We'd like to thank all those who posed
questions and for our Job Squad who gave up their time today.
Please come back next month.
The February Job Squad
On 17th February, the Job Squad included ex-Dragon
James Caan, author of Get the Job You
Really Want. He was joined by The Trust’s policy
director, Ginny Lunn and Liam
Springer, a Prince's Trust Young Ambassador.
@PrimHilVioletaB tweets: How does my extremely talented
daughter free herself from land of perpetual
Ginny says: Work experience and internships can
be a really useful stepping stone to the job you want. Make sure
the employer helps you develop your skills and network. Always
agree the timescale and objectives of the placement.
Liam adds: After I was made redundant I did a
course with The Prince’s Trust – this led to volunteering and then
to paid work. It’s really important to stick with it and don’t give
I have almost 11 years experience in my industry, but no
formal qualifications and I'd like to ask - What does an employer
consider more valuable - experience or formal
Liam says: I found experience worked for me.
I’d been doing a job in architecture for two years, even though I
had no qualifications in this area. I took my portfolio to another
interview and they loved it.
Ginny adds: Some jobs do require specific
qualifications, so your options may be limited.
When you’re asked to describe your weaknesses what
should you say?
Liam says: I always struggle with this one!
Ginny adds: Be honest, but also mention what
you’re doing to tackle it or improve it. For example, if your
presentation skills aren’t great you could explain you’d be very
keen to attend a course or learn from your manager.
James adds: Always go for a weakness that you
can put a positive twist on but remember to stay truthful and don’t
mislead potential employers. Some of the following may apply to
- I’m a perfectionist
- I can take my work too seriously
- It has been said that I have too much attention to detail when
it comes to my work
What makes a candidate’s CV stand out from the
James says: Just like a grocer, make sure your
best apples are at the front. You need to summarise your skills and
achievements in the first paragraph rather than going straight in
with a long list of roles and responsibilities from your previous
job. An employer will always look for skills and achievements which
are relevant to the role so you need to research the role really
well and tailor your cv to that position. A lot of grads make the
mistake of employing a ‘spray and pray’ approach - sending out lots
of cvs to different employers without targeting them specifically.
Always limit a CV to two pages– go for a page and a half if
I’ve seen a poster for your book. But how do I get my
ideal job when I don’t know what I want to do?
James says: You could go and see a recuitment
consultant – they can sit you down and talk through how you can
apply your skill set to a specific sector. A good consultant will
be able to help you identfy some good options to explore and it
won’t cost you anything.
Liam: A good place to start is with what you
enjoy – if you can turn that into a career it would be perfect.
I am 28 years old and decided to take the leap and
start-up on my own fashion design business nearly 2 years ago. I
have since been battling for funding from all sources available to
me, I cannot seem to get funding from anywhere, I have tried
everything suggested by the government gateways with the exception
of the Business Angels route, my question to you is - is there
light at the end of the tunnel? Should I really ask Business Angels
for funding or is that not a great route to take?
James says: Business angels is certainly an
area which should be taken seriously – they are a major source of
funding and it is a great route to take – especially in the current
economic climate when banks are not actively lending to small start
So where do you find business angels? There are various networks
and forums online where you can discuss your challenges with other
business start ups and also find other sources of funding.
I’m currently looking for work and have only managed to
get temp work. All the people I meet say I've got a good CV but I
can’t find work. What do I do?
Ginny says: Many people say it’s easier to find
a job while you’re in work. So keep temping and searching at the
Liam adds: I know a guy who wanted to do
coaching like me. His CV was really good, so I helped him to send
it to as many contacts as possible and ask them to pass it on.
Eventually it will get into the right hands.
What advice would you have for a soon to be graduate
looking to work in a marketing agency?
James says: Make sure that you go to specialist
recruitment agencies – they can be found easily by searching
If you are looking to get a job, you should seriously consider
work experience. You should apply for a fixed-term position - not
necessarily at the biggest, high profile agencies because the
smaller ones will be more flexible and there will be less graduates
competing for a foot in the door.
Guardian media jobs is also very good for media positions –
there is a graduate search option.
Ginny adds: Many charities have small marketing
teams and would welcome talented volunteers.
Mrs H asks:
My son wants to start a firm, working with cars. He
fixes friends cars, but he’s still on benefits and doesn’t know how
to start a business. Where can we go for help?
Ginny says: If he’s unemployed and meets The
Trust’s criteria he could apply for our Enterprise Programme. This
will help him to explore whether self-employment is a good option
and, if it is, could provide a business loan and mentor support to
get the business off the ground.
James adds: The internet today is the greatest
source of information and ideas. There are a number of forums and
websites with a lot of support.
