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Monday, 10 October 2016

Freelancers: How to Show Up Prepared to Close a Deal

Freelancing has become a way of life for many workers. About 53 million Americans, representing 34 percent of the national labor force, qualify as freelancers, according to a 2014 Freelancers Union report. This figures includes independent contractors, temporary employees, and moonlighters, and it represents an increase from 31 percent reported by the U.S. General Accountability Office in 2006. This number likely includes a significant number of students, judging by an Elance survey that found 87 percent of undergraduates see freelancing as an attractive career option. In many areas of freelancing, being successful requires having an effective method of closing sales during meetings with prospective clients. Here are some things you should bring with you to help you be prepared for a successful prospect meeting.
Customer Relationship Management Notes
By the time you’ve scheduled a meeting with a prospective client, you’ve usually
had a few prior contacts with them where you’ve gotten to know some basic things about them and discussed your potential project in general terms. Having this information handy as you’re preparing for a meeting can be invaluable. One of the best ways to make sure you have this information readily available is using a mobile customer relationship management tool. CRM tools, like SalesForce, Zoho CRM, SugarCRM, Insightly and Nimble, let you digitally store prospect and client contact information along with key pieces of information that can assist you with making a sale, such as how many times you’ve previously made contact with the prospect, what you discussed during each conversation, and how far along they are in your sales cycle.
Presentation Notes and Visual Aids
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure the success of a prospect meeting is preparing and rehearsing the main talking points of your sales presentation. Bringing notes to your presentation can help you jog your memory. A mobile note-taking tool such as Evernote can help make your notes more accessible. In some cases, your presentation may also be enhanced by bringing a visual aid such as a slideshow. IT professional Andrew Kunesh provides a guide to some of today’s most popular mobile slideshow presentation tools include Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Google Slides and Zoho Show.
Answers to Common Objections
Often, the difference between whether your sales presentation is a success or a failure depends on how well you come prepared to answer anticipated objections to your offer. In fact, legendary sales trainer Tom Hopkins says answering prospective buyer concerns effectively is one of the key marks of a true sales professional. One helpful way to preparefor anticipated sales objections is to make a list of possible objections and prepare multiple answers for each one. This will both boost your confidence and make you better prepared to respond should an objection come up. You can bring mobile notes on possible sales objections with you using Evernote or a similar tool such as OneNote.
Contract Forms

Ultimately, your goal in arranging a prospect meeting is to come away with a contract, or at least to lay a foundation for a formal contract bid. Your best chance of getting a contract signed is by getting your prospect to put his or her name on the dotted line on the spot while he or she is in a buying mood. Elance provides some sample contract forms you can customize and use to help prepare a digital contract you can bring with you. To make it easier to let prospects sign digital contracts, you might consider investing in a mobile device with a stylus such as the GalaxyNote 7, which comes with the water and dust resistant S Pen.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Teacher shortages: Is there a crisis in maths?

The maths skills taught in schools are crucial to the future chances of pupils – setting them in good stead for the world of work and beyond. They’re also crucial for the economy, with numerate, intelligent employees needed to help drive the country forward.

Yet maths is also a cause of great concern. Just a year ago the now-ex education secretary Nicky Morgan vowed, in typically politically loaded language, to ‘wage war on illiteracy and innumeracy’ to ensure pupils get a good grounding in the basics by the time they leave primary school. At the other end of the spectrum, fewer than one in ten students are leaving the system with an A-level in maths or physics.

Worries over the teaching and take-up of maths are one thing, but can they ever be eased at a time when there is a ‘crisis’ surrounding the number of people in the teaching profession, who are able to impart their mathematical wisdom?

Survey shows a bleak picture

The word crisis is perhaps bandied about far too readily, but has been applied to the situation surrounding teaching this subject following the results of a new survey by the Mathematical Association.

The TES reported its research, which showed how maths departments were being forced to rely on non-specialists or even supply or unqualified teachers.

It found that fewer than half – 46 per cent – of maths teachers said their departments were fully staffed in time for the new term in September.

In a survey of 520 staff, almost a fifth said two or more teachers were still needed to ensure they were fully stocked and ready to go. It also found that 54 per cent were having to teach alongside non-specialists, 29 per cent had unqualified staff in their department and 30 per cent felt they would probably leave the profession in the next few years.

David Miles, spokesman for the Mathematical Association, said: “I am aware of people teaching A-level who don’t have that level themselves; an awful lot of maths teachers don’t have maths beyond GCSE.”

In response, the Government said it is investing £67 million on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to recruit 2,500 more maths and physics teachers and provide specialist subject knowledge training to thousands more people. It also wants to coax former teachers back into the classroom to tap into their expertise.

Maths not the only area to struggle

Yet it’s not as if maths is the sole area of concern when it comes to teacher shortages.

The Government has now missed its own teacher training targets for each of the last four years. It also receiving a stinging attack from the Public Accounts Committee for having ‘no plan’ to solve this. While the Department for Education might deny this, there is no hiding from the fact that there is work to do.

By the early 2020s there are set to be 800-900,00 more pupils in our classrooms as a result of a rise in the birth rate.

So, while there is clearly a specific issue to address in terms of maths, the problems here might be seen as symbolic of the wider issue in the profession. Rising pupil numbers alone means that there needs to be a big drive to get more people in teacher and teaching assistant jobs to cater for them.

If that recruitment drive helps to claw in bright graduates with a flair for teaching maths, then the problems unearthed by the Mathematical Association will be addressed as part of that.

It’s clear that there is an issue to address and, if it isn’t, it’s unlikely that the concerns over pupil literacy, A-level take-up or workforce skills can be addressed either.

Friday, 29 July 2016

5 student loan tips for new undergraduates

Entering the world of higher education can be daunting for all sorts of reasons. The money side of things is a big one. You need to make sure you’ve got funding in place for your tuition fees and that you’ve got enough to live on for the year ahead. You’ll be sorting out accommodation and setting a weekly budget. But don’t worry, this is all part and parcel of the university experience. Here are a few tips to help you out.    

1. Plan ahead
Consider your finances early and put your application in for your government student loan as soon as you can. You don’t need a confirmed place to do so. The whole system can get pretty busy over the summer and you don’t want to be chasing up your tuition fee payments come September when your priority should be settling in to your course. If the government loans aren’t enough – and for many people, they’re not – you can always apply for a Future Finance loan to help towards your tuition fees or living expenses.

2. Don’t max out on maintenance
Tuition fees are non-negotiable, but you might be able to manage your living costs so that you don’t need to take out the full maintenance loan. Remember, it’s not free money – you’ll need to pay it back with interest. If you can live on less, great. It pays to budget and only borrow what you need.

3. Look long term
Getting a good degree can really boost your future earning potential. So do your
Copyright samotrebizan / 123RF Stock Photo
homework on the kind of salary you might expect in years to come. It’ll help you figure out how much debt you can afford to get into now and when you’ll be able to pay it back.

4. Don’t stress
Yes, you’re accruing a debt – perhaps for the first time in your life – and the seemingly mountainous sums can be scary. But this is your pathway to a brilliant, successful and enriched career. Think of it as an investment and embrace the opportunity.

5. And don’t bottle it up
If you do find your struggling to cope financially during term time, don’t suffer in silence. There are many ways and means of funding your uni education without resorting to the nastiness of payday loans and high-interest credit cards.

6. See what funding is available
There are not many options available for student funding in the UK with the majority of students can avail of government loans. If however you are ineligible for student loans from the Government, or you find that they simply are not enough, there is another option. Future Finance is the only specialised student loan provider in the UK. They offer loans designed for students, which means lower capped repayments in study, repayment holidays and a loan plan based on your course and university. Application is completely free and will not affect your credit score.

Friday, 24 June 2016

I’m Qualified — So Why Am I Not Getting Any Job Offers?

It seemed so perfect: You had all of the qualifications for the job advertised in the UK and thought you nailed the interview. You’re sure you’ve found the perfect job, so you eagerly wait for the phone call . . . but it never comes. Eventually, the dreaded email arrives, telling you that you have many great qualities, but they’ve opted to go with another candidate. You try not to feel discouraged, but it’s hard not to wonder what you did wrong.

It might not help when the sting of rejection is still fresh, but take a sigh of relief in the fact that you aren’t alone in the UK. While sometimes it’s obvious why applicants don’t get the job (and admit it, you’ve applied for jobs you’re not qualified for too), more often than not, they have no idea why they aren’t getting offers. Most employers don’t take the time to tell applicants why they aren’t selected, and asking for clarification is generally frowned upon. Still, if you are consistently receiving replies of “thanks, but no thanks,” you may want to consider how you’re presenting yourself to employers in the UK, and what you can do to improve your chances of actually hearing “you’re hired.”

Factors That Are Out of Your Control

Before we can talk about the changes you can make to get more jobs in the entire UK, it’s important to address the elephant in the room. Sometimes, rejection has nothing to do with you, and sometimes the rejection stems from factors like the company opted to go with an internal candidate (and maybe intended to go that route from the start), changes to the organization or the budget that occurred after you applied, or a simple lack of chemistry. Even if you felt like you clicked with the interviewer, they might not have felt the same way. It’s not a reflection of you or your abilities, but sometimes personalities just don’t connect, and the fact that you didn’t get the job may actually be a good thing.

What You Can Fix

It’s probably easier on your ego to assume that you didn’t get a job because of factors outside of your control. But since that it isn’t always the case, you have to at least consider the possibility that it was due to something that you said or did. According to HR managers in the UK and employment experts, these are among the most common reasons that people don’t receive offers.

