And so the end is nigh.. Nearly finished your degree what next?

Easter vacation is coming to an end and some of you will be handing in dissertations soon.  Does it feel like it’s all over bar the exams?

Obviously exams are uppermost in most minds but use your time well and you could still secure a graduate job or internship starting in summer or autumn.

To do listiStock_000018416955Medium Girl ticking checklist

Graduate Internships at the University are open for applications now.  They don’t all come in at once because contracts finish at different times and then managers have to get permission to recruit subject to budgets. So no, it’s not possible to give you a list of all the opportunities that will come out in future, just keep looking. (there are also some with external organisations) They are an ideal option if you want to get some experience but are not exactly sure what you want to do in the future.



Manchester Graduate Recruitment Fair 4 May 2017.  The exhibitor list is now up on CareersLink so plan your visit. (it will be on the website soon)gradfair17

  1. Look at the list and see which employers are recruiting for what posts. Don’t rule out employers you haven’t heard of if the job is what you are looking for.
  2. If there are particular employers you want to speak to and impress do some research.  What do you want to find out? If the answers are on their website that wont be that impressive, so think about more insightful questions.  Perhaps…
    • What do you think makes XXXX stand out from their competitors?
    • What do you like best about working for XXXX or in XXXX role?
    • What are the things that really makes an applicant stand out?
  3. Tailor your CV.  There is no guarantee that an employer will take your CV as part of the recruitment process as most have their own online systems. BUT at this time of year when they want to fill places fast it is more likely!  So…
    • Do as much research as you can on the role at that company and do a fully tailored CV.
    • If you are hedging your bets and will be speaking to lets say multiple companies with civil engineering or accountancy jobs then you may get away with a CV tailored for Civ Eng or accountancy. BUT if you are looking at multiple different roles that are using different skills it’s better to create a few different CVs than go for one general one.
  4. Practice your pitch.  Introducing yourself and asking a few basic questions, once you are in a conversation it will feel quite natural. See point 2.
  5. Get your ticket before you go, to avoid queueing.

3  Graduate Jobs in Manchester as well as internships MGT ( Manchester graduate Talent) advertises graduate jobs in Manchester. Some employers will be local and may not advertise nationally so make the most of this opportunity to fish in a small pond!

4 Graduate jobs nationally & internationally.  CareersLink should be your first place to look. We wont get every vacancy in the world, but we will get opportunities from recruiters who want to recruit from Manchester University and that means a lot, you are wanted!   If we haven’t got the vacancies you are looking for use our website to find out the best places to look for opportunities.

5 No clue what you want to do next?  It’s ok you are not alone. But it is time to ask for some help or get stuck in.  It will be much easier to have a chat with careers staff face to face before you leave Manchester in June.  But if you need to wait until after exams and have to dash off we do Skype & Phone appointments too.

6 Last and by no means least what about postgraduate study?  Have you considered doing a Masters course to gain specific skills and knowledge in a particular area or maybe to change direction?




Graduating soon? Here’s what to do next…

You’re mixed with the feelings of sheer joy and absolute terror at the idea of finishing university;  you are purposefully ignoring the fact that you haven’t started thinking about your career despite your jammy housemate securing a graduate scheme way back in November; you feel a little bit sick at the mere idea of job hunting… sound familiar? If so, we’ve got the perfect antidote.

The Grad Fair 2017

  • When?
    We’re holding The Grad Fair earlier than ever this year. Having previously been in June each year, we’ve brought the Fair forward as we found a lot of students were missing it as they had finished their exams, and were off gallivanting around the country celebrating their new found freedom – we don’t blame them! So, just so you don’t miss out on this great opportunity, this year it will take place on Thursday 4th May. Swing by any time between 10:30am – 4:00pm.
  • Where?
    The Armitage Centre, Moseley Road, Fallowfield, M14 6HE.
  • Who?
    From large international companies to small local businesses, there will be a whole range of employment opportunities available, spanning across many different sectors (including postgraduate study)! So far we have over 140 exhibitors confirmed so there really is something for everyone this year.
    Just to name drop a few, exhibitors will include Abercrombie, Aldi, City Year UK, Civil Service, Dyson, Explore Learning, Havas Lynx, Manchester Enterprise Centre, MediaCom, Teach First, and many more. There’ll also be a whole host of higher education institutions offering postgraduate opportunities.
  • Why?
     hall full of employers, looking to hire graduates? Sounds pretty ideal for anyone who has not yet secured a job! In addition, there may well be opportunities for summer internships, working abroad and some part-time jobs.


