UCL Careers
  • Welcome

    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

    If you are a researcher, we a specific blog for you.

    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

    If you want to suggest things that students and graduates might find helpful, please let us know – we want to hear from you.

    Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

    Accurate at the time of publication
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    Please read our Guest Blogger Policy

  • Five Common Mistakes in Job Applications – and How To Avoid Them

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 22 September 2016

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    We’ve all been there. You sit for days and days, snuggled under your duvet, shooting off job applications. Out of fifty apps, you get seven responses – all rejections.

    This is the reality of life after uni – or, for the proactive among us, final year. In a world where twenty people apply for every skilled job, half of them good enough for the role, what can make you stand out? And what are you doing wrong?

    Here’s five common mistakes you could be making.

    You don’t know what you’re applying for

    This is the most common reason for rejection from a job. “Graduates and those seeking to further their careers often pay 99% of their attention to the big things on their CVs – their academic performance, employment history, achievements and so forth,” says employment expert Lillian Bususu. “But those things mean little when a company receives a CV addressed to the HR manager of their rival.”

    For every single application, you must change your approach. Do your research; Google is there for a reason. Customise your CV, covering letter and the skills you advertise. 36% of employers reject copy/paste applications, and 14% turn you down for a lack of research. Don’t give them the excuse.

    So repeat with me: “I would love to work at [insert company name here] because…”

    Your CV isn’t up to scratch

    How hard is it to write a decent CV? Very – or so anecdote suggests. HR and recruitment officials are always complaining about CV quality. So how can you put yours in the ‘good’ camp? Firstly, typos. It’s possible that you’re making the language mistakes this Guardian article seeks to eliminate. Check over your resume and amend where necessary.

    Secondly, your formatting – is it professional? There are no real rules for CVs, which makes it harder in many ways. You want a recruiter to look at your document and go: “That looks like a serious, organised person.” Emojis and star-shaped bullet points are not your friends. Here’s an example of a grad CV format from the National Careers Service – or look at these from the Guardian. It’s best to design your own – originality, etc – but nobody will sue you for getting ideas from a template. Submit PDFs rather than Word docs where possible, to preserve your beautiful layout. And for the love of Miley, don’t go over two pages. Lastly, don’t sell yourself short. It’s easy to get caught up on what to include and what not to. But if you put everything in and order it well, nobody’s going to fault you.

    You don’t have the experience

    Your first job will always be the hardest to get. Universities may be stressful and work-heavy and possibly even impressive on a CV, but they are not work. They don’t prepare you for the rigmarole of the commute, the necessity of attendance and often rigid hours of an actual workplace. In fact, the only guarantee that a graduate can hold up in a real job is if she has had one before.

    “But I’m only just out of university!” you cry. “I can’t have had a job!” True – but other applicants will have internships, part-time roles and volunteer experience to their name. They’ll have worked gap years and done summer placements. The more of this you have – whatever the industry or role – the more likely you are to be looked on favourably by an employer.

    So, if you haven’t already, get out there. If your interviewer asks, “What are you doing at the moment?”, you need to be able to respond. Volunteer, build a website or tutor some local schoolkids. Sign up for a short course or online tutorials while you’re job-searching. There’s work out there for everyone.

    You’re not using all your resources

    Ever heard of hidden skills? If not, you might be overlooking your most employable attributes.

    Hidden skills are abilities you have but don’t recognise. Are you always the one to organise outings and trips for your group of friends? That is people-management experience right there. This handy website can help you convert other activities into excellent CV and interview babble.

    Additionally, you know those rejections you get? You can reply, you know. Follow up on rejections.

    Generally, employers are open to giving feedback. This valuable tool, which so few jobseekers use, is a good way to identify the failures in your applications and improve future chances.

    Finally, remember that you are a multifaceted person. You have lots of skills and could work in many different industries or positions. Spread your search – if one approach isn’t working, try applying for other roles. Want a job in marketing? Try applying for social media and content writing positions. They’re great experience that can strengthen a marketing CV in the future.

