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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

5 Ways to Make your Cash Last over Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and doesn’t your wallet know it! The festive season is the most expensive time of the year- presents to buy, food to get- not to mention the practicalities of the cold weather like a heating bill gone through the roof! Here are some handy tips from The Graduate Recruitment Bureau on how to keep an eye on the pennies over the holiday season.
1) Buy a jumper. Or two.
It can be a nasty shock when your heating bill for December comes through! Whilst it would be silly to not put on your heating in the middle of winter there are ways to cut down the bill. Dig out the jumpers, blankets, thermals…anything warm, then layer up when you’re inside! Don’t have the heating up quite so high and just put on an extra layer. A few degrees might not seem like much but it will make a difference over the 12 weeks of constant heating that is needed in winter!
2) Do overtime
Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone. The chances are that if you have a job, whether it is in a shop, restaurant or office, they will need people to put in extra hours over the holidays. Sign up for some extra shifts to get some more money and use the busy-ness to your advantage. It might be annoying when all of your friends are out partying and you are stuck at work but just think how much better off you will be in the New Year!
3) Bring a little mystery to Christmas…
Is it really necessary that you get all your friends a present this year? A sneaky way to still indulge in some festive spirit without it rendering you bankrupt is to do Secret Santa. Everyone has an allocated person to buy a gift for and a reasonable budget is set. That way you only have to buy one person a present but nobody gets left out! There is also the added element of excitement of who has who…
4) Hand- make your gifts!
There are some groups of people that Secret Santa won’t cut it for- like family. In this case why not give personal presents this year and hand- make them? It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the most creative person; people will be touched that you have put time and effort into the present. It doesn’t have to be a naff, paper mach├ęd figurine- think carefully about what each family member likes and could use. For example a hand painted mug, knitted scarf or personal bracelet.
5) Utilise your student discounts
There is no point being a student if you are not going to take advantage of your student discounts! Be wise with where you shop- go to shops that offer the best discount and buy your food and presents from there. Also, around Christmas voucher websites go crazy- check out the latest online offers or deals which could be useful presents or money savers.

Christmas Costs the Average Student £161

Students at university are planning to spend an average total of £161 on Christmas this year according to a recent survey by student money site

This is less than one-third of the national consumer average, as found by a poll for the Money Advice Service last month.

Still, 8 out of 10 students surveyed said they struggle to find the money but feel pushed to spend more than they can really afford during the festive period.

The typical student plans to buy gifts for 6 people, totaling an average of £108. 1 in 5 think they’ll spend over £200 on others, with 70% being spent on family members and the remainder on friends.

There is also a clear divide between the sexes. Female students tend to buy more presents for friends and spend 25% more than their male counterparts.

One female respondent is gearing up to spend a total of £400 on Christmas presents this year, £160 of that being on other students.

The seasonal spending doesn't stop there. Students are set to loosen their purse strings by an additional £53, putting £8.50 towards group Christmas dinners and the rest mostly on alcohol, decorations and travel. Less than half of students said that they budget for Christmas, with a quarter admitting to receiving additional money from parents.

Save the Student editor Jake Butler observed: “it’s not much of a surprise that students find money hard to come by at this time of year and more so than the general population. Student loans are running dry at a time when students feel the pressure to buy presents and attend countless Christmas parties.

Money saving ideas such as Secret Santa, joint Christmas dinners and homemade decorations are just a few of the ways that students have been resourceful this year in curbing overspending around the festive period. As always, I would encourage students to think carefully before spending large amounts of money, without being too much of a Scrooge!”.

Save the Student surveyed 810 current university students in December 2012.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

How to dress to impress for your interview

So you’ve graduated from university and you’re ready to take the first steps into your career. You’ve handed out numerous CVs and slowly but surely the offers start filtering through. You’re prepared for any questions they can throw at you with answers that you’ve rehearsed over and over again, but have you decided on what you’re going to wear for the interview? This may seem like the last thing on your mind but remember this - first impressions are everything. If the assessor has two candidates who performed equally as well, it could come down to the little imperfections such as what they were wearing, how well they presented themselves and their attitude towards the role. Choosing the right attire can help fix these problems so make sure you’re wearing the right outfit to secure the job.
It is important that you choose clothes that are smart but also ones that you feel comfortable in. If you feel awkward and nervous because your clothes are too tight this will come across in your interview. The more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to deliver and present yourself confidently, giving your interviewer no reason to doubt your abilities.

