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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 06

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 06

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Sections

  • 1.1.1 Who am I? What were my early infuences and decisions?
  • 1.1.2 What are my main achievements?
  • 1.1.3 What roles do I play in life?
  • 1.1.4 What have I learnt in my spare time?
  • 1.2.1 How big a part of my life is work?
  • 1.2.2 What work experience have I had?
  • 1.2.3 What roles do I play at work or elsewhere?
  • 1.2.4 What sort of person am I to work with?
  • 1.2.5 What am I good at as far as work is concerned?
  • 1.2.6 What do I really want from work?
  • 1.2.7 How well does my present (or last) job meet my needs?
  • 1.2.8 What kind of work would I like to do?
  • 2.1.1 A typical strategy
  • 2.1.2 Information
  • 2.1.3 Review your progress
  • 2.2.1 What is a ‘graduate’ job?
  • 2.2.2 New and expanding opportunities for graduates
  • 2.3 Creative job search
  • 2.4.1 Applying for hidden jobs
  • 2.4.2 Making speculative approaches
  • 2.4.4 Networking
  • 2.4.5 Applying for advertised jobs
  • 2.4.6 Replying to advertised jobs
  • 2.4.7 Newspapers and journals
  • 2.4.8 Professional associations
  • 2.4.9 Recruitment agencies
  • 2.4.10 Executive search frms
  • 2.4.11 The internet
  • 2.5.1 Approaching your contacts
  • 2.5.2 Using the telephone effectively
  • 2.5.3 Making an approach in person
  • 2.5.4 Career Links
  • 2.5.5 Drawing up your letter
  • 2.5.6 Voluntary work
  • 3.1 Making decisions about your life
  • 3.2.1 Goals
  • 3.2.2 Restrictions and resources
  • 3.2.3 Balance helpful resources against restrictions
  • 3.3 Plan of action
  • 4.1 What do employers look for in graduates?
  • 4.2 Matching vacancies
  • 4.3.1 Before you start your application form
  • 4.3.2 Filling in your form
  • 4.3.3 Skills you have attained as an OU student
  • 4.3.4 When you’ve completed the form
  • 4.4.1 The importance of tailoring your CV
  • 4.4.2 What style of CV?
  • 4.4.3 Preparing your CV
  • 4.4.4 The chronological CV
  • 4.4.5 The functional CV
  • 4.4.6 The targeted CV
  • 4.4.7 The academic CV
  • 4.4.8 What to include (and not to include) in your CV
  • 4.4.9 Presentation of your CV
  • 4.4.10 Analysing a job description
  • 4.5.1 Applying for a job in a vacancy list or answering an advertisement
  • 4.5.2 Applying speculatively
  • 4.5.3 Drafting your letter
  • 4.6.1 Interviewers
  • 4.6.2 Before your interview
  • 4.6.3 On the day . .
  • 4.6.4 How you sound
  • 4.6.5 Body language
  • 4.6.7 After the interview
  • 4.6.8 Interviews by telephone
  • 4.7.1 Assessment centres
  • 4.7.2 Psychometric tests
  • 4.7.3 Written exercises
  • 4.7.4 Presentations
  • 4.7.5 Group discussions
  • 4.7.6 In-tray exercises
  • 4.7.7 Graphology
  • 4.7.8 Biodata analysis
  • 4.7.9 Profciency tests
  • 4.7.10 Medical tests
  • 5.1 Age
  • 5.2.1 Your rights
  • 5.2.2 How to help yourself in the job market
  • 5.3.1 Your rights
  • 5.3.2 How to help yourself in the job market
  • 5.3.3 Resources for employment and training
  • 5.4.1 Your rights
  • 5.4.2 Direct sex discrimination
  • 5.4.3 Indirect sex discrimination
  • 5.4.4 Discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment
  • 5.4.5 How to help yourself in the job market
  • 5.4.6 Resources for employment and training
  • 5.5.1 Your rights
  • 5.5.2 Direct racial discrimination
  • 5.5.3 Indirect racial discrimination
  • 5.5.4 Victimisation
  • 5.5.5 Time limits
  • 5.5.6 How to help yourself in the job market
  • 5.5.7 Resources for employment and training
  • 5.6.1 Your rights
  • 5.6.2 Transsexuals
  • 5.6.3 How to help yourself in the job market
  • 5.6.4 Resources for employment and training
  • 5.7 Religion or belief
  • 6.1.1 Open University Careers Advisory Service website
  • 6.1.2 Career Advisory First Class Conference
  • 6.1.3 Career Links
  • 6.1.4 Publications and information
  • 6.2 Open University study materials
  • 6.3 Other sources of help

Career planning and job seeking workbook

Acknowledgements and thanks Thanks to Jennifer Nisbet who wrote the publications, Career and Life Planning Workbook and Job Search Guide, on which this workbook is based. Our thanks go also to Christine Adams, Anna Alston, Mary Guthrie, Anne Milne, Clare Riding, Ian Tawse and Jo Ward for their additional material and work on the book, and to other colleagues for comments, editorial suggestions and other production help. Produced by the Student Services Communications Team Copyright © 2006 The Open University While every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this book is up to date at the time of going to press, the material in it may be altered or amended. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United Kingdom by Thanet Press Ltd, Margate ISBN 978-0-7492-1258-2

Contents
This book consists of six sections that take you in a progressive series of steps through the process of career review and choice, and applying for jobs:

01 Knowing yourself 7
1.1 What am I like? 8 1.2 What work would suit me? 13
Information and activities which help you build up a file of your skills and experience, interests and achievements, weaknesses and strengths. This will help you to discover career opportunities that are likely to match your strengths and circumstances.

04 Getting the job 57
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 What do employers look for in graduates? 57 Matching vacancies 59 Application forms 62 The curriculum vitae (CV) 65 The covering letter 78 The interview 81 Other selection techniques 87

02 Exploring possibilities 35
2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Planning your strategy 35 Graduate-level jobs 36 Creative job search 38 Finding vacancies 38 Building a network of contacts 43

This will guide you through some important areas. It discusses what employers look for and how to tell exactly what skills vacancy adverts are seeking. This section also shows you how to produce high-quality application forms, CVs and covering letters, and discusses how to perform to your best ability in interviews and other selection procedures.

This section suggests how and where you might find information to help in the process.

05 Equality and diversity issues 93
5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Age 94 Criminal record 95 Disability or additional requirements 96 Gender/sex 98 Race 100 Sexuality and sexual orientation 101 Religion or belief 102

03 Making decisions and taking action 47
3.1 Making decisions about your life 47 3.2 Goals, restrictions and resources 48 3.3 Plan of action 52
How to move forward – this section gives you an opportunity to look at your ‘framework of choice’, to consider the restrictions and resources in your life, and to create a ‘plan of action’ for managing change and making things happen.

Explores a range of issues related to equality of opportunity.

06 The next steps 105
6.1 Open University Careers Advisory Service 105 6.2 Open University study materials 106 6.3 Other sources of help 107
Further sources of help – useful organisations, websites and resources.

.

As we make changes and as circumstances change around us. designing a curriculum vitae (CV) and presenting yourself at interviews. and • Begin to plan how you might achieve it. visit our website at www. You might find it useful to link up with another person or a small group. Whatever approach you decide on. they can act as a sounding board and suggest different ways of looking at things. but it also complements information on our careers website. Time It’s difficult to foresee exactly how much time you’ll need. You could take a relatively informal approach.ac.open. Ways of working Give some thought now to how you might work with these materials before you begin. perhaps when you’re not in the midst of your studies. This book focuses on you because although organisations. 4 and 6. Career planning has to be a recurring process – you can’t do it once and for all. with a careers adviser or perhaps through your appraiser at work or your line manager. You may To find out more. but you might want to dip into different areas at different stages of your career planning and job seeking. If you have particular concerns If you recognise concerns of your own – you may find more than one – in this list. This book invites you to recognise your own qualities and abilities.uk/careers We recommend working through the workbook sections in order. the basis of our original plans inevitably shifts. working with a partner or friend. 3. the more productive they’ll be. completing application forms. To begin with. or set up a more formal relationship. • How should I use the internet in looking for jobs? Look at Section 2. • I need to find a job in a particular geographical area Look at Section 2. and to define what you’re really looking for. skills. • Will my age be a problem in changing career? Look at Sections 2. make sure it’s one you’re comfortable with. The workbook outlines the practical steps needed for looking for a job. people and materials are all useful resources. The website for the Careers Advisory Service is at: www. agencies. Keep your activities as you work through them. They’re likely to be helpful when you reach the stage of completing application forms. you might prefer to tackle the process in stages. • How should I update my CV? Look at Section 4. Working through the activities at your own pace gives you scope for quiet reflection. The best place to start is with yourself. so the clearer you are about your own characteristics.uk/careers 5 .Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook How to use this book Use this workbook to help you to: • Take stock • Review your career and life • Evaluate your aptitudes. values and personal needs • Decide what you want to achieve. • I know what I want to do but don’t know how to achieve it Look at Sections 2. interests. putting your CV together or preparing for an interview. You’ll certainly find it helpful to get comments and opinions from people who know you well. make a note of the recommended sections: • I don’t know where to begin Look particularly at Section 1. This is a reference source that can stand on its own. Working through the activities should be challenging but rewarding.open. support and encouragement. and the more time and effort you put into them. the most important influence on your career and life planning is you. planning a strategy. find some of them particularly time consuming. positive and constructive you are. and you might well need to return to them as your ideas develop. It is you who will be in the work situation. 4 and 5. so that you can build a sound foundation for later steps in reviewing your career. they can’t make things happen for you Remember.ac. the more precisely you can specify what you want and communicate it to employers. Working with others can give you ideas. but you could become distracted by the mechanics of the process. then settle back secure in the knowledge that you won’t have to do it again. Activities We encourage you to take time over the activities suggested in this book. The more open minded.

01 .

open. visit our website at www. The activities in this section ask you to think about a series of questions as a beginning to your career review. At intervals you’ll be asked to ‘pause for thought’ and note down your responses. Note.uk To find out more.uk/careers 7 . after exploring them. Some of these resources and links are provided by The Open University and some by external agencies such as Graduate Prospects www.2 What work would suit me? 13 Remember that you may have potential that has yet to be developed. less well-paid work. and learnt how you cope with things and respond to different tasks and challenges. You’ve gained knowledge and skills from your experiences. however. and consider the questions ‘What am I like?’ and ‘What can I do?’ It will help you to review your life and work experience and the skills and qualities that have grown out of them. training.1 What am I like? 8 1. The questions are: • Who am I? What were my early influences and decisions? • What are my main achievements? • What roles do I play in life? • What have I learnt in my spare time? • How big a part of my life is work? • What work experience have I had? • What roles do I play at work? • What sort of person am I to work with? • What am I good at.open.ac. take a clear view of your career and life. This section will help you to develop your self-awareness. They offer different ways of considering what you’re like and what you can do.ac. This is the first step in the career-review process. there’s good reason to. and reject them only if. your education. work and leisure activities. You may find that some seemingly unchangeable things can be changed. Your past has shaped you through your family background.ac. Try to keep an open mind when considering future possibilities. that some of the activities (and others) are also available online on the Careers Advisory Service website at: www.uk/careers Here you will find links to lots of different activities and resources to assist in career planning and job seeking.prospects. as far as work is concerned? • What do I really want from work? • How well does my present (or last) job meet my needs? • What kind of work would I like to do? You may like to try out some of these activities in writing using this section. You might be able to reduce your mortgage by moving to a smaller house or a cheaper area. This kind of self-knowledge is the soundest basis for making decisions about your future.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Knowing yourself In this section 1. for example. so that you can learn new skills or take up more enjoyable. The section starts by asking you to look back.

noting any thoughts or ideas that occur to you: • What does the lifeline say about you and how you’ve lived your life? • Are there recognisable themes that have run through your life? • Is the pattern generally up or down? Is it steady or changeable? What sorts of incident were associated with the highs and lows? Are the highs generally associated with your own choices and the lows with the unexpected? Are there some experiences you cope with easily and others that really throw you? • Are there any lessons to be learnt? For instance.1. children.uk/careers .ac. and to discover aspects of yourself that you might want to develop or change. Note down key events. retirement and so on. Diploma) Daughter Bought flat (Improvement Grant) Bought house – garden-mortgage! Changes in company policy (new job. to help you think about the pattern of your life. This activity can help you to gather insights that can influence your future choices.1 What am I like? 1.open. You may find it useful to talk through any difficult emotions with someone you trust. Pause for thought Would someone who knows you well have drawn your lifeline differently? What would that person have said? 8 To find out more. Think about the feelings aroused by each experience and answer these questions. You’ll be asked to refer back to your lifeline later on. Activity 1. Moved House HIGH POINT Secondary School Qualified (production engineer) Marriage Son Became management trainee (part time study. this activity revealed to one person that all her high points were associated with praise from others and her low points with geographical moves. marriage. Another noted that all his positive job changes followed disappointments in his private life. visit our website at www. A third recognised someone else as consistently and unobtrusively acting as a mentor. project engineering) NOW Hospital (appendix removed) Left School (apprenticeship) Promotion (problems due to lack of experience Father died Moved sideways (into sales and marketing) Company hit hard time (redundancy) LOW POINT The lifeline exercise can result in a lot of emotions coming to the surface as you review your experiences. consider it as a whole. Put them in the form of a diagram like the one here.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.1 In this activity you’re going to draw a ‘lifeline’. such as education. showing high and low points at different times of your life. and to consider how your early history contributed to it.1 Who am I? What were my early influences and decisions? The two activities in this section will help you to develop an overview of your career so far. and he saw that each disappointment motivated him towards a change and offered opportunities. Example When you’ve drawn a lifeline that reflects your experiences.

say something about any occupational influences on you. The activity may take some time. activities you participated in. how you got on with other children. could you have made different choices? Make a note of any insights you’ve gained through remembering and reflecting. experiences you had. what your parents expected of you. school sports or activities you took part in. For instance. concentrating on your childhood and school life. Looking back. was one of your parents a mechanic or another a teacher? 5 Any further education or training What did you do? How did you choose it? How did you get on? What prompted you to begin studying with the OU? 2 What do you remember about your early childhood? For example. visit our website at www. how you saw your teachers.ac. 3 Schooling List the schools you went to. your role in the family. Make notes under the headings below. with dates. and you might want to return to it later to change or add points. To find out more. the area and house you lived in. Some of this information will be useful when you put your CV together (see Section 4). You may see themes appearing. Maybe you had various abilities but developed one rather than another – sporting ability rather than artistic talent.uk/careers 9 . Pause for thought Now spend some time considering what your notes say about you – what you’re like. family lifestyle. perhaps.2 This activity brings out some of the early themes from your lifeline. such as strong aspects of your personality or talents. how your teachers saw you.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1.open. 4 Teenage years What activities were you good at or did you enjoy? How did your friends see you? What were you like as a teenager? What did you want to be? 1 Family influences If applicable. why and how you arrived at where you are today. the subjects you were good at and enjoyed.

They could be workrelated or to do with relationships. Set them out in the table below.open. For example. 10 To find out more. It can be a particularly useful approach if you haven’t had much formal experience like paid work – it’s easy to assume that skills gained outside work somehow don’t count. visit our website at www. My achievements 1 2 3 4 5 What they say about me 1 2 3 4 5 Pause for thought Which of the skills or qualities you’ve listed could be used in a work situation? What kind of work? The chances are that you’ve highlighted ‘transferable skills’ and qualities that would be welcome in many kinds of work.3 Looking back at your lifeline. note the achievements you’re most proud of and what they say about you. recent or a long time ago. Activity 1.1. passing your driving test on the fifth attempt may say a lot about your staying power and determination. passing all your exams first time may say that you’re an excellent student.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.uk/careers . things you do in your spare time.ac.2 What are my main achievements? The activity in this section can help you to recognise skills and qualities that you might not always be conscious of.

you have needed to develop skills of budgeting. you need skills of learning. this is a particularly useful exercise if you have little work experience to draw on. If you are a parent. you’ve developed not only practical skills but planning and organising skills as well. you develop skills of briefing and dealing with people as well as those of managing meetings. listener or organiser).uk/careers 11 . communication and keeping to schedules.1. How do you feel about them? Which do you most enjoy using? How could you use them in work? To find out more.4 Now complete the table below. As a student. Activity 1.open. time management. gardener and household manager). and so on. If you enjoy DIY. You may be a parent (cook. You may be an employee (team leader. Circle the ones that are particular strengths. are you surprised at the number of things you do and take for granted every day? Look at the skills you’ve listed. cooking. Again. visit our website at www. delegating. project manager). By chairing meetings of a club.ac. Each role demands different skills.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.3 What roles do I play in life? Another way of looking at your skills is to consider the roles you’ve played in your life. working group member. as many skills are learnt outside paid work. You may take part in voluntary work (counsellor. time management. My main roles 1 2 3 4 5 Pause for thought Looking at all your roles.

open. but your spare-time activities could help you to demonstrate skills and qualities.uk/careers . abilities. visit our website at www.4 What have I learnt in my spare time? What hobbies do you have or have you had in the past? You may not turn your hobby into a career. What have you learnt about yourself? Bringing some of your answers together.ac.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. they need not be barriers to the future. what would you now say are your main strengths and weaknesses? They can be skills. My main strengths 1 2 3 4 5 6 My main weaknesses 1 2 3 4 5 6 12 To find out more. personal characteristics or interests. although you may not have financial responsibilities at work you might be treasurer to your local darts team or do the audit for the youth club funds. What are the possibilities in your interests? Swimming? DIY? Photography? Have you held positions of responsibility in any of them? What have you contributed to your household for instance? Can you see any interests or hobbies that might be helpful to future work plans? For example. Remember that strengths can be built on for the future and weaknesses can be reduced by your efforts.5 My main activities outside work are (or have been) 1 2 3 4 5 Review Think about what you’ve done so far in this section. Activity 1. It’s easy to forget that leisure activities can give us as many skills and abilities as work.1.

1. If you have a more central score You keep a balance between work and leisure. you would put your social life before work. 1 I always aim high in my work 2 My ambition isn’t necessarily to get to the top 3 I set myself difficult goals to achieve 4 I don’t like to let work disturb my social life 5 I want to do well at whatever I’m doing 6 Being a success in life isn’t too important to me 7 I like being seen as dedicated to my job 8 I don’t like to aim too high 9 Work always comes before pleasure 10 People wouldn’t describe me as very ambitious Pause for thought Think about the way you scored in this activity. you need to be clear about how important work is to you. visit our website at www. If you scored +20. How does this feel? Is it right for you or would you like to change this aspect of your life? To find out more.1 How big a part of my life is work? Before considering what you want to do. for example if you scored –20. You have some concern about doing well and making progress. have little concern about getting on in your career.uk/careers 13 . You might be highly ambitious. or you might avoid positions that regularly eat into your leisure time. but you don’t let work rule your life. even workaholic. You might even be seen as ‘workaholic’! If you have a minus (–) score You don’t see work as the most important aspect of your life. you would always put work first and aim high in your achievements. Activity 1. it’s time to think about work.2. This is something that varies from person to person. The next activity can help you to think about this.6 Rate each of the following statements Use this scale – try to avoid choosing 3 if you can: 5 4 3 2 1 Always true Usually true Neither true nor untrue Usually untrue Always untrue Add up your scores From the odd-numbered questions From the even-numbered questions Take the ‘even’ score away from the ‘odd’ score (even if it produces a minus score) What did you score? If you have a plus (+) score The higher your score. for example. or you may prefer something that can give you a better balance between work and home life. At the lower end of the scale. You may have found yourself in a post that takes over and leaves little time for family life.2 What work would suit me? Now that you’ve spent some time considering the skills and qualities you’ve developed through experience.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. think about your approach to activities or projects. If you don’t have much experience of paid work.ac. the stronger your ambition.open. and might be seen as ‘laid back’.

ac. 4 Did you have to deal with any difficulties? 5 Which tasks or activities did you find most appealing. what factors seemed important in deciding to take it up? 3 For each job. Did you volunteer or were you directed into it? If you had some choice. note the range of tasks or activities you had to do. unpaid or voluntary) by noticing how you feel about different tasks and respond to work situations. note how it came about.7 1 List the jobs you’ve had. and you might want to come back to it later. The next activity helps you to explore your experience. or how well you perform particular activities in comparison with other people. You may also have learnt from others. but it’s easy to take yourself for granted and not recognise the wide range and high level of skills and abilities you have. If you have limited or no experience of paid employment.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. and will be useful when preparing for interviews (see Section 4). 2 For each job. visit our website at www. enjoyable or rewarding? Why? 6 What were your particular achievements? 7 How did you get on with the other people? 8 What was your style of working? 9 Were you known for particular things? 10 What were you most proud of? 11 What were the things you disliked or found frustrating? Pause for thought Look back at what you’ve written. Activity 1. The activity may take some time. either through formal appraisal or from informal comments and reactions. delivering ‘Meals on Wheels’. fundraising for a charity or involvement in a conservation project.2. helping readers at school. Many will be ‘transferable skills’ that you can use in other situations. with dates.2 What work experience have I had? Most people would agree that work experience is very important when considering future directions. You will have learnt a huge amount through work (whether paid.uk/careers . make a similar list of unpaid or voluntary experience for example. Do you see any patterns? Can you see particular strengths or areas of difficulty? Do you enjoy some things more than others? Do others turn to you for help with particular things? 14 To find out more.

ac.3 What roles do I play at work or elsewhere? This activity should help you to become aware of the skills and experience you’ve developed through the typical roles you play at work. apply this to whatever activity has taken up a lot of your time. If you’re not sure or if it’s only partly true. leave it blank. Activity 1. All the words describe positive qualities. put a tick beside it.2. if it isn’t a usual role for you. Does it sound like you? If it comes to you easily.8 Some work roles and areas of competence are listed below. Work through each role in the list.open. visit our website at www. Can you think of any specific activities or actions at work or in non-work activities that show that they describe you? What evidence can you give to prove them? How do you feel about them? Which do you most relish carrying out? You’ll find this list useful when you come to preparing a CV. If work hasn’t been a major part of your life. Circle any that describe you particularly.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. completing an application form or attending an interview (which you will cover in more detail in Section 4). cross it out. To find out more. INITIATE IMPLEMENT MONITOR MAINTAIN IMPROVE CONTROL ALLOCATE SELECT DEVELOP CREATE ENHANCE DELEGATE SEEK ORGANISE SOLVE DECIDE LIAISE COORDINATE EXPLORE INVESTIGATE LINK SELL PLAN TEACH COMMUNICATE HARMONISE CHECK CAMPAIGN PERSUADE MEASURE SUPERVISE CHOOSE GUIDE MAKE TRAIN EVALUATE Pause for thought Look at the roles you’ve ticked.uk/careers 15 .

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. negotiating (s) Tend to worry. socially confident (s) Pessimistic (f) Energetic (f) Solitary (s) Like lots of change and variety (t) Very much affected by events or people (f) Go my own way.2.ac. think more generally about your life if your workplace experiences are limited. deciding how you compare with other people. show feelings (f) Happy to be in charge of others (s) Prefer traditional ways of action (t) Equable.4 What sort of person am I to work with? Your personality affects your style of operating in the workplace and the way you respond to situations.uk/careers . circling your position on the scale. get anxious (f) Like deadlines and timetables (t) Usually take a leading role (s) Good with complex ideas or data (t) Demonstrative. More Plan ahead and keep to it (t) Stickler for detail or accuracy (t) Easy mixer. act independently (s) More practical than theoretical (t) Determined (f) Sympathetic.9 Work through the following descriptions. Again. caring for others (s) Always like to win.open. Activity 1. not easily upset (f) Tend to influence people (s) Ambitious to get on at all costs (f) 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Average 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Less 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 16 To find out more. come in top (f) Like persuading. Try to use the full range of ratings from 5 (much more so than most) to 1 (much less so than most). visit our website at www.

