Intern insight: Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST)

The IH has been supporting GUEST to recruit paid student interns for a number of years now. This year’s GUEST Coordinators Callum, Lucy and Kate were from a range of year groups across the Colleges of Arts and Social Sciences.

Working for the Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST) is the best job you could wish for as a student alongside your studies! It is part-time with very flexible hours and most of the work is done on campus. As well as being a student, you become a staff member at the university, and get to work alongside like-minded people on something that you are really passionate about.

As coordinators, we worked closely with the Internship Hub for the recruitment process of promoters. Coordinating a team of eight promoters meant that we independently managed our own budget, ran and facilitated team training and meetings and learnt how to supervise and support the work of others.

coordinators photo 3.png

We have worked on a wide range of projects and campaigns aimed at improving environmental practice across campus and further afield and providing a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable space for the student and local community. As one of our main roles is to influence the University’s policies around sustainability, we worked closely with other governing bodies of the University, such as the Carbon Management Committee, the University Court and the Environmental Sustainability Partnership Board, and were also regularly in contact with local governments and NGOs.

Knowing you are influencing and changing the University’s environmental practice is something really rewarding. Being part of a student-led team and having the ability to see the impact of your work at University is also really exciting. Being a small team also meant that we were all able to contribute our ideas and to really develop our skills in-depth through experiences that we were able to run and conduct ourselves, whether it be coordinating a team, managing a budget, facilitating meetings or writing reports and recommendations for the University governing bodies. Everything we learnt through this internship will be extremely valuable for future career prospects as all these skills are transferable and can be practiced in any workplace or context.

Hear from more IH interns on #UofGinterninsight

Sign up now for internship alerts to be the first to hear about new roles!


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“Commercial awareness” – What is it and how do you show you have it?

Worried about demonstrating “commercial awareness” at an interview?

Most employers want to know that you have “commercial awareness”. Whether you are looking to work for a multinational or a small business, a charity or in the arts, potential employers will all expect you to demonstrate this.

Students are often anxious that if they don’t read the Financial Times FT_Web_App_on_iPad-_Home_Screen_(5814585356).jpgevery day they won’t be able to demonstrate this. In fact, commercial awareness means many things to different people but usually refers to an interest in business generally and in the wider environment that a specific business operates in .

The good news if that you will almost certainly already have it, at least to some degree.

Your experience of part-time jobs can be a great source of commercial awareness. You may be able to use retail or hospitality experience to show that you understand the importance of effective stock management, reducing wastage, “selling-up” etc. Understanding that this contributes to the profitability of any business demonstrates your commercial awareness.

Every employer wants to know that you understand their business and sector. They are looking for a real understanding of what they do, who their key competitors are, future trends in their industry  etc. Doing your homework on this prior to an interview is another measure of your commercial awareness.

So what should you research prior to an interview?

The following are just a few ideas:images.png

  • press releases from the employer
  • LinkedIn and social media pages
  • industry news in the (reputable) business media
  • websites of key competitors in the sector

What might I be asked on this at interview?

Questions could include the following:

  • What do you know about our products / services?
  • Who are our main competitors and what differentiates them from us?
  • What makes a business successful?
  • Describe a company you think is doing well and explain why you think this is so.
  • Tell me about a recent news item on the economy or about a specific business that interested you. What interested you about this?
  • What is the current Bank of England base rate?
  • What is the FTSE 100? Did the FTSE go up or down yesterday?

These questions are looking for evidence of your curiosity about business generally, your awareness of why businesses succeed (or fail) and your motivation to work for that employer.

Finally back to the F.T.

It IS important to have a good general awareness of what’s going on in the global economy so getting into good habits such as regularly looking at reputable business news websites will certainly help you to develop your commercial awareness without it seeming like a last-minute panic prior to an interview!

For more advice on getting ready for interviews, don’t forget our website is full of hints, tips, example questions and lots more.

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What can we learn from Mhairi Black MP?

Mhairi Black has become one of the most talked about and inspirational MPs of our time. She was 20 when she made her Maiden Speech which by the end of the day had 11m online views and was trending in Nigeria. She continues to capture hearts and minds for her no-nonsense criticism of Westminster.


Who is Mhairi Black MP?

Whilst studying in her final year undergraduate at the University of Glasgow, Mhairi became a Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South in the 2015. Her landslide victory over Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary, sounded the collapse of popularity for the Labour party in Scotland.

She graduated with a first class MA in Politics and Public Policy in 2015 before entering the House of Commons.  She entered Westminster as the ‘Baby of The House’: a title she quickly outshone after her legendary Maiden Speech in July 2015 which amassed millions of views online and public acclaim.

Mhairi continues to inspire with her blistering Commons opposition speeches calling for change.  She has challenged housing policies, LGBT issues and champions the rights of those living in poverty.

She continues to prove that age, gender and sexuality should not define your career or present barriers.  In her own words – “people can see past political spin and aesthetic things like your age and your gender – they recognise that I can’t help that – so it’s about what I am saying, what I am standing for.”

What can we learn from Mhairi? – Two key messages.

Tip 1: Research leads to confidence.  

mhairiquote1One of the key messages that Mhairi wants students to receive is the importance of research as a foundation for confidence. As a frequent public speaker, Mhairi takes the same approach to presenting no matter whether it’s to pals or parliament. She likes to know what she’s talking about and she believes that’s the key to confidence. If she’s read everything she can find on a certain topic, committed it to memory, gone over the details time and time again – she’ll feel able to stand up and say what she needs to say.

It’s a technique many interviewers will also advise – know as much as you can about the company who wants to meet you. Come prepared with an idea of their strategy, their aims, their structure.

Tip 2: Know what you want to get out of your career.

Fullscreen capture 14032017 162846As an MP who openly criticises ‘career politicians’, asking Mhairi what’s next for her in her career is an interesting question. But she’s honest. She wants to keep making her constituents happy and as long as she’s doing that – she says she’s satisfied. She feels she isn’t in politics for the sake of it but because she feel she needs to be there – and again that’s something we should all reflect on.

Are you applying for a grad job for the sake of it? To make up application numbers? To keep your parents happy? Or do you really believe you can make a difference in that role, in that company, in that industry. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, or planning out your career in advance. But it’s always good too, to reflect on what your values are, what satisfies you and who you can serve with your talents.

What can I do now?

Research Leads to Confidence:

The Network is a great way to get inspiration on where a degree from Glasgow can lead you but it also links you to alumni so you can find out the hot topics affecting an industry.  You can ask them about current issues they are facing in their role, useful resources you can access for the latest sector developments or what can make you stand out. Click here to join The Network now. 

