Finding a job after leaving university is both at the forefront of students’ minds but also on the backburner for most of the time as university deadlines are deemed as more pressing and graduation seems a lifetime away.
Below is an interview with Steve Norman, the Careers Consultant for the Business School and the School of Informatics that hopefully sheds light on frequently asked questions and how the Careers department attempts to make students think of their future career rationally and productively, and how to minimise the perception of the future as daunting and stress-inducing.
Q: A lot of students graduate while being unsure about their career, do you have any advice?
A: I think there is this presumption where somehow you’ll have, at the time you graduate, that you will have certainty [over your career choice]. There’s no reason you should. You’ve done the degree, but you might not have had the four years of exploring the job market. For students, we recommend looking at what’s coming up on MyCareerHub and look at some other job sites. Not necessarily with the pressure to apply, but just start to see things and see jobs you didn’t think you’d be interested in.
Q: Do you have any general CV advice?
A: I tend to say either it be one or two pages, but not somewhere in the middle. Something people think it has to be two pages but they might not have enough content to fill that amount. There’s also sometimes where people think it must be 1 page because the employer does not have the time to read more, so they put content that should have been on two pages but use a smaller font. So, just make sure your content fits accordingly.
Q: Does a 2:1 with experience beat a first with no experience?
A: I think if I see a student in front of me with a first, I would think that was great and to definitely sell that. It shows a really good level of intellectual ability and that clearly you’ve worked really hard. But I would also be asking what else they had. I would say to students to concentrate on getting a good degree but don’t ignore the other things. We’re talking about a 4-year degree so there is plenty of time to add experiences to add to your CV.
Q: Can speculative applications work?
A: Yes, and they do. I would probably say that speculative approaches to employers are a better than speculative applications if you can. So, that’s potentially making an approach to an employer and backing it up with a speculative application, but you are trying to make contact. So, we talk about informal interviewing. What you might say is something about being interested in the sector so wondering if it is possible to have a chat and get some advice. People mostly like to talk about their experiences and give advice. Get your foot in the door and have your CV, then you can ask questions about jobs as well.
Q: What do you think about taking a year out after graduation?
A: I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I think it needs to be planned. However, remember when graduate recruitment starts again. If someone graduates this summer and was going to take a year out, they should still be applying early if they really want to work next year. So, if people went away last summer and came back the following summer without looking at the advertised graduate jobs, they might find a lot of graduate jobs having been filled. My advice is if you have a year out to keep looking at the graduate job market.
Q: Are there things people should consider when thinking about further study?
A: Some people use postgraduate study to do something career-related, such as teaching. If you’re not specialising in a career-related areas then you may still be completing with undergraduates [in the job search] but hopefully you might have more to offer having studied to postgraduate level and potentially another year of gaining experience. I wouldn’t rule it out but do it for the right reasons. Do it because you want to study or because it’s an absolute requirement for a job. Nothing magical is going to happen by delaying graduate recruiting or going for a job.
The Careers Service is there to help you. You can book a Careers Consultant appointment on MyCareer Hub or visit the Careers Service website to find out more information about the services available for you to use.
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