Dominika Piasecka graduated with a Journalism degree in 2016. She rapidly realised that the skills she needed to build relationships and contacts to get stories for her course were also valuable in finding jobs.
Dominika Piasecka – at work?
“My name is Dominika, I’m a journalism graduate from the University of Salford and am currently working as Media and PR Officer at The Vegan Society. When I moved to the UK almost 7 years ago, I didn’t know anyone and had to start forming relationships with people from scratch. I first understood the importance of networking at the beginning of my university course when I had to find interviewees for my assignments. The people I knew were more than friends or acquaintances; they were contacts. They helped me to find and connect with people I had to talk to. Online networking makes it all so much easier these days, especially LinkedIn which is a great platform to connect to people professionally. I would add everyone I met during my course and ask relevant people for references and endorsements to build my profile.”
Some people find networking easier than others, but Dominika is an example of how it can work well. Using LinkedIn is a great example and her tactic of asking people she had done work for to do a recommendation for her on LinkedIn, is an excellent one. After the short internship she did with us in the Student Support team, she asked me for a recommendation which I was happy to do. In the reciprocal spirit of networking, she returned the favour many months later, by providing me with this quote for our blog!
Job interviews evoke mixed emotions – anticipation but also dread. If you are invited to an interview, very well done, this means your written application is good and you are on the next step towards getting the job you want. But most of us worry about job interviews while also being delighted to have one. This is natural, so the secret is to manage your nerves by preparing effectively and viewing the interview as your opportunity to impress and even enjoy talking about yourself!
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail
It is critical to prepare by researching the employer and the role you are going for fully. Nothing can rule you out quicker than showing you aren’t really sure about what the job is. Also, get the small stuff right – make sure you know where you are going and allow yourself time to arrive in good time. Plan carefully what you are going to wear – follow the dress code that’s normal for the industry you are going for, e.g., for industries such as Law and Accountancy, dress codes are smart and conservative, whereas if you are going for a job in Advertising or Media, you can probably risk adding a bit more colour to your outfit.
Familiarise yourself with what kind of interview to expect? Interviews can be conducted in person, over skype, over the phone. Do you know who will be interviewing you and if it will be a small panel of people? If you know the names of the people on the panel – google them and see if you can find out about them.
Questions you can expect
Probably the most important thing you can do is anticipate interview questions and prepare potential answers. You can pick up clues about this from the ad or the job details.
But the following tend to be the broad areas of questioning to be prepared for:
Your reasons for applying
You need to have this kind of insight for answering questions about why you want the job or to work for the organisation (these simple questions can trip people up). But think about it from an employer’s perspective – if you can’t tell them why you want to work for them, why should they bother with you?
General career aims
If they ask you what your career goals are or where you want to be in 5 years’ time, what would you say? These questions are a bit old hat but knowing how a job fits in with career ideas is good to nail.
Your strengths and weaknesses
Be sure to know what your greatest strengths and achievements are as well as your development areas may be in relation to the post you are applying for.
About your experience
Be ready to talk about the relevance of any experience you have for the job you are applying for. What have been key achievements you would highlight? Even non-relevant work experience will have allowed you to have developed relevant skills.
The skills & competencies required in the job
This is a biggie. Virtually all job interviews will ask you about skills and competencies, questions, e.g. teamwork, problem solving…Have your examples ready.
Your knowledge of the organisation
Do your homework on their marketplace / their culture / the profession / any competitors. Also are you aware of key developments within the industry.
But do be aware that sometimes unexpected things may happen at interview! This Heineken video is an entertaining example.
The STAR technique for structuring your answers
A technique recommended by lots of employers and careers advisers is the STAR technique. This is particularly suitable for skills and competency questions.
Here’s an example for team-working.
S – Situation. Set the scene, e.g. in the second year of my business degree, a major part of the assessment involved working within a small project team on behalf of an external client, in this case a local charity that provided services to disabled people in the community.
