In times of hardship, knowing where to turn for support can make all the difference. Whether you’re facing financial difficulties, emotional struggles, or just need some guidance on the next steps in life, there are resources available to help.

This article highlights key avenues for support, including what the Benevolent Society of Blues (BSB) and other organisations can offer.

Support from the Benevolent Society of Blues (BSB)

The BSB is steadfast in its commitment to the ‘old blues’, offering an array of support services tailored to various needs.

Whether you’re a recent graduate navigating post-university uncertainties or an ‘old blue’ confronting financial or health-related adversities, BSB is here to assist.

Financial Assistance
Providing financial support in the form of a grant for items like a specialist bed, or a replacement cooker can be one small act that improves the wellbeing of an old blue and provides them with the security that they need.

Knowing that they have the support of the BSB if they ever need it, provides security and continuity that perhaps they need either for a specific period in their life or that may continue as long-term support.

Later in Life
For a percentage of Old Blues, later in life can become particularly challenging with health issues or mobility issues. Remember, even 50 or 60 years on – this is where the BSB can provide support.

Career and Educational Guidance
The BSB offers support through a choice of grants and loans to help Old Blues to advance their careers.

Practical Support
Many Old Blues can suffer from isolation, bereavement, ill health and financial hardship and this can affect anyone when we least expect. The BSB strives to provide a safe and secure environment in these circumstances. This help can be in the form of advice on utility bills through to helping with heating and specialist furniture to improve the quality of life.

Extending Beyond BSB: Other Vital Sources of Support

In times of need, the wider community and specific organisations stand ready to provide assistance:

Taking the Initial Step Towards Support
The act of seeking help is the first stride towards overcoming obstacles. It’s essential to recognise that reaching out is a testament to strength, not a weakness.

Through the support available from BSB and other networks, navigating through tough periods becomes a journey shared with a supportive community behind you.

Social and Recreational Opportunities
Engaging in social activities can significantly impact one’s mental health and sense of community. BSB encourages participation in events and social gatherings, promoting a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

Legal Advice
Access to legal counsel for personal or professional issues can be indispensable. BSB can guide you to legal resources or services that offer free or subsidised support.

How to Access BSB Support
To reach out for BSB’s support, visit our contact page or call us directly. Our team is prepared to listen and direct you towards the appropriate support you require.

Additionally, BSB’s online resource centre is a treasure trove of information, guides, and articles designed to help in various aspects of life.

The Importance of Community in Times of Hardship
In the journey through hardship, the value of a supportive community cannot be overstated. Sharing experiences, advice, and simply knowing you’re not alone can be incredibly comforting and empowering.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century, the set of skills adults need to navigate life effectively has broadened significantly. The traditional competencies of managing finances or maintaining a household are now joined by the need for adaptability, technological proficiency, and an ongoing commitment to learning.

This article delves into the essential life skills that modern adults require, aimed at empowering individuals to thrive in today’s complex world.

Financial Literacy: Beyond Basic Budgeting

Financial literacy is foundational in achieving personal and financial stability. It involves a comprehensive understanding of how to manage money, including budgeting, saving, investing, and planning for retirement.

With economic fluctuations and the complexity of financial markets, being well-versed in financial matters enables informed decision-making for a secure future.

Understanding Modern Financial Tools
The digital age has introduced a plethora of tools and resources designed to enhance our financial management capabilities. From apps that help track spending and savings to platforms offering investment advice, technology plays a pivotal role in demystifying finance.

Embracing these tools can lead to more effective money management and financial growth.

The Importance of Financial Planning
Effective financial planning is crucial in navigating the cost of living crisis and ensuring long-term financial security. This includes setting realistic financial goals, understanding the basics of investments, and planning for retirement.

Educating oneself on these topics can transform the way we approach our finances, making a significant impact on our overall financial well-being.

Digital Proficiency: The Cornerstone of Modern Living

As technology permeates every facet of daily life, digital literacy has become a key skill for modern adults. This encompasses not only the ability to use digital devices and navigate the internet but also an understanding of cybersecurity, digital ethics, and managing one’s digital footprint.

Navigating the Digital Landscape
The internet is a vast repository of information, offering endless opportunities for learning, entertainment, and social connection. However, it also poses challenges and risks, such as misinformation and privacy concerns.

Developing a critical eye for evaluating online content and understanding the basics of online privacy and security are essential skills for the modern adult.

