Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

Written by experienced careers advisor Steve Rook, the new edition of this indispensable guide will help readers to develop the skills they need to land their dream job. It breaks the career planning process down into manageable steps, from researching roles and gaining work experience to crafting a stand-out CV and impressing at interview. It also includes practical guidance on networking, entrepreneurship and responding to job offers. Packed with reflective activities, top tips for successful applications and real life case studies, it contains everything students need to develop their skills, get their foot in the door and set themselves up for a fulfilling future.

This text will be core reading for students on a wide range of career-related and employability modules. It will also be an invaluable resource for students researching their career options independently.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
Finding a fulfilling and successful graduate career can be daunting because there are so many directions to take and factors to consider. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be overwhelmed. Once you work out a plan and take your first steps, things usually take care of themselves. Sure, from time to time, you’ll pick the wrong options and go down a few blind alleys but, if you use every experience as a chance to learn a little more about yourself and the career you want to enter, you should be alright. Above all, stay positive and open to new ideas. Your determination will be rewarded!
Steve Rook

Careers in a complex world

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 1. Graduate employment and recruitment

Abstract
Each year, the graduate employment market grows from strength to strength. Today, there are more opportunities than ever before, an ever-increasing diversity of roles, more flexible points of entry and fairer access. So, despite the increasing costs of degrees and the massive growth in student numbers, the benefi ts of a Higher Education qualifi cation still remain undimmed and future prospects look rosy.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 2. Career planning

Abstract
Career planning is about taking control of your professional journey. Therefore, it’s not just about finding a job but, also, deeper issues such as what you want to do in life, what you can do and what’s available. These issues can be diffi cult to unravel so you can quickly end up going around in circles, for example.
Steve Rook

Finding your niche

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 3. Assessing your skills, interests and motivations

Abstract
The first step to fi nding a truly fulfilling career is to create a snapshot of your current skills, interests and motivations, i.e. what you’re good at, enjoy, and want from life. These characteristics may be difficult to nail down, especially when you’re just starting out, but read through the following pages to develop the best ‘self-portrait’ you can achieve. Start now by completing the quick two-minute test below to see how good you are already at self-refl ection and consider the following advice.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 4. Identifying your options

Abstract
Now you have a sound appreciation of your skills, interests and motivations, you’re ready to research your full range of career options. In this respect, you’re very much in luck, because today’s graduates can enter an incredible range of roles. For example, you can choose a job linked to your studies, stay in the same area as your work experience, branch off into a sector close to your interests or try something completely new.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 5. Choosing a role

Abstract
Now you’ve identified some of your key skills, interests and motivations and created a shortlist of interesting occupations (see the previous two chapters), you can link the two together to come up with some potentially fulfilling careers, as shown in the Venn diagram below.
Steve Rook

Upping your game

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 6. Boosting your employability

Abstract
The term ‘employability’ is a recent introduction to the English dictionary and it can therefore still mean different things to different people: Educators tend to focus on the key transferable skills required by employers Careers Advisers often include other aspects of human development such as personal attributes and the ability to take control. Administrators and politicians often see it as a simple statistical metric to indicate graduate outcomes.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 7. Moving forward

Abstract
Now you have found a role/sector to enter, assessed the skills, commitment and knowledge required and considered how you can improve your employability, you’re ready to put together a plan of action to get your foot in the door.
Steve Rook

Making it happen

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 8. Managing your networks and social media

Abstract
It’s always been important to know the right people, especially when it comes to finding work. Therefore, well-connected students and graduates have always had the edge.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 9. Experience and internships

Abstract
You need experience but don’t panic if you don’t have much to put on your CV, at this stage, because you can undertake any number of activities and work your way up the ladder. As you follow this path, you will gradually nail down your career decisions, develop a stronger self-esteem, focus your career search, build your networks and impress employers. A wide range of experience opportunities is outlined over the following pages; see what sparks your interest and list it here:
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 10. Further study

Abstract
This chapter is designed to help you decide whether further study is right for you and plan your next steps accordingly. As we head into the third decade of the twenty-first Further qualifications will only usually help your career if they are part of a well thought through plan and strategy. century, more and more people are undertaking postgraduate study;
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 11. Taking time out

Abstract
Time out can be another useful stepping stone on your way into a career because it can help you see all your options and fi nd perspective (at what can be such a confusing juncture in your life). This chapter shows you how to make the most of your time away from your usual life and outlines a range of possible activities.
Steve Rook

