Top 5 Tips When Applying for a Business Development Role

Calling all students of the Liverpool Hope University! Have you decided what career path to travel once you graduate? What I’d like to do is provide with a little nugget of information that could help you choose a career path that is challenging, but lucrative, and immensely enjoyable too. If you like a good challenge that pays off in the end, applying for a business development role might just be on the cards for you.

While working in the finance sector for SME Loans, I have found myself liaising closely with many business development managers, who are tasked with improving and growing the business they work for. Their main objective is to improve the profitability of a company and that takes strategic planning, industry know-how, and of course, an in depth knowledge of financing options, innovative marketing opportunities, and relationship building.

A business development manager’s role affects every area and department of the business. If you don’t like the idea of responsibility, then this career choice is not for you.

But let’s say that it is for you. Let’s say that you hear about the tasks of a business development executive and you feel excited by the prospect. Now what? What’s the next step? What sort of qualifications do you need and what skills do you require? Most important of all; how do you apply successfully for the role and ace the interview too? Here’s where I would like to provide you with some assistance.


What Skills Are Required for a Business Development Role?

When speaking to our Business Development HOD and to the various business development executives that we assist with financing on a regular basis, I discovered that the role is quite varied. No day is exactly the same, so if you are looking for a bit of variety and don’t want to be chained to a desk examining the same documents day in and day out, then this role might be of interest to you.

It was mentioned that the top skills required are:

  • Knowledge of the industry that the business development role exists in. Keep in mind that a business development executive’s role in one industry can differ vastly to that of another serving a completely different industry.
  • The ability to use market research to explore and identify new business opportunities. Remember I said that a business development role is aimed at improving profitability? Well, that’s where this skill comes in, as you will need to generate leads for the business.
  • Communication skills and the ability to reach out. If you are shy and don’t like to communicate with others, this could be challenging for you. A business development executive must be driven, confident, and able to clearly communicate ideas and concepts to others.
  • Ability to build on relationships. Some would say that business development roles are suited to “people persons”. You cannot enhance the profitability and success of a business if you are unable to build on relationships with customers, industry colleagues, and of course; employees.
  • Excellent IT skills. You will need to be a whizz on the computer and have good working knowledge of technology. You will be using spreadsheets and programs and need to be able to pick up on these quickly.


What Qualifications Are Required for a Business Development Role?

It is quite interesting to note that there is no strict or set qualification required to enter the job market, in a business development role. However, the market is highly competitive and those who are entering such positions generally do have a degree. The most common degrees required in such a role include:

  • Accounting
  • Business Administration
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Sales & Marketing
  • Internal Relations
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship


What Type of Companies Employ Business Development Execs in the UK?

At the moment, there are various industries that employ business development executives. Some of the most common are the High Street banks, financial institutions (companies that provide small business loans), IT companies, and manufacturing firms. Of course there are others, if you look for them. Glassdoor provides a list of current business development roles available across the United Kingdom.

Applying for a Role in Business Development? Consider These 5 Top Tips

  • Get a sound education. This is the first and most important tip. While there’s no set qualification you need, you stand a greater chance of being employed if you have a degree. Make sure that your CV includes your letter of completion and your degree certificate when you apply for jobs online.
  • Get a little experience behind you. Don’t worry; you don’t have to try gain experience in the exact role you wish to apply for. Recruiters often look for individuals who have worked (even part-time) in a sales position as it demonstrates your ability to communicate and build on relationships. If you have run your own side-line or part-time business, you can present this as entrepreneurial experience, which is something else that recruiters look for in recent graduates. Try to do some work experience before trying to enter the market.
  • Improve on your technical skills and make sure that you mention these on your CV and in your interview. You need to demonstrate that you know your way around software such as CRM databases and various marketing automation platforms. If you worked in a sales role before, mention the software platforms that you used.
  • Show a passion for selling and for getting to know the product. Before you attend an interview, and even in your covering letter on your application, make sure that the interviewer knows that you have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of their product and business. Your role will be to live and breathe their product if you get the job, so you should start working on your knowledge before you get to the interview.
  • Do some reading. The more you have read up on business development, the more you will know. This means that a conversation with a business development manager in an interview will be relaxed and easy – and you will have something to talk about. There are some interesting books on great business development managers of the past available, which can prepare you for the industry. One that might have an impact is Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence by Tim Sanders.

