Tackling Hate Crime – how you can help

This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week. #NHCAW

We’ve asked our Learner Support Co-ordinator to write a short article on Hate Crime and how you could help tackle it by volunteering and gaining some great skills and maybe a new career! Some of our learners are also talking about their experiences with hate crime and how they were supported by their local organisations.

What is hate crime?

If a crime or incident is thought to be motivated by prejudice against a person’s: disability, race, sexual orientation, gender identity or faith then it could be perceived as a hate crime. Hate crimes could be: name calling, damage to your property, offensive graffiti, online hatred or provoking online abuse.

Hate crime can trigger a huge range of emotions such as shock, fear and anger. The lasting damage could be evident by the victim experiencing sleep problems, anxiety and depression to name a few.

How to report hate crime:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEaQgX_nQ-4

If you are interested in a career in tackling hate crime then you could look for local volunteering vacancies. There are some great opportunities to be involved and learn what it’s like to support individuals who have been affected by hate crime. Here are some local to us in South Yorkshire. If you can’t find anything where you live then you could contact your local volunteer co-ordinator or victim support office


HCYou can also find some great information on the type of work you could do and the skills needed on the National Careers Service website.


Thanks for reading – as always, we’d love to hear from you.

Have a good week    #hatecrime


Bridging the gap on your CV

It’s quite usual to have a gap in your employment record, let’s face it not many people go through life without experiencing some period of unemployment! You might have to take some time out to care for a relative. What if you’ve been ill and unable to work for a while or were made redundant?
It doesn’t matter why you have gaps on your CV, the hard part is bridging or addressing these gaps and making sure they don’t work against you!

mind the gap

Honesty is the best policy when dealing with any gaps. You don’t have to go into all the details, being discrete might be the best option in some cases, but it’s important to remember that you should never leave reasons out completely or lie about the reason.

You should be consistent in your approach to any dates on your CV and give yourself an opportunity to cover any gaps. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave out the months and just put the years. Formatting your CV – this will help to draw attention to or away from certain sections. So if your skills are really strong in one area of work then you could draw the reader in and turn attention towards your skills and away from dates.

You could use BOLD to draw the eye to the company and the role you played. If you take this approach then don’t forget to alter all your dates to year only and keep it consistent.

An employer will verify your start and end dates during the recruitment process, but at this stage you are keeping it nice and simple and using the year only to maximise your chances of gaining an interview.

Positive talk – Life happens and it might have taken you some time to get a job, maybe you lost confidence and faith that you would get another job and got a little disheartened. It wouldn’t be ok to say “I was not able to find a job” that really doesn’t sound positive and in all honesty probably wouldn’t encourage an employer to contact you. However, you could say that you decided to take some time to look at other career options. If you were made redundant then you could write about what you have learnt from the process.

New Skills – Perhaps you’ve learnt that your skills in IT were outdated and you taught yourself some new skills, or maybe you used the time to concentrate on a family member who needed some support. These are all positive statements and shows that you looked on the bright side and used the time well.

Don’t be caught off guard! Keep up to date with news from the industry you are applying to so you can talk with confidence that any gap hasn’t put you at a disadvantage. If you are invited for interview then be prepared to talk about your gaps with confidence and show that any periods of unemployment have not dampened your enthusiasm for being a good employee and you are raring to go!

Different reasons for gaps in your CV and how to talk about them in an interview 

Family reasons – It wouldn’t be useful to say “the reasons are personal and I don’t want to discuss it.” Tell your prospective employer that you have been looking after a family member and that it is no longer an issue.

Ill health – You can talk about any periods of ill health and that at the time you were unable to work but that you are now back to full health and ready to take on new challenges and experiences.
Redundancy – Here is your opportunity to talk about the skills you gained, what you were most proud of during your time there and how you look upon it as an opportunity to move on and learn more.

If you are worried about any lengthy gaps then now is the time to do something proactive to alter that. Why not look for a volunteer position or take a course to improve your skills. That will eliminate most of the problem – you aren’t working and you are using the time to improve your skills and employability. You really will demonstrate your readiness to take on new challenges.

Be honest and show the employer what you have to offer.

