Students Corner

Job And Career Advice For Students

What job? What career?

Whilst only you can decide what you want to do, others can help you with information to inform your thinking and decision making process.

The first thing you should do is try to be unstructured and free thinking. Do not limit your horizons with early analytical thinking. What do you like to do, what do you really dislike doing, what are you good at, what do people come to you for help with. These and questions like this will help you think about the possibilities, the things that you would like to include in your future career and the things that you would like to avoid.

Think also about constraints and goals - such as mobility preferences, the desire to work abroad etc. Think also about the skills you wish to use at work, your feelings about further study (but remember that these might change!), which working environments appeal to you, the sort of lifestyle you want and so on.

The second thing you should do is some structured research and investigation into the options and opportunities.

You can then start to use this information to identify matching jobs, courses and potential employers.

  • Talk to a careers adviser in your university careers service.
  • Make full use of the information on this website
  • Check if your university careers service offers psychometric tests. These can help with your self-analysis. Numerical, Verbal, Spatial and Abstract reasoning tests can highlight your skills and strengths. They also provide practice for some employers' selection processes. We also offer online tests here.
  • Your college or university careers service will have books and information
  • Try out one of those careers interest tools - but remember they can be skewed towards high availability areas (they certainly were in my day!)
  • Try to get some interview practice even if it is only telephone interview practice
  • See if you can use you vacation time to get some work experience or work shadowing in the area that you are interested (unpaid and short term is easier to find)
  • Think about other things you can do that will be relevant and useful when you are preparing your CV
  • It can be useful to look at online job boards and recruitment agency sites but be aware that not all jobs are advertised, especially graduate ones.

Tips on how to go about getting information

An important element of school, college and univeristy is producing papers and dissertations.  Whilst they do not all require to be original research they do mean that you need to get information.

The main things to remember when you start trying to find information are that

  1. whilst this might be important to you it will not be important to them
  2. the more you do to make it easy for someone to help you the more they will help you
  3. the more commitment you show the more commitment you will get back

Just expecting people to help you is not the best way. 

Looking at this in more detail ...

Prepare a short explanation of what you are doing and why that you can use with people.  Having this sorted out in advance will make you sound more impressive when you speak to people and can also be used in any e-mails that you might do

If you are e-mailing anyone use a clear structure:

  • An introduction and why you are contacting them
  • Your name and School/College/University
  • A description of your project
  • What you have done to date (to show your commitment)
  • What you are looking for from them

You can use these as headings in the e-mail with a bit of explanation under each

It is tempting to do a questionnaire, and sometimes this is the only way to get primary information on a subject.  But the return rate is usually low and you do need to think carefully about the questions and try to make the questionnaire easy to complete.  Jot down first all the things you might want to ask.  Then go back and try to make it much more relevant and shorter.  Test the questionnaire out on a few people to see if the questions make sense to someone not involved.

In terms of getting them filled in you can try online methods, or sending them to people or you can use them as a base for asking questions and fill the questionnaire in for the person

If you are going to interview someone or a number of people, prepare this in advance.  Consider the questions you plan to ask.  Put together an ‘interview sheet' with their name on the top and the questions and then spaces for the answers so that you can keep everything well ordered. 

Library staff can often be knowledgeable and helpful.  But think about how you can make it easy for them to help you.  Phone or visit to start with to explain what help you are looking for and ask them to tell you when it might be convenient for you to approach them.  When, for example, is the library less busy, who is the best person to ask etc

Think about the people who might be able to help you.  Consider this from their point of view - what will they get from helping you?  How can you help them back?  If you are doing something about local companies, offer to let them have a copy of the report for their own use and information.  If you are doing something more historical and want to learn about the experiences of people at this time consider if you can go to a few older people's community centres and ‘interview' people. 

The handshake

The handshake - one of the (if not the) most important ways to impress (or unimpress)

Let's look at that all important hand shake that marks the beginning and end of a meeting with another person, and is so important in business. They say first impressions count - and this is one of the first impressions you can make.

Have a look at the pictures for the precise hand connection. The important part here is the: angle, the points of contact, the pressure and the quick release or the slight lingering (if it is someone you know well).

  • Take your time to stand directly in front of the person;
  • Grounded, adjacent feet - shoulders width apart, relaxed knees;
  • Square up your shoulders so that they are exactly opposite the person in front of you, ie not off-set to one side, they must be fully in front of you;
  • Don't lean in with your head or your body.
  • Only your arm extends into their personal space - not your whole body - this is important to avoid intimidating them or culturally offending;
  • Reach for his/her hand with your arm relaxed and comfortably bent at your average (between the 2 of you) waist height and then;
  • Take their hand with the centre of the web between your thumb and index finger and their centre web touching firmly and diametrically opposite and at a parallel angle. This allows a strong, firm single shake to be performed without any risk of hurting the other person, or appearing drippy or overly enthusiastic.
  • Look at the picture again. Now arrange to practice this with a number of different people.

The failed handshake

There are hundreds: the most common 4 are

  • The Wet Fish or limp-wrist - when only the tips of the fingers are engaged - it feels feeble and creepy. No one impresses anyone with this and the wet fish offering will be perceived as ‘weak, feeble, lacking in confidence or yucky.'
  • The next worst one is the ‘bone crusher' - this is when the centres of the fingers are offered and that person gets their hand crushed by her opponent. Not funny. NEVER do this to anyone, especially if they are wearing rings, at it will really hurt.
  • The last awful one is the ‘85% handshake' when those ‘Vs' just slightly fail to make contact, leaving you with a slightly ‘off the mark' not great handshake. Aim for a 100% V:V contact.
  • The over enthusiastic where one person pumps up and down vigorously leaving the other somewhat shaken but not impressed
  • You will need to practice the precise angle and feel of this perfect handshake with several people. Make a game of it and practice at least 6 times with 6 different people to ensure that you are getting it exactly right.


  • Keep your feet firmly adjacent to each other, planted well on the floor. Don't lean in, get too close or hold it for too long.
  • Get the pressure and timing and angle perfect.
  • Make eye contact
  • And then all you have to do is think of something positive and upbeat to say and get the tone of your voice just right.
  • Release and step back into your own space

Getting that all important hand shake right

Making the right impression through a good hand shake

Useful Links

Student Gems 

The online network of students, businesses & individuals. Students earn better money by marketing their skills to paying customers's Freebies

A website with a whole bunch of free stuff

National Union of Students

The National Union of Students website offers a wealth of information for students including advice and counselling.

BBC Learning

The BBC Learning homepage helps you find websites, TV and radio programmes from the BBC to further your learning.

Resources Available on

In addition we offer the following resources for students:

  • A knowledge centre which includes information and articles for recruiters as well as candidates and employers. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to add to the centre
  • A forum which brings together recruiters, candidates and employers as well as employees, consultants and interims.
  • A range of psychometric tools and advice in our psychometrics centre. This includes psychometrics tests that you can take for yourself - either to build up your portfolio or to learn more about your particular skills or preferences.
  • Details of recruitment related suppliers on our suppliers directory
  • Details of various job boards in our job boards directory
  • A recruiters corner where recruiters rate the best and worst candidate and employer behaviours.
  • A site Features Page where you can submit a personal profile thus increasing publicity for your site
  • Other specialist corners covering a range of interesting topics - candidates, interim management, consulting, flexible working, etc.
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