Out of your Comfort Zone

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Recently I wrote about how it is not good at all to seem too desperate when looking for jobs or home employment opportunities. However, job seekers, especially older ones, do need to be willing to step out of the familiar comfort zone. Like so many things in life it is all about balance.

There could be any number of reasons why you are looking for a job, and whatever the government may tell you it is not a crime to be unemployed in genuine circumstances such as loss of job or illness. You will have your own reasons for looking for a job or money making opportunity, do not feel that you have to explain and justify it. Indeed, to say too much at an interview can cost you the job.

Whether you are going to work for an employer or for yourself, or work for either from home, you have your reasons why your choice is right for you. However, especially when it comes to working from home for yourself, it can be very difficult to convince family and friends that it is a good idea. They care about you and often worry about the lack of job security and proper terms and conditions i.e. no sick pay and holiday pay and no pension scheme, at least not provided by an employer. I have one elderly friend who does not rate any self-employment I may do as a job at all, because my tax and insurance are not paid by an employer, yet this is odd as her husband owned a business. However, The British were long called a nation of shopkeepers and indeed, he had a shop, so that did involve leaving the house every day and going to work.

That said, working from home can have advantages and lower some of your expenses, such as travel costs. To work from home either for yourself or an employer is certainly a good thing for older and or disabled people who have lost their job, need to return to paid employment maybe for financial reasons or indeed have lost disability benefits due to welfare reform and have the Job centre insisting they are fit enough to work .

Recently I wrote about not looking too desperate in your job search. An employer can see in your application and interview, whether or not you really want and have any experience for the job or if you are just going through the motions to keep the job centre happy and get your Job seekers allowance paid.

A tip for looking for a job or finding paying opportunities from home is to explore the niches that you have interest and or experience in, maybe your interest or experience is in a profitable niche and you could set up a blog and monetize it with affiliate products. As for looking for a job with an employer, you are more likely to be successful if you can clearly show on your CV and at the interview that you have knowledge and experience of the field the job is in.

http://onlineincometeacher.com/content/profitable-niche-blogging-topics/
http://nichehacks.com/choose-a-niche-blogging/
http://www.copyblogger.com/niche-keyword-research/
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232489
http://www.shoutmeloud.com/how-to-choose-blogging-niche.html
http://bloggingchimp.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/list-of-profitable-niches-to-make-money.html
https://fizzle.co/sparkline/81-blog-topic-ideas

It is a fact that through the years the skills sets required to be employable have changed. This is where being willing to step out of your comfort zone can be important to success. I know older people who still do not have the slightest inclination to master computer skills and insist they are not going to, having had no need for a computer in their lives so far. However, finding themselves losing their job, physically unable to continue in it or wanting to bump up a pension and the idea of earning money from home through the internet may seem more attractive , or being able to prove to a potential employer that you do have the skills for the current employment market .

Current skills make you more employable and give you more options, so if you do not have them perhaps needing a job is the motivation for you to get them. Look to see what jobs are out there and or on the work from home jobs sites, if affected by age or health issues then see what you can physically do and what skills are needed and where you can get them.
http://valeriehedges.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/free%20courses

Doing something new, such as learning new skills is often not easy, know and accept your limits such as health and time limitations if you have e.g. home responsibilities, but be willing to step out of your comfort zone.

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Don’t look so desperate when applying for jobs

Businessman Thinking on Steps Paris, France

There is a lot of competition out there for every job that is advertised, add to this your mortgage company keep phoning up because you have been paying a lower amount on the mortgage with a promise that you would pay the full amount again and clear the accumulated arrears when you have a job and the Jobcentre looking suspiciously at your job search  record each time you go to sign on ,  to see if they can sanction you for not applying for enough jobs and it is not surprising that you are desperate . However, while you may well be at your wits end, do not let this come across in your job applications and any interviews you may have, no matter how much pressure you are under to get a job. It is evident to employers if you are applying out of nothing but desperation and nothing is more off putting to them

Whatever the Job centre and benefits office tell you, it is ok to be unemployed, it can happen to anyone for all kinds of reasons. You do not have to justify yourself by saying that you will do anything for any amount of money, and it won’t do you any favours to do so and to seem so desperate. However, I do not dispute that it is not easy to hide that desperation, when you need a job very badly it is different to having one already and just fancying a change. It is a known fact that it is easier to get a job when you are in one, you seem more attractive and employable. Being obviously desperate to get a job, any job, may well get your job search record signed at the job centre, so that you do not get sanctioned for not applying for enough jobs, but it is a big turn off to employers.  Job hunting should be treated rather like dating!! Be interested but not overly so and end up looking desperate to get someone, know your value and keep a sense of worth.

What if you get as far as an interview and it comes to light that there are duties in the job that you were not expecting and are not right for you? Do not agree to it just for the sake of it, not unless you absolutely have to try to get the job. Employers know desperation when they see it and the I will do anything anytime attitude is just not realistic.

As for online jobs , there are many genuine ones out there , but this field of work , while very useful for older and disabled people, has a lot of suspicion and stigma and some of it is well founded , as there are many scams out there . Do not be so desperate that you throw money at some online video offering to make you a millionaire in a week …it won’t happen. There are many genuine online jobs boards that are free to use, do not pay upfront for anything.

