Archive for October, 2009

Careers advice for children

An interesting story that has emerged over the past few days is that children as young as seven will be offered careers advice as part of a new scheme being trialled in 7 local authority areas across the UK.

The plan, launched by Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is part of a £10 million scheme to revolutionise careers advice given to children in schools and will also include the use of social networking sites to provide information.

Currently careers advice is offered to pupils around 14 years of age, but research has shown that by the age of 7, many children have very high career aspirations that need to be captured and nutured. Parents too should be encouraged to think about sending their children to university – especially those families who have never had a child attend university before and who consider it may be out of their means.

The scheme will provide career based learning, out-reach work with UK universities and involvement from local companies to give children a view of the world of work.

However, in other parts of the world this careers based learning has gone one step further.

The KidZania concept aims to use role playing to teach children about careers from an early age. Usually attached to shopping malls, KidZania is a large entertainments and education centre that looks like a child sized replica of a city. With buildings, streets, shops, vehicles and pedestrians, and numerous industries represented, children between the ages of 2 and 14 have the chance to sample over 75 different professions.  The “city” has its own currency, the KidZo, that children can earn, spend or invest in their “savings account” to learn about the value of money.

This concept, a Mexican based company with sites also in Japan, Dubai and Portugal, also ties in with commercial investment. Companies have scaled down replicas of their own industries (great advertising to parents!) and that enables the professions and equipment to be realistic.

The KidZania sites are proving to be massively popular with both parents and children as they present life in the outside world but in a fun, educational and inspiring way.

Maybe it’s about time we had a KidZania set up here in the UK to work in addition with Mr Balls’ new scheme?



Recession-proof industries

Today’s figures released from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK economy contracted for the sixth consecutive quarter. This means that we are now officially in the longest recession since 1955.

The hardest hit sector of all is not the banking sector as you might expect, but the manufacturing industry which has sadly lost 8.5%  of its jobs in the past year. This has hit the Midlands, North West and Wales particularly badly with factory closures affecting entire communities. Economists predict that it may take a while for this sector to recover even after the recession is over as many factories would need huge investment to re-open.

But, according to ONS figures, education is the best sector of all to be working in with a rise in jobs over the past year.

So, what other sectors are recession proof? Here are Personal Marketing’s suggestions….

Emergency services – we will always need firemen and, as people run short of cash, there will always be crime.  The country needs police!

Health care – people will always need doctors, nurses and midwives.

Utilities – you can’t do without gas, electric or water no matter how tight your finances.

Funerals – with the population of Britain set to rise to 71 million shortly undertakers have never been busier.

Pharmaceuticals – as the population gets bigger, and people get sick, they will need drugs.

Alcohol and confectionery – sales have boomed since the recession started.  Well, we all need such essentials.

Hairdressing – still got to have your hair cut! My small village alone has seven hair dressing salons.

Debt collection – this industry must be going great guns at the moment unfortunately.

Tax office – “Only two things in life are certain. Death and taxes”.

Toilet roll and nappy industries – completely recession proof as what other options are available?

So the recession is not all bad. Some sectors are clearly flourishing!


Be confident! Part One – BEFORE the interview


Robbie Williams hums the Rocky theme tune to psych himself up – but in the real work it takes a little more than that!

What can you do to ensure that you don’t become a bundle of nerves and instead exude an air of calm, clear headed confidence in the interview room?

Preparation is  key!

  • Look the company up on the internet. Understand what they do/make,  who their market and competitors are. It will impress your interviewers that you have shown an interest as they will probably open the  conversation with “OK, so what do you know about us?”. Nothing is worse than an interviewee saying “Ummm…nuffin”. It means they haven’t bothered.
  • Obtain a copy of the job description, read through it and note examples of tasks/achievements in previous roles where you have demonstrated the skill required. If you have facts and figures then even better!
  • Write a list of your strengths and weaknesses. You will feel boosted by reading your list of strengths. With your list of weaknesses write down what it is you need to overcome that weakness. Is it training maybe, or practice?
  • Many interviews  tend to be based on a “behavioural interview” type.  This is to assess how a person copes with situations and means that the interviewee has to give specific examples. To prepare for this, get a piece of paper and write examples under the following headings:

Influencing – can you think of a time where you have persuaded someone round to your way of thinking? Where you have convinced others of a good idea?

Communication – practice your answers without waffling or talking too fast and think of examples of written communications you have used. How effective were they?

Change management – demonstrate that you can cope with change. Many companies  are undergoing major restructuring and so require the work force to be flexible and not negative about progress.

Teamwork – where you have worked well in a team? What was your role in that team? With many workplaces being open plan, employers often look for people that will “fit in” and work easily with others.

Planning and organising – how do you prioritise? Most jobs you will have to do numerous tasks at once – can you demonstrate how you have handled this in the past? You may be required to drop everything and refocus your attentions on another task – do you have any examples of this?

Problem solving – think of  an example where you solved a problem effectively. Did you save a sale/customer/a life/the company money?

Working under pressure – as resources get tighter pressure on workers is higher than ever before. How do you cope with stress? Can you think of an example that shows that you are cool under pressure?

  • If you don’t have much work experience then think of examples from other areas of your life.
  • Think of some good questions to ask at the end of the interview.  Intelligent questions such as, “Where does the company see its services/products developing over the next two years?” rather than “How long will I get for lunch???”

