Work Experience

Well, we have all heard it before, from teachers, parents, lecturers those words “you need to gain work experience” – It actually is really vital to your future employment opportunities. I know it sounds like the last thing you want to do whilst studying for your three-year degree, I know I’ve been there. You just want to make it through these three crazy years and graduate. Well, you could do that, just “get by” or you could actually listen to those parents and teachers and believe that if you find work experience you will be the best person for the job, once you have your degree.

Having a degree is great but having the added bonus of work experience is even better. Why I hear you ask, well … according to UCAS “a recent survey showed two thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness. Importantly, one third of employers felt that applicants did not have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job.”

The article goes onto say “to gain a better understanding of a career, organise some work experience for a few days, shadowing with an employer. It may not give you time to develop job specific skills, but it will give you and insight to work. It also shows you have motivation and commitment.”

Let me give you some stats to prove – According to the Independent, “Leading employers value work experience among graduates more than grades or the university they have been to, according to new research. Figures show that 58 per cent of employers rated work experience as THE MOST POPULAR QUALIFICATION AMONG THOSE PRESENTED. With Student personality coming second, with 48 per cent.

I know its valuable to find work experience, as I am living proof that it is. I was a Hope Student myself and gained work experience whilst studying my degree. This not only helped my CV stand out from the others, but it also benefitted me and my work at university. From doing work experience in a large media department at a Football Club motivated me to realise I needed to up my game in uni as well as outside of university.

Work experience opened my eyes to how competitive the job market is. That is why I’m writing this blog today! We are all having a crazy year, but let this be the chance to motivate you, to want to do better, to believe you can do better.

At Hope we have the best and most relatable careers team. You can speak to anyone from the team and I am sure we will have been in your position and felt how you are feeling at some point in our careers.

Check out the latest opportunities on My Careers Centre

By Rebecca McCoy (Hope Graduate now a Placement Officer for Liverpool Hope University)

Guest Blog: Search is on for 2021’s Future Legal Mind

Future Legal Mind 2020 winner Joseph Kelen.

The competition has just launched to find 2021’s Future Legal Mind.

A search for the most promising legal talent of 2021 is now underway.

The Future Legal Mind Award is run annually by National Accident Helpline to find the UK’s brightest legal prospect.

Now in its seventh year, the competition is open to law students and to legal trainees who are within the first two years of their careers.

This year’s winner will receive a £2,000 prize fund to support their career development and will take part in mentoring with experienced lawyers from the National Accident Helpline team.

Jonathan White, Legal Director of National Accident Helpline, said: “Running this competition shows us, year after year, that there are so many talented people across the UK pursuing careers in law, which is great news for the sector.

“Each year, we look forward to finding and championing that standout individual who shows us they’ve got what it takes to go far in the legal world.

“We’re always pleased and proud to see our past winners and finalists going on to make their mark in different areas of the law – and we look forward to finding this year’s most talented and promising lawyer-to-be.”

The winner of Future Legal Mind 2020 was Joseph Kelen, then a University of Cambridge student, who is now studying the Bar Vocational Course at The City Law School in London.

Joseph said: “Entering Future Legal Mind is great advocacy experience and great fun.

“It presents exactly the sort of challenge – advocating for a change in the law and for yourself, in a short amount of time and in plain, simple terms – that I definitely hadn’t had many opportunities to do before.”

To enter Future Legal Mind 2021, students and trainees are invited to write an essay response to a question about their legal passions and which area of the law they would like to see reformed.

The full essay question can be found at

Essays must be submitted by midnight on Friday 26th February 2021 and will be reviewed by a panel, who will whittle the entries down to a shortlist of 10 people.

The shortlist of 10 will each be asked to submit a smartphone video to support their written entry, and the competition judges will review the essays and videos to decide who will be named Future Legal Mind 2021.