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. You can group them into those to do with relating to people and social situations (s). Where did you score the most highly? Or did you score evenly across the three categories? For instance. but you do need to take your own traits into account. visit our website at www. There’s no right or wrong personality. Pause for thought What have you learnt about your typical way of operating? What kind of work situation would be likely to suit you? To find out more. If you think about your colleagues you’ll be aware how they differ from each other.open.uk/careers 17 . and to do with your drives and emotions (f). The better you know yourself. While one is reserved. A work situation that suits a very sociable person won’t suit someone who prefers to work alone. another is very chatty and communicative. the more opportunities you create for finding a situation that will suit you.9 continued Now look over your ratings.ac. some people are at ease giving a presentation while others find it very nerveracking. one is a stickler for detail while another is not too concerned about fine accuracy. to do with your approach to work tasks (t).

needs and values. It’s useful to know this. You may have begun to gain more insights or realisations about your own nature.5 What am I good at as far as work is concerned? This section should help you to think about your aptitudes – what you can do and how well you can do it. It’s also important for you to know what you’re good at. to have someone else with whom to talk through your answers – perhaps a friend.open. rather than simply thinking through these questions. You can be good at something without particularly enjoying it. Now list some of your work/voluntary/domestic achievements. You might discover that your strengths are grouped in some areas rather than others. This question is of particular interest to employers.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. others are skilful with statistics.10 Look back at your list of achievements and what they say about you. Some people have been taught or have learnt particular skills for themselves – competence in a computer language. 18 To find out more. It’s also useful as evidence when you’re completing a CV or attending an interview. What have you learnt? It can help. by observing others. There’s generally some connection between what we can do well and what we enjoy doing. others a photographic memory. by trial and error. ambitions.uk/careers . but it’s not a necessary connection. for example. Activity 1. Then think about the knowledge and abilities you needed to apply in order to achieve the result. or perhaps you used or developed a skill you already had. etc. visit our website at www. Consider your answers so far. Some people have a creative imagination. Your discoveries might be to do with your skills and abilities or your attitudes. Others have specialist knowledge.ac. temperament or way of dealing with the world. but do use any other information you can get. You can learn about your aptitudes from other people’s comments. The next activities are based on your own knowledge. as it affects the work or the parts of a particular job that you can perform best. as it enables you to recognise the talents you have and also to see whether there are gaps you want to work on. Perhaps you had to learn a new technique. relation or a careers adviser. What I achieved 1 2 3 4 5 Knowledge/abilities used 1 2 3 4 5 Pause for thought Examine and reflect on what you’ve put under the headings. it’s helpful to reflect on your past as you approach a decision that will significantly affect your life. by going on training courses. You should also remember that you’ll go on developing as you cope with different demands. initiatives you’ve put into practice. through taking psychometric tests (which are discussed in more detail in Section 4) or from your own perceptions of how well you cope with different tasks. such as accounting standards or employment law. as you learn through your own study.2. by reading and so on. Review As you may be discovering. projects you’ve tackled successfully. You may have learnt more about your personality.

words flowing easily 4 Drawing people out.ac. visit our website at www. matching style to purpose 9 Structuring reports and other written communications logically 10 Using a wide vocabulary accurately and appropriately 11 Speaking (accent and pronunciation) in a way that’s acceptable in a wide range of social situations 12 Spelling and grammar Total score To find out more. taking in what others say and checking your understanding of the information 2 Clear verbal expression. outstanding performance High level. Rate each of the following statements Use this scale – try to avoid choosing 3 if you can: 6 5 4 3 2 1 Very high. Try to use the full range of ratings. giving a presentation 6 Using the telephone effectively: few misunderstandings 7 Reading efficiently: readily taking in written information 8 Writing effectively. reliably perform better than average Good level.uk/careers 19 . just acceptable skills Very basic level. ability to convey information without confusion 3 Fluent speech. often referred to as ‘employability’ or ‘transferable skills’. to encourage them to speak 5 Commanding an audience. The activity is grouped into skills which are of particular importance to employers. Be as honest as you can both in admitting lack of skill and in acknowledging your competence. not usually adequate No significant level of skills Communication Rating 1 Listening. generally able to do it quite well Reasonable level.open. Consider how well you can carry out each one in comparison with other people.11 This activity will help you to assess your skills in more detail.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1.

taking account of this in dealing with them 2 Getting on with a variety of people and building up working relationships 3 Instructing. dealing with conflict 9 Interviewing.open. motivating. visit our website at www. changing others’ views 11 Consulting and building agreements 12 Acting assertively (not aggressively) Rating Total score Financial activities 1 Understanding book-keeping 2 Preparing a budget 3 Using a spreadsheet 4 Understanding VAT and taxation 5 Producing a cash-flow forecast 6 Producing annual accounts 7 Carrying out a cost–benefit analysis 8 Interpreting management accounts 9 Working knowledge of volume and expenditure-related variances 10 Operating PAYE 11 Understanding types. teaching or coaching others 4 Delegating and managing others 5 Leading a work group.ac.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Dealing with people 1 Showing sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others. encouraging.uk/careers . chairing a meeting 6 Encouraging. uses and sources of loan finance 12 Operating costing system Rating Total score 20 To find out more. assessing or appraising 10 Persuading. getting the best out of others 7 Counselling: helping with personal problems 8 Negotiating: mediating.

visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Thinking and analysis 1 Using critical path analysis 2 Using statistics 3 Logical thinking. estimating orders or probability 7 Flow-charting 8 Rational decision-making 9 Carrying out analysis and evaluation 10 Researching and gathering information 11 Carrying out mathematical operations 12 Carrying out stock or inventory control Rating Total score Technical/practical 1 Competence in using tools and technical equipment 2 Understanding data-processing equipment 3 Applying craft or technical ability 4 Aptitude for diagnosing mechanical or electrical faults 5 Constructing or assembling materials or equipment 6 Understanding current technical developments 7 Using laboratory equipment 8 Dealing with tangible.ac.open.uk/careers 21 . hand-eye coordination 10 Understanding physical sciences 11 Understanding engineering 12 Maintaining or repairing complex equipment Rating Total score To find out more. working out implications 4 Applying critical ability in recognising potential weakness or problems 5 Making logical use of facts or information 6 Using mental arithmetic. practical problems 9 Using manual dexterity.

layouts.open.uk/careers . systems. visit our website at www. filing system or recording procedures Rating Total score 22 To find out more.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Creative/innovative 1 Generating alternative solutions to problems 2 Creating original ideas 3 Improvising or adapting for other purposes 4 Designing new things. events or courses 5 Being insightful. intuitive or imaginative 6 Developing others’ products or ideas 7 Writing with imagination or creativity 8 Seeing new possibilities or openings 9 Appreciating new or unconventional aspects 10 Visualising: imagining how something will look 11 Working creatively with shapes. sounds and patterns 12 Innovating and improving procedures in your own field Rating Total score Administrative/organisational 1 Managing your time 2 Planning systematically 3 Operating procedures precisely 4 Making things run like clockwork 5 Handling in-trays efficiently 6 Meeting deadlines 7 Producing clear operational structures 8 Developing resources to achieve objectives 9 Organising working time 10 Monitoring procedures and progress 11 Making detailed plans of action 12 Having a well-organised work space.ac. colours.

you can use the information when you come to consider alternatives. and that the wider the range of skills you have. but would like to develop. Remember that skills can always be developed simply by using them more. To find out more. List those here: Pause for thought What does this activity tell you? Are there any surprises or does it confirm your expectations? Either way. the greater the variety of job options open to you.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Summary Now add up all your total scores.uk/careers 23 . Now look through the original ratings to see whether there are skills you’re not yet very competent in.ac. Recognising the skills you have to offer is key in being able to market yourself to an employer (see also Section 4). visit our website at www.open. Write them in this space: Communication Dealing with people Financial activities Thinking and analysis Technical/practical Creative/innovative Administrative/organisational Total score Circle the skills that you’d most like to use in the future. Look at the skills you scored most highly in and those you most enjoy.

Try to think through which would suit you best.uk/careers . visit our website at www. people. In the same way. though. a financial institution and so on will each have a different ‘feel’ as a place to work. excitement. developing skills Being part of an important organisation Having lots of stimulus. keeping moving. some kinds of work have more to do with ALTRUISM and others with ECONOMIC or CREATIVE values. business and trading Value AUTONOMY VARIETY INTELLECTUAL SOCIAL ECONOMIC SPIRITUAL USING ABILITIES COMMITMENT EXCITEMENT AUTHORITY AESTHETIC ADVANCEMENT ALTRUISM COMFORT CREATIVITY PHYSICAL COMMERCIAL Rating Pause for thought Does this make clear your reasons for wanting to work? Does it suggest the kind of work you like to do or the type of organisation you feel most at home working for? Clearly. study. the next step is to recognise what you’re satisfied with and what you’re dissatisfied with.2.ac. 4 Very important 3 Important 2 Less important 1 Not important Description Making decisions. places Scope to learn.12 Rate the values below for importance. 24 To find out more. career progression Helping or caring for others Concern for surroundings or location Being original. a local authority. thrills Having influence or power over others Enjoying or making beautiful designs or things Getting promotion. analyse Making friendly contacts with others Large income. a newspaper office.open. independent action Change or variety in tasks. This doesn’t mean that you can achieve everything you wish. expensive possessions Expressing ethical code or religious beliefs Using talents. not to limit yourself by concentrating so much on restrictions that you achieve less than you might. handling things Taking risks. as restrictions of one kind or another will limit everyone’s range of choice.6 What do I really want from work? Now that you’ve thought about who and where you are and the skills you have. Activity 1. developing new ideas Activity.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. think. It is important. a manufacturing company. Try to use the full range of scores. a charity.

2. Note any ideas that occur to you. for example) can be stressful.ac.open. Too little About right Too much Clear boundaries A work situation where boundaries aren’t clear can cause uncertainty and conflict. Too little About right Too much Goals People function best when there are demands to be met. but it’s stimulating to have some change and variation in the work environment.uk/careers 25 . Equally. Money Clearly. targets to be achieved. Too little About right Too much Social contact Everyone’s need for contact is different. Too little Adequate Well paid Variety Individuals differ in the amount of variety they prefer. but on the other hand having a high level of responsibility (being a managing director.7 How well does my present (or last) job meet my needs? Activity 1. consider the following. We all have our own preferred level of demand. But having very high-level.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. Too little About right Too much Pause for thought Which of these are the most important to you? Answering that may clarify sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in your current or most recent job.13 To complete your examination of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. chatting over coffee or working in a team. closely controlled work is generally far from satisfying. Too little About right Too much Opportunity to use skills Most of us enjoy using and developing our skills and competence. It may begin to suggest either the kind of work you’d like to do or the kind of organisation you’d like to work for. challenges to rise to. Too little About right Too much Opportunity for control Simple. For work satisfaction it’s important to feel that there’s some match between your contribution and the position you hold. repetitive. being in a tightly defined job can feel restricting. but most of us get satisfaction from being with others. Circle the level that applies to your present or most recent job. visit our website at www. To find out more. complicated demands repeatedly made on us can be stressful. inadequate income causes many problems and dissatisfactions. Too little About right Too much Respect Most of us like to be thought well of and respected by others.

perhaps discuss them with a confidant and if necessary modify them. Take time to reflect on the results of the activities in this section.ac. If your occupation is to ‘feel right’.uk/careers .Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. agree with your beliefs in general and allow you to express your personality.open. Note your thoughts here.14 Review You’ve now considered the reasons why you work (other than financial necessity) and which things you most enjoy doing. 26 To find out more. it’s important that it should be fulfilling. visit our website at www. Any significant mismatch is likely to leave you feeling dissatisfied or stressed or becoming cynical about your job.

8 What kind of work would I like to do? To help you decide on the kind of work you’d like to do.uk/careers 27 .open. Activity 1.ac. Yes 1 Supervise staff dealing with correspondence 2 Design a staff appraisal scheme 3 Monitor quality control activities 4 Keep up to date with computing developments 5 Put budgeting procedures into practice 6 Develop a marketing plan for a new service 7 Keep abreast of scientific developments 8 Write information booklets 9 Supervise process control staff 10 Organise renewal of insurance cover 11 Plan staff training schemes 12 Forecast drawing office work schedules 13 Find new areas for computer applications 14 Keep abreast of money market changes 15 Negotiate prices with suppliers 16 Plan research and development (R and D) 17 Handle public relations issues (PR) 18 Revise road delivery schedules 19 Plan introduction of new clerical procedures 20 Interview job applicants 21 Organise installation of an internal telephone system Not sure No To find out more. Tick Yes. but only of your own preferences. Not sure or No according to how you feel about each activity. you also need to consider your interests. It’s not a question of your ability or qualifications.15 Look through these kinds of work and consider whether you would like to carry each one out. visit our website at www. Interests are to do with the things you find most appealing or enjoyable. You will have had experience of some of them. Assume that you could do the activity if you wanted to. Try to imagine whether you’d like doing the others or not.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.2.

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. visit our website at www.open.15 continued Yes 22 Instruct computer users on procedures 23 Coordinate work of audit staff 24 Brief sales staff 25 Design new technical equipment 26 Collect and collate information 27 Supervise warehouse staff 28 Report on legal matters affecting the organisation 29 Set up a staff-grievance procedure 30 Plan equipment-maintenance schedules 31 Review data-processing installations 32 Monitor productivity of operations 33 Analyse effectiveness of advertising 34 Organise scientific research 35 Design publicity leaflets 36 Monitor productivity of operations 37 Implement new administrative procedures 38 Investigate staff turnover problems 39 Monitor laboratory testing services 40 Write computer documentation 41 Brief colleagues on effects of taxation changes 42 Report on sales performance 43 Produce design specifications 44 Manage external relations 45 Supervise a building-maintenance programme 46 Take minutes of meetings 47 Prepare a staff handbook 48 Carry out an energy usage audit 49 Deal with computing problems Not sure No 28 To find out more.uk/careers .ac.

15 continued Yes 50 Prepare financial reports 51 Review a product range and pricing 52 Develop and improve mechanical or electronic equipment 53 Edit a newsletter or magazine 54 Improve plant layout to increase productivity Not sure No Scoring Give 4 points for each ‘Yes’ response Give 2 points for each ‘Not sure’ response Give 0 points for each ‘No’ response Now add up the scores for the groups of questions shown here: Total Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F Group G Group H Group I Questions 1. visit our website at www. 29.uk/careers 29 . 42. 39. 47 Questions 3.ac. 41. 44. 22. 52 Questions 8. 18. 26. 20. 32. 49 Questions 5. 48 Questions 4. 12. 35. 37.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. 16. 30.open. 17. 34. 10. 24. 36. 51 Questions 7. 38. 14. 23. 46 Questions 2. 54 To find out more. 27. 40. 15. 53 Questions 9. 11. 28. 13. 31. 21. 50 Questions 6. 45. 19. 33. 43. 25.

Prospects Planner. The result may be no surprise. doesn’t tell you what you should do.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1.g. The list of interests we’ve considered in this activity reflects common graduate and managerial areas of work. Use Section 2 of this workbook to help you research the results you have got in the above activities. interests. nor those that depend on performance skills such as acting. and motivations.g. dancing.ac.g. sales manager G Scientific/engineering/research and design e.g. charity officer. librarian. If so.open. This is an online career-planning tool that will help you explore your skills. 30 To find out more. health service manager B Personnel/training/education e. Before carrying on.g. It might be that you work or have worked in your highest-scoring area and enjoyed it. you might find it helpful to look again at the section on the roles you play in your life and any possibilities you noted there. primary teacher. architect H Information/communication e. interpreter I Operational/production/distribution e. IT consultant.16 You may also find it useful to work through Prospects Planner. production manager Write in your total score for each group.g. recruitment manager C Technical support e. It doesn’t include artistic. you’ll need to register. Simply click on Login/Register in the My Prospects account box on the home page and go from there. management accountant.uk/careers . do take account of them in considering your future. this is a reassuring confirmation and suggests that you should consider continuing in that or related work. even if in a different kind of organisation. laboratory technician D Data processing e.15 continued What your scores mean Your scores relate to different kinds of work activity: Score A Administrative/legal/secretarial e. tax inspector F Marketing/sales/purchasing e. like similar programs. transport planner. electronics engineer.prospects. If you have interests outside this ‘managerial scheme’. Activity 1. creative. Alternatively.uk/links/Pplanner First.g. playing a musical instrument. database administrator E Accounting/finance e. quality assurance manager. the pattern may suggest a move to a different area of work. craft and natural environment areas.ac. Access Prospects Planner via the Prospects website by logging on to: www. It will then match your profile with an occupational database to produce a list of job suggestions for you to consider.g. but it will give you a starting point to explore areas of work that may interest you.g. retail buyer. visit our website at www.

ac. visit our website at www.open. you may want to look at Section 6 ‘The next steps’. Summary chart What am I good at? Write down the aptitudes that you’d most like to use What are my main work values? Write down the values you’d like to fulfil What would I like to do? Write down the occupations or job areas you’d like to work in To find out more. You should by now have a much clearer picture about: • • • • Your aptitudes Your skills and interests Your achievements and experience Your values At this stage you might like to discuss things either informally with a trusted friend or formally with a careers adviser.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Review Read through the results of your work and reflect on the notes you’ve made. When you’ve done that. or you might prefer to move on to the possibilities that this knowledge could open up for you in Section 2. Now complete the summary chart below.uk/careers 31 .

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Summary chart continued How would I like to work with people? What kind of environment? Write down the kind of contact you’d like to have with people. such as location. What changes would I like to make? Write down some changes you would like to make to help in your job searching 32 To find out more. organisational structure.open. travel. etc. and the kind of environment you’d like What other aspects are important to me? Write down any other factors that are important to you.ac.uk/careers . visit our website at www.

The content of Section 1 can provide a really useful starting point to an individual consultation with a careers adviser. You may prefer. You may find it useful to complete this section before you book an interview.open. It will help if you’re feeling uncertain about where your career is heading and is very useful if you have some work experience but feel as if you are currently under-employed. It covers job roles at all levels of responsibility rather than those just at graduate level as covered by Prospects Planner.open. visit our website at www.co. to explore further by continuing to read the remaining sections in this book or by looking at information and activities on the Careers Advisory Service website at: www.uk To find out more.ac. The tactics you will find most relevant at this stage are: • Tactic 1: Focusing your skills – self-reliance. people.ac.uk/careers Whichever route you choose. however.uk/careers 33 . good luck with the next step! Further resources Try these resources for developing self-awareness.learndirect-futures.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook You may wish to talk over some of your initial thoughts with a careers adviser before you go on to the next section. which OU students can do by contacting your regional centre. You need to register (free) to use it at: www.windmillsprogramme. You could take a look at the Windmills website. general and specialist skills analyses • Tactic 2: Finding your ideal job – includes a motivation assessment You can access the website at: www.com Learndirect Futures is another career interestassessment website that generates job suggestions. Windmills consists of seven stages or ‘tactics’. This is a virtual career coach which teaches individual career-management skills.

02 .

A typical strategy means that you will: • Consider all the opportunities open to you: public. private and voluntary sectors.ac.4 2. • Look into and follow up all sources of information. so be organised and systematic. work through Section 1 ‘Knowing yourself’ before going any further.1 Planning your strategy Many job-seekers actually have very little knowledge of how the job market works and how people are in fact recruited. and be prepared to ask for comments on how you’ve done. the only thing they might have in common is that they probably use an interview during the selection procedure.) Otherwise. So.3 2.5 Planning your strategy 35 Graduate-level jobs 36 Creative job search 38 Finding vacancies 38 Building a network of contacts 43 2. you will be able to focus much more accurately on what you need to do to achieve your goal. a key fact you need to grasp immediately is that it is vital that you plan your strategy for job hunting in order to get the job you want.1. What information they do have can often be based on personal experience or rumour. We are assuming at this stage that you know what you want to do.uk/careers 35 .open.1 2. By planning your job-search strategy.1 A typical strategy A strategic approach pays dividends. • Do some research: find out how. If you haven’t yet got a clear picture of the kind of work or job you want to pursue. • Don’t forget that you need to review and evaluate your progress from time to time. people’s job-seeking methods can be disorganised and inefficient. Another key fact you need to understand is that different sectors and employers have their own traditional methods for recruiting. when. or for jobs that don’t fit your needs or meet your expectations. It’s also important that you don’t spend valuable time applying for jobs where you have little chance of success.2 2. (In fact. where and how often vacancies are advertised.2 Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Exploring possibilities In this section 2. the recruitment process will be quite different. This means that you must be flexible enough to adapt your approach to the diversity of methods used by potential employers. jobs and developments in sectors you’re interested in. As a result. Always keep copies of your applications. Are graduates usually recruited? Are there formal channels? What are the essential qualities sought in candidates? How do you match up? • Apply for jobs and attend interviews. 2. • Get a general view before you start to draw up a shortlist. • Build up a file of background information about companies. The local sawmill is likely to approach the task differently from a multinational advertising agency. visit our website at www. rather than carefully organised and systematic. To find out more.

