CRIMINOLOGY CAREERS GUIDE. Department of Criminology CRIMINOLOGY. Careers Guide. Preparing you for the future.

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Careers Guide






Careers Related to



Skills Gained from

Studying Criminology


Useful Employment Links




Preparing for the

Job Market


Preparing for Employment


Writing a Curriculum Vitae


Application Forms


Competency Questions




Assessment Centres


Assessment Centre



Psychometric Assessments



This guide is intended to raise your awareness of potential

opportunities in the employment market where a criminology

degree is advantageous, and to make you think about the

opportunities to enhance your career prospects while studying

at the University of Leicester’s Department of Criminology.

By studying criminology you will develop your understanding of the social and personal aspects of crime, victimisation and responses to crime and deviance. You also develop skills in generating and evaluating evidence, making reasoned arguments and ethical judgments and analysing and interpreting data. You will build up subject-specifi c knowledge and skills including:

• theoretical approaches relating to crime, victimisation and responses to crime; • the principles of social research and research methods;

• processes of criminalisation and victimisation; • the causes and organisation of crime and deviance;

• processes of preventing and managing crime and victimisation;

• offi cial and unoffi cial responses to crime, deviance and social harm, including policing and the various stages of the criminal justice process;

• representations of crime, offenders, victims and agencies of control (as found in reports, mass media and public opinion); and

• local, national, and international contexts of crime, security and human rights. Criminology draws on the range of human and social science disciplines, and it can be studied jointly with other subjects. If you study other subjects alongside criminology, you should also consider the complementary skills they provide you with. For example, you may have increased awareness of psychology or politics related to criminology topics.

You will also develop core transferable skills which are attractive to a variety of employers. These include research skills, written and oral communication skills, time management and planning, the ability to work to deadlines, IT skills and the ability to work productively both in a group and autonomously.

Consider the skills developed on your course as well as through your other activities, such as paid work, volunteering, family responsibilities, sport, membership of societies, leadership roles, etc. Think about how these can be used as evidence of your skills and personal attributes. Then you can start to market and sell who you really are, identify what you may be lacking and consider how to improve your profi le. You should also make contact with the Careers Service early in your studies, and be involved in a wide range of student activities in order to achieve this end.


Probation Service Officer/

Probation Officer

Each year, probation officers supervise around 225,000 offenders in the community on both community sentences given by the courts and post custody licences after prison. They make assessments, such as writing pre-sentence reports in order to advise courts, manage and enforce community orders, and work with prisoners during and after sentencing. Probation officers interact with offenders, victims, police and prison colleagues on a regular basis. They also work closely with local authorities, housing departments and a range of independent and voluntary sector partners.

The role is that of law enforcement officer, rather than social worker and much probation work involves making evidence-based assessments about the risks that individuals present. Probation work is varied and complex, and can be challenging and difficult. It can involve working with difficult and dangerous individuals, but it can also be extremely rewarding.

Youth Offending

Team Officer

Much like probation officers, youth offending team work is varied, and involves working with young people (aged under 18) who have been involved in crime. Like probation officers they make assessments, such as writing

pre-sentence reports in order to advise courts, manage and enforce community orders, and work with prisoners during and after sentencing. They also interact with offenders, victims, police and prison colleagues on a regular basis. They work closely with local authorities, housing departments and a range of independent and voluntary sector partners. However, where the role varies somewhat is that youth offending team officers tend to be involved in more traditional forms of social work than their probation colleagues. While they make risk assessments about the danger young offenders present, they tend to work for local authorities and hold social work based postgraduate qualifications.

Connexions Personal


This role relates to employment and training advice and is focused on young people (it is often attached to Youth Offending Teams) but operates across a range of agencies e.g. Education, Health, Youth Work, Social Welfare and Criminal Justice. The support provided ranges from basic information, advice and guidance to vulnerable young people, to more substantial one to one support. For more information, see www.

Prison Officer/Governor

Prison officers and prison governors are responsible for managing the safe and effective operation of prisons in both the

public and private sectors. Prison officers tend to be hands on staff who will usually wear uniform and work on the landings with prisoners, managing the daily running of the prison or working on specialist rehabilitation programmes. In contrast governors (at the most senior level) are employed as prison managers who have overall responsibility for the management of a team that includes prison officers, duty governors and other staff, and ensure that prisons operate within the requirements of the Prison Service and also oversee the development and rehabilitation of prisoners – before and after trials, and following conviction.

Through the prison system the spectrum of opportunity runs from junior

grade prison staff through to senior organisational management, and there are opportunities for career progression at every level, with pay varying

tremendously dependent upon the levels of responsibility.

Remember! There are a wide range of vocations and

jobs specifi cally related to criminology. While this list is not

exhaustive, it will hopefully help you to think about the type

of careers available where a degree in criminology may

be advantageous.


Home Office Researcher/

Research Manager/

Private Research &


In studying for a degree in criminology, students will have developed core skills in research that are of use in both government and non-government organisations.

Researchers and research managers will be involved in a range of diverse crime-related projects including developing ideas to overcome barriers to delivering research projects. While the skills needed to be an excellent researcher or research manager are generic and transferable, and there are plentiful opportunities to use knowledge of research

methodologies to develop a rewarding career, the best opportunities to do this directly related to criminology exist either within non-government organisations and the Voluntary Sector (see below) or working with the Home Office.

