Careers Help for Kent Graduates
Careers help from the CES does not end when you leave the University! It is at this time that many graduates have most need of careers advice and this continues to be available to Kent graduates.
If you are graduating from the University of Kent this year, please fill in our vacancy email form. This will entitle you to get careers help for up to three years after you leave Kent and enable us to send you a bulletin of news, advice, vacancies and postgraduate study opportunities after you graduate.
Click here for a pdf version of our “Career Planning Guide for New Graduates”
In December, the CES will ask you to complete a questionnaire seeking information on the “Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education” (known as DLHE). It’s important that you do this, so that we can make sure that prospective students have accurate information about the careers or courses that Kent graduates go into. Whatever you are doing at this point in time, please make sure that you complete this questionnaire for us.
Graduated between 2013 – 2015?
If you graduated more than three years ago we may still be able to help!
Although our knowledge and experience is focused on opportunities for new graduates, this still may be appropriate for you if, for example:
- You have taken time out to travel and are now seeking a first graduate job;
- Your first job has not worked out as you hoped and you want to make a career change;
- You have been employed in a non-graduate role and want to move up
We are less likely to be able to help in situations such as the following:
- You have spent the past three years gaining specialised professional experience and qualifications which you want to use directly in your career;
- You have relocated to another country and want advice on career opportunities there
If you do feel that advice from a University careers adviser would be benefical, you are welcome to contact us as above, whatever you are now doing and wherever you are located.
Kent graduates can use the CES at Canterbury or Medway in person, or get advice by phone or email if this is not possible – see www.kent.ac.uk/ces/contact/index.html for contact details
Are you looking for a job?
Even if you know exactly what you want to do, it is worth being flexible. Don't restrict your applications to the household-name employers or to very competitive career areas such as investment banking, marketing or media. Broaden your career search by looking at other, less well-known careers that offer similar experience and job satisfaction. Don’t rule out jobs that are not specifically labelled as “graduate jobs”: these can be good starting points.
Many graduates now start their career in a graduate internship – a fixed term position (typically 3-6 months) that gives you a chance to try out, or get experience in, a graduate-level job. These may lead on to an offer of a permanent position!
The following sites are good sources of vacancies targeted on new or recent graduates. Most of them have a free vacancy alert service for registered users.
- The Careers & Employability Service’s vacancy database lists all vacancies for graduates sent to us directly by all kinds of recruiters. Some of these are based in Kent but most are with employers throughout the UK - and also abroad.
- Prospects www.prospects.ac.uk/graduate_job_search.htm
- TARGET Jobs http://targetjobs.co.uk
- Milkround www.milkround.co.uk
- The Graduate Talent Pool http://graduatetalentpool.direct.gov.uk: a partnership between Government and employers, designed to help new and recent graduates gain real work experience through internships in business, finance, the media, charities, the public sector, IT, manufacturing and many other sectors. Almost two-thirds of internships advertised are paid positions: the majority of the other posts will cover expenses.
- Graduate STEP www.step.org.uk/step_graduate.aspx - 2-3 month internships offering meaningful, paid work for recent graduates
- Inspiring Interns www.inspiringinterns.com graduate internships, jobs and work placements, mostly based in and around London.
Our Links section www.kent.ac.uk/careers/graddirectories.htm gives details of the most useful websites for graduate vacancies.
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
- Seeking work in Kent? See our pages on Working in Kent, including the Kentgrads database, at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/kentopps.htm
- Looking for work elsewhere in the UK? See our regional links, with employer lists for different parts of the UK, at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitesgen.htm
- Looking for work abroad? See http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitesint.htm
Wherever you are, you can still get careers help and advice:
- From the Careers & Employability Service at Kent – by phone or email
- From a university careers service near your home – many will see graduates of other universities during the vacation. Follow the link from “Careers Services” at http://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers.htm to find contact details
- Choosing a Career www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing/ChoosingCareer.htm
"I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO …"
If this is your problem, don’t worry – many other graduates are in the same position and there are many opportunities open to graduates whatever your degree subject. The following resources should help you to get started but you may find it useful to discuss your situation with a careers adviser.
- Prospects Planner www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Pplanner a powerful program to help you choose a graduate career related to your interests, skills and values;
- What can I do with my degree in …? www.kent.ac.uk/careers/degreein.htm
- Choosing a Career www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing/ChoosingCareer.htm
I DON’T HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE …
Don’t write off any work experience as irrelevant – even casual jobs in retail and hospitality jobs can add skills such as "customer service", "working in a busy team" and "ability to work under pressure" to your CV – things that most graduate employers will look for. See our Employabillity Skills pages www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsdevelop.htm
Voluntary work can help you to gain experience, improve your skills, boost your confidence and build up your CV. See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/voluntaryWork.htm
I’M THINKING OF FURTHER STUDY…
This does not just mean postgraduate degrees, but can also include vocational and practical skills training: for some career areas, this may be more relevant than a Masters degree!
There are many short courses that you can take, often part-time or by distance learning, to build up skills such as:
- IT and office skills, particularly databases and spreadsheets, are important in almost any career area. The European Computer Driving Licence www.ecdl.com is a good way to develop skills in the core MS Office packages. For other IT skills, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/computing-skills.htm
- Driving is another useful skill, opening up jobs that require travel or are located in hard-to-reach areas so, if you don’t yet have a full licence, it is worth trying to achieve this as soon as possible. Many driving schools offer student discounts, so sign up before your student card expires!
