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Archive for the tag “Job”

Never Underestimate the Value of ‘Entry-Level Jobs’

Well I must apologise for neglecting this blog. Unfortunately exams and engaging the full capacity of my short term memory took over my life for a short while. But now I’m back. Don’t worry.

I recently read a piece by a sixth-form leaver who embarked on a project to do some work experience with 60 unique professionals over 60 days. The aims were sound – to experience a wide range on professions before deciding where to specialise. The reasoning was not:

‘With my school days coming to a close I began to think about the summer between high school and university. This can be an awkward time as many students are not qualified for the jobs that are available and most are only able to get work at camps, shops or as entry-level office staff.’

My answer to this: ‘So what?’

Never underestimate the value of retail, or camp or even bar work. Entry-level office work is the coveted gold standard of part-time work for many future professionals. These jobs teach you the basics. Many people enter professions with no idea as to how to deal with people, or how to deal with money, or how to treat and respect the staff upon who – although a tier below you – you shall be relying so much. So here’s how you can get these ‘lowly’ jobs on your CV and get the edge over the competition who consider these roles below them:

Customer Service – Believe it or not, professionals shop too. It turns out they eat, wash and play just like the rest of us. If you’re planning on getting a job in the same area you currently work, and if you’re offering fantastic customer service, you’re going to be remembered. Your future employer could be that person you just informed of that cheaper meal deal available with their sandwich. Saying that, they could also be the person you spat filthy words at when they rudely interrupted your conversation about that ever so attractive individual your colleague had the privilege to serve. Nevertheless, if you have been recognised at work, be it by a customer or your employer, this is to be valued. Professionalism is about delivering a service and keeping customers coming back. Graduate recruiters like this.

Managerial Skills – The exciting thing about retail is that it offers so many more opportunities for leadership and management than many other jobs available to students at this stage. Pierre from Oxbridge has never had responsibility in his life. You, on the other hand, have delegated tasks to effectively achieve those seemingly unrealistic targets set by the higher managerial tiers in your company. You get yourself stuck in when the going gets tough and you are respected for your achievements by those within your workplace. Get it down on your CV (modestly). Tell them in interview (modestly).

People – You get them. You’ve had the opportunity to speak to people and tactfully deal with their problems. You can empathise, engage in conversation about the things real people want to talk about (Britain’s Got Talent, sport, alcohol etc.) and you know which jokes go down better with your close friends, and which ones are safer for your reputation. Pierre doesn’t. Pierre just smokes pipes.

Difficult People – This one is especially applicable to those who have taken part in bar work. Difficult people can be awkward. Drunken people can be intimidating. Having to deal with such people, and dealing with them successfully, is a massively positive reflection of an individual’s character. Having such nerve is impressive and is reflected in everything you do. Be proud of it.

Dealing with Kids – So you get people. You can deal with difficult people and you can stand your ground with drunken people. But this still doesn’t mean you can deal with kids. These are in a league of their own and having the capabilities can open up niche areas of work unavailable to those lacking in such experience. It connotes professionalism, backbone and patience. What sort of recruiter doesn’t want to see that?

Entry-level Office Work – HUGELY important. The office is an environment. It carries its own rules and practices, its own hierarchy and its own skill requirements for survival. Whether you drink it or not, you need to learn how to make a cup of tea. God forbid if you can’t make a half decent cup of coffee! Those photocopying machines require practice and experience. There is a seriously concerning possibility you will fall short of your employer’s expectations if you can’t use one. If you still get really excited when you get to use the shredder, you haven’t used one enough. Try and get some experience through work schemes or part-time office work.

There are plenty more to pick out, but its lunch time. Be proud of the work you have done in the past. The transferrable skills are phenomenally important both for the workplace and for character. Never underestimate the value of entry-level jobs. Your employer won’t.


For more information on 60 Jobs in 60 Days:


Confessions of a Recruitment Consultant

Dear all,

This piece is incredible. A lot of you finalists will be looking for jobs very, very soon (hopefully). You’re probably making a few of these mistakes. I know I was.

Read it and be realistic in your applications. Get yourself noticed. Don’t tell them about your ‘bird of prey’. Read on. You’ll see what I mean.

Confessions of a Recruitment Consultant.


Max Lands! And tells us how easy we have it.

The Careers Service has hosted a German Marketing Intern this week. We’re going to call him Max. He’s quite kindly agreed to do my job for me. And I’m getting paid for it! Enjoy!

Guten Tag everyone,

I am Max from Germany visiting my friend Jack in England.

I really have to admit, British people are weird. Especially British people at universities. Just the thought of someone with a philosophy-degree doing a job as manager… that would never happen where I come from.

In Germany much fewer pupils start a course in university after their A-levels (or Abitur, as we call it). But if you do, you have to decide beforehand, in which field of jobs you want to work as most employers would not even consider employing you if you have not a fitting degree. So I got to say, you English people really have better opportunities after university. You have so many chances!

That also explains to me why you have to have such huge CV’s with a lot more additional activities than we Germans use to have. You guys still have to prove that you are fitting for a job- we already did by studying a matching subject.

