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May/18

24

5 Top Tips to Give the Best Presentations

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The sight of a PowerPoint presentation is not one that commonly thrills people. It is often met with a groan, tired eyes and a lack of engagement from the audience; as they look at the clock hoping it will finish quickly. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. By changing a few things we can all be giving better presentations; helping the presenter and the audience enjoy, rather than dread the experience.

10-20-30 Rule

This is a really good place to start when you initially begin to write the presentation. This is essentially a guideline to help limit the reading on the screen, and help the audience engage with you. The way it works is…

No more than 10 slides

Last for a maximum of 20 minutes

Have a minimum font size of 30 point

The slides are there to help you present, rather than present for you. If you feel that the audience needs some extra information, give them a handout to follow along and take away at the end.

Have a core message

At the start ensure your audience knows the purpose of the presentation. Have the key points on the first slide, and then again at the end. This will help direct you and the audience and ensure that nobody is in any doubt as to the intention, and they benefit they will get.

Involve the audience

Build rapport with the audience, be quite light-hearted and friendly, potentially use a joke and show them that the tone will be quite relaxed. Ask questions to the audience throughout the presentation to involve them, it’s the easiest way to promote engagement and prevent the presentation stagnating.

Make sure you are engaging

The easiest way to help your presentations is by changing your presentation style. Make sure you talk to the audience, not the screen or a piece of paper. Body language can also help. Try to avoid folding your arms or having your hands in your pockets, for example. Be open and positive, helping to promote this engagement with the audience.

Relax!

The most important thing you can do is relax and let yourself enjoy it. There is a huge amount of satisfaction from teaching and helping people. Remember that you are in control of the content, pace and tone of everything that is said; use this to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.

If you have a presentation to give, good luck! Let us know how it goes in the comments below.

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May/18

18

How to Declutter Your Workspace and Become More Productive

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Hit a productivity rut? It happens to most of us at some point. Check out the tips in this week’s blog and then take some time to ‘spring clean’ your workspace and get organised. Be sure to let us know in the comments if you try it out!

When you’re busy day in and day out, it doesn’t take long before your desk starts to become buried under a pile of papers / leftover lunch / sticky notes etc.

Don’t underestimate the impact a cluttered and disorganised work area can have on your productivity. Research shows a messy desk can affect the way the brain works, acting as a distraction and even resulting in feelings of frustration.

Commit to making some time, whether it’s a one-off blitz, or a small amount each day, to getting organised and you’ll reap the benefits down the line.

Assess the damage

Look at where you’re at and decide how’s best to tackle it. What do you actually need right now? What can be filed away? What needs to be kept? What can be destroyed? Be as ruthless as you can be (although, be careful not to throw away anything important!).

Organise your desk

A place for everything and everything in its place is your new motto! Keep what’s actually out on your desk to an absolute minimum, i.e. the things you use every day and what you’re currently working on. Trays, stationary pots and magazine holders can all help to keep things in their right place.

Organise your filing

Create systems which are logical and simplistic, and store things in folders or boxes which are clearly labelled. The key is not to overcomplicate; could someone else follow it if you weren’t there? Are you going to be able to sustain it?

Declutter your computer

Decluttering is not limited to paper-based files, the content of your electronic devices matter too! On your laptop or computer, your desktop, hard drive and emails can be sorted into folders and documents re-named to make them easier to find. Delete duplicates and old files to free up storage, and remove any unwanted software or programmes; not only should this save you time it could also improve the performance of your computer too.

Look at the bigger picture

Considering the amount of time we spend at work, it makes sense to create an overall environment which promotes a sense of calm. Factors such as introducing plants into the work area, natural lighting and even what colour the walls are painted can all play a part in making a pleasant atmosphere.

We hope that you’ve found these tips useful, let us know how you get on in the comments box below!

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May/18

4

5 Things You Need To Be Doing During Your Commute

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The morning commute is one of the more bland aspects of the day. Whether it be by car, where much of the time is spent not moving at all or by public transport, where it may be a case of being like sardines for an hour, it can be uncomfortable and stressful. According to the ONS 3.7 million of us are on the move for 2 hours a day, so it makes sense to start using this time more productively, and start looking forward to the journey to and from work.

