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About you

What activities do you most enjoy? How would you describe your skills? What are your particular strengths? It’s great to ask yourself lots of questions in order to kick-start your career thinking. Have a go at the reflective exercises on these pages. They should help to give you a clearer sense of who you are and what you’re about.

Your Values

What matters to you most of all? Independence? Prestige? Originality? Equality? Accuracy? It’s important to know what your priorities are, in order to make good choices about your career path. Your values provide you with purpose and motivation. Finding work which matches up with your values will mean you are likely to feel happy and fulfilled in what you do.

As an English student you’re renowned for being an independent thinker and having a strong sense of your own values and the values of others. So it’s great to celebrate this. But why not have a go at this helpful values assessment exercise to help you identify closely your own personal values. This can form a useful starting point to thinking about future career directions.

Your skills

Both you and your future employer need to know exactly what kind of skills you possess. Throughout your degree you’ll have developed a whole range of skills relating to reading, writing and analysing texts. Employers value these discipline-specific skills but they also want to know about broader skills, which your studies will have helped you to develop. Typically, there are 6 skills employers look out for:

1. Cognitive (identifying and resolving problems)
2. Generic (planning, communication, teamwork)
3. Personal (creativity, decisiveness, leadership)
4. Technical (working with technology)
5. Business and organisational (understanding how organisations operate)
6. Practical (handling processes and procedures)

If you don’t think you possess all of these attributes, don’t worry. The list may get you to think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy. It’s worth experimenting too. For example, if you think you lack leadership potential, take up a leadership role in an area you’re interested in. You never know you might surprise yourself.

To help you to identify your skills, you might want to give this Competencies Assessment Exercise a go. It’s helpful to complete this exercise well before your finals, to give yourself time to figure out the areas you’d like to work on whilst you’re a student. 

You can also find out more about careers that English graduate go into by looking at Prospects (although, as you can see from the blogs, there are so many options it's impossible to summarise them on one page).

Your qualities

What do friends say about the kind of person you are? Sure, skills are important but so are the personal qualities that make you unique. Developing a clear idea about these qualities will help you clarify your career direction and communicate your potential to employers. Have a go at the Qualities Assessment Exercise to find out more about what’s great about you. 

Planning your career

It’s never too early or too late to develop a career plan. A plan will help you make the most of your time at uni. If you’ve finished your studies, it’ll mean you make the move into work with confidence, not anxiety. Think about how to organise your career plan over time. For instance, when will you register with your university careers service? Or consider applying for an internship? You might want to use this careers timeline as a framework. 

It’s important to make good use of the resources available at your university. Higher Education is like a gym membership. You won’t actually get fit unless you use the equipment!

Your CV

An awesome CV is an absolute must, so give yours lots of care and attention. As well as offering you plenty of CV advice and support, your careers service should be able to supply you with some great examples. It’s worth having a look at the advice on writing you CV offered by Prospects and TARGETJobs.

Online CVs

Don’t limit yourself to writing a paper CV. Employers are using a wide range of social networks and media to engage potential employees. 

One of the best known online forums is LinkedIn, the business networking site, which resembles a professional Facebook. Use LinkedIn to upload your CV and join career networks. You might also want to manage an up to date profile, research employers and find out about what graduates from your university are doing. If you’ve written Blogs or Vlogs, it’s a great idea to make these available by providing links via your online CV. 

Internships and work experience

You may think that work experience is a luxury you don’t have time for, but in todays’ competitive job market having relevant experience is a necessity. If you’re still a student, the good news is that employers won’t feel pressurised into handing you a full-time job and so may be open to offering you some work experience (although you will still need a good CV and a targeted (short) letter explaining what you are looking for).

Some English and creative writing degrees offer work-based modules, but if yours doesn’t, think about interning, volunteering or working part-time alongside your degree, as the more experience you can gain the better. Relevant work experience helps to build your CV - and test out your ideas - but don't underestimate the value of part time student jobs - employers want to know that you are reliable and have 'get-up-and-go'.

Internship sites like Rate my Placement, Inspiring Interns or Give a Grad a Go (and Prospects) can be good for sourcing opportunities, and of course, your Careers Service can also help signpost to other resources.

Further advice

There is so much information and support available to you - so our first advice is make the most of it!

Your Careers Service is a great starting point, and most will provide workshops and resources as well as specialist events and fairs. Your careers advisor can to help you organise an effective job search strategy and help you to decide the approach which will work best for you, whether it’s networking, direct application, using employment agencies or graduate recruitment schemes: They can also help you to knock your CV into shape and prepare you for interviews when the invitations come flooding in. 

Your Careers Service can also help you If you want to take your academic studies further and Prospects, also provides lots of information about postgraduate study.