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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.


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

01 .

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

This activity can help you to gather insights that can influence your future choices. Moved House HIGH POINT Secondary School Qualified (production engineer) Marriage Son Became management trainee (part time study. You may find it useful to talk through any difficult emotions with someone you trust. Activity 1.1. 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. Put them in the form of a diagram like the one here. visit our website at www. 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. A third recognised someone else as consistently and unobtrusively acting as a mentor. such as education. You’ll be asked to refer back to your lifeline later on. children. consider it as a whole. to help you think about the pattern of your life. and he saw that each disappointment motivated him towards a change and offered opportunities. marriage.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.1 What am I like? 1. Note down key events.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. Example When you’ve drawn a lifeline that reflects your experiences. and to discover aspects of yourself that you might want to develop or change. Think about the feelings aroused by each experience and answer these questions. 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.ac.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. showing high and low points at different times of your life.open. and to consider how your early history contributed to it. Diploma) Daughter Bought flat (Improvement Grant) Bought house – garden-mortgage! Changes in company policy (new job. Another noted that all his positive job changes followed disappointments in his private life. retirement and so on.uk/careers .

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

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

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

personal characteristics or interests.open.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. Activity 1. abilities.uk/careers . they need not be barriers to the future.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. 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. but your spare-time activities could help you to demonstrate skills and qualities. what would you now say are your main strengths and weaknesses? They can be skills. It’s easy to forget that leisure activities can give us as many skills and abilities as work. Remember that strengths can be built on for the future and weaknesses can be reduced by your efforts. visit our website at www. 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. What have you learnt about yourself? Bringing some of your answers together.ac.1.5 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. My main strengths 1 2 3 4 5 6 My main weaknesses 1 2 3 4 5 6 12 To find out more.

you need to be clear about how important work is to you.1 How big a part of my life is work? Before considering what you want to do. it’s time to think about work. You might be highly ambitious.uk/careers 13 . This is something that varies from person to person. If you don’t have much experience of paid work. or you might avoid positions that regularly eat into your leisure time. for example. but you don’t let work rule your life. 1. 1 I always aim high in my work 2 My ambition isn’t necessarily to get to the top 3 I set myself difficult goals to achieve 4 I don’t like to let work disturb my social life 5 I want to do well at whatever I’m doing 6 Being a success in life isn’t too important to me 7 I like being seen as dedicated to my job 8 I don’t like to aim too high 9 Work always comes before pleasure 10 People wouldn’t describe me as very ambitious Pause for thought Think about the way you scored in this activity. How does this feel? Is it right for you or would you like to change this aspect of your life? To find out more. You have some concern about doing well and making progress. You may have found yourself in a post that takes over and leaves little time for family life. you would put your social life before work.2.6 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. think about your approach to activities or projects. The next activity can help you to think about this. visit our website at www. If you have a more central score You keep a balance between work and leisure. or you may prefer something that can give you a better balance between work and home life. Activity 1. for example if you scored –20. you would always put work first and aim high in your achievements. have little concern about getting on in your career. and might be seen as ‘laid back’. the stronger your ambition.ac.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1. even workaholic.open. At the lower end of the scale. 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.2 What work would suit me? Now that you’ve spent some time considering the skills and qualities you’ve developed through experience. If you scored +20.

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

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

deciding how you compare with other people. think more generally about your life if your workplace experiences are limited.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.uk/careers . show feelings (f) Happy to be in charge of others (s) Prefer traditional ways of action (t) Equable. 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. come in top (f) Like persuading. Again. caring for others (s) Always like to win.open. Activity 1. negotiating (s) Tend to worry.2. circling your position on the scale. act independently (s) More practical than theoretical (t) Determined (f) Sympathetic.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).ac. 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. visit our website at www. More Plan ahead and keep to it (t) Stickler for detail or accuracy (t) Easy mixer.4 What sort of person am I to work with? Your personality affects your style of operating in the workplace and the way you respond to situations. get anxious (f) Like deadlines and timetables (t) Usually take a leading role (s) Good with complex ideas or data (t) Demonstrative.

