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Discover the Next Step in Your Employment Search
Author: Andrew Seward
Date: 25th January 2017


Goodwill can only take you so far, but it can do a lot more than you may have imagined. There’s no point jumping in blind though, because for any working relationship with anyone to be of advantage, it needs to be mutually beneficial.

You’ve a life to live, and so does everyone else. The only difference is that some organisations don’t survive without funders, or campaigners, or activists involved in their cause to raise awareness, and therefore finance for the cause. Not every business is profitable, because there are some that are operated solely on spirit. 

The spirit of the goodwill of others with a goal of helping others and that’s what you can use to enhance yourself, your skills and influence your employability factor. 

Where to Focus Your Good Will to Enhance Your CV

Specifically, how can you use your unpaid time to influence what a business will pay you for? 

That’s the real question and it’s not as easy as simply saying you’re content with volunteering. You’ll only be content with it if there’s something in it for you, because if you’re not getting paid, you need to be getting something.

1) What do you need evidence of? 

If your CV lacks credibility, you need something that brings an element of proof. 

Say for example, you need evidence of leadership skills. You could look to the voluntary sector and get involved with coaching a local sports team. Or you could be the team leader of a fundraising campaign. Or you could be the event’s organiser, who’d be the person responsible for ensuring everything goes well on the day, which equates to leading a lot of people, delegating a fair bit and working with compliance officers to ensure the legalities are covered. 

Whatever you need evidence of, there’s likely to be a charity, event, or a society in your neck of the woods that could use your time to give you the evidence your CV is missing. 

2) The People Connection

Networking is the major element that’s going to take you places. For that reason, events are your best friend. No matter what it is - a local fair, fun day, bake sale, or local food market event, the local press will always be nearby providing commentary on the event to the local community. The more of an active role you play in the event, the better chance you have of speaking and hopefully connecting with the local news reporter. 

Those people are connected and will continue to connect with other people. In fact, they may well be the most diverse people in a community with knowledge, history and working relationships with the majority of small and local businesses that play an active part in the community. Tap into their network, and you’ll tap into multiple. 

3) Career Planning (or mental wellbeing) preferably both

This one is important to mention because you may well be paying too much attention to your career, which is not good. Despite what your employment advisor may tell you.

For those in work, developing a career progression plan or a personal development plan is advantageous. It’s a tool that lets you set out clearly where you are now, and develops a roadmap to take you to where you want to be in the future. 

For those who are out of work, a personal development plan will be the last thing on your mind, because first and foremost is getting a job. It’s hard to think about anything else when your bank account is in the red, or diminishing to low figures fast. 

The first National Study of Work-Search and Wellbeing was back in 2012. This was in relation to Jobseekers claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and had developed a Common Mental Disorder (CMD):

“JSA claimants with a CMD hold more negative views about work.”

• They have less self-confidence about their work-search abilities than claimants without a CMD.
• They send out somewhat fewer job applications.
• They have generally much lower levels of optimism about the future.
• People with CMDs were less likely to gain jobs over the study period
• People identified with a CMD at the beginning of the study were less likely to start a job during the study period.

 

Source: http://natcen.ac.uk/media/28831/the-national-study-of-work-search-and-wellbeing.pdf

Therefore, for those who aren’t working at present, don’t make a career progression plan or personal development plan a priority. 

Your mental health is priority. 

If you don’t take care of your mental health, the outlook won’t be good as you’d be risking your career and your quality of life. Prioritise your health first and foremost. 

When you’re in employment, any job, then it’s a good time to put together an action plan for developing your career. 

As the saying goes, it’s easier to find work when you’re in work. Find work first and then take control of your future work prospects. 

When you’re out of work, self-esteem is low and that’s the time you should not be sitting idly by playing computer games on the sofa. Get yourself active, among those in your community and use goodwill to benefit others and yourself in the process. 

Your benefits

• Socialisation
• Networking
• Exercise
• A reason to get up in the morning
• Plus it sure beats depression – because giving time is proven to increase happiness!

Source: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/work-career/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm

That’s just a few of the instant benefits, but for the long-term career potential, there are many more advantages. 

To summarise

For those who are already in paid employment, the next logical step is to make sure you’re in the right type of job. That your long-term career ambitions are being catered to and if not, have a progression plan in place to get you into your ideal job role. 

For those who aren’t in work, you’ll have much more time on your hands. Not that you’ll have all day because active job searching takes a lot of time. But you need to take some time for yourself so as to take care of your mental wellbeing. 

