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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.


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

01 .

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

Note down key events. marriage. This activity can help you to gather insights that can influence your future choices. and to consider how your early history contributed to it. Example When you’ve drawn a lifeline that reflects your experiences.1 In this activity you’re going to draw a ‘lifeline’. this activity revealed to one person that all her high points were associated with praise from others and her low points with geographical moves. visit our website at www. and to discover aspects of yourself that you might want to develop or change.1 What am I like? 1. 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. 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.1.1 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. A third recognised someone else as consistently and unobtrusively acting as a mentor. 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.ac.open. Activity 1. showing high and low points at different times of your life. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. consider it as a whole. children. such as education. to help you think about the pattern of your life. You’ll be asked to refer back to your lifeline later on. Think about the feelings aroused by each experience and answer these questions. 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. You may find it useful to talk through any difficult emotions with someone you trust. retirement and so on. Moved House HIGH POINT Secondary School Qualified (production engineer) Marriage Son Became management trainee (part time study.uk/careers .

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

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

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

but your spare-time activities could help you to demonstrate skills and qualities. It’s easy to forget that leisure activities can give us as many skills and abilities as work.1.uk/careers . Remember that strengths can be built on for the future and weaknesses can be reduced by your efforts. 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. they need not be barriers to the future. Activity 1. What have you learnt about yourself? Bringing some of your answers together. personal characteristics or interests. although you may not have financial responsibilities at work you might be treasurer to your local darts team or do the audit for the youth club funds.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.open. My main strengths 1 2 3 4 5 6 My main weaknesses 1 2 3 4 5 6 12 To find out more. what would you now say are your main strengths and weaknesses? They can be skills. visit our website at www. abilities.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.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.ac.

and might be seen as ‘laid back’. How does this feel? Is it right for you or would you like to change this aspect of your life? To find out more. it’s time to think about work.uk/careers 13 . or you might avoid positions that regularly eat into your leisure time. for example if you scored –20. If you scored +20. or you may prefer something that can give you a better balance between work and home life. The next activity can help you to think about this. You might even be seen as ‘workaholic’! If you have a minus (–) score You don’t see work as the most important aspect of your life. You might be highly ambitious. You may have found yourself in a post that takes over and leaves little time for family life. but you don’t let work rule your life. you need to be clear about how important work is to you. have little concern about getting on in your career.ac. visit our website at www. If you have a more central score You keep a balance between work and leisure. the stronger your ambition.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. You have some concern about doing well and making progress. If you don’t have much experience of paid work. 1 I always aim high in my work 2 My ambition isn’t necessarily to get to the top 3 I set myself difficult goals to achieve 4 I don’t like to let work disturb my social life 5 I want to do well at whatever I’m doing 6 Being a success in life isn’t too important to me 7 I like being seen as dedicated to my job 8 I don’t like to aim too high 9 Work always comes before pleasure 10 People wouldn’t describe me as very ambitious Pause for thought Think about the way you scored in this activity.open.2 What work would suit me? Now that you’ve spent some time considering the skills and qualities you’ve developed through experience. you would always put work first and aim high in your achievements.1 How big a part of my life is work? Before considering what you want to do.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. you would put your social life before work.2. 1. Activity 1. even workaholic. At the lower end of the scale. for example. think about your approach to activities or projects. This is something that varies from person to person.

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. The activity may take some time. fundraising for a charity or involvement in a conservation project. visit our website at www. You may also have learnt from others. 4 Did you have to deal with any difficulties? 5 Which tasks or activities did you find most appealing. but it’s easy to take yourself for granted and not recognise the wide range and high level of skills and abilities you have. You will have learnt a huge amount through work (whether paid.uk/careers . 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. 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. Did you volunteer or were you directed into it? If you had some choice. Activity 1.open. either through formal appraisal or from informal comments and reactions. Many will be ‘transferable skills’ that you can use in other situations.ac. note the range of tasks or activities you had to do. and you might want to come back to it later.2. note how it came about. with dates. If you have limited or no experience of paid employment. delivering ‘Meals on Wheels’. make a similar list of unpaid or voluntary experience for example. 2 For each job. The next activity helps you to explore your experience.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.2 What work experience have I had? Most people would agree that work experience is very important when considering future directions. and will be useful when preparing for interviews (see Section 4). what factors seemed important in deciding to take it up? 3 For each job. helping readers at school.7 1 List the jobs you’ve had.

leave it blank. If work hasn’t been a major part of your life.8 Some work roles and areas of competence are listed below. Circle any that describe you particularly. visit our website at www. Activity 1. To find out more.2. 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. if it isn’t a usual role for you. apply this to whatever activity has taken up a lot of your time. Work through each role in the list.uk/careers 15 .Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.ac.3 What roles do I play at work or elsewhere? This activity should help you to become aware of the skills and experience you’ve developed through the typical roles you play at work. completing an application form or attending an interview (which you will cover in more detail in Section 4). Does it sound like you? If it comes to you easily. All the words describe positive qualities. If you’re not sure or if it’s only partly true. 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.open. put a tick beside it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interests are to do with the things you find most appealing or enjoyable.2.15 Look through these kinds of work and consider whether you would like to carry each one out.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. You will have had experience of some of them. 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. Not sure or No according to how you feel about each activity.uk/careers 27 . visit our website at www.ac.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. but only of your own preferences. you also need to consider your interests. It’s not a question of your ability or qualifications. Try to imagine whether you’d like doing the others or not. Assume that you could do the activity if you wanted to. Tick Yes. Activity 1.

ac.open.uk/careers . visit our website at www.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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1.

42. 50 Questions 6.open. 53 Questions 9. 33. 10. 35. 41. 54 To find out more. 12. 32. 49 Questions 5. 51 Questions 7. 23.ac. 38. 47 Questions 3. 13. 16. 45.15 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. 15. 14. 20.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. 52 Questions 8. 21. 26. 22. 36. 27. 40. 39. 48 Questions 4. 17. 24. 46 Questions 2. 34. 11. 30. 44. 37. 18. 19. 28. 31. 25. visit our website at www. 29. 43.uk/careers 29 .

