Okay, so I’m just going to tell you what happened – because if I slag off Prospects too much they can sue me!

Last week, I spotted a plea on their forum, entitled ‘Messed up – help!’

The post was from a desperate student who was flunking her finals. She said she was freaking out about her future, had ‘lost all my confidence’ and felt ‘depressed’.

Beneath it was a four-line reply from Prospects’ resident expert. This included sympathy (‘I’m sure many can relate to what you’re going through’) followed by advice to ‘Use your university careers service’ and ‘Get an appointment with the counselling service’.

It is my opinion that it was a fairly poor response.

So I decided to contribute a reply myself.

As the student had admitted she was ‘depressed’, I felt I couldn’t ignore it.

So I carefully composed my own (15-line) response of tailor-made advice.

At this point I should stress that I am not paid to do this – and regular readers will know I’m not a big fan of Prospects. But I thought, ‘This student’s wellbeing is more important than my petty disdain for the website she has chosen to post her question on.’

At the foot of my advice, I signed my full name and included a link to Graduate Fog.

I did NOT do this because I wanted to sell the student anything (My book earns me 25p per copy and this website doesn’t make me a penny).

I did it because I thought:

1) “This student will want to know the source of the advice, before deciding whether to take it” and

2) “This student will find Graduate Fog a useful and welcoming resource, considering the rather desperate nature of her post.”

Guess what happened the next day?

Did I receive a charming thank you letter and bunch of flowers from the Prospects team, saying they appreciated me helping out?


I received this snippy email from their ‘Forum Moderator’, chastising me for including a link to Graduate Fog at the bottom of my post.

Their mean little message said:

“You have recently posted comments on the Prospects Forum, these posts contained links to your website This is classed as advertising and is therefore in breach of our Terms of use.

“ is a central service for students and graduates to gather information to inform their career plans. A big part of this is the ability to share knowledge, information and opinion with their peers through our forum. Although moderation is minimal, we do try to ensure that posts comply with our Terms of use and are useful to forum users.”

When I checked the forum, I saw they had left my advice – but deleted the link to Graduate Fog.

I was confused – and I still am.

I understand that Prospects don’t want salespeople using their forum to flog their users all kind of rubbish products and services. But that is clearly not what Graduate Fog is all about. Furthermore…

Are we not all working towards the shared goal of helping young students and graduates to make sense of their options, as they think about starting their career?

And another question –

What IS Prospects?

Is it:

a) A charity or government-funded organisation, working tirelessly in the best interests of students and graduates of UK universities? Their slogan ‘The UK’s official graduate careers website’ and wholesome-sounding ‘’ domain name certainly give us that impression.

Or is it:

b) A profit-making business, like any other? One that protects its own financial interests at all costs? Because if it is, that’s fine – but I think this should be made clearer, so that we all know where we stand.

Seeking clarification, I had a dig around their website. This is what their ‘About us’ section says:

“Graduate Prospects is the commercial trading subsidiary of the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU), a higher education agency and registered charity. Unlike commercial competitors, Graduate Prospects is not responsible to a remote body of shareholders and instead reinvests profits back into the higher education system to the benefit of all — careers services, students and graduates, and recruiters.”

Does anybody understand what this means? How can it be “commercial” but also affiliated to a “charity”? And how exactly does it “reinvest profits back into the higher education system to the benefit of all”?

Perhaps somebody from Prospects would like to drop me a line and explain it to us?

And why – if Prospects is a charity working in the interests of students and graduates – they felt the need to remove my (helpful) link to Graduate Fog?

However Prospects explains this decision, it is my opinion that this is not how an advice website for young jobseekers should be run.

If somebody wants to add a comment to a post on Graduate Fog, they’re more than welcome to say who they are and to include a link to their website.

I don’t want salespeople using Graduate Fog as a platform from which to flog you tat or advertise specific vacancies (there are plenty of job boards out there and this isn’t one of them).

But as long as their contribution is helpful and relevant to you lot, the users, I see no conflict here. What helps you, helps me.

Why doesn’t Prospects share this view?

*Did I do the right thing?
Read the user’s post, my advice and Prospects’ own expert’s advice here.
And – if you think I did a good job – perhaps you’d like to include a link to Graduate Fog, so that our friend ‘Messed up – help!’ can find our website? Surely they won’t remove it if a fellow job-seeker adds it? Let’s find out ; )

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