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.


Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

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!

Hear from more IH interns on #UofGinterninsights

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


Posted in International, Internships | Leave a comment

Tone (And it’s 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)






Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

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!

Hear from more IH interns on #UofGinterninsights

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


Posted in Advice, Internships | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Advice, Graduate attributes, Motivation | Leave a comment

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


Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

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.

Hear from more IH interns on #UofGinterninsights

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


Posted in Internships | Tagged | Leave a comment

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. 


Posted in Advice, Alumni | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.”


Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

‘Snap up’ for a job in marketing

Mary Daily, University of Glasgow arts graduate, Mary.jpghas one of the coolest job titles around, President and Chief Marketing Officer for 20th Century Fox. She dropped by last week from LA to give a masterclass to our Media Management students.

During her talk she introduced us to the term ‘snap up’: using techniques to get your audience to pay attention in a crowded market place. For example, using music, effects and sound design in  TV advertising to get people to look up at the big screen and away from their secondary devices.

Want to ‘snap up’ potential employers? Here are some insights from Mary and how this could help you when preparing for interview for marketing jobs.

Digital is revolutionising business models

“Uber are a taxi company without any cars , Airbnb is a holiday rental business with no apartments or hotels and Facebook is a content app that doesn’t produce any content.  Technology and in particular Apps, put the consumer in charge like never before with direct access to goods and service”

Future employers will be looking for you to have a sound understanding of digital platforms and the opportunities these offer for marketers. Have a look at what they are already doing on social media and on the web and be prepared to comment on this.

The consumer is king

“We are moving towards a more direct relationship with the consumer.  In a world where consumers are time strapped like never before curation is going to be key”

Do your homework! Showing you have an understanding of their main target audience will impress and show you have researched what the company stands for.

Innovation and shift thinking

“We have to look beyond today and consider what the behaviours and delivery platforms of tomorrow will be e.g. Self-driving cars provide an opportunity. People will want entertainment on long journeys or on their way to work”

Come prepared with ideas. Marketing positions involve creativity and employers will be looking for candidates that can help their organisation evolve.
Thank you Mary for this amazing insight!

To get more expert advice from alumni, you can sign up to The Network, our exclusive networking platform for graduates and students.



Posted in Advice, International | Leave a comment

Words of wisdom from First Tuesday Club

So here’s how it works… you get the Careers Service What’s On email in your inbox telling you about some event… you might be interest but you’re too busy to read more about it.  Next, you’re in the library and you see a poster for the same event…your memory is jogged. Then you’re having lunch and a tweet comes through about the event, one of your friends ♥ it…you click the link. Then you sign up to come along. Excellent choice.

banner of posters.JPG

So for those students who came along to the Careers Service First Tuesday Club events, thank-you. And to those students who didn’t, here’s a peak at what you missed with some words of wisdom from our guests. Maybe next time you’ll be first in line…



“It’s not about what you have; it’s about what you do with what you have!” 

Judy Murray.




The power house of tennis and the busiest woman in Scotland, Judy Murray visited us to share stories about coaching some of the best tennis players in the world. One of our favourite anecdotes involved Jamie Murray, Judy knew that Jamie was a very gifted tennis player, but his game was much more suited to doubles rather than singles.  Judy tried to think of a way to convince Jamie that focusing on his doubles game was the way to go, so she resourcefully created a power point presentation listing the earnings of the world’s top doubles players, apparently Jamie was blown away and realised that it wasn’t only singles players who could make a career out of the game. With 15 titles to his name and winnings of over £2 Million, the rest as they say, is history. See full highlights here.

Our next event saw Football fans and law students treated to a visit from 3 of the UK’s largest football club representatives. Directors from Celtic, Everton and Manchester United joined us at a fascinating Q&A in the University Chapel. Speaking about Gareth Bale’s world record transfer, to the ongoing reality of UEFA appeals, the club representatives certainly gave our audience a glimpse of what life is like inside the largest football clubs in the

“Have confidence that you are good at what you do.”

Patrick Stewart Manchester United FC  (Director of Legal & Business Affairs)


Santa wasn’t the only exciting guest in Glasgow during December, here at the Careers Service we experience the Calman effect as award winning comic Susan Calman popped into the QMU to give students some tips on how to write and succeed in comedy. Her hilarious and at times touching account of her rise to fame delighted the packed audience.  With tips on how to put down hecklers to describing how she manged to walk away from a £70,000 salary as a lawyer to chase her dream, Susan Calman was the perfect guest –charming and wickedly funny. See full highlights here.