There is some question now as to whether or not having submitted your application for a job, should you phone the company and ask if they have received your CV or resume. Certainly the job centres will tell you when they see that you have applied for a job but not heard from them …Phone them, ask to speak to the manager or person responsible for recruitment, and you will feel that you had better do this or you may get sanctioned and not get any job seekers allowance. However, employers get so many applicants for each job that they advertise that it can risk irritating them and having you come across as desperate, most times you can assume that they have seen your application, as indeed they have all the rest that they have received for the job.

You may well need to take advantage of the resources online to help you write your CV and a cover letter for the job , but do try to personalize each job application and do not just copy and paste from a sample online. When you write your CV or resume, have a generic version and then adapt this for each job that you apply for, the same with covering letters. Employers can actually tell applicants who are just firing off one application after another in a desperate hope of getting a response. This is one of the disadvantages of online job boards, where it is easy to fall into the trap of just clicking apply here and off goes your stored CV and a cover letter that is not much more than Dear Sir, I am interested in applying for the job. It will make the job centre happy that you have applied for thirty jobs in a week, but you may well not hear a word from any of them. Take time over your applications and personalise them

Whatever the job centre tell you, do NOT apply for everything, identify your skills and make good quality applications for jobs that realistically you can do. The term transferable skills is sadly a bit over rated.  Also, while not knocking the value of voluntary work to get experience, sadly many employers do not rate it and want evidence that you have done the job before, working for an employer… i.e. that you have been an employee.

However, being desperate for a job is not all doom and gloom, it can push you to positive action. Make use of the online job boards such as Monster, Indeed, Total Jobs, Reed and many more, prepare or update your basic generic CV and upload it, search the newspapers and apply for suitable jobs. There is no need to buy newspapers, some even have a free online version and you can always find the daily and local papers at the library or if you join one, and I do recommend that you do, a job club. Job clubs are excellent, not only does it get you out of the house, and you get to use their heating and electricity, but being with other job hunters can be very helpful and supportive. I have known job hunters at job clubs or schemes such as The Work Programme find suitable jobs for each other to apply to. Use the job searching tools on LinkedIn…if you do not have a LinkedIn profile then work on it.

Be positive and be proactive but don’t look so desperate!!!

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Social Media Tips…for job hunters and freelancers

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So, you are looking for a job or on the path to self-employment, you know that networking will certainly help you and that social media is a very useful way to build connections and to stay connected with those you already know …but how do you use social media and how can you make it work for you to help you reach your goal ? …here are some tips.

Of course it is OK to be flexible and to change plans if you have to, but do try to have a social media goal and know what it is you want to achieve. My goal is to use Social media to help me get my blog more widely read and to help it make an income and get writing opportunities. If you don’t have a goal it is only too easy to end up knowing Social media can help you, but just playing on Facebook all day instead. Playing is not the same thing at all as being productive.

focusMake the most of and expand and promote your most popular posts, from your blog if you have one as well as your social media accounts. Always reply to comments.

Follow your tracking to see which are your most popular posts and recycle them by putting links to them elsewhere and in other posts, this will get hits to your site, so that the other posts will have more chance of being seen. Rewrite them and post them elsewhere with links back to your site or page.

So many posts on Facebook seem to be about music and cats, and grandchildren and a few other things. These are very popular topics, just not very relevant to getting jobs perhaps. However, do try to become involved in conversations that help you make and maintain links with people, such as current affairs and things that you see your friends and contacts enjoying. Humour and controversy are good conversation starters , be interested in people and what they have to say and post but also watch your social media footprint and protect your online image . Increasingly employers are looking up job applicants on social media when they receive their CV.

When you get the chance and can answer correctly and in an interesting way, answer questions being asked on your social media sites.

If you use Twitter, and job seekers and entrepreneurs should be using Twitter, follow your own tweets and see which ones get the most response and re-tweeting. Expand them into blog posts, or if it was from a blog post already then write more on that subject.

Remember that every connection counts , everyone is important and with so many connections on social media going on to connect with each other and other people , every connection can say a lot about who you are . Give everyone attention, respond but remember the social media etiquette, many people do not like it if e.g., they tag a certain person in a post and others reply, to tag one person very often means that it is intended as a personal post for them e.g. a family member or special friend even if it is on their timeline and seen as public.

Be sure to be yourself and show your personal style, even if you choose to post e.g. a quote for the day from a site where these are posted to be shared, try to bring into the post some personal reference to make it personal from you to your audience. Do not appear to just copy and paste content from elsewhere. My posts about job hunting for older and disabled people appeal to readers because I write from personal experience and not from training I have had as a career consultant …because I have never worked in any field of recruitment .

Be consistent and post regularly. This actually does not mean that you have to post every day, regularly yes, but it could be that three or so times a week is all you can manage and suits you better, and as long as it is regular, you will not lose readership.

