Six reasons graduates should gun for startups – James Pursey

Today we have a guest post from James Pursey with his top six reasons to join a startup!

I graduated from university in 2011 and had my whole life planned out. I was going work for a young startup company for a couple of years to gain experience, then start my own business. Plans are all well and good, but when a job offer for a recruitment company came up with big cash figures floating in the air, I changed my mind.

To this day it was one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. I chose money over what I really wanted to do because it felt like a ‘career path’ I was meant to take. I quit after six months of what I can only politely describe as un-enjoyable work and went to work for the startup I should’ve gone to originally. Eventually I left and ran my own company for a couple of years and now I’m back at another startup.

I think a lot of people get drawn into careers they don’t want, and a lot of them stay there because it’s the ‘sensible’ thing to do. Joining a startup isn’t irresponsible, it’s not reckless and there’s a lot of advantages over more established companies. Here are my top six reasons to join a startup.

1) You’ll build a broad skillset

In most jobs, you do the role you’re hired for and nothing more. If you’re employed to run social media you’ll spend your time tweeting, pinning and updating statuses – that’s great but too much of anything can become a chore. Startups operate on an all-hands-on-deck basis, which is a clunky way of saying that (if you want to) you can get experience across all aspects of the business, even areas you’d never even thought of. More exposure means more skills, which means you’ll be even more employable after a year in a startup than after your first-class honours degree!

2) You’ll be working with like-minded people

By like-minded I mean people like you! Startups require a lot of brainpower to get off the ground, a lot of hard work and a heck of a lot of working under pressure. Without stereotyping people too much, startups are typically powered by young people.

You’ll be working alongside people of a similar age, with similar interests and a similar attitude. Startups are all about culture and they’ll hire people that fit their own sense of humour and work ethic – in other words, if you join a startup the chances are you’ll get on like a house on fire with the other staff members and work won’t just be work, it’ll be a damn good laugh.

3) You’re not a tiny cog in a huge machine

Every single member of an early-stage company has a vital role to play. Regardless of your specific job you can rest assured you were hired for a reason and that reason will help the business succeed. That means you’ll have a lot of responsibility early on, but remember that accountability comes with that. If you want to have ownership and work autonomously, don’t join a corporate.

4) Startups are cool

Some startups require you to work long hours, some can’t match those corporate salaries, and I’m sure you could send me a list of reasons to work for a big company, but one thing startups nail every time is culture.

From pool tables to nap time and daily cooked breakfasts, startups are quirky and like to treat their staff to keep them motivated and make work less of a chore! carwow has a very well-used table tennis table and every Friday the fridge is full of beer.

5) You can develop fast… really fast  

I joined carwow in Februrary as a sales exec. I didn’t want to work in sales though – I wanted to work in marketing. So I audited the site and presented my findings to the founder a couple of weeks after starting. Fast-forward six months and I’m the Head of Inbound Marketing. Put simply, if you have a passion that can serve the business, and you prove your value, you may just get that job you’ve always wanted – without changing companies.

6) It’s one heck of a ride

carwow is a comparison site for new car sales. Believe it or not, nobody in the country does what we do. Within 12 months of launching, the company has grown from nothing to selling £10m+ worth of cars per month, and last month around 5% of all Volkswagen Golfs sold in the UK were via carwow. We also raised a seven-figure investment sum to grow even faster. Now, read that again and tell me it doesn’t sound like an awesome place to work.

So there it is, six top reasons to aim for startups. Any questions at all? Tweet me: @JamesPursey

Don’t finish your career before it starts!


The UK fraud prevention service is warning new graduates that they could be risking risk their futures by lying on job applications

So you’ve graduated from Uni – congratulations! After all the partying, it’s time to get your CV ready and start applying for those all-important graduate jobs. But what are the consequences of lying on your job application?

The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service (CIFAS) has produced a new publication: Don’t finish your career before it starts. This leaflet is targeted at current students as well as graduates and explains to young people about job application fraud – which despite the myths that lying on your CV is harmless, could result in imprisonment. A lot of graduates think that ‘embellishing’ your CV, by adding A Levels or making up references is acceptable, even expected. In reality, if you submit false or exaggerated information on your application, you could end up being dismissed, getting a criminal record or even in jail.

The aim of the publication is not to portray young people as fraudsters, but to educate them in the risk they are taking if they are tempted to embellish their experience and achievements. Research carried out by CIFAS demonstrates that a lot of applicants are unaware that job application fraud is a crime.

Did you know that there is an Internal Fraud Database run by CIFAS that allows employers to record cases of actual or attempted job application fraud (as well as fraud committed within employment such as stealing money, bribery and corruption)? They can also check any new applications to the company against this database.

What this means is that if you attempt to gain employment after being recorded in the database, then your previous fraudulent application will be uncovered – even if your most recent application is genuine. This could have a massive impact on your graduate job prospects!

We know how tempting it can be to tell a little white lie on your application, especially if you haven’t been getting a very good response from those applications you have submitted – but it just isn’t worth the risk! If you feel that your application or CV is not working for you, make an appointment with the Careers Team, or send it to the careers inbox for some feedback ( – we are here all summer and happy to help!!


Post adapted from

My 40 Days


Last week on the blog we told you about this amazing competition from Adzuna to find ‘The Graduate of the Year 2014‘ – if you haven’t already entered, what are you waiting for? Go! Now!

Anyway, last year’s winner was Caleb Meakins, a 24 year old Civil Engineering graduate. Caleb won £1000 cash, a CV mentoring session with a top UK entrepreneur and an awesome internship at top UK company – amazing, right?!

Caleb decided that he would take a year out once he graduated to launch his exciting project ‘My 40 Days’. The premise behind this project is complete 40 challenges that have been submitted by the public via facebook and twitter which are deemed ‘impossible to achieve’. In facing rejection head-on, Caleb aims to change the way that he deals with failure and hopes to inspire graduates across the world by demonstrating that failing is actually a useful experience in today’s competitive graduate job market.

You can go and check out Caleb’s project at, you can suggest a challenge on Facebook or Twitter, and you can see all of Caleb’s videos on his YouTube channel to see new challenges as they are uploaded!

We wish Caleb the best of luck with his project, and his future career!

After you graduate – what now?


Last week was graduation here at the University of Cumbria, so it’s time to celebrate and enjoy your last few days at Uni. Have you got a graduate job lined up already? If so – well done! And if not – don’t panic! We are here to help you find your perfect job!

Stay focussed

For some students, they send off one application, have an interview and are offered the job – for other’s it’s a lot harder, especially if you are not 100% sure what you want to do. Try not to worry about what everyone else is doing and instead aim to focus your energies on your own job search. Take the time and effort to make each application count. Don’t worry if you don’t get offered a job right away – something better is waiting for you!

Do something different

“If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before.” A great quote to keep in mind if the way you are approaching your job search just isn’t working. Change your approach! You could try writing a blog relating to your chosen career – it can be a great way to make contacts, get some experience, and is a great portfolio to show to potential employers. Also think about undertaking some short-term work experience to get a little bit of real-world experience – every little bit helps!

Say YES to everything!

OK, maybe not everything (have you ever tried eating 60 hard-boiled eggs in an hour?), but when an opportunity comes along, even if it doesn’t seem all that related to your chosen career, why not try saying yes and see what happens? You could make a new contact, a new friend, or even land a job on the back of it. By opening yourself up to new opportunities, you will encounter new things, places and people which could all have a positive impact on your job hunt!