BACK TO BASICS…Assessment Centres

You’re probably familiar with most parts of a graduate scheme recruitment process. Application forms, CVs and interviews are commonplace and you possibly have some experience of these if you’ve had a part-time job but you’ve maybe not experienced an assessment centre. Asessment centres feature in placement year and graduate scheme recruitment processes so in this blog we’re going to explore assessment centres in more detail.

What is an assessment centre? Assessment centres can be anything from half a day to two full days of activities, usually consisting of a mixture of individual and group tasks all aimed at assessing your skill set and suitability for a role. For some activities you might be given the chance to plan and prepare in advance (e.g. prepare a presentation) or you might be given the task on the day will no previous preparation time (e.g. a role specific case study).

Pre-covid you would have been invited to an employer’s office for an assessment centre however, with social distance measures in place, you will probably find that assessment centres are currently running as online events.

How to prepare for an assessment centre Cover and prepare for as many eventualities as you can, as the saying goes ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’…

  • Read all the information you get sent. If anything is unclear be sure to ask and clarify the information
  • Revisit your CV, application and the job description – which skills are most relevant to the job? These are likely to be the competencies you’ll be assessed on
  • If you have a task to prepare in advance give yourself plenty of time to work on this
  • Check your technology setup (laptop charged, camera working, required software installed etc)
  • Familiarise yourself with the company’s website, paying attention to the ‘about us’ section, their core values, business/corporate strategy etc. Do further reading and research on news articles, competitors and sector trends as background knowledge may prove useful
  • Choose your outfit the day before and consider the background others may see – even if you’re not face to face you still need to dress appropriately (smart casual) and portray a professional image

Hints & Tips

  • Try to relax. The employer has invited you because they think you have potential. Be yourself (on a very good day!) and let your abilities shine rather than letting nerves take over
  • Carefully read and double-check instructions – there’s nothing worse than diving in to an activity and finding you’ve gone down the wrong track
  • Within group activities try to share your views and include others in any discussions. For group activities there’s not always a right or wrong answer, there are usually multiple approaches and possible outcomes from the task. You’re more likely to be assessed on competencies within the task rather than the final decision/outcome. Working collaboratively will allow you to demonstrate key skills like team-work, communication, planning, problem solving, data analysis etc.
  • Is somebody in the team time-keeping? Does somebody need to take notes? You might be working within a limited time-scale and the assessor is unlikely to break the task down for you so be sure that as a group you check the clock and keep an eye on time
  • Assessors will be looking at your performance over the full event and probably scoring you across a matrix so don’t dwell on errors and stay focused throughout

Mock assessment centres Careers and Employability at Hope and some employers run mock assessment centres which give you the ideal opportunity to trial the experience and gain feedback. To check our latest event listing click here.

You might also find these links useful

Back to Basics: Application forms

In this blog I am going to take you through some basic tips with using application forms to apply for jobs.  Here are some basic instructions to help:

  1. Read the instructions

This sounds so simple, but I have been supporting people with writing applications for nearly 20 years and you would be surprised at the amount of people who have not read the instructions.

If the recruiter has specifically asked to use their form and not a CV. Then do not attach your CV. Use their form. They have designed a recruitment process which uses the sections and assess the information in their form to create an interview shortlist. Including a CV does not support that process, so will not add any value in that process. It also suggests that you cannot follow instructions. I do not want people working for me who cannot follow instructions, do you?

2. Complete all the sections in the application form.

They are there for a purpose (explained above) so complete them. If you are struggling to understand a section or question, book in a career’s express appointment with one of our advisers and we will help. You can find the link to our booking system in My Career Centre:

Current students can use this link:

Use your My Hope login details to log in.

Alumni can use this one:

Use the details you entered to access the centre as an alumnus. If you did not complete that before you graduated, put your email in the reset password section and a link will be sent to your university email account. Yes, it is still active.

3. If you are asked specific competency or behavioural questions in the form, answer them using the STAR framework. Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Using the STAR (situation, task, action and result) method to structure your answers is a useful way to communicate important points clearly and concisely. For every answer you give identify the:

Situation/task – describe the task that needed to be completed or the situation you were confronted with. For example, ‘I led a group of colleagues in a team presentation to potential clients’.