T – Task. What was your role e.g. a key challenge for the charity was funding and it was decided that the project would focus on developing a marketing strategy that would assist the charity in raising funds in the short-term as well as providing a viable fundraising plan for the future. As a group, key tasks and roles within the project where identified. I led on the design of the posters as well as the marketing and promotion of the charity event that was identified as a key project outcome for the short-term.
A – Action. What action did you take e.g. I spoke with a graphic design friend who helped me to produce posters and displayed them around University. I then developed a social media marketing plan, publicizing the event on Facebook, Twitter and the University website as well as the Charity’s website. In addition, I was able to secure interviews with our local radio and local community newspaper.
R – Result e.g. The project team was successful in securing donations from local businesses and a rugby player from the local premier league team helped to compère the evening. We raised money by selling tickets and holding raffles for prizes donated by local businesses. The event was well attended raising over £1500. We were acknowledged for the effort we had put into promoting the event, and for being able to use our negotiation skills to persuade local businesses to make donations to a raffle.
Watch this short video in which we ask employers who came to campus what makes a stand-out candidate at interview. Make a note 3 points you find most useful.
Using the STAR technique, script out how you would answer one of the following questions.
Can you outline your experience of working in teams and tell me about the most successful team you have been in and why?
When have you had to communicate complex information effectively? Please give me an example.
Where do you go to find suitable vacancies to apply for? It can be a challenge to know where to actually find the right kind of opportunities for you. Google is good but may just overwhelm you with possibilities! Developing a productive job-hunting strategy can really help. What worked for you as a student getting part-time work might not for finding a job that will take you in the right career direction.
Did you know?
Graduates find jobs in all sorts of ways and all kinds of places. Here is a list which shows how 2015 graduates nationally said how they had found the job they were doing (data collected as part of the national graduate destinations survey 6 months after finishing university).
Recruitment agency/website – 19.7%
Employer websites – 18.5%
Personal contacts, including family and friends – 17.3%
Already worked there (including on an internship/placement) – 15.9%
University Careers service – 7%
Media (e.g. Newspaper/magazine advertisement) – 3.4%
Other university source (e.g., lecturer, website) – 3.2%
Social media/ professional networking sites – 2.8%
Speculative application – 2.5%
Source – Charlie Ball, Graduate Prospects (2016)
So people get jobs in all sorts of ways. It can be useful to think about the ‘open’ and ‘hidden’ job markets. The open job market refers to those jobs that are advertised. The hidden job market refers to those that aren’t advertised and you might get through contacts or an internal move.
How not to find a job
In the classic careers book What Colour is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles talks about the best and worst ways of getting a job. According to him your chances of success are most likely if you make highly targeted and tailored applications, you are least likely of success if you just post out your CV to as many employers as you can and rely solely on job ads.
And I’d agree with him, job-hunting isn’t like the lottery and just hoping the more jobs you apply for, the higher your chances of getting a job may be flawed thinking. The opposite may actually be the case if you invest valuable energy in applying for so many jobs, that you can’t do justice to the ones you really want.
Enhance your chances
So job-hunting is easier if you can work out your priorities in terms of the jobs you are applying for which takes time. Find out where the jobs are being advertised for the field you are interested in. The internet made job-hunting easier but also harder as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of opportunities advertised especially by sites such as Indeed which harvest opportunities from a variety of sources. As a Salford graduate, you can also still access all the vacancies we advertise via our careers portal so make sure you do that, as employers come to us because they are targeting students and graduates.
Remember that looking for advertised vacancies is only one way people find jobs. Are there recruitment agencies that operate in the field of work you are interested in? Check our web pages for advice on using an agency, and browse Agency Central which is an umbrella search site for agencies where you can search by specialism and location. You should never pay for registering for an agency. There are loads of agencies so working out who does what is important.