Know What You Want to Get Out of Your Career:

If you’re unsure about what’s next for you, why not book an appointment with one of our Careers Managers? Click here to book now. 

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Future jobs are here!

The doom mongers amongst us spread fear that all our cAAEAAQAAAAAAAAl8AAAAJGZiN2FhMmEzLTZmMzktNDU2My1iN2Q5LTA5NjdkNmU5OTRiNgurrent jobs are going to disappear as the march of technology and whisper it, ROBOTS TAKE OVER. A more realistic way to look at the future is to work out for ourselves what jobs humans can do that computers can’t.

The show must go on

Robots cannot (yet?) mimic our human dramas and dilemnas. So, film and other kinds of media as well as live drama and stage productions of many sorts will thrive as a more healthy, active and ageing population have more time on its hands. So if drama or any other kind of production is your thing, then the future is yours.

Although travel agents aren’t in such demand due to the internet, we will need space tourist operators! Did you see that they’ll be sending some tourists round the moon in a few years? What about space pilots and space clinicians hel
ping us adjust to the ‘out of this world’ atmosphere. The demand for miners has declined but space exploration means we will need asteroid miners. All you geologists and earth scientists, it seems the sky is not the limit after all!

On yer bike?

Sport, whether for leisure, fitness or competition, is in, and looks like it’s here to stay. More and more of us are engaging in sport in its broadest sense and jobs that go with this trend are wide: coaches and teachers, personal trainers, professional sports men and women; physiotherapists, sports psychologists, nutritionists……there are bound to be some not yet invented.

And unlike robots, we humans, we care!

We are living longer because we are healthier – images.jpgbelieve it or not. We will need more carers of one type or another including occupational  therapists, genetic counsellors, ‘elderly well-being consultants’. Although we are all glued to our tablets and phones, we still ‘need to talk’ sometime: counsellors, advisers and therapists of many existing and new (we haven’t thought of them yet) persuasions will be in heavy usage.


Health is already a huge part of our lives as we live longer and better. Doctors of all specialisms and specialist paramedics such as dieticians who combine a specialist knowledge and expertise base with a ‘therapeutic’ skill will be in demand. Myotherapy and other therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy etc., who will use sophisticated technologies in their jobs are likely to be in demand to treat a population which not only has a wide age range but requires a more personalised brand of treatment. Nurses, of a general and specialist nature are increasingly in demand now and in the future will be even more so. We are facing a critical shortage of nurses today. ‘End of life’ care is already proving to be a headache for health planners. This will only intensify as the elderly population grows.


Future engineers are already here. Exobiologists, Astrobiology-Field-Lab.jpgalso known as astrobiologists deal with the search for extra-terrestrial life and the effects of extra-terrestrial surroundings on living organisms which no longer exist only in Sci-fi films. Biomedical engineers develop innovative biologics, materials, processes, implants, and devices. These innovations are used to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, to rehabilitate patients, and to improve health. Biomechanical engineers look at how engineering can be applied to the human body. Understanding the mechanics of how we walk and run, sit and stand, and bend and flex is used to design products that feel comfortable, provide safety, and enhance human performance. The search for sustainable forms of energy demands nuclear engineers – fusion is coming – and others such as shale gas engineers, controversial or not. We will need engineers no matter what. Computers will take over the task driven parts of engineering for now. It will be sometime – perhaps never – before they can emulate human capacity for creativity in our quest for health and energy solutions.

The point is. We should not fear the future. The future is here.

And to see what roles are currently been advertised you can check Glasgow Careers.


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“Where do you see yourself in 5 years”

images.jpgIt seems to be a stock question that interviewers keep using. That doesn’t make it any easier to answer so how do you answer “where do you see yourself in 5 years”  in an interview?

This can feel like a bit of a trick question, because you don’t want to say “not in this job,” or “in your job,” or something like “at a bigger better opportunity elsewhere.” However you don’t want to say that to a recruitment manager.

Why do interviewers ask this question? 

Basically, the translation is, ‘do you care about our work?’. They aren’t expecting you to accurately predict your future.

The good news is you can be honest while still telling them what they really want to know. Hiring someone is an investment and interviewers believe that someone genuinely interested in the organisation’s work will be the better hire.

So, what he/she really wants to know is whether this particular job and company is part of your career path or whether you’ll be jumping ship in a year once you land your “real” dream job. They also want to see that you have ambition, drive and initiative.

So how should you answer?

If the position you’re interviewing for is on the path to your goals, share that, plus give some specifics. For example, if you’re interviewing for an account position in an advertising firm and you know your goal is to become an account supervisor, say that.

Then add specifics about the sort of clients you hope to work with, which will help your answer sound genuine, and again show why this particular company will be a good fit.

Another example, you might say:

“Well I’m really excited by this position at [insert company name] because in 5 years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the [insert] sector and I know that’s something I’ll have an opportunity to do here.

I’m also really excited to take on more managerial responsibilities and potentially even take the lead on some projects.”

What if it isn’t my dream job?

If the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations, the best approach is to be genuine, but to follow your answer up by connecting the dots between the specific duties in this role and your future goals.

It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision or that you’re excited about the communications skills you’ll gain.

Remember there is lots of interview advice on our website and you can book an appointment to speak one of our Careers Managers about your interview.

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Three months off during the summer? I hope you’re going to get an internship!

Are you in your penultimate year or perhaps earlier?

Have you been hit with questions like this from a “well-meaning” friend or relative?

There’s no doubt it can be extremely useful to get an internship. Lots of major graduate recruiters use summer internships as a two to three month interview, and more and more interns are being offered jobs which start after graduation. This can ease your stress levels in final year! If this appeals to you then our Internship Hub is obviously the first place to look, but there are other sources of great summer opportunities.

That said, sometimes those “helpful” interventions from family and friends can be anything but uplifting and encouraging – especially if they mention a friend or relative who had that internship with IBM, is coasting to a 2.1 in Theoretical Physics, and has accepted a lucrative offer with IBM in Software Engineering! They’re probably called Kevin!

However, what if you’re not yet sure what you want to do, and you don’t know what internship to apply for? Now, no Careers Manager isn’t going to encourage you to exploring ideas and try to become a bit for focussed career-wise, certainly not me. That said, here are a few things that you might be able to the nay-sayers, or even Kevin himself!

