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5 Key Resources for Networking from Home

By skye.aitken, on 2 June 2020

Read time: 5 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Networking in the traditional sense is a concept that can fill some with dread, but there is now more than one way to meet and connect with individuals that share a common interest with you. No longer is it solely about making an approach and sharing small talk in a room full of people, but a large part of networking now also takes place remotely with individuals using a range of platforms to build an online profile in order to connect with recruiters, employers and other professionals.

But where do you start with finding, interacting and building a network of contacts in the field you’re interested in? In this post, we’ll outline the key resources you can use to build your network from the comfort of home.

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is perhaps the most well-known platform for connecting with professionals online with a broad range of users across different industries and levels of experience. For students, it can seem a daunting place, however it is valuable tool in optimising career development and networking opportunities.

In terms of where to start, if you have an up to date CV then you can use this as the basis of creating a profile where you can also breakdown the skills and areas you wish to pursue a career in – this is key as recruiters often use LinkedIn to find potential candidates. Once you have a profile, you can start to build connections to grow your network and seek out new contacts. Start small with this by connecting with friends, family, and work colleagues before moving onto connecting with contacts of theirs that might be relevant to you and your career interests by sending a request along with a brief message. From there, if you continue to make connections and develop your profile, your web of contacts will grow, as will the opportunities you are presented with.

  1. UCL Alumni Online Community: For those who are looking to make contacts within a smaller pool of people, the UCL Alumni Online Community offers a great opportunity to connect exclusively with former students from UCL who are now working across the world.

Within the platform, you can search for alumni by the course they studied, the department they were in or even by employer so you can identify how many students have gone onto work for a specific company in the online directory. Select alumni within the directory will also be labelled with a ‘Willing to help’ badge whereby they have agreed to support current students with careers advice or in some cases to become a mentor to students who are looking for guidance with their next steps. To use the website, you will need to register before gaining access to the directory to connect with UCL Alumni and start making new contacts.

  1. Social Media: Whilst many of us use social media to connect with friends and family, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be particularly useful for making professional connections, especially in areas such as the arts and creative industries where recruitment processes vary in comparison to more traditional sectors.

Where appropriate, consider making a professional profile away from your personal account and use this to follow new contacts and employers, share your work and engage in conversations with others online. You can also use the Direct Messaging (DM) function to send an introductory note to organisations or individuals you are interested in and in some cases this can often be a much more successful way of making contact as opposed to email which may not be reviewed as often.

  1. Forums: Although somewhat trickier to source, forums are another useful way to engage in conversation with others who have a similar interest to you. They can also be useful in conducting further research into the trends or challenges that may exist within your chosen industry and allow you to seek out information that may not be as readily accessible on mainstream websites.

Consider starting with the professional body of the sector you are interested in, which often have forum or chat pages where professionals discuss current industry news and issues. In the current climate, some of these bodies are also offering virtual webinars and events which could be another way of sourcing new contacts in your network.

  1. Apps: There are apps available for most things on the market at the moment and networking is no exception. One of the apps that has gained popularity in recent years is Shapr, where you can build your profile based on the career fields you are most interested in, your professional goals, and your status as entrepreneur, freelancer, student, etc. A similar app, Debut is aimed directly at students looking to showcase their profile and skills to connect with graduate employers. Whilst these apps do include paid for content, there are also some free features for networking so it’s worth taking the time to try these out and decide what could work best for you.

In trying one, two or even all five of the options listed above, there is the potential to not only progress your career but also build your confidence in networking- a skill which will be essential not only now but in the future too. Watch the CareersLab episode on mastering online networking for further advice or visit our online careers library for helpsheets.

Building Resilience in Your Job Hunt: How to Progress Your Career Planning and Overcome Setbacks in Challenging Times.

By skye.aitken, on 26 May 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Nicole Estwick, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

We have all experienced setbacks, in one way or another, during our lifetime where things may have not quite gone to plan. The world of work is no different and in the current situation we find ourselves in, many individuals who are looking to gain work experience as part of their career planning or secure their first full time role after graduation face a number of challenges ahead. What is key though, both in the current landscape and in your future career, is building a level of resilience to ensure you can keep moving forward in spite of challenging circumstances.

