Employability Tool Kit

Welcome to your Employability Tool Kit. We have prepared targeted tasks to help you realise your potential across sectors (not just the creative sector) and prepare you for life beyond study.

It is important to understand that we intend this Employability Tool Kit to be a starting point, a confidence builder, and an asset that you can return to at any point in your journey.

There are a number of separate tasks that can all be explored across an intensive week of development or addressed when your schedule allows. However you choose to tackle these, we encourage you to devote time and attention to each one.

The Tool Kit covers the following key areas:

  1. Idea Generation
  2. Activity Reflection/Reflective Writing
  3. Transferrable Skills Matrix
  4. Idea Refining (What are you trying to achieve?)
  5. StandOut Strengths Assessment
  6. CV Writing
  7. Personal Development Plan
  8. Further Research and Tips

We have provided a brief overview for each area, a suggested schedule in which to complete the tasks, plus useful documents and media to help you complete them.

Below are a couple of initial thoughts to read and review.

What Is A Career?

‘Career’

Oxford Dictionary Definition: an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.

 

Ultimately each individual will have a different interpretation of what the word ‘career’ means, but it is important to consider what it means to you, and how that might affect the choices you make, and the approaches you take to shaping your work life.

The dictionary definition references a single occupation, but in the creative industries, it is not unusual to take on a number of different roles and occupations in the form of a ‘portfolio career’, with each role complementing your overall career ambitions and lifestyle choice.

It may seem obvious but having a job does not necessarily mean it forms part of your career path. For example, you may decide you want to explore a career as a performer, but you take a bar job to pay your bills and stay afloat financially. In this case, your job is just that. You can learn plenty of valuable skills from such a job, but it is unlikely to directly contribute to your career ambitions.

Conversely, if you have identified your career as managing a gig/concert venue, then working behind the bar could be a great way to start your career. Being around the activity that interests you, learning about the other roles and skills required to undertake them could be invaluable. Of course, you have to operate in the job you are given/have accepted, rather than the one you want long term, but a step on the right path is a good start. Development in these early stages, and discussion with senior staff to share aspirations and gain experience help this bar role push you along your career trajectory.

 

 

Tool kit tasks:

1. Idea Generation

Whether it be linked to your studies, a job application, funding pitch or your general creative ambitions, generating an idea does not always happen on command.

Finding ways to stimulate creativity can be key to channelling your best work. We all have days when the creative juices are not flowing. Thankfully there are some techniques to help with these periods of drought. Spending some time trying them will also help you establish a healthy working schedule in the future.

 

Time required: half a day (initially)

We recommend devoting a morning to some of the ideas explored in this task. However, this is an ongoing task and set of techniques that you can build into your weekly schedule, or come back to when you are in need of inspiration or headspace.

 

Task support

2. Activity Reflection / Reflective Writing

Reflective writing is a good way of logging experiences and activities in a meaningful way.

These logs allow you to reflect and assess the impact of any given activity or experience, offering the opportunity to better utilise the knowledge or insights gained, as well as understand your progress against any goals set. This information may help you complete assessments, assist you in writing CV’s or application forms, or simply remind you of the skills that you have acquired.

Time Required: 15 -30 mins (initially)

Each time you log an experience or activity, take the time to describe what happened, how it made you feel, and how you might use what you have learnt in the future. Date it and save it within a folder where you can continue to save new documents to log new activities.

Task Support

 

3. Transferrable Skills

As a graduate with an arts degree you have an incredible amount to offer any company or organisation regardless of what sector they operate in.

Sometimes it is difficult to appreciate that many of the skills you have acquired as a creative, are in fact very broad, and can be applied to completely different roles and scenarios. These are your “transferrable skills”, and understanding these will help you prepare for life beyond study, irrespective of your ambitions or career plans.

We have created a Transferrable Skills Matrix to show you how many of the skills acquired during your time at Leeds Conservatoire link directly to more traditionally valued workplace skills. You can use the results to help identify your strengths, and therefore complete job applications, CVs and prepare for interviews.

 

Time Required: 1-3 hours

Take some time to write down the results and consider how they could support you going forward. Think about specific examples or occasions when you have demonstrated these skills—this kind of detail will be useful when writing your CV, completing an application, or when referencing stories in an interview setting.

 

Task Support

4. Idea Refining

Once you have an idea for a new project, business or other creative output, you will want to start the initial stages of developing it. The following task is designed to help.