Leveraging Technology for Personal and Professional Growth
Technology offers numerous tools and platforms to enhance personal development and career advancement. From online courses that facilitate lifelong learning to digital networks that expand professional connections, leveraging technology can lead to significant personal and professional growth.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning: The Keys to Future Success

The only constant in today’s world is change. Adaptability and a commitment to continuous learning are therefore critical life skills. This means being open to new experiences, willing to acquire new knowledge, and flexible in the face of change.

Embracing Change
Change can be daunting, but it also brings opportunities for growth and improvement. Cultivating a mindset that embraces change rather than fearing it can lead to personal development and new possibilities.

Lifelong Learning
The pursuit of knowledge doesn’t end with formal education. The modern world offers a myriad of avenues for learning, from online courses and workshops to podcasts and webinars. Engaging in continuous learning not only enhances personal and professional skills but also keeps us relevant in an ever-changing world.


The skills required by modern adults extend far beyond the basics of past generations. Financial literacy, digital proficiency, adaptability, and continuous learning are not just desirable; they are essential for navigating the complexities of modern life. By embracing these skills, individuals can not only enhance their personal and professional lives but also contribute positively to the world around them.

In an increasingly competitive job market, standing out amongst a pool of candidates can often seem like a daunting task. For anyone seeking ways to bolster their employability, the development of transferable skills could be your ticket to success. In this article, we’ll guide you on identifying, developing and harnessing these transferable skills to improve your job application prospects.

What are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are abilities that can be applied across a variety of job roles and industries. They are not industry-specific and are valued by employers across all sectors. These skills range from soft skills like communication, problem-solving and teamwork, to hard skills like proficiency in a foreign language or data analysis.

Identifying Your Transferable Skills

You may already possess an array of transferable skills without even realising it. These could have been honed throughout your educational journey, in your personal life, or during previous employment.

Think broadly and critically about your experiences: were you the one people turned to for resolving disputes, suggesting you have strong mediation skills? Have you managed a personal blog, indicating writing and content creation skills? Even experiences like volunteering, participating in sports, or helping organise community events can provide a rich source of transferable skills.

Developing Your Transferable Skills

Once you’ve identified your existing skills, it’s time to focus on expanding them. Here are some strategies to help you along:

  1. Continued Education: Formal education isn’t the only way to acquire new skills. Online courses, workshops, and seminars can provide valuable knowledge and expertise in various fields. Linkedin and Youtube are great places to find free resources for developing your transferable skill set.
  2. Volunteering: This provides an excellent opportunity to apply your skills in a real-world context and acquire new ones. Local charities are always looking for volunteers so why not reach out and see if they need any help.
  3. Networking: Engaging with professionals in your desired field can give you insights into the skills that are in high demand. Joining industry relevant groups can also provide a wealth of information on developing your transferable skills.
  4. Mentorship: Find a mentor who can guide you in your career and help you develop the necessary skills. Does your place of work/organisation offer a mentoring programme? Join linkedin groups that interest you and start participating in conversations that interest you. Follow 5 people who inspire you. Whilst they may never mentor you directly, their advice and insights can be really helpful with your professional and personal transferable skills development.
  5. Self-Practice: Regular practice helps you to improve any skill. Whether it’s public speaking, writing, or coding, dedicate time each day for practice. 15 minutes a day might not seem a lot but its cumulative effects can make a big difference.

Why employers value transferable skills

In an ever-evolving job market, employers are continually seeking individuals who can adapt to new challenges and thrive in various environments. Here are some key reasons why transferable skills are highly sought after by employers:

Adaptability: Employees with a diverse range of transferable skills are often more adaptable to change. Whether it’s shifting market trends or sudden changes in job roles, these individuals can adjust more efficiently and effectively.

Problem Solving: Transferable skills like critical thinking and problem-solving enable employees to tackle complex situations, often saving time and resources for the company.

Future-Proofing: The future of work is uncertain with emerging technologies and shifting job roles. Employees with strong transferable skills are more resilient to these changes, ensuring their ongoing value to the company.

Team Synergy: Skills such as communication, collaboration and leadership can significantly enhance the effectiveness of a team. Employers value individuals who can work harmoniously with others and contribute to a positive work environment.

Performance and Productivity: Employees who have honed a range of transferable skills are often more efficient in their tasks and can yield higher productivity. This efficiency can lead to improved overall performance for the business.

Reduced Training Costs: Employers can save on training costs when they hire individuals with a solid foundation of transferable skills. These employees are typically quicker to train and can often self-direct their learning in new areas.

