Time to think outside the box

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As the job market becomes increasingly competitive and the volume of applications employers receive grows, it’s more important than ever to consider transferable skills, alternative roles and indirect routes into a placement – and ultimately your graduate job role.

Here are some ways to think outside the box when you’re making your application…

 

Think differently
Instead of following your usual thought process – for example: ‘I want to get a job in marketing, therefore I must get a placement as a marketing assistant’ – branch out and consider other roles. The qualities associated with roles such as a marketing assistant include a good eye for detail, the ability to effectively compare and analyse data, and a creative mindset. These can all be found in other roles, which can offer you the transferable skills needed for a career in marketing. Positions such as content writers, social media assistants, brand consultants and PR interns will still enable you to build transferable, industry-related skills.

Widen the employers you approach
Only wanting to work for a marketing company will limit your search. Many diverse organisations and employers have their own marketing teams or positions – including local businesses such as Dyson, Airbus, the National Trust, Bath Spa University, Clarks, Wessex Water and Bath & North East Somerset Council. This list is by no means exhaustive but should help you to spark some ideas! Different sectors and employers may offer additional benefits, too.

Attract the right attention
Think about how often a company receives the standard ‘please find my CV and cover letter attached’. You may well have the best CV in the world, but this opening email doesn’t inspire the recipient to keep reading or open your attachments. Consider using your covering letter as the body of the email… which you will, of course, have tailored and checked for errors. Both this and your CV should be well-researched and planned to not only showcase your skills but also your interest in that particular company. There are also non-traditional ways that you can showcase your skills. Build an online portfolio or film a video CV that’s then uploaded to YouTube? Use colourful or creative format? Do be sure that this method is appropriate for the industry, company and the role you are applying or approaching them for, though. If you’re not sure, stick with a CV and covering letter.

Don’t judge a job by its title
Don’t discard a job just because you feel it doesn’t apply to the level you are looking for. Many of us are often tempted to go back to old habits, such as only considering roles titled ‘graduate intern’. Entry-level roles such as junior business executive or business administrator may still be suited to your experience and skills.

It’s not always what you know, but who you know
When seeking opportunities, look at who you already know that might be able to help you get your ‘foot in the door’. Family, friends of friends, work colleagues or Bath Spa University alumni may all have links to the industry that you wish to work in. 70-80% of roles (including placements) aren’t advertised on the open market through job adverts or agencies. Instead, they are found through word of mouth and recommendations, or filled by candidates the company already knows as a result of previous placements and work experience. Speculative applications can put you a step ahead of other students and graduates. You can take a look at some examples here to get you started.

 

The hard and fast rule is not to underestimate the experience a different role might give you. By trying something new, you may find you really enjoy a role you hadn’t fully considered before.

Remember, the Placements team are here to help. If you’re currently seeking opportunities and not sure where to start, or want to talk about a role advertised through one of our schemes, come along to our drop-in, every Tuesday and Thursday during term time from 1pm-2pm in Steward’s Lodge. You can also get in touch with us by emailing placements@bathspa.ac.uk.

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Create a Winning LinkedIn Profile with 10 Top Tips

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On Wednesday 1st March in your diaries, as we will be hosting our interactive LinkedIn Day event throughout Commons, Newton Park.

With various workshops, industry speakers, opportunities to have you photo taken and competitions to get involved in, it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss! To get ahead, check out these top tips for your profile:

