Digital Footprints

Your digital footprint is everything that is on the Internet about you and it’s freely available for anyone to look at. Every time we add something to a social media stream, our digital footprint gets bigger and bigger…..

Technology has moved on so fast in the last few years that many of us are using a variety of social media sites to post status updates, tweet what were are doing or share a photographic insight into our lives – mainly photos of food…. but still it’s an insight!

We follow celebrities, comment on issues that interest us or just have a peek at what someone we know is up to……but have you ever thought how employers might also be doing the same to us.

Digital footprint


The same social network sites that we use are also helping potential and current employers to find out what we are up to and decide whether you are the right person for the company and it only takes a few mouse clicks!

So what does the Internet say about you?

The best way to find this out is to “Google yourself” then you can see what information comes up in a search – employers are doing it, so it’s probably a good idea to see what your online image says and decide if it needs tweaking. It’s good practice to do this on a regular basis or maybe you could learn how to set up a Google alert, to see what others might have posted about you as soon as it happens.

If you like a local business page on Facebook you might find that they advertise vacancies on there and ask you to get in touch via that site. So it’s fairly obvious that they will have a look at your profile if you do apply.

You can protect yourself by checking your security settings to make sure that your profile is kept private, but remember settings can change so you really need to keep on top of this too. Some people like to keep personal and work profiles separate and register with a nickname. But at the end of the day, it’s probably a good idea to take the time to clean up your profile if you have any concerns. There are plenty of news stories where old social media posts have re-emerged and are used to damage a reputation or even a career.

You can do this by editing any posts that might be viewed as inappropriate, remove tags from pictures your friends have put on. You can’t change everything and why would you want to! Some people have had social media sites for a long time and it’s a great story of your life and nice to look back on.

Another aspect many people don’t think about is if someone finds out enough personal information about you then they could use it to impersonate you or scam you! So be smart and check your settings.

like or not

Don’t forget, though that your digital footprint can also be a positive thing. You can showcase your skills and experience and you could use this to network with employers. Some sites such as LinkedIn can really help you to grow your contacts and put you in touch with people or organisations you want to work for.

If you are looking for jobs in a particular field such as marketing or PR then you should be creating a great online identity! So use your online profile to your advantage and make it work for you. If you are considering self employment then Social Media is a fantastic tool to promote your services or goods.

Don’t forget to check out our main learning centre page if you are interested in learning some basic ICT skills to keep safe online.
Or check with your local council or college if you are not in our area.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to let us know what you think – we’d love to hear from you. smiling emoji


Spotlight on Short Courses

Whether you are a budding Jamie Oliver, fancy opening your own cafe or want to work in one then you will need a Food Safety qualification. In fact it is a legal requirement for anyone who serves or sells food to members of the public.

If you are thinking about taking a course in your local area to enhance your CV then what sort of things should you be aware of? We asked our Food Safety Tutor Sally to give us the lowdown on Food Safety qualifications.

food safety

If you are thinking about taking a Level 1 course then you should check that it will be useful to you. It might not be good enough for working in a catering role. Level 2 is more widely recognised within the food industry and will open up more opportunities for you.

You should also check any course you are considering is accredited by an awarding body and not just a printed certificate from the course provider!

Gaining industry standard qualifications will enhance your skills and improve your employability. If you are considering taking a short course then you should look for the qualification awarding bodies such as the Highfield Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering or RSPH Food Safety in Catering.

Level 2 will allow you to prepare, cook and serve food to members of the public in a safe and hygienic way so you don’t give them food poisoning! Gaining this qualification will allow you to work in:

• Restaurants
• Cafes
• School meals system
• Health and social care
• Nurseries and childcare

You will cover a range of subjects such as: food safety management & temperature controls, food poisoning controls, personal hygiene, hazards and the role of the food handler in keeping food safe. So taking a short course can help you understand so much more than just wiping down food areas!

The qualification lasts for 3 years after which it is expected, by law, that you refresh the qualification and keep your skills and knowledge up to date with current legislation.

If you are interested in a more senior role then you could progress onto a Level 3 course which gives you more opportunity to work in a supervisory role.

You can take the 1 day classroom based course with us here at Adult Skills and Community Learning in Barnsley. Most short courses have a fee to pay but you could be eligible for fee remission if you are on certain benefits. You can contact us direct on 01226 775270 or check our website for more details:

If you live in a different area then contact your local college or council to see where you can get qualified.

FS 2

There are lots of entry level routes into employment within the food and catering industry but if you want to know more about future careers in environmental health you can have a look at on the National Careers Service Website:

Environmental Health Officer –
Counter Service Assistant –

If in any doubt you can always check with your local environmental health department or look on the Food Standards Agency website.

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

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:

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.




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.