1. They’ll all have a bearing on employment.uk/links/SectorBs 2. look at the OU Career Links scheme where you can talk to a ‘career helper’ from the OU community at www. A high level of interactive and communication skills is usually required for these areas in addition to having received training in the specific area. • Use local career libraries. more adaptable to change. for example. fellow students. visit our website at www.1 What is a ‘graduate’ job? One of the main reasons employers recruit graduates is that they expect them to be more flexible. The dramatic reductions in graduate recruitment during the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s and the rise in the numbers of people studying for a degree have meant that. websites. • Follow up this information by talking to professional careers advisers and people in the job areas that interest you. the graduate labour market boundaries are blurring. Modern graduate occupations Since the expansion of higher education in the 1960s. • Keep notes of your conversations.ac. It’s becoming apparent that it isn’t always the classification of the job that’s important. useful company and sector contacts.ac. • Set up a file of job information.2. professional bodies. 2.ac. the better the choices you make will be. 2. there has been a development of new professional areas requiring graduate-level qualifications. • Constantly reassess your assumptions about questions such as your mobility and your job preferences. both on the number of people employed and on the work that they do. File copies of letters and applications and record the progress on each one. As large numbers of graduates enter an increasingly diverse range of jobs. 2 36 To find out more.uk/links/ CSDSevenYears) grouped graduate jobs into five distinct categories: 1 Traditional graduate occupations Established professions for which a degree has historically been required. and capable of learning new skills.1. look into trends in the area.2 Information Information is an essential tool in job hunting.prospects. details of salary bands. journalism or social work. for instance.uk/careers/links • Personal contacts can be invaluable: tutors. You need to find out as much as you can about the job(s) and the companies you’re applying to. specialist and general trade directories. • Be prepared to persist.2 Graduate-level jobs Another important aspect of any job-search strategy is to consider your options realistically in the context of the current and future employment market. As you research the main occupational areas that interest you. press releases etc.prospects. The graduate has to be an expert in a very specific area. useful articles.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. it’s becoming increasingly difficult to define exactly what’s meant by a ‘graduate job’. solicitors or research scientists. and the more you know about each possibility. You can do this by exploring jobs in sectors on the Prospects website at www. representatives from professional bodies. • Get to know the main sources of information about careers and jobs. and graduates are now entering a much wider range of jobs. relevant journals.uk/careers . but the nature of the graduate’s experience and aspirations. www. • Acknowledge those who have helped you – quick telephone calls or thank-you notes may pay dividends. Research conducted by Elias and Purcell in 2004 (Seven Years On: Graduate Careers in a Changing Labour Market. The fuller your awareness of the opportunities open to you.3 Review your progress Keep records of all contacts and applications you make.open. alumni. • If you are a student. sample advertisements. • Use a range of job-search methods.open. for all graduate job-seekers and job-changers. However. This is still so. job descriptions and person specifications. and don’t forget to follow up useful contacts from job advertisements.ac. so that you can present yourself effectively. regional representatives. To review your progress: • Consider what appears to work and what doesn’t. • Be realistic about the skills and experience you have and those you need to acquire. employment seeking strategies have had to be flexible and responsive to the employment market. and ask yourself why.

ac.uk/links/wdgd and on the Teaching Quality website at www.tqi.open.2. environmental health).8 million SMEs in the UK and it is predicted that they will create a further 2 million jobs by 2010. There are many instances of graduates in these occupations demonstrating their potential and developing their initial role to fit their skills.ac. Here are some ideas on the difference between working for SMEs versus blue-chip organisations: SMEs • • • • • • Fastest growing sector of UK economy Local Early responsibility No formal induction Less red tape and bureaucracy Lower starting salary Blue chip • • • • • • Easily identifiable opportunities National Small cog in big wheel Structured training programme Formal structures embedded Perks and higher starting salary To find out more. 2.5 per cent. Barclays) only 14 per cent of respondents had a place on a graduate training scheme with a blue chip employer.1 per cent six months after leaving. graphic design. marketing. Non-graduate occupations Increasing numbers of graduates don’t immediately enter the ‘graduate labour market’. What sort of organisation are you suited to? You need to consider what type of opportunity might be right for you and think about the pros and cons of working for an SME or a large blue chip company. In fact.uk In 2004 unemployment among all students was 6. Some are relatively new occupations whereas the nature of others has changed so that an increasingly common route into them is via a graduate level qualification (for instance.prospects.2 New and expanding opportunities for graduates Structured graduate programmes still exist with large ‘blue chip’ companies but competition is fierce and fewer graduates now enter through these schemes. there were 3. nursing. retail management. Most jobs in this category don’t usually ask for a degree but have some areas that are deemed as ‘specialist’ and increasingly ask for a degree at entry – for example. the data shows the unemployment figure for OU students from the 2003/4 survey to be 2. The ability to access and use specialist information is an additional skill for these areas.prospects. At the beginning of 2002.uk/careers 37 . a growing proportion of graduates find their first jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). According to the Graduate Experience 2002 Report (DTI.ac. visit our website at www. Many are in nongraduate jobs but using the skills that they have developed as a result of their studies. engineering.uk/links/SectorBs Destination of Leavers in Higher Education in the UK Each year universities in the UK are required to ask their graduates about what they are doing and how studying has changed or developed their careers. For more information on SMEs go to: www.ac. Although we know that OU students start from a different point as many are working while they study. This data is published annually and can be seen at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3 4 5 New graduate occupations These reflect changes in technology and organisational structures and priorities. Niche graduate occupations This is an expanding area.

Consider temporary or part-time work to enhance your marketability.9 and 2. • Find contacts in the sorts of organisation and job you’d really like. • Develop an excellent CV and application letter. What will your job search strategy look like? 2. and what benefits you hope to gain from the experience. To succeed. This may give you an identifiable edge in the job market. you need to play by a set of new rules. or redefine old ones • because an organisation doesn’t recruit enough graduates to warrant much expenditure of effort or money on advertising • because of the volume of unsolicited applications • when an organisation doesn’t particularly demand a degree. • Don’t limit your marketing to letters of application. • Cultivate well-placed.4. they are classified as either ‘open’ or ‘hidden’. in particular. it’s estimated that 7 out of 10 jobs are ‘hidden’. 38 To find out more. knowledgeable people. Most of us need to review our careers now and again to take account of changes in ourselves and the opportunities open to us. [Adapted from the AGCAS booklet Job Seeking Strategies] Pause for thought Ask yourself what you can take forward from these ideas. Try to contact the person who makes the decisions and might be interested in your talents. or talk to them in person.uk/careers . a partnership between employers and higher education institutions – look at www.10).uk • Don’t forget the increasingly important nontraditional graduate recruiters (small and mediumsized enterprises – SMEs.1 Applying for hidden jobs Hidden jobs are produced: • by organisational changes that make old jobs obsolete and create new ones. • Use the internet to research into companies and job vacancies. • Investigate the possibility of employment through a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’.4.3 Creative job search The career-review process isn’t something you do once and for all and then never do again. and customise them with a particular opportunity or employer in mind (see Section 4 ‘Getting the job’). including those in organisations you’ve already worked for (if any). qualities and experience.4. Consider what you can do for them.5. which were discussed above in Section 2.open. None of us can predict what kind of jobs might be available in the next few years. may not advertise so as not to be inundated with applications. and be sure to get constructive comments on your applications and overall approach (you will find out more about recruitment and executive search agencies in Sections 2. visit our website at www. in that they are never even advertised! Often.4 Finding vacancies When it comes to job vacancies. skill development and knowledge of the industry or job area.ac.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. but don’t let them use you. • Use the contacts you’ve made to get opportunities to work-shadow or to carry out job study interviews that will give you useful knowledge. So. Today’s labour market is increasingly diverse.org.ktponline. 2. • Find out about getting appropriate training or study with work experience.2). Be clear about what you’re offering to do.2. Learn how to use the telephone effectively – there’s some advice about this in Section 2. but prefers specific skills. In fact. in times of recession. Make sure they keep you in mind for suitable vacancies.6 for details. • Use employment agencies.2. how long for. SMEs. You may want to ask to meet people. • Think about doing voluntary work. this hidden job market increases as some employers shy away from the administrative burden of dealing with the overwhelming number of responses their recruitment advertisements produce. See Section 2. how can you do a creative job search? Here are a few essential steps to get you started: • You need to ‘market’ yourself.5. The best advice is to start as early as possible and be creative in your job search. and to foster contacts.

reorganising. promotion and retirement continually create new job opportunities. Treat the employer as a client. You’re not asking for a job or hoping there might be a vacancy. You want a meeting: say so clearly when you write. • Look at company websites and find out more about them. Does the profession you’re interested in produce one? Use www. Which organisations have the sort of position that attracts you? Who is recruiting.3 To make an effective speculative contact • Pick out likely targets Be discriminating and choose worthwhile prospects. Get any agreements – proposals or contracts – in writing as soon as you can. follow up by telephone. This approach gives you the initiative. You’re making a business proposition.2 Making speculative approaches Please note that making speculative approaches to companies is not permitted in Northern Ireland. job titles and addresses are correct. And be sure you can deliver the goods! • When you meet Be businesslike and professional in making your proposals. If a fulltime appointment isn’t practical. explaining what you offer and what you can do.ac. Prepare for the meeting as you would for a job interview. Speculative approaches can even create new jobs. Prove that they need your abilities and would benefit from your expertise. Each approach must be tailor made and will take time to prepare. show where you can fit in. The effective job-seeker must tap the hidden market by making speculative approaches to prospective employers. KOMPASS (www. teaching. You’re not sending out a mail drop or a circular letter. Remember. Thompson Directory. and how you would improve. Your letter. Be flexible. nor appropriate in some areas of employment. 2. even open jobs are hidden during the early stages. Consider what’s right for you and your ‘target’ area.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook To find the kind of company that can use your skills and satisfy your needs: • Look at the resources suggested in this section.kompass. telephone call or email must reach the right person. technological and organisational change always affect employment patterns. and concentrate on those. for example. This approach isn’t comfortable for some people for example. sectors. com) • Specialist trade directories for different occupational areas. develop or help it become more effective. Ask questions about the employer’s needs. The Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book. advertising space and so on. Research the organisation. Check with the organisation to make sure that names.open. You must prepare a thoroughly argued case to prove that the cost of employing you is more than outweighed by the benefits. perhaps to arrange a meeting through a secretary. for instance. Offer dates and times. while decisions are being made about internal versus external recruitment campaigns.uk/careers 39 .g. Be prepared to fit in with the employer’s availability. jobs and areas most appeal to you. 2. Convince employers that you have exactly the skills they need to solve their business problems. You decide which organisations. ac. • Contact a named individual Approach only the person who can take the decision to employ or help you (you might be asking for information rather than a job). showing how your abilities can contribute to the success of the enterprise. relocating? Use all your information sources and network contacts (which we will discuss in more detail below) to select a portfolio of companies. It isn’t enough just to wait for jobs to be advertised in the media. Marketing yourself means keeping ahead of the competition. • Give a specific reason for contact Have a peg to hang your letter on. Demonstrate that they can’t afford not to employ you. there may be a possibility of employing you for a particular shortterm project. visit our website at www.uk/links/occupations to see if there are any. Economic.prospects.4.4. To find out more. Familiarise yourself with its problems and needs. a very nervous jobhunter. To get started try: • General trade directories e. Yellow Pages. • Consult the main directories in your local reference library. Turnover. selection dates. Be prepared to negotiate. • Always follow up If you hear nothing within two weeks of writing. • Get a meeting No one ever got a job merely by writing a letter.

advertising is reduced.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Take a long-term view It takes time to build up a mailing list. just keep in mind that research into how managers change to jobs with other organisations has shown that over half get an introduction through networking.uk/links/occupations 2. During holiday periods. Daily Telegraph. Advertised jobs can be found through: • The OU Careers Advisory Service We are currently developing services for students that advertise vacancies notified to us by employers.ac. Elias and Purcell (2005) in Class of 99 (Study of the early Labour Market Experiences of Recent Graduates) highlight the value of networks for getting into new employment.com 2. go to www. You may have to do some detective work if the advertisement doesn’t give a telephone number. Make a note of advertising patterns in your local press. smaller employers often rely on local advertisements in the regional press because it’s less expensive and brings in a more manageable number of replies. Many employers send very poor information. If you are an OU student. • Persevere Occasionally persistence will pay off and. The best place to consult newspapers and journals is your local library or online if you have access to the internet. and responses may be slow and few. Independent. 21 per cent of OU students reported that they had got their job as a result of personal contacts and networking. there’s no point in sending a CV. 40 To find out more. trade and professional journals Professional associations Recruitment agencies Executive search firms In all these cases. Remember every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes’! • • • • • The internet Newspaper. or none at all. Financial Times) advertise certain kinds of work on particular days of the week. you may be referred or recommended to another. the day on which most papers are sold. Even if you have no luck with a particular employer. • develop further contacts to expand your network. Show initiative by telephoning or emailing if you need to know more. If you’re going to make speculative approaches.4 Networking In the 2003/4 Destination of Leavers Survey. Making speculative contacts can pay off in several ways.5 Applying for advertised jobs Many jobs are of course advertised and here we look at where. Each employer you see is a new contact. or to concentrate on particular companies just because they appeal to you. Local and regional papers sometimes concentrate their job advertisements on Thursdays.ac. But experience supports the practical wisdom of doing so.uk/ careers and to the section entitled ‘Moving on’ and look at the ‘Advertised Jobs’ and ‘Virtual Employer Fair’ pages.open.open. You will find links to national and regional papers from www. If it says write. it may seem a little strange to seek out hidden jobs. whom you can convince of your qualities as a candidate.4. For now. telephone or email for an application form.6 Replying to advertised jobs If you reply to an advertisement.uk/careers . Guardian. August to mid-September and December. especially in particular companies • get an introduction to a key decision-maker in a company. Each rejection may be one step nearer to the job you want. At the start.4. Here you will find links to jobs notified to the OU Careers Service and access to other UK wide and local vacancies. start planning early in your job search. Make a note of the advertising patterns: you will find that most of the quality daily papers (The Times. We will deal with networking in more detail in Section 2. but their relatively high advertising rates tend to restrict the salary range to the higher end.prospects. always follow the instructions given. 2.4. At first.4. look for sources through www.thepaperboy. as recruiters seldom place their advertisements more than once. about the job advertised or the selection methods they use.7 Newspapers and journals You will find many job vacancies advertised in newspapers and specialist or trade journals. 2. and familiarise yourself with the kinds of advertisement placed in each paper. visit our website at www. ‘Networking’ is the systematic use of personal contacts to: • gather information about an industry or company • discover hidden jobs.5 below. after an initial refusal. Because advertising in national newspapers is costly. Use these meetings to get more information about the job market. The big Sunday papers advertise a variety of jobs. you may be offered a meeting.ac. Make the most of it. you may need to look at them every day.

4.8 Professional associations Many professional associations and institutions.9 Recruitment agencies Recruitment agencies tend to deal with lowerlevel salaried positions.uk/careers 41 . have a regional education or training officer and sometimes specialist careers adviser whom you can contact. Some produce yearbooks and lists of members. and in some areas of employment (such as medical sales) they are almost the standard source of recruits. Many specialise in particular kinds of work or industry. To find out more. about what the agency is offering you. usually a percentage of your first year’s salary.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. Addresses and other details are in the Directory of British Associations at www. visit our website at www. Services are free to you – the employing company is charged a fee. Remember that it’s there to fill its clients’ posts. They often act for small to medium-sized employers that have no personnel or recruitment departments of their own.open.ac. Be clear. 2.cbdresearch.4. for example.com and in most major libraries. not to help you sort out your career plans. though. the British Psychological Society and the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

html You can also register free on My Prospects.uk/graduatejobsearch/ index. Try to make sure you use vetted or recommended websites only to post your CV. You could find yourself treated like a trading commodity. • It’s sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees – not everyone has a brilliant web designer. if the website’s main interest is simply to capture personal details and sell on a CV. They get most of their fee whether the employer hires their candidates or not.com Consultants often don’t share information with one another. They tend to be used for jobs that are at a high level or require scarce specialist skills for example. The average search firm has only three or four consultants. entering it into the database of an organisation (usually recruitment organisations) that will either try to find a suitable match for you or allow an employer to search the information and perhaps select you for interview.prospects.com • The Recruitment and Employment Confederation is the national association for the recruitment and staffing industry. they prefer to receive a CV to judge whether you fit what they have on their books at that moment. they’re worth considering if you have skills that are in short supply – accountancy is a particular example. You can find this at: www. While they are important in the market place. They may interview you and construct a pen picture to go with your CV. and your personal details may become public property. published annually by Kogan Page.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook To find out about recruitment agencies: • Making the Most of Your Recruitment Consultancy A guide obtainable from Badenoch and Clark recruitment consultancy at: www. Always try to cross-check information. As a result. There are also opportunities to ‘post’ your CV on the web. As noted above. similarly.badenochandclark.strath. They are of two main kinds: • Fee/assignment firms are given sole charge of a particular search.uk/careers . • Contingency firms are paid only when the company hires someone they have presented. Further resources Look at the following website developed by Strathclyde University Careers Service which directs job seekers to vetted job websites. They seldom divulge information about their clients. and always include details of your former salary and the range you’re looking for. If you decide to use a search firm. their role is limited by the high fees they charge to employers (typically 30–35 per cent of annual salary). or when commercial confidentiality is essential. or are marketable enough to fit something that might turn up in the future. You can find addresses of search firms in The Daily Telegraph’s Recruitment Handbook. they can be a useful source of information about how you were received by the client. • Websites sometimes go online while still under development. send a CV and covering letter.rec. If they send you to an interview they’ll want to know how things went. 2. edited by Patricia Leighton. Most graduate recruiters now recruit online as well as using other methods. They receive enormous numbers of CVs and often don’t bother to acknowledge them. the online news and CV-matching service that brings tailored information about jobs and career events to your email address and lets employers search your electronic CV. so if you apply to a large firm operating in many locations you need to send your CV to all of them.4. 2.open.uk/links/MyProspects 42 To find out more.careers.000. search firms may deal with a limited type of vacancy.ac.ac. You can also receive the Prospects Graduate Digital magazine.uk.11 The internet Most jobs are now advertised on the internet through national websites directly associated with particular careers.4. specialist IT skills. Some employers let more than one contingency firm work on a particular job.ac. visit our website at www. Although some firms deal only with positions above £50. Many sites change rapidly and there are no guarantees about the accuracy of the information displayed. Sometimes contingency firms will distribute your CV widely in the hope of generating new business. You can search for agencies by geographical location and by type of work from their website at: www. Bear in mind that not all sites offer confidentiality. Remember that: • Websites may not always deliver what they promise.10 Executive search firms There are more than 200 executive search firms in the UK. Most consultants limit interviews and initially are likely to carry out a telephone screening with you. You can access this at: www.

fellow students. but they can become your publicity agents and your information sources. Busy managers are usually in early and late.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. Most people will be only too glad to help. You don’t get the usual clues from nods. 2. so that you don’t get confused over important details.5 Building a network of contacts Personal contacts can be a fantastic source of help in your job search. own business contacts. what you’re doing is making the most of them as sources of advice. voluntary work or casual part-time jobs.open. they may be able to put you in touch with someone who can. especially those in the function that interests you. Some people are natural and relaxed on the telephone. As you work towards developing and extending your network. former colleagues.5. Put contacts at ease about this to avoid embarrassment. tutors. family. information and ideas. Unease usually arises from the misconception that using contacts means asking people for jobs.ac. It’s often difficult getting through to someone during the day. They may not have the job openings you want. you may be able to discover: • • • • • a company’s competitive position whether it’s in a state of growth. tutors or people you’ve met through leisure interests. any business contacts you have. stability or decline its working climate and culture its business strategy the background of key managers.1 Approaching your contacts You need to decide how you will approach your contacts. Establish: • • • • What you’re seeking How your contact can help you How much time you’re asking for (15–20 minutes) Time and place for a meeting. visit our website at www. keep a record of each letter. To take some of the stress out of the situation. or they may lead to other secondary sources. plan the format and content of your call: To find out more. conversation and so on. Some will be able to give you names of their Activity 2. Even if these people can’t help you themselves. Be persistent. or telephoning to follow up a contact you’ve been given or to make an appointment for an interview. So. Be very succinct. the impression you make • get you noticed.2 Using the telephone effectively You may be making a speculative call. so try outside normal office hours if you can. Pause for thought Perhaps you feel uncomfortable about networking in this fashion. all potential sources of information or advice. These secondary contacts can act as a bridge between you and the decision makers in the companies you’re interested in. Others.1 Building up a network Draw up a list of everyone who might be able to help you – friends. 2. smiles and so on. In fact. Your network of contacts can include friends. so it’s difficult to judge what impression you’re making. what is appropriate for the area of work and what might be effective.uk/careers 43 . how do you build your network? Your primary contacts are people who know you directly. A number of methods are possible but you need to decide what is right for you. telephone call.5. By telephone Your first approach is likely to be by telephone. are stilted and anxious. even after years of practice. Through building up a network of contacts. relatives. Think what they can do for you: • keep you informed • comment on your strategy and approach. Getting the approach right is important. Make a note in your career file of your list of contacts. or to refer you to someone else who can.

3 Making an approach in person Making an approach in person can be an opportunity to test your interview skills and make a good and lasting impression. You can access career links at: www. > Talk again to contacts. journal and newspaper stories).ac.4 Career Links As an OU student. For a productive meeting. • Suggest times and dates for an appointment. Pause for thought Meetings need to be well planned and purposeful. trading problems/ opportunities (for me). • Try to avoid being interviewed over the phone unless this is pre-arranged. 2. before you talk to your contacts.open.open. • Advice and comment on your job-search strategy Example One of my network contacts led to an introduction to the head of a department in a company I was targeting. 44 To find out more. and there’s a lot to cover in twenty minutes.g. Make sure that you’ve done your research thoroughly. get their full name if you can. It was produced by one of the students who tried out this pack before publication and was preparing to approach a particular company. prospects for development/training/promotion). • Get the contact interested straight away – make notes beforehand of what you want to say.) > How do my strengths match the needs? > Plan which of my strengths/ accomplishments I am going to mention. • Introduce yourself succinctly. Before reading on. considering what further preparation you need at this point. as follows: > Carry out more research on the company (e. This could be a vital step in your networking – it allows you to link up with others in the OU community who have work experience in the area you are aiming for.g. • Offer your telephone number or email in case of a change in arrangements.) – Put myself in the shoes of my prospective boss. etc. you might find it helpful to look again at the advice in Section 2-3 ‘Creative job search’. and decided on further preparation. and how I am going to present myself. you need a carefully planned agenda. I set up an appointment with her. > Re-read the advice in Section 4 about job applications and interviews. Other people have their own agendas. > List which issues I want to investigate (e. political battles. visit our website at www. you can register with Career Links.5.uk/careers/links Pause for thought Building a network of contacts plays a key part in creative job search. Whilst this person won’t necessarily be familiar with a specific company.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • If they have a secretary. They will respect you more and be more prepared to help if they have evidence of your professional approach. • State the objectives of your call. (A discussion with an ex-employee could be particularly revealing.uk/careers . 2.ac. they are likely to have general knowledge about making contacts. exposure to risk. • Clarify the exact place of the appointment. • Use the name of the referral source discreetly. It might cover: • Why you’re thinking of leaving your present job (or why you left your last one) • Your job goals and some alternatives • Your strategy for getting there • A discussion about the industries you’re interested in and the companies you’ve picked out • Questions about names and referrals to key people. using published sources. preferably decision-makers for your kind of job who you can ask about opportunities in the industry. and to read the following example. (Think about what sort of help the company may need.5. • Get to the point quickly – treat it like a minicommercial for yourself. possible openings. to get a ‘feel’ for the culture.

) To decrease expenses To obtain specialist expertise that leads to an increase of sales or a decrease in expenses On the Prospects site you can register free and have information about jobs emailed to you. and prune ruthlessly.crsearch.cev.com/uk/ Local Government Jobs at www.uk along with links to information about New Deal initiatives.uk CR Search and Selection www.do-it. Use it to mention an achievement related to the job you’re seeking and strike a chord of need in the reader.charitypeople.uk Citizens Advice www. Be critical over matters of style.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Note in your career file what preparation you want to make at this point. In addition. etc. go to Section 2 to research jobs or the section ‘Moving on’ if you want to find out more about looking for jobs and if you want access to vacancies both locally and UK wide.vso. Further resources For further information and resources go to the OU Careers Advisory Service website at www.htm lists member organisations for EU countries including the UK and Ireland. outline how you tackled it and state what results you got. Section 4 ‘Getting the job’ offers advice to help you with the practical side of drawing up a letter to accompany a CV.org.thepaperboy. keep in mind that there are three main reasons why someone might want to employ you: 1 2 3 To increase sales (or the employer’s equivalent – service volume.uk/links/MyProspects Here’s a selection of other sites that you might like to look at: Vacancies in higher education and related organisations www. Local centres seek to place people into suitable voluntary work – meals on wheels. describe a relevant problem.jobcentreplus. From here you can link to the various volunteer bureaus for your areas of the UK www. For example.org.open.uk Search facility with links to regional.org.5 Drawing up your letter When it comes to drawing up a letter. ac.employeevolunteering.5.uk The European Volunteer Centre www. hobbies.ac. visit our website at www.uk Charity People www. Go to www.org. If you are a student.gov.charityjob. national and international newspapers www.connexions-direct.uk Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) www.co.5.uk/careers.com allows you to search by occupation and location.ac.jobs.) Dates Salary Copies of references • The first paragraph is crucial.uk Employee Volunteering www.ac. 2.com Job Centre vacancies are online at www.co. etc.uk/careers 45 . A speculative letter will need many drafts in order to polish it. Includes non graduate jobs on this site www. you may find the following websites helpful for exploring opportunities to work with charities and voluntary organisations: Charity Job www. Your letter must list accomplishments that correspond to these reasons. 2.6 Voluntary work Voluntary work can be a fantastic way of getting experience and building networks as well as showing commitment to an area you are interested in.lgjobs.csv. To find out more.citizensadvice.uk Community Service Volunteers www. • Get someone else to check your spelling.prospects. grammar and layout.uk Do-it-: search this database for a wide range of volunteering opportunities in the UK. etc. • You should include Key achievements and relevant experience Only the last five to ten years A maximum of two uncrowded pages • Exclude Personal data (marital status.open.be/members.org. membership.co. You will also find links to professional bodies and related sites from the ‘Broad Career Areas’ within the above site.

