Money, Money, Money

Growing up I was always taught not to talk about money… Well, sorry Mum & Dad that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this blog post.
Salaries are something we get asked about a lot on the information desk so I thought I’d spend a bit of time answering the most common queries.

What is a ‘competitive salary’?

I’m sure you’ll have come across this term in job descriptions before and been a bit confused as to why the employer is being evasive. Well, there a couple of reasons why. Sometimes it may be because they’re waiting to see what you expected to be paid (more about negotiating salaries later), but more commonly it is because they do not want their market competitors know what they are willing to pay employees.

Basically if an employer is offering a ‘competitive salary’ it’ll be equal to the industry average for similar roles.  A little bit of digging and you should be able to find out what that might be. Look at the job profiles on the Prospects website and research more industry specific websites.

How can I negotiate a salary?

Most salaries will be fixed by HR departments but there might be some instances where you are able to negotiate a salary or when an employer will ask what your expected salary is. The honest answer might be ‘as much as possible please!’ but in reality that really isn’t going to work! You need to be realistic.  There are a few things you’ll need to consider and take into account before deciding on a figure.

    • What is the going rate for that role in that location?
    • Do you have considerable experience in the sector or highly specialist skills
    • What other perks come along with the role (if any)
    • How much do you really want the job?

For further information on negotiating salaries check out our blog post on the topic.

Will I be able to live on that salary?

When you start working chances are you’ll be better off than when you were a student, but with a larger bank balance comes larger numbers of bills and taxes.  Certain deductions will be taken before your monthly pay goes into your account including income tax, National Insurance pension payments and student loan repayments.   NatWest have created a salary calculator which enables you to calculate after all of the typical deductions are made, what you take home salary will be.

You’ll then need to take into account rent, Council Tax (something you were exempt from as a student) food, travel costs and things like phone & internet contracts. What’s left will be your disposable income that you can choose to spend however you want (in my case shoes!)

10 Career lessons from Buddy the Elf

For me Christmas movies fall into 3 categories – the classics (A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life & Miracle on 34th Street), family faves (Elf, Home Alone & The Grinch) and the Channel 5s (I can’t think of any off the top of my head which says a lot).  However I also feel that one film and in particular one character could fall into the genre of careers advice. The film is Elf and the character the one and only Buddy!

Perhaps not he most down to earth person to listen to but Buddy really has some useful tips for any recent graduates…… elf

 ‘I thought maybe we could make gingerbread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating and maybe even hold hands’

Buddy had a detailed (fun filled) plan for the day spent with his father.  When job hunting it’s a good idea to do the same. It might not sound as fun but having a plan for the week can help keep you on track.  What applications are you planning on working on? What closing dates are coming up? Prioritise what’s most urgent but also allow yourself some down time.

‘Santa! I know him!’

Met employers at any of our events or career fairs this semester? When making applications don’t forget to mention your conversation and who you spoke to. It might not be as big a name drop as Santa but will make you application more memorable.

Not attended events this semester? Don’t panic find out about our events for 2nd semester on CareersLink.

 ‘Who the heck are you?’

Even Buddy realises the importance of tailoring. Firstly employers want to know who the heck you are and why you are right for the job.  The job description provided tells you what they are looking for in a candidate – In your CV you must outline how you meet their criteria by talking about the relevant skills/ experiences that you have.

Similarly in your Covering Letter you need to demonstrate you know who they heck the employer is. Remember generic letters not work, mistakes can happen and EY really won’t be impressed to hear why you’re so interested in working for PwC (Believe it or not I’ve seen examples like this in the past!)

‘You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job everybody – It’s great to be here.’

Everyone likes a compliment – even employers!  In your Covering Letter you need to explain what first attracted you to apply to this employer – Why do you want to work for them? What makes them different? Why this organisation and not another in the sector?

‘It’s just nice to meet another human who shares my affinity for elf culture’

If you are still struggling to explaining you motivation for applying I suggest trying to get a feel for the culture of the organisation. To do this search employer websites to find out about the ethos and values they hold– Do they align with your own? Why are these things important to you?

