If you’re looking for a new job or want a career change and you’re thinking of working in HE, here’s what you need to know to help you make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s right for you.
What roles are available in HE?
Not all jobs in the HE sector are academic; there is a wide range of clerical, professional and technical roles that all incorporate the University’s mission and values whilst supporting the academic staff as they conduct their teaching and research activities. Many roles will contain a mix of elements such as administration, quality assurance and planning, and there are often opportunities to work on exciting projects, such as organising a high-profile event, supporting important research, or taking part in policy-making. No two days are the same. Implementing change is a substantial element in the HE sector, with continual efforts being made to improve efficiency across all departments, and being a part of the policy making decision can be very rewarding when you see the results.
Are there many business and commercial opportunities in HE?
If you want to branch into HE, but your career experience to date consists mainly of working in the commercial sector, it might be worth considering that as government funding becomes less available, universities are becoming more reliant on their commercial units and the institutional reinvestment of their profits to plug the funding gap. Commercial units ensure that a university can invest in facilities which enhance the learner experience, and each part played in the university structure is working toward the same goals of student satisfaction, international collaboration and increase in ranking. If you are business minded and enjoy the thrill of making a profit, then the HE sector could be the perfect career move.
What is the HE policy for work life balance?
The HE sector is proud of its emphasis on work/life balance, and working hours are usually very reasonable, with generous leave for maternity and paternity requirements, flexible working arrangements and job share opportunities. Staff usually have ample annual leave entitlement and can take advantage of onsite facilities such as library access and reduced rate gym membership.
Does HE offer clearly defined career progress?
Career progression in HE is similar to many work places, where you get out of it what you put in. Promotion opportunities are available for those who earn them, and unlike other sectors, changing posts and departments is normally easier and often encouraged. One recurrent theme is prevalent if you want to progress in HE: learning. By continual learning and self-improvement, you demonstrate that you are keen to succeed and show that you want to progress. Many universities believe in investing in their staff, and provide a learning scheme or initiatives where they can take advantage of the onsite facilities.
Tips for a successful move into HE:
If you’ve decided that the HE sector sounds ideal for you then you need to be prepared. If you know very little about the HE sector, do some thorough research before applying for roles. As in every other industry, your recruiters will want to see evidence that you understand how things work, what challenges are ahead and how to overcome them. A good starting point is to read the relevant newspaper sections and online articles to find out what is happening in the field, which will help you get a clearer idea of the hot topics and trends in HE.
When applying for roles in HE, don’t feel intimidated if you don’t have previous experience in the sector. As long as you can relate your experiences to the position’s requirements, you still stand a good chance. The secret to achieving this is to carefully read the job description and the person specification, and try to think of one or two examples of when you fulfilled similar requirements in your previous positions and clearly align these in your application. If you are able to convince your recruiters that you will bring a fresh perspective and that your past experiences will help you address the present challenges of the sector, then you really have a very good shot at getting the position.
Done forget that if you are successful at getting an interview, we have a wide selection of common interview questions and answers for you to prepare.