It’s not all doom and gloom

Unemployment in Cumbria fell again last month and has plunged by 27 per cent in the last year. This means that the University of Cumbria 2014 Graduates are going to have more opportunities than our 2013 graduates. It’s not going to be easy (nothing worth having is!), but it’s true that there are more opportunities out there than a year ago – you might just have to be a bit more creative about where you look for them. Which leads me nicely onto:

Make a start

Here are a few quick things you can do right now to help with your job search:

  • There are loads of graduate opportunities on the JobShop, you can register for alerts, or you can search using loads of different filters.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile – and use it! This post from last month might help: 5 steps to a killer LinkedIn profile.
  • Use Twitter to find a job. A lot of opportunities in and around Cumbria are with SME’s and they don’t have a massive budget to advertise their vacancies. This useful article from Francesca Mitchell goes into lots of detail.
  • Set yourself SMART targets for your job search – you could even schedule time into your week to work on these. Set yourself a task whereby you contact three people you’ve met through work experience, or search twitter for local jobs (see above).

I hope that this post has helped easy any post-graduation panic, and that it has given you some action points that you can start on straight away. Remember that the careers service is here for you for up to three years after you graduate, so you can always email, phone or pop in for an appointment if you want to! We’d love to see you again!

Friday’s Featured Vacancy – 18/07/2014



Full Time Front of House Staff at The Fenwick Seafood Pub – Lancaster

The Fenwick in Claughton are looking for front of house staff to join our team. Full time & part time positions are available. Successful candidates must have a good attitude to work, positive mental attitude & be a team player. Experience is preferable. This rapidly expanding company are very keen on promoting from within & are expanding all the time.

To apply, send a CV and covering letter FAO Tom Wilkinson via 

Shop Floor Assistant at Asda, Carlisle

How will you make a difference?

Here’s the short answer;

Our customers love us as much for our friendly, helpful service as for our fantastic low prices. On the shop floor you have a great opportunity to welcome customers, talk to them, help them and make their shopping trip memorable. You also have an important part to play in helping us meet our sales targets, whether it’s by recommending a product to a customer or making sure the shelves are stocked with the things they want to buy.

Everyday matters

Out there on the shop floor you’re in the front line of our business, providing great service to the very highest standards. We’re proud of our warm and friendly service. It’s what our customers love and have come to expect. So we’ll always expect you to:


  • Have a smile in your voice as well as on your face. Always say hello and goodbye and talk to customers, showing an interest in their needs
  • Treat every customer as an individual. You may be the first person they’ve spoken to in the store
  • If a customer asks where to find a product, don’t just point or give directions, take them to it – and have a chat along the way
  • If a customer has a complaint, try and resolve the problem yourself or quickly decide if it’s an issue for a manager. Be sympathetic and don’t get flustered
  • WOW customers with your friendliness


  • Try to recommend additional products to meet customers’ needs
  • Help to maximise sales (and customer satisfaction) by keeping shelves replenished and products always available
  • Be aware of promotions going on in the store and make sure customers are aware too

Closing Date: 22 July 2014

Apply online at

Adzuna’s Graduate of the Year Competition 2014

Graduate of the Year Logo

Hey there graduates! Could you be Graduate of the Year 2014?

Adzuna are running a competition where you could win an internship, some cold hard cash, and a fantastic opportunity for some CV feedback!

The prizes are:

  1. An internship with a top UK company (including eBay, L’Oreal, Sony & Google)
  2. A cash prize of £1,000
  3. A CV clinic with a top UK entrepreneur

Competition for graduate jobs is high, with a lot of graduates having to take non-graduate level jobs – it can be tough to find employment, especially if you are a recent grad! This amazing prize could help you land your dream job!

Adzuna are looking for a recent graduate from a recognised UK university – they want to find the brightest, sparkiest, gutsiest individual around. If you are skilled in arts, music, sports, academia, languages or are an outstanding student union member, leader, or social contributor, Adzune want to hear about you and why you deserve to win.

To enter the competition, all you need to do is to click here and tell Adzuna why you think you are the Graduate of the Year 2014.

The deadline for applications is the 22nd of August and the finalists will be notified by email on the 1st of September 2014.

Good Luck!

You can follow along with the competition on twitter: #graduateoftheyear – while you’re on there, why not give us a follow @UoCCareers!