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1.9 continued Now look over your ratings. 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. Where did you score the most highly? Or did you score evenly across the three categories? For instance. some people are at ease giving a presentation while others find it very nerveracking.ac. There’s no right or wrong personality.uk/careers 17 .open. You can group them into those to do with relating to people and social situations (s). to do with your approach to work tasks (t). If you think about your colleagues you’ll be aware how they differ from each other. and to do with your drives and emotions (f). The better you know yourself. While one is reserved. the more opportunities you create for finding a situation that will suit you. one is a stickler for detail while another is not too concerned about fine accuracy. but you do need to take your own traits into account. visit our website at www. A work situation that suits a very sociable person won’t suit someone who prefers to work alone. another is very chatty and communicative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you also need to consider your interests. Assume that you could do the activity if you wanted to.open. visit our website at www. Tick Yes.uk/careers 27 . Activity 1.15 Look through these kinds of work and consider whether you would like to carry each one out. Not sure or No according to how you feel about each activity.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 1.8 What kind of work would I like to do? To help you decide on the kind of work you’d like to do. but only of your own preferences.ac. Yes 1 Supervise staff dealing with correspondence 2 Design a staff appraisal scheme 3 Monitor quality control activities 4 Keep up to date with computing developments 5 Put budgeting procedures into practice 6 Develop a marketing plan for a new service 7 Keep abreast of scientific developments 8 Write information booklets 9 Supervise process control staff 10 Organise renewal of insurance cover 11 Plan staff training schemes 12 Forecast drawing office work schedules 13 Find new areas for computer applications 14 Keep abreast of money market changes 15 Negotiate prices with suppliers 16 Plan research and development (R and D) 17 Handle public relations issues (PR) 18 Revise road delivery schedules 19 Plan introduction of new clerical procedures 20 Interview job applicants 21 Organise installation of an internal telephone system Not sure No To find out more. You will have had experience of some of them. Try to imagine whether you’d like doing the others or not. It’s not a question of your ability or qualifications. Interests are to do with the things you find most appealing or enjoyable.2.

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

24. 25. 21. 12. 28.uk/careers 29 . 45. 32. 53 Questions 9. 37. 30. 18.15 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. 13. 35. 11.open. 48 Questions 4. 36. 10.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 1. 42. 17. 20. 44. 39. 27. 54 To find out more. 52 Questions 8. 22. 14. 15. 49 Questions 5. 34. 46 Questions 2. 16. 43. 19. 50 Questions 6. 40. 33. 26. 23. 51 Questions 7. 29.ac. visit our website at www. 47 Questions 3. 38. 41. 31.

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

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

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

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

02 .

you will be able to focus much more accurately on what you need to do to achieve your goal. where and how often vacancies are advertised.4 2. when. rather than carefully organised and systematic. visit our website at www. A typical strategy means that you will: • Consider all the opportunities open to you: public. 2. If you haven’t yet got a clear picture of the kind of work or job you want to pursue. • Do some research: find out how. or for jobs that don’t fit your needs or meet your expectations.1 A typical strategy A strategic approach pays dividends.1 2. • Don’t forget that you need to review and evaluate your progress from time to time. jobs and developments in sectors you’re interested in.2 Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Exploring possibilities In this section 2. So. It’s also important that you don’t spend valuable time applying for jobs where you have little chance of success.3 2.1.2 2. Always keep copies of your applications.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. As a result. people’s job-seeking methods can be disorganised and inefficient.open. • Get a general view before you start to draw up a shortlist.) Otherwise. This means that you must be flexible enough to adapt your approach to the diversity of methods used by potential employers. the only thing they might have in common is that they probably use an interview during the selection procedure. • Look into and follow up all sources of information. (In fact. We are assuming at this stage that you know what you want to do. work through Section 1 ‘Knowing yourself’ before going any further. 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. To find out more. Another key fact you need to understand is that different sectors and employers have their own traditional methods for recruiting. the recruitment process will be quite different. What information they do have can often be based on personal experience or rumour.5 Planning your strategy 35 Graduate-level jobs 36 Creative job search 38 Finding vacancies 38 Building a network of contacts 43 2. The local sawmill is likely to approach the task differently from a multinational advertising agency. By planning your job-search strategy. and be prepared to ask for comments on how you’ve done. so be organised and systematic. • Build up a file of background information about companies. private and voluntary sectors. 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.ac.uk/careers 35 .

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

The ability to access and use specialist information is an additional skill for these areas.ac.tqi. There are many instances of graduates in these occupations demonstrating their potential and developing their initial role to fit their skills. Niche graduate occupations This is an expanding area. Although we know that OU students start from a different point as many are working while they study. 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.open. engineering. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 3 4 5 New graduate occupations These reflect changes in technology and organisational structures and priorities.2 New and expanding opportunities for graduates Structured graduate programmes still exist with large ‘blue chip’ companies but competition is fierce and fewer graduates now enter through these schemes.ac.ac. visit our website at www. For more information on SMEs go to: www.1 per cent six months after leaving. According to the Graduate Experience 2002 Report (DTI. nursing.uk/careers 37 . environmental health).prospects. a growing proportion of graduates find their first jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).5 per cent. In fact. retail management.ac. marketing. Many are in nongraduate jobs but using the skills that they have developed as a result of their studies. Barclays) only 14 per cent of respondents had a place on a graduate training scheme with a blue chip employer. graphic design. the data shows the unemployment figure for OU students from the 2003/4 survey to be 2.uk/links/wdgd and on the Teaching Quality website at www. there were 3. 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. 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.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. This data is published annually and can be seen at www. 2.8 million SMEs in the UK and it is predicted that they will create a further 2 million jobs by 2010.uk In 2004 unemployment among all students was 6.prospects. At the beginning of 2002. Non-graduate occupations Increasing numbers of graduates don’t immediately enter the ‘graduate labour market’.2.

