Applications / Jobsearch Skills

bigstock-Job-Interview-Preparation-As-a-15761048 There is already a wealth of information on jobsearch skills available on the internet, so rather than repeat what’s already out there I have provided you with links to some of the best resources on the internet to help you when making applications for jobs / Apprenticeships.





WEBSITES Birmingham Connexions website – go to their ‘Download our Publications’ section and you can download their book ‘Getting a Job’. It has all the advice you need on where to look for jobs, completing application forms, C.V.’s, making speculative approaches, interview techniques and where to look for vacancies. – Barclays bank has created a website aimed at young people to help them with finding work, developing jobsearch skills and other issues such as money management. Although aimed more at adults than young people you’ll find information and advice here on finding work. They also have a useful CV builder tool that can help you put your CV together.



Here are some articles from plotr and The Guardian that you might find helpful!

CV Tips for School Leavers.

Your CV is a vital selling point and can be the difference between landing an interview – or not. People often ask me what makes for a good CV, and unfortunately, the answer is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model. But there are some basic rules to follow to ensure you grab the attention of a potential employer and make the best impression possible.

School leaver tip!

If you are applying for your first job, you can use an academic or ‘character reference’ who can talk about your most attractive attributes: i.e. that you’re hard-working, positive, enthusiastic or eager to learn.


1. Treat your CV like a sales document.

The purpose of a CV is to promote you and no one can do this better than a previous boss or colleague.

Use a quote from a third party reference at the beginning of your CV which sums up you as a positive, loyal and productive worker.

2. Structure your CV.

The layout of your CV will speak volumes about you. Again there is no ‘one rule’ that applies but I’d recommend having your personal details at the top of your CV and then your education and qualifications followed by any prior jobs, work experience and volunteering opportunities.

While people like to stand out from the crowd and get more creative with their CVs – I think it’s important to use a nice simple font so all the information you place on your CV is clear to read. I’d recommend using a size 10 or 12 font.

School leaver tip!

If you haven’t got any work experience, you can use other experiences to demonstrate your potential. Any responsibilities you have at school or any voluntary work you have done (such as fundraising) will have given you skills that can be applied in professional environment. Examples could include: handling cash, working with children, or speaking on behalf of classroom peers.

3. List job history with most recent first.

By stating your most recent position first, you’re making it easier for a potential employer (who may be short on time) to go through your CV in detail.

4. Use bullet points.

Most employers will spend around five seconds glancing over a CV before deciding if it is relevant or not. By including long paragraphs, you are making them work harder to find out about you which will ultimately have a negative impact on their impression of you.

5. Include your social media information.

Don’t be afraid to include details of your social media accounts (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs) but only do this if you think it is a positive reflection of you. It’s becoming more common for employers to search for potential employees online, so by including this information you are making it easier for them to find you.

If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is as good a time as any to set up an account. You can start by ‘connecting’ with recruitment agents which is also great way of hearing about current vacancies.

6. Keep it short.

The ideal length of a CV is no more than two pages. Writing a good CV isn’t hard and by following these simple rules, you’re on your way to making a great impression. However, it’s important to note that what you don’t put on your CV is as important as what you do.


1. Include photographs.

Let’s be honest, people frequently make assumptions about others based on image alone. You need to bear this in mind when putting your CV together. It’s best not to include a photo of yourself because you don’t want to give the employer anything to judge you on besides your skills and experience.

2. Include your date of birth.

For the reasons mentioned above, you don’t need to declare your age at this stage. If they want to, an employer can usually work out how old you are by your education/employment dates – but quite frankly, if you are good enough for the job then it is irrelevant.

3. Write your life story.

I know this sounds strange, but your CV isn’t about you. It’s about how appropriate you are for the job you’re applying for, and how you can benefit the employer reading it. Keep it short, concise and relevant even if it means changing your CV every time you apply for a new job.

4. List hobbies.

Listing hobbies such as ‘golf, socialising with friends and going to the gym’ was acceptable ten years ago but it’s not anymore. Leave this out unless absolutely necessary. And if you do want to include hobbies, make it clear how you’re going to benefit the company.

For example, I run marathons. This shows I push my boundaries to be the best I can be and strive to achieve everything I set my mind to.

5. Write ‘References available on request’.

Every inch of this document needs to be selling you. It may be CV tradition to use this well-worn sentence but it does not sell you in any way. List the details of your referees and state their names and current positions. Remember, you will need to get their permission before using their details so they can expect a call if your potential employer decides to contact them.

Social media is making the world a small place and you never know who knows whom. By including these details, you increase the chance of your potential employer seeking out a great reference from your past.