I have a part-time job which also gives me summer work, and I don’t want to give this up

Graduate recruiters keep telling me that one of the biggest mistakes applicants make is underestimating what they’ve done. If you work in a bar and work well with your team members, deal effectively with some challenging customers and work quickly and accurately, then graduate recruiters want to hear your stories on you applications and at interview. If you work in a shop and are efficient and accurate at stock taking and give good customer service, then again, employers want to hear about instances when you’ve shown these abilities.

I’m going on a field trip with my course in the summer.

So you’re going on a Geography field trip to Majorca, or an Earth Science field trip to Mull (not much difference!). You’ll be able to explain how you researched into local human geographical issues or geologically mapped an area and devised its geological history. You’ll be able to show how you collected and analysed data, drew conclusions and presented these. You might be able to show how you got the best out of your team-mates and encouraged them.

I’m going to Africa to help teach English in the summer.

Employers will be impressed with your organisational and planning skills when you tell them how you planned lessons and delivered them. They’ll be interested in your creativity when you adapted your materials as you learned more about your students. They’ll be keen to hear how you learned about different cultures and showed respect for them. They’ll also want to know more about what motivated you to do this and how you overcame any challenges, such as funding or logistics.

I’ve got a research opportunity in my school.

You might just love Physics and have arranged to do some research over the summer in a particular area of interest. Employers will be interested to hear how you organised your time, negotiated with your supervisor about the work you did and planned this effectively. They’ll want to know what your research achieved, and how you reported and presented this.

I have caring responsibilities at home and can’t commit to an internship.

Employers understand that some people’s personal circumstances make it very difficult to commit to an internship. They’ll want to know how you managed to find time to study. They’ll want to hear about your caring tasks, and how maintained your motivation and morale to achieve academically. They’ll be impressed with how you managed to pursue your extracurricular interests to any extent.

So, an internship is a great thing, but there are lots of other ways to convince an employer that you have what it takes to be a successful employee. Go for it!

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‘Hygge’ your career


Maybe it’s the number of bestselling books, magazine articles and radio programmes on the subject, or maybe it’s the sheer absence of it in our house at present (our boiler’s kaput)…for whatever reason, ‘hygge’ has been on my mind recently.

In fact, hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is so in vogue that it was short-listed for the Oxford Dictionary word of the year 2016. The blogger Anna Lea West has offered “cosiness of the soul”as an English definition.

Originating in Scandinavia, and embraced by the Danes in particular, this phenomenon is thought to give some clue as to why Denmark occupied the top spot in the UN World Happiness Report in 2016 and why other Scandinavian countries consistently do so. While the rest of the world looks towards the secrets of Scandinavian living to improve their interiors, culinary habits and general quality of life, advertisers bombard us with warming images of candles, fairy lights, log-burning stoves and luxury throws. Meanwhile, I’m left wondering if there’s anything we can learn from hygge from a career perspective?

Close up of lit tea light candles on wooden table

Work is where we spend a big chunk of our adult life, so experiencing this ‘cosiness of the soul’ in our workplace will hugely influence our happiness. Many factors influence career satisfaction – the role, the organisational culture, how much we get on with our colleagues, but work that matches our personality, strengths, motivations and interests is likely to keep us focused and reasonably contented. Richard Nelson Bolles author of the best-selling career manual in history ‘What colour is Your Parachute?’ says ‘The key to a happy and fulfilling future is knowing yourself. This self-knowledge is the most important component of finding the right career’

Personality tests can help us find out more about our temperament and how this relates to our career choice.

Good self-knowledge also helps us to be an effective team player – something valued by employers. Effective team working requires team members to co-operate, listen to each other, communicate clearly, share knowledge and be supportive of other members. To find out more about your team working preferences, check out Belbin’s Team Roles and see which you identify with.


Hygge often happens when you’re amongst people you can be honest with, where you don’t have to pretend to be anything other than who you are. Interestingly, graduate recruiters are increasingly moving towards ‘strengths-based’ interviews, rather than ‘competence based’ interviews – with a focus on what candidates ENJOY doing rather than what they CAN DO. Strength questions are designed to identify your motivation and values. With strength questions the interviewer wants to know who you are – the authentic you.

Having a workplace or study space where you feel comfortable and at home will increase your productivity. Whilst most of us have very little control over our working environment, making small changes can make a big difference to how we feel about our work space. Meik Wiking, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute , says ‘Hygge definitely manifests itself in the offices in Copenhagen. In our offices we have sofas and comfy chairs, art on the walls; it’s rare to have an office that’s sterile and white’. A typical Scandinavian working environment ditches strip lighting in favour of natural light and is filled with plants, soft cushions and the sweet aroma of artisan coffee.


Let’s embrace hygge in our careers and see if we can push Scotland up the rankings in the World Happiness Report 2017!

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Help, I’m not getting any interviews!

job-applicationThe first thing to remember if you are not getting any interviews (yet) is to learn from this and not see a rejection as a personal failing in any way. Remember that the job market is very competitive and in reality no one gets every job that they apply for!

The worst thing that you can do is to get stuck in a negative mindset. This could involve telling yourself that there is no point in continuing to apply for jobs, there is nothing that you can do to affect the outcome and you should avoid any more potential opportunities for failure. All successful people get turned down at some point but they learn from this and focus on improving the next time. Resilience is about bouncing back from rejection and not giving up.

Rather than thinking negatively, you could instead ask yourself what you can do differently and how you can do this. Try to develop a “growth mindset”. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University has written extensively on how to do this. This approach will help you to realise that your own potential is not limited and that you have the ability to change things if you remain focussed and positive.

So, if you are not getting interviews yet, all is not lost! Ask for feedback from the employer if you can. Also, come and talk to us in the Careers Service about your job seeking and applications strategy. Keep a sense of perspective, there will be more opportunities. Build your network and relationships as many graduates find opportunities by being proactive rather than reactively applying for advertised jobs.

While a job rejection might seem like the end of the world, it’s really an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the application process. Have a look at the information on interview technique on our website

Writing good applications and performing at interviews are life skills. Like all skills they can be honed and improved through practice to increase your chances of succeeding the next time.

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International Development Career Tips from UofG Alumna Erin Kilborn

Erin Kilborn (UofG MBChB 2008 graduate) has recently returned to Glasgow from a six-month mission with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Central African Republic, a country undergoing civil war.

Working in this environment has presented huge personal and professional challenges for Erin including dealing with victims of extreme trauma.

She is currently taking time out to work in ER in Glasgow and kindly agreed to speak to UofG students about what it takes to work in international development and in some of the most challenging areas in the world.