“I’m the most risk-adverse person, but I decided to hand in my notice. My income dropped massively, but sense of freedom was huge.”

Susan Calman


Ever aware that keeping things fresh means changing formats; we decided to take students on a little day trip to STV studios for the next First Tuesday Club. 16 lucky students managed to secure a spot on the coveted bus trip to gain behind the scenes access to STV’s newsroom, gallery and studios.


Students gain access to STVs studios and gallery.

This was a fantastic opportunity for the media savvy bunch to network with our tour guide, who gave some brilliant tips on how to break into the television industry- including emails for all the best contacts! Students also had the chance to pitch ideas and questions to STV’s very own anchor man, John MacKay, who shared some fascinating stories about his time in front and behind the camera covering the Referendum.

Our final First Tuesday Club guest for this year was Dr Liberty Vittert who shared stories of her work with the board of USA for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Students listened attentively as Dr Vittert spoke of her work within the refugee camps and her recent focus on how facial shape analysis can help children who have been harmed through warfare. Questions from the audience were plenty and the event could have ran on for most of the afternoon as students were visually moved and inspired by Dr Vittert’s approach to tackling the very real refugee crisis. See full highlights here. liberty 1


“Get involved. NOW. Nothing happens if you wait.”

Dr Liberty Vittert

We concur.


liberty 2

So on that note, here at the Careers Service we’d love you to get involved with the First Tuesday Club, it’s a cracking series of events. Be motivated, laugh, learn, but most of all liven up your lunch hour and be first in line to book your seat at the First Tuesday Club.

Keep an eye on the Careers Service What’s On email and follow  us: @GUCareers or on Facebook.

Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

Employer feedback – what to expect

I recently starting rewatching my favourite noughties show “The Gilmore Girls” in preparation for the upcoming revival. There’s an episode  where young Rory Gilmore receives undeservedly  critical feedback from her boss at the end of her anigif_enhanced-4652-1406045457-1.gifnewspaper internship (he also happens to be her boyfriend’s dad). Watching this again, I remembered how angry  I got when he callously tells her that she hasn’t got the talent to succeed in journalism. The truth is that she is talented and the old snob was clearly trying to undermine her to make it clear that she did not fit in to his or his son’s upper class world. Rory knows this but it didn’t stop her confidence being shattered which led her to go off the rails and leave university.

But as much as I can get caught up in the lives of my TV friends from Stars Hollow, Connecticut, I know that the reality is that employers are not total meanies and would not give students or graduates an internship with the aim of destroying your confidence at the end of it. Most employers will strive to provide constructive feedback throughout your internship in order to develop and invest in you.

Applications Feedback

Where the issue of employer feedback may be more frustrating for you is often the absence of feedback when applying for a job, especially at the application
stage. This is because most employers just don’t have the time to give feedback to unsuccessful applicants as they receive so many applications. So as an unsuccessful applicant, many people are left feeling disappointed and confused about why they didn’t get shortlisted to the next stage.

Was my application not good enough? 

Actually, in many cases it may have been just as good as the shortlisted applicants but as this is a numbers game, luck comes into play and lots of suitable applicants lose out but don’t get to find out why.

How do I deal with an absence of feedback?

If you do get rejected after sending what you believed to be a good application, I suggest you book a Quick Coaching appointment with a careers adviser to get feedback.

We may tell you that your application was good enough and I know this is fJob-search-rejected.jpgrustrating to hear when it didn’t get you to an interview, but at least you can feel confident that you are presenting yourself well and hopefully next time you will be one of the lucky ones who gets shortlisted.

Or we might give you a few tips to improve your application so that you know how to make it better for next time*.

* A little tip that might help you stand out from the crowd is, where possible, to contact the employer before you submit your application to introduce yourself and ask a few more questions about the post. It always works in your favour to be a ‘known quantity’ when the employer has a large number of applications. Many employers invite you to contact them in the vacancy details and large scale recruiters’ contact detials can be found on their recruitment pages or social media

Interview Feedback

At the interview stage it is more likely (but not always the case) that the employer will give feedback. Sometimes this can be really useful in himages1.jpgelping you to ‘up your game’ to prepare for your next interview.