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

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

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

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

02 .

people’s job-seeking methods can be disorganised and inefficient. This means that you must be flexible enough to adapt your approach to the diversity of methods used by potential employers. • Do some research: find out how. By planning your job-search strategy. you will be able to focus much more accurately on what you need to do to achieve your goal. • Look into and follow up all sources of information. Always keep copies of your applications. so be organised and systematic.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. So. when. 2. work through Section 1 ‘Knowing yourself’ before going any further. where and how often vacancies are advertised. • Don’t forget that you need to review and evaluate your progress from time to time. • Build up a file of background information about companies.open.5 Planning your strategy 35 Graduate-level jobs 36 Creative job search 38 Finding vacancies 38 Building a network of contacts 43 2. A typical strategy means that you will: • Consider all the opportunities open to you: public.uk/careers 35 . (In fact. and be prepared to ask for comments on how you’ve done. the recruitment process will be quite different. The local sawmill is likely to approach the task differently from a multinational advertising agency.1 A typical strategy A strategic approach pays dividends. As a result. If you haven’t yet got a clear picture of the kind of work or job you want to pursue.ac.) Otherwise.3 2. We are assuming at this stage that you know what you want to do.4 2. visit our website at www. Another key fact you need to understand is that different sectors and employers have their own traditional methods for recruiting. It’s also important that you don’t spend valuable time applying for jobs where you have little chance of success. • Get a general view before you start to draw up a shortlist. jobs and developments in sectors you’re interested in. What information they do have can often be based on personal experience or rumour. To find out more. the only thing they might have in common is that they probably use an interview during the selection procedure. rather than carefully organised and systematic.1. private and voluntary sectors. 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. or for jobs that don’t fit your needs or meet your expectations.1 2.2 Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Exploring possibilities In this section 2. 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 2.

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

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

4. how long for. Today’s labour market is increasingly diverse. 2. To succeed. 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.4 Finding vacancies When it comes to job vacancies. • Develop an excellent CV and application letter.6 for details.2). but prefers specific skills.4. and customise them with a particular opportunity or employer in mind (see Section 4 ‘Getting the job’). it’s estimated that 7 out of 10 jobs are ‘hidden’. • Cultivate well-placed. in that they are never even advertised! Often. [Adapted from the AGCAS booklet Job Seeking Strategies] Pause for thought Ask yourself what you can take forward from these ideas. 38 To find out more. Consider what you can do for them.3 Creative job search The career-review process isn’t something you do once and for all and then never do again.1 Applying for hidden jobs Hidden jobs are produced: • by organisational changes that make old jobs obsolete and create new ones. Learn how to use the telephone effectively – there’s some advice about this in Section 2.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. This may give you an identifiable edge in the job market. Make sure they keep you in mind for suitable vacancies. in particular. which were discussed above in Section 2. In fact. and to foster contacts. • 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.uk/careers . SMEs.9 and 2. may not advertise so as not to be inundated with applications. Most of us need to review our careers now and again to take account of changes in ourselves and the opportunities open to us. You may want to ask to meet people. 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. or talk to them in person. visit our website at www.2. 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. knowledgeable people.ktponline. skill development and knowledge of the industry or job area. they are classified as either ‘open’ or ‘hidden’. • Find contacts in the sorts of organisation and job you’d really like. in times of recession. a partnership between employers and higher education institutions – look at www. Be clear about what you’re offering to do. So.5. • Use the internet to research into companies and job vacancies. how can you do a creative job search? Here are a few essential steps to get you started: • You need to ‘market’ yourself.org. What will your job search strategy look like? 2.5. • Don’t limit your marketing to letters of application. • Think about doing voluntary work. qualities and experience.ac. Consider temporary or part-time work to enhance your marketability.open. See Section 2. and what benefits you hope to gain from the experience. including those in organisations you’ve already worked for (if any). • Find out about getting appropriate training or study with work experience.2.4. but don’t let them use you. • Use employment agencies.uk • Don’t forget the increasingly important nontraditional graduate recruiters (small and mediumsized enterprises – SMEs. The best advice is to start as early as possible and be creative in your job search.10). • Investigate the possibility of employment through a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’. you need to play by a set of new rules. None of us can predict what kind of jobs might be available in the next few years. Try to contact the person who makes the decisions and might be interested in your talents.