Start an online course

Quite a radial step to begin with but it’s a great way of taking some time back to do something for yourself! There are thousands of online courses to choose from, to suit whatever you are interested in; whether it’s for your own personal development or something to help you in your career now. Even a journey of an hour each way is enough time to start learning a language or even a degree course via the Open University.

Listen to a podcast

If you don’t have the luxury of a seat, or are conscious of too much screen time, then a podcast could be the answer. People are out there talking about everything you can think of, so searching through some topics you’re interested in will bring up loads of options. You can listen in to a debate, or relax as people discuss the weekend’s football news, and be more knowledgeable at the end of your journey. A top tip is subscribing and turning on automatic downloads, so the latest episodes are ready and waiting.

Plan your day

If you’re feeling productive, you can schedule calls, answer emails or clear your inbox; this can prevent you working late into the night. Alternatively use the time to catch up with friends and family, to prevent you doing this during the day.

Catch-Up TV

If you find yourself prone to binge-watching late at night, then you could start doing this during your commute. Try not to watch anything too emotional in the morning though, you don’t want to be deflated before you start work.

Buy an Audiobook

Listening to an audiobook can be one of the more relaxing ways to spend a commute. By listening, rather than reading, you can give your eyes a rest and let someone else do the hard work. There are a few services out there, who often have free texts, so you can try and see if you like it.

If you are thinking about changing your commuting habits for the better, let us know what works best. Or, if there’s something you find that we haven’t mentioned, tell us all about it in the comments!

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Apr/18

27

How to Make a Good First Impression in a New Job

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You’ve gone and secured the position of your dream – congratulations! First of all, give yourself a great big pat on the back; especially if you’ve endured a gruelling recruitment process!

Just by knowing that you’ve been selected as the chosen candidate should be a huge confidence boost; your new employer will likely not have made this decision lightly and will want you to succeed in your new role!

Preparation is key

It’s natural that you’ll be feeling nervous as you walk through the door on the first day, so try to alleviate some of these worries by ensuring you’ve done the basic preparation in advance.  Plan your journey, maybe even do a test run during rush hour, and allow some contingency for delays.  Aim to arrive around 5-10 minutes before your start time; not too early and certainly not late. Think about your outfit the night before, ensuring it’s clean and ironed, so you’ve less to think about in the morning.  Check any paperwork you’ve been sent in advance, make sure you read it carefully in case there’s anything you need to bring on your first day.

First impressions count

You’re likely going to be meeting a lot of new people and have a lot of new names and faces to try to remember! Do your best to remember as many as possible, but don’t worry if you have to be reminded a couple of times; people will understand. If in doubt, smile – be friendly to everyone!

If you’re not introduced to someone, take the initiative and go and introduce yourself. Just a simple ‘Hi, I’m Joe and I’ve just started in Accounts’ is sufficient, you don’t want to get a reputation for being the office chatterbox! Your new colleagues will appreciate your efforts.

Remain professional

Just because the interviews are over, don’t let your professionalism go out of the window. Always err on the side of caution when sharing your opinions on controversial topics, do not get involved or comment on any office politics or gossip, avoid oversharing your personal life and do not speak negatively about your past employer.

Use your time wisely

You’re unlikely to be expected to hit the ground running and the first few days might be more about induction and training than getting stuck in to any actual work.  Use this time to observe what’s going on around you, make plenty of notes, and find out the basics (where’s the post tray, stationary cupboard etc.) so you’re organised.  When you are given a task to complete, ensure you understand fully what you’ve been asked to do – and ask questions if you’re not sure – don’t rush through it, it’s better to take your time and do it properly.

Be open minded!

A new job is an opportunity for a fresh start. Leave any expectations from previous jobs or work environments behind and keep an open mind. Watch, listen and take as much as you can in over your first few weeks. Whilst bringing any past experience and knowledge with you can be a huge benefit, be mindful to understand your new employer’s ways and reasons for doing things (even if you’ve done it differently before).  It’s also important to remember that it can take several weeks or months before you really feel at home in your new job, so don’t make a judgment too early on and give it time.

