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Career Planning

Everything you do and learn from this point onwards - whether that's from Careers, your course, Students' Union activities or being on work placement, will help you reach your end destination - becoming an employable graduate.

What is it all about?

  • You're in control of your own career planning. The Careers and Employability Service is here to guide, support and advise you
  • It's about taking control of your own employability with support from your University’s professionally qualified, award winning careers team.

At Careers and Employability we know that employers like students to have experience beyond their courses.

Employers like you to have a broad range of experiences 

  • They allow to you develop and evidence skills such as team work, responsibility and leadership.
  • They prove that you can seek out and use a range of opportunities.
  • They give you a wide source of experience that you can draw on for applications and interviews.

We encourage you to be aware that everything you do at Huddersfield whether on your course, through Students Union activities or from work placements or sport, will contribute towards your employability.

Employers have told us

  • “We expect you to have taken on positions of leadership and responsibility and show real ability to take initiative.”
  • “There are lots of opportunities, it’s just whether people can be bothered to go and find them…”
  • “We know that sport will let students develop skills such as team work, communication and leadership.”
  • “The ability to successfully juggle multiple commitments is one of the key skills that as recruiters we look for.”

Think about everything that you currently do alongside your course. It can all form part of your Career Planning

So what is Career Planning? 

In a nutshell, it’s everything you do whilst at University whether ‘officially’ through your course or less formally outside your study.

Most of these will be activities that you do out of choice – perhaps because you have an interest or a passion that goes beyond what you’re studying.

Here are a few areas that you might be able to draw from

  • Being involved with the Students Union.
  • Volunteering.
  • Work placement.
  • Student societies.
  • Part time jobs.
  • Being a student Course Rep.
  • Sporting activities.

So what’s the destination?

Career Planning is often described as a journey, which implies that there’s a destination and you’re on your way to it.

And of course if you’re a student at the University that is certainly true in that your course of study has an end point; after it you’ll hopefully be employed or carrying onto study at a higher level.

It’s worth having an idea about your long term goals as they can help keep you motivated in the short term too. Strong examples might include:

  • Setting up your own successful business.
  • Completing your degree and training to become a Teacher.
  • Taking a Masters Degree and then a PhD.

But your planning can be aspirational too. For example your goal could be:

  • To become an employed graduate on a Management Training Scheme.
  • To become a writer.
  • To work after graduation in London.

Whatever your goals may be, every aspect of your time at Huddersfield can help you to achieve it.

Career Planning is all about being reflective 

This means knowing what you’ve achieved whilst at The University of Huddersfield.

That should be simple, right? You know the title of your course so if anyone asks you what you’ve studied, just tell them.

And sometimes it can be that easy. A course title that includes a profession, such as ‘nursing’, ‘teaching’ or ‘accountancy’, can always be explained quicker than, for example, ‘Business Studies’, ‘Music’ or ‘Engineering’.

But it’s worth thinking beyond that: make a list of modules you’ve taken, think about the skills you’ve gained and – most importantly – think about what makes you different from every other student on that course.

If you need a starting point then read what the University website or Prospects say about your course.

Commercial awareness is an essential selling point for any graduate and a big part of your career planning

It’s about understanding commercial realities e.g. who are the company’s market competitors?  Who are their customers? How does a company know if its clients are happy? How does the current economic climate affect it? Commercial awareness is about you understanding issues like these and demonstrating it during an interview.

Developing your Commercial Awareness: you need to gain an understanding of what is going on in the business world and to be aware of current affairs that may impact on that sector. It will give you

  • The strategic context for your role, making your job more interesting.
  • The ability to offer a higher quality of service to your customers.
  • The ability to sell your product confidently.
  • The ability to make decisions based on a strategic overview of the company.
  • The ability to look at a situation from different perspectives, e.g. that of the customers, the employees, the leaders in business.

Ultimately, a sense of commercial awareness is not something that you can afford to be without.

Your time will pass extremely quickly at university and your course alone will not be enough to get you a job after graduation. We know from experience that employers will be looking for evidence that you have skills and abilities too. What are they, how do you get them? Read on:

Employers value skills that can be evidenced and they want you to 'hit the ground running' with a broad range of skills and abilities to make the transition from your course to the workplace as smooth as possible.

Start by assessing the skills you currently possess, including:

  • Transferable skills such as: communication; teamwork; analytical thinking and problem-solving; planning and organising.
  • Career Management Skills for example: self-awareness, self-promotion, self-confidence and networking.