  1. The profile picture
    Showing off that all-important headshot will help you to gain 14 times more views than you’d receive if you went without. Make sure to give a good impression!
  1. A hot headline
    Alongside your name, this will be the first thing any viewer sees when checking out your profile, so make sure to keep it short and snappy. Keep it current and professional.
  1. Sell your summary
    Supplying a great summary can help you to gain seven times more profile views. Consider it as an elevator pitch; keep it short and to the point, but be make sure you highlight what you’re all about.
  1. Experience gives the extra factor
    Make sure you provide detailed experiences. Whether that’s voluntary work, internships, work experience or a part-time job, it demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to your field of interest/study.
  1. Education counts
    You’ve managed to land yourself a place at university and are likely doing well, so ensure you cover all your key qualifications for employers to see.
  1. Include key projects
    If you’ve overseen any notable projects in university or work, you should be showing off your skills. Include links, or embed photographs and videos to alongside your education and experience.
  1. Shout your skills
    Having a key skill that fits with your career could improve your profile views thirteenfold. You likely have more than one, so get noting those technical and team-working abilities now.
  1. Recommendations rock
    Think of a recommendation as a reference on your CV. Likewise, think carefully about who you ask to recommend you and ensure the contact will prove relevant to the career you hope to focus on i.e. if you’re an avid photographer, perhaps don’t get the milkman to shout about your skills…
  1. Share endorsements
    They say sharing is caring, and endorsements do everyone good. Is your best friend good at drawing? Endorse her to confirm it. In return, she might vouch that you are capable of teaching, which reflects well on you. It’s a win-win situation and can make you feel good, too.
  1. Get connected
    Now you’ve completed your profile, it’s time to start showcasing yourself to potential employers. Research relevant connections in you field of interest/study and approach them with personalised emails asking them to connect with you.

We will be running a series of workshops on LinkedIn Day – you can book your place here!

Keep in Touch over Christmas!

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It’s almost the end of term, and the holiday festivities are looming. But as well as enjoying some well-earned rest and recuperation at home, the Christmas and New Year period is also a great chance to get thinking about careers – especially if you’re in your final year!

If you want to get on a graduate scheme, it’s well worth starting to consider where you’d like to apply. Our 10 top tips can help get you started, and we’ve also got plenty of information about various industry sectors available on My Career.

Equally, you might like to take some time to research placements and why they can be so useful. If you’d like an inside view from students who’ve been on placement themselves, check out this interview. Now is a really good time to familiarise yourself with our placements search tool, and to look into any other companies you might like to contact regarding a placement or internship.

While you’ll be off over the holidays, we’ll still be around for most of the break – barring our Christmas closure between 24th December and 3rd January – and we’ll still be contactable on careers@bathspa.ac.uk and 01225 875525.

If you’ve got a question for us, or have a CV/cover letter you’d like us to look over and provide feedback on, submit it via our Ask a Question facility and we’ll aim to get back to you within five working days.

Over Christmas, you’ll still be able to book spaces on workshops – keep an eye out for next term’s programme of events! – and 1:1 careers guidance appointments for when you’re back after the holidays.

So keep in contact with Careers over the festive break and, most importantly, have a very Merry Christmas!

Bath Spa Award: The Lowdown

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What is it?
You might have heard people talking about the Bath Spa Award, and so probably asked yourself two obvious questions… what exactly is the Bath Spa Award? And why is it worth undertaking?

Have a minute? Great, then let’s talk you through it.

The Bath Spa Award was created so you can gain official accreditation for the extracurricular strengths and skills you’ve gained alongside your degree. Here at Bath Spa, we know our students are involved with all sorts of volunteering, part-time work and activities, so we wanted to make sure these achievements were recognised. If you’re a second-year, third-year or postgraduate student, you’re eligible!

In a nutshell, the Award:

  • Recognises achievements such as positions within clubs and societies, voluntary work, paid jobs outside of uni and your dedication to networking with employers
  • Provides a unique opportunity to build on essential skills for your future career
  • Gives you a chance to form friendships with like-minded students

 

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What do people say about it?
“The Bath Spa Award definitely motivated me to take those extra opportunities and I’m really proud I’ve got it. A lot of the work and volunteer hours were things I was doing anyway as part-time jobs. It’s a good way to assess the things that I wanted to work on and think, ‘I’ve actually managed to do that!’”  
Matilda Karabina, BA (Hons) Creative Writing

“One of the most beneficial things about the Award was choosing the skills you wanted to cover. I wanted to cover leadership, so I was able to get experience and prove that I had worked on my leadership skills.”
Amy Lamborn, BA (Hons) Education Studies with Media Communications

 

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What do I have to do?
There are seven different steps to gaining the award – but don’t be daunted, it sounds more work than it really is. You’ll probably find that you’ve already done more than you think once you get started!

