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Working for an agency

4 Aug

Recruitment agencies act as an intermediary between an employer looking to fill a vacancy and someone seeking work. Having this middle man may seem like a disadvantage but can actually be a great way to return to employment or find your ideal job.

The role of the agency itself is to find suitable candidates for vacancies and there is often a lot of pressure to do so. When seeking an agency; find out if they offer relevant roles as some will specialise in specific industries that may not be relevant to you. It’s good to physically take in your CV and discuss the kind of role you are seeking so you become more memorable, just remember that this will be their first impression of you so be friendly and presentable.

Agencies often work closely with employers and can give you hints or tips on what to expect if you are offered an interview. If you are successful, you will be paid by the agency but managed by the employer, with the right to use any onsite facilities such as canteens or nurseries. If you are in the same role for 12 weeks, then you are entitled to the same pay and benefits as any permanent members of the company doing the same job.

Several of the positions offered by agencies are temporary but can still be used to your advantage as you can prove yourself to the employer and may even be offered a direct position. A temporary role can be taken whilst you look for permanent work or used as valuable experience.

Although you are entitled to paid holiday hours you cannot claim maternity leave whilst working for an agency, you also cannot claim redundancy or file for unfair dismissal so just bear these factors in mind before contacting.

However, overall a recruitment agency can be a great way to find a suitable vacancy. So search your local area and send your CV today!

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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.

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*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

Mixing business with pleasure…

3 Mar

Should you include hobbies and interests in your CV?

It’s a question that we get asked a lot. Do recruiters really want to know about what we get up to in the evenings or at the weekends? Well yes, they might well like to know a bit more about you and your personality. Any hobby or interest that you put on your CV should be relevant, well written and could make the difference between you and another candidate should it come down to the wire.

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So maybe your love of extreme dog grooming may not seem like the sort of thing your employer might want to know about you, however if you are going for a job as a dog groomer or working with animals, dogs in particular, then it might just show them that you have got a genuine interest in their line of business.

Your hobby should reinforce your application and may also show that you have transferable skills that you can bring to the workplace. For example coaching your local football team shows that you have motivational skills. If you are the president or leader of a group or club this would be useful to add when going for a management position.

It can also make a difference how you write about your hobby e.g. a friendly kick about every Friday could be “Organising and participating in a 5-a-side football league”.

Try and avoid any generic hobbies such as socialising with friends or eating out as these won’t show your true personality or add anything to the CV. If you find that you don’t have any hobbies it is best to leave this section out altogether rather than adding it just for the sake of it.

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! 

Video Interviewing – a first hand experience

21 Aug

Technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years and we are constantly surrounded by new gadgets – it’s hard to keep up! In this futuristic environment companies are also looking for new tech-aided ways of conducting their recruitment process. I’ve had first-hand experience of this digital trend.

Hearing that you’ve been selected for next stage of recruitment is always great news but hearing the words ‘video interview’ after this can throw you back. I will admit I was slightly concerned; it wasn’t something I’d had to do before. I’d used skype though and surely it would be the same right? Well actually, no.

I’m sure every company that uses this type of interview has an individual format, but with my experience there was never actually any interaction with another human. In fact I was sent a link to the interview itself and asked to complete it within 3 days. On the day I received the email it was the afternoon and I was busy with other tasks and in my pyjamas so I decided to make use of the generous time allowance. However on the second day I received a phone call to say it had to be completed within the next hour in order to be considered for the next step – no pressure!

Due to the lack of notice I had very little preparation which didn’t help my already uneasy nerves. The format was fairly straight forward: A video of a question, followed by an allocated time to answer, with 30 seconds preparation time beforehand. You were also allowed to take a practice question where you could play your answer back or retry it; this luxury was not permitted when it came to the real interview questions.

Answering the questions in video format made the whole thing slightly awkward. My mum was in the other room as I didn’t awkwardhave time to find somewhere go, which wasn’t the best scenario. The embarrassment of her overhearing me talk to my computer made my voice quieter than usual and caused some distraction when answering questions. Fortunately I managed to keep going and complete the interview. I felt like I was taken off guard by some questions but having the 30 second preparation time meant I could calm myself down and process what I was going to say. I did at one point get distracted by my mum walking into the room which I’m sure did not look good at all – overall it was not my strongest interview.

None the less I did get invited to the next stage of the application which was slightly shocking after my awkward performance. Even So with this here are my top tips on how to deal with a video interview:

  • Be prepared. Being prepared is really important for any kind of interview. Prior to the interview you should spend some time researching the company, what they do and their customer base. You should also think about what they might ask you and think of examples you could use in your answers.
  • Appearance still matters. If I was going to a face to face interview I would make sure that I had showered and was appropriately dressed with an ironed shirt and subtle make-up. Well that shouldn’t change for a video interview. You’re still giving a first impression and it’s important to look presentable and hireable! It will also increase your confidence if you know you’re looking your best – good all round.
  • Give yourself time and space. If you receive an invitation for a video interview you will usually be told a figure of how long it typically takes. Make sure you allocate more than enough time to complete the interview without having to rush through questions or stress about being late for something else. As I discovered it’s also best to be as separate from anyone else as possible and if you can be in a remote room alone then that’s best. If you are unable to do this make sure there is no or minimum background noise so you can concentrate and be heard.
  • Watch your position and background. You’ll be given an outline in which to position yourself so ensure you’re actually in this and can be seen. It’s best if you can find a simple background without any distractions and certainly don’t have anything personal floating around behind you! When you’re speaking try and look at the camera as if you’re speaking to a person, I avoided looking at myself by using their hiding the image of myself in the corner which worked well.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute. I was promoted by the employer to hurry up and get it done, but the quicker you can submit it the keener you’ll look so my advice would be to get it completed as soon as you can.
  • Be yourself. Just because you’re talking to a robot doesn’t mean you have to become one. Show a bit of your personality just as you would in an interview and be friendly and concise with your answers.

If you are about to complete a video interview for the first time then good luck! Hopefully following these guidelines will help you out and you won’t end up looking like a bit of a fool like me. Take your time and relax!

If you want help with interviews or getting into work in general then please contact Opportunity Plus on 0800 043 2440 or email us on info@opsw.co.uk.