Private research consultancies, such as Matrix offer opportunities for skilled researchers, however, often the best

step towards a role as a researcher is voluntary experience coupled with specialist training as part of a research focused postgraduate qualification. An alternative route is to gain experience as a researcher in the university sector, although again the best steps toward this end are normally taking a Masters qualification or working towards a PhD. For opportunities for further study at Leicester please visit the website; for research roles in the Home Office see

Case Review Manager/

working for the Criminal

Cases Review Commission

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is the independent public body set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Commission assesses whether convictions or sentences should be referred to a court of appeal. It employs people in various roles, although the majority of its recruitment tends to be for junior case review managers. The staff spend a high proportion of their time reading the core documents surrounding a case either scanned onto computer systems or as hard copies. Depending on what stage a case is at they may be issuing a Section 17 to request documents from the Court of Appeal, the CPS, the Courts or perhaps Social Services.

They often spend their time investigating particular issues raised by applicants, deciding whether or not an issue is relevant to the case, whether it opens up new evidence, and the work they do can be very varied. Every case is different, but Case Review Managers do and can acquire a wealth of knowledge of the criminal justice system. The case working skills learnt are also immensely valuable in a range of other settings. http://

Forensic Accounting and

Fraud Investigation

Forensic accountancy is the investigatory side to accountancy. Often disputes arise where the measure of loss requires an expert accountant. Disputes range within areas such as:

• Fraud Investigation • Professional Negligence • Personal and Medical Injury • Asset Tracing

• Matrimonial • Dispute Resolution • Share Valuation • Expert Witness

Forensic accountants work closely with their instructing party, usually the legal profession, insurers and regulatory and prosecuting bodies, to prepare and deliver a report covering detailed requirements for the Court. Depending on the instruction, the report can be used as advice for the instructing party or as expert evidence in a Court of Law. Avenues into such jobs are extensive, but students might want to consider the Big Four companies (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PWH).

Community Support

Offi cer/Police Offi cer

All police offi cers must complete a two-year probationary period, after which there is a wide variety of career opportunities available. There is training and support available to help you move through the ranks into a senior position within the force. All police offi cers are able to apply for a wide variety of career opportunities with specialist units, including the criminal investigation department (CID), fraud squad, drugs squad, fi re arms, child protection unit, traffi c, mounted branches, dog handlers, underwater search units, through to secondments into youth offending teams. Force areas run their own recruitment programmes.



Beth – Case Review


After taking a Psychology

degree, Beth undertook took

a Masters in Criminology at

the University of Leicester.

She was writing up a PhD

in Criminal Justice when she

joined the Criminal Cases

Review Commission (The

information provided here is

taken from the Commissions

own website)

What attracted you to work for the Commission?

Having studied criminology and criminal justice, I was well aware of the Commission and the nature of its work. They were top of my list of places to work, so when I saw an advertisement in 2001, I jumped at the chance to join the Commission – especially since they understood my desire to complete my PhD.

Is there a typical day?

Not really. You can spend a high proportion of your time reading the core documents surrounding a case either scanned onto our computer systems or as hard copies. Depending on what stage a case is at you may be issuing a section 17 to request documents from the Court of Appeal, the CPS, the Courts or perhaps Social Services. You could be investigating particular issues raised by applicants, deciding whether or not an issue is relevant to the case, whether it opens up new evidence.

What is your favourite aspect of the job?

I like the variety. Every case is so different; you don’t know what you will be working on next. I also derive satisfaction from being trusted to get on with cases. It gives you enormous confi dence.

How valuable is the experience you’re gaining?

As a fi rst job, this is an excellent stepping stone. You have to want to learn. Most Case Review Managers do and can acquire a wealth of knowledge of the criminal justice system. The case working skills you learn are also immensely valuable.

This case study has been taken from

British Transport Police

Another opportunity is presented by the British Transport Police, the national police for the railway providing a policing service to rail operators, their staff and passengers throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Every day they police journeys of over six million passengers and 400,000 tonnes of freight over 10,000 miles of track. While they mirror the regular police with a Criminal Investigation Department that investigates serious crime, much of their role is quite specialist, but some specifi c opportunities exist to become involved in unique roles, such as football intelligence work. You may also want to consider the Civilian Nuclear Constabulary: information-centre/useful-links).

Criminal Intelligence


Criminal Intelligence Analysts work within police forces, producing analytical reports and disseminating information to help officers in the field to fight persistent and serious and organised crime. They undertake research and analytical work targeting criminals and identifying crime trends. They provide and disseminate accurate intelligence, identifying links between suspected offenders and committed crimes, to operational police officers to assist in the arrest of offenders and the prevention of crime.


Typically, you would start

by assessing or investigating

threats to national security;

over your career, you could

also be involved in personnel,

fi nance, management or

operational work, ranging from

implementing policies to dealing

with agents. You would have

your own areas of responsibility

but you would also be working

as part of a wider team of

people from a range

of backgrounds.


The Security Services

Other Police-related Career Opportunities

The modern police & criminal justice sector offers many front line

crime fi ghting operational roles for which you do not need to

be a serving police offi cer. These roles are at the heart of crime

detection, investigation and law enforcement, working alongside

serving offi cers.

These civilian crime-fi ghting opportunities allow you work within the police, helping to solve crimes and serve the public whilst developing your skills.

• Civilian investigators

Working alongside serving offi cers building cases by gathering evidence via interviews, telephonic research etc.

• Hi tech crime investigators

Focused on computer-related crime and crimes where computers have been used. • Crime Scene Investigation

Forensic science related discipline. Involves attending and examining scenes of crimes and gathering forensic evidence.

• Custody assistant

Assisting custody offi cers in the detention of prisoners/detainees within the integrated custody environment. Escorting and facilitating prisoner welfare. • Crime analyst

Providing analytical support focussing on the strategic aims of crime intelligence and incidents identifying patterns and trends.

• Case Builders

Both the Police & the Crown Prosecution Service require paralegal support in case management and initial preparation of prosecutions. They offer some of the best training and entry level positions for legal professionals.

