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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 06

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 06

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  • 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

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.


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

01 .

uk/careers 7 . 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. take a clear view of your career and life.ac. Try to keep an open mind when considering future possibilities. 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.uk/careers Here you will find links to lots of different activities and resources to assist in career planning and job seeking. The activities in this section ask you to think about a series of questions as a beginning to your career review.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Knowing yourself In this section 1. for example. work and leisure activities. 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. less well-paid work. They offer different ways of considering what you’re like and what you can do.prospects. that some of the activities (and others) are also available online on the Careers Advisory Service website at: www. You may find that some seemingly unchangeable things can be changed.ac. so that you can learn new skills or take up more enjoyable.1 What am I like? 8 1.uk To find out more. Your past has shaped you through your family background.2 What work would suit me? 13 Remember that you may have potential that has yet to be developed. there’s good reason to. You’ve gained knowledge and skills from your experiences. This section will help you to develop your self-awareness. 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. The section starts by asking you to look back.open. Note. This is the first step in the career-review process. and learnt how you cope with things and respond to different tasks and challenges. your education. visit our website at www. At intervals you’ll be asked to ‘pause for thought’ and note down your responses. 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.ac.open. and reject them only if.

Note down key events. This activity can help you to gather insights that can influence your future choices. A third recognised someone else as consistently and unobtrusively acting as a mentor.1 What am I like? 1.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. retirement and so on. Think about the feelings aroused by each experience and answer these questions. Moved House HIGH POINT Secondary School Qualified (production engineer) Marriage Son Became management trainee (part time study. Another noted that all his positive job changes followed disappointments in his private life. and he saw that each disappointment motivated him towards a change and offered opportunities.uk/careers . You’ll be asked to refer back to your lifeline later on. Example When you’ve drawn a lifeline that reflects your experiences.1 In this activity you’re going to draw a ‘lifeline’. 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. and to consider how your early history contributed to it. 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. 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. You may find it useful to talk through any difficult emotions with someone you trust.ac. to help you think about the pattern of your life.1. showing high and low points at different times of your life. Activity 1. and to discover aspects of yourself that you might want to develop or change. consider it as a whole. this activity revealed to one person that all her high points were associated with praise from others and her low points with geographical moves.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. children. such as education. marriage. visit our website at www. Diploma) Daughter Bought flat (Improvement Grant) Bought house – garden-mortgage! Changes in company policy (new job. Put them in the form of a diagram like the one here.

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

open.uk/careers .ac. things you do in your spare time. For example. They could be workrelated or to do with relationships. passing all your exams first time may say that you’re an excellent student. passing your driving test on the fifth attempt may say a lot about your staying power and determination. 10 To find out more. Set them out in the table below. 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.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. Activity 1. 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.1. note the achievements you’re most proud of and what they say about you. recent or a long time ago.3 Looking back at your lifeline.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.

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

It’s easy to forget that leisure activities can give us as many skills and abilities as work.uk/careers .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. My main strengths 1 2 3 4 5 6 My main weaknesses 1 2 3 4 5 6 12 To find out more. 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. they need not be barriers to the future.1.4 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. Remember that strengths can be built on for the future and weaknesses can be reduced by your efforts.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. personal characteristics or interests.ac. 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. but your spare-time activities could help you to demonstrate skills and qualities.open. what would you now say are your main strengths and weaknesses? They can be skills. abilities. visit our website at www.

and might be seen as ‘laid back’. you need to be clear about how important work is to you. for example if you scored –20.ac. The next activity can help you to think about this. or you might avoid positions that regularly eat into your leisure time. You have some concern about doing well and making progress. think about your approach to activities or projects.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.2. even workaholic. Activity 1.open. This is something that varies from person to person. If you don’t have much experience of paid work.uk/careers 13 . for example. If you have a more central score You keep a balance between work and leisure. you would always put work first and aim high in your achievements.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.2 What work would suit me? Now that you’ve spent some time considering the skills and qualities you’ve developed through experience. but you don’t let work rule your life. At the lower end of the scale. visit our website at www. 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. 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. or you may prefer something that can give you a better balance between work and home life. you would put your social life before work. the stronger your ambition. it’s time to think about work. have little concern about getting on in your career. 1. You may have found yourself in a post that takes over and leaves little time for family life. 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. If you scored +20. You might be highly ambitious.

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

leave it blank.uk/careers 15 .2.ac. Circle any that describe you particularly. 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. All the words describe positive qualities. put a tick beside it. visit our website at www. If you’re not sure or if it’s only partly true. if it isn’t a usual role for you. If work hasn’t been a major part of your life. Work through each role in the list.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.8 Some work roles and areas of competence are listed below.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.open. Does it sound like you? If it comes to you easily. completing an application form or attending an interview (which you will cover in more detail in Section 4). To find out more. cross it out. 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. Activity 1. apply this to whatever activity has taken up a lot of your time.

Activity 1. come in top (f) Like persuading.9 Work through the following descriptions. deciding how you compare with other people. Try to use the full range of ratings from 5 (much more so than most) to 1 (much less so than most). circling your position on the scale.open. Again. think more generally about your life if your workplace experiences are limited.2. 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.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. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. show feelings (f) Happy to be in charge of others (s) Prefer traditional ways of action (t) Equable. negotiating (s) Tend to worry. visit our website at www. caring for others (s) Always like to win. 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.uk/careers .ac.

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

to have someone else with whom to talk through your answers – perhaps a friend. Consider your answers so far. You can learn about your aptitudes from other people’s comments. others are skilful with statistics. You should also remember that you’ll go on developing as you cope with different demands.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.10 Look back at your list of achievements and what they say about you. You can be good at something without particularly enjoying it. What have you learnt? It can help. etc. but do use any other information you can get. others a photographic memory. ambitions. Perhaps you had to learn a new technique. Others have specialist knowledge.open. by going on training courses. relation or a careers adviser. by observing others. for example. as you learn through your own study. by reading and so on. You may have begun to gain more insights or realisations about your own nature. Activity 1. 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. but it’s not a necessary connection. There’s generally some connection between what we can do well and what we enjoy doing.uk/careers . Some people have a creative imagination. It’s useful to know this. 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. Now list some of your work/voluntary/domestic achievements.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. rather than simply thinking through these questions. temperament or way of dealing with the world. Some people have been taught or have learnt particular skills for themselves – competence in a computer language. You may have learnt more about your personality. such as accounting standards or employment law. as it affects the work or the parts of a particular job that you can perform best. needs and values. as it enables you to recognise the talents you have and also to see whether there are gaps you want to work on. or perhaps you used or developed a skill you already had. Then think about the knowledge and abilities you needed to apply in order to achieve the result. Review As you may be discovering. You might discover that your strengths are grouped in some areas rather than others. 18 To find out more. This question is of particular interest to employers. The next activities are based on your own knowledge. initiatives you’ve put into practice. it’s helpful to reflect on your past as you approach a decision that will significantly affect your life.2.ac. projects you’ve tackled successfully. Your discoveries might be to do with your skills and abilities or your attitudes. It’s also useful as evidence when you’re completing a CV or attending an interview. It’s also important for you to know what you’re good at. visit our website at www. by trial and error.

to encourage them to speak 5 Commanding an audience. 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. generally able to do it quite well Reasonable level.11 This activity will help you to assess your skills in more detail.ac. 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. just acceptable skills Very basic level. ability to convey information without confusion 3 Fluent speech. not usually adequate No significant level of skills Communication Rating 1 Listening. visit our website at www.open. words flowing easily 4 Drawing people out.uk/careers 19 . The activity is grouped into skills which are of particular importance to employers. reliably perform better than average Good level. Try to use the full range of ratings. Be as honest as you can both in admitting lack of skill and in acknowledging your competence. often referred to as ‘employability’ or ‘transferable skills’. Consider how well you can carry out each one in comparison with other people. giving a presentation 6 Using the telephone effectively: few misunderstandings 7 Reading efficiently: readily taking in written information 8 Writing effectively. outstanding performance High level.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. taking in what others say and checking your understanding of the information 2 Clear verbal expression.

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Dealing with people 1 Showing sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others. 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.ac. dealing with conflict 9 Interviewing.open. encouraging. motivating. teaching or coaching others 4 Delegating and managing others 5 Leading a work group. getting the best out of others 7 Counselling: helping with personal problems 8 Negotiating: mediating. visit our website at www. taking account of this in dealing with them 2 Getting on with a variety of people and building up working relationships 3 Instructing. uses and sources of loan finance 12 Operating costing system Rating Total score 20 To find out more. assessing or appraising 10 Persuading.uk/careers . chairing a meeting 6 Encouraging.

ac. 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. visit our website at www. hand-eye coordination 10 Understanding physical sciences 11 Understanding engineering 12 Maintaining or repairing complex equipment Rating Total score To find out more. practical problems 9 Using manual dexterity. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Thinking and analysis 1 Using critical path analysis 2 Using statistics 3 Logical thinking.open.uk/careers 21 .

ac. 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.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. systems.uk/careers . filing system or recording procedures Rating Total score 22 To find out more. visit our website at www. layouts.open. 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. events or courses 5 Being insightful. colours.