Resilience, in its simplest form, can be defined as the capacity to recover and adapt to new and difficult situations and it is a skill that is highly regarded by employers across a range of sectors. But for many, perseverance in the face of adversity is easier said than done.

So how do you keep going with your job hunt at a time where vacancies have been impacted, competition for roles may have increased and employers are making changes to their recruitment processes?

The answer is in the 3 A’s: Acceptance, Adaptability and Action

  1. Acceptance

Although a large part of resilience is focused on the ability to move on, another aspect of the skill is accepting the reality of a situation and keeping a sense of perspective.

In the context of your career, speaking to friends, family and even connections made through LinkedIn can often be great source of support and give you a fresh perspective in helping you to see that highs and lows are often part of the job search and you are just one of many who may have to make a few attempts before making headway into your preferred career.

What is important in accepting setbacks is seeing it as part of the bigger picture which in this case is an unprecedented situation, reflecting on what you can learn- whether that’s through sourcing employer feedback or reviewing past applications and using this to grow and move forward with your job search.

  1. Adaptability

A key part of resilience is also the ability to be flexible and adapt to changes that are happening around you.

In practical terms, if your current job search isn’t producing the results you hoped for, you may want to consider changing your approach, much like employers who are changing some of their processes based on the current situation.

This could be as simple as applying for a broader range of roles within the company or sector you are interested in, based on increased demand for certain types of roles over others during this period.

Additionally, you could also look to adapt how you are searching for vacancies. For example, if you have solely been applying for advertised jobs, consider proactively sourcing contacts, sending speculative applications where appropriate or putting yourself forward for volunteering especially as many organisations are seeking extra support at this time.

In being flexible and taking on a range of approaches in your job hunt, this could open up new opportunities that you may have not come across before.

  1. Action

Finally, a key part of resilience is the ability to take action to move forward and in the context of careers there are a range of things you can do to increase your chances of success in your job hunt.

A good place to start with this is by making a plan of action whereby you can set yourself some clear, manageable goals, such as completing a certain number of applications a week to have a sense of direction and focus- which can be a great help at a time where things may seem overwhelming.

Your actions also do not have to be solely based on making applications, but you can also look to invest in your personal as well as professional development. Why not focus some of your time on upskilling yourself in areas you would like to improve on or gain a broader range of skills by volunteering? Both of these can be used to strengthen future applications you make too.

Lastly, it’s important to remain positive and celebrate successes no matter how small during your job hunt as this will drive you to keep going despite the bumps you may face along the road. Take the time to remind yourself of some of your achievements to date as a reminder of how you can reach the goals you set for yourself and will do so again in the future.

Although job searches will vary from individual to individual, resilience will no doubt be required at some point in everyone’s career- what is and will remain key though is ensuring that if you fall down, you can dust yourself off and get back up again whatever the circumstances may be.

To find out more about the importance of resilience visit the UCL Careers’ Skill Hub page.

Update on Vacancies and Job Opportunities in Light of Covid-19 – May 2020

By skye.aitken, on 12 May 2020

Read time: 2 minutes

Written by Susanne Stoddart, Recruitment and Selection Advice Manager at UCL Careers.


In our April Employer Insights blog post we highlighted the current uncertainty across the graduate labour market due to Covid-19. However, we also showed that some organisations are adapting through remote working and have confirmed their intentions to continue recruiting. Opportunities are still being advertised and we encourage you to keep monitoring vacancy sites such as the myUCLCareers jobs board. Over the 7-day period from April 27th to May 3rd, a total of 162 vacancies (including summer internships and graduate roles) were posted on this jobs board alone.

Variance in Vacancy Numbers

As highlighted in a series of blog posts by graduate labour market expert Charlie Bull, vacancies are down but significant variance in the situation is emerging depending on a range of factors. These factors include organisation size (smaller organisations are more likely to be in survival mode with recruitment set at low priority) and opportunity type (internship and placement opportunities are expected to be more impacted than graduate roles). In terms of location, analysis of vacancy posting numbers on website Indeed indicates that the UK jobs market has been badly affected (with only New Zealand and Australia seeing steeper vacancy falls). However, within the UK, there has been an unequal impact and London has consistently registered the smallest decline.