  1. Remember that images really count and make a post .Use various media not just images but also video. For free images that you can use in blog posts Google free images for blogs and you will find plenty of resources . Sometimes embed a suitable Facebook post into your blog for something different and as a good way to get readers to your blog and to your Facebook page.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/free-image-sources-list

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-seiter/53-free-image-sources_b_5331703.html

http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/free-images-for-blogs

http://www.wheretofindfreeimages.com/

https://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/10/04/free-photos-for-your-blog/

http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

http://www.freeimages.com/

https://creativecommons.org/image/

Be sure that your posts have a title if they are a campaign, e.g. a sales advertisement for your product or service or perhaps an appeal that you are supporting, but even just an image posted on Facebook is far better with some words of introduction.

Get to know the search terms to use to find the best social media pages and sites to help you in your job search or building your business. I have found that there are many pages and groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and hashtags on Twitter for job hunters and for writers. Also do not be afraid of discovering Google +, true it may seem like unknown territory because it is not as widely known and used for social media as Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn but it is growing in popularity, do check out their communities . I have joined communities on Google + for bloggers and writers and for people looking to make money from home, do check it out. Also, when you write a blog post, share it to Google + along with your sharing to Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and whatever else you use.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/40-most-popular-social-networking-sites-world

http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/2701-Beyond-Facebook-74-Popular-Social-Networks-Worldwide

Use surveymonkey.com or other survey software to create free surveys. You can ask questions and share the link on social media. Asking questions in a poll means that people may interact with you by responding. My WordPress blog has built in software where I can add a poll to my posts.

Check “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” in LinkedIn to see who is finding you.

If you find yourself getting endorsements that are not relevant on LinkedIn, and it can happen that people who view your profile endorse you for a skill you do not think you have, be aware you can remove endorsements completely. However, do also look at your profile and assess how accurate a picture of you it is and also if maybe you do have a skill that you have not recognized. My friend certainly discovered this and was amazed at how her skills transferred to the job market when she was putting together a CV to return to work and thought she had ‘only’ been a stay at home mum for fifteen years ….

 

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Improving your skill set

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What advice would you give your younger self? A question the media often invites us to answer. At 17 I was a student nursery nurse going to college three days a week and working on a training placement in a nursery on the other two days. Living in a bedsit after my parents’ divorce, I was adjusting to working, studying and independent living and it was hard. I left early for work or college and came home late and this continued for all of my working life, nurseries cater for working parents and many stay open until after 6pm.

It never entered my head that I should prepare myself for any other career, that I would not as I got older be fit enough to keep this up, and even if it had occurred to me, by the time I got home in the evenings I was too tired to do anything about it, my living accommodation often involved sharing a kitchen and bathroom facilities with other housemates that I didn’t know other than sharing a house with them and the weekends were about shopping and going to the launderette.

However, when I am asked that question, what advice would I give my younger self, it would be to have a career plan B. Of course, like many women in care and related professions I didn’t know that the pension I thought I was going to be able to get at 60 would be withheld by new pension rules until I was 65, and by the time I am due to draw it, it may be later still . Many women affected by changes to pension rules are from care and teaching professions, these jobs are not easy to carry on as a woman gets older and at 17, one cannot predict future health and its effects on employment. A career plan B for later life, or for situations such as health issues at any age preventing your original career path is a great advantage to have in place. Always have an adaptable career plan and know what it is if you need to make sudden changes, be prepared.

You cannot be sure anymore that if you are sick or disabled in later life, that you will be able to claim sickness benefits, these are far harder to pass the eligibility tests for than they used to be. You may well find yourself looking for another career, or a retirement income because your pension is not enough to support you or you have had to give up work or lost your job before being eligible to claim it.

When finding a new career more suitable for you in later, you may well be shocked and not too happy to find that this has to be an entry level position with a far lower salary and grade than you have been used to. However, what can help an older applicant appeal to a prospective employer is to have current skills. Up to date and adaptable skills, a career plan B can give you far longer employment security whether you be working for someone else or self-employed.

So, how can you get the skills you need to stay in the job market and have options as you get older?

Be prepared to use your time, if you are studying or training, be sure to do the work necessary to get the skills and or pass any exams. This may indeed be hard when you are older and also maybe have home responsibilities and or health issues requiring treatment but the benefits of being disciplined about your studies, e.g. IT skills or basic skills such as maths and English that need a qualification will be well worthwhile. Set a goal, to learn a skill and or get a qualification and then plan your study time to achieve that goal.

Take any classes that are available from a reputable college or training centre that you can afford, they may even be free. Whenever possible at adult education colleges or when doing an online course choose ones that lead to a certificate, diploma or degree. It’s good to be able to take these to a job interview, send a copy with a job application, or add to a profile on an online job board. Courses are also often held at local libraries and community centres.

Webinars can be a useful way to learn a skill and have the advantage of being portable as long as you have a computer, tablet, smartphone or laptop and an internet connection, the classes go wherever you are and many can be found online for free.

While you are in a job, take up any chances your company might offer for educational opportunities, you never know when you may not be in a job and need that IT certificate your company is offering.