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

developing new ideas Activity. not to limit yourself by concentrating so much on restrictions that you achieve less than you might. Try to use the full range of scores.6 What do I really want from work? Now that you’ve thought about who and where you are and the skills you have.uk/careers . excitement. It is important. people. This doesn’t mean that you can achieve everything you wish.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. visit our website at www. expensive possessions Expressing ethical code or religious beliefs Using talents. Activity 1.2. a newspaper office. a financial institution and so on will each have a different ‘feel’ as a place to work. keeping moving. a charity. In the same way. 24 To find out more. places Scope to learn.open. a local authority. career progression Helping or caring for others Concern for surroundings or location Being original. think. Try to think through which would suit you best.ac. a manufacturing company. developing skills Being part of an important organisation Having lots of stimulus. 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. though. handling things Taking risks. analyse Making friendly contacts with others Large income. as restrictions of one kind or another will limit everyone’s range of choice. the next step is to recognise what you’re satisfied with and what you’re dissatisfied with.12 Rate the values below for importance. thrills Having influence or power over others Enjoying or making beautiful designs or things Getting promotion. 4 Very important 3 Important 2 Less important 1 Not important Description Making decisions. study. independent action Change or variety in tasks.

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

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

but only of your own preferences. Not sure or No according to how you feel about each activity. Interests are to do with the things you find most appealing or enjoyable. You will have had experience of some of them.ac.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.2. Try to imagine whether you’d like doing the others or not. you also need to consider your interests. Assume that you could do the activity if you wanted to.8 What kind of work would I like to do? To help you decide on the kind of work you’d like to do.open.uk/careers 27 . visit our website at www. Activity 1.15 Look through these kinds of work and consider whether you would like to carry each one out. It’s not a question of your ability or qualifications. 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.

uk/careers .Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1.15 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.open. visit our website at www.ac.

31. 22. 40. 50 Questions 6. 21. 20. 49 Questions 5. visit our website at www. 15. 41. 34. 52 Questions 8. 48 Questions 4. 14. 30. 13. 27. 12. 39. 54 To find out more. 11. 32. 37. 28. 51 Questions 7. 36. 17. 47 Questions 3. 19.ac. 26.15 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. 23. 35. 24. 38. 29. 10. 46 Questions 2. 44. 33. 18. 16.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. 43. 53 Questions 9. 42.uk/careers 29 . 25. 45.

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

When you’ve done that. visit our website at www. 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.uk/careers 31 .open. 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. Now complete the summary chart below.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Review Read through the results of your work and reflect on the notes you’ve made. or you might prefer to move on to the possibilities that this knowledge could open up for you in Section 2.ac. you may want to look at Section 6 ‘The next steps’.

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. organisational structure. travel.ac. 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.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.uk/careers . such as location.open. visit our website at www. etc.

however. 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. The content of Section 1 can provide a really useful starting point to an individual consultation with a careers adviser. people. which OU students can do by contacting your regional centre.co. general and specialist skills analyses • Tactic 2: Finding your ideal job – includes a motivation assessment You can access the website at: www.open.windmillsprogramme.uk To find out more.uk/careers 33 .open.ac. Windmills consists of seven stages or ‘tactics’.learndirect-futures. The tactics you will find most relevant at this stage are: • Tactic 1: Focusing your skills – self-reliance.uk/careers Whichever route you choose. You could take a look at the Windmills website.ac.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. 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. You need to register (free) to use it at: www. good luck with the next step! Further resources Try these resources for developing self-awareness. You may prefer. You may find it useful to complete this section before you book an interview. visit our website at www. This is a virtual career coach which teaches individual career-management skills.com Learndirect Futures is another career interestassessment website that generates job suggestions. It covers job roles at all levels of responsibility rather than those just at graduate level as covered by Prospects Planner.

02 .

As a result. 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.2 Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Exploring possibilities In this section 2. A typical strategy means that you will: • Consider all the opportunities open to you: public. • Don’t forget that you need to review and evaluate your progress from time to time. It’s also important that you don’t spend valuable time applying for jobs where you have little chance of success.uk/careers 35 . so be organised and systematic. If you haven’t yet got a clear picture of the kind of work or job you want to pursue.3 2. So. The local sawmill is likely to approach the task differently from a multinational advertising agency.1. • Get a general view before you start to draw up a shortlist.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. jobs and developments in sectors you’re interested in.open. (In fact. We are assuming at this stage that you know what you want to do. private and voluntary sectors. To find out more.1 2. By planning your job-search strategy. Another key fact you need to understand is that different sectors and employers have their own traditional methods for recruiting. you will be able to focus much more accurately on what you need to do to achieve your goal. rather than carefully organised and systematic.2 2. or for jobs that don’t fit your needs or meet your expectations. This means that you must be flexible enough to adapt your approach to the diversity of methods used by potential employers. What information they do have can often be based on personal experience or rumour. Always keep copies of your applications. and be prepared to ask for comments on how you’ve done. 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. when. the recruitment process will be quite different. • Look into and follow up all sources of information. 2. work through Section 1 ‘Knowing yourself’ before going any further. people’s job-seeking methods can be disorganised and inefficient.5 Planning your strategy 35 Graduate-level jobs 36 Creative job search 38 Finding vacancies 38 Building a network of contacts 43 2. visit our website at www. • Build up a file of background information about companies. • Do some research: find out how.) Otherwise. where and how often vacancies are advertised.4 2.1 A typical strategy A strategic approach pays dividends.ac. the only thing they might have in common is that they probably use an interview during the selection procedure.

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

5 per cent.uk/links/wdgd and on the Teaching Quality website at www.ac. a growing proportion of graduates find their first jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 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. Non-graduate occupations Increasing numbers of graduates don’t immediately enter the ‘graduate labour market’. 2. Although we know that OU students start from a different point as many are working while they study. Niche graduate occupations This is an expanding area.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.ac.open. graphic design.uk/careers 37 . This data is published annually and can be seen at www.1 per cent six months after leaving. There are many instances of graduates in these occupations demonstrating their potential and developing their initial role to fit their skills. environmental health). there were 3. For more information on SMEs go to: www. Many are in nongraduate jobs but using the skills that they have developed as a result of their studies. engineering. At the beginning of 2002.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. 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.prospects.tqi. 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. marketing. The ability to access and use specialist information is an additional skill for these areas. According to the Graduate Experience 2002 Report (DTI. Barclays) only 14 per cent of respondents had a place on a graduate training scheme with a blue chip employer.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3 4 5 New graduate occupations These reflect changes in technology and organisational structures and priorities. retail management.ac.uk In 2004 unemployment among all students was 6. visit our website at www. nursing. the data shows the unemployment figure for OU students from the 2003/4 survey to be 2.ac. In fact.8 million SMEs in the UK and it is predicted that they will create a further 2 million jobs by 2010. 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.

1 Applying for hidden jobs Hidden jobs are produced: • by organisational changes that make old jobs obsolete and create new ones.4. or talk to them in person.org.5. None of us can predict what kind of jobs might be available in the next few years. Learn how to use the telephone effectively – there’s some advice about this in Section 2. and customise them with a particular opportunity or employer in mind (see Section 4 ‘Getting the job’). • Find out about getting appropriate training or study with work experience. • Use employment agencies. • Don’t limit your marketing to letters of application. This may give you an identifiable edge in the job market.5. in that they are never even advertised! Often.3 Creative job search The career-review process isn’t something you do once and for all and then never do again. What will your job search strategy look like? 2. • Find contacts in the sorts of organisation and job you’d really like. 38 To find out more. The best advice is to start as early as possible and be creative in your job search. [Adapted from the AGCAS booklet Job Seeking Strategies] Pause for thought Ask yourself what you can take forward from these ideas.open. in times of recession.2. See Section 2. qualities and experience. they are classified as either ‘open’ or ‘hidden’. • Cultivate well-placed.6 for details. Consider temporary or part-time work to enhance your marketability. In fact. Consider what you can do for them. how long for. but don’t let them use you.9 and 2. 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. including those in organisations you’ve already worked for (if any). but prefers specific skills.ac. and what benefits you hope to gain from the experience. SMEs. skill development and knowledge of the industry or job area.uk • Don’t forget the increasingly important nontraditional graduate recruiters (small and mediumsized enterprises – SMEs.4. • Investigate the possibility of employment through a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’. how can you do a creative job search? Here are a few essential steps to get you started: • You need to ‘market’ yourself. You may want to ask to meet people. Be clear about what you’re offering to do. 2.4 Finding vacancies When it comes to job vacancies. Try to contact the person who makes the decisions and might be interested in your talents. Today’s labour market is increasingly diverse. • 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. • Develop an excellent CV and application letter. in particular. it’s estimated that 7 out of 10 jobs are ‘hidden’. which were discussed above in Section 2. To succeed. • Use the internet to research into companies and job vacancies. visit our website at www. Make sure they keep you in mind for suitable vacancies.10). 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. and to foster contacts. you need to play by a set of new rules.ktponline. knowledgeable people.4. a partnership between employers and higher education institutions – look at www.2.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. Most of us need to review our careers now and again to take account of changes in ourselves and the opportunities open to us.uk/careers . may not advertise so as not to be inundated with applications.2). 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. • Think about doing voluntary work.