The emphasis on transferable skills in recruitment highlights their vital role in the modern workplace. As a job seeker, focusing on these skills can help you align with employers’ needs and significantly increase your employability.

Showcasing Your Transferable Skills

Now you have a plethora of transferable skills, how do you showcase them when it matters?

Employers look for evidence of transferable skills in job applications, interviews, and even on LinkedIn profiles. Make sure to:

Transferable skills are your secret weapon in the job market. By identifying, developing, and showcasing them, you can significantly enhance your employability and open up a world of opportunities. After all, the skills that can be carried from one job to the next are, quite simply, the skills that carry you forward.

Transferable Skills: Not Just for Work

The power of transferable skills isn’t just limited to the world of employment. They can also play a crucial role in enhancing your personal life.

Effective communication is key in maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends and acquaintances. Skills like active listening and clear, respectful articulation of your thoughts can foster understanding and harmony in your personal interactions.

Life is filled with unexpected challenges. Problem-solving skills enable you to navigate these challenges, helping you to find practical solutions and make reasoned decisions under pressure.

Balancing work, personal commitments, hobbies, and rest is an art. By improving your time management skills, you can make the most of your day and ensure each aspect of your life receives the attention it needs.

Emotional Intelligence encompasses empathy, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. Developing emotional intelligence can lead to better mental health, more satisfying relationships, and a stronger understanding of your own emotions and those of others.

Whatever your circumstances, life is a series of changes and transitions. Adaptability can help you navigate these with resilience, enabling you to adjust to new circumstances, whether it’s moving to a new city, beginning a new phase of life, or dealing with unexpected situations.

Leadership isn’t only about leading a team at work. It’s also about taking responsibility for your actions, influencing others positively, and taking initiative in your personal life.

Understanding financial concepts and managing your money effectively through financial literacy is a crucial skill for achieving financial independence and security.

By developing and utilising transferable skills in your personal life, you can improve relationships, make better decisions, and live a more balanced, fulfilling life. These skills truly are “transferable” in every sense of the word.

Whatever your situation, transferable skills play a pivotal role in not only enhancing your job prospects, but also enriching your personal life. By identifying and developing these skills, you can position yourself as an adaptable, future-ready candidate in a competitive job market. Moreover, these skills can equip you to better navigate personal challenges and build stronger relationships.

From communication and problem-solving to leadership and financial literacy, these abilities are truly versatile. Remember, every experience in life provides an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace these opportunities, and you’ll find yourself amassing a treasure trove of transferable skills that will propel you forward in both your professional and personal journey.

In an increasingly digital world, understanding the dangers that lurk in the shadows of the online realm has become crucial. Today we’ll guide you through the fundamentals of understanding online threats, password security, internet browsing safety, protecting personal information, safeguarding devices, and cybersecurity best practices.

Understanding Online Threats

The Internet is a bustling metropolis, but just like any city, it has its share of threats. Recognising these dangers is the first step in securing your digital existence. Four of the most common threats are:

Malware, short for malicious software, refers to various types of harmful software designed to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.It  is harmful software that infiltrates your system without your consent, disrupting functionality, stealing sensitive information, or gaining access to private computer systems. This includes

Viruses, which can replicate themselves and spread to other devices;

Worms, which exploit vulnerabilities to infect systems;

Trojans, which pose as legitimate software to trick users into installing them; ransomware, which encrypts files and demands a ransom for their release;

Spyware, which covertly gathers information about a user or organisation without their knowledge.

Malware can be spread in numerous ways, including through malicious websites, email attachments, and infected software downloads. Its impacts can range from annoying pop-up ads to serious theft of sensitive data, damage to files, and complete system failure.

Phishing scams involve fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive data like usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity. Phishing typically occurs via email, where users are directed to a fake website and tricked into entering personal information.

Identity theft happens when someone obtains and uses your personal information to commit fraud or other crimes. It can lead to financial loss and significant time and stress to rectify.

Finally, cyberbullying is the use of digital communication tools to intimidate, harass, or threaten others. It’s a prevalent issue for young people, with devastating emotional consequences.

Password Security

Passwords act as your first line of defence in the online world. Having strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts is essential.

A secure password is typically at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid obvious choices, like names, birthdays, or common words. Remember, each account should have a unique password to limit the damage if one account is compromised.

To help manage multiple complex passwords, consider using a password manager, such as 1password. Password management software provides a secure tool that stores all your passwords.

More importantly, never share your passwords with others, even close friends or family.

Internet Browsing Safety

The art of safe internet browsing involves avoiding dangerous websites, employing ad-blockers, and understanding the potential risks of social media.