Here are some links to mostly online learning opportunities, I have used IT training as an example but it is also wise to keep your basic skills, maths and English up to date …knowledge and being willing to train for new things gives you options ….

http://www.learndirect.com/
https://www.vision2learn.com/
http://www.learnmyway.com/
http://www.ageuk.org.uk/work-and-learning/technology-and-internet/computer-training-courses/
http://www.openculture.com/computer_science_free_courses
http://distancelearn.about.com/od/isitforyou/a/FreeComputer.htm
http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/nonprofits/whats-available/training/
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/computers
http://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/computing-and-ict
http://www.homeandlearn.co.uk/
https://alison.com/learn/computer-basics

 

 

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Ideas for a small business

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Women Entrepreneur, recently published an article about Entrepreneur: Caroline Weaver, owner of CW Pencil Enterprise in New York City, who runs a profitable business selling of all things…Pencils.

Pencils bring back so many warm memories for me. I was an early reader and writer and one of my favourite memories of infant school is the day I was told by my teacher that yes, I was ready to put my pencils back in the pot and be allowed to write with a pen , I was very proud, but there are other special memories associated with pencils . I remember the huge pencil sharpener that sat on ‘Sir’s desk and how so often I got the responsible job of sharpening the pencils on Friday, ready for Monday morning. I was not at all happy when I pulled back the clamps to get the pencil out and so often got my finger stuck, but I did like the responsibility of the job…I also loved emptying the pot of shavings and the smell as I did so

I remember high school, and my very first maths lesson there at Mayfield, when Miss Webb gave us a list of the equipment we needed to bring to the next and every maths lesson. I cannot now remember what they were, but I had no idea at all until that day, that even in maths, the right pencil was so important to the task. I remember being told I need HB pencils for one thing, writing I believe and another sort for drawing diagrams, shading and colouring e.g., when producing graphs .

Among writers there is quite a debate, are pens or pencils better to write with? Of course, I guess many writers do not have this decision to make and type directly to their computer, but especially for creative writing I often prefer to sit with pen and paper and write and cross out, before committing it to Microsoft Word. Except that I like to use a pencil, maybe it is a strange familiar sense of comfort from a pencil, you can be pretty sure that a pencil will do what it is supposed to do, while certainly for cheap pens from the £1 shop they have a tendency to not write and to ruin sheets of equally cheap paper with scratch marks. On the other hand, buy an expensive pen and the refills are either impossible to get or cost as much as the pen…..though one can if prepared to risk the mess , use a fountain pen and bottle of ink, or somewhat easier , a cartridge . However, I like a pencil, it is reliable and doesn’t run out half way through a sentence and just needs sharpening now and then…on my desk are to be found several boxes of very pretty pencils. Pencils rub out easily , pencil erasers work and unlike those supposed to erase ink pen, do not leave a hole in the paper where you mistook there for their or weather for whether

This subject of pens versus pencils and discovering that at least one person has made a business out of selling pencils, got me thinking about other cheap things for a small business, with not too big an outlay . Bookmarks are cheap to buy and still very popular and come in beautiful designs, everything from maps of the world to cats and flowers. I never ever thought that I would be the convert that I have become to reading on my tablet, but even though I love the huge range of books I can download and read on my tablet, there is still and always will be something about a book and a bookmark, especially when a gift from a friend, and a friend who writes a book cannot autograph a copy on a tablet and write a dedication to you in it.

Little gift bags can be turned into a profitable business when packed with goodies that can be selected from your own website. Get yourself some good business cards and create a business making gift bags stocked with items such as toiletries, stationary items, and candy, supply small gift bags as wedding favours…or why not go bigger and sell gift baskets ? Use word of mouth and tell friends and other contacts that you will select and pack the perfect gift bag or basket, they just need to tell you what they would like in it. Work out your costing as you go, and you have a perfect business that certainly can be started from home and done even in your spare time, then built up.

Maybe you don’t feel up to packing things up and mailing them off yourself, this can be hard if you have disabilities or indeed home responsibilities taking up time. Do not be put off, you can still create a business , just set up a website , which can even be done for free and join affiliate schemes that can be advertised on your site e.g., as a writer I would add links on my blog to stationary and office supplies affiliate schemes . Set yourself up with a website or blog about a hobby or interest, add relevant affiliate links and promote your site…it doesn’t happen overnight, but you can indeed make a business. The Amazon affiliate scheme is one of the easiest to start with, all you need to do is have a website or blog, join and be accepted for the scheme and link to the products that you wish to sell, with Amazon affiliate products the coding with your affiliate link is all done for you, you only have to write an interesting article and link to what you want to sell that is relevant to your website or blog.

Here are some more ideas for starting a small business, many of which can be started with no or little financial outlay …

http://sbinformation.about.com/od/business-ideas/a/small-business-ideas.htm
http://www.smalltownmarketing.com/101_marketing_ideas.html
http://www.ahbbo.com/ideas.html
http://www.entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/100-business-ideas-start-today/
http://homebizzguide.com/ideas/huge-ideas-list/
http://www.305startup.net/business-ideas-start-up-list/
http://www.businessknowhow.com/startup/200ideas.htm
http://www.theselfemployed.com/start_ups/the-epic-list-of-45-business-ideas-for-work-at-home-moms/
http://www.theselfemployed.com/start_ups/50-self-employed-business-ideas-can-start-100/
http://www.smarta.com/advice/starting-up/business-ideas/30-part-time-businesses-you-can-start-for-peanuts/
http://smallb.sidbi.in/%20/thinking-starting-business/big-list-business-ideas-small-business
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/50-side-businesses-you-can-start-on-your-own/
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/201588

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Free courses for adults

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Are your basic skills what they should be?