Other Law Enforcement Opportunities

• Trading Standards

Local authority trading standards offi cers are charged with ensuring companies and individual’s intellectual property is protected, and take action against people who manufacture and supply counterfeit property such as designer clothing through to automotive components. They also ensure that companies and businesses follow consumer legislation.


The RSPCA are responsible for enforcing a range of laws and prosecuting individuals for offences against animals and wildlife, running the full remit of investigating domestic animal cruelty cases through to prosecuting organised dog fi ghting rings. RSPCA inspectors will have a role in prosecuting offenders and work in a law enforcement capacity on occasion.


Some other career areas

open to all graduates where

a criminology degree could

be useful

• Journalism

• Research Related Roles

• Management

• Teaching/Education

• Social


• Public


Civil Service

• Environmental Health Offi cers (EHOs)

EHOs are similar to Trading standards offi cers, but tend to enforce environmental laws concerning behaviour such as fl y tipping and illegal waste disposal, ensure the food we eat is safe and of good quality, to improve housing conditions, safeguard standards of workplace health and safety and create a better environment. EHOs are responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing health policies, using specialist technical skills and knowledge to maintain and safeguard standards relating to people’s health and well-being. They may be generalist or may be specialist in specifi c areas of the industry such, food safety and food standards, environmental protection, waste management and pollution control.

• The Fire Brigade

While often thought of simply as an emergency service, the Fire Brigade offers the opportunity in some specifi c roles to be involved in investigating suspicious fi res, and some members of the Fire Brigade are involved in working with arsonists and fi re setters, especially young people.

• Military Police and Provost Core

The military operate their own police: the Royal Military Police (RMP), who undertake the specifi c role of investigating crimes committed by members of the armed forces, apprehending AWOL soldiers and providing military security and policing. The Provost core in the military is much like the prison service, responsible amongst other functions for running the Military’s prison: the Military Correctional Training centre at Colchester. Graduates are eligible to apply to join the military at offi cer grades, but positions exist at all ranks and levels. • Benefi ts Offi cers (Fraud Offi cer)

Fraud offi cer jobs involve working within the housing, revenues and benefi ts and social care sectors of local councils, regulatory bodies and the police. You will be working to prevent fraud in the local community, including cases of benefi t fraud, and assist in fraud investigations. There are no specifi c academic qualifi cations required for fraud offi cer jobs however a good academic background with strong English and maths skills will be benefi cial in starting as a junior fraud offi cer. Progression for more senior offi cer roles and movement to a fraud investigator requires candidates to be up to date in the latest legislation, and a knowledge of crime and the criminal justice system and its processes is undoubtedly an advantage.

• Customs and Excise

With 71,000 employees, around £436 billion revenue, and around 33 million customers, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is a major business with serious responsibilities. HMRC work and the revenue it collects means that it impacts on the lives of every single adult and business in the UK, from students and single mothers, to the largest multi-national corporations.


Skills Gained from Studying Criminology

Many graduates do not go to work in a fi eld that is linked

with their degree, and being a university graduate has always

traditionally and historically opened doors because employers

see graduates as holders of skills which are of value to their

businesses and services.

Therefore, while you will have gained specifi c knowledge about the criminal justice system, you will likely have improved a range of core transferable skills that will be valuable in any employment setting.

These will include.

Further information and help

As you can see, the career opportunities for a criminology graduate are broad and numerous. Deciding what you want to do can be very diffi cult, not to say daunting! However, help is at hand.

The Student Development website provides an excellent tool, titled ‘plan your future career’ to help you start to work out your future career direction: ces/ssds/sd/careers/plan

Furthermore, ‘Prospects Planner’ is another very useful, free, tool that will provide you with ideas for what to do when you graduate: would_suit_me___Prospects_Planner_/Login_to_My_Prospects2/ p!ejgFgXm?mode=try_pp

You can also spend some time discussing potential career options with your Personal Tutor – why not arrange an appointment with them to talk you through their experiences of working within criminology and related fi elds? Your Personnel Tutor will be able to help you think about your potential career options and discussing such things with an interested party is always very useful.

In addition, you can also book a face to face or telephone appointment with a Careers Adviser, who will be able to help you identify a suitable career and start to build an effective career development plan. Appointments can be made by visiting the Student Development Zone (2nd fl oor, David Wilson Library) or by calling 0116 252 2004 between 10am and 4pm.

Remember! – many employers

will want you to demonstrate

your skills as part of an

application process, and sections

of application forms are

increasingly asking applicants

to demonstrate evidence of

vocational competence through

written sections of an application

form. However, you should

also remember that most

employers will also want

well rounded applicants who

have developed skills in a

range of settings. It is possible

to overstate your academic

achievements, and really you

should be demonstrating that

you are a well rounded individual

who has developed skills in an

array of settings e.g. voluntary

work, sporting activities, etc.

• Organisation (self and others) • Planning • Gathering, assessing and interpreting information • Team working • Literacy • Communication • Problem solving • Working to deadlines

• Clear & logical thinking

• Critical evaluation • Research skills • Analytical skills

(9) – links to resources in criminal justice and criminology

in the UK and around the world. – a web site that offers academic posts including funded

PhD and funded research related opportunities. It is a great one stop site to check potential funded sources of further postgraduate study.

The British Society of Criminology – the society representing British criminologists. Alongside an array of useful criminology-related resources, the site also has a jobs section advertising vacancies related to the discipline.

Central Government Departments and Agencies

The Civil Service Recruitment Gateway –

provides an overview of the range of jobs in the Civil Service, at all levels. • Civil Service Fast Stream – is the Civil Service’s

accelerated development programme for graduates.

Connexions – recruits Personal Advisers to provide guidance and support to young people aged 13-19.