One of the surest ways of doing that is to use your goodwill to benefit others. Give your time and you’ll gain some invaluable lessons and a goodwill spot for your CV in the process. 

 



A 4-Step Process for the Unemployed to Turn Things around (Before Being Hired)
Author: Andrew Seward
Date: 18th January 2017


Having the misfortune of entering a new year without employment is going to put you on a downer. Especially if you’re in the category considered to be long-term unemployed. In fact, if you are, this post will be of a major advantage to you because it’s not going to be of much relevance to those wanting to job hop because of the commitment involved.

Chances are if you’ve been unemployed for a while, you’re not making the best use of your time. Heck, you might even be wasting time if you’re on some mandatory training course that’s deemed to be relevant to your line of work by a low-level government employee who hasn’t a clue what you do.

How to reclaim your career, take the reins and regain control of your time – to later land a job

  • Step 1 – Become current by retraining (This can be done for free)

In some sectors, retraining may be mandatory. Employers often want candidates who have current certification in line with regulatory requirements, rather than hire someone who has to go through training, often at the expense of employers.

In hospitality for example, you’ll likely need health and safety and food safety certifications before you can work, or at least work unsupervised. Some employers will offer the training when you land the job, but why make them wait when you can retrain for free?

Whatever certification you need to get work, you can use the National Career Service Course Directory to find out if it’s available and funded by either the Skills Funding Agency, or the Education Funding Agency. It’s hard enough being unemployed, without having to cough up for training to get you onto the employment radar. Find out if you can brush up your skills and get certified for what you need for free at https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/course-directory/home.

Expect this to only cover certifications and not qualifications. Certificates only certify you’ve at least completed mandatory training units. They don’t often indicate a higher level of training in any particular subject, which is what qualifications do. They show you’re trained to a higher level. If you need further education at a more advanced level, refer to the financial help section of further education at https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses/financial-help.

For those unfortunate enough to be caught in a catch 22 benefits catch, where after 13 weeks, you’re required to complete courses deemed to be relevant but in reality, don’t help your cause - you really need to take initiative. Otherwise, you’ll be getting the same training as every other job seeker, therefore useless to you in a competitive job hunt.

A misconception many have about employers is that they don’t like paying for training. They really do so don’t fall for that. You only need the minimum training to get yourself onto the job because companies do invest in staff training.

Ask yourself what’s worse…

  1. To invest in staff training and risk them leaving
  2. Don’t train staff and risk retaining an under-skilled workforce

The risk of the latter is too high, which is why on the job training is often included as are career progression plans and professional development plans. Many employers will invest in training their staff to keep their skills current. Make that important for you as well by getting your skills updated to what’s current now for employers. They won’t consider investing in you if you don’t invest in yourself.

  • Step 2 - Take the initiative first by changing your job hunt

Being unemployed can be to your advantage because you can complete unpaid work, provided it’s for experience in a sector of your choosing. Government mandated unpaid work doesn’t need to be what you want. It is target based only and is not personalised to your career.

If you want to tailor your work experience, you need to get it yourself. Your advisor won’t be able to help you here.

The way you go about it is similar to voluntary work, but it’s not for charity organisations specifically. Every other job candidate who wants experience and is willing to get that unpaid will go to the voluntary sector. That’s the easy way, but it’s not always the smart move.

No employer in their right mind is going to sniff at being offered the chance of a service being done for them for free. Turn the tables on an unfortunate out-of-work situation to your advantage by offering to work in a sector you want to, simply by asking for work experience rather than a job.

“It’s hard to land a job. It’s easy to score a gig that gets you work experience.”

And there’s an even better chance that when a position does open for a paid position, you’ll land it.

To make it even easier, advertise on your social media profiles that you’re looking for work experience in whatever role you want. You could find employers coming to you.

Bonus points if you can combine a free training course through a local college to make your work experience even more favourable to you.

  • Step 3 – Tailor your application process when applying for work experience

The tailored approach is still needed to land work experience…

Don’t assume that because you’re only looking for work experience, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. That’s not going to happen.

When asking for work experience, you still need to apply to a company like you would do if they were hiring. Send them a cover letter explaining your skills, talents and tell them why you want to work for them.

Sell your skills!

Make it attractive by matching your skills to what they need, which will mean there is research into each company required. Be the matchmaker and match your skills to a suitable company that would benefit from what you can offer.

  • Step 4: Become Indispensable

With a tailored approach to applying for work experience, you’ve the best chance of getting your foot in the door to any new company you target and really go after.