What Does A Business Development Manager Earn?

Realistically speaking, graduate business development executives make an average salary of between £20,000 and £24,000 per year. Indeed states that the average salary for a mid-range development manager in the UK is £34,827 and tags it as “29% below national average”. That’s food for thought, isn’t it?

Last Word

Hopefully these tips help you land the perfect business development role! Good luck!


My 2-Week Internship at Active Profile

Having spent the last two years studying Business Management and Marketing at Liverpool Hope University, I have had little exposure to PR and growth marketing was a mystery. So, when I was awarded my internship at Active Profile through the university’s Insight to Business Awards, I was intrigued to find out what my textbooks couldn’t teach me.
Fast-forward two weeks and I have worked closely with all three specialist teams at Active Profile – Place, Innovation and Growth Marketing – trying my hand at everything from social media management, to attending client meetings and even drafting press releases.

My first day

When I stepped through the doors of Active Profile, I was met with bunch of friendly faces who were keen to get to know me and find out what I wanted to get out of my time at Active Profile. This surprised me due to the tales of interns being given little responsibility and restricted to making the teas and coffees, so I was over the moon when they gave me the responsibility of getting involved with real client work.

Learning on the job

The Place team in particular gave me a lot of responsibility. I had expressed my interest in social media and wanted to get to know how to use some of the software they use, such as Hootsuite for scheduling and monitoring the client’s social media. I was given the responsibility of drafting and scheduling the weekly tweets for a number of clients. I also spent some time sourcing ‘hot topics’ for clients and Active Profile alike.

The Innovation and Growth Marketing teams introduced me to how an integrated comms account works. I attended client meetings, drafted news articles for clients’ websites and came up with event ideas.

During my time here I also worked on a competitor analysis project for Active Profile’s social media accounts, writing up suggestions based on what similar companies are doing and recommendations on how we could take learnings to drive traffic and engagement. From this, I made a calendar to coincide with days to celebrate in the office and made recommendations on how to use them on social media.

What I enjoyed the most

One of the things I found most interesting during my time at Active Profile was being able to join meetings and observe the dynamics of how the team worked, which was especially interesting when they involved external partners or clients. This was really eye opening to me as I had never been apart of a professional meeting before.
As I had expressed an interest in social media, I really enjoyed getting to wrap my head around the different scheduling systems and learning how to tailor different posts to different media outlets, audiences and businesses.

Throughout my time at Active Profile, the whole team created a warm and welcoming environment that made my time with them fly by and I enjoyed getting to know them.
After I graduate University next year, I hope to build my own start-up company within the hospitality industry. You never know, I may end up back at Active Profile as a client one day!

Check out Hannah’s original blog post here

Find out more about Active Profile and what they do here

Working Like a Dog #BringYourDogToWorkDay

The longest day of the year also marks this year’s #BringYourDogToWorkDay

Not too ruff, eh?

New research on the benefits of having a furry friend in the office suggests that it could lead to a 15.5% increase in overall work quality of life compared to your average office.

Along with an increase in people’s satisfaction with their home-work interface, by better balancing their commitments, being able to have a dog at your desk indicated a 12% increase in job satisfaction.

The study found that a dog’s presence can reduce stress and people like them because they don’t judge.

Office dogs don’t care if you’re making a third trip to the snacks table…


They are also a source of social support, a dog is always happy to listen to you complaining about that printer that won’t work. Our furry friends act as catalysts for social interactions with other humans as well, who wouldn’t love to see the office dog stake a claim on the boss’s chair?



If you fancy being able to bring your dog to work on more than the odd occasion there are a couple of ways you can spend time with a canine companion during the day:
  • Find a dog friendly employer
Play it cool, Kevin, they’ll never suspect you can’t read

Companies are starting to realise the benefits that having a pet in the office can bring. Small businesses with the flexibility to make their own rules are the front runners in letting dogs come to work.

