Archive | Devon RSS feed for this section

Over 60’s success!

4 Jan

You are never too old to achieve and become an inspiration to others. It is widely publicised that we are all living longer and with advances in medicine allowing us to live more healthily, 60 is fast becoming the new 30. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 395 million over 80’s worldwide.  Older people are no longer content to sit in a rocking chair and knit. Retirement can be a time for new beginnings and a new lease of life. We can take inspiration from following people all achieved success after the age of 60:

Gfauja-singh-marathonladys Burrill, from Hawaii became the oldest woman complete a marathon, age 92. She completed her first marathon age 86. Fauja Singh ran his first marathon age 89 and completed the Toronto Waterfront marathon age 100.

Frank McCourt became a bestselling author age 66 with Angela’s Ashes. Bertha Wood had her first book, Fresh Air and Fun, published on her 100th birthday. She began writing it age 90. Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus age 73. He suffered from OCD and making lists calmed him.

Colonel Hartland Sanders established the Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant chain age 65. On her 72nd birthday Poppy Bridger bought the company she used to work for and went back to work to grow the company, Anahiem test labs. Bill Foster founded Accessibility Services age 71 to support older people to stay in their own homes and remain independent.

Artists Mary Delany invented paper collage at age 72, Grandma Moses became famous in her 70’s and sculptorlouise-bourgeois Louise Bourgoise received mainstream recognition after the age of 60.

Over 60s are fast becoming the mainstay of the volunteering work force, supporting and inspiring others with their knowledge, skills, wisdom and sense of fun. If you, or anyone you know has a lot left to give and would like to make a difference, contact us at info@opsw.co.uk We would love to hear your views.

The day to day reality of business start-up

5 May

Starting self-employment as a sole trader, whether it’s as a window cleaner or dog groomer is a long process but completely worth it! It can be hard to know what to expect in the early days so we have spoken to Ritchie, a self-employed car valeter to give us some tips.  


Raising funds:
Your new venture may require specific equipment or start-up essentials and you need to find a way to raise the funds. You might start off by selling unwanted personal goods (I’d recommend your games console as you’ll have less time to play it if you’re committed!) or by asking family and friends for support. There are always start-up loans and banks but I was pleasantly surprised by the help I received from those around me.

Gaining new custosprayingmers: No matter what kind of day you’re having or what mood you’re in you must remain polite and presentable with customers. Those first impressions are critical to spreading news of your business and building your customer base.  Never let a customer down by arriving late and remember there are always competitor’s ready to fill your place if you don’t give good service!

Constant commitment: When I’ve finished valeting a car I can’t just make my way down to the pub. I’ve got to think about completing my paper work, meeting new customers, replacing stock and cleaning my equipment. Then there are other duties that might not have been thought of such as visiting the bank, training, buying new equipment and keeping up with industry trends. Just stay on top of your tasks and you will see great reward.

Getting support: It’s ok to not know some aspects of business start-up and there is plenty of support available out there. There are sites such as the HMRC site or organisations like Opportunity Plus (www.opsw.co.uk) that can offer advice or guidance.

It may seem like a lot of work but I LOVE working for myself. I get to meet people from all walks of life, earn my own money and see my business grow. I’m constantly learning new skills and surprising myself without dreading Monday morning!

You get what you put in, persevere through the start-up phase and you will succeed!

Check out Ritchie’s website at http://www.carcareplus.co.uk/

Spring clean your social media

30 Mar

 

We all know that this time of year is the time to get the dusters out and begin our spring cleaning. However, if you’re looking for employment then it might be time to clean out your social media before you start on the house.

A massive 93%* of hiring managers are reviewing applicant’s social media before making a hiring decision. It’s important you can give the best impression of yourself, whether that’s through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. You may think that it’s best to have complete privacy on your social media pages just be aware that having a positive page can really work in your favour and make sure it really is set to private.

Facebook profiles canblog be easily accessible to employers and can give a lot away about the person they’ve interviewed. Be aware of pictures that you are tagged in and make sure you don’t have anything that can be seen as offensive. The recruiter can use this as a way of seeing what you spend your spare time doing and probably won’t be impressed by your lad’s holiday in Marbella last month. They’ll also be focusing on the way you communicate so it’s important to check posts and avoid misspelling or ‘text speak’. Don’t forget that on Facebook you can also see pages that a person has ‘liked’, so if you vaguely remember liking something rude or inappropriate a few years back then I would go and double check.

The same rules apply for Twitter, be careful of what you are saying in your bio and tweets. Don’t forget that you can follow the company you are applying for to get up to date information and to show your interest. Twitter has a great feature where you can ‘pin’ your best tweet to the top of your page and really give a good impression to on-lookers.

With LinkedIn employers can quickly see if there is a difference to the qualifications you’ve listed and the ones you’ve put on your CV – honesty is key. If you’re not using LinkedIn at the moment then it’s a great platform for job seeking where you can showcase your skills, experience and connections so have a look at creating a profile.

Remember every tweet, post or comment can affect the employer’s opinion of you and possibly ruin your chances at securing that job! If you’re unsure, then ask a friend or family member to have a look over what can be seen and the impression your social media gives off.

blogg

 

*https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/jobvite_socialrecruiting_survey2014.pdf

Apprenticeship over education?

16 Mar

More and more young people are opting to do pursue an apprenticeship rather than a degree and if you’re aged between 16-24 and don’t have a higher qualification then it’s a fantastic option.

Often people will dismiss apprenticeships due to their pay rate, however the rate of pay can be quite surprising. Although the minimum apprenticeship wage stands at £3.30, the average wage during an apprenticeship is £170 a week with many companies paying up to £270. Studies* also show that on average those who have attended an apprenticeship earn nearly £4000 more a year than graduates. You’ll get paid for learning and gaining qualifications without the student debt at the end of it!

Whilst being in education is great, doing an apprenticeship will give you valuable experience to add to your CV – which employers look for. A Government survey also showed that 85% of apprentices said their ability to do the job had improved and 83% said their career prospects had improved.

So with 90% of apprentices staying in employment (7/10 of those with the same employer) what are you waiting for?! Have a look at the government guide to applying for apprenticeships and bag your dream role today.

How to write a winning apprenticeship application:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/442593/How-to-write-winning-application.pdf

 

*http://www.onrec.com/news/statistics-and-trends/apprentices-earn-almost-%C2%A34000-more-than-graduates-year-in-first-job

Opportunity Plus have escaped!

17 Dec

The Opportunity Plus team have been on our Christmas celebration. Although we stuck with a more traditional festive meal in the evening we kicked it off in Opportunity Plus style with a visit to Red House Mysteries to ‘Escape the Room’.

Red House Mysteries is based in Exeter and their new mystery room had only been open for a month, with several teams attempting to escape. The project itself was successfully funded by crowdfunding, with the campaign exceeding its target. Without a clue of what to expect we walked down to a secluded door on King Street Exeter to begin our journey. After going through the usual health and safety protocols (including removing our shoes) we were plunged into darkness, locked in and ready to commence the fun.

The aim of the game was simple, we had to solve the mystery of a detective who had been falsely framed for a murder and we needed to prove his innocence. I will not indulge too much in the story as not to ruin the plot for future investigators but it was extremely well thought out.  The room contained several clues, puzzles and keys which seemed to be of no use until you least expect it. We were forced to work as a team to beat the hour clock ticking away – using our individual skills and organisation to crack the evidence, all whilst being watched on CCTV by our host.

FullSizeRender

Susan, Michelle, Ritchie, Jenny, Jude, Catt and Ann – a success!

Despite moments of panic and incorrect ideas we succeeded and managed to escape the room in 49 minutes! The experience was fantastic and all involved thoroughly enjoyed it. A massive thank you to everyone at Red House Mysteries, Ben was a great host. We spent the rest of the evening pretending we were detectives and looking at everything twice incase it was a clue. I think it’s safe to say we will be visiting your new room as soon as it opens!

IMG_2312

Thanks Ben!

Lauras work placement experience

26 Nov

Over the past 8 weeks we have had our work placement Laura with us in the office. On her last day we caught up with her for a quick chat to see how she found it…

 

Tell us a little about yourself

I have recently finished studying Forensic Science at Exeter College. I am currently taking a year out from Education to gain experience and work before (hopefully) going to University next September. When I’m not studying or working I enjoy geocaching and attend a local archery club.

If you want to know what Geocaching is check out the link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching

Why did you decide to do a work placement?

I decided to do a work placement so that I could gain experience in a work environment to aid me in future job applications and with University. It’s a great chance to upgrade and improve on existing abilities which I wanted to do with my ICT and administrative skills.

What attracted you to Opportunity Plus?

I’m a very compassionate person so I liked the idea of working with other people and helping them into work or develop ideas into self-employment. I was also attracted to the fact it wasn’t a large overwhelming company and had a small close team.