03 .

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

Making decisions and taking action
In this section 3.1 Making decisions about your life 47 3.2 Goals, restrictions and resources 48 3.3 Plan of action 52
If you’ve developed self-awareness and explored opportunities and now need to make decisions and plan how to put them into action, this section is for you. It will help you to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different decisions, find sources of help and plan for action. You’ve probably put a lot of time into analysing your life and career. You should have considered your strengths, skills and experience, and researched the occupational areas that interest you. Before going on to make decisions, it’s helpful to look at the framework within which you may be making choices about the future.

3.1 Making decisions about your life
It’s not our claim that everyone can achieve everything they want. Obviously you have to be realistic, as life imposes restrictions on us all. But many people don’t achieve all that they’re capable of, because they’re not clear about what they want to do and how to make decisions. It’s important to aim for what you want while being aware of what’s achievable. One way to consider the range of options is to look at your goals alongside your personal restrictions and resources.

3.1.1 Managing your situation
Whenever you’re in a situation you’re not happy with, you have four basic options. You might think about them both in the short term and in the long term. For example, you may be clear that long term you want to change jobs, but in the short term you might be able to ‘change yourself’ to make things easier. • Work for change Try to change the situation to make it more as you want it to be.

If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to do this, you’re left with the other three options. • Change yourself Examine your own attitudes, behaviour, ambitions, skills, lifestyle and so on, and consider how, if you changed any of those, your situation might improve. • Live with it This means much more than ‘putting up with it’. You need a strategy to minimise the aspects of the situation you don’t like and maximise those you do. For example, you might put more energy into activities outside your job if you’re dissatisfied at work, change the way you work so that it reduces your contact with troublesome elements, or spend more time doing the things you enjoy and cutting down those you don’t. • Leave Find a constructive way to move on out of the situation, job, relationship or problem.

Pause for thought
Consider the four options. Which could apply to your present situation? How?

To find out more, visit our website at www.open.ac.uk/careers

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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

3.2 Goals, restrictions and resources
Whatever your decision about the four options, you need a goal and a plan to get there. In the next section we are going to look at your goals and then examine the restrictions and resources that may affect how you reach them.

3.2.1 Goals
What is a goal? • Goals are what you want to get out of life. • You may use other words to describe your goals – results, outcomes, aims and ambitions. • Unlike dreams, hopes, fantasies and wishes, goals are specific and expect the outcome to arrive. • While short or long term, goals should be realistic but challenging. • Remember: your goals may change over time.

Activity 3.1
What are your goals?
Write them down here. You may not yet have fully identified your goals but put what you can here and add to it later.

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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

3.2.2 Restrictions and resources
We’re all affected by our own restrictions and resources. Sometimes the same thing is both a restriction and a resource. If you’re buying a house on a mortgage, it’s both a liability and an asset; a friend or relative might need support but might also be a source of support to you.

Activity 3.2
What are your restrictions and resources?
Think about your resources – the things, people and attitudes that could help you. Then think about your restrictions – the things you need to take into account or that may be problems. Write them down on the chart.

Resources
Money Financial resources

Restrictions
Responsibilities

Equipment, tools, premises I have I haven’t got

People, family, contacts Who can help me? Who needs my help or support?

Health Good points Bad points

Beliefs, outlooks Positives Negatives

Pause for thought
Consider your answers. How will they affect the kind of opportunities open to you? Are there other things you need to consider? For example, do you need to work near your home? Could you move to a new area? Might your age be important?

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3 Balance helpful resources against restrictions Now look back to the restrictions and resources you listed. but there’s more to do. Example Goal – Promotion Resources Line manager’s support Personal ambition/determined Prepared to take responsibility Project management experience Restrictions Colleagues’ reactions Limited mobility Little experience of managing people No experience of managing budgets Now balance resources and restrictions for your own goal(s) Which of the goals you’ve listed in Activity 3.3 Look first at the example below. What actions would help you to make the most of them? Minimise restrictions Now look at the restrictions you underlined. It was produced by someone who wanted to apply for promotion. 50 To find out more. You now need to consider each of your goals in terms of all the resources that could be helpful or cause restrictions. giving a balanced picture of the situation. visit our website at www. You’ve probably noted some factors that will help you in the direction you want to take and others that you need to find a way round.ac. Each restriction is set against a helping resource.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3. What actions would help you to reduce their effects? You’ve now listed actions you can take towards your goals. Activity 3. Make the most of resources Look at the resources you underlined. The next activity will help with this.open.2.uk/careers .1 are the most important? Underline them.

open. ‘No experience of managing budgets’ was listed as a problem.uk/careers 51 . You should also be clear about the main helping forces and problems you need to deal with. To find out more.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 3. visit our website at www. Resources Internal training courses Local college has course Line manager’s support Actions Resources Actions Resources Actions Resources Pause for thought You should now have a clear picture of what you really want and what ideas you want to develop. Actions Attend course on finance for non-managers Attend outside course in the evenings Find out about the budget process Family support Now do this for each of the actions you listed.3 continued Bring actions and resources together List the resources that can help you to carry out each step. Look at the example.ac.

If you want to plan your career effectively. Put a note in your diary or ask someone to remind you.co. you’ll have to revise it. This means taking a few different steps: • Setting out your goals (long. You may need to improve it or change it completely.ac. Set aside time to review your goals and see how you are progressing. visit our website at www. but you’re setting out on a potentially exciting journey. gather information or get access to a particular resource.open. and perhaps discuss your plans either informally with a trusted friend or formally with a careers adviser. 52 To find out more. If you monitor your progress by checking your plan from time to time you can identify what you have achieved. Once you’ve done this. Review At this stage it might be useful to read through the work you’ve done in this section. You may have to cope with setbacks and frustrations. and then revise your targets if necessary. it might be necessary to go through several stages. You should consider five factors when drawing up your action plan: 1 2 3 4 5 What you need to do How you are going to take action Resources that could help you (e. after doing that. measurable. medium and short term) • Deciding which actions you need to take • Identifying your restrictions and resources • Working out a realistic timescale to achieve each step.uk/careers and find ‘Action Planning and Decision Making’ using the ‘A-Z’. achievable.g. realistic. friends) When you will achieve your targets How you will know when you have achieved your goal Pause for thought You might want to complete action plans for several goals. finance. To discover what kind of decision maker you are.uk/helpandadvice/dmr/ You could also look at Tactic 5 (Master the art of action thinking – how to attain your goals and action plan) on the Windmills Virtual Career Coach at: www.windmillsprogramme. keep an eye on progress and adapt your plan if necessary.learndirect-advice. 3.1 Back-up plan You should always try to have a back-up plan.uk/careers . you are going to amass a lot of information from which you will need to identify realistic options and create suitable goals. you’re ready to start taking action. So. taking the first steps towards a new or resumed working life. Further resources Look at the careers website at: www.3 Plan of action The next stage is to bring everything together into a detailed plan of action. If.3. If you don’t manage to meet your goals it may be that your first plan wasn’t good enough.ac. you still find that you’re unable to reach your goal.com Action plans need to be SMART (specific.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3.open. Ask yourself. You could also look at Section 6 ‘The next steps’. time based). You might need to gain experience or qualifications. ‘Is it realistic?’ If it isn’t. To achieve what you want. This process will involve making a number of decisions. try the learndirect activity at: www. with all its potential for improvement and advancement. information. you might have to reconsider it. And of course if you change your mind about your end goal then you can go back to your original plan to make necessary adjustments.

g. My long-term goal Short and medium term goals to achieving long-term goal Find out about courses Difficulty of funding Explore educational or career development loans Investigate letting flat for year of the course Afraid of rejection Friend will provide support and encouragement Actions required Constraints Resources. weekly Find someone else keen to do it To find out more.who or what can help me? Target date for actions To become a journalist Postgraduate course in journalism Next week Apply early By the end of the month Within two months Gain relevant voluntary/paid experience Write freelance articles and submit Find out where classes are offered locally Cost? Motivation to complete? Write to local newspapers Take an evening class in shorthand or word-processing Check if special arrangements are possible for payment e.open.ac.4 Showing a worked example of an action plan Look at the worked example below. then fill in your own plan on the following page.uk/careers Tomorrow Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 53 . visit our website at www.Activity 3.

uk/careers My long-term goal Short and medium term goals to achieving long-term goal .ac.open.4 Your action plan To find out more. visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 54 Actions required Constraints Resources.who or what can help me? Target date for actions Activity 3.

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Notes To find out more.ac.uk/careers 55 . visit our website at www.open.

04 .

’’ Digby Jones.’’ Carl Gilleard. Forward to Prospects Directory 2004/5 ‘What do Graduates 2006 do?‘ (HECSU/AGCAS/AGR/UCAS) ‘‘Twenty-first century graduates need to demonstrate to employers that they can ‘hit the ground running’. students should engage in extra curricular activities and obtain work experience in order to develop skills that will make them better prepared for the world of work. teamworking and problem solving. They particularly value skills such as communication. Director-General. It is also important for students to become self aware and develop the confidence to market themselves effectively when the time comes to apply for jobs. Employers are looking for more than just technical skills and knowledge of a degree discipline. it shows you how these specific skills can be developed: To find out more.ac. Chief Executive. Association of Graduate Recruiters ‘What do Graduates 2006 do?‘ (HECSU/AGCAS/AGR/UCAS) Analysis of years of national employer surveys suggests the desired skills of graduates fall into four broad areas: 1 Self-reliance skills 2 People skills 3 General employment skills 4 Specialist skills. Together they make up what is referred to as ‘employability skills’.2 4. visit our website at www. Confederation of British Industry.uk/careers 57 .6 4.7 What do employers look for in graduates? 57 Matching vacancies 59 Application forms 62 The curriculum vitae (CV) 65 The covering letter 78 The interview 81 Other selection techniques 87 4.1 What do employers look for in graduates? ‘‘A degree alone is not enough.5 4.4 4. Equally importantly perhaps.open. In addition to working hard to gain a good degree. Table 4. Job applicants who can demonstrate that they have developed these skills will have a real advantage.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Getting the job In this section 4.3 4.1 overleaf is taken and adapted from the 2006 version of What do Graduates do? It shows very clearly what types of skill employers want.1 4.

resourceful Planning action – decision-maker.1. deliverer Caring responsibilities. realistic Interpersonal skills – listener. work and education OU study. organised. focused. AGCAS. sales Source: HECSU. work experience OU study. European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).open. accounting. self-belief. influencer Leadership – motivator. UCAS and AGR Roles within the home – budgeting. member of orchestra. energetic. journalism. conscientious Specialist skills Specific occupational skills – specialist relevant knowledge. web design skills.g. motivated. quick-thinker. language skills. self-reliant Willingness to learn – inquisitive. roles within work e. able to prioritise People skills Team working – supportive.g. use of IT. voluntary work. adviser. 58 To find out more. assertive Oral communication – communicator. fundraising for charity. keyboard skills. sport. willing. Roles within your working situation. co-operative. Proactivity – resourceful. multi-skilled Business acumen – entrepreneurial. visionary Customer orientation – friendly. methodical Commitment – dedicated. coordinator. languages.uk/careers . relationship-builder. diplomatic Foreign language – specific language skills General employment Problem-solving – practical. presenter. persistent. engineering. results skills orientated Flexibility – versatile. travel. coordinating others Self-reliance skills Self-awareness – purposeful. Skills that employers want and how they can be developed Type of skill “Buzz” words Examples of how the skills can be developed through interests. work responsibilities in a team. first aid at work qualification. NVQ qualification. trustworthy. visit our website at www. software packages Numeracy – accurate. logical.g. IT Technical skills – e. e. guide/scout leader. drive. planner.ac. enthusiastic Self-promotion – positive. caring. ambitious Networking – initiator. Roles within the home – planning.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Table 4. competitive. risk taker IT/computer literacy – office skills. Involvement in community groups.

visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook The requirements an employer sets out in a job advertisement are likely to be much more specific.open. you need to analyse the information you already have. • Location and geographical mobility How far would you travel each day? Would you consider moving house? If you need to travel around.) To find out more. Analyse each noun and adjective for its implications. especially if there isn’t a specified salary? • Named contact Is a name given to contact for further information? It’s a good idea to follow up such offers. Look at your advertisement and analyse it under these headings: • Style and language What’s the general style of the advertisement – formal. and be honest about whether your personality and needs match what the employer wants. The advert should specify what the employer is looking for. Rehearse your introduction and be prepared for the question. Now you want to make sure you have a ‘match’. nobody will do it for you! 4. What are you looking for.uk/careers 59 . 4. So.2. before finding out more about the position. • Prospects What opportunities are there for advancement in this job? The employer may be looking for evidence of your willingness and ability to progress. or other specified qualification? • Experience Is it preferred or essential – will you be ruled out? What experience can you offer from any aspect of your life that demonstrates close or transferable skills? • Qualities Note the language used to describe the ideal applicant.ac. even a brief newspaper advertisement can reveal a great deal of useful information. • Salary Usually a good guide to the level of qualifications and experience required. ‘multinational’ …? How does the organisation see itself and what image does it want to project? Do you feel comfortable with its choice of words? Will your personality fit the organisation? Are your values similar? • Brief job description Does the work genuinely interest you? Does it match your needs? What are the key tasks? What skills are needed? Can you produce evidence of your ability to deal successfully with each task? How will you demonstrate your potential for coping with tasks you haven’t handled before? Is there anything that seems unclear? • Qualifications Are they preferred or essential? For example. If the opportunities seem limited. Many OU graduates have lots of evidence with which they can demonstrate these skills: • experience of the world of work and working environments both paid and unpaid • commitment to their own personal development demonstrated by undertaking OU study • time management and organisational skills required to successfully combine OU study and other responsibilities. do you need a driving licence. but may also mean that no training is provided. but be prepared when you do. as the contact will form an impression of you from the very beginning. For example. Find out what this will mean in practice. As we show here. but it’s worth bearing in mind that candidates who apply for ‘graduate’ jobs are also expected to demonstrate at least some if not all of these skills. You may have to motivate yourself with little support or encouragement. so you need to consider how you can show that you meet the requirements. ‘What would you like to know about us?’ Be ready to highlight your suitability for the post.1 Matching the requirements Once you’ve analysed your advertisement. qualifications and personal qualities. it’s important to see how you can use it to develop your skills and experience. First of all you need to read between the lines. They’re usually set out under headings such as experience.2 Matching vacancies You’ve seen a vacancy advertised that you’d like to apply for. attention seeking? What does this tell you about the organisation? What is the vocabulary used to describe the organisation – ‘dynamic’. how much of a problem would this be for you? • Age Are there any obvious age implications? It’s important not to lose sight of the positive aspects of age and experience. Remember to use this evidence when you apply for jobs! If you don’t shout about it. or even in the face of resistance. ‘committed self starter’ could imply that there’ll be little supervision. you need to try and match yourself to the requirements of the job to judge whether or not you want to apply for it. (It might help to refer to Section 1. low key. flamboyant. but you have to be aware of the going rate for that occupation.

as it helps you to focus on the important aspects as you complete your application form or prepare a CV. Treasurer of Residents’ Association: > Draw up budget bids or plans within agreed guidelines and procedures for submission to internal and external bodies. tutorials and revision alongside a part-time job and voluntary work. My evidence 60 To find out more. > I have worked unsupervised as a treasurer for a local Residents Association for two years and have always met deadlines for reports. Marketing knowledge > Temporary job (with full induction and training) over two summer holidays as a market research interviewer. visit our website at www. > Responsible for assessing potential expenditure in terms of value for money and taking appropriate action to ensure this is achieved. From recent employment. Keyboard skills > Self-taught packages in order to produce a dissertation for my degree. Active member of RSPB > I have organised several meetings between the RSPB and the local branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England to look at the decline of the bluetit in Cheshire and preventive measures. This is a useful way of approaching any job advert. > As a part-time student I have worked within a thirty-two week study calendar and managed a weekly workload of reading.ac.g. > I have also organised and facilitated presentations to local schools and governors using a variety of media. > I am an avid reader and subscriber of the Warbler and make regular contributions to this national magazine. assignments. Here the key experience requirements are listed. > Marketing module completed as part of my degree studies (12 months) – identifying.g.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Look at the following example. current part-time study. > Worked in Windows based environment for numerous holiday jobs – secretarial role. > I am a regional fundraiser for BTCV and the PDSA.uk/careers . and the second column shows how a candidate would provide evidence of having the necessary experience.g. > I work alternate Sundays at the local animal hospital as a volunteer. anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. Example Vacancy: Fundraiser for Scottish Wildlife Preservation Society Analysis of key requirements Experience Numeracy e. Interest in wildlife e. Ability to work on own e. Presentation skills > I have used Power Point to present information on the decline of local bird populations to a community group and to councillors.

open. ask yourself: • Does the work genuinely interest me? • Does it match my personality. Vacancy/job description: Analysis of key requirements My evidence If you are an OU student.uk. values.1 Begin by looking at an advert or job description for a position that interests you. interests.open.uk/careers.jobs. look at the occupational information on the Prospects website: www. Go to the section ‘Personal and Career Development’ from the site map.ac.ac. You should also take a look at Section 4. In the right-hand column. Alternatively. If you don’t have a specific one in mind you might look in a careers publication or website such as www.4.ac. try to produce evidence of your suitability against each point.prospects. visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 4. you can also try the ‘Job Analysis Activity’ on the OU Careers Advisory Service website at www. These kinds of activities are really helpful in preparing for the completion of application forms or for producing your CV. To find out more.uk/links/occupations Whichever way you choose. needs? • What are the key job requirements? • What skills are required to perform them? • Can I produce evidence of these skills? In the box below.ac. note down in the left-hand column the key characteristics and requirements of your selected vacancy.10 below.uk/careers 61 .

• If there isn’t enough space for general interest information (e. We suggest you contact the employer for advice on how to approach this. because many large employers now optically scan applications to enter them into their recruitment databases. In fact. is to get an interview. When completing online forms you may find that some of your experiences do not fit neatly into the categories provided. addresses and dates of all previous employers’). the space allowed for each question indicates its relative importance. it shouldn’t just repeat what’s on your form.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. • When answering extended (multi-part) or difficult questions.1 Before you start your application form • Find out as much as you can about the vacancy and the organisation. like a CV or a speculative letter. Being able to write succinctly is evidence of your written communication skills. to clarify your points. Keep the following points in mind when it comes to completing an application form: • The purpose of a completed application form. If a question doesn’t apply to you. think of: 62 To find out more. • Your aim is to convince the employer that you’re worth interviewing – you appear to be a suitable candidate for the job and.g.open. OU students can access this on the Careers Advisory Service website.3. • Make a photocopy of the blank form (or print it from the screen) and use it for your rough draft. You must keep to the prescribed format. graduate engineer). • Remember that presentation can be as important as content. Convince them that they need to see you. Most are intended for a wide variety of posts in the organisation (e. This means that on an initial read through they may spend as little as two minutes looking at your form. visit our website at www. • If there isn’t enough space for factual information (e. also. • Don’t cram sections too full. Some are designed for recruiting people for a particular function or training scheme (e. • Be sure to answer all the elements of each question (e.ac. most large organisations now make their forms available online (which can save you time and postage).3 Application forms Application forms come in all shapes and sizes.g. visit a career service or large library to look for other information. the kind of person the organisation wants to employ. Often – but not always – you’re told that you may also enclose a CV. unless you’re told that you must not attach any other papers. 4. Layout can help – consider using bullet points. 4. • The only information the selectors will have about you is what you’ve given them in your written application – emphasise the positive and leave it to them to spot the negative. ‘Give names. what do you contribute and what do you get out of them?’).g. Look for ‘online applications’ in the ‘A–Z’.uk/careers . don’t send a CV instead. if possible. • Read through the whole form before you fill in any of the sections. • Many larger employers ask you to complete an online application. as most organisations will have comprehensive information on their websites. If you’re asked to submit an application form. an NHS Trust). so it is crucial that you sell yourself effectively.2 . Whatever format they come in though.2 Filling in your form • Complete all sections of the form. the principles for completing application forms are very similar. • Usually.3. etc. ‘What have been the significant factors in your life to date?’) prioritise and keep it within the space allowed. Bear in mind that employers often receive a lot of forms.g. If you haven’t looked at employers’ application forms for some time. attach a separate sheet. underlined topic headings. If you do. You can also research online. as that makes them difficult to read.3. • Comply with instructions such as using black ink or block capitals. ‘What are your spare time activities. Use it effectively to include or to emphasise information that you think is relevant and isn’t allowed for on the form. write ‘N/A’ or ‘Not applicable’ to show that you haven’t overlooked it. Ask the organisation for more details and. You may find the Select Simulator useful for practising completing online forms. and not only for senior jobs. you may be surprised at the probing nature of some of the questions they ask. You’ll come to some sample questions below in Section 4.g.

open. but mention any part-time or voluntary work you did during that period.3 Skills you have attained as an OU student As an Open University student.uk/careers. If possible. with a little editing. Make sure you’ve been consistent in style (e. They can help you identify the subject-specific knowledge and transferable skills you have acquired during each course. 4. give their full titles and status. in your use of personal pronouns). to be a teacher) while some put emphasis on transferable skills (which you dealt with in Section 1.2. Every employer values determination. interests and skills the employer is looking for) Make your points relevant. Use the ‘any other information’ section to draw attention to activities and qualities not covered elsewhere on the form. and the date you sent it. Leave no unexplained gaps in your employment record. handling money. You can often use the same material. Some jobs may require subject-specific knowledge (e. say so. working odd hours.3. or not more than once. • Use an envelope of suitable size so that the form isn’t folded. Your regional centre can provide you with a confidential reference – name the Regional Director as the referee. Be positive and honest.ac. for several applications.3. Tailor your responses to the post you’re applying for.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • • • • • • • What you’re going to say (understanding the purpose of the question) Who you’re saying it to (someone who doesn’t know you but will make decisions about your future) How you’re going to say it (presenting an accurate picture of yourself) Why you’re saying it (showing that you have the qualities. If you’ve been unemployed. dealing with members of the public. Make the most of these skills as well as your academic success. Always send it by first class post.uk/careers 63 . and Course Guides for the courses that you have studied and pick out the kinds of skills that the course aimed to develop.g. not ‘we’). You may be able to look back at the course descriptions To find out more. You will find that by studying with the OU – whatever the subject area – you will have developed a range of both subject knowledge and transferable skills that many employers will value. If you are a student. flexibility and time management skills. Practise answering the typical questions in the next activity. visit our website at www.g. ‘I worked as a volunteer classroom assistant for three years’ rather than ‘I love children’). there are a number of resources in the Careers Advisory Service website at www. If appropriate. Generalised waffle convinces no one. 4.g. The skills you’ve developed in one context may well be transferable to another and employers will look for evidence that you recognise them: e. give fuller details of your course than you would if it’s not particularly relevant.open. You’ll rarely find the perfect application form that exactly suits your background and experience. These may have been expressed as learning outcomes. Get your referees’ agreement before giving their names. one should be an academic referee. and keep them well briefed so that they can write supportive references. you can stress the personal qualities and skills that OU study demands. Use positive language. ideally get someone else to check rather than relying on a spell checker. If you’re applying for a job related to your degree subject. • Make a note of the job you’ve applied for. another someone you’ve worked for who can write about you as an employee.g. go to the sections on ‘Personal and Career development’ and ‘Moving on’.5 above) and some look for a mixture of both. • Look over the presentation. If you want to do this in a more structured way. • Make a copy of your completed form so that you can re-read it before the interview. It’ll also take some of the tedium out of tackling other forms. Be convincing.ac. the name and address of the person you sent the form to. Give evidence and avoid bland generalities (e. Learning outcomes will give you some help in mapping out the skills and achievements that you gained during OU study. It is up to you to pick these out from your own experience so that you can present this on an application form. working under pressure. Look at Section 6 if you are or have been an offender. You’ll need to adapt your answers to the questions you find. interesting and personal (say ‘I’. Usually.4 When you’ve completed the form • Check it thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors. Inaccuracy in one section can raise doubts about other areas of the form. ask someone else to look over your application before you send it. self-discipline.

