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The UKs European university

CHOOSING
A CAREER

Finding the right career for you


www.kent.ac.uk/ces
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 3

CONTENTS

Introduction 4
What is a career? 4
Where to start 5
Self-awareness 6
Your interests 6
Your values 7
Your personality 8
Your skills 10
Personal circumstances 12
Opportunity awareness 14
Using your degree 14
The graduate job market 14
What is a graduate job? 15
Postgraduate study 16
Self-employment 17
Time out 18
Career exploration 19
Researching careers 19
Networking 20
Work experience 20
Decision making and taking action 22
Action planning 23
Summary 24
Tips for successful career planning 24
Useful online resources 24
Careers Employability Award 25
4 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

INTRODUCTION

Reading this booklet will 20% of roles in this company


not help you to make didnt exist when I joined, and
may want some personal advice

30% of this years graduate


and guidance based on your own
an immediate career
recruits will move into roles
individual needs and interests.
decision! Choosing a Careers advisers are available at all
career is a process, not
stages of your studies to provide which didnt exist a year ago
an event: it takes time (head of HR at a digital
this: see page 22.

and thought. What is a career?


communications agency)

A career is more than just a job! The changing and uncertain nature
What this booklet aims to do is of careers means that you are not
to help you make a start in this The word 'career' used to be
choosing a job for life: your first job
process by outlining the different associated with paid employment in
role after university is just a step on
stages of making career choices, a single occupation or job. Today,
a path where you will have to be
the issues that students should think we recognise that a career is made
prepared to take new directions
about during this process and some up of many stages: it could include
and decisions on a regular basis.
resources (online, in print and further study, time out (including
To manage these changes
through careers advisers) that will for parenthood or other caring
positively, you need to be prepared
help you to find out more about responsibilities as well as gap
to keep learning throughout your life
yourself and about your options. years), volunteering, part-time work
and take an active role in building
or self-employment. An individual is
your career. The following principles
Look on this booklet as an likely to undergo many changes,
of career planning, created by
introduction and use the resources it voluntary or otherwise, in their work,
Canadian career development
suggests to follow up and find out work status and employer during the
specialists, provide a useful guide
more. After you have done this, you course of their career.
to help you understand the
implications of this changing world
of work:
1 Change is constant
We change constantly and so does
the world around us including the
working world. Most people now
encounter many jobs, in different
occupations, organisations and
industry sectors during their lifelong
career journey, so adaptability and
resilience are important skills to
master. Every change, good or bad,
brings new opportunities. Those
who are most aware of change, in
themselves and the world around
them, are able to make proactive
choices and benefit from change
rather than resist or complain about
it.
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 5

2 Learning is lifelong Where to start Decision making. Once you have


When change is constant, learning completed the above two steps, you
The following four-stage model is
needs to be ongoing. Learning does can bring them together to help
commonly used in career planning:
not end when you graduate: make decisions. It is likely, though,
opportunities to learn, formally or that you will need to find out more
Self-awareness. Understanding
informally, are everywhere! about the various opportunities to
yourself your interests, values,
make sure that they are the right
skills, aptitudes, ability, personality
3 Focus on the journey ones for you. While no one can
traits, goals, aspirations and what
Life is a journey. Identifying make your career decisions for you,
really motivates and drives you is
your goals and purpose gives drawing on other people's
the most vital part of making career
direction. However, dont get too professional knowledge, reputation
choices. Nobody else can tell you
fixed on a single destination: this and skills when planning your
what to do because nobody else
lack of flexibility can prevent you career can be invaluable. Getting
knows you as well as you do
from adapting to the changes, work experience, working with a
yourself! The following pages give
challenges and opportunities mentor or seeking one-to-one
suggestions for how you can
that are happening right now. careers advice are all ways that
increase your self-awareness and
can help you through the decision
gain a greater understanding of
4 Access your allies process.
your interests, values and other
You do not take your journey
things that are important to you.
through life alone. Friends, relatives, Taking action. This could include
teachers, neighbours and developing greater employability
Opportunity awareness. What
colleagues can all be willing and skills; taking additional learning or
career choices are available now,
helpful allies in helping you take the qualifications; finding potential
and may be available in the future,
next steps on this journey. See page employers; perfecting your CV,
in the industries and professions
20 for more about accessing these application and interview technique;
in which you are interested,
allies and using your networks. applying for internships,
experienced or qualified? It can
placements, graduate jobs or
also involve understanding in what
5 Follow your heart further study.
sectors or what geographical areas
Its important to work at something
there are skills shortages and/or
that makes you feel happy and The rest of this booklet will look at
how political, social and economic
productive. As things around you each of these stages in more detail.
developments may impact positively
change, knowing and believing in
or negatively on your career
yourself your values, interests and
opportunities.
dreams will help to hold you on
course. Your vision for the future
gives you the energy to go after
what you want. That vision may
change over time, but if you stay in
touch with yourself, youll be able to
see where you want to go.
6 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

SELF-AWARENESS

Your interests
Most people will say I want to do a
job that interests me. Your interests
have already influenced many of
your life choices to date: your
degree subject; choosing which
university to attend; work experience
you have undertaken; how you
spend your spare time; where you
have spent your holidays. They may
have been responsible for friends
you have made and helped you to
develop your skills. These interests
will probably have a similar influence
on your career.

