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

You can also access impartial advice via

This site is managed under 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 

Universal Credit & You

It’s Friday!

Just a quick note to share with you some information on Universal Credit. I attended a presentation this week at Jobcentre Plus  which was all about the changes coming to most areas soon and will be coming to our area this year.

The changes are significant, but if you prepare yourself you’ll be able to cope with a different way of doing things. Here is the link to a guide from the DWP which can be found online:

If you think you are going to need some help with getting online check with your local Council to see if there are any free courses you can enrol on to get ready for the changes.  Here is a link to ours in Barnsley

Have a great bank holiday weekend.


Being Prepared

Happy Monday!

Just a quick blog to share one of our common themes last week.

It was a busy week in Wellington House –  Lots of our lovely learners have been busy applying for jobs and asking our in-house support team for help….which is great, until you realise the closing date is the day after they have asked for help!

When asked if they had only just received details of the vacancy many admitted that been sitting on it for a week or so and then when they started filling in the application form realised it was a much bigger job than first thought.

It’s worth taking the time and effort to fill in an application form and it really shouldn’t be rushed. We always advise at least a week if possible to start drafting, then keep reviewing your responses and checking the job specification and that you aren’t going off track.

What do you think to this video by Remploy TV – I think it explains why it’s important to take your time.


Are your English and maths skills job ready?

Many people don’t see the connection between having good basic skills and looking for a job. First impressions will always count so if your job application is littered with mistakes then you probably won’t get any further and your application will end up in the bin!
It’s not just about filling in a job application though. Many of us struggle to find the right words and will often ask relatives to help. That’s fine, but what about in an interview situation? Expanding your vocabulary will help you to speak with confidence to really show employers that you are perfect for the job.

Some employers will ask you to take an assessment and this will include both English and maths or it is even part of the application form. Some supermarkets have maths questions as part of their online application! What about working out “pro rata” – are you confident that the job is enough hours/money for you to live on?
So if you struggled with English or maths at school then maybe it’s time to change that and feel more confident about tackling job applications!
The first thing you have to do is take an assessment. It’s not a test or an exam, there is no pass or fail mark! You need to know what your current level is and then you can plan your learning with a tutor. If you live in Barnsley you can contact us for an assessment – here:


Joining an adult course is not like going back to school. You will be with other people who feel the same as you but maybe have a different reason for deciding to attend.
The benefits of learning are much bigger than being able to fill in an application form! It will improve your confidence, maybe inspire you to read more, learn more, manage your finances better or even to write short stories. You could have a real knack for something that you never thought possible. So what are you waiting for?
You can find more information on improving your basic skills here:

Hello and welcome to our Blog!

The aim of our blog is to share some hints and tips that you might find just at the right moment, share some of our learner stories, or pass on something that might make you smile or inspire you.

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