Mental Health Week | Combating Stress in the Workplace

As mental health awareness increases and while dealing with stress at work is a real problem, it’s definitely solvable. Outlined here are 5 ways to help bring your stress levels down, so that you can continue to experience breakthroughs and create some real magic for yourself in both life and work.

  1. Form Positive Relationships

Stress we experience can often be alleviated simply by talking about it, which is why forming positive relationships at work is so important. Even if they can’t solve your problems, the simple act of talking about them with someone you trust can help to reduce the severity of the problem.

  1. Start Exercising

Regular aerobic exercise is a natural stress reducer due to its mood bosting and endorphin releasing properties. Exercise also helps get your mind off your stressful thoughts, by being in the moment and focusing on your body’s movements when training, exercise can be a form of active meditation and have a calming effect on the body and mind.

You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity each day.

  1. Eat More Healthily

Many people turn to unhealthy “comfort foods” as stress management. Unfortunately dealing with stress in this manner is not good for you. Sugar or fat-laden foods like pizza, burgers, and ice cream make you feel lethargic, and less likely to tackle your problems which in turn only increases stress levels.

It is important to eat healthy foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, to fuel your brain and support concentration and focus.

Healthy food options:

  • Whole wheat bread or pasta and vegetables
  • Foods high in fibre like fruits and vegetables
  • Superfoods like Kale, Dark Chocolate, and blueberries, which contain antioxidants
  • Lean proteins like chicken
  1. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can inhibit your ability to cope with even normal amounts of stress, and can negatively affects your mood and outlook on life. Trying to reduce stress whilst tired and irritable from lack of sleep is like fighting a losing battle.

Tips for a successful sleep pattern:

  • Aim for 8 hours sleep a night. There used to be a stigma, that “sleep is for the weak” but to be productive you need to regenerate your body with an effective night’s sleep.
  • Stick to a schedule. Set your body’s internal clock by going to bed at the same time every night. You should be aiming to be able to fall asleep fairly quickly and wake at the same time each day without an alarm clock.
  • Avoid sleeping in on weekends. While it may be tempting, sleeping in can throw off this schedule and undo the progress you’ve made.
  • Turn off screens 1 hour before you want to go to bed. Screens keep your brain engaged and make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Take micro naps. A 15-20 minute nap can help you regenerate your body and push on through the day.
  1. Break Bad Habits

Your outlook on life and work can have a huge impact on your ability to cope with everyday stress. Keeping bad habits in check is vital to avoid them become major sources of negative stress.

  • Stay positive. It’s surprising how much difference your outlook is when you make a point to recognize the people and things in your life that you’re lucky to have.
  • Resist perfectionism. Don’t fear mistakes, learn from them. The desire to be perfect can make your stress spike and your self-worth plummet. Failures don’t define you, they’re just opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Focus on what you can control. Much of the anxiety we experience is over the uncertainty caused by things outside your control. The best way to combat that is to focus on the things you can control – like your effort, your attitude, and how you treat people – rather than the outcomes you can’t.

Successful Interview Preparation

Interview preparation and research is key to a successful interview, there is nothing worse than meeting a candidate with a great CV but they cannot articulate why they want the role, or have not researched the company and what they do.

First Impressions – Body Language Counts

You are on interview as soon as you pull into the car park or walk into the reception area.

  • Present yourself with confidence.
  • Be warm and friendly to the receptionist, they are often asked their opinion.
  • Shake hands firmly when introducing yourself to the interviewer and make eye contact.
  • Don’t sit down until you are invited to. If you are being interviewed by more than one person and you have an opportunity to, choose a position that allows you to face all interviewers directly.
  • To demonstrate your enthusiasm and that you are actively listening, lean slightly forward on the seat and nod in agreement at appropriate moments and maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Remain alert with good posture – don’t slouch or cross your arms.
  • Be aware of nervous habits – don’t doodle on notes, click a pen, run hands through hair, etc.
  • Do not chew gum in interviews.
  • Pause before answering questions.
  • Don’t worry about silences from the interviewer they give you time to think.