For some people, an interest is so


important that it is the main
influence on their career choice. A
gifted athlete, for example, may be
able to use their interest and ability
to succeed in a sporting career.
Many more people will be content
to play their sport at a recreational
level, but will still take this interest
into account when selecting a It is important to weigh these Interests in career planning,
career or an employer. Some may interests against other factors though, go beyond the interest that
enter sports-related careers, in once you get to the opportunity you have in your degree subject or
leisure management, sports awareness stage. Many other leisure activities. The word is also
administration or promotion, retailing people are likely to share a passion used to refer to work-related
sports goods or teaching PE. for areas such as sport, music, interests and ways of working.
Others will seek out careers in fashion, politics, computer games
different fields that offer similar or television, making these careers The following sites provide
opportunities for physical activity, incredibly competitive to get into. interactive exercises to help you
teamwork, competition or challenge. You need to find out what the work analyse your interests and relate
Or they may simply choose between really involves, develop skills that will them to different careers:
employers on the basis of the give you an edge when applying 32-question Interests Exercise
company sports facilities. and gain experience which is www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing
often unpaid. /InterestsProfile.htm
What really motivates me
www.windmillsonline.co.uk/
interactive/section_1/
subsection_3/page1.html
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 7

Your values for supervising/managing others But in many other cases, a single
Creativity: using your initiative career field can offer scope for
What are your values?
and developing own ideas satisfying many different values. For
Your values are those things in your Variety: doing different activities example:
life that you consider to be important Challenge: performing tasks that A chartered accountant working
and that give you motivation. In are difficult in a large private practice may
relation to work, values are what Risk-taking: taking actions and value his prestige, material
give purpose to a job in the eyes of decisions that involve potential benefits and security .....
the individual who does it. The danger One who has left the same firm to
effort, commitment and motivation Work-life balance: having set up her own practice may
that a person brings to a job is adequate time to pursue interests enjoy the independence and risk-
usually in direct proportion to the outside work taking ...
values that they perceive in it. Influence: having the ability to While a third, who has taken a
affect people's opinions and post as in-house accountant with
Examples of work-related values ideas a national charity may gain his
could include: Advancement: having a clear main satisfaction from knowing
Independence: working career path and promotion that his work is helping society
autonomously with no or little structure But all of them may equally value
supervision the variety, responsibility, people
Helping others: either individuals Think about how important each contact and intellectual challenge
or groups or both value on this list is to you. Some of their day-to-day work.
Prestige: having respect and careers instantly call to mind a
high standing in others eyes particular set of values: Your values are likely to play a key
Job security: a strong likelihood An Army officer, for example, is role in your career choice and to be
of staying in that job as long as likely to cite leadership, variety the main factor in deciding on a
you wish to and risk-taking as the main career, or a career path within a
Collaboration: working with attractions of this career, but particular field of employment.
others collaboration, job security, Research into happiness and
Helping Society: contributing to recognition and prestige may values suggests that our happiness
the betterment of the world also be significant factors. is related to how we are able to
Achievement: doing work where An aid worker in a developing identify and utilise these values in
you can see tangible results country will probably give helping life.
Recognition: receiving credit for others as their chief priority,
achievements perhaps along with Happiness at Work
Material benefits: salary, independence, collaboration, and www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing
bonuses, pension schemes and risk-taking while dismissing /career-satisfaction.htm
other employee benefits values such as material benefits, Analyse your Career Values
Relevance: a job where your job security and advancement as www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing
educational background (maybe irrelevant to his or her career /values.htm
your degree subject itself), skills choice.
and experience are important
Leadership: taking responsibility

CONTINUED OVERLEAF
8 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

SELF-AWARENESS (CONT)

