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46 years of success - Established 1974

46 Years of Success
Established in 1974

"Helping you gain
.control of your career"

New Year…New Job?

Whether you’re just leaving school, college or university and looking for your first job, or you’re more mature and looking to move on and enhance your career, preparing a good CV is essential.

Certain parts of a CV are easy to put together – your personal information, details of your education and qualifications, work experience etc. Yes, I know, you might have to think carefully about how to describe previous jobs so that they demonstrate that you’ve got the experience required for the new position you are applying for. But that’s not too hard.

But there is one important thing which many people struggle with: the personal statement. So let’s have a closer look at how to get this right.

These days everyone is encouraged to put a ‘Personal Statement’ at the beginning of their CV but it can have pitfalls. When I’m recruiting for Advisors for our Student Services department you’d be surprised how many people just include meaningless ‘waffle’ in their personal statement. They put things like this:

I am a dynamic person who enjoys achieving personal goals. In addition I have good teamwork and communication skills.

Right! What exactly does ‘dynamic’ mean here? They might like ‘achieving personal goals’ but will those goals fit in with what the company needs? And you would expect anyone to have good teamwork and communication skills. Put simply, all this means is that they can get on and work with people – the very minimum you would expect from an employee.

Let’s have a look at one that’s even worse:

I’m a dynamic and intelligent person who feels they have the knowledge and skills to help any  business prosper.

Sounds like boasting to me! Plus it doesn’t tell the reader anything concrete about the person. I’d probably stop reading at that point and hit ‘delete’.

So what should you be aiming to include in your Personal Statement?

According to the University of Kent Careers and Employability Service it should:

Be no longer than six lines – some sites suggest a maximum of four lines. It must be short and positive with your key strengths, skills, experience and interests. It is meant to be an appetiser rather than to give the employer indigestion! The time to elaborate and give evidence for these is later in the CV.

Be placed at the start of the CV… the object is to give a concise introduction to your aims and skills.

Start with a short description: “A highly motivated graduate who has just completed a Law degree at the University of …”.

Analyse your core strengths. A profile is a sales tool: a concise summary of why they should take you, so you should include brief details of your major selling points, especially those that are important in the job you are applying to.

I’ve put the final phrase in the previous paragraph in bold, because it’s so important.

So there you have it – how to use (not abuse) the chance you have to impress a prospective employer with your skills and make sure that your application goes on the ‘possible’ pile rather than in the waste paper bin!

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Go Into The New Year With ‘SMARTer’ Goals

Throughout life we have goals that we wish to achieve. It could be as complicated as getting to the top in our career, buying a house or planning a career break. Or, it could be as simple as buying this week’s lottery ticket or planning a meal for friends.

In order for us to achieve the goal, though, it needs to be a SMART one. SMART stands for:

SPECIFIC:   Our goals need to specify clearly what we hope to achieve. A specific goal is one that is clearly defined. I want to be a millionaire by the time I am 50 is specific. Now we know exactly what we’re trying to achieve and when we need to do it by.

MEASUREABLE:  We need to be able to measure our achievement. Measurability ensures that we know how close we are to achieving our goal and, more importantly, enables us to know when we’ve achieved it. So, you would have to check your bank statements regularly to ensure that the money in your account was increasing in a way that would make being a millionaire by the time you reach 50 realistic. Continue reading

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Communicating Instructions

Last month we looked at how to make more time for yourself by delegation. But if you do this, then you have to be prepared to give instructions to staff first to make sure that they can carry out the tasks you want them to do efficiently.

There are several ways you can do this. The quickest way is to tell each worker verbally what you want. For many tasks this will be sufficient. However, there is always the danger of misunderstandings, especially if you are giving long or complicated instructions.

Research has shown that within three days people forget about 90% of what they hear and 80% of what they read, but they only forget 45% of what they read and hear. Continue reading

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Delegate, Don’t Dump

I’ve often talked about Effective Time Management in my blog posts, but if you are to free up more time for the things you want to do and need to do then one of the best methods is to learn to delegate.

In the office, if you are in a more senior position, it makes sense to pass on routine tasks that less well-paid members of staff could do. As a manager you should only do the jobs that nobody else in your department can do. This will be because you are the only person who has the authority or the skill to do them. The time this gives you will allow you to work on new projects; or give more attention to problems or opportunities that you face. Continue reading

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Making Your Memory Work Better

It doesn’t matter how long you spend sitting at your desk, reading your books, if you can’t remember what you read. So, here are some of the things you can do to improve your memory and make your study time more effective.

The first thing is to make notes. Don’t write out long passages in full from your course or textbook. Instead, learn to highlight the important points that you want to remember and then jot them down in note form. Not only will this help to fix them in your memory, but it will make your revision quicker and easier because you can glance through them rather than having to re-read everything. Continue reading

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Manage Your Life More Effectively

Happier people live longer, make better decisions, make more money, are more creative and are generally more successful in relationships both in work and at home.

One way to increase your level of happiness is to decrease your level of stress. And one way to reduce feelings of stress is to be in control of your life. Every now and again, most people feel they are being pulled in different directions with no time for themselves. A demanding employer, getting to grips with fast moving technology, the needs of a partner, children or elderly relatives can all leave you feeling like you’re at the beck and call of others. Continue reading

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Being More Than Just A ‘Team Player’

 

I’ve been looking through quite a few CVs recently and one of the things that many people say in the opening (summary) paragraph is that they ‘work well on their own initiative’ They often then go on to claim that they are also a ‘team player’. But, if you don’t just want to be part of a team and, instead, want to manage a team, what skills and attributes should you be looking to develop?

How do you get the results from your team that will help you to shine and make your department function more efficiently?

There are many skills that can help you succeed in the line manager role, and no two people’s style is exactly the same, but here are some qualities that are essential: Continue reading

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Job Interviews Online

I was watching a report last night on the BBC news about the increase in the use of Skype and other technologies for interviewing job applicants.

For companies that need to recruit many staff each year (large food and clothing retailers, for example) it saves time, money and streamlines the process, particularly for the first round of the interview process.

For you, as the interviewee, it means you don’t have to incur travel costs and it’s probably less stressful if you’re confident using the technology. But, here are some tips on how to succeed:

Make sure you’ve downloaded the correct software and practise being interviewed by friends and relatives in the days running up to the interview. Continue reading

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Keywords in Copywriting

Marketing  the products or services that your business sells is essential if you are to make profits and see your business grow. This marketing might involve placing adverts in newspapers and magazines; using radio and TV (if your business is making enough profit to afford this); press releases and editorials – and, of course, your website.

As you can imagine, freelance copywriting can be interesting and pays well – whether you are promoting your own business or working for someone else. But these days, being able to write copy for the internet is probably right at the top of the list of copywriting skills and something that you really need to know about is effective keyword usage. Continue reading

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Meetings – For Or Against?

Do you love meetings or hate them? Some people love meeting because they provide a chance to get away from your desk and normal, everyday routine. Also, if you’re confident and want to bring yourself to the attention of your manager or other people who might give your career a boost they can a great place to start…if you impress!

Other people hate meetings. They feel that they can be a waste of time – people sitting around a table chatting and getting nothing decided. If you’re not very confident you may have great ideas but feel overwhelmed by other people talking over you, ignoring you or pushing their own agenda. Or, you could sit there thinking how much work you have to do and how long it will take you to catch up when you return to your desk. Continue reading

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Susan Metcalfe - head of Business Training - discusses business, training and work issues. Come and join in the conversation or just enjoy the read!