Free courses for adults

The children could be heard this week playing in the nearby school playground and shops are full of toasters, irons and cheap duvets for students off to university

But what about adult skills, the skills you need for the current job market, and this does not mean just IT skills. Increasingly managers of businesses say that they receive CV’s from people who cannot spell correctly, while adult education has of the education budgets in national and local government had the biggest cuts.

Corbyn’s proposal for a “lifelong learning service” that runs “from cradle to grave,” could be exactly what’s needed to answer the skills shortage at a time of slashing funds for vocational training. The Adult Skills Budget, which covers Further Education courses for those 19-years-old and over, has been cut by 40 per cent since 2010, and is due to reduce further between 2015 and 2016. Earlier this year, the Association of Colleges predicted that if cuts continued at the same rate, FE courses could be completely eradicated by 2020.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/08/jeremy-corbyn-proposing-national-education-service-would-it-work

This week saw the world marking International Literacy Day, while the reality is that for various reasons, undiagnosed dyslexia perhaps, a child labelled as naughty and who doesn’t pay attention in school  ends up with pills to calm him or her down and a diagnosis of ADHD.  Many older job hunters who left school at the earliest opportunity and went into manual work, now finding themselves not physically fit enough to continue but still having to work, may not have the literacy skills for the current job market ….they have got through their working life up until now without them but finding themselves as I did, unable for health reasons to continue in a job, they have not got the skills for a job they can do, and no free training is available.

During the current Labour Party leadership and London Mayoral Candidate Elections it has been those candidates who recognise the value of and voiced a commitment to education for all ages who caught my eye, as did Jeremy Corbyn in saying that there needs to be training for adults in the skills that they need, and David Lammy who throughout his bid to become Labour candidate for London Mayor spoke of the benefits his mother gained from night school. Jeremy Corbyn recognises that what we need is a ‘lifelong learning service ‘He has pledged to provide more money for adult learning, paid for by raising money by increasing the corporation tax by 2 per cent.

Jeremy Corbyn writes  for Labour List:

In 2020 we should start by reversing the cuts to the adult skills budget and expand it into a lifelong learning service by adding 2% to corporation tax (still comfortably the lowest in the G7). This funding would be hypothecated to expand adult learning into a lifelong learning education resource. The extra tax revenues brought by a high skill, high productivity and high pay economy will fund further expansion.

A National Education Service will give working age people access throughout their lives to learn new skills or to re-train. It should also work with Jobcentre Plus to offer claimants opportunities to improve their skills, rather than face the carousel of workfare placements, sanctions and despair. We need a return to ambitious joined-up government.

http://think-left.org/2015/07/28/from-cradle-to-grave-jeremy-corbyns-national-education-system/

It is often thought that illiteracy is simply put as an inability to read and write, but in fact there is more to it than this. It means being unable to read and write at a level allowing a person to function at a certain level in society, to be able to fully take part in society and society has changed. Today you need to be able to do a lot more than just sign your name, which years ago used to often enable you to get by. Even claiming many welfare benefits means lengthy reading and filling in of forms and job hunting is largely done on the internet with a written CV ready to upload to jobs that are advertised on internet job boards.

Some societies consider what literacy is differently to others. The so very highly internet driven developed world now consider that you must have computer skills to be fully literate , well, it certainly does help , as indeed it does to have at least basic numeracy and be able to add up and  subtract . Scotland, defines literacy as: “The ability to read and write and use numeracy, to handle information, to express ideas and opinions, to make decisions and solve problems, as family members, workers, citizens and lifelong learners.”
Studies have shown that investment in literacy, other basic skills and training courses, along with degrees for those for whom they are suitable, pays off for a country’s economy. Educated and trained people stay in work longer, often earn more and so pay more taxes and are fitter and healthier, therefore costing less to the health service.

I am increasingly wondering also, does education help to prevent wars and uprisings? It surely must help a nation if its people can communicate with and understand each other. It is no coincidence that extreme Islamic factors do not want education for all… especially women. In areas where they have gained control, girls have often been banned from going to school, as we see from the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani winner of The Nobel Peace Prize, shot by The Taliban in her home town, because she went to school.

In Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations where extreme Islamic groups hold power, and also throughout history in Europe too , academics rather than being seen as an asset to their country are often at best  banned from working , eg teaching , hounded out of the country … and at worst killed . An eye opening insight  into this can be found by reading the story of Iraqi Academic May Witwit  in her book Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad .  Is it coincidence that illiteracy is highest among countries such as the Arab regions, South Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa? , while being much lower in developed countries.

However, the definition of illiteracy has changed and moved on and the skills needed to be literate in the 21st century and to be employable in an age where we have to adapt our skill-set to enable us to work into much later life and often with limitations from health conditions while we do so mean that indeed we need a lifelong learning service.

For courses that are free for many in the UK, go to Learn Direct and Vision2learn . Also some helpful links may be found from my previous articles on free online courses. , many of these are available worldwide….Don’t get left behind.

