You’ll know that you have what it takes to succeed in the role for which you have applied, but if you’re going to make the job yours, you’ll also need to convince the hiring team. This is a multi-layered process that begins with your job application and ends with the job interview. The last hurdle, the interview, is often the most difficult part. And it doesn’t help that many people inadvertently kill their chances of success just by making some easy to avoid mistakes.
That’s why we, at The Benevolent Society of Blues, thought it would be a good idea to run through some of the most common mistakes. Old Blues, be sure to avoid them at all costs!
Arriving Late (Or Too Early)
If you’re late when you’re trying to make a good impression, the hiring team will only wonder how late you’ll be when you’re comfortable in your role. If the interview location is far from your home, give yourself plenty of time to arrive with time to spare for your interview. You should also avoid arriving too early; there’s a risk that you’ll disrupt the interviewers’ schedule, and that’ll only annoy them. If you arrive at the location more than fifteen minutes before your scheduled interview time, just grab a coffee and go over your prepared interview notes.
It’s always important to dress to impress, even if the company has a relaxed dress code policy for employees. Your outfit should be professional and clean, two telltale signs that you’re serious about the role and want to make a good impression. Have a loved one check your appearance for any imperfections before you leave home.
The interviewer will want to see that you’re enthusiastic about being there and that you’re engaged with the interview. If you’re on your phone, then that shows that you’re more interested in whatever’s happening on your device than the interview. If you’re dealing with a personal issue that’s so important that you must look at your phone, then you should reschedule the interview. If you’re looking to kill time before your interview, then go over your CV.
You should know all the relevant dates and other pieces of information listed on your CV by heart. It’s your life, after all! Looking uncertain about the details of your CV can be a red flag to interviewers, even if there’s a legitimate reason for being so. It’s always a good idea to take a printed copy of your CV with you to the interview, so you can go over your employment history while you’re waiting (and also remind yourself of all the skills you’ll bring to the role!).
You’ll want to answer the interviewers’ questions fully, but you should also do so succinctly. Before answering, take a breath and remember to only volunteer information that’s relevant to the question. People tend to talk quickly and give more details than necessary when they’re nervous. But your nerves are something that you can control. You should also give the interviewer plenty of space to talk. They’ll have a lot to say, and giving them the floor will also help to keep the power balance in check.
It can be cathartic to express all your anger/resentment/negative thoughts about a previous employer. But save those conversations for friends and family. It will not look good in the eyes of the interviewer, no matter how correct you think you may be. If you’re actively asked about a previous employer, find a way to put a positive spin on your experience. You’ll surely have learned a lot and have some ideas about how you’ll incorporate that knowledge into your new role.
You are the subject that you know best, and you’ll also be trying to impress your interviewer. So it makes sense that you’ll be talking a lot about yourself. But it’s not a good idea to only talk about yourself. In the eyes of the interviewer, this will appear as if you’re only interested in what you can get out of the role. They’ll be looking for signs that you’re committed to the company’s values, goals, and future. A good way to highlight your commitment to your employers is to discuss any meaningful contributions you made to your last company.
Most interviewers ask the applicant if they have any questions towards the end of the interview. Make sure you have a few up your sleeve. These questions should not be overly personal, nor should they be questions that are answered on their website. You could ask about the company’s goals and future, the management style, or the team with which you’ll be working.
We say so much without saying any words whatsoever. The interviewer will learn a lot about you just from your body language, so make sure that what they learn is positive. Standing tall, making eye contact, and offering a firm handshake are easy to do and ensure that you get off on the right foot. Throughout the interview, maintaining correct posture, regular eye contact, and frequent smiles can all be small cues that you’re engaging with the process.
You’ll have been involved in a single interview. Your interviewer may have been involved in dozens. Sending a follow-up email thanking them for their time and stating that you’re still interested in the role can go a long way towards keeping you in their thoughts. If appropriate, you can include a detail from the interview that made an impression on you; this is a great way to show the interviewer that you were listening and engaged during the interview.
There’s no way to guarantee interview success. But there are plenty of things you can do that’ll gently nudge the odds of being successful in your favour. Here at BSB, we know that if you’re well-prepared, calm, and avoid making the mistakes outlined above, you’ll be giving yourself a good shot of being successful.
