimination based on religion or belief

template letter to help you and the person

belief, sexual orientation or transgender

• e mployment issues for transgender people.

or organisation you feel has discriminated against you (the respondent) to gather

background. Your rights are similarly Community Legal Advice is a free and

all the information you need about your

the recruitment process, salary agreements,

confidential advice service paid for by legal

discrimination complaint.

training or personal development plans,

aid, which provides guidance on your rights

   For more information on equality

redundancy selection and retirement

and how you can challenge discrimination.

issues, refer to the relevant Home Office

schemes. Furthermore, you are protected

For information visit www.direct.gov.uk,

website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/

from unequal treatment in employment

or call 0845 345 4345 for details.

equalities. And for information on the

regardless of whether you are a full- or

   To find out about a particular company’s

UK Parliament’s Equality Act 2010, which

part-time employee, in a temporary job,

or prospective employer’s diversity and

consolidated a number of separate

or a freelance or agency worker.

equality policies, study its website and, if

acts relating to sex, race and disability

  Discrimination can take many

you are still unsure, ask relevant questions

discrimination, visit www.gov.uk/equality-

forms, including not only exclusion from

during job interviews.


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protected in terms of job advertisements,

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

CONTACTS Citizens Advice Bureau www.citizensadvice.org.uk Equality and Human Rights Commission www.equalityhumanrights.com Home Office www.homeoffice.gov.uk/equalities UK Council for Access and Equality www.ukcae.co.uk workSMART 068 / 069


Useful job apps Smartphones have created many great opportunities for jobseekers, with apps helping you to network, create CVs, prepare for interviews and much more

Constructing a CV

Gap year

CV Writer


This app lets you compose a professional CV

Master essential travel phrases with the

in as little as seven minutes by using its ‘Grab-

innovative app Lingolook, the premier language

a-Phrase’ feature with more than 800 model

guides that feature more than 150 illustrated

phrases written by recruiters.

flashcards and hundreds of talking translations. Available in eight different languages.

Resume app This app enables you to build, preview and send


a professional-looking CV as a PDF on the go

Compare more than 1,000 airlines and more

from your iPhone. You can add references and

than a million routes around the world in seconds

photos, too, and include a generic cover letter.

– saves money, saves time. Buy air tickets and get the best deals. It’s simple and finds the


lowest fares, wherever you want to fly. Kayak

Teux Deux

This travel app compares hundreds of travel sites

This daily to-do-list app is simple in design and

at once and includes flight and car search, hotel

therefore incredibly usable. Laid out as a calendar,

search and booking (possible through the app),

it helps those who use it to keep on top of all

flight tracker and ‘My Trips’, so you have your

work-related tasks.

full itinerary at your fingertips.



Once the freelance work has started rolling in,

Access the 100 million-plus user-generated

you can use MiniBooks to create, edit and send

reviews and opinions of hotels, restaurants

invoices, record projects, send estimates and

and attractions (or contribute your own) with

manage your expenses.

the app of the world’s largest travel site.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

XE Currency

Jobs by Indeed.com

Convert the currency of every country you might

Find your ideal job using Indeed, which claims

possibly visit on your gap year. It features live

to offer the most comprehensive search engine

currency rates and stores the last updated rates,

for jobs. It offers free access to millions of jobs

so it works even when the internet doesn’t.

from company websites and job boards.


Jobsite Jobs

Perfect Interview

across more than 30 industries, ranging from IT

This features over 450 videos of interview

and engineering to construction and sales.

A multi-sector recruitment app with 35,000 jobs

questions, answers and tutorials. The content has been created by HR professionals to closely

Michael Page Jobs

match the job interview experience.

Michael Page’s iPhone app allows you to search and apply for positions from accounting to

Monster.com Interviews

technology – and also includes an advice section

Free step-by-step guide offering tips, techniques

on CVs, interviews and networking.

and how-tos on all aspects of the interview process from pre-interview prepping to post-

Monster.com Jobs

interview follow-up.

Search for jobs, then save your searches and application history, and upload CVs and covering

Job hunting

letters using the free app of the world’s largest job-*search engine.

Careerjet Mortimer Spinks

engines gathers vacancies from company

Mortimer Spinks is one of the UK’s premier

websites, recruitment agencies and specialist

technology recruiters. Use its app to search and

recruitment sites and then puts them all into

apply for jobs, download careers advice and

one searchable database.

contact the company’s consultants directly.