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

You may have to do some detective work if the advertisement doesn’t give a telephone number. Make the most of it. look for sources through www. Many employers send very poor information. after an initial refusal.com 2. Even if you have no luck with a particular employer. At the start. If it says write. Daily Telegraph. Here you will find links to jobs notified to the OU Careers Service and access to other UK wide and local vacancies. 21 per cent of OU students reported that they had got their job as a result of personal contacts and networking.4.7 Newspapers and journals You will find many job vacancies advertised in newspapers and specialist or trade journals. you may need to look at them every day. Financial Times) advertise certain kinds of work on particular days of the week. you may be referred or recommended to another. trade and professional journals Professional associations Recruitment agencies Executive search firms In all these cases. about the job advertised or the selection methods they use.open. 2.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Take a long-term view It takes time to build up a mailing list. it may seem a little strange to seek out hidden jobs.6 Replying to advertised jobs If you reply to an advertisement. or to concentrate on particular companies just because they appeal to you. 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.prospects.4. If you are an OU student. 2. During holiday periods. • develop further contacts to expand your network. visit our website at www. We will deal with networking in more detail in Section 2. Making speculative contacts can pay off in several ways. ‘Networking’ is the systematic use of personal contacts to: • gather information about an industry or company • discover hidden jobs. Each employer you see is a new contact. 40 To find out more. you may be offered a meeting. and familiarise yourself with the kinds of advertisement placed in each paper. But experience supports the practical wisdom of doing so. The big Sunday papers advertise a variety of jobs. telephone or email for an application form. and responses may be slow and few.5 Applying for advertised jobs Many jobs are of course advertised and here we look at where. 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. • Persevere Occasionally persistence will pay off and.open. there’s no point in sending a CV.uk/careers . Each rejection may be one step nearer to the job you want. the day on which most papers are sold.4. Because advertising in national newspapers is costly.uk/links/occupations 2. 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. Guardian.thepaperboy. go to www. August to mid-September and December. Make a note of the advertising patterns: you will find that most of the quality daily papers (The Times. whom you can convince of your qualities as a candidate. advertising is reduced. especially in particular companies • get an introduction to a key decision-maker in a company. always follow the instructions given. 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. Local and regional papers sometimes concentrate their job advertisements on Thursdays. For now. You will find links to national and regional papers from www.uk/ careers and to the section entitled ‘Moving on’ and look at the ‘Advertised Jobs’ and ‘Virtual Employer Fair’ pages. Show initiative by telephoning or emailing if you need to know more. Independent.4.ac. The best place to consult newspapers and journals is your local library or online if you have access to the internet. or none at all.ac. At first. but their relatively high advertising rates tend to restrict the salary range to the higher end.5 below. as recruiters seldom place their advertisements more than once.4 Networking In the 2003/4 Destination of Leavers Survey. Remember every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes’! • • • • • The internet Newspaper. If you’re going to make speculative approaches. Make a note of advertising patterns in your local press.ac. start planning early in your job search. Use these meetings to get more information about the job market.

ac. for example.4.com and in most major libraries. Many specialise in particular kinds of work or industry. 2. Be clear. have a regional education or training officer and sometimes specialist careers adviser whom you can contact. though.cbdresearch. not to help you sort out your career plans. Services are free to you – the employing company is charged a fee. and in some areas of employment (such as medical sales) they are almost the standard source of recruits. visit our website at www. Addresses and other details are in the Directory of British Associations at www.4. about what the agency is offering you. Remember that it’s there to fill its clients’ posts.9 Recruitment agencies Recruitment agencies tend to deal with lowerlevel salaried positions. They often act for small to medium-sized employers that have no personnel or recruitment departments of their own. Some produce yearbooks and lists of members. To find out more. usually a percentage of your first year’s salary. the British Psychological Society and the Training and Development Agency for Schools.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2.8 Professional associations Many professional associations and institutions.open.uk/careers 41 .

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

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

before you talk to your contacts. • Get to the point quickly – treat it like a minicommercial for yourself. 2. preferably decision-makers for your kind of job who you can ask about opportunities in the industry. Whilst this person won’t necessarily be familiar with a specific company. (A discussion with an ex-employee could be particularly revealing. possible openings.) > How do my strengths match the needs? > Plan which of my strengths/ accomplishments I am going to mention.5. • Get the contact interested straight away – make notes beforehand of what you want to say. • Offer your telephone number or email in case of a change in arrangements. • Use the name of the referral source discreetly. 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.5.4 Career Links As an OU student. • Clarify the exact place of the appointment. and how I am going to present myself. • Try to avoid being interviewed over the phone unless this is pre-arranged. visit our website at www. you can register with Career Links. political battles. using published sources. and to read the following example. and decided on further preparation.g. as follows: > Carry out more research on the company (e. prospects for development/training/promotion). and there’s a lot to cover in twenty minutes.uk/careers/links Pause for thought Building a network of contacts plays a key part in creative job search.uk/careers . > Talk again to contacts.ac. to get a ‘feel’ for the culture.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. they are likely to have general knowledge about making contacts. • 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • If they have a secretary. Before reading on. > List which issues I want to investigate (e. It was produced by one of the students who tried out this pack before publication and was preparing to approach a particular company.open. exposure to risk. you might find it helpful to look again at the advice in Section 2-3 ‘Creative job search’. 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. 44 To find out more. trading problems/ opportunities (for me). etc. you need a carefully planned agenda.) – Put myself in the shoes of my prospective boss. 2. (Think about what sort of help the company may need.ac. • Introduce yourself succinctly. > Re-read the advice in Section 4 about job applications and interviews.open. They will respect you more and be more prepared to help if they have evidence of your professional approach. considering what further preparation you need at this point.g. Pause for thought Meetings need to be well planned and purposeful. For a productive meeting. get their full name if you can. Make sure that you’ve done your research thoroughly. • State the objectives of your call. • Suggest times and dates for an appointment. You can access career links at: www. journal and newspaper stories). I set up an appointment with her. Other people have their own agendas.

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

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?

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50 To find out more. It was produced by someone who wanted to apply for promotion. 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.uk/careers . 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.open. What actions would help you to make the most of them? Minimise restrictions Now look at the restrictions you underlined. but there’s more to do. You now need to consider each of your goals in terms of all the resources that could be helpful or cause restrictions.3 Look first at the example below. What actions would help you to reduce their effects? You’ve now listed actions you can take towards your goals. Each restriction is set against a helping resource.ac.1 are the most important? Underline them. Make the most of resources Look at the resources you underlined.2.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3. The next activity will help with this. visit our website at www.3 Balance helpful resources against restrictions Now look back to the restrictions and resources you listed. Activity 3. giving a balanced picture of the situation.

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

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

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

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

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

04 .