Aimee is the official career adviser for the AAT.


Sneaky Interview Questions!


Got a big interview coming up? You probably know it’s vital to research the job and the company thoroughly but it’s easy to forget to prepare for some of the most basic questions – which can often prove to be the trickiest, if you’re not expecting them! In an exclusive article for plotr, the experts at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, talk you through the five sneakiest interview questions that it pays to be ready for.

“Tell us about yourself”

This one’s difficult because it’s a very broad question and it can make you panic. The interviewer doesn’t actually want to know everything about you so don’t start telling them your life story. They’re asking you this because they want to see if you can pick out some things about yourself that are relevant for them to know and related to the role you’re applying for. Try and think of some aspects of your life and your personality that fit the requirements of the job. What is it about you that makes you a good fit for the role?

“What are your salary expectations?”

Yikes, the money question! It can be difficult to answer – especially if you don’t have much experience negotiating salaries. Prepare by researching the salary range for the role you’re applying for so you can get an idea of roughly how much you should be making. Try not to be too specific at this stage but make sure the interviewer knows that you’re open to discuss it fairly if you are offered the job. Give a range (“between £16,000 and £20,000”) rather than an exact figure – it makes you look more flexible.

“What irritates you about co-workers or managers?”

Tread carefully – this is not an invitation to  criticise your previous boss! Equally, don’t lie and say that absolutely nothing irritates you about anyone because you’ve got the sunniest, most tolerant personality going. The interviewer will see through that because it’s obvious that it can’t be the true. Try and think of something that is not too specific to one particular person who’s annoyed you in the past as this will sound petty. Think of something general and try and spin it positively. For example “I find it frustrating when people don’t make the effort to work together as a team”. This then does the job of answering the question and shows the interviewer that you are a fan of good teamwork – always a plus!

“Can you describe a work or school instance where you made a mistake?”

They’re not want ing you to shout about your mistakes? The interviewer isn’t interested in the mistake itself, but rather they are trying to see whether you can learn from your mistakes. Think of a time you made an error of judgement – something small and (hopefully) well intentioned. Talk about how you feel you’ve managed to learn from it and how you’ve ensured that you won’t let the same mistake happen again. Don’t give a long list of all the times you messed up though, you’re trying to come across well here remember! One example will do!

“Why do you want to leave your current job?”

This one is for those who are looking for a job whilst employed in another role. It is a pretty standard question but it’s made the list because it can be a hard one to answer. You need to be careful what you say about your current employer and position. Don’t, under any circumstances, be negative about your current manager. Badmouthing your boss is going to make you look pretty unprofessional. Be positive, talk about some of the things you’ve enjoyed about your job but make it clear you’re ready for a change and it’s time to move on to a new challenge. Say something along the lines of “…but I want to progress and my current job doesn’t quite give me the scope to do it.

Written by Frankie Pocock at The Graduate

Using the Star technique to shine at job interviews: a how-to guide

Here’s our guide to using the Star technique when answering questions in competency-based job interviewsl

The Star acronym allows you to structure your response to competency-based questions.

There are many types of interviews, but one that you are likely to come up against at some point is the competency-based interview. The questions will be driven by a competency framework that’s required for the job. For example, a job in customer services may require conflict management skills.

The interview questions tend to start with something like “Tell me about a time when…” This may sound simple but, in the heat of the interview, it may not be easy to give a good answer.

One way of avoiding this is by using the Star acronym to structure your response. Here are two examples of how to  use this technique:

A candidate for a marketing executive role might be asked: “Tell me about a time that you solved a problem to a tight timescale.” Here’s how you could structure your response:

• Situation – set the context for your story. For example, “We were due to be delivering a presentation to a group of 30 interested industry players on our new product and Stuart, the guy due to deliver it, got stuck on a train from Birmingham.”

• Task – what was required of you. For example, “It was my responsibility to find an alternative so it didn’t reflect badly on the company and we didn’t waste the opportunity.”

• Activity – what you actually did. For example, “I spoke to the event organisers to find out if they could change the running order. They agreed so we bought ourselves some time. I contacted Susan, another member of the team, who at a push could step in. She agreed to drop what she was doing and head to the event.”

• Result – how well the situation played out. For example, “Stuart didn’t make the meeting on time but we explained the problem to the delegates and Susan’s presentation went well – a bit rough around the edges but it was warmly received. Stuart managed to get there for the last 15 minutes to answer questions. As a result we gained some good contacts, at least two of which we converted into paying clients.”

It’s important to finish on a positive note so the overall impression is strong.