Interview Attire: Formal
With regards to interview attire, dark colours are best suited as they don’t reveal too much about your personality. They keep you looking formal and smart, exactly the persona you’re trying to create. For men, a dark coloured 2- piece fitted suit with a long sleeved light coloured shirt will help you create the smart look you want. The tie should match the suit and the tip should reach the top of the trouser belt. Avoid character or patterned ties; this can project an image that you’re not serious about the job! Shoes should also be dark and polished and along with the socks and belt, they should match the colour of the suit. Keep in mind if you are called back to a second interview there is no need to buy another ensemble, simply change your shirt and tie. Ladies should consider dark coloured trousers or a pencil skirt combined with a light coloured blouse. A suit-dress is also acceptable but make sure both outfits are conservative, worn with a blazer and avoid showing too much skin. Footwear should be sensible; flat shoes or shoes with a low heel are a good option. Don’t wear heels that are so high you can’t walk in them; your interviewer will deem you as unprofessional.

Interview Attire: Casual
When attending a casual style interview, men can wear chinos or smart trousers. Avoid wearing shorts because this can be seen as too informal. A polo neck shirt can be worn instead of a long sleeved shirt but make sure it is a block colour. For footwear, choose smart boat shoes or loafers though ensure they are in a good condition – fit enough for an interview! For women, day dresses and maxi-dresses are suitable when combined with a blazer. The rule of exposing too much skin still applies so make sure you have leggings or hosiery to fit with the day dress.

Don’t over accessorise!
Keep accessories to a minimum. A watch and a ring will add some character without being too showy. Visible body piercings should be removed and tattoos covered as they can distract the employer from dealing with the task in hand which is deciding whether you’re suitable for the role!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Apprenticeships - What’s the deal?

For many people leaving school and university, the number of options open to you can be overwhelming. Do you continue your studies with a Masters or PHD? Or should you go out and find a job in the big wide world of employment? Many even opt to start up their own companies in order to create a job for themselves in difficult times. For many, though, the answer might just be an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are a unique way of furthering your academic qualifications at the same time as working and earning money. There are thousands of jobs for which the best way to progress is to learn on the job: builders, decorators, plumbers, mechanics and carpenters being just a few. An apprenticeship will allow you to begin work straight away, earning a wage whilst spending perhaps two days a week at college in order to pick up the academic skills you need to become fully qualified in your new career.

The advantages are many: you have a job, for a start! Your foot is firmly on the first rung of the employment ladder and you’re on your way in your new career. When your apprenticeship is completed, your company will most likely want to keep you on, giving you some job security as well. Going through an apprenticeship tells prospective employers that you are dedicated to the job, wanting to get into work as quickly as possible whilst also being keen to learn new academic skills.

It’s worth considering a couple of points about apprenticeships, though. You will have to spend a couple of days a week at college, which can sometimes feel like being back at school. Apprenticeships tend to last for a couple of years on average, so you should bear this in mind before applying for one. Although you do get paid for being an apprentice the pay is usually very low, reflecting the fact that you are not yet qualified in your chosen career. Post-apprenticeship salaries are usually very generous, though, so hold on tight and you will be earning good money in no time at all!

If you’re interested in finding apprenticeship vacancies, why not take a look online? There is plenty of information to be found, enabling you to sum up the advantages and disadvantages in order to make an informed decision of your own.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

NUS Recommends Student Insurance from Endsleigh

Before you head off to university, one of the most important things you have to arrange is comprehensive insurance to protect your belongings. Even if you’re not new to being a student, for example if you’re returning to university for postgraduate study, you still need to protect your possessions and luckily can still take advantage of exclusive student policies. The modern student has a whole host of valuables to look after; your mobile phone, laptop, and multiple other gadgets all threatened by dangers such as accidental damage, loss, or theft. But where do you go when looking for insurance for students?