In the video below we ask Erin what tips she would give students to get into this competitive sector, what skills she’s used from her time at the University and what she’s enjoyed most about her career so far. You can also ask Erin more questions yourself, by connecting with her on The Network.

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5 questions to ask to end the interview on a great note

It’s the end of the interview and after nearly an hour of pouring your heart (and work experience) out to a potential employer, the hiring manager asks if you have any last questions before finishing.

It’s meant to be a formality, of course—a way to end the conversation but it’s also an opportunity, to make one final impression and give your interviewer something to remember you by.

It’s especially noteworthy when you do manage to pull that off, since so many other candidates, having already asked many questions throughout the session, mindlessly shrug off this little last thing at the end.

So, the next time you’re struggling for something to say in those awkward few moments before the door closes with you on the other side, maybe these questions will help.

I’ve come up with five thoughtful and interesting questions to pose during your next interview. Not only will you get some good insights, but you’ll be more memorable as well.

1. Which experience prepared you the most for your job? and why?

What this says about you: You’ll learn quickly. Rather than starting from scratch, you’ll be actively focusing on applying what you’ve learnt to your new role.

What this tells you: From the hiring manager’s answer, you should get a better sense of the office environment and how your future team operates.

Let’s say they respond, “I spent three years working for a small start-up—that experience has come in handy, because even though this company is much bigger, we’ve got that start-up, ‘ethos.’”
Well, that very plainly tells you this company values autonomy, humility, and initiative.

2.I know one of your company values is [value here]. How does that show itself in the workplace?values

What this says about you: You want to work somewhere with integrity and you understand the difference between intentions and actions. Also, you did your research!

What this tells you: If the hiring manager can’t give you a good answer, that’s a clue the organisation is, well, talking the talk without walking the walk.

Here’s what a good answer might look like:
“Yes, one of our core values is openness and openness definitely influences much of how we do things. Every Friday, our entire team gets together for a meeting where anyone can ask anything they’d like. I can’t remember a single time our CEOs have rejected a question.

3. What makes this office special?

What this says about you: You’re not just looking for any job. You care about finding the right fit.

What this tells you: Whether or not this company would be good for you, day in and day out.

Maybe the hiring manager says, “We’re all huge sports fans. Each month, the entire company attends a local game.” If you’d rather clean your bathroom than sit through a football/ rugby game this probably isn’t the company for you

4. Why are you excited about hiring a new person in this role?

What this says about you: You care about your boss’ goals and how your work will drive the organisation forward.

What this tells you: Whether the hiring manager’s vision of the job aligns with yours as well as what he or she prioritises.

For example, you might be excited about this project analyst position because you want to identify and solve inefficiencies. But the hiring manager says he’s looking forward to having someone be a liaison between multiple departments.

5. What’s the typical leadership style here?styles

What this says about you: You’re looking for a productive, mutually beneficial relationship between you and your supervisor.

What this tells you: Whether or not your working style will match with your (maybe) boss.

To give you an idea, perhaps you’re a big fan of regular feedback and would rather have too much direction than too little. If the hiring manager says, “We spend a lot of time getting new employees up to speed and making sure they have all the tools necessary to be successful,” you’re probably going to get along swimmingly. However, if she says, “We believe people do their best when they’re working independently and don’t have someone constantly looking over their shoulder,” then you might want to reconsider.

With these tips and using our great careers website you are bound to make a great impression and be on the way to a fab job. Good luck!


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Finding Jobs in the Hidden Jobs Market

Richard Nelson Bolles was born in 1927 in Wisconsin, USA, and is famous for his groundbreaking job search book “What Color is your Parachute”, which has an initial copyright date of 1970. It has been updated and re-issued most years since then. Bolles writes in a clear style and has often been quoted as the authoritative author on everything job search. In 1980, the New York Times quoted him as saying

“Eighty percent of jobs are never advertised…Instead, you have to search for a job through contacts”.

This 80% figure has been in careers guidance folklore ever since and is parroted by many, often prefixed by “Research has shown that…”, but no one has found the original research, if it ever existed…

ballon.jpgAlso, even if the 80% figure was accurate in 1980, university students in 2016 are living in a very different world (the Internet, social media, legislative and employment law requirements, a world recovering from major economic quakes etc) than I was back in 1980 when I could apply speculatively and successfully as an undergraduate for short-term jobs in butchery, psychiatric nursing, publishing and warehousing. Health and safety was pretty casual in these days – there was no formal training. You learned not to cut towards yourself when you had a shank of beef in front of you. And if a psychiatric patient was violently out of control in the dining room? You rugby tackled them to the floor, several of you sat on him until he was exhausted and then you offered him a cigarette and lit it for him.

So what is the hidden jobs market?

What scale does it reach compared to advertised vacancies, and how can a job seeker target it with applications? Many advertised vacancies are going to be extremely competitive so if you can bypass a lot of that by successful speculative applications, it makes good sense to hive off some of the job search activity to such approaches.

Coming from a social science background, I well understand the need to put a number on something, a figure which will define and nail down the issue. But at the same time, I know that there are truths which lie outside empiricism. And the reality of the hidden jobs market is one of them. You cannot possibly put a percentage on its relative size. Yet you can still take account of many of the factors which create it and capitalise on them by approaching your job search through a number of strategies. Don’t just have one strategy and certainly don’t make it a waiting for compelling advertised jobs to appear.


The hidden jobs market is a percentage of the overall jobs market.

To take an example, the life sciences in Scotland account for about 32,000 jobs and the annual sector staff turnover rate is about 10%. Its particular hidden jobs market could therefore be:

3,200 + sector growth – advertised jobs = hidden jobs

Although sector growth as a piece of the jigsaw can’t be predicted with huge accuracy, there will be precursor events and trends such as investment and development  decisions  to suggest future growth. For instance, a number of small to medium sized companies (SMEs; companies with fewer than 250 employees) such as Aridhia taking up their space in the new QEUH will enter into collaborative research to expand the boundaries of life sciences and this will create some new jobs largely because of the new co-location.

That’s about as empirical as you can get. You are then in an area of great complexity these days when it comes to applying for anything which is not advertised. No one job search technique is always going to work for you or fail you, for life sciences or any other sector. It may be a mystery as to why an approach works or doesn’t. But a lot of life science SMEs, and SMEs generally, welcome speculative applications! In 2016 Aridhia, for instance, says,

“We welcome direct speculative applications and candidate enquiries, so if you don’t see an exact fit in our current vacancies but feel that you have valuable experience to offer, please e-mail a detailed CV and covering letter”.