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The app version of one of the largest job-search



The app of CK Science, the UK’s largest scientific

The leading business networking site with

recruitment agency, lets you search for jobs

more than 120 million registered users, this

in a number of different sectors, including

app lets jobseekers showcase their CVs, join

pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical.

career groups and contact potential employers and members.

Simply Hired SimplyHired.com is the world’s largest job-search


engine, and this app gives its users instant access

Use Twitter to tweet about job searches, pitch

to around eight million job listings from their

for a job (including a link to an online CV),

mobile devices.

follow a recruiter or just build your brand and enhance your reputation.

UK Jobs Providing fast access to more than 300,000


positions for jobseekers on the move, this is

This global careers social network is very

the app of 1job.co.uk, one of the leading job

popular and has millions of members who can

search engines in Britain and Ireland.

post personal profiles, make business contacts and search job ads that are not posted on


commercial job sites. Bump


Allows you to share contacts and images with

The professional networking app of Monster,

others across smartphones, even those of

BeKnown lets its users upload their details,

different manufacturers, by simply bumping

exchange messages and make new business

them together. Also great for sharing ideas

contacts on the go.

during meetings.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Start-ups Bookkeeping Standard Keep on top of your finances with this app, which enables you to perform double-entry bookkeeping and to manage your sales, receipts, purchases, payments and more. AnyMeeting This app allows up to 200 participants to hold meetings across platforms and devices. Users can chat, view shared presentations and applications, and participate in video conferences. RapidWeaver Use RapidWeaver to build your new company’s website. Choose from more than 40 page templates or create your own design.

Tax UK PAYE Salary Wages NI & Tax Calculator national insurance and pension contributions, and student-loan repayments.

072 / 073

This app lets you calculate your income tax,

rewarding careers Cancer Research UK’s excellent graduate programme and its award-winning internship scheme offer great routes to a job at one of the world’s leading charities www.cancerresearchuk.org

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated

   Across the board, the internship scheme rewards a proactive

to saving lives through research. Its groundbreaking work into the

approach. ‘I asked for the opportunity to gain more experience in

prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer means that its scientists

new business and subsequently was given responsibility in marketing

have contributed to the development of most of the top cancer drugs

and promoting the launch of the JLS Foundation – both exciting and

and therapies, while survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years.

challenging!’ says Alice, a Celebrity Foundations Intern in 2012.

   But Cancer Research UK doesn’t just do research – it also works

   A dedicated intern manager provides guidance on every project,

in partnership with other organisations to provide life-changing

and interns receive training and advice on how to get a job within

information, awareness and early detection initiatives. Plus, it runs

the charity sector, including on CV writing and interview techniques.

huge campaigns to keep cancer at the top of the political agenda.

In addition, there are opportunities for interns to get involved in

Diverse internships

creating video case studies about their experiences.    The scheme is consistently recognised as sector-leading, with

Working in such an environment is enormously rewarding, which

the National Council for Work Experience awarding Cancer Research

is why so many people apply for the chance. And one of the most

UK the Best Charity Sector Internship prize in 2013. And it was one

popular routes, particularly for students, is through the charity’s

of only two charity sector schemes to make it into Rate My Placement’s

three-month internship scheme.

Top 50 Internships for 2012.

   Every spring, summer and autumn, Cancer Research UK offers

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘to gain experience in new business I was given responsibility in marketing the launch of the JLS Foundation’

Graduate scheme

experience in the fields of fundraising, marketing, communications

However, internships are not the only route for students who

and campaigning. These internships give undergraduates, graduates

want to work for Cancer Research UK – the charity also has a great

and people looking for a career change the chance to get stuck into

reputation as a graduate employer. This is in large part thanks to

a diverse range of projects.

its exciting graduate scheme that allows sharp-minded participants

   For example, one intern is currently leading an initiative to

to switch roles every six months and experience four diverse

encourage Premier League football clubs to join forces with Cancer

business areas over the course of two years.

Research UK’s Bobby Moore Fund for research into bowel cancer.

   Whichever of the scheme’s streams they join – whether it

The intention is to get them to show videos about the former

be Communications, Corporate, Fundraising and Marketing, IT or

England captain and bowel cancer during intervals, and to raise

Scientific Services – all graduates are put through their paces from

funds via a ‘text Bobby’ £5 donation initiative.

the very beginning. They receive support and challenges from

   Another intern has helped roll out a Cancer Awareness

senior mentors, peers and placement managers along their journey,

Roadshow by developing (alongside trained nurses) its training

and benefit from a combination of on-the-job learning and formal

programme for volunteers. And yet another participated in the

training while moving between placements. It’s a rewarding process

design, workshops and testing of a new programme called

that adds up to one thing – invaluable experience at one of the

Dryathlon, which involves a sponsored alcohol-free month.

world’s leading charities.