Ministry of Justice – The Court Service – Criminal Records Bureau –

Crown Prosecution Service – HM Revenue & Customs –

The Home Offi ce – www.homeoffi

• Northern Ireland: the Criminal Justice System Northern Ireland website – – gives quick access to the police, prison, probation and

courts services in Northern Ireland.

Intelligence Agencies

• Information on the UK‘s national intelligence machinery can be found at –


The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) –

uk – recruits technicians, mathematicians, linguists and fast-track management

trainees to monitor and interpret information affecting national security. • The Serious Organised Crime Agency – (This will shortly

be replaced).

The Security Service (MI5) – – the UK’s security intelligence agency.

The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) – – operates worldwide to collect secret foreign intelligence.

Police, Prison and

Probation Services

• General information on police

recruitment in England & Wales, including the High Potential Development Scheme – – links to

police force web pages. • –

jobsite for serving and former police offi cers, civilian police staff and criminal justice sector practitioners. Temporary, contract and permanent investigation and law enforcement jobs.

• G4S Policing Solutions –

– provides police jobs and skills to UK police forces, local authorities, regulatory bodies and Government departments. • HM Prison Service

(England & Wales ) – www.

• National Probation Service (England & Wales ) – www.


Private Investigation

and Security

• Academy of Professional Investigation –

• Fraud management and criminal investigation – www.

Group 4 Securicor – www.g4s.


• International Professional Security Association – • Nationwide Investigations Group –

• World Association of Professional Investigators –

Useful Employment Links


Other Career Areas

Housing: The Chartered Institute of Housing –

Law: The Law Society –

Social Work: The Department of Health’s social work and social care website

– has information on social work careers and training.

Voluntary Organisations

Catch 22: – national charity working with ‘young people in diffi cult situations’.

The Howard League for Penal Reform – NACRO – crime reduction charity –

National Association of Offi cial Prison Visitors –

• SOVA works to strengthen communities by involving local volunteers in promoting social inclusion and reducing crime –

Victim Support –

• Youth Offender Panels recruit volunteers to work alongside Youth Offending Team members to consider the best course of action for young offenders –

Academic and

Professional Bodies

and Further Study

• European Society of Criminology

– • American Society of Criminology

– • The Social Research

Association includes many useful links to public and private sector research organisations, as well as think-tanks –

• Criminal Justice Degree lists undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, mostly in the USA, and also notes the most common US career positions in the criminal justice fi eld – www.


Criminal Justice Volunteering

You may well have chosen to take a criminology degree because

you have an ambition to work in some capacity in the criminal

justice sector once you graduate. However, you will be unlikely to

successfully fi nd a good criminal justice job if you rely solely upon

your degree.

While your degree will teach you many theoretical concepts that will help you in employment, getting your foot in the door with criminal justice agencies will likely require more than a degree alone, and you are well advised to think about developing skills and competencies early on. To that end we recommend that all our students are involved in a range of activities while they are at university. Firstly we suggest that students join the Criminology Society and give careful consideration to becoming a member of the affi liated student group for the Howard League for Penal Reform as an absolute minimum.

However, beyond that we also suggest that students seek out the opportunity as early as possible to join an organisation that fi ts with their own personal career aims. To this end we suggest that all students take part in some form of criminal justice volunteering. In doing this you will gain (and be able to demonstrate) competencies that will be sought by employers in the future. Even if you have no idea what you want to do as a career in the future, volunteering in any of the organisations or roles listed in this Guide will have a number of benefi ts. It will give you practical and vocational experience that may well be useful and relevant in your degree studies; it will develop your interpersonal and communication skills; it will give you a wider social network and help you to meet new people; and it will make you seem a better prospective employee.

How many people are volunteering in the criminal

justice system?

The true answer is that nobody knows the full number of volunteers in the criminal justice system, but the good news is that there are probably more volunteering opportunities linked to criminal justice than in any other sphere of work, and that the work that you can do, while sometimes demanding, is also immensely rewarding and character building. It will also give you a great opportunity to help others less fortunate than you, and you can make real, positive social changes.

Surveys have given us snapshots of the importance of volunteers in the criminal justice system. There are around 30,000 volunteers working as Magistrates, and 6,000 working as Victim Support volunteers.

Volunteers work with offenders in prison, once they are released, and when in the community in a variety of ways: for example, there are 1,850 Independent Monitoring Board members; numerous prison visitors; volunteers working through third sector organisations such as NACRO; 7,000 volunteers involved in prisons alone through faith-based organisations and many more in community chaplaincies; up to 84 Lay

We recommend that all our

students are involved in a range

of activities while they are at

university. Firstly we suggest that

students join the Criminology

Society and give careful

consideration to becoming a

member of the affi liated student

group for the Howard League

for Penal Reform as an

absolute minimum.

Surveys have given us

snapshots of the importance

of volunteers in the criminal

justice system. There are around

30,000 volunteers working as

Magistrates, and 6,000 working

as Victim Support volunteers.


Advisors helping to oversee MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) relating to sexual and violent offenders. There are a massive range of roles that you can take on, some are as simple as writing a letter to a prisoner who has nobody to communicate with on the outside, while more demanding roles might involve working as part of a circle of support and accountability helping a high risk sex offender to re-integrate into the community after a custodial sentence.

You need only take on a role that you feel comfortable in, and some people will obviously not feel happy working with some groups, however, the criminal justice system is diverse enough that you will be able to fi nd something you can do. You should think carefully about how much time you can commit and what you feel comfortable doing before you contact an organisation, but most voluntary organisations, while wanting committed individuals, realise that what they do may not be for all people and will not take it too badly if you decide that their scheme is not for you. However out of courtesy, you should be careful to try and be professional with the organisation you work with, even if you are not being paid for your services.