Sector Specific Changes

Vitally, different sectors are also experiencing the impact of Covid-19 on their business activities differently, and this is reflected in their current vacancy posting numbers. Indeed’s weekly analysis of UK vacancy posting numbers, through to April 24th, (linked above), shows a 53% drop compared to this time last year. Unsurprisingly, sectors such as hospitality and tourism, customer service and beauty and wellbeing, where business activity has significantly reduced, if not ceased, show the largest decline in job postings. These findings suggest that the lower-skilled, non-graduate jobs market has been hit the hardest by Covid-19.

At the other end of the scale, healthcare jobs have seen the smallest decline. When LinkedIn analysed their UK vacancies stats up to mid-April they actually found that healthcare vacancies had increased compared to the same period last year. They also found that vacancies within software and IT services were down from last year far less than the average decline (19% compared to an average decline of 39%). This is perhaps as a result of these sectors’ ability to more readily transition their workforces to remote working.

What Next?

Although Covid-19 has had an impact on the graduate labour market, the data suggests that sectors with a greater focus on non-graduate level employment are most significantly affected.

  1. Opportunities are still being advertised and remember that you can book a one-to-one appointment with us to gain feedback on your application draft or to explore your next steps.
  2. You may also find it helpful to have a look at our frequently asked careers questions in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak, or check out our CareersLab Covid-19 Q&A video.
  3. For further ideas on taking positive steps at this time, why not take a look at our recent blog posts providing tips and advice on how you can upskill from home and how you can continue to move forward with your career planning.

UCL Careers Explains…What to do if you have not been paid by an employer

By skye.aitken, on 21 January 2020

A woman looking a her laptop screen whilst biting a pencil

Any work that you’ve completed in the UK is subject to National Minimum Wage legislation. You’re therefore entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage unless you fall under a category of worker that is not entitled to the National Minimum Wage –  https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage/who-gets-the-minimum-wage.

If you’ve not been paid, and you are entitled to be, you should reach out to your employer and check what’s happening. If you have details of what you are expecting to be paid in writing then ensure you have those to hand. At this point there may just be an easily resolved misunderstanding. There are a few things that might have happened:

  • You may have joined the organisation after the payroll cut off. Payroll can be weekly or monthly. You would therefore be paid for this work in the next pay run. However, if you are struggling financially your employer may be able to help you so do ask if they could pay you earlier.
  • It’s not payday. If you’re used to weekly pay then you may be surprised to find that many roles in the UK are paid monthly. Or potentially your new employer runs payroll at a different time of the month than you’re used to. Lots of employers will pay their employees at the end of the month.
  • Your employer might have the wrong bank details. Make sure you provided these correctly and on time.

Once you’ve spoken to your employer, you’ll hopefully have resolved the situation. However if this is not the case and you believe your employer is unwilling to pay you or has no intention of paying you in an acceptable timescale then you can seek advice from your local CAB, trade union, law centre or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).  See further information about not getting paid at https://beta.acas.org.uk/national-minimum-wage-entitlement/what-to-do-if-youre-not-getting-minimum-wage. You may potentially need to go to an Employment Tribunal.  For more details see https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1366


UCL Careers Explains…What to do if your job underpays you?

By skye.aitken, on 14 January 2020

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

A hand held out holding two coinsFirst off, don’t panic. If you are not a freelancer, you are likely to be legally entitled to receive a payslip – https://www.gov.uk/payslips. This will help you to see what is going on – it may be available through an online portal, through email, handed to you by your employer, or posted to your home. Payslips must be provided on or before payday.

Take a look at the amount that was deposited by your employer into your account, rather than your total account balance. Compare this deposit amount against your payslip.

Payslips must show:

  • Earnings before and after any deductions
  • Total amount of any deductions that you’ve paid, including:
    • National Insurance
    • Income Tax
    • Pension Contributions
    • Student loans (if you meet certain criteria)
  • If you get paid per hour, your payslip has to show how many hours you’ve worked.