- Languages are always useful and brushing up on your rusty GCSE French, through an organised course or through self-study, could be valuable. See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/LanguageSkills.htm .
- Numeracy is important for many careers but a skill that many graduates feel that they lack! If you have a low GCSE grade in Maths, or just want to improve your numeracy skills, retaking your GCSE, or taking a course such as the Open University’s “Starting with Maths” (course code Y182) would be worthwhile.
- Business and finance courses can help you to build up the skills and knowledge needed for a specific career area, or just to develop commercial awareness that graduate employers look for. These courses could include, for example, the Foundation Award in Public Relations www.cipr.co.uk/qualifications, the Certificate in Finance, Accounting & Business www.icaew.com/cfab or Open University modules in Business and Management www.open.ac.uk
If you are considering further academic study, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons – not just to put off the day when you will need to find a job! Think about how a postgraduate degree will fit in to your career plans – is it really important do employers in the areas that interest you? Will you need practical experience even with a postgrad degree? See our page on “Why Do Postgraduate Study?” under www.kent.ac.uk/ces/postgrad-study.html
SUMMER GRADUATE RECRUITMENT FAIRS
These are large events with many employers who recruit graduates hosting stands. You can talk to the recruiters and discuss the opportunities they have with their organisation. They are run at most times of year and in many locations round the UK, but there is a peak around graduation time in June. You can find details of all fairs at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/careerfairs
TIPS FOR THE FAIRS
- They will be very busy: often likened to a cattle market!
- Take some CVs to hand to employers and a black pen
- Dress smartly
- Research the employers attending on the fair web site first: decide who you wish to approach first
- Arrive early.
- Talk to recruiters – don't just hover nervously round their stand or grab all the freebies! Shake hands, smile and make eye contact!
- Prepare a 30 second verbal CV: “Hello I'm Jo Smith. I've just completed my Sociology degree at the University of Kent and got an Upper Second. I've a strong interest in retail management (or whatever) as I've had several part-time retail jobs and enjoyed the fast moving environment …”
- Make a note of the name of the person you talk to.
- Don't just see the household name companies: others may be just as good and their stands will be much less busy.
- You may not hear from the employers you see until all the fairs have finished: ask them when and how they are likely to contact you
Ten tips to make sure you get a job!
OK we can't guarantee that if you follow these tips you will definitely get a job, but if you heed them carefully you will GREATLY increase your chances!
- Treat job hunting as a full time job. Very often I see graduates who have been unemployed for nearly a year and ask them how many applications they have made. Very commonly the answer is "about 5 or 6". In the present market you probably need to make about 20 applications before you get a job offer and should be trying to make at least two applications a week.
- At the same time, don't take a “scattergun” approach, firing off applications at random. It's far better to make ten carefully researched and targeted applications than to spend the same amount of time sending out 50 applications without putting any thought into them.
- As part of this, make sure your CV and application forms are top-class. This is SO EASY to do. See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/applicn.htm for lots of tips and examples. Employers can tell in 10 seconds which candidates have rushed off their CVs in half an hour and which ones have taken time to make them perfect.
- Develop an action plan for each day and week http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsactionplanning.htm and try to take a positive attitude. Making a plan at the start of your job search, and continuously reviewing and assessing your progress will have a big impact on success.
- Use job ads to help plan your career. You will see many adverts for the types of job you want, but which look for skills, qualifications or experience that you don’t yet have. Don’t get frustrated but use these ads to work out what you need to do as your immediate next step - maybe starting at a lower level and working up, or taking a short course in a relevant subject.
- Learn to network and use creative jobhunting techniques. Vital for media and environment jobs, but it will give you a head start in any field you care to name: see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/CJ.htm for tips on how to do this effectively.
- Use social media to help your job search – and make sure that your online presence is not hindering it! See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/jobs/social-networking.htm for advice
- Job hunting involves a lot of rejection. Try not to take this personally. See http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/copingWithRejection.htm If you feel that you are at a disadvantage because of your academic results see our Job Hunting Problems pages http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/JobProblems.htm for advice
- Use a variety of vacancy sources – graduate job sites, local and national newspapers, specialist sites, recruitment agencies www.kent.ac.uk/careers/recruit.htm, your local Job Centre www.jobcentrevacancies.co.uk To find out the best vacancy sources for particular career areas, use our I want to work in ... pages
- Your academic referee will be able to write a more effective reference for you if s/he knows what field of work you are applying for and what experience you have gained outside your studies. Send them a copy of your CV and keep them informed about what you are doing now. See our references page www.kent.ac.uk/careers/referees.htm
- Also see our page on Maintaining your morale and coping with rejection
- DirectGov www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/index.htm Money, tax and benefits includes a beginner's guide to benefits.
- UnemployedNet site for unemployed and economically inactive people, those moving towards unemployment and those with an interest in these issues.
- Once you have got started in your career, you may want to help Kent students by getting involved in some of our Alumni activities such as the Careers Network. See the Alumni Office web pages for more information on what is available.
Last fully updated 2012