Speculative approaches can even create new jobs.g. while decisions are being made about internal versus external recruitment campaigns. Thompson Directory. visit our website at www. Which organisations have the sort of position that attracts you? Who is recruiting. You must prepare a thoroughly argued case to prove that the cost of employing you is more than outweighed by the benefits. Does the profession you’re interested in produce one? Use www.ac. Marketing yourself means keeping ahead of the competition.prospects.uk/links/occupations to see if there are any. Remember. showing how your abilities can contribute to the success of the enterprise. jobs and areas most appeal to you. a very nervous jobhunter. selection dates.uk/careers 39 . And be sure you can deliver the goods! • When you meet Be businesslike and professional in making your proposals. You want a meeting: say so clearly when you write. It isn’t enough just to wait for jobs to be advertised in the media. This approach gives you the initiative. nor appropriate in some areas of employment. • Get a meeting No one ever got a job merely by writing a letter. reorganising. show where you can fit in. Offer dates and times. KOMPASS (www. • 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). • Always follow up If you hear nothing within two weeks of writing. there may be a possibility of employing you for a particular shortterm project. You’re not sending out a mail drop or a circular letter. The Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book. To get started try: • General trade directories e. for example. Get any agreements – proposals or contracts – in writing as soon as you can. ac. You’re making a business proposition. advertising space and so on. even open jobs are hidden during the early stages.2 Making speculative approaches Please note that making speculative approaches to companies is not permitted in Northern Ireland. • Look at company websites and find out more about them. job titles and addresses are correct.4. for instance.kompass. Treat the employer as a client. develop or help it become more effective. Your letter. This approach isn’t comfortable for some people for example. You decide which organisations. Ask questions about the employer’s needs. sectors. Demonstrate that they can’t afford not to employ you. Prepare for the meeting as you would for a job interview. Consider what’s right for you and your ‘target’ area. Be flexible. • Consult the main directories in your local reference library. relocating? Use all your information sources and network contacts (which we will discuss in more detail below) to select a portfolio of companies.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. follow up by telephone. and concentrate on those.3 To make an effective speculative contact • Pick out likely targets Be discriminating and choose worthwhile prospects. telephone call or email must reach the right person. explaining what you offer and what you can do.open. Prove that they need your abilities and would benefit from your expertise. The effective job-seeker must tap the hidden market by making speculative approaches to prospective employers. 2. Be prepared to negotiate. teaching. perhaps to arrange a meeting through a secretary.4. Economic. To find out more. Check with the organisation to make sure that names. Convince employers that you have exactly the skills they need to solve their business problems. Each approach must be tailor made and will take time to prepare. You’re not asking for a job or hoping there might be a vacancy. Turnover. Yellow Pages. and how you would improve. Be prepared to fit in with the employer’s availability. 2. • Give a specific reason for contact Have a peg to hang your letter on. Research the organisation. Familiarise yourself with its problems and needs. promotion and retirement continually create new job opportunities. If a fulltime appointment isn’t practical. com) • Specialist trade directories for different occupational areas. technological and organisational change always affect employment patterns.

5 Applying for advertised jobs Many jobs are of course advertised and here we look at where. Make a note of the advertising patterns: you will find that most of the quality daily papers (The Times. You will find links to national and regional papers from www. and familiarise yourself with the kinds of advertisement placed in each paper. always follow the instructions given.5 below. there’s no point in sending a CV.4.4. Independent. Make the most of it. • develop further contacts to expand your network.uk/links/occupations 2.ac. You may have to do some detective work if the advertisement doesn’t give a telephone number. 40 To find out more. Making speculative contacts can pay off in several ways. At the start. as recruiters seldom place their advertisements more than once. If you are an OU student. 2. trade and professional journals Professional associations Recruitment agencies Executive search firms In all these cases.uk/ careers and to the section entitled ‘Moving on’ and look at the ‘Advertised Jobs’ and ‘Virtual Employer Fair’ pages.4. During holiday periods.6 Replying to advertised jobs If you reply to an advertisement. and responses may be slow and few. Financial Times) advertise certain kinds of work on particular days of the week.open. Use these meetings to get more information about the job market.4 Networking In the 2003/4 Destination of Leavers Survey. you may be offered a meeting.open. If it says write. ‘Networking’ is the systematic use of personal contacts to: • gather information about an industry or company • discover hidden jobs. or to concentrate on particular companies just because they appeal to you. Even if you have no luck with a particular employer.ac. after an initial refusal. We will deal with networking in more detail in Section 2. For now. start planning early in your job search. Daily Telegraph. At first. 21 per cent of OU students reported that they had got their job as a result of personal contacts and networking. Here you will find links to jobs notified to the OU Careers Service and access to other UK wide and local vacancies. The best place to consult newspapers and journals is your local library or online if you have access to the internet. advertising is reduced.prospects. Local and regional papers sometimes concentrate their job advertisements on Thursdays. Each rejection may be one step nearer to the job you want. 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. 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. • Persevere Occasionally persistence will pay off and. it may seem a little strange to seek out hidden jobs. go to www.7 Newspapers and journals You will find many job vacancies advertised in newspapers and specialist or trade journals. But experience supports the practical wisdom of doing so. Many employers send very poor information. whom you can convince of your qualities as a candidate. visit our website at www. Each employer you see is a new contact. telephone or email for an application form. Remember every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes’! • • • • • The internet Newspaper. August to mid-September and December. Because advertising in national newspapers is costly. but their relatively high advertising rates tend to restrict the salary range to the higher end.com 2. If you’re going to make speculative approaches.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Take a long-term view It takes time to build up a mailing list. look for sources through www.4. Make a note of advertising patterns in your local press. 2. 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. or none at all. you may need to look at them every day. The big Sunday papers advertise a variety of jobs.thepaperboy. Guardian. the day on which most papers are sold.uk/careers . about the job advertised or the selection methods they use. especially in particular companies • get an introduction to a key decision-maker in a company.ac. you may be referred or recommended to another. Show initiative by telephoning or emailing if you need to know more. 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.

and in some areas of employment (such as medical sales) they are almost the standard source of recruits.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2.4.open. They often act for small to medium-sized employers that have no personnel or recruitment departments of their own.8 Professional associations Many professional associations and institutions.com and in most major libraries.4. 2. usually a percentage of your first year’s salary. for example. To find out more. the British Psychological Society and the Training and Development Agency for Schools. visit our website at www. Services are free to you – the employing company is charged a fee. Addresses and other details are in the Directory of British Associations at www. have a regional education or training officer and sometimes specialist careers adviser whom you can contact.uk/careers 41 . Remember that it’s there to fill its clients’ posts. Many specialise in particular kinds of work or industry. though. not to help you sort out your career plans. about what the agency is offering you.ac.9 Recruitment agencies Recruitment agencies tend to deal with lowerlevel salaried positions.cbdresearch. Some produce yearbooks and lists of members. Be clear.

or when commercial confidentiality is essential. Always try to cross-check information. While they are important in the market place. or are marketable enough to fit something that might turn up in the future. Although some firms deal only with positions above £50. They get most of their fee whether the employer hires their candidates or not.uk/careers . You can also receive the Prospects Graduate Digital magazine.strath. As noted above. so if you apply to a large firm operating in many locations you need to send your CV to all of them. You can search for agencies by geographical location and by type of work from their website at: www.rec.ac. specialist IT skills. The average search firm has only three or four consultants.ac.uk/graduatejobsearch/ index. You can access this at: www. • Websites sometimes go online while still under development. Most consultants limit interviews and initially are likely to carry out a telephone screening with you. If you decide to use a search firm. edited by Patricia Leighton. Further resources Look at the following website developed by Strathclyde University Careers Service which directs job seekers to vetted job websites. There are also opportunities to ‘post’ your CV on the web. • Contingency firms are paid only when the company hires someone they have presented. published annually by Kogan Page. their role is limited by the high fees they charge to employers (typically 30–35 per cent of annual salary).ac.com • The Recruitment and Employment Confederation is the national association for the recruitment and staffing industry.careers.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. Some employers let more than one contingency firm work on a particular job. They receive enormous numbers of CVs and often don’t bother to acknowledge them. they can be a useful source of information about how you were received by the client. They tend to be used for jobs that are at a high level or require scarce specialist skills for example. visit our website at www.uk/links/MyProspects 42 To find out more.uk. If they send you to an interview they’ll want to know how things went. You can find this at: www. Many sites change rapidly and there are no guarantees about the accuracy of the information displayed. and your personal details may become public property. send a CV and covering letter.4. You can find addresses of search firms in The Daily Telegraph’s Recruitment Handbook. You could find yourself treated like a trading commodity. 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.html You can also register free on My Prospects. • It’s sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees – not everyone has a brilliant web designer. Sometimes contingency firms will distribute your CV widely in the hope of generating new business.open.badenochandclark.000.11 The internet Most jobs are now advertised on the internet through national websites directly associated with particular careers. Remember that: • Websites may not always deliver what they promise. Bear in mind that not all sites offer confidentiality. search firms may deal with a limited type of vacancy.com Consultants often don’t share information with one another. They seldom divulge information about their clients. Try to make sure you use vetted or recommended websites only to post your CV. They are of two main kinds: • Fee/assignment firms are given sole charge of a particular search. They may interview you and construct a pen picture to go with your CV.prospects. if the website’s main interest is simply to capture personal details and sell on a CV.10 Executive search firms There are more than 200 executive search firms in the UK. they’re worth considering if you have skills that are in short supply – accountancy is a particular example. they prefer to receive a CV to judge whether you fit what they have on their books at that moment. similarly. 2. and always include details of your former salary and the range you’re looking for. Most graduate recruiters now recruit online as well as using other methods. 2. As a result. 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.4.