On other occasions, they may give generic feedback that doesn’t really tell you anything specific about why you were not the successful candidate. So  I think you can assume from this that it went fairly well.

But if I did well, why didn’t I get the job?

Or they tell you that you did really well and were definitely appointable but someone else did slightly better so they got the job.  This happens a lot as there will often be more than one person who makes a great impression but if there is only one job, inevitably some good applicants will be left disappointed.  But take heart, you obviously know how to perform well in interviews so tell yourself that next time you will be the successful one.

Grin and bear it!

So however frustrated you feel inside, try not to show it when an employer says they can’t give feedback on your application and remind yourself that they probably feel bad about this but just couldn’t find the time to offer it to all applicants.

And try to be gracious in receiving feedback if you are an unsuccessful candidate – you never know when there may be another job going with that employer!

Posted in Advice | 1 Comment

Interviewing with confidence!

Got an interview or assessment centre coming up? Read on for advice on how to overcome any anxiety and boost your confidence…


Firstly, well done – getting an interview is an achievement in itself and should boost your confidence! Now you have the opportunity to stand out and convince the employer to hire you. Easy, right? Not at all, even the most experienced professionals get nervous before “performing” in this kind of situation where the stakes are high.

Adrenaline v stress

To feel no nerves or anxiety when preparing for an interview or assessment centre situation would be extremely unusual and in fact a degree of healthy adrenaline is probably necessary in order to perform on the day.


Butterflies in the stomach?

Making sure that healthy adrenaline doesn’t turn into unhealthy stress is a fine line however.

Physical signs of nervousness vary but can include:

  • an increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • a queasy stomach
  • feeling faint
  • having a panic attack.

The good news is there is help available to enable to you feel in control and to boost your confidence when preparing for the dreaded interview day!

How to conquer your nerves

Here are a few pointers:

  • Remember that no one can see how you feel. If you can coach yourself into looking relaxed (though not too relaxed!), calm and confident you will project these positive qualities and you’ll also start to feel better.
  • Get your own mindset right. Positive thinking and self-talk really does work. If you tell yourself you won’t succeed the chances are this will become a self-fulfilling prophesy because you will project anxiety and self-doubt. When you tell yourself you can do it, you’re there on merit and they are as interested in hiring you as anyone else you will start to project self-belief and confidence.

Try it out!

Like most things, this isn’t easy, it requires practice but it’s a technique that can be learned and it works. You can try this out now. Find a quiet place, sit down and relax and take a few deep breaths. This has a positive physical effect.  Your heart rate will slow and you will immediately feel calmer. Now, concentrate on your self-talk. Tell yourself that you are prepared; you know why you want the job and what you want to say about your strengths and skills; you’re right for the job and you CAN get it! Doing this a number of times during your preparation will help you to feel ready to perform on the day.


Make adrenaline work for you

Channel your adrenaline

You can channel your healthy adrenaline into feeling excitement that energises you in just the way that athletes do before going out to compete.  Sports psychologists use techniques such as visualisation and this can work for you. Imagine yourself answering the questions confidently and making a good impression or presenting clearly and with confidence, winning your audience over. When you come to do it for real, you’ll feel ready for it.

Practice makes perfect

The way to overcome your anxiety and to give yourself the best chance is to prepare thoroughly. The good news about preparing for an interview is that your evidence of achievements that match the job requirements all comes from your own specialist subject – yourself!  Equally, when you prepare a presentation well, you can go into it with confidence that you know your content better than your audience will.

Further help

If you would like help in preparing for an interview or an assessment centre, have a look at the Careers Service website and book an appointment with a Careers Adviser.

Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

Communicating with recruiters

You have followed all the advice out there and made the best application possible, so naturally you’re all set to get called for an interview or assessment centre.

But it is possible to give the recruiter a feeling of “buyer’s remorse” straight away if you’re not careful. Communication with employers needs to show off your professional side from the very start. So this week we’re going to give some advice to make sure your recruiter doesn’t regret inviting you to interview or assessment centre before it even starts.

First up, the recruiter may well want to speak to you to invite you to interview. It’s well known that the actual phone app is one of the least used. If you haven’t changed your voicemail message from the joke one you set up years ago and you get so many PPI calls that you don’t ever check your messages… you could well miss out. For once, it could well be worth answering those “unknown number” calls that normally get rejected.