A few things to remember…

Firstly, you are not defined by the degree that you did at university. If you studied Politics, there is no necessity for you to join the local government; if you studied Chemistry, you don’t have to go into Science. The world really is your oyster! The Grad Fair is the ideal place to get a feel for the different sectors and opportunities which are out there.

Secondly, the first full-time job you do does not determine the rest of your life. I repeat, the first full-time job you do does not determine the rest of your life. More often than not, the most successful people will have done a series of different jobs which will have equipped them with key transferable skills. Try to attend The Grad Fair with an open mind and don’t be put off by opportunities if they aren’t exactly what you are looking for – it may help you get to where you want to be in the end.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s free! We do advise that you register in advance to obtain a ticket to attend the Fair, although you can register on the day, too. Make sure to join the Facebook event to keep up-to-date with the Fair, and get some useful hints and tips on how to make the most of it.

Once you’ve graduated, you might find that opportunities like these specifically tailored to you don’t come around all that often, so we strongly recommend you make the most of it. See you there!

My experiences of Ambitious Futures: A graduate scheme for university leadership

Ambitious Futures LogoGuest post by Kim Smith, Careers Consultant and Ambitious Futures alumnus.

So you’ve studied at university but would you ever consider working here? I started my career on the Ambitious Futures Graduate Scheme and have since worked in various roles in Higher Education (HE), including my current role here in the Careers Service.

If you don’t fancy a career in academia, but are interested in Higher Education then this could be the scheme for you, as you get to experience at least three different Professional Services/Support functions (e.g. careers, recruitment, marketing, HR, alumni, international, research, school administration), which can help you explore which path might be right for you.

In each rotation you will be assigned a project. Projects are very diverse, so you will gain a variety of new skills, including project management. Here are some example projects to help you get a flavour of the scheme:

  • Work in the Recruitment Office to complete an audit of our communication channels with students and produce a report which makes recommendations for streamlining our service and improving the experience for students.
  • Work in the Research Office to review our Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (postdoctoral students going to work on placement in industry), by interviewing stakeholders and make recommendations for improvement.
  • Work in the International department to produce a market intelligence report on EU recruitment.
  • Work in the Student Services Centre to design, market and conduct a survey to assess the level of understanding students and staff have of our services, and how useful they find the support.
  • Work in conjunction with the Counselling Service and the Sports division to launch a student-facing campaign about mental health and wellbeing and promote services

Placements are allocated on business need, so you will not have complete choice over your three rotations. However, your preferences will be taken into consideration for the final placement where possible. You may be able to shadow members of staff in other departments for a short period of time if you have a particular interest in their work, but cannot be accommodated for a full placement there.

Since graduating I’ve worked in four different universities (the great thing is universities are all over the country so good if you want to move around!), in seven different roles (plenty of opportunity to try new things), which has helped me to figure out what I enjoy doing. I am now working as a Careers Consultant at The University of Manchester, but fellow trainees from my year on the scheme are now working across HE in roles such as Press and Communications Officer, International Recruitment Manager, Residential Life Coordinator and Registry Administration Officer. Although most graduates of the scheme find work in HE, others onto work in other sectors too, so you won’t be ‘stuck’ if you don’t enjoy the scheme.

If you would like to find out more about my experiences on the scheme, please feel free to add me on Facebook for a chat or book an appointment in the Atrium, University Place.

Application process and top tips

Applications are open from 26 September 2016 to the 21 December 2016.

