December 18, 2015, by Laura Estrop

12 days of Careers-mas

By Chris Jones, Senior Careers Adviser

Whether you have just graduated or will be returning in the New Year, the winter break can be a good time to reflect on what’s passed and make plans for the future.  If you can make some time between all the food and the Doctor Who Christmas Special, here are 12 pieces of career enhancing activity for you to undertake over the festive season to ensure a prosperous and successful 2016!

Day 1: Get reflective

As Aristotle said “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” and this is certainly true when planning your career. What is important to you? What are your interests and passions? What are your strengths? If you can list and prioritise these things, you will be well on your way to creating a ‘wish list’ that you can use to judge which careers might be a good match for you. If you need some help with this, try Profiling for Success questionnaires available on our website to give you a greater insight.

Day 2: Broaden your horizons

As you start to consider your opportunities, make sure that you aren’t limiting your horizons. For example, are you considering opportunities with small and medium-sized companies as well as big graduate recruiters? Are you thinking about international opportunities as well as those in the UK?  Within the UK, are you thinking about graduate opportunities in Nottingham and the East Midlands as well as those in London and elsewhere? Spend a day challenging your preconceptions and thinking outside the box!

Day 3: Research opportunities

Whether you have no idea about what you want to do, or a specific idea but need to find the right opportunity, doing some research will help you find the right answers. Fortunately, as a student, you will have very well developed research skills – right? Use some of the resources and links on our website as a starting point (e.g. Further study – finding courses, Career paths, Researching Employers)

Day 4: Talk to someone

Reading information online is helpful but will only get you so far in terms of really understanding your options. So, if there is a type of opportunity, a company or a course you are interested in, why not make contact and talk to someone about it? This can give you a much richer insight and is also a good way to start building up useful contacts.

Day 5: Think positive

Take some time out to generate that feel-good factor! A positive mindset is a key ingredient for making a success of your career planning, so spend some time reflecting on your successes and achievements over the last year. You could even try some ‘positive visualisation’ – picturing yourself where you want to be in the future and imagining how you will feel when you get there.

Day 6: Get LinkedIn

If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn, this video gives a pretty good overview of what it’s about.  Effectively it’s a professional version of Facebook and a key part of your career toolkit. If you haven’t done so already, create a profile for yourself and get connecting. If you already have a profile, think about how you can enhance your use of LinkedIn by increasing your connections, researching jobs and companies or joining and contributing to groups. Find out more tips on making effective use of LinkedIn.

Day 7: Get Social (1)

While we’re on the subject of social media, don’t forget that you can make use of other platforms for careers purposes – so get following and liking companies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But make sure that your own profiles are showing you in a good light to potential employers. If they’re not, have a serious look at your privacy settings.

Day 8: Get Social (2)

Again, there’s only so far you can go in the online world, so think about how you can bring your networking into the real world. Start by mapping out your network i.e. who you are connected to through friends, family and other connections, is there anyone here it would be useful to have a careers based conversation with? Make use of any parties over the break to practise chatting to new people and asking about their careers (you never know who you might end up speaking to!).

Day 9: Get your evidence together

At some point, you are going to need to prove to employers that you have the skills, qualities and experience they are looking for. Take some time out to review your previous experience – anything from your degree, extracurricular activities, part-time employment, work experience etc. – and identify specific times when you have demonstrated certain skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving and so on. This will help you with the substance of your future applications.

Day 10: Update your CV

OK, the bit we all look forward to. Dust off your CV (or start a new one if necessary) and make sure that it’s fit for purpose for whatever the New Year brings. A few basics – two sides maximum, clear and consistent layout and presentation, brief and relevant content and no spelling or grammatical errors. For further advice on your CV, have a look at the CV section of our website.

Day 11: Practise your pitch

Again, it’s unlikely you will get a job without having to sit down with someone and explain to them why you are the right person for the role. Particularly if you are likely to have some interviews coming up, find a willing friend or relative and practise a few questions with them. Perhaps start with a basic and generic question like “tell me about yourself” – ask for feedback not only on the content of what you said, but how you said it in terms of your body language and tone of voice.

Day 12: Get some advice

Finally, don’t think you have to sort all of this out on your own. Make sure you talk to friends, family, tutors for their advice and of course, speak to our team to help you with your plans.

Our staff are around until Wednesday 23 December and then from 4 January 2016 – if you have a question over the vacation, visit our website which has lots of information, advice, jobs and an insight into events next term.

Image: Jamie McCaffrey – Another Christmas day comes to an end

Posted in Careers Advice