  • Get Thinking (recognise two skills you want to improve)
  • Get Informed (attend two Careers workshops)
  • Get Experience (100 hours of work experience)
  • Get Digital (show your experience of digital skills)
  • Get Networking (have two face-to-face and one online interaction with employers)
  • Get Advice (book a 20-minute guidance appointment)
  • Get The Award (attend our assessment centre event)

Each section is aimed specifically to ensure you have all the essential skills you’ll need to be a success in the workplace. Don’t worry: if ever you feel like you’re struggling or don’t quite know how to complete a section, feel free to get in touch with one the Bath Spa Award team via our Ask A Question service or by emailing theaward@bathspa.ac.uk

 

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Great! How do I sign up?
If you head to bathspa.ac.uk/theaward and sign in with your BSSU student details, you’ll be taken straight to My Career’s Bath Spa Award information section. Simply click on the registration form link, fill it out and submit – it’s as simple as that. Within several days you should receive an email from the Bath Spa Award team, confirming your place.

What are you waiting for? Get signed up today!

 

Not Every Experience is Perfect – and That’s Okay!

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Placements Manager Jamie Bradbury shares the experiences that shaped his career direction…

When I started at Bath Spa University back in 2008, I felt sure I wanted to be a primary-school teacher. Friends and family had told me I was perfectly suited to it, and I had done the required 10 days of work experience in a primary school, which I had enjoyed. I had taken time out to work after finishing A levels but was finally ready to launch into university life on the 3+1 Education Studies course, with a guaranteed place on the PGCE. For the first time, I had my career plan laid out in front of me.

The course was fantastic. I made lots of friends and the tutors were always very supportive. My first taste of experience through the degree was a school placement out in Melksham, which I attended for one day a week. I was effectively working as a teaching assistant, helping out with all of the lessons and working with small groups of children.

It made me realise how much I enjoyed working with the children and being in a classroom environment. At this point, I was sure I’d made the right decision and was looking forward to the PGCE.

I’d been told that the PGCE would be tougher and more involved, so I knew I’d have to work really hard but was still very motivated. Long gone were the undergraduate days of eight hours per week… I was now getting used to a proper working week. The level of experience was very different in my placements, too. They were much longer and the expectation was to teach 60% of the lessons by the end of the first placement and 80% by the end of the second placement. Working with the children was still enjoyable, but there was something that wasn’t feeling quite right for me.

I’m a person who likes to be prepared and organised, but when teaching I was constantly changing lesson plans. I also liked to have freedom when creating my lessons, but had to fit in with the schools’ teaching structures, as well as their behaviour management and marking policies. Then there was more emphasis on paperwork – something I hadn’t looked at during my initial placement.

But I persevered and completed the PGCE, having gained plenty of experience in working under pressure, organisation, initiative, flexibility, communication and resilience. I had realised that teaching probably wasn’t for me, but shortly after finishing I got a position working with Bath Spa’s Placements team – a role that I really enjoy. I still get to deliver workshops – which is similar to teaching – and I’m in a working environment that I love.

So what did I learn from this? Firstly, that it’s okay to not know what you want to do. Work placements can give you a feel for what you do and don’t like within certain roles and places of work. The more involved the experience is, the more you’ll understand about it.

Secondly, that a bad experience can be equally as beneficial as a good one. You might get lucky and find your dream role, but a lot of the time it won’t be perfect… but you’re likely to have learnt more about your own preferences and how you deal with certain situations.

Thirdly, to keep an open mind and to make the most of opportunities that come your way. This is something I wish I’d done more of. Just because people told me I would make a good teacher, didn’t mean that I would be one. Between A levels and university I worked in a toy store, an auction house and a call centre and I’m glad I tried them all, because each time I found different areas of the jobs I liked.