The best advice is to start as early as possible and be creative in your job search. it’s estimated that 7 out of 10 jobs are ‘hidden’. may not advertise so as not to be inundated with applications. • Think about doing voluntary work. • Cultivate well-placed. Today’s labour market is increasingly diverse. • Don’t limit your marketing to letters of application.uk/careers .org. how long for. • Investigate the possibility of employment through a ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’. but prefers specific skills. qualities and experience. in that they are never even advertised! Often.1 Applying for hidden jobs Hidden jobs are produced: • by organisational changes that make old jobs obsolete and create new ones. • 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.10). including those in organisations you’ve already worked for (if any). This may give you an identifiable edge in the job market. 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. In fact. which were discussed above in Section 2.5. in particular. and to foster contacts. how can you do a creative job search? Here are a few essential steps to get you started: • You need to ‘market’ yourself. None of us can predict what kind of jobs might be available in the next few years. • Find contacts in the sorts of organisation and job you’d really like.3 Creative job search The career-review process isn’t something you do once and for all and then never do again. • Use employment agencies. they are classified as either ‘open’ or ‘hidden’.uk • Don’t forget the increasingly important nontraditional graduate recruiters (small and mediumsized enterprises – SMEs. • Develop an excellent CV and application letter. What will your job search strategy look like? 2.open.4. Consider what you can do for them. You may want to ask to meet people.4.6 for details. See Section 2. but don’t let them use you.2.ktponline. Be clear about what you’re offering to do. visit our website at www. 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. skill development and knowledge of the industry or job area.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2. • Use the internet to research into companies and job vacancies.4.2).5. and customise them with a particular opportunity or employer in mind (see Section 4 ‘Getting the job’). 2. in times of recession. you need to play by a set of new rules. a partnership between employers and higher education institutions – look at www. • Find out about getting appropriate training or study with work experience. Make sure they keep you in mind for suitable vacancies.4 Finding vacancies When it comes to job vacancies. knowledgeable people.ac. Learn how to use the telephone effectively – there’s some advice about this in Section 2. To succeed. 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. [Adapted from the AGCAS booklet Job Seeking Strategies] Pause for thought Ask yourself what you can take forward from these ideas. or talk to them in person. SMEs. 38 To find out more. Most of us need to review our careers now and again to take account of changes in ourselves and the opportunities open to us.2. Try to contact the person who makes the decisions and might be interested in your talents. and what benefits you hope to gain from the experience. Consider temporary or part-time work to enhance your marketability. So.9 and 2.

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

uk/links/occupations 2.5 below. advertising is reduced. Make the most of it. The best place to consult newspapers and journals is your local library or online if you have access to the internet. Guardian. Remember every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes’! • • • • • The internet Newspaper. and familiarise yourself with the kinds of advertisement placed in each paper. Make a note of advertising patterns in your local press. The big Sunday papers advertise a variety of jobs. especially in particular companies • get an introduction to a key decision-maker in a company. Making speculative contacts can pay off in several ways. you may be offered a meeting. We will deal with networking in more detail in Section 2. Local and regional papers sometimes concentrate their job advertisements on Thursdays. Show initiative by telephoning or emailing if you need to know more. 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. or none at all. it may seem a little strange to seek out hidden jobs.7 Newspapers and journals You will find many job vacancies advertised in newspapers and specialist or trade journals.uk/ careers and to the section entitled ‘Moving on’ and look at the ‘Advertised Jobs’ and ‘Virtual Employer Fair’ pages.prospects. look for sources through www. Many employers send very poor information. telephone or email for an application form. Financial Times) advertise certain kinds of work on particular days of the week. after an initial refusal.open. Make a note of the advertising patterns: you will find that most of the quality daily papers (The Times. Each employer you see is a new contact. But experience supports the practical wisdom of doing so. Daily Telegraph. August to mid-September and December. For now. visit our website at www. 40 To find out more. you may be referred or recommended to another. the day on which most papers are sold. If it says write. Independent.4. 21 per cent of OU students reported that they had got their job as a result of personal contacts and networking. about the job advertised or the selection methods they use. whom you can convince of your qualities as a candidate. • develop further contacts to expand your network.ac. 2. there’s no point in sending a CV.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Take a long-term view It takes time to build up a mailing list. or to concentrate on particular companies just because they appeal to you. At the start. as recruiters seldom place their advertisements more than once. 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.6 Replying to advertised jobs If you reply to an advertisement. ‘Networking’ is the systematic use of personal contacts to: • gather information about an industry or company • discover hidden jobs. 2. You will find links to national and regional papers from www.open.4.com 2.4 Networking In the 2003/4 Destination of Leavers Survey. 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. Here you will find links to jobs notified to the OU Careers Service and access to other UK wide and local vacancies. trade and professional journals Professional associations Recruitment agencies Executive search firms In all these cases.ac. You may have to do some detective work if the advertisement doesn’t give a telephone number. If you are an OU student. Even if you have no luck with a particular employer. go to www.ac. Each rejection may be one step nearer to the job you want.4. 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.thepaperboy. At first. Because advertising in national newspapers is costly.4. you may need to look at them every day. and responses may be slow and few. During holiday periods. but their relatively high advertising rates tend to restrict the salary range to the higher end.uk/careers . always follow the instructions given.5 Applying for advertised jobs Many jobs are of course advertised and here we look at where. start planning early in your job search. If you’re going to make speculative approaches. Use these meetings to get more information about the job market. • Persevere Occasionally persistence will pay off and.