Application form

  • You will be asked about what interests you about working for a university; try to dig beneath the surface of what you already know as a student. Can you speak to someone who works for a university to help your understanding of the departments and the goals of the institution?
  • Use the STAR (situation, task, actions and result) technique to answer the competency based questions.
  • Come for an applications advice appointment at the Careers Service to get your questions checked.

Strengths-focused telephone interview

  • The interview aims to find out what you really enjoy doing and where you get your energy from. Have a look on the website for some example questions
  • You will need some good real life examples to help you demonstrate your passion!
  • Come for an interview simulation with the Careers Service. You can practice in person or over the phone.

Assessment Centre

  • You will participate in some individual activities, such as a role play where you may have to resolve an issue under pressure and prioritise tasks; writing up a short report based on information provided; and a strengths-based interview. You will also participate in a group activity to see how you work in a team.
  • Do more in-depth preparation for your interview and on the university you will be working for. Gain more interview practice if necessary.
  • Don’t panic if you think you performed poorly in one of the tasks, take a deep breath and wow the assessors in your next one. They will be looking at your performance over the whole day.

The simple 3 step approach to applying for jobs

badge-686321_640Don’t worry about your CV until you have found a vacancy to apply for.
Many students are so eager that before they even know what type of job they want to do they are writing a CV and cover letter.

1 Decide what jobs you are interested in.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a part time job, internship or graduate job, it will make your life a lot simpler if you know what you are looking for. It’s like trying to guess what present someone will like when you don’t even know them.

2 Find places that advertise those vacancies and start looking at them.
Which appeal to you and do you have the skills or qualifications they are looking for?

3 Use the list of skills the employer wants to create a CV  or application that matches their needs.
Employers will expect to see evidence of your competence to evaluate how good you would be at the job. If you have done something similar before that’s great but don’t worry if you haven’t sometimes the same skill gained in a different way is fine.(transferable skills)

Repeat step 3 for every job you apply for. Check and double check that you are matching the needs of that specific role in that specific company.

5 Top Tips for Getting into International Development

globe-showing-the-middle-east-africa-and-asia-cartesiaphotodiscI wish I had kept a count of the number of times I have been asked how best to get my first job in international development. Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer. It’s great that so many students want to pursue a career in this sector but it does mean that is becoming increasingly competitive and there is no one right way to succeed.

  1. Getting practical work experience is so valuable to demonstrate that you have the skills required for the role. Don’t think this experience has to be based overseas. You can work on inner city projects or in deprived rural communities in the UK covering many of the same issues you would be tackling on an international front, like health, poverty, regeneration and education. The amount and relevance of your work experience will demonstrate your commitment and passion and help to give you the competitive edge. The International Citizen Service is an excellent way to get experience overseas: but if you can build your experience at home, you can evidence a longstanding commitment, visit:
  2. Understand the sector and who you can work for. International NGO’s are the largest subsector, but organisations like the Red Cross, Medicins sans Frontier, Oxfam, Amnesty International receive high numbers of applications and so are more fiercely competitive. Working for the Government such as DFID or international public institutions, such as the UN and the World Bank is another option, but often requires a masters qualification and several years’ work experience. Some large professional service companies take on development projects, and this maybe an area you wish to consider. There are opportunities to work in academia and think tanks, but this is the smallest of the sub sectors, however you will need a masters or a PhD to be successful in this area.
  3. A masters qualification is very helpful, as it gives you an understanding of some the broad issues and current debate, but it also helps you to develop critical thinking skills, research and project management abilities as well as higher level communication capabilities. It will help in the application process as many other applicants will hold masters qualifications and it will certainly help you to progress your career. It is also worth considering a postgraduate qualification in an area of expertise for many development roles based in the field, such as teaching, finance, engineering, planning, nursing etc.
  4. There are very few graduate schemes in this sector so consider entry level roles in small NGO’s or organisations that you are interested in working with. Once inside an organisation you will be able to access the internal job vacancies, many of which never get advertised externally, so don’t overlook administrative and reception roles as a starting point. Many roles within the international development field will be office based, so these skills will be useful longer term.
  5. Learn a world language, such a French, Arabic, Spanish or Chinese and try to get experience of using the language through teaching or voluntary positions. For some ideas visit:

This is just the first set of steps to consider and if you want more detailed and personal advice, don’t hesitate to book an appointment to speak to us at The Careers Service.