Director-General. Chief Executive. Table 4. visit our website at www. Confederation of British Industry.5 4.open.’’ Carl Gilleard.3 4.1 4. Together they make up what is referred to as ‘employability skills’. it shows you how these specific skills can be developed: To find out more.2 4.4 4. In addition to working hard to gain a good degree. teamworking and problem solving.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. 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. They particularly value skills such as communication. Equally importantly perhaps.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 4.6 4. Employers are looking for more than just technical skills and knowledge of a degree discipline.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Getting the job In this section 4.’’ Digby Jones.1 What do employers look for in graduates? ‘‘A degree alone is not enough.uk/careers 57 . Forward to Prospects Directory 2004/5 ‘What do Graduates 2006 do?‘ (HECSU/AGCAS/AGR/UCAS) ‘‘Twenty-first century graduates need to demonstrate to employers that they can ‘hit the ground running’. students should engage in extra curricular activities and obtain work experience in order to develop skills that will make them better prepared for the world of work. 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. Job applicants who can demonstrate that they have developed these skills will have a real advantage.ac.

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

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

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

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

g. • If there isn’t enough space for general interest information (e. • Read through the whole form before you fill in any of the sections. Layout can help – consider using bullet points. You may find the Select Simulator useful for practising completing online forms. it shouldn’t just repeat what’s on your form. ‘What are your spare time activities. unless you’re told that you must not attach any other papers. Some are designed for recruiting people for a particular function or training scheme (e.open. Most are intended for a wide variety of posts in the organisation (e. Keep the following points in mind when it comes to completing an application form: • The purpose of a completed application form. This means that on an initial read through they may spend as little as two minutes looking at your form. as most organisations will have comprehensive information on their websites. and not only for senior jobs. underlined topic headings.uk/careers . the kind of person the organisation wants to employ. visit a career service or large library to look for other information. the principles for completing application forms are very similar. an NHS Trust). what do you contribute and what do you get out of them?’). If you haven’t looked at employers’ application forms for some time.g. the space allowed for each question indicates its relative importance. Often – but not always – you’re told that you may also enclose a CV.ac. because many large employers now optically scan applications to enter them into their recruitment databases. Ask the organisation for more details and. • Comply with instructions such as using black ink or block capitals. OU students can access this on the Careers Advisory Service website. most large organisations now make their forms available online (which can save you time and postage). • Many larger employers ask you to complete an online application.g. if possible. • Make a photocopy of the blank form (or print it from the screen) and use it for your rough draft. don’t send a CV instead.g. like a CV or a speculative letter.g. ‘What have been the significant factors in your life to date?’) prioritise and keep it within the space allowed. graduate engineer).2 . is to get an interview. You can also research online. ‘Give names. When completing online forms you may find that some of your experiences do not fit neatly into the categories provided. • Your aim is to convince the employer that you’re worth interviewing – you appear to be a suitable candidate for the job and. as that makes them difficult to read. Being able to write succinctly is evidence of your written communication skills. you may be surprised at the probing nature of some of the questions they ask. • Don’t cram sections too full.2 Filling in your form • Complete all sections of the form. Use it effectively to include or to emphasise information that you think is relevant and isn’t allowed for on the form. • When answering extended (multi-part) or difficult questions. If a question doesn’t apply to you. We suggest you contact the employer for advice on how to approach this.3.3. write ‘N/A’ or ‘Not applicable’ to show that you haven’t overlooked it. You must keep to the prescribed format. • 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. You’ll come to some sample questions below in Section 4.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. If you’re asked to submit an application form. visit our website at www. • If there isn’t enough space for factual information (e. to clarify your points. think of: 62 To find out more. attach a separate sheet. • Usually. Whatever format they come in though. 4.3 Application forms Application forms come in all shapes and sizes. Convince them that they need to see you. If you do. • Be sure to answer all the elements of each question (e. Bear in mind that employers often receive a lot of forms. etc. also. addresses and dates of all previous employers’). Look for ‘online applications’ in the ‘A–Z’. so it is crucial that you sell yourself effectively.3.1 Before you start your application form • Find out as much as you can about the vacancy and the organisation. In fact. 4. • Remember that presentation can be as important as content.

g.3 Skills you have attained as an OU student As an Open University student. another someone you’ve worked for who can write about you as an employee.3. and keep them well briefed so that they can write supportive references. Learning outcomes will give you some help in mapping out the skills and achievements that you gained during OU study. and the date you sent it. go to the sections on ‘Personal and Career development’ and ‘Moving on’.uk/careers 63 . the name and address of the person you sent the form to.3. Some jobs may require subject-specific knowledge (e. Your regional centre can provide you with a confidential reference – name the Regional Director as the referee.open. there are a number of resources in the Careers Advisory Service website at www. You may be able to look back at the course descriptions To find out more. Every employer values determination.ac. Use the ‘any other information’ section to draw attention to activities and qualities not covered elsewhere on the form. give their full titles and status. ‘I worked as a volunteer classroom assistant for three years’ rather than ‘I love children’). • Make a note of the job you’ve applied for. • Use an envelope of suitable size so that the form isn’t folded. interests and skills the employer is looking for) Make your points relevant.4 When you’ve completed the form • Check it thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors. They can help you identify the subject-specific knowledge and transferable skills you have acquired during each course. If possible. but mention any part-time or voluntary work you did during that period. in your use of personal pronouns). Leave no unexplained gaps in your employment record. or not more than once. ask someone else to look over your application before you send it. If you’re applying for a job related to your degree subject. you can stress the personal qualities and skills that OU study demands. If you are a student. Tailor your responses to the post you’re applying for.ac.open. Practise answering the typical questions in the next activity. 4. Get your referees’ agreement before giving their names. It is up to you to pick these out from your own experience so that you can present this on an application form.g. • Look over the presentation.uk/careers. one should be an academic referee. dealing with members of the public. Be convincing.5 above) and some look for a mixture of both. interesting and personal (say ‘I’.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • • • • • • • What you’re going to say (understanding the purpose of the question) Who you’re saying it to (someone who doesn’t know you but will make decisions about your future) How you’re going to say it (presenting an accurate picture of yourself) Why you’re saying it (showing that you have the qualities. If you’ve been unemployed.g. with a little editing. You can often use the same material. You’ll rarely find the perfect application form that exactly suits your background and experience. not ‘we’). for several applications. Be positive and honest. self-discipline. It’ll also take some of the tedium out of tackling other forms. give fuller details of your course than you would if it’s not particularly relevant. Generalised waffle convinces no one. visit our website at www. Usually. • Make a copy of your completed form so that you can re-read it before the interview. 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.2. Inaccuracy in one section can raise doubts about other areas of the form. These may have been expressed as learning outcomes. say so. Give evidence and avoid bland generalities (e. If appropriate. Make the most of these skills as well as your academic success.g. flexibility and time management skills. working under pressure. 4. ideally get someone else to check rather than relying on a spell checker. working odd hours. Use positive language. to be a teacher) while some put emphasis on transferable skills (which you dealt with in Section 1. Always send it by first class post. handling money. If you want to do this in a more structured way. and Course Guides for the courses that you have studied and pick out the kinds of skills that the course aimed to develop. You’ll need to adapt your answers to the questions you find. Make sure you’ve been consistent in style (e. Look at Section 6 if you are or have been an offender. 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.