Do you have any tips that you could pass on to our readers? We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading smiling emoji.png

Jingle All The Way…. The Christmas Temp

christmas jobs 2

Christmas recruitment is now well underway and a wide variety of roles are on offer, so whether you are looking to return to the job market or are trying to find your first job, then maybe a Christmas job could be the best option for you.

As well as the traditional retail roles you will also find lots of hospitality jobs are also on offer due to extra bookings for “the work Christmas do” or general festive lunches and dinners. So now is the ideal opportunity to get some experience, learn new skills and make some extra cash!
Here’s our list of what you might experience as a “Christmas temp”

Extra money – to save for the things you want. Christmas can put a strain on most people’s finances so having some extra cash can help you to budget and give the option to do other things that might normally be out of your reach.

References – Working in a Christmas job will give you up to date references and will definitely help you with future job applications. Christmas work is not easy and is very demanding and employers will know that you have got a hard working attitude.

Skills – due to the amount of vacancies that are advertised some employers will take applicants who don’t have a massive amount of experience to fill their vacancies. This means that you are able to get a foot in the door and gain so many new skills such as, customer service, team working and cash handling.

Networking – a temporary job could be the opening to different opportunities. Who knows what your seasonal work could lead to? If you work hard and impress your boss then there is a good chance that you could be considered for any future vacancies. Even if that doesn’t happen it might put you in contact with another recruiter in the future and give you access to the hidden job market.

Career path – If you are unsure what type of work you want to do in the future then Christmas work could really give you an insight and help you to decide if a particular sector is right for you. If you decide that you don’t want to work in that sector in the future you still have lots of transferable skills that will help you get the future career you want.

Training– Maybe the role comes with some additional training that you can add to your CV and make you more attractive to a future employer.

Employee perks and discounts – many employers will offer temporary staff the same benefits as permanent employees. So you could get staff discounts which will come in handy for any purchases you make.

Things to be aware of
Flexible hours – maybe you will have to offer a great deal of flexibility as a Christmas temp. If staff ring in sick and you are due in they might ring you to see if you can come in earlier. Or maybe the store really needs tidying up before you leave at the end of your day. There would be an expectation that you will complete the work you were given before you can head home. So bear this in mind if you have to arrange childcare or transport home.

Being adaptable – you might have expected to be in a particular role but find yourself stuck in the back room doing a dull job. One of my clients was left to get all the sale items ready and rarely ventured out onto the sales floor. But remember you are still in employment and it will add to your CV. The trick is to keep smiling and being ready to react when needed.

Busy, busy, busy – it’s the Christmas period and it will be hectic, busy and stressful. If you can cope with that you can cope with anything. Customers may get angry, permanent staff may get stressed and you might be sick of hearing Christmas songs on repeat all day, every day!

Working through the main event! Most retailers and hospitality venues open extra hours during Christmas and you might be working late on Christmas Eve, or even Christmas day and early Boxing Day. It shouldn’t be a surprise that you will probably lose some of your family time while you are working over Christmas.

So whether you view Christmas temporary work as an opportunity to gain something then you probably will. It’s all about attitude and being prepared for the time of year.
If you fancy something where you aren’t on your feet all day, you could always be on the lookout for a Father Christmas role!

Have a look for Christmas vacancies at your nearest shopping centre: here are the ones close to us in Barnsley

christmas jobs 1




Thanks for reading

Job search and self-esteem

Keeping your self-esteem topped up
Self-esteem is an essential ingredient for life and helps us to develop some resilience when dealing with setbacks or rejections. If you are looking for a job or finding study difficult then it’s really important to keep our self-esteem high so we feel capable and connected to the world around us.
So how can we give ourselves a boost to keep our energy levels topped up, so we can cope with the inevitable knocks?

self esteem conceptual meter

1 – Don’t blame yourself
It’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind. Although unemployment figures are falling that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to walk into a job straight away! You are still going to face competition for the job you want and remember that some of the reasons you don’t get the job might be outside of your control!

Why not start remembering all the skills and abilities you have and keep focusing on your key strengths. It’s important to remember you still have those skills and you will get the job where you will be able to use them and build on them.

Another way of boosting your self-esteem is to jot down all the good things you do on a daily basis. Try it for a few days and see how much you help others, or set yourself some small challenges and write these down. The power of setting and achieving goals is enormous and will give you a huge boost.