So now you are prepared. You know what your strengths are and you have identified your weaknesses (or “areas of development” as I like to call them.  I’ll come to why this is important in Part Two – DURING the interview).

One more top tip:

Think of a time that you felt on top of the world! A time when you achieved something that made you feel so proud and happy that you couldn’t stop beaming from ear to ear. Think about how you felt and, at the same time, squeeze your earlobe and hold for a few seconds. Do this every day in the days running up to the interview. Then, as you are sitting waiting for your name to be called and the butterflies start setting in, gently squeeze your earlobe. All those feelings of confidence and achievement that you have “locked in” will come flooding back and you will sit upright and feel calm and positive. Try it!

Coming soon….Be Confident! Part Two – DURING the interview!


CV do nots!!


Did you know that most employers take between 10-15 seconds to scan read CVs when sifting through a pile of job applications? That’s not long to grab their attention!

Here in brief are some of the CV “crimes” I have seen over the years. I impart this information to you because, as they say on the cop shows, knowledge is power…

1. Do not include a photo of yourself. It can work both ways. If you are attractive you may be seen as a bimbo (men included!);  if you are, let’s say, less than an oil painting your CV will be met with “Jeez…” and possibly put to the bottom of the pile. It’s sad but it’s true.  Let your skills and achievements speak for themselves.

2. Watch your spelling. Spelling mistakes will make you look like an illiterate fool.

3. Keep it brief. Don’t waffle on page after page. Try and stick to two sides. (The only exception :  If you have a very senior management/specialist job history)

4. Don’t use a silly font. Stick to Times New Roman or something similar. Nothing swirly or illegible that would not be easily scan read.

5.  Always put your contact details on your CV and make sure that you include your email address. However, make sure that your email address isn’t something like “Ivegot”, make sure it is sensible!

6. Don’t put, under the hobbies and interests section, “drinking and socialising”. This screams that you will be too hungover to turn up to work. I have seen numerous CVs that ONLY have this under hobbies and interests!

7. Don’t make stuff up. You will quickly get found out at interview!

8. Don’t criticise your last employer.  It doesn’t look professional and make you look like you have an attitude problem.

9. Don’t list your salary you earned for each job. This can mean that you may under price or over price yourself before even getting an interview.

10. Don’t attach your CV to an email to a prospective employer without a “covering letter” within the body of the email. “Hi, please find attached my CV, thanks, Dave” is not going to encourage an employer to open your CV. You need to whet their appetite with a brief outline of what you can offer them. And don’t, DEFINITELY DON’T end your email with xx. I’ve seen it many times! People really do!


October economy update

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate that 2.47 million people are now out of work. This  means unemployment levels have now hit 7.9%, up from 7.6% three months ago. The government are applauding themselves on this slow down and hailing it as “signs of a recovery” despite the fact that the level is still higher than it was three months ago!

The recession is hitting young people hardest, with 1 in 6 16-24 year olds seeking work. Hardest hit of all are the 16-18 year olds with 1 in 3 job seekers out of work. Not the ideal start to your working life and there are calls for corporations to extend internships and apprenticeships in order to help support their local community.

The Prince’s Trust has developed a scheme targetting those 16-25 year olds who need the most support. This includes those that have been long term unemployed, those leaving care and educational under achievers. Offering a free 12 week course, the Trust’s Team Programme will help build confidence, offer work experience, practical skills and community projects that will boost CVs and enable young people to feel more confident about tackling a daunting jobs market.

For more information go to :


Using social media for job hunting


With an estimated 80% of jobs unadvertised what is the best way of finding work amongst today’s stiff competition?

The answer is often who you know. Networking has long been a way of putting out feelers for employment opportunities. And now, with social networking, this is easier to do that you may think.

Here are some top tips for job hunting using social media:

1. If you have a Facebook or Twitter profile make sure you clean it up! Remove anything you would not want a potential employer (or indeed your mother!) to see. Check photo albums, wall posts and status updates. Ensure that you have not said negative things about your current/last employer as this does not promote a very professional image!

2. Ensure on your personal information that you have included information about your current/last role – indicating the job title and industry and any key achievements. You do not have to post your entire CV but ensure the brief information that is on your profile is to the point and outlines your key attributes.

3. Many recruitment agencies are now “tweeting” on Twitter. If you do not already use Twitter then sign up! You can subscribe directly to agency job updates via the RSS feeds on Twitter, meaning that you do not have wait for them to appear on third party websites such as Monster or Totaljobs.

4. Once you have started “tweeting” on Twitter than ensure that you communicate regularly with people and do not leave any conversation posts unanswered. You never know – you may have just ignored the one person who has a job for you.

5. Sign up to LinkedIn. This works like a business version of Facebook. You can quickly create a profile, link to colleagues you work/ed with, then continue linking to other professionals to increase your network. Many recruitment agencies are also on LinkedIn and contact their network with vacancies. You can maximise your exposure on LinkedIn by collecting “Recommendations” that work as online references attached to your profile. With 45 million members it is worth getting yourself on here!

6. Use forums on job seeking websites such as Monster and Other job seekers may have leads/advice for you

7. Create your own website showcasing your skills and examples of your work. Link to it from the other social media sites that you are using and don’t forget to include your contact details!

8. Start a blog relating to your career to show that you have a genuine interest and passion for your area of work. For example, if you work in construction write a blog that talks about industry trends and developments. Put the web address of your blog on your CV. Allow people to comment on your posts and be sure to update it regularly! Try for an easy way to create your own blog.



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