‘You sit on a throne of lies’  

This one is pretty straightforward and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you – You need to be truthful in any application you make / interview you attend. Just as the ‘fake’ Santa in the film was eventually found out by Buddy employers will eventually find out the truth – it’s not worth it!

 ‘I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite’

Demonstrating the right body language in an interview is just as important as the answers you give to questions.  Keep a neutral / friendly facial expression (no furrowed brows!), maintain eye contact when appropriate (but don’t state), avoid unnecessary hand gestures (same goes for folded arms) and speak at a natural pace (unlike me who tends to forget to breathe when nervous). Our presentation skills guide has some useful tips on how to do these things.

Having a telephone interview? You need to get your enthusiasm and passion for the role across through voice production alone – Some people find that walking whilst on the phone instead of just sitting can help with this.

‘Buddy the Elf… What’s your favorite colour?’

At the end of an interview employers will usually ask if you have any questions so have some prepared in advance. Try to be more original than Buddy though – ask questions not answered on recruitment websites and that demonstrate your interest in the organisation/ job role. Do you want to know more about the team that you might be working in? About possible training & development opportunities? What about longer term career opportunities with them?

 ‘I passed through the 7 levels of the Candy Cane Forest, through the Sea of Swirly- Twirly Gumdrops & then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel’

Searching for a graduate job is never straightforward but just as Buddy did on his trip to New York you need to stick it out and keep going – it’ll get easier and eventually you’ll get there!

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from everyone here at the Careers Service

Remember the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Please disturb examinations in progress

It’s oh so quiet, It’s oh so still, we’re all alone and so peaceful until…please-disturb-we-are-here-to-help-you

Well probably until the exams are over to be honest!

There is a tense silence hanging over campus at the moment. A silence that can only mean one thing – exams have arrived. With students more interested in cramming than careers over the next few weeks why not take advantage of this lull if you’re a graduate?

If you’re a recent UoM graduate (within the last 2 years) whatever stage you’re at, be that exploring career sectorsapplying for graduate jobs, thinking about further study or something completely different  now is a great time to get help from the Careers service.

We are currently open Monday to Friday 9am until 5pm. Give us a ring on 0161 275 2829 or pop into the Careers Service located in The Atrium, 1st floor University Place to talk to the information team who’ll be able to help you  and book you a careers appointment if needed.  If you’re no longer in the Manchester areas don’t worry we can help you via email, telephone or Skype.

Finding your purrfect job

This isfelix-2 Felix…

She’s a cat…

She’s a cat with a job…

A job which includes a high-viz jacket and a name tag….

She’s Senior Pest Controller for Trans Pennie Express at Huddersfield Train Station.

OK so this this might be a bit of harmless social media fun but think about it with their amazing sense of sound and vision, agile bodies, ability to move silently not to mention their sharp claws cats are incredible hunters and are therefore perfect pest controllers- she’s just doing what she loves and comes naturally to her.

Just as Felix has found a job that she loves and suits her skills set down to the ground so can you. To do this you’ll need to know yourself and know what options are out there.

Knowing yourself is all about exploring what motivates you and what you are good at.

Start by considering what you want out of a job or career.  Having an understanding of what you really want can help narrow down your options when you come to explore existing opportunities.    These questions may help trigger some thoughts – Is money a driving factor? Is a work/life balance important? Are you someone who wants to help people on a day to day basis? Do you want a job that’s ‘hands on’? Where do you see yourself working – Outdoors? In an office? Abroad?

 Next you need to think about the skills you have already developed.  Consider the following

·         Your degree what practical, theoretical and/ or research skills did you need to succeed on the course? Did you gain any specific technical or scientific knowledge?  What did your course work involve? Writing essays and/ or reports? Did you have to do presentations, group work or exams?  How did you manage your time to ensure deadlines were met?

·         Work Experience (e.g. part-time, internships, volunteering) what was your role? What tasks did you preform and what were you responsible for? Did you gain experience in a specific industry/ sector? Did you enjoy this role/ industry?   In any of your roles did you demonstrate any transferable skills such as an ability to work in a team or on your own? Communication skills? Initiative? Problem solving? Effective time management? Flexibility?

