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My Kickstart Experience

For nearly the last two years, the UK has been sent reeling by the Coronavirus pandemic, and
even after months of lockdown, the country still continues to feel the long lasting effects of the
pandemic. Once the furlough began to end and companies began to re-employ, many young
people were, and still are, in search of a suitable job. After having so much free time to
contemplate, some are using the opportunity of the now shifting market to reestablish
themselves in a career direction they want.

Kickstart is a government scheme that has been implemented as a way to alleviate some of
these issues and funnel the many unemployed young adults into the job market. Since
September, I’ve been employed here at Atwood Tate, a recruitment agency specialising in the
publishing industry, through Kickstart as a Sales and Marketing Administrator, and I’d like to talk
about my experience so far.

Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, I was working as a bartender and server at a restaurant
to help support myself during my degree at university – all of that has changed since. Once
lockdown began in March, I had continued my studies whilst receiving furlough pay from my
then employer. At first, I found this to be quite a convenient set-up, I was essentially getting paid
fully to study, and I had more free time to really explore many hobbies and art. However, I had
felt that I was losing a passion, if not even a sincere reason, to continue with my degree without
the human interaction of being in an in-person lecture, amongst friends and many people, and
as such I’d decided to put my degree on hold after my first term.

At about this time, the UK attempted to leave lockdown for the first time. My last few weeks of
working were quite stressful, as we were expected to keep up with stringent measures against
COVID-19 that we were simply not equipped for, and it made a job I once enjoyed quite
stressful. Once we were asked to come back during the UK’s first attempt at easing out of
lockdown, I knew those conditions were not worth the distress, especially since it was likely that
we would have to shut down again quite quickly regardless, so I simply asked to leave.

That left me, like many, many young people, without a job unexpectedly. After a long period of
unemployment, I’d been informed on the Kickstart programme by Universal Credit. To explain it
very briefly, Kickstart is a programme where the government pays companies the costs of
employing a person, and those companies are incentivised to offer 6-month contract jobs on the
Kickstart system where they are available to people in the age band of 18-25. It sounded like it
was absolutely worth having a look, and I was shown some of the jobs available to me.

While some sounded worthwhile, my work coach was clear with me that there were plenty of
options, and I could wait until one that really suited me cropped up. After only a couple of
weeks, one caught my eye and I’d asked if an interview could be set up. The next week, I was
sat down with my current bosses, where we had a very down-to-earth and reassuring interview –
I was somewhat nervous after such a long time out of the job market entirely, and this was very
helpful. Fortunately, I made the cut and now I’m working here today.

So, as you can see the process was quite painless in my experience, but how about the job
itself? The first thing that’s important to understand before I talk about my responsibilities and
what I do here is that while Kickstart is legitimate, legal employment, it should be inherently
different from a normal job in some ways. Namely, the job is specifically intended to also be a
form of training for the employee, somewhat like an apprenticeship, but with more broad
intentions for what you take away as opposed to a specific trade or skill.

That aside, my role at Atwood Tate is a very flexible and fluid one, it’s specifically designed like
this so I can take away a breadth of skills and ask to focus on tasks that I feel will give me the
skills that I feel are the most useful and important for me. Because of that, it ranges from
administrative work on the database of our clientele, to engaging with our candidates and
liaising between them and the companies they’re applying for to set-up interviews, to doing
exactly what I’m doing now – producing content for our social media channels. This is only
halfway through my contract, and I have a lot of avenues that I’ve been down and many to
potentially explore yet, such as producing video content.

I’m also offered training from my bosses in areas that I feel I could learn for general
employability – CV writing, communication, teamwork, whatever I felt could be taught to me I can
ask for if I feel I need improvement there. The atmosphere here is very sincere, tight-knit and
friendly and it made it easy to acclimate to my first experience in a more professional office
environment because of it.

From my experience, I really can’t recommend enough that anyone looking for a job in the
eligible age band at least tries Kickstart out once, has a look at what’s available and sees for
themselves. It’s been excellent for myself and many others I’ve talked to and, in my experience,
entirely worth the little effort it is to look.

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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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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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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 or email us at

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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

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Ideas to Keep Your Team Motivated

It has been a difficult six months on many levels – the uncertainty of the economy, the isolation of working at home, the challenge to keep focussed and motivated. All this on top of keeping both ourselves, and our loved ones, safe from the pandemic. I thought I would share how the Atwood Tate team have been coping and why we now find ourselves ready for the winter with renewed energy and confidence.

Uno joining ‘Hour of Power’!

At the start of the lockdown, we were acutely aware of how tough it was going to be. As a small company with a team who were used to sharing ideas and encouraging each other in an already tough market, the idea of a weekly Zoom meeting didn’t fill any of us with much enthusiasm.

