Tag Archives: young people

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.


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

Skills South West

11 Mar

UWE Bristol Exhibition & Conference Centre
Wednesday 19 March 9.30am – 3pm and 5pm – 8pm
Thursday 20 March 9.30am – 3pm

“Skills South West is the biggest skills and careers event happening in the region. Aimed at 15-24 year olds this free event will inspire and motivate.  Hands on interactive features will give you a chance to get a real taste of different future career options whatever your dreams or ambitions.

Whether you’re at school or college, starting work, a teacher, parent/carer or family this is the one event that could change your future.  Visit and be inspired, motivated and thrilled with over 70 organisations providing interactive features from every major career sector imaginable.”

Visit http://www.skillssw.co.uk for more information.

Get Started Project

26 Apr

Opportunity Plus South West are getting involved in yet another fantastic project to support young entrepreneurs.  The Get Started project supports young entrepreneurs with accessing funding and mentoring to get their business off the ground, and to support those who have been running for less than a year, but need a helping hand.  If you are aged 18-30 and are a UK resident living in England, you could be eligible for a loan of around £2500 (dependant on your needs).  You can be employed or unemployed, and will need to be able to demonstrate that you can repay the loan (over a period of around 3-5 years)

Opportunity Plus South West will support you in creating a business plan and 12 month cashflow forecast for your application.  Please call us on 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk for more information.

SFEDI Get Started Loans

Voyage Fairtrade

7 Feb

Sam Birtwistle was one of the winners of last year’s Big Ideas competition. His business, Voyage Fairtrade, started off selling fairtrade and ethical jewellery handmade by artisans from all over the world.  Now, he has expanded his range to other ornaments and practical items for use around the home.  Here Sam tells us more about his business and how he got started.

Voyage Fairtrade

What is Voyage Fairtrade?

Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods from ornaments to practical home items.  The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible.  This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.   

What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?

I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries.  With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.

What was your inspiration to start your own business?

I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16.  I was working in my first job in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!

What is the best thing about running your own business?

You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything. You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!

What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it. My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!

What advice would you give to young people considering self-employment?

I would say to people: anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications!  I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off. I have other disabilities too, my balance and coordination are quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business! So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!

You can find Voyage Fairtrade on Facebook

Competition Winners

14 Jan

Our Big Ideas competition closed at the end of last year.  We asked 18-25 year olds to tell us their business ideas.  We shortlisted our favourites and our judges kindly gave us feedback on them, which we put together to decide our lucky winners.

Our final winners are:

Holliey Pearce, who opened a shop selling vintage homewares with her business partner, Jayden, in December.  Check out The Bloody Chic of It.

Sam Birtwhistle, who runs Voyage World Jewellery, selling fairtrade and ethical jewellery from around the world.

Jenny Hill, who had an idea for a device called “Alcostop” to check whether a person is fit to drive.

Thank you to everyone who entered, we loved all of your ideas.  A massive thank you also to all the businesses that kindly donated prizes for the competition: Caz Steffens Photography, L.A Barbers, Parkfield Torbay, The Osborne Hotel and many others.

And thank you to Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den, who gave us this great supportive quote:

The UK needs young people to step forward and seize their futures, and competitions like Opportunity Plus South West’s play an important role in rewiring the next generation to be more entrepreneurial, and encouraging them to follow their business dreams.

Much of my work with the Peter Jones Foundation is focused on equipping young people with the tools to be entrepreneurial, either in the workplace or running their own business. The mentoring support being offered to Opportunity Plus entrants is exactly what is needed to instill the culture of enterprise and help create a British Dream for young people to aspire to.

Competition Update

12 Nov

Thank you for your entries to our competition!  We have seen some great ideas already.  If you haven’t entered yet, you have until 23rd November to get your entries in.

In the meantime, here’s a little quote from Peter Jones of Dragons’ Den.

The UK needs young people to step forward and seize their futures, and competitions like Opportunity Plus South West’s play an important role in rewiring the next generation to be more entrepreneurial, and encouraging them to follow their business dreams.

Much of my work with the Peter Jones Foundation is focused on equipping young people with the tools to be entrepreneurial, either in the workplace or running their own business. The mentoring support being offered to Opportunity Plus entrants is exactly what is needed to instill the culture of enterprise and help create a British Dream for young people to aspire to.


30 Oct

We have decided to extend our competition deadline to 23rd NOVEMBER 2012, with the winners being announced in early December.  This is because we have gained some great entries by attending groups and completing entry forms on a 1:1 basis with them, and we want to give more people the opportunity to enter in this way.  But you can still enter by emailing us an entry form too.  If you run or are a member of a group who would like us to come to you to discuss self employment, please get in touch on 0800 043 2440.

Open to anyone aged 18-25 with a burning business idea!

We have a range of exciting prizes up for grabs, including six months free gym membership at the beautiful Osborne Hotel in Meadfoot, Torquay; a climbing wall voucher for two at Parkfield Torbay; a photoshoot from Caz Steffens Photography; free entry for four people to Kents Cavern; free family swimming at Torbay Leisure Centre; a free hair cut and blow dry with Liza Kane and another from e-hairdressing; a gift voucher from Ancient Elements.  On top of these great prizes, anyone who enters will receive all our usual business ideas development and start up support.  We have a panel of guest judges from the local community who will be helping us choose the best entries.

All you have to do to enter is tell us your business idea.  Whether it’s a well thought out business idea that you’ve already researched; your dream business that’s completely unrealistic; a tried and tested risk free business opportunity; or just the beginnings of an idea that you need to develop, we’d love to hear it.  We’re looking for creativity and enthusiasm as much as business knowledge.  Please get in touch if you’d like any help getting your idea onto paper.

Simply complete the entry form with your details and business idea, or post your idea on our Facebook page (on the wall or a private message) and return it to us by 23rd November 2012.

The entry form is available on our Toolbox website, or you can email alangmead@opsw.co.uk or phone us on 0800 043 2440 for more information.

Good Luck – we look forward to hearing your ideas!

Competition Poster