Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.


About the Careers and Employability Service and the University

About choosing a career

About job-seeking

About postgraduate study

About living, working or studying abroad

About specific employers or career areas

About job applications

Other questions

About the CES and the University

What can the CES do to help me?

From our Statement of Service:

“The Careers and Employability Service (CES) offers a range of information, advice and guidance services free-of-charge to all students at the University of Kent . These services encompass many aspects of career development and planning and provide the opportunity for students to realise their vocational potential. Facilities will be available to encourage students to analyse their values, interests, skills and abilities, supplemented by information about employment opportunities and further study, enabling them to make rational career decisions”.

Our range of services includes:

I need to see a careers adviser immediately ....

A Careers or Employability Adviser is available to help with CV checks and/or other quick queries between 10.30 am - 12.30 p.m. and 2.00 - 4.00 p.m. every day on the Canterbury Campus

*except on public holidays and when the whole University shuts down over the Christmas period. Some drop-in sessions are for CV checks only: ask in the CES building for details of what the adviser on duty at particular times can offer. During vacations, the Careers Information Room will still be open all day, but will be unstaffed between 12.30 - 1.30 pm

You can see the duty careers adviser “on demand” but may need to wait a few minutes if there are other people waiting to be seen. Just ask at reception to see the duty adviser.

You can ask the duty adviser to check your CV, or for advice on jobs or interviews, for example. If you have a more complex query or problem - such as "I have no idea what I want to do!" the duty adviser will probably suggest that you book in for a longer careers guidance interview but will also be able to offer some ideas for self-assessment and careers research to help you get started

See for more about the careers advisers at the University and how to contact them including Medway campus advice times.

I'm not happy on my degree course and I want to change or leave it

Start by having a look at our page for students in your position at - then come in and talk to a careers adviser about your options.

Can the CES help me to find a part-time job while I study?

The CES does not handle vacancies for casual or part-time work – we forward any we receive to Kent Union Jobshop   which should be your first port of call for such work

See our Work Experience pages for more about part-time and vacation work opportunities

About choosing a career

I have no idea what I want to do .....

See our pages on Choosing a Career or the booklet of the same title, available in the Careers and Employability Service

My degree isn't really relevant to any career . what can I do?

Don't worry - the options available to you are very wide-ranging with some 40% of advertised graduate vacancies open to graduates in any subject. These range from health and social welfare occupations to commercial, professional and managerial jobs, such as chartered accountant and marketing manager. Many employers recruit graduates into these fields of work striaght from their degree courses and will provide whatever training and development is needed. 

You can find a full list of jobs open to graduates in any subject at  

See also to find out what careers graduates in your degree subject have entered – but then use Prospects Planner to relate your interests, values and skills to careers.

About job-seeking

When should I start to look for jobs?

This depends very much on the sort of job, or sort of employer, you are looking for! Many large organisations have closing dates between October and January for graduate training programmes starting the following autumn so, if you wish to work in these type of organisations, you should not wait until after graduation to look for jobs. This applies in particular to employment in advertising agencies, investment banks, and jobs with many large companies.

Smaller employers, and those in sectors such as the media, the environment and the not-for-profit sector are more likely to recruit as and when vacancies occur, targeting graduates or finalists at the very end of their studies. These organisations may not even advertise their vacancies, relying on speculative applications.

Start your career planning in your second year – this will normally be much too early to apply, but will enable you to draw up a plan of action for your applications in good time. Find out how and when the companies you are interested in are likely to recruit and note any closing dates – most companies stick to the same recruitment pattern from year to year, although you should check their websites regularly in case of any changes.

How can I discover which employers are recruiting graduates?

All vacancies sent to us directly by employers – for finalists, recent graduates and students seeking vacation work or sandwich placements - are placed on our online vacancy database at You can search this by type of work, location etc.

Graduate Directories, such as Prospects and GET are also available for finalists. These contain details of graduate vacancies - mainly in large corporate and public-sector organisations. See for links to the online versions of these directories and to other useful graduate recruitment websites.

What websites should I look at for graduate vacancies?

We have listed a dozen or so of the most useful general sites at:

Specific career areas may have their own particular recruitment sites – see for links to many of the most popular careers for graduates.

Links to the websites of national and local newspapers , are at

I want to know about career opportunities in Kent

See our pages on “Working in Kent ” , which include the Kent Grads database of employers

Can I get a graduate-level job without a 2.1?

Many large graduate recruiters will specify a 2.1, but this does not mean that graduates with a lower class of degree will not find suitable employment. However, you may need to be more flexible in your job-seeking and to be able to sell yourself well in your applications.

Employers may ask for a particular class of degree because the work that they offer involves passing professional exams or because they want to restrict the number of applications that they receive to a more manageable number than would be the case if they did not require a 2.1. Employers that do this tend to be the large, blue-chip companies that expect to receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications for their graduate vacancies. These employers only recruit around 20% of all graduates – most graduates, whatever their class of degree, will join smaller/medium-sized organisations which tend to be more willing to look at all parts of graduates' applications.

While you should try and get as good a class of degree as you are capable of, remember that there is more to you than your degree! Your personal skills are also important – graduate recruiters do not want candidates who have nothing to offer beyond good academic grades but will look for people who can demonstrate the skills they require through work experience or involvement in student clubs and societies. See our Employability Skills pages for advice on analysing your skills and using them in job applications

See our jobhunting problems page for more on this

I only have 240 (or fewer) UCAS points and employers all want at least 280 …

See our jobhunting problems page for more on this

I have a criminal record ....

