Category Archives: Advice

Interview, CV, Job Seeking Advice.

Should I consider a Kickstart Placement?

As the UK has exited the COVID-19 lockdown and looks forward to recovery as restrictions are eased, the uncertain question on many people’s minds is reentering the job market – not just how they should after a tumultuous stretch of financial uncertainty, but for some whether they should or not, if it’s worth it, and so on. Yet for many, the uncomfortable answer to that question stands as it is — despite some sectors experiencing vast vacancies, steady and desirable employment can still be difficult to find. Fortunately, in order to circumvent this, the DWP has created the Kickstart Scheme to help get young people into the job market.

Why do we need it?

The Kickstart Scheme was started up in the Autumn of 2020. Whilst many workers received furlough pay with the intention of job retention, over 2 million were nevertheless forced to receive unemployment to support themselves, with those between 18 to 24 years old disproportionately affected. This, compounded with the job market of the near future looking to be one of the hardest in several decades, due to employer’s having to close permanently, is exactly why a scheme like Kickstart is a much needed grace, when finding a job will be so deeply competitive and, frankly, brutal for those in the ever cramped graduate career market, further exacerbated.

What exactly is the scheme?

The principal premise of the scheme is that the DWP will reimburse businesses that appoint Kickstart employees by providing one hundred per cent of their salaries (at the country wide minimum/living wage) for 25 hours of work per week over a six month-long work placement. These salaries come out to:

  • £462 per month if they are younger than 18
  • £656 per month between 18 and 20
  • £836 per month between 21 and 22
  • £891 per month between 23 and 24

The employers are rewarded with keen employees who have the motivation and aptitude to adapt to a new environment. Naturally, through assuaging the prices of hiring and coaching younger (and generally much less experienced) employees, employers will be incentivised to take on younger and less experienced employees. In return, the Kickstart employee receives job stability and develops skills so that upon the end of the contract, if not permanently hired by the company, they have the skills and experience to move onto something more permanent or a stepping stone for where they hope to go. The scheme is managed by Jobcentre Plus, who have work coaches responsible for allocating compatible candidates for the placements.

In the best of scenarios, Kickstart employees have carried on at their job after the six month contract period. However, even if they do not, employees have come out with excellently developed job skills and in turn the necessary building blocks for professional development on a path to secure long-term employment into an overall better, forward-thinking job market for their skills.

When does it run until?

Only recently, the DWP has issued an extension on the Kickstart scheme that extends the time employers will be able to hire through the programme until March of 2022 — bear in mind that the deadline to create an application is 17th December, in one month’s time. It is possible that with enough support the scheme is extended further, but there’s no word on this so far and is realistically not the more likely outcome, so it’s truly now or never for prospective employees.

Is it worth it?

Feedback coming from successfully placed Kickstart candidates shows the satisfaction ratings seem strong and there is still a vast, vast array of jobs open – many you can find advertised on the jobs posting board on our website – that are sure to have something suitable for any young person looking to find an avenue into a professional life, from a truly diverse range of sectors and types of position.

Ultimately, the Kickstart scheme has proven its worth to many budding employees and we here at Atwood Tate almost always see amazing outcomes for both parties upon a successful Kickstart placement. If you are in the age bracket and looking for work, do consider inquiring at your local Jobseeker’s if only for this reason, bearing in mind the roles on offer are deceptively great, and get onto the scheme.

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Want to Get in Publishing?  Why not Consider ‘Kickstart’ Opportunities?

As most people will be aware, publishing is a very competitive industry and getting your first break can be difficult. Kickstart placements allow companies to perhaps be more open minded when selecting candidates for the roles created, as it gives both the company and the candidate the opportunity to see if the position suits them before committing to a permanent role.  It may also give the Kickstarter the opportunity to learn more about the various roles within publishing and keep open-minded about where they see themselves most suited.  In other words, it gives both parties the opportunity to potentially widen their criteria, when both looking for and creating opportunities.

Do I Qualify for Kickstart Placements?

If you are aged between 16 and 24 and currently claiming Universal Credit, then you should qualify. You will need to be registered with a work coach who will be able to advise you of opportunities that they think might suit you.  You will then apply, either directly to the company or through an approved Government Gateway (ie Atwood Tate). The more information you can give your work coach about the type of roles you would be particularly interested in, the better.

What Will I Get Out of these Placements?

Not only will these opportunities give you some much valued work experience, you will also be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for your age group and will work for at least 25 hours per week on a 6 month contract.