Make Sure You Do Your Research

  • Make sure you know the nature of the company’s business and when it was established.
  • How many locations they operate from – UK and internationally.
  • How many people they employ.
  • Visit the office location before the interview.
  • Plan where to park and the journey time.
  • Visit their website but also use other sources for information e.g. Search Engines, local press, ask friends and colleagues.
  • Establish what the interview processes will be.
  • Prepare for any assessments

Review the Job Description

  • Read through the job description and your CV
  • Highlight areas in your CV which demonstrate skills and experience required in the job description
  • Make a note of any areas which you feel you do not have specific skills and experience in, and know how you would address this if questioned in the interview.
  • Prepare scenarios which demonstrate your skills and experience.

Typical Interview Questions to be Prepared for

Being interviewed is a little like playing a role in a play. Rehearse your answers and you will feel more relaxed on the day.

Most Common Questions Asked

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why do you want to work for …….?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • Which job have you enjoyed the most and why?
  • What don’t you like about your current job?
  • What relevant experience do you have for this position?
  • What motivates you?
  • Do you think ambition is a good thing?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are your strengths & weaknesses?

More In-depth Questions

  • What is the most enjoyable aspect of your current job?
  • How would your current line manager describe you?
  • How would the team you manage describe your management style?
  • How do you feel you would adapt to a new working environment?
  • What particular skill do you have that your current employer will miss if you leave their employment?
  • Give an example of how you have dealt with a problem or conflict within the workplace?
  • Is the customer always right?
  • What is the most difficult decision you have had to make?
  • What mistakes have you learnt from and why?
  • Sell me this pen?
  • Why should our company offer you the position?

Please see our other blogs for information on CV writing, Social media Tips, working with Recruiters and more or follow on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

If you need further assistance or have any questions on this article please feel free to contact us on 01252 734848 or email us at info@highpointrec.co.uk.

Making a Quality Job Application

Be Transparent

When making a job application you want to make sure your CV is up to date and includes all the relevant information.

When writing your CV it is important to bear in mind that withholding information or not being transparent about your skills could cause problems with your application further down the line and possibly ruin relationships for yourself, the recruiter and their client and run the risk of a job offer being withdrawn.

For tips on how to write your CV and make sure it stands out see our article on “8 Ways to make your CV Stand Out”.

Be Selective

When you begin your search really think about what role you are looking for.

Are there particular sectors you want to avoid?

Are there certain tasks you know you do not want to do?

Do you want a role that offers progression?

Do you want to work for a small or large company?

What are your salary expectations?

If you know what you are looking for then you can avoid wasting time applying for roles that are not quite right for you.  Take the time to read the content of the role so that you can really understand what is going to be expected of you, if there is something you are unsure of then call up the employer or agency to find out more about what the role will entail.

Only apply for roles that are within your skill set and experience level, there is no point in making a job application for a role that you are under qualified for or have no relevant experience of.

Be Realistic with you Salary Expectations

Be realistic with you salary expectations – of course there is nothing wrong with aiming high but be realistic.

Roles are often advertised with a salary range, if you have previous experience in all the tasks/responsibilities listed on the advert then you may be looking at the higher range of the salary however if your experience is limited or not quite up to date then you may have to compromise on your expectations.

When making a job application if you are unsure about what to expect with your experience then speak to the recruiter or HR department and discuss where you would sit within the range.

Build a Relationship with your Recruiter or HR Department

Once you have applied for the relevant roles if your CV is successfully shortlisted by the recruiter or HR Department hiring the position they will try to get in contact to find out a bit more about yourself and why you are interested in the position.

If you are not available at the time to talk then ensure you call them back as soon as you can, alternatively if they email asking you to call and you are not available email back saying you are interested and arrange a time to call so they know you are keen and aren’t left waiting.  Similarly if you have found another job or decided that actually the role is not for you let them know! – You may need their assistance in the future, so always try and build positive relationships.

When the recruiter or HR Department call this is their first impression of you.  Ensure your voicemail is up to date – you don’t want to sound unprofessional (see our article on Social Media and Tech Tips for advice!).