Nevertheless the German job-market is lacking of well-qualified employees. This is a result of a massive decrease in the birth-rate in the last 20 years. German parents became lazy one could say. Most companies and employers can’t even fill their apprenticeships, not to talk about post-graduate jobs.

Especially the healthcare-sector is in desperate need of labour-force. Why’s that, you could ask me? Are Germans that sick? In fact we are not- at least not usually. But good old Germany has become exactly that: old! Nearly half of the inhabitants (around 46%) are at age 50 or above. And as you know, with age often come the minor ailments.

Furthermore engineers are really wanted. You sure know BMW, Volkswagen and all the other major automobile-companies. They are the reason why. German industry is a great deal about producing machines, especially cars. At least this is what we are famous for in the world! But we can’t do that without engineers and others specialists.

Speaking of which… why don’t you guys help us out a bit? Some of you need jobs and we need qualified students. And with a more or less fitting degree, your chances are not bad at all, especially since all of you speak English very fluently (at least I hope so), which is one skill most companies are looking for. And in many cases you don’t even have to have German language skills. They would be really helpful though but a lot of Germans speak English anyway.

So maybe, if this could be an idea for you, why not just talk to the friendly advisors of your career service or have a look at the website of the international placement service of Germany (Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung)?

So much for today from me. I’d really like to meet you in beautiful Germany.

Auf bald, euer Max

Interviewers are people too…

Interviewers are people too… Did you hear the one about the accountant who, in a bid to escape from a fair lady of questionable gender on a drunken week in Thailand, found himself diving headfirst onto the sandy beaches of Haad Rin? Naked?

The purpose behind an interview is to get to know you as a person. A real person. Employers want to hire someone who will work well in their team. They want you to be the person who will get involved with the weekly 5-a-side or come along to office drinks. Successful professionals balance work and play. Successful professionals are liked.*

You can’t take a course in being a likeable person. These things come with practice. ‘What should I practice?’ I hear you call… Why drinking of course!

Get involved with societies! Get down to socials! Learning how to speak to people is so incredibly important, and yet we take it for granted. It can be very, very hard. We can only learn from our mistakes, and social mistakes can be unbelievably embarrassing. I’m betting you would much rather make them in front of your friends than that potential employer who is trying so very hard to like you. He really is trying. You’re just making it incredibly difficult for him.

I should mention at this stage that you don’t have to drink to be successful. That would be a very wrong message. Alcohol has, however, become a very large part of social culture and this is very difficult to deny. The advantage of not drinking is that you can develop your social skills sober. Societies are generally very welcoming of non-drinkers and this should not be seen as a bar (pun very much intended). Drink virgin cocktails and learn to dance/sway as well as your drunken peers. Offer to be the sober first aider for socials. There’s nothing better than CPR to strike up social bonds.

To sum up in one phrase – Learn to talk to people. Do not underestimate the power of rapport. It will make or break that interview.


*Liked at interview by their potential employers. ‘Liked’ does not necessarily represent the opinion of the public at large.

Generic CVs WILL NOT Get You An Interview – This Will.

There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than a CV which is quite obviously generic. Granted I’m not an employer. However, a perk of my job is interrogating employers. This isn’t a perk due to some twisted power trip. It’s a perk because it is a perfect excuse to have a pint. Drunken employers are truthful employers.

So it follows that I can’t actually reveal the name of this employer. Nevertheless, I can reveal the main focus of his slurred wisdom:


I don’t think said employer (let’s call him Tom) could have been more explicit. Employers know when a CV is generic. No two companies in the same field of work are the same. Each will have a different ethos. Each will have taken on different work. Each will want something different from their candidates.

This information is generally available from the website, but of course this is the first place other people will look and you’ll end up with the same information as the rest of the candidates. You want to look different. You want to look better. Try these:

a. Read a Decent Newspaper – Stay on Top of Current Affairs

‘Naomi, 24 from Brighton’ does not have insightful political views. She doesn’t even really like football. Don’t read a tabloid. Read a broadsheet. They will get you thinking, introduce you to new ways of approaching relevant issues and, above all, introduce you in a concise and sufficient manner to issues that are going to be highly relevant to your field of interest.

b. Use Research Tools Available to You at University

You will have ways of finding out what projects your targeted employer has been involved in.

Lawyers: Use Westlaw or Lexis to find out what high profile cases your targeted employer has been involved with. Find out which cases they have been successful in.

Business Students: Use EU documentation to find out about relatively large scale contracts. Registration of such contracts is compulsory if they meet certain financial thresholds.

Arts Students: Explore! Use journals. Use galleries. Use agency websites.

The list is not exhaustive. Students of all disciplines have unique research tools. Use them!

c. Look at the Job Description and Tell Them Why You Fit It

If they have told you what they want, why would you tell them you’re something different? It’s like asking for lager and receiving ale. It might look the same (if slightly off), but it tastes like Humber water. That’s not to say an employer is going to want to taste you. I would imagine that would be strictly against the rules. It means you must fit the description in substance. You must show that your substance is of a far greater quality than that of Pierre from Oxbridge. Pierre is relying on his university status. You’re relying on your substantive skills. It’s very, very doable.

So what’s the moral of the story? Tailor your CVs. Do not be generic. Go that one step further. Win that interview.


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