Top Tips for the Careers & Opportunities Fair

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The Careers & Opportunities Fair is only around the corner – Tuesday 25th October to be exact – and it’s an event not to be missed! If you haven’t scheduled time out of your day already, then make sure you do. You can drop by our wonderful marquee in the Walled Garden any time between 11am and 3pm.

We’ve put together the following top tips to help you on the day…

Be inquisitive
The fantastic thing about the Careers & Opportunities Fair is that it enables you to explore different career paths that you may not have considered before. Some employers you may never have heard of – make sure you approach them, too.

Remember, employers are there to talk to you and answer your questions. Some will even be bringing with them recent graduates and interns currently working with them, who will have been through the same decision-making process about their future that you are about to embark on. No question is a silly question!

Visit the Bath Spa Careers stand
If you’re feeling nervous about talking to employers, why not visit our friendly team? They’ll be able to advise you on the fantastic organisations exhibiting at the fair, and offer you some guidance on how to introduce yourself and the types of questions you could ask.

You can also talk to the team about how to go about booking an appointment to look at your CV or covering letter, the exciting schedule of workshops happening throughout the term, our new online portal MyCareer… and much more!

Be enthusiastic
The Fair is great way to make yourself known to employers. Some companies receive hundreds of applications for their positions or programmes. Introducing yourself to the representative at the fair is a way of making your application stand out.

Be friendly and sell yourself. You can show your enthusiasm by asking for advice on the application process, or asking questions about the company culture and what a typical day in the role would look like. Make sure you have a pen and paper to hand to make notes. This will look organised and professional, and will also mean you can review all the information later on.

Follow up
Don’t be afraid to ask employers for their business card if you are keen to follow up with them after your conversation. You can send them a thank you email for taking the time to speak to you at the fair and if appropriate attach your CV. Some employers may be prepared to share their business cards with you; others may direct you to their company website or company email.

Another way you could follow up is by connecting with the employer on LinkedIn or by writing a status on social media.

Like our Careers & Opportunities Fair Facebook Page to keep up to speed with everything happening during the day.

 

What Employers Are Looking For at the Careers & Opportunities Fair

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There’s just one week to go until the Careers & Opportunities Fair (Tuesday 25th October, 11am-3pm in the Walled Garden, in case you’d forgotten) and we can’t wait for you to meet all of our fantastic employers!

While the Fair is the perfect opportunity for you to explore your career options, it is also worth bearing in mind what employers are looking to see from you. We’ve asked a couple of organisations attending what they’re hoping to see…

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Kate Buffery – Student Recruitment Officer, PwC
“Ask inquisitive questions – whether that’s about our various business areas or our application forms. That’s why we’re there, after all! Don’t be too shy to ask any ‘silly’ questions either, as chances are everyone who helps us out at our stand will have been through the graduate application process and would have been in your shoes only a few years before. Oh, and always take the freebies!”rmpAmirah Hajat – Rate My Placement
“Dress appropriately – first impressions are key, so if you’re looking smart and alert you’re going to leave a good, lasting impression for all the right reasons. If you’re dressed the part, you will feel the part, and this will enable you to be confident. You’re going to be talking to a lot of people – potentially people from companies you want to work for – so be don’t be shy. Remember: you’re a lion, not a mouse!

“Most importantly, do your research: wow the representatives by showing how enthusiastic you are about the company and the work they do. Look at if they have been in the news recently, the offerings they have for students and graduates as well as the specifics of the role you are interested in. Lastly, have fun! This is a marvellous opportunity to network, so enjoy it.”

Have a look at the event on My Career to see the list of exhibitors attending on the day. You’ll be surprised at the range of placement opportunities available at Bath and North East Somerset Council, for example – encompassing Operational Improvement, Sustainability, Disaster Planning and Marketing/Communications projects, as well as an exciting range of graduate opportunities with a wide variety of national and international businesses across all industry sectors.

Some companies receive hundreds of applications for their opportunities, so the Careers Fair is a great way to meet the recruiter face-to-face and make a lasting impression to set your application apart from others.