See our jobhunting problems page for more on this

About postgraduate study

How do I get funding to do a postgraduate course?

It is always easier to get a place for postgraduate study than to get funding, especially in the social sciences and humanities.

The majority of what funding there is comes from the Research Councils or from individual universities. This is targeted on research degrees, mostly PhDs. Almost all students on taught Masters courses are self-financing.

The only postgraduate courses where funding is guaranteed are teacher training courses: PGCE students receive a training bursary for of £6000 a year and are, unlike other postgraduate students, still eligible for student loans. See our Teaching pages for more information and links.

Our Postgraduate Study Links pages include links to funding bodies. The “Funding my Further Study” section on the Prospects website is also useful. To find out about funding available for postgraduate study at the University of Kent , see

How do I apply for postgraduate study?

There is no centralised application system for postgraduate study and you will need to apply to each university individually.

What is a personal statement and how do I write one?

See our pages on Applying for Postgraduate Study at

About living, working or studying abroad

How can I use my languages in a career?

All kinds of employers will value language skills – but a knowledge of another language is not enough on its own. It is what you can do through that language that is important – the ability to persuade, negotiate, advise, obtain and convey information, organise, motivate or troubleshoot.

See our pages on “What Can I do with my Degree in Modern Languages?” , which are also useful for graduates in any subject who are fluent in another language.

The AGCAS booklet “Using Languages”, available from the Careers and Employability Service or at gives advice on using your language skills in over 30 career areas.

I want to teach English abroad

See our pages on Teaching English as a Foreign Language at These explain the different qualifications and terms used and link to language schools and course providers throughout the world.

We also have an excellent reference book called Teaching English Abroad which gives details of how to get TEFL jobs in many countries including France and Belgium and gives addresses of employers. Ask at Careers Service reception to see this.

I want to take some time out to travel after I graduate but what will future employers think of this?

"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

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

"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"

After graduation I would like to practise law in America

As there are no undergraduate law degrees in the USA, law and non-law graduates from the UK can qualify in the same way as American students via the JD, a three-year postgraduate degree.

Law graduates also have the option of qualifying via the New York State Bar exam which can be studied for in London .

This will qualify you to practise – but you will need an immigrant visa (Green Card) to be allowed to work in the USA – and these are very difficult to obtain.

See our “I Want to Work in Law” pages

About specific employers or career areas

I want to work in ... but I'm not sure how to go about it

We get a lot of queries that begin this way and so have devoted a section of our website to answering this question in relation to over 40 of the most frequently-mentioned careers, from Investment Banking to the Diplomatic Service and from the media to Forensic Science. This section gives a short introduction to each career plus useful links for further information. See for the full list.

About job applications

Should I enclose a covering letter with an emailed CV?

How can I answer all those horrible questions on employers' application forms?

These questions – the ones beginning "Give an example ..." or "Describe a situation ..." that are designed to be tough (to test how much effort you are willing to put into your application!) but also to bring out evidence of the skills that you will need to do the job well. See for more advice on tackling these questions, and example answers.

Employers keep asking about “commercial awareness” – what do they mean and how can I show them that I have it?

For tips on how to avoid this see our new page on Commercial Awareness

Who should I give as my referee?

See for advice on this

Can I have a mock interview?

Any interview requires careful preparation and a "mock interview" is only one part of that process. Before your interview, you should use the following resources:


If you would like to practise a face-to-face interview, look out for our regular Mock Interview Workshops, where you will get the chance to play the interviewer as well as the candidate!

If you have a job interview coming up you can also talk to a careers adviser about what to expect. While we don't like to call these "mock interviews"
(which could be misleading) we can go through your application with you and pick out points which the employer is likely to cover in the interview. To book an appointment for a careers interview, ask at the Careers Helpdesk or phone ext. 3299  (01227 823299)

I have been looking at jobs advertised through recruitment agencies and some of them want me to send a scanned copy of my passport when I register with them. What do they need this for – and is it safe to send my personal information in this way?

Under the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, the UK Border Agency requires all employers or prospective employers (including recruitment agencies) to check a candidate’s ID and their right to work in the UK. They must make a copy of the relevant documentation and keep it securely for the duration of the person’s employment. To prevent discrimination, employers are advised to carry out these checks on all applicants, including UK and EU citizens.

If you do not have a current passport, a full birth certificate or a recognised national identity card from another EU country will normally be accepted. The UK Border Agency has produced a full guide to these regulations, and to acceptable ID documents, which can be found at

Recruitment agencies work in different ways – some will technically be your employers and will place you with other organisations where you will actually work, while others will put you forward for interview with companies that will then employ you. In the second case, it is the employing company that will need to hold your details rather than the agency – but some agencies may ask for these anyway as a matter of policy.

You should check the credentials of any recruitment agency which asks for this information (for example, are they a member of the Recruitment & Employers Confederation ?) Reputable recruitment agencies will have policies and practices that ensure that your personal details are kept securely and not used in any way that could be discriminatory. However, if you are unhappy or uncertain in any way, it is better to be safe than sorry and to look elsewhere for employment – bearing in mind, though, that all employers will require this information at some point.

Also see our recruitment agencies page

Other questions

You can bring these to the duty careers adviser or email them to us

Or see the FAQ pages on - the national graduate careers website

Last fully updated 2012