Is there anything you have enjoyed about the placement?

Opportunity Day is a group session run for job seekers and I was invited to attend one to assist with the activities. It was definitely out of my comfort zone but actually when I was there I really enjoyed myself. It was great to be in a helpful environment and be helping others out. I also enjoyed organising the files in to an order as I like things to be organised!

What have you least enjoyed?

As the office is based centrally in town it can be a bit of a nightmare to drive there and park but as the Job Centre paid for my travel I can’t really complain. So over all it’s all been enjoyable!

What have your main tasks been?

I’ve had a variety of tasks during my time at Opportunity Plus. Often I was required to do job searches for customers and find appropriate positions for their needs. I would also research topics and collect data. I even found myself washing masks that had been used for a face painting activity, and buying items to practice furniture restoration. I wrote quiz questions and created a CV for an employability task. I was also given time to job search for myself and support with applications and interviews.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I really enjoyed my work experience here and everyone was really nice!

She will be joining us in the future as a volunteer and as I am writing this Laura is at an interview for her ideal job – Good Luck Laura! 

Conquer your job search fears

30 Oct

As its Halloween you may be thinking about things that scare you and we’re doing the same. Fears aren’t always spiders and ghosts though, and some fears can stop you from getting what you want. We have been looking at some of the most common job search fears and how to overcome these.

Fear of being ‘un-hireable’

You’ve worked on your CV and handed it out everywhere; you may have even been called to some interviews but still no one is offering you a position. It’s a situation that can cause you to think you’re not hireable or no one will employ you – this is not the case! If you start to fear this then it can be easy to slow down your job search as you’re scared this theory will be confirmed further. It’s best to take a step back and think rationally about what’s going wrong. Perhaps you need revamp your CV or tailor it more to the positions you’re applying for or ensure the skills you have match the ones needed for the job roles. Just refreshing what you’re doing or making a slight change can make a big difference to your confidence and hopefully you’ll start seeing the benefits.

Interviews

Even the word interview is scary to some and it’s easy to understand why. In an interview you’re put under a lot of pressure to prove that you’re right for the job and it can be stressful for some if not all. To feel more confident and relaxed in an interview it’s all about the preparation. Before your interview you should research the company and find out what they do and what kind of candidate they’re looking for. You can also practice answers for common questions or think example that you’re going to use, this was you won’t feel so on the spot so will come across well. It’s also sensible to search where you will be going in advance so you’re not rushing and to prepare your outfit in advance.

Asking for help

Asking for help or admitting that help would be useful is a scary thing to do. Many people think if you ask for help then you’ll be judged and some are even too embarrassed to admit they are currently looking for work. Being unemployed is not something to be ashamed of (even Steve Jobs has had a period of unemployment) and neither is asking for support. You don’t know how useful the recourses around you can be until you try them. Friends and family may know of upcoming or available vacancies or can even just offer moral boosts to keep the hunt going. You can also seek local help from a company such as Opportunity Plus where we can give professional help and advice for your job search.

My new boss

You might be concerned that your hard work of finding a job may be for nothing if you do not like your employer. Remember that you don’t have to accept a job just because you’ve been offered it and if you’ve had an offer the likelihood is you’ve met your boss already. It’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of working for that person and assessing what your work like will be like. You never truly know how this person will behave until you’re in the role so maybe just give it ago and you might be pleasantly surprised – they did hire you after all.

Stopping benefits

This can be a very real fear for some, particularly if you have been on benefits for a while. Perhaps it has not been easy, but you are managing ok, so now if you get a job your benefits will stop and maybe you won’t get paid for a month – How will you cope? What about your rent? The good news is that there are systems in place to help and support you, for example housing benefit run –on and in work benefits. Don’t let this fear get in your way. Speak to an adviser or seek information from websites such as entitledto.co.uk, gov.uk, and turn2us.org.uk

What if the job doesn’t work out?

You have done really well to get this far and have been offered the role. Now the self doubt kicks in and you start wondering if you will be able to actually do the job. Everyone feels a little nervous when starting something new. Remember that the application and interview process is there for a purpose – employers need to find the best person for the job. There is a reason they chose you. They have faith in you, so have faith in yourself.

If the job is not what you expected it to be, or not want you want to do forever that’s fine. Learn from the skills and experience you are gaining and give it a try anyway. If you still want to change jobs later it is easier to get a job when you are employed than when you are unemployed.

If you want help with any of the issues mentioned please contact us on info@opsw.co.uk or 0800 043 2440