Have a look at all the information provided on your payslip, this will help you see how your pay is worked out. The first things to look at when checking you’ve been paid correctly are:

  • Total earnings before deductions – if this matches what you expected it’s likely that you didn’t account for a standard deduction, and your employer has paid you the right rate for the correct amount of hours. It’s worth checking where the deduction came from so you know if it’s a one off, or if this is the standard.
  • Tax rates – have you paid more tax than you were expecting?
  • Hours worked—have you been paid for the number of hours you actually worked?
  • Pay rate – Were these hours paid at the correct rate?
  • Additional pay—If you were expecting overtime, commission or bonuses were these paid? Are you sure they were due in this pay cycle?
  • Holiday pay – were you paid for the annual leave you took? Did you have enough annual leave allowance?
  • Sick pay—If you were off sick this may mean reduced pay
  • Deductions – your employer should clearly state any deductions made, were these lawful deductions?
  • Student Loans– You may have earnt over the threshold for repayment meaning that this has been lawfully deducted from your salary, or if you graduated last year you might now be eligible to pay. Student loan repayments begin on the 6th of April the year after you graduate/leave your course.

How to sort out the issue

If the reason you’ve been underpaid is due to something controlled by your employer it’s worth starting to sort this out by talking to them. Things that can be resolved by your employer include: Hours worked; pay rate; holiday pay; bonuses, overtime, and commission; and sick pay. It is helpful if you work out how much you were expecting and where the discrepancy lies to make resolution easier. If the mistake was made by your employer then you can ask to be paid the additional amount before the next payday. You should not need to wait.

If the mistake was on your side then you may have to wait until the next payday, however in most cases you will need to be paid correctly. If you input your hours incorrectly then your employer must pay you for the time worked, as stipulated in your contract.

If this is your final paycheque from an employer you may find that there are some deductions compared to your normal pay. A common reason for this is that you’ve used more holiday that you’ve accrued. The additional annual leave will be recouped from your final cheque. As long as you’ve received the correct amount as detailed in your contract then this is standard practice.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your employer alone or you work in a larger organisation and don’t know where to direct your query then it might be a good idea to see whether you have an employee representative to help you approach your employer. If you are a member of a trade union then you can get in contactor if you’re a member of a trade union, then a union rep.

If your employer doesn’t resolve this issue, and you feel that you have been underpaid, and are entitled to some/all of the missing pay there are a range of next steps. You should start by seeking advice from your local CAB, trade union, law centre or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (known as ACAS) – https://www.acas.org.uk/.  ACAS provide advice and arrange settlements between employers and workers.

If your underpayment has been caused by paying too much tax this can be easily resolved. You should have provided your new employer with your P45 from your old role when starting this should have informed them of your tax code, which would have been passed on to HMRC so you could be taxed accordingly. If you’ve just started a new job and not worked before or did not supply a P45, you might pay tax through an emergency tax code. This could mean you get less money than you should until HM Revenue and Customs updates its records. Normally this will only be for a month or two at the most. If you’ve been in your job for more than 3 months and think your employer has taken too much money for tax, you’ll need to check your tax code and let HMRC know if it’s wrong. Your pay will be adjusted so you pay the right amount of tax over the tax year.

If you worked during the holidays, or in a short term role, and were taxed as your income met the personal allowance threshold – https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates, but are now not working, or are earning below the tax threshold, then you can receive a rebate. This typically occurs after the beginning of the tax year, with most refunds being issued through your company’s payroll (PAYE) or direct from HMRC around June. See https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/tax-basics/how-do-i-claim-tax-back/how-do-i-claim-back-tax-i-have-overpaid-through-paye#toc-how-do-i-claim-a-refund-for-the-current-tax-year-if-i-don-t-want-to-wait-for-a-p800-The quickest way to address this is through phoning HMRC rather than going through your employer.

Festive Career Lessons from Elf

By uczjsdd, on 16 December 2019

Written by Dr Sophia Donaldson, Senior Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

[WARNING: This post contains spoilers. But, like, surely you’ve seen Elf before, right?!?!!]

Oh man I love Elf. Laughing as a grown man screams with excitement at the prospect of meeting Santa allows me to pretend that’s not exactly how I feel when I see the lights and trees and sparkles go up at this time of year. But you and I both know Elf isn’t just fun and japes. As with all Christmas classics (see our 2018 analysis of Home Alone), Elf carries some serious career lessons. Like stocking fillers you never asked for but now realise you can’t live without, here are just three of them:

There are different ways to work towards the same cause

Buddy grew up assuming he’d have a glowing career as an elf. Then he discovered he’s not an elf. He’s a massive clumsy human and he’s rubbish at making toys. But all was not lost! As with any sector – the healthcare biz, the music biz, the art biz – there are plenty of ways to work towards the Christmas cause. Buddy turned out to be a talented shop decorator, sleigh power-er, and story-weaver, and he used these talents to contribute to his main field of interest: Christmas.