There is 30mm space available on the form to show that you understand what the job involves and what you have to offer.ac. the people.1 and consider answers based on the evidence you’ve already gathered. Look back at the answers you gave to Activity 1. 64 To find out more. Don’t forget that you can ask a careers adviser for advice on what to include in your application. Question 2 Outline any activities you have planned and organised. All are genuine questions from graduate application forms used by large companies. Question 3 Write a short autobiography. You’ll need a lot of time.open.’ ‘organised. Remember to cover ‘planned. events or experiences that have influenced you. There is 180mm space available on the form to influence the selectors. Question 1 On the first page of this application you stated a preference for a particular job or function. Tell us what you did and how you achieved results.’ ‘what you did’ and ‘results’. Explain why we should select you ahead of other candidates.uk/careers . your ambitions and aspirations. Every word should justify its inclusion. visit our website at www. drafts and fine tuning. Include such details as your achievements and responsibilities.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 4. This section will tell them more about you as an individual than any other part of the form.2 Read the sample questions below. Go for key points and give evidence from your record. There is 80mm space available on the form.

open.ac. Most people tend to prefer one style over the others (though as you will see.4 The curriculum vitae (CV) Like an application form. Bear this in mind when you design your own CV.) And you can reinforce this impression by tailoring the covering letter. such as the legal profession. so you have more control over the impression it will create. The right one is the one that works for you in your situation and succeeds in getting you interviews.prospects.uk/careers Alternatively. say. an academic CV is used mainly for applying for academic posts). Instead. some professions. It is important that you find out if there is a preferred format for the type of job that you are applying for by doing further research into the job and if necessary seeking advice from a careers adviser (or the professional body if there is one). For most jobs.4. 4. but it must look as though you’re targeting the individual company. Employers expect you to show that you’re responding to their own advertisements.2 What style of CV? The general style of the CV should depend on the sector or organisation it’s addressed to. 4.1 The importance of tailoring your CV However. prefer CVs in a chronological format. In addition.uk/careers 65 .ac. visit our website at www. When you have work experience that is directly relevant. Be prepared then to spend a considerable amount of time on creating and reworking an effective document. look at: www. So. a CV is primarily intended to make the recruiter think it worthwhile interviewing you. it should be flexible enough to allow modification to match the job you’re seeking. For instance. it is more often the case much more effective if you adapt your CV to suit the particular organisation or job you’re applying for (easy enough to do if it’s word-processed).ac. To find out more. To use the same approach for.4.7 below.4. my strengths and qualities? • What experiences shall I emphasise? • How can the style of my CV match the culture of the organisation(s) I’m sending it to. You can tailor the style.3 Preparing your CV How you organise and present information about yourself and your activities will convey significant messages about your suitability as a potential employee. applications to marketing organisations or to the publishing industry can be successful if the style and layout suggest a flair for lively prose or graphic design.uk/links/CVwriting We also show you sample CVs in Sections 4. and what to leave out or minimise. 4. a financial institution or a local authority might have an adverse effect. some job areas have expectations that a particular kind of CV is submitted. not sending out a batch of identical CVs to a list of companies you found in the Yellow Pages. for tips and example CVs.4.4. as well as the work I want? There’s no right or wrong way to write a CV. You want to make sure that you present yourself positively and accurately. it’s most important that you keep in mind that one ‘all-purpose’ CV will not be much use to you. The advantage of a CV is that you get to decide what information to include and highlight. look at what the expectations might be. Here we will just provide some guidelines on good practice and offer examples of four possible formats: 1 2 3 4 A chronological CV A functional CV A targeted CV and An academic CV. Whichever format you choose. go to the OU Careers Advisory Service website and choose the ‘Moving on’ section if you are a student at: www.open. This is only likely to work if you always apply for the same function in several very similar organisations. it is useful to highlight this in a separate section as it draws attention to it. content and design to show off your strengths and present you in the most positive light.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. However. (So you may in fact be doing just that.4 – 4. you need to ask yourself a few key questions: • What’s the area of work I’m after? • Which employers or organisations am I approaching? • What messages do I want to send about myself. when it comes to preparing your CV. For more information on CVs. you need to make a decision about the kind of CV to use as most employers will not specify. When researching jobs. your CV doesn’t need to conform to a set format. For example.

ac.com Profile An experienced.4. your job title(s).open. Employment Current position: 1996 – Ace Holdings Plc Portsmouth Main responsibilities: Key achievements: • Preparing financial reports • Supervising office of 25 staff • Planned and co-ordinated computerisation of management accounts system • Trained staff in use of new system • Strengthened and simplified reporting of financial information • Reduced staff costs by 11% in 1999/2000 • Researched a detailed marketing study leading to refocused annual marketing plan • Negotiated £2m loan for major construction project • Handled credit analyses and made credit recommendations Deputy Finance Manager 66 To find out more.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. beginning with the most recent. In addition. with a chronological CV. The advantages of a chronological CV are: • It can be very easy to produce. the period you were employed. if you’ve changed jobs frequently. visit our website at www./fax 01903 562366 email mcrlewis@wizard. the disadvantages to a chronological CV are that any gaps in your employment stand out. highly motivated CIMA professional with in-depth knowledge of the financial services and strong team-working skills. showing the name of each employer. As a result. However. • It has for many years been recognised as a standard approach to CVs. where you worked. responsibilities and key achievements.uk/careers . This lists jobs by date. it isn’t always easy to spot key achievements or skills which might get ‘buried’ under different job titles. it can suggest instability and will require explanation – particularly if you’ve changed profession or career direction.4 The chronological CV You are probably most familiar with a chronological CV. • It allows prospective employers to see very quickly how an individual has progressed and increased responsibility. looking for an opportunity to take on wider responsibilities within the industry. The chronological CV Malcolm Lewis 16 London Road Portsmouth PO9 6AL Tel.

Physics. French Training 1990–95 Passed all stages of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants examinations Various short professional courses In-house interviewing. handled cash Education 2001–2005 The Open University 1995–2000 The Open University Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Professional Diploma in Management. History. interviewed clients.open. English. Chemistry. by part-time study Courses: B784 The effective manager B785 Accounting for managers B786 Managing customer and client relations B751 Managing development and change B752 Managing resources for the market 1981–1986 Hampshire High School O-levels: Maths.uk/careers 67 .ac. staff appraisal course Additional skills IT skills: competent in the use of Microsoft Office and SAGE financial management software.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Previous experience: 1988–96 Management Accountant Southern Finance Plc Portsmouth Organised and prepared accounts for District Manager Planned and managed the introduction of new financial information system Supervised office of nine staff 1986–8 Southern Finance Plc Southampton Accounts clerk Assisted with ledger accounts and budget preparation. Languages: conversational Spanish and French Interests Keen member of local amateur dramatics society and have been stage manager for the last four years Currently treasurer of my children’s primary school PTA Regular swimming to keep fit References available on request To find out more. visit our website at www.

• Formulated new and improved existing food products. Keen to find a challenging position that offers long-term potential in quality assurance and/or new product development.5 The functional CV A functional CV focuses attention on your skills and achievements. a functional CV allows you to place more emphasis on relevant strengths and experience from earlier periods. making recommendations for new procedures which led to an entirely new quality control system. resulting in significant improvement in overall sanitation.open.4. presented according to the function or responsibilities you’ve undertaken rather than according to individual jobs. as demonstrated by successful completion of my degree by part-time study while employed full time. The disadvantages are that it takes more thought to prepare a functional CV and you have to ensure that it is clear and relevant to the chosen job without looking as though you might be hiding something! The Functional CV Sandra Simpson 5 Malvern Road Cherry Hinton Cambridge CB1 4LX Tel. more accurate means of inspection. • Created computer applications for environmental microbiological trends for control of plant cleanliness. The system alerts operators when to change the process parameters without disturbing production flow. 01788 529445 email: Sandra@hotmail. This kind of CV shows that you’re conscious of the demands of the prospective employer and of what you have to offer. visit our website at www.com Skill profile A graduate biologist with strong food industry experience in quality assurance. • If your current or most recent experience isn’t related to the position you’re applying for. highly organised and energetic.uk/careers . Cambridge 1999 to present Quality Assurance Coordinator (2000) Quality Assurance Auditor (1999) Responsible for – all quality control. with a clear and concise vision of future objectives. Experience CONTINENTAL KITCHENS LTD. Achievements • Analysed the quality assurance system at Continental Kitchens Ltd. research and development and creation of new products. Goal orientated. analytic. • You can group different achievements together to match the job that you are applying for. saving £200K annually. Capable of achieving personal objectives. This facilitated a faster.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. Contributed to the development of a new line of Polish foods for wholesale distribution. • Developed and instituted a statistical quality control programme to cover all critical control points in the manufacturing process. Its advantages are: • It can highlight your skills rather than job changes.ac. Career orientated. sanitation and pest-control programmes – creation of statistical programmes to help with the transition of quality assurance responsibility to individual operators 68 To find out more.

Leicester Research Technician Responsible for 1993–1995 – – – – formulating new and improving existing product lines performing shelf-life studies on a range of products supervising in-plant testing of laboratory formulations analysing waste water to ensure it met all government standards Education The Open University 1994–2000 BSc (Hons).open. CB2 1PF Tel. Mathematics (D) 8 GCSEs Grove Comprehensive School Leicester 1986–1992 Additional information After ‘A’ levels. Upper Second Class Courses studied: S101 Science: A Foundation Course S203 Biology: form and function U205 Health and disease U206 Environment S324 Animal physiology S327 Living processes S328 Ecology S365 Evolution 2 ‘A’ levels: Biology (C). CB10 3QY Tel. Full driving licence Referees Mrs Joan Whitaker Director of Quality Assurance Continental Kitchens Ltd 12–16 London Road Cambridge. particularly scuba diving. I served as a Regional representative on the OU Students Association for three years and contributed to student feedback on two courses in their first year of presentation. visit our website at www.ac. I took time out of work to raise a family. My other interests include cycling and mountaineering. I have been interested in watersports since school.uk/careers 69 . From 1995–99. 01223 599886 Regional Director The Open University in the East of England 12 Hills Road Cambridge. I gained employment as a research technician and applied to study part time with The Open University. I took a ‘year out’ to travel the world and consider my future. On return to Britain. 01233 364721 To find out more.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook – setting up a new product recall procedure to facilitate any possible product retrieval due to failures reported in post-manufacturing integrity testing – supervision of the sanitation crew of eight during needed microbiological clean-ups BOW WOW PET FOODS LTD.

• It is more likely to catch the reader’s interest. whilst working in a team. The Targeted CV Vigla Kozlowski ADDRESS: 45 Longhurst Avenue. I thrive on the challenge of change.6 The targeted CV A targeted CV is even more closely matched to the needs of a particular employer.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. I have to be able to prioritise work within both strict financial and time constraints and ensure that others do too.net Career aim Building on my previous experience of working in a large organisation at a time of change to train and work as a professional personnel manager. Hons. believing that this is the key to achieving worthwhile results. 70 To find out more. devising questionnaires and analysing data. in Biology: Brain and Behaviour. autonomy and judgement.4. Both my work as a nurse and in banking has demanded a high level of personal responsibility. My main research topic involved interviewing a wide cross-section of both adults and children in small groups and on an individual basis. with the skills required and the evidence of them clearly laid out at the beginning. followed by the details. It has to change to match each job. I am a member of a small steering group set up within the bank as a result of the recent major changes in working practices. this one isn’t easy to prepare. like the functional CV. This experience has shown me the importance of good interpersonal and communication skills. and in Principles of Social and Educational Research. Sound judgement. I have been responsible for cultivating a spirit of teamwork and cooperation. No less important has been my ability to express myself clearly and effectively both face-to-face and on paper. in projects and reports.open.1 Courses chosen to obtain recognition by the British Psychological Society. I am hardworking and have always put considerable energy and enthusiasm into all of my activities. BSc. The work involves planning. combined with organisational sensitivity and a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. N10 8EP TELEPHONE: 020 8887 5131 EMAIL: Vkozlowski@wizard. • You can adapt it to suit the job you’re after without sacrificing quality. dates and so on. Skill profile A Coordinator: As a project manager currently working simultaneously on a range of demanding projects.ac. • You can lead the reader in the direction you want to go – your skills and achievements. effort and skill that implies. 2. Most candidates for managerial posts use this format.uk/careers . A Participant: An Individual: An Enthusiast: Education 1987–1994 The Open University. Distinctions obtained in Social and Cognitive Psychology. with all the time. and to resolving potentially disruptive differences of opinion. implementation and evaluation of new systems and their effect on staff at all levels. London. making sure that I always fulfil my function and deliver to deadlines. I have become used to seeking and learning from criticism. have been essential to the success of my section. The disadvantages are that. The advantages are: • It focuses straight away on your strengths. It combines elements from both the chronological and the functional CV. visit our website at www.

Section leader with responsibility for the work of six staff who report directly to me. Finchley Road. London Three ‘A’ levels: English (C). working with adults on a one-toone basis and in small groups. • I spend one evening a week as a volunteer tutor with a literacy project. Work experience 1992 to date. Personnel Assistant – Personnel administration. Student Nurse Although I could have gone to university when I left school I had always wanted to be a nurse. clean driving licence. Lloyds Bank. 1989–1992 1987–1989 1986–1987 1983–1986 Additional skills • Sound working knowledge of Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets. Recruitment Officer – Recruitment interviewing. Dbase IV and Q&A databases and word-processing using Word 2000 and Word NT • Interviewing • Psychological test administration and interpretation • Car owner. Business Loans Section Responsible for assessing loan applications and making loan decisions. in charge of four staff. Chemistry (D) Training 1992 1987 IPM Certificate in Personnel Practice Lloyds Bank short in-house course in Personnel Management. visit our website at www. • I keep fit by swimming and running regularly each week. frequently for larger loans. pay and pensions. Banking attracted me because it offered a structured training and a wide range of opportunities within each department. working with the personnel of companies and other institutions with a financial interest in the company’s future.open. Lloyds Bank. Lloyds Bank. Counter Clerk – Responsible for serving customers. Biology (D). As I had enjoyed the studying and wanted to further my academic studies in a related subject. Referees Names available on request. North London Hospital. Activities and interests • I am teaching myself to play the saxophone and enjoy getting together with my friends for musical improvisation.uk/careers 71 .ac. handling cash. three staff. However. during my training I realised that this career was not for me.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1979–1983 Parsifal Comprehensive. I would now like to broaden my experience into personnel in a large retail organisation. so I decided to train at the local hospital. This involves initial discussions with individuals and. Full. Lloyds Bank. record keeping. I decided to apply for a job and combine this with part-time study with The Open University. To find out more.

These CVs place more emphasis on the subject matter of the degree and/or research and on the knowledge and achievements gained. James Project synopsis: Adapted. haemopoietic cell differentiation and malignancies. Milton Keynes. visit our website at www.’ Modules studied included: tolerance and autoimmunity. genetics. and physiology.uk EDUCATION The Open University . You should also include three referees rather than two.4. Systematically investigated the role of soluble mediators and adhesive interactions in the survival of neutrophils following transendothelial migration. it is expected that candidates (for academic jobs such as lecturer and postdoctoral research posts) will produce an academic CV.PhD in Medicine 2002–2005 Thesis Title: The regulation of leukocyte migration away from the subendothelial compartment. USA. such as communication.MSc in Immunology (distinction) 2001– 2002 Dissertation project: ‘Neutrophil spontaneous apoptosis is mediated through the acid sphingomyelinase dependent generation of ceramide.co. you should do this without using any subject-specific jargon so that it is understandable to the employer.mcarthur@yahoo. microbiology. skills or targeted CV. MK6 3DY Tel. The Academic CV Hilary Michelle McArthur 18 Poole Avenue. transplantation biology and cell adhesion.open.ac. academic CVs are often longer than other types of CV. Supervisors: Professor R.’ Modules studied included: cell biology. validated and implemented a “novel” assay to investigate leukocyte migration and survival. University of Salford .BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (first class) 1998– 2001 Dissertation project: ‘Autoimmunity: A genetic perspective. oncology. This was a broad-based degree in biochemistry with the second year spent studying at Oregon State University. Ask someone who knows nothing about your research subject to read through what you’ve written and check it makes sense to the lay reader. They are likely to include information on some or all of the following: • The title of your PhD and the names of your supervisors • Teaching/administrative experience • Professional memberships (if relevant) • Fellowships and awards • Conferences attended/presentations given • a detailed abstract of research should be appended to the end of the CV • full details of publications. Because of this.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. D. immunology. Remember to emphasise the transferable skills that you have developed in undertaking higher level study. Identified phenotypic alterations in T-cell subpopulations following migration through an endothelialfibroblast bilayer. you should consider a chronological. University of Manchester .uk/careers . analysis and working to deadlines. depending on what you are applying for. 07900 543 21 E-mail: h. • Remember to include examples of the skills that you have developed through your research. Jordan and Dr.7 The academic CV For academic jobs in universities. In presenting your research. 72 To find out more. • If you are a postgraduate or research student who is applying for a job outside academia.

M. Excel. visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook RESEARCH EXPERIENCE AND TECHNICAL SKILLS • Development of static adhesion and migration assay. J. • Developed technical writing skills for industry purposes. and McArthur.. Jones. Transmigration prolongs neutrophil survival through a beta-2integrin-dependent adhesion signal..2004 • Responsible for communicating and demonstrating technical skills to A level science students at a local college. RESEARCH AND TEACHING EXPERIENCE Tutor on an Open University Summer School.M.M. along with presentation and communication skills.uk/careers 73 . J. International Conference. Identification of a phenotypically and functionally distinct population of neutrophils in a model of reverse endothelial migration. H. March 2005 Bennett. Jones. POSTERS AND PRESENTATIONS Bennett.ac. Ceramide rich lipid rafts and acid sphingomyelinase activity are required for spontaneous neutrophil apoptosis. Student Mentor for the Open University’s Outreach Programme 2002 . • Adaptation of a novel co-culture system: culture stromal cells on the apical and basal surface of Transwell inserts. A. To find out more. A. Rapidly recruited TNF-stimulated endothelial cells – is this a novel route for neutrophil clearance from inflamed tissue? International Society for Thrombosis and Haemostasis. H. H.. A. PUBLICATIONS Bennett. Layerton. J. 2004. and McArthur.. A. • Flow cytometry.. • Microscopy: phase contrast and fluorescence. Layerton S. Manchester. and McArthur.. PowerPoint and Prism. Transmigration prolongs neutrophil survival through a beta-2integrin-dependent adhesion signal. Summer 1998 • Worked independently on an assigned project. • Marked undergraduate work and provided individual guidance to undergraduate students.. Salford.M. American Journal of Medicine. as well as showing visiting work experience students laboratory protocols. • Image-based analysis of leukocyte behaviour in static and flow adhesion and migration assays. S. COMPUTER SKILLS Extensive experience of Microsoft Word. H. and McArthur. • Subcellular fractionation..M. Laboratory Assistant. Bennett A. • Isolation of leukocytes subsets and endothelial cells. July 2005. and a working knowledge of WinMDI and Image Pro.. July 2005 • Trained undergraduates in basic laboratory skills • Allocated tasks and ensured their completion. Jones. and McArthur. January 2006 ABSTRACTS. Scientific Laboratories.. (Paper submitted to the UK Medical Biology Journal) Bennett. H. British Society of Immunology.open.

ac.r.uk All referees can be contacted via The Open University Davis Medical Building Milton Keynes MK7 6AA Or by phone on 01908 456 789 The above example of an academic cv has been published with the permission of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS). REFEREES Professor Rebecca Jordan r. when you have more opportunity to negotiate any difficulties. Other personal details There’s no need to include such details as date of birth. but don’t give the address or the name of your manager at this stage. marital status. content and layout. Include an email address if you have one.8 What to include (and not to include) in your CV Your CV is uniquely yours in style. 4. number and extension. You can discuss them at the interview if appropriate. they’re unnecessary at this stage and may confuse matters.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook ACHIEVEMENTS Received awards for best overall academic achievement and best dissertation project at the end of my MSc (2002). nationality. number of children. At home. These are irrelevant on a CV.uk Dr David James d. Received award for best overall academic achievement at the end of my BSc (2001). so that the caller will be discreet.g. activities additional skills career aims.4. However. It should be quite obvious what it is.uk/careers . If you’re employed and prospective employers can contact you during office hours. Personal data Name Give the name you want to be known by if you’re called for interview or appointed. visit our website at www. Always give the full area code.ac. since invitations to interview are often sent at short notice and speedy delivery is in your interest.james1@open. For more recent jobs. experience education training interests. where your aim is to get yourself invited for interview. Employment experience Your aim here is to stress your achievements at work. give your number and say that it’s a work number. consider investing in an answering service or machine. Telephone It’s important to give a telephone number where you can be reached or where a message can be left. gender.f.jordan2@open.uk Dr Steven Mayes s. It’s acceptable practice these days to put your name in the centre in larger bold font instead of giving the document the title Curriculum vitae. Include your mobile number if you have one.mayes@open. but you may find the following ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ helpful.ac. personal profile (optional) references. say during the last ten years. CVs usually contain: • • • • • • • • personal data employment.d. so that you can be reached as easily as possible.open. Include the nature and place of your employer’s business if it isn’t obvious from the name.ac. Address Be sure to give a full address with postcode. you don’t need to give initials or middle names. give more detail about particular 74 To find out more.

which are often listed as learning outcomes. Your hobbies To find out more.uk/careers 75 . but it’s more appropriate for senior managers to include a brief résumé of schools attended and exams passed. fulltime course. preferably in quantitative terms. By studying with the OU – whatever the subjects are – you will find that you will have developed a range of both subject knowledge and transferable skills that many employers will value. You might find the course descriptions and Course Guides for the courses that you have studied very useful: pick out the kinds of skills that the course aimed to develop. some jobs do require subject-specific knowledge (e. if you’ve had time out of paid work to bring up a family. They can also help you identify the subject-specific knowledge and transferable skills you have acquired during each course. projects. Include useful information about training and development – courses of a week or more. Interests. • If your qualifications were awarded overseas.ac. Education How far back should you go? School or young college-leavers should be quite explicit about their education since age 11. with figures such as staff. mention the British equivalent so that the employer knows what level you’ve reached. There’s no need to include the full address of each school or college – condense the information to dates. budget etc. But everyone agrees that the most relevant job should appear at the top of the list. Training Don’t give an exhaustive list of all the training courses and seminars you’ve attended. It can show that you have a well-rounded life and don’t live for work alone. Avoid specialised language unless you’re sure the reader will understand it. names and towns. e.5 of this workbook). If you have served time in prison. if appropriate) and the awarding institution.2. and highlight in a covering letter or skill section the personal qualities and skills that this kind of study requires. with appropriate detail. you could say something like ‘In the five years 1995-2000 I worked in various temporary positions in the catering industry’. • If you had a series of short-lived jobs and you want to abbreviate the list. even if it’s not the most recent. For a technical post or one that requires special knowledge. Present your qualifications in the way that makes the most of them: • If the job requires a degree or diploma it’s best to start with that. If you’ve worked your way up from the bottom and lack formal qualifications altogether. knowledge or training. less important jobs. Some look for a mixture of both. A onesentence description of the scope of your job. state this. or training in relevant specialist skills. • If you’re offering professional qualifications it might be worth specifying not only the qualification (with the S/NVQ level. activities This section has various uses. • Divide your experience under the headings Related and Other. that you’re a sociable person who gets on with others. enabling the employer to see at once that you meet the requirement. visit our website at www. and play down other. day-release. Whichever system you use.. please refer to Section 6 below for tips on dealing with this. you could expand your work achievements and contract the education section. assignments and results achieved. consider giving additional information to show that you have the relevant work experience. then work backwards or forwards chronologically. It is up to you to identify them from your own experience so that you can present this on a CV. but also how you obtained it. • If you have no higher-level educational qualifications you could list secondary school educational history in chronological order – that can be easier to digest than in reverse chronological order – but use the same order you used in ‘Experience’. • Be specific about what you studied in your Open University courses. This allows you to highlight the experience the employer is likely to be most interested in. Some possible sequences are: • Put your present or most recent job at the head of the list. to be a teacher) while others place more emphasis on transferable skills (see Section 1. For example. There are different opinions about whether you set your experience out in forward or reverse chronological order.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook responsibilities. Of course.g.open. Don’t leave any unexplained gaps. should be followed by a statement of achievements. so that the reader is encouraged to read on. make sure it’s clear and that the way you present starting and leaving dates is consistent. then the rest of the employment history in backward or forward chronological order.g. Learning outcomes can assist you in mapping out the skills and achievements that you gained during OU study. • Start with the most relevant work experience. that you keep yourself fit. So much depends on the nature and relevance of your previous employment to the job you’re applying for.