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

Instead. 4. a CV is primarily intended to make the recruiter think it worthwhile interviewing you. it is useful to highlight this in a separate section as it draws attention to it.ac. 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. So. 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.1 The importance of tailoring your CV However.open. it should be flexible enough to allow modification to match the job you’re seeking. 4. for tips and example CVs.4 – 4.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. In addition. However.4. You want to make sure that you present yourself positively and accurately. prefer CVs in a chronological format. you need to make a decision about the kind of CV to use as most employers will not specify. 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). go to the OU Careers Advisory Service website and choose the ‘Moving on’ section if you are a student at: www. a financial institution or a local authority might have an adverse effect. some job areas have expectations that a particular kind of CV is submitted. When researching jobs.uk/careers 65 . To use the same approach for. For example. visit our website at www. so you have more control over the impression it will create. content and design to show off your strengths and present you in the most positive light. Bear this in mind when you design your own CV. To find out more. For instance.4. and what to leave out or minimise. but it must look as though you’re targeting the individual company. Be prepared then to spend a considerable amount of time on creating and reworking an effective document. when it comes to preparing your CV. look at what the expectations might be.2 What style of CV? The general style of the CV should depend on the sector or organisation it’s addressed to.uk/links/CVwriting We also show you sample CVs in Sections 4.3 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. as well as the work I want? There’s no right or wrong way to write a CV. For more information on CVs. This is only likely to work if you always apply for the same function in several very similar organisations. 4. my strengths and qualities? • What experiences shall I emphasise? • How can the style of my CV match the culture of the organisation(s) I’m sending it to.ac.4. For most jobs. it’s most important that you keep in mind that one ‘all-purpose’ CV will not be much use to you. (So you may in fact be doing just that. 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). The right one is the one that works for you in your situation and succeeds in getting you interviews. an academic CV is used mainly for applying for academic posts). your CV doesn’t need to conform to a set format.prospects. say. The advantage of a CV is that you get to decide what information to include and highlight. Whichever format you choose. Most people tend to prefer one style over the others (though as you will see.uk/careers Alternatively.) And you can reinforce this impression by tailoring the covering letter. 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. Employers expect you to show that you’re responding to their own advertisements.ac. When you have work experience that is directly relevant.4 The curriculum vitae (CV) Like an application form. You can tailor the style. some professions. not sending out a batch of identical CVs to a list of companies you found in the Yellow Pages.4. look at: www. such as the legal profession.4.7 below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

personal profile Including career aims and a skill profile can be particularly effective if you’re seeking a career change. or you’re applying for a job for which the competition is particularly keen. It is also important to outline your level of IT and keyboard skills. you’ll need to analyse the job itself. Word and Excel. Use an A4 envelope with cardboard reinforcement. even though it has no obvious relevance to the job. It might be helpful to read it alongside CV Example 3.4. Make sure the copies are sharp and clear. first aid training. • Make it easy to read and follow. underlining). If you need to demonstrate an interest in design (e. say so in your CV or covering letter. and the notes that follow it suggest some inferences that can be drawn from them about the nature of the work of personnel management. run a computer club. including software you are familiar with e. follow it up by sending a hard copy straight away. Concentrate on the aspects that are most important for the employer to know. particularly if you want to offer a targeted CV. Yours will be one of many that the employer has to read. Don’t use clichés.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. (e. Space makes text easier to read and more attractive. and their status or relationship to you (e. course tutor). to adapt for other employers. Some of the key words in the description have been emphasised. Additional skills The diversity of individual careers sometimes makes extra sections desirable: you can make up your own subheadings. • Avoid long.uk/careers . The employer may not bother to read on if there’s nothing of interest to begin with. • Your CV should be produced to a high standard. one your present or last employer. jargon and abbreviations the reader may be unfamiliar with. give an indication of your level of competence). pay attention to its appearance as well as its content.g. Consider using an appendix for very detailed information such as a list of publications. • Seek other people’s views on your draft. References You’ll usually need two referees. You might prefer to omit referees on the CV and put ‘Available on request’.ac. 4. • 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). for some media jobs) more elaborate graphics and perhaps coloured paper might be appropriate. you’re a mature graduate. An unusual hobby such as sky-diving or genealogical research can be worth mentioning. • Make sure that your CV arrives looking like a quality document. Use an ‘easy-to-read’ font. additional skills such as foreign languages (if possible. Include details you think a prospective employer really ought to know – driving licence. If you don’t want your employer approached at this stage. • The space you give to each section should reflect its importance. complicated sentences. To illustrate this. addresses and telephone numbers. Give their names. Use bullet points to make reading quicker. after that you can use it on its own. • Be consistent in how you present the information. and in particular the skills it calls for.10 Analysing a job description In order to construct a CV that’s effectively related to the job you’re seeking. which is designed for this area of work. It gives your CV an interesting feature and makes it memorable. we’ve chosen a description for human resource management. bold. chronological order) and in your layout.g.g. • Don’t cram the page. Have headings in the same style (capital letters.open. and so on. 76 To find out more. visit our website at www. 4. and proofread the final version carefully. Career aims.4.g.9 Presentation of your CV To produce an effective CV . Write the words out in full the first time you use them and put the abbreviation in brackets. Don’t fold it. such as Arial 11 point. you have an unconventional record. line manager. word-processed and printed or copied on goodquality white or cream paper. You’ll need it again. done voluntary work that demonstrates organisational and management skills. and don’t clutter it up with unnecessary punctuation. One way to do this is from the job description. Keep a copy of your CV (and disk) in a safe place. • If you send your CV by email. • Put the most important information on the first page and as near the top as possible.