Endsleigh is the UK’s top student insurance provider, and comes highly recommended by the NUS the country’s National Union of Students. They offer comprehensive cover for student’s cars, gadgets, and other possessions whether you live in university halls or other rented accommodation. One of their most impressive services is the guarantee that should you lose an essential tool, like your laptop or mobile phone, Endsleigh will replace it within 24 hours after they accept your claim. That’s a real bonus when you desperately need those gadgets to continue with your studies and stay in contact with your friends and family.

To check whether Endsleigh can offer you a policy, simply visit their website at and enter your details. If eligible you can get an instant quote for whatever kind of cover you require. You can add all kinds of different items to one comprehensive policy ranging outside the basics like your phone and laptop to other valuable items like musical instruments and sports equipment. Even if you’re already ensconced at university it isn’t too late to arrange cover. If you live in a shared property you can even chat to you housemates to arrange to cover all your belongings under the same comprehensive policy.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Public sector career?

Whether you are starting out on your career or changing your career, it is very exciting but at times it can seem daunting because there are just so many avenues to go down.

Where do you begin? Why not with one of the biggest employers in the UK which happens to be the public sector, just think you’ll be working for the government. Did you know that the NHS is also the biggest employer in Europe with over a million employees? In a nutshell, all this means that there are plenty of career paths and plenty of options throughout the public sector, many of which are worthwhile and rewarding.

The choice of jobs within the public sector is vast and ranges from the civil service to social care, police to politicians, teaching to traffic control and the armed forces to the ambulance service.

One of the most important aspects of a smooth public sector are the support jobs that keep the whole ‘machine’ running smoothly. Amongst these care and health jobs are many departments to choose from:

Administrative staff are the back bone of any organisation and provide essential support. In the public care sector you will be supporting doctors, nurses and other health professionals.

Catering staff make sure that all the food and drink provided is full of the correct nutrients. They have to think about all the dietary requirements taking into account religions, cultures and allergies.

Domestic Services:
Have you ever thought about how our hospitals are cleaned? The organisation behind the operation is massive. You could be part of the team that keeps our hospitals and medical centres clean.

Caretakers cover a variety of jobs. They are based in hospitals, head offices, staff accommodation and health centres. Their responsibilities include making sure that all clinical waste is disposed of in the correct manner, building maintenance is scheduled and organised and that the traffic in the car park flows freely.

Security staff make sure that that we all feel safe in hospitals whether we are visiting, a patient or at work. They must also secure all buildings and ensure that all valuable equipment is protected.

To find worthwhile social care jobs, a great place to start is The best thing about them is that there aren’t any adverts from recruitment agencies so all the adverts are from employers who actually have social care vacancies. That means that your precious time is cared for because you will only be applying for genuine jobs.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Saving money and budgeting

The ‘A’ level results are in and you’ve made it, you’re off to university or you’re an old uni hand getting ready for another year of academic study. Whatever the case, you’ll need to fine tune your finances and know exactly what you’re spending. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to save money and plenty of tools such as the StudentCalculator to help you plan your student budget.

If you’re moving into independent accommodation, you’re likely to be footing the bills for utilities such as gas, electricity and water. You’ll be signing off an inventory and one of the first things you’ll need to do is record the gas and electricity meter readings. You don’t end up paying for the last tenants love of long steaming baths or four thousand baked potatoes!

Whilst it does sound tedious, you should always compare electricity prices to make sure that you don’t end up over paying. It’s easy to do, only takes a few moments and using an online electricity comparison such as the Energy Helpline website you could instantly save money with a few clicks of your mouse. is a price comparison website that compares all UK energy providers. Students can use it to find cheaper electricity and gas plus save you lots of money. Once you have decided which provider gives you the best deal, all you have to do is ring them and they’ll do the rest.