Your personality
Consider how well each of these characteristics describes you
Your interests and values are two of
on a scale of 1 (very closely) to 4 (not at all)
the factors that make you an
individual and will influence your Assertive Outgoing Sensitive to others
career choice. What other aspects Confident Imaginative Warm
of your personality need to be Reliable Energetic Decisive
considered? Methodical Competitive Independent
Consistent Cheerful Objective
Understanding your personality can Tactful Reserved Adaptable
help you think about how you prefer Organised Cautious Adventurous
to approach problems, plan your Resilient Relaxed Persistent
time and relate to people. You can
also get an insight into the working
environments that will best suit you
quality in financial jobs and crucial obtain our energy, take in
and the types of work that might be
for many medical occupations information, reach decisions and
most rewarding.
(imagine the brain surgeon who isn't deal with the outside world. These
careful!). Similarly, being reserved preferences lead to the definition of
Some characteristics are applicable
may be linked to powers of 16 different personality types each
to many careers. Resilience, for
concentration and attention to detail of which is characterised by
example, can be equally valuable to
which may be important in scientific preferred behaviour patterns. These
the police officer, the television
and computing fields. can influence many of the choices
producer, the investment banker or
that we make in life not least our
anybody whose daily journey to
Before relating your personal style to choice of career.
work involves the Northern Line!
careers, though, you need to make
Being sensitive to others is not just
sure that you understand what a There are many personality
for counsellors and social workers
particular career demands. If you questionnaires that can help you to
but can help anybody to get on with
are methodical, cautious and discover and understanding your
their colleagues.
reliable you could certainly do well personality type, how it affects your
as an accountant but at the same behaviour and interests and how it
These personal characteristics may
time, you need to be adaptable, relates to career choice, The best-
have a strong influence on your
persistent and confident to deal with known assessment tool is the Myers
choice of career. Anybody who feels
the range of clients you are likely to Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which
that terms like outgoing'' and
encounter. looks at your preferred ways of
assertive are the complete
interacting with others, taking in
opposite of their personality is
Although personality is a complex information, making decisions and
unlikely to be happy, for example, in
attribute, there is one aspect known working. It is based on four sets of
sales or arguing a case in a law
as personal preference that has preferences, relating to how you
court, but may find their niche in an
been studied thoroughly and which prefer to:
information or research focused
has proven relevance to the career direct your energy (Extraversion-
role.
decision making process. Introversion)
process information (Sensing-
You may think that certain personal
The theory of personal preference is INtuition)
styles, such as being reserved and
based on the idea that we seem to
cautious might be seen as negative,
be born with preferred ways to
but being cautious is a valuable
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 9

make decisions (Thinking- Idealist, Wizard, Visionary, Other personality test sites that
Feeling) Mastermind(www.bbc.co.uk/news/ may be of interest
organise your life (Judging- magazine-18723950) or even
Perceiving) animals www.kent.ac.uk/careers/
(www.thespecialistworks.com/attitudi Choosing/personalstyles.htm
By completing the MBTI you end up nal-targeting/personar/personality- www.kent.ac.uk/careers/
with one of sixteen four-letter codes types) psychotests.htm for personality
that summarises your personality questionnaires
type. You can try a self-assessment Once you have gained an insight Keirsey Temperament Sorter:
exercise based on the MBTI at into your personality type, the http://keirsey.com This test
www.humanmetrics.com/cgi- following sites may be helpful in produces a four-part personality
win/jtypes2.asp relating it to careers. type along the lines of Myers-
Briggs
If four-letter codes seem a bit dry www.personalitypage.com Enneagram Test:
and boring, there are many /careers.html www.9types.com A personality
personality tests based on the www.16personalities.com/ test that measures your
MBTI that use friendlier indicators www.personalitytype.com personality traits against 9 types.
of your personality type, such as

CONTINUED OVERLEAF
10 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

SELF-AWARENESS (CONT)
13:01 Page 30

Your skills your life including study, sports, The Rate Your Skills exercise on
societies, part-time work and page 11 lists 15 of the skills most
While your interests, values and
volunteering. often looked for by graduate
personality will affect the career
employers, defines what employers
choices that you make, your skills
Employers need graduates who can mean by these, and give you a
will be crucial in enabling you to
offer more than just their academic chance to rate your skills level.
make successful applications to
achievements: however good these
your chosen employers and to do
are, you will be competing with other For further information see the
your work effectively.
graduates who are just as good in Employability Skills section of our
terms of their academic results. website: www.kent.ac.uk/ces
The term skills as used here
Employers therefore look for a range /student/skills.html
relates to what are known as
of these skills in graduate
transferable skills rather than to
applicants, many of which are The Skills Map below sets out a
practical skills such as computing
common to a number of different range of employability skills in a
skills, languages or lab skills.
career areas. Demonstrating these way that shows their relationships
Transferable skills (which may also
skills in your CV and application to each other. You may wish to
be referred to as employability
form, using your various highlight any you feel you are good
skills or soft skills) are not specific
experiences as evidence, will help at and put a question mark against
to any one career area and can be
you to stand out as a candidate. any you feel you need to develop.
used and developed in all areas of
Does a pattern emerge?

Enthusiasm to make Self


things happen and Reliance
achieve goals Summarising
Accepting Report
Responsibility writing
Working on your
Learning Attention to own initiative to
detail improve the way Telephone
new skills Skills
things are done.
Creativity/
Numeracy lateral
thinking Writing Listening
Skills

managing your
Collecting Professionalism
learning/performance
data Communicating Presenting
Data Speaking
handling
Classifying/
synthesising Giving/
SKILLS MAP accepting
constructive
Co-operating criticism
Identifying/ Analysing
evaluating Problem Team-
solving working Presenting a
Organising & positive
Summarising Planning personal
data image
Investigating Leading
/Researching Being
IT Skills assertive
Time Decision
management making Negotiating
Prioritising
Responding Persuading
positively and &
flexibly to changing Motivating influendng
situations Action others
planning Setting Delegating
objectlves

Copyright of the University of Kent.


www.kent.ac.uk/ces 11

Rate your skills!


