Tag Archives: graduate careers

Job Search Advice: Don’t get catfished…

Applying for a job is a necessity whether it’s for a part-time job , a placement year or your graduate job search, searching through hundreds of jobs can seem like a bit of a chore. We often see stories in the news of graduates who go more than the extra mile to get noticed e.g. the unemployed graduate who spent his last £500 on an advertising billboard. Online scammers are taking advantage of desparate graduates who are searching for their perfect job, so here are some top tips on how to stay safe in your job search…

1. Don’t give out any sensitive personal information

Justin Bieber Password

Most of us have some sort of online profile, so don’t complete the puzzle by giving out any other information! There is absolutely no reason why a recruiter or employer would require your bank details, NI number or mother’s maiden name at application stage. Get in touch with Careers+Placements if you have any concerns.

2. Definitely be suspicious towards anything concerning you giving money to an employer

Give me all your money job scam

You shouldn’t ever have to pay an employer or agency money in return for a guaranteed job, or even help with your job search. We have had students in the past lose £££’s to get a job abroad disguised as ‘processing’ or ‘visa fees’. There are some legitimate companies who have fees, but contact Careers+Placements to check before you hand over any money!

3. Little or no experience required? It is too good to be true I’m afraid!

When you lie on your CV and still get the job

An ‘employer’ has found your CV online and is offering you a role as a Trainee Business Executive, with all training provided for £45k a year and they say the job is yours if you want it. Genuine graduate job adverts will at least have a brief description of duties and a person specification in regards to your qualification and experience- have a look on Aston Futures and see for yourself!

4. The ‘we found your CV online’ scam

who are you and how did you find me

Online scammers are evolving, using lists of email addresses found anywhere online. Whether you are applying for jobs or not, you can receive emails claiming to have seen your CV online. Often the email address will not be legitimate e.g. Aston University’s email addresses follow the format @aston.ac.uk but if you receive an email from @aston.com/aston.ac.uk@ahx.com you can identify this as a fraud email. Also be aware of any telephone numbers or websites which don’t follow the company’s usual format.

5. The ‘ I turned my £5 into £500 in one hour’ scam

I'm serious

Hook. Line. Sinker. I know we all believe we’re too smart to fall for this one, but many of us already have! ‘Companies’ can publish testimonials to look as if they are coming from a genuine person who even has a LinkedIn profile, but these scammers invest time into building an online presence as a marketing ploy to get you to fill in any kind of personal details. Even if you don’t go ahead and apply, having your email address on file may be enough for them to sell onto another scammer who may try a different tactic a few months down the line.

6. Don’t get catfished…Use Google

Don't get catfished

Any time I have been unsure about a legitimate company, I tend to write their name into Google followed by ‘scam’ or the first line of their email, or the email address it’s coming from. There are several websites you can use to check the legitimacy of a company e.g. Companies House and Company Check. You can always contact Careers+Placements to investigate for you.

Follow these simple steps and stay safe when applying for jobs!

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Safely search for your graduate career on Aston Futures

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Hayley

Written by Hayley, Student Engagement Coordinator Aston University Careers+Placements

Make your Final Year count!

Making Your Final Year Count

University is so exciting and fast-paced that by the time your second year comes to an end, it can feel quite overwhelming to think that you’re about to enter final year. But fret not. With careful planning and hard work, your career will take off after university.

Utilising Your University Resources

Always make the most of your university resources. Your university should be able to advise you when it comes to graduate careers.

At the start and the end of the academic year, careers fairs usually take place on campus. Make sure you attend – even if you aren’t sure about which path you will take after university – because you may be inspired while you’re there, or you may form a better idea of what you would like to do for a living. While you’re there, talk to as many people and go to as many stands as possible. The saying is true – “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” – and by making good connections at events such as this, you will open doors for yourself.

Moreover, universities have excellent careers departments that specialise in graduate recruitment. They offer everything from advice about your CV to helping you choose the right career.

Getting Work Experience

When you come to apply for jobs, your degree will highlight that you are able and intelligent, whether you have chosen a broad academic subject or a specific degree that will help you into a particular industry.

However, a degree alone is rarely enough to secure a great graduate position. Most employers want to see evidence of at least some work experience (whether that is with their company or another one), as this is one way they can be sure of your practical ability. Although work experience is often unpaid, expenses such as travel and food are usually taken care of, and you can fit it in around your university commitments, during summer holidays, or on a part-time basis when you don’t have lectures.