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Apr/18

18

5 Top Tips for Staff Engagement

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One of the latest key themes in HR and recruitment is how to create and maintain engagement with existing employees. Engagement is a broad term; simplified it is the relationship between an employee and the company they work for. An engaged employee is one who is “fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work”. Many companies find that they struggle to get staff to retain an interest in the affairs of their employer. Here are our top tips for ensuring that your colleagues remain connected and attached to the company:

Produce an engagement survey and act on the results

A survey is often the first step companies take when trying to measure engagement, but it is only as useful as the action taken. The first thing to consider is the format of the survey itself. Shorter surveys, with some open-ended questions, are proven to generate a higher response rate, with more useful answers. Colleagues will appreciate the smaller time commitment and the ability to voice their suggestions in a free format.

You can then identify themes and recurring issues throughout the answers and decide on any remedial action. Crucially, by involving your workforce in the process and giving them a platform to voice their opinions, which are then acted on; they’ll feel valued.

Create a social culture

Participation in events outside of the office is a great way of improving relationships and adds a social aspect to the work environment.  Events, such as a corporate family fun day or taking part in something for charity, have a range of benefits for staff wellbeing and in turn, strengthens their ties to the company.  By seeing their employer and their colleagues in a different setting, can help to build a happier, more productive workforce.

Offer opportunities for growth and development

One of the most common reasons for disengagement from staff is a feeling of being underused and not tested fully in their roles. Ensure you have a process in place, such as appraisals, so individuals can discuss their aspirations and ambitions. Look to expand their job description and responsibilities, and include them in one-off projects to give new experience as and when they arise.

Offer wellness opportunities

Gym memberships and get fit schemes have both been proven to be hugely beneficial. The practice of giving employees the option of free fitness opportunities is well established. It helps to create a culture where the company demonstrates its consideration for their employees’ physical and mental welfare. Healthier staff are happier and more productive, which naturally benefits the working environment.

Reward staff

Rewarding good performance is a simple, and cost-effective, way of driving engagement. It allows staff to feel appreciated and valued by the company and reassures them that good work does not go unnoticed. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and can be done in a lot of different ways. A longer lunch break, a company-wide email or a personal thank you note are just a few of the many ways that people can feel rewarded. Alternatively, a specialist service, such as a rewards and benefits platform like Perkbox (which we offer to all Ambitions staff), where staff can access exclusive discounts and savings, are a great way to improve morale.

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Apr/18

10

5 Transferable Skills Temp Jobs Can Teach You

CV Library Blog (2)This week we have a guest blog from CV-Library. They have written some advice on the benefits of Temp jobs, and how it can make you more employable in the long-term.

Introduction

Every piece of work experience you undergo can provide you with valuable skills to help boost your career. That even includes temporary work that you take on to make ends meet. While you may look at it as a way to pay the bills, you’ll actually be building on your key skills, making your more employable in the future.

This means that you can highlight these transferable skills on your CV when it comes to searching for a more permanent job. So what sort of skills will you be learning? We outline, below.

Teamwork

Teamwork is essential in any workplace. The ability to work harmoniously as part of a team can stand you in good stead, especially when it comes to impressing a potential employer. Businesses want to hire team players that can get stuck in and won’t shake anything up within the company.

Your teamwork skills could be a result of working together to reach store targets, or to complete a particular task. Think about any instances where you’ve worked with other people and what this has taught you. You’ll probably notice that it’s given you insights into how to deal with different individuals.

Organisation

When you’re working in a temporary position, it’s extremely important to be organised. After all, you’ll likely be moving from role to role and only be in each job for a short amount of time. What’s more, you’ll need to ensure that you are assisting with the work of the permanent employees, helping to make their lives easier.

Employers value organisation skills because it shows you can get your work done efficiently and in a set time frame. Showcasing these skills on your CV can definitely give you a better chance of securing those interviews.

Time management

Similar to the above, time management is crucial. With experience in temp work, you should understand the importance of turning up to work on time. Alongside this, you’ll know that certain tasks need to be completed in a set period of time.