There’s a number of larger companies that appreciate the positive increase in work-life balance as well. Have a look on a company’s careers page to see if they list it in their benefits but a couple to get you started are Pets Pyjamas and Build-A-Bear.


  • Choose a career with animals

    What? I’m a sniffer dog?

Dog handlers are needed by a wide range of services from security and rescue to the Police and Armed Forces. Find out more about becoming a Dog Handler here

Different dogs are suited to different roles, just like people. You might be interested in using larger dogs for security and protection or smaller dogs for sniffing out things like drugs, weapons and money.

  • Start your own animal based business
How’s the chew toy budget for next quarter looking?

If you really have the passion for working with animals you can go it alone and start your own business. The UK reportedly has over 100,000 pet dogs and they all need walking and looking after. Starting a dog walking business can be difficult but once you have a regular client base that you can rely on, it can become multi-faceted and even employ other members of staff. Check out this comprehensive guide from Simply Business.


If you’re pursuing a career that doesn’t suit having a dog with you could always get your doggy fix by volunteering with your dog in your spare time.

Some volunteering opportunities that are outdoors will welcome well behaved dogs, the National Trust for example sometimes allows dogs to come with volunteers during woodland maintenance or litter picks (check before you go, just to make sure).

They say not all heroes wear capes but it still looks cool

If your dog is friendly with people and other dogs there are always charities who work with animal loving service users that would to pair you up. Not only is this kind of work incredibly rewarding, you’re improving the life of other people and your pooch too. If your dog is super chilled and friendly it could be trained to work as a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog, find out more here.

Voluntary experience can really set you apart from other candidates when you’re job hunting and being able to demonstrate you are a well-rounded, caring person is never a bad thing!


If your situation doesn’t allow you a dog and your career isn’t suitable either, don’t panic. There’s still options for you too:
  • Ask to borrow a friend’s/family member’s dog
Yep, says it here: ‘Dog Rule #3 if it moves it must be chased’.

Walking a dog is a huge commitment that the majority of owners knowingly undertake but a bit of help now and then is so useful. Let you friends or family know if you’re keen to get involved, it’s a huge relief to have someone you can trust if you need dog care on a busy day or when you’re sick.

  • Join a dog borrowing service

Most dog lovers know about Borrow My Doggy but for those that don’t it’s a platform that allows people interested in caring for dogs to match up with people who have dogs that need care.

I’m dog sitting, this is what that means isn’t it?

It could be an afternoon walk while the owner is at work or a week of dog sitting while they’re on holiday. There’s a small cost for the premium account if you want some extra features but the free account will still get you up and running with a new four legged friend.



We hope everyone gets their doggy fix today, whether it’s in the office or not. Over 60 companies in Europe have signed up to Purina’s Pets at Work Alliance so hopefully a dog friendly office will be coming to somewhere near you soon!

Festival work this summer

A number of organisations attended our summer jobs fair in March with available roles still being advertised on our vacancy system.  In this blog we hear from a student currently working for FGH Security. Thomas isn’t a Hope student but we hope that by sharing his story we can encourage you to apply to FGH, currently ranked the 23rd Best Company in the Northwest to Work For.

Get paid to work at a range of festivals this summer by joining FGH Security’s Festival Team (& don’t forget to share your festival story with us afterwards so next year’s blog is from a Hope student!)

Read More

How I got my job at BDO in Liverpool

Here in the Careers and Employability Team we love hearing, and sharing, the experiences of our graduates in the workplace. In this blog we hear from Denis, A Geography graduate from Hope, who’s now working for BDO LLP in Liverpool.

