Tag Archives: job search

New Year, New Strategy!

If you’ve been applying for jobs left, right and centre, but not getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to change your strategy. With 2015 lurking around the corner, why not make a fresh start with your job search strategy, and make 2015 the year you shine! 

Be clear on where you want to go

If you haven’t been getting anywhere with your previous applications, take a loo at the roles you are applying for. Do they suit your skill set? Do you meet the criteria in the job description? If not, you could be wasting your time applying for the wrong jobs.

Take the time to really think about the role you want, and that is realistic and achievable. There are some great careers planners available (TargetJobs and Prospects are two we recommend), which can really help you understand the jobs that you would be suited to.

Once you have identified a suitable area, undertake lots of research into companies and the industry to get insider knowledge that will really help your application stand out.


Target your applications

This is something we tell students time and again – tailoring your CV and cover letter for each application is one of the most important things you need to be doing when job searching. It shows that you have taken your time to research the job and the company, and will give you the opportunity to demonstrate to the employer how you will fit into the job role.

If you have to decide between applying for lots of jobs with a standard (non-tailored) CV, or applying for a few jobs with a customised CV, always choose the latter. Quality over quantity wins every time!


Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

Interviews need to be prepared for just as much as your application – if not more so! Get ready for all of those invites coming in by looking at the different types of interviews you might be faced with (for example, group interviews, assessment centres, etc.) and learn how to prepare for them. You can also research common interview questions for your sector and prepare your answers, using examples to really show how you have used your skills in real-life situations.

Getting a good collection of examples together at this stage means that you will be able to walk into the interview knowing that you will be able to give some strong answers to questions that are likely to come up.

If you struggle with nerves, arrange a couple of mock interview with the careers service before your interview, to gain some experience and some feedback on your technique. Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk to book a mock interview.


Don’t be afraid to follow-up

So you’ve applied and been for interview, but haven’t had a response – frustrating, right? Following up applications and interviews with a phone call or email shows that you are a keen applicant and that you are still interested in the role.

It may be difficult to ask, but if you have been unsuccessful it’s always a good idea to ask for some feedback on what you did well, and what you could have done better. This way you will be better prepared for your next interview.


Remember that the careers team is here to help you from the day you arrive at University, all the way through your studies, and for up to three years after you graduate too. We can offer application and CV feedback, as well as mock interviews and general careers guidance. Email careers@cumbria.ac.uk to get in touch.



Five tips to find work when it’s just not happening

CBIC Showcase

L-R: Sylvia Grainger, Student Enterprise Coordinator; Yasmin Phair – student; Amie Godward – Graduate Intern; Naomi Oosman-Watts, Employability Manager


Hello! My name is Amie Godward and I’m currently a Graduate Intern (Social Enterprise/ UnLtd SEE Change Programme) at the University of Cumbria. I studied Drama at the Lancaster campus and graduated in July 2013. I was elected to be the Student Life Sabbatical at the Students’ Union where I worked for one year. This was a paid position and in this role I represented student views on health, wellbeing, student groups, housing, finance within the union, the university, in the community and nationally. I also ran projects and events, developed and ran training sessions, assisted volunteers, minuted meetings, wrote and presented reports, and was a member of the board of trustees for the students’ union.

After being unsuccessful in my re-election campaign, I began looking for work, naively thinking my experience as a sabbatical would land me a job immediately. It actually took me just over 7 months from finding out I wouldn’t be continuing at the students’ union to find a job.

At first I was only looking for jobs in students’ unions. I had a few positive interviews where I just missed getting it, or was the second choice, even travelling for over 13 hours for an interview in Norwich, to be told they would have hired me if their first choice had turned down the offer.

After finishing at the SU in June, I moved into my partner’s parents’ house in North West Cumbria.  I began to run out of money pretty fast, and so the idea of moving to a different location became impossible. This narrowed the work I could look for, as I was only searching in Cumbria and around my home town in West Yorkshire. I was predominantly looking at working in the charity sector, and I seemed to be applying for loads of jobs all the time. It got to the point where I had to register as unemployed and claim Jobseekers Allowance, which meant I now had strict criteria for my job searching, and certain ‘targets’ to reach on a weekly basis.

Again, in my complete ignorance, I presumed being on JSA would mean I’d find a job straight away as I was now applying for everything and anything, but I was wrong, and I was searching and applying for 35 hours a week for 3 months before I found my current job.

Don’t let that panic you though! I was far from the perfect job searcher. Although towards the end I had learnt some pretty important things about looking for work.

  1. Always have a plan. I had no real idea what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to do it, which made it nearly impossible to job search. Speak to the careers service, they’re there to help you. Speak to your friends, find out what they are doing. It’s fine to not know what you want to do straight away, but if you can have some idea of area, whether that’s geographical or career wise, then it’ll definitely help.
  2. Tailor your CVs. This is on every single CV guidance website and job searching site but it’s absolutely true. Having a few different CVs depending on what job you’re applying for is great. You might be applying for one job where they’re looking for someone with event planning skills, and you might have never done that in your last job at Tesco, but when you volunteered for that local music festival, you gained loads of event planning expertise.
  3. Prepare your answers. A great piece of advice I got from an old boss was to think of the questions you would ask if you were on the interview panel. You can look online and find examples of general questions, but really think about the role, look at the person specific, what are they going to need information about? What things do you want to tell the interviewer? You don’t need to memorise your answers word for word, but there are general things that will come up time and time again. Be confident in your answers too, have someone ask you them and practice how you will say them out loud.
  4. Consider your weaknesses. Another tip from my old boss (a very wise man) was to recognise what the interviewer might see as a weakness, and turn it into a positive. For example, the main negative for graduates might be lack of experience, but flip that on its head; you’ve gained an enormous amount of skills at university, you aren’t going to need to completely readjust or learn different processes, you are eager to learn and work hard, the employer has the opportunity to work with a ‘blank canvas’ so to speak. I didn’t see the question come up that often, but the first time I was totally stumped, the second time I was prepared.
  5. Write ‘stock’ statements. I wrote and re-wrote so many similar statements in applications towards the beginning of my job search, then I realised I was just repeating myself. I saved statements in sections depending on the kind of job I was applying for, and just edited them according to the person spec and job description. It saved me tonnes of time and made the whole process less daunting knowing I didn’t have to re-write statements every time. For example, for jobs working with student groups, I saved a paragraph where I talked specifically about the projects I worked on with student groups, and an introduction that focussed on that area of work. For jobs that focussed on volunteer coordinating, I saved a paragraph about working with volunteers in the SU, and a paragraph as my time as a volunteer. This is particularly helpful if you’re applying for lots of similar jobs. Remember though; don’t just copy and paste, make it personal to the job!

Thanks for your great article Amie! If any current students or alumni would like to volunteer a post for the blog, please email careers@cumbria.ac.uk


5 Smartphone apps to help you in your job search

from http://blog.startapp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Apps.jpg


LinkedIn is one of the best places to find a job. You can follow companies that you are interested in working with, get in touch with employees of that company, make links and ask questions of the very people who are in the place you want to be. A lot of companies use LinkedIn to advertise vacancies, and the larger companies often have a dedicated recruitment page, with videos and case studies that gives you a really good insight into what working there is really like.


A lot of jobs are advertised on Twitter nowadays, and this is one social media platform that you really can’t afford to ignore. You can follow companies that you are interested in working with (some have dedicated job accounts) and you can use it to ask questions and find out what’s happening in your industry – great for those tricky interview questions!

Jobsite Jobs

This is just one of the job sites out there, most sites have an app that you can download – try a few until you find one you are comfortable with. You can search for local, national and international jobs by different filters. Have a spare 10 minutes on the bus? Get your phone out and find that job!!

Job Interview Q&A

This is a great app that can help prepare you for general interview questions. There are those standard questions that everyone gets asked at pretty much every interview: ‘Tell me about yourself’ ‘Why do you want to work here?’ ‘Tell me about a time when you worked in a team’ – this app helps you find questions that you might not be expecting!

Google Maps

The last thing you want is to get lost on your way to your interview! Make sure you plan your route the day before, and take into account things like traffic, the possibility that the car could break down, and so on – expect the unexpected!! You could also use the street view facility in Google maps to ‘walk through’ your route so that you can recognise the area and the building when you arrive.

What apps do you use in your job search? Let us know in the comments!