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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Avoid These Common Mistakes That Will Get Your Job Application Rejected

Good jobs aren’t easy to come by. First, you have to go through the trouble of finding them. That can take a while. It has to be a job for which you are suited, that pays your minimum requirements, that you can get to reliably, that fits your schedule, and that you will genuinely enjoy. This can be a tough job to find in any market.

From there, you have to fill out an application, present a resume, get chosen for an interview, get past the second round of interviews, then pass your drug test. That is quite a few hurdles to get over before you get a company login. And the sad truth is that the vast majority of people never make it past the application process.

There are a number of errors that cause applicants to never get a serious consideration and which happen at the paperwork phase. We’re not even considering discriminatory practices over which you have no control. We are just focusing on the things you do between the time you get the application and the time you turn it in. Here are three such things you must avoid at all costs if you want to have a chance at the job you want:

Cover Letter

A resume is about the facts. It’s the facts about you versus the facts about your competition. You may not win that battle. But the cover letter is about heart. The application lays out your qualifications. But the cover letter is about why you should be the one to be hired.

You can easily lose the game at this point. If you are not certain about what to put in a cover letter, you can start with this cover letter guide as a template. If that is still not sufficient to get you started, you can purchase a template that you can easily follow.

If your qualifications are at all sketchy, you still have a chance to win. The cover letter is that chance. If you blow it there, the rest doesn’t matter.


If you can’t spell and have poor grammar, you will not get the job provided someone else with better spelling is applying for the same job. The world is full of people with poor spelling and grammar skills applying for jobs. Your application will stand out from the crowd just by being written, spelled, and punctuated correctly.

Beyond proofreading it yourself, have another set of eyes look it over before you turn it in. Here’s a power tip: Always grab two applications. Use the second one to implement necessary corrections.


It doesn’t matter how good your application is if they can’t read what it says. But the importance of penmanship runs deeper than that. There is a chance that the job for which you are applying has some handwriting requirements.

A sloppily scribbled application may also indicate that you do not have the education you need for the job. It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. It is just a natural presumption. It also more properly suggests that you didn’t care enough about what you were doing to slow down and take the time to do it right. If you couldn’t be bothered to make out the application neatly, there is probably much about the job you wouldn’t be bothered to do right.

If you know your handwriting is atrocious, get a friend to fill out the application for you. It is easier to find a person to fill out your application for you than it is to find an employer who does not mind reviewing an application she can’t read.

The pen is mightier than the sword. So wield it with care and precision. Draft a winning cover letter. Eliminate spelling and punctuation errors. And use penmanship as if your job depended on it, because it does.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Skills You'll Need When Working Your Way through University

With the ever-increasing cost of going to university, students are literally being forced to carry some of the financial burden for their parents. Are you looking for work to help pay the costs? Here are a few skills you’ll likely need to get a job prior to getting that degree.

Driving Is Always Useful

One of the things which so many university students have difficulty with is buckling down to a mundane job with few challenges and little room for any physical activity. At this point in your life you are still sitting behind a book or computer many hours out of every day and so you want something with a little more action. For this reason, students often find jobs as delivery drivers because they get to stay out and about for at least six hours on a workday. Don’t have a licence? Pick up a manual and start studying for the written theory portion. Take practice exams on sites like Top Tests, and before you know it you’ll be ready for the practical driving test.

Telephone Skills

There are many call centres around the UK just looking for young people who have some techie type skills to man the phones. Some are customer service centres and others are tech departments where customers can phone in with enquiries on everything from operating that new digital pressure cooker to mounting that huge flat screen television to the wall. Most businesses like to hire college students for call centres for a number of reasons. While they are typically just looking for an income to make it through school years, they are not looking for a career. That’s pretty reasonable for a call centre as there aren’t too many positions up the ladder except perhaps team leader or floor manager. If you have any telephone skills at all, working in a call centre would give you the income you need without stressing you to overachieve.