Time Required: 1 hour (initially)

This task asks a number of questions regarding your initial idea, some of which may require more attention in the long run. However in the first instance, you may find it beneficial to answer these briefly and simply to help create a quick overview of how your idea might develop, while highlighting areas that require further consideration.

Task Support

5. StandOut Strengths Assessment

There are a number of excellent skills and strengths assessments that can be found online. Here we have highlighted The StandOut strengths assessment, by the Marcus Buckingham Company.

It was developed in 2011 to help each person find resilience and direction by identifying their unique strengths profile. It has since been used by more than 750,000 people and plays a central role in talent practices for many organisations.

In taking this assessment, we hope that it will help develop your understanding of your own strengths and skills. This in turn should support any other activities you undertake as part of this LC Employability Tool Kit, including writing CV's, applications, identifying suitable job roles or attending interviews (to name just a few).

 

Time required: 20—30 mins

This is currently a free skills assessment.

The assessment should take no longer than 30 minutes in total as you are encouraged to answer each question as quickly as possible.

To complete this assessment, you will need to register for an account. You will then be sent an email with a pass code and a link to complete it.

Leeds Conservatoire take no responsibility for the creation of this skills assessment. We are only referencing its usefulness, so please ensure you are satisfied with any data requests prior to proceeding.

Take the StandOut Assessment

  • Complete the assessment here.
6. CV Writing

The CV is a document that is often overlooked and placed at the bottom of the To Do list, but if done right, will serve as a fantastic assistant when applying for jobs across all sectors.

 

Time required: 1 day

This is a task that needs consideration and attention. Dedicating a whole day to building your CV will give you plenty of time to prepare a single document, or maybe even a few different versions.

 

Task support

7. Personal Development & Planning

It can be difficult to visualise success. What does success look like for you? It can also be tricky to imagine how long it might take you to achieve such success. In the creative sector the routes to fulfilling career ambitions are often unclear, and progression does not always reflect that of other occupations.

Setting ambitious career goals to achieve at the end of a 1, 3, or 5 year development plan can be really useful, and gives you a point at which to work back from. Ensuring progression against your overall goal is then achieved by populating a timeline with smaller, more bite size milestones.

Taking the time to study your future and complete a development plan will help you maintain focus, make mountainous ambitions feel achievable, and give you something to refer back to when lacking direction or energy.

You can use this exercise to work towards a variety of goals e.g. releasing a debut single, earning a living as a full time theatre actor, or setting up a business as an equipment hire service. Musical goals, career ambitions, and work/life balance aspirations can all be tackled with similar processes.

Some points to consider:

  • Your overall goal may change over time – that’s fine, as by creating smaller milestones you are always making positive progress, regardless of any change to future desires and ambitions. This should be an exercise/document that you can always reflect on and re-evaluate at any given time.
  • Really try to break down the time line in to more manageable achievements – the more you are able to add the clearer progression will become, and the more you can celebrate this progression.
  • Ensure that smaller goals reflect and support the overall goal. Its easy to go off topic, and its equally easy to miss tasks or fail to consider areas that might require time.
  • Your plan can be as detailed as you want – for some it may be useful to consider only the headlines, and for others you may want to attach great detail to every entry along the timeline. Do what works for you!
  • Share your plan with peers, friends and family – allowing others to understand and appreciate your goals may allow them to better support your future.

Task Support

We have provided a couple of different templates (available on the Employability Tool Kit and at the links below) that allow you to tackle this exercise in different ways. Feel free to use them, change them, or use your own method entirely. This is all about what works for you, and there is no right or wrong way to approach this task.

This template encourages you to consider your strengths and weaknesses, skills and areas to highlight for improvement, and how

you might tackle such challenges over short and long terms.

 

This is in a classic timeline format, starting in the present, and finishing three years from now with an over-arching target/goal. You can populate the timeline with small tasks, aims and goals. This is just an example, using an example end goal with only a hand full of goals populating the timeline.

8. Further Research and Tips

National Careers Service

CV advice, guidance on how to apply for jobs, and topics such as exploring job markets and transferable skills.

 

Stand-Out CV

Examples of role relevant CV layouts and cover letters, along with advice to write your own.

 

Musicians' Survival Guide

This is a huge resource containing lots of different articles, interviews and opinion pieces from across the music industries.

 

Progression Portal: Job Opportunities

A weekly updated list of recent graduate relevant creative sector job opportunities. 

 

UK Music: Careers Resources

This includes job profiles from around the industry, a live streaming guide and links to further resources and potential employers.

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