1. Your Physical Appearance Has Issues. It’s awkward, especially in London, and no one is ever going to say it out loud. But if you have bad breath, body odor, or a disheveled appearance, you aren’t going to make a good impression on interviewers. Make sure to always spend time giving yourself a once over before heading to the interview. Some positions will also require you to dress up even more than you might already be. If you wanted an executive assistant position, you’ll want to dress even snazzier than you would if applying for an administrative assistant.

2. You Lack Something Another Candidate Has. Obviously, you may never know what other candidates have on their resumes, but in many cases when an employer in London or other needs to decide between two otherwise equal candidates, they will look for any little thing to push one ahead of the other.

Different industries in the UK will require different experience or knowledge from candidates. In the IT industry, for example, you may have as much experience as other candidates, but if they have UK based certifications that help prove their competencies in specific fields, that might make all the difference to the hiring manager.

Continuing with the IT example, there are numerous certifications one can earn to put them ahead of other applicants, just make sure you earn relevant certifications to the position you desire. Thanks to online IT training, you can easily study for career-enhancing certifications that might be just what you need to land that dream position.

3. You Come Across as Arrogant. Confidence is important, especially if you’re after a position in sales, but it’s very easy for confidence to veer into the territory of arrogance. To avoid coming off as a know-it-all who will be unpleasant to work with in any company in the UK, be sure that you can back up your claims with evidence, and ask plenty of questions to show your interest in the position and your willingness to learn.

4. You Didn’t Prepare for the Interview. It’s interviewing 101: You need to do your homework on the company. At the very least you can expect to be asked why you want to work for the company, but you should be able to weave your knowledge of the organization into your answers. Doing some research also allows you to better demonstrate how you can benefit the organization, using specific examples and information.

5. You Aren’t an Effective Communicator. Finally, the way you speak is just as important as what you say. Not only do you need to practice answering common questions, but you should also be aware of any vocal habits that distract from what you are saying. These include being redundant, ending every sentence like a question, and speaking too loudly or softly, all of which are not liked by employers in the UK. Practice with a friend who will give honest feedback, and correct any issues before your interview.

While correcting these issues doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get every job you interview for, they certainly increase the chances of getting an offer. Even when you don’t, don’t take the rejection personally, and focus on what you can change — it will happen eventually. Visit to enhance your communication skills and become successful in your interviews!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Could students swing the vote? 70% say they’ll vote REMAIN

“It’s our future”: Engagement peaks as majority want a voice on Thursday
  • 70% in student poll want the UK to stay in the European Union
  • 60% think leaving will hurt them financially
  • Propaganda, racism and older voters listed as reasons for concern
  • 1.83 million UK students (Source: HESA, 2015)
Political engagement is peaking among students, with Brexit fears likely to propel the majority to the polls on June 23rd.

A survey by reveals 94% have registered to vote, with almost three-quarters saying they’ve already made up their mind to vote ‘remain’. 17% would prefer to leave, with the remainder still undecided or not voting.

More than half (61%) of those surveyed think they’ll be financially worse off if we leave, with comments explaining:

“Students of our generation already have enough set against us, we don't need racist irrational members of the older generation voting out on a whim which will ultimately make little difference to their lives, but could seriously damage our own.”

“As a student the EU will give me more financial aid on my year abroad (Erasmus funding) than our government has for my years studying in Britain.”
“The EU offers us so much in terms of low-cost trade, funding for students and job opportunities; why should we leave that?”
Despite what could be a potentially massive student turnout next week, just 10% think the campaigns have been clear and fair:

“I think it’s ridiculous that both sides can get away with confusing the public so much and not giving clear, truthful, honest and fair answers to something which will heavily effect everyone.”

The lack of clarity may explain why so many students don’t feel positive about the outcome – 88% said they were concerned by the outcome either way.

Owen Burek, Save the Student’s Chief Editor, says:

“Students are clearly very worried about the Referendum, and with good reason. They’ve been saddled with substantial debts for degrees, with the promise of better jobs in a strong economy. Uncertainty, particularly around leaving the EU, has compounded anxiety along with the fear-mongering and confusing talk from politicians.

We’ve always encouraged students to speak up and be counted at political crossroads. It’s your future that’s being decided. If you’ve registered, you’ve already done the complicated bit. Now make sure your voice gets heard – vote on June 23rd!”

Most students do see this as a chance to protect their future, and not just for themselves: “a united Europe is something worth fighting for,” one student writes.

Survey results

  • Survey polled 1,828 students via (15-19 June 2016)
  • Registered to vote: 94% (Not registered: 3% | Not eligible: 3%)
  • Will vote to stay: 71% (Leave: 17% | Undecided: 8%| Not voting: 4%)
  • Concerned about the outcome: 88% (Not concerned: 12%)
  • Campaign information from either party clear and fair: 10% (Not clear and fair: 90%)
  • Financially worse off if we leave EU: 61% (Better off: 12% | Not sure: 27%)