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

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

uk Search facility with links to regional.org.5.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Note in your career file what preparation you want to make at this point.uk Charity People www.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. outline how you tackled it and state what results you got.com allows you to search by occupation and location.5.org.com/uk/ Local Government Jobs at www.org. Further resources For further information and resources go to the OU Careers Advisory Service website at www.jobs.csv. 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. Be critical over matters of style.employeevolunteering.charitypeople. 2.prospects.charityjob. ac.thepaperboy. hobbies. Includes non graduate jobs on this site www.ac. and prune ruthlessly.com Job Centre vacancies are online at www. Go to www.uk along with links to information about New Deal initiatives. Local centres seek to place people into suitable voluntary work – meals on wheels.uk Citizens Advice www. • 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.uk Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) www.ac. etc.uk Do-it-: search this database for a wide range of volunteering opportunities in the UK. A speculative letter will need many drafts in order to polish it.citizensadvice. visit our website at www. membership.uk/careers.uk Community Service Volunteers www. etc.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.do-it. Your letter must list accomplishments that correspond to these reasons.lgjobs.connexions-direct. From here you can link to the various volunteer bureaus for your areas of the UK www.uk/careers 45 .uk CR Search and Selection www.5 Drawing up your letter When it comes to drawing up a letter. 2. etc.org. national and international newspapers www.gov. In addition.uk The European Volunteer Centre www.open. Use it to mention an achievement related to the job you’re seeking and strike a chord of need in the reader. grammar and layout. For example.co. To find out more.crsearch. 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.cev.ac. If you are a student. you may find the following websites helpful for exploring opportunities to work with charities and voluntary organisations: Charity Job www. You will also find links to professional bodies and related sites from the ‘Broad Career Areas’ within the above site.) 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.org.vso.uk Employee Volunteering www.open.co.co.htm lists member organisations for EU countries including the UK and Ireland.) Dates Salary Copies of references • The first paragraph is crucial. describe a relevant problem.be/members.jobcentreplus. • Get someone else to check your spelling. Section 4 ‘Getting the job’ offers advice to help you with the practical side of drawing up a letter to accompany a CV.

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?

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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.

Money Financial resources


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?

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


ac.uk/careers .open. What actions would help you to reduce their effects? You’ve now listed actions you can take towards your goals. Make the most of resources Look at the resources you underlined.3 Look first at the example below. Each restriction is set against a helping resource. 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.3 Balance helpful resources against restrictions Now look back to the restrictions and resources you listed.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3. visit our website at www. 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. giving a balanced picture of the situation. but there’s more to do. The next activity will help with this. You now need to consider each of your goals in terms of all the resources that could be helpful or cause restrictions. It was produced by someone who wanted to apply for promotion.2.1 are the most important? Underline them. What actions would help you to make the most of them? Minimise restrictions Now look at the restrictions you underlined. Activity 3. 50 To find out more.

open. Look at the example. To find out more. visit our website at www.uk/careers 51 . 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 3. You should also be clear about the main helping forces and problems you need to deal with.3 continued Bring actions and resources together List the resources that can help you to carry out each step. 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.ac. ‘No experience of managing budgets’ was listed as a problem.

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

open. then fill in your own plan on the following page.4 Showing a worked example of an action plan Look at the worked example below. 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. visit our website at www.Activity 3.uk/careers Tomorrow Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 53 .g.ac.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. weekly Find someone else keen to do it To find out more.

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

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

04 .

Chief Executive. 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.open.3 4. teamworking and problem solving.1 4. Director-General. In addition to working hard to gain a good degree. Equally importantly perhaps.’’ Digby Jones. Employers are looking for more than just technical skills and knowledge of a degree discipline. Confederation of British Industry. it shows you how these specific skills can be developed: To find out more. 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.6 4.uk/careers 57 .’’ Carl Gilleard.1 What do employers look for in graduates? ‘‘A degree alone is not enough.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Getting the job In this section 4. Table 4.ac.4 4. 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’. They particularly value skills such as communication. 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. Job applicants who can demonstrate that they have developed these skills will have a real advantage.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. Together they make up what is referred to as ‘employability skills’. visit our website at www.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.5 4.2 4.

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

you need to analyse the information you already have. 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.) To find out more. They’re usually set out under headings such as experience. • Salary Usually a good guide to the level of qualifications and experience required. nobody will do it for you! 4. but be prepared when you do. visit our website at www. as the contact will form an impression of you from the very beginning. so you need to consider how you can show that you meet the requirements. and be honest about whether your personality and needs match what the employer wants. flamboyant. Remember to use this evidence when you apply for jobs! If you don’t shout about it. 4. 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. For example. (It might help to refer to Section 1. Analyse each noun and adjective for its implications. As we show here. • Location and geographical mobility How far would you travel each day? Would you consider moving house? If you need to travel around.uk/careers 59 . or even in the face of resistance. 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.ac. do you need a driving licence.open. What are you looking for. attention seeking? What does this tell you about the organisation? What is the vocabulary used to describe the organisation – ‘dynamic’. before finding out more about the position. you need to try and match yourself to the requirements of the job to judge whether or not you want to apply for it. qualifications and personal qualities. Now you want to make sure you have a ‘match’. but you have to be aware of the going rate for that occupation. So. The advert should specify what the employer is looking for. • Prospects What opportunities are there for advancement in this job? The employer may be looking for evidence of your willingness and ability to progress. Look at your advertisement and analyse it under these headings: • Style and language What’s the general style of the advertisement – formal. but may also mean that no training is provided.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook The requirements an employer sets out in a job advertisement are likely to be much more specific. Rehearse your introduction and be prepared for the question. ‘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. it’s important to see how you can use it to develop your skills and experience. Find out what this will mean in practice.2. 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. low key.1 Matching the requirements Once you’ve analysed your advertisement. 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.2 Matching vacancies You’ve seen a vacancy advertised that you’d like to apply for. First of all you need to read between the lines. ‘committed self starter’ could imply that there’ll be little supervision. ‘What would you like to know about us?’ Be ready to highlight your suitability for the post. If the opportunities seem limited. even a brief newspaper advertisement can reveal a great deal of useful information.

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

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

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

You can often use the same material. Some jobs may require subject-specific knowledge (e. Be positive and honest. ideally get someone else to check rather than relying on a spell checker. another someone you’ve worked for who can write about you as an employee. • Make a copy of your completed form so that you can re-read it before the interview. 4. and Course Guides for the courses that you have studied and pick out the kinds of skills that the course aimed to develop. You may be able to look back at the course descriptions To find out more. If you are a student. Learning outcomes will give you some help in mapping out the skills and achievements that you gained during OU study. • Make a note of the job you’ve applied for. one should be an academic referee. If possible. but mention any part-time or voluntary work you did during that period.4 When you’ve completed the form • Check it thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors. go to the sections on ‘Personal and Career development’ and ‘Moving on’.open. ‘I worked as a volunteer classroom assistant for three years’ rather than ‘I love children’). Generalised waffle convinces no one. Your regional centre can provide you with a confidential reference – name the Regional Director as the referee. Always send it by first class post. If appropriate. give fuller details of your course than you would if it’s not particularly relevant. to be a teacher) while some put emphasis on transferable skills (which you dealt with in Section 1. Use the ‘any other information’ section to draw attention to activities and qualities not covered elsewhere on the form.2.3. handling money. working under pressure. Make the most of these skills as well as your academic success. It is up to you to pick these out from your own experience so that you can present this on an application form.uk/careers 63 . in your use of personal pronouns). and keep them well briefed so that they can write supportive references. Give evidence and avoid bland generalities (e. working odd hours. Tailor your responses to the post you’re applying for. and the date you sent it. flexibility and time management skills.g. you can stress the personal qualities and skills that OU study demands. • Use an envelope of suitable size so that the form isn’t folded.ac.open. say so. Inaccuracy in one section can raise doubts about other areas of the form. interesting and personal (say ‘I’. They can help you identify the subject-specific knowledge and transferable skills you have acquired during each course. Be convincing. 4. the name and address of the person you sent the form to. If you want to do this in a more structured way.ac. self-discipline.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.g. not ‘we’). Use positive language. give their full titles and status.5 above) and some look for a mixture of both.g. Usually. You’ll need to adapt your answers to the questions you find.3. Leave no unexplained gaps in your employment record. Every employer values determination. These may have been expressed as learning outcomes. If you’ve been unemployed. dealing with members of the public. or not more than once. visit our website at www. Get your referees’ agreement before giving their names. interests and skills the employer is looking for) Make your points relevant. You’ll rarely find the perfect application form that exactly suits your background and experience. Make sure you’ve been consistent in style (e. ask someone else to look over your application before you send it. Look at Section 6 if you are or have been an offender. It’ll also take some of the tedium out of tackling other forms.uk/careers.3 Skills you have attained as an OU student As an Open University student. for several applications. there are a number of resources in the Careers Advisory Service website at www. If you’re applying for a job related to your degree subject. 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. • Look over the presentation. with a little editing.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. Practise answering the typical questions in the next activity.