Some produce yearbooks and lists of members. They often act for small to medium-sized employers that have no personnel or recruitment departments of their own. the British Psychological Society and the Training and Development Agency for Schools. not to help you sort out your career plans. have a regional education or training officer and sometimes specialist careers adviser whom you can contact. Services are free to you – the employing company is charged a fee. usually a percentage of your first year’s salary. and in some areas of employment (such as medical sales) they are almost the standard source of recruits.com and in most major libraries. Remember that it’s there to fill its clients’ posts.4.9 Recruitment agencies Recruitment agencies tend to deal with lowerlevel salaried positions.cbdresearch. visit our website at www.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 2.open.ac.8 Professional associations Many professional associations and institutions. Addresses and other details are in the Directory of British Associations at www. though. about what the agency is offering you.uk/careers 41 . To find out more. 2.4. Be clear. for example. Many specialise in particular kinds of work or industry.

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

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

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

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

03 .

Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

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

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

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

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

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

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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

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

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

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


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Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

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

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

Money Financial resources


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

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

Health Good points Bad points

Beliefs, outlooks Positives Negatives

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

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


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

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

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

visit our website at www. weekly Find someone else keen to do it To find out more.uk/careers Tomorrow Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 53 .g.open.ac. then fill in your own plan on the following page.Activity 3.4 Showing a worked example of an action plan Look at the worked example below. My long-term goal Short and medium term goals to achieving long-term goal Find out about courses Difficulty of funding Explore educational or career development loans Investigate letting flat for year of the course Afraid of rejection Friend will provide support and encouragement Actions required Constraints Resources.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.

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

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

04 .

Director-General.1 What do employers look for in graduates? ‘‘A degree alone is not enough.uk/careers 57 . Chief Executive.3 4. Forward to Prospects Directory 2004/5 ‘What do Graduates 2006 do?‘ (HECSU/AGCAS/AGR/UCAS) ‘‘Twenty-first century graduates need to demonstrate to employers that they can ‘hit the ground running’. They particularly value skills such as communication. Job applicants who can demonstrate that they have developed these skills will have a real advantage. 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. teamworking and problem solving.’’ Digby Jones. In addition to working hard to gain a good degree.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. Employers are looking for more than just technical skills and knowledge of a degree discipline. 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. Table 4. visit our website at www.5 4.’’ Carl Gilleard.6 4. It is also important for students to become self aware and develop the confidence to market themselves effectively when the time comes to apply for jobs.open. Together they make up what is referred to as ‘employability skills’.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. Confederation of British Industry. Equally importantly perhaps.ac.1 4. it shows you how these specific skills can be developed: To find out more.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Getting the job In this section 4.4 4.2 4.

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

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

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

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

ac. if possible. you may be surprised at the probing nature of some of the questions they ask.g.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. as most organisations will have comprehensive information on their websites.3. Convince them that they need to see you. When completing online forms you may find that some of your experiences do not fit neatly into the categories provided. also. to clarify your points. unless you’re told that you must not attach any other papers. Bear in mind that employers often receive a lot of forms. If you’re asked to submit an application form. 4. an NHS Trust). it shouldn’t just repeat what’s on your form. You must keep to the prescribed format. • Your aim is to convince the employer that you’re worth interviewing – you appear to be a suitable candidate for the job and. • 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. Whatever format they come in though. • Be sure to answer all the elements of each question (e. Ask the organisation for more details and. If a question doesn’t apply to you. ‘What are your spare time activities. We suggest you contact the employer for advice on how to approach this.2 Filling in your form • Complete all sections of the form. ‘Give names. like a CV or a speculative letter. visit our website at www. as that makes them difficult to read. think of: 62 To find out more. You may find the Select Simulator useful for practising completing online forms. If you do. because many large employers now optically scan applications to enter them into their recruitment databases. Layout can help – consider using bullet points. write ‘N/A’ or ‘Not applicable’ to show that you haven’t overlooked it. OU students can access this on the Careers Advisory Service website.3 Application forms Application forms come in all shapes and sizes. underlined topic headings. • Remember that presentation can be as important as content. In fact. • Comply with instructions such as using black ink or block capitals. Often – but not always – you’re told that you may also enclose a CV. visit a career service or large library to look for other information. Look for ‘online applications’ in the ‘A–Z’. Use it effectively to include or to emphasise information that you think is relevant and isn’t allowed for on the form. You’ll come to some sample questions below in Section 4.3. ‘What have been the significant factors in your life to date?’) prioritise and keep it within the space allowed. most large organisations now make their forms available online (which can save you time and postage). Most are intended for a wide variety of posts in the organisation (e. You can also research online. the space allowed for each question indicates its relative importance.1 Before you start your application form • Find out as much as you can about the vacancy and the organisation. the principles for completing application forms are very similar. • When answering extended (multi-part) or difficult questions. If you haven’t looked at employers’ application forms for some time.2 . • Many larger employers ask you to complete an online application.g. • Usually. Being able to write succinctly is evidence of your written communication skills. etc. 4.g.open. • Read through the whole form before you fill in any of the sections. This means that on an initial read through they may spend as little as two minutes looking at your form.g. so it is crucial that you sell yourself effectively. the kind of person the organisation wants to employ. attach a separate sheet. what do you contribute and what do you get out of them?’). • Make a photocopy of the blank form (or print it from the screen) and use it for your rough draft.uk/careers . and not only for senior jobs. • If there isn’t enough space for factual information (e. is to get an interview.3. • Don’t cram sections too full. addresses and dates of all previous employers’). Some are designed for recruiting people for a particular function or training scheme (e. • If there isn’t enough space for general interest information (e.g. Keep the following points in mind when it comes to completing an application form: • The purpose of a completed application form. graduate engineer). don’t send a CV instead.

It’ll also take some of the tedium out of tackling other forms. interesting and personal (say ‘I’. Practise answering the typical questions in the next activity.2. say so. ideally get someone else to check rather than relying on a spell checker.g. another someone you’ve worked for who can write about you as an employee.uk/careers.open. but mention any part-time or voluntary work you did during that period.g. You can often use the same material. Leave no unexplained gaps in your employment record.g. Usually. • Make a copy of your completed form so that you can re-read it before the interview. Tailor your responses to the post you’re applying for. to be a teacher) while some put emphasis on transferable skills (which you dealt with in Section 1. If you want to do this in a more structured way. Use the ‘any other information’ section to draw attention to activities and qualities not covered elsewhere on the form. 4. It is up to you to pick these out from your own experience so that you can present this on an application form. • Look over the presentation.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.ac. These may have been expressed as learning outcomes. and the date you sent it.uk/careers 63 . Always send it by first class post. visit our website at www. interests and skills the employer is looking for) Make your points relevant. in your use of personal pronouns). there are a number of resources in the Careers Advisory Service website at www. dealing with members of the public. You’ll rarely find the perfect application form that exactly suits your background and experience. flexibility and time management skills. If possible. You may be able to look back at the course descriptions To find out more. If you are a student.open. ask someone else to look over your application before you send it. If you’ve been unemployed.3.4 When you’ve completed the form • Check it thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors. with a little editing. working odd hours. or not more than once. Inaccuracy in one section can raise doubts about other areas of the form. Generalised waffle convinces no one. Look at Section 6 if you are or have been an offender. Every employer values determination. 4. the name and address of the person you sent the form to. give fuller details of your course than you would if it’s not particularly relevant. Your regional centre can provide you with a confidential reference – name the Regional Director as the referee. self-discipline.3 Skills you have attained as an OU student As an Open University student. one should be an academic referee. Be convincing.3.g. handling money. working under pressure. Give evidence and avoid bland generalities (e. Learning outcomes will give you some help in mapping out the skills and achievements that you gained during OU study. Some jobs may require subject-specific knowledge (e. not ‘we’). for several applications. and keep them well briefed so that they can write supportive references. If you’re applying for a job related to your degree subject. Use positive language. Make sure you’ve been consistent in style (e. go to the sections on ‘Personal and Career development’ and ‘Moving on’. 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. Get your referees’ agreement before giving their names. • Make a note of the job you’ve applied for. They can help you identify the subject-specific knowledge and transferable skills you have acquired during each course. If appropriate. • Use an envelope of suitable size so that the form isn’t folded. Make the most of these skills as well as your academic success. Be positive and honest. You’ll need to adapt your answers to the questions you find. ‘I worked as a volunteer classroom assistant for three years’ rather than ‘I love children’). and Course Guides for the courses that you have studied and pick out the kinds of skills that the course aimed to develop. 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. you can stress the personal qualities and skills that OU study demands.5 above) and some look for a mixture of both.ac. give their full titles and status.