Working with the police there are around 14,000 special constables, and 6,000 Police Support Volunteers (expected to rise to 10,000 by the year 2012). Indeed, Neighbourhood Watch is the biggest voluntary movement in the country. Criminal justice volunteering as a broad area is not particularly well documented and you may have to search around. The ‘What Can I Do?’ booklet and website produced by the Prison Advice & Care Trust, is one of the few projects that has attempted

to document and promote volunteering across the different agencies of the CJS. You can link to it here:

What can I do as a volunteer?

You can do all sorts of things.

For example those wishing to

join the police might be well

advised to consider becoming a

special constable, whereas those

who wish to work in probation

might be better suited as a

probation volunteer, or working

as a volunteer in the local youth

justice team.

The examples in this Guide detail

only some of the opportunities

available: the Student Support

Service can help you further

access some of them, but

remember that there are also

opportunities outside the

criminal justice system that may

be relevant. For example, you

might want to join the University

offi cer training corps if you

would like a career as an offi cer

in the military police. Summers

with Camp America could

be of use if you feel that you

would like to pursue a career in


You should remember that any

experience while you are at

university will help you develop

your CV, and will likely give you

an edge in the future. Remember

that your time at university

is very limited, and it will go

quickly. It is never too early to

start planning for your future.


Preparing for the Job Market

This section of the Careers Guide is intended to help you think practically about the steps that you

will go through in order to secure employment. Some of the advice relates specifi cally to trying to

attempt to secure a job. The material presented here does not run sequentially, and it is intended

that you dip in and out of the Guide using appropriate sections as and when required.

Personal Development

Planning (PDP)

Personal Development Planning (PDP) is a structured and supported process designed to help you improve and enhance your

academic performance and to plan for life beyond your course. Whether you

are an undergraduate or postgraduate, campus-based or distance learner, PDP at the University of Leicester will provide you with a range of tools and resources relevant to you and your aspirations.

PDP and your academic


As you will be aware, there is a great deal more to academic success than attending lectures and seminars and handing in coursework on time – important though these are! Successful students are those able to take charge of their own learning and development, and demonstrate their ability to think critically, independently, and creatively. PDP can help you to become a more independent and effective learner in the following ways:

• by providing you with the tools you need to take charge of your own academic progress and development; • by giving you the chance to think

about your strengths as a learner and identify the areas you can improve on; and

• by enabling you to identify the practical steps required to achieve these improvements.

This process is relevant whether you are a new undergraduate working on your fi rst essay, or a PhD student researching your thesis.

PDP and your

employability and career


PDP is also highly relevant to your life beyond university. Participating in PDP will help you to enhance your employability and future career prospects in the following ways:

• by providing you with clear and easy-to-use career planning tools; • by helping you to identify

opportunities for enhancing and developing your employability; and • by providing you with resources to help you represent and articulate to others (including employers), your learning, skills and achievements.

How PDP works

PDP is a process whereby you

refl ect on your progress, recognise

achievements, and set objectives for future development. At the University of Leicester, we believe that the best way for you to encounter and participate in this process is via your academic department, or departments. This way, you are encouraged to view PDP as an integral

part of your student experience.

Your department(s) will have, in collaboration with key university services

such as Student Development, created a model for PDP specially tailored to the specifi c needs of their students. In many departments, elements of PDP are integrated into existing modules and other areas of the curriculum.

If you are a campus-based student and you want to fi nd out more about how you can participate in PDP, simply contact your personal tutor and/or supervisor to fi nd out more about how to get involved. If you are a distance learner, you should get in touch with your department on how best to access materials and support.

Crucially, PDP is a process which you are in charge of. Your department and others can support and guide you, but ultimately your development is your responsibility.


Preparing for Employment

Writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

It is very important to have a well written CV, because while not

all employers will ask for one, it is good to be in the practice

of having a basic CV while at university and updating it fairly

regularly and routinely with any relevant experience that you gain.

This helps prevent lapses in your CV and means that you get into

the habit of recording good relevant experiences that you might

otherwise forget to include in your CV.

A good CV should both inform an employer of your skills and experience and

persuade them that you are worth interviewing. They are normally required because:

a) an employer has specifi ed this in a job advertisement; or b) you are approaching employers speculatively about jobs.

However, other organisations may retain CVs on fi le, and CVs can also be a useful way of securing voluntary positions and internships that can in some cases lead to full time employment.

Whatever the case that you use a CV, it is your chance to sell yourself and therefore you need to know what your selling points are, i.e. the relevant skills, qualifi cations, interests and experience that an employer will be interested in.

What should a CV include?

In general a CV should contain the following information, although these headings are not always necessary:

Personal Details – name, address, telephone number, email address (select a

sensible e-mail address, it might be worth opening a separate e-mail account to your university account, but you will need to check and use it, and ‘sexyboy49@gmail’ or ‘Jucyjenni@hotmail’ may not be the best addresses to convince a prospective employer you are a serious candidate – we have seen these, seriously). If your name sounds non-UK, include your nationality and immigration status if you are not a British citizen;

Personal Statement – your career objective or mission – be as specifi c as possible; Education – give details of your education to date, including fuller details about

courses relevant to the job;

Work Experience – put your most recent and/or relevant experience fi rst;

Interests – try and specify your level of involvement in these, particularly where you held

a position of responsibility (note ‘position of responsibility’ is a good heading to use);

Relevant Skills – for example, communication, teamwork, problem-solving,

languages, computing;

References – usually one academic and one from a work situation. Remember to ask

your referees’ permission fi rst.

Here are a few general

points to consider when

producing your CV:

• no more than 2 sides of A4

and word processed;

• be consistent in how you

present information;

• do not mix too many

typefaces and font sizes;

• leave plenty of space

around the information so

that it is clear; and

• try to use the fi rst person

and the active voice wherever

possible; for example, “I

organised...”, “I developed...”,

“I co-ordinated...”.