Soft Skills Are a Plus

Formerly referred to as ‘people skills,’ a student who is personable with great communication skills can find a job working in anything from customer service to clerking in a local food mart. There are so many jobs open to someone with a wide array of soft skills that this is something you should emphasise on any application you submit. Personable young students can find a job easily if they are not looking to start their careers just yet.

If you had to sum up what you’d need to find a job while in university, look to getting your driving licence and hone up on your people skills. From there, your choices will be many. Make the right one and you might even find a job in your chosen field! Wouldn’t that be a nice way to see if this is the industry you want to spend the rest of your life in? Either way, learn to drive and work on your communication skills and that job is all yours for the taking.

Monday, 13 February 2017

How to Become a Commodities Broker or Trader

Have you ever been attracted to the idea of being a commodities broker? Or, perhaps, a commodities trader? These two professions share certain aspects but in reality are quite different. This blog explains the difference and what kind of people might be better suited to each role.

‘Commodity’, ‘trader’ and ‘broker’

First of all we should define the ‘commodities’ part. A commodity in economic terms is a good or product interchangeable with any other of its type, so that while quality may vary slightly there is a set price per unit, and a basic standard (called the ‘basic grade’) that must be met by all producers. Oil is perhaps the most well-known commodity – a barrel of oil is the same price no matter where it is produced.

There is then the difference between a trader and a broker. These terms are often used interchangeably, whereas, while they often work together, their roles are completely different. The skills they require and what kind of career path each can expect intersect, but also have important differences.

A commodities trader buys and sells commodities for their own profit or loss. A commodities broker executes orders to buy or sell commodities contract on behalf of clients, and makes money through commissions. The difference is occasionally explained as being the same as a player and a referee, with the trader buying and selling and the broker facilitating and overseeing the transaction.

Becoming a commodities trader

There are several routes that might lead become a commodities trader. It is not in fact necessary to have a degree, although finding an entry level job will be easier with one (and degrees that demonstrate mathematical and analytical aptitude are particularly desirable).

Many traders start off finding a job in the trading arm of a larger institution like an investment bank or a major corporation, often starting their journey through an internship. Working with professionals in a large-scale trading environment provides essential experience, and along the way you will gain the professional qualifications necessary to become a fully operational trader. (Commodities trading is a regulated profession, so you will need to obtain recognised qualification from the Financial Conduct Authority’s appropriate qualifications list.) Keeping up with these qualifications is necessary to continue trading, so some knowledge of the laws and regulations surrounding the profession will be useful both while working and while job-hunting.

If you’re interested in commodity trading in the UK, it will be helpful to look up the Financial Conduct Authority, the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, and the Chartered Finance Association.

Becoming a commodities broker

Different commodities have different rules and regulations and therefore require slightly different career paths. Securities like shares or derivatives are regulated, meaning there are more barriers to entry. Acting as a broker for something like physical gold (as opposed to gold futures, for example) does not require regulation, and so for applicants with the right natural aptitude this route can be an easier way to find success.

Good degrees for commodities brokers include Law, Business Studies and Marketing, but more important is to have natural ability in sales, with an interest in current affairs, and the quickness to quickly grasp complex financial concepts.

Starting salaries

The most pertinent information for many thinking about a career in commodities will be starting salaries. Traders can expect to get salaries and possible bonuses of £50k in the first year. Brokers can also expect £50k, from salary and commission. Both jobs require a lot of work, and you can safely expect to be doing weeks that are more than the normal forty hours. The lower earnings limit for traders is possibly higher, but the upper limit for a broker might be said to be higher – in fact in terms of salary there is not much between them.

It’s often confusing hearing people discuss being a commodities broker or trader – often thought of as being the same or similar, their roles are quite different and an individual will not be fully suited to both. As a student interested in these professions, your degree subject may alert you to which you’re better suited to, although other skills and interests are often more important than what you’re studying for right now.

Josh Saul is the founder and managing director of physical gold brokerage The Pure Gold Company. Having originally studied law, he has more than 10 years experience in commodities trading and brokering.

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.