Most importantly, work experience gives you a real taste of working life and shows you how your chosen industry operates. It is also an experience that you can add to your CV and talk about in interviews. Employers love to see that you have gained real experience in a similar working environment to theirs.

Volunteering and/or Travelling

Volunteering and travelling are also great things to talk about in an interview.

If you can demonstrate that you are hard-working and committed through your unpaid volunteering activities, this will stand you in good stead and make you stand out from the other applicants.

Travelling, on the other hand, is a great option if you are not entirely sure which career path you want to take yet. You’ll have time to think about all of this while you’re on your travels, and then once you come back and start applying for jobs, you’ll have plenty to talk about when your future employer asks you what you have been doing.

Early Preparation

Preparing early is always key. Whether you are going on to study a graduate course or you want to begin your career, it is important to shop around. Look for the best graduate courses in your field. Which universities offer the best benefits? What have postgraduate students gone on to do from that university? These are all questions you should be asking – and if you are unsure about anything, contact the university and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

If you are looking to start your career after graduation, look around to see the jobs on offer. Can you match the skills in the job adverts? If not, could you gain them through some work experience or any extracurricular activities? By matching the skills in the job descriptions you find, you will be fully prepared to apply for your favourite positions after university.

This guest post was written by The Student Housing Company.

 

 

Your first career step as a graduate is unlikely to be your last (and other career insights for students)

next step the future pic

“…You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs

The above quote comes from a speech Steve Jobs delivered a few years’ ago to an audience of new graduates.  The speech got me thinking about when I was nearing the end of my own time at university, when I used to utter the words “I don’t know what I want to do for a career.” It’s taken me to now to see how the above quote applies to my own situation, and how I’ve gone from “not knowing” to a place where all my previous work experiences have led me to this point in my career, to work I enjoy and which I hope plays to my strengths.

Whilst I may have the benefit of hindsight for my own situation, the students I work with may not yet.  Many are still at the “I don’t know what I want to do for a career” stage.  When we were at school we knew what was coming next, the years were laid out in front of us.  Primary school, secondary school, lessons, coursework, exams and then for many, university.

When you get to university, once settled in, the familiar routine can kick in again.  Lectures, seminars, coursework, exams, tutorials, socializing.  Repeat.  Whilst all this is going on, some students get work experience, they work over the summer, or complete a placement year, but still may come back disheartened as the experience hasn’t cemented in their mind exactly what they want to be doing within their career.  Some may not have enjoyed the experience at all, and few may even consider it time wasted.

The end of university can seem daunting for many students.  You may only see an expanse of time and space which was once occupied by progressing to 2nd year, placement year or final year.  Having worked with students and graduates for the last 15 years, there have only been a handful of times that I have met students who knew definitely what they wanted to do for the rest of their working lives.  I can also think of only three people I know who are now following career paths linked to what they have always wanted to do since university.  One is a doctor and the other two are engineers.  And the doctor is now considering a career change.

If you can relate to any of the above, you are nearing graduation (or even if you are in your first year), and are not sure yet of your next career steps then read on.  The following insights may be worth considering and holding on to as you navigate your way into the workplace to start “connecting the dots”.  These come to you as a result of my own career experiences, and the vast mix of people I have been in contact with through my own professional life as a careers consultant and as a recruiter:

1. You may not know what you want to do within your career…and that’s ok

For many students about to graduate, your experience of the workplace may understandably be limited.  As with many things in life, it isn’t always possible to know what you want until you try it.  That same logic can also apply to finding a career that you want to pursue.  However if you can, try to gain some experiences whilst at university.  A placement or summer internship could give you a head start in “trying” what’s out there, and building workplace skills at the same time.  Gaining experience in your spare time can also help do the same.

2. Your first career step is unlikely to be your last

This is also closely linked to the notion that there is no longer a “job for life”.  I once read a piece on the internet that suggested people can have up to 7 career changes in their life.  I’m not sure how true this is, but career changes or moves today are not uncommon.  The workplace is changing.  Advancements in technology and the global market are just two factors that influence how companies work and hire people.  People work on a contract basis, people work more flexibly, and companies are changing how their employees work together.  Job titles exist today which may not have done so five years’ ago.  You could find yourself in a future job which doesn’t yet exist.