The time between a successful application and the interview might include a little bit of backwards and forwards as you arrange the timing or which assessment centre date you will attend. Always keep your communication textbook-professional.

Recruiters are hyper-sensitive to picking up typos, bad spelling/grammar/punctuation and even though you eliminated them from your application, if they are littered through your emails as you try to confirm the timing, the recruiter will already start to form a negative opinion of you.

If spelling and grammar are not natural gifts for you, then get a reliable friend or family member to look at your communications before you send them.


To make sure you are giving the best impression of yourself in the run up to an interview, think not only about the style of your communication and making it professional, but also think about what is a professional time to respond.

Getting back to a recruiter promptly is always a good idea, but if you have had a long revision session in library, hold off from sending that email – better to send during working hours than very late in the evening. The chances of making a dreaded typo definitely goes up when you are tired and you don’t really want the recruiter thinking you were only getting back to them after a night out.


As you have lined up an interview or assessment centre, you have probably already gone through a process of cleaning up your digital footprint. But the time before an interview isn’t one to be broadcasting.

If you are looking for advice, it is probably best to go old-school and speak to a friend, trusted family member, or one of our lovely careers advisers in person.


Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

The TV Guide From Sarah Davies of the Discovery Family

Sarah Davies has had an amazing broadcast career so far (look her up on linkedin as Sarah Topalian Davies) and it only looks as if it is going to get better with an imminent move to a major production company in LA – she’s not allowed to spill the beans just yet. With experience working with the BBC and Discovery family as a senior executive she was an inspiring speaker with bang up-to-date industry advice.

Sarah gave great advice most of which is echoed in resources like BAFTA Guru, Creative Skillset and Creative Scotland.cherries

So if you will allow me to cherry pick, here are some of the highlights for me:

Be a storyteller

Without a good narrative to guide your audience, they won’t be captivated enough to stay with you and watch or listen to your content. What is the angle of the story – don’t be like the co-worker of Sarah’s at Panorama who wanted to do a story on organic food because “it’s good for people”. As far as Sarah was concerned that wasn’t a story but she worked with her colleague to find the story, which was the suppression of organic food facts by the food industry which ended up running into a three part series.

tapeMake content, especially sizzle tapes

A student recently told Sarah she was making content and had it on her YouTube channel – she was super impressed. This shows that you really are passionate about making content, showcasing your ability and how you can articulate ideas into content.

Have ideas and learn how to pitch them

In her long career only one student/interview candidate has EVER pitched her an idea in an interview situation. She gave him a job on the spot and still remembers him years later.

The BBC doesn’t accept programme pitch ideas from the public unless you are attached to a production company. However click through to see other opportunities that they offer. Also check out Channel 4’s talent opportunities.

Network like a mad thing.

Connect on LinkedIn with a personal message, send emails to people you admire, follow them on twitter and contribute to discussions. Sarah, even at her level of professionalism dedicates at least two hours a week to networking. Ask people for a coffee (which you pay for), ask them about their jobs, ask for their advice. Be interested in people and they will remember you.

I loved the practicality of the advice Sarah gave, this is all stuff that you can do right now, don’t wait for someone professional or in the industry to give you permission.edna

And finally, TV junkie that I am, I asked for a recommendation to fill the empty space in between episodes of The Walking Dead. She recommended The Jinx, House of Cards and Catfish. That’s OK, you can thank me later.

As always, your Careers Adviser for the College of Arts, Ann

“Television is the most perfect democracy. You sit there with your remote control and vote” Aaron Brown

Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

MY Tours – 12 February 2016

As part of MY Career Week, two groups of students took part in MY Tours.

One group got a tour of BBC Scotland – getting to see behind the scenes, take over the news desk and get tips on building a career with the BBC

The other group visited the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and got to hear from the Teaching & Learning Centre Manager, and saw the Stratified Medicine Scotland(SMS) lab.


MY Tour – BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland tour.jpg

BBC Scotland

The group got to see Janice Forsyths radio studio which is the proud home to the only piece of analogue technology in the whole building – her record player.

They also found out some trade secrets:

  • The view of Glasgow behind the news presenter is not a window, it comes from a camera positioned on the roof of the building.
  • The weather presenters don’t use autocue – they have to remember it all.
  • BBC Scotland works on a hot-desking basis.