What is my job role?
I work at a large accountancy and business advisory firm called BDO LLP. I work in the firm’s Shared Service Centre (SSC), which is based in the Liverpool office, and my job title is SSC Assistant. I do bank letter coordinating for various BDO offices, mainly for London and Leeds. This means that I am constantly in communication with banks around the world and our Audit Managers to provide account balances for our clients end of year audits. This requires careful management of large databases consisting of hundreds of entities and client private banking information. At the moment our team is relatively new, so we are always implementing new ways of improving the process that we do. Read More

Angel Field Festival Employability Session – ‘How to Start Your Own Business in the Creative Sector’

As part of the inaugural Angel Field Festival the Careers & Employability team hosted a workshop focusing on employability in the creative arts on Thursday 28th March.

The session was titled ‘How to Start Your Own Business in the Creative Sector,’ and was led by Kelly Forshaw – Managing Director of Jack All Productions. We were delighted to welcome Kelly on as one of the leading video content producers in the city.

Kelly said she started the company alongside her business partners after many years working in marketing and communications.

“We tell the client’s story.”

Kelly spoke of how the company uses their expertise in video production and PR to tell the stories of businesses and companies. “Some clients know what they want, some have no idea”

Kelly delved into the challenges she faced when starting a business. The first point she made was understanding the difference between cost and value. She said initially when pricing up their service for a client she was thinking only in the cost of tangible things such as equipment or travel expense, and that this a common mistake for creative businesses.

She stressed the importance of factoring in the value of your skill. Whether that be as a musician, composer, writer, designer, director etc – as a creative you have a skill that not everyone has. The analogy she used was of paying someone to paint your house. They wouldn’t charge just for the cost of paint, they also charge for their time and professional skill. She warned against creative skills not being as valued, and to know your value and ensure the client does.

“Add value to what you do.”

Kelly spoke of how you should always look to add value to your product/service to make you stand out and to make your clients as happy as possible. She realised they were creating videos for clients but many didn’t know what to do with it. They then offered a social media plan and targeted marketing which increased the range of their promotion, improved their package to clients and increased the amount of money they could make with a more premium service.

“What is it you can do that others can’t?”

Defining a unique selling point was another key challenge explored. Kelly said it was vital to search for what made your product or service different, why should clients to come to you out of everyone in your industry. She said it was important to know your audience, to know who you’re making your product for and how to let them know that.

“Make sure you’re the first person they speak to.”

The next key point was networking. Kelly admitted this can be tough and not everyone enjoys this aspect but if no one knows who you are then you won’t have any business. Kelly said the first place to start is within your own circle of friends. She admitted hesitations over putting herself out there, of setting herself up to fail, but that she had to get over those insecurities or she’d have no clients.

Kelly said if you can let your friends and social media network know of what you’re doing, they’ll likely come to you first over a random company as they’ll trust you. From there your business can grow.

Other bits of advice in this area centred on not being afraid to ask for introductions, putting yourself out there at networking events and being a nice person. She said asking people to go for a coffee and for advice is a subtle way to build relationships.

“Create a portfolio of what you do. Sell your story.”

Kelly touched upon marketing being an important factor in building your business. She highlighted social media as a key tool as it is free advertising and that you should let as many people as possible know what you do in as many different forms. She said the likes of photos and blogs will help build a picture of who you are and what you stand for and will help to sell you and your ideas, not just your product.

Kelly rounded out her challenges by examining contracts, payment and insurance. She said this is crucial in protecting yourself and your equipment and ensuring you are prepared for all circumstances.


“Ready. Fire. Aim.”

Kelly’s final advice touched upon taking the plunge and putting yourself out there. She said that when she first started she hesitated with many projects as she wasn’t quite sure if it was the right client, or if the content was ready and ended up missing out on an opportunity.

She said without being too gung-ho, often you’ve just got to go for it, take the chance, and refine as you go. Learn from experience and mistakes and make sure that next time you take that on board and change your approach. Every project or client is going to have drawbacks in some form and if you wait around for the perfect opportunity with no risks you’re just going to be left waiting.

The session was well received by the budding creative entrepreneurs who attended. One student said “She was so inspirational and really motivated me to start thinking about my own business.”

Thank you to Kelly Forshaw of Jack All Productions for such a motivational and eye-opening talk that has really benefited our students.