’ ‘what you did’ and ‘results’. your ambitions and aspirations. Question 1 On the first page of this application you stated a preference for a particular job or function. Every word should justify its inclusion.open.uk/careers .Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 4. Include such details as your achievements and responsibilities. Don’t forget that you can ask a careers adviser for advice on what to include in your application. This section will tell them more about you as an individual than any other part of the form. the people. visit our website at www. Explain why we should select you ahead of other candidates. Go for key points and give evidence from your record.1 and consider answers based on the evidence you’ve already gathered. There is 80mm space available on the form. 64 To find out more. All are genuine questions from graduate application forms used by large companies. You’ll need a lot of time.’ ‘organised. Question 2 Outline any activities you have planned and organised. events or experiences that have influenced you. Tell us what you did and how you achieved results. drafts and fine tuning. Question 3 Write a short autobiography. There is 30mm space available on the form to show that you understand what the job involves and what you have to offer. There is 180mm space available on the form to influence the selectors. Remember to cover ‘planned. Look back at the answers you gave to Activity 1.2 Read the sample questions below.ac.

an academic CV is used mainly for applying for academic posts).4 – 4. say. as well as the work I want? There’s no right or wrong way to write a CV. The advantage of a CV is that you get to decide what information to include and highlight. In addition. 4. For example. your CV doesn’t need to conform to a set format. Bear this in mind when you design your own CV.2 What style of CV? The general style of the CV should depend on the sector or organisation it’s addressed to. some professions.ac.ac. Be prepared then to spend a considerable amount of time on creating and reworking an effective document. When you have work experience that is directly relevant. For most jobs. so you have more control over the impression it will create.1 The importance of tailoring your CV However.7 below. visit our website at www. look at: www. (So you may in fact be doing just that. but it must look as though you’re targeting the individual company.prospects. 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. 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. it’s most important that you keep in mind that one ‘all-purpose’ CV will not be much use to you. it is useful to highlight this in a separate section as it draws attention to it. go to the OU Careers Advisory Service website and choose the ‘Moving on’ section if you are a student at: www.4 The curriculum vitae (CV) Like an application form. So.open. it should be flexible enough to allow modification to match the job you’re seeking. Most people tend to prefer one style over the others (though as you will see.4. However. such as the legal profession. Instead.ac. To find out more. You can tailor the style. 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. For instance.) And you can reinforce this impression by tailoring the covering letter. The right one is the one that works for you in your situation and succeeds in getting you interviews. a CV is primarily intended to make the recruiter think it worthwhile interviewing you. content and design to show off your strengths and present you in the most positive light. 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. 4. When researching jobs. for tips and example CVs. 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). not sending out a batch of identical CVs to a list of companies you found in the Yellow Pages. To use the same approach for. This is only likely to work if you always apply for the same function in several very similar organisations.4. Whichever format you choose.uk/careers 65 . look at what the expectations might be. You want to make sure that you present yourself positively and accurately. prefer CVs in a chronological format. 4. and what to leave out or minimise.4.4. some job areas have expectations that a particular kind of CV is submitted. For more information on CVs.4.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook 4. a financial institution or a local authority might have an adverse effect.open.uk/careers Alternatively. you need to make a decision about the kind of CV to use as most employers will not specify.uk/links/CVwriting We also show you sample CVs in Sections 4. Employers expect you to show that you’re responding to their own advertisements.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. 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). when it comes to preparing your CV.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a point of discussing your strategy and interpretation of the group discussion with the interviewer later. You may be allowed to use the floor if the desk isn’t big enough. • Give reasons for your decisions. So. make sure that it’s permitted. 4.6 In-tray exercises These simulations of the administrative aspects of a job can be very taxing. medical tests cover sight. if you’re asked to submit a demonstration piece.9 Proficiency tests These tests are used to find out whether candidates have the skills they claim – 120 words per minute shorthand.7. some employers ask candidates to submit a handwritten piece on a management topic.uk/careers . Related tests of ‘potential for proficiency’ (trainability) assess characteristics such as hand–eye coordination. organisation.8 Biodata analysis ‘Biodata’. If you like to work like that. Intervene if there’s loss of direction. and between intrays if there’s more than one. Signal in your comments that you’ve spotted these links. 4. Pause for thought Getting the job you want is always a challenge. Information may be collected from the standard application form. • If the first part of the exercise asks you to set priorities. colour perception and hearing. but they’re not as detailed or as accurate as information gathered from psychometric tests and exercises. make reporting and follow-up clear. you’ll be maximising your chance of success. a contraction of ‘biographical data’.10 Medical tests The job advertisement or person specification should state clearly whether a certain level of physical fitness is required.ac. • Read the instructions carefully and plan your time accordingly. take care over presentation as well as content. How to go about it: • It may be possible to take the in-tray apart and sort it into heaps. set timescales. and that can be a clue. particularly in France.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Mentally ‘stand back’ occasionally and evaluate what’s happening. You’re likely not to know that graphology is being used. and ability to communicate in clear English. Don’t just put your head down and plough through the lot. If you have to reach a decision within thirty minutes. Treat the whole exercise like real life. other than statistical correlation.7. 90 To find out more.g. use your diary and your secretary well.open. • You can be judged only on what you’ve written down. with appropriate levels of formality and informality in your responses. • Keep a careful eye on the time.analysis of handwriting – is used a lot for managerial selection in continental Europe. just like a real one. remind the group if necessary. for example. • Look for links within an in-tray. 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. As well as general fitness. The qualities most likely to be assessed are analysis. colleagues are ill.7. but is a controversial technique in the UK. means that details of an individual’s history are correlated with the biographical details of others who have succeeded in the same occupation. • Remain balanced in your judgement. Studies indicate that graphologists can produce generalised personality descriptions. visit our website at www. A cleverly constructed in-tray will generate emotional responses that can cloud decision-making. The biographical data need not have any recognised link with performance.7.7 Graphology Graphology . However. 4. 4. Most candidates find these tests tough. or conflict between the other participants. Evidence offers little support for its use as a predictor of performance. 4. Best marks are obtained by candidates who produce the largest volume of appropriate written output. or 90 words per minute wordprocessing.7. abroad. even if you’re not asked to do so. • Don’t be discouraged. and may take time. A well constructed test in-tray will contain distracting trivia. not on what went through your head. Staffing issues are most likely to spring this trap. follow this up by tackling the items according to those you set. They’re usually set in an unrealistic scenario that prevents you from talking to other people in the organisation (e. decisionmaking. but often a special form is needed. By taking the trouble to reflect and to prepare. judgement. it’s Saturday afternoon).