Gambling is a massive part of modern culture and it exists in many different forms. These days, it’s easier than ever for someone to start gambling with their money. From online casinos to sports betting websites, you can find just about anything to tickle your fancy. Indeed, many people gamble for the enjoyment and excitement it brings. But, when you don’t understand how to gamble responsible, big problems are on the horizon.
Consequently, we have put together a guide to help you understand the right and wrong ways to gamble. We urge you to read through all the points as you may spot some warning signs that you or someone you know has a gambling addiction and needs help.
Your mindset and your approach to gambling are extremely important if you want to be responsible. Under no circumstances should you ever look to gamble as a way of making money. The very nature of gambling means you will lose more than you win. Even people that win big sometimes will most likely have a net loss over time. It isn’t a viable way of earning money, so don’t think that you can take it up as a part-time job or get-rich-quick scheme.
Instead, you need to be in the mindset that gambling is for fun. You do it for the excitement, not for the money. Winning money is a bonus, but it’s not your main focus. View gambling in the same way that you’d view going to the cinema or watching your football team play.
If you are going to look at gambling as something you do for entertainment, you need to approach it in the same way you’d approach everything else. Would you go to the cinema every single day and spend over £10 a day on tickets, popcorn, etc? No, because it’s way too costly and you’d spend too much money.
The same needs to be thought about when gambling. Set yourself a budget before you gamble. This is the amount of money you are prepared to spend. Always be sure that you can afford to spend it beforehand – never gamble if you’re in debt or have bills coming up to pay. Use your spare money that’s left over after all the important things have been paid for, but make sure you have a limit that you’ll stop at.
Putting a bet on at the weekend is a fun way for many people to gamble. It’s something to do with friends as you place small bets on big accumulators to see if you get lucky. It also adds more entertainment to the sporting events you’re watching. Similarly, going to the casino once in a while is another way to have fun with friends.
The problem is when you start gambling all the time. You shouldn’t be placing bets or going to casinos every single day. This shows you are starting to develop a dependency on gambling, which is never a good thing. We keep using the cinema analogy, and that’s because it is such a good comparison. You might go to the cinema once or twice a month, possibly even less. A similar approach should be taken when gambling – the more you do it, the less responsible you become.
This advice goes hand in hand with the previous point. Sometimes, you find yourself gambling more frequently because it’s your only source of entertainment or fun. If this is the case, try to find other ways of having fun. Take up a hobby, go out and meet new people, call your family up and arrange to do something.
Realistically, there are loads of things you can do to fill the void and feel entertained without gambling your money. Once you try doing other things, you find it easier and easier to take a step back from gambling.
Chasing your losses refers to when you keep gambling to try and make back what you lost. Let’s say you set yourself a limit of £50 to gamble in the casino or on some sporting event. You lost that money, but the voice inside your head tells you that all you need is one win to gain it back and break even. So, you take out more money, place more bets and cross your fingers.
It’s never wise to chase your losses as it normally means you lose more money than you initially lost. That £50 loss might turn into a £100 loss very quickly. The worst part is, you could lose £100, then win a bet that brings you back to a £50 loss. Now, you’re fuelled by the adrenaline of winning and think that luck is back on your side. So, you keep placing bets and end up losing even more money.
If you lose your betting limit, don’t try to win it back. Just accept the money is lost, stop gambling and maybe take a long break before you gamble again.
Never gamble when drunk, stressed, depressed or emotionally upset. Only ever gamble if you have a clear head and can think straight. It’s highly irresponsible to gamble when you’re not in the right frame of mind.
Have you been reading through this post and started to worry deeply about yourself or someone you know? Perhaps you’ve only just realised that you/they are doing irresponsible things when gambling. If this is the case, you need to stop gambling right away and seek help before you lose more money and end up in a terrible financial situation. Gambling can cause insurmountable debts that lead to bankruptcy – don’t let it get to this.
Here are some useful links to sites that will help you or anyone else with a gambling problem:
The national debt line – a good site for help getting out of debt
Stepchange – provides expert financial advice for those struggling
Gamcare – a really good place to go for specific gambling help if you think you have a problem
It’s been a really tough year for employment. All over the country, people at all stages of their career progression have been affected by the impact of Covid-19 on the job market.