Finding a Job

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 12. Searching for graduate jobs

Abstract
In the ‘good old days’, graduates tended to immediately enter a narrow band of clearly defined, skilled roles in areas such as medicine, banking and law. Nowadays, graduates can no longer just expect to fall into fulfilling graduate jobs as soon as they leave university and often have to embark on far more meandering journeys. The good news is that degree holders still tend to earn far more than nongraduates over their lifetimes, whatever career route they follow.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 13. Promoting yourself effectively

Abstract
Job applications shouldn‘t be long, boring auto biographies of everything you’ve ever done in your life. They should be effective marketing tools that clearly show you’re right for the job. This chapter gives you the essential tools to promote yourself to employers at every stage in the application process. The following chapters show you how to apply this understanding to specifi c application tools such as CVs, applications and interviews. You can explore how to develop your key employability attributes in Chapter 6.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 14. Targeting your CV

Abstract
CVs are your shop-window advertising, giving you a wonderful opportunity to quickly and effectively promote what you have to offer. This chapter shows you how to construct impressive marketing documents that will help you advertise your attributes, secure interviews, and hopefully, get a job!
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 15. Tip-top application forms

Abstract
Employers started to use application forms because the CVs they were receiving were becoming more and more vague and untargeted. Therefore, they hoped that forms, with specific questions, would be more useful recruitment tools. Unfortunately, however, most completed application forms are also completed poorly and reveal little of what applicants can offer. This chapter shows you how to complete application forms effectively and, therefore, quickly stand out from the crowd.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 16. Cover letters that open doors

Abstract
Cover letters are short introductions to your application that should whet the reader’s appetite and encourage them to delve deeper into your CVs and/or application forms.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 17. Impressing at interviews

Abstract
If you have secured an interview, then give yourself a big pat on the back. This is a major achievement because: Employers just wouldn‘t go through all the hassle of meeting you if they didn’t think you were up to the job!
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 18. Psychometric tests

Abstract
Psychometric tests are examinations of your mental capacities and processes. Specific assessments have been designed to measure all sorts of traits, from your verbal and numeric reasoning ability to your personality type. They usually take about 20–45 minutes to complete.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 19. Succeeding at assessment centres

Abstract
Assessment centres are the venues where specific job assessments are carried out. Larger organisations often conduct a number of exercises over a few hours or a couple of days; smaller firms may just combine interviews with one or two activities, such as a presentation and/or a group discussion. They are expensive operations and are therefore usually conducted at the latter stages of the recruitment process. As such, they are often the final hurdle on the path to a pay packet! The activities can include:
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 20. Dealing with job offers

Abstract
Sooner or later a job offer will land in your mailbox. You’ll know it‘s good news because the envelope will contain more than just a brief rejection – it will be packed with paperwork and information about your new opportunity.
Steve Rook

An introduction to self-employment

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 21. Becoming an entrepreneur

Abstract
The phrase ‘the gig economy’ was not around just a few years ago, but it has quickly gained traction as this sector steadily grows. Put starkly, it just describes organisations that avoid the responsibilities of employing people by taking on workers, not as employees, but as self-employed contractors. If you’ve been lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to gain a position like this, make sure you clarify your remuneration and properly sort out your taxes and other business essentials such as insurance in case of accidents. This chapter focuses on the needs of the more traditional entrepreneurs.
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 22. Getting your business started

Abstract
Once you’ve come up with some possible business ventures, it’s time to develop your ideas, test them and get going. The first stage in this process is to identify your target customers. This is crucial, because you’ll only be able to focus on the specific requirements of your customers when you know who they’re likely to be!
Steve Rook

Down the line

Frontmatter

CHAPTER 23. Moving your career forward

Abstract
You can’t guarantee success but good things come to those who work hard, get on with colleagues and show enough enterprise. Some useful guidelines are as follows:1 Ask questions and keep asking until you understand the answers.Be reliable in your timekeeping and attendance (many graduates only learn the importance of this requirement once their contracts have not been renewed).
Steve Rook

CHAPTER 24. Frequently asked questions

Abstract
Some of the more common problems faced by students and graduates are outlined below with advice on what you can do in each situation. You should always remember that you’re not alone and, if you’re struggling, reach out for help and contact your careers centre and/or the author of this guide at steventhomasrook@ yahoo.co.uk.
Steve Rook
Additional information