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

You’re trying to find out whether there are any vacancies. Two examples of covering letters are set out overleaf. on the lefthand side.’ and ‘I beg to remain’. type or word-process your letter (though very occasionally an employer will ask for a handwritten letter). It should enhance your application. 78 To find out more. If you do have to resort to ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. you’ll know that to make a speculative approach you have to present your case in a letter. related experience.5 The covering letter Your covering letter is your opportunity to market yourself. or whether vacancies will arise in the near future. 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. Keep a copy of your letter. your qualifications and what you have to offer.5.2 Applying speculatively Remember. Convey clearly what kind of work you’re seeking. not repeat what’s on the application form or CV. send a brief follow-up letter or telephone to make sure that it’s been received. especially as it may be based on US spelling. It will usually be read first. Say why you want to work for that particular organisation.open. Switchboard staff can be very helpful in supplying this information if it isn’t otherwise available. end ‘Yours faithfully’. address. • Keep it brief – usually not more than one side of A4. It introduces your application and draws attention to the main factors that make you suitable for the job.3 Drafting your letter • If possible. a speculative approach is not allowed in Northern Ireland. 4. where you are. • Address your letter to an individual person by name and job title. If you’ve worked through Section 2 in this book. Always include a covering letter unless the employer specifically tells you not to. steer clear of stilted expressions like ‘re your advertisement of 29th July. • When writing to a named individual. • Although you should be business-like.uk/careers . If you haven’t received an acknowledgement within two or three weeks. Application forms often allow you reasonable scope to sell yourself and may need only a brief covering letter. so make sure that the reader will want to find out more about you. and that you’ve expressed yourself clearly. end ‘Yours sincerely’. • Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. • If there are any special circumstances not covered in the application form or CV.1 Applying for a job in a vacancy list or answering an advertisement Mention the job title (including any reference number). telephone number and date at the top right-hand corner and. If there’s a vacancy this will. usually accompanied by your CV. appropriate qualification. if done well. then highlight the relevant points in the CV such as work experience. At the same time you must leave the impression that you’re someone it’s useful for the employer to know about. • Print your name clearly below your signature. So make clear who you are. and when you would be able to start. or highlight aspects of your CV which you feel are particularly important. such as a relevant degree.5. without duplicating what’s on the application form. translate into being someone the employer ought to see. • Use plain A4 paper of good quality. A CV will usually require more of an introduction. • Put your name.ac. job title and organisation of the person you’re writing to. the name. what you’re studying.5. Add some other detail to reinforce your suitability. The first is a speculative approach asking for an advice interview from an executive the writer doesn’t know. visit our website at www. interests and activities. The second letter accompanies a CV in response to a newspaper advertisement.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. such as a disability and how you overcome potential difficulties. mention them in the letter. 4. and say where and when you saw the vacancy. Highlight your strongest selling points. 4. Stress how you think the organisation can benefit from employing you.

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

I am confident that I could make a significant contribution to Fairplay Industries Ltd. Assistant Finance Director. I am a qualified accountant with substantial professional experience. I am enclosing my CV in response to your advertisement for the above post which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 1 March.uk/careers . Although I currently live in Edinburgh. I have particular interest in computer-based accounting procedures and extensive staff management experience.ac. I look forward to hearing from you. Working in a team alongside other senior management colleagues. I am free to relocate to another area and see this as a positive addition to my professional and personal development. Yours sincerely Margaret Minty 80 To find out more. 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. visit our website at www. I have brought about a sustained improvement in my office’s financial performance over the past five years. and discussed specific aspects with the Finance Director over the telephone yesterday. Fairplay Industries Ltd. Having read the detailed description of the post.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.open. I have recently taken voluntary redundancy as a consequence of a nationwide organisational restructuring programme.