Alongside the particular work placement skills learnt, you will also have the opportunity to build on general ‘soft’ skills to put you in the best possible position to find a permanent role within the industry at the end of your placement.  Throughout the placement, you should receive advice/help with recognising and building on key workplace skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, organisation, planning and self-motivation etc and hopefully learn more about what direction you want to go in with your future career. There is obviously the real opportunity of being kept on with the company after your placement, if you do well and the company is in a position to hire at that point. At the very least, you will be in a much better position to start applying for permanent opportunities elsewhere.

Towards the end of the placement, you will be able to get advice on what type of roles to apply for, how to make the most of your work experience and showcase this experience through your CV and social media profiles.

How are Atwood Tate Involved?

Atwood Tate are an approved Government Gateway for Media and Publishing roles.  We have helped many of our clients to secure funding to create Kickstart Placements and we expect many of these jobs to become available over the coming months.  We will be advertising some of these roles, hopefully as soon as next month, so it is worth registering your CV (and putting ‘Kickstart’ as your job choice) and ensuring that you follow us on our social media channels, such as LinkedIn.

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Writing a CV With Little or No Experience

Looking for your first job can be a daunting experience, as you need to be able to ‘sell’ yourself to potential recruiters and this doesn’t always come naturally. Writing your CV is a chance to really think about the skills you have learnt to date and how you can deploy them both in your application and interviews.

We have some great advice about formatting your CV on our website but here I want to go through in more detail how you can add content to your CV even if you haven’t had much work experience. Apart from work experience you have many skills that you’ll have developed through some other kind of experience, be it volunteering, hobbies or extracurricular activities. It is important to showcase these on your CV.

Include a Personal Statement

Your personal statement is the first thing a recruiter will read on your CV, so this needs to be good.  Although this will head up your CV you may want to write the rest of your CV before attempting this. Ideally you will have three to five lines about yourself, your skills and what makes you the perfect candidate for the role. Remember to keep it short and concise.

Make Your CV More Skills Focused

Without much work experience you will need to make your CV more skills focused. Include examples of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills and a good way of starting to think about these is by looking at the job descriptions that you want to apply for.  These are all likely to list skills and qualities that the recruiter is looking for in their ideal candidate and the trick is to match yourself to these as far a possible, whilst remaining honest so that you are able to back them up.  Always try and expand on your skills by giving examples of how you have demonstrated these in the past.  See our previous blog on the ‘Top 5 Transferable ‘Soft’ Skills’.

Enthusiasm and interest in the company counts for more than you may think. If you are able to show your enthusiasm for both the role and future potential within the company it could put you in a stronger position.

Taking online professional development courses can be a fantastic way of adding to your CV and we covered this in our recent blog ‘Free Online Courses to Boost Your Skills’.

Lastly you can always include a hobbies or interests section to your CV, particularly if you can show how these link to the job you are applying for. These could include memberships of any societies or organisations that you belong to or any fund raising events you have been involved with.

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Top 5 Transferable ‘Soft’ Skills and How to Highlight them in a Job Application

It is a catch 22 situation that until you have got experience, how are you supposed to show your skillset to prospective employers in order to get that experience?

Until you have work experience and have been able to gain ‘hard’ skills you will really need to make the most of your ‘soft’ skills. Showing you have relevant transferable skills and demonstrating how these skills could be applied in the workplace is vital to your application when in competition for entry-level job roles.

Soft skills will continue to be important throughout your career as these are what are likely to set you apart from your counterparts. With the increasing rise in automation, these skills are likely to become more important as interpersonal skills cannot be replaced by automation.

A workplace learning report published in 2018 found that 57% of Senior Leaders thought that soft skills were more important than hard skills.

The top 5 surveyed most in demand soft skills identified for 2020 as listed in this blog post by LinkedIn were:

  • Creativity
  • Leadership (Persuasion)
  • People Skills (Collaboration)
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional Intelligence

So, let’s break down each of these skills with some suggestions on how you could present them and show your ability to prospective employers.

Creativity

Think of a time when you have come up with a new, inventive idea or found a solution to a difficult problem.  This could come from a hobby, sport you play or work experience.  Being able to think outside the box and display creativity is important in many jobs.

Leadership (Persuasion)

It is no good having a great product or idea if no-one listens to you, so being persuasive is a fantastic skill to have. Being able to take the lead in situations and support others will also be vital in many roles so showing an example of where you were able to do this is important.  You may have gained leadership experience through volunteering, hobbies, clubs, or academic projects?  Have you been captain of a team, organized a quiz, lead a group trip/holiday?  Think about the experiences you have had and how you can apply leadership skills to these.