2 – Take the initiative
Asking for feedback seems straight forward enough but if you don’t act on it or find out more are you really learning anything about yourself or your performance? Let’s say an employer give you a fairly standard response “there were people who had more experience than you” How could you approach an employer for a bit more information?

Well you could ask them to scale you from 1-10. If you find that you have lots of experience and scored high then you know you are on the right track and maybe only narrowly missed out. You could even ask them “what would make it a 10.”

Alternatively, if you are quite a way off the mark then this is just as useful and could help you to focus on what you need to do to improve it, maybe by getting some more work experience or voluntary work. Maybe you could look for organisations in your area where you could approach them direct to see if they have any opportunities for you to learn. Your self-esteem will get a massive boost as you reap the rewards of doing something you like and will help you gain your own sense of self-worth and belief.


3 – Get some balance in your life
Don’t forget to spend some time doing the things you like! If you approach your job search as if you were working Monday to Friday then use your “down time” to do something for you. Maybe you have always wanted to learn something new. I know lots of our learners come along to our classes to improve their skills with the added bonus of socialising or even making some new friends.  Or if you need a cheap way to learn how to make things then why not look online. One of my clients has taught herself how to make small gifts out of recycled materials. So not only is she doing something new, she now has some ready-made gifts for people! You could learn how to make something by looking online at tutorials or a craft based website. Learning something new will almost guarantee a boost to your self-esteem, so why not give it a go?

4 – Health matters
It might seem obvious that a good diet and exercise are good for you but have you ever thought about how it could help your self-esteem? Feeling good about ourselves is important and by undertaking some form of exercise, whether it’s a short power walk or a long hike, the increase in your energy levels will help you to maintain a positive mind, which will boost our self-esteem!

5 – Keep in touch with people
It’s important to spend time with people who like you and appreciate you. Make one of your goals to spend time with these people, ask them for advice on what they like about you, what do they see as your strengths? Often we don’t see our own strengths and need reminding every now again. Also, remember social media has many positives but if we compare our lives to what we see online then it might not be the best way to improve our self-esteem.


Thanks for reading! As always we would love to hear your comments.

There are lots of tips online on ways to improve your self esteem. Here’s one I use regularly. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem/




Meeting the criteria

The hardest part of completing any job application is writing about how your skills match the essential criteria. In other words are you a good match for the role?

meeting the criteria
It’s not enough to say “yes I can work in a high pressurised environment” or “I can work as part of a team” you have to prove you can do it and the best way to do that is to give an example. So what’s the best way to do that? Here’s a typically worded advert…

cafe advert

You might be thinking, I have experience of working in hospitality and can be trusted to provide excellent service to customers, but how do I get my message across that I’m the best person for this job? Well one way to do it is to break down the work you did from greeting customers to taking their bill over at the end of the meal. This way you have a clearer picture of what you did and how this meets the advert. You can now write in more detail about the work you did and your excellent understanding of the role!

In my previous role, I was responsible for all aspects of the service; I took food orders, advised customers on specials of the day, waited on tables and took the bill payment. Whilst working for The Café, I used my initiative on a daily basis, for example, during quiet periods, I would restock the self service area, check with kitchen staff on food availability and make sure I knew of any changes to the menus and keep the area clean, tidy and attractive to customers. I would also undertake a stock-take to keep my manager informed of any produce we needed to order from the wholesalers. I regularly provided feedback to kitchen staff on any customer comments and would assist others when I could.

Working in the service sector has given me the ability to think on my feet and react quickly to changing workloads and the challenges faced with a sudden influx of customers. In these instances we worked together as a team to ensure that customers were not kept waiting long, provided tables with complimentary bread baskets and a fresh supply of water.

I was regularly commended by the shift leader on my professionalism and attention to detail. I enjoy interacting with customers and believe that providing a good quality service will lead to repeat business.

I am interested in helping a business grow and have plenty of ideas for different themed events to attract and retain customers.

This example would be suitable when applying for a position advertised without a personal specification. Once you have run through this method a few times it becomes a lot easier to match your transferable skills to other environments.

Large employers such as Local Authorities, NHS or The Police have a different method for recruiting and that is a whole different ball game! Watch this space for details…..