When you do speak to them express how keen you are on the job and ask any relevant questions, it may be once you have asked some questions you are no longer interested – be honest if this is the case, there is no point in wasting theirs or your own time.  When the recruiter or HR department calls be prepared in case they ask you for an interview – if you don’t know your availability arrange a time to call them back with dates and times and ensure you get back to them within the arranged time frame.

Screening Questions

Once you have carefully read through the job advert and you decide that you would like to make a job application there may well be screening questions attached to the advert.  If the role requires a minimum number of years’ experience then the screening question may ask if you have this experience – be honest if you don’t have the experience don’t say you do!

It may sound obvious but so many candidates say they have 5 years’ experience but when you read through the applicants CV they only have 3-4 years.

Be honest it may be that not having the experience is not a dealer breaker but by stating you have the experience and not being quite truthful it may put off the recruiter or HR Department hiring.  If the company or client requires 5 years’ experience it will mean that there will be some complex tasks that require this level of experience, if you apply for the role but only have 1-2 years’ experience then chances are you will not be suited for the role.

For Interview preparation tips see tomorrows article on “Preparation for Interview” or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

If you need further assistance or have any questions on this article please feel free to contact us on 01252 734848 or email us at info@highpointrec.co.uk.

Why Candidates Should Use A Recruiter Over Job Boards?

Recent research of the attitudes of more than 1,000 employees who had either used or would use recruiters found that 92% of people trust recruitment agencies to find them suitable employment.  But why use a recruiter rather than just applying for jobs via a job board.

It will open up more opportunities

It is a recruiter’s full time job to be looking for new job opportunities and finding candidates for there clients.  Being registered and on their database means that as soon as the recruiter receives a new position from a client to fill they can suggest you straight away and can mean you’ll be the first person that the client will interview and consider for the position.

Clients trust their recruiters

When searching for a job you might choose to send your CV to the HR department and rely on this to get you an interview for a job, however, there are good relationships built between a recruiter and their clients so when a recruiter says to the client “you must meet this candidate” it’s more than likely they will.  Working with a recruiter who has met you and can personally recommend you may give you opportunities that otherwise you may not have gotten.

You are guided through the entire process

From picking up on issues with your CV, to helping you find out what research you will need to do before your interview, from interview tips, to applying and accepting an offer a good recruiter will take you through the entire recruitment process and give you constructive feedback throughout.  A recruiter will look out for you throughout the whole process –something a job board cannot do.

It’s free!

Recruiters do not charge candidates the fee is paid for by the client – so what do you have to lose?

Tips when using a recruiter:

Do they want to meet you face to face?

A good recruiter will want to meet you face to face.  If a recruiter wants to take the time to meet you face to face then it is more than likely they will have met the their clients they are recruiting for too.  This means they will be able to advise you on the work environment and the culture of an office.  By meeting the recruiter you can speak openly about why you are looking for a new position and express concerns you may have that you perhaps would avoid expressing with a potential employer.  Recruiters will also be able to advise on what the client is looking for and what potential there is in the future.  Plus – it’s also a great way to gain feedback on how you interview before the real thing!

Be open and honest with your recruiter:

When you meet the recruiter make sure you clearly express your goals and what you are looking for so that they have a clear understanding of what is important to you when searching for a position for you.  They do not want to advise you to go forward with a role that will not suit your needs as it will be a disappointment to you as a candidate and also it will potentially damage their relationship with their client.  Withholding information or not being transparent about your skills with probably be discovered this can be awkward and potentially ruin relationships for yourself, the recruiter and their client as well as lead to a job offer being withdrawn.

Make sure you give the recruiter your availability:

Making sure you give your recruiter your availability is important so if asked by a client when they can see you they will have some potential options, if it is hard to get hold of you or you are never available for an interview this could hinder your job search or limit your opportunities.  Your recruiter understands that it can be tricky getting time off work without your current employer getting suspicious and will be as accommodating as possible even try to arrange times outside working hours but sometimes with clients this is not possible, try to be as flexible as you can

Give them your feedback after your interview:

You may feel like your consultant is being a nag, but they always prefer to get your feedback before speaking to the client.  If the client calls and asks for the candidate feedback and the recruiter has to say that they haven’t been able to get in touch with you the client can sometimes take this that the candidate is not interested in the position.  Call your consultant at the earliest convenience after you have got out of your interview so they can let the client know how keen you are on the role.