This story resonates with a lot of people. Not the growing-up-in-the-North-Pole-thinking-you’re-an-elf-when-you’re-actually-a-human bit. But the realising-you-may-not-be-the-best-fit-for-your-long-imagined-career bit. If you’re in a Buddy-fix, analysing what attracts you to your “dream” career can help generate alternative options. If it’s the field, subject, or cause that attracts you, our sector themed weeks of career events provide info on a range of paths within the same field (if you missed anything there are recordings and blogs online). Sites like Prospects give a broad overview of roles within various sectors, as well as a handy “alternative” careers list for any job they profile. And you can also go straight to the organisations you admire, and explore all the possible ways you could use your strengths and experiences to help them achieve their goals.

Your work isn’t the only thing that matters 

Buddy’s biological father Walter is a workaholic, placing his job above the needs of his family. But when Buddy runs away, Walter realises his family is more important, and he leaves a crucial meeting to ensure his son is ok.

It’s a classic Christmas trope, and it’s classic because it’s true: work isn’t the only or the most important thing in life. And you know what, even when it comes to actual career-thinking, work itself isn’t everything. Career decisions are influenced by all sorts of factors, not just the types of tasks you’ll be doing day-to-day. Your career happiness will be influenced by the people you work with, the location you live in, the lifestyle your job affords you etc. etc. etc. And the importance of each factor can vary over the years, as you and your circumstances change. So take time to decide what your priorities are, and don’t be afraid to factor them into career decisions, as they can be just as important as the nature of the work you’ll be doing.

Positivity is contagious

Despite suffering a fair few disappointments, Buddy just likes to smile. Smiling’s his favourite. And (rabid raccoons excepted) most who encounter Buddy can’t help but eventually be inspired by the strength of his positivity.

This movie magic happens in real life too. Positivity, as well as negativity, are catching. There’s even plenty of actual real life proper science behind it, involving mirror neurons and stuff. It’s important to remember this during your jobhunt, as a positive attitude will not only keep you pushing onwards during the inevitable disappointments we all experience at times, it will also impact the attitudes of others around you.

No one (not even Buddy) can be positive all the time, but the tiny snapshot of you employers see during an application process needs to leave them with a good feeling. So try to keep your applications and interview answers positive. Tell employers what you do have that’s relevant to the role, not what you’re missing. Talk about the positive reasons you want this new job, not negative reasons you’re leaving your old one. And even when an interview question forces you to be a bit negative – like asking you to describe what you’ll find most challenging about a role – be open and honest, but spend the majority of your answer on positive things, like sharing what you’re already doing to overcome this challenge, and how you plan to continue overcoming it. If you have a real interview coming up you can book a mock interview to get feedback on how you’re coming across.

Happy Holidays and a Merry 2020 to you all. If you’re finding any of this careers malarky tricky, book into a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant, to chat about it.

UCL Careers Explains…Deductions from your pay if you work in the UK

By skye.aitken, on 10 December 2019

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

Under the Employment Rights Act, you have the right not to suffer ‘unauthorised deductions from wages’. There will be some automatic deductions from your pay that are authorised by law – namely income tax, national insurance and student loan repayments

Your employer is not allowed to make deductions unless:

  • It’s required or allowed by law, for example National Insurance, income tax or student loan repayments
  • You agree in writing
  • Your contract says they can – for example, some retail contracts have specific deductions
  • There’s a statutory payment due to a public authority
  • You have not worked due to taking part in a strike or industrial action
  • There’s been an earlier overpayment of wages or expenses
  • It’s a result of a court order

If you work for an employer who pays you a salary directly into your bank account you are likely to be earning via Pay As You Earn (PAYE). Deductions for Income Tax and National Insurance will be made automatically under PAYE.

Income tax is charged on most types of income, including salaries and wages from jobs. If you earn under a certain amount you will not charged income tax – this is called your Personal allowance. For the 2019/20 tax year (from 6th April 2019 to 5 April 2020) this is set at £12,500. You pay different tax rates depending on earnings:

  • Up to £12,500 = 0% tax rate
  • £12,501-£50,000 = 20% tax rate
  • £50,001-£150,000 = 40% tax rate
  • Over £150,000 = 45% tax rate

You only pay the respective tax rate on the income in each tax band. For example if you were to earn £55,000 then you only pay 40% tax on the £5,000 in that tax band. For the lower part of your earnings, you’ll still pay the appropriate 20% or 0%.