Whether you’re a current pupil who is anxious about the future, or a former student or staff member who has fallen onto hard times, we understand how difficult it has been to look for new opportunities.
Breaking into or progressing within your desired career can be daunting at the best of times, let alone when the job market is oversaturated and many sectors have become more competitive.
We know how disheartening this can be. If you’re currently out of work, it’s easy to become dejected and worried about the future. It’s also difficult to stay positive – and productive – in your job search.
How do you stand out from other applicants?
How can you catch the eye of recruiters and hiring managers?
How will you get hired if your usual means of applying for jobs are currently unsuccessful?
In this article, we’re going to teach you how to use LinkedIn to answer all of these questions, and bring you closer to your next opportunity.
The first step to using LinkedIn for your job search is to create a profile that captures the right attention. Maybe this means creating your first account, or perhaps you’re already a user, but your profile is sorely neglected, your most recent updates years out of date and gathering digital dust. Either way, we can get you on the right track.
When you’ve created (or revived) your LinkedIn account, first thing’s first: picking an appropriate picture. This can feel daunting if you’re new to professional networking, but don’t dwell on it too much. The most important thing is to appear approachable. While you want an element of professionalism (maybe don’t choose a photo taken at the pub, for example), showing that you are warm and personable should be prioritised. Also ensure you share as much of your face as possible.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to skip this stage. LinkedIn research has shown that having a picture can make your profile up to 14 times more likely to be viewed.
Your headline will be the first thing that a potential employer sees. Even without viewing your profile, your headline is visible. This is the first chance to be enticing, engaging, and stand out.
Try to use keywords for your desired industry that’ll appear in the LinkedIn search algorithms. Use a combination of these, or create a short, snappy statement that resonates with the pain points that an employer at your dream role might be hiring to solve.
While you should incorporate your skills, interests, and experience, try not to think of your LinkedIn profile as a digital CV. You have the opportunity here to create something much more engaging.
Use the media tool to attach examples of your best work or showcase any knowledge you’ve accrued. You could write articles or create graphics or videos on any specialist subjects.
There’s the LinkedIn Jobs feature too. This is a great place to look for exciting roles in your field that may not necessarily be advertised elsewhere. You can toggle jobs by sector and location and get email alerts for relevant listings.
Again, LinkedIn isn’t just a digital CV. It’s a professional social network. Growing that network can not only make your profile appear more active and engaged, it can make the algorithm work in your favour.
It could also help to open more doors than you might think. If you’re actively looking for a new role, you could make connections aware – someone may be able to give you the head’s up on a new opportunity. Personal recommendations or referrals are always helpful.
Start by connecting with those that you already know such as former colleagues, fellow pupils, or anyone you have previously met through offline networking.
Using alumni search, you can connect with fellow Old Blues who are working in the same sector. While ‘mass adding’, connecting with a multitude of strangers with no mutual connection or interest, isn’t recommended, there’s no harm in reaching out to those that inhabit similar spaces. Especially if you take the time to create personalised connection messages.
Listing your skills is great, but can you prove them? If you feel comfortable, ask close connections or former colleagues to leave you an endorsement, or even a recommendation to showcase proof of those skills. This will help you to build credibility.
If you don’t have anyone to ask, you can use LinkedIn’s Skill Assessment feature to earn skill badges on your profile.
It may sound obvious, but don’t be afraid to make use of LinkedIn’s simplest feature: sharing or creating posts.
Being an active, engaged user will help you. Whether that’s sharing or engaging with the content of others, or creating your own, it’ll show prospective employers that you are actively engaged with your desired industry. It’ll demonstrate that you have experience, passion, and something to add. Don’t hesitate to share your personal and professional achievements.
While LinkedIn’s Jobs feature is useful, the popularity of ‘passive recruitment’ is growing. Often, recruiters use LinkedIn to search for prospective employees who haven’t applied – and may not even be actively looking for work.
If you want them to find you, you have to make sure you can be found. Ensure that the appropriate keywords are scattered throughout your profile – in your headline, in your ‘About’ section, in the content that you post, even in your skills and experience. You can set your profile to open to new work and list relevant positions that you’re interested in.