You should consider this speculative approach and usually it looks like a two-page CV and one-page cover letter when applying for graduate jobs. In the letter, make sure it’s clear why you want to work for that particular company. Be aware that this type of approach can work very soon or later on for the same company. If your speculative CV passes muster it will be kept on file and at a later date, when a new contract has been won or your area of work has been prioritised, the CV database will be revisited and a short-list for interview will be selected. For many SMEs, it is only if that process fails that hirers will think about advertising the jobs.

There are other ways as well to connect with employers through LinkedIn and third parties such as recruitment agencies, some of which may specialize in the sector you are especially interested in. See for a very extensive directory of agencies. But it is networking both online and face to face which has become so important when it comes to the hidden job market. Using LinkedIn to market yourself, your skills and experience while simultaneously growing your online network is a very powerful tool and I know a number of students and graduates who have been offered very attractive jobs purely because of their LinkedIn activity.

hidden.jpgAnd by attending employer events on and off campus, you are always meeting recruiters who are in candidate hunting mode and very interested, at on campus events, in meeting you because you are a student at that university. In some cases, these employers have specific university targets for numbers of candidates to apply and get through the different stages to final job offer. Yes, we’re into the non-hidden market now but networking is a good strategy for that as well. Conversations with employers who are advertising and running events on campus will help you customize your applications and target the competencies sought.

When you are in an organization, new types of hidden jobs can appear! These can be on internal vacancy memorandums, databases and registers. The company wants to retain and redeploy talent. Employees are also encouraged to think of potential candidates for a new post from their external networks. All this is hidden from the general job seeking public. You need to be already known by colleagues or by someone in your network who is working on the inside. Again though, this gets me back to LinkedIn. Through it, you can already be on the inside at least as far as employer forums are concerned and other professional networking groups which the employer considers important. You can become someone who is already known.

“What Color is your Parachute” is an excellent book. I recommend it for its many useful tips on finding a job and finding a balanced life as well. I looked at it again the other day for the 80% figure and it wasn’t there. Richard Bolles is moving with the times.


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Work Shadowing

Did you have a good summer? What did you get up to? Many of you will have worked throughout, perhaps upping the hours at your part-time job or taking temp roles ? And some of you will have had a summer long internship. Or you may have volunteered to gain experience in areas such as the caring professions or in media. And I’m sure some of you were lucky enough to travel overseas to work or volunteer.

If you did any of these things then you have most likely had a productive summer in terms of developing your skills. It might have even helped you gain an insight into a favoured area of work therefore helping you decide on your future career path.

As we approach the new academic year, your focus will be shifting back to balancing your studies with a part-time job and extracurricular activities. However, there could still be some semester time activities for you to gain further insights into different jobs and how you fit these. Many employers run short options such as Insight Programmes, Spring Weeks and Open Days but you could also consider arranging some Work Shadowing which can be an invaluable way to explore your career ideas as well as offering some experience of that role.


What are the benefits?

Work shadowing means learning about a job role by observing at close hand someone in their daily tasks. It won’t take up much of your time – just a day or two is the norm or
even an hour or two over a number of weeks, but in this short space of time you can learn a Classroom_lfascinating amount about the role. This will help you decide if it is right for you and all the more so if you volunteer for appropriate tasks during your placement. Helping out will also make a good impression on the host and therefore improve your chances if you decide to apply for jobs there when you graduate.

Work shadowing is also a great networking opportunity – if you speak to as many people as you can during this time and remember to connect with them all on LinkedIn afterwards.

Another bonus of work shadowing is that it looks great on your CV as it shows strong motivations to employers. In competitive sectors this can really make you stand out from the crowd.

Any issues I should consider?

Work shadowing is not be possible in all jobs due to issues such as confidentiality or health and safety. But if you cannot shadow your target role then perhaps you could shadow other roles in that workplace which will still give you a good insight and hopefully allow you to come in to contact with people in your target role.untitled

You will also need to plan this in advance with the host employer to find a time that is suitable for them.  There may also be background checks that need to be completed in advance. For example, if it is a role where you come into contact with children you will most likely need to complete a Disclosure form which can take some time to be processed.

How do I make this happen?

Work shadowing is usually arranged through a speculative approach which means you have to approach the employer direct and ask them for this opportunity. Very few work shadowing placements are advertised. This may sound challenging for you but it happens all the time so no-one will be surprised or think you are pushy for asking.

In small companies it may be easier to find the right person to ask as they often have staff lists on their website. If it is a bigger organisation it may be more difficult to find individuals to host your placement as they don’t always have an online staff directory.

To make it easier to find the right person, use your existing network of friends, family and other students – you might be surprised how quickly you make contact with someone. Using LinkedIn or The Network could make it easier and quicker to locate the right person. If all else fails, contact the reception or HR department and ask if they can put you in contact with someone in the right department – it doesn’t always work but can be effective.

If you want a chat with one of us before you start, make an appointment with a Careers Manager.

Good luck and I’m sure you will have a great time!

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Intern insight: Living and working in America!

IH intern, Craig Rintoul has been interning with JK Environmental in Conshohocken, just outside Philadelphia, for the past two months. Craig will be returning home soon to start his 4th year at UofG studying Chemistry.

Interning with JKE really has been a crash course in environmental engineering and East Coast American geology!

My responsibilities vary from day to day and include both field and office work. JKE provides an extensive range of services to companies in several states, with the majority of clients based in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I have had experience in the field; both installing and testing remediation systems, installing monitoring wells and drilling soil borings. Most of the projects I have had input into are where a chemical contaminant has impacted the soil or groundwater at a site, predominantly petrol stations and other industrial sites. JKE provides a means to identify contamination and remediate the problem, all while working with the environmental protection agencies in each state to keep them informed of the situation.

Craig Rintoul Collage

This has been my first experience working in an office environment, one which is constantly growing and developing, as evidenced by JKE’s inclusion in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s list of 50 fastest growing companies in the city – “50 on Fire in Philly”.

My employer here has been very understanding of how challenging moving to a new country can be and I feel I’ve adapted to the life style here well. Outside of work I’ve managed to continue playing rugby with a local outfit and have had weekends to explore the Greater Philadelphia area and its nightlife.

It has been great to experience what working and living in America is like and I have found a field which balances office and field work perfectly – I can still get my hands dirty!

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Tone (And its importance in your applications)…

…as in “you need to watch your tone of voice young lady“. A tone 1
statement often heard in our house growing up. Granted it was usually in response to my biting, witty, teenage sarcasm, but tone is something we all need to be wary of in our written communications – especially when applying for a job.