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

Bear this in mind when you design your own CV. For more information on CVs.4. visit our website at www. You want to make sure that you present yourself positively and accurately. This is only likely to work if you always apply for the same function in several very similar organisations. some professions. your CV doesn’t need to conform to a set format.7 below. When you have work experience that is directly relevant. 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.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. Employers expect you to show that you’re responding to their own advertisements. you need to make a decision about the kind of CV to use as most employers will not specify. To find out more. So. as well as the work I want? There’s no right or wrong way to write a CV. The advantage of a CV is that you get to decide what information to include and highlight. However.open. 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). say. look at what the expectations might be. some job areas have expectations that a particular kind of CV is submitted. look at: www. (So you may in fact be doing just that.4 The curriculum vitae (CV) Like an application form. go to the OU Careers Advisory Service website and choose the ‘Moving on’ section if you are a student at: www. You can tailor the style.ac.4. For example. Be prepared then to spend a considerable amount of time on creating and reworking an effective document. When researching jobs.uk/careers 65 . a financial institution or a local authority might have an adverse effect. To use the same approach for.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. Instead. prefer CVs in a chronological format. For instance.4. such as the legal profession. when it comes to preparing your CV. it should be flexible enough to allow modification to match the job you’re seeking. it’s most important that you keep in mind that one ‘all-purpose’ CV will not be much use to you.uk/careers Alternatively.4. 4.prospects. 4.ac. For most jobs. 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. 4.1 The importance of tailoring your CV However. it is useful to highlight this in a separate section as it draws attention to it.open. so you have more control over the impression it will create.4 – 4. In addition. not sending out a batch of identical CVs to a list of companies you found in the Yellow Pages. for tips and example CVs. Whichever format you choose. a CV is primarily intended to make the recruiter think it worthwhile interviewing you.2 What style of CV? The general style of the CV should depend on the sector or organisation it’s addressed to.) And you can reinforce this impression by tailoring the covering letter. and what to leave out or minimise. an academic CV is used mainly for applying for academic posts). content and design to show off your strengths and present you in the most positive light. 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). but it must look as though you’re targeting the individual company.ac. 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.uk/links/CVwriting We also show you sample CVs in Sections 4. The right one is the one that works for you in your situation and succeeds in getting you interviews.4. 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. Most people tend to prefer one style over the others (though as you will see.

responsibilities and key achievements.4. visit our website at www. However. if you’ve changed jobs frequently.uk/careers . 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. the disadvantages to a chronological CV are that any gaps in your employment stand out. As a result. The chronological CV Malcolm Lewis 16 London Road Portsmouth PO9 6AL Tel.ac.com Profile An experienced. In addition. it isn’t always easy to spot key achievements or skills which might get ‘buried’ under different job titles.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. showing the name of each employer. looking for an opportunity to take on wider responsibilities within the industry. beginning with the most recent. where you worked. highly motivated CIMA professional with in-depth knowledge of the financial services and strong team-working skills. • It has for many years been recognised as a standard approach to CVs. the period you were employed. This lists jobs by date. • It allows prospective employers to see very quickly how an individual has progressed and increased responsibility. The advantages of a chronological CV are: • It can be very easy to produce./fax 01903 562366 email mcrlewis@wizard. your job title(s). 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. with a chronological CV.

uk/careers 67 .open. Physics. staff appraisal course Additional skills IT skills: competent in the use of Microsoft Office and SAGE financial management software.ac. History.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. Chemistry. French Training 1990–95 Passed all stages of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants examinations Various short professional courses In-house interviewing. English. 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. 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. interviewed clients. handled cash Education 2001–2005 The Open University 1995–2000 The Open University Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Professional Diploma in Management.

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

01233 364721 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. particularly scuba diving. CB10 3QY Tel. On return to Britain. 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. 01223 599886 Regional Director The Open University in the East of England 12 Hills Road Cambridge. I took a ‘year out’ to travel the world and consider my future. CB2 1PF Tel. visit our website at www. Full driving licence Referees Mrs Joan Whitaker Director of Quality Assurance Continental Kitchens Ltd 12–16 London Road Cambridge.uk/careers 69 . I gained employment as a research technician and applied to study part time with The Open University. I took time out of work to raise a family. Mathematics (D) 8 GCSEs Grove Comprehensive School Leicester 1986–1992 Additional information After ‘A’ levels. I have been interested in watersports since school. 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). My other interests include cycling and mountaineering.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. From 1995–99.ac.

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

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

uk/careers . This was a broad-based degree in biochemistry with the second year spent studying at Oregon State University.4. immunology. and physiology.MSc in Immunology (distinction) 2001– 2002 Dissertation project: ‘Neutrophil spontaneous apoptosis is mediated through the acid sphingomyelinase dependent generation of ceramide. MK6 3DY Tel. analysis and working to deadlines. • If you are a postgraduate or research student who is applying for a job outside academia.uk EDUCATION The Open University .open.ac. such as communication.7 The academic CV For academic jobs in universities. James Project synopsis: Adapted. you should do this without using any subject-specific jargon so that it is understandable to the employer. depending on what you are applying for.co. transplantation biology and cell adhesion. Supervisors: Professor R.’ Modules studied included: tolerance and autoimmunity. genetics. USA. academic CVs are often longer than other types of CV. you should consider a chronological.BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (first class) 1998– 2001 Dissertation project: ‘Autoimmunity: A genetic perspective. Jordan and Dr. In presenting your research. 72 To find out more. Milton Keynes. skills or targeted CV. These CVs place more emphasis on the subject matter of the degree and/or research and on the knowledge and achievements gained. D. microbiology. haemopoietic cell differentiation and malignancies.PhD in Medicine 2002–2005 Thesis Title: The regulation of leukocyte migration away from the subendothelial compartment.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. visit our website at www. Identified phenotypic alterations in T-cell subpopulations following migration through an endothelialfibroblast bilayer. Systematically investigated the role of soluble mediators and adhesive interactions in the survival of neutrophils following transendothelial migration. Because of this. You should also include three referees rather than two. University of Manchester . 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. 07900 543 21 E-mail: h. 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. validated and implemented a “novel” assay to investigate leukocyte migration and survival. Remember to emphasise the transferable skills that you have developed in undertaking higher level study. oncology.’ Modules studied included: cell biology. The Academic CV Hilary Michelle McArthur 18 Poole Avenue. it is expected that candidates (for academic jobs such as lecturer and postdoctoral research posts) will produce an academic CV.mcarthur@yahoo. • Remember to include examples of the skills that you have developed through your research. University of Salford .

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

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

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

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

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

A CV will usually require more of an introduction.open. 4. Always include a covering letter unless the employer specifically tells you not to. The second letter accompanies a CV in response to a newspaper advertisement. usually accompanied by your CV. It should enhance your application. Two examples of covering letters are set out overleaf. what you’re studying. without duplicating what’s on the application form. you’ll know that to make a speculative approach you have to present your case in a letter. Stress how you think the organisation can benefit from employing you. send a brief follow-up letter or telephone to make sure that it’s been received. • When writing to a named individual. on the lefthand side. Keep a copy of your letter. end ‘Yours faithfully’. The first is a speculative approach asking for an advice interview from an executive the writer doesn’t know.5.3 Drafting your letter • If possible. • If there are any special circumstances not covered in the application form or CV. so make sure that the reader will want to find out more about you. So make clear who you are. • Use plain A4 paper of good quality. 78 To find out more. Ask someone else to read it – don’t rely on your computer’s spelling check. • You can use your covering letter to give additional information such as reasons for an unusual change in career. not repeat what’s on the application form or CV. If you’ve worked through Section 2 in this book. • Put your name. address. Add some other detail to reinforce your suitability.uk/careers . related experience. • Although you should be business-like. telephone number and date at the top right-hand corner and. 4. or whether vacancies will arise in the near future.5. It will usually be read first. mention them in the letter. Highlight your strongest selling points. a speculative approach is not allowed in Northern Ireland.5. such as a relevant degree. the name. • Address your letter to an individual person by name and job title. your qualifications and what you have to offer. It introduces your application and draws attention to the main factors that make you suitable for the job. • Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct.ac. then highlight the relevant points in the CV such as work experience. type or word-process your letter (though very occasionally an employer will ask for a handwritten letter).1 Applying for a job in a vacancy list or answering an advertisement Mention the job title (including any reference number). If you do have to resort to ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. where you are. job title and organisation of the person you’re writing to. 4. and when you would be able to start. such as a disability and how you overcome potential difficulties.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. end ‘Yours sincerely’. especially as it may be based on US spelling. If there’s a vacancy this will. appropriate qualification. visit our website at www. • Keep it brief – usually not more than one side of A4.5 The covering letter Your covering letter is your opportunity to market yourself. At the same time you must leave the impression that you’re someone it’s useful for the employer to know about. You’re trying to find out whether there are any vacancies. Convey clearly what kind of work you’re seeking. if done well. and that you’ve expressed yourself clearly. • Print your name clearly below your signature. Application forms often allow you reasonable scope to sell yourself and may need only a brief covering letter. Say why you want to work for that particular organisation. steer clear of stilted expressions like ‘re your advertisement of 29th July. or highlight aspects of your CV which you feel are particularly important. translate into being someone the employer ought to see.2 Applying speculatively Remember. and say where and when you saw the vacancy. interests and activities. Switchboard staff can be very helpful in supplying this information if it isn’t otherwise available. If you haven’t received an acknowledgement within two or three weeks.’ and ‘I beg to remain’.