The skills listed below are the ones most often looked for by graduate employers. To assess your own skills and
competences, rate each item 1-4, where: 1 = very good 2 = capable 3 = basic 4 = not skilled

Skill What this means in practical terms Rate


yourself

Written The ability to write clearly and concisely and convey information in a way that will convey
communication the meaning to different readers.

Verbal The ability to use the spoken word to express ideas in a way that is easily understood by
communication others who may be unfamiliar with the topic, in one-to-one conversation or to a larger
audience.

Problem solving Devising and then using an appropriate method/rule/technique or logic to solve a
problem.

Team working Cooperating with and supporting others in order to achieve a common goal.

Analytical ability Being able to pick out the key issues from a large amount of complex information.

Creative thinking Being original and inventive in order to solve problems, generate ideas or produce
novel designs.

Numeracy The ability to understand and interpret facts and ideas expressed in figures and
non-verbal data.

Leadership The ability to guide, direct, motivate and take responsibility for others.

Commercial Having an understanding and appreciation of the organisation and its market position
awareness Understanding how the organisation makes a profit or acquires funding.

Decision-making The ability to think clearly and logically under pressure. Considering all the issues
involved in a situation, and their potential impact, before deciding on the wisest course
of action to be taken.

Negotiating Agreeing a course of action that is both appropriate and beneficial to those involved.

Persuading Being able to challenge the attitudes and points of view of others in a logical non-
judgmental way that people can understand.

Self-motivation Being proactive and willing to take the initiative. Able to work independently without
constant supervision. Setting and achieving goals.

Time The ability to organise your work, prioritise what needs to be done when and meet
management deadlines.

Flexibility Able to carry out a variety of tasks, work in different situations and manage change in
your life and work.

Try to think of examples of times and situations where you have used the skills that you have rated most highly: these
can then be used in your CV or application forms. Look at the skills that you dont feel that you have at the moment: are
any of these likely to be important in a future career? How might you improve and strengthen them?
(see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/skillsdevelop.htm for some ideas!)
CONTINUED OVERLEAF
12 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

SELF-AWARENESS (CONT)

Personal circumstances Does the above apply to another Many major employers ask for a
part of the UK? We have links to high UCAS points score or a 2.1
As well as your interests, values,
some useful sites for other degree. Will your academic
personality and skills there may be
regions at www.kent.ac.uk/ background affect the career
external factors some beyond your
careers/sitesgen.htm areas or employers that you can
control that you need to take into
Do you have a disability that you consider? www.kent.ac.uk/
account when making career
feel may affect your choice of careers/cv/JobProblems.htm
choices:
career, or employers perception Are your financial circumstances
Do you have personal
of you? www.kent.ac.uk/ces/ important in making career
commitments that make it
student/targetedinformation.html? decisions?
essential for you to stay in Kent?
tab=students-with-disabilities Do you have family or caring
Or do you just have a strong
Are you an international student? responsibilities?
preference for staying in the
See www.kent.ac.uk/ces/ Do you need to take a partners
area? See our Working in
student/targetedinformation.html? career choices into account?
Kent pages
tab=international-students for Are you happy to study for further
www.kent.ac.uk/careers/
advice on your options qualifications (maybe part-time
kentopps.htm
while you are working full-time) or
do you never want to take an
exam again?
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 13

Further resources
My Prospects Career Planner
www.prospects.ac.uk/myprospects_
planner_login.htm is a powerful
program to help you choose a
career by helping you to identify
your skills, motivations and interests.
Based on your answers to the
questions asked you will get a list of
occupations that are good matches
with your profile and an explanation
of the reasons why. You can then
find out more about these
occupations including job
descriptions, work conditions, entry
requirements (including the skills
required), salary, training and case
studies.

Target Careers Report


http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-
report A career planning tool which
aims to help you get started on your
job hunt. You'll work through some Careers Explorer Although there are no right or wrong
simple, interactive questionnaires www.kent.ac.uk/careers/explorer.htm answers, if you do not answer the
that assess your career strengths, is an easy to use program to questions honestly, the program
personality and abilities and, based generate career ideas developed by may produce job suggestions which
on your responses, you'll get a list of the University of Kent Careers and are not appropriate for you so do
jobs that may suit you. Employability Service. By answering think about your responses.
job-related questions you can
compare your skills, interests and As you will see from the descriptions
values with those required in some above, these programs do not just
popular graduate jobs, which will help you to analyse your skills,
help you to see which might be interests and values but also show
worth further investigation as a you how these relate to graduate job
future career. areas. This brings us on to the next
stage in career planning:
None of these programs can tell you opportunity awareness.
your perfect job! They simply take
your responses and compare them
with ratings for a variety of jobs to
produce a list of possible matches.
14 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

OPPORTUNITY AWARENESS

Once you have looked at


all aspects of yourself
careers where you may be able opportunities are is not helpful if
to use your degree directly, or these do not reflect your interests,
your interests, values, where employers are particularly values and personality. The chart
personality, skills and interested in graduates in your below summarises the vacancies
personal circumstance,
subject. You will also find advertised on the CES vacancy

you can start to relate


information about careers database during the 2013 2014

these to careers and jobs.


entered by past Kent graduates academic year by type of work.