Being able to effectively manage your time will put you in a positive light amongst employers. After all, it’s respectful and shows that you appreciate the rules and will adhere to them. What’s more, it suggests that you are a reliable individual, which is important for building a trusting relationship.

Customer service

A lot of temp work will involve engaging with customers. This is a great opportunity to boost your customer service skills and gain practice in dealing with individuals from a range of backgrounds. Customer service skills are a real asset in the workplace. Especially when dealing with clients, or even your colleagues.

To build on these skills, consider how you’re coming across to the customers. Do you have a friendly manner? Are you being proactive with your assistance? Thinking of these factors can help you to improve the service you offer.

Communication

The ability to communicate effectively with your colleagues and third parties is important in the workplace. After all, without strong communication, you would struggle to complete tasks and projects on a daily basis.

When working in a temp position, you can practice your communication skills. And that’s not just verbally. Think about how you come across over email too. This is good practice and gets you used to the types of interactions you’ll have once you’re in permanent employment.

In summary

Don’t overlook your experience in temporary work. While you may view it as a simple way to make money in between finding permanent employment, it could actually arm you with vital transferable skills that will be useful throughout your career.

CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent job board. For more expert advice on careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice and Recruitment Insight pages.

 

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Apr/18

6

How to Stay Motivated at Work

 

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Staying motivated at work is something that is crucial in order to be productive, feel fulfilled by your job and boost your overall wellness.  We want to help you get the most out of your day and enjoying the time you spend with your colleagues.  Apply these top tips to your everyday routine and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards in your career:

Push Yourself

In order to stay motivated, you must push yourself outside your comfort zone from time to time. Working within your limits can be constraining, lead to a predictable routine and feelings of frustration or boredom (the biggest killer of motivation). Working outside of what is familiar may be a little daunting, but it will add variety. Achieving something you never thought you could can be inspiring, and give you the confidence to achieve even more in the future. So the next project or opportunity that presents itself, agree to take part, and see how the change benefits you.  Or go one step further, and actively seek ways to push yourself; suggest a new way of working to your employer, ask for extra responsibilities or think about organising a charity event with your colleagues.

Short-Term Targets

Think of a daily or weekly target that will help your motivation. By committing to achieving something within a set timeframe, however small, will help you stay focused. This could be to complete one job which you’ve been putting off for ages, or even just to organise your workload with a to-do list, or clear your desk of anything you don’t need anymore.  Alternatively, set yourself the goal of doing something different to break away from your routine, like walking somewhere new at lunch, or organising to meet a friend or colleague for a coffee.

Think About Your Career Direction

Thinking about your career more broadly can also help. Evaluate what you would like to achieve compared to your current position, and determine the steps to get there. Working towards a bigger target can seem daunting, but by setting smaller, achievable goals, you’re more likely to stay on track. Some people find it helpful to write these goals down or save as a screensaver on your phone for a daily reminder of what you’re working towards.  Remember to take a moment to congratulate yourself when you hit those goals, you could even reward yourself with a little treat!

Exercise

Regular exercise, especially in the morning, can actually help to give you more energy during the day. Exercising in the evening will also help, as you will be more likely to have a good night’s sleep. You could combine this by working out with a colleague, helping both your fitness and work relationships.  If you don’t have access to a gym, there are plenty of free workouts available online on websites such as YouTube, which you can do with equipment you’d have around the house or office. But exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be high-impact; something like simply taking a walk outside during your lunch break will boost your energy and mood, enabling you to perform better.

Think Positive

Cultivating the right mindset is key to staying motivated. An ideal time to do this is before you even start the working day. Thinking about all the good things in your day allows you to go to work in a positive frame of mind. You could even try repeating a positive mantra to yourself or, if you find a quote/affirmation which resonates with you, write it on a post-it note and keep it in your work area.

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Mar/18

29

How to Succeed in a Telephone Interview

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A telephone interview is often the first stage after you submit your application. This may be with a recruitment agency (such as Ambitions Personnel) or your new potential line-manager. Generally this is quite informal, the idea is to go through your CV and give you a chance to talk about your experience and interests.