Develop your skills further:

  • Employable Me : we offer a widerange of careers workshops and events throughout the academic year and they’re all free for you to attend.
  • On your course: get involved in course activities and check if there are professional bodies that you can join.
  • Work experience : you can't beat 'real life' practical experience.Exposure to a working environment will help you to develop skills, gain commercial awareness and network with potential employers. And you could get a reference too.
  • Volunteering - the opportunities are varied, rewarding and you can quickly find yourself taking on responsibilities.
  • Societies and sporting activities: can give you an opportunity to network with peers.
  • Networking with employers is a great way to demonstrate your skills in the workplace. 

A massive 80% of jobs aren’t advertised: they are what’s known as ‘hidden jobs’. They are filled through methods such as networking, contacts, word of mouth, recruitment agencies, internal advertisement and ‘speculative’ means. Employers like it as it can offer a fast way to recruit staff they might already know.

So how can you take advantage of it?

Network and keep in touch with contacts - setting up professional social media accounts for example on Twitter and LinkedIn to network is a must.

Develop your skills – don’t wait for the jobs to come to you – think about taking a job that isn’t ideal but which may offer you training and experience in a related field. Also look into placements and work experience

Use recruitment agencies – they often have direct access to employers and so find agencies that specialise in your industry of interest. Build up a strong relationship with an agency. 

Apply speculatively This involves sending your CV and covering letter that clearly explains why you are interested in working for the company and what you have to offer to prospective employers.  Research is vital – and make sure you tailor each application for each company.

Who do you know? Who knows you? Being able to network effectively is important in the competitive world of graduate employment. It allows you to increase your chances of employment and to access the hidden jobs market.

What is it? Networking consists of individuals adopting a strategic approach to developing and maintaining relationships that will support their personal, professional or career goals. It's all about making connections.

Where to begin? Find your focus, for example if your motivation is around finding work and developing your career then consider carefully what kind of career you are interested in. Get into social networking.

  • List your existing network of contacts – family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, lecturers, employers etc. Can they help you?  Or do they know someone else who may be able to?
  • Research your contacts, find out about their role and their company before you meet.
  • Keep in touch with changes in your field of interest by scanning journals, trade magazines, newsletters and the web. 
  • Offer to do voluntary work or work shadowing to get your foot inside an organisation, develop your research and build your network of contacts.
  • Don’t let new contacts fester, keep communication lines open by getting in touch every couple of months.
  • If you want to follow the career path of some of the University's Alumni, or you want to network with somebody who has already graduated from your course, the University of Huddersfield Alumni Society is a great forum to get involved with. 

Possible questions you might want to ask

  • How did you get started in this field?
  • What is your role in this organisation?
  • What do you find most rewarding about your career?
  • How are graduates recruited into this company?
  • What skills are most important for advancement?
  • What experience is required?
  • What is a typical day like for you?

An essential part of career planning is understanding your skills and abilities. Self awareness is all about knowing what you're good at, what you want from a job and the ability to market yourself to a future employer.

This is all about you being reflective: what skills do you have? What evidence can you show?

We know that graduate recruiters value students who can demonstrate self awareness; here's a checklist to get you started:

 Think About:

  • Work Experience
  • Activities eg Sport, Volunteering
  • Your Course Work
  • Your Motivation
  • Your Likes and Dislikes

Anything missing?

Part of self awareness is knowing where you might have skills 'gaps'. Don't hesitate to speak to our Careers Advisers if you need help and support.

In less than a decade social media has become an indispensable tool for career minded graduates and students. If you’re not already actively using sites like LinkedInTwitter and Facebook to promote yourself to employers then you will be missing opportunities. Also, most employers will expect you to have an online presence.

What can other people learn about you from your social networking? Remember that:

  • You don’t have to be ‘squeaky clean’, in fact rough edges will add authenticity. But you do need to be aware of what’s out there.
  • Any potential employer could run a similar search.
  • Personal branding messages should be consistent no matter where they appear.
  • Stay up to date – the best social networking is current.
  • Be aware of privacy settings – do you know what Facebook is sharing about you?
  • Be wary of tagging – are you named on photos taken by other people?

Our blog offers regular updates on the benefits and pitfalls of social networking.

Employability Timelines

Make the most of your time at university and use our timelines to maximise your employability.

First year - Employability Timeline

Mid-degree - Employability Timeline

Final year - Employability Timeline


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