If you’re unsure how to prepare for the Careers Fair or don’t know what to expect you, why not book on to our Preparing for the Fair workshop and read our previous post on how to talk to employers?

For more information on the Careers & Opportunities Fair, like our Facebook page.

Careers & Opportunities Fair: What’s in It for You?

By now you’ve obviously heard about our Careers & Opportunities Fair, which is taking place on 25th October between 11am and 3pm in the Walled Garden. If not, you’ve clearly been living under a rock, and need to watch this video immediately:

But what’s in it for you? We’ve compiled a handy list of what benefits are on offer for Fair attendees (that means you)

1) A headstart when applying for graduate schemes
The astounding range of graduate schemes on offer can be overwhelming, can’t it? With different deadlines, requirements and applications/interview processes, there’s a lot to find out about. Many of the employers at the Fair will have their own schemes, so this is a fantastic chance to find out more about the various programmes and to get any questions you have answered in person.

2) A placement (or year in industry)
Our placements team do a brilliant job of seeking out opportunities for you to get hands-on experience in a huge range of workplaces. But it’s not just up to us! Tracking down your own work experience or internships means you’re able to try out a role that’s absolutely perfect for you – and talking to and building your own relationships with employers is one of the best ways to go about this.

3) A new set of contacts – and practice talking to them
As we’ve covered in a previous post, we know that talking to employers can be daunting if you’re not used to it. So with more than 30 companies on-campus, this is your time to get practising. Introduce yourself to the employers and have a brief chat – once you’ve got their details, you can follow up with them and get in contact with any further questions in the future.

4) Careers advice on hand
In addition to tens of employers, we’ll also have a Bath Spa Careers stand of our own at the fair – so you can pop by and pick up some advice from one of our friendly Careers Consultants, or ask us a question. We’ll be giving out brochures to take away and read in your own time, too, in case there’s anything you’ve missed or need to refresh your memory on.

For more information on the Careers & Opportunities Fair, like our Facebook page.

How to Talk to Employers

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‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ How many times have you heard that phrase? But it’s true! Networking with employers is a great way to talk to someone with first-hand experience in a specific industry or profession and it allows you to explore the career opportunities available.

Our Careers & Opportunities Fair on 25th October will be a fantastic chance to get chatting to a wide range of people from a variety of employers – so make sure you feel as confident as possible

For many people, the thought alone of having to approach an employer and ask them questions (that your head is telling you will sound stupid) is terrifying. Your palms begin to feel clammy, you’re suddenly talking very quietly and you’re unable to make any form of eye contact. Sound familiar? Well, don’t panic! In this post, we’ve outlined a step-by-step guide on how to talk to employers.

1) The more you prepare, the more in control you’ll feel
Take the time to do some research on a company. Look at their website and social media platforms to get an overview beforehand. This will help you to form some specific questions to ask.

2) Be confident when your approach the employer
As daunting as it might seem approaching an employer on your own, you should try it. You might actually find it easier not having your friends next to you, listening to what you say! Break the ice with a firm handshake and then open the conversation with your name, degree subject/year of study and asking what they offer. Start by highlighting your skills, what you are interested in and why.

3) Formulate some generic questions you can ask a number of employers
You can draw on an interesting point they have made during their presentation or workshop – “Can you tell me more about…?”
“In your role, what does a typical day look like?”
“What are the key skills you want candidates to demonstrate during the application process?”
“What does the application process involve?”
“What are the best and worst things about your job?”

4) Wrap things up
Thank the employer for their time and ask them what would be the best way for you to follow up with them. Have some business cards ready to hand out – this will contribute to your professional image. While your interaction is still fresh, look the employer up on LinkedIn and ask to connect with them. This will be a useful way of keeping track of the people you’ve met.

5) Remember: be confident, be yourself and smile!
With a fantastic schedule of employer events taking place this academic year, you’ll be able to put your networking skills into practice. Look out for our Employer in the Foyer series, a range of insightful employer workshops and presentations, and in particular our Careers & Opportunities Fair – one not to be missed!

For more information on the Careers & Opportunities Fair, like our Facebook page.