Preparation

Treat the telephone interview how you would a face-to-face interview. Have a copy of your CV, the job description and a pen and paper ready. An interview is not a memory test, so have as much as you need in front of you. Perhaps make some short notes of the most important things you want to say, to guide you throughout the interview.

Find a quiet place where you know you won’t be disturbed and have a glass of water ready. It’s important for you to be as professional as possible, without worrying about your surroundings.

Short Introduction

One thing you can do, which is transferable across interview formats, is preparing a short introduction. Often the first question is ‘tell me about yourself?’ all you need to do is prepare 3 to 4 sentences about your current position. This can be your present job responsibilities, educational history and previous experience all in one paragraph. Don’t worry about putting too much detail in there, you have a whole interview to do that.

Competency Questions

This is a technique used by lots of recruiters when there are lots of candidates who have similar technical qualifications. A common use is on graduate schemes, but the method is widely used. These questions usually start with a “tell me about a time…” or “give an example…” The key here is to answer in the STAR format.

Situation – Where were you when this happened?

Task – What were you required to do?

Action – How did you achieve what you needed to?

Result – Summarise the end result

By using this guide you will sound professional and concise, giving the interviewer everything that they need in the answer.

Things to Avoid

Avoid saying too much and ‘waffling’, both you and the interviewer will find this unnecessary. Any gaps in the call are perfectly normal, both of you may be writing something down. The other important thing is to keep the conversation professional. Many people make the mistake of being too conversational, as if they are speaking to a friend. Keep in your mind that it is still a formal situation and that you need to stay professional.

If you do have a telephone interview soon then we wish you the best of luck, let us know how you get on!

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Mar/18

22

Top 5 Time Management Tips

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Do you ever find yourself thinking that there just isn’t enough time in the day, wishing you could magic up an extra hour? Well now you can! Our list of top tips can help you create that extra time in the day (without the use of a wand).

To-Do Lists / Prioritise

This is the easiest and best thing you can do to try and make your day more efficient. Just make it part of your routine at the end of the day; by writing down the most important things for the following day. Getting into this habit should help your days flow, and you’ll ensure that the most pressing things on your mind are completed.

Timing your tasks

Another easy thing you can do to help is timing your tasks. Simply finding out the time you spend doing your daily tasks can show you where you are losing out during the day. It might seem excessive at the start, but an honest assessment of your working day is incredibly useful. You will be able to restrict yourself to better time limits and mini-deadlines throughout the day, until your new schedule becomes routine.

Block out Distractions

One of the main reasons for reduced productivity in the office is a lot of distractions whilst you are at your desk. Unfortunately some of these, such as calls, are difficult to postpone and are a natural part of the working day. However other examples, such as personal social media, can be more easily managed. Taking steps such as removing the sites from your taskbar, deleting saved login details and keeping your personal phone out of eyesight. You’ll find that the restricted access greatly improves your focus, as well as giving you more time to complete tasks.

Put Good Systems in Place

Having well organised computer filing and emails can help you save time throughout the day. Spend a bit of time setting these up, and ensuring they are logical. It will remove one bottleneck from your working day. There is no need to spend hours on this, a few minutes can make a huge difference, making your working environment much cleaner and more efficient.

Delegate

One of the most important things to do if you are struggling for time is to get some help from your colleagues. The people you work with are there to help. If you are a sole trader and do a lot of your work independently, there are many outsourcing options you can explore.

 

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Mar/18

13

National Minimum Wage Increase – April 2018

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NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE AND NATIONAL LIVING WAGE INCREASES 2018

In the latest of our blogs, we want to give you an update on the changes to the national minimum wage, and a breakdown of this at every age range.

The hourly rate of minimum pay you receive depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice.

The government has announced that the following new rates of National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will take effect from April 2018.

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
April 2017 (current) £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50
April 2018 £7.83 £7.38 £5.90 £4.20 £3.70

 

The National Minimum Wage increases now take place every April (previously October), in line with National Living Wage since its inception in April 2016.

Apprentices are entitled to the minimum apprentice rate if they’re aged under 19, aged over 19 but in their first year of their apprenticeship.

If you think that you are not being paid the correct amount, this link https://www.gov.uk/pay-and-work-rights has all the information and contact details to resolve your situation.

 

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