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.
Leaving education is a significant milestone for every adult. Until now, your life has been on a clear path, following a set trajectory and pursuing pre-defined goals. Preparing for what’s next and embracing the unknown is a stark contrast.
In effect, you’ve reached a crossroads. For the first time, you’re the master of your fate.
There’s associated excitement, pressure, and trepidation – as well as a good helping of fear about making the wrong choice for your future.
The reality is, there are very few ‘wrong’ choices. Many of us have multiple, ever-evolving visions of what we’d like our lives to be. They don’t always look like how we first imagined.
Many students feel trapped by their degree course title. Still, it doesn’t necessarily define the industry in which you end up. Take the Law student who realised they didn’t want to practise. Or the Mathematics graduate who went on to pursue their passion for customer service.
Then there are people like Steve Jobs. He didn’t graduate at all but co-founded Apple and later applied calligraphic design principles he learned at university to Apple tech.
As a student leaving education, everyone around you will have an opinion about what to do next – course professionals, careers advisors, parents, friends, and family. It’s a long list.
Working it out for yourself is often a lot more tricky. A great place to begin in your thinking is to start with what you know.
What are your interests and passions?
People liken loving your work to not working a day in your life. Whether or not that’s true is another story, but working in a field in which you’re already naturally interested is a great place to begin your working days.
Consider your hobbies, interests, and causes you care about. What do you love doing? Could you turn a pre-existing passion into a career?
What are you good at?
Chances are you’ll already have an idea of what your strengths are and what you’re not so good at. Ask your family, friends, lecturers, and mentors for additional insights.
Weigh your skills and strengths, and consider ways to apply them in the working world.
Does this information ignite any ideas about potential roles you could explore?
Look for patterns and areas of overlap between your passions and skills. The perfect place for career fulfilment and success is finding somewhere where they intersect.
Don’t be put off if the pieces don’t naturally fall together. It doesn’t happen for many of us.
For most people, finding a career we want and love is a combination of exploring new opportunities and embracing the unknown.
Your career will span most of your adult life, so it’s completely understandable to want to make the right choice about what you want from a career.
However, a job for life is no longer the norm. Careers today are less like ladders to climb than squiggles to navigate.
Nowadays success is defined by different metrics than money, influence, and power. Students entering the workforce and the Gen-Zs that have already arrived use their values as a career compass. They actively pursue increased diversity, inclusion, and equity in the working world, embracing making the world a better place as a critical metric of success.
Considering a squiggly career trajectory means embracing the idea that your career need not be a predetermined, linear path.
It’s about giving yourself the space to try new things and explore different professional working relationships. Allow yourself to try volunteering, internships, freelancing, short term employment, as well as the corporate career ladder model before making any long term commitments.
A squiggly career pattern is about defining learning and development opportunities as possibilities as well as plans.
Not making a decision straight out of university can sometimes be the best decision you make.
Visualisation is a powerful tool to envisage your future career direction. But don’t limit your potential by having only one possible future set in stone.
Consider the ‘Obvious Choice’
What would be your logical career choice based on your experience, studies, and others’ expectations? It could be the right thing to do if financial security has come out top in assessing your priorities.
For an Engineering student, it might be becoming a mechanical engineer. For an Art student, a role in graphic design. Perhaps it’s none of the above, and you intend to take over the family business.
The more you think about it, does it seem the obvious choice for you, providing financial security and a sense of happiness and fulfilment in your work? Or is it something that others have chosen for you and you’re pursuing on autopilot?
Contemplate the ‘Ambitious Choice’
Where do you see your most successful self? Is it heading up a company, running an agency, becoming a successful architect? What challenges stand in your way?
Can you, and do you want to, overcome them?
What’s the ‘Dream’?
If you could be anything in the world, what would it be? If you could pivot your life in a completely different direction, what would it look like?
Assess Each In Turn
Are there similarities? Are they realistic based on what you know of yourself? What defines each choice?
Are there steps you can take to move the needle closer to becoming the obvious choice?
When it comes to making life decisions and considering your future, it’s logical to want to get things right. But no one has everything figured out.
Take things a step at a time, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure, always remember ‘there are no wrong decisions, only different ones.’
For support to figure out what happens next and advice about realising your goals for your brightest future, get in touch.
The job market today is tough. There are thousands of talented applicants just like you applying for the same roles. Standing out for the right reasons from the outset of the application process is crucial to get to the interview and beyond.
A solid personal brand may be exactly what you need to set yourself up for success. Below we explore the concept of personal branding to assist you in your search.
Talk about branding, and everyone thinks of logos, large corporations, and household names.
But at its most basic, branding is about making yourself memorable. It’s about the steps you take to influence people’s perceptions of a product, service, or individual.
A personal brand is all about how you promote yourself to potential employers and ensure that they see you in your best possible light.
The first step to achieving a personal brand you’re proud of is working out what you’re trying to do.
Understanding the motivations, unique experiences and contributions you bring to the table is key to differentiating yourself from other candidates.
What are Your Values?
Your values are the things that matter to you in the way you live and work. They guide your key decisions and determine your priorities. Living by your values increases self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and overall happiness with your life.
Therefore, before beginning to create your personal brand, you must consider what matters to you and how you can embody and live by your values in your working life.
Take a moment to define your career success. What motivates you? Is it money or power? Is it a balance between home and work? Is it a feeling of contributing to a broader purpose?
Many people use fulfilment and happiness as metrics for employment success. Insights about your motivations are crucial to establishing that for yourself.
Your Skills and Life Experiences
Many applicants fall into the trap of only identifying and sharing skills and expertise gained from employment. Don’t discount education and life experiences as sources of inspiration for your personal branding.