Once you’ve saved a shed load on your utility bills, there are some other tips that you could consider to make your money go further:

  • Before taking out any expensive insurance to cover your personal possessions, check to see if you’re covered under e.g. your parent’s insurance policy. Also check to see what exactly is covered – will your laptop, phone or iPod be insured? If not, use an insurance comparison website to get the best insurance deal.
  • If you’re going to travel round the UK to see friends and family, then why not buy a Student Railcard? You could save up to a third on each journey and if you plan ahead of time, you could save even more. Then there is the Megabus which has incredible deals from as little as £1 but you have to be very organised and quick to benefit.
  • Another thing you could do is to try getting used to watching catch up TV because that way you don’t need a licence. You only need one when you watch or record at the same time as a programme is being aired. However this does come with a word of warning because if you are going to watch live TV on any device such as a mobile, laptop or PC, then it is a legal requirement to be covered by a TV licence.

These are just a few money saving tips but with some care, time and planning you really will be able to make your student budget go further!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Difficult job market for graduates

Total Jobs latest infographic, based on extensive research, demonstrates how the graduate jobs market is moving at the moment. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like things are getting any easier for graduate jobseekers. For career advice please visit

Totaljobs Graduate infographic

What do you mean, the washing machine is broken?

Audible groans from the kitchen. A loud sound of toecap connecting with washing machine. All to no avail. It is definitely not working. To make matters worse it’s full of soggy clothes, the door won’t open... and that T-shirt was meant to be cleaned and ironed (well, flattened a bit) ready for tonight’s big night out.

Easy solution, call the landlord... except as every student will know, getting hold of the landlord is not always easy, and the likelihood of getting some action within the next couple of hours is slim at best. (Perhaps that’s doing a great disservice to student landlords, but plenty of students are nodding with great understanding.)

Sometimes action is needed, and fast.

One solution is to get a professional in, asap. An appliance repairs company like Repair & Protect has engineers across the UK and a fixed price list, so you know where you stand – and if they can’t fix it then you don’t pay. Maybe your landlord will even thank you for getting it sorted on his/her behalf!

The lesson here is to look beyond the big bedrooms and comfy sofas when you view your next student house. Whilst it’s pretty boring to poke around the kitchen, having reliable appliances that do what they should is key to harmony with your flatmates. After all, if nothing goes wrong there’s no need for the ‘Who used this last and broke it’ conversation.

Also (still boring) check for signs of damp on the walls and ceilings as you could be accused of causing it yourself when you hand your keys back, and that means kissing goodbye to your precious deposit. It’s always worth taking photos of every room, and every appliance when you move in, so you have a record of the condition of all the contents you have inherited and any holes in the walls or marks on the carpets can’t be blamed on you.

Living out at uni is good fun; don’t let the good times be spoilt by bad times, bad landlords or bad washing machines!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Insurance – an unlikely career?

Everybody has to have insurance. If you drive a car it’s a legal requirement. Wherever you live you’d be daft not to have some sort of insurance cover for your belongings, and the building itself if you are the owner. If you are a student living at uni, your landlord will undoubtedly have insurance.

That makes it big business, with lots of employment opportunities... ever thought of it in that way?
Think about a typical evening watching TV and the adverts that come along time after time. Without doubt there will be a smattering of insurance adverts of one sort or another, including the various market comparison sites.  Is there anyone who doesn’t know about the meerkat by now?
So if you are thinking about a career in insurance, what do you need to know?
The financial services sector, which includes banking, insurance, accountancy and mortgages, is a very competitive sector. New technology has made switching providers (back to that meerkat!) easier than ever before and financial companies are keen to retain business and remain competitive. It is also a highly regulated sector with various specialist qualifications.

Employees tend to be well qualified and there is a good balance between women and men overall. There are numerous roles as there are several different kinds of insurers, each with their own specialisms, ranging from off-the-shelf standard products to complex bespoke insurance solutions for major or unusual risks, both personal and commercial.

There is also the London Market aptly named Lloyds of London, centred in the City of London whose main activity is internationally traded insurance, especially high-exposure risks (the sinking of the Titanic is part of Lloyd’s history.)