In a second example, a candidate for a customer services role is asked: “Describe a situation when you had to deliver excellent customer service following a complaint”

• Situation: “A customer rang up complaining that they’d waited more than two weeks for a reply from our sales team regarding a product query.”

• Task: “I needed to address the client’s immediate query and find out what went wrong in the normal process.”

• Activity: “I apologised, got the details and passed them to our head salesperson, who contacted the client within the hour. I investigated why the query hadn’t been answered. I discovered that it was a combination of a wrong mobile number and a generic email address that wasn’t being checked. I let the client know and we offered a goodwill discount on her next order.”

• Result: “The client not only continued to order from us but posted a positive customer service tweet.”

Michael Higgins is a career coach at This is My Path


How to Find Unadvertised Jobs

Research suggests that as many as 60% of job vacancies are unadvertised. Here is some advice on how to make sure you’re making the most of the unadvertised job market

Advertised roles only represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of jobs available. Here’s how to find unadvertised positions.

Many jobseekers are unaware that the roles advertised in the press and online are really only the tip of the iceberg in relation to the total number of jobs available at any one time.

In these tough economic times, recruitment agencies and employers can save money and cut back on advertising because they already have access to so many CVs. Indeed, research suggests that as many as 60% of all jobs are unadvertised.

Jobs that are advertised often attract dozens or even hundreds of applications. Investing time and effort in tracking down unadvertised jobs, however, will almost certainly pay off because fewer people will be applying for them.

So here are some practical strategies for finding unadvertised vacancies.


These days many companies pay a bonus to employees who can introduce a new member of staff. Companies prefer to do this because they can save on expensive advertising and agency fees. Employees who have been offered this bounty will be only too pleased to hear from friends or former colleagues who are looking for work.

So your first strategy should be to to make sure that all your friends (including your Facebook friends), neighbours, former colleagues or business associates know that you are looking for a new position. If there are unadvertised jobs with their employer then, assuming you have the right skills and experience, they will probably be keen to help.





Make sure you have a recruiter friendly LinkedIn profile with a strong professional headline, for example, “John Smith – experienced chartered accountant”.

Use plenty of keywords and phrases that relate to your particular skills set and experience. Recruiters routinely search LinkedIn looking for candidates for their unadvertised jobs; having a well-written profile ensures they can easily find your details and contact you.

You can also join some of the LinkedIn professional groups. There are hundreds of professional networking groups on LinkedIn covering almost every job category and profession. Mention in your introduction that you are looking for work; other members may get in touch if they have a suitable opportunity and, by participating in conversations, you will also pick up useful information about possible openings.

Twitter is also an excellent source of jobs. They’re not jobs that are advertised conventionally but a quick search will demonstrate that there is plenty of tweeting going on between jobseekers and recruiters.

Recent research in the US suggests that many companies are either using or are planning to use social media as a key part of their recruitment strategy, and it’s happening in the UK too.

It’s easy to join Twitter and start following potential employers and their recruiters. You can make direct contact with any other subscriber so tweet the managing director or recruitment manager of an organisation and ask them directly if they have any suitable vacancies (don’t forget to include a link to your LinkedIn profile). You won’t always get a response, but Twitter is a friendly platform and some senior managers may be impressed by your initiative.

Get Alerts about Potential Jobs Straight to your Inbox

Use Google Alerts to get regular email notifications of events that might lead to a job opportunity. For example, placing the simple search string, insurance, jobs, Yorkshire in Google Alerts led me to a news item referring to a large insurance group that is planning to open an office in York creating over 300 new jobs for insurance professionals. Setting up your personal press cuttings service in this way is useful to identify potential unadvertised job opportunities.

Contact Employers Directly

If you hear about a possible job opportunity then you can make a direct approach to the company. Don’t send speculative applications to the HR manager or recruitment manager as you are unlikely to get a response. Take some time to research the company using Google or LinkedIn and try to identify the person within that organisation who might have a suitable vacancy; then send a speculative application letter and your CV to them by name. 

Sending a direct or speculative application really does pay off, but it’s quality rather than quantity that’s important so don’t send out a blanket mail shot to 100 companies. Identify just a few organisations and send a customised application to each of them. Even if they don’t have a current vacancy many companies acknowledge speculative applications and generally keep CVs on file for at least six months.

Attend Career Fairs and Conferences

These are events where potentially all of the main employers in your field are gathered in one location. You can find out about upcoming events in the press and on the internet. The same applies to careers fairs, which are run on a regular basis by universities and are often open to both students and graduates. When you attend these events take plenty of copies of your CV and some business cards, and start networking.

Of course you should keep responding to conventional job advertisements, but rather than sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, take control of your job search and be pro-active.