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12-week voluntary internships to people who are looking to gain work

A new sOCIAL network The Challenge Network tackles social segregation by building trust between people who live in the same area but have different backgrounds www.the-challenge.org

The Challenge Network (TCN) is the UK’s leading charity for tackling social segregation. Working on a local level, it delivers youth and community programmes that have the central aim of bringing people of all generations, ethnicities and incomes together. Founded in 2009, TCN has grown from a charity that initially worked with 160 young people to being a major provider of the Government’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programme, with operations in all London boroughs, Surrey, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the West Midlands.    ‘The biggest strength of our NCS programme, The Challenge, is that it brings young people from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds together,’ explains Chief Executive Craig Morley. ‘It helps them to meet and work with peers and other members of their community who are different from them. In the process, they get to do a lot of interesting and fun things, from gruelling overnight expeditions or producing a short promotional film for a community organisation to managing a food budget or presenting community campaigns to a panel of “dragons”. And after graduating from The Challenge, young people become part of a year-round programme called The Challenge Society, where they continue to connect with local people from all backgrounds to strengthen their community.’

Huge impact TCN’s work has had a huge impact. The charity has helped more than 14,000 young people to develop key skills and take on more active roles in their communities. They report improvements in their teamwork, leadership and communications skills, and are better able to get on with new people. Schools also cite increased confidence and active community engagement among the positive developments they notice in pupils who have taken part in the programme.    And young people are not the only beneficiaries of TCN’s work. The charity has partnered with over 2,000 community organisations and 1,000 businesses, including Google, Barclays, BSkyB, Age UK

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘It was a memorable experience that made me determined to continue working with TCN’

and VSO, enabling them to support the personal development of young people and benefit from projects that make a real difference.

Meaningful roles Working for TCN is an opportunity to join an innovative and exciting charity in tackling one of the UK’s most pressing issues. Graduates can work temporarily as mentors and programme leaders on summer and autumn NCS programmes, where they are responsible for inspiring and developing small groups of young people throughout the entire programme. Graduates can also join the Sales and Marketing department as Schools Coordinators, who are primarily responsible for recruiting young people and building and maintaining strong relationships with schools. This fixed-term, graduate-level role has frequently acted as a stepping stone to promotion into other managerial positions within the department.    Working for TCN is a rewarding experience that often garners immediate and tangible results, as Deputy Central Communications Manager Gemma Hall explains. ‘Prior to joining The Challenge Network, I volunteered overseas on community and personal development projects,’ she says. ‘The experience inspired me to want to make an impact on communities in the UK. And working as a Project Volunteer with TCN in 2011 seemed like the perfect opportunity.    ‘My role was to advise and guide a group of 12 young people as they delivered their community projects. The highlight was watching the team use drama to sensitively and poignantly highlight the local and national scale of domestic violence to members of their local community. It was a memorable experience that made I interned with the Central Communications Team, and I now work full-time at TCN, which I love.’

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me determined to continue working with TCN. The following year

First job in the third sector Run by a partnership of charities, Charityworks is a paid, 12-month scheme that provides graduates with an entry route into the non-profit sector www.charity-works.co.uk

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

Charityworks is a professional development programme that helps graduates to build a career dedicated to making a positive impact on society. A charity itself, run by a partnership of charities,

‘We are looking forward to helping many more bright, committed people to develop a career in the non-profit sector’

the development programme is carefully designed to identify and nurture the future leaders of charitable institutions, giving

they acquire the skills they need to take on management roles

individuals the opportunity to gain experience and build networks

in the non-profit sector and gain a comprehensive insight into

across the third sector, while also helping non-profit organisations

what it is like to work in the field. With Charityworks’ excellent

to access talented people.

support structure, they also enjoy mentoring, supervision and

   The inspiration behind Charityworks was threefold. Firstly, the

peer-to-peer networking.

recognition that people with exceptional talent and commitment

   Of the trainees who have so far completed the programme,

were finding it hard to find an entry route into the charity sector.

more than 98 per cent have remained in the non-profit sector at

Secondly, a sense of frustration that working in the field was rarely

the end of their year, with all participants securing employment

promoted as a career of choice, despite its huge benefits. And finally,

afterwards. More than two thirds of them have been employed

the realisation that many non-profit organisations lack a strategic,

by a partner organisation, many in management positions.

successful way of attracting and developing talent.

