Try harder

I am an unemployed semi-professional rugby player and have an MA in sport management and a BSc in coaching but feel employers don't value these. I have done some marketing for a small club and might like to move into this area.

It's important to realise that your hard-won qualifications are an achievement and are valued by employers. From their point of view, however, qualifications are only half the story. They still want to know who you are and what you can do – and as your letter admits, you haven't much experience.

In hugely competitive areas like these, knowing people and networking, being in on the ground floor even in a low-level job or working as a volunteer can mean you pick up useful knowledge – including up-coming jobs.

You may need to alter your job-hunting strategy. Don't adopt a scatter-gun approach, target jobs you want and find out about them, talk to people. It is practical skills you need whatever route you follow. Don't let the tough nature of the task discourage you – you need a positive outlook and bags of energy, and whatever you choose, you need to make a convincing case for your commitment.

If you are serious about marketing you can eventually study for a professional certificate (see the website of the Chartered Institute of Marketing on www.cim.co.uk ) but right now you need to focus on the job hunting and notch up some experience. For useful knowledge about sports business go to www.sportbusiness.com.

Talking movies

I have spent six years acquiring a degree and Masters in film studies and have been working as a bookseller and tutor. I'd like to start afresh possibly as a lecturer and I'm tempted by a PhD, but I need to pay off my loan.

You have to weigh up whether further study is really what you need at this stage or whether you should start paying off your debt. Getting a full-time job lecturing is unlikely – your best chance would be the institute which knows you.

It's worth asking around in schools that want to offer film studies – they may be lacking specialist staff. FE or sixth-form colleges are also a possibility, but a full-time post would be unlikely. If you need a full time position you could take a PGCE in post compulsory (FE) teaching (you would get a grant for this) but your subject isn't mainstream, and you might have to relocate to any job that came up.

This would take time – applying, training and finding a job would mean you couldn't start before September 2009. It would also make sense for you to be able to offer something other than film studies, to be more flexible. If you need to pay off debts and save up to do a PhD, you are really looking at a non-academic position.

You could try academic publishing, which would offer you the chance to stay in touch with your subject area, or librarianship some universities offer appointments to those preparing to take professional qualifications. Work out which is your first love – film or teaching? This will determine your course of action.

Careers adviser: Anne Marie Martin, director, the Careers Group, University of London

Please send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to chaydon@blueyonder.co.uk

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