  1. Too Candid

ALWAYS focus on your strengths first and the ways in which you meet the essential criteria. If you don’t meet the essential criteria either rethink whether you want to spend the time doing this application, or if you want to give it a go, show that you’re confident about the key skills and qualities required and how these are matched by your specific STAR stories, interests and motivations.

Conclude your statement or answer by emphasising that you have the skills and qualities required, and that you are sure you are suited to the job.

Some examples that I have seen of unnecessary candidness in the motivational statement:

  • I need the money.
  • I’m not very good at….. but I’m willing to learn
  • I’ve not got skills of …. as listed in the Essential Criteria but I do have skills of… instead.
  • To be honest…

And on the subject of honesty, that brings us to point 2:

2. Too Casualtone 5

You need to strike a balance here between not being over-friendly but still injecting your personality. Think about how you might project yourself to a new love-interest’s Mum. You want them to have a good impression of you, you’ll try to do everything right and you’ll certainly want to show the best version of yourself.

Keep a professional tone – you’re not talking to a pal, similarly it’s not an academic essay. Always stick to the job description and your evidence and that will keep you safely in the middle ground.

And NEVER do the following: emojis :), txt spk or too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!

Yes I kid you not, all spotted in real-life applications, thankfully we headed it off at the pass.


3. Assertiveness bordering on Arrogance

Hyperbole can be very off-putting if you don’t have the evidence to back it up. Overuse of words like: impeccable, unrivalled, unparallelled, incomparable can be a bit much for your reader. However, similarly don’t use the passive either: I did, I had to, this involved, finished.

Instead try using active verbs like: devised, prepared, obtained, created, analysed, interpreted, completed, achieved. This sounds much more genuine and truthful, backed up by (have I said this already) your evidence.Finger wagging

My apologies if I sound a bit “finger wagging” but sometimes it really does help to know what not to do as well as always looking for best practice.

As always, good luck and happy career planning.

Ann Duff (Careers Managers for Arts)






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Intern Insight: Sailing towards a bright future

IH intern, Madeleine Fleming is enjoying her time with Ocean Youth Trust Scotland where she is involved in marketing, events and fundraising.   

I am now halfway through my internship with Ocean Youth Trust Scotland, and I’m loving it! I’ve always known I want to work in the Third Sector so when I saw this opportunity with the Internship Hub, I jumped at the chance. OYT Scotland is a youth work charity which takes young people aged 12-25 out on its 70 foot sailing yachts to help them build confidence, team working skills, and show them what they can achieve when they work hard at something. Though it takes young people from all backgrounds, many of the voyages focus on disengaged and underprivileged young people, intervening to steer them onto a more positive life path.

The trust has only a small staff team which is split between the office and its two boats, so it relies heavily on volunteers for much of its work and every extra pair of hands counts. From the moment I walked into the office on my first day, I’ve been made to feel welcome and appreciated as a member of the team.

Madeleine Fleming-Ocean Youth Trust

My main task here at OYT Scotland has been organising the Arran Sportive, a fundraising event which will take place in September. The opportunity to see an event of this size right from (almost) the start through to completion is a fantastic opportunity. I’ve coordinated volunteers, contacted potential sponsors, liaised with event partners, corresponded with local authorities and dealt with all the little details which have to be thought of when putting together a successful event. Being able to talk about this experience will be invaluable when applying to future employers. I’ll be able to point to my previous lack of experience and show how I learned on the job, and highlight the areas of the event plan I’ve revised to prove I can take initiative. The very fact I’ve been handed this event shows that I can be trusted with responsibility.

It’s definitely been stressful at times, but in general I’m really enjoying the feeling of achievement as everything comes together and all the lovely people I’m getting to meet along the way!

As well as organising the sportive, I’ve been able to gain experience in numerous other areas important to both charity and business work. I’ve written press releases, updated the Trust website, entered and sorted income data in a database, written reports for funders, helped to write applications for corporate funding, put together the trust’s annual report, and last but not least learned to help sail a 72 foot yacht – what the trust is all about at its heart.

I won’t lie and claim that adjusting to full-time working life has been the easiest transition in the world – I do still struggle to get out of bed at 7 *every morning*, something which would be unimaginable to me during term time. I’ve definitely found myself looking wistfully at photos of my friends off on holiday in far flung places, but at the end of the day, I know I’m gaining experience and skills which will be invaluable when I graduate, and I’m having a great time doing it!

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What really gets you hired?

Graduates have always hoped that their degree in itself would be a passport to a top job and to career advancement but, as everyone knows, qualifications are only part of the picture.

I have recently attended a number of  conferences and events that focussed on employability and all the speakers in the field have a similar theme – emotional intelligence (EQ) is a better predictor of success than qualifications (or IQ).


Emotional intelligence

That’s not to say that a good degree is not highly valued – it is! It’s just that it may open the door but what gets you hired (and promoted) is the value you add over and above this.

One excellent speaker on this theme is the psychologist and leadership expert Dr Martyn Newman. His conference theme was “Emotional Intelligence in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world”.  In his words, “people do business with you in direct proportion to how you make them feel”. Emotional Intelligence is increasingly seen as integral to business success and leadership excellence.

Newman gave an example from a financial sector client that he worked with. The company had problems with high staff turnover. Newman’s assessment was that their recruitment criteria were selecting highly qualified and capable employees but were not aligned to the traits of the people who got the best results and stayed with the business. He recommended that they change their recruitment criteria to be based on an optimism score. This was based on research that shows that optimism, or a “growth mindset” is more positively correlated with success than high IQ. This had a huge impact on the client’s business success with new staff selling more policies and staying longer. In short, they were more resilient and this helped them to perform in the job.

Graduates should be able to demonstrate much more than your ability to understand and apply theoretical models.  You should be able to articulate how your time at Glasgow enhanced your self-awareness and helped you to build resilience so that you can make sense of complexity and ambiguity, abilities that add value to any employer.

So, what really gets you hired? Evidence that you understand your strengths, have a growth mindset (you are optimistic and enthusiastic) and have built your resilience so that you can tackle uncertainty and problems head on.

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Establishing Yourself in Your First Job

Lucy Molloy is a UofG politics grad who is now on the Rocket Fuel Sales Graduate Scheme. She reflects on her experience and how you can make the best start possible in your first role.


Like most of you who are reading this, the job I currently have was not my first and certainly won’t be my last! It is, however the first and by definition the last graduate scheme that I’m partaking in, so differs slightly from my previous employment experiences of unpaid internships and serving drinks at grotty Glaswegian bars.