Word of mouth
But it’s also possible to find jobs through the hidden job market, i.e., through your connections. It’s always worth letting people you know you are looking and to ask them to alert you to opportunities. Some people also get jobs through an internal move too, so getting a job in the kind of organisation you want to work for, even if it not doing what you want to do, may allow you to move into other positions later. We cover this further in the Grit your Teeth and Get Networking post.
Beware of fake job ads
The internet has also spawned a variety of scams that seek to trick innocent job seekers out of money and/or personal data. So be alert to this. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. As a university Careers team, we occasionally hear of specific scams, some of which are pretty plausible. The website SaferJobs is a good resource for getting information or seeking advice if you are suspicious. General good rules include never parting with money as part of an application, don’t ring premium rate telephone numbers for an interview, be sceptical of hiring agents or go-betweens that rely completely on technology for interacting with you and don’t appear to have proper contact details and a real address.
Consider the following points and questions and make some notes.
Do you have a job-hunting strategy?
How would you describe your approach to job-hunting?
Reflecting back on the jobs and work you have done (career-related as well as just to earn money), how did you secure these opportunities? What worked best?
If you have not done this already, make sure your account in our University careers portal is set up. This means you can browse job opportunities that the University has been sent by employers. Ensure your preferences are accurate so we know what work you are looking for.
In the post about Who’s on Your Bench, we focused on those that are close to you that are so important to us in life. However, it’s good to think wider, as very often, it may be your weaker connections that can be the source of new opportunities (e.g., someone you once met who works for the company you would love to work for).
Networking for your career.
So what is networking for job-hunting?
Networking in principle – ‘In essence when you network you make a conscious decision to make the most of every contact (new and existing) you have and treat very single encounter as a job lead.’ (source Brilliant Graduate Career Handbook)
‘You are between 50 and 70 per cent likely to create your next career opportunity through your network, i.e., via people you know through University, work, family and socially.’ (source Brilliant Career Coach)
Networking can be a way to ask for help, information & advice and as a way of developing further contacts. We do it all the time in our lives but sometimes don’t really think about it or consider how it can be applied to the career context. It can sometimes make you cringe. This comedy sketch captures some of the stereotyped ideas about networking events, which I’m including for your amusement.
Why bother with networking?
Did you know that many jobs don’t get advertised? If they do, knowing someone in an organisation can help you find out about opportunities you may overlook. Networking isn’t just about landing a job though, it’s a life skill, growing and nurturing your network will help you as you develop your career.
Networking is always two-way. Never think of it as just how can I use my contacts to help me. A very clever networking tip is offering to help people you admire first, knowing that they might be willing to reciprocate in the future. Reciprocity is key.
Steps for networking
Mapping your network – Create a mind map of your network. Draw it out. Reflect on who you know – your family, friends, former lecturers, colleagues and former colleagues, friends on social media. There are some apps connected to social media sites which can actually allow you to map your network and visualise how your connections relate to each other.
Be clear on your purpose – When thinking about networking, consider what your purpose is. Who do you want to target? Do you want to get information for your career, the job market, about sources of vacancies, potential opportunities? Do you want to get advice about your chances of getting certain jobs, the strength of, and any gaps on your CV, feedback on your portfolio? Or do you want to get further contacts?
Get out of your comfort zone – Depending on how confident you are – for many of us networking means getting out of our comfort zone. If the whole idea of networking makes you want to run to the hills, you won’t be alone, but you may need to face your fears! One way to build your confidence generally, is to aim to go somewhere once a week where you are likely to meet people you don’t know, so you can practise your ability to introduce yourself to others (there’s a challenge for you).
‘Warm’ versus ‘cold’ networking – It’s always easier to approach networking through warm contacts rather than speculatively. Prioritise warm contacts, and seek out ways to grow these. This means being proactive and maximising the number of people you know professionally. You can aim to seek out your next opportunity via contacts, with a view to make referred but speculative applications.
Be organised in your approach – Always keep a note of who you have contacted and when. If you do manage to set up a meeting or a phone conversation with a possible contact, prepare some questions beforehand. Always pay attention to detail, and thank people for their help. If a contact puts you in touch with somebody else, always follow this up. If you don’t, let your contact know that you chose not to due to a change in circumstances. Build a reputation of respect and reliability.
Virtual and face-to-face networking – Getting the balance right between face-to-face and virtual networking is tricky. Both have their place and it’s good to get them working together. Social media may allow you to make connections with people you don’t actually know in person but over time, you may well meet. The virtual world can also allow you to keep in touch with people who you know in person but perhaps live in different cities or countries. Scope for networking is enormous, but virtual communication also notoriously gives lots of scope for tripping up and annoying people, so be careful! Don’t be someone that continually self-promotes what you are doing and doesn’t seem interested in others. Be persistent but refrain from cyber-stalking!
So I’d definitely recommend making use of social media but be clear on your goals, and which platform would suit you best for the field you are in. LinkedIn is more business-orientated, whereas Instagram and Facebook may work best for creative types. Be strategic and review what you are doing regularly. You just never know where it could lead.
OK – so where to start?
Everyone is at a different stage with networking but let’s focus here on doing it online.
Reflect on the following questions and make a few notes.
What is your attitude to social media for networking?
How effectively are you using it for online networking that supports your career? Give yourself a score out of 10 (0 for ‘you’re not even off the starting blocks’, to 10 ‘you’ve got it nailed’).
Think of someone you know and/or admire or has a job you would like. Check out what they are doing online to network and promote their career. What can you learn from what they are doing (or not doing)?
Think of at least one person that is in your wider network that you know could be a useful contact for you. Compose an email that you can send them which politely asks for their advice in a non-pushy way, proposing a potential phone call or meet up. Before you send it, ask someone you trust to read it to check you have got the tone right.
Careers matter to people. Your career will occupy half of your waking hours; it will impact on your finances, your status, what you contribute to society, your happiness, your own fulfilment and others’ opinion of you. Your career will interweave with your home, your family and your leisure interests. And careers, certainly for those of us living in the UK today, mean choices about the kind of life you want to lead and being able to make decisions about those choices.
This is certainly a subject that deserves to be talked about, don’t you agree?
The power of career conversations came out of recent research I have been doing into graduate careers. One of my findings has been that individuals who had found suitable people to talk to about their hopes, fears and ambitions were much more positive about their career prospects. Ironically, although the ‘what’s your career plan?’ question may be one that graduates dread to hear, and would possibly shy away from, it is also one that most people would like to be able to have a stab at answering, especially if they know the person asking is genuinely interested and not just making small-talk.
Who the graduates in my research spoke to about their career varied – people they mentioned included careers advisers, lecturers, family members, friends, and work colleagues. Whoever that person might be, having people who they trusted to talk to, appeared to have significance in supporting individuals to have belief in themselves. It didn’t have to be someone who knew the ins and outs of the industry or occupation a graduate was interested in (though it might be), but somebody who was genuinely interested in that graduate.
Who do you talk to about your career?
So, where am I heading with this?
We have already posted about career planning and decision-making elsewhere, but I’d suggest that seeking out people to talk ‘out loud’ to about your career is a wise move. For some of you this may be already something you do, and if so, foster this and continue it. But if you are someone who doesn’t have anybody to talk to your career about, I’d suggest this is something to take action about. If you are not sure who to go to, arrange to talk to a careers adviser at the university.
What relationships and connections can help your career?
Over time, I’ve actually come to think that for some people, there is a taboo about talking about careers; perhaps it’s a British thing, or a fear of people disparaging you or not understanding, and it could be related to how sometimes the most important things in life don’t get talked about, while we can all chatter away about trivia (I know I certainly can).
I know people vary in terms of how much they like to talk in general, but my research indicates that whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, having quality career conversations matter – ‘it’s good to talk’.
Make a note of your answers to the following questions:
Who do you talk to about your career? Which of these people do you find most useful to talk to?
If you don’t talk to anyone about your career, why is this?
If you don’t talk to anyone about your career, and you would like to, who do you think it would be useful to do so with?
There are different perspectives on careers advice. Watch this short video in which employers share their favourite bits of careers advice. Make a note of any points you think are useful.
Well, I’ve got Bella and Milo on my bench so I am doing OK. But seriously, there is a cliché that it’s ‘who you know’ that matters in careers. These 3 simple words hide the variation this may mean depending on who you are and where you come from. Sociologists call this social capital, a phrase that is now used widely.
Who’s on your supporters’ bench?
But whether you are fortunate to be well-connected or not, everyone needs people on their bench and it’s important to appreciate those people. The sporting metaphor is a good one, as this could include people who can cheer you when you do well, can get out the stretcher when there’s an emergency and provide you with coaching and direction. Your bench may well include family and friends who are your cheerleaders, even if you feel they can’t really help your career, they may well be able to help maintain your morale. And we know that staying positive is important when getting a job and developing your career.
It’s often someone on the sidelines cheering us on that can help us keep going. Nurture your bench of cheerleaders, and think about reciprocity too. The people on your bench will very likely need your help too.
Peter Hawkins in his book No Regrets on Sunday recommends building back-up on your bench. He talks about people who can help boost your confidence, enable you to be creative, encourage you to invest time in the things that really matter, help you explore your skills, and inspire you, as well as celebrate your achievements.
Zella King is a business academic who has studied social networks in order to understand how they work. In this TedX talk, she focuses on the ideas of the core, clique, camp and crowd. I’d argue that if you don’t get the core right then it will be more difficult to develop the rest. Your bench is your core. Social media can tempt us into collecting more and more contacts which can sometimes distract you from properly valuing your core.
Watch Zella King’s talk between 2.18 and 9.52. Do you agree with what she says? It’s an 11 minute video in total.
If you had to name 3-5 people who are your core supporters, who are they? Do these people know they are in your core? When is the last time you spoke to them?
Send them all a message, telling them that you are working on some career planning activities, and you have been told to ask some key people in your life, ‘What are my 3 greatest qualities?’ and ‘What piece of advice would you most like to give me?’ Go on, be brave, and make sure to thank them when they reply and offer to reciprocate if they would like this.
The author of this post is Tahira Majothi (careers consultant).
Tahira has actually climbed to the top of Engels Beard on campus – respect!
Tahira Majothi, careers consultant
As I walk around the ever changing university campus, and see people climbing the ‘Engel’s Beard’ sculpture I’m mindful of the significance of key sites which surround us and which serve as a reminder of the North’s pivotal role in changing world history including the remnants of the Industrial Revolution, the Manchester Ship Canal, the site of the Peterloo Massacre, the Working Class Movement Library and Rochdale Pioneers the home of the modern Cooperative movement, all of which recognise the people and campaigns which have helped to shape the region’s deep historical, industrial and societal changes and which ran parallel along the fight for fair labour, political and human rights.
The evolving labour market and the fight for people’s rights in wider society have always led to some hard fought campaigns for recognition whether it was for civil rights, workers’ rights, the suffragettes’ movement or equal rights for disabled people and LGBTQ recognition and representation.
Following on from graduation, as you venture out onto a new course, career path or enterprise with the desire and purpose to make a difference to you and the wider community, remember there is power in knowing your rights at work.
What do we mean by ‘rights’?
Know your rights at work
What does it mean to you and for you? Consider how rights we may take for granted now came to be i.e. the right not be discriminated against, the right to an education and work, to liberty and security, right to respect and family life, freedom of expression, of thought, conscience and religion, the right to marry who you choose to marry or to take part in free elections etc. A lot of these rights recently have been enshrined within government legislation as well as the Human Rights Act, the Equality Act 2010, and EU directives. Rights however are not static and depend on the political climate whether local/national/international. It’s also worth remembering that rights vary in different countries and across different cultures.
‘Uberisation’ of the workplace
Industry and society is perpetually changing. Think of some of things you are witnessing as a graduate in the current labour market including companies that use technology without bearing much of the physical costs as noted by Tom Goodwin i.e. Airbnb doesn’t own any accommodation, Facebook doesn’t create content, Uber doesn’t own any cars. Think about how such businesses are changing the nature of industry-consumer transactions, but also in the case of Uber, whether the drivers are considered employed/self-employed. Not to mention the gig economy, zero hour contracts, global graduates, the investment in entrepreneurial start-ups, the shift towards automation and technology as well as economic, social and political shifts such as Brexit.
Should these changes stop you realising your goals? No! But should they make you mindful of your rights as you make the transition from graduate to employee or entrepreneur? Absolutely!
Navigating the early days of transitioning from university into a new course of study/job/enterprise can be challenging, what will the people be like, will I like them, will they like me, what is the culture like, will I be allowed to be myself and not feel discriminated against, will it lead to progression etc?
Some of these scenarios have quick wins via work mentors or buddies as well as inductions but others may require a little bit more research into your rights for example, what assistance is available if you have enhanced support needs, if English isn’t your first language or what should be in your contract of employment, how much is the minimum wage, will you have to pay tax and what to do if you feel exploited or discriminated against? Joining a trade union (if one is available) is a good way to protect your rights and have someone to turn to for advice.
Forewarned is forearmed – Know your rights!
If you are aware of your rights you can have a strong sense of control and be self-aware enough to recognise what is and isn’t acceptable within a work or study environment. Read up on your rights and make a note of appropriate support organisations. If you feel that something isn’t right with how you are being treated, explore ways to resolve this, and don’t take it lying down!
And remember… Before you start to aspire to change the world around you, make sure you’re all too aware of what your rights and entitlements are, to quote the poet Rumi “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Note down answers to the following questions:
What is the difference between the minimum wage and the living wage?
What are statutory rights and what type of worker may not be entitled to statutory rights?
Name 3 protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010?
What are zero hour contracts?
Is it legal to work unpaid for an employer in order to get work experience?
If you are doing a job via a recruitment agency, are you entitled to holiday and sick leave?
Should you start a job without an employment contract?
If you have done work as a freelancer and your invoice has not been paid, what can you do?
The author of this post is Justyna Turner (enterprise champion).
Why become self-employed, a freelancer or start your own business when you graduate?
There are many reasons and benefits why people choose this career path. Most people want to be their own boss. Others do it to make lots of money or even just to make a second income. Some relish the challenge of working for themselves, while others have no option but to go self-employed.
Many successful businesses today were established by students while they were still in university or just after completing university; often with their fellow students. Many argue that there is never a better time to start a business than at university. Some examples are Google, Facebook, Time magazine, Dell and many more. Self-employment is sometimes the only option if you wish to pursue a specific career path; media, and the creative and performing arts sectors are all examples of where self-employment or freelance work is typical. Creatives often develop portfolio careers where they will need to juggle self-employment and short term contracts to maximize the use of their creative skills.
Could self-employment be for you?
What do you need in order to set up in business?
Many people believe that you need large quantities of money and a very unique idea to set up in business, however this is not always true. If you have a good idea, and you have done some research into the marketplace, to see whether people are willing to buy your product or service- that is a great starting point. If you have a good business idea and are willing to put in the hard work, there are plenty of opportunities and sources of funding you can get access to. Possessing entrepreneurial skills will also help to make your idea into reality, and the Enterprise Team at the University of Salford can help you develop these.
Enterprising skills if you aren’t self-employed
Being Enterprising does not always mean running your own business or being your own boss. There are many benefits and skills you develop by being enterprising; many of them not only helping people start their businesses but having an enterprising mind-set will make you more employable in general. The word ‘intrapreneurialism’ means being enterprising within an organisation.
What are the qualities of an entrepreneur?
To be enterprising is to exhibit certain qualities that will help you with your future career, no matter if you decide to start a business or if you want to do well within an organisation. In the current times, most students will get a 2:1 degree or above, most of them will have a student loan and most of them will present a similar CV to employers. Being enterprising will help you to take advantage of opportunities and enable you to stand out from the crowd. Some of the most important skills and attributes that employers are looking for are also enterprising skills, e.g., creativity, team building, communication, planning, leadership, problem solving and decision making.
How to develop your enterprise skills?
Some practical ways that you can develop your Enterprising Skills, are being involved in group projects and team sports as well as volunteer work – these maybe things you have already done whilst at university. Put yourself in a position where you are required to solve a problem, or come up with a creative idea. Why not take part in a business competition, where you can not only develop these skills, but also win some cash prizes? These competitions are often open to graduates as well as students, so whilst you are looking for employment opportunities, you may have more time to engage more fully with these types of activities. If you would like to take part in competitions and become more involved, please see our upcoming opportunities on our web page.
Where to begin?
So, if you have a business idea, or you want to find out how you can use your skills to go freelance, you can speak with a qualified business adviser to get an idea on how to get started. We can help to guide you through the business start-up process step by step. You can book in with the team here. You just need your university username and password to login. You can still do this as a graduate – we are not just here for students.
Based on your answers to the quiz, do you think self-employment could be for you? Briefly make notes to explain your answer.
To develop your skills further, you can learn more about Entrepreneurship with our online Enterprise Masterclasses. These are only 15-20 minutes each and will give you a great insight into the world of Entrepreneurship.
This post’s author is Paul Sheppard, careers consultant.
Paul Sheppard – careers consultant and definitely not a robot
A few months ago I undertook a quick quiz on the BBC website asking how likely it was that a robot might take my job and discovered the chance of my job being done by a robot in the next 20 years is only about 20%. There is, however, a far more serious issue in that many roles and sectors are likely to be adversely affected in the short term, in addition to the roles that have already been replaced over recent years as many middle skilled jobs are now being automated as machines master more complicated tasks previously undertaken by humans.
I’ll get my crystal ball out to tell you what the future will look like.
Going forward it is crucial that graduates and those advising you try to understand what the future may bring. Career areas such as Finance are predicted to be the most likely to be adversely affected as the work of accountants and financial analysts can be done by machines. Jobs with high level skills, creativity and personal care are generally safe and we are likely to see employers that need smaller highly skilled workforces dominated by those with high levels of creativity and problem solving that can’t be robotised.
Roles that require higher levels of emotional intelligence and empathy are likely to offer opportunities and some, such as secondary school teacher, are likely to encounter shortages. Psychologists, architects, quantity surveyors and HE lecturers are amongst the least likely to suffer from ‘The Second Machine Age’ and doctors, dentists and nurses can also breathe a collective sigh of relief for the foreseeable future. It is worth bearing in mind though that there will be an inevitable ‘knock on effect’ as those who want to enter such professions are likely to face competition from those forced out of those sectors most affected, such as Finance.
Those who possess the dexterity and practical skills required by some of the more traditional careers such as nursing, and the construction trades, won’t be easily replaced. We may be already witnessing a resurgence of practical skills that could be described as artisanship. The Creative Industries will continue to flourish and if you’re going to see Kraftwerk’s highly anticipated 3D show in 2017 there will be humans using technology to help create the music and the experience as well as numerous others involved in designing and staging such an event. More generally, an ability to harness technology will keep creative folk in business for some time.
It’s all about the technology
I have not really touched on the jobs of the future which have begun to emerge, e.g., social media entrepreneurs, the YouTube Vloggers. New jobs have been continually created in the past and will continue to do so whilst those looking at traditional careers such as civil engineer, and software development (at the sharp-end of applying new technology) have good prospects for the short to medium term. In Manchester, the last 10 years have seen a steady growth in advertising, marketing and PR as a sector – much of the job growth has been in response the social media and the internet.
John Maynard Keynes infamously predicted that a 3 day working week that allowed us more time to pursue our personal interests would become the norm (I’m still waiting). Yet we continue to see too many graduates struggle to find jobs that utilise their skills adequately.
So what is the message for those embarking on their careers or indeed wanting to change direction? Be adaptable – expect and prepare for 5-10 jobs (all of which may or may not relate to each other in some way) in your life. Anticipate geographical mobility too in our globalised world. Make sure to keep abreast of the labour market (your careers service can help you). Skilling up isn’t finite but rather a lifelong process. But there’s no doubt that being able to work with technology is a must-have aptitude for future-proofing your career.
Search jobs you are interested in to find out what their likelihood of being done by a robot: Take this BBC quiz
The author of this post is Gary Bardsley Student Engagement Co-ordinator
What do employers want from graduates?
Surveys of employers reveal top 10 “must have” skills that many employers state graduates must possess to be successful employees. Which skills matter the most to recruiters does vary according to sector, roles, size of business, cultural ethos as well as how committed a company is to training its staff. Employers operate within a fast paced and technologically changing economic environment, therefore their needs can be variable and specialised. However, there are some generic skills which are definitely useful whatever type of job you are aiming for. And you probably have many of them already!
Gary perusing a selection of careers information
Typical Top Ten
The Brilliant Graduate Career Handbook identifies a top ten of graduate skills sought after by employers.
Business and customer awareness
Communication and literacy
Application of IT
Foreign language skills
How would you rate yourself against each of these skills? (Give yourself a mental mark out of ten)
It’s wise to do a bit of research and explore which skills are important to the sector you are applying to, the company and the job role. Graduate Prospects has a great encyclopaedia of 400 graduate job roles which includes the skills required for each different job. Bear in mind, ideas about skills evolve and this year for the first time the Association of Graduate Recruiters Summer survey included “managing up” which is about how you manage your manager. This includes understanding what their priorities are and being responsive to this, as well as knowing when you need to go to your manager for a decision and when to make a decision yourself.
Employers also talk about personal qualities which are a bit different from skills and include things like motivation, enthusiasm, pro-activity, passion, work ethic, flexibility. However, sometimes people seem to merge skills and qualities, eg., the list above includes resilience in skills; but I’d say resilience is a personal quality. What do you think?
Some employers have also adopted a strengths-based recruitment process which appears to blend skills and qualities, with a view to understand your potential rather that what you have already done.
Graduate attributes are another way to think about what graduates may offer employers. Universities have started to use this language. Research from Australia done by Simon Barrie summarises these as:
Research and inquiry – graduates can learn, research and create new knowledge
Information literacy – graduates can use information effectively
Autonomy – graduates can work independently
Ethics, social and professional values – graduates can act as responsible citizens
Communication – graduates understand the significance of communication in all forms to get ideas across as well as listening to others
The difference between skills, personal qualities, strengths and attributes can be confusing, but it is good to think about what you can offer (however this is badged) and how this matches what employers want, not to mention what you need to build upon and develop in order to grow your career.
Watch this short video in which we asked employers who attended one of our careers events what they most valued about new employees. Make a note of points that really jump out at you.
Checking back to the Top Ten skills list (above), which 3 of these are the skills you are most confident about?
Write them down and explain how you would explain this to an employer at interview.
In addition, decide which skill on the list is the one you would most like to improve?
Write down why you think it is important and what you could do to improve this skill.
Done, J. & Mulvey, R. (2011) The Brilliant Graduate Career Handbook. Prentice Hall