People Skills (Collaboration)

Being able to communicate well and work well as part of a team is important in most roles. The supportive relationships that you build at work are what makes it a great place to be and leads to greater success for the business. Think of an example where you have collaborated with others to get the best out of an idea or situation, possibly in an academic or previous work setting. You may also have examples from team sports. People skills will be particularly important to demonstrate if applying for sales or customer support roles.

Adaptability

The last year has shown just how important this skill is. Showing you are able to adapt and respond quickly to changes is vital to many companies if they are to remain agile. Companies will want to know that you are flexible and eager to learn. A good example may be that the strategy/processes for assessing your student learning changed but you responded positively and adapted quickly to the new system?

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence was new to the top 5 last year and is becoming increasingly important to employers. There are many ways emotional intelligence can be measured but it can be very subjective. Many identify it as a mix of self-awareness, social skills, empathy and motivation. One way of demonstrating this during your job application could be by talking about a mistake you have made and how you handled it. It may seem counter intuitive to highlight a mistake but everyone makes them and what an employer wants to know is that you are able to recognise mistakes and learn from them.

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Free Online Courses to Boost Your Skills, Confidence and CV

Looking for your first job can be daunting and applying for numerous positions without success can be demoralizing and demotivating. There is huge competition out there and finding ways to make yourself stand out with limited or no experience can be difficult.

Feel more in control of your job search

Taking advantage of the huge amount of online courses to develop your skills, will not only give you more confidence and more skills to add to your CV, it will also help you to keep motivated and positive.  A lot of the job application process is out of your control and it can be very difficult to keep picking yourself up after rejections and disappointments.  Setting aside time to take online courses will help you feel more in control and boost your future job prospects.

Online learning shown to improve mental health

Results of a study published by think tank Demos last year, revealed that 10% of the UK’s total economic output was linked to online learning. Of the 20,000 UK citizens polled for the research, 1 in 3 of them had used online learning to help them get a new job. The report also revealed that continued online learning is a fantastic way to improve your salary, on average boosting it by £3640 per year. It estimated that 20 million people in Britain felt that online learning has, at some stage, contributed to their professional output. Furthermore, and crucially, online learning was also shown to improve our mental health with more than three quarters of people who learn online (77%) recognising the benefits to personal wellbeing.

The set of FREE courses available through the government’s skills toolkit, has some fantastic online learning opportunities to improve skills in areas such as practical maths, computer essentials, personal growth & wellbeing, business & finance, digital design & marketing and computer science & coding.  There are various levels of courses available within each discipline.

Pearson has also recently developed a series of employability skills courses designed to help people entering the professional workplace build those core skills needed for long-term success, like communication, complex decision-making and creativity. These online, self-paced short courses feature real-world projects and one-to-one mentoring, helping learners gain the experience they need to set themselves apart in the graduate and ‘early career’ employment market. You can review the 10 courses currently available via their website.  All these courses are currently FREE until 19th March 2021.

There are many other free online courses available so it is worth searching to see what is right for you and what will add the most value to your job search and career.

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How to deal with job rejections

Try to find positives

Just got rejected from your dream job following the interview?  If so, we know how difficult this can be to come to terms with, particularly in the current difficult job market. The excitement of getting through to the interview stage has been replaced with huge disappointment and often self-doubt.  With any form of disappointment it is good to remember that it is often not what happens to us that defines us, but how we react and deal with it.

Build a resilient mind-set

Building a resilient mind-set is the key to being able to handle rejection in a more balanced and constructive way. Resiliency will help you to keep a more positive and adaptable attitude when things don’t go as you had hoped and allow you to focus more on the opportunities that can be created from the lessons learnt.

Instead of dwelling on the things you can’t change, try to think objectively about what you can do to improve future chances. The first thing to remember, is that in an extremely competitive job market such as this, you have done well to get as far as you did.  This shows that you are capable of success, so you just need to keep going and keep believing in yourself.  Once the initial disappointment has subsided, take stock of what you have learned from the opportunity and use the positives and negatives to take you forward to your next application.

Ask for feedback

Try and get as much feedback as you can following your interview – this will help you know what to focus on going forward.  Where feedback is not available, you will need to draw your own conclusions about what went well and what areas could be improved.  Whilst doing this, try to be constructive and positive. If for example you felt that the interviewer didn’t realise how experienced you were at a particular task, try to think of how you could have presented the facts to them in a clearer way and maybe given some better examples.  It is again important to remember, that in the current market, companies have a much wider choice where they are often able to choose from several different candidates that may all be a 100% match. This means that you may miss out on an opportunity even where you felt you could not have done anything better.