Have a great week and thanks for reading.

Job Scams – be aware!

In most of daily life we have to be on our guard against scams – whether it’s paying for goods and having our card details stolen or someone trying to deceive us into giving our banking details! Job search is no exception to scams and this week it has been highlighted again that recruitment fraud is on the rise!

Here is what we have found out about the type of scams being used by fraudsters.

Out of the blue job offer:

Being contacted unexpectedly is quite a common approach. Picture the scene: You’ve been applying for lots of jobs and lost track of who you have applied to, so when a call comes in out of the blue then you might be fooled into thinking it’s a real job offer. The easiest way to check is to keep track of the companies you have applied to! Failing that, you could check if the company has a website or a Facebook or Twitter account. Some fraudsters will create a fake website to convince you they are real, but there is still a way around that if you are suspicious! You could use Safer Jobs  to report your suspicions.

Spelling and grammar mistakes:

You wouldn’t expect a legitimate job to have any spelling of grammar mistakes would you? Obviously the odd error will slip through, scams might have some common errors, such as repeated spelling mistakes or the text is very badly written that you may suspect it has been translated to English using google translate

Receiving an immediate job offer:

If you are offered a job without attending an interview then this is another indication that all might not add up. Hiring a new member of staff takes time and meeting a candidate face to face is an important part of the whole process. If an employer offers you the role after speaking to you on the phone then you it would be wise to do a few checks.

Never part with money:

Some scammers are cashing in by asking you to pay a securing fee to take the job off the market or ask you for money up front to complete background checks or secure some training that you need to do. Professional organisations and companies would not ask you for money up front. Be wary of this and if in doubt do a check. There might be occasions that you would be asked to pay for a background check but it is unusual to ask for money before you are given an interview.

Other common methods:

It should go without saying at this stage that you should not give your bank details to anyone you don’t know. A genuine job would ask you for bank details when you start work as part of your induction, not at the recruitment stage

Contact email addresses are personal ones rather than a company email

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

Maybe you are asked to make a decision straight away – again then should get some alarm bells ringing

Contact telephone numbers are ones you do not recognise. Maybe the area code is unfamiliar for a job in your area. Maybe it’s a premium line which will be very costly

Maybe they are overly friendly and relaxed

You can find out more here:



Thanks for reading and have a good week.

Getting the right advice

End of term – what next?

Our adult learning courses are winding down for the summer and learners are frantically pulling together their portfolios and some last minute cramming for exams. It’s all nearly over for another year and our learners will be reflecting on past achievements and wondering what next and maybe planning end of term celebrations with the class.

Is that you?

People come back into education for many reasons. Adult learners are often considered to have a motivation to learn, they’ve made a choice to come back and often have an initial goal in mind. But what if that goal changes or you’ve achieved that one and want more!

Where do you go then?

Most adult learning centres or colleges will have a careers guidance officer or a student services department to help you make decisions about your education, training and work options. It’s important to get impartial advice about your future, not just advice on the courses available where you currently study.

So how can you make sure that the person you are trusting to give you good, solid and unbiased advice is qualified and won’t just want to direct you to “their courses?”

You could ask the adviser what qualification they hold in careers guidance. I would be happy to answer that question if a learner asked me. Most advisers would hold a level 3 as a minimum, level 4 is fairly standard and it goes without saying that a Level 6 adviser has undertaken more detailed training.

The Matrix quality standard is held by organisations that have been assessed on the quality of information, advice and/or guidance services to support you in making a choice for your career, learning, work and life goals. Not every organisation will hold it – they have to pass an assessment of their service from all aspects. So if you see this standard, then you know that you are on the right track for a good quality service.

You can look out for the Matrix quality standard for careers guidance or you could even do a search for your learning provider http://matrixstandard.com/holders-directory/

You can also access impartial advice via https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/

This site is managed under gov.uk services and it provides impartial information and advice on training, work and careers.

