Careers FAQs

This section of our site provides answers to our most frequently asked questions. You can either view all of the questions below or use the side navigation to look at questions related to a specific topic.

Careers support and resources

Planning your career

Work experience

Job hunting

Applications, interviews and job offers

Further study

Self employment and entrepreneurship

Issues for disabled students and graduates

Working abroad

Questions and Answers

How do I arrange to see a Careers Adviser?

To arrange to see a Careers Adviser please visit the appointment page and select your desired method of contact: http://careers.southwales.ac.uk/appointment

Alternatively, you might be able to get the advice you are looking for by using the 'Ask a Question’ service here: http://careers.southwales.ac.uk/email


What can I do with a degree in………?

Some jobs and careers require a specific degree subject, especially in the fields of science, technology and engineering. However around 60% of advertised graduate vacancies are open to all degree disciplines which means that you may have a broad range of career options open to you. Think about the skills you have developed which can be transferred to jobs which are related and unrelated to your subject.

To find out what jobs you could do with your subject see www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree

If you are interested in a particular job but aren’t sure whether your degree subject is acceptable see the individual job profiles listed under Prospects’ Explore types of jobs for details of entry requirements.


Where can I find information about getting work experience and part-time jobs?

See our Work experience section for information on a range of work experience opportunities including summer and sandwich placements. You can find specific information in our section links relating to your subject. For information on part-time jobs and seasonal work see Student jobs.

Work experience placements are advertised on Unilife Connect.


How do I get the job I want?

Your first step is to be clear about the type of job you are interested in. This will enable you to take a strategic, focused approach to your job search so that you can target vacancy sources or organisations which offer opportunities in your field.

Once you know what job you want, there are two main strategies you need for job hunting:

  1. knowing where to look for advertised vacancies and
  2. targeting organisations directly to find out about current or future vacancies and how they recruit.

See Jobs for information on vacancies and job hunting strategies.


Where can I find job vacancies?

This depends on the type of job you’re looking for and where you’re looking geographically.

Check out Jobs, a useful starting point. Also register with Unilife Connect, the Careers & Employability Service online vacancy database to search for vacancies in Wales, the UK and overseas.

Other sources you can use to find vacancies include job hunting websites, online newspapers and professional publications, organisational websites, professional body websites and recruitment agencies.


Where can I find information on employers?

The Careers and Employability Service’s Unilife Connect had a database of employers who have targeted the University South Wales.

To search for graduate employers across the UK see Prospects and Target Jobs


Is it worth using recruitment agencies? How do I find a reputable agency which specialises in the field that interests me?

Using recruitment and employment agencies can be a useful part of your job hunting strategy and also a way of getting valuable work experience or ‘getting your foot in the door’. Many agencies specialise in specific job sectors while others deal with a wide variety of vacancies.

There are 6,000 recruitment agencies and more than 8,000 recruitment consultants out there. You can identify them by:

  • checking the recruitment sections of local and national newspapers as well as specialist career publications
  • searching on Yellow Pages


How do I write a CV?

Your CV is an ever evolving marketing tool which you need to keep under constant review and, most importantly, adapt for each job you apply for. It should be targeted to emphasise the skills, experience and abilities which match the requirements of the job (or other opportunity such as a work placement) that you’re applying for.

You should consider carefully the format, content and layout of your CV, the evidence you include and the language you use to ensure that it is professional and clearly demonstrates your suitability. You should always send a covering letter with your CV.

See CV and covering letters for samples of CVs, covering letters and other sources of useful information.


How do I complete a good application?

You should complete an application form to demonstrate that you meet all the requirements for the job you are applying for as specified by the employer. These requirements are usually found in the person specification. The ‘personal statement’ part of the application is generally where you do this although some applications ask specific questions which you should answer carefully. Always use evidence from your experience to back up your assertions.

See Applications for Your Guide to Making Applications


Where can I get my CV/application form/covering letter checked before sending?

