Free downloadable guide for HE staff to use with You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook


I wrote yesterday about our new book You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook. This book is going to be released the start of next week, but you can of course pre-order now.

In the meantime I’d like to share with you the free guide that we’ve made for HE staff. If you follow this blog you are probably more likely to be a careers person or an academic than a current student (although I welcome all readers). We wrote the actual book for students, but we thought that it would be useful to think about how academics and careers educators might make use of it as part of their delivery of careers and employability modules and programmes.

The guide covers how to use the Graduate Career Handbook in the following situations.

  • To support career conversations and as part of careers advice and guidance
  • To support students when they are networking with employers and undertaking placements and other kinds of extra-curricular experiences.
  • To run employability workshops.
  • To design employability modules and programmes.

We ‘ve included a load of workshop plans, draft module specifications with learning outcomes and an extensive reading list to support modules.

Hopefully you will find it useful.


Employability: A Review of the Literature 2012-2016. Full paper


A few days ago I posted some slides presenting the key findings from this project. I’m now able to share the full paper.

This paper examines 187 pieces of research published between 2012 and 2016.1 It describes how the subject of employability has been addressed during this period and draws out some of the key implications for higher education providers (HEPs), academics and employability practitioners. Employability is notoriously complex to define, but for the purposes of this review we have looked at research that uses the term ‘employability’ and which intersects with one of the key concepts which are contained with the Higher Education Academy’s (HEA’s) Framework for embedding employability . The framework was used both to provide keywords for the literature review, and to help in structuring our report.   Higher education providers are under considerable pressure from policymakers, students and employers to ensure that graduates emerge from higher education ready for the labour market. The imminent implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) looks set to increase this pressure.

It is also possible to argue that a focus on employability is a moral duty for higher education providers. Students invest their time and money in accessing higher education with the expectation that it will offer them access to greater life chances than they would have obtained if they had not attended HE. For the most part, this expectation is fulfilled with graduates generally doing better in the labour market than non-graduates. However, it is not simply holding a degree that results in these outcomes (although there is an important signalling effect), rather it is critical that higher education develops students in ways that support them to be successful in the future.

Academic interest in employability appears to be growing. Academics are wrestling with the nature of employability, its political implications, the ways in which it is delivered and the relative efficacy of each of them. Academics approach these questions from a range of political, theoretical, methodological and professional perspectives.

The literature outlines a number of different ideas about how higher education providers can best deliver employability provision. These can provide useful insights about the different approaches that are being used and the relative evidence for each of them. Much of this evidence aligns well with the kinds of themes and approaches identified in the HEA employability framework.

The employability agenda offers huge opportunities for HEPs, academics and students. Employability offers HEPs the opportunity to help individuals to realise their potential, to enhance their, skills, attitudes, attributes and knowledge, to become successful workers and citizens, and through this helps to increase the political legitimacy of higher education. This review has shown that there is a lively and critical academic field that exists around the employability agenda. We believe that the continued growth and maturation of this field is essential to the ongoing development of employability in higher education.

The impliations of digital career literacy for higher education

he and digital career literacy

Here is another presentation that I’m going to be giving while I’m in New Zealand for the CDANZ. It draws on the keynote that I gave at the CDAA but focuses discussion the on the implications for HE.

The implications of digital career literacy for higher education

The implications of digital career literacy for higher education

Study with us – we dig up kings

richard III advert

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I run an occasional series on the weird and wonderful world of university marketing. In essence I’m interested in what messages universities put out about themselves to try and get new students to part with £9000 a year.

Anyone with any knowledge of the University of Leicester over the last couple of years won’t be surprised at the tack that the institution has taken. The University has been in the process of transforming itself into the Institute of Richard III Studies ever since they dug the carpark up. So it only makes sense that this is now the cornerstone of their marketing strategy.

But will it work? Is this why students come to a university? I can see that it might work for history buffs and crazy Plantagenate lovers, but for everyone else? Will a dead king stack up against the kind of “our degree will get you a job” messaging that other universities are going with. Leicester obviously think so!

Just in case you missed it, here is my picture of the man himself rollling through the town centre.

actual RIII

Lifelong guidance and employability in higher education

Today I’m giving a presentation to the OECD programme on higher education.

I will be co-presenting with Raimo Vuorinen from the University of Jyvaskyla. The idea is to encourage OECD universities to consider the wider lifelong guidance policy frame and to consider the evidence base for their own practice.

This is the slides that we are going to use.

Lifelong guidance and employability in higher education

This is learning to succeed

I have written an occasional series of blogs about the way in which universities market themselves.

I continue to be amazed, intrigued and sometimes confused by this. For example have a look at the latest offering from DeMontfort University.


What does this mean?

We’re living in turbulent and testing times. The world is standing on a razor’s edge. We’re our own worst enemy if we walk the path that’s worn think. Dare to find an alternative that makes your heart beat that little bit harder. Then together we’ll make great strides for the good of all. This is not about surrendering to convention. This is learning to succeed.

It sounds vaguely political, but to what end? And how is attending DMU going to contribute to this? Is DMU being offered as an alternative to other universities or to alternatives to university.

What does it all mean!!!!!!!

I think that this, like a lot of the other university marketing that I see suffers from the fundamental problem that most universities are not that different from one another. Better or worse resourcing, more or less public school educated students and easier or harder to get into. However, obviously no university is going to lead with the following slogan.

We are basically like all of the other universities, but we are reasonably easy to get into given our ranking. Come here and you might get to meet a few public school kids, but they won’t dominate too much. Oh and we have a nice campus with loads of new buildings. p.s. we are near the big city/sea/mountains/other university that you’ve heard of.

So we get various kinds of claims main. Some true, some less true, some clear and others confusing. How are potential applicants to decide between all of these competing claims?