The career programs


in your subject.

mentioned on the
The Options with your Subject As you can see from the chart, the

previous page can help


pages at www.prospects.ac.uk/ job areas with the most vacancies

you through this process.


options_with_your_subject.htm are IT (13%), sales (11%),
also offer a range of ideas on marketing/advertising/PR (9%),
how to use your degree, with links finance and the public sector (both
Many students start the process of to profiles of jobs where your 7%). Remember that many of these
choosing a career by first looking at degree may be relevant. will have been open to graduates in
their opportunities: careers advisers any subject. However, 25% of the
are often asked questions such as Be aware, though, that many advertised vacancies were in other
What do graduates in my subject careers are open to graduates in areas than those listed, including
go on to? or What job areas have any subject and you can start a law, charities, creative arts,
the most vacancies for graduates? career in different areas of environment and publishing.
However, the answers may not business, finance and the public
always be helpful to you when your sector straight from university. Advertised job vacancies are only
individual preferences and part of the picture: many jobs in
circumstances are taken into The graduate job market: popular areas or smaller
account: where are the jobs? organisations are never advertised
and are filled through word of mouth
Starting your career planning by
or speculative approaches.
What do graduates in my asking where the most job
subject go on to?
Careers advisers often give the not-
very-helpful answer All kinds of
things to this question because it
accountancy, banking and finance
is true! Why are you beginning your
business, consulting and
career planning from this point?
management
Is it because using your degree is
engineering and manufacturing
important to you? Did you choose
information technology
your degree with a particular career
in mind? Is your degree subject in marketing, advertising and PR

demand in the job market? Are you public services and administration
uncertain what else you are good at recruitment and HR
beyond studying? sales

teaching and education


Our What Can I Do with my
other areas
Degree? pages at
www.kent.ac.uk/careers/
degreein.htm will give ideas for
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 15

What is a graduate job? You may want to enter a Before making career decisions
traditional profession, such as based on your opportunities, it is
Most graduates will be aiming at a
teaching or law. important to research careers and
graduate job but what exactly is
You may want a job where you find out what they really involve.
it?
can make use of your degree Popular images of careers are often
subject directly, such as stereotyped and inaccurate: for
You may be thinking of a
economist, psychologist, example, accountants need good
graduate training scheme. Many
architect or research scientist. people skills and marketing
of the jobs above will fall into this
You may just want a job that demands strong numeracy skills.
category: they are typically
requires a degree for entry and The resources listed on page 19 will
offered by larger employers in
recognises the effort that you help you get behind the glossy or
business, finance, IT, law,
have put into achieving one over geeky images of different careers
technology, engineering and the
the last three or four years! This is and find out what they really involve.
public sector. Graduate training
a highly achievable ambition:
schemes are popular and
although the number of
competitive but are not the only
graduates has risen over the last
way to start your career: on
ten years, so has the demand for
average, only a quarter of
the skills and experience that they
graduates will join these schemes
can offer.
each year.

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16 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

OPPORTUNITY AWARENESS (CONT)

Postgraduate study
Around 20% of UK graduates go
into further study immediately after
their first degree. Many others will
do so at a later stage. These are
some of the most frequently-given
reasons for doing postgraduate
study:

For interest in the subject


This is essential for any
postgraduate academic study,
especially in humanities and social
sciences. Even if future employers
do not view your degree as
particularly relevant, they will
respect the enthusiasm and
determination that has carried you
through an additional year of study,
often with no funding, as well as the
skills you have gained through your
studies.
But remember that life as a Postgraduate study is a stage in
To help your career postgraduate can be quite different your career: it is not an alternative
For some careers, further academic from that of an undergraduate. to a career! Think about how a
or professional qualifications are postgraduate degree may fit into
essential or an advantage. The To put off making a career your longer-term career plans, look
resources on page 19 will help you decision at the careers entered by past
to find out whether this is the case This is probably the worst reason of graduates from the courses you are
for the career areas that interest you. all. It won't put off your career interested in and discuss your
decision all that long to have the options with a careers adviser.
Because your tutor best chance of getting into many
recommended it graduate jobs you need to start For more information on the pros
making applications a full year and cons of postgraduate study see
This can be flattering but it is your
before starting work. To avoid the our Postgraduate Study pages:
decision, not your tutor's, so look at
panic that comes to many www.kent.ac.uk/ces/postgrad-
all the issues involved carefully.
postgraduates when they complete study.html and the Prospects
their studies, have even higher website:
To keep on being a student
debts to pay off and still no idea www.prospects.ac.uk/links/PGStudy
For some students, the idea of
what they want to do, make sure you
leaving education is quite daunting.
use your postgraduate year to get
Postgraduate study is a way of
down to making career choices and
spending a further year doing
improving your employability skills
what they know and are good at.
and experience.
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 17

