Bereaved Grandson “Sells Himself Smart” in Charity Arm Auction!

When it comes to raising money for charity people run marathons, perhaps go on a long distance bike ride, climb a few mountains, but now one young man has opted to sell the space on his left arm to the highest bidder.

Adam Vollan’s beloved Grandma passed away earlier this year from emphysema, which is a disease that can destroy the lungs. Wanting to raise awareness about the illness and money for the British Lung Foundation he decided to take the unusual step of selling the advertising rights to his left arm.

The highest bidder will get their name or business logo tattooed onto the 22 year old. Sell Yourself Smart are proud to support Adam in his efforts to raise money for this worthy cause. We hope that his proposal will catch the imagination of other companies or individuals who are interested in this unique advertising platform.

For more information on the project or to offer your support please click here. Bidding for the space on his arm ends on October 18th 2008. The Sell Yourself Smart team would like to wish him every success.

Age Discrimination and Your Career

Since October 1, 2006 it has been unlawful in the United Kingdom to unreasonably discriminate against employees on the grounds of age.  The effective result of this new legislation is that it is unlawful to refuse employment, enforce redundancy, or refuse training or promotion because a worker is too old or too young.

It also means that there is now a default retirement age of 65 for all workers.  An employee may request to continue working past this age, but employers will be able to refuse the request without giving a written reason.

I am in my 50s, does this mean it will be easier for me to find a job?

Yes, and no.

In theory it is unlawful for a company to refuse you employment on the grounds of age, and indeed most recruitment firms and big employers are very much aware of the legislation, and have taken measures to prevent them running afoul of it.

Indeed, not only is it unlawful for them to refuse you employment, it is also illegal for them to use potentially age-related language when writing job adverts.  Some firms are even taking this to mean that they can no longer request ‘dynamic’ or ‘energetic’ candidates.

But the situation is not perfect.  In reality ageist attitudes are not going to go away immediately, and these laws are only a first step in creating a truly age-neutral workplace.

Overall, though, it is now easier for older workers to find jobs, and there are more protections in place for those who have been discriminated against.

Key points to remember:

  • An employer may not refuse you employment on the grounds of age
  • You are not required—and may not be required—to put your age or date of birth on your CV
  • The default retirement age is now 65, and employers are not required to continue your employment after this point

The All Important Cover Letter

The covering letter is like an introduction to the main act. Its job is to grab attention, summarise, and create a feeling of anticipation in the mind of the recruiter. It needs to have impact and leave the reader feeling  positive about the prospect reading your CV. Below are some hints that will hopefully help you achieve this.

1. First impressions count. A covering letter is read before a CV, so make sure that it grabs the reader’s attention. Spelling and punctuation errors, copying a generic e-mail to rival firms, forgetting to include your contact details and omitting a job reference are all common mistakes.

2. It’s not an optional extra. Even if you have just been asked to e-mail your CV, always send a covering letter. It introduces why your CV is there and what you stand for. It sets the scene for your CV.

3. Dear who? If the job advertisement doesn’t name a contact, call human resources to find out who will be scrutinising your application. It’s more personal, and if you want to inquire about your application you have someone to follow up with. Remember contacts are key.

4. Be brief. Keep it punchy. Three or four paragraphs should be sufficient to convey your motivation, experience and personality. A covering letter should not replace your CV but summarise your suitability for a role by matching your experience to the job advertised.

5. Be factual not arrogant. Don’t cross the line between confident expert and arrogant know it all. You want to sell yourself through highlighting what you have done. Avoid statements such as “I am the ideal candidate” for example, in favour of “I believe I have the skills and experience that make me a strong candidate”. Ensure your CV provides examples to back these statements up so it all fits together.

6. Get noticed. Give a reason for writing even if your application is speculative. Perhaps you recently read something in the trade press or met someone from the firm at a networking event? You want to show that you have been actively looking at the company. If you are applying for a specific role, say so at the start of your letter so that the application doesn’t go astray.

7. Tailor your letter. Recruiters are impressed by evidence of research into their company’s goals, ethos and achievements. Remember that published accounts give important insights into the vision and direction of a company.

8. Be e-mail aware. Don’t give any reason for the recruiter to doubt you in your email correspondence ensure the grammar and spelling is accurate. Always attach the cover letter and don’t paste it in the body of the email that way when the recruiter prints you can be confident that the formating will be as you wanted.

9. No ifs or buts. Don’t point out any weaknesses and then attempt to justify yourself. You are giving them reasons to interview you, not excuses to bin you.

10. Sign off with confidence. Be upbeat and ask for an interview.  “I’ll expect your call” sounds overly confident but say that you hope to soon meet and discuss the role.

What not to write on your CV.

These are taken from real CVs and cover letters and were printed in the July 21, 1997 issue of Fortune Magazine.

1. “I demand a salary commiserate with my extensive experience.”

2. “I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreasheet progroms.”

3. “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”

4. “Wholly responsible for two failed financial institutions.”

5. “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”

6. “Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”

7. “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”

8. “Let’s meet , so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”

9. “You will want me to be Head Honcho in no time.”

10. “Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”

11. “I was working for my mum until she decided to move.”

12. “Marital status: single. Unmarried. Unengaged. Uninvolved. No commitments.”

13. “I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”

14. “I am loyal to my employer at all costs…Please feel free to respond to my resume on my office voice mail.”

15. “I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.”

16. “My goal is to be a meterologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”

17. “I procrastinate, especially when the task is unpleasant.”

18. “Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far.”

19. “As indicted, I have over five years of analyzing investments.”