    You’re not tied to your first grad job; switching industries and roles is commonplace. Concentrate on getting your foot on the ladder for now. The dream job can come later.

    You’re too… young…

    This is a hard one to accept. Millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – are not well-liked in the working world. We are unemployable and undesirable. Though we boast the technological hard skills required for many jobs, we lack soft people and business skills.

    So you must work against your stereotype. If you look at the words ‘soft skills’ and frown, fix this issue. Don’t be yet another Gen Y recruit with no idea what the term ‘icebreaker’ means. It’s tough out there for our generation, but it’s not impossible.

    Finally, it’s a numbers game. Apply to five jobs? Expect to hear nothing. Apply to five hundred? That’s more like it. Stay motivated and remember: you’re not alone. And if it all goes to pot, you can always write your CV on a sign and go for a walk.

    Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment firm which specialises in sourcing candidates for internship jobs and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.

    Guest blog post by Susanna Quirke of Inspiring Interns. Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment firm which specialises in sourcing candidates for internship jobs and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.

     

    A leaver’s guide to job hunting

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 16 August 2016

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    Image: Young Woman With Diploma, ABQ Museum Photoarchives

    Just graduated? Congratulations. The world is now your oyster. But for a lot of recent leavers, moving on from UCL doesn’t come easy and can be more than a little daunting. Don’t forget that as a recent leaver, you now have access to our services via UCL Careers Graduates, our 2-year provision of continued 1-1 coaching, workshops and events to continue supporting you.

    In the meantime, here are 5 key tips to kick start your job hunt and keep you motivated :

    1. Think of job hunting as a job

    Like most things in life, the more you put in to something, the more you get out of it. Job hunting takes time. Put in as many hours and as much energy as you would doing a job in order to get things moving and keep up your motivation. As well as looking for roles and making applications, do your research and keep up to date with industry news. An action plan can be a great way of structuring your time and giving you a sense of achievement when you can tick things off that you’ve done.

    2. Connect with people

    Opportunities can come from those you know and those they know, but the biggest source of opportunities are actually people you don’t know – YET! Join Linkedin and start connecting with people who might be in a position to help. Contact a UCL alumni careers mentor, go to conferences or events organised by industries you’re looking to work in. Engage with the industry by following companies through social media and get involved in discussions. Connecting with people is a great way to gain more knowledge of an industry – find out what the realities of the job roles are, any skills and knowledge required and what the big issues are that are likely to define the industry going forward. People love talking about themselves and what they do – just give them the opportunity! Once you’ve begun to connect and establish relationships, who knows where those conversations could lead! Remember, more people find jobs through ‘word of mouth’ than online job boards so make sure you spend some time thinking about how best to use connections.

    3. Be visible

    The more you let people know what you’re looking for and make them aware of what you can offer, the more likely you are to find opportunities. Don’t be afraid to speak to people both on and off-line about your job plans as they may be able to give valuable insight or pass on contacts or information you could use. An up-to-date and complete Linkedin profile is fast becoming a must for students and graduates to manage their online brand. Employers use social media as a way of advertising jobs so get connected by following recruiters and relevant job boards. Upload your biography with a link to your LinkedIn account, and start engaging with people in your chosen industry sector.

    4. Target your applications

    Keep your CV and cover letters relevant and targeted to individual opportunities. Employers continually tell us they’re put off by applications that are general and not specifically adapted to the roles that they’re recruiting for. Use the person specification as a guide to the evidence you need to provide and format your CV in a way that allows the recruiter to relevant information easily. Use Careerstagged, our online careers library to learn how to draft targeted applications and get a UCL Careers consultant to look over your CV, cover letters and draft application form answers in a 1-1 appointment.