Action – Explain what you did and how and why you did it. For example, ‘We presented to around 20 big industry players in the hope of winning their business. I delegated sections of the presentation to each team member and we discussed our ideas in a series of meetings. After extensive research and practise sessions our group presentation went off without a hitch’.

Result – Describe the outcome of your actions. For example, ‘As a result of this hard work and team effort we won the business of 15 clients’.


5. If you are asked to write a personal statement – Use the Person Specification and Job Description as a guide for content.

People always come to me and say: “I don’t know how to sell myself; I am just not that type of person”. This is fine not many people are like this.

You do not need to show off about anything, I like to say be Messi more than Ronaldo. In football Ronaldo is brilliant, he knows he is brilliant and acts like he is brilliant on the pitch, he celebrates and loves it all. Messi is brilliant too, but Messi does not act it as much, he does his talking on the pitch. He just gets the ball on the halfway line glides past 5 players and scores a beautiful goal.

When writing your statement, you need to demonstrate that you have the skills, character and experiences which are required for the job. You do need to show off or use some brilliant sales pitch about yourself, you simply need to confidently show them that you have and if possible, exceed the requirements for that job.

My tip is to copy and paste all the criteria from the person specification into a word processing application, use each one as a subheading. Then write an example showing how you have used that skill to achieve an outcome or had that experience where you have achieved an outcome or used that behaviour / characteristic to achieve an outcome. For each one. Sometimes editing one example may cover more than one subheading, merging some subheadings together is fine. Then you decide to keep the subheadings in or to delete them and make the statement read good, with a start, middle and end.

If possible you could look at the criteria, let’s say it’s Communication Skills, then you could read through the job description and figure out what tasks you will be doing which require communication skills. You will then have a good understanding of the context in which you will need to use communication skills in that job. You will then be able to use an example which demonstrates communication skills in a similar context. E.g. You do not want to give an example of how well you write reports if you are applying for a job where you do not write any reports. If the job is face to face customer service, then give an example of that, If you can, if not then next best transferable example works.

Yes, I went from instruction 3 to instruction 5. I purposely missed out number 4. That’s to test you, if you noticed, Well done. If not, get better at reading instructions before applying for a job.

Also check out My Career Centre using the links in instruction 2. We have loads of resources about writing applications plus many more on there. You can also have a read this blog.

Chris Biggs

Senior Careers Adviser

The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Career as a Freelance Language Teacher

Whether the economy is rocking, or whether things are looking a little shaky, there’s one thing that you can guarantee. People will always be looking to learn languages! And this trend is going nowhere.

With that in mind, we thought we’d condense more than a decade’s worth of language teaching experience into this 10 step guide to help you get started in a career as a freelance language teacher.

Straight out of University. Implementing this 10 step process correctly could have you making money from day 1. So what are we waiting for? There are students that need teaching!

Ten Steps to Becoming a Freelance Language Teacher

1. Choose language(s) you’d like to teach

This might be obvious. You may only speak English so decide to teach English as a foreign language (EFL). Or you may speak another language and decide to dedicate yourself to teaching that. Perhaps you studied a language e.g. French at Uni and feel like you’d like to continue using it to help others achieve their goals.

If you speak more than 1 language, you may have to decide whether you want to specialise in teaching more than 1 language or stay focused and teach the language you’re best at. This is a personal choice. It’s up to you!

2. Start planning

There are so many different ways to teach languages. This guide is for those of you who would like to go the freelance route. Teaching either 1:1 or small groups off your own back and collecting your teaching fees directly from your students. Not usually connected to an institution or employer (though you can choose to work freelance and do this as well – see later).

All our network of language teachers are freelance teachers. They invoice us for their work just as they would do a private student.

To start, you will need to focus on how you want to deliver your lessons. Are you going to meet people for the lessons at their homes, offices, public places in your local area? Or are you going to teach purely online via platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype? Perhaps a mix of both would work for you. Or maybe you just don’t quite know yet. That’s ok, you can change things as you go.