• Two sides of A4 is usually the right length (unless it is a CV for an academic position which is usually longer as it includes listings of published work and/ or research). pay attention to its appearance as well as its content.10 Analysing a job description In order to construct a CV that’s effectively related to the job you’re seeking. • Put the most important information on the first page and as near the top as possible. You might prefer to omit referees on the CV and put ‘Available on request’. say so in your CV or covering letter. such as Arial 11 point. Space makes text easier to read and more attractive. after that you can use it on its own. • Make sure that your CV arrives looking like a quality document. additional skills such as foreign languages (if possible. Additional skills The diversity of individual careers sometimes makes extra sections desirable: you can make up your own subheadings. to adapt for other employers. you’re a mature graduate. (e.g. The employer may not bother to read on if there’s nothing of interest to begin with. we’ve chosen a description for human resource management. Use an A4 envelope with cardboard reinforcement. 4. visit our website at www. underlining). 4. Yours will be one of many that the employer has to read. • Be consistent in how you present the information. chronological order) and in your layout. you have an unconventional record.uk/careers . line manager.9 Presentation of your CV To produce an effective CV . personal profile Including career aims and a skill profile can be particularly effective if you’re seeking a career change. You’ll need it again. first aid training. It might be helpful to read it alongside CV Example 3. follow it up by sending a hard copy straight away. word-processed and printed or copied on goodquality white or cream paper. Keep a copy of your CV (and disk) in a safe place. run a computer club. Don’t fold it. even though it has no obvious relevance to the job.4. Have headings in the same style (capital letters. • If you send your CV by email. Don’t use clichés. Include details you think a prospective employer really ought to know – driving licence. and the notes that follow it suggest some inferences that can be drawn from them about the nature of the work of personnel management.g. and don’t clutter it up with unnecessary punctuation. and their status or relationship to you (e. Some of the key words in the description have been emphasised.open. To illustrate this. and so on. which is designed for this area of work. one your present or last employer. One way to do this is from the job description.g. It gives your CV an interesting feature and makes it memorable. If you need to demonstrate an interest in design (e. It is also important to outline your level of IT and keyboard skills. • Your CV should be produced to a high standard. Give their names. • Don’t cram the page.g. • Avoid long. References You’ll usually need two referees. Use an ‘easy-to-read’ font. done voluntary work that demonstrates organisational and management skills. • The space you give to each section should reflect its importance. • Seek other people’s views on your draft. complicated sentences.ac. including software you are familiar with e. course tutor). Use bullet points to make reading quicker. and proofread the final version carefully. for some media jobs) more elaborate graphics and perhaps coloured paper might be appropriate. and in particular the skills it calls for. Career aims. • Make it easy to read and follow. Consider using an appendix for very detailed information such as a list of publications.4. addresses and telephone numbers. Concentrate on the aspects that are most important for the employer to know. If you don’t want your employer approached at this stage.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook may have given you opportunities to tackle roles and develop skills that you haven’t had scope for at work – perhaps you’ve been a school governor. you’ll need to analyse the job itself. 76 To find out more. particularly if you want to offer a targeted CV. An unusual hobby such as sky-diving or genealogical research can be worth mentioning. Make sure the copies are sharp and clear. Write the words out in full the first time you use them and put the abbreviation in brackets. give an indication of your level of competence). jargon and abbreviations the reader may be unfamiliar with. bold. or you’re applying for a job for which the competition is particularly keen. Word and Excel.

uninteresting. appraisals. The examples (all fictitious by the way) illustrated each of the four main CV formats in turn – chronological. (Indeed.open. records of labour turnover and other necessary information and assisting with human resource planning procedures and programmes. industrial relations. – Helping to undertake staff appraisals and. • Words such as consultations. functional.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Example Human Resource Management Advising on. – Maintaining staff records. advising and negotiations imply the need for skills in dealing with people. None was perfect. The examples of the CVs above illustrated some of the points you should consider when designing your own CV. (undertaking job analysis and evaluations as appropriate). especially the ability to communicate effectively with them. Some typical tasks may include. discussing career development. interviewing. as appropriate. human resource planning and forecasting imply the need for skills in evaluating information and reaching appropriate conclusions. • Think about the general style of your CV in relation to the person who’s going to read it. general conditions of employment and other personnel matters. management/ staff communications. – Assisting in negotiations in the field of industrial relations and ensuring observance of regulations and agreements relative to personnel matters. working conditions. And bear in mind that covering letters. • Words such as analysing. interviewing applicants and advising on the selection of those most suitable. Activity 4. • If you think that your CV looks feeble. visit our website at www. wordy. the academic CV showed that the applicant studied medicine which you can’t do with the OU. It’s time to redesign it. discussing. – Arranging for dissemination of vacancy details by internal and external means.uk/careers 77 . it probably is. evaluations. • Look again at the example CVs to see whether any of the three formats would be particularly appropriate to convey what you want. To find out more. • If you already have a CV.ac. • Make sure that you’ve: analysed the requirements of the job listed your skills composed your examples of key achievements Then go ahead and construct or redesign your own CV. the subject of the next section. would accompany these CVs. personal welfare and other matters with individual members of staff.) You may well decide that a quite different layout and format are more appropriate for your individual circumstances. staff promotion schemes and other matters. ask yourself whether it presents the information you want to give in the way you want it to be seen. – Analysing staffing requirements in consultation with department and other managers. developing and administering policies in relation to staff recruitment and training. – Advising management on standards of remuneration. • Words such as arranging and records imply the need for administrative skills. but the style is standard for academic CVs in general. messy …. targeted and academic. career development.3 Take some time to reflect again on the CV guidelines and examples.

Highlight your strongest selling points. So make clear who you are. and when you would be able to start. If there’s a vacancy this will. and that you’ve expressed yourself clearly. address. Say why you want to work for that particular organisation. Switchboard staff can be very helpful in supplying this information if it isn’t otherwise available. you’ll know that to make a speculative approach you have to present your case in a letter. • Put your name.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. 4.3 Drafting your letter • If possible. such as a relevant degree. appropriate qualification. where you are. related experience. steer clear of stilted expressions like ‘re your advertisement of 29th July. then highlight the relevant points in the CV such as work experience. If you haven’t received an acknowledgement within two or three weeks.ac. the name. send a brief follow-up letter or telephone to make sure that it’s been received. • You can use your covering letter to give additional information such as reasons for an unusual change in career. end ‘Yours sincerely’. If you’ve worked through Section 2 in this book. It introduces your application and draws attention to the main factors that make you suitable for the job. such as a disability and how you overcome potential difficulties. Ask someone else to read it – don’t rely on your computer’s spelling check. Keep a copy of your letter.5. or highlight aspects of your CV which you feel are particularly important. The first is a speculative approach asking for an advice interview from an executive the writer doesn’t know. Application forms often allow you reasonable scope to sell yourself and may need only a brief covering letter. 4. Convey clearly what kind of work you’re seeking.1 Applying for a job in a vacancy list or answering an advertisement Mention the job title (including any reference number). • Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. your qualifications and what you have to offer. job title and organisation of the person you’re writing to. It will usually be read first.5 The covering letter Your covering letter is your opportunity to market yourself. Two examples of covering letters are set out overleaf. translate into being someone the employer ought to see. If you do have to resort to ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. so make sure that the reader will want to find out more about you. The second letter accompanies a CV in response to a newspaper advertisement.5. interests and activities. or whether vacancies will arise in the near future. • Print your name clearly below your signature. Add some other detail to reinforce your suitability.2 Applying speculatively Remember. end ‘Yours faithfully’. mention them in the letter. what you’re studying. without duplicating what’s on the application form. and say where and when you saw the vacancy.open. It should enhance your application.5. At the same time you must leave the impression that you’re someone it’s useful for the employer to know about. A CV will usually require more of an introduction. • Although you should be business-like. if done well.’ and ‘I beg to remain’. • Use plain A4 paper of good quality. telephone number and date at the top right-hand corner and. • Keep it brief – usually not more than one side of A4. • When writing to a named individual. on the lefthand side. • Address your letter to an individual person by name and job title.uk/careers . Always include a covering letter unless the employer specifically tells you not to. 4. not repeat what’s on the application form or CV. 78 To find out more. usually accompanied by your CV. Stress how you think the organisation can benefit from employing you. type or word-process your letter (though very occasionally an employer will ask for a handwritten letter). You’re trying to find out whether there are any vacancies. a speculative approach is not allowed in Northern Ireland. visit our website at www. especially as it may be based on US spelling. • If there are any special circumstances not covered in the application form or CV.

• Increasing sales by 26 per cent in one year when the pound was at its highest exchange rate. I should appreciate a personal meeting with you and will contact you in the next week to discuss this. and I wish to congratulate you.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Example 1 Speculative letter Joginder Singh 123 Warwick Road Kenilworth Warwickshire CV8 1EJ Mr George Black Export Sales Director Blank Distribution Company 5 Blank Street Royal Leamington Spa Warwickshire CV35 8EE 10 February 2006 Dear Mr Black. Having had over ten years’ experience in export sales.ac. your advice and suggestions would also be helpful and influential in helping me research my options to develop my career. and computer based control equipment. I noted in yesterday’s Financial Times that your company received an export award from the Department of Trade and Industry. I am now seeking a career change that will build on this experience. Yours sincerely Joginder Singh 01926 850973 To find out more. Some of my key achievements have been: • Locating new lines of products and developing international sales for them. I should appreciate your advice concerning the development of my career. Your success in selling computer components to Asian countries has been something few companies have achieved in the last few years. • Selecting and working with local distributors throughout the world.open. Although I would like to work for your company.uk/careers 79 . visit our website at www. including experience of exporting electronic. With your knowledge of exporting.

I am confident that I could make a significant contribution to Fairplay Industries Ltd. Fairplay Industries Ltd. Yours sincerely Margaret Minty 80 To find out more. I look forward to hearing from you. I am enclosing my CV in response to your advertisement for the above post which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 1 March.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Example 2 Response to an advertisement Margaret Minty 8 Milton Avenue Edinburgh EH10 3PQ 0131 668 1394 Mrs Shirley Barrett Personnel Manager Fairplay Industries Ltd 123 Evergreen Way Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire MK10 8VS 6 March 2006 Dear Mrs Barrett. Although I currently live in Edinburgh. and discussed specific aspects with the Finance Director over the telephone yesterday. I am a qualified accountant with substantial professional experience. visit our website at www.ac. Assistant Finance Director.open.uk/careers . I have recently taken voluntary redundancy as a consequence of a nationwide organisational restructuring programme. I am free to relocate to another area and see this as a positive addition to my professional and personal development. Having read the detailed description of the post. My decision was based on a desire to change employers in order to broaden my professional experience as I am keen to develop my career in a managerially demanding environment. I have brought about a sustained improvement in my office’s financial performance over the past five years. Working in a team alongside other senior management colleagues. I have particular interest in computer-based accounting procedures and extensive staff management experience.

6 The interview Interviews remain the most common method of filling vacancies. From the vast amount of research into interviews as a selection method. It’s up to you to help them out and make them feel comfortable. Interviews tend to exclude rather than to include.’ • Always try to be positive in what you say and never be critical of a previous employer. • A candidate’s body language (for example. so the sequence of interviews assumes an importance of its own.ac. • Guard against being too open. while the interviewer sets the format. They’re hoping that you’ll be an excellent candidate and that the interviewing time and effort will be well spent. Fill a thinking gap with comments such as ‘That’s an interesting question. To find out more. First impressions count. • Interviewers’ judgements about a candidate are always made in relation to judgements about earlier candidates. some important insights for candidates emerge: • Some interviewers make up their minds about candidates within the first four minutes of an interview. not maintaining eye contact) in an interview can be more important in determining its outcome than experience or qualifications. They’ll be asking themselves ‘Could we get on?’ ‘Would this person be supportive?’ • Balance the initiative-taking. Remember that interviewers want to be liked and hope to be supported in their day-to-day work and career by your appointment. Here are some initial tips for interviews: • Interviewers want you to do yourself justice. and aren’t easily swayed by factual information thereafter. but they make very consistent judgements and assessments between candidates. • A few seconds silence in an interview can seem an eternity. Don’t be panicked into responding too quickly. • When asked whether you have any questions. although as the candidate you should do most of the talking – in effect determining the content. use the opportunity to add relevant information about yourself that you haven’t had an adequate opportunity to express.uk/careers 81 . visit our website at www. • When faced with a panel of interviewers you should address the majority of your response to the interviewer who has asked you a question whilst ensuring that you still have some eye contact with the rest of the panel.open. If you’re given a choice. perhaps in an illogical way. You can set a standard against which the others will be judged.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. This suggests that a good interview performance is likely to impress. go first. If the interview has already covered that. • Interviewers are more likely to be swayed by negative information or behaviour on the part of the candidate than positive. The ideal interview should flow like a conversation. • Show acceptance of the interviewer as a person. it can be useful to ask about future business plans. initial answers are critical. I need a moment or two to think about it. • Interviewers too may be inexperienced or nervous. • Interviewers may be poor at assessing the personality characteristics of individual candidates with any validity. Neither should psychologically dominate the discussion. reaching greater depths as the rapport develops between the two parties.

Evaluate your performance and incorporate the learning into your next interview. How you sound will be crucial. Try to foresee questions or situations and work out possible answers. Collect as many concrete examples of things you’ve done as you can. judgement valued by others Likely to concentrate on personality and organisational ‘fit’ May have a fund of knowledge about company culture Line manager or decision-maker Trying to assess your style of working Concerned about your motivation. Consult some of the books listed at the end of this booklet. Practise speaking on the phone to a friend and ask what impression you’re making. find out something about the people interviewing you.6. Read the section on ‘Tough questions’ in Section 4. problems.6.uk/careers . • Learn from observing others – take the role of interviewer with a partner. 82 To find out more.ac. If you can. • Review your CV. • Practise by role-play with a partner. Even experience as an interviewer doesn’t make for a flawless performance. often astute and very sensitive Acting as internal screener.2 Before your interview • Research the job and employer thoroughly beforehand.9 below and practise some answers out loud. Remember that when managers interview they’re playing a role to a set of social rules. may look for shared vision May be looking for someone who’ll question or act as an agent of change Will seek views from all those who’ve come into contact with you 4. network contacts. into a tape recorder. pick bits from CV Concerned about your professional competence and the rapport between you Managing director or company founder May digress into lengthy company history Concerned about cultural fit. • Reflect on your experience. and may not be entirely their usual selves. Human resource/recruitment managers Well-trained and experienced. How you project yourself through your social and communication skills will determine your success whenever you speak with potential employers. for insight often leads to heightened anxiety. Below we list the four main types of interviewers you may come across.1 Interviewers There are as many kinds of interviewer as there are people. or use audio or video recordings.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. or interviewers who have rejected you. Practice is essential. Their perspectives may differ according to their job function: You could read all the books ever written on how to do well at interview and still not be good at it. • Think about the interview and plan for it. Don’t let your own stereotyping of the interviewer affect your interview technique. • Practise your answers in the weak areas. Why have you been invited for interview? What are your unique selling points? Questions are likely to focus on: Your achievements Your motives for applying Your likely contribution • Prepare by marshalling your material in advance.6. may try to ‘sell’ the job Head of a group or department A technical expert with wider managerial experience Will talk shop. within a broader organisational framework May have standard questions. Find out all you can about interviewing techniques and be ready to cope with them: • Read about the process. Practise some answers into a tape recorder and listen critically to yourself. achievements and personal ambition Considering how you’ll fit with the rest of the team May have to ‘sell’ you to more senior colleagues Serious but relaxed. visit our website at www. Do it out loud.open. solutions. • What are your weak spots and what do you feel uncomfortable talking about? • Why would you not employ yourself? Produce convincing counter-arguments. • Ask for comments from a partner.

Dress appropriately for the culture. Watch the interviewer’s behaviour. • Arrive in good time. • Use your natural gestures – there’s no need to look frozen! • Avoid fidgeting. • Don’t smoke anywhere on the premises. . If you’re very unsure about this. and if possible do a dummy run. polishing your shoes and so on.6. • Listen attentively to the questions. Don’t drop your voice towards the end of sentences. clichés. Some people need to practise this. 4. • Decide what to wear.ac. A lucid style is a transparent window on the content. • If delayed. • Maintain good eye-contact with the person you’re speaking to. confident first impression. which will give you clues to whether you are answering the questions and timing your replies appropriately.uk/careers 83 . Try the whole outfit some days before. Smile! • Avoid negative statements. the interviewer will be working to a mental model consisting of three related profiles. telephone. Show that you know the interview ‘rules’ by wearing smart clothes.6. Personal profile Intellectual ability Communication skills Listening skills Confidence Job motivation Energy and drive Endurance Development Financial motivation Professional profile Knowledge Reliability Integrity Commitment Achievement profile Effectiveness Efficiency Economy To find out more. 4. look at company literature to get an idea of how people dress.6. and achievment profile. so that if it doesn’t feel right you’ve got time to change your plans. Conservative dress is more likely to pay off than flamboyance.5 Body language • Walk and sit with good posture. If in doubt ask ‘Would you like me to go on?’ • Show through your answers that you’ve done your research into the company. warmth.4 How you sound • Sound as if you have confidence in yourself. visit our website at www. allow yourself time to relax. professional. • Remember to take a copy of your application with you.3 On the day . 4.6 Answering questions Whatever the nature of the job. • Don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone. • Remember the need for a poised.open. and keep your hands away from your mouth. • Prepare some questions that you would like to ask. Avoid jargon. • Use plain language that doesn’t confuse or divert. . and judge when you’ve said enough. or groups of characteristics – your personal. 4. papers. ask for repetition or clarification.6. • Speak clearly. • Speak concisely. If there’s no suitable literature you could telephone and ask the person on the switchboard or the secretary of the person interviewing you. • Shake hands firmly and briefly. friendliness and sincerity. • Convey the right amount of enthusiasm.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Plan travel and arrival times. It’s your task to provide evidence in your answers that demonstrates these characteristics. • Don’t be overburdened with bags. • Don’t fold your arms. umbrellas.

and say where you’d need more information. often with a technical content. as you would when talking to someone face to face. e. If you can show that you know what they’re getting at. • Screening: you’re questioned on various aspects of your CV to decide whether you’ll be invited to a personal interview. ‘Would this just be in the UK or the whole of Europe?’ designed to establish whether or not you have the required skills for the job. • Standing up while talking can make you sound more confident. A wide range of questions is covered in Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions by Martin Yate (see the end of this section for further details). Look through the next examples – you’re bound to come up against some of them in one form or another. • Try to show that you understand why the interviewers have asked you the question. Pause for thought If you fail to plan. at the employer’s convenience. e. Did you do yourself justice? Did you allow negative information or negative expressions of feelings to creep in? • Send the employer an informal thank-you note soon afterwards. There’s some general advice about using the telephone effectively in Section 2.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook You need to also be prepared to adapt your responses to the different kinds of question: • Specific questions invite factual replies. but some things are especially important: • Do you speak loudly enough? • Is your voice clear or do you have a tendency to mumble? • Do you sound confident and interested.ac. you plan to fail. marketing or telesales staff.uk/careers . stop and leave it at that. When you’ve answered. In general: • If you feel yourself under pressure. write a letter asking for some constructive comment by telephone. The questions are 84 To find out more. visit our website at www. you’re half way to giving an appropriate answer. • Structured: a mutually convenient time is fixed in advance for the interview. 4. You’re taken through a series of questions that are recorded and analysed by trained interviewers.6. ‘What if the policy changed to carrying more freight by rail?’ In reply be methodical. state assumptions you’re making. • If you’re rejected. This technique is used for recruiting sales.8 Interviews by telephone Increasing numbers of companies are using the telephone in the first stage of the interviewing process. Even if you’re unsuccessful this time. • In response to embarrassing – rather than simply tough – questions. ‘Tell me about the three years you spent studying with The Open University.open.9 Tough questions Everyone has a different perception of what constitutes a tough question. Ask for the question to be repeated.g.7 After the interview • Think about the questions and your answers. They do this in several ways: • Fully automated: you receive a letter giving a freephone telephone number to ring. you’ll tend not to listen so acutely. This reinforces recollections of you. keep your answer simple and short. e. there may be other positions coming up.6. 4. ‘What problems did you encounter in the early planning stage of the building extension?’ • Open questions used by skilled interviewers encourage expansive replies incorporating both facts and attitudes or feelings. 4. take time and keep to the point. • Some candidates dress in the clothes they would wear to an interview to put themselves in the right frame of mind. You hear a list of statements and press a number on the telephone keypad to indicate your response. • A sales exercise: you’re given an opportunity to sell a product over the phone.’ • Hypothetical questions test speed and quality of thought. The advice that follows about personal interviews below applies just as much to telephone interviews. Here are some tips to help you through them followed by some examples and how to approach them.g. e.g. or monotonous or tentative? • Don’t forget to smile when you’re talking on the telephone.6. The smile won’t be seen but it can be heard.g.

Q A A Q A Q A To find out more. wellreasoned argument for your choice of this new kind of work. Either choose one that isn’t particularly significant. Add a balanced. Mention your previous salary and any financial commitments that lead you to raise or lower your expectations. Or explain how you had a weakness (e. It is your chance to provide an overview and at the same time to throw in leads that you hope the interviewer will take up. emotional stability. Why should you be appointed rather than an internal candidate? This is an invitation to list your main strengths. and the ‘political’ gains of instigating change through appointing an outsider. Use phrases like ‘learning a valuable lesson’ rather than admitting to making a mistake. Q A What are your weaknesses? Don’t claim to be faultless! Most strengths taken to the extreme become weaknesses. time management) but have taken action to overcome it. credibility with clients. for example: Early years (if appropriate) Education Work experience Significant events Keep your answer short (three to four minutes).g.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Examples of tough questions and how to answer them Q A What are your strengths? You’ll have become aware of these through your self-analysis. Negotiations like this might seem strange to you if your only experience is of fixed salary scales. Tell me about yourself. Isn’t it a bit late in your working life to change career? It is perhaps unlikely that you would be asked this. freedom from childcare. Include any particular characteristics that you feel relate to the job. domestic stability. and the typical salary ranges. Q A How much are you worth? Try to delay answering this until you know the responsibilities and scope of the job. professional and achievement – we discussed in ‘Answering questions’ above to produce a rounded picture. what difficulties do you expect in adapting to our culture? Make it clear that you understand the importance of the concept of culture by mentioning the internal diversity of companies and organisations you’ve had contact with. conscientiousness) to end on a positive note. visit our website at www. Having worked for one company for so long.open. Remember that this question isn’t simply about your factual history so don’t give too much detail. This question needs practice. to counter any thoughts that you might simply be looking for a refuge. Draw on examples from the three profiles – personal. coaching and mentoring skills.ac. or pair one with something that can be turned from a weakness into a strength (e. Cover relevant aspects of your life. Describe how you’ve adapted to different subcultures you’ve encountered by doing different jobs in your career. Try to restrict yourself to four or five as too long a list will confuse the interviewer.uk/careers 85 . particularly in view of age leglislation in 2006 but you never know…! The interviewer could be suggesting either that you’re too old to adapt or that you haven’t got a realistic appreciation of the demands of the new job.g. Draw attention to the possibilities of bringing in skills or experience that the company would benefit from. Concentrate on the many positive features of your greater maturity: experience of life and work. You could also provide evidence of being a quick learner. the fresh perspective of Q an outsider. Then express your motivation and drive.

visit our website at www. Make clear statements about your willingness to shoulder responsibility and say that you would consider career progression within the company at an appropriate time. How would you describe your management style? Have a well thought-out answer ready. and your hope that some of these needs will be met. Create a favourable impression based on the things you’ve done to help yourself. what would you choose? Talk about the kind of work you’re being interviewed for and why this company interests you.uk/careers . Uncertainties in the business environment will probably lead to growth opportunities for the company and you. your variations in style according to different people and different tasks. What sort of relationship did you have with your last manager? Concentrate on understanding your manager’s expectations and objectives. Why has it taken you so long to find a new job? Finding any sort of job is easy.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Q How have you tried to stay up to date? (Age is commonly associated with obsolescence of skills or knowledge and ineffectiveness. either at work or at leisure.ac. What interests you least about this job? Choose a routine activity (filing. Mention steps you’ve taken to keep up to date. Emphasise your desire to develop your skills by moving to a more demanding job. What are your ambitions? Concentrate on your desire to do the job well and to develop your skills and confidence. Relate your answer in the final stages to the job you’re applying for. mentally sharp and so on.) A A Quote samples of your own recent learning. If possible. Concentrate on flexibility. finding an appropriate job takes time. Include a reference to how important work is to you. There’s no research evidence to support this assumption. Emphasise that you are adaptable and respond positively to circumstances and would not necessarily expect to use all of your skills in the first instance. Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q 86 To find out more. It is also important to emphasise IT skills and keeping up with professional journals/research in the area. Do you not feel that you might be overqualified (or too experienced) for the position we are filling? A strong company needs highly competent people with appropriate experience to deal with current problems. If you had complete freedom of choice of jobs and employers. Be honest. Statements about far-reaching ambitions should sound realistic. You might start by briefly describing how your style has developed as you’ve grown in experience and social expectations have changed.open. What were the circumstances of your leaving your last employer? Keep your reply short and don’t touch on any conflict or bitterness. but be careful that it isn’t a core function of the job. filling in expense claim forms). Plead ignorance about other potentially boring duties. relate this to the job you are applying for. Include examples of support and how you kept your manager informed. A trite or bland answer will seriously undermine your application. Why do you want to work for us? Your research will pay off here.

what do/did you spend most time on. here are some general guidelines: • Don’t be intimidated. If you are asked to attend an assessment centre. are increasing their use of additional tools. 4.4 Here are some more examples of interviewers’ questions to think through yourself. as well as interviews and psychometric tests.g. You would normally find out about the way an organisation uses these by researching their recruitment literature or website. this job.g. what do/did you like most/least? Why? What was your greatest success? What has been your biggest failure? • What do you see as the most difficult aspect of (e. Because assessment centres are more thorough. but a technique (a mixture of tests. To find out more. 4. • Why did you decide to study with The Open University? • The classic three-part question: What kind of people do you like to work with? What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with? How have you worked successfully with this difficult type of person? • What are your short.ac. beyond the interview’. they are fairer to you. visit our website at www. education.7.7 Other selection techniques Larger employers. in any combination. and why? • Do/did you have any frustrations in your present/last job? • What did you learn from (e. particularly at graduate level. • Why should we appoint you? • Have you any questions? For academic jobs: • What publication are you most proud of and why? • What do you see as the main benefits of your research? • Tell me about your PhD research assuming that I have no background knowledge. your last job)? • What is the most difficult decision you have faced? • What kind of decisions are most difficult for you? • What area of your skills or professional development would you like to improve? • Describe your ideal job.uk/careers 87 . It can include situational activities. group discussions. medium and long-term goals? • Why have you decided to change careers? • What are the main challenges facing (e.g. this company…) today? Do you feel well equipped to meet those challenges? • None of your experience is at managerial level. in-tray exercises and the like. exercises and interviews) for recruiting new employees. All the other candidates will be nervous too. How would you cope with the transition? • How long would you expect to stay here? • How would you describe yourself? • In your present/last job. the Health Service. One such tool is the use of assessment centres – these are not places. aware that interviews have many shortcomings.1 Assessment centres This approach has been defined as ‘the use of any selection device. being a manager…)? • How do you react to criticism? • How do you feel about the progress you made in your present/last position? • In your present/last job. • What would you find easy about teaching undergraduates and what would be challenging? Don’t forget that you can ask a careers adviser for help in preparing for interviews.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 4.open.

make sure you take them with you. 4. Unlike aptitude tests. verbal. induction loop. • Try to get a good night’s sleep beforehand. • If you have a disability and need special arrangements (e.ac. In fact.g. paying attention to any special instructions. depending on the organisation and more usually by large blue chip companies: • as a selection exercise before an interview • to accompany an interview selection • as part of a number of selection exercises at an assessment centre. • Go to the loo before major exercises. • Make sure that you know exactly what you’re required to do. cognitive. visit our website at www. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get yourself ready. A highlighter pen could be useful. Decisions about senior appointments are never based on test results alone. they can last several hours. special seating) discuss it with the selector in advance. have no time limits • Ask during the practice session if you don’t understand.uk/careers and look for ‘Assessment Centres’ in the ‘A. The ability to listen and support others is also highly valued. and your preferences and attitudes. • Take the pens and pencils you like to write with.uk/careers . You may face hours of hot sticky work in examination conditions. • Take care at social events: rich food and drink dull the brain! • Try to ensure that you talk to as many of the company representatives and other candidates as possible – don’t just limit yourself to one or two who seem the most friendly.ac. numerical and perceptual skills).Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Decisions are made by drawing on all the evidence. The tests should have been carefully researched and tried out to ensure that they’re fair to everyone who takes them. such as personality and interest questionnaires.Z’. often in the form of multiplechoice questions.7. 88 To find out more. You might be asked to prepare something in advance.uk/links/AssessmentCntrs www. independence. but if you’re anxious about them. Study it carefully. choose something that’s cool as well as smart to wear. or how you respond to different situations. they have no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. for example. If you wear glasses for reading. ability or intelligence tests These aim to assess your capabilities in tests of reasoning: that is. The tests are used in a variety of ways. although certain characteristics will be more or less appropriate for the job (e.ac. • In summer. for sales personnel. They look at how you react or behave in different situations. • Assessment centres sometimes have the advantage that they give you longer to judge the organisation and the people within it. social confidence and persuasiveness would be considered important characteristics). Your results are usually compared with how others have done on the tests in the past. You will find practice tests at: www.com When it comes to completing the tests: • Read the instructions carefully and follow them precisely • Some ability tests have tight time limits and too many questions to do in the time allowed • Others. the level and nature of your thinking skills (typically. failure in one or two elements won’t automatically mean rejection. Tests are designed so that you have a few items to practise on first. a good test can offset weaknesses in interview performance – it never seems to work the other way round. The selectors aren’t looking for a rigidly ‘typical’ personality.open.open. When the time comes: • Arrive in good time.g. getting in some practice will probably make you feel better. both mentally and physically: • Your invitation may include a programme of events. • Try to focus on your own performance rather than that of others and don’t assume that she or he who shouts loudest will win. There are two main kinds of psychometric test: Aptitude.shldirect.prospects. They’re designed to assess your reasoning abilities. Further resources For further information and resources on assessment centres go to: www. Personality questionnaires These gather information about how and why you do things in your own particular way.2 Psychometric tests Psychometric tests are structured pencil-and-paper or computer exercises. • Assume that you’ll be closely observed the whole time. or bring your own calculator.

Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em Tell ’em Tell ’em what you’ve told ’em Keep in mind some general advice about presentations: • Whatever the instructions. Never read from a prepared script. relationship with other participants). • Make an early contribution. but there are dangers in trying to do this. Remember the rubric: 4. but you’re always given time to prepare. • Recommendation of an option. and how?) If you’re faced with a written exercise: • Follow the instructions. Don’t ignore the possibility of recombining parts of different options. sometimes during the assessment centre. applicants who fail selection tests often do so because they don’t answer the questions. not an essay. • You won’t get any marks if the marker can’t read your writing. visit our website at www. but make good use of your allowance. and faking then becomes very difficult to sustain. A suitable structure for your answer is likely to be: • A redefinition of the problem (by drawing out the key issues) • Setting out the main options. • Don’t spend so much time thinking and planning that you haven’t got time to write the report.7. communication skills and persuasiveness. • Don’t be tempted to produce complex visuals. • Remember to put your name on all the sheets of paper you use. Very often you’ll be set a task as a group or given a case study to look at. To find out more. practise so that you’ve got the timing right.7. you’ll be given a lot of written data and asked to write a report. Make liberal use of subheadings and bullet points to make your answer easy to read. • Don’t rework chunks of the brief. Sometimes you’re told the topic before the day. Make it a lively delivery. If you’ve been asked to prepare in advance.ac. but not necessarily the first. If asked to do so. Concentrate your thinking and be succinct in your expression so that you have less to write. Be cooperative. come to a conclusion or recommendation.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Personality tests are easy to fake. • Make assumptions explicit.7. with their pros and cons. The observers will be making notes about the quality of your contribution (logic. or sometimes to the other candidates as well. • What’s usually wanted is a business report. with your reasons (is it practicable. and if more information might be needed say what it is. • Be clear about the aims of the exercise: keep the group focused on the task. with reasoning to support your choice. don’t use a ballpoint pen – it tends to make things worse. You’re not going to be judged on your ability to dominate. outline a proposal or draft a letter. If you have trouble with it. Talk directly to them. You may need to make your presentation just to the selectors. How you say it is as important as what you say.open. with the selectors acting as observers. You’ll probably have only five minutes of presentation time. it is advisable to talk to the employer about this beforehand to discuss whether there are any alternative arrangements that would be appropriate for your situation. Keep the presentation simple. Honesty is the best policy. most tests contain ‘lie scales’.uk/careers 89 .3 Written exercises Typically. • Be supportive and pleasant to the other candidates. Candidates often fail through producing two to three times too much material. They’re easy to set up and provide a useful sample of logical thinking. Some selection procedures include a discussion about the test results with a psychologist.5 Group discussions Three to eight candidates sit in a group and discuss one or more topics. If you have a disability that you believe may affect your ability to do these tests. 4.4 Presentations These are often used as part of an assessment exercise. and you may have access to audio-visual materials. There could be questions afterwards. for another you’ll have to guess what sort of personality the company is looking for. don’t over-run. Like examination candidates. For one thing. The marker will be looking for original thought. verbal expression. 4. not enough to do them justice. see it as a task in which you have to convince or persuade the selectors. • Keep a careful eye on the time. remember that getting the best out of others is a skill in itself.

Treat the whole exercise like real life. Best marks are obtained by candidates who produce the largest volume of appropriate written output. Evidence offers little support for its use as a predictor of performance. other than statistical correlation. 4. How to go about it: • It may be possible to take the in-tray apart and sort it into heaps. If you have to reach a decision within thirty minutes.uk/careers . or conflict between the other participants. medical tests cover sight. As well as general fitness.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Mentally ‘stand back’ occasionally and evaluate what’s happening. make reporting and follow-up clear.open.7 Graphology Graphology . • Remain balanced in your judgement. but is a controversial technique in the UK. not on what went through your head. and ability to communicate in clear English. means that details of an individual’s history are correlated with the biographical details of others who have succeeded in the same occupation. Pause for thought Getting the job you want is always a challenge. You may be allowed to use the floor if the desk isn’t big enough. colleagues are ill. particularly in France. By taking the trouble to reflect and to prepare.7. Make a point of discussing your strategy and interpretation of the group discussion with the interviewer later. visit our website at www. Related tests of ‘potential for proficiency’ (trainability) assess characteristics such as hand–eye coordination. if you’re asked to submit a demonstration piece. and that can be a clue. 90 To find out more. • Give reasons for your decisions. • Look for links within an in-tray. use your diary and your secretary well. 4. Studies indicate that graphologists can produce generalised personality descriptions. some employers ask candidates to submit a handwritten piece on a management topic. The biographical data need not have any recognised link with performance. Staffing issues are most likely to spring this trap. organisation.6 In-tray exercises These simulations of the administrative aspects of a job can be very taxing. set timescales. They’re usually set in an unrealistic scenario that prevents you from talking to other people in the organisation (e. follow this up by tackling the items according to those you set. with appropriate levels of formality and informality in your responses. • You can be judged only on what you’ve written down. and may take time. you’ll be maximising your chance of success.7. You’re likely not to know that graphology is being used.9 Proficiency tests These tests are used to find out whether candidates have the skills they claim – 120 words per minute shorthand. • Read the instructions carefully and plan your time accordingly.7. judgement. • If the first part of the exercise asks you to set priorities. However. remind the group if necessary. it’s Saturday afternoon). take care over presentation as well as content. Intervene if there’s loss of direction. You may be asked to respond quickly (in timed conditions) to a number of typical questions or issues that may crop up in a job and say what you would do and how you would prioritise tasks. but often a special form is needed. • Keep a careful eye on the time. make sure that it’s permitted. decisionmaking. If you like to work like that. Don’t just put your head down and plough through the lot. just like a real one.ac. colour perception and hearing. abroad. So. The qualities most likely to be assessed are analysis. A cleverly constructed in-tray will generate emotional responses that can cloud decision-making.7. 4.10 Medical tests The job advertisement or person specification should state clearly whether a certain level of physical fitness is required. 4. a contraction of ‘biographical data’. but they’re not as detailed or as accurate as information gathered from psychometric tests and exercises. • Don’t be discouraged. or 90 words per minute wordprocessing. Information may be collected from the standard application form. even if you’re not asked to do so.8 Biodata analysis ‘Biodata’. and between intrays if there’s more than one.7. Signal in your comments that you’ve spotted these links. 4. for example. Most candidates find these tests tough. A well constructed test in-tray will contain distracting trivia.analysis of handwriting – is used a lot for managerial selection in continental Europe.g.

uk/links/AppsInterviews To find out more.uk/learning M. Kogan Page. visit our website at www. Yate (2005) Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions. Kogan Page.uk/careers If you are an OU student look at the ‘Moving on’ section on the Prospects website at: www.uk/careers 91 . M. ask for the OU Toolkit on Presentations from your regional centre or look under Study Strategies for the link to Student Toolkits at: www.ac. Parkinson (2004) How to master Psychometric Tests.open.ac.prospects.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Further resources For giving presentations. Byron (2003) How to pass the Civil Service Qualifying Tests.ac.open.ac. The OU careers website at: www. M. Kogan Page.open.

05 .

This section will explore a range of issues related to equality of opportunity in relation to • age • criminal record • disability or additional requirements • gender/sex • race • sexuality and sexual orientation. The issues of whether.2 5.4 5. To find out more. the legal position.open.ac. strategies to help you in your job search and further resources that you may find helpful. However. when or how you should do so.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Equality and Diversity Issues In this section 5.1 5.ac. In this section we highlight some of the additional challenges that may be faced by students and graduates.7 Age 94 Criminal record 95 Disability or additional requirements 96 Gender/sex 98 Race 100 Sexuality and sexual orientation 101 Religion or belief 102 Regardless of their background. visit our website at www. before or during an interview will be considered later in Section 5. the same principles of career planning and job seeking apply to everyone.uk/links/ discrimination Pause for thought Keep in mind that disclosure of personal information during the recruitment process can be a concern for some people.3 5. on a covering letter. Each section includes a discussion of some of the issues you may encounter.prospects. go to www. In fact. and you will often see this highlighted in job advertisements. there is evidence that certain groups of people are at a disadvantage and may experience difficulty in achieving their career aims.6 5. on your application form.5 5. Many employers have well-developed equal opportunities policies to help them to recruit a diverse workforce.uk/careers 93 . some organisations aim specifically to recruit a workforce that reflects the community they serve. For more information and links on job-seeking strategies when facing discrimination.

5. hone your CV to highlight that ‘extra’ you can offer to enhance your application. For instance..2 How to help yourself in the job market Take a look at Section 4 on applying for jobs. Having a degree is not enough to secure a job. You may need to allow some time for appropriate arrangements to be made..1 Note here any issues that could affect you at work.1 Your rights By October 2006. This may feel unfair. Braille or large print. sexual orientation and religion. Then contact the Careers Advisory Service in your region to get help with your marketing plan. ‘Yes. to offer a range of transferable skills and experience to an employer. So.open. This is where you are able. This should also help you to feel confident about what you can offer to the workplace. then you could consider exploring your local options. which you might like to discuss with a careers adviser. Employers are looking for more than a qualification. gender.1. juggling study and home responsibilities. you need to present your experience and skills positively and highlight your ‘added value’.uk/careers . plan ahead and make use of the study breaks and any contacts you have to find out all you can about the area of work you are interested in. selection procedures in large organisations are being reviewed. 94 To find out more. that you are automatically going to be offered a job. look at the Careers Advisory Service website for contacts for volunteering opportunities. Remember.1 Age Are you concerned that. The Employers Forum on Age states that ‘being an employer of choice in an environment with an ageing population means ensuring that employment policies and practices are attractive to all age groups’. For example. your age will count against you in the job market? 5.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 5. Employers vary a great deal in their attitudes towards age and recruitment and with the increasing numbers of mature and overseas applicants offering a wide range of qualifications and experience. as a mature graduate. having completed your degree. disability. especially when you have used all your spare time to get the degree in the first place. we will be happy to take reasonable steps to accommodate your needs. and paid work. 5. If you haven’t had any recent work experience (paid or voluntary). visit our website at www.ac. or contact your local OU Careers Advisory Service. So. They are saying. please contact your regional centre who will arrange this.’.1. there will be legislation in force in the UK that will ensure that anti-age-discrimination will become as much an offence as discrimination against race. if you need any information in an alternative format such as an audio recording. If you have additional requirements that may lead to difficulties accessing any of our services. you have a degree and. It’s not enough to think that because you have completed a part-time degree.

org. and archive work. occupational therapy.uk/links/Mature AdvantAGE – A magazine published by ‘realworld’ to help ‘mature’ students to take control of their future. Some of your concerns may include: • Whether you must declare any convictions. You can access the network at: www. you may be confused about its implications for working in the future. Available for reference in your regional centre or at: www. • Demonstrate your experience when making effective business decisions and give examples. And you must be determined and active in your approach.taen. Most employers will be impressed by your commitment and motivation! Indeed. psychotherapy. including a section for mature students. some have started new careers in their 50s. good targeting and carefully written documentation.uk The Third Age Employment Network (TAEN) works for better opportunities for mature people to continue to learn.uk/careers 95 . Published by AGCAS and available online at: www. research. • Create your own network using contacts from previous jobs/friends/family. to do so. • Use positive language in applications and interviews and never apologise for your age. work and earn for as long as they want. social work. • Stress your ability to hit the ground running – you know all about working for a living. Here are some tips from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) to help you maximise your potential for job seeking: • Produce a concise CV and match your experience to the job requirements. AGCAS) Tell employers about your skills and what you have had to do to get an OU qualification. • Highlight your time management.prospects. • How. counselling. communication. • Demonstrate your flexibility and experience of studying and working in mixed-age environments. • Fully research each employer. visit our website at www. • Convey your reliability. Be prepared to produce more than one CV.efa.ac.agepositive. it’s vital – whatever your aims – to research your chosen area thoroughly and market yourself effectively.uk/links/Discrimination 5. You do need to be clear about what you want and what you can offer. studies and general life experience e.prospects. Nonetheless. Further resources For the latest information on age legislation 2006. (A level playing field.realworldmagazine.ac.2.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Many OU graduates have changed careers in midlife.g. some areas of work look for maturity.ac.uk A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. 5. starting by using the company website (if there is one available).1 Your rights Do note that there are legal requirements regarding disclosure of certain convictions. • Be confident if you are offered an interview as this means your CV/application form has obviously been successful. Published by Age Positive at: www. or need. adaptability.g. you have just spent a number of years improving these through part-time study. • Identify the skills you developed in previous work.open. and view life experience as an advantage e.org.uk Mature students – the way forward (AGCAS publication) is available at: www. organisational and self-motivational skills.com/mat_home.gov. • What impact a criminal record will have on your gaining and keeping employment.asp Age diversity at work – A practical guide for business. investment of time and 143 stamps and envelopes. teamwork. when and if to disclose a conviction to a prospective employer. Don’t be put off by negative reactions if at first you don’t succeed! One graduate wrote: My method worked because of planning. go to Employers Forum on Age at: www. loyalty and confidence to manage change. teaching. For some areas To find out more.2 Criminal record If you have a criminal record.

5.apextrust. Before you start studying for a specific career area. These may include adjusting premises. additional support can help to enable access to work. 5. You count as disabled according to the Act if you have ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. and what funding is available from other sources.3. but smaller companies with lesser funds may not have to do so. without the need for specific adjustments or support. You can find out more from the Disability Rights Commission: Disability Rights Commission www.crb. Large companies will probably be expected to adapt the workplace.uk/careers . 5. training and selection for redundancy or dismissal. Employers are also required to make reasonable adjustments both to the workplace and to the job description. it can seem a challenging task to seek employment.disclosurescotland.1 Your rights The Disability Discrimination Acts (DDA) of 1995 and 2005 make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you whether you are applying for a job or are in employment.3 Disability or additional requirements Many students and graduates with disabilities have the same skills and abilities to offer as anyone else.2 How to help yourself in the job market If you have unspent convictions. information and advice for ex-offenders seeking work at: www. employers are required to seek disclosure of criminal records from the relevant criminal records office.open. and then to consider the next steps as outlined below. do check the legal situation carefully.prospects. services and facilities. as defined by the Act. those who have recurring or progressive conditions. training. This covers people who have had a disability. and people with severe disfigurements. • Make use of other agencies that can help and advise you. or applying for jobs.2. • Be realistic about the employment area you wish to enter.co. altering hours or buying equipment. The key starting point is to explore career areas that are relevant to your interests and skills.gov. For some students.drc-gb.org. Part II of the DDA is intended to prevent discrimination against disabled people at work and in recruitment. All employers are covered except for the armed forces. It does not apply to employers who employ workers on board ships or aircraft. You can access them at: www. Keep in mind that there are certain jobs for which convictions never become spent.com The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) publishes a number of advice leaflets. promotion.ac.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook of work. Discrimination is outlawed in all aspects of employment.ac. The effectiveness of the adjustment in reducing the disadvantage must be taken into account.nacro. Here is a range of strategies to help you: • Discuss your situation with a careers adviser at your regional centre. • Market yourself as positively as possible (see Section 4). including a section for offenders. supervising or being in sole charge of persons aged under eighteen’.uk The Apex Trust – support. such as ‘regularly caring for. Employers must show that they have looked into the costs of adaptations. Published by AGCAS and available online at: www.uk Scottish Criminal Record Office (Scotland) at: www.org Further resources Criminal Records Bureau (England and Wales) at: www. particularly in relation to employment and access to goods. and so must the finances of the employer. including recruitment.uk/links/Discrimination 96 To find out more. They define rights for disabled people.uk A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. visit our website at www. in the past.