Student loans, bursaries and grants do not count toward your personal allowance. The above income tax brackets only apply to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. If you’re working in Scotland for more than half the year, then this information won’t apply and the taxes you pay will differ- however chances are you’re working in London!

If you are an international student you may be subject to different tax rules. The rules differ from country to country so it is worth getting further advice to see if this applies to you, and to make sure you are not being double taxed – see https://www.taxguideforstudents.org.uk/types-of-student/international-students/residence-and-domicile/what-is-a-double-taxation-agreement#emin for more information on this.

National insurance contributions are a tax made up of both employer contributions and employee contributions You do not need to worry about the employer contributions.

The contributions help to build your entitlement to certain state benefits, such as the State Pension, Job Seeker’s Allowance, and Maternity Allowance.

National Insurance contributions aren’t worked out on an annual basis like Income Tax, instead they’re worked out on a weekly basis:

  • 12% of your weekly earnings between £166 and £962
  • 2% of your weekly earnings above £962.

If you want to work out how much Income Tax and National Insurance you should be paying you can use the gov.uk calculator – https://www.gov.uk/estimate-income-tax

UCL Careers Explains…Why you need a National Insurance number and how to get one

By skye.aitken, on 3 December 2019

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

A person writing at a deskWhy you need a National Insurance Number

National insurance is a tax on your earnings that goes into the National Insurance Fund which pays for various benefits. You pay national insurance contributions between the ages of 16 and state pension age on earnings.

Your National Insurance number is unique to you throughout your life but you cannot use it as a form of ID. It is made up of 2 letters, 6 numbers and a final letter. Such as: QQ 12 34 56 C.

Everyone who wants to work in the UK must have a national insurance number. You can start work without one but you must then apply immediately. The law requires you to apply for NI number if you do not already have one and you are working or are intending to work.

How to get a National Insurance Number

If you are looking for work, starting work or setting up as a self-employed person, you will need a national insurance number. If you have the right to work in the UK (even if it is only part-time), you will need to telephone The National Insurance Number Application line on 0800 141 2075, lines are open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm. You will need to phone from the UK. You may be required to attend an ‘Evidence of identity’ interview.

There are many services online that offer to get you an NI number for a fee. These sites should be avoided, they don’t provide you with any advantage, and instead charge you for their services, when it’s easy to go the official route and get your national insurance number for free.

Once your application is successful, you will receive a letter confirming your NI number. Take good care of this as it is your reminder of your NI number and you will need to use it when you contact HM Revenue and Customs or the Department for Work and Pensions. As soon as you have your NI number, you should tell your employer.

UCL Careers Explains…Starting a new role

By skye.aitken, on 28 November 2019

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will help you understand more about contractual information, payment for your work, Income Tax and National Insurance.

Today’s blog post has been designed to help you understand what employers should be providing you with when they offer you a job.

A person working on a laptopJob Details

When you are offered a job it’s an exciting time and you will likely be really happy to have secured a position. Once you have agreed to take the role you must ensure that you are given all the details that you need about it. It’s important to make sure that you have the information in writing from your new employer – this could be in the form of a formal document or an email exchange. Your employer is legally obliged to provide the terms and conditions of employment within two months of your starting date, but it is best if you can go over the details with your employer as soon as you join the company. Often an employer will give you details verbally however, the basic idea behind having the details in writing is to give you and your employer information that you can both refer back to if any disputes arise. As such the contract / email exchange should include all of the following:

  • The name of the employer and employee
  • The job title
  • Date of commencement of employment
  • Duration of employment – is it for a fixed period or ongoing?
  • Place of work
  • Rate of pay and when you will be paid
  • Normal hours of work
    • Check the normal working hours and look for mentions of compulsory overtime, or whether time off in lieu (TOIL) is given. Some employers limit the hours that can be worked and others may ask you to opt out of the “working time directive which aims to limit hours to 48 hours per week – see https://www.gov.uk/maximum-weekly-working-hours”
  • Holiday entitlement and holiday pay
    • All full time UK workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days of annual leave. This is made up of 20 annual leave days plus 8 bank holidays.
    • Part time workers are entitled to the pro rata equivalent.
    • If you’re working on a zero hours contract, or a temporary role you may find that you accrue holiday hours for each hour worked or you may be paid holiday pay separately from your hourly pay, this equates to 12.07%.
  • Pension scheme
  • Sick pay
  • Notice period
  • Disciplinary rules and procedure
  • Grievance procedure


