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The University of Southampton
Psychology graduate leavers pack

The process of applying for a job requires careful planning, research and effective search strategies. Below are some of the key hints and tips provided by the Higher Education Academy (HEA; Employability Guide, 2011) on maximising your success during this process.

The HEA Employment Guide highlights that engaging in a continuous process of personal development planning (PDP) will allow you to present yourself effectively (for example, in CVs and interviews). There are two components of PDP: reflection (looking back) and goal setting/action planning (looking forward).

Reflection involves looking back on learning experiences, progress and achievements and identifying what went well, what mistakes were made, your strengths and weaknesses, how you could improve, any barriers to achieving your goals and considering how any gaps in your knowledge/skills can be filled.

It's also really important to look forward by defining your goals (e.g. finding a job in your chosen sector) and by implementing an action plan which involves identifying the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.

What strategies should I use to search for a job?

During the application process, one of the earliest steps in your action plan will be to search for a job in your chosen sector. The HEA Employability Guide highlights some of the most effective strategies for job searching:

1. Networking - this involves setting up links with professionals in your chosen sector and can often be achieved by obtaining relevant work experience (e.g. work placements, voluntary work and job shadowing).

2. Direct applications - this involves applying to an organisation that is not currently advertising a specific job. For example, some companies will state on their website that they welcome speculative applications (i.e. sending your CV with a covering letter).

3. Employment agencies - it is advisable to use agencies that specialise in your chosen employment sector.

4. Graduate recruitment schemes - these are training programmes run by large companies that are specifically designed to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge required to work in their organisation. Examples of these schemes can be found in the NHS and Civil Service.

5. Online strategies - it is a good idea to sign up to graduate jobs websites such as Prospects and register for automated email alerts to keep up to date with new job advertisements. However, these websites will not be used by all organisations so also regularly check the company websites of relevant employers.

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