As part of the tour, senior managers from the BBC shared some tips for building a career in the media:

  • BBC work experience is open all year round in 4 week blocks.
  • Be specific about about what you want to do or the role you think you would be best suited to.
  • Your passion for the role is what will make your application stand out.
  • Clean up your online profile and start to build a professional social media footprint – a YouTube Channel, a  blog, vines, student media etc
  • Show evidence you just need a helping hand to make the next step
  • Be realistic – don’t ask to be the Breakfast presenter
  • You need to eligible to work in the UK
  • Keep an eye on the industry, follow the political debate, pay attention to the charter renewal process
  • Have a really good, 2 page CV including details of your digital footprint.
  • No typos, read and respond to the questions in the application form, include a career aim statement (3/4 lines to sell yourself)
  • All information on applications is on their website.


MY Tour – Queen Elizabeth University Hospital


The group got the chance to visit the Stratified Medicine Scotland(SMS) lab.

They got to see:

  • Genome mapping: seeing who will respond best to which drugs. The bioinformatics company Aridhia will make sense of the data created by genomic sequencing.
  • A 12 bed training ward which exactly simulates a patient ward. The sim patients can blink, talk, bleed and breathe! The medical students can be recorded and get immediate tutor feedback.

John Harris, Teaching & Learning Centre Manager

The genome sequencing technology allows SMS to sequence a human genome in an afternoon, something which previously took The Human Genome Project 13 years to do!

The next addition to the site is the Precision Medicine Catapult happening this summer and which will draw in a broad industry engagement.

This is all part of a wider and very exciting development for life sciences in Scotland. The Teaching & Learning Centre space includes flexible lab and office locations for multiple small to medium size companies to come on board. The synergy among these companies should translate into new job opportunities and types of collaborative working.

Bio-medical scientist jobs are available to new life sciences graduates in the many diagnostic labs across NHSGGC. You can also ask for a few months lab work experience via their HR.





Posted in Advice, Events | Leave a comment

Spoiled for choice! Dealing with multiple job offers

Some years ago, I got offered a postdoctoral research fellowship in a Department of Psychology. The position was interesting, clinical in nature and would involve country-wide travel examining stress and its causes in a particular occupation. It was to last two years. I happily accepted and then they told me: they had outgrown the two floors they were situated on and they had nowhere to locate my desk. But the end of the corridor on the top floor was designated for me and the bricks and the door were ordered! That would be my office. Could I start in three to four months’ time? I said “er… yes, sure”.


I had several irons in the fire though, as you have or will have. Several days later, I got offered an interview for another job in a different city, this time in a large charity, one of the ten biggest in the UK. I was also very interested in that job so I went for the interview. Although I wasn’t all that happy afterwards with some of my answers, I was telephoned later that day and offered the job. I accepted that job… as well.

The charity also had a delay for me. Since her contract was an education one, the incumbent member of staff was just starting to work out a three months’ notice period. Could I start in three months’ time?

So I had two full-time job offers. I had accepted both but clearly there was a problem.

How can you decide?

One way is to compare the jobs by taking the necessary time to do that well. You could weight them positively or negatively according to a range of criteria:

  • How developmental are they
  • How do the responsibilities and goals relate to your own values
  • Starting salary and likely progression
  • Practicalities such as relocation and commuting
  • Degree of support and mentoring
  • Your impressions during the interview or assessment centre of the organisations, managers and teams you’d be working with.

However, the situation can be more complex, as in my case. I had already accepted the first job. I then turned it down because I knew, as far as I could know, that the second job was significantly better. What about that situation? I believe that there are instances where belatedly turning the offer down can be the right thing to do – for the jobseeker – despite the fact that it annoys, frustrates and possibly angers the first employer. You have probably burned your bridges with that employer, at least for a while since from their side, their other preferred candidates have possibly accepted other offers and are no longer available. The employer may have to start a new recruitment round.


But for you, the belated right decision enables you to start your dream job or a job which could lead towards it. And to consider once more the employer who has been let down, the reversal in your decision avoids potentially worse scenarios for them such as a new employee starting but who regrets the decision and who may still keep on looking, unable to commit to the position.