All of this is happening before you even consider that you are changing too.  Your priorities and career motivations at 21 may be very different to when you are 35.  With experience, you also learn more about yourself, what you like, don’t like, strengths and so on.  An increase in self-awareness can mean changes in your career too.

“Job titles exist today which may not have done so five years’ ago.  You could find yourself in a future job which doesn’t yet exist.”

3. Any work experience is good work experience

When working with students I hear many of them say that the experiences they have of the workplace whilst at university are not relevant for when applying for a “grad job.” Many employers want to see evidence of how you have developed yourself.  A placement year is only one way that you can achieve this.  Part-time work and volunteering count, as they are still giving you the chance to experience the “workplace”, and develop yourself as well.

Working with customers, facing difficult situations, event organising, planning, negotiating, and working collaboratively with others towards a common goal are skills that employers value, and these also say a lot about you. So do start appreciating the experiences you are having, what you have learnt, and how this can contribute to your future workplace.  Employers will start seeing you as valuable too.

4. If you are not accepted onto a “graduate scheme” it is not the end of the world

It’s a fact that there are not enough graduate development schemes for every graduate in the UK.  As many graduate schemes are offered by larger, and in many cases, well known employers, they are easier to come by.  Most companies in the UK are smaller, and the fact that you may never have heard of them, doesn’t mean they cannot offer great job roles for keen and eager graduates.  These opportunities require a little more perseverance to find them, but could be well worth considering as part of your career planning strategy.

5. There is no point in comparing yourself to your course mates/flat mates/other university colleagues etc.

One or more of your friends finds a grad job before you do.  Your flat mate has an assessment centre coming up and you don’t.  It can be very easy to start comparing yourself and wondering what you are doing wrong as the job offers are not coming your way.  This can make you feel worse, and more so if you are not even sure what you want to do after university.  Try to keep in mind that we are all on different paths.  No two careers are the same, there is often no “one route” into a specific career, and in the meantime any experiences you have will be helping to develop and shape you as an individual.  If we all followed the same career journey, that really wouldn’t be very interesting for future employers to read or hear about.

6. Don’t expect to find your dream career/job straight after finishing university

This is closely linked with number 2 in the list.  Sometimes it can take a while to find what you want to do within your career.  Hence why your first career step out of university is unlikely to be your last.  If you are learning and developing then you are growing as an individual, and this can help you to carve out your future career path.

7. Proactivity, positivity and patience can really make a difference

Whatever stage you have reached in terms of your job search and career planning, mindset plays a big part.  If you’ve applied for a job and you are awaiting the outcome, instead of constantly scrolling through job websites, try to remain proactive by mixing up your approach to career/job searching.  Look for guest lectures, events organized through the professional institution associated with your degree subject.  This can bring you into contact with a range of professionals within your area of interest.  Research smaller companies and make contact to explore their work and opportunities. Getting out there and talking to people can really make a difference.

 

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May be you work part-time for a company right now but what you are doing doesn’t really appeal in terms of a career choice. You are bored and frustrated.  May be another department carries out work of potential interest?  May be there are projects that you could volunteer yourself for?  Positive steps like this could help put you out of your comfort zone, expose you to new areas of work, and can help build your achievements, and may be discover a career you may not have been aware of.  May be you know someone who works in a career field of interest.  Make contact, ask questions, and enquire whether you can visit the company to find out more.  Finding meaningful work can take time.

8. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself…and keep going

It can be very easy for students to pile the pressure on themselves when it comes to their career, and sometimes they think they should know by the end of university what they should be pursuing for a career.  If this describes you, then try and remove the pressure from yourself.  You may be unlikely to wake up one day and you know all of a sudden what you want to do.

For many, building a career usually takes place gradually step by step, and in some cases by trial and error.  Through gaining new experiences, knowledge, creating and taking opportunities, and all the while adding to your valuable skills and attributes, this will hopefully lead you to a meaningful career that is right for you.

As the coming weeks roll by and you are nearing the end of your time at university, keep these eight points in mind.  They will hopefully provide some perspective and a bit of reassurance when you are planning your first career step out of university.

By Sarah Warburton, Aston University Careers Consultant