    5. Create a balance and stay positive!

    Job hunting can be a full time job, and like any job, you need to take time out. Make time for exercise, relaxation and fun. Meeting people, eating healthily, exercising and doing things you normally enjoy are all ways to stay positive and avoid the job-hunt taking its toll. Feeling daunted by taking the next step, dealing with rejection and lack of structure to your day can be difficult at times but it’s essential to try and keep a positive mind-set in order to keep your motivation up. Remind yourself of all your positive skills, talk to family and friends to boost your confidence. Remember, lots of recent graduates will be in a similar situation- read our job hunting case studies from previous graduates describing how they tackled the transition on from UCL and see if there’s anything you can learn from the experience.

    Best of luck.

    By Dave Carter, Careers Consultant.

    For other next steps, connect with other UCL Graduates about the job hunt via our dedicated UCL Careers Graduates Facebook and Twitter pages, and make sure you’re subscribed to UCLAlert! to receive the weekly Graduates newsletter.

    Networking with Organisations and Professionals

    By Weronika Z Benning, on 29 January 2016

    ALMOSTThe UCL Careers Charities & NGO’s themed week is approaching and we have a host of charities and non-for-profit organisations taking over the UCL Careers library on Thursday, 4th February to answer all of your questions at our networking event. Networking can be an incredibly powerful tool in your job search so it’s important that you do it right. Below are some useful tips to consider before attending the event.

     

    1. Do your research.

    There will be a full list of all the organisations that will be attending the Charities & NGO’s Networking Event on the events page of the UCL Careers website, so make sure you do your research about the organisations that are attending. Find out who they are, what they do, any of their recent projects, etc. Not only will this help you build the basis of your conversation, you can impress them with your knowledge of their organisation, and remember: first impressions count.

    1. Have a goal/purpose

    It’s always a good idea to set some goals before the event to help you stay focused. Think about what you want to find out at the event and the reason you want to attend e.g. finding out more about a particular role, advice on getting into a particular sector. When doing so make sure this information isn’t available on their website, meaning you will come away with some really valuable information!

    1. Prepare some questions

    The key to be being interesting is to be interested. So ensure that you prepare some good questions ahead of the event. This way you can structure your conversation giving it purpose and flow and avoiding any awkward silences. In the charity and non-for-profit sector your passion is incredibly important so may sure you ask some thoughtful questions that reflect your interest. The networking event will be a rare opportunity to ask questions that you normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to ask so preparation is key.

    1. Don’t ask for a job!

    Networking is about gathering information – not asking for jobs. This is a classic mistake which people tend to make and does not go down well with employers. Instead you should use this opportunity to discuss ideas and present your skills as people are much more likely to respond to your enthusiasm and understanding. Talk to the professionals about how to find vacancies and how to keep updated with their recruitment opportunities. This may help you to discover unadvertised vacancies as well as getting some tips along the way whilst maintaining professionalism.

    The UCL Careers Charities & NGO Networking event will take place from 5.30 – 7.00pm on Thursday 4th February. For details of how to sign up please visit the following link: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/events/getinto/charitiesandngos

     

    Using LinkedIn Effectively

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 27 October 2015

    This blog post orginially appeared on the QM Careers & Enterprise blog

    When used effectively LinkedIn can be a really useful tool to help you find your perfect job

    The use of social networking sites like LinkedIn are increasingly important in recruitment. LinkedIn is a professional networking site, where you can fill out your educational background, work history, skills and interests. Far more than an online resume, LinkedIn is a very rich, customizable, multi-faceted personal branding platform. There are tens of thousands of professionals on this site, with whom you can connect as individuals or via interest groups. It is becoming increasingly important to manage your personal branding online; with a smart profile and well-honed strategy, LinkedIn can become your powerful partner in long-range personal branding and career management.

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    When getting started with LinkedIn:

    • Don’t be tempted to use LinkedIn as a professional Facebook page. Only write appropriate updates and comments.
    • Have a profile image. A professional headshot is recommended.
    • Complete your profile. Make it easier for people to find you by including your name, location, education, skills and experience.
    • Add connections. Begin by searching for people you already know.
    • Get recommendations and endorsements. Ask people who have worked with you to give you a recommendation or endorsement.
    • Participate with groups. Become an active member of groups, share content and engage.
    • Update your information regularly, you never know when recruiters might be looking at your page.