Remain positive – even if you don’t get the job:

If you do not get the job that a recruiter has put you put for then remain positive, take on the feedback that the client has given about why you will not be progressing in the recruitment process and feel free to discuss them with your consultant it may uncover something that could be important in finding you a new role.

Social Media Tips For A Successful Job Search

Social media is a great tool for communicating with peers but it can also become an “Achilles heel” when you start your job search.

Would you want your future employer to be aware of everything you do in your leisure time; your social habits and what your journey in life has entailed?  Your digital footprint could be something that prevents you being short listed for an interview or from receiving a job offer – few people think of this when posting pictures or comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  What seems fun, perhaps a little revolutionary whilst you are at College or University may have ramifications in the future.

Take the case of Paris Brown who was appointed as the UK’s first Youth Police and Crime Commissioner.  She was forced to resign within days of being appointed after the press researched her background as part of the publicity surrounding her appointment.

Miss Brown was described as an “enthusiastic young woman with exceptional skills” who had performed well in a “very tough” interview process.   She was appointed at the age of 17 but the research unearthed Twitter posts she made between 14-16 years of age which were described as racist and homophobic, something she denied represented her genuinely.  She added: “I have fallen into the trap of behaving with bravado on social networking sites. I hope that this stands as a learning experience for many other young people.”

Your anonymity is not spared when posting on social media channels and it is worth thinking “would I take an advert in the press or write a letter to the editor with my comments if the subject matter is particularly controversial”.

The danger of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts that are made in the moment; people often forget and would likely regret putting up comments or some images.  Photographs of your antics as a student might not reflect the person you are today, the person who is applying for their 1st job, Graduate Placement Scheme or Apprenticeship.  Indeed even further along your career path your history can be researched.

There are mixed views amongst HR Professionals and Recruiters about researching candidate social media profiles.  That said, it is a regular occurrence for Line Managers involved in the interview process to research interviewees.

If you are starting a search for your first job or a new position, in terms of your career journey I would recommend the following:

Twitter

Consider the reaction you received to posts and how this may affect your future employment chances.   Close the account if you think the content could be considered as contentious and is not a true reflection of your current views.

Facebook

Look at the content but most importantly look at all the photographs you have posted.  My advice is to change your privacy settings and most importantly ensure that you can’t be tagged into photographs.

Instagram

Review what you have posted and also if there is a positive trend about your postings be confident to discuss at interview it if is raised.

LinkedIn

Not something we have talked about much but make sure the dates and educations seats reflect what appears on your CV and MOST IMPORTANTLY the employment dates match the dates on your CV.

Professional Image

If you are going to have an open profile on social media it is essential to have a professional profile picture.  Your picture should reflect the audience.  A picture you might have chosen at University or College to reflect your fun, party animal self is not the image or profile a future employer would look for, so no “tied to lamp posts”, “wedged into shopping trolleys”, “partying on tables”, “beach bar bikini” or “just out with the girls”! shots.  Portray yourself as you would want a future employer to see you.

Finally.  Do I review the social media profiles of every candidate I interview? The answer to this is No.  I want to interview an individual as a blank canvass.  However, many hiring companies use this as a tool in their short listing process and I would also say that if I have question marks I go straight to social media and nearly always check LinkedIn Profiles to check employment dates and employers reflect a candidate’s CV after I have conducted my interview.

7 Quick Tips

  • Post an appropriate photograph
  • Set the privacy settings so you can’t be researched on Facebook.
  • Review images on Facebook and Instagram. Close the accounts if appropriate.
  • Twitter – check your Tweets. Close the account if you don’t think they reflect your current views and might jeopardise your future career.
  • Set up an email address specifically for your job search.
  • Mobile Voicemail – is your message clear and professional.