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

05 .

the legal position. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Equality and Diversity Issues In this section 5.2 5. go to www.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. In this section we highlight some of the additional challenges that may be faced by students and graduates. Many employers have well-developed equal opportunities policies to help them to recruit a diverse workforce.6 5. visit our website at www.ac. the same principles of career planning and job seeking apply to everyone.open. strategies to help you in your job search and further resources that you may find helpful. before or during an interview will be considered later in Section 5.uk/careers 93 .ac. For more information and links on job-seeking strategies when facing discrimination. there is evidence that certain groups of people are at a disadvantage and may experience difficulty in achieving their career aims. In fact.5 5.4 5.1 5.3 5.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. The issues of whether. Each section includes a discussion of some of the issues you may encounter. on your application form. some organisations aim specifically to recruit a workforce that reflects the community they serve. when or how you should do so. To find out more. on a covering letter. However.prospects. and you will often see this highlighted in job advertisements.

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. you need to present your experience and skills positively and highlight your ‘added value’. So.ac. you have a degree and. 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. visit our website at www. Employers are looking for more than a qualification. Braille or large print. and paid work. juggling study and home responsibilities. especially when you have used all your spare time to get the degree in the first place. If you have additional requirements that may lead to difficulties accessing any of our services. look at the Careers Advisory Service website for contacts for volunteering opportunities.uk/careers .2 How to help yourself in the job market Take a look at Section 4 on applying for jobs.1.1. we will be happy to take reasonable steps to accommodate your needs. 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.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook Activity 5. sexual orientation and religion. This may feel unfair.1 Your rights By October 2006. 5. gender. that you are automatically going to be offered a job. For example.open. This should also help you to feel confident about what you can offer to the workplace. Then contact the Careers Advisory Service in your region to get help with your marketing plan. They are saying.. ‘Yes. or contact your local OU Careers Advisory Service. as a mature graduate. your age will count against you in the job market? 5.1 Note here any issues that could affect you at work. You may need to allow some time for appropriate arrangements to be made. having completed your degree. Having a degree is not enough to secure a job.’. if you need any information in an alternative format such as an audio recording. Remember. disability. 5. please contact your regional centre who will arrange this. hone your CV to highlight that ‘extra’ you can offer to enhance your application.1 Age Are you concerned that. It’s not enough to think that because you have completed a part-time degree. 94 To find out more. then you could consider exploring your local options. If you haven’t had any recent work experience (paid or voluntary).. to offer a range of transferable skills and experience to an employer. This is where you are able. selection procedures in large organisations are being reviewed. So. 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’. which you might like to discuss with a careers adviser. For instance.