Emma Al-Hakim, Careers Consultant.

Get ready to return to University.

iStock_000008639225XLarge Standing on suitcaseIt may be August but sure enough that remaining time will fly by. Are you ready for the challenges of the year ahead?

Going into your second  or pre-final year?

Everyone talks about internships,  looking for one, applying, interviews & assessment centres, getting one / not getting one. The joy, the despair!

Internships are just another name for work experience. This term is often used by the big graduate recruiters and often heralds panic that if you don’t get one you won’t be able to do a graduate scheme.

NOT TRUE…. some facts

  1. Yes some companies use a summer internship to cherry pick candidates to fast track to their graduate scheme.
  2. Not all graduate recruiters even have an internship scheme.
  3. Many students will intern in one company but do a graduate scheme in a different one. It’s a great way to try things out.
  4. Not all graduates who go onto graduate schemes do a formal “internship” many do other summer work experience.
  5. It’s not all about what you do in your summer. Recruiters want well rounded individuals so there are opportunities to evidence your skills through  volunteering, societies, sports and casual jobs.

Going into your final year?

See above but insert the word graduate scheme LOL!  No really it’s true.

Most graduates don’t do “a graduate scheme” it’s only a small part of the graduate job market.

  1. There are plenty of options for graduates in what you might call non corporates.  Public sector, not for profit and small and medium size businesses of all types and  creative industries etc.
  2. The big graduate recruiters really want good candidates so they will be highly visible. But don’t let it put you off either applying for them or looking for the quieter companies who might silently and without any fuss slip a vacancy into CareersLink for you to find.
  3. You CAN get work experience after you graduate too – consider MGP.
  4. We have a range of options to help you look for whatever job you want to do next.
  5. YOU WANT TO STUDY SOME MORE.  Cool! we can help with that too 🙂

How to prepare

  1. Enjoy the rest of your summer and make the most of whatever is going on.  Make sure you make a note of activities where you have been challenged or learned a new skill, it will come in handy believe me.
  2. Start looking on CareersLink now some internships and graduate schemes are open for summer 2017.
  3. No clue what you want to do yet? That’s ok – you don’t have to make decisions for life, is there anything you would like to try our find out more about?

If all this worries you just come and see us or chat to us online 

Avoid common mistakes when applying for a job.

It’s the time of year when new graduates and returning students alike are all looking ahead to graduate jobs or internships. Make sure you avoid some of the top application mistakes. iStock_000018416955Medium Girl ticking checklist

What does the employer want?

The employer has a job to fill, they know what makes a good employee and will have a list of skills, experience and attributes they are looking for. Your job is to correctly identify these and provide evidence that you have them AND information about why you are right for the job. How many boxes on my checklist can you fill?

Most job applications will use a CV, cover letter, application form or some combination of these.

Lets start with the CV

  1. A good clear layout, tabulated nicely.  Dates easy to find, clear chronology and headings. Bullet points usually help. I’m not fussy about the order of the headings or what you call them so much, as long as it makes sense.
  2. Don’t get too creative with boxes, fonts, underlining etc. It’s just distracting.
  3. TAILOR TAILOR TAILOR.  This is the biggest mistake and the most common.  You see a perfectly nice CV and when you read it, there is nothing relating to what you asked for. It’s not because the applicant has no experience, it’s they just haven’t bothered to match it to the skills you are looking for.
  4. Don’t waffle on about responsibilities and duties of the role you were in, tell me about the actions you took and what skills you used.

Cover letters

  1. …and in at number 1 the most common mistake is not telling the employer why you want THAT job.  It’s all very well banging on about the company and the wonderful work they do, but why does that interest you. More importantly why does that particular role interest you.  It’s called motivation and it shows that you have correctly identified what is important and that it matters to you too.
  2. What skill do you have that are relevant?  Entice me to read your CV.
  3. Please don’t just cut and paste from your CV , I’m going to look at that too and who wants to read it twice.
  4. Dont be negative about yourself, I don’t want to know what you haven’t done and skills you don’t have, I can work that out for myself. Tell me what you have done successfully so that I see you in a positive light.