Once you’ve got yourself through the door, make yourself too important to be let go. The bigger the network you have, the more chances you have of developing a new client relationship for your new trainer/future employer. That’s going to add to their bottom line. So are your ideas for taking new approaches, the amount of productivity you can squeeze out your day to get more done, and do what you can… not just the interesting stuff.

You have something to prove that other paid employees don’t. For that reason, you will find some team members dropping the ball on important tasks because they’re mundane. Pick up where others slack and show you have the drive to do what needs done and aren’t picky about what you do. Manage your time, and get the most out of your work day. Just be careful you don’t indiscriminately single anyone out that could cost them their job for slacking as it’ll affect team morale. Tread carefully.

The key is to be among the most productive in the workforce, and therefore someone who contributes to the bottom line of the company. When you become indispensable, paying you a salary becomes a no-brainer for the employer and that’s when you’ll land the job.

 



5 Qualities Employers are Always Looking for at Interviews
Author: Andrew Seward
Date: 4th January 2017


All too often, you can tick all the right boxes; reach the interview, only to painfully discover you’ve been unsuccessful. Want to know why?

Job Descriptions are only to get you to the interview!

The job description is only useful to you in the early stages of an application process. It helps you create a tailored application, starting with the cover letter, but it serves little purpose for the interview. When you’re invited to interview, it’s time for a mindset change, because you’ll already have proven you have desirable qualities, and perhaps even the qualifications but there’s five attributes employers want that are rarely expressed on the job role specifications.

The 5 Things You Need to Prove You Have at Interview

1: The Can-Do Attitude

 

Positivity is everything here. If you don’t believe you can make it through the interview process and land a role successfully, chances are you won’t. You need to believe in yourself, believe you can do what’s going to be asked of you, and have the go-getter attitude to what’s required to propel you in your career.

Interviews are never a box ticking exercise. There’s a pool of applicants to choose from, many of whom will have the same qualifications and probably a desirable work history in the field. The applicant with the most desirable mindset often win the interview, even if they have less experience or even qualifications for the job.

Why is that?

Because employers can train you the skillsets you need. They can’t train you to change your attitude. There are limits to what you can learn so before your next interview, focus your efforts on mindset and you’ll see a drastic improvement in how you’re perceived at the interview.

2: The adaptability factor for changing your job duties

Working for minimum wage in what’s considered to be dead-end jobs is de-motivational. Unless you’re committed to your career and trying to be promoted, it’s often the case that employees will stick to their job duties.

Exceptional career resumes and even your talk on your video CV will be more powerful when you have had a job that’s included a promotion or something where you’ve taken on more responsibility.

What no employer wants to hear from any member of staff when they need a job doing is this…

“It’s not in my job description!”

It goes to say that if you take this approach, you’re comfortable letting other areas of a business struggle, which goes to show you don’t fare well as a team player.

3: The element of teamwork is required – not desired!

This is of particular interest to all the introverts among us. You will never get far if you try to do everything yourself. If you feel you’re the shy type and uncomfortable working in teams, research companies to find the ones that only have small teams. It’ll be much easier to work beside a small team of perhaps a half dozen co-workers than it will be in a departmental team of 20+ co-workers.

The more you can adapt your application to work environments that will suit your personality, the higher your odds will be of landing the job, simply because when you’re sure you want the job, you’ll have the mindset shift to get you through the interview successfully.

 4: No commitment issues

This isn’t to do with your personal relationships. On your CV, commitment issues stick out. A decade of agency work doing only temporary assignments indicates instantly you haven’t committed. On the other hand, if you have a video CV, a website dedicated to showcasing your professional portfolio of projects you’ve worked on, made a connected network of people and organisations you’re associated with – those go to show that you’re committed to the industry, even if you’ve only worked on temporary assignments.

5: Honesty above all!

Recruiters could think as themselves as lie detectives because during the interview, they’re on the lookout for cracks. Everything you say should correlate to what they already know from your CV. If you answer questions that differ from the information you’ve already provided, you’ll likely be called on it. That’s when the sweaty palms, nervous foot-tapping and all the other body language signals that scream don’t trust this person rise to the surface and your interview takes a nose dive.

Never exaggerate the truth on your CV. Recruiters are looking for honesty among candidates because no firm want’s to hire a liar.

For those with a rather bland work history, don’t be ashamed by it. You’ll be hired for the mindset of influencing your work experience positively, before you’ll be hired for your creativity for exaggerating what you’ve done.