It is useful to get impartial feedback on your CVs, covering letters and application forms before sending them. This is important not just for checking format, content and style but also to ensure that you have no spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes – a big turn-off to any employer.

You can ask friends and family to give you feedback. Academic tutors can advise on CVs for jobs related to your subject. Make use of any contacts you may have working in the field you are applying for, particularly in terms of the styles of CV which are common in that area.

If you are a University of South Wales student or graduate or one of its franchise colleges, you can have your CV, covering letter and application form checked by one of our Careers Advisers who will give you constructive feedback. To make an appointment please “click here“http://careers.southwales.ac.uk/appointment/ or Ask a Question .


How do I make the most of ‘non-graduate’ jobs and work experience on my CV?

In any job that you do – before, during or after university – you will learn valuable skills which can be transferred to other jobs including ‘graduate’ roles. It is important to recognise the transferable skills you gain in all your jobs whether temping, part-time, casual or seasonal.

For example, in jobs you have had you will probably have:

  • worked well under many different pressures
  • developed excellent interpersonal skills through meeting people from a wide variety of social backgrounds
  • developed sound customer care skills dealing tactfully and diplomatically with difficult people
  • developed good organisational skills through stock taking, till operating and housekeeping procedures
  • worked as part of a team, supporting others
  • developed leadership skills training new staff and standing in for your manager.

Think about other relevant skills you may have developed for example problem solving and time management.

When you apply for a job your CV or application form should demonstrate how your skills and experience match the employer’s requirements for that job. For more information see CVs and covering letters and Applications.

See also Prospects Applications and Interviews.


What qualities do you need for effective leadership?

Good leaders, as opposed to managers, are generally considered to be those who can inspire others to effect change. To be a good leader you need to have self-confidence, vision and the ability to build and motivate an effective team. As a leader you need to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of each individual team member so that you can utilise the team’s skills and experience.

Excellent communication skills are essential. The ability to listen is crucial as well as being able to convey information, explain, consult and involve team members.

A good leader needs to be able to make decisions, tackle difficult issues, give credit where it’s due and take responsibility for the team’s mistakes and failures.

Not everyone wants to take on a leadership role. You may be interested in doing some psychometric/aptitude type tests and personality inventories which indicate the kind of skills employers are looking for and whether you meet these criteria. See Psychometric tests.


I’m making lots of job applications but not getting invited for interviews. What should I do?

It can be very disheartening to spend hours completing an application only to be rejected without an interview. If your applications aren’t getting you past the first hurdle then there are two key things you need to review: the first is your job-hunting strategy and the second is the quality of your applications i.e. your CVs, applications and covering letters.

With your job hunting strategy there are various factors to consider:

  • How competitive is the market? Have you ensured that you meet all the requirements for the job as specified by the employer? To get in to some competitive areas of work you may need to consider applying for jobs at a more junior level to work your way up.

For information on how to get in to different jobs and sources of vacancies see Prospects Explore types of jobs.

You should also review the quality of your CVs, application forms and covering letters:

  • For each application you need to ensure that you understand the nature of the job you are applying for and, most importantly, you must address all the selection criteria as specified by the employer. These criteria, or job requirements, are usually found in the person specification. You must give examples from your experience to demonstrate how you meet these requirements. If you don’t address all of them, or you make assertions (e.g.’ I have excellent communication skills’) without supporting evidence then you won’t get shortlisted.
  • Always check your CVs, applications and covering letters for spelling, grammar and punctuation as any mistakes will speed your application to the bin.
  • For more information see CVs and covering letters and Applications.
  • Ask someone, such as a Careers Adviser to check over your CVs/applications before submitting them.

See also Prospects Applications and Interviews.


How do I prepare for an interview?

Firstly, well done on getting to the interview stage. Employers don’t waste time interviewing people they are not seriously interested in.

Thorough preparation is crucial to success at interviews. For advice on preparing for your interview start by taking a look at our interviews page which includes “Your Guide to Interviews“http://careers.southwales.ac.uk/media/files/documents/2013-10-01/Grad_Edge_A4_Interviewsguide_Layout_1.pdf.