When you graduate – the world is your oyster – or so you think. After numerous rejections, you start to realise it’s more akin to a clam, a clam that rarely opens despite being sent hundreds upon hundreds of CVs. Don’t worry, at some point, someone, somewhere will take a chance on you and hopefully it will be in a company that you like.

Currently I’m on the Rocket Fuel Sales Graduate Scheme, which is a year of on the job training followed by a permanent position on the Commercial Team. The biggest lesson I learnt from the interview process for this role was the importance that was placed on how I would fit into the company culture. This is something I hadn’t really thought about when applying for previous positions so I would recommend that when you’re applying for jobs you ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Why do I really and truly want to work here?
  2. What are the values that the organisation holds and are these in line with my personal values?
  3. Can I see myself getting along with the people here?

I count myself as being extremely lucky at Rocket Fuel. There’s a culture of openness that really encourages working in partnership with your colleagues as opposed to competing against them, and an amazing amount of benefits that shows the company really values our professional and personal development. During the first two months here I’ve been challenged yet supported and been provided with encouragement and constructive feedback. I’ve also been trusted to work with large clients such as Waitrose, Microsoft and Oracle and I can honestly say I look forward to coming into work (yes I am a massive loser).

For those about to embark on their journey to a first ‘proper job’ these are 5 things that I’d keep in mind:

1. Ask Questions

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. This is your time to learn, take advantage of it. If there is someone you think you could learn from – ask if you could have 20 minutes of their time to sit down and ask them some questions. Most people will be more than happy to impart some of their knowledge onto you. I’ve learnt invaluable things from doing this at Rocket Fuel and I also have a point of contact with colleagues I might not have met otherwise.

2. Take initiative

This is especially key if you’re working in a big company. Attending a large meeting where you don’t have much to verbally contribute? Take notes and send them round to the department afterwards. It shows that you were engaged and you want to contribute. If you’ve got a lighter workload than usual offer your colleagues help with theirs – teamwork makes the dream work.

3. Watch & Listen

The first 3 months in a job are all about getting a feel of the company culture and what’s expected of you. Pay attention to your surroundings and remember that your conduct is being observed too.

4. Get Involved

Try your best to attend social events, and seek out ways that you can contribute further to the company. I’ve joined the charity team at Rocket Fuel and am really enjoying working with colleagues from different departments and partaking in a range of projects as a result of this.

5. Consider your next steps

After you’ve settled in – around the 3 month mark – it’s good to keep in mind your next steps. You don’t need to have a solid 5 year plan (seriously who actually has those?) but an idea of where you’d like to be in a year or two’s time is a good place to start.

So go forth, peruse LinkedIn and conquer the graduate job market – and if all else fails, just go travelling whilst you have the time!


You can connect with Lucy on the Network. Signing up for The Network is simple and just requires your GUID


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Intern Insight: Marketing, Apps and Ping-Pong!

IH intern, Augustijn van Gaalen has been able to combine his love of social media, sport and Ping-Pong in his internship with Glasgow-based start-up, Find a Player. 

I’m currently a month into my internship with Find a Player. It’s been really interesting so far and I’d definitely recommend an internship to all students and even those like me who have just graduated. You’d be surprised how much of the skills you use in University become applicable in any job, and it’s nice to see that sooner rather than later.

A bit of background on the App – it’s a free and efficient way to connect with other people in your area that are interested in playing the same sports. It looks to solve the problem of being short on players or having a busy schedule. As a football player, I immediately bought into their idea and saw the potential it had for transforming the way we organise sports. The cool thing is that they’ve hired another intern, Keshav, from Glasgow University – and we both ended up graduating on the same day, having done the same course for four years. I think it makes a big difference working with someone who is in a similar position, because it allows you to learn from each other and to get more ideas out there.

Augustijn van Gaalen-Find a Player

We are in charge of creating and running Facebook ads, coming up with original content to post, and trying to get people, businesses, and sports clubs excited about using the App. The work environment is dynamic and constantly changing, so no day is the same, which keeps you on your toes in some ways. We even have a ping pong table in the office, and I think that kind of relaxed atmosphere is exactly what motivates creative thinking.

I think part of the reason they hired me is because I showed a genuine passion for the App, and that as an avid sports player, I genuinely understood the problem that they were trying to fix. In my opinion, this is the singular most important thing about my internship, because it spurs me to think about the App not as a job or something tedious, but as a project that I believe in. This has helped make it more rewarding for myself when something does go well. At the moment, there have been a lot of setbacks, and as a start up, you do experience a lot of dead ends – but in the end, you learn from those moments, and we’ve already made a lot of improvements. Furthermore, tweaking an idea until you get it right feels much better when it does come off.

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The ups and downs of Postgraduate Research

Sinéad Savage is a UofG science grad who went on to study for a PhD. She reflects on her experience and the pros and cons of further study. 

The decision to continue on to 3a1564f.jpgpostgraduate study comes very easily to some, and can be daunting for others.

I did my BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow, and afterwards did a PhD at Imperial College London, looking at argon gas as a neuroprotective agent in perinatal brain damage. For me, I always wanted to do a PhD; I loved research, I loved learning, and my previous experiences in a lab had convinced me it was the right choice. Now that I’ve come out the other end, I’m still convinced it was the right choice, but there were definitely some things I should have known before starting. Like anything in life, there are ups and downs, but knowing in advance can often make all the difference in how you react and overcome obstacles.


  1. Freedom: A PhD is nothing like undergraduate study. You are suddenly released from having to attend lectures that bore you to sleep, and looming exam deadlines are no longer (well, except for that one in 3 years time, but that’s ages away). Suddenly, you are working on a project that you have chosen to work on, and you have the freedom to take your work in the direction you want. For the curious, this is why you choose postgraduate study.
  2. You’re not alone: You have freedom, but with this comes a huge support network to guide you and help you grow as a researcher. Your supervisors, postdocs and other PhD students, technicians, and the university are all available to help you should you need it. And almost everyone you work with has been in your shoes at some point; they know the frustrations and joys of research, and have learned lessons that can help you.
  3. Other opportunities: Depending on how interested you are, there are a wealth of opportunities outside the lab or office which can help you develop and perhaps give you a taste of other career options. During my PhD, I worked with a start-up company to collaborate with a world-leading pharmaceutical company, I taught undergraduate students, and I did outreach work which brought me to schools and museums to talk about the subject I love. Most PhDs have a lot of flexibility in how you manage your time, so you can make the most of these opportunities.