How should a CV be

laid out?

This will vary according to the aspects of your life that you want to emphasise; for example, a mature student with plenty of work experience might place this information above their education in order to highlight it. Consider what the reader is going to be interested in. There are two broad styles of CV although many variations exist within these:

Chronological – the information

is arranged under general headings (Education, Work Experience etc.) and set out chronologically thereafter with the most recent events fi rst;

Skills-based – all information is

analysed for evidence of the most relevant skills for the job and then arranged under skills headings. This is known as targeting your CV and is increasingly common.

Should I adopt an

unusual approach?

This can work, but it very much depends on who you are contacting. Think about who will read the CV and how they might react to an off-beat style. Using green ink on pink paper and enclosing a single red rose will probably not endear you to a fi rm of solicitors! Employers are fairly conventional in general and want to see evidence of your skills and abilities above all else, but if you can encourage them to read more about you by taking a slightly different approach then it might be worth the risk.

Further information and help

There is a range of resources available for reference in Student Development (and often in some public libraries) which you should be able to access. If you can visit the Student Development Zone on the 2nd fl oor of the David Wilson Library you will be able to access a number of useful written resources and you’ll also fi nd lots of help on the Student Development and Prospects websites:

Student Development Website – ces/ssds/sd/careers Prospects Website –

Many employers take the time to come onto campus over the academic year to run skills sessions that cover all aspects of the recruitment process, including CVs. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into why employers ask you to submit these documents and what, in their view, makes a successful CV.

Details of these events can be found here: ces/ssds/sd/careers/events

You can also spend some time discussing your CV with your Personal Tutor – why not arrange an appointment with them to read through your CV? Your Personnel Tutor will also ask some questions about it, and this will help you feel more confi dent before you are ever questioned about it in a formal setting by a prospective employer.

In addition, you can book a short face to face or telephone appointment with a Careers Adviser, who will be able to help and advise you on CVs, application forms and any other career related issues. Appointments can be made by visiting the Student Development Zone (2nd fl oor, David Wilson Library) or by calling 0116 252 2004 between 10am and 4pm.

Tips on Presenting Your CV

• Two sides of word-processed A4 is

normally suffi cient.

• Use good quality paper and paper clips, not staples.

• For your education put your most recent course fi rst.

• Summarise qualifi cations that were achieved some years ago,

for example, GCSEs.

• For your work experience try and make your most relevant experience stand out. You may want to consider having a separate section for this.

• Make your CV clear and consistent and leave plenty of white space. • Make your headings stand out by

using bold or italics.

• Use a legible font with a minimum size of 11.

• Use positive/action words which describe what you did.

• Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.

• Use a laser printer for a better quality fi nish.


Application Forms

An application form may be

your fi rst point of contact

with an employer. Employers

often receive hundreds of

application forms and may

spend only a few seconds on

each one. Therefore, their fi rst

impressions must be positive.

A good application form takes a

considerable amount of time to complete and should be well thought out and properly constructed. This part of the Guide explores some of the issues involved in this part of the application process and provides useful general guidelines.

Why is an application

forms used?

Applying for jobs is very competitive. Employers use application forms as part of their selection processes in order to draw up a short list of candidates to invite for interview.

These forms are often designed specifi cally for individual employers and may be quite sophisticated. They are usually very challenging, are generally now completed online and most are designed to make candidates think about themselves and their suitability for the opportunities on offer.

Before you start

Before applying to an employer make sure that you:

• Research the organisation where you wish to work – fi nd out about what they do, their philosophy, their structure, their successes and goals. • Research the job to fi nd out about

the necessary requirements and person specifi cation – read the supporting company literature and visit their website.

• Give yourself plenty of time.

Filling in the form –

general tips

Here are a few hints and tips which may help you while you are completing the form.

Some may seem very obvious but a surprising number of candidates do get them wrong:

• Make sure you comply with instructions. For instance, there may be a word limit for each question. • Pay attention to spelling and

grammar – many applications are automatically rejected if a candidate is weak in these areas.

• Make sure that your details are correct, e.g. your contact details, educational and/or work history (don’t lie! – employers often ask to see original certifi cates of your qualifi cations).


• Put your most important work area/ experience etc fi rst (although this may not be possible if chronological order is asked for).

• Explain any gaps (e.g. where you have been travelling or taking a career break).

Identify your skills,

knowledge and


In addition to a degree qualifi cation employers seek a range of other qualities. Identify your own particular skills, knowledge and experience and give good examples if you are asked to demonstrate them. This is an ideal opportunity to illustrate any additional skills you have gained which are relevant to the employer and the job you are applying for.


It is normal to have one academic (if you are a recent graduate) and one other related to employment. Do check with referees fi rst to ensure that they are willing and able to supply a supportive reference. If necessary, give them information about the job to help them to tailor their reference.

After completing

the form

Before you send your completed application form to the employer make sure you:

• Spell and grammar check your application form to avoid careless and easily correctable errors – ask a friend to read it for you to do a fi nal proof before you send it.

• Make a copy of the application form so that you can prepare more easily if you are called for interview.




Most mainstream criminal

justice organisations now have

sections on application forms

and parts of the interview

process which ask applicants

to demonstrate that they have

core competencies which are

central to the role that is

being applied for.

These may ask for the individual to demonstrate competencies such as teamwork, relating to others, communicating effectively, and dealing with diffi cult situations.

Many criminal justice agencies use competency questions, sometimes they use several, and ask for you to chose different examples for each answer. However, as daunting as this sounds, most organisations will let you know in advance of the interview the competencies they will be testing. Below are some good examples of answered competency questions within the context of an application form. The trick to answering these questions is to fi nd a relevant example which demonstrates how you used the skills required in a specifi c setting very succinctly. You do not have to give too much background detail; indeed, the best answers are quite short and often condense a great deal of background information into a sentence or two. The trick is to remain focused, show specifi cally what you did and which skills you used, and how this shows that you demonstrated them effectively.