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

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

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

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

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.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. including children and prohibits direct and indirect sex discrimination. to apply a condition or practice. • Break free of male and female stereotypes. For instance. • Provide clear evidence of your ability to do the job. irrespective of sex. The EOC campaigns to: • Close the pay gap between women and men.worklifebalancecentre. 5.3 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. • Concentrate on your strengths. an unnecessary requirement to be under 5’ 10” would discriminate against men.uk/careers 99 . there is a good argument that the general definition of sex discrimination prohibits this. there are special provisions prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment in employment. Therefore. Published by AGCAS and available online at: www. Part I of the SDA describes the forms of discrimination to which the SDA applies. although there is not yet any legal authority on this point.5 How to help yourself in the job market So. and this will help to counter any negative stereotypes that may exist. • Discuss your application with a careers adviser in your regional centre.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.4.open. • Make public services relevant to the differing needs of men and women. You can access this at: www. 10 – Top Careers for Women – careers publication focusing on issues relating to graduate women in the labour market.4.4. 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.uk Work life balance centre – available at: www.4.numberten. Scotland and Wales. For instance. including a section on gender. This is especially important if you are looking to enter a field of employment that is traditionally dominated by the opposite sex. 5.org. it is not justifiable.4 Discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment With certain exceptions. a requirement to work full-time might be unlawful discrimination against women. another is treating a woman adversely because she is pregnant.4. • Increase the number of women in public life.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.uk No. Employment-related claims are brought in an employment tribunal. There are no express provisions prohibiting discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment in the other fields covered by the SDA. • Secure comprehensive equality legislation in Europe. to apply that condition or practice. There are special provisions about discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment.org A level playing field – A job-hunting guide for students and graduates on how to challenge unfair discrimination. irrespective of sex. • Make it easier for parents to balance work with family responsibilities. • End sexual harassment at work. one type of direct sex discrimination is sexual harassment. visit our website at www. Further resources Equal Opportunities Commission at: www. The SDA applies to women and men of any age. Strict time limits apply. However. England.ac. 5. 5. 5.eoc.co. The EPA has been interpreted to cover indirect sex discrimination as well as direct discrimination. Three months (less one day) from the act of the discrimination for employment tribunal cases.uk/links/Discrimination To find out more.ac.prospects.

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

• Develop contacts and make the most of your networking skills.6. Windsor Fellowship The Windsor Fellowship is a charitable organisation that offers skills development programmes to undergraduates and graduates from minority ethnic groups. It holds an annual careers day for black and Asian students and graduates.6 Sexuality and sexual orientation Are you worried about possible discrimination in the workplace because of your sexuality? Whether to.bitc. universities and schools to support learners from minority ethnic groups. • Check if the organisation is a member of Business in the Community (BITC) www.open. which apply to the Sex Discrimination Act (1997).uk 5. You can log onto their website at: www. Find out more about the unit at: www.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. students and recruiters. Further resources KAL – Careers publication for students from minority ethnic groups (formerly Kaleidoscopic). You can ask for a copy of the policy before applying for a job. Their website is: www.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. that is dedicated to ethnic minority issues.gov. If the EOP is incorporated into your contract you might be able to directly rely upon it.Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook • Make use of Section 4 ‘Getting the job’ to prepare your marketing tools.org.prospects. application forms and covering letters.windsor-fellowship.ac.teacherworld. You will need to consider how comfortable you will be in an area of work where you are not open about your sexuality.nmc-online.uk/careers 101 .com Black and Asian Graduates –The UK’s official website for black and Asian graduates.org. Includes job-hunting techniques. run by BITC. For advice on finding positive employers take a look at: www.com 5.1 Your rights The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment. You can find more information at the Press for Change website (see Section 5. your CV.2 Transsexuals In May 1999.kalmagazine. Race for Opportunity is a programme. National Mentoring Consortium Unit The National Mentoring Consortium Unit works with employers.uk. plus details of work experience and career-enhancement programmes www.org To find out more. Contact them for information on legal issues.cre. • Discuss your plans and approach with a careers adviser in your regional centre. the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 came into force in the UK. available for reference in your regional centre or at www. especially public sector and large private employers.uk 5.4). • Many employers have sub-groups for minority ethnic groups. Scotland and Wales.ac.blackandasiangrad. visit our website at www. TeacherWorld UK TeacherWorld UK provides information and support for teachers (and those intending to teach) from minority ethnic backgrounds. Target employers with a reputation for good equal opportunity policy and practice. vacancies.6. and how much to disclose to a potential employer and to work colleagues is of course a matter of personal choice. The amendments.uk/links/Discrimination • Understand the relevant legal situation. when to.5.6.6. 5.ac. formally made illegal a whole catalogue of discrimination against transsexual people in employment.uk 5. This relates to England. campaigns and services as well as vacancies in the commission Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) www. and this will depend on your own experience and lifestyle.

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

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


Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

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

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

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

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

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

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


Career Planning and Job Seeking Workbook

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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