  1. It’s hard work: It’s long hours, it’s multitasking like you’ve never multitasked before, it’s trying to balance what your supervisors suggest with what you think, it’s problem solving, time-management, investigation, trouble-shooting. And it’s three years or more. You don’t have to study for exams, but you do have to read a huge amount of literature, you have to present data, you have to justify decisions. So it’s hard work.
  2. It doesn’t work: This happens to everyone, sometimes a little, sometimes every experiment. It’s an extremely challenging experience to throw yourself into your work and find nothing at the end, and some of the hardest moments in a PhD are trying to justify the long hours when things don’t work. But that’s the nature of the work, and a lot can be learned when an experiment doesn’t go to plan.
  3. It’s scary: Starting a PhD is daunting. I didn’t do a Masters degree before my PhD so I had even less of an idea than many what was in store for me, but the beginning is scary. You are given control of a project and three years to achieve something, and it’s all you. Then you get into the stride of the work, and you hit a wall, or something doesn’t go to plan, and it’s scary again. Will it work, will you get data? But you continue, and everything works out. And then it’s time to finish, and you have to write a book about what you did. But at every step you get through it, and it’s so worth it in the end.

Throughout my PhD, whenever I struggled with these difficult aspects, I was confident in the knowledge that when I needed it, there would be help available. I was in regular contact with my supervisor and other researchers who helped guide me through difficult scientific problems. If I had problems I didn’t feel I could bring to people in my group, I was able to meet with a personal tutor who could give impartial advice. Towards the end of my PhD, the careers service helped me work on my CV, focus my job search, and look back at all the skills I’d gained to give me confidence searching for my next position. As important as all of these external resources were, however, at the end of the day a PhD is an opportunity to learn and grow personally as well as scientifically, and being able to face challenges by myself helped me see how much I had learned. I now work as a post-doc in a lab at the University of Manchester, and I love my job. Everything I learned in my PhD makes me a better scientist, whether its knowledge gained from failures, skills obtained from extra-curricular activities, or connections made with other researchers during my PhD. There were some times during the PhD where I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through, but as long as you are confident, and use the resources available to you, it can be one of the best experiences in your education.

You can connect with Sinéad on the Network. Signing up for The Network is simple and just requires your GUID. 


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Lessons from China

I recently returned from a successful visit to China as part of an Adam Smith Business School delegation. It was an opportunity to meet with University of Glasgow alumni and several Chinese-based multinational graduate recruiters. There were a number of highlights: hugely popular alumni reception events in Beijing and Shanghai, cheering on a prize winning law school graduate at the British Council Awards, and perhaps the best jasmine tea I have ever tasted (a drink to rival even to a cold can of Irn Bru… well, nearly).


Another highlight was meeting several leading multinational employers with whom the University Careers Service has strong relations. It was interesting to hear their views on hiring UK educated returnees and University of Glasgow graduates in particular. In this blog, I thought I would summarise some of the key insights I received for the benefit of any student or recent graduate who is considering applying to a top company in China.

  1. Start applying early!

In a similar way to the UK, many Chinese graduate employers operate their recruitment processes on fixed annual cycles. A large majority of graduate jobs in China are advertised from August – October each year. If you are a PGT or final year undergraduate student in the UK who is hoping to apply for a job starting immediately after you graduate, this means you have to be very organised and be sending off applications during the very first few weeks of Semester 1! Of course there are always going to be some exceptions to this (professional services giants EY were still open for applications across China as late as April this year) but the message is clear: start early.

Applying early can present a problem if you are successful in being invited to the interview or assessment centre stage. In many cases, employers will insist that you return to China to complete these sections in person and for many students this understandably isn’t an option during their studies. There are signs that flexibility is increasing around these requirements however. Deloitte, for example, have this year introduced Skype interviews as an alternative for overseas candidates and KPMG have a lead recruiter based in London who helps with interviews.

If for any reason you don’t find a job offer through the early recruitment period though, do not give up! Remember some companies do recruit all year round and there is also the option of applying during the August – October period immediately after you have completed your studies with a view to starting employment the following year. Whatever strategy you decide upon: be organised, have a plan, and research job opportunities widely. As well as searching for positions directly on individual company websites, graduate recruitment sites such as Lock-In China can also be very useful.

2. Sell your Glasgow experience

Traditionally overseas returnees were targeted mostly by foreign investment enterprises but this is changing with more Chinese organisations also interested in internationally educated students. Regardless of the company you apply for though, in many cases the university you have studied at still has a large weighting in how your application may be perceived. The University of Glasgow is a world leading university with alumni in high profile positons across society and this positive reputation is recognised by many employers (Deloitte China, for example, have a good awareness of Glasgow having hired an impressive 55 of our graduates in the last 3 years). Other employers may not be as familiar with Glasgow however and so it is important to think about how you explain the value of your experience here when sending out applications and CVs. Many recruiters will be familiar with global university league tables such as the QS world rankings and you may want to refer to Glasgow’s strong position here.

It is also important to reflect more widely though on what you have gained from your overseas education and your time in Glasgow. What skills or attributes have you developed? What specific experiences have you gained? You certainly do not want to appear arrogant as a result of your UK education, but equally you have to be self-confident in how you sell yourself and so it’s important to carefully emphasise the value of your University of Glasgow experience. If you are struggling to answer these questions, perhaps it is time to get more involved in extra-curricular and other career development opportunities on campus. You can visit the Careers Service for ideas with this or to discuss how best to articulate your skills.

  1. Competition is strong – make the most of available support!

With over 400,000 graduates returning home to China in the last year alone, not to mention an even greater number of locally educated graduates, competition for the most prestigious graduate jobs is tough. Nevertheless, with hard work and perseverance, opportunities do exist for returnees and the Glasgow alumni I came across at companies such as BMW, Baidu, Sony, HSBC, Nielson etc. are all testament to this. There is no question that CVs and application forms require high standards for the most competitive jobs with many Chinese employers using automated screening programmes to search for key skills and achievements.  Even for those who do overcome this initial stage, online tests, interviews and assessment centres are all further challenges that lie in wait. However it is important to remembering that support is available to help you with at each of these steps. Visit the Careers Service website, book a personal careers coaching appointment or even reach out to helpful overseas based Glasgow alumni based through The Network. Whatever you do, do it to the best of your abilities. Yes it takes effort and persistence, but as an old Chinese proverb that I read during my visit observes: “Pearls don’t lie on the sea shore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”


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