Extra-Curricular activities what do you do outside of work or study? Are/ were you a member of any societies or sports groups? Do / did you hold positions of responsibilities within these groups? If so what tasks did you carry out?

Use our ‘I don’t know what i want to do’ guide along with our website for more information on exploring what what motivate  you and what you are good at.

Knowing your options involves researching different sectors and roles.

If you are interested in exploring options directly related to your degree there are a number of resources that could help you.  The Prospects series ‘What can i do with my degree’ and TARGET Jobs ‘Degree subjects your career options’ would be a good place to start as would our Stating Point Series of guides.

The majority of graduate jobs are open to any those who studied any discipline so if like me your degree don’t automatically lead to a specific career path (I studied Theology) don’t panic! The Which Career section of our website talks you through a range of different sectors. Once you find  a sector you might be interested in use  the job profiles available on TARGET Jobs and Prospects to find out more about specific job roles within those sectors.

At this stage you may also need to take into account any limiting factors you may face. For example if the job roles that interest you would require further trainincatflap useg think about whether you would be willing or financially able to do this. Another limiting factor may be family, mortgage or other responsibilities that would limit the geographic location you could work in. By limiting factors I am certainly not referring to disabilities or health concerns. Remember reasonable adjustments can be made – Just like this one made to help Felix get though the ticket barrier!

More information and advice on exploring your  options can be found in this guide.

Now what? Its time to weigh up your options.

By  Think about how well the roles you are interested in align with what you said you were looking for in a  job as well as the skills that you have  and you should be well on your way to finding you purrfet job! Again our ‘I don’t know what i want to do’ guide can help you come to some decisions and remember as a recent UoM graduate you can  still book a Careers Guidance appointment to talk your options though with us.

Beat those January blues

Blue Monday, freezing temperatures, dark nights, post-Christmas bank balances and new diet and fitness regimes are just some of the reasons January can feel like the most depressing month of the year. Add to that the recent loss of Starman David Bowie and Professor Alan ‘Snape’ Rickman makes the start of 2016 seem even worse. Start new job

It might be difficult but try to look on the bright side –  things can only get better, and if you are looking for a full time graduate job things can get better right now! I’ve been having a little snoop in CareersLink and spotted that a number of the full-time vacancies being advertised have an immediate start date.

Immediate start vacancies listed on CareersLink

  • Strategy and Consulting Graduate Programme 2015 Vacancy ID 46475
  • Sales and Marketing Executive – Vacancy ID 49951
  • Junior Web Developer – Vacancy ID 49990
  • Design Assistant Internship – Vacancy ID 50122
  • Software Engineer – Vacancy ID 48699
  • Graduate Building Surveyor – Vacancy ID 45448
  • Graduate Trainee Recruitment Consultant – Vacancy ID 50162
  • Trainee Patent Attorney – Vacancy ID 49083
  • Staff Nurse – Vacancy ID 49472
  • Personal Travel Specialist – Vacancy ID 49475
  • Polymer Material & Process Technologist – Vacancy ID 50224
  • Forensic Cyber Security Expert – Vacancy ID 50205
  • Content & Communications Coordinator – Vacancy ID 50177
  • Legal Administration Assistant – Vacancy ID 50135
  • Trainee Research Executive – Vacancy ID 48473

These are just a sample of the immediate start vacancies currently being listed on CareersLink. To search them all just login. Pleas note that CareersLink is a live vacancy system so some of the opportunities listed above may have expired by the time you look.

Other sources of immediate start vacanciess

  • Manchester Graduate Internship Programme (MGIP) – If you graduated from the University of Manchester in 2015 you can also find out about the immediate start opportunities you’ll be able to eligible to apply to through our exclusive internship programme. CareersLink is the place to look.
  • Graduate Schemes – If you are interested in working for specific graduate employers its worth checking their websites directly and some may still be trying to fill their 2015 scheme vacancies. Don’t forget that as a recent graduate you should still be eligible to apply for Schemes starting in Autumn 2016. You can search for these application deadlines here.
  • Ad-hoc vacancies – Formal graduate schemes only make up a small proportion of the total number of opportunities that exist.  The majority of graduates find work in smaller to medium sized companies (often  refereed to as SMEs) who instead of advertising annually for a new cohort of graduates advertise as and when a role becomes vacant, which can obviously happen any time of the  year. Along with CareersLink   you can use the local press as well as industry specific journals and vacancy portals to find these opportunities.