Examples of tackling

competency questions

Please describe a time when you saw an opportunity to really make a difference for the future of a group, an activity or yourself. What did you do?

A good example

During the summer of 2007, I was recruited to be part of a two-month, six-man roadshow travelling around the M25 area promoting tennis and Ariel Liquitabs.

Within the fi rst week of the tour the event manager resigned and I applied to take over this role. Although I had no specifi c previous experience, I felt it was a great opportunity to stretch myself and make a difference to my future. I was accepted as the new event manager and took over the very next day, it was extremely diffi cult initially, but I drew on my experiences of Head of School and captains of numerous sports teams and settled into the role relatively quickly. My role necessitated dealing with a vast range of individuals from Sainsbury’s Managers to children as young as 5 years of age, which improved my interpersonal and communicational skills. In addition, my motivational skills were also tested, as I was constantly required to motivate my staff due to the tour becoming monotonous in the latter stages. The roadshow appeared to be a real success with the tennis clubs receiving a 10% increase in applicants and rival soap powder brands putting on extra promotions.

The feedback I received on how I managed the event was extremely positive and I have subsequently been put forward to manage numerous other events.

A useful model to help

you structure your answer

effectively and maximise the

impact of your example, for

both application forms and

interviews, is called the

CAR model;

C – Context. What was the

situation? What was the

challenge, task or problem you


A – Action. What actions did

you take, and why did you

decide to take this course of

action, in order to drive this

example forward?

R – Result. What was the result

of the actions that you took?

What have you learnt?


Not so good

The biggest challenge whilst carrying out the assignment was conducting a fi nancial analysis on the company. I was assigned this task {even if true, don’t

say it was ‘assigned’ to you!}, as I had

previous experience in this area as I have carried out two fi nancial and accounting modules during my University degree. I conducted a full ratio analysis on the company, which included analysing Next’s Profi t and Loss Account and Balance Sheet. I presented the ratios and included details of the company’s current fi nancial position, along with an explanation of how the company could improve their position.

The Presentation involved presenting our group’s report on Next Plc to the rest of the Marketing group. Our group

{concentrate on you!} conducted

a Microsoft Powerpoint {spelling

‘PowerPoint’!} presentation, to ensure

it was conducted in the most effi cient and systematic way. Each member presented their individual section, the fi nal section then included contributions by all group members.

Our group {as above, concentrate on

you!} had practised the presentation

on numerous occasions prior to the fi nal presentation, which ensured a smooth running. Each member of the Marketing class was given a feedback form to report their opinions of the presentation.

Our group received positive feedback and were all awarded a 2:1 for the presentation, this contributed towards the fi nal outcome of our Marketing modules. {Again, too much emphasis

on the group/team and not on you}.

More good examples


I was elected to the position of president of the Conservation Society during my fi nal year at the university. The society consisted of fi fty members with a fi ve person committee. My objectives were to double the number of members, increase the number of social events and increase awareness of conservation and environmental issues amongst university students. In order to meet these targets I had to motivate the committee and held regular team meetings to check we were achieving our objectives. I particularly enjoyed working with the university’s environmental offi cer to promote a paper recycling scheme on

campus using student volunteers and designing publicity for use in the student newspaper and on posters around campus. In addition to our usual meetings I also organised a series of themed social events which were increasingly well attended throughout the year.

By the end of the year our objectives were fulfi lled and I was particularly thrilled that the membership had risen to 120.

Planning and Organisation

As a volunteer at a local children’s charity, I was responsible for organising an activities week for 70 children aged 6-12. My initial objective was to recruit a team of 10 student volunteers and design a programme of unusual activities. The task also involved identifying and approaching local companies for sponsorship for outings and prizes for the mini sports day at the end. I was also responsible for health and safety including training the team in child protection policies, budgets, venues, transport and the allocation of roles within the team to ensure the best use of individual skills and abilities. In order to plan my time I used both an Excel spreadsheet for personal time management and a weekly email to all team volunteers to keep them up to speed with what other team members had achieved. I formed a contingency plan to provide indoor activities for wet days. A clear presentation of the aims and objectives of the week and the target group of children in a particularly deprived area of Aberdeen resulted in grants of £500 from the Common Good Fund and extensive sponsorship by Asda Wal Mart of small toys to use as prizes and consignments of fruit each day to use for snacks. 68 children attended and were able to try sports such as grass sledging, indoor lacrosse, rockwall, kayaking and ultimate frisbee and apparently enjoyed it hugely, and this was demonstrated when we were nominated for a national award.



For many people, the job interview is an event that fi lls them

with dread and fear. While it may not be possible to ever get

to a stage that you will enjoy job interviews, with planning

and preparation it is possible to get to a stage where you are

prepared for interviews and feel comfortable in them, and the

steps suggested here might help you toward that end.

Preparation – before the interview

Research the company thoroughly – Employers often comment that many

students know too little about the company. Use all methods available to you to fi nd out about the company including company brochures and company websites. If you are still job-seeking when the academic year re-starts at the end of September, make sure you attend careers fairs that various universities organise.

Think of possible questions that you might be asked – There are example

questions in various books and fi les available from Student Development.

Practise answering the questions out loud – Sometimes it can be helpful to ask

a friend to listen to your responses or some people fi nd practising in front of a mirror useful or using a tape recorder.

Re-read your application form or CV to remind yourself of what you said –

Imagine you are the interviewer and decide what questions you might ask based on your application. What do you want to get across to the interviewer? – try and think of 3 key points that you would like to get across to the interviewer whatever question they might ask! When answering most questions about your work experience, university degree and other achievements it invariably pays to think about what you got out of these experiences – and you should formulate answers to most questions about them with this in mind. At interviews, you need to sell yourself!