 

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How to use your contacts to help your job search

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These days it would be easy to think that the only way to find a job is to sit hour after hour firing off your CV to jobs on line via Monster, Total jobs, Reed, Jobcentre plus and the loads of other online job boards found on a Google search .

However, the old saying it’s not what you know but who, is still very relevant indeed when it comes to job hunting. Your contacts are not limited to someone you know where a job is available but are part of the hidden job market, they often know of jobs coming up before they are even advertised, in fact the job may not be going to be advertised at all if it can be filled quickly by someone suitable that somebody in the company knows, and this somebody may just be one of your contacts and knows you.

How to create your list of useful contacts:

Often when looking for a job, people look to family and friends for help, in fact some young people may get a chance at a job because their parents either work at the company or know someone who does…or they even own the company. Jobs are often got through work experience or a spell as an intern. This tradition of family and friends helping you into a job goes back years, way back into history it has always been common, with children following parents and or older brothers and sisters down the mines, into service or working at the mill.

Your family and friends belong in your contact list along with school friends and work colleagues that you may still be in touch with and even neighbours.

Many of these people will be willing to help you in your job search or business venture, they may know other people who can help you, and they may make introductions for you. However, it needs to be said that especially when you are thinking about becoming self-employed and starting a business, family and friends do worry because they care about you and want reassurance that you will be financially stable. You may well find that you do not get the encouragement you were hoping for when planning to start a business. It is up to you to convince the doubters, only you making a go of it and being successful can do that.

Members of a worship group, political party that you belong to, social club and community centres are also people to consider are your contacts. Check out your local community centre and get yourself known at the local library, many of them run job clubs. You will get to use their heating and internet rather than your own, make new friends who are also job hunting and having support from people in the same position is a great booster, and of course, you may get a job. At Job clubs it often happens when people are doing job searches that they find a job for another member and you find just the job for them. People who share the same faith as yourself, the same political ideals or the same hobbies are often well placed to help you get a job.

People from whom you buy things, such as the local shops, the newsagent, the postman etc and the supermarkets are all potential contacts and worth asking if they know about any available suitable jobs. When it comes to helping you, there is something in it too for local shop keepers, being seen as helpful and friendly is good for their business and also if you have a good job, it may well increase your purchasing power .

Many people maintain contacts and even friendships with former colleagues or employers, indeed we spend so much time at work that it is well known to be one for the main places friendships are formed. However, keeping a good relationship with them has more benefits than just someone to meet up with for a drink, they may well know about or even have suitable jobs on offer

Although those mentioned here are old traditional methods of using those you know to help you get a job, never fail to also harness the potential power of your social media contacts, it’s amazing how good a friend Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts can be, you may never meet them but they may help you to find a job.

These are some ideas for who should be the basis of your contacts list when looking for a job , use as many of them as possible , and when you speak with them, never be embarrassed about saying you are looking for a job , it happens to all of us at some time . And when asking for help, always be sure that people know you would do the same for them …..

Valerie Hedges

http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/7-brilliant-ways-use-your-contacts-get-job/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/05/19/ten-ways-to-use-linkedin-in-your-job-search/
https://premium.linkedin.com/jobsearch/resources/get-connected/how-to-find-the-right-contacts-for-your-job-search
https://www.themuse.com/advice/help-me-find-a-job-emails-to-send-to-your-network
http://www.christiancareercenter.com/advice-and-resources/christian-job-search-articles/how-personal-contacts-can-get-you-into-the-hidden-job-market

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Angels unawares ..Thank you to Jeanne Carver and Jim Elliott for this story

 

 

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Happy Labor Day to all my many readers across the USA

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However, what is Labor Day …never heard of it said one of my friends when asking me what it is, and another friend in the USA, asked me if we have Labor Day in England.

So, if you were asked what is Labor Day? Do you really know? As far as the American holiday is concerned many British people know no more than it is a long weekend over the first Monday in September and considered to be the official end of summer, the beaches and water resorts stay open for a last summer celebration, and a tradition used to be that you didn’t wear white clothes or shoes after Labor Day. The day used to also coincide with the start of the new school year after the summer holidays but more schools now return in mid or late August.

The tradition of celebrating Labor Day as a national holiday across the USA goes back over 100 years. It began in 1882 in New York as a parade by the Knights of Columbus to give credit for the contributions to New York life of working class citizens. In 1884, a parade was held by the Knights celebrating the working class. The date chosen was the first Monday in September, and then the Knights decided to hold all such future parades on this day, and from then on the first Monday in September was seen as Labor Day.

The Socialist Party also held a celebration to commemorate the working class, this was on May 1st and became known as May Day. Both the Socialists and Communists celebrated it and so in the United States the first Monday in September was chosen to remove the Communist associations.

This May Day celebration is more in line with the May Day observances held in the UK and many other countries on or around May 1st. This celebration has origins as a pagan celebration of the end of winter and start of summer, closely associated with fertility, but was taken over as a celebration to honour workers. The First Monday in May is a holiday in the UK … http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/uk/early-may-bank-holiday. Many places in the UK have ancient traditions surrounding May Day, involving such things as dancing around May poles and crowning a May Queen .