Yet where it is possible, it is preferable to maximise the decision to be made by proactively contacting any employers you could have offers from as soon as you have an offer from the other employer. On the one hand, you can often buy a little time from the employer who is offering – to think the offer through – while saying to a preferred employer that although you have an offer, your strong preference is to work for them. In some scenarios, for instance with a small to medium sized employer, there may be sufficient flexibility in the recruitment process for them to interview you within that tight timescale and make you an alternative offer or to decline.

How did I resolve my own dilemma?

  • I took a sheet of A4, placed it length-wise and split it down the middle: decision A, decision B.
  • I then split each of these in two, positives and negatives.
  • And then I listed as far as possible the pros and cons of each decision:
    • type of contract,
    • scope of the job,
    • alignment with my values and interests

Finally, I applied a weighting to each reason according to perceived importance.

It turned out, more than I thought it would, that the charity job far outweighed the academic post. I still wasn’t convinced. It took several more days for a certainty to arrive, that the second job offer was the right opportunity. I went with it and the decision turned out to be a good one, opening up the world of guidance which I still work within now. The letter I got back from the senior researcher was not the worst letter I have ever received…not quite.


Multiple job offers can be difficult to handle; they rarely come in at exactly the same time. But hopefully some of the strategies I’ve touched on will make it easier to handle the situation. I worked for the charity for almost fifteen years and I never regretted the decision I made.

Posted in Advice | Leave a comment

Careering Towards the New Year! 

Our Tips for the 12 Days of Christmas…

Heading home for the holidays? Are you dreading that moment on Christmas Day when the turkey’s been demolished, crackers lie strewn under the table, Granny’s snored her way through the Queen’s Speech and the tipsy conversation inevitably turns to the future – more specifically, YOUR future?!


If you’re feeling nervous about being quizzed over your career plans during the festive season, why not get ahead by following our Careers Guide to the 12 Days of Christmas…

1. Relax and Reflect

You’ve been working hard. Take some time out to chill and get over the stress of your exams. Reflect on your life and what’s important to you. Listen to some TED talks for inspiration…

Think of the Partridge in the Pear Tree – where does your career sit in your Tree of Life?

Use one of our career planners to discover a new career focus


2. Get Work Experience

4281624_38a470bfHolidays are a good time to boost your CV so see if you can get some extra work over the festive period. Retail, hospitality, call-centres and mail services are just some areas that take on extra staff over this busy time.

Do something different and get some new skills.


3. Research Employers

keyboard-1053482_960_720Researching takes time but can pay massive dividends. Don’t think about tackling a job application or making a speculative approach without first investigating any potential employer thoroughly.

Remember to check out their social media presence for interesting facts too.

4. Perfect the STAR approach for Competency- Based ApplicationsStar_and_light_on_christmas_tree

Spend time getting used to following the Situation, Task, Action, Result (STAR) technique for answering competency-based questions on application forms.

Get super-ready to tackle your first one in 2016!

5. Prepare your Elevator Pitch

It takes about 20 seconds to go up 10 floors in a lift.8716191517_afb1c6444d_b

Can you deliver a compelling internship or job pitch by the time the doors open?

If you’re on the job-hunt or looking for work experience, check out this advice for persuading the likes of Lord Sugar why you should get the job!

6. Create the Perfect CV

Your CV or resume is your personal keyboard-567803_960_720marketing tool which develops as you develop.

In that sense, it’s never finished, but why not use the New Year to design your January 2016 version?

Stand out from the crowd by following our tips to create a knock-out CV!

7. Network

The festive season canalcohol-party-glass-table
offer multiple opportunities to hone your networking skills. Who knows who you might meet at the neighbours’ New Year Hootenanny?

The Chief Exec of that NGO you’d love to grab an internship with, or the Speech Therapist from round the corner who could offer work-shadowing experience to see if it’s really the career for you?
Check out the Guardian’s recent Expert Guide to Talking to Anyone and our Careers Alumni Network for any useful contacts.

8. Develop your Commercial Awareness

Don’t miss the yearly reviews 6250537329_e16a4f46aa_bpublished around now to give you a special insight into your job sector.

As well as enhancing your commercial awareness, you might find some valuable information to use in future applications and interviews.

Read up on other ways to develop your commercial awareness.

9. Sort out your LinkedIn Profile

If LinkedIn-getting-startedyou’ve not got a LinkedIn Profile yet, take this opportunity to get established and join a new global network.