A couple of years ago I had qualified in teaching a fitness class called Hour of PowerTM. As a qualified personal trainer in my spare time, I was keen for a new challenge. I loved teaching the class, but I found that the competition for fitness classes in my area and the fact that it was an unknown class made it very difficult to cover my costs. I ended up finishing before Christmas 2019 and had no motivation or confidence to start it up again in January 2020.

Charlie joining ‘Hour of Power’!

Fast forward to March 2020 and I find myself in a Director’s Meeting saying I could always do a weekly fitness class on Zoom…perhaps? Well, it was received with far more enthusiasm than I thought it would! And so, on a Wednesday lunchtime in April the team appeared on the screen in front of me in Lycra, and we have not looked back!

I think we have only missed three sessions over the months – due to holiday or illness. We have exercised through the heatwave, with some of the team furloughed and some not, when there’s been little happening in the market, and when we’ve all probably felt it is the last thing we want to do. But, it has been a really positive experience for us all. Before and after the class we have a chat – rarely about just work. We have got to know each other much better, and the smiling faces and laughter after the class lift the spirits well into the afternoon. Physical activity is certainly a tonic and mood enhancer, whatever your fitness level (it may also have had something to do with my faithful sidekicks Charley the dog and Uno the conure bird, who always make their presence known!). Plus, keeping fit increases confidence. We have all tackled difficult tasks we may otherwise have kept delaying and we have also revelled in the achievement of regular exercise, as we have seen and felt a difference in ourselves. For me it has helped me regain my confidence and belief in the class as a means of building strength, stamina and confidence, which feed into other areas of our lives.

I think it has become a staple of the weekly routine for us all and we have no plans to stop, unless we all become too busy to fit it in. But, in that case it will have done its job, tiding us over a difficult period, keeping us motivated. Or we may just reschedule it to a different time!

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Top 20 Interview Tips

Interview Tips

Interviews can be nerve racking and with many interviews now being conducted remotely it can be more difficult to appear relaxed and be able to get your personality across.  Whatever structure your interview takes and whatever level of role you are being interviewed for, the one things that remains unchanged is that preparation is still the key. The more you prepare the better chance of success you have.

There is a huge amount of advice out there to help you nail your interview, but we have put together a reminder of our top 20 tips for a successful interview.

1              BE PREPARED


3              SMILE & BE FRIENDLY

4              DON’T PANIC


6              BE ENTHUSIASTIC















Good luck!

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Why a diverse workforce can pay dividends

Creating a more diverse workforce should not just be seen as something to improve a company’s reputation or just used as a box ticking exercise, it should be recognised for something that will give you a competitive advantage and therefore ultimately increase success and profits.

Creating a team with different backgrounds and characteristics will enable you to challenge your thoughts and look at things from different perspectives, which in turn increases your creativity.

Research by Josh Bersin shows that companies who are the most inclusive are, amongst other benefits, 1.8 times more likely to be ‘change-ready’ which in today’s market is certainly a crucial skill to harness.

It is well documented that Publishing is an industry that has struggled with diversity and its ability or willingness to publish books that can appeal to and reach multiple audiences and although obviously not the complete answer, rethinking hiring practices has to be a starting point. As the recent well publicised academic study on diversity in trade fiction and the publishing industry Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing suggests ‘hiring more people who belong to marginalised communities will benefit publishers strongly in terms of helping them tap into new audiences – but only if they are given the resources and freedom to do this work’.  It goes on to say ‘while it is tempting to hire the person who fits in with the ‘culture’ of a publishing house, hiring people who do not fit the typical mould might in fact reap the biggest rewards if they are given the freedom and space to express themselves’.

As an agency and partner in our client’s recruitment, we take this responsibility seriously and do everything possible to facilitate the broadest possible reach and range of potential talent to offer them. To help combat ‘unconscious bias’, we can offer more standardised CVs which can include:

  • Removing candidate’s names
  • Removing university names
  • Removing current or previous employer details

We work with our clients to continually challenge our perceptions and some clients are asking us to specifically include a certain range of candidates where at all possible ie at least 1 female candidate, at least 1 male candidate (for roles such as editorial that have traditionally attracted mostly females) and at least 1 BAME candidate.  Where this is not possible, we are able to show that we have been fully inclusive with our searching and advertising criteria.  More and more clients are also opening their selection criteria to candidates outside of publishing, where this is possible.

As an agency, we encourage transparency when advertising new opportunities, particularly with salaries, as keeping salaries secret can increase discrimination. A candidate could be chosen simply because they are able or willing to accept a lower salary. To attract the right candidates to a company we need to look not only at their relevant ‘hard skills’ but also whether they are aligned to the company’s values and priorities. Transparency at an early stage, both with salaries and company culture, not only builds trust but also wastes less time. Even if we are not able to advertise the salary, we only approach candidates that we think are in the right bracket and do not put any candidates forward without them being aware of what the salary and other benefits are likely to be. We do not only look at the candidate’s current salary to determine whether they are a fit for the role, we look at whether they are qualified for the role, regardless of their current salary.

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