Time to think outside the box


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.


Summer placement experience: Purpol Marketing


Third-year student Business and Management with Psychology Bronwyn Jesse undertook a paid placement last summer with local business Purpol Marketing. Here’s her experience of working from home on her placement, getting involved with small/medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the impact of her time at Purpol on her choice of career:

“Perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of coming to the end of my placement lies in trying to summarise everything I have learned over the past few months.

“From social media tools to networking, and whitepapers to bid writing, I really have encompassed a variety of skills into 15 weeks. But the biggest thing I’ve taken away is a newfound confidence in my work, which I hope to take back to uni with me in my final year.

“In particular, my placement has helped to refine my own academic and career goals. I thought I knew everything worth knowing about marketing from my degree, but working here has taught me that the world of business is continuously developing. With this in mind, I will look to continuously open myself up to learning new skills.

“My goalposts have also changed. I now have a preference for working with SMEs – I’ve become intrigued with the low-cost day-to-day changes of marketing. There are now targets for £1 in every £3 of government spending to be with small British businesses by 2020, and I’m excited to follow this movement!

“Overall, Purpol Marketing have excelled in giving me a whistle-stop tour of the world of marketing and procurement. While university has helped lay the foundations for marketing knowledge, it’s the time spent on placement that has helped to consolidate my understanding, with the ability to put things I have learnt in the classroom environment in to the real business world.

“I would like to thank Denise for being such an inspiring entrepreneur with an infectious work mentality. Together Denise and I have succeeded in proving that placements working from home with flexible structures, complemented by cloud technology, can be equally rewarding as a traditional setup – I hope this will increasingly become an option offered by more businesses.

“My placement’s home-working methodology was unlike most other internships offered, and it has really distinguished me from others in my graduate job search. More than anything, I am more confident at assessment days, and telephone interviews as I feel I now have something to talk about. The placement has enabled me to put skills such as ‘flexbility, self-management/initiative, communication’ and more, as I can now provide real life examples of this. This has been a learning curve filled with insight, and I’m forever indebted to the Purpol team.”

Interested in undertaking a summer placement of your own? Sign up here to find out about our opportunities as they come in.