You never know where LinkedIn might lead you in 2016!

Follow our guide to creating your LinkedIn Profile.

10. Buy an Item for Your Interview Wardrobesale-685007_960_720

Hit the sales and spend those Christmas gift vouchers on a cool addition to your interview wardrobe.

Use our tips on Tailoring Your Style.


11. Volunteer3417511_550eb99c

Tis the Season of Giving so why not give something back and enhance your employability at the same time.

Whether it’s doing a few shifts at a Night Shelter or collecting donations at your local Foodbank, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved over the holidays. Contact your local volunteer centre for ideas.

12. Get Global

happy-new-year-1063797_960_720As the world fast becomes a smaller place, employers increasingly place a high value on global understanding.

Investigate opportunities to enhance your global skills in the New Year by learning a new language, getting involved with asylum seekers and refugees or, if you’ve room at your table this Christmas/New Year, why not invite a fellow student from another country to swap Yuletide food and traditions and develop global skills in the process?

photo credit: (license)
Posted in Advice, Motivation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

You need to have a Computing or Software Engineering degree to get a decent IT job. Don’t you?

Just the other day I read:

Scottish Government to help tackle ‘unprecedented’ cyber crime rise.”

cyber crimecouldn’t help thinking that the Government’s aim will be hard to achieve, given the IT skills shortage in the labour market at the moment – which isn’t
predicted to change any time soon. My thoughts almost immediately moved on to consider that this must be good news for any Computing Science or Software Engineering Graduate. Well it must be mustn’t it?  In a word – yes!

However, it doesn’t stop there – employers are simply unable to fill all their vacancies with Comp Sci and SE students and graduates. There just aren’t enough of them to satisfy the labour market, which means that any student or graduate who has shown an aptitude or interest in computing, and has the other skills required, can look at the IT sector as a huge opportunity.

What kind of degrees are likely to give you an advantage?

I’ve spoken to a Physics graduate with level 1 and 2 Computing Science, who was snapped up by the IT industry. No great surprise there perhaps, but on speaking to IT employers, they’re keen on anyone who has shown an aptitude for computing in their degree, especially if it involves some coding. So, if you’re a Theoretical Physics student, and you’ve really enjoyed coding – it could be well worth your while to look into IT. Using and/or adapting software is common in lots of degree disciplines – including, but not limited to – Maths, Stats, Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Aeronautical Engineering, other Science and Engineering, Psychology, Business, other Social Sciences and yes, even Arts!

I’ve worked with students who haven’t studied computing much at all at university, but have maybe built PCs at home, fixed friends and family member’s computers, or maybe worked in PC World customer services or similar role. That can be enough for some IT employers, particularly the larger ones who would be keen to train such graduates, if they have some of the softer skills that are vital in today’s technology roles.

Not convinced? Maybe a quick glance at some of the issues in IT today will persuade you!

What are the key issues in the IT sector?

  • Employment of IT professionals through to 2020 is forecast to grow at 1.62% per annum – nearly twice as fast as the UK average. Growth is expected to be in more senior roles, such as software professionals, ICT managers and strategy and planning (Technology Insights 2012, e-skills UK).
  • At the moment 1 in 25 Scots is employed in IT, and that will only grow over time.
  • Many jobs are now in the growing digital technology industry, with more than a million roles advertised in 2014, according to the Tech Nation Powering the Digital Economy 2015 report. This was a 28% rise from the previous year.
  • Cyber security is a growing field – it must be if the Government knows about it! There aren’t enough experts to counteract more advanced cyber attacks. There’s also an increase in opportunities for information security officers and information risk managers, who manage threats posed to a business. Large organisations, the government and social media companies are all keen to employ cyber experts.
  • Companies are looking for graduates who can combine technical skills with an understanding of broader business objectives to solve real business issues, particularly for consultancy roles. There is a demand for numerate and IT-literate graduates to work in analytics and solve business problems.

The roles in IT are many and varied, and there’s no shortage of information (and vacancies) out there, on:

and many more… just Google!

A quick look and I’m sure you’ll be convinced that an IT career could well be possible for you, even if your degree isn’t obviously focussed on Computing! If you want more help, make an appointment with a Careers Adviser.

Posted in Advice | Leave a comment