Lloyd’s of London is a large insurance market firm, rather than an insurance company, with a prestigious reputation and a good name for your CV! It is the marketplace where international insurance specialists conduct their business and employs over 800 people.  These days they work in an award-winning modern building in Lime Street in the City of London, but the origins of Lloyds were in a 17th century coffee house.

If you are considering a career in insurance, you can keep an eye on the insurance industry using the Lloyds website, which provides a massive amount of background information presented in a very readable way. No techno-babble, no gobbledegook, no jargon, just clear and understandable information to help you decide if a career in insurance might be for you. You can go to this page and start reading up to get a head start!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Car insurance for students - does it make car ownership worth it?

Many students want to take driving lessons as soon as they reach 17; indeed, many of them want to pass and get a car straight away, as well as the luxury of freedom that it offers them. However, with statistics largely pointing to the demographic as one of the worst (if not the worst outright) for road traffic accidents, the insurance necessary to drive is not only expensive - it's outright prohibitive.

The Daily Telegraph recently revealed that the average car insurance policy was just under £1,000 at £973, while men under 22 - the usual age band for students looking to cover their car - were expected to pay a whopping £3,100+ just to get their car on the road. Clearly, this is clearly becoming a major issue for individuals looking to commute to university or other further education commitments away from where they're living.
So, what do you do if you're facing this kind of bill as a student? Well, here are some cracking tips that should get you well on your way to lower insurance costs and safer driving.

Pay yearly, not monthly
If you're going to get a car, there's a good chance that you'll have it for a few months. After all, you're a student - you probably won't upgrade any time soon! If you can afford to, pay for your car insurance in one lump sum. When prices are as high as they seem, this may seem impossible in one charge alone, yet you could save two or three months' worth of costs down the line.

Go with a specialist insurer
If you were a landlord, you wouldn't get any home insurance policy; if you're protecting your valuables in your home, you wouldn't get cover that just safeguarded a fixed amount; indeed, you'd tailor your investment to your specifications. This is why many people are looking at specific student car insurance deals from providers like Can Can Cover, who have opted to work creatively and fairly with their target.

Get a car with a small engine
Smaller-engine cars are not perceived as a particular threat to insurers, given they are not particularly fast or prone to speed-related collisions (though usually, this is more about the driver's requirements from their car). If you opt for a tiny engine - even a 0.9 or 1.0 - you could save a small fortune.

Opt for a vehicle with a good safety record
If you end up getting a car that performed well in its Euro NCAP tests, chances are that you'll have access to the best premiums possible. After all, if it can withstand an accident and keep you safe, there'll be less to pay.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Standing out from the crowd

How is your application going to stand out from the crowd? Not by using incorrect spelling, grammar and punctuation.
You’ve seen a job that you would like to apply for and now you are going to make your application.
Stop. Think about what the employer is looking for in a successful applicant before making your submission. Fast forward, and they now have an inbox brimming with applications. How is yours going to stand out from the crowd?
Employers are busy people and you need to grab their attention for the right reason. Your written application is probably the very first contact they have had from you. It only takes them a second to eliminate you and something as simple as one spelling mistake will consign you to the trash.
At StudentGems, we continue to emphasise the importance of checking and re-checking job applications. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), more than half of all CVs received by recruiters contain spelling or grammatical errors, and the REC report that ‘graduates are twice as likely to make such mistakes as non-graduates.’
Let’s take a couple of recent examples from applications made through StudentGems for copywriting jobs.
1. ‘my names is [fred blogs] and im interested in becoming a writter’
2. ‘Hi I would like to apply for this job, as i feel not only my self, but your self would benifit as I am competant with my writing, research quickly and come up with origanal content’.
How did the applicants ever expect to get even an acknowledgement let alone an interview?
It doesn’t matter if the job is temporary, a one-off project, part-time or a full-time graduate job; the same rules apply. Our employers highlight poor spelling and grammar as the key cause of rejection.
An application must be immaculate, relevant and the perfect example of correctly written grammar, punctuation and spelling. Employers are looking for people who can represent their businesses. If you send in some half-hearted, sloppy and badly constructed application, you have just successfully consigned yourself to the 'reject without interview' pile.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A career in hospitality