In the 20th century May Day has also become linked to International Workers’ Day in Great Britain, even though the holiday is not officially a “Labour Day”. In London the May Day march and rally, organised by the London May Day Committee (South East Region Trades Councils), gather together in Clerkenwell Green near the Marx Memorial Library before marching to Trafalgar Square for a rally with speeches from representatives of local, national and international trades unions and campaigning organisations. This event always takes place on May 1 with the intention to reinstate May 1, regardless of what day it falls on, as a national holiday.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day

Toward the end of the last decade of the nineteenth century, Labor organisations were lobbying for Labor Day to be observed as an official state holiday in the USA. The first states to do so in 1887, were Oregon, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. In 1894, Congress passed the law that made Labor Day an official national holiday.

Labor Day is celebrated in the USA and in Canada on the same day , though called Labour Day due to the differences between American and British English , it is also celebrated in many other countries around the world , although the dates differ , it is mainly either the first Monday in September , or in May , or the 1st May itself . While May Day has its roots in ancient celebrations of the coming of summer and fertility rites and May 1st is associated with being a day to celebrate workers, Labor Day is a day that officially ends the summer season, but all of these celebrations have come to have links to celebrating the achievements of work and the working class.

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Election 2015 …a dark day

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On May 7th, the British people elected the most vicious right wing government and leader in our history and gave it an increased majority with a full mandate to govern needing no coalition, giving full reign to 12 billion pounds more welfare cuts for the poor, sick and disabled. With disabilities myself I have got to make some serious plans and changes and do some serious thinking to safeguard my future as this is a five year government of misery for people like myself and we will suffer. Already heart rending posts and personal stories of fear are appearing on Facebook.

Well done my own wonderful Labour MP who increased her majority , but Labour as a party needs to get its act together , and be seen and felt to really support and fight for the people who make up its voters which I no longer feel they do…and this is not just as they keep spouting . ..Hard working families.

At the heart of Labour’s electorate are the low paid, the unemployed, the sick and the disabled hounded to death and even suicide by welfare reforms, the pensioner alone and afraid to turn the heating on and the millions like myself who do not have young children leaving school and needing jobs but who are older and often sick and if going to be forced by welfare reform to get jobs, need jobs available that that they can do and help to get them.
We have had five years of misery under the Tories already and this election result is a grim future for the vulnerable in the United Kingdom. Australia is going the same way and so is the USA and other nations, with the poor, sick and disabled being blamed for their country’s budget problems and recession. It’s a scary time for the world!!

However, it seems that in the UK at least, the people have spoken and they want more of the same austerity, attacks on the sick and disabled, after all this is what they voted for. We woke on Friday 8th May to the hell that will be five years of a Tory Government with a majority. Those on low wages, the unemployed, pensioners and the sick and disabled will now have to live in further fear of the cruel spite of the Tories. I was amazed that after five years of what the Tories managed to do to the vulnerable in Britain, even though they did not have a majority and were part of a coalition, Labour did not manage to beat them …but then again, in spite of the risk of sounding disloyal, I was never sure that they would.

Why was I not confident of a Labour victory? Because Labour seems to have become just a paler version of Tory blue. They no longer can be relied on as the party that will help the vulnerable and underprivileged, and these people make up much of the basis of their voters. It is I admit hard for a well-intentioned Labour cabinet, who mostly just like the Tories , are from wealthy backgrounds, went to private school and university, never have to rely on the NHS or endure an appointment at the job centre and a work capability test and have more money than real common sense, to have any real idea what life is like for many of their core voters who have been lifelong Labour supporters and feel a loyalty to the party and want to vote Labour but feel let down. We did not want a Labour government saying they would reform the work capability assessment…we, the sick and disabled needed it to be scrapped, so that we need no longer live in fear of it and that it would be enough that our doctors would be believed when they write a medical certificate saying that a person should not work. However, I and indeed thousands of others these past five years have had job centre staff say that it is not your doctor who decided if you are too sick to work anymore, it is the government: and many have dropped dead or committed suicide as a result of it. Labour was not strong enough, not loyal enough to its electorate to offer an alternative to welfare reform that we could trust to support us, instead. It was had they been elected, going to be more of the same.

I can in part understand this , Labour lost the last election in 2010, and the media have portrayed them as being to blame for the country’s debt and deficit , in no small part due to paying welfare benefits to too many people, most of whom are so the electorate are told , idle lazy scroungers . Of course Labour wanted so much to win , So, they said that they too would make more severe cuts in public spending and would be even ‘tougher on benefits’ than the Tories !!! Had it not been for a personal vote for my MP, I really didn’t want to go and vote at all, Labour no longer supports me and there is no real alternative with any chance of winning a general election. For all of us so desperately needing an end to welfare reform done in the way that it is, we could see we could not count on the Labour party…Maybe some stayed at home and maybe some voted for the Green Party, with not a hope in hell of actually forming a government, but they did say they would scrap the work capability assessment. The Green Party also said that they were keeping the Independent Living Fund, increasing spending on disability living allowance and ending the bedroom tax. They had no chance of forming a government to do it, but I was very very tempted to vote for them and around a million did …how many were Labour voters? The horrendously right-wing UKIP…UK Independence party came second in over 90 constituencies and many of those had been strong Labour seats.

