Tag Archives: guidance

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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Focus Groups for your Business Idea

27 Jul

What are focus groups?

A Focus Group is a market research tool which involves a group of people, usually between 6 and 12, who have been selected to participate in a pre-planned group discussion, and/or Q&A session, to gauge opinion on a product or service. Using a focus group to research your products or service before you start your business, can help you to identify ways to sell or advertise to your target group. It’s also a valuable tool when introducing a new product or service, or to find out how your product or service is being perceived.

 
What are the benefits of organising a Focus Group?

Focus groups can help you to gather a broader range of information than surveys because they allow people to voice their opinions in their own words and add meaning to their answers. They can also generate ideas for improving or adapting your product/service which you may not have considered.

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How do I set up a focus group?

1. Decide on what type of people you want in your group: age, income, gender, employment?

2. Advertise your focus group in a way that’s going to attract the people you want. You could use Facebook, for example, go to community centres or mother and child groups, have a stall in a market and invite people who come to look at your product, put up a poster or invite people you know personally.

3. Arrange a venue for your focus group. It should be somewhere easily accessible, private and quiet enough to talk.

4. Ensure the meeting space is well prepared beforehand i.e. layout, equipment, parking spaces etc.

5. Prepare an introduction which explains the purpose of thee focus group and how it will work

What questions do I ask the group?

goodWork out what information you need. Create a set of questions which will give you this information. Ensure that these are easy to understand and will give you the answers you need. Get someone who does not know what you are doing to look at your introduction and questions to see if you get the right sort of answers.
For example:

  •  Would you use this product?
  • Would you buy this product for yourself?
  • Would you buy this product as a gift?
  • How much would you pay for this product?
  • Would you pay x amount for this product?
  • How would you improve this product?
  • What is your opinion on the packaging of this product?
  • Does the packaging make you want to buy the product?
  • What do you think of the colours used in the packaging?
  • Where would you go to buy this product?
  • Do you have any other ideas about this product?

Online Focus Groups

Running an online focus group eliminates the need for travel, refreshments, and finding a venue. Other advantages could include people feeling more able to speak out as they are anonymous to the rest of the group and can sit in the comfort of their own home.

Disadvantages include not being able to see the body language of the participants, which provides another method of seeing how a product is received.

TIPS

  • Don’t make it last too long – participants could lose focus or get bored

  • If possible, arrange refreshments

  • Don’t make the group too big – you don’t want anyone to feel left out, or unable to voice their opinions

Google’s Digital Garage

6 Apr

When starting a business, the internet can be your biggest tool especially Google. Google can help you in more ways than you think, and have created a branch of their empire that teaches valuable digital skills – Digital Garage.

Digital Garage is aimed at small businesses and people who want to grow their business, career or digital confidence. The site is free to join and will create a unique learning plan for you based on what your aims are and you are able to explore a range of topics including ‘Get noticed with social media’ and ‘Get started with analytics’.

You can track your progress through modules and when you’ve completed one you will gain a badge; when you’ve completed all of the topics you’ll get a certificate!

If you’re starting a business, want to expand online or learn new digital skills then register now and have a world of wisdom at your fingertips.

https://digitalgarage.withgoogle.com/

Disability Confident Conference

8 Jan

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Opportunity Plus had the pleasure of attending the Disability Confident Conference at Foxes Academy in Minehead last year and were inspired by the enthusiasm, hard work and success stories of the young people who work and train at the academy. We are delighted to pledge our support to the campaign and develop even more work placement opportunities in 2016.

Many organisations from across the South West attended the conference including employers, support organisation and the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, all showing their support for both Foxes Academy and the Disability Confident Campaign.
Foxes Academy is a great organisation focused on equality that inspires young people to gain skills and confidence. To find out more about the fantastic work they do please visit their website –
www.foxesacademy.ac.uk

For any organisations wanting to know more about the Disability Confident Campaign please watch the video below:

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.

Supporting the wider community

26 Mar

In our work with Opportunity Plus, we have come across some truly fantastic community centres and groups, and we want to share some of the great work that is happening out there.

Does your community group need some support? 

Here are some of the things that we can do for you:

  • Create a Facebook page for your community and teach you how to use it
  • Offer free face painting at fundraising and other events
  • Feature you on our blog.
  • Get in touch to see how we could help your centre.

Balloons

Balloons work with bereaved children in the Exeter area to help them through the grieving and healing process.  They have volunteering opportunities available and offer full training.  Find out more at www.balloonscharity.co.uk

The Hub Yeovil

The Hub Yeovil is a community centre working with disabled people.  They run a range of microenterprises to teach members valuable life and enterprise skills.  www.thehubyeovil.co.uk

Healthy Babies UK

Healthy Babies UK provide training to healthcare professionals, children’s centre staff, nursery workers and mothers to support the health, development, and wellbeing of babies and young children.  www.healthy-babies-uk.org

The Money Advice Service

If you have any questions about money – investments, debt, budgeting – then the Money Advice Service can help.  Call them on 0300 500 5000 for free advice and support.

Training

The Education and Training Level 3 course has replaced the old Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Sector qualification, and enables you to teach anything that you are qualified or experienced in to adults (16+).  Information, Advice and Guidance is another useful qualification for the community sector.  Call us or email info@opsw.co.uk for more information.

What community centres do you use?  Why not visit your local centre to find out more about what they do and get involved!  Check out www.do-it.org or your local CVS office to find out if there are any volunteering opportunities near you.