Careers Christmas playlist

I’ll be driving home for Christmas next week (well my brother in law will be) and as we head back up the A1 we are sure to be blasting out the Christmas tunes!  It’s become a bit of a Christmas tradition as has my annual Christmas  themed blog. This year I thought I would combine the two and create my own Christmas themed careers playlistindex

 Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

 Santa appreciated Rudolf’s red nose, in fact he couldn’t have done his job without it. In the same way employers are looking for people who stand out from the crowd but unlike the song employers aren’t going to approach you (out of the fog) instead the onus  you to demonstrate that you the right candidate for the job.  To do this you’ll need to tailor each CV or application you write, making sure that you highlight all the skills and experiences listed on the job descriptions. It’s unlikely that many employers will want you to have a red nose unless the jobs in the North Pole …..

All I Want For Christmas Is You

It’s a little known fact that Mariah uses these lyrics in every job application she makes.  OK so that might not technically be true (How many job applications do you think Ms Carey has had to complete?) but if she did she’s certainly doing the right thing.  Everyone loves a compliment and employers are no different.  Employers want to know why you want to work for them, why they attracted you, what made them stand out and why they are special. Try to avoid using cliches such as ‘I’ve always wanted to work for you’ they will have heard this 100s of times.  Instead do your research, find out about the organisations values do they align with you own and if so how? Does the culture of the company attract you? You can find out more about how to do this by using our Covering Letter Guide.

Last Christmas

Just like being dumped  not being successful at an interview can be difficult to come to terms with.  However just like after a break up its important to remember that there are plenty more fish (or in this case employers) in the sea. To get over the disappointment start by reminding yourself that even  getting to the interview stage was a success as to be invited the employer must have been impressed by your application . See  the interview  you had as a learning experience- you’ll now have better idea of what to expect next time. You can also learn from the employer by asking them for feedback on why you were not successful. Although it may be difficult to hear hearing where/what you need to improve on will enable you to rectify it before your next interview.

Do They Know Its Christmas?

Charles Dickens got it wrong. The real Scrooge isn’t Ebenezer its actually graduate recruiters! There a still a number of graduate schemes yet to close before the end of December. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been naughty or nice this year when it comes to graduate recruitment there is no rest for the wicked (sorry)! To make life a little bit easier my colleague Hannah has compiled a list grad scheme closing dates.

It’ll Be Lonely This Christmas

Well here at the Careers Service we might be! Christmas vacation is always a quiet time for us here at the Careers Service as many students head home. If you’re a recent graduate why not take advantage and book a careers appointment – it could be a great start to the New Year. Don’t worry if you no longer in the Manchester area you can book a telephone Skype appointment.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Finally from everyone here at the Careers Service Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Job hunting and the importance of having an open mind

‘A mind is like a parachute. It don’t work if its not open’

A classic quote from legendary musician Frank Zappa and a sound bit of careers advice if you ask me (although I’m pretty sure that’s not what he intended!). When career planning here are a few things I think you need to keep your mind open about including …imagesmind

The options open to you

Think our job opportunities are limited by the degree you studied? Think again! Over 60% of graduate jobs are open to graduates who have studied ANY degree discipline. As long as you have the right skills for the job there is no reason why you cannot apply for the majority of roles. Obviously there are some roles such as law and medicine/healthcare and social work where specific qualifications may be necessary but don’t rule these out graduate entry qualifications or conversion course can always be taken. The ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ guide along with our which career pages will help you explore the different options open to you.  As a recent graduate you may also be eligible to book a careers guidance appointment to discuss your options with one of our careers consultant.

What a ‘graduate’ job actually is

The terms ‘graduate scheme’ and ‘graduate entry level job’ are often used interchangeably when they are actually two different things. Graduate recruitment schemes are structured programmes combining work and training advertised by larger organisations. These programmes tend to last 1-2 years. These recruitment schemes are by no means the only option open to you when, in fact they only represent a small proportion of the roles open to you. Most graduates will be employed directly into individual positions within either large or small organisations. These roles are often referred to as graduate entry levels jobs. You can find out more about different graduate jobs here.

What your first job will be like

This may come across as slightly blunt but realistically you are not going to land your dream job straight away.  That’s why the term ‘career ladder’ exists.  Imagine the dream job (if such a think exists) is at the top of the ladder each job/ experience that you gain moves you up the rungs closer to the top.

Where you could work  

No offense to Manchester but in an ideal world I’d be living and working in York where I originally went to Uni. I love it there, but when I graduated there no library/ info roles were being advertised so I had to widen me search a bit further afield. Basically to stand the best chance of success you need to be open to moving to where the work is (obviously I understand that for some of you who might have families or other commitments this may not be always be practical!) Our regional pages sure a great place to find out about opportunities around the UK and if you are thinking about working further afield check out our country pages.



Preparing for the fairs as a graduate

Next week our autumn fairs are taking place in Manchester Central. The Business Finance & Management  fair takes place on Tuesday 20th and The Engineering, Science & Technology fair takes place on Wednesday 21st.  As the events team at the Careers Service put the finishing touches to the venue and employers organise travel for their representatives it’s important that you also prepare to attend. So what do you need to be doing  and when?BusiFiMan Logo

What you can do now

  • Register to attend! This seams a good (and very obvious) place to start! You can register to attend the fairs on our website, just click on the fair/s you want to attend and you’ll see an option to ‘register to attend’. You can register at the venue on the day but it probably quicker and easier for you to register in advance.
  • Research employers Recruitment fairs like these can be very hectic and it’s best to have a plan of action (or attack) before you arrive. Think about what you want out of the day – are you are looking to find out more about the sector in general, graduate schemes starting in 2016 and/or employers that have immediate start jobs?  Use the exhibitor lists available for both the Business and Engineering fairs to find out which employers will be attending the fair and, what opportunities they have and whether these opportunities are suitable forEngSciTech Logo you. Once you have narrowed down the employers you are interested speaking to do some more research on the companies as a whole and the opportunities that are available – along with graduate directors such as the Times top 100 and Guardian 300 employer websites are a great tool to do this.
  • Prepare questions to ask These fair are a great opportunity to ask employers questions and find out more about the opportunities they have. Employers will not be impressed if you ask simple questions which could be answered by looking on their website so do your research first.  For example instead of simply asking ‘what opportunities do you have?’  You could ask ‘I’ve seen on your website you have a XXXX scheme can you tell  me a little bit more about what I would be doing on a day to day basis?’ The fairs are a great opportunity to find out the personal; experiences of the organisations employees by asking them questions such as ‘Did you start on the graduate training scheme yourself? How did you find it?’Remember to make a note of who you spoke to at each stand and what you spoke about. You can then refer to having spoken to them in any further application you make to the company.
  • Update your CV I always think it’s a good idea to take copies of your CV to fairs like this. You don’t want to be caught short (of CVs that is) if an employer asks for one! Even if an employer requires you to make a formal application through their website your CV can act like our business card, reminding the employer of the skills and experiences that you have.You’ll need to tailor your CV to each employer you are interested in working for. As part of your research find out what skills and experiences they are looking for and ensure you highlight them on each CV. Use our CV guide to help you do this. Remember if you are planning on handing out multiple CVs remember to give the right one to each employer!

What to do the night before

  • Get your outfit ready As the saying goes you only have one chance to make a good first impression so we’d recommend dressing as smartly as possible when attending the fair. Suits are a safe option for guys as is a smart trouser/ skirt and blouse/shirt combo for girls. So you’re not rushing about on the morning of the event I’d suggest getting your outfit prepared the night before and giving it a good iron if necessary. Ladies also remember to wear sensible shoes you can walk in- They don’t have to be flat but I’d suggest leaving the skyscrapers at home!
  • Plan your journey The fairs are both being held in Manchester Central (formally the GMEX) located in the City Centre. You can get there by car or public transport. Details can be found here.

What to do on the day

  • Arrive early Both fairs run 10.30am until 4pm and get very busy.  Having said this it’s usually quieter in the mornings so if you want to be guaranteed the chance to have a good chat with employers it’s probably best to arrive in the morning.
  • Remember to pick up your free fair guide When you arrive we’ll give you a fair guide for the day. It’s full of really useful information that will help you make the most of the day. The guide including the stand numbers of all the employers in attendance so you can make your way easily to the employers you are interested in!


The Great Graduate Scheme Grand Prix

For me October always feels  a F1 race – It’s all go go go  on Campus as term gets into full swing and here at the careers service we are all (fifth!) geared up for the imagesbusy graduate recruitment period.  I’m sure many of starting to apply for graduate scheme are feeling the same so here are some tips to ensure you’re in poll position to win the race!

Understand what you are applying for

A graduate scheme is a graduate scheme right? Wrong! Graduate schemes come in all different shapes, sizes and sectors but tend to be offered by larger organisations. Graduate schemes are often given different names, including; graduate leadership programme, general management trainee programme, graduate fast track, and executive development programme.

Graduate scheme are one of the many options open to you when you finish your degree you can find out more about them here. 

Find Employers

There are a number of ways you can find out about different graduate schemes. Publications such as The Times Top 100, Guardian 300 and Prospects Career Guide can be a good place to start as they detail a range of schemes across different sectors.  All of these directories are available to pick up for free from the careers library If you are interested in applying to a particular employer have a look on their website directly many have a careers and/ or graduate section.

Apply as early as possible

My Colleague Hannah has produce a great list of closing dates for the graduate schemes listed in the directories mentioned above.  You can search schemes by employer name or by closing date. To ensure you application is considered we always recommend applying well in advance of the closing date. Depending on the number of applications employers have been known to close schemes early.

Tailor your application

Remember for that each graduate scheme you apply to you’ll have tailor your application to meet the criteria laid out in the employer’s job description. Each employer will be looking for a unique set of skills and qualities in their applicants and it’s your job to demonstrate you have them.

Remember that as a recent graduate from The University of Manchester you may be eligible to get feedback on an applications before sending it off by using our Applications Advice service – Just think of us as your pit crew!


How the Careers Service can help graduates

Without wanting to sound to OTT graduation marks the start of a new phase in your life. For many of you this may seem like a daunting prospect, but never fear the Careers Service is here!  As a graduate you’re eligible to use our services for 2 years after you graduate.iStock_000016021556Small Graduation

As a graduate you’ll still have access to:

Careers Guidance appointments

Whether you know what you want to do or have no idea whatsoever (either is fine) you can talk to a careers consultant to explore career options. Examples of the types of things you can discuss during your guidance appointment include:

  •          Options with your subject
  •         Different sectors & job roles
  •         Further study
  •          Interviews and assessment centres

Doesn’t worry if you are no longer living in the Manchester area you can book a telephone or Skype appointment.

Feedback on applications, CVs and Covering letters  

Applying for an internship, job or course? Use our applications advice service to get feedback on your CV, covering letter or application before sending it off.  You can book a face to face appointment or get feedback via email


As a graduate you’ll still have access to 100s of vacancies listed on CareersLink. Having said this there are a couple of things you may need to do to ensure you can access your graduate account. Follow these simple steps.

A range of resources in our Careers Library

Our careers library is packed full of resources to help with your career planning. Use our reference books and starting point guides to research different career areas, use our range of journals to gain commercial awareness and prepare for psychometric tests by using our practice material.

We have also developed a range of initiatives designed specifically to help new graduates…..

Manchester Graduate Internship Programme (MGIP)

Want to stay and work in Manchester after graduation? The Manchester graduate internship scheme is open exclusively for 2015 UoM graduates giving you to opportunity to gain paid graduate level experience  for a period of up to 12 months in local businesses across Manchester.

Transitions Mentoring programme

As I said stepping out into the big bad world of work can be daunting prospect. Make things easier by applying for a career mentor. They will be able to help you make the transition from university to the world of work or further study a little easier. This may be through a mixture of face-to-face meetings, emails, telephone or Skype.

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