Top Challenges Facing Job Seekers

Despite the fact that the recession began in 2008, current unemployment statistics show that we still have a long way to go.  According to BBC business statistics, unemployment is a lagging indicator. In other words, unemployment began to rise dramatically after the recession began; it didn’t rise immediately. It was a few months after the start of the recession before employment levels began to reflect the economic downturn. When the recession hit, unemployment figures were at 1.6 million ( a bit over 5 percent of the population). It wasn’t until the end of 2011 when unemployment peaked at almost 2.7 million. This was the highest level of unemployment for 17 years. Thankfully, things are looking up a bit. At the beginning of January of this year, unemployment was at 1.86 million. Things have evidently become better in terms of employment prospects. However, there are still many challenges facing job seekers and preventing them from getting a job. (see footnote 1) Some of these challenges, and possible solutions, are outlined below:   Unrealistic Ambitions In a survey by Yougov on the most desirable jobs to have in Britain today, the results are astonishing. The top 3 most desirable jobs are author, librarian and academic. There is a marked…

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CVs and Cover Letters: What Goes Where?

Sometimes a CV is defined as a very detailed, comprehensive resume, but for the purpose of this article, I’m talking about a standard job application. We all know CVs and cover letters are two very different things. We may not know, however, what material should be included in one and not the other. This article will break things down in a very simple way. After reading this advice, you will never make the mistake of rambling on about valuable character traits in your CV or bullet-pointing your education in your cover letter. Tailoring for each new job application will also be a much more efficient process once you have a comprehensive list of ‘what-goes-where’ to refer to. To keep it simple, we’ll begin with what information should appear in a cover letter: Note:  A cover letter should be less than one page, always. Always. What to include in cover letter: 1. Brief information about the person (you, the applicant). This doesn’t mean you tell the prospective employer that you have two sisters and were brought up on a farm. Keep the information relevant to the job. So when I say personal, I mean ‘information about you’, not what your favourite colour of underwear is.…

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The Dreaded Cover Letter

More and more employers require a cover letter as part of a standard job application. When applying for jobs, the cover letter can be an odious additional piece of work, particularly because it takes longer to edit and re-write than a CV or resume. This is because each cover letter has to be tailored precisely to the employer you want to work for. The CV on the other hand can be tweaked, cut and pasted from. There is always a skeleton CV; there is rarely a skeleton cover letter. What needs to be emphasised is that the cover letter is just as important as the CV. Most people tend to see a cover letter as exactly that; a letter. They forget the formality and relevance required. As a result, many jobseekers fail in composing a good one, and usually throw one together in a few minutes hoping for the best. The tips below hope to inspire jobseekers to reconsider the ‘get as many applications as possible out there’ mentality in favour of a ‘choose the jobs I would really love or excel at and put together a well-crafted thoughtful application’ one. Here are some very common mistakes made by jobseekers regarding a cover letter:…

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Zero Hour Contracts

What is a ‘zero-hour contract’? It is a contract given by employers to prospective employees to hire them on an ‘as-needed’ basis. It is a casual contract, neither part-time nor full-time. The employee is given hours according to the needs of the company. There are no benefits included. The most significant part of a zero-hour contract is that it gives the employer the ability to award absolutely no hours of work if business is slow, hence the ‘zero-hour’ name. Other casual contracts may have a four or eight hour restriction on the employer; in other words, even if business is slow, they are required to give the employee the minimum amount of hours stated on their contract. Casual contracts are unstable even with a restriction; without the security of knowing that you will get at least the minimum contract hours, it seems to be a highly impractical way of earning a living. Those who offer zero hour contracts tend to try to justify it by making it seem as if it benefits the employee. It gives them flexibility and allows them to do other things. Well, let’s examine this point, shall we? How does a contract with unknown hours offer flexibility? How can you plan the week…

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Unpaid Internships: Are They Really Worth It?

When you find yourself unemployed, it’s tempting to be lured into doing an unpaid internship. On the face of it, companies are reaching out a kind hand, helping you back on your feet, helping you boost your CV. However, the face of internships has drastically changed since the recent global recession. Internships used to be a form of (paid) apprenticeship with a good chance of securing a job at the end. In more recent times, however, they have become more of a last resort for the long-term unemployed or an easy way for savvy employers to get free labour. Internships are increasingly displacing real jobs, particularly in low-skilled areas where it’s not too inconvenient to have a high turnaround of staff. An example of this could be a busy office where there are a handful of full-time employees. What better way to increase the efficiency of the office than to ‘hire’ (not pay) interns for cycles of six months to a year? These interns could do the easiest bits of work, work which doesn’t take much training, such as, say, photocopying, answering the phone, and responding to emails. This is a great way to enhance a company’s performance without actually having to pay anyone. And yes, this really does happen. Yes, this is deemed…

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