This is where building your network helps. The algorithm is more likely to pull up profiles that are closer connections to the searcher. By having a broader network, you may be more likely to show up organically when a hiring manager is looking for potential applicants.
Job seeking can be difficult, disheartening, and daunting. But using LinkedIn can give you an edge and help you to stand out. Try your best to stay positive, and remember, whether you’re still a Blue or an Old Blue, the Benevolent Society of Blues was designed to help you through any hardship. Don’t hesitate to contact us for advice or for further assistance, and you can find our additional resources here.
Unemployment or redundancy, injury or ill-health, and relationship breakdown are the three most reported reasons for personal debt in the UK.
Whether it’s a low income, an unexpected bill, or a change in circumstances that trigger your financial problems – like quicksand – it’s far easier to get into debt than work your way out of it.
Living with debt is emotionally difficult. Solutions are often long term rather than instant fixes. The uncertainty of the situation can take its toll on your mental health, turning deep-seated anxieties into a genuine, unpleasant, and overwhelming reality.
Your first step towards a debt-free future is recognising there’s a problem, and facing it head-on. Read on for our top tips for dealing with debt and further information about where to access help and support.
The best way to combat anxiety is through action.
The best advice anyone can give you. When fear and overwhelm kick in, it’s tempting to hide from the problem and sweep financial difficulties under the proverbial carpet. However, this approach increases the feelings of helplessness, and you’ll accumulate more debt as it doesn’t address the problem.
Your first step to regaining control of your finances is sitting down and working out the scale of the problem. Work out whom you owe money to and what for. Then categorise your debts into two categories: priority and non-priority debts.
Debts to include in this category include your mortgage, rent, council tax, and energy bills. They are categorised as priority debts because if left unpaid, the consequences are severe. They can affect your life and liberty.
For example, defaulting on your mortgage or rent can result in the loss of your home. Unpaid council tax can result in a county court judgment against you and bailiffs attending your home. Unpaid energy bills can result in disconnection (as a last resort).
When negotiating repayment plans (see below), prioritise these debts above all others.
All other debts, things like mobile phone contracts and credit cards.
Once you’ve worked out how much you owe and to whom, the next step is to work out your income and outgoings. What money do you have coming in, what’s going out every month, and how much, if any, is leftover?
MoneyHelper’s free budget planning tool is excellent to help you with this, as it prompts you to think of additional costs you might not consider.
Completing a budget in this way helps you identify what repayment options you have. If you’re in deficit (there’s more money going out than coming in), you’ll know you need to look at ways of increasing your income. In contrast, if you have income available, you’ll see what you can offer your creditors in the form of a repayment plan.
A great place to start is the Turn2Us Benefits Calculator using the details you’ve already gathered above to see what benefits your household might be eligible to claim. An alternative option is contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureaux for advice about your benefit entitlement.
If your research shows that you’re not entitled to any support, you may consider borrowing money to repay your debts short term and repay the loan over an extended period. Additional borrowing isn’t advised and should only ever be a last resort. Always ensure that any lender is Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) registered if you decide to borrow.
Once you’ve assessed the scale of the problem, mapped your income and outgoings, and determined if you’re eligible for financial support, the next step is to talk to your creditors.
Do this as soon as possible.
The earlier you can talk to your creditors to inform them about what’s happened, the better. Creditors are very understanding in situations like this and do their best to help you. There may be repayment options available to you that you’re not even aware of, so it pays to talk to them early before arrears build up to unmanageable levels.
Your mortgage company can offer a payment holiday of up to six months, where you pause making payments while you get back on your feet. Your local authority can support you to reduce your council tax repayments by spreading them across 12 months instead of 10, and so on. There’s also the Breathing Space debt respite scheme while you get your debt solution in place.
Keeping your creditors informed about your situation and what you’re doing to resolve the situation keeps them on your side. Ignoring the problem has the opposite effect.
Financial difficulty is an unfortunate fact of life at some point in everyone’s life and sometimes it’s unavoidable. Seeking support is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Financial difficulty and mental health problems go hand in hand, so take care of yourself during this difficult time. If you’re experiencing a low mood or anxiety due to your debts, make sure you talk to someone you trust and contact your GP.
Here are some useful sources of further advice to help you on your way to a debt-free future: