Monday, 2 December 2013

We have moved!

The University's Careers blog has had a revamp and has moved to:

Please update your bookmarks, and don't forget to follow us over on our new blog!

Any problems, email us at

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Fancy A Career in Human Relations? Read On...

An Interview with Kathy Allison, Head of HR at

How did you begin your career in HR and progress to your current position at boohoo?

Kathy Allison
Before joining boohoo, I worked in the hospitality sector as a People Development Manager at Radisson Blu Hotels. Throughout my time there I looked after Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool properties. My position at boohoo came after a friend encouraged me to apply – they had seen the role advertised and thought it sounded like a good role for me. It was a lengthy interview process but I was fortunate enough to get the job and become the first Head of HR at boohoo.

How would you describe a typical day working at boohoo?

My role is really varied so it is difficult to describe a typical day. I can be doing anything from a full day of interviewing senior candidates, supporting with people issues or attending and addressing director meetings. There is always plenty for me to do!

Do you think you need to have a degree in HR to start a career in it?

My degree wasn’t in HR but I have gained a lot of experience to develop my career in this field. Having said that, I do think it is great to have a HR degree as it provides a foundation and you then have the technical and theoretical knowledge about HR.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to begin a career in HR?

It is helpful to know what industry you’d like to do HR in and then you can gain experience in that area. This isn’t essential though as your skills will be transferable. I do feel that being prepared to understand the HR function from the ground up is a good basis for career development. As with many competitive industries, it is really important that you prove your determination and demonstrate the skills you have that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Do you have any suggestions about how someone could sell their skills when applying for a role in HR?

Have a look at your CV and make sure it is concise. Start with highlighting your key achievements. Don’t make it long, and more importantly keep it focused to the particular role you’re applying for. A one size fits all approach doesn’t always work.

What do you look for in a candidate applying for a job within HR?

Candidates that stand out to me are those who can show how they will benefit the business if they are successful. Being able to work commercially and a real desire to deliver success through people is important. It is also great to see someone with a real passion and persistence to work in the industry.

Note: Thanks to Sasha Jones for providing this interview.  If you would like to know more about careers in HR, a good starting point is the Graduate Prospects website.

Friday, 9 August 2013

A Step Up For Social Work Training?

On the lines of new in-service training programmes for graduates wishing to become teachers, there is now a similar on-the-job route open to would-be Social Workers.

Step Up to Social Work is a 14-month tailored programme for high-achieving graduates or career changers with experience of working with children and young people to train as social workers. The great news for those that fit this description is that they will have their tuition fees paid for and receive a bursary of over £19,000.

Students are work-based throughout their training and delivery arrangements vary according to agreements between the universities and regional partnerships running the Step Up to Social Work programme.  They may include formal lectures and e-learning, as well as internal local authority training provision and one-to-one support.

For more information 

Contact: Step Up To Social Work Programme, Penna Plc (Tel. 0845 366 5557)

Meanwhile for qualified Social Workers, we are hearing the Cumbria Children's Services have started recruiting again following a long period of austerity and that Randstad Newcastle are providing them with contract staff.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Assessment Centres - Practice Makes Perfect?

Many students worry about what will happen in a job interview, but increasingly the key phase of the selection process for many UK companies is the Assessment Centre. Usually only offered to candidates who have passed the initial stages of selection, such as an online application form or a telephone interview, assessment centres are a longer event, typically lasting one or possibly more days.

Elements that tend to be included in an assessment centre are:

  • Psychometric tests
  • Group discussion exercises
  • E-tray or in tray prioritisation exercises
  • Business case studies
  • Presentations
  • In-depth interviews

Candidates are under fairly intense scrutiny and are often very aware of competing each other, which may lead to some rather unnatural behaviour. According to careers advisers, some of the phrases that indicate successful performance are:  speaking up (without being unduly dominant), taking a lead, "building" on the contributions of others, keeping an eye on time, analysing facts, facilitating, awareness of the 'big picture'. Much of this focus is on how people work together in teams so it may be worth studying something about group dynamics in business situations.

But nothing beats having a try! Many careers services are now offering practice sessions on Assessment Centres to students and the University of Cumbria is no exception. On 13th November, we plan to run two practice assessment centres in collaboration with Enterprise Rent-a-Car at our Lancaster campus (exact location to be confirmed).  Priority will be offered to students from the New Business School but a large number of places will be available, so watch your student globals at the start of next session.

If you can't wait until then, here are a couple of links to help you gen up on the subject of Assessment Centres:


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Interview Infographic

Infographics have become a bit of a trend recently and are increasingly being used on careers websites. Here's an example of one I found on the subject of interviews. As it's a bit small to read properly here, you might want to take a look at the original on

The basic principle is to convey a lot of information in very few words and the use of the various graphics makes the key messages stand out in a way that appeals to the imagination (right side of the brain, Tony Buzan, etc).

One obvious drawback is you have no means of checking the validity of the information provided. Who for example says that 26% of 'warm source' interviews come from company websites?  How do we define a warm or cold source anyway?

Well suffice it to say that this is a pretty good introduction to the wonderful world of job interviews for candidates.  The only comments I would add are:
  • Length of ideal interview answer probably varies from person to person.  Not everyone 'drones on' - a lot of people answer too briefly.
  • A couple of feared questions that could have been added are: "Where do you see yourself in five years' time?" and "What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?"

It's also apparent that infographics are multiplying like rabbits.  You can even use them to write your CV!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A Career Is Born!

Thanks to the efforts of the Beer Academy a new career has come over the horizon - that of a Beer Sommelier!

According to "Wetherspoon News", the Academy introduced its Beer Sommelier scheme in 2011 to help restaurateurs, publicans and bar staff develop on their expertise on many students' favourite subject on the lines of the more established wine sommelier.  As well as advising on quality, a key part of the sommelier's role is to suggest how beverages can be paired with food items on the establishment's menu. So, for example in the case of beer, it seems Belgian raspberry beer works really well with chocolate pudding and a tangy IPA is the perfect compliment for a Stilton at dessert.

To become a beer sommelier, candidates have to pass the Beer Academy's Advanced Training Course as well as a course entitled "How To Judge Beer" plus an 'oral' (presumably verbal) examination and a blind tasting in which they have to identify different styles of beer.  Examiners look not only for a high level of technical expertise but good communication skills to convey their enthusiasm about beer.  A written portfolio, showing the candidate's skills in pairing beer and food in practice is also required.

Apparently, the Beer Academy has identified a gap in the market for beer connoisseurs, but it is not yet clear whether we can expect a flood of vacancies coming through on the University of Cumbria Job Shop

Thursday, 4 July 2013

NHS Trusts To Ringfence Posts For Local Graduates?

This may be good news for Health graduates who have so far not found jobs.

We have had sight of a recent email sent to North West NHS Trusts encouraging them to make the NHS Jobs Newly Qualified Profile Pool the 'first port of call' when undertaking major recruitment exercises.

In other words, it may give you a head start to register on the pool if you have not already done so.

According to a more detailed advisory document, employers can contact registered candidates to advise them of a particular advert that is about to be placed on the system or ask them for more information.

The Profile Pool system requires candidates to answer the following:

  • Have you received notification from the Exam Board that you have
    qualified as a nurse, midwife, allied healthcare professional or as a
    healthcare scientist? (Yes/No)
  • Have you qualified from an English Higher Education Institution in the UK?
  • When did you qualify? ( 2010, 2011, 2012, Other)
  • Do you have the right, under UK immigration rules, to live and work in the
    UK and without restriction? (Yes/No)
  • Please select your profession? (from identified list but includes all nursing disciplines, midwifery, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, radiography)
  • Please select your area of specialty? (from identified list)
  • Please specify which Higher Education Institution you completed your professional qualification? (Lists those Higher Education Institutions that the SHA commissioned and funded)

N.b. however that providing incorrect information will prevent the candidate from re-registering within the pool for a period of 12 weeks.

Also, candidates will still be expected to submit individual applications to specific vacancies.