Application forms with competency questions or personal statements


This will help you identify the breadth of what they are looking for and what sections you can use to highlight which evidence.

  1. If there are strength or competency questions – try to understand why they are asking them. They relate to the role somehow,  this will give you some context and help you think about how to frame your answers.  Perhaps one of your skills examples is better than others?  For example if they are asking about communication skills and it is a job where you have to be able to communicate to different stakeholders or to a particular group, have you got an example of where you have done something similar?
  2. If the bulk of the application after basic details about your education and previous employment is given over to the why do you want this job section then aim to write 1-2 page A4 UNLESS they state otherwise. It can be useful to write down all the elements of the person specification as headings and then write a short paragraph for each one. You can decide if you remove the headings later.
  3. Don’t leave any questions blank
  4. Don’t say  – see my CV

Some applications will involve all 3 elements CV, cover letter and application form. It may be a judgement call how you split the information in a personal statement out from the cover letter.  Be led by the phrasing of the questions and don’t leave any information out.


Recruiters are not stupid, we know it’s time-consuming to write a great application and we appreciate it when it is done well.  It makes our job easier and gives you more chance of getting an interview.


Getting the third degree

iStock_000013630859Small Hire meA friend of mine was recently reminiscing about her graduation 4 years ago.  She was awarded a third class degree and hated her graduation day, struggling to work out what the 3 years were all for and what exactly she had learned. She had felt pretty down about it and wasn’t looking forward to her future career prospects.

Four years on and she is happily pursuing a successful career path in PR – something she had never even thought of when she graduated, and totally unrelated to her degree. To her surprise, people simply aren’t interested in her 3rd Class degree. It seems irrelevant now.

There are many success stories from famous people with 3rd Class degrees – Hugh Laurie, David Dimbleby, er, Carol Vorderman …. what is important with all of these people, is who they are, rather than the degree they got.

Let’s get the facts in; the graduate schemes, run by larger corporations and small numbers of employers, are closed to you for now.  The same might be true of some traditional routes into the professions. Ditto employers with very clear, open, categorical ‘minimum’ degree requirements.

No point in wasting energy here – we need to look elsewhere – focusing on the huge numbers of employers across the UK and globally, that are looking for the right person, not simply the right degree.

It’s useful to think about the reasons you got a 3rd Class – were you unsuited to the subject matter; was the focus of learning unsuited to your strengths or way of learning? Was it too prescriptive when you think more creatively, or vice versa? Now is the time to think about what you enjoy, what interests you – and follow it.

Your search needs to focus on the smaller businesses, the voluntary sector and public sector – here be roles that want people with skills that fit, and have a genuine interest in the work that they do. To start you off, look at Manchester Graduate Programme

You may need to start at the junior level, but if you follow your interests and talents, you will soon progress.

Tap into your experiences so far – your team skills, communication skills, customer focus skills from your part time or volunteer roles, your organisational skills.

Most jobs do not require academic excellence, indeed in many it is a distinct disadvantage. Most jobs require curiosity, interest, willingness to learn, common sense, engagement with other people, enthusiasm and team spirit. The 3rd Class becomes less important the more you can focus on these.

Shift your thinking away from what the 3rd Class doesn’t offer, to what you, as a person, do offer. You’ll be surprised what you find, as will your future employer. Bonne chance!!!

By Bernadette Lyons
Careers Consultant




Legally-related jobs for all Graduates

imagesmindI went to a meeting recently where I met a number of graduates, some with law degrees, most with degrees across the disciplines, who have landed jobs that have a legal element to them.

I have listed details below but a common theme was how each graduate describes ‘falling’ into the role – none of them even knew the roles existed before they saw them advertised and it was very much a shot into the unknown.