Self-employment as artists, and more than three- developed experience, skills and
quarters of those working as knowledge through working as an
The number of self-employed
musicians, were self-employed or employee: 55% of workers aged
people in the UK has grown rapidly
freelance. 50+ are self-employed compared
over the last five years: 4.5 million
with around 15% of under-35s.
people are now self-employed,
In areas such as the performing
making up almost 15% of the
arts, art and design, and media Skills required to be self-employed
working population
production self-employment is include networking, communication
usually a necessity, if not for the and commercial awareness. These
You may think that many years of
whole length of a career then at skills have to be combined with
experience are needed to become
least for some part of it, especially personal qualities such as
self-employed but a significant
in the early stages. persistence, motivation, resilience
number of new graduates also take
and commitment.
up this option. In 2013, 4.8% of
Self-employment is likely to appeal
graduating students who went into
to graduates whose values (see If starting your career on a self-
employment were working for
page 7) include independence, employed basis appeals to you,
themselves.
creativity and risk-taking; those there are many opportunities at Kent
whose values lean more towards to develop the skills and experience
Self-employed graduates are not
advancement, job security and that you will need. These include
just business people and
collaboration will probably be more Student Enterprise (competitions,
entrepreneurs: the sectors that
reluctant to take up this option. skills awards and Enterprise
these graduates were working in
However, many graduates feel more Champions); the Enterprise Hub,
included art and design, sports and
confident about working for which offers free advice and
fitness, media, journalism and IT.
themselves once they have mentoring to help you plan your
More than half of graduates working
business start-up and enterprise
modules run by Kent Business
School but open to all students as
wild modules. For full details of all
these schemes, see
www.kent.ac.uk/enterprise/students/i
ndex.html

For more information on self-


employment as an option for
graduates, see:

www.prospects.ac.uk/
self_employment.htm

www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/
findajob.html?tab=self-employment
18 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

OPPORTUNITY AWARENESS (CONT)

Time out
Taking a year out needs to be
carefully planned. It can be highly
beneficial if you use it to gain further
experience, improve your
confidence and skills and add to
your CV. This can be done through
temporary jobs, casual work, travel,
volunteering or a combination of all
these.

Without planning, though, you run


the risk of spending a year stuck in
an unchallenging job (or series of
jobs), gaining little in the way of
skills, experience or satisfaction. The
resources listed below will help you
to avoid this trap, but first ask
yourself a few questions:

Why do you want to take time


out? What will future employers A lot will depend on what you have
think? done during a gap year and how
To earn some money to pay off you present it. If you have spent a
Most recruiters look favourably
your debts? year backpacking around the world,
upon people who have taken gap
To travel? your applications should show how
years, if they are able to draw on
To decide on a career? you planned and organised the trip;
their experiences and show an
To gain some relevant work how you dealt with any problems
employer how they might make
experience? you met along the way, how you
them more effective in the role they
A bit of all the above? funded it and what you learned from
are applying for (Association of
Graduate Recruiters). the experience, rather than just
What can you do? listing all the exotic countries you
Almost anything! But these are When looking for jobs I found it visited.
some of the most popular options: very easy to handle the questions
Join an organised project on employers' application forms as I Employers, though, are usually even
Find your own job or internship had gained so many skills from my more impressed if you have gained
Travel independently, working as gap year teaching English in China: some rather more structured
you go teamworking, initiative, problem- experience, through paid work or
Follow a course to improve your solving and leadership to name just through volunteering, during a gap
skills or develop an interest a few. year. For further information and
ideas about how you can do this,
see
www.kent.ac.uk/careers/alternatives.
htm and
www.prospects.ac.uk/gap_year.htm
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 19

CAREER EXPLORATION

Researching careers
Career research is a very important
part of your career planning. It will
help you to explore possible career
pathways, get behind the superficial
popular impression of a career and
identify any potential issues (eg
qualifications, experience, skills and
personal qualities) that you may
need to consider as you pursue
your goals. The earlier that you can
identify these issues the more
prepared you will be to tackle them
and improve your chances of
success.

The kinds of things that are useful to


know are:
What does the job really involve?
What skills and qualifications do
employers look for?
Do I need to do further study or from Accountancy to Youth and strengths and weaknesses and
training? Community Work, with general feel more confident about my
How can I get some relevant work advice and links to key employers, abilities.
experience? professional bodies, recruitment It made me think outside the box
Are job vacancies advertised, agencies and vacancy sources. and research a career I had
and if so where? previously no knowledge of.
You can take the Researching a When I started my course, I had
You can get answers to most of Career assignment as part of the no idea what sort of job I'd want
these questions through the job Careers Employability Award on when I graduated. This module
profiles/job descriptions on the Moodle www.kent.ac.uk/ces/ has been a very useful starting
Prospects and Target careers student/careersmoodle.html. This point for identifying careers I
websites, which between them will help you to structure your career might potentially be interested in.
cover several hundred different investigation and get an in-depth
graduate jobs: insight into a career of interest to However, you can only learn so
www.prospects.ac.uk/ you. You will also learn skills that will much through online reading and
types_of_jobs.htm enable you to research any career research: there is no substitute for
http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers- area in future. doing the job, or talking to people
advice/job-descriptions who do the job.
I particularly enjoyed researching
Our I Want to Work In web pages companies that do graduate
www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin.htm programmes as I didn't really
aim to give a brief overview of know the websites that I was
around a hundred career areas, linked to were available to me. It
helped me to identify my own

CONTINUED OVERLEAF
20 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

CAREER EXPLORATION (CONT)

Networking
Talking to people, or networking,
can be a key tool in your career
research and decision-making.
Most people enjoy helping others,
and talking about their jobs.
Networking involves using your
contacts to meet people who can
give you information about the job in
which you are interested or refer you
to people they know who work in
that occupation.

You may feel that, at the moment,


you have no contacts who are likely
to be able to help you begin
networking. But just start to think
about all the people you do know
friends, relatives, lecturers, past and with professionals in your area of www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/creative
present employers and all the interest via LinkedIn, Twitter and jobhunt.html for more information
people they might know. Remember even Facebook you will be able to and advice on effective networking.
the six degrees of separation find out what is going on in this
theory that any two individuals are area, demonstrate your interest and Work experience
linked by an average of six motivation, showcase your skills and
Work experience can be anything
acquaintances. keep up to date with job
from a days work-shadowing to a
opportunities. Blogs are another
placement year. It can include
As a Kent student, you also have useful source of information and, if
volunteering, part-time work,
a network of alumni and friends you set up your own blog, this is an
internships, holiday jobs and
of the University! KEW- NET excellent way to get yourself known
campus roles such as student
www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/ and show what you can do.
ambassador. Any work experience
kew-net.html is an online can be valuable in helping you to
mentoring/networking tool for Kent It goes without saying that career-
assess whether a role or a sector is
students and graduates to meet, focused networking via social media
one you would want to work in as a
support one another and help each must be done professionally and in
long-term career and to narrow
other get ahead. Kent alumni could a very different way from your day-
down your career options.
help you by talking about their work to-day interactions with your friends.
and their experiences, offering Our pages on using social media in
Finding out what is not right for you
advice on getting into certain jobhunting give further information
is just as valuable as discovering
industries or even work experience. and advice.
what is suitable; if it turns out that
www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/findajob
the role is not a good fit for you, then
Social media is another valuable .html?tab=using-social-media
it's better to find out on a short
tool in creating and developing placement than after you have
networks. If you follow and interact See our Creative Careers Search
started a full-time job.
booklet and web page at
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 21

Work experience will help you to Did the organisation and work fit Kent Experiences of Work.
become more realistic and informed with my values? Find out more about the different
about future career choices. You Did I enjoy the work? If so, why? ways in which you can develop
may also realise which sort of If not, why not? your work experience and
activities you value, what working What was the culture of the employability skills while
environment is most comfortable for organisation like? studying at Kent
you, how you work in teams and What makes the organisation www.kent.ac.uk/employability/
how you respond to colleagues. Any different from its competitors? working/index.html
work experience even a part-time What did I learn about the Work Experience Bursary. If you
casual job can help you to learn organisation as a whole, its need help to take up an unpaid
about yourself and the world of clients/customers and the role of work experience opportunity you
work. more senior staff? can apply for a bursary of up to
What would I have done 100 from the Careers and
It is a useful exercise to reflect on differently if I had been in Employability Service to
any work experience that you have charge? contribute towards your
had: what you learned and what expenses. See www.kent.ac.uk/
else you gained from it: Finding work experience ces/bursarykew.html for full
What skills did I use? Our Work Experience web pages details, terms and conditions
What motivated or demotivated www.kent.ac.uk/ces/work-
me about the work? experience.html outline different
What did I find most/least types of work experience and link
interesting? to many employers and work
experience job sites
22 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

DECISION MAKING
AND TAKING ACTION

The final stage in choosing


a career is to bring
A careers adviser will not tell you information, and details of how to
what career you should do this is book an appointment, see
everything that you have your decision! Some of the things www.kent.ac.uk/ces/advice.html
learned about yourself they can do include:
and your opportunities
Listen to you and understand The following online resources may

together. There are many


what is important to you also be useful in bringing together

opportunities open to
Help you explore your options the self-assessment and career

graduates and it can take


and consider the pros and cons research that you have already

time to find your way


Help you identify your skills and done:

through them all and


interests www.kent.ac.uk/careers/

begin your job search in


Offer advice on how to research sk/decisionmaking.htm

earnest.
your options further including www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-
careers, postgraduate study and advice/managing-your-
gap year options career/1215/making-decisions-
This booklet, and the online Give tips on how to search and about-your-career/
resources and career choice apply for jobs and perform well at Windmills Interactive
computer programs referred to, are interviews/assessment centres. www.windmillsonline.co.uk/
good starting points, but its a good interactive/index.html
idea to talk over these issues with a Careers guidance interviews are Mind Tools. Online resources and
qualified human being! For further totally confidential and are available exercises to help you with career
help with your decision making, you to Kent students at all stages of their choice and planning as well as
can make an appointment to speak studies and for up to three years skills assessment and
to a careers adviser. after you graduate. For further development www.mindtools.com.
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 23