Your questions for the interviewer – Prepare your questions for the interviewer

and write them on a card or piece of paper to take in with you. Keep your questions to safe areas such as “How does the management training scheme work?” or “What will my induction programme entail?” rather than “How did last years redundancy programme that featured in the press work out?”).

Check out travel arrangements – Plan to arrive with at least 15 minutes to spare

(over half an hour would be excessive). It is important to check times and routes of trains or buses beforehand. If at all possible do a dummy run the day before. Don’t work to such a tight travelling schedule that you put yourself under undue pressure. It is far better to arrive in plenty of time and be relaxed, than to be dead on time or late and anxious. You need to save all your energy for the interview.

What to wear – Decide what you want to wear and make sure that it is comfortable.

Here are some basic rules for dress: Dress to suit yourself – style and colour – rather than high fashion. Be traditional rather than avant-garde. General tips are:

Remember! – The interview is

a two-way process. Although

you are selling yourself, you are

not the only one under scrutiny.

The interviewer is looking at you

to see if you have the relevant

qualifi cations, experience and

personality, to fi t with that

particular environment. You

are looking at the interviewer

and the surroundings to decide

whether or not you like what is

on offer. Ask yourself; “Is this

really what I want?”


• Theories suggest dark colours are more powerful than lighter ones. • Ensure all aspects of your appearance

from hair-cut to shoes are smart, tidy clean and appropriate.

• If in doubt as to what to wear, err on the side of caution with business dress e.g. suit, shirt and tie for men, business dress/skirt, jacket and smart top for women.

• Dress to the accepted style of the industry or job.

What to take with you

Prepare a fi le containing a copy of your application form, company

correspondence and directions, and your questions for them.

Preparation – on the day

First impressions do count so make sure you give a good fi rst impression: • Be polite to everyone you meet. • Look organised. Carry your fi le. • Give the impression that you are

taking the occasion seriously. • Think about your posture. Try and

put your head up and shoulders back.

• Try and relax. Deep breathing defi nitely helps!

• Make sure you have a fi rm handshake.

• Maintain good eye contact. • Smile.

The interview itself

Remember the importance of non-verbal communication – If what you

say confl icts with what your posture and expression are conveying, they will believe the latter. So regularly check your

posture. Also remember to maintain positive non-verbal communication as well by:

• Smiling often.

• Nodding the head when the interviewer is speaking.

• Leaning forward while listening and when replying.

• Maintaining a high level of eye contact.

Eye contact – In a panel interview, eye

contact should normally be maintained with the person who is asking the question, although remember to draw in other panellists by looking at them from time to time.

Verbal communication – Be

enthusiastic and interesting.

Informal interviewers – Be wary of a

very informal interviewer lulling you into a false sense of security – you may reveal more than you should in this situation. You should not become too informal yourself.

Always try and remain positive –

Sometimes the interviewer will touch on things in your past that have gone wrong. Concentrate on what you learnt from the experience. Don’t be negative or apologetic about yourself.

Move on – If you answer a question

badly, forget about it and move on to the next one. You will not be rejected on the basis of one poor answer. So bounce back and tackle the next question with renewed enthusiasm. Also try not to give one word answers. If you do, it will put more pressure on the interviewer to think of the next question quickly. You may face questions to which you fi nd it hard to think of an answer. If this happens there are a range of techniques you can employ:

• Ask if you could be given some time to think about the question. • Ask them to repeat the

question, which will give you more thinking time.

• Ask if you can return to this question later.

Remember! – With diffi cult questions

it is often your approach that interests them rather than whether you give the ‘right answer’. Interviews are a two way process and therefore it is not only an opportunity for them to assess you but also for you to assess them.

Getting feedback – You can learn a lot

from attending an interview, whether or not you are actually offered the job. Asking for feedback can help you prepare for future interviews.


Typical Interview


When preparing answers to the questions below note that they are only a guide to what you might be asked at an interview; additional questions are also likely based on the information

you have given in your application

form or CV (for example about your work experience).

Skills, attributes and potential

1. If we asked for a reference what would it say about you?

2. How would a friend describe you?

3. What is your major achievement?

4. How do you manage your day?

5. How do you get things done?

6. What do you consider yourself good at doing?

7. What are your strengths?

8. What are your weaknesses?

9. Describe a diffi cult situation and what you did about it.

10. How well do you work in a team?

11. This position has a large amount of stress/negotiation/teamwork/ isolation/travel. How will you cope with this?

12. How do you respond to stress? Can you provide a recent example?

13. What would you look for in a manager?

14. How do you/would you get the best out of people?

15. What makes you think you can be successful with us?

16. What do you think you can bring to this position/company?

Occupational awareness

1. What do you see as the pros and the cons of this career?

2. What will you look forward to most in this job?

3. What do you know about our organisation?

4. In your view, what are the major problems/opportunities facing this company/industry/sector?

5. What do you know about this organisations equal opportunities/ data protection policies?

Miscellaneous questions 1. What sort of support/training/

induction would you like for this job?

2. What will you do if you don’t get this job?

3. What else have you applied for?

4. Where do you see yourself in fi ve years time?

5. Do you have any questions for us?

6. What do you know about equal opportunities?


• For each question it is well worth writing out your answer rather than just thinking it through.

• Bear in mind that we use different parts of the brain for thinking and talking so practise your answers

by talking out loud.

If possible use a tape recorder to assess your performance.

• Why not get a friend to ask you the questions so that you are simulating an interview?

• Book a practice interview with a trained Careers Advisor in Student Development (Tel 0116 2522004) • Keep practising until your answers

are fl uent, although you should not learn them parrot-fashion.