Practice the areas you felt were your weakest

If the reason you have missed out this time was for lack of technical knowledge make sure you improve and practice this for future opportunities.  There are many online courses available to help you brush up on different technical skills. If you felt you may have missed out by lack of interview style or confidence, practice with friends and family, answering generic interview questions. Make sure you are well versed on the most common competency based interview questions and have examples ready to show how you would deal with things in practice.

Even if you haven’t been successful on this occasion, it doesn’t necessarily close the door to future opportunities with the particular company.  It is therefore always worth following up an interview with an email to say how you enjoyed hearing more about the opportunity and remain interested in both the role and the company.

Accept rejection as part of the process

None of us land every job we go for and learning to accept rejection as part of the process will help to keep things in perspective. Our brains are hardwired to pay more attention to negative events than to positive ones, so we need to accept that we will feel disappointed and disheartened, but build our resolve to take the positives forward and work on the negatives ready for our next opportunity.

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Corporate and Social Responsibility and COVID-19

Many companies have projects that they sponsor or charities that they donate to in the course of their business, benefiting a multitude of good causes. But, what about one cause, slowly unfolding before us and on an inevitable growth curve over the next few months.

Effects of Covid-19 on Youth Unemployment

COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of sadness and disruption to thousands personally, but economically worse is yet to come.

According to the Resolution Foundation (The Guardian 7th October, 2020, Richard Partington Covid generation: UK youth unemployment ‘set to triple to 80s levels’”) from October to the end of this year we could be facing an increase in youth unemployment (those aged 16-24 and not in education)  from 5.5% to 17%. This would match 1984 level under the Thatcher Government, at a time of great economic disruption, most notably a year dominated by the miners’ strike.

Lasting Damage of Early Unemployment

This grim forecast is due to the COVID second wave and the fact the youngest and oldest of the workforce are overrepresented by job losses in the Leisure, Hospitality and Retail sectors. However, surveys show that it will be the younger age group that will suffer most from the lasting damage from unemployment early in their career, and the danger of subsequent mental health issues. The RF reported the proportion of adults experiencing poor mental health in 2020 had increased by 80% among 18- to 29-year-olds compared to a 2019, the biggest increase of any age group.

Government’s Kickstart Scheme

The Government’s Kickstart initiative announced in the summer is something we can all as businesses get involved in and help stem this threat of long term youth unemployment. It is something we can all easily add on to our Corporate and Social Responsibilities. Offering businesses funding to cover minimum wages for 25 hours a week on 6 month placements plus a £1500 grant for each placement, the Government is hoping that 16-24 year olds currently on Universal Credit and facing long term unemployment will gain vital work experience, professional development and, most of all, hope.

How Smaller Companies Can Apply

If the stipulation of a minimum of 30 roles per application is prohibitive for smaller companies, they are able to pool together with other companies or seek out a Gateway company who will coordinate applications. The Government is also offering £300 to the applicant (whether the company or the Gateway company) for each role started to cover application administration costs. So, unless you want to top the job up to full time or increase the wages, it really is an initiative that costs the company nothing except the time to fill in an application form and to write a job description for each role.

Finding a Kickstart Gateway

Atwood Tate are acting as a Gateway and we have had a wonderful response from SME client companies who want to get involved. If you would like further details about this scheme you can find FAQs on our website at www.atwoodtate.co.uk/kickstart or email us at kickstart@atwoodtate.co.uk.

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Are you Able to ‘Kickstart’ a Young Person’s Career?

The government is calling on ‘every employer, big and small, national or local’ to hire as many ‘Kickstarters’ as possible, through their newly launched Kickstart Scheme.

These newly created job placements should help the ‘Kickstarters’ develop skills and experience that will help them with their future career prospects.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

Kickstart is a Uk Government Scheme which provides funding to employers to create thousands of job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit.

The Government will fund 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions, for 6 months. £1,500 is also available per placement for support and training.

Who can apply for funding?

All UK companies are eligible to apply for funding but if they have less than 30 placements to offer they must apply through a representative organistation/gateway. The only criteria is that the job placements created with Kickstart funding must be new jobs and cannot:

  • replace existing or planned vacancies
  • cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce their employment

The roles you are applying for must be:

  • a minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group
  • should not require people to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement

Each application should include how you will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including:

  • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
  • support with CV and interview preparations
  • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as communication, problem solving and teamwork

How can Atwood Tate help?

As a passionate advocate of the scheme, Atwood Tate are delighted to get involved by acting as an intermediary organisation/gateway to facilitate our clients’ access to the scheme.  It is a fantastic opportunity for us all to give hope to the hundreds of young people that are getting in touch with us, concerned about their futures.