If you are one of our learners at Adult Skills and Community Learning in Barnsley, then you can come along to our open day on 26th July or find out more here:


Thanks for reading and as ever, feel free to comment. Have a good week 🙂

Monday Motivation

It’s so easy to forget what make us more employable. One of the common issues is that people don’t keep their CV up to date and keep ahead of new developments. So if you are looking for a job using IT then you really should do the first 3 on this list. Keep you skills alive whilst you are out of work, do some volunteering or follow some tutorials. Have a play around with your CV while you have the time. See if a different format might help refresh your skills and give you some new opportunities.

Make Monday your day to do something different or learn something new – you never know when it might come in handy.


make yourself more employable by taking action

Do you have any suggestions for our list? Are they in the right order? I think believe in yourself should be top of the list!

We would be pleased to hear from you and will pass any suggestions on to our learners and followers.

Thanks for reading and have a good week.

Cover letters – have you got it covered?

Most jobseekers I work with have heard of a cover letter, but they aren’t really sure what the point of one is! If that’s you, then read on and we’ll try and help.
A covering letter should be fairly short and to the point, but should really show an employer that you have researched the company, know what the job entails and that you are exactly the sort of person the employer is looking for!
Sounds easy?

It goes without saying that your cover letter should be well written and that it doesn’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes. But what should it include?
Make sure you personalise it. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for admin work, cleaning or telephone sales. You have skills in lots of areas that will transfer to different types of work and it’s up to you to match your specific skills to what the employer is looking for.

So for example, let’s say you’ve worked in a mobile phone shop and you see a job for a call centre in a debt recovery company. You know what it’s like to work in customer service, you can work to targets, have great customer service skills, but how can you persuade an employer that you know what is involved in debt recovery?
Firstly, you have to research the company website The website will more than likely have an “about you” section. This is where you can find out lots of relevant information on the company and what they do.

The job advert is another great way to provide a good match for the company.

debt recover advert

Look at each bullet point and think about what is involved in dealing with someone who has a debt issue. Include some examples of the work you have done before, if you can, make some notes as you go along.

How to start your letter:
• Explain what job you are applying for and where you found the vacancy.

“I am applying for the position of………………… as seen on ………………..”

Next – Why are the best candidate for the job?
• Briefly describe how the skills and qualifications you already have match the skills the employer needs. Use the advert or the job description.

“I have excellent skills in negotiation and can keep calm in difficult situations”

Third paragraph – What can you do for the company?
• Use examples of your strengths and how they can work well within the company

“In my previous company I was involved in monitoring the service we delivered to our customers by asking for feedback and analysing the results.”

Fourth paragraph – Show them why you want the job!
• This is where you state again why you are interested in the job

“I am confident that I have the right mixture of skills and experience to contribute to the team. I am extremely proficient at working under pressure and maintain excellent customer service at the same time.”

Signing off
• End on a positive note and don’t forget to thank your employer for their time

“Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my application further.”

Yours sincerely – if you know the name of the hiring manager
Yours faithfully- if you don’t know the name of the hiring manager

Video Interviews

Have you ever had a video interview? Here are a few tips on how to handle them and what to expect.

You apply for a job the usual way, upload your CV or complete an online application and you have a good feeling you will get called for interview. You start mentally planning your route to interview and then an email drops in and, instead of a time and place to be, you are given a link to click for a “video interview.” This is not what you expected,; you probably haven’t even thought about it.

Maybe it’s something we should all get used to! Many employers will use a video interview to save costs, standardise the recruitment process and make it easier for them to sift applicants.

Video Interviews
So what happens next?

Usually, you will be given an expiry date and time to access the interview via the link they sent you in the email. This is your planning time – you can’t turn up in your pyjamas!

Many interviews are just a series of questions which appear on your screen. You might not get any interaction with a “real life” person at the other end.

1 – dress how you would for a traditional interview, but check how your outfit comes over on a screen.

2 – practise, practise, practise. It’s not easy looking at yourself on screen, so take plenty of time to get just the right position, lighting and sound. Have a rehearsal; practise with a friend over Facetime or Skype. Record it if you can and look back at it.

3 – plan the room carefully. Make it look as business like as you can with no distractions in the background.

4 – try not to speak too fast. Your responses will be listened to later. So if you don’t make yourself clear you won’t have the opportunity to repeat yourself as you would in a normal face to face interview.

Video interviews aren’t easy for anyone, so prepare yourself well in advance. Make sure your equipment will work and don’t forget to smile 