Many browsers have safety features that alert you to potentially harmful websites. Regularly updating your browser ensures that you have the most up-to-date security features. Ad-blockers can prevent malicious ads, which can sometimes contain malware, from appearing on your screen.

Social media is a double-edged sword. While it allows us to stay connected, it can also expose us to risks. Always be cautious about the information you share, and ensure your accounts have robust privacy settings.

Protecting Personal Information

Taking steps to protect your personal information online is crucial to prevent identity theft and safeguard your privacy.

Avoid sharing sensitive information over public Wi-Fi networks, as they may not be secure, and your data could be accessible to cybercriminals.

Adjust your social media privacy settings to limit what others can see about you. Be careful about the amount of personal information you share online, as every piece of information can potentially be used by identity thieves.

Protecting Devices

Protecting your devices from online threats is an integral part of internet safety. Keeping your operating system and software updated ensures that you have the latest security patches. Reliable antivirus software can protect your device from a myriad of threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.

Avoid downloading files or applications from unknown sources as they could potentially carry harmful malware.

Cybersecurity Best Practices

Finally, let’s discuss some general cybersecurity best practices.

Always be wary of suspicious emails and messages, especially those asking for personal information or urging you to click on a link. These could be phishing attempts.

Avoid clicking on unknown links, as they can lead to malicious websites or download malware onto your device/computer. If you receive an email, from a supposed respected source, that seems to good to be true, unexpected or just plain suspicious, contact the organisation who sent it, separately and directly – never respond to/interact with the message/email you’ve received.

Regularly backing up important data is a good practice. In case your device gets compromised, a backup ensures you don’t lose precious information. Using cloud services or external drives are common methods of backing up data.

Additionally, enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts provides an extra layer of security. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure that requires two types of identification for you to access an account or system.

Typically, the first layer is something you know, such as a password or pin number. The second layer is something you have or something inherent to you. This could be a text message sent to your mobile phone (something you have), a fingerprint scan (something inherent to you), or even a facial recognition process.

By requiring two separate and distinct forms of identification, 2FA significantly increases the difficulty for unauthorised users to gain access to your accounts or devices, even if they’ve obtained your password, providing an added layer of protection against online threats.

When using social media, avoid accepting friend or follow requests from unknown people. Cybercriminals often create fake profiles to gain access to your information.

Moreover, make sure you log out of your accounts when using public computers, and regularly check your financial and digital accounts for any irregularities or suspicious activity.

In Conclusion

In this digital age, protecting yourself online is no longer optional – it’s a necessity.

Understanding the threats, implementing robust password security, exercising caution while browsing, protecting personal information, safeguarding your devices, and adhering to cybersecurity best practices are all key components of staying safe in the online realm.

Online safety is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. Cyber threats continue to evolve, so your protection methods must evolve too. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and you’ll vastly increase your chances of keeping your digital life secure.

Remember, the best defence is a strong offence. Protecting your digital self might seem daunting, but with a good plan, the right knowledge and tools, you can navigate the online world with confidence and ease.

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.

Casual Clothing

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.

Using your phone

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.

CV confusion

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!).

Speaking a lot

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.

Bad mouthing your previous employers

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.

Focusing only on yourself

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.

Nothing to ask

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.

Negative body language

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.

Not following up

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.

Never gamble to make money

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.

Give yourself a budget

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.

Don’t gamble too frequently

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.

Find other ways to have fun

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.

Don’t chase your losses

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.

Only gamble when you have a clear head

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.

What to do if you’ve been affected by gambling?

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.

Step One: Create a Strong LinkedIn Profile

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.

Picking an Appropriate Profile Picture

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.

Creating an Enticing Headline

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.

Make Use of LinkedIn’s Additional Features

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.

Step Two: Build Your Network

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.

Make Connections

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.

Gather Endorsements

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.

Be an Active User

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.

Step Three: Be Discoverable

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.

Don’t Ignore the Problem

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.

Work Out How Much You Owe and to Whom

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.

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.

Non-priority debts

All other debts, things like mobile phone contracts and credit cards.

Calculate Your Income and Outgoings

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.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Financial Support

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.

Talk to Your Creditors

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.

Don’t Struggle Alone

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.

Further Support and Guidance

Here are some useful sources of further advice to help you on your way to a debt-free future:

MoneyHelper offers free and impartial help with debt.
Citizens Advice help you find a way forward, whatever the problem.
StepChange: offer expert debt advice and fee-free debt management.