The general message from these graduates was to keep an open mind, keep networking and keep your eyes and ears open. Have a look at these:

 Trademark Attorney

Lara applied for this role that asked, ‘Do you love languages and cryptic crosswords?’ As a PhD graduate in languages she was looking for a career outside of academia but didn’t know where to start. By speaking to people, and searching for vacancies, she eventually came across this role which protects their clients’ Trademarks. She protects some of the most famous brand names on the planet and combines her love of words with love of problem-solving. Have a look at

 Company Secretary

Fabia told us that these roles are found in most companies, to make sure the Directors are doing what they should be doing and the business is well organised and fulfilling its obligations to shareholders, the taxman and Companies House. They are not advertised in one single place so the route in needs imagination, perseverance and chatting to people to find out where the roles are. No previous experience needed, but it would suit someone with strong organisational and analytical skills. It is a role that sits right at the heart of the business, but with good work/life balance. See

 Civil Service

I met a History Grad whose first application to the Civil Service was rejected, so he spent a year working for a Housing Office before re-applying. He has held positions in diverse areas, including Police Pay Review, Immigration, Operation Cobra… the diversity of opportunity is endless and you can forge a very unique career to fit your own talents and aspirations. Start your research at

 Costs Draftsperson

There is an advantage here to having an LL.B but equally important is an attention to detail, able to work to deadlines and an interest in the process of litigation. No previous experience required and this is a very buoyant and growing sector so there are real opportunities for graduates in law firms and in independent Costs Companies. Start your research at and also look at individual law firm websites.

 Risk Analyst

This is such a growth area at the moment – risk is a hot topic and the trend is continuing. Lauren completed a law degree but did not want to be a lawyer so started in a very junior role in risk to see how she liked it. She did like it so has now developed into a more senior position. The role is basically to advise the business on how to limit its exposure to risk – things like money laundering, conflict of interest acting for 2 competing businesses, data protection. All high level stuff, and requiring an interest in legal aspects of running a business. Look at Also explore the websites of individual law firms.

And finally … remember to connect with your Careers Service, available for 2 years after Graduation.

By Bernadette Lyons
Careers Consultant



A 2:2 degree – Triumph not Tragedy

‘Well, I wanted to do a Graduate Scheme in Marketing, but they don’t take 2:2’s, so I’m going travelling. There’s nothing much else I can do’. – 2016 Graduate

badge-686321_640As she said these words, a gloomy silence fell on our little meeting, and we both sighed in an ‘ah well, nothing to be done’ sort of way, gazing wistfully out of the window, imagining what glittering career might have been. That pesky 2:2 went and ruined everything..

‘NO!!’ I started, whipped into a frenzy of frustration, ‘there are loads of things you can do!! And congratulations on your degree’.

Here are a few for starters:

  1.  Don’t underestimate the huge value that a 2:2 degree from the University of Manchester carries with employers. Truly, it is globally recognised as a tough gig, and a 2:2 demonstrates skills such as research, analysis, project management and resilience. BE PROUD, it really is impressive.
  2. If employers state specifically and unequivocally that a minimum 2:1 is required, then don’t spend energy on making applications ‘just in case’. You will not succeed, and it will demoralise you.
  3. Instead, start thinking creatively. To find worthwhile work experience with a 2:2 is absolutely possible, there are jobs (great ones) out there, but you need to draw on that creativity, that resilience, those skills you’ve developed in your degree.
  4.  The 2:2 does not define you as a failure. Positivity is catching – if you can think positively about your achievement, others will too – that includes employers. If you don’t believe me, then try it and see. Email me if I’m wrong and I’ll buy you a bar of choc. That’s how confident I am.
  5. Come and see us/skype us at the Careers Service – I can absolutely guarantee you will leave our 30 minute meetings with a positive plan of action, some steps forward and/or renewed energy.
  6.  Have a look at the Manchester Graduate Programme – it has saved many a soul who felt a bit like things were hopeless, and proved to be a really great stepping stone.

Banish from your speech things like ‘I only got a 2:2’ and start saying ‘I have just graduated from the University of Manchester with a 2:2 degree – how brilliant is that’. Congratulations!


By Bernadette Lyons
Careers Consultant

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