There has been some criticism and concern that many smaller businesses may be disadvantaged by the scheme in relation to their larger counterparts because companies taking on fewer than 30 new young workers are prevented from applying directly for funds. To address this problem, we are delighted to be working with our clients to pool your job vacancies and apply for funding on your behalf.

When Does the Kickstart Scheme Start?

The scheme is open for applications now and the DWP expect to be able to confirm funding within 4 weeks of the application.

How to Apply?

You can apply through our gateway as a completely free service, or you can take advantage of our large network, skills and experience to provide you with a more comprehensive package. Details of all our packages can be found on our website www.atwoodtate.co.uk

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How Company Culture Can Impact Recruiting?

How you consider your company culture can have a big impact on the way you recruit. It is widely considered that hiring for ‘cultural fit’ is a sensible approach to recruitment.  It makes sense that candidates hired with ‘cultural fit’ in mind are more likely to start really becoming part of your team much quicker, be happier in their role and in turn stay longer with your company.

BUT, if the definition of your culture is too rigid, it could lead to a lack of diversity by allowing ‘bias’ to creep in and consciously or unconsciously favouring people with similar backgrounds to your own. 

Consider cultural contribution rather than just cultural fit

Rather than just fixating on finding people that ‘fit in’ and align exactly to your beliefs and behaviours, it is better to think about how they might contribute to these. If you see value in hiring people who bring new perspectives and ways of thinking to your business, then you are already thinking about ‘cultural contribution’, rather than just immediate and obvious fit. 

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t define your values and culture and recruit with these in mind, but you shouldn’t be restricted by them. It is important that you recruit for people that will stretch your ability to innovate and adapt, as challenging the status quo is what will drive your business forward. Your recruitment approach needs to fact based, so that candidates are measured by their strengths and behaviour, rather than whether they are ‘similar’ to the people you already have.

Make ‘cultural contribution’ a company value

If you make cultural contribution a value of your company and are able to demonstrate and articulate the benefits to your existing team, you are less likely to create disharmony. People are often threatened by things that they are not familiar with or don’t understand but if you are able to show that cultural contribution can help them and the business to grow and evolve, you are more likely to take them with you on the journey.

Very often it can be a company’s perceived culture that holds them back so having people challenge this by having their own new ideas can have a positive impact.  Culture does not need to be fixed, instead it can adapt and evolve to create an environment where everyone can fit.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Recruitment Agency

Honesty is the best policy

The most important thing in the relationship with your recruitment agency, is honesty.  The more honest and open that both candidates and clients are, the more they are likely to get out of partnering with a recruitment agency.

As a candidate being honest about what you want and expect from a job is made easier by having a third party to ‘sound out’ your expectations.  This will give you the opportunity to find out if these are realistic and feasible without potentially ruining opportunities.  If you are using a specialist agency, they will be extremely experienced in the industry and be able to offer vital advice.  It is great for candidates to be focussed and have a good idea of what they want and this enables agencies to match them with the right employers for them.  It is also important that they are realistic and ensure that they have the relevant skills and experience that the role requires and a good agency will be able to advise where and if there is any flexibility on this.  Communication with your agency is key and ensuring that you are available to pick up and answer messages, either by phone or email, as promptly as possible will ensure that you don’t miss out on potential opportunities. If you are flexible and reliable, your recruitment agency is much more likely to be proactive on your behalf.  If you are unsure of anything it is always best to ask and if you are worried about any particular aspect of the job or remuneration package it is always good to raise this with your agency at the earliest possible opportunity. Always let your agency know about other opportunities you are exploring as a good agency should offer impartial advice and be more focussed on creating long term partnerships than the quick win. They should therefore hopefully have your interests at heart and give you the information and benefit of their experience to allow you to make the right choice for you.

Keep your agency informed of any changes

As a client, it is also extremely important to be as honest as possible with your agency partner. The goalposts will often move throughout the recruitment process but keeping your agency updated and aware of these changes is critical to ensuring they are able to manage the candidate’s expectations.  Honest feedback on the candidates is also essential so that the agency can help to ensure that the candidates are going for the right opportunities for them and are able to learn from their experiences.  Clients also need to be realistic with their expectations and realise that it is not always possible to tick every box.  Again, a good specialist agency will be able to give advice on where it is best to be flexible as they are likely to have an excellent grasp on the current market. Where possible it is always best to use one specialist agency rather than multiple agencies as this commitment will be matched by the agency’s commitment.  Partnering with the right agency and showing commitment to them will allow them to become a great ambassador for your company to ensure you maintain the value of your employer brand.

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