You may find it useful to have a mock interview with a Careers Adviser to get some practice and useful feedback. For details on how to book a mock interview see interviews.

See also Prospects Applications and Interviews.


What are assessment centres?

An assessment centre is viewed by many employers as a more comprehensive and accurate selection process than the traditional one-hour interview. Over one or two days selectors measure you against a set of competencies using a range of methods which can include one-to-one interviews, group activities, psychometric tests, in-tray exercises, case studies and presentations. They may also include social/informal events and information-giving sessions.

For more information on what to expect and how to prepare see assessment centres.


What are psychometric tests?

Psychometric tests are timed tests, under exam conditions, designed to measure objectively your aptitude and ability i.e. your intellectual capability for thinking and reasoning. There are also tests to measure certain aspects of your personality and how you may react in different situations.

Aptitude and ability tests have definite right or wrong answers and it’s more important to get the answers right than to finish the test. It’s useful to practise these types of tests and practice tests. With personality tests there are no right or wrong answers and you can’t practise for them. Answer honestly and don’t try to second guess.

For more information on what to expect, how to prepare and for practice testing sessions see psychometric tests.


I’m getting interviews but not job offers. What can I do?

If you’re getting interviews then your applications must be good. If you’re not getting job offers you could question whether you are backing up your applications with a good performance at interview:

  • always ask the employer for feedback on the basis that it can help you prepare for future interviews. Try telephoning employers as they are generally more willing to give feedback verbally rather than in writing.
  • review your interview performance by reflecting on the questions you were asked and how you might answer them better at a future interview.
  • book a mock interview with a Careers Adviser to get constructive feedback and advice on areas where you could improve your performance.

Don’t be disheartened. Every interview gives you good, practical experience and helps you improve your performance for the next one.

For advice on interview preparation and information about mock interviews see interviews.


I’ve been offered a job. What do I do now?

Well firstly – congratulations!

A verbal job offer should be followed by an offer in writing. Once you receive this you have to decide whether to accept or not. It may be a simple decision but there could be a number of factors to consider. For example, you may have other job offers or interviews pending or, from your interview, you may feel unsure that the job is for you. Don’t rush into a decision.

If you decide to accept the job you should confirm this in writing or sign the employment contract. Once you’ve done this it becomes a legally binding contract. It is inadvisable to accept a job offer with a view to rejecting it if something better turns up.

If you decide that the job is not for you, you should write to say thank you and politely decline the offer – you may want to work for them in the future.

For information about employment rights see the Citizens Advice website.


When and why are job references used?

Job offers are often made subject to receipt of references satisfactory to the employer. The purpose of a reference is to give the prospective employer information to support their decision that you are suitable for the job. They generally seek factual information (job title, brief details of responsibilities, dates of employment, reason for leaving, qualifications, attendance record etc) and may ask for comments on your suitability for the post.

Employers contact referees either after the job has been offered or before interview, after seeking your permission. Generally they want references from your current and most recent employers but may also want an academic reference if you have recently been in higher education.

You should choose the most appropriate people to give you a good reference and always ask their permission before giving their contact details as a referee.

For information about employment rights see the Citizens Advice website.


Should I go on to do further study?

Further study is an option that is taken by many graduates every year. Before applying for further study you should think seriously about whether it is right for you and consider your reasons for doing it.

Positive reasoning could be that the course or research is essential to enable you to follow your chosen career path such as teaching. Perhaps the course/research is not essential but a potential advantage in getting into your chosen career. You may enjoy studying the subject and wish to enhance your understanding of it, though realise it might not automatically increase your job prospects.

Be careful of pursuing further study simply because you cannot decide what career to choose and/or are using it to put off your job search. Common thinking is that employers will automatically see a postgraduate qualification as better than a first degree, especially as the numbers of graduates are increasing. This is not necessarily the case.

