Lauren's story: the five biggest fears when starting my first grad job

Posted by Harry Picken on 16 February 2016

Interested in the media? Great! Love marketing and technology? Excellent! 

Lauren's a media executive at the content marketing and media agency, Pulse and in this industry insider special she writes about her five greatest fears when embarking on her career as a graduate and how she overcame them. 

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Topics: employability skills, Marketing, Advertising and PR

The 10 most popular Careers Group articles of 2015

Posted by Harry Picken on 11 January 2016

2015 was a busy year in higher education. It saw a higher education Green Paper, the proposal of a teaching excellence framework, and more students than ever seeking career advice from their university. But, let's not forget the hundreds of blogs published by The Careers Group for offering news and career advice for students, graduates, career centres and employers.

2015 also saw us launch a new-look blog platform where you can subscribe to email updates in addition to a new blog dedicated to graduate recruiters.

But which articles had you clicking the most? Here are the top 10 most-read of 2015.


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Topics: Jobs and Internships, Peace, Politics and Policy, employability skills, CVs and applications, career choice, Postgraduate study, international development, entrepreneurship

Research and development roles in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

Posted by Morag Walling on 1 October 2015

Many students dream of working in active science or research and development when they finish studying. Whether you're one of these students or are simply interested in finding out more about this industry, here is some information and activities designed to help guide your next steps.

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Topics: STEM, employability skills, Getting Experience

Is it better to study a law degree or not? 10 tips to help you choose

Posted by LouiseOgle on 30 June 2015
Would aspiring lawyers be better off studying History or Maths instead?
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Topics: employability skills, law, career choice

(Not so) Tricky Interview Questions

Posted by Laura Mackenzie on 26 May 2015

One of the most popular services we offer is interview coaching. Most people we work with have one or two ‘killer questions’ that they are dreading the most. So here, based on a random straw poll of careers consultants from across London, are the top 3 interview questions that students and graduates fear the most. And how to prepare yourself to approach them more calmly when you’re next in an interview situation. You’re welcome.

The opening gambit – ‘so tell us about yourself’

This seems like an innocuous question to open with, but it ranks high on the ‘least liked’ list. Why? Because it is so open ended, and there is a sense that the interviewer is looking for something specific but as the interviewee you are not always sure what that is. Rather than risk a long answer that might not give the panel what they want, consider the following preparation tips:

  1. Write down the key skills, experience and motivation you think the interviewer is looking for in their ideal candidate
  2. Next write down 4-5 things you could say about yourself in a short answer to cover the following – e.g.
    • What you are currently doing (e.g. ‘studying’, ‘working as X’, ‘just back from travelling’ etc)
    • Brief history of relevant experience (e.g. ‘whilst studying I did 3 internships related to X’)
    • Summary of your anticipated next step (e.g. ‘having had these experiences I am now looking for a permanent role in X where I can use my X,Y,Z skills)
    • 1-2 points about your wider interests (e.g. ‘Outside work I am a keen cyclist and like to spend weekends out with my local cycling club’)
  3. Check your list – have you talked about things that might give the interviewer some of the evidence they might be looking for in terms of the skills, experience or motivation of their ‘ideal candidate’?

The one about your weaknesses

Next stop –the one about your weaknesses. Immediate stress trigger for many interview candidates. Why? Because we are primed to think of an interview as a ‘sales pitch’ – our opportunity to convince the interviewers that we have what they are looking for. Top tips to prepare for this question:

  1. Identify 2-3 genuine weaknesses that you have in relation to work
  2. Think through whether any of these are going to be a ‘show stopper’ for the employer (e.g. being anxious about networking for a PR role) and then identify the one that is least risky
  3. Be prepared to be honest about that weakness, but also to be very clear about what you have done, and continue to do, to mitigate that weakness. It’s not about pretending everything is fine now, but about convincing the interviewers that you are self-aware enough to have strategies for ensuring that your weaknesses do not become a problem in the workplace.