Twelve-month programme

Success and growth ‘We are really proud that, in spite of operating against an unforgiving economic backdrop in which many non-profits are really struggling,

selected recent graduates from UK universities. Successful candidates

Charityworks has grown each year since it launched in 2009,’ says

spend a year on the scheme, during which they undertake one or more

Charityworks Programme Director Rachel Whale. ‘And we are also

full-time, paid placements in partner organisations. They also take part

delighted that our model has proved flexible enough to appeal across

in the Charityworks professional development programme, on which

causes, sizes and types of organisations and departments.’

they regularly meet a mentor and write a series of assignments.

   Since Charityworks was set up, 35 partners have joined its six

   The graduate programme includes three key types of placement:

founding organisations, while the annual number of trainees on the

corporate (business development, fundraising, communications);

graduate programme has risen from three to 35. In addition, the

operational (front-line service delivery); and portfolio (working on

Charityworks network of external partner organisations has grown

a number of projects across different teams and departments).

from six to more than 50.

Whichever path trainees choose, there are many benefits to being

   ‘The last few years have been exciting,’ Rachel concludes, ‘and

on the programme. Trainees receive a full-time salary for their

we are looking forward to helping many more bright, committed

placements with leading non-profit organisations. And through

people to develop a career in the non-profit sector as we continue

the professional development programme and hands-on experience,

to grow.’

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Trainees on the Charityworks graduate programme are rigorously

A chance to shine Through initiatives such as summer schools in the USA and the UK, The Sutton Trust helps less privileged children to progress to the world’s top universities www.suttontrust.com

The Sutton Trust has worked tirelessly for more than 15 years to

‘They will act as a beacon for thousands of other state school

give less privileged children from the UK the chance to shine in their

students to apply to study in the United States.’

education and improve their social mobility. Trying to break the link

   This success builds on that of the trust’s hugely popular UK

between family background and educational opportunities, the trust

summer schools, which have been run for many years and have helped

has funded a wide range of access programmes in early years, school

more than 10,000 state school students gain entry into leading UK

and university settings since Chairman Sir Peter Lampl founded it

universities. Independent evaluation has shown that a quarter of the

in 1997. Options include summer schools across the UK and the

participants go on to the university they attended at summer school,

USA, which have proven to be hugely successful stepping stones

while 80 per cent progress to a leading university.

to some of the world’s best universities.

Summer school success

   Indeed, some have even gone on to work for The Sutton Trust. Research and Policy Analyst Liz Johnston, for instance, took part in the University of Cambridge Summer School in 2004 before going on

The Sutton Trust’s US summer school at Yale University was only

to study Natural Sciences at the university. She then worked for the

set up in 2012, but has already helped 21 state school and college

European Union and in local government before joining the trust.

students secure places at leading universities, including Yale, Harvard,

She now oversees the external research projects the trust commissions

Columbia and Dartmouth College. Nine of them even found themselves

and also carries out in-house research, most recently looking at the

turning down Oxbridge offers, and all will receive financial aid and

social selectivity of the UK’s top 500 comprehensive schools.

scholarships, which total more than £3 million.    The remaining 43 of the 64 students who participated in the

Widening access

US summer school are hoping to go to leading UK universities.

In addition to summer schools, the trust offers other programmes,

Around half of them intend to take a UK degree with a period of

such as the Universities Access Scheme. Run in partnership with

study in the USA, and around half are also interested in applying

Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, this four-year programme

for postgraduate study in America, while about a quarter intend to

provides support for Year 9 students from Kent to help them get into

do a US-based internship. All of the students at the summer school

the UK’s top universities. There’s also the Design Triathlon – a four-day

benefitted from residential activities and received extensive support

course run by the University of Southampton for Year 12 students

from the US-UK Fulbright Commission over a number of months

interested in studying Engineering at university – and the Cambridge

before and after their US visit. This covered, for instance, the cost

STEP programme, which helps state school students pass their Sixth

of admission tests and applications.

Term Examination Paper (STEP) to study Mathematics at university.

   For the 2013 US summer school at Yale University and the

   Overall, The Sutton Trust’s influence and success has been

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Sutton Trust received

enormous. Whether it is generating private funding to further its

more than 1,200 applications. ‘When we started out, we had

proven programmes or influencing government policy and spending

no idea how successful the US summer schools would be, but

and public debate, the trust’s work results in significant benefits

the results have way exceeded our expectations,’ says Sir Peter.

for the lives of the young people it reaches.

CHAPTER 1  | careers toolkit

‘The US summer schools will act as a beacon for state school students to apply to study in the USA’

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