Skills Sessions | The Careers Service Skills Sessions – Oxford University Careers Service
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In the Michaelmas (autumn) and Hilary (winter) terms the Careers Service invites recruiters to volunteer to run Employer Led Skills Sessions for our students, covering areas such as:

• CVs and cover letters
• Tackling application forms
• Preparing for the fairs
• Improving your interview technique
• Online test practice
• Case study practice
• Assessment centre practice

These sessions provide students with vital support in the application process. They place real value on hearing directly from employers who can use examples to demonstrate what they look for, what makes a candidate stand out, and how students can make a competitive application.

Delivering a skills session is another way to raise brand awareness with Oxford students, particularly with those who may not have considered a particular sector – or  your company within it – but who are keen to gain advice on topics such as CVs and improving interview technique.

We know employers have a wealth of experience constructing and delivering similar skills sessions in a variety of universities. Rather than a definitive guide, this page gives key points relating to Oxford.

Your audience
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There are over 22,000 students at Oxford.

  • Your audience may include undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and (occasionally) alumni. Every session is advertised to all subjects and disciplines, and all year groups.
  • Attendance can be difficult to predict, with an average group session attracting between 10 – 50 students. Busy academic timetables can mean that, even if students sign up for an event, attendance is not guaranteed.
  • Oxford does not offer sandwich courses, placement years, or vocational degrees. Even courses which may appear vocational – such as Law and Engineering – are very academic in nature. There is no undergraduate course in subjects such as ‘Business’ or ‘Marketing’.
  • Students will come from a diverse range of backgrounds: a quarter of undergraduates receive a bursary and over 60% of postgraduates come from outside the UK.
  • Students have diverse career interests. They have chosen to come to your skills session to improve their skills, and may not be intending to enter your industry or apply to your organisation. Feedback suggests that students respond well to employer led sessions when the content is relevant to most sectors and/or when examples of different sectors are highlighted.
  • As you may be aware, Oxford is a collegiate university, which means there isn’t a ‘campus’ as such. This may affect the vocabulary you choose to use when presenting. For further advice about how the University works and for a list of facts and figures about the University you may find it useful to look at the main University website.
  • The date of your skills session may affect the career interests of your audience, as upcoming deadlines for certain sectors may mean you attract students applying to banks or teaching or the Civil Service. Speak to your Careers Adviser contact if you’d like to find out more about typical deadlines outside your own sector.
Style and structure
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Feedback from students shows that skills sessions with interactive elements work best – so we recommend avoiding all ‘chalk and talk’. Having said that, there’s no need to devise complex activities. Ask students to work in pairs for a few minutes, or give them a resource – such as an example application form or a badly written cover letter. Students particularly like anecdotes and examples from your own experience of recruitment. These may be useful to emphasise key learning points.

We recognise that you may have delivered sessions at other universities, and so feel free to adapt a pre-existing session, or simply design something that works for you. We do not provide rigid ‘templates’ to follow, but as a rule of thumb try to make sure no more than 5% of the session focuses on promoting your own company. Feedback suggests that too much marketing can put students off – so a minimal number of slides are recommended at the end of the session. Follow up with an opportunity at the end for students to ask you specific questions about your company, programmes and industry knowledge.

Our facilities
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Employer led skills sessions generally take place at the Careers Service in our Employer Suite comprising of the Centenary Room (capacity 60 seated) and the Garden Room (capacity 25 seated).

A member of staff will meet you in the reception at the Careers Service 30 minutes before the start time of your session.

How to book
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The opportunity to run one our scheduled employer led skills sessions is initially offered to Recruiters’ Group members. If you’re a Recruiters’ Group member you’ll receive, via email, an invitation to book a session. Each recruiter can initially book just one employer led skills session. If sessions remain unbooked by Recruiters’ Group members, the remaining sessions will be offered to all recruiters.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us on 01865 274663 or email

This information was last updated on 13 December 2019.
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