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

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

4. 4. warmth. It’s your task to provide evidence in your answers that demonstrates these characteristics. Watch the interviewer’s behaviour.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Plan travel and arrival times. Some people need to practise this.5 Body language • Walk and sit with good posture. and judge when you’ve said enough. umbrellas. Conservative dress is more likely to pay off than flamboyance.4 How you sound • Sound as if you have confidence in yourself. or groups of characteristics – your personal. If in doubt ask ‘Would you like me to go on?’ • Show through your answers that you’ve done your research into the company. • If delayed. • Shake hands firmly and briefly. • Maintain good eye-contact with the person you’re speaking to.uk/careers 83 . Avoid jargon. 4. • Decide what to wear.6. A lucid style is a transparent window on the content. allow yourself time to relax. • Don’t smoke anywhere on the premises. • Don’t be overburdened with bags. Don’t drop your voice towards the end of sentences. • Arrive in good time. • Convey the right amount of enthusiasm. papers. • Speak concisely. visit our website at www. If you’re very unsure about this. professional. telephone. Smile! • Avoid negative statements. clichés. and achievment profile.6.3 On the day . so that if it doesn’t feel right you’ve got time to change your plans. • Remember to take a copy of your application with you. • Listen attentively to the questions. ask for repetition or clarification. Show that you know the interview ‘rules’ by wearing smart clothes. • Prepare some questions that you would like to ask. Try the whole outfit some days before. • Use your natural gestures – there’s no need to look frozen! • Avoid fidgeting. 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.6. polishing your shoes and so on. and if possible do a dummy run. look at company literature to get an idea of how people dress.open. • Don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone.6 Answering questions Whatever the nature of the job. . the interviewer will be working to a mental model consisting of three related profiles. friendliness and sincerity.6. and keep your hands away from your mouth. confident first impression.ac. • Speak clearly. • Use plain language that doesn’t confuse or divert. • Don’t fold your arms. Dress appropriately for the culture. If there’s no suitable literature you could telephone and ask the person on the switchboard or the secretary of the person interviewing you. 4. • Remember the need for a poised. . which will give you clues to whether you are answering the questions and timing your replies appropriately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Information may be collected from the standard application form. decisionmaking. However. A well constructed test in-tray will contain distracting trivia. and that can be a clue.uk/careers . 4. Don’t just put your head down and plough through the lot. A cleverly constructed in-tray will generate emotional responses that can cloud decision-making.7. 90 To find out more.7. 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. Intervene if there’s loss of direction. • Don’t be discouraged. • If the first part of the exercise asks you to set priorities.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Mentally ‘stand back’ occasionally and evaluate what’s happening. Signal in your comments that you’ve spotted these links. and may take time. • Remain balanced in your judgement. and ability to communicate in clear English. Studies indicate that graphologists can produce generalised personality descriptions. with appropriate levels of formality and informality in your responses. not on what went through your head. and between intrays if there’s more than one.6 In-tray exercises These simulations of the administrative aspects of a job can be very taxing. So. How to go about it: • It may be possible to take the in-tray apart and sort it into heaps. Most candidates find these tests tough. make reporting and follow-up clear. If you like to work like that. By taking the trouble to reflect and to prepare. if you’re asked to submit a demonstration piece. a contraction of ‘biographical data’. Evidence offers little support for its use as a predictor of performance. colleagues are ill. take care over presentation as well as content.10 Medical tests The job advertisement or person specification should state clearly whether a certain level of physical fitness is required. set timescales. You’re likely not to know that graphology is being used. judgement. other than statistical correlation. medical tests cover sight. • Read the instructions carefully and plan your time accordingly. you’ll be maximising your chance of success. 4. organisation. make sure that it’s permitted.8 Biodata analysis ‘Biodata’. The biographical data need not have any recognised link with performance. but often a special form is needed. They’re usually set in an unrealistic scenario that prevents you from talking to other people in the organisation (e.9 Proficiency tests These tests are used to find out whether candidates have the skills they claim – 120 words per minute shorthand. particularly in France. or conflict between the other participants. Related tests of ‘potential for proficiency’ (trainability) assess characteristics such as hand–eye coordination. colour perception and hearing.open. If you have to reach a decision within thirty minutes. remind the group if necessary. means that details of an individual’s history are correlated with the biographical details of others who have succeeded in the same occupation. Pause for thought Getting the job you want is always a challenge. it’s Saturday afternoon). or 90 words per minute wordprocessing.7. some employers ask candidates to submit a handwritten piece on a management topic. You may be allowed to use the floor if the desk isn’t big enough. Best marks are obtained by candidates who produce the largest volume of appropriate written output. just like a real one. but is a controversial technique in the UK.7 Graphology Graphology . • Keep a careful eye on the time. As well as general fitness. but they’re not as detailed or as accurate as information gathered from psychometric tests and exercises. even if you’re not asked to do so. follow this up by tackling the items according to those you set. 4. Treat the whole exercise like real life. • You can be judged only on what you’ve written down. The qualities most likely to be assessed are analysis.7. Staffing issues are most likely to spring this trap. • Give reasons for your decisions. Make a point of discussing your strategy and interpretation of the group discussion with the interviewer later. 4.analysis of handwriting – is used a lot for managerial selection in continental Europe.g.ac. abroad. • Look for links within an in-tray. visit our website at www. use your diary and your secretary well. for example. 4.

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

05 .

Each section includes a discussion of some of the issues you may encounter. Many employers have well-developed equal opportunities policies to help them to recruit a diverse workforce. and you will often see this highlighted in job advertisements.5 5. the same principles of career planning and job seeking apply to everyone. In this section we highlight some of the additional challenges that may be faced by students and graduates. before or during an interview will be considered later in Section 5. on your application form. the legal position.open.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. To find out more. 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. there is evidence that certain groups of people are at a disadvantage and may experience difficulty in achieving their career aims.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.1 5. on a covering letter.ac. some organisations aim specifically to recruit a workforce that reflects the community they serve.3 5. In fact.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Equality and Diversity Issues In this section 5.prospects. visit our website at www. However.4 5. strategies to help you in your job search and further resources that you may find helpful.2 5. For more information and links on job-seeking strategies when facing discrimination.ac. go to www. when or how you should do so.uk/careers 93 . The issues of whether.

your age will count against you in the job market? 5.1. For example. we will be happy to take reasonable steps to accommodate your needs. 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. Having a degree is not enough to secure a job. It’s not enough to think that because you have completed a part-time degree. juggling study and home responsibilities. Braille or large print. 5. ‘Yes.1 Note here any issues that could affect you at work. if you need any information in an alternative format such as an audio recording. 5.open. This should also help you to feel confident about what you can offer to the workplace. that you are automatically going to be offered a job. If you have additional requirements that may lead to difficulties accessing any of our services. 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. 94 To find out more. For instance.1. please contact your regional centre who will arrange this. sexual orientation and religion. disability. which you might like to discuss with a careers adviser. and paid work.. especially when you have used all your spare time to get the degree in the first place. as a mature graduate.. Remember. visit our website at www.’. They are saying. 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. You may need to allow some time for appropriate arrangements to be made. selection procedures in large organisations are being reviewed. having completed your degree. If you haven’t had any recent work experience (paid or voluntary). So. Then contact the Careers Advisory Service in your region to get help with your marketing plan. Employers are looking for more than a qualification.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 5. you have a degree and. look at the Careers Advisory Service website for contacts for volunteering opportunities.1 Age Are you concerned that. or contact your local OU Careers Advisory Service. gender.ac.2 How to help yourself in the job market Take a look at Section 4 on applying for jobs. to offer a range of transferable skills and experience to an employer.1 Your rights By October 2006. you need to present your experience and skills positively and highlight your ‘added value’. hone your CV to highlight that ‘extra’ you can offer to enhance your application. This is where you are able. So.uk/careers . This may feel unfair. 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’. then you could consider exploring your local options.