If you’re working a job with set hours your pay may be set out as a pro-rated annual salary – for more information about this see https://www.themix.org.uk/work-and-study/workers-rights-and-pay/pro-rata-pay-1685.html. If you’re being paid hourly and you often work different hours each week, then your employer should let you know in writing how much you’re paid per hour, and your standard working hours. It’s important to find out how your hours are worked out. Eg. are they recorded through clocking in? Do you complete timesheets? Or is each shift recorded by your manager? Regardless it’s a good idea for you to also make a record of the hours you work. You should also make sure that you know whether your breaks are paid or unpaid and whether overtime, or weekends and night shifts are paid at a different rate.

Occasionally your employer may want to change the terms of your employment. Even if you have only been given the terms verbally the employer must obtain written permission from you for any changes. Any changes that you agree to must be backed up with a written statement within one month of the changes taking place.

Top 5 Skills For Careers in the Arts

By skye.aitken, on 27 November 2019

Written by Rachel Garman, Careers Information and Research Officer at UCL Careers.

UCL Careers held an event about Careers in the Arts on 15th November 2019 as part of our Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week.

Our panelists were:

Joane Filipe: Exhibition Designer & Creative Producer at InterestingProjects

Chloe Godman: Gallery Manager at Open Gallery

Julia Padfield: Press & Publications Assistant at Shakespeare’s Globe

Anna Testar: Assistant Curator at Royal Academy of Arts

As part of a really interesting evening, these are some of the most useful skills to develop for your career in the Arts from our panelists’ perspective:

1. Be Proactive

It can be tricky to start a career in the arts, so be proactive in seeking out opportunities to gain experience or create your own. Start a blog, put on exhibitions of your or your friend’s work, volunteer at galleries and apply for internships – these are all great ways of building up your experience, and you’ll make connections at the same time. You don’t have to just work within the arts – you’ll gain transferable skills no matter what work you do and don’t be too concerned if your career isn’t linear, as you’ll be able to spin your experience and skills back to your arts work. Say yes to anything interesting that comes your way and take the time to work out what you’re good at.

2. Attention To Detail

You may be writing exhibition guides, arranging the logistics of an exhibition tour, communicating with the public through social media, licensing images, tracking invoices and payments to your business, or many other tasks you will be asked to complete in the course of your career – attention to detail is crucial in maintaining a high standard of work, especially in an industry that doesn’t have much money to spare on mistakes.

3. Organisation And Multitasking

Organisational skills are very useful to have in any sector, and the arts is no exception. You may need to juggle several projects (for example planning several future exhibitions) at the same time, prioritise conflicting deadlines, and keep a careful track of budgets, so the ability to multitask and being methodical prioritising your work will be crucial.

4. People Skills

Whether you work with customers and clients or colleagues, in sales or in a press office, as a curator or designer, you’ll need people skills to succeed. You might need to be persuasive to make a sale or negotiate a loan of an artwork for an exhibition, to be collaborative while working on a team project, or engaging while talking to a school group, but working effectively with others is key. You can also use your people skills to build up a network of useful contacts across the industry, which may prove invaluable in your next career move.

5. Passion

The arts is a competitive sector, so having a passion and knowledge of your subject may allow you to stand out next to another equally-qualified candidate – you don’t need to know everything about a topic, but showing enthusiasm at interview can certainly impress employers. Your enthusiasm may also help to create relationships with other professionals (they may remember you when a job becomes available), and can help sustain you through the frustrations of job hunting and through a career where high pay is rare. Indulge your passion by reading, going to exhibitions or the theatre, listening to music – the more you build connections between different artistic creations the broader your knowledge will be, which will only help your work. Conveying your enthusiasm to those consuming the arts can be the most rewarding part of your job.

If you’d like to explore more, blogs and resources from the Museums, Arts and Cultural Heritage Themed Week can be found on the UCL Careers website.