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

I have recently taken voluntary redundancy as a consequence of a nationwide organisational restructuring programme. I have particular interest in computer-based accounting procedures and extensive staff management experience. I am a qualified accountant with substantial professional experience. I am confident that I could make a significant contribution to Fairplay Industries Ltd. Fairplay Industries Ltd. Assistant Finance Director. visit our website at www. Yours sincerely Margaret Minty 80 To find out more. Having read the detailed description of the post. I am free to relocate to another area and see this as a positive addition to my professional and personal development. 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. I look forward to hearing from you. Although I currently live in Edinburgh. and discussed specific aspects with the Finance Director over the telephone yesterday.ac.uk/careers . 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.open. Working in a team alongside other senior management colleagues.

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

or use audio or video recordings. Consult some of the books listed at the end of this booklet. Read the section on ‘Tough questions’ in Section 4. Practise speaking on the phone to a friend and ask what impression you’re making. • What are your weak spots and what do you feel uncomfortable talking about? • Why would you not employ yourself? Produce convincing counter-arguments. • Think about the interview and plan for it. • Practise by role-play with a partner. may try to ‘sell’ the job Head of a group or department A technical expert with wider managerial experience Will talk shop. find out something about the people interviewing you. Find out all you can about interviewing techniques and be ready to cope with them: • Read about the process. for insight often leads to heightened anxiety. and may not be entirely their usual selves.9 below and practise some answers out loud. Even experience as an interviewer doesn’t make for a flawless performance. within a broader organisational framework May have standard questions. How you project yourself through your social and communication skills will determine your success whenever you speak with potential employers. Try to foresee questions or situations and work out possible answers. • Review your CV. • Reflect on your experience. solutions.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. Remember that when managers interview they’re playing a role to a set of social rules. problems. If you can. into a tape recorder. Do it out loud. • Learn from observing others – take the role of interviewer with a partner. • Practise your answers in the weak areas. network contacts.uk/careers . Below we list the four main types of interviewers you may come across. Practice is essential. • Ask for comments from a partner.6.6. often astute and very sensitive Acting as internal screener. How you sound will be crucial. 82 To find out more.open.2 Before your interview • Research the job and employer thoroughly beforehand. visit our website at www. or interviewers who have rejected you. Don’t let your own stereotyping of the interviewer affect your interview technique.1 Interviewers There are as many kinds of interviewer as there are people. 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. Human resource/recruitment managers Well-trained and experienced.ac. 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. Collect as many concrete examples of things you’ve done as you can. 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. Practise some answers into a tape recorder and listen critically to yourself.6. 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. 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. 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. Evaluate your performance and incorporate the learning into your next interview.

umbrellas. . 4. friendliness and sincerity. • Arrive in good time. • Listen attentively to the questions.6. Don’t drop your voice towards the end of sentences.6. • If delayed. and if possible do a dummy run. • Remember the need for a poised.3 On the day . confident first impression. visit our website at www. If there’s no suitable literature you could telephone and ask the person on the switchboard or the secretary of the person interviewing you. . 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. or groups of characteristics – your personal. and keep your hands away from your mouth. • Speak concisely. polishing your shoes and so on. If you’re very unsure about this.5 Body language • Walk and sit with good posture. 4. It’s your task to provide evidence in your answers that demonstrates these characteristics. Show that you know the interview ‘rules’ by wearing smart clothes. which will give you clues to whether you are answering the questions and timing your replies appropriately. If in doubt ask ‘Would you like me to go on?’ • Show through your answers that you’ve done your research into the company.uk/careers 83 . allow yourself time to relax. 4. and achievment profile. • Use your natural gestures – there’s no need to look frozen! • Avoid fidgeting.open. • Don’t be overburdened with bags. look at company literature to get an idea of how people dress. • Use plain language that doesn’t confuse or divert. • Prepare some questions that you would like to ask. 4. Watch the interviewer’s behaviour. Some people need to practise this. • Don’t smoke anywhere on the premises.ac. • Convey the right amount of enthusiasm. ask for repetition or clarification. telephone. Smile! • Avoid negative statements. Avoid jargon. • Speak clearly. so that if it doesn’t feel right you’ve got time to change your plans.6. • Don’t fold your arms. and judge when you’ve said enough. the interviewer will be working to a mental model consisting of three related profiles.6.6 Answering questions Whatever the nature of the job. clichés. Dress appropriately for the culture. Try the whole outfit some days before. • Maintain good eye-contact with the person you’re speaking to. papers. • Remember to take a copy of your application with you.4 How you sound • Sound as if you have confidence in yourself. warmth. • Don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Plan travel and arrival times. Conservative dress is more likely to pay off than flamboyance. • Shake hands firmly and briefly. A lucid style is a transparent window on the content. • Decide what to wear. professional.

• Standing up while talking can make you sound more confident. You hear a list of statements and press a number on the telephone keypad to indicate your response.6. Here are some tips to help you through them followed by some examples and how to approach them.6. marketing or telesales staff. ‘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. ‘What if the policy changed to carrying more freight by rail?’ In reply be methodical. often with a technical content.g. e. 4. as you would when talking to someone face to face.uk/careers . write a letter asking for some constructive comment by telephone. You’re taken through a series of questions that are recorded and analysed by trained interviewers. • Some candidates dress in the clothes they would wear to an interview to put themselves in the right frame of mind. 4. If you can show that you know what they’re getting at. keep your answer simple and short. take time and keep to the point. This reinforces recollections of you. The questions are 84 To find out more. or monotonous or tentative? • Don’t forget to smile when you’re talking on the telephone.ac. there may be other positions coming up. • Try to show that you understand why the interviewers have asked you the question. you’ll tend not to listen so acutely. The advice that follows about personal interviews below applies just as much to telephone interviews. ‘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. • Structured: a mutually convenient time is fixed in advance for the interview. There’s some general advice about using the telephone effectively in Section 2. • Screening: you’re questioned on various aspects of your CV to decide whether you’ll be invited to a personal interview. visit our website at www. e.open. state assumptions you’re making.’ • Hypothetical questions test speed and quality of thought.g. Ask for the question to be repeated. • In response to embarrassing – rather than simply tough – questions. 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). • A sales exercise: you’re given an opportunity to sell a product over the phone. 4. ‘Tell me about the three years you spent studying with The Open University. When you’ve answered. 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. In general: • If you feel yourself under pressure. Look through the next examples – you’re bound to come up against some of them in one form or another. This technique is used for recruiting sales.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. They do this in several ways: • Fully automated: you receive a letter giving a freephone telephone number to ring.9 Tough questions Everyone has a different perception of what constitutes a tough question. stop and leave it at that.7 After the interview • Think about the questions and your answers. you’re half way to giving an appropriate answer.g. and say where you’d need more information. Even if you’re unsuccessful this time. The smile won’t be seen but it can be heard.g. e.8 Interviews by telephone Increasing numbers of companies are using the telephone in the first stage of the interviewing process. at the employer’s convenience.6. Pause for thought If you fail to plan. you plan to fail. 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. • If you’re rejected.

Describe how you’ve adapted to different subcultures you’ve encountered by doing different jobs in your career. Q A A Q A Q A To find out more.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. Draw on examples from the three profiles – personal. Use phrases like ‘learning a valuable lesson’ rather than admitting to making a mistake. conscientiousness) to end on a positive note. Remember that this question isn’t simply about your factual history so don’t give too much detail.g. Or explain how you had a weakness (e. emotional stability. Q A How much are you worth? Try to delay answering this until you know the responsibilities and scope of the job. wellreasoned argument for your choice of this new kind of work. Having worked for one company for so long. or pair one with something that can be turned from a weakness into a strength (e. Tell me about yourself.ac. credibility with clients. visit our website at www. and the typical salary ranges. Include any particular characteristics that you feel relate to the job. the fresh perspective of Q an outsider. Try to restrict yourself to four or five as too long a list will confuse the interviewer.g. Add a balanced. time management) but have taken action to overcome it. Draw attention to the possibilities of bringing in skills or experience that the company would benefit from. You could also provide evidence of being a quick learner.uk/careers 85 . professional and achievement – we discussed in ‘Answering questions’ above to produce a rounded picture. for example: Early years (if appropriate) Education Work experience Significant events Keep your answer short (three to four minutes). 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. Q A What are your weaknesses? Don’t claim to be faultless! Most strengths taken to the extreme become weaknesses.open. Then express your motivation and drive. This question needs practice. Either choose one that isn’t particularly significant. 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. freedom from childcare. to counter any thoughts that you might simply be looking for a refuge. and the ‘political’ gains of instigating change through appointing an outsider. Why should you be appointed rather than an internal candidate? This is an invitation to list your main strengths. Isn’t it a bit late in your working life to change career? It is perhaps unlikely that you would be asked this. Mention your previous salary and any financial commitments that lead you to raise or lower your expectations. Negotiations like this might seem strange to you if your only experience is of fixed salary scales. Cover relevant aspects of your life. domestic stability. Concentrate on the many positive features of your greater maturity: experience of life and work. 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. coaching and mentoring skills.