20. “Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.”

21. “Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I have never quit a job.”

22. “Marital status: often. Children: various.”

23. “Reason for leaving last job: They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 am every morning. I couldn’t work under those conditions.”

24. “The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers.”

25. “Finished eighth in my class of ten.”

26. “References: none. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.”

The Basic Rules of Document Design

The most interesting of documents perhaps won’t even be read if they are badly designed. Clear design is just as important as good writing. The key is to grab the reader’s attention and make it easy for the content to keep it.

This is a brief outline of the role that design plays in good communication. The CV needs to make an instant impression and it is therefore useful to keep these points in mind when creating your document.

Give visual cues

Let your reader know where to start reading, and where to continue reading. Headings, subheadings, initial capitals, and even numbered paragraphs, can act as important signposts through the text. Visual cues must be consistent throughout your document.

Break up slabs of type

Long, grey “slabs” of type are like a long, boring speech, people tend to tune out. Break up your document with short headings. These help the reader to easily find the section they want. You can also break up your document with small graphics, as long as it doesn’t look messy.

Use lots of white space

White space is an important aid to legibility. Use wide margins and plenty of room at the top and bottom of your page. Give the reader room to absorb the information.

Choose a typeface for readability

Typefaces with a serif (small strokes at the end of characters) are generally easier to read than sans-serif typefaces.

A typeface’s “x-height” is another important factor in readability. The x-height is the height of letters such as x, a and e, which have no ascenders (like h) or descenders (like y), compared with capital letters or letters with ascenders. Typefaces with a larger x-height are easier to read than typefaces with a smaller x-height.

Choose clear typefaces for your main text. Quirky or unusual typefaces can add character to covers and headings, but when used for text they will make your document much harder to read.

Don’t shout!

Avoid overusing bold or italics.

And never set a whole sentence or paragraph in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Use of colour

Black type on a white background is always the easiest to read. Type on a shaded background has an important role in forms design, and headings or highlighted quotes can be effective on a coloured background. But black on white is by far the best option for your main text.

For interest or design reasons, you may want to use dark coloured type on white, or black type on a pale coloured background or coloured paper but every step away from black on white will decrease legibility.

The least legible colour scheme is white or coloured type on a black background.

Reading between the lines

Four interrelated factors affect the legibility of body text:

  • the line length
  • the type size
  • the space (or “leading”) between lines of type
  • the alignment of the right-hand side.

There’s a limit to the number of words that readers can comfortably follow in a line of type. If the lines are too long, readers tend to lose track. But if the lines are too short, the reading flow is interrupted too often.

Generous space between lines increases legibility. The extra white space helps readers stay on the line. If the lines of type are too close, readers may accidentally read the same line twice, or skip a line.

There’s an intimate relationship between line length, type size and space between lines. If you increase the length, you should also increase both the type size and the leading.

Setting text “flush left, ragged right” (so that the left-hand side of the page or column of type is straight, while the right-hand side is uneven) increases legibility. This is because the space between words stays even, and the eye “knows” immediately when it has come to the end of a line.

Conversely, “justifying” the type (where both sides of the column or page of type are straight) creates uneven gaps between words and sentences. These gaps interrupt the reading flow.

By following these basic points you will start to create documents with more impact and remember what is easy on the eye is easy on the mind.

5 Recession-Proof Careers

With the credit crunch continuing to negatively impact almost every industry out there, and frequent reports of major redundancies in the news, you would be justified in thinking that your financial stability might be at risk.  But there are some careers out there that will survive the recession unscathed, or even improved.  So, whether you are considering a switch from a volatile industry, or getting into the workplace for the first time, these are some of the safer areas that you might consider.

1. Public sector

Although economic downturns force commercial businesses to shed jobs and cut costs, the work of local and central government must continue.  Public sector jobs are generally safer than their private sector counterparts in any case, and this becomes particularly true during a recession.  The demand for jobs in teaching, the emergency services, and municipal administration is not generally affected by economic conditions, and this makes these jobs particularly secure during a downturn.

2. Security

Crime carries on no matter what the City is up to, and this makes jobs like police officers, private security guards and security experts more secure than most during the current economic problems.  Redundancies in this area are extremely rare.

3. Nursing

The demand for nurses is higher than ever, and with an aging population and a shortage of qualified nurses, it is likely to stay that way for decades into the future.  If you are looking for a career change, nursing should be high on your list since once you are properly qualified you will be in high demand wherever you go.  As with crime, the rates of illness and injury do not slow down in line with the markets, and so demand for nurses – and other health professionals – tends to be steady during recessions.

4. Energy

Although consumers are cutting back their use of energy, they are not going to cut it out altogether.  And with oil still above $100 a barrel, profits in the energy industry are as high as ever.  In fact, energy is such a critical issue for the global economy that this sector is likely to see strong growth going forward.  All jobs related to this industry, including oil, gas, solar, wind, and nuclear are safe bets for the future.

5. Auditing

Sound financial management is more crucial than ever in harsh economic climates.  Auditors can actively help a company eliminate sources of financial waste, and find ways to trim costs in order to keep a company profitable.  Since the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations came into force the issue of regulatory compliance has become ever more complicated, and this job sector has seen significant growth in recent years.  It is unlikely to slow down.

While these industries are among the most recession-proof out there, no job is 100% safe.  Even if you fall within one of the five categories listed above you cannot afford to be complacent.  Make sure you stay proactive about your career by keeping your CV current and in good order, and by building a professional network on which you can fall back in times of trouble.  During a recession it is more important than ever to take personal branding and presentation seriously.