The most important thing is to commit to taking action.

You will need to think about the types of students you would like to teach.

Do you love the energy and enthusiasm of young children?

Or do you prefer the (perhaps more) intelligent conversation that goes with teaching business executives or casual learner adults who are looking to learn in a more relaxed atmosphere?

Maybe helping teens and older children get through their school exams motivates you.

There is certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to planning who you are going to teach. Again, you can mix and match here. But we would highly recommend going for a niche group of students who you think you can help most and planning things around them. It will make you stand out as an expert. Rather than a Jack (or Jill) of all trades! It also cuts down time and expense buying textbooks and workbooks; as well as planning lessons and courses.

As the old saying goes: “If you appeal to everyone you appeal to no-one”

Now we’ve chosen which language(s) we’re going to teach and we’re crystal clear on who we want to be teaching, what now? Step 3, that’s what!

3. Start teaching for free / exchanging languages to gain valuable experience

This is not really for the reasons you would expect. Gaining experience is of course valuable to put on your CV for a potential employer. But as this is freelance teaching, your employer will be the (hopefully hundreds!) of satisfied students you teach (or their parents). They’re unlikely ever to ask for a CV.

This is more for you to get a final feel for teaching and a last chance to walk away and say “no this isn’t for me”. Better to decide this before you’ve invested your time and money in the next steps than decide once you’re up and running. You could have saved yourself months of work!

Ask around. Do you have friends/relatives who have always wanted to take up or improve the language you want to teach? At this point it doesn’t have to be the target group in your plan you made earlier, although if you can find some people in your target group to try out your teaching, even better.

If you’re still at Uni, is there any way you can help your fellow students with some free lessons? Make sure to ask them to write a review or testimonial of your teaching in exchange.

Bonus points for getting them to do a video review, you can use that in later steps for a massive impact.

Are you looking to learn another language? Pair up with somebody else at University and do a language exchange. You teach for an hour and then they teach you for an hour. Your University language centre should be able to help you with that. The key here is to ask around. And keep asking until you get the answers you need.

To continue reading Step 4 visit the UK Language Project here

Focus on: the Business School

Calling all Business School students, The Careers and Employability team have a plethora of resources to support you with your career development.

You can be exploring options through My Career Centre,  on the dashboard panels we have a ‘Careers in…’ panel where there are links to guides and profiles for a range of careers from working in finance to law and working in the charity sector.

We also have a volunteering panel where you can learn more about our volunteering opportunities, our Extracurricular Service and Leadership Award and Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.

You can visit our career pathways section where you can enter the career you are interested in and watch recordings from people talking about their journey and pathways they took into that career:

Gaining Experience is essential for all our Business School students. Either through part time work, summer internships or taking up a placement year.

It is very important to understand that all recruiters recruiting for a year in industry, a summer internship or a graduate job start recruitment early. For example summer internship programmes start recuitment in the autum through to spring for programmes starting in summer.

Same for placement years or year in industry recruitment, if you want to take up the option of a placement year at Hope you will have to start looking and applying in the September of your 2nd year right up to May of your second year to start in the summer.

It is exactly the same for Graduate Schemes in your final year, most applications windows start early in August/September with a view to you starting the following summer. There will be some recruitting throughout the year, but I would advise to get looking and applying early.

All these types of opportunities will be accessible through a number fo different ways, listed below:

Job search section in My Career Cente

Placements and internship programme page in My Career Centre.

Virtual placements – Through The Forge which are online and open all year.

Placement year information – Blog from Liverpool Hope Placements Officer

Find out more about placements here – Page with more information on My Career Cente

We have a range of online events from our team, local, national and international recruiters in our events calendar

I advise you check our events on a weekly basis.

Read our blogs:  

Job Searching:

Back to basics with CV writing:

We have much more resources to help you through the application process including interviews and assessment centres, you can also book an appointment to speak to one of our advisers on My Career Centre