Review your career history and identify critical skills you acquired during your employment. List ways you can demonstrate said skills (we’ll look at these later).
Do the same for your life experiences. Consider expertise you developed through things like caring responsibilities, travelling, hobbies, passions, and interests.
As important as your strengths are your weaknesses. Consider aspects of your working or personal life where you’ve struggled. Are there recurring themes and can you show what actions you’ve taken to address them? Are there situations or environments where you know you don’t belong or don’t succeed?
One last and beneficial exercise for many applicants is to ask your networks how they see you, your essential qualities, strengths and weaknesses. Friends, family, former colleagues are a wealth of insight for you to tap. You may be surprised by their responses.
They say knowledge is power. You can use this fact-finding exercise to prepare yourself for what comes next. Building a personal brand that casts you in your best possible light and overcomes whatever challenges an application or interview panel throws at you.
Everyone has a digital footprint. A quick Google search will reveal details of your life, including the content you share online, your networks, and any media attention you receive.
A personal brand gives a recruiter a sense of an applicant beyond an application form. A strong personal brand developed by design, highlighting your values, strengths, and expertise, is a more appealing prospect than one left to chance.
Above we gathered information about our values, work and life experiences, which we can now use to shape and influence potential employers’ perceptions of us.
Google Yourself and Review the Results
Does what’s revealed cast you in a favourable light? It’s easy to forget that social media is largely public and viewable by the masses. Would you want a prospective employer to see what you post? If the answer is no, it’s better not to press ‘publish.’ Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.
Always Be Yourself (In Person And Online)
Keeping in mind your prospective audience doesn’t mean you should recreate yourself. There’s always a balance between casting yourself in the best possible light and appearing insincere.
A perceived mismatch between your digital personality and actions can cause you to lose credibility, so don’t ever try to be someone you’re not.
Things like a caring personality and a good sense of humour can go a long way to establishing a know, like, and trust factor with recruiters, employers, and your wider network.
Use your online content to demonstrate the positive traits, experiences, and skills you collected earlier on while retaining your humanity. Consistent personal branding is vital and means being recognisable as yourself wherever you are, whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or in real life.
Create a Content Plan
Getting clear on your needs, wants, and aspirations for your future is a real confidence-builder when creating content to support your vision.
Use your social media channels and blog (if you have one) to demonstrate and communicate that your personal brand instantly sets you apart from other candidates.
Consistently demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and experience in a relatable and valuable way. Speak directly to recruiters and employers in industry conversations while you do so.
Create a plan detailing when and where you intend to post, the kinds of content you’re going to share, the value you intend to impart, and the employers you’re going to target.
Demonstrate and embody your brand online and in real life, and you’ll instantly feel more confident, self-assured, and focused in your job search.
Don’t forget to use your existing network to your advantage. Employees often know of upcoming roles before they’re publicly advertised. Consistently sharing value and regularly appearing in the right people’s newsfeeds may mean you’re head-hunted or invited to apply for upcoming vacancies.
The value of taking the time to create a strong, cohesive personal brand can’t be overstated. It makes you memorable and empowers you to forge a career that aligns with your values, skills, and expertise, maximising your future prosperity and fulfilment.
Considering your wants, needs, and motivations for your next role and wider career helps you set the baseline for your future success. You’re able to make better, more informed decisions about the roles you choose to apply for and the companies you decide to approach.
Perhaps you need some support putting your plans into action?
Get in touch. We’re here to help.
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.
What is an interview?
When applying for jobs through job sites or recruitment agencies you will have to complete an interview stage before being offered any type of work. This is standard practise and can vary depending on the field of work you are looking for. When you submit applications or send your CV to an organisation/agency that is looking to recruit, you may be invited to interview along with other applicants.
You should take registration interviews with recruitment agencies just as serious as you would a regular interview, this is pre-screening and where first impressions begin. Remember, you can sign up and become a candidate with as many agencies as you like, just ensure you keep note of these, stay in contact and outline if you are looking for temporary/permanent employment. (More on this below)
Recruitment Agency Interviews
Recruitment agencies may book appointments with job seekers to ‘interview’ you for registration.
A good recruiter will coach you through an interview registration explaining all the details of what a recruitment agency can provide, they will stay in touch with you over the phone and via email and update you on any organisation they would like to send your CV too (with your permission). They will arrange interviews for you with clients. Do not be alarmed if the registration doesn’t take too long it’s the impression you make that’s important.
Registration interview preparations:
Bring with you:
Some recruitment agencies specialise in different sectors of job vacancies so ensure that you are prepared, and the visit is relevant for you. If anything, else is needed that is not mentioned above, the recruiter will have this on your appointment email.
Agency Interview preparations:
Make a note of the agency you have visited, if you see a role they have advertised in the future and you are interested you can contact them, and you will already registered.
Further detail in links below.
Either directly applied by you or sourced by your recruiter.
There are many types of interview process’s out there but for a standard interview Its important to know how to prepare.
An interview can be a formal or informal conversation, one to one or virtual. Consider it an invitation into the organisation to discuss the potential job opportunity you applied for.
Interviews can also be done over the phone, or in small groups. In a face-to-face meeting environment, the interviewer will ask you questions, and explore your attributes in line with the role they are recruiting for.
Useful job sites to search for vacancies:
If you have specific skills, a simple google search will assist with relevant job sites.
Prepare answers to these Top 10 Interview Questions
During the interview:
The 5 Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer
Remember an interview is an opportunity for both you and the interviewer to get to know eachother, with the right amount of research, the right questions and being yourself, you will both have a better understanding on whether the role is a correct fit.