But ,first, he should think about the following things:
- What capital will you need to set up?
- What equipment, machinery and tools do you need to invest
- Who within your immediate family or network will be interested
in investing in your idea?
I have an interview next Tuesday for a reception job at
the leisure centre. My friends say I should dress casual, but I
think I should wear a suit. What do you think?
James says: Each job has an expectation of
image or presentation. I would look at the company on the website –
is it really modern/corporate? A website gives you a really good
feel for the company. Try and present yourself so you are in
harmony with the surroundings. Dressing for an interview at Google
would be different to IBM for example – doing your research about
such matters shows good attention to detail and should pay off.
How can I gain the skills I need to get a job, as I
can't afford to do a full time course as I need to
Liam says: Many companies will be happy to take
on volunteers to help them gain work experience.
Ginny adds: This shouldn’t affect your
Liam adds: You could even volunteer while
working part time.
How do u market yourself without under-selling
James says: Always be yourself and tell the
B asks: At the end of an interview people always ask for
me to ask questions but I’m never sure. What’s a good question to
James says: Ask for feedback on how they felt
the interview went – Am I the type of person that you think would
fit into your organisation?
Can I ask James if you interviewed me tomorrow, what
three things would impress you most?
1) Personal presentation
2) Lots of preparation shown by researching my company –
background, brand, our successes etc.
3) A document/Powerpoint which reinforces your skills/talents –
something creative and eye catching which adds to the CV.
Is it OK to ask for travel expenses when I’ve travelled
for an interview? I’m prepared to move for the right
Ginny says: Many employers – particularly in
the public sector – will pay travel expenses if asked. Ask the HR
department before you agree the interview – you’ll probably feel
uncomfortable raising it on the day and it could, potentially, put
the interviewer off.
Liam adds: One employer actually offered me
I really want to work, but I can’t afford to lose my
benefits. I feel trapped.
Liam says: It may seem difficult at first, but
once you start getting paid you should find you’re better off. You
clearly want to work, so you’ll feel better too.
Ginny adds: Have you thought about doing some
voluntary work? You should be able to keep your benefits and it can
be a useful stepping stone to a paid job. There are lots of options
at www.vinspired.com and www.doit.org.uk
I’ve been unemployed for two years now. As I’m sure you are aware
being in this situation is very stressful and can make you
depressed. I was wanting any info or advice on how to get work when
most employers require experience. I currently spend my time
searching for jobs but nothing comes up, and my main hobbies are
music and writing stories. Any advice would be great.
Ginny says: You’re not alone – we know that many young people
find unemployment affects their emotional wellbeing. Try to focus
on the future and find positive activities to do. If you are
between 16 and 25 then look at our Team programme – you could meet
new people, gain confidence and develop new skills. Three quarters
of people who complete our programmes go on to work, education or
Being on benefits really makes you feel down. My friend
spends all day at home and never goes out. What can I do to help
Liam says: When I was unemployed I played football – it was a
low cost hobby that kept me busy, healthy and happy. I’m sure
she’ll appreciate having you as a friend right now – maybe you
could find a new hobby together.
I got cautioned for shoplifting way back and have a
record. If I apply for shop work, do I need to tell
Ginny says: It’s always best to be honest. But if the conviction
is a long time ago and technically ‘spent’ then a good employer
should appreciate your honesty.
My son turns 20 in June and is currently studying sports
exercise science. When he leaves college in July, where can he hope
to gain employment in this field? What types of places should he
Ginny says: I’d suggest he spends some time
researching all the options: local leisure centres, private gyms,
sports clubs and football teams. Even try hotels with leisure
facilities, holiday companies and cruise ships. Keep all your
options open and you’ll have more chance of success.
Liam adds: I was at a football club recently
and they had voluntary placements available. I used to volunteer
myself and it definitely helped me get a job.
Find a job
Ready to start earning money?
- Directgov offers help with jobhunting and
planning your career. Find out more
Become an Apprentice
Apprenticeships can be a good option if you want to earn a
weekly wage while developing skills in a particular field.
- The National Apprenticeships Service gives you
a range of information to help you decide if Apprenticeships are
the right route for you. Find out more
- Directgov also has lots of advice and
information about Apprenticeships.
Find out more
You probably have more options than you think. You could
gain more qualifications, look for your first job, find an
apprenticeship, or look into training or voluntary work.
There's lots of help for you online and we’ve collected together
some of the best sites below.
Continue in education
Studying for more qualifications could be a great step towards
finding the job that's right for you.
- Directgov offers a range of options if you'd
like to stay in education.
Find out more
Volunteering can develop your skills and give you valuable
experience, and there are loads of opportunities out there.
- vinspired can link you up with volunteering
opportunities near you. Find