Positive Career thinking for the New Year


Has your career planning been turned on its head in recent months? Or maybe you are struggling to find work experience and worried about how it might affect future job applications? We asked our Careers Consultants, employers, alumni and students for their advice on positive career thinking for 2021 and how you can make the most of the opportunities available. Take a look at their top tips below and remember you can always book an online appointment with a Careers Consultant for a chat – they are here to help.

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Careers Consultants

 Siobhan 2020

Make the most of online opportunities 

Don’t worry too much if the events of 2020 mean you lack of traditional work experience or internships- there are lots of other useful experiences you can get, like listening to industry podcasts or taking a free online course. Employers tell us that they understand the challenges you have faced in the past year and recognise that you may have different kinds of experience.

Siobhan Swindells, Careers Consultant

 Doreen 2020

Consider transferable skills

If the industry you’re interested in is struggling, focus on applying to jobs and placements where you’ll build useful transferable skills. Focus on sectors that are recruiting- what skills might they offer that you could take to your preferred industry when things pick up?

Doreen Thompson-Addo, Careers Consultant


 Ed 2020

Don’t underestimate your wider experiences

If you spent lockdown helping an elderly neighbour with shopping, put it on your CV. If you supported younger siblings with school work, add that too. Experiences like this will show an employer that you can respond calmly to a crisis, juggle priorities, take initiative and communicate

Ed McLean, Careers Consultant

 Louise 2020

Take the good out of difficult situations

If you didn’t get a job, remember that this is a common and normal part of the job hunting process. Perhaps you learned more about how online interviews work or the kinds of questions you’re likely to face. If you haven’t applied for any jobs yet, remember that it is ok to focus on your academic work and leave job hunting until after your exams. Focus on thoughts and actions that are helpful, not harmful to you.

Louise Ogle, Careers Consultant


Gemma 2020

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, think about the best use of your time

Some things, like your academic work, have hard deadlines. Other things, like organising a society event or getting some work experience, may have more flexible deadlines. List which tasks are both urgent and important, and which can be rescheduled or shared with others.

Gemma Seabrook, Careers Consultant






Employers and Alumni

 Tolu Ogunlaiye cropped

Show employers that you're proactive

Try and use some of your new spare time to upskill, and learn more about the area you’re interested in, which you can also include on your CV. This will show employers that you’re proactive, and can turn tough situations around to your advantage.

Tolu Ogunlaiye, Senior Graduate Recruiter and University Partnerships Consultant at FDM

  Hristiana Davidova cropped

Small steps every day

Remember not all graduates get a job straight after graduation, there are no set timeframes. Try to use your free time "smartly" while you are in a lockdown. There are many free online courses now which will not only help you upskill, but it will also look great in your CV. If you are not feeling very productive and maybe you are fed up with your job search, do not worry, you are not alone! There are fantastic webinars happening right now that can help you boost your productivity (remember to add them in your CV as well). Last but not least, remember, small steps every day, if you work hard enough your dream job will find you!

Hristiana Davidova, Alumni Talent Executive at mthree

Kate Weaver Teach First cropped

You can develop transferable skills everywhere

Look for opportunities and throw yourself into them, even if you’re not sure if it’s the career/industry for you. Attend webinars, talks, networking events and you’ll be surprised at what you can learn and who you might meet - this can then open doors you may never have known existed. Employers know the situation and now you can really demonstrate your flexibility and resilience – key transferable skills employers look for.

Kate Weaver, University Recruiter at Teach First

  Anna Byrne nucleargrads cropped

Demonstrate your ability to adapt and stay positive

Adaptability, flexibility and resilience will all be key strengths required when starting your career, following the changes brought about to workplaces and ways of working by the pandemic. We have all had to change how we interact with others; academically, professionally and socially over the last year. Demonstrating your ability to adapt and stay positive despite the challenges you have faced will show employers that you would be a great addition to their organisation. 

Anna Byrne, Graduate Recruitment & Selection Lead at nucleargraduates

James OSullivan cropped

Check on LinkedIn for any mutual connections you may know through your network

Good things will happen. Be proactive, build your skills and develop your 'story' that will help you in your career. Find something you can do relevant to the industry you would like to be in, for instance some online training, to show that you are actively interested in the area. Check on LinkedIn for any mutual connections you may know through your network, maybe you can reach out to ask advice from people who are in the roles you like. It's always flattering to be approached as an expert or guide and this may just get you noticed when there is a position available.

James O’Sullivan, MA English 2012

 Laura Wagg cropped

Consider Digital Marketing

Working in digital marketing is a great way to begin and progress your career. In many ways, it’s much more pandemic proof than other industries – sure, nothing is normal right now, but people still use websites, interact with online content, click on ads etc. The competition is a little stiffer than normal but if this is something that interests you, there are most certainly jobs out there, and the digital world is ever evolving, so post pandemic you can rely on interesting new opportunities arising as well. This sector is vast and there are opportunities to work for agencies or in house, in roles such as content writing, performance optimisation, analytics, website development, design, data science, communications, programming, search engine optimisation, social media management, customer relationship management/account management… the list goes on. Much of it is about tapping into what makes people tick, so if you’re interested in people, psychology and how brains work, there’s a definite human element to working in the digital sector too.

Laura Wagg, BMus Music 2012

Helen Parr 2 cropped 

Enjoy the experiences you have on the way

Don’t stress about getting it right first time. You might work out what you really want to do a bit later on, but you can enjoy the experiences you have on the way. I studied English Literature, and 10 years after graduating I am training as a psychologist, via headhunting, marketing and social work. Sometimes the winding routes are the most fulfilling.

Helen Parr, BA English Literature 2011

 Ben Storey cropped

Don't concern yourself with not taking the direct route to your dream career

Adaptability is likely to become an even more valued skill over the next few years, and future employers should be impressed if you've shown that you have a variety of skills and experience. So don't concern yourself too much with not taking the direct route to your dream career - if you have to take a more adventurous (and available) path to get there you'll likely be an extremely appealing candidate to many.

Ben Storey, BSc Physics 2011



Abhishek Udaykumar cropped round

Fire doesn’t exist in nature until we create it or dig real deep

What I believe, despite the current circumstances, is that the intensity by which we treat our craft is what ultimately helps us discover people, opportunities, and ourselves. It’s arduous to stay motivated even if you are producing great work but haven’t shared the journey with anybody; yet since we have now become largely remote, it is inevitable that we must work our way backwards. After all, fire doesn’t exist in nature until we create it or dig real deep.  

Abhishek Udaykumar, BA English and Creative Writing Finalist

  Mia cropped

Remember to do what’s best for you

You can get advice from so many different people and try to figure out what you are supposed to be doing. But you need to truly recognise that everyone’s circumstances, skills and aspirations differ. Prioritise what you feel is the best next step for you, not what you think you ‘should’ be doing. Whether that’s a Masters, to further your education and life experiences, or if that’s going ahead with a grad job, to further your work experience. It’s been a tough year, so above all, make sure to look after your mental and physical health and ask for any support that you may need.

Mia Skelson, BSc Criminology & Sociology Finalist