Ever thought of a career in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism?
Eating and drinking is never going to go out of fashion so it has to be a good bet particularly if you are a people person. The hospitality industry already employs over two million people nationwide, which means that 1 in 14 jobs throughout the United Kingdom are in this sector. This is expected to grow so it’s got to be worth looking into it as a career option.
It was only when looking at that you realise just how many varied roles and career paths exist within the hospitality industry. The website states that they are “the ultimate resource for anyone interested in the dynamic hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry”. On first sight, it certainly seems very comprehensive.
The resource section of the website shows you how many diverse opportunities there are within this this sector. There is so much succinct information on each of the 14 career areas, which encompasses all manor of options such as coffee shops, holiday centres, visitor attractions, tourism, travel, youth hostels, events, fast food, hotels, pubs & nightclubs, restaurants, gaming, membership clubs and food service management.
It is packed with case studies ranging from apprenticeships to activity instructors, bar managers to baristas, chefs to caterers and room service managers to travel writers plus so much more. It offers an excellent insight into all manner of real life experiences within the industry. The size of the businesses range from one-off restaurants to a small chain to massive global brands so there is plenty of choice on the size of business that you might want to join
The industry also takes training seriously so skills can be improved all the time, particularly in the areas of management and customer service. We all enjoy good customer service and are far more likely to recommend a place where we feel that we have been looked after properly. It’s good to know that an industry such as this offers the opportunity to personally improve all the time.
Plus there is a great opportunity to win a week’s work experience on the Orient-Express right now!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Cobham crowned apprentice team of the year

Eight young people from aerospace firm Cobham in Dorset have been named ‘apprentice team of the year’ following a six week contest against other teams from some of the country’s leading employers.

The Brathay Apprentice Challenge pitted eigapprentice-of-yearht teams of apprentices against each other in a range of challenges designed to test young people’s business acumen, team working and even physical endurance.

The finals, at the Brathay Trust’s Cumbrian HQ, saw the Cobham team narrowly beat seven other teams from Balfour Beatty, Bentley Motors, the Co-operative, MBDA Missile Systems, the National Apprenticeship Service, Rolls-Royce and Virgin Media.

The two-day event in Cumbria tested teams’ problem solving and physical endurance, culminating in a 10-mile whaler boat race across Lake Windermere and built on six weeks of fundraising and communications challenges.

The Cobham team raised almost £4,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation by cycling around the Isle of Wight, hitchhiking from Dorset to Cumbria and other fundraising activities. In addition, the team secured support from celebrities, including Matt Cardle, conducted talks in schools and raised the profile of the competition on Twitter and Facebook.

Team captain, Nick Shipp, said:
“It’s a real honour to have won the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. It’s been a tough competition, with the other teams really pushing us to the limit. We’re really proud of our achievement, not only at the finals in Cumbria, but also in raising £4,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation.”

Gerry Bishop MBE, Employee Development Manager, congratulated their apprentices and said:
“Our apprentices are an integral part of our talent pipeline and the future of our company and indeed the whole industry. We’re thrilled to have come away with the top prize against formidable opposition – it’s a hugely positive sign for the future of Cobham that our apprentices are already showing they’re the best in the country.”

Jaine Bolton, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, presented the awards to the winning team and said:
“Team Cobham are an example of how, in this new era of higher quality Apprenticeships, young people can really help the nation’s businesses grow. The winners are a real asset to their company and the Brathay Apprentice Challenge has been a fantastic way to recognise the incredible talent and success of the nation’s apprentices.”

Jez Anderson from the Brathay Trust, commented:
“The Challenge has recognised the vital role apprentices play at their firms and also helped the competitors’ personal development. The search for the apprentice team of the year has not only demonstrated the formidable skills of the nation’s apprentices, but helped demonstrate the range of careers available to young people.”

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Dealing with difficult interviews

Guest post from Edward Mellett of the graduate jobs website
I hope this article will be useful for everyone looking for graduate jobs and worrying about how to deal with difficult interviews.
For anyone going to an interview they can be quite a nerve-racking experience! Whether it’s your first ever interview or your twentieth, every interview is different from one another. The interview process varies from company to company as every business has its own way of carrying out candidate assessments.
Some of the basic things to do before going to any interview are:
  • Thoroughly research the company and assessors who will be interviewing you.
  • Have questions prepared to ask about the role/company.
  • Aim to get to the location of the interview early in case there are. problems/traffic while travelling.
  • Be dressed in smart office wear (suit).
  • Take a copy of your CV and any other documentation you feel is relevant with you to the interview.
Something increasingly likely with both large and small companies alike, is that their interview process for graduate level jobs tends to begin with an assessment centre. An assessment centre allows companies to assess numerous candidates at once with a number of job related tasks to find the most suitable candidates for their workplace.
These assessment centres can be difficult if candidates do not prepare for them. But if you do not know much about this type of interview, there are a number of graduate job preparation websites designed to help you out, such as There is a large amount of great advice and tools on WikiJob, designed to help you prepare for the diverse range of tasks and tests found at assessment centres, from psychometric tests, to group and scenario exercises to verbal and numerical reasoning tests.
I once had to go to an assessment centre for a graduate job and I had no idea what to expect. As you can imagine I didn’t do very well. At the end of the assessment, I was talking to a couple of the successful candidates and they said they prepared for this difficult interview process by practicing verbal, numerical reasoning tests and so on, for days and even weeks in the run up to the interview process. So for the next assessment centre I was invited to, I made sure I prepared well for the tests and tasks that I would encounter.
One of the worst things about group assessment centres can be suffering from nerves! To help with this, I always make sure I’m hydrated (which helps me avoid the dreaded “dry mouth” situation) and take a bottle of water with me to interviews. I also take my time and don’t rush when answering questions – I try to speak as clearly and slowly as possible. Well not too slowly, but I know that when I’m nervous I can talk quickly! This also helps me not to ‘umm’ and ‘err’ too much. I also try to keep eye contact with my interviewer and remember to always shake their hand at the end of the interview, no matter how rattled I may be!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Freelancing is the future

Julie Meyer has written a particularly interesting guest blog article on the KashFlow blog entitled ‘Where are the Jobs’ looking at the thorny issue of reducing youth unemployment.

Julie is well-known for founding First Tuesday, the largest global network of entrepreneurs, which many credit for igniting the Internet generation in Europe. As well as being CEO of Ariadne Capital,and Founder of Entrepreneur Country, Julie is also one of the two dragons on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den online, a columnist for City A.M.and regular contributor to The Daily Telegraph’s business pages.

She sums up her blog post by saying “The world of 2012 will force you as a job seeker or employer to be more creative, more sales and marketing-focused, more curious about the world, and more of a business person than ever before.”

How very true.

By acknowledging that the government is no longer in a position to help (there’s no money left in the pot) and that the world of work has changed out of all recognition, she quite rightly points out that job seekers must make the effort to sell themselves into a job. Effective communication has never been so easy and connecting with like-minded people and organisations can be instant. She goes on to say: “Many of those who are unemployed will end up working for themselves. We used to call this freelancing, but it’s become rather fashionable, and many find that the flexibility and freedom outweigh the unpredictability of personal income.”

Her three steps to creating more employment are:
1. Be patriotic
2. Leverage the digital native skills of the UK’s young people
3. Seek out your natural allies

Of course, it was Number 2 that really struck a chord. StudentGems has been doing that since 2007!

We’ve noticed a shift though. We now have more graduates registered with us than ever before. Many are following the freelancing path and it’s great that we can help them build their portfolios of freelance projects. It’s also great to get comments like this on twitter from @Slozbabble: "@studentgems Just want to say, you're responsible for most of the money I've made in the past few months! Thank you so much :)”

So whether you’re an employer, a graduate, a student or just someone concerned about the level of youth unemployment, please read Julie’s blog. Following her three steps is also highly recommended!