The left-field ‘brain-teaser’

How many toasters were sold in the UK last year? How many hairs are there on a dog? How many strange and seemingly irrelevant interview questions have been used to torment interview candidates in the last year?

These types of questions are usually used for two reasons: a) to test your ability to handle the pressure of an unexpected question which appears to have no obvious answer; or b) to evaluate your ability to think your way logically through to a plausible answer from an uncertain starting point (and under time pressure). Essentially no one knows the actual answer to these questions, but there is usually some way to make an informed, reasonable guess. The key skills being tested here are logical reasoning and common sense in combination. Question: “How many toasters were sold in the UK last year?”

And the key to answering these questions? Pick a reasonable starting point that you have some data on, from which to make some logical inferences. Let’s do a worked example …

Question: How many toasters were sold in the UK last year?

  • Step 1. Don’t panic: the interviewers are not expecting the ‘right’ answer; they are more interested in your approach than the answer you end up with.
  • Step 2. State your starting assumptions: start off by identifying some possible starting points. This is a logical thinking puzzle with very little hard data, so tell the interviewers what assumptions you intend to start with. In this case it makes sense to think about the population of the UK in relation to number of households and toasters per household.
  • Example: “So to try to answer this question I’m going to start with the population of the UK at c.60 Million. I’m also going to assume for the sake of argument that an average household in the UK has 4 inhabitants. Therefore we are talking about 15 million households who might need a toaster, and that typically a household will have one toaster each.
  • Step 3: be clear about your logic: be clear about the logical conclusions from your assumptions – the ‘if this, then that’ arguments:
  • Example:If a toaster lasts on average for three years before being replaced then households will be replacing their toaster annually. Therefore I would say that a comfortable estimate would be that c.5 Million toasters are sold in the UK annually.

Not many of us look forward to a job interview, but with a little bit of preparation and a lot of focus on what the interviewer is really looking for, you can turn the tricky questions into opportunities to show what you have to offer.



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Topics: employability skills, law, Interviews

Networking your way to a legal internship or work experience

Posted by MaraGardner on 24 March 2015

Missed the deadlines for a vacation scheme or mini-pupillage? Looking for work experience in other areas of law? There are alternatives for work experience and networking is a key way to unearth these opportunities.

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Topics: employability skills, law, work experience

Skills for Global Work –Skills for Global Life?

Posted by careers consultant on 11 August 2014

Thanks to my colleague Helen West for sharing this interesting post....

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Topics: Peace, Politics and Policy, employability skills, Working abroad

The Future of Work- Self Employment and Freelancing

Posted by Kathy on 1 July 2014

The Future of Work- Self Employment and Freelancing

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Topics: employability skills, entrepreneurship, creative industries

Conversations with a Commercial Barrister

Posted by careers consultant on 21 March 2014

Many of the recent law careers blog posts have focused on careers as a solicitor in a commercial law firm. Arguably, this is entirely appropriate, given that there will be around ten times as many training contracts as pupillages available this year. In fact, there are likely to be less than 400 pupillages available in total. Of those pupillages, only a very small number will be in sets of chambers specialising in commercial law. That said, a career at the Commercial Bar could offer a rewarding alternative to students with top academics (and I really do mean top!) and a strong interest in commercial law. I talked to Anton, a junior tenant at Essex Court Chambers, to find out more….

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Topics: Jobs and Internships, employability skills, law, work experience

Law careers beyond the Law

Posted by Phil Howe on 17 March 2014

If you’re studying Law and have decided a career as a solicitor or barrister isn’t for you, what do you do? First things first, don’t worry! In my experience over the last 2 decades, helping employers recruit the best graduates, law students are in pretty high demand from firms as varied as government departments, professional services companies and strategy consultants. The content of your degree, combined with the many skills you have gained, makes you a pretty attractive proposition as a potential hire.

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Topics: employability skills, law, career choice

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