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

If you are asked to attend an assessment centre. Because assessment centres are more thorough. • 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. education. as well as interviews and psychometric tests. are increasing their use of additional tools. in any combination.g. • 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.open. aware that interviews have many shortcomings.7. group discussions. medium and long-term goals? • Why have you decided to change careers? • What are the main challenges facing (e. but a technique (a mixture of tests. exercises and interviews) for recruiting new employees. 4.g. 4.uk/careers 87 .7 Other selection techniques Larger employers.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 4. this company…) today? Do you feel well equipped to meet those challenges? • None of your experience is at managerial level. here are some general guidelines: • Don’t be intimidated. particularly at graduate level.ac. 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.1 Assessment centres This approach has been defined as ‘the use of any selection device. You would normally find out about the way an organisation uses these by researching their recruitment literature or website. they are fairer to you. All the other candidates will be nervous too. 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. and why? • Do/did you have any frustrations in your present/last job? • What did you learn from (e. this job. 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.4 Here are some more examples of interviewers’ questions to think through yourself. in-tray exercises and the like. To find out more. what do/did you spend most time on. One such tool is the use of assessment centres – these are not places. visit our website at www. It can include situational activities. 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. • 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.g. beyond the interview’. the Health Service.

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

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

colleagues are ill. medical tests cover sight. just like a real one. if you’re asked to submit a demonstration piece.7. means that details of an individual’s history are correlated with the biographical details of others who have succeeded in the same occupation. You’re likely not to know that graphology is being used. with appropriate levels of formality and informality in your responses. So.open. judgement.7. remind the group if necessary. You may be allowed to use the floor if the desk isn’t big enough.7.uk/careers .10 Medical tests The job advertisement or person specification should state clearly whether a certain level of physical fitness is required. By taking the trouble to reflect and to prepare. take care over presentation as well as content. for example. organisation.7 Graphology Graphology . Intervene if there’s loss of direction. colour perception and hearing. The qualities most likely to be assessed are analysis. some employers ask candidates to submit a handwritten piece on a management topic. other than statistical correlation. • Remain balanced in your judgement.ac. set timescales. Signal in your comments that you’ve spotted these links.analysis of handwriting – is used a lot for managerial selection in continental Europe. you’ll be maximising your chance of success. or conflict between the other participants. Best marks are obtained by candidates who produce the largest volume of appropriate written output. Don’t just put your head down and plough through the lot. particularly in France. and between intrays if there’s more than one. and that can be a clue. A cleverly constructed in-tray will generate emotional responses that can cloud decision-making. The biographical data need not have any recognised link with performance.7. even if you’re not asked to do so. 4.8 Biodata analysis ‘Biodata’. Related tests of ‘potential for proficiency’ (trainability) assess characteristics such as hand–eye coordination.g.7. visit our website at www. or 90 words per minute wordprocessing. Evidence offers little support for its use as a predictor of performance. not on what went through your head. it’s Saturday afternoon). a contraction of ‘biographical data’. but is a controversial technique in the UK. Make a point of discussing your strategy and interpretation of the group discussion with the interviewer later. • If the first part of the exercise asks you to set priorities.9 Proficiency tests These tests are used to find out whether candidates have the skills they claim – 120 words per minute shorthand. • Look for links within an in-tray. • Give reasons for your decisions. but they’re not as detailed or as accurate as information gathered from psychometric tests and exercises. 4. use your diary and your secretary well. If you have to reach a decision within thirty minutes.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Mentally ‘stand back’ occasionally and evaluate what’s happening. They’re usually set in an unrealistic scenario that prevents you from talking to other people in the organisation (e. make sure that it’s permitted. Studies indicate that graphologists can produce generalised personality descriptions. make reporting and follow-up clear. 4. Staffing issues are most likely to spring this trap. decisionmaking. Most candidates find these tests tough. abroad. • Don’t be discouraged. Information may be collected from the standard application form. However. Treat the whole exercise like real life. follow this up by tackling the items according to those you set. A well constructed test in-tray will contain distracting trivia. • Read the instructions carefully and plan your time accordingly. and may take time. • Keep a careful eye on the time. As well as general fitness. Pause for thought Getting the job you want is always a challenge. but often a special form is needed.6 In-tray exercises These simulations of the administrative aspects of a job can be very taxing. 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. 4. 4. If you like to work like that. How to go about it: • It may be possible to take the in-tray apart and sort it into heaps. and ability to communicate in clear English. 90 To find out more. • You can be judged only on what you’ve written down.

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

05 .

and you will often see this highlighted in job advertisements.2 5.uk/careers 93 . In this section we highlight some of the additional challenges that may be faced by students and graduates. Each section includes a discussion of some of the issues you may encounter. visit our website at www. before or during an interview will be considered later in Section 5. For more information and links on job-seeking strategies when facing discrimination.1 5.ac. Many employers have well-developed equal opportunities policies to help them to recruit a diverse workforce.prospects. the same principles of career planning and job seeking apply to everyone. the legal position. To find out more.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. 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.6 5. some organisations aim specifically to recruit a workforce that reflects the community they serve.open.5 5.4 5. The issues of whether. on your application form.3 5. However.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Equality and Diversity Issues In this section 5. strategies to help you in your job search and further resources that you may find helpful. when or how you should do so.ac. there is evidence that certain groups of people are at a disadvantage and may experience difficulty in achieving their career aims. In fact. on a covering letter. go to www.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.

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

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

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

ac. you will need to consider the method and timing.employers-forum. 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. • Information on employers in your area who are Disability Symbol users.3. If you give false information and an employer finds out the truth later.uk or look up Jobcentre Plus in the Yellow Pages. Access to Work – a Jobcentre Plus programme (see below) can provide support for you in a job.gov. • Don’t restrict your applications only to employers who are keen to recruit disabled people. the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 entitles you to take your case to a tribunal. • • • • • To find out more.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. You should always point this out to employers. the DEA can provide advice to you and your employer and explore practical ways to help you keep your job. look for employers who make these kinds of positive statements even if they don’t use the disability symbol. • 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. look at the website: www. 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. • Perhaps you prefer not to discuss your disability with a stranger. • Referral if needed to an occupational psychologist. 5. training and self-employment.co. not what you can’t.3. If you’re concerned about losing the job you’re already in for a reason associated with disability. 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.jobcentreplus. you risk losing your job. • You might feel that you will be discriminated against and rejected straight away. though you may find it helpful to talk it over with a careers adviser at your regional centre. • Referral where appropriate to a work preparation programme. So. • You may think that an employer will automatically see you as a potential expense. However. For instance. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 5. visit our website at www. Services the DEAs can offer include: • An employment assessment to identify what work or training suits you best. 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. it may fund specialist equipment or transport costs. • Don’t assume that an employer will view your disability in a negative way. When you apply for jobs and you are considering whether to disclose your disability: • Always focus on what you can do.uk Each is committed to creating and developing opportunities for people with disabilities. Specialist DEAs can discuss your current employment situation with you to plan the best way into work. If you declare your disability and believe that you have been discriminated against during the application process.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. your coping strategies. If you do decide to disclose your disability. Many application forms ask about disability and health. • A job matching and referral service. There are now over 400 member companies in the Employers’ Forum on Disability www. To find your nearest Jobcentre Plus office. Many employers have equal opportunities policies.uk/careers 97 .open. The majority of disabled jobseekers who find work through Jobcentre Plus are assisted by a disability employment adviser (DEA). You must make your own judgement. You will be able to describe things in a positive light – your strengths.