For useful resources see Postgraduate Study


Where can I get funding for further study?

There is no simple answer to this. Funding availability will depend upon what you want to study and where.

Prospects provide a comprehensive guide to funding your postgraduate study.

Here’s a snapshot of possible funding sources:

Research councils – the main providers of public funding.

Charitable foundations – charities, foundations and trusts often provide awards. The Grants Register is a useful resource to identify funding of this nature.

AMBA Loan Scheme – if you are studying for an MBA and your course is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) you may be eligible.

Institutional funding – contact the student finance department of the institution that you have chosen to study at – you may be eligible for scholarships or funding schemes they are offering.

Employer-funded study – if you are in employment find out if your employer is willing to support you to pursue further study.

Pay your own way – perhaps the most common form of funding – students study part time allowing them to work in order to earn the money to fund their course.


How do I find out about studying abroad?

Studying overseas can help to enhance your CV, develop valuable skills and provide the opportunity to experience other cultures.

A great deal of advance planning is needed when considering spending time studying abroad. You will need to put time and effort into ensuring you choose the right course/country and are clear about how you will finance your study and living costs. You’ll also need to consider any language requirements. If you’re seeking long-term opportunities you need to be realistic about your chances of success.

See Postgraduate Study for useful information and links to get you started.

See Prospects’ Explore studying abroad section for information on the factors you need to consider, a timetable for applications, key opportunities and specific information about studying and working in over 50 countries.

Other resources and links you may find useful include:

For more information see our Useful links section.


I’m thinking about becoming self employed/setting up my own business. What support is available?

There is encouragement from the government for people to become self-employed or set up their own businesses. Being your own boss and working the hours you choose can seem very attractive but you also need to think carefully about the disadvantages and pitfalls, such ask the uncertainty of your income and working long hours.

If you decide to look into self employment/setting up your own business there is no shortage of sources of help and support:

  • The Self Employment Community on Prospects covers topics such as the skills required, ways to run a business, marketing and further sources of help. Many of the organisations listed will be able to provide detailed guidance and support. It also includes a breakdown of support by UK regions including Wales.


Where can I find careers information for disabled students and graduates?

All the careers advice and information available to you will be useful even though it is not disability specific.

For information on a range of career and job hunting resources specifically for disabled and dyslexic students and graduates see Diversity and Equality.

Other useful sources of careers information include:

Skill – National Bureau for Students with Disabilities

Prospects Disability – Overview
Includes information on positive employers, case studies, tips on applying for jobs and a range of useful contacts and resources.


Should I declare my disability or health problem to a prospective employer?

This is a common question and there are many issues to consider when deciding what to do. It is important to remember that everyone is different and your own disability, circumstances and the type of job you are applying for will all have an impact on your decision. There are resources available to help you:

  • Skill, the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, has a very comprehensive guide to disclosure entitled Disclosing your Disability

Having considered some of the issues raised in these guides you may wish to discuss your individual situation with a Careers Adviser. This may help you to clarify your thoughts and address some of the practical issues around making an effective and positive job application. To make an appointment contact us. or email a Careers Adviser.


I’m interested in working outside the UK when I finish my course. Where can I find information and job vacancies?

Making the decision to move and work abroad will require research and careful planning. Fortunately there is a wealth of information available to help you with this:

  • The Careers Service Information Room stocks a range of regularly updated reference books on working abroad which are definitely worth a read. The ‘Exodus’ database of international careers information is accessible on the Information Room PCs.
  • You may also find it useful to discuss your ideas in more detail with a Careers Adviser as they may be able to give you additional contacts and information. To make an appointment “click here“http://careers.southwales.ac.uk/appointment/ or Ask a Question.



I’m thinking of changing/leaving my course. Can you help?

You may be considering changing or leaving your course of study for any number of reasons. There is a range of options for you to consider and resources and information available to help you make a decision. There are also practicalities which you would need to deal with.

To make an appointment click here or Ask a Question.

There is also support available from the Advice Shop in your academic school.