3. the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 entitles you to take your case to a tribunal. not what you can’t. • Referral where appropriate to specialist Jobcentre Plus programmes for disabled people including: Job Introduction Scheme (JIS) – To help you and an employer with employment costs for the first few weeks if you or your employer is not sure whether a job may be suitable. 5. • • • • • To find out more. • Information on employers in your area who are Disability Symbol users.uk Each is committed to creating and developing opportunities for people with disabilities.jobcentreplus. If you give false information and an employer finds out the truth later. Specialist DEAs can discuss your current employment situation with you to plan the best way into work.3 Resources for employment and training Jobcentre Plus Jobcentre Plus is a network of jobcentres provided by the government to offer information to all adults on jobs. Services the DEAs can offer include: • An employment assessment to identify what work or training suits you best. you risk losing your job. many employers do not use the symbol but there may be practical evidence that they are positive about disability – such as offering information in alternative formats and alternative ways of contacting them. training and self-employment. If you’re concerned about losing the job you’re already in for a reason associated with disability. visit our website at www. • Referral where appropriate to a work preparation programme. When you apply for jobs and you are considering whether to disclose your disability: • Always focus on what you can do.ac. • A job matching and referral service.2 How to help yourself in the job market You may need to decide whether or not to tell an employer that you have a disability.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 5.employers-forum.3. Do you tell them on your application form? In a covering letter? Before or after an interview? There are no clear-cut answers to these questions. There are now over 400 member companies in the Employers’ Forum on Disability www. though you may find it helpful to talk it over with a careers adviser at your regional centre. • You might feel that you will be discriminated against and rejected straight away. You should always point this out to employers. Here are some reasons why it might be a good idea to disclose your disability • Some employers are keen to employ people with disabilities and use the disability symbol – this shows they are positive about employing disabled staff. Many employers have equal opportunities policies. • Don’t restrict your applications only to employers who are keen to recruit disabled people.uk or look up Jobcentre Plus in the Yellow Pages. If you do decide to disclose your disability. your coping strategies. You will be able to describe things in a positive light – your strengths. it may fund specialist equipment or transport costs. Access to Work – Can help you make the most of your opportunities in work by helping you to tackle some of the practical obstacles you may meet at work if you have a disability. If you declare your disability and believe that you have been discriminated against during the application process. • You may think that an employer will automatically see you as a potential expense.gov. look for employers who make these kinds of positive statements even if they don’t use the disability symbol. look at the website: www. you will need to consider the method and timing.uk/careers 97 . You must make your own judgement. The majority of disabled jobseekers who find work through Jobcentre Plus are assisted by a disability employment adviser (DEA). the DEA can provide advice to you and your employer and explore practical ways to help you keep your job.co. For instance. However. Many application forms ask about disability and health. • Referral if needed to an occupational psychologist. To find your nearest Jobcentre Plus office. • Perhaps you prefer not to discuss your disability with a stranger. • Don’t assume that an employer will view your disability in a negative way. So. Access to Work – a Jobcentre Plus programme (see below) can provide support for you in a job.open. Here are some reasons why it might be a good a idea to not disclose your disability • You may believe that your disability has no effect on your ability to do the job.

scope. • Details about work-based learning for adults.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook WORKSTEP – Individual programme of support through a variety of different job opportunities – leading to unsupported employment.uk A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination.ac. www. If you live outside the UK you will need to check the legal position for your country of residence.ac. 98 To find out more.uk/careers 5.org.open. Employers are not required to provide the same pay and benefits if they can prove that the difference in pay or benefits is genuinely due to a reason other than one related to sex. It also prohibits discrimination in employment against married people.1 Your rights (The following information is from the EOC website. yes: despite the work of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). published by AGCAS and available online at: www.4. (You might also want to check whether a prospective employer has an equal opportunities policy. It’s important that you are aware of the issues concerning sex and gender discrimination – at both recruitment stage.ac. and graduate case studies. and in ongoing communication with your employer.) The Equal Pay Act 1970 (EPA) gives an individual a right to the same contractual pay and benefits as a person of the opposite sex in the same employment. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) prohibits sex discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment.net The Open University Careers Advisory Service web pages have some useful links.uk Disabled Entrepreneurs Network: www.disabled-entrepreneurs. and in fact. and disabled children under 18. There is a lot of discussion about the ‘glass ceiling’ that prevents women from achieving ‘top jobs’.ac.skill.uk SKILL – The National Bureau for Students with Disabilities – has a large range of relevant information sources: www. There is also an interactive web-based service providing dedicated information. Disabled students’ allowances (DSAs) Disabled students’ allowances (DSAs) are grants available to disabled students in higher education to help with the extra costs of services and facilities they need for their studies because of a disability or specific learning difficulty. and the provision of goods. or • work that is proved to be of equal value. June 2003.diversityworks. • Information on local and national disability organisations of and for disabled people. advice and resources for students with disabilities. where the man and the woman are doing • like work. Times are changing: for instance. The EPA applies to England. available for reference in each regional centre.) Other equality issues that you might encounter include harassment at work.disabilitytoolkits.uk/disability Further resources Association of Disabled Professionals at: www.open. 5.open.uk Diversity Works at: www. Wales and Scotland.ac. there is still a 15 per cent pay gap between male and female graduates by the age of 24 – even when they have the same qualifications in the same subject.adp. The OU provides information about DSAs on the website at: www.org.uk/careers . includes employers’ case studies. we still find gender discrimination in the workplace. visit our website at www.prospects. or • work rated as equivalent under an analytical job evaluation study.uk/links/Discrimination The Hobson’s guide for Disabled Students – This is a free annual publication for disabled students.org. to request flexible working. this can help you in presenting yourself in your application for work. education. and in employment. needing time off work for parenting duties. including a section on disability. facilities and services and in the disposal or management of premises. academics involved in work placements and prospective employers: www. If you check on the legal situation. Look in the ‘A-Z’ under ‘Disability’ for further resources.4 Gender/sex Does it make a difference if you are a man or a woman when applying for a job? Unfortunately. and looking for flexible working arrangements. the necessity for a work/life balance is highlighted by the legal right for mothers and fathers of children under 6. which came into force in the UK on 6 April 2003.

The EOC campaigns to: • Close the pay gap between women and men.open. • Concentrate on your strengths. There are no express provisions prohibiting discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment in the other fields covered by the SDA.prospects.worklifebalancecentre.3 Indirect sex discrimination Indirect sex discrimination is where a condition or practice is applied to both sexes but it adversely affects a considerably larger proportion of one sex than the other.4. to apply that condition or practice.4.uk/links/Discrimination To find out more. 5.uk No. visit our website at www. there are special provisions prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment in employment. 5. 5. 10 – Top Careers for Women – careers publication focusing on issues relating to graduate women in the labour market. • Increase the number of women in public life. one type of direct sex discrimination is sexual harassment. there is a good argument that the general definition of sex discrimination prohibits this. This is especially important if you are looking to enter a field of employment that is traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. The EPA has been interpreted to cover indirect sex discrimination as well as direct discrimination. an unnecessary requirement to be under 5’ 10” would discriminate against men.6 Resources for employment and training Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is the leading agency working to eliminate sex discrimination in the UK.2 Direct sex discrimination Direct sex discrimination is where a woman (or man) is treated less favourably than a person of the opposite sex in comparable circumstances because of her (or his) sex. although there is not yet any legal authority on this point. • Secure comprehensive equality legislation in Europe. to apply a condition or practice. it is not justifiable.eoc.org A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. and this will help to counter any negative stereotypes that may exist. Three months (less one day) from the act of the discrimination for employment tribunal cases. Further resources Equal Opportunities Commission at: www. England.4. a requirement to work full-time might be unlawful discrimination against women.org. For instance.ac. Therefore. including a section on gender. another is treating a woman adversely because she is pregnant. Indirect discrimination is where the pay difference is due to a condition or practice that applies to men and women but which adversely affects a considerably larger proportion of one sex than the other and it is not justifiable.co. The SDA applies to women and men of any age. However.uk/careers 99 .4. irrespective of sex. Part I of the SDA describes the forms of discrimination to which the SDA applies. There are special provisions about discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment. • Provide clear evidence of your ability to do the job. • Make it easier for parents to balance work with family responsibilities. • Make public services relevant to the differing needs of men and women. Strict time limits apply. You can access this at: www.4. For instance.uk Work life balance centre – available at: www. • End sexual harassment at work. • Discuss your application with a careers adviser in your regional centre. 5.5 How to help yourself in the job market So. irrespective of sex.ac. Published by AGCAS and available online at: www. Scotland and Wales. including children and prohibits direct and indirect sex discrimination.4 Discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment With certain exceptions.numberten. 5. Employment-related claims are brought in an employment tribunal.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Victimisation because someone has tried to exercise their rights under the SDA or Equal Pay Act is also prohibited. how can you help prevent discrimination against yourself – whether you are female or male – in the job market? Here are a few suggestions: • Plan your application effectively in order to minimise the possibility of unfair discrimination. • Break free of male and female stereotypes.

Tony Blair. to target employers. you have the right under the amended Act to take your complaint before an employment tribunal. race. the UK government launched a new strategy to remove the barriers to employment success for job-seekers from minority ethnic backgrounds. 5.ac. despite legislation. So. visit our website at www. and you want to prove it.4 Victimisation Victimisation has a special legal meaning in the Race Relations Act. Government initiatives take time to implement however. March 2003 5. but people of every background.2 Direct racial discrimination Direct racial discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably on racial grounds than others in similar circumstances. Racist abuse and harassment are also forms of direct discrimination.open. Some ethnic minority groups have done well in the education system and in the labour market. in 2004. and to challenge unfair discrimination? Here are some suggestions: 100 To find out more. If you think you have been discriminated against on racial grounds.6 How to help yourself in the job market So what can and should you do to market yourself. If you are thinking of bringing a case of racial discrimination. colour and nationality are protected by the law. 5.5.5. These cover grounds of race. And even those individuals who achieve academic success do not necessarily reap the rewards in the workplace that their qualifications merit.5. racial equality councils. so don’t delay. If you think this has happened to you.uk/careers . 5.5. it will help if you can give an example of someone from a different racial group who.5. discrimination continues to exist for students from minority ethnic groups who do meet barriers to getting work. 5. nationality (including citizenship). or work at an appropriate level to their qualifications. 5. In March 2003.5 Race According to research by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The report proposes a fresh approach to address the many barriers that can get in the way of success in jobs and careers. has been treated more favourably than you. or to one of a number of other organisations such as trade unions.5. law centres. In general. for help. This happens when a person is treated less favourably because they have complained about racial discrimination or supported someone else who has. colour. and you need to plan your own job-seeking strategies to maximise your opportunities. in similar circumstances. the amended Act gives you the right to take your complaint before an employment tribunal or a county court (or sheriff court in Scotland). If you think you have been discriminated against at work.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 5. This is recognised by the UK government: The Race Relations Act identifies three main types of racial discrimination: • direct racial discrimination • indirect racial discrimination • victimisation. But too many members of ethnic minority communities are being left behind.5 Time limits Keep in mind that there are strict time limits for filing your case at an employment tribunal or court.1 Your rights The Race Relations Act 1976 (which was amended in 2000) makes it illegal to treat a person less favourably than others on racial grounds. and national or ethnic origin. ‘white graduates were more likely than those from minority ethnic groups to be in full-time paid work and less likely to be unemployed six months following graduation’. In practice. most racial discrimination in Britain is against people from minority ethnic groups. you can apply to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).3 Indirect racial discrimination Indirect racial discrimination occurs when a person from a particular racial group is less likely to be able to comply with a requirement or condition that applies to everyone but which cannot be justified. you have three months to file an employment case and six months to file a case in the county court or sheriff court. citizens advice bureaux and other advice agencies. or when applying for work.

nmc-online.6. Scotland and Wales. Find out more about the unit at: www.gov.teacherworld.uk 5. which apply to the Sex Discrimination Act (1997). TeacherWorld UK TeacherWorld UK provides information and support for teachers (and those intending to teach) from minority ethnic backgrounds.cre.uk 5. If the EOP is incorporated into your contract you might be able to directly rely upon it.6. It holds an annual careers day for black and Asian students and graduates.uk.uk/careers 101 .5.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Make use of Section 4 ‘Getting the job’ to prepare your marketing tools. and this will depend on your own experience and lifestyle. You can ask for a copy of the policy before applying for a job. plus details of work experience and career-enhancement programmes www. and how much to disclose to a potential employer and to work colleagues is of course a matter of personal choice.org. Windsor Fellowship The Windsor Fellowship is a charitable organisation that offers skills development programmes to undergraduates and graduates from minority ethnic groups. 5. run by BITC. For advice on finding positive employers take a look at: www. Further resources KAL – Careers publication for students from minority ethnic groups (formerly Kaleidoscopic). Target employers with a reputation for good equal opportunity policy and practice. This relates to England.ac.6. when to.1 Your rights The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment.windsor-fellowship.uk 5.2 Transsexuals In May 1999. that is dedicated to ethnic minority issues. application forms and covering letters. the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 came into force in the UK.blackandasiangrad.3 How to help yourself in the job market There are a number of measures that you can take to help yourself in the job market: • Many employers now have Equal Opportunities Policies that include lesbians and gay men. Their website is: www. You can find more information at the Press for Change website (see Section 5. your CV. Contact them for information on legal issues.org.6.4).bitc. available for reference in your regional centre or at www.ac. Includes job-hunting techniques. • Discuss your plans and approach with a careers adviser in your regional centre.org To find out more. • Check if the organisation is a member of Business in the Community (BITC) www.kalmagazine. The amendments. You will need to consider how comfortable you will be in an area of work where you are not open about your sexuality.com Black and Asian Graduates –The UK’s official website for black and Asian graduates. visit our website at www. Race for Opportunity is a programme. especially public sector and large private employers.open. • Many employers have sub-groups for minority ethnic groups.uk/links/Discrimination • Understand the relevant legal situation.prospects. You can log onto their website at: www. universities and schools to support learners from minority ethnic groups. students and recruiters.7 Resources for employment and training Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is the national organisation for monitoring racial equality.6 Sexuality and sexual orientation Are you worried about possible discrimination in the workplace because of your sexuality? Whether to. • Develop contacts and make the most of your networking skills.ac.com 5. vacancies. National Mentoring Consortium Unit The National Mentoring Consortium Unit works with employers. campaigns and services as well as vacancies in the commission Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) www. formally made illegal a whole catalogue of discrimination against transsexual people in employment.

on the grounds of religion or belief. You should be aware that many organisations now do take proactive measures to promote flexible and integrated working through surveys and staff development and training to promote inclusion and raise awareness. • Find out about employers who belong to the Diversity Champions group set up by Stonewall in 2001. bisexuals and transgender people. This is a forum in which employers work with Stonewall to encourage diversity in the workplace. the support of a trade union can protect you where the legislation doesn’t. sexual orientation. visit our website at www. If you encounter discrimination. Scotland and Wales and similar regulations were also introduced in Northern Ireland. gay men and bisexual people and launched Diversity Champions in 2001. where they advertise.org.uk/careers . to discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone.uk/links/Discrimination 5.ac.ac. Larry Hirst.pfc.co.uk Regard – the national organisation of disabled lesbians.regard. contact their headquarters to check which is the most progressive on lesbian and gay issues: some produce specific material and some have lesbian and gay groups.7 Religion or belief I greatly value IBM’s participation in the Diversity Champions Scheme. A number of motions passed at TUC conferences have made it clear that all affiliated unions should adhere to equal opportunities for lesbians and gay men.org.uk Gay Business Association www. and Diversity Champions allows employers to focus on the new challenges and opportunities for addressing issues of diversity in the workplace. The most usual ways in which employers may discriminate might be around the way in which they recruit new staff.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Consider joining a trade union where you will receive support and legal advice. gay men. • If your employer recognises more than one union.gba. race.dircon. The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 (Religion or Belief) were introduced to protect against discrimination in employment and vocational training in England. www. through legislation and social change www. these employers are at the cutting edge of innovation in business and public service.4 Resources for employment and training Stonewall Stonewall works to achieve legal equality and social justice for lesbians. staff development or training days clashing with days of worship or festivals and promotion.org.uk/stonewall In December 2003. including a section on sexuality and sexual orientation.uk Further resources Equal Opportunities Commission www.org. IBM (UK and Ireland) says: 5. 102 To find out more. days when they choose to interview. www. Under the new regulations it is unlawful.prospects.stonewall. gender. Working with Stonewall enables us to share and learn best practice from others and to ensure IBM is an inclusive and positive company in our dealings with employees and customers alike. Published by AGCAS and available online at www. At IBM we employ the best people irrespective of religion.open. age or disability. It is also unlawful to harass or bully someone because of their religion or belief.6.uk A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. Press for Change Press for Change is a political lobbying and educational organisation. which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all transgender people in the UK. unless the employer can show that there is a legitimate business need. General Manager.eoc. Usually.

• Read the information in the recruitment pack. someone from human resources may be able to help.uk/careers 103 . it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employer doesn’t care about this. if this is a concern for you.org.pdf To find out more. Does it include information about equality and diversity? If not. visit our website at www. it is important (as is the case with all job applications and career decisions) to research jobs and organisations to ensure that they are right for you.gov. 5.uk/er/equality/eeregs Managing the New Legislation on Religion and Belief www. In the meantime. • Speak to the equality and diversity officer. Disclosure is a personal decision that will be influenced by a number of factors (you may want some reassurance before you apply or before you accept a job) and you may want to discuss in more detail with a careers adviser before you decide what to do. keep up to date on the law and your rights. if the organisation has one.uk/docs/RFO_Religion.bitc. • Look out for employee profiles on employer websites.ac.7.lowpay.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook If this is an area that is of concern to you. As it is recent legislation. Alternatively. It is unlikely that you will find questions relating to religion or belief on an application form (other than for equal opportunity monitoring) or that you would come across it in an interview.1 Disclosure The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 (Religion or Belief) do not impose a duty on individuals to tell an employer or prospective employer about their religion or belief.open. there is very little case law at present – greater understanding of how the legislation is interpreted and practised will come with time. But how do you know this? • Look out for race equality schemes/equality and diversity policies. unless it is a genuine occupational requirement (GOR). Further resources The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 www.

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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

The next steps
In this section 6.1 Open University Careers Advisory Service 105 6.2 Open University study materials 106 6.3 Other sources of help 107

When you’ve worked through this book there’s a lot to gain not only by reflecting and reconsidering things, but also by discussing them either informally with a trusted friend or formally with a careers adviser. You might want to arrange this through your regional centre.
As you clarify your objectives, you’ll be able to develop a plan of action. In order to achieve what you want, you may need to go through several smaller steps such as gaining particular experience or qualifications, gathering information or getting access to a particular resource. Look through the information and resources that we recommend. Remember that many of the resources listed are concerned primarily with the UK job market. Readers outside the UK should look at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/ countries

6.1 OU Careers Advisory Service
The Open University Careers Advisory Service provides access to appropriate careers information, advice and guidance for prospective and current students and recent graduates. Ask your regional centre for a copy of the OU Careers Advisory Service Statement of Service, which outlines the range of services available, or you can view it on our website from the ‘About the OU Careers Advisory Service’ page. You may want to request an individual consultation with one of the OU’s careers advisers. This is usually conducted by telephone, and you can arrange this by contacting your regional centre. Some careers advisers may also be available at large regional events such as course choice meetings. Most one-week residential schools provide an opportunity to talk to a careers adviser.

6.1.1 Open University Careers Advisory Service website
Have a look at our website at: www.open.ac.uk/careers You can either work your way through the site or go straight to the sections that are of particular interest to you. (There are also links to other useful websites.) The site takes you through the various stages of planning your career, from analysing your potential to applying for jobs. The section ‘OU Study and your Career’ contains information on occupational areas linked to relevant OU courses and qualifications.

6.1.2 Career Advisory First Class Conference
All OU students have access to our online ‘Career Advisory Conference’ in FirstClass. We use this to post notices about events and any other careers information that is relevant to OU students. We also periodically run topic- or subject-based conferences where students can post questions and receive replies from a careers adviser – see: www.open.ac.uk/careers/ conferences

To find out more, visit our website at www.open.ac.uk/careers

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6.1.3 Career Links
This is an OU networking scheme run by the Careers Advisory Service where OU students who want to enter a specific career can register as Career Seekers. They are then matched with a suitable Career Helper who is already working in that career and who can share their personal experiences. For more information and to register for Career Links visit www.open.ac.uk/careers/links.

Applications and interviews: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/AppsInterviews ‘Beyond nine to five’ (flexible working): www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Flexiblework Prospects website also includes the free online career planning tool ‘Prospects Planner’. This asks users to answer questions on a range of factors related to their career choice and a list of potential occupations is generated according to their responses. OU students may find it helpful to discuss their results with a careers adviser. You can access this at: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Pplanner. Your regional centre may also be able to provide or suggest other sources of information.

6.1.4 Publications and information
There are also a number of useful publications and sources of careers information available to all students of The Open University. OU study and your career – Looking at the career benefits of OU study and how your choice of course may affect your career plans. You can ask your regional centre for a copy or download it from the careers website. Recognition leaflets – Information about external recognition of some OU qualifications, transferring credit, membership of UK professional bodies, funding and sources of support. See: www.open.ac.uk/recognition You can also look at and/or download careers information written by members of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) on the Prospects website at: www.prospects.ac.uk This includes information such as: Opportunities linked to your degree: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/options Information about specific jobs: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations An overview of job sectors (for example, education, information technology, legal and social care): www.prospects.ac.uk/links/SectorBs You will also find information on special interest topics, for example: Mature students: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Mature

6.2 Open University study materials
6.2.1 Y154 Open to change
The Openings programme of short introductory courses has been specially designed to give you a chance to ‘test the water’ before committing yourself to full undergraduate study. Y154 Open to change can help you to assess your skills and explore possibilities for further learning. The course is for people who are thinking about returning to education or training as well as those who are unemployed or hoping to get back into employment. The cost of the course is £85 (£99 from September 2006). Some financial assistance is available for students receiving state benefits. You will find more information about Open University courses on our website at www.open.ac.uk/courses

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To find out more, visit our website at www.open.ac.uk/careers

org.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 6.3 Other sources of help 6.ac.guidancecouncil.careers-scotland.org.careerswales.3. To find out about services offered by the Open University library at Walton Hall.gradireland. go to: www. Good luck and best wishes for your future! To find out more. look at these websites: England www. with all its potential for improvement and advancement.com Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland www.com Keep in mind that the extent of advice and guidance provided for adults varies and there may be charges for some of the services. Some may be available for reference at your regional centre.ac.prospects.uk/library Finally You may have to cope with setbacks and frustrations. visit our website at www.uk www. You are advised to ring first.com Scotland www. but remember that you’re setting out on an exciting journey.uk/careers 107 . taking the first steps towards a new or resumed working life.1 External guidance providers Other university careers services may be happy for OU students to use their information rooms. Look at the following website to find details of the nearest service to you: www. Look in larger libraries for other publications mentioned in this book.uk Wales www. Further resources A list of further resources is given at the end of each section of this book.open.egsa.open.ac.uk/links/careersservices For details of adult advice and guidance services in the following countries.

ac.uk/careers .open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Notes 108 To find out more. visit our website at www.

open.ac. visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Notes To find out more.uk/careers 109 .

open.uk/careers .Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Notes 110 To find out more.ac. visit our website at www.

visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Notes To find out more.ac.open.uk/careers 111 .

ac. visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Notes 112 To find out more.uk/careers .open.

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