    Top tips for using LinkedIn to network

    • Find the right people: Search for companies and job titles that you’re interested in.
    • Ask for help and be clear: Ask something specific like, ‘I’d like to know how you started out in your chosen career?’
    • Personalise: Why are you reaching out to this person? Do you have a shared connection or admire their career path?
    • Be considerate: Understand that time is very important and explain that you’d really appreciate as little as 10 minutes.
    • Follow up: You might not hear back straight away, but do politely follow up about two weeks later.

    5 books to further your career

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 8 July 2015

    This post orginially appeared on the Develop your Career blog

    Article written by Jake Pittman from Ph.Creative

    We all strive to be better in life, whether that means appearance to some or your personal life. However for most of us, our career is where we aim to improve most. And why not, a better career could mean doing more of what you love, it could mean working with amazing people or let’s be honest it could also mean more money to spend in your personal life.

    So, with that goal set, all you need now is some inspiration and a dollop of motivation. You’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve listed a handful of the books that have motivated and inspired us.

    Chimp paradox by Dr Steve Peters

    The paradox is that our brains and our actions can be split into two parts: the chimp and the human. These two parts think about life very differently and react in different ways to different situations. Understanding how you and other people think can help in all areas of life, whether in relationships, the workplace or just taking care of your own mental health. This is definitely a must read from a very clever man. Get ready to rediscover your brain.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

    Pitch your idea, pitch your proposal, or just pitch yourself. Being able to present yourself clearly and incite emotions in people is a skill that can be used in any walk of life but is especially useful when trying to further your career. Using the STRONG method, online, in a meeting, or even in an interview, this book suggests you’re sure to succeed.

    The STRONG method:

    • Set the frame
    • Tell the story
    • Reveal the intrigue
    • Offer the prize
    • Nail the hook point
    • Get a decision

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion by Nathalie Nahai

    What if you knew exactly what your interviewer was thinking and knew exactly what to say and do in order to get the job? Well this book doesn’t promise anything but it does give you an insight into how to connect with people, to nurture relationships and keep you in the forefront of people’s minds. It’s all about the psychology behind business.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Become a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the job came to you? What if people in your field of work already knew what you knew, and wanted to do business with you. Well what you need is to become a person of influence. Get social and get this book.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo  

    Have you heard about TED? If not, check it out, this is a hub of inspiration just waiting to help you further your career. Once you’ve experienced TED, you’ll understand why you may want to ‘talk like TED’. It’s all about exciting and inspiring the people around you, so they in turn can inspire you.

    Find the book on Amazon here.

    Ph.creative

    How the Global Citizenship Employability Programme helped me : UCL Alumni

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 21 April 2015

    James Finch, Physics 2014 graduate, attended the Global Citizenship Employability Programme last summer and he tells us why it was so helpful

    Graduating from Physics I wanted to pursuit a Technology career in the city. In previous summers I had obtained relevant work experience through internships but hadn’t converted them into full time positions. I knew that applications opened in late summer and lasted till around the New Year and my aim was to work hard applying over this time period.

    The first step I took to prepare was to participate in the Global Citizenship Employability Programme. This covered many areas of the application process:Global Citizenship Employability Programme

    > Application forms

    > CVs

    > Cover Letters

    > Psychometric tests

    > Assessment centres

    > Interviews

    > Job hunt planning

    Furthermore through the course you are introduced to the many other services that UCL Careers offers, such as the Alumni programme, 1-1 sessions, careers fairs and workshops. Through the Alumni programme I was able to obtain contacts within the industry/organisations that I was applying for, which was invaluable as you really get to understand what it is like to work for these companies and in these careers. Finally and most importantly I was introduced to the great team at UCL Careers and found the consultants very helpful in getting advice.