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

uk A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. For some students. including a section for offenders. altering hours or buying equipment. Employers are also required to make reasonable adjustments both to the workplace and to the job description. and people with severe disfigurements. including recruitment.uk The Apex Trust – support. They define rights for disabled people. Keep in mind that there are certain jobs for which convictions never become spent. Employers must show that they have looked into the costs of adaptations. those who have recurring or progressive conditions. training. This covers people who have had a disability. Published by AGCAS and available online at: www.org.disclosurescotland.ac.prospects. and what funding is available from other sources. promotion.3.3 Disability or additional requirements Many students and graduates with disabilities have the same skills and abilities to offer as anyone else.org Further resources Criminal Records Bureau (England and Wales) at: www. it can seem a challenging task to seek employment.crb. supervising or being in sole charge of persons aged under eighteen’.2. • Market yourself as positively as possible (see Section 4). It does not apply to employers who employ workers on board ships or aircraft. without the need for specific adjustments or support.open.uk/links/Discrimination 96 To find out more. 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’. You can find out more from the Disability Rights Commission: Disability Rights Commission www. but smaller companies with lesser funds may not have to do so.2 How to help yourself in the job market If you have unspent convictions. in the past. All employers are covered except for the armed forces.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. do check the legal situation carefully. • Be realistic about the employment area you wish to enter. employers are required to seek disclosure of criminal records from the relevant criminal records office. The effectiveness of the adjustment in reducing the disadvantage must be taken into account. 5. 5. Before you start studying for a specific career area. as defined by the Act. or applying for jobs. particularly in relation to employment and access to goods.uk/careers .apextrust.com The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) publishes a number of advice leaflets. and so must the finances of the employer. information and advice for ex-offenders seeking work at: www. training and selection for redundancy or dismissal.drc-gb. visit our website at www.ac. and then to consider the next steps as outlined below. Here is a range of strategies to help you: • Discuss your situation with a careers adviser at your regional centre. These may include adjusting premises.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook of work. • Make use of other agencies that can help and advise you. Part II of the DDA is intended to prevent discrimination against disabled people at work and in recruitment. additional support can help to enable access to work. The key starting point is to explore career areas that are relevant to your interests and skills.gov. You can access them at: www. Discrimination is outlawed in all aspects of employment. 5. Large companies will probably be expected to adapt the workplace. such as ‘regularly caring for. services and facilities.uk Scottish Criminal Record Office (Scotland) at: www.nacro.co.

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

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

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

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

You can find more information at the Press for Change website (see Section 5.4). visit our website at www. Race for Opportunity is a programme.windsor-fellowship. which apply to the Sex Discrimination Act (1997).prospects.uk/careers 101 . You can ask for a copy of the policy before applying for a job.org. your CV.com 5. when to. Their website is: www.uk 5. the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 came into force in the UK. Further resources KAL – Careers publication for students from minority ethnic groups (formerly Kaleidoscopic). students and recruiters.gov.6.teacherworld. and how much to disclose to a potential employer and to work colleagues is of course a matter of personal choice. and this will depend on your own experience and lifestyle. This relates to England.6. 5. vacancies. Find out more about the unit at: www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Make use of Section 4 ‘Getting the job’ to prepare your marketing tools. • Develop contacts and make the most of your networking skills. The amendments.6 Sexuality and sexual orientation Are you worried about possible discrimination in the workplace because of your sexuality? Whether to. universities and schools to support learners from minority ethnic groups. Scotland and Wales. Includes job-hunting techniques. that is dedicated to ethnic minority issues.ac.open.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. If the EOP is incorporated into your contract you might be able to directly rely upon it. Contact them for information on legal issues. You will need to consider how comfortable you will be in an area of work where you are not open about your sexuality. Target employers with a reputation for good equal opportunity policy and practice.1 Your rights The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment.uk 5. plus details of work experience and career-enhancement programmes www.kalmagazine. • Discuss your plans and approach with a careers adviser in your regional centre.nmc-online.uk/links/Discrimination • Understand the relevant legal situation. application forms and covering letters.org.5.bitc. available for reference in your regional centre or at www.6.blackandasiangrad. • Check if the organisation is a member of Business in the Community (BITC) www.ac.com Black and Asian Graduates –The UK’s official website for black and Asian graduates. formally made illegal a whole catalogue of discrimination against transsexual people in employment.2 Transsexuals In May 1999.7 Resources for employment and training Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is the national organisation for monitoring racial equality. It holds an annual careers day for black and Asian students and graduates.cre. Windsor Fellowship The Windsor Fellowship is a charitable organisation that offers skills development programmes to undergraduates and graduates from minority ethnic groups. • Many employers have sub-groups for minority ethnic groups. You can log onto their website at: www. National Mentoring Consortium Unit The National Mentoring Consortium Unit works with employers.uk. For advice on finding positive employers take a look at: www.ac. TeacherWorld UK TeacherWorld UK provides information and support for teachers (and those intending to teach) from minority ethnic backgrounds.uk 5.6.org To find out more. run by BITC. especially public sector and large private employers. campaigns and services as well as vacancies in the commission Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) www.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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