8 Ways to make your CV stand out

Writing a CV can often be a daunting task and a bit of a minefield. If you are struggling then making a spider diagram or jotting down bullet points can help you to put your thoughts onto paper and organise your mind.

Whether you are creating your first CV or you haven’t written one in what seems like forever, follow the simple steps below and you will be well on your way.

Use a professional and up to date format – Think of your CV as a personal brochure highlighting your skills and experience which presents you in the best possible way to a potential employer. You don’t need to use fancy fonts and colours for your CV to stand out, ensure you are consistent throughout with fonts, headings, date formats, etc.  Make sure your CV is laid out clearly so it is easy to read and gives all the relevant information, avoid using CV templates, they look generic and when uploaded to job boards the formatting can be altered. Avoid having large chunks of writing – the use bullet points and short sentences help keep it to the point and hold the attention of the reader.

Don’t be afraid to make your CV longer than one page – whilst you do not need page upon page of information and it is important to keep the content within your CV brief and to the point, if you have been working for over 15 years don’t feel the need to cut down your achievements in order to squeeze it all on to one page. – Two or even three pages is fine.

Make your personal statement stand out – This should be a short paragraph (about 4-6 lines long) about who you are, what you have to offer, and what your career goals are. This is the first thing that employers will read, so showcase your most impressive skills that are relevant to the roles and industry you are applying for. Remember avoid using “I” or your name – always use third person.

Use industry keywords in your CV – many employers and recruiters use keywords to find candidates, therefore to give yourself the best chance of appearing in the searches and catching their eye try to include keywords to the role and industry you are applying for, although do be careful not to overdo it, and be sure to keep any keywords relevant to your experience.

Keep things professional – don’t be negative about your previous employers or jobs. Try to draw on all the skills you have learnt from the role and company and remain professional.

Use statistics – show your quantifiable achievements, for example let potential employers and recruiters know how many staff you are responsible for, or what volume of phone calls you are making per day, or the number of clients you are managing, or the volume of invoices you are processing per week.

Make sure your content is relevant – Firstly include all of your contact details, including your name, address and contact telephone number. When listing your education and employment history always ensure you start with your most current role and your highest level of education – this is the information you want employers to see first so make sure your CV is laid out this way.  When listing your employment history it is clearest to lay it out by giving your company name, your role title and the dates you were there, then list: (again – bullet points are great for keeping it short and to the point) your responsibilities, results achieved, training you undertook in the role and software you had to use within the role.  An “Interests” section on your CV can also make you stand out where you can include any hobbies.

Make sure you have double checked for any errors and that your content flows – read your CV out loud, you will be more likely to pick up on any mistakes you have made before your potential employers do. It never hurts to ask someone else to proof read your CV.

2019 Networking Top Tips

Networking – Top Tips in 2019

In the changing world of business where more and more people work remotely or run their businesses from serviced office space, the value of networking opens up a world of opportunity.

Networking isn’t all about winning new business opportunities but sharing experiences and learning from like-minded individuals.  Networking is the buzz word in the business community and in the last 2 decades many networks have opened up suited to SME’s and owner run businesses.  The focus should be upon nurturing relationships rather than going in for the kill to try and win your next business opportunity – that said don’t stand in the corner and wait to be approached.

Choosing a Networking Group:

Local Business Community meetings tend to be held in informal settings and provide a greater opportunity to mingle and are short so don’t tend to impact on your working day, usually being breakfast events or drinks after work.

Subscription Based Groups:

These are more focused on creating sales opportunities and typically only have 1 member from each professional represented and often members are sole traders.   Every event requires members to present for 1 minute on themselves or their business – it is a bit like speed networking.

Industry Based Seminars and Conferences are good learning, keeping you up to speed on changing practices and legislation.  Use these for CPD and sharing knowledge with other professionals in your industry – there are always networking slots during the course of the event.

Research Before Attending Event

Always try and get hold of the delegate list and if there is someone you specifically want to connect with; speak to the organisers.

How To Introduce Yourself To A New Group

It is always good to try and get to the event 5 minutes early and introduce yourself to the organiser who will be able to introduce you to people as they arrive.

Make sure the name badge provided is pinned on the right – it will be in the line of site when you shake hands (top tip for women is – make sure you can clip a name badge to what you are wearing as more often than not the badge is clip not pin style).   Body language is key – smiling makes you approachable.   Be confident to introduce yourself but don’t dominate the conversation – listening and showing interest in what others have to say.    Have something positive to say and try and keep your conversation associated to business for the most part and be aware of the body language of others in the group.

National love your pet day 2019

A Day in the Life of Dudley Dog

Another day at work –  looks busy for me, buDudley outside the officet must get my early morning exercise in just as soon as Nick has had his caffeine kick; “come on how long does it take to drink a cup of coffee”.   Wow what a beautiful morning, nothing like 2 laps of the field – lets hope I meet a friend to play with.

Back home just in time to throw some breakfast down and then a 40 minute commute to work – time to get a quick nap in.

Just got into the office – bad news –  quick check of the desk bins reveals the cleaner was in last night so no tasty morsels to be had when nobody is looking.   Get my usual pat on the head from Amelia and Kayley as they arrive and our day begins.

I have a good people watching position from the 1st floor office and can see straight up the Lion & Lamb Yard but not much action this morning so will go and check and see if the sun has reached the back office so I can catch some rays.

Chrissie seems a little stressed, the keyboard is going nineteen to the dozen getting interview confirmation packs out.   Oh yes the door buzzer has gone so someone to meet – looks like it is the 1st candidate of the day arriving – just as I get to the door Amelia is up to say hello and introduce herself but not before I introduce myself, an energetic wag of the tail and welcoming smile should make the chap feel at home.    Forms completed under my watchful eye and Amelia takes him through – interview rooms out of bounds so watch them go up the stairs before taking my seat in the sun once more.

The postman is late today, that will disappoint Rebekah as she is keen to get the new REC Membership Certificate Displayed – we take pride in our membership as it reassures candidates and clients who visit that we are professional and ethical recruiters.

Amelia’s candidatDudley Glassese is beaming when he comes downstairs – looks like she is going to be put forward for a position.  Amelia say’s she will speak to the client today and get back to him with news of a potential interview – 1st happy customer!

It  is a busy morning – heading out of the office for a little road trip as Rebekah and Kayley are off to Farnborough to meet a potential new client.  I am going a long for the ride but what….  I can’t come in?  Won’t complain at least I get a different view and people to watch coming and going.  The business park is bustling with activity today – lots of couriers arriving to collect from this company.  What are in all those packages?

Off to the Water Meadows for a quick sprint around before the afternoon in the office – the team thinks it is for my benefit but it is good for them to get out and exercise too.

I have been rewarded a treat – Rebekah is doing a skype interview so I am allowed to lay in the room with her;  2nd floor has way better views of West Street.

Great a person to meet again ; she has just dropped in to the office and looks very Dudleysad – my cue to jump in and be extra friendly; she has just been told that she will be made redundant but Rebekah reassures her that Highpoint will do their best to help her and makes an appointment to meet her tomorrow.  A welcoming smile from the team and me makes her feel much better and I gets extra cuddles from her and I think she feels better on leaving.

What is all the commotion next door – Yeah! we have placed a candidate in a job and we are all elated – I think this calls for a Dudley dance!

I have no keyboard skills, I can’t answer the telephone but I am super good at making people  feel good.  I am so lucky to go to work everyday – I wouldn’t miss it!

Demand For Staff Remains Buoyant Despite Concern Over Prospects For The UK Economy

Mid-sized enterprises (50-249 employees) continued to demonstrate the highest level of short-term demand this quarter, with more hirers of permanent staff planning to add headcount than reduce numbers.

Just under half  (48%) of the employers surveyed expressed concern regarding the sufficient availability of candidates seeking permanent position increase of 6% from earlier in the year.

For more information contact Highpoint for a more detailed report.