    Applying what I had learned from the Employability programme, I started making progress with my applications, securing interviews with firms I really wanted to work for. I found it extremely beneficial to practise for interviews with the consultants, it helped build confidence and I received useful tips on how to improve. I always felt that the consultants came well prepared with relevant information about the types of questions that might be asked and about how the interview process would be carried out.

    All this soon resulted in securing a job as a Technology Analyst at an Investment Bank. Much hard work was required on my part but the advice and support I received through the careers service really made it easier, with all the tips and hints along the way, that are difficult to pick by yourself. Even if you are very confident, there is no harm in reaching out to these guys, you will definitely learn something new that will benefit you in your job hunt. Good luck!

    If you’d like to find our more about the Global Citizenship Employability Programme, visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/global-citizenship/employability

    How I landed a job in the UK

    By Manpreet Dhesi, on 13 April 2015

    International students know that trying to get a job in the UK can be difficult. Mengjia an International Masters in Economy, State and Society from UCL only knows this too well. She gives her top tips on how to land that job in the UK and the effort required.

    “Many people think that international students are disadvantaged in the job market, but I gradually found that if you really want something and was very focused on it, you will be able to utilise your unique strengths to get it”

    > Preparation: I went to a double Master program at UCL, specialised in Economics and International Relations.

    One year before my graduation, I had an exchange abroad to Russia. Although I could get through to the next stage in the application process, my application form was so poor (my poor English) that I did not get any interview invitation. After reflecting on my weakness, I started to consult UCL Careers actively. The team of UCL Careers is so supportive and with their help I finally improved my “portfolio” of documents for online application upon my graduation. This is a really important stage in the job hunting.

    From June to September (which is the beginning of the busiest job hunting season), I used three months to prepare my application forms. I learnt that I benefited a lot from this experience because of my full preparations. It is really important to know what you want, improve your weakness, and get yourself ready. Be open with your own limitations. Most importantly, do not be shy to ask for help when you do need it!

     > Organising the busy schedules and keep motivated: From the date of my graduation in September to the day that I got my job offer, I applied for around one hundred positions in the financial sector. Although I had three summer internships in the financial sector and a three-month summer internship in London before my application, still it was super hard to land on a job. From September to January (five months) I worked on my applications for at least 10 hours per day and 7 days per week (approximately for 70- 90 hours per week). My schedule was so bad and all my friends were shocked. Now looking back, as an international student, I was confronted with a lot of visa problems despite the headaches due to a competitive job market. Thus it is important that I organised my job-hunting time well and the progress of each application.

    Being rejected was really disappointing, because sometimes that I did feel that I was qualified for the position. During this process, I got a lot of supports from my friends and UCL GradClub. Most importantly, I was really lucky that I scheduled sufficient amount of time for mock interviews and assessment centres with UCL GradClub and my friends. The consultants at UCL GradClub are very reliable, professional and generous. We went through each exercise before each assessment centre and also reflected on my performances of each assessment centre. Practice makes perfect!

    > Never Give Up: I have to confess that for international students the limited time staying in the UK after graduation is one of the biggest challenges. This challenge did discourage a lot of international students once they finished their study. However, I found that if you utilise these four months well, the time scale is enough to find a proper job. In addition, there are so many other opportunities, for example Tier 5 internships to help international students with further job hunting. Do not give up; even it is the darkest time. You can cry, but you should think when you are challenged. Find the solution and take actions. Job-hunting is just a starting point, while there might be many more challenging tasks on the job and in the future. Use this experience as a precious lesson for life.

     > Finally, Be positive: during this process, I was offered seven assessment centres and finally there were two companies, which offered me with graduate positions. I realised that reflection and self-confidence are so important. In the end it was not my skills/internships but my perseverance that helped me to arrive at my dream job! Many people think that international students are disadvantaged in the job market, but I gradually found that if you really want something and was very focused on it, you will be able to utilise your unique strengths to get it. Never look down upon yourself. Have faith and confidence in you, and treat each rejection as a lesson. “Team work” with your friends and UCL GradClub. They are definitely standing by you!

    See how UCL Careers can help you Find your Future: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers