I want to work in ..... a different way.

Time out, working for yourself, part-time and voluntary work and ways to avoid the rat race.
Also see our Working for a Charity page

Ethical Careers and Employers lemmings

Surveys have found that almost 90% of graduates consider high ethical standards in a company to be important when making a decision about whether or not to work for that company.

The following websites help to provide information about careers and employers of interest to graduates who are concerned about the ethical, social and environmental responsibility of graduate recruiters.


Corporate Social Responsibility

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) covers a wide range of issues emerging out of business activities and their impact on society, the economy and the environment including:

Careers in CSR

Useful links

Alternative Work Styles

The following resources may be helpful for students who, through choice or through force of circumstances, are unwilling or unable to follow a "conventional" working pattern, who are seeking a satisfactory work-life balance or who simply want to avoid the rat-race.

Organisations are nowadays becoming flatter and less hierarchical. Sideways promotion is increasing, and staff are developing their skills without necessarily climbing the corporate ladder. (Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century - AGR)

Flexible Working and Working from Home

According to an analysis by the TUC of data from the Office of National Statistics, four million people in the UK now work from home with an increase of 62,000 in the last year (2014 figures). The biggest increase has been in the South East with an increase of 132,000 in seven years but the biggest proportion work in the South West. More than half of home workers are managers or professionals with those least likely to work from home being secretarial and administrative staff.

Home working increases productivity, improves retention of staff and carers of the elderly or young children, access to the job market. It removes the time wasted in commuting and also the negative environmental effects of commuting such as pollution and waste of energy. Also 650,000 people with a disability work from home. However, according to the TUC, the trend for home working was starting to plateau as some employers don't trust staff to work efficiently at home as there are too many potential distractions.

To successfully work from home you have to be extremely self-disciplined and organised. You must minimise distractions and set yourself a similar routine as you would in an office - e.g. getting up by 7.30 a.m. and starting work at nine o'clock sharp! It also helps if you can set up an office space which you associate just with working.

Web-development company Automattic has introduced a completely flexible working day

CEO Matt Mullenweg, said: “I don’t care what hours you work. I don’t care if you sleep late or if you pick up a child at school in the afternoon. I don’t care if you spend the afternoon on the golf course and then work from 2 to 5 AM. What do you actually produce?”

The top 5 reasons to work from home according to Samsung
  1. Money. Not only would you save money on travel costs – train tickets, petrol, parking, etc, not eating out for lunch on a regular basis will also save too. For parents, it gives the opportunity to dramatically reduce the costs of childcare.
  2. Commute. No delayed trains or road traffic!
  3. Comfort. Rather than donning a suit and working at a desk all day, choose your own dress code and working environment.
  4. Green Living. Working from home reduces your carbon footprint, conserves office space for your employer and allows you to be the master of your own environment.
  5. Freedom/Flexibility. The freedom to choose your hours and breaks, while not being dragged into meetings all day could boost your moral and work ethic and create your ideal work/life balance.


Working For Yourself and Freelancing

For advice on self-employment see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/selfemployment.htm

Practical jobs

Matthew Crawford in his book The Case for Working with Your Hands thinks people aren't happy at work because jobs have become too specialised: you can't see what difference you are making, for example selling things to people that they don't really need. He opened a motorcycle repair shop and found he was happier, also surprisingly more intellectually stimulated. A tradesman has lots of variety, and you have to be practical, but also work out solutions to complex problems: you have to to improvise and adapt. In jobs such as gardening, you have a clear purpose. See our page on practical, outdoor and active careers.

Other Ways to Avoid the Rat-Race

Portfolio Careers

"We learn who we are - in practice, not in theory - by testing reality, not by looking inside. We discover the true possibilities by doing - trying out new activities, reaching out to new groups, finding new role models, and reworking our story as we tell it to those around us. What we want clarifies with experience and validation from others along the way. ...To launch ourselves anew, we need to get out of our heads. We need to act."

Herminia Ibarra

Students often feel that they have to decide on a career path for life, and that once decided, this can't be changed, so they feel frozen into indecision. The reality is that you will have a variety of paths to choose from in future: as one door closes, others will open. there is ample room for trial and error and most people will make mistakes in their career path. Career plans are rarely as precise as those laid out in books and opportunities will open up that they didn't even know existed.

What is a portfolio career?

A portfolio career is about doing two or more different jobs on a part-time basis with different employers that when combined are the equivalent of a full-time position, instead of working a traditional full-time job. Portfolio careers typically focus on your skills and interests, though managing your career yourself is the key element.

These jobs might be complementary or unrelated and could include


Portfolio careers are often thought of as the preserve of artists, designers, writers and performers and there is certainly truth in this. A study found that 48% of art, design and media graduates had portfolio careers 6 years after graduating, often combining employment with self employment such as freelancing, study or developing creative practice.
Portfolio careers, though, are much more widespread than this. Many professionals, such as accountants, nurses, consultants, teachers, human resource managers and IT specialists, also work on a portfolio basis. In fact, the authors of “And What Do You Do? 10 Steps to Creating a Portfolio career” state that “We have yet to find a job or profession that cannot form part of a person’s portfolio career

In his book, Job Shift: How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs, William Bridges states that “all jobs in today's economy are temporary”, referring to the lack of job security in the current economic climate.

However, graduates have traditionally moved around between employers to develop their career – even those who begin their career on a “traditional” graduate training scheme. A survey from Milkround.com in 2008 found that:
  • 10% of graduates plan to leave their first graduate job before a completing a year.
  • Nearly 30% expect to look for another role between a year and two years while a quarter claim two to three years will be the time to go.
  • One in five predicts they will last three to five years; just 17% intend to be loyal for five years or more.

Advantages of a portfolio career


Skills needed to build a portfolio career

“Career planning should be based on four main factors: skills, interests, values and personality. If you have a wide range of skills and interests, then a portfolio career is likely to work better”
Graham Nicholson, former president of the Association of Graduate Careers and Employability Services


The Portfolio Careerist www.portfoliocareerist.co.uk blog about portfolio careers that gives insights, tips and further reading on creating an ethical, sustainable portfolio career may be a good starting point for those considering this option. The author combines owning a digital media agency with a variety of education and communications roles.

See our Employability Skills pages www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsmenu.htm for exercises that will help you to analyse these four factors.
Establishing and managing a portfolio career is not easy: you have to carefully consider the types of jobs you want and make careful plans. See www.portfoliocareers.net for more information’ – the site includes a self-assessment quiz to help you assess your suitability for a portfolio career http://portfoliocareers.net/tools

Our pages on Self Employment www.kent.ac.uk/careers/selfemployment.htm may also be useful

Time Out

Many students think of "taking a year out" after they graduate, but this needs to be carefully planned. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending a year stuck in the same sort of unchallenging job that you did during your vacations, gaining little in the way of skills, experience or satisfaction. The resources listed below will help you to avoid this trap, but first a couple of questions to ask yourself:

Think first - why do you want to take time out?

What can you do?

Almost anything! but these are some of the most popular options:

- and a question which students often ask careers advisers:

"Most recruiters look favourably upon people who have taken gap years, if they are able to draw on their experiences and show an employer how they might make them more effective in the role they are applying for" Carl Gilleard, Association of Graduate Recruiters

"When looking for jobs I found it very easy to handle the questions on employers' application forms as I had gained so many skills from my gap year teaching English in China: teamworking, initiative, problem-solving and leadership to name just a few"


What will future employers think?

A lot will depend on what you have done during a gap year and how you present it. If you have spent a year backpacking around the world, your applications should show how you planned and organised the trip; how you dealt with any problems you met along the way, how you funded it and what you learned from the experience, rather than just listing all the exotic countries you visited.

If you are using a Gap Year Organisation to organise your placement see our Checklist of Questions to Ask Most placements go well, but there is a significant minority where students feel that the experience was nothing like that promised in the glossy brochure. So before you pay out lots of money make sure you know all about the project.

Further Information

If you are using a Gap Year Organisation to organise your placement see our Checklist of Questions to Ask Most placements go well, but there is a significant minority where students feel that the experience was nothing like that promised in the glossy brochure. So before you pay out lots of money make sure you know all about the project.

Volunteering UK

Volunteering Abroad

Gap Year

See also our web pages on Working Abroad www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitesint.htm


All available for reference from the Careers Service Helpdesk

Last fully updated 2014