Action planning
Action planning is a process which
will help you to focus your ideas and
to decide what steps you need to
take to achieve particular goals that
you may have. It is a statement of
what you want to achieve over a
given period of time and can be
very effective in helping you to
develop and plan your career.
Breaking down your long term
aspirations into shorter realistic
goals makes the process less
daunting and will help you to
manage the process.

It involves:
Identifying your objectives
Setting SMART goals (Specific,
Measurable, Achievable,
Relevant and Time-Specific)
Identifying the steps needed to
achieve your goals Example action plan - March onwards: make
Prioritising your tasks effectively applications for summer
Overall objective: To decide whether
Meeting deadlines internships
publishing would be a good career
Having a contingency plan
option for me
Review your progress regularly and
Steps I need to take: be prepared to switch to your
Gain work experience in a contingency plan if necessary. For
publishing company during example, if you cannot find more
summer vacation (Specific, than a few companies offering
Measurable and Relevant) summer internships you may
Research publishing companies broaden your goals to include
that offer summer internships making speculative applications or
(Attainable) using the following looking for work-shadowing
schedule (Time-Specific): opportunities.
- January: use the links from the
CES I Want to Work In Further information on action
Publishing pages to find links planning
to employers. www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/findajob
- February: draw up a list of .html?tab=action-planning
companies to research; http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/timelin
produce a CV targeted on e.htm
publishing.
24 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

SUMMARY

Tips for successful Do your research. Useful online resources


career planning Be flexible and open-minded.
This section brings together some
Dont be misled by preconceived
Get to know yourself, your of the most useful resources
or stereotyped pictures of jobs:
interests, skills, values and referred to in this booklet:
these are rarely accurate.
personality. Choosing a Career
Take advantage of the
Remember that you are an www.kent.ac.uk/careers/Choosing
opportunities that University
individual and that the choices /ChoosingCareer.htm
offers to gain experience and
you make are your own. I Want to Work In
develop your skills.
Nobody else can choose a www.kent.ac.uk/careers/
Use your networks.
career for you. workin.htm
Make use of all the Careers and
There is more to you than your What Can I do with a Degree in
Employability Service resources:
degree. ? www.kent.ac.uk/
talks, workshops, careers events,
Take time over your choice your careers/degreein.htm
online resources and individual
career is worth it! My Prospects Career Planner
one-to-one careers guidance.
Talk to other people they can www.prospects.ac.uk/myprospect
Dont panic!
often help you to see yourself s_planner_login.htm
more clearly but make your own Target Careers Report
decision. http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-
report
Windmills Interactive
www.windmillsonline.co.uk/interac
tive/index.html
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 25

Careers Employability
Award
This is open to all students at Kent at
any stage of your studies. You gain
the award by completing quizzes
and assignments on Moodle, the
Universitys Virtual Learning
Environment. It will not only help you
to make the right career choices
and improve your career planning
and job-hunting skills: it can
transform your chances of getting a
graduate job. On completion of the
award, you will receive a certificate
and 60 Employability Points.

The Careers Employability Award


includes a Choosing a Career
module which takes you through a
series of exercises including:
Find out how your strengths relate

Before this I had only a vague idea of my career path and


to jobs

opportunities, now I am applying for summer internships and


Analyse your personality

know how to effectively sell my skills to a prospective employer


Analyse your values

and have a much more focused plan for my future.


Find out how your interests relate
to jobs

The module then helps you to relate Choosing a Career made me think about work in a different
these to suitable graduate careers. way. It helped me to see options other than 9-5 jobs and also
explore other career options that I can do with my degree. I
Other modules in the Careers
don't feel as limited now as I did before.
Employability Award that relate to

The researching and choosing a career assignments were


career choices include Live to Work

nothing short of fantastic.


or Work to Live? and Researching
Careers.

I actually broadened my horizons and found some alternative


careers that I might go for.
Find out more at
www.kent.ac.uk/ces/student/
careersmoodle.html

Information in this booklet was current as at September 2014. Although


every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information,
the Careers and Employability Service cannot be held responsible for the
accuracy of the contents or for any errors or omissions.
26 www.kent.ac.uk/ces

NOTES
www.kent.ac.uk/ces 27
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The Careers and Employability Service


University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7ND
T: +44 (0)1227 823299 E: careerhelp@kent.ac.uk www.kent.ac.uk/ces