The then Shadow and would have been work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said that “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people. ”trying to sound like Labour’s version of her Tory opposite Iain Duncan Smith who has seen many benefit claimants go to their graves as a result of his policies . Well, Rachel, if Labour is not the party for support of people out of work, I would be interested to know which party is and I might be tempted to go and join it. Also, it needs to be noted that many people claiming a benefit are actually in work. To be fair Rachel Reeves did say that Labour planned to increase the minimum wage to £8 per hour and increasing wages must surely help to lower the number of people needing top up benefits such as housing benefit to help to pay rent.

Labour needs to rebuild, that is for sure and build a party that is really and truly seen to stand up for its grass roots voters, the working class, even if they are not working. If they are not, perhaps because they are disabled, then they need targeted help to get into jobs that physically and or mentally they can do and for those jobs to be there. Sometimes the best solution to work for the disabled is in schemes such as Remploy. However the Remploy factories employing many disabled people were closed and the part of the company that survived, a specialist disability recruitment company has been sold by the Department of Work and Pensions to an American company that just happens to also do some of the work capability assessments for the department …

Another route to employment for sick and disabled people and indeed older people now being forced to work until they are at least in many cases 70 before they can claim retirement pension, which can be as good as impossible to do for people in certain professions that are physically demanding such as nursing and my previous career, childcare, also for men in such roles as building and engineering is self-employment from home, making use of the many opportunities that can be found online. However, there is practically no financial help available now for people to make the transition from claiming disability benefits to entering work since the government during the last administration removed the job grant which used to help with the transition from benefits to getting your first salary or payments . Labour would have benefitted from promising schemes that would encourage people to try to take jobs, rather than doing as they did, which was to make it clear there would be just as much, even more austerity with them as there would be with the Tories.

Something that may well help to restore confidence in Labour amongst its core voters is that in the five years of hell ahead for vulnerable people Labour are seen to defend and fight for them. It won’t work if they just sit back and tell us everything will be just fine when they win the election in 2020.

Labour needs also to return to what it was, I for one and I know many are tired of the endless debate about is the party Blairite or Brownite, New Labour or Old Labour…all of those terms are getting a bit of a joke and what Labour needs is to be a party, not just for the vulnerable, much as they do need a party that supports them. Labour also needs to be what it was…a party of ambitions and opportunities …cut the deficit by taxing the rich, not punishing the poor and sick, continue the jobs guarantees and promises of jobs and training opportunities for young people …and end tuition fees , so that once again university is achievable for everyone, not just the rich . Yes, there are student loans, but the low paid and those on disability benefits already dread debt and not being able to pay it, while it is true that a student loan only has to be paid back by the student once earning over £21,000 I know that my parents way back in the 70’s never allowed me to even consider university, my mother furiously accused me of jumping out of my class, and this is going to happen again. It has come full circle that just as mine did, parents will feel the need to force their children to drop ambitions of going to university because they are terrified of the resulting debt and as my parents did …desperately need their child’s income in the family budget, so force them to take whatever job they can get. I had the thrill of beginning my degree with the Open University, but like many Open University students have had to stop at least for now as I am not in a position to take on a student loan.

Provide more job opportunities for young people by restoring the state pension age to 60 for women and 65 for men. People like myself worked for years and paid taxes expecting as we were told that this was the age we could have our pension. This money is not the governments money to do as they choose with , it is money that we have paid in having been told what we would get in return for it and when . Is it right to force women who by that time may well have health issues, to still work in such professional as nursing when they are 70? Which is what will happen in time, or for men to work on building sites …? If older people could get their pension then they would not need to claim Jobseekers allowance or disability allowances if they were unable to do their job in later years.

How to pay for all this? Well, any British government that really cares about British people working or not, would do no harm by tightening our borders and the rule that means just because you come from a European Union country you can come to the UK and undercut a British worker in the job market by being willing to work for peanuts, and not only can you get a job but a council house as well. There are just too many people here and the country does not have the resources to support them all on the National Health Service and the state if they don’t find a job.

My Labour led local council, has managed not to pass on the cuts to their budget from central government by increasing council tax. However, many councils, including Labour ones did pass on the cuts to residents by increasing council tax and cutting council tax benefit.

Vulnerable people were already scared witless and exhausted by five years of the coalition, and yet it seems that they didn’t all rush to the polling station to vote Labour, surely if they had really felt that Labour was there for them…they would have done so ? A problem that I feel about my relationship with the Labour party now is that when I was fit and well and working, I really felt they were for me. Now, they too when it comes to the low paid, sick and disabled have the same policies as the Tories, just different methods of going about it…the same but different and I and thousands of other vulnerable people need it to stop …cut the deficit by taxing the rich and their mansions, not by driving sick people to their deaths and suicide by forcing them to work or leaving them with no money for even essentials.

Yet might it be also, that Labour need to take a long hard look at their election campaign machinery? After all it can’t all be a lost cause for Labour, my own Labour MP has increased her majority for the past two elections …it can be done . Labour needs to go out and listen to its voters and show they care …just like she does ….

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