we still find gender discrimination in the workplace. or • work that is proved to be of equal value. this can help you in presenting yourself in your application for work.diversityworks. 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. There is a lot of discussion about the ‘glass ceiling’ that prevents women from achieving ‘top jobs’. yes: despite the work of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). education. (You might also want to check whether a prospective employer has an equal opportunities policy. If you check on the legal situation.uk Diversity Works at: www. and in employment. which came into force in the UK on 6 April 2003.open.uk/careers .adp.ac.4 Gender/sex Does it make a difference if you are a man or a woman when applying for a job? Unfortunately.ac. the necessity for a work/life balance is highlighted by the legal right for mothers and fathers of children under 6.disabled-entrepreneurs. published by AGCAS and available online at: www.org.scope. academics involved in work placements and prospective employers: www.open. and in fact.4. 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. • Information on local and national disability organisations of and for disabled people.skill. 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. or • work rated as equivalent under an analytical job evaluation study. The EPA applies to England. June 2003.org. and graduate case studies. and disabled children under 18. 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.uk A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. It also prohibits discrimination in employment against married people.disabilitytoolkits. needing time off work for parenting duties. • Details about work-based learning for adults. It’s important that you are aware of the issues concerning sex and gender discrimination – at both recruitment stage. facilities and services and in the disposal or management of premises. where the man and the woman are doing • like work.) Other equality issues that you might encounter include harassment at work. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) prohibits sex discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment. Times are changing: for instance. www. There is also an interactive web-based service providing dedicated information. to request flexible working. and the provision of goods. The OU provides information about DSAs on the website at: www. 5.uk/careers 5.ac.open. 98 To find out more.prospects.1 Your rights (The following information is from the EOC website. advice and resources for students with disabilities. Look in the ‘A-Z’ under ‘Disability’ for further resources. visit our website at www. available for reference in each regional centre. and looking for flexible working arrangements.ac.uk Disabled Entrepreneurs Network: www. including a section on disability.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook WORKSTEP – Individual programme of support through a variety of different job opportunities – leading to unsupported employment.uk/disability Further resources Association of Disabled Professionals at: www.org.net The Open University Careers Advisory Service web pages have some useful links. includes employers’ case studies. Wales and Scotland.uk SKILL – The National Bureau for Students with Disabilities – has a large range of relevant information sources: www. If you live outside the UK you will need to check the legal position for your country of residence.ac.uk/links/Discrimination The Hobson’s guide for Disabled Students – This is a free annual publication for disabled students.

• Increase the number of women in public life. The EOC campaigns to: • Close the pay gap between women and men. Further resources Equal Opportunities Commission at: www.prospects. • Discuss your application with a careers adviser in your regional centre.numberten. However. The EPA has been interpreted to cover indirect sex discrimination as well as direct discrimination. 5.uk No.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. The SDA applies to women and men of any age. • End sexual harassment at work. • Secure comprehensive equality legislation in Europe.eoc. although there is not yet any legal authority on this point.5 How to help yourself in the job market So. 5. including children and prohibits direct and indirect sex discrimination.co.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. and this will help to counter any negative stereotypes that may exist.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. to apply a condition or practice. This is especially important if you are looking to enter a field of employment that is traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. • Concentrate on your strengths. one type of direct sex discrimination is sexual harassment. 5. 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. a requirement to work full-time might be unlawful discrimination against women.ac.org A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. • Make it easier for parents to balance work with family responsibilities. Strict time limits apply. an unnecessary requirement to be under 5’ 10” would discriminate against men.4. 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. Therefore.uk Work life balance centre – available at: www.org. Three months (less one day) from the act of the discrimination for employment tribunal cases. • Make public services relevant to the differing needs of men and women. • Provide clear evidence of your ability to do the job. 5.4 Discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment With certain exceptions.4.6 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. there are special provisions prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment in employment. there is a good argument that the general definition of sex discrimination prohibits this.uk/links/Discrimination To find out more. Part I of the SDA describes the forms of discrimination to which the SDA applies.4. You can access this at: www. • Break free of male and female stereotypes.open. 10 – Top Careers for Women – careers publication focusing on issues relating to graduate women in the labour market. it is not justifiable. For instance. For instance. to apply that condition or practice. Scotland and Wales.4. 5. including a section on gender. Employment-related claims are brought in an employment tribunal. another is treating a woman adversely because she is pregnant. visit our website at www. Published by AGCAS and available online at: www. There are no express provisions prohibiting discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment in the other fields covered by the SDA. England.worklifebalancecentre.ac. irrespective of sex. irrespective of sex.4. There are special provisions about discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment.uk/careers 99 .

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. In general. The report proposes a fresh approach to address the many barriers that can get in the way of success in jobs and careers. So.6 How to help yourself in the job market So what can and should you do to market yourself. or work at an appropriate level to their qualifications.2 Direct racial discrimination Direct racial discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably on racial grounds than others in similar circumstances. In March 2003.5.1 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. race. despite legislation. 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 are thinking of bringing a case of racial discrimination. 5. Tony Blair. Some ethnic minority groups have done well in the education system and in the labour market. but people of every background. 5. ‘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’.uk/careers .5 Race According to research by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. for help. But too many members of ethnic minority communities are being left behind. This happens when a person is treated less favourably because they have complained about racial discrimination or supported someone else who has. If you think this has happened to you. you have the right under the amended Act to take your complaint before an employment tribunal. in 2004. you have three months to file an employment case and six months to file a case in the county court or sheriff court.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. and national or ethnic origin. and you want to prove it.5. has been treated more favourably than you. law centres.5. racial equality councils. In practice. If you think you have been discriminated against at work. in similar circumstances. 5. visit our website at www.5 Time limits Keep in mind that there are strict time limits for filing your case at an employment tribunal or court.5. to target employers. nationality (including citizenship).5. most racial discrimination in Britain is against people from minority ethnic groups. the UK government launched a new strategy to remove the barriers to employment success for job-seekers from minority ethnic backgrounds. March 2003 5. 5.ac. so don’t delay. it will help if you can give an example of someone from a different racial group who. discrimination continues to exist for students from minority ethnic groups who do meet barriers to getting work. or when applying for work. Government initiatives take time to implement however. or to one of a number of other organisations such as trade unions. If you think you have been discriminated against on racial grounds. These cover grounds of race.4 Victimisation Victimisation has a special legal meaning in the Race Relations Act. And even those individuals who achieve academic success do not necessarily reap the rewards in the workplace that their qualifications merit. colour. and you need to plan your own job-seeking strategies to maximise your opportunities. 5. you can apply to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).open. colour and nationality are protected by the law. and to challenge unfair discrimination? Here are some suggestions: 100 To find out more.5. citizens advice bureaux and other advice agencies. Racist abuse and harassment are also forms of direct discrimination.

6.6. and this will depend on your own experience and lifestyle. Find out more about the unit at: www.kalmagazine.cre.uk 5. Scotland and Wales.6.org To find out more.uk 5.ac. It holds an annual careers day for black and Asian students and graduates. that is dedicated to ethnic minority issues. universities and schools to support learners from minority ethnic groups. You can find more information at the Press for Change website (see Section 5.1 Your rights The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment.org.open.bitc. formally made illegal a whole catalogue of discrimination against transsexual people in employment. Further resources KAL – Careers publication for students from minority ethnic groups (formerly Kaleidoscopic). This relates to England. • Many employers have sub-groups for minority ethnic groups. • Check if the organisation is a member of Business in the Community (BITC) www.nmc-online. National Mentoring Consortium Unit The National Mentoring Consortium Unit works with employers.uk/links/Discrimination • Understand the relevant legal situation. students and recruiters.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. vacancies. Target employers with a reputation for good equal opportunity policy and practice. the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 came into force in the UK.uk. especially public sector and large private employers. visit our website at www.6. You can log onto their website at: www. your CV. 5.uk/careers 101 . Contact them for information on legal issues. run by BITC.gov.com 5. If the EOP is incorporated into your contract you might be able to directly rely upon it. • Discuss your plans and approach with a careers adviser in your regional centre.5. Windsor Fellowship The Windsor Fellowship is a charitable organisation that offers skills development programmes to undergraduates and graduates from minority ethnic groups. available for reference in your regional centre or at www. Race for Opportunity is a programme.uk 5.blackandasiangrad. when to. Includes job-hunting techniques. The amendments.2 Transsexuals In May 1999. For advice on finding positive employers take a look at: www. You can ask for a copy of the policy before applying for a job. which apply to the Sex Discrimination Act (1997).prospects.windsor-fellowship.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Make use of Section 4 ‘Getting the job’ to prepare your marketing tools. TeacherWorld UK TeacherWorld UK provides information and support for teachers (and those intending to teach) from minority ethnic backgrounds. plus details of work experience and career-enhancement programmes www. campaigns and services as well as vacancies in the commission Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) www.teacherworld. 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.org. • Develop contacts and make the most of your networking skills.ac. application forms and covering letters.ac. Their website is: www.6 Sexuality and sexual orientation Are you worried about possible discrimination in the workplace because of your sexuality? Whether to.4). and how much to disclose to a potential employer and to work colleagues is of course a matter of personal choice.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.

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

uk/docs/RFO_Religion. 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. if this is a concern for you. 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.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.lowpay. But how do you know this? • Look out for race equality schemes/equality and diversity policies.bitc.7.ac. someone from human resources may be able to help. it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employer doesn’t care about this. 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.uk/er/equality/eeregs Managing the New Legislation on Religion and Belief www. visit our website at www. there is very little case law at present – greater understanding of how the legislation is interpreted and practised will come with time. Further resources The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 www.uk/careers 103 . • Speak to the equality and diversity officer. unless it is a genuine occupational requirement (GOR). keep up to date on the law and your rights. • Read the information in the recruitment pack. Does it include information about equality and diversity? If not. • Look out for employee profiles on employer websites. if the organisation has one.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook If this is an area that is of concern to you.pdf To find out more. Alternatively.org. As it is recent legislation. In the meantime.gov. 5.open.


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


Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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