Jeremy I’Anson is a professional careers coach. This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional.

5 Predictions for Social Recruiting in 2015

If you think social media is mainly for entertainment, think twice. In 2015, an increasing number of recruiters will be using social networks for various recruitment-oriented purposes – and candidates will finally realize that their online profiles should add to their professional narratives and reflect their career goals.

A recent survey by Jobvite demonstrated that 73% of hiring managers planned to invest more in their presence on social media, indicating that social media will be more important to the job market than ever. Here are 5 social recruiting predictions for 2015.

1. Going mobile

There’s no doubt about it, the global mobile scene is growing. Mobile apps and platforms will also become more important in recruiting, where both hiring managers and candidates will use an increasing number of tools to render the application process mobile-friendly.

Recruiters will make sure to use social media to advertise job postings and feature links to mobile-friendly websites where candidates can apply directly. Candidates, on the other hand, will use the LinkedIn mobile app to catch up with the job market on the go.

2. The rise of LinkedIn

The Jobvite survey revealed that as many as 79% of recruiters actually found a hire through LinkedIn. Around 94% of hiring managers use LinkedIn in their daily practice and it’s likely that this number will increase in 2015 as more recruiters will seize the potential of the network.

‘LinkedIn is a professionally oriented social network and candidates can use their profiles and activity to become more attractive. By keeping their accounts active, joining various groups, interacting with other professionals and posting content of value , candidates can improve their chances at getting head-hunted.’

3. Social media & passive recruitment

2015 will be the year in which more recruiters than ever will finally realize the potential of social media in passive recruitment – attracting candidates who aren’t on the lookout for a job. Social networks are simply passive candidate talent pools and hiring managers won’t hesitate to use them for sourcing and engaging valuable talents. Candidates will treat their profiles seriously and be more cautious when it comes to their activity on social media.

4. Facebook and Twitter will count too

Social media meeting recruitment is not just about LinkedIn, but other networks as well. When hunting for talents, 60% of recruiters admit considering Facebook as a source of relevant information about a candidate. One look at a Facebook profile gives an idea about their background, culture, professional approach and personality.

Slightly less – about 50% – of hiring managers will choose Twitter to do this task. Twitter is actually more job-oriented than you might guess. Many professionals use it to interact with influencers or employers and build their status as thought leaders in their sectors.

In both Facebook and Twitter, we’ll see people thinking twice before they post or share something. Recruiters will be looking at candidates’ profiles and activity – the things they like, retweet and post about, examining what kind of conversations they’re having and with whom they interact.

5. Facebook as a job search tool

In 2014, almost 50% of recruiters claimed to use Facebook for posting job offers. In 2015, this trend will develop further to include Twitter as well. Companies will use their social media channels to build their reputations as attractive employers and post relevant job postings that might catch the eye of their audience.

2015 will be the year of radical changes in how people use social media. Social networks will no longer be about entertainment and socialization only, they will become an integral part of the job market, used by both recruiters and candidates to help them build their status in online communities and achieve their career goals.

Job interview advice: best blogs of 2013

From preparing what to wear to answering the million-dollar question, here’s a round up the best interview advice from Guardian Careers in 2013
Here are our top job interview blogs from 2013 to help you through the process.

Make your answers shine

You may have heard of the Star technique, but what is it and how can you use it to perfect your interview answers? If you’ve got a competency-based, the technique will be especially helpful. Here, we look at what’s behind the method, with some real-life examples.

Answering the million-dollar question

Some interview questions you just can’t avoid. “Why do you want to work here?” is one of them. Find out how to make sure you have your answer perfected with some clear and practical advice.

A checklist for every interview

From preparing what you’ll wear to making sure you improve after each interview, here is a simple step-by-step guide for all your interviews.

Beat the first-impression bias

If hiring managers make a decision in the first 90 seconds of meeting, how can you stop biases working against you? Clare Whitmell shares her insights.

Your interview with the chief executive

As you climb the career ladder – or perhaps if you’re joining a smaller organisation – interviews with the chief executive become more common. Find out what they really want to know, and how you can show you’ve got what it takes, before you start preparing.

Finish on a high with great questions

At the end of most interviews, the tables turn and you’re asked if you have any questions. This gives you a chance to show you’re on-the-ball, inquisitive, have done your research and are serious about the role. Here are four essential points to consider.

De-stress your interviews

We are often told to relax when it comes to job interviews, which is easier said than done. But a little preparation beforehand can help to make yourself feel less stressed.

Mock interviews make perfect preparation

It may be age-old advice, but it still rings true with interviews. Here’s some tips on how to do a practice interview, even if you don’t have an interviewer.

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional.