Blog Posts


How to Deal With a Difficult Interview

Picture this: you’re at an interview, it’s all going well, but then, a question comes out the interviewer’s mouth that stops you dead in your tracks. ‘Oh my god,’ you think to yourself. ‘How on earth do I answer this without looking like a fool?’ Your cheeks resemble tomatoes and you wish the ground could just swallow you up; you know this is going to be mentally painful but you don’t know what else you can do. Well, whether it’s a tough question or an interview that feels more like a Mexican standoff, here’s how you can handle these difficult interview scenarios.

Scenario 1: The question is difficult to answer

As mentioned previously, there’s always that one question that will throw you off in an interview, but there are plenty of ways you can take this daunting situation head on. Firstly, you need to prepare before an interview. This is an absolute must and although it may be an obvious answer for many, you can never be too prepared. You need to research the company, who’s interviewing you, and common interview questions that are asked – write a short set of notes to help you answer those questions. 

As most interviews follow a pretty standard format, you can always expect questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘why should we hire you’ so these are essential questions to prepare for.

Even if you prepare for the questions you may face, you may still find yourself in a bind if you haven’t covered a certain question. The key here is to not immediately start talking as you may not provide the right answer and just start rambling on. Instead, try to compliment the interviewer on their question and politely ask if you can have a minute to think about your answer. Most of the time, they will be happy to oblige, giving you ample breathing room to calm down and think about your answer. However, be careful not to use this tactic too often in any interview as it can begin to look disingenuous. But when it is used correctly, it can allow you to think of an answer, and you may score some points with the interviewer so it’s always worth a try.

Additionally, never forget essential frameworks for answering questions such as the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method, this can help you talk off-the-cuff when a question arises that you may not have prepared for. Learning a framework such as STAR can make the interview process standardized and therefore less stressful. 

Scenario 2: The Interviewer Is Difficult

At some point, everyone will encounter an interviewer that may be cold, rude or even hostile towards you. These kinds of situations are incredibly jarring and can exacerbate an already stressful process, but you don’t have to let these types of people knock your confidence during an interview.

Firstly, try to find something in common with them, ask them questions and see if they become more receptive to you, they might just be having an awful day so don’t take it personally if they’re initially cold towards you. 

However, you may very well encounter an interviewer that wouldn’t go amiss in a police interrogation scene. The barrage of questions or constantly poking holes in your CV or answers can devastate your confidence, but the key here is to remain calm, breathe deeply, stay neutral in your responses and under no circumstances should you respond in anger. Show the interviewer your patience, grace and tact and they may well warm up to you. On the other hand, keep in mind that they may just be having a bad day as well so don’t take it personally, try to use it as a way to determine whether it’s the company that could be causing this or it’s just a personal matter as this can help you ascertain if you really want to work for that particular business. 

Finally, if you think there is a legitimate reason that the interviewer is trying to demean you or ask questions that are unethical, do not be afraid to end the interview early. You don’t have to deal with those kinds of situations if you think it’s not beneficial to the interview or to yourself, but always remember to be polite when pursuing this route, you may find another job at the same company down the line and that could affect your future prospects, so keep your emotions neutral.

Scenario 3: The Interview is Not Going Well… At All… How Do I Recover?

Oh no, the interview has been a farce from start to finish, nothing seems to be going your way. Even if the interviewer is accommodating it can still feel like you’re failing. However, even when this feels like it’s the case, it’s usually blown out of proportion. But that doesn’t matter when you’re in the heat of the moment so start off by asking for a quick break so you can have some water and flick through your notes. Try to find ways to ground yourself such as a deep breath or use the five second rule to halt any form of catastrophizing. Once you have that in place pay close attention to your notes but make sure you maintain enough eye contact as to not look unprepared; nerves are fine and understandable but appearing unprepared can torpedo your chances.

Secondly, try to view each fumble or bad interview as a learning opportunity, you’ll have plenty of interviews after this one and after each one you’ll become adept at how interviews go and therefore you can fine-tune your answers to impress another company down the line — remember confidence comes with time!

What is most important in this section to avoid negative self-talk. This will cloud your ability to improve yourself from interview to interview and when hunting for a job can feel like you’re in limbo you shouldn’t be adding fuel to that grim fire. If you want to nip those feelings in the bud ask the interviewer how you did, most will be happy to provide feedback – even if it’s negative – that can help 

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Interview Skills’ course?

How to Learn at Work in the Most Effective Way Possible

The world of work is changing rapidly when it comes to professional development. It’s common for professionals to be expected to do more with fewer resources. This is why it is so important to be able to learn at work in a way that is efficient and effective, as it will help you avoid stress and being overwhelmed.

At work, especially when starting a new job, not only do you need to perform tasks on hand, but you also need to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge to sustain your career, advance, and improve your work performance. When you feel too busy to upgrade your skills, how do you make time to learn at work?

Continuous learning impacts your employability. It is essential to show employers your willingness to stay updated or even ahead of trends in your work life. Your ability to think critically, be agile in learning, and consistently apply what you learn is critical in a constantly changing economy.

Identify your learning goals

Here are a few questions that will help you identify your learning goals:

  • Why do you want to learn?
  • What do you want to learn?
  • What knowledge or skills can help advance your career?
  • What knowledge or skills can help enhance your work performance?
  • What do you need in order to grow in your career and as a person?

Consider feedback or comments from your peers, managers, and stakeholders. There is no limit to what you can learn. The learning can range from technical to interpersonal skills.

Take concrete action

You need to take control. If you’re not invested in your own learning, no one else will be. This means you’ll need to take steps to take ownership of your learning.

Taking action comes in different forms for different learners . For example, asking your manager for extra tasks or to be considered for a project can be good steps to take.

People learn more when they take initiative. Show others that you are a continuous and willing learner, they will likely see your growth and be more likely to invest their time and resources into you.

Make learning a habit

Set realistic and achievable goals. Commit to your goal and stick to it as the learning won’t benefit you if you abandon your goal part way through. A good way of sticking by your goals is to find an accountability partner, so they are aware of your goals and can keep you on course if you start to fray away from your intended goals.

Budget time to learn at work

You need to make a conscious effort to learn at work. This means setting time aside in order to complete some of your learning.

Make sure you learn in bite sized pieces to make it more manageable in the long run. Usually an average of 15 minutes a day is sufficient and effective enough learning to help what you have learned stick with you.

We all know that life happens and sometimes you may feel too busy to learn. However, by being mindful of what is important to you and making it a priority in your calendar, you are reminded to turn a learning habit into a routine. 

Learn on the job

A common misconception is that the majority of learning happens in the classroom. However, 30 years of research in leadership development has proven that 70% of learning happens on the job.

Here are 6 specific ways to learn on the job:

Stretch assignments

Once you have identified a learning objective you can find stretch assignments that can facilitate your learning.

For example, if you’ve identified that building relationships is something that you need to work on, you may want to seek projects that involve multiple people that maybe you haven’t worked properly with before.

Create new experiences

Whatever knowledge base you are trying to expand, trying to find new experiences related to your learning goal will help you improve massively.

Review the strategic direction of your organisation for development ideas. New experiences can entail activities such as new client opportunities, more cross functional partnerships, job shadowing or job rotations.

Learn from others

Learning from others is a simple and easy way to pick up quick tips and skills.

Heighten observation skills

The next time you’re sitting in a meeting, what do you notice about the presenter? What do you see in their body language? What do you notice about the participants in the meeting? What lessons did you learn from the meeting that you can apply the next time you run one?

Observe someone who inspires you

Maybe this person is an effective project developer or seems to navigate workplace conflict with ease. What is it about this person that inspires you? What leadership behaviours does this person show, and how do they act on a daily basis?

Learn from you manager

We’ve all had managers that were remarkable and those that are unforgivable. What qualities do you want to exhibit? What qualities are better left behind?

Learn from your peers

Notice the strengths of every peer on your team. What do they do well? How do they contribute to the team?

Ask questions

There is a lot to learn in any organisation. When you ask questions you are clarifying and seeking to better understand the situation and people involved. The information you gather expands your mind and knowledge. Try asking more open ended questions that prompt a more descriptive and in depth answer than a closed question would.

Find a mentor or trusted advisor

We all need someone who we can talk things out with in order to learn at work. A mentor or trusted advisor can provide you with a safe space to express your feelings without being judged.

Share the steps and actions you have taken to improve your learning with your mentor. This is a great starting point to show your mentor where you are at with your learning and what you have already accomplished. It can also be good grounds for your mentor to help you build a good plan moving forward.

Remember your mentor’s time is valuable. Show them that you have invested in yourself and tried to make improvements on your own first.

Get support

Let your manager know that you welcome chances for learning. They will likely have access to on the job opportunities that are aligned with your learning needs.

Keeping them updated on your learning progress can also support your performance goals. This will give you an opportunity to tweak your learning goals based on your career aspirations and their observations of your performance.

Summary

You need to be very intentional about your own learning. The most effective way to learn at work is on the job. This means you need to identify your learning goals, create a learning habit, and identify on the job experiences that will effectively facilitate your learning.

No one can take knowledge away from you. It’s in your own interest to continue to grow and develop yourself. Learn with a beginners mindset, stay curious, and keep your assumptions at bay to gain new perspectives.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on one of our ‘Work and Life Skills’ courses?

The Importance and Benefits of Learning at Work

Introduction

Learning and development in the workplace have always played a critical role in the fast changing world. It has taken on a prominent role in the hybrid workplace. It has also forced the development of learning prototypes rapidly. 

By learning new skills, you can stay ahead and keep well-informed about industry trends. However, knowing something new-fangled at work can come across as a challenge to some. Lets understand why workplace learning is essential and how you can simplify the learning curve, ensuring continuous growth and learning.

Why is it important?

Developing new skills is crucial for several reasons. Acquiring new skills is necessary for improving leadership and building a positive and healthy work culture. In addition, upskilling employees can also help companies avoid the costs they incur from a lack of communication, absenteeism, low quality work, and ultimately losing good talent.

Have you ever given a thought, why are learning and development important for employees? Given the shift in the balance the pandemic has created, learning in the workplace, regardless of their industry or market position, is among the top five priorities for most organisations. Hence, in these cases, learning and development must be more strategic and proactive to ensure holistic development.

While the nature of work and workplaces are already changing, the pandemic has fast-forwarded many aspects. The shift to remote working has driven the human race to reimagine how businesses and people operate when virtual meetings are the only way to go. Despite all the challenges, the new normal is to provide an opportunity to improve them wherever they are.

Benefits

Everyday all you need is just 15 minutes to obtain new expert skills. But why is learning new things important, particularly at work? Well, the benefits are ample. Learning and development in the workplace can help you keep up with the industry trends and stay pertinent. Adding new skills is sure to help you stay alert and very sharp.

Many employees want to have better skills at work. But how does this happen? And what is the most significant way to go about it? Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to this. Of course, you can’t attain the skills needed for work by simply reading and observing others.

You cannot become a professional athlete by reading books on sport or watching tournaments or games on TV. You must be aligned, committed, and desire the change. Feedback and practice would help develop and hone your new skills better than any book or TV program.

How to improve training and development in the workplace

Encourage a mindset of learning

Encouraging and boosting yourself to learn and upskill yourself at the most needed time will help you grow and automatically evolve. All you need is to embrace yourself with the change and set your mind to learn.

Begin the learning process right

If you are interested in moulding yourself and learning a new skill set at your workplace, treat it as an initiative to change and not as an event or forced task. Your learning should start with high relevance to the business or job, people, and your industry.

It is all up to you to build your skills. In your own interest, it is best to invest time and energy to learn fresh skills compared to all the other priorities on your plate. You will personally have to understand how new skills will take you to the next steps at work, your team, and the organisation as a whole.

Impart skills that are lacking

Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that there is a better way to do things, such as learning how certification could help you develop and hone yourself. Do a SWOT analysis, get to know where you are lacking, and focus on those skills to better yourself.

Learn one skill at a time. It is vital that you set short-term goals and complete them one by one to master them. Also, it is not an easy feat to learn and upskill. But it is very crucial.

Apply what you have learned

You should not stop with just learning. You will have to apply whatever you have learned in your workplace for your betterment. It could be anything like problem solving skills, time management, or any technical skills.

Accept feedback

It is vital that you accept feedback from your higher officials about how you have been performing and improving yourself in the areas you lack. Feedback in the right spirit should always be well received- especially if you are looking forward to learning and growing.

While learning and development in the workplace are essential, it is equally important to accept the feedback positively to improve yourself in the workplace when there is an obstacle in learning a new skill.

Summary

You are the difference! You can bring change into the place you work by bringing change to yourself. Focus, time and energy are the thumb rules to learn and develop the inner you.

As companies are looking for the best out of their employees then working with maximum efficiency, learning and development is the need of the hour. They can give a company a competitive advantage, improve work culture and even positively affect its bottom line.

As the avenues for traditional upskilling are ruptured, there is a lot of shift towards on-the-job learning, training, and mentoring. While companies do not mandate non-structured learning, it is also a crucial part of learning in any hybrid workspace. It can give insights into interest areas, study patterns, and also engaging formats.

In the context of remote working, businesses are becoming more conscious of dwindling engagement levels among workforces. Social learning is becoming a much more ordinary part of the agenda and is an effective approach.

And now, it is your turn! If you are determined to learn and upskill yourself, then it is time to go ahead and hone yourself.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on one of our ‘Life and Work Skills’ courses?

How to Follow up after an Interview

It’s important to let your potential employer know that you are still interested in the position or interested in how the application process is going. But it is important that you know how to approach that situation properly without hassling the recruiter and coming across as a nuisance as that will only hinder your application and not help it.

Address by name

Every organisation and employer is different. Regardless it’s important to identify whom you would like to follow up with. Make sure you spell their name correctly. While the hiring process may look simple, it’s not as easy as it seems. Depending on the company, it can take rounds of approvals and heaps to push a candidate through the next step.

Express thanks and gratitude

It’s important that you start the email off by thanking the person who conducted your interview for their time and that you are grateful for the opportunity. You will appear more likeable and friendly by the employer if you begin your email like this, which could potentially put you slightly ahead of the competition and make you stand out if no one else does the same.

Reiterate your interest

Once you’ve thanked the person for their time, you will need to reiterate your interest. Mention both the job and the company – and why you’re excited about the opportunity. Make sure you also mention when you interviewed and the exact job role you interviewed for. If you’re communicating with a recruiter, it’s likely they’re juggling multiple candidates and open positions. It will be helpful to them if you remember to mention what position you interviewed for and when.

Be direct

Ask about the status of the position you’ve interviewed for and inquire about the next steps involved in your application process. You may want to offer additional information to the recruiter such as any references you may have that will push you ahead of other candidates. Finally, close your email with another note of gratitude.

Proofread

Before you hit send, you would need your email to be proofread to make sure no mistakes have slipped through whilst you have been typing the email. Either you could proofread it yourself or you can ask someone else to do it for you. Sometimes it’s best if someone else does it because it is a fresh set of eyes on your email and they would be best suited to pick out any mistakes in your email. 

What to look for

Obviously you will need to check for spelling or grammatical errors, which should stand out to you instantly due to your computer being able to recognise most spelling mistakes but sometimes if you have put a word in the wrong place your computer won’t be able to pick up on it. Also using the wrong version of words that are very similar like “their, there or they’re” could also be missed by your device so it’s important to look for those as well. Tone of voice is also something to double check. You’ll want to make sure your email is coming off as positive, eager and interested but that can also sometimes slip into frustration or impatience if you’re not careful.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Interview Skills’ course?

The Value of Time Management and How to Manage it

It goes without saying that time is a valuable resource. As deadlines are pending and goals are set, it can often feel like there isn’t enough time in the day, which is why time management is such an important part of our professional and personal development. 

However, when we have both personal and professional obligations, it can be a struggle to work out what to prioritise and how to give each task the attention it requires. But when we effectively manage our time, we can take control of our to-do lists. Efficient time management has a lot of positives, whether that be increased productivity, less stress, or more professional opportunities to advance!

But how can we effectively manage our time? Here’s a few tips to help you organise your time:

Know when you are most productive 

As you work, it is likely that you can identify a period of time in which you work most effectively. You could be a morning person or an evening person, but identifying your most productive time of day can help you devise a more constructive schedule by allocating your most important tasks to your most productive time of day. By giving your prioritised tasks that productive period, it becomes more likely that you will make significant progress and as a result, have more time to tick off all the other items on your to-do list.

Make time for YOU! 

Whilst it is important to acknowledge your most productive hours of the day, it is just as important, if not more so, to ensure you are making time to rest and practise self-care. When you effectively manage your time, with schedules and organised plans, the chances of feeling burnt out are lessened, but that does not make scheduling time for rest any less necessary. Scheduling time to engage with hobbies or relax on the sofa is effective time management in itself, and it will undoubtedly improve your motivation by giving you the rest you need to apply yourself to your work and give it your best effort. It is important to remember that you don’t need to chain yourself to your desk! 

Make your own deadlines!

It can be extremely useful to look to the future and setting your own deadlines that precede the official end date. By setting your own deadlines for a week or two before you are required to finish, you will then have sufficient time to deal with any potential issues and make amendments that improve the overall quality of your work. Incorporating this into your schedule will allow you to be ahead of the game and reduce the stress that comes with impending deadlines. Future you will be grateful for the foresight you had when you put together your schedule!

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Everyday Time Management’ course?

Are Online Interviews Here To Stay?

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition of many conveniences such as greater availability of contactless payments, online shopping, and much more. However, it has also significantly changed the employment landscape as evidenced by the staggering number of companies opting for their employees to work from home. On the other hand, it is not just current workers that have experienced change but those that have been searching for a new role. The increasingly online nature of job hunting has led to online interviews becoming a necessity if companies wish to employ new workers while restrictions to our interactions are still in place. With that in mind, will online interviews remain a prominent fixture after restrictions are lifted? Let’s find out.

The Preference For Online Interviews

Firstly, online interviews are not a recent concept in the hiring process, many highly successful companies use online interviewing to streamline their recruitment activities. This is especially prevalent within graduate schemes as the sheer number of applicants would make interviewing every single candidate in a physical space a daunting task. Secondly, the flexibility of being able to interview from any location allows for candidates to still make an excellent impression without the need to spend money and time commuting to locations. The convenience of online interviews can also lead to much shorter lead times when trying to hire a candidate as one of the major reasons a candidate leaves the hiring process is because it is moving slowly. Many candidates move on in about 2 weeks so being able to remove that barrier of physically meeting a potential hire can mean the world of difference if they are the ideal fit for your company. In short, online recruitment that was made a necessity by the pandemic will not just be for safety purposes, but also for convenience and efficiency.

However, this is not to say that online interviewing will eclipse the traditional face-to-face interview. As restrictions have been lifted many smaller businesses will want their staff to return to their offices. In comparison, many larger companies such as Aviva have taken the decision to allow for a more flexible hybrid working arrangement allowing for a split in office and from-home working. Therefore, companies may look to become more flexible towards candidate needs by allowing them to choose the medium that suits them best. To be frank, in-person interviews do come with their perks regardless of the extra required by both candidates and businesses.

The Preference For In-Person Interviews

In comparison to online interviews, in-person interviews carry a unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

As much as we rely on technology for the majority of our lives, high-speed internet and a working knowledge of technology are not universal. The simplicity of in-person interviews offers a level of inclusion for older or technologically disadvantaged people who may struggle setting up an online interview. In addition, the physicality of in-person interviews also allows for candidates to wow an employee, not just by your experience and knowledge but your looks and demeanor alone. Though, how you walk into the interview to levels of eye contact can mean all the difference. This is somewhat limited in online interviews and therefore can hamper some candidates who are able to shine when meeting interviewers in person.

However, in-person interviews come with their caveats; one of them is its time constraints. Interviews can take a while to set up and take away a lot of valuable productivity and time from a typical working day. While online interviews offer the ability to interview from the comfort of your own desk, in person interviews require rooms to be available and certain colleagues to be available for the majority of the day. Secondly, the time between conducting an interview and potentially offering a candidate a position can mean the difference between hiring a skilled employee or losing them to another company. One more pressing issue which has been discussed amongst sociologists and HR experts is that interviews can become a hotbed of discrimination. Individual biases can affect the response of either participant due to race, religion, gender, disability, etc. This situation can persist within online interviews if cameras are used so it can be a detriment to online interviews but with in-person interviews, there’s no way to avoid it. Well, unless you placed a screen between both participants, that shouldn’t be a long term solution to a complex problem such as societal/workplace discrimination. 

In conclusion, online interviews are not a fad brought on by the pandemic, rather it has accelerated its inevitable adoption. This doesn’t mean the end of in-person interviews as there will always be hiring managers who prefer the traditional methods of hiring. It is more the case now that hiring managers have greater flexibility to manage the hiring process efficiently as they see fit. For candidates, online interviews also allow greater flexibility, reduced travel costs, and decreased response time that make online interviews an increasingly viable option. In all likelihood we will see further adoption or even replacement for online interviews, but are traditional hiring practices going anywhere? Not a chance.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Interview Skills’ course?

A Time Management Guide

Introduction

Time management affects all aspects of your life. From getting to appointments on time, achieving your goals, meeting work deadlines, or even making world book day clothes for your kids, how organised you are affects how well you spend your time. A lot of people will write themselves a to-do list, without taking into account how much attention and time a task will take, as well as not including how much time they actually have available

To understand how much time you have available to you, you must understand a range of factors including when are you doing house chores? What are you doing whilst commuting? How much time is spent on social media? How much time is spent with loved ones? And are you getting enough sleep and exercise?

Stress

Stress is strongly related to time management. There are many common causes of stress in this manner, such as feeling you don’t have enough time to get your tasks completed, missing deadlines and feeling as if you’ve let people down, or maybe missing an appointment. Stress can come in two forms: Behavioural and Physical. It can be triggered through a lack of control, excessive change, overload panic, and vagueness or ambiguity. Mindfulness is a strong tactic to give you clarity and strongly reduce stress.

Attention Management

Attention management is getting tasks completed according to your attention levels. Everyone’s attention levels differ at different times of the day, week, or even month. Attention can be classed in 3 ways: Proactive attention, which is when you are alert and find it easy to complete the most complex decision making or tasks. Active attention: which is where you’re ticking along, but can be easily distracted. And Inactive attention: which is where you struggle to get things done and your attention is flagging. It is important you recognise your attention levels and what they are so that you can schedule your tasks accordingly. 

Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is one of the hardest elements of time management. The art of self-discipline is delayed gratification, in which you put off what you would like to do in favour of doing what you need to so as to have fun later. It takes as little as 21 days to form a habit of self-discipline.

Goals

Goals are important as they give you something to work towards. Without setting goals, we don’t know what the most important task we should be doing is, and as such we are just firefighting without moving forwards. To set goals, it is best to imagine that there are no limitations on what you can be or what you can do. Look 1, 5, 10, and 25 years into the future and plan what you want to have achieved in that time, such as income; family, health, and net worth.

You should always write down your goals, as those who write down their aspirations are 53% more likely to achieve them. A lot of people who have gained success (financially or otherwise) create a mood board with images of their life goals, and display it somewhere it can be seen daily. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound (SMART), and when you are writing them down make sure to write them as if they are already completed. Also, ensure to begin your goals with ‘I’, and ensure it has a timeframe, as it helps your brain recognise them as something that you want to do. For Example, “I want to lose 3 stone by the 31st of December.”

3 Inbox System

Managing your Email inbox is key to managing your time. The 3 inbox system helps to keep your emails less cluttered and makes it easier to keep your unread emails at 0. It is important to clear your inbox as it is a major distraction when you are pinged with an email and have to take time to read it and think of a solution. Whilst receiving an email gives us a sense of productivity and busyness, it can very quickly lead to information overload and ends up as a detriment to your actual productivity. 

This system is a solid way to break out of old habits, forcing discipline and decisiveness which leads to making difficult decisions as soon as the email is read, reducing the time you take to think about the email, and increasing clarity on your work and a reduction in stress and overload. Once your inbox is in a free state with no unread emails, it is very easy to keep it that way.

The 3 inbox system is rather simple. When you first receive the email, you decide if you need it or if it needs deleting. If you need the email but cannot deal with it at that moment, you can file it away for later. If the task can be completed within 2 minutes, then deal with it immediately. If there is no action to be taken, you can file it away or delegate it to someone else. 

The 3 inbox system requires, coincidentally, 3 folders to sort the mail into.

  • Act – this is where you put emails that won’t take longer than 2 minutes to action, and shouldn’t include non-email related processes. 
  • Read – this folder contains emails which take longer than 2 minutes to read, and that contain vital information.
  • Wait – this is a store of emails you are waiting on (from other people or companies) that leads to a conclusion.

You can also create other folders, such as Finance; Confirmations; Personal; Newsletters; Misc. etc,  but only if absolutely necessary. Ensure that you don’t have folders within folders, and use the search or organise functions if you have to.

Don’t spend hours clearing your inbox, be ruthless! If you accidentally delete something important, don’t worry as someone will let you know. When you reach 3 inboxes, you are effectively at Ground Zero. and, if your emails do begin to build up again, take some time to clear them. This will let you know how many emails you actually have to action, read, or wait on.

The Empty Jar

“A Philosophy professor stood before his class with a large empty jar, a pile of rocks, a pile of pebbles, and a jar of sand. When the class began, he wordlessly began to fill the jar with rocks. Then, he asked the students if the jar was full.

The students all agreed that yes, the jar was full.

The professor then picked up the pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly until the pebbles had taken up all the space between the rocks, and then asked his students the same question.

Chuckling, the students agreed that the jar was now full.

The professor then picked up the jar of sand and poured it into the large jar. The sand proceeded to fill the remaining space in the jar. The professor than looks toward the class and says

‘Now I want you to recognise that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as Family, Health and Relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the “small stuff” and material possessions.’

“If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives; if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important” ‘

To-Do Lists

To-Do lists may come in many forms, however, they all take the same 3 actions to create:

  • Record – Collect all the tasks into one pile
  • Places – Look where all the tasks could be ‘Lurking away’, I.E. bags and sticky notes
  • Make a Pile – Write them all onto fresh strips of paper and pile them all up. 

Once you have made the final pile, you may feel either a sense of relief or feel overwhelmed. If overwhelmed, going forward make sure you keep your task input points local to one place so you don’t have to keep digging around for them.

As with the 3 inbox system, once you have the large pile of paper you must decide whether to Delegate (pass to someone else), Delete (remove the task entirely) or Complete (do the task within 2 minutes). Once you have completed this, you may be left with a fourth pile that doesn’t fit into any of these categories. With this extra pile, apply the above story and sort the tasks into Rocks and Pebbles. You should deal with the ‘Pebbles’ first, which are single tasks that require minimal effort to complete. For example, posting a letter or picking up a prescription. Once the ‘Pebbles’ are dealt with, move onto the ‘Rocks’. These ‘Rocks’ are larger tasks or projects that require a number of smaller tasks to complete, such as looking for a job. You should tackle these Projects from the ground up, as completing all the smaller tasks will lead to the completion of the project as a whole.

Once you have processed the tasks into Pebbles and Rocks, you need to categorise how much attention each task requires into High, Normal, and Low. For example, a Low attention task is something like making a phone call. Once the attention required to complete the task is decided, you can then sort them by the place they need to be completed (Work, Home, or Office). Once the place and attention required is sorted, you need to plan the order the tasks can be completed in. For example, deciding what shopping needs to be done -> go shopping -> put away shopping

Finally, you have to go through the tasks that you must complete and see if there is anyone you have to speak about the task with (such as asking your S/O what they want for tea that night). You need to ensure you can talk to the person about any items from your list.

A final note, there is a strong difference between urgency and importance. A task that can be put off the most is important but not urgent, whereas a task that needs to be done now but isn’t vital is urgent but not important, I.E going to the shop for milk.

Planning

It is a good idea to create a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual plan. This is where you look at how your year is planned out and how your big goals are highlighted. You should also make sure you plan a holiday and family time, plan around the seasons/peaks & troughs of work, or even the school term if you have children. You should ensure that you plan milestones for your large projects, and if possible break down your larger projects into monthly goals. 

Remember: for every minute you spend planning it saves you 10 minutes in the execution. Try to create a weekly plan and include calendar updates, input points, any big tasks that need completing, ensuring your To-Do list is up to date, and prepare everything you need for the week going forward. Remember to block your time as well, setting chunks of time aside to focus on work and get it completed whilst planning. See below graphic for an idea of a weekly plan:

Ensure you also assign time to check and process emails, and if possible batch your tasks together to make them easier to complete. If it isn’t possible to batch your tasks then make sure you are only working on one task at a time to avoid burnout. When completing your tasks, do the big ones first as that makes the whole day seem better. It is also important to only schedule half your day or week with tasks, as it provides room for contingencies and errors that need correcting. 

With daily planning, it is best to do it the night before. Use calendar events and check if anything needs clarifying before it can be completed. You should see if you are waiting on anything from another party before a task can be completed. Also, be sure to highlight the main task you want to finish the next day and make sure the plan of action is crystal clear.

On a final note, make sure you are focusing on the task at hand but don’t overdo it. Ensure you take time for your brain to decompress – especially in high complexity situations. The “Pomodoro” technique is particularly good for managing your time. This technique is where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute breather. Once this has been repeated 4 times, you reward yourself with a 15 minute break to relax and reward yourself. 

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Everyday Time Management’ course?

6 Vital Tips for Developing Mindfulness

Introduction

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, whilst calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It is often used as a therapeutic technique, as a way to reduce any stress you are currently having. Many people forget, however, that mindfulness is just as effective in the workplace as it is in your own personal life.

How Sleep affects Wellness

Sleep is crucial to maintaining good physical and mental health. However, approximately ⅓ of the UK adult population suffer from insomnia, approximately ⅔ suffer from heavily disrupted sleep, and approximately ¼ get 5 hours of sleep or less a night. A strong factor in having a poor sleep pattern is workplace stressors. And yet, despite how heavily a lack of sleep can affect the workplace, it is very rarely discussed. 

A continuous lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure; heart disease; or even strokes. It also lowers your ability to create high quality work, as well as lowers your capability for making and remembering important decisions. You can, however, improve your sleep pattern in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Adding in an extra hour or two of sleep
  • Where possible, allow your body to wake up naturally – Don’t force yourself awake!
  • Set a regular time to go to sleep and wake up
  • Wind down before bed – no electronic devices!
  • Ensure you have a clear sleep environment – without any work related distractions
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol consumption before bed – you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night!
  • Finally, try to avoid eating a large meal right before you sleep, as that will keep you awake.

Self-Care, at Work and at Home

Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health and is often seen as a way to maintain the health and wellness of a person by helping to manage any and all stressors they may encounter. Self care can be done through superficial practices, such as taking a bath, or it can be somewhat “self-destructive”, such as avoiding social situations in favour of staying home alone. Ultimately, it’s a variety of different things that can be done both in and out of the workplace to help your mental and physical health. Self-Care can also help to boost your Nutrition, your Hygiene, and your Medical Care.

There are a lot of ways to Self-Care at work, none of which affect your productivity. For example: 

  • Building a supportive culture with your work colleagues
  • Introducing mindfulness into group activities, such as group yoga or meditation
  • Wellness check-ins – allow staff to self-assess their mental wellbeing
  • Employee assistance programs – whether that is joining one or making one yourself!
  • Don’t sit still or stand in one spot for too long – walk around and stretch your legs!
  • If you get a little peckish, eat a healthy snack
  • Take breaks from your computer! – if this isn’t possible, get some Blue Light glasses!

It is also a good idea to practice self care at home, and here are some more quick techniques for looking after yourself:

  • Schedule your week so that you can take time for yourself
  • Clean your space, whether that’s your bedroom, your office space, or your whole house!
  • Exercise outside! – even something as simple as a walk!
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Talk to your friends and family!
  • Put your phone on silent and relax away from technology!

Mental Health in the Workplace

1 out of every 4 people will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives. However, employees tend to shy away from discussing their problems with their colleagues or employers, and although it isn’t a requirement to do so, it is often more helpful to both you and your employer than keeping them in the dark about it!

However, it is very important to talk to somebody about your mental health. From personal experience, feeling as if you can’t talk about your issues with another makes you feel a lot worse, let alone isolated. Talking with someone about these issues helps you to feel supported and understood, and it has the added benefit of allowing your workplace to make reasonable adjustments to help you. It is required by law for your employer to make adjustments for their worker’s mental health. If you do decide to ask them for some of these adjustments, here are a few good topics to consider:

  • Who you would like to speak to
  • How do you want to have the conversation
  • Check whether you need to arrange a specific time beforehand
  • How much information you would like to share

Remember, you don’t need to make excuses or justify your feelings to your employer, however you *can* ask them for any changes you may think of, such as:

  • Change in working location
  • Change in working hours
  • Spending time working from home
  • Taking time off work to seek treatment
  • Reallocating tasks that you find stressful or difficult

Workplace Stress

No matter how much you enjoy your job, there will always be some sort of work-related stress that you have to deal with. This can be caused by a deadline coming up or a scheduled presentation you have to give. Long term stress can lead to depression, anxiety and a severely decreased state of mind if you don’t have the right coping mechanisms. 

There are many factors that can cause stress at work, including: 

  • An excessive workload
  • No opportunity to grow within the company
  • A lack of engaging or challenging work
  • A lack of social support
  • Unclear performance expectations

Stress can have both physical and mental effects, such as headaches, stomachaches, difficulty sleeping, and a weakened immune system. It can also lead to more serious health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or even heart disease. Excess stress can also lead to the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating or substance abuse.

However, there’s no reason to fret! There are some really good ways to manage your stress levels and keep the above issues from happening. It can be as simple as keeping a weekly diary, in which you identify any stressful situations and come up with healthier responses. Going outside for a walk or starting a new hobby is also an excellent way to reduce any stress. Furthermore, establishing a healthy work-life balance and not checking any work emails or work duties is a good way at managing stress, as is not working too late.

Workplace Relationships

During our working lives, we will often find that we can create and maintain positive working relationships with our colleagues and managers. This, however, is unfortunately not always the case and you may find yourself dealing with a particularly difficult coworker or manager at some point in your life.

If you are having difficulty with a work colleague, it is best that you begin by actively discussing the issue with the person privately, and see if you can resolve it before it gets out of hand. If the issue persists, or if they refuse to discuss it, at that point you take it to your manager. It is vital that you don’t gossip about the issue to others as it comes off as childish and unprofessional. 

If you are having difficulty with someone in a managerial position, it can feel a lot more complex, however in reality it’s still as simple as dealing with a coworker. Whilst it may be because they’re incompetent, because they create a culture of bullying, or because they show favour to other coworkers and assign you more work than you can do, you should try to organise a one-on-one meeting with them to try and talk through the issue with solutions you may have thought up. If you feel the issue has either gone too far or gone on too long, then it is best to contact another manager or the HR representative of your company for advice. 

Remember – not everybody is going to like you in the workplace. So long as you are polite and friendly, it will minimise the damage. You can also contact ACAS, a free service that resolves interpersonal relationships in the workplace if the above tips do not help.

Bullying & Harassment

You may think that since you have left school you don’t have to worry about bullying anymore. Unfortunately, bullying in the workplace is just as prevalent as bullying in the schoolyard. It can be obvious and in your face, or subtle and hard to notice. If you do feel like you’re being bullied, it is a good idea to review your workplace’s bullying policy. If you cannot find one, remember your employer is legally required to ensure you are protected from bullying. Here are some steps to take if you feel you are being bullied:

  • Make an attempt to speak to the person and resolve the issue quickly
  • Record any evidence you can, such as dates, times, and witnesses
  • Discuss the issue with someone you feel comfortable with, providing the evidence you have gathered.

If none of the above steps helps in reducing bullying, then you should consider making a formal complaint to your workplace. 

There is also a difference between bullying and harassment. Whilst bullying is just being mean, harassment is when the bullying becomes about a characteristic that is legally protected under the Equality Act of 2010. This includes Race, Age, Religion / Belief, Gender, Pregnancy, Disability, Sexual Orientation, Sexual Harassment, and Sexism. If you feel you are being unfairly treated because of one of these factors, then it is legally classed as discrimination. 

If you report any bullying, harassment, or discrimination to your workplace then you can expect a few things to happen. First, you should create a “Grievance Letter”, which details what the issue is, how it made you feel, and how it has affected your work. In this letter, you should also include all of the evidence you have collected. After this letter has been given to your employer, you can expect them to set up a “Grievance Meeting” where they will discuss the matter in depth with you. Once the meeting has ended, they may require some time to investigate or come to a decision however they will let you know as soon as a decision has been made.

Resilience

Resilience is the psychological strength to cope with difficult situations and adapt to what happens in life, as well as the ability to bounce back from them whether in the workplace or at home. Some people are more naturally resilient than others, due to them developing the correct social, emotional, and academic skills early in life. These people don’t necessarily experience less distress, they just have a good way to deal with it. 

There are some really good ways to build your resilience to any given situation, starting with reframing your thought process to look at negative situations realistically. Some other ways to increase your resilience are:

  • Seeking support from others – you don’t have to suffer alone!
  • Believing in yourself
  • Practising problem solving, creative thinking, and analytical skills
  • Putting the above skills into practice!
  • Try some of the sleep and Self-Care techniques listed in this article!

It is also important to remember that even if you are still struggling, don’t be discouraged! Resilience is an ongoing process, not an end goal.

Additional Tips

There are plenty of resources online that can help with mindfulness and relaxation, including many apps that can be downloaded onto your phone or tablet. These apps can be free, however, there are some which require a paid annual or monthly subscription. A few good examples of mindfulness apps are:

  • Insight Timer – 80,000 free guided meditations for stress, relationships and healing.
  • Calm – daily meditations, sleep stories, music for focus; relaxation or sleep
  • Headspace – Meditations about sleep, stress, and mindfulness.

These apps allow you to work on areas that you may be struggling with, and all include mindfulness at work sections.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace’ course?

6 Key Tips to Effectively Read Body Language

Introduction

What we call body language is the involuntary actions of various body parts, which is where your body moves in reaction to the conversation or situations at hand. Although the actions themselves may not have a specific meaning, many experts say most actions mean the same thing and it is the connotations that differ. Although you may not think it, body language makes up around 65% of the information a person gains from you in any given conversation. 

What we call body language is the involuntary actions of various body parts, which is where your body moves in reaction to the conversation or situations at hand. Although the actions themselves may not have a specific meaning, many experts say most actions mean the same thing and it is the connotations that differ. Although you may not think it, body language makes up around 65% of the information a person gains from you in any given conversation. 

It is important to note, that the body language of an individual can be affected by a person’s culture, religion, or mental health. European countries encourage eye contact, whereas some other countries tend to look slightly to the side. Neurological conditions also affect body language, such as the avoidance of eye contact or ‘self-stimulating’ behaviours to soothe nerves. Body language is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, so you should always adapt your thinking depending on the situation or the people involved.

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions are the most obvious form of body language, as when speaking with someone you tend to look at their face. Learning how to read facial expressions is key in understanding body language as it can very easily help you to determine the person’s mood. For example, it is easy to tell the difference between a genuine and a fake smile as whilst a genuine smile uses the whole face, the fake smile only uses the mouth. There are also half-smiles, which indicate sarcasm; and grimaces, which indicate dissatisfaction or discontent. 

Eye contact is also a strong indicator of interest in what you are saying, and avoiding eye contact generally means that the person is either bored or nervous. 

Head movements are also important to note. The tilting of a person’s head can mean different things depending on which way it’s tilting. For example, a sideways tilt means they are interested in what you’re saying and tilting the head away from you means they are uncertain or suspicious. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for who the person is looking at, as generally, that is who they think is in charge of the situation. 

Body Movements

Although not as obvious as reading someone’s facial expressions, the movements of the body itself are just as important to read the mood of a person. Although they can be confusing or hard to read, some hand signals have definite meanings, such as if someone’s hands are in their pockets, it can be a sign of nervousness or dishonesty.

The movements of the arms are also a good point to read someone’s mood, as they have a wide range of motions each with its own meaning. For example, if a person has their arms crossed in front of them, it can indicate either relaxation or, most commonly, anxiety and feelings of vulnerability. Holding an object (such as a stack of papers) in front of you can come across as closed off by creating a physical barrier. 

Reading Someone’s Mood with Body Language

You can tell the overall mood of a person through their body language. Whilst the above examples are quite specific and help in picking up small details about a person’s mood, you can often tell the mood of a person with the general movements they make in any given setting.

For example, someone who is motivated and engaged will make an active effort to reduce distractions. They will also remain still, rarely blinking or engaging with anything outside the matter at hand. The person will sit there actively listening to what you are saying, and will wait until you have finished speaking to add their thoughts on the matter, and will fill any lulls in conversation with assenting noises such as “mhmm”

Someone who is bored, however, will act the opposite. They will tend to face away from you or look around the room. They also tend to zone out and stare off into space. Fidgeting to cause a distraction is also a key indicator of boredom, as is being on your phone. Note that whilst an attentive person will take notes, a bored person will tend to doodle. 

You can also tell if someone is unhappy, as their body language will come off a lot tenser. Chances are they will have crossed their legs and arms, showing frustration, unhappiness or defensiveness. Their facial expressions will be tense as well, with furrowed eyebrows and pursed lips. However, the person could also be minimising their facial expressions to mask their emotions. Someone who is unhappy will also tend to sit away from you or turn their body away. 

A final note, you can tell how comfortable a person is with you by their distance. The closer they are sat to you, the more at ease they are around you. A good way to get someone to feel more comfortable with you is to ‘mirror’ their body language, by copying their movements.

Body Language in the Workplace

It is a given that you will have to communicate with others in the workplace. Even if you haven’t known them very long, you may still be expected to work with them collaboratively. As such, knowing how to effectively use body language allows an insight into how others are thinking and is very useful when making team decisions.

Body Language in a Presentation

When you are giving a presentation, body language is key to ensuring it goes successfully. There are ways to engage your audience through how you communicate your message, detailed below.

  • Consider your posture – slouching with your hands in your pockets is bad for business
  • Ensure you move around a little and use power poses – don’t be as stiff as the board you’re presenting!
  • Stepping toward the audience shows positivity and confidence
  • Ensure your pitch is correct! – speak low and vary your pitch slightly
  • Project your voice! – you could have the best presentation all day but if they can’t hear you it doesn’t matter
  • Take deep breaths quietly between points – breathing midway through can distract the audience
  • Speak slowly! – you don’t want to overwhelm them!
  • Pause during your presentation – allow time for visual aids and for the audience to take in what you say
  • Use open hand gestures! – ensure your hands are spread in front of you and not flapping wildly across the room
  • Project your body language to the room – as with your voice, make sure everyone in the room can see your confidence!
  • Finally, consider different learning styles – include visual aids!

Body Language in Interviews

Body language is vital in interviews. It helps to make a good first impression, and being aware of your body language seriously helps in those crucial 30 seconds where the interviewer is getting their first impression of you. From the moment you enter the building for an interview, ensure you are polite and appear confident. Walk with purpose and as always greet the interviewer with a firm handshake. When you are seated, sit comfortably still and straight, maintaining eye contact with the interviewer(s) when necessary. If you are being interviewed by multiple people, look at the person asking you the question, then at all the involved parties when answering. Smile at them, and show you are listening by portraying the behaviours stated previously. 

However, there are some bad presentations when it comes to body language in interviews. Being overconfident and arrogant will cause the interviewer to dislike you, and copying the handshake style of the interviewer is a major red flag. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous in an interview, however, try not to appear so and don’t fidget. Gesturing around is okay, so long as you don’t overdo it and ensure you think about what those gestures will look like to others. 

Body language is difficult to portray in an online interview, however, that doesn’t mean you can slack off. Whilst the interviewer cannot see you in person, it is good to still give off that air of professionalism you usually would in an interview. You can do this by ensuring that your background is clean and tidy, preferably a block white colour. You should also ensure as much background noise is removed as possible, and use headphones to ensure you hear the interviewer.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Body Language’ course?

6 Tips to Reduce Stress When Applying for a Job

It is a well-known cliché that searching for a job is like a job in and of itself.  Between CV reviews, sending applications, and preparing for interviews it very quickly becomes a stressful process. From a personal perspective, I can wholeheartedly agree with this. During my extended period of unemployment due to the various lockdowns and covid restrictions, my stress was at an all-time high and it was a struggle to cope with searching for jobs in the current climate. However, there were a few tips which helped me maintain my sanity during the lockdown period, which you can find in the article below.

CV Revisions

Arguably, the most important thing about any job application is your CV. This is your first impression to the employer and is a chance to sell yourself to them. It is best for your CV to look professional (so no WordArt!) whilst confidently putting forward your skills and abilities. There are thousands of templates online for every sector available which you can refer to so as to help you create the perfect CV for the application you are submitting. It is also best to have multiple CVs for different sectors, as many employers are switched off from the standard cut and paste format.

Being Proactive

If you have been invited for an interview, be proactive in messaging the employer on important details – these can be anything such as forms required, interview time and date, or if you’re really lucky a start date for the role. A good benchmark, to begin with, is by directly contacting the employer via a phone call for a discussion about the job posting, as this gives you good personal branding and they are more likely to remember you Whilst you need to be careful when messaging the employer so you don’t come off as pushy, many employers like candidates who are proactive in contacting the employer. This will show both self-sufficiency and intuition.

Routine

Due to job searching being done on your own time, it can very quickly lose any sort of structure. This can lead to more stress and less productivity, ultimately resulting in complete burnout. A good solution to this is to give yourself some set ‘working hours’ which you spend looking for jobs or revising your CV as discussed above. It is important to strike a good work/life balance, even when you are unemployed and job hunting. In doing this it is vital you set clear and concise times for starting and finishing your job search, as well as find a workspace away from your personal space. Whilst looking for jobs, you should attempt to minimise distractions from social media, through the usage of apps such as “Forest: Stay focused”. Another key feature in setting your own routine is to reward yourself once you complete your working hours, no matter how much or how little work you did during that time.  

Breathing Exercises

As simple as it may be, regular breathing can seriously help in abetting stress levels. Simply sitting still and slowly breathing in and out will cause your heart rate to lower and will allow you to calm down and reassess the situation. This is especially effective if you feel yourself beginning to get worked up about job hunting, as it allows you to take a break and collect your thoughts before you dive back into the action.

Communication

Regular communication with friends or family members is another solid way at reducing stress during this period. Whether it is about job hunting specifically or anything else bothering you, contact with other people will help exponentially. They will be able to give you anecdotes about their own lives and stressors and will provide you with further techniques for soothing your anxieties not found in this article. If you are uncomfortable speaking with family or friends about your issues, the anonymity of online forums provides a safe space for you to discuss them without repercussions. You can also get in contact with a job coach, who will talk you through any issues you are having with the process.

Hobbies and Free Time

Most importantly is having fun! You cannot work 24/7, your brain needs time to relax and switch off. For some this is playing an instrument, for others, it’s playing video games. You have to find what works for you and something you enjoy, whether that’s a pre-existing hobby or even picking something new to start doing. From my own experience, having something to do in your downtime is a real game changer as it completely distracts you from thoughts about the pandemic, or about job hunting, and allows you a chance to switch off for a while.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Skills for Job Seekers’ courses?

5 Ways to Stay Motivated

Set achievable goals and break up bigger goals into smaller parts

Setting a goal gives you a measurable endpoint to work towards, and is a good way to stay motivated towards a long term vision. However, if the goal you set for yourself is too big it can feel unachievable and therefore it might have the opposite effect. The best thing to do is to set smaller goals within a larger goal that you are working towards. Let’s say you want to run a marathon (and you are not an experienced runner); this is a massive goal that will take plenty of time and preparation to work towards. You can start by setting a goal for yourself to run 5k, and then 10k, 15k etc until you build it up to the full 42 kilometres. These smaller goals are easier to reach and you will get a sense of achievement each time which will keep you motivated! The same practice can be applied to any vision you have for your life, maybe you want to write a book? Or get a promotion at work? Or improve your employability? Set small goals each month for yourself that will help to keep you on track.

Use Rewards

Rewards go hand-in-hand with goal setting and are a great idea for keeping you motivated and pushing towards a larger dream or ambition. Not only will they make you feel good when you achieve something, they will also incentivise you, and you’ll get a chance to spoil yourself! You can plan something big and fun (and possibly expensive) for when you achieve your overall goal, but you should also celebrate the little milestones too with small daily rewards. This can be anything from having some time to yourself (no emails or replying to messages), reading a book, trying meditation, having a bath or watching a film.  Anything that you feel would be enjoyable and a treat for yourself! 

Set a Timetable: Remember to Take Regular Breaks and Rest

Once you have set yourself some achievable goals and also planned some rewards for yourself, the best thing to do next is to create a timetable. If you wake up each morning without having a plan for the day, it can be really hard to find the motivation to start working on your aspirations. This is why it’s a good idea to set out allotted times to work on things. If your overall goal is to improve your skills in order to become more employable, then it’s a great idea to schedule a couple of hours each day where you will complete your online learning. Always remember the importance of rest and taking breaks too, as a general rule you should take a 15 minute break for every hour of work. So set aside time to concentrate and work hard for an hour and then take a 15 minute break where you have a cuppa or maybe do some light exercise.

Stay healthy: Exercise, good night’s sleep, eat well

Whilst you are working towards any big target in your life, if you are not taking proper care of your physical health then it will be really difficult to stay motivated and positive. It’s always crucial to try and eat a nutritious diet and to also have regular healthy snacks whilst you are working in order to sustain your energy.  Exercising is also a great way to feel more motivated, even going for a short walk will release endorphins, which is a feel-good chemical that will help you feel more positive and ready to work on your goals! And of course, always try to have a good night’s sleep, allow plenty of time to wind down and try to avoid screen time before bed. Having a healthy sleep schedule is really important for healthy brain function, staying energized and therefore motivated towards your goals! 

Having a good support system

When undertaking any goal or vision for your future, it is so important to surround yourself with likeminded and supportive people who will help your progress rather than hinder it. If your goal is to get fit, maybe see if a friend or family member will accompany you to the gym or on a run? And if you want to work on improving your skills to succeed in securing your dream job, then ask if they would be willing to take a few courses together! However, it’s not necessary to have them holding your hand the whole way, as long as they are understanding of your dreams and are willing to cheer you on, you will find it so much easier to stay motivated and achieve your goals. 

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Motivation and Mindset‘ course?

The Importance of Mental Health

With Mental Health Awareness Week in full swing, I thought it would be fitting to remind everyone about the importance of looking after your mental health and some tips on how you can do it. 

What is ‘mental health’?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood and behaviour could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma
  • Family history of mental health problems

Early Warning Signs?

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviours can be an early warning sign:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realise their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to Maintain Positive Mental Health Include:

Getting Professional Help.

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.

Connecting with Others

None of us is superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.

Getting Physically Active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.

Helping Others

Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.

Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is an important part of looking after your mental health if you don’t get enough sleep it can affect your mood the following day and affect your productivity and focus at work and elsewhere.

Developing Coping Skills

Everyone’s coping skills are different. Some people listen to music to help calm and soothe themselves and others indulge in movies to escape from reality for a couple of hours.

In conclusion, it is normal if you are experiencing a lull in your mental health. What’s important is to look after yourself and catch the early signs so you can take steps to improve your mental health and remember that everyone copes in a different way so find one that works for you.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Motivation and Mindset‘ course?

5 Essential Tips for Your First Day at a New Job

Communication is a vital part of both our society and our lives. It aids in the process of Your first day at a new job can be nerve-racking, so what can you do to prepare yourself and make a good first impression? This blog will give you five advantageous tips to make your first day on the job a success.

1. Plan Your Commute.

If your new workplace is based in an environment that you are unfamiliar with then make sure to leave early and plan your commute. If you leave early, there is time to correct any misdirections. You may even get there early enough to familiarise yourself with the area surrounding your workplace. Planning and punctuality are key, give yourself sufficient time to travel and arrive early, and your employer will see that you take your job seriously!

2. Believe in Yourself.

To have gotten to your first day on the job, you have already caught the employer’s interest at the initial recruitment stage and made a great impression at the interview! Keep that in mind as you start your first day, coming across as confident will allow you to make a good impression. A smile and a firm handshake will showcase a sense of confidence and professionalism that will demonstrate you are a valuable addition to the workplace.

3. Dress to Impress.

Every workplace will have a dress code, whether that is a company uniform, business professional, or business casual. Whatever the dress code, it is essential to present yourself as a professional, this is something the business will really appreciate as you are representing them. The longer you are in your role, the more you will be able to gauge the expectations of that specific workplace, which you can do by observing your colleagues both at the interview stage and on your first day.

Don’t worry about being over-dressed, it is more important to dress professionally and indicate to the employer that you are enthusiastic about making a good impression.

4. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions.

It is easy to feel like you are coming across as nervous or uninformed when you ask a lot of questions on your first day, but it is quite the opposite. If there is anything you are unsure about or would like to know more about, then ask! The employer will appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to learn about your job role and the company history!

5. Be attentive in your training and learn from other people.

Finally, you should ‘pay attention’. This doesn’t necessarily mean just listening to what the Whether your qualifications or past experience has led you to secure this job role, it is fundamental to adapt those skills or experience to the business you are now working for. Each business will have its own policies and structure, so be proactive in familiarising yourself with them, as your colleagues will likely support you in.

Keep on top of your training with a willingness to learn from the person training you and the people around you, it will demonstrate a high level of professionalism and respect for the team you are now part of.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Introduction to Working in an Office’ , ‘Interview Skills’, or ‘Optimising your Job Seeking’ course?

4 Effective Ways to Strengthen your Communication Skills

Communication is a vital part of both our society and our lives. It aids in the process of sharing information, as well as in developing relationships with others. In the workplace, people use it to encourage others, share ideas, connect with each other, inform others, and more. Without strong communication skills, there can very easily be misunderstandings. It is also a major factor in business, as good and effective communication is vital to a business’s success.

1. Understand the Meaning of ‘Communication Skills’.

Communication skills are developed all throughout our lives. As babies, we start out with very basic skills such as gurgling, laughing, or screaming. These noises are generally used to indicate that we want attention, food, or changing. As we get towards the ‘terrible twos’, we start to develop basic speech which, again, heavily revolves around getting attention and food. Once we reach preteen age, we can hold general conversations and in school, we are beginning to be taught the basics of working with others and communicating in the correct way. Interestingly, as we become teenagers we tend to communicate a lot less. However, we are still encouraged in school to work in groups and with others at school.

As we become adults, we look at ways to manage both interaction and communication with what we do. As we reach adulthood, we invariably fall into one of three categories: an extrovert- someone who is socially outgoing and confident, an introvert- someone who is more shy and reserved, or somewhere in between the two.

When communicating, we also need to consider the disabilities of anyone around us. Some people with disabilities have made amazing strides in communication technology, such as Stephen Hawking and his machine that helped him talk regardless of his ALS.

2. Formal Communication.

To write a formal letter, you must follow a specific layout. First, you need to have either your address or the address of the company you are representing on the top right hand corner of the page. Immediately under that, you put the date that you are writing the document. On the top left hand corner of the page, you need to put the name and address of the person or persons you are writing to.

You should always begin the document with ‘Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss/Dr [Name]’. When you are ending the letter or document, you can sign it one of two ways. If you have used the name of the person(s) at the start of the letter, then you use “Yours Sincerely,”. If you have used ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, then you end the letter with ‘Yours Faithfully’.

There are five steps used in the process of creating a formally written document.

  • Planning.
  • Drafting.
  • Revising.
  • Editing
  • Publishing

In the planning stage, you think about who you are writing to, what you are writing about, and what the outcome or goal of the document is.

In the drafting stage, you write a rough layout of your document. Although it doesn’t have to be perfect, it does have to be focused on what you are writing about. You need to put your clear ideas on paper, and then decide what order they are going to be presented in.

In the revising stage, you check your draft and rearrange it if needed. You can also decide whether or not you need to add or remove details to aid in the flow of the document.

In the editing stage, it is best to check the tone of the letter against who you are writing it to. You need to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors, and once you have made any final checks and changes it is best to get the letter proofread by another.

Publishing: this is the most simple step- hit send! The hard work is done, and now your completed document is ready to go.

3. Verbal Communication.

Verbal communication is a type of oral communication where the message is conveyed through spoken words. This can be done either face to face, over the phone, or through online meetings. Verbal communication is really important as it allows the speaker to give words to their feelings, thoughts, ideas, and opinions. This then allows them to express these words through speeches, discussions, presentations and conversations.

When communicating verbally, you need to ensure you speak in a clear and concise manner. This should be done face to face, so as to gauge the person’s reaction and modify your speech accordingly.

It also helps to use good grammar, such as avoiding jargon and bad language. It is a good idea to check if the person understands or, if necessary, repeat what you said for those with hearing impairments. Ensure that you regulate your tone, pitch, pace, and volume and ensure that you actively listen to what is being said.

You should also consider the environment in which you are having the conversation, such as how loud the area is. You should also adjust for language barriers, ensuring that you speak slowly and clearly so they can understand. The same goes for those with hearing impairments, as mentioned before.

Telephone conversations are a little bit of a barrier, as you cannot see the person you are speaking to. You have to rely on tone and pitch to get your ideas across, as well as read how the person on the other end of the phone is doing.

4. Effective Listening.

Effective listening is a major part of communication. There are a few steps that make up effective listening, beginning with facing the speaker and keeping eye contact. You must be attentive but relaxed, and present in the conversation by attempting to listen to what is being said. It is best to pay attention and block out any distractions around you. You should be open-minded, as it is best to not judge or mentally criticise someone. When you are listening, a good tip is to either create mental pictures of what is being said or, if the conversation is quite long, focus on keywords and phrases.

It is very important that you don’t interrupt the person speaking. You need to let them finish everything they have to say. Another thing to note, if there’s a problem with what is being said you should refrain from interrupting to offer solutions unless you are asked. If you need to clarify something then wait until the person talking takes a pause, and say something along the lines of ‘I didn’t understand what you said about [topic]’.

Ensuring your understanding of the situation is also very important. If you are listening to someone effectively, you only want to ask questions which ensure your understanding has been reached. If the conversation diverges away for any reason, politely ask for more information on the topic at hand.

You need to feel the other person’s feelings. You should, if necessary, show empathy through facial expressions and tone if you are given the opportunity to speak. This takes experience to do so, however, as you don’t want to come off as fake but you do want to come off as sincere.

It is a good idea to give appropriate feedback. This is done as the conversation progresses, through either verbal feedback such as ‘really well done’ or ‘excellent job’, or non-verbal feedback such as nodding your ahead or attentive noises like ‘mhm’. This shows that you are keen to listen, and keeps you involved in the conversation. You should also try to reiterate tasks or instructions given during the conversation.

Finally, you should ‘pay attention’. This doesn’t necessarily mean just listening to what the person is saying, as it also means you should look out for non-verbal signs such as crossed arms or avoidance of eye contact. These are clues that the conversation has strayed away and that you’ve lost the person you are speaking to.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Time Management’ course?

5 Amazing Tips to Bring You Interview Success

So you’ve done it! You’ve sent out countless applications (or maybe just the one if you’re lucky) and you have finally gotten an interview. Whether it’s in person, over the phone or via an online video call, it’s always a great idea to be prepared. This article will give you five great tips to help you feel confident and ready to impress your prospective employer.

1. Research the Company/Organisation You’re Applying to.

One of the most important things when attending an interview is to come informed about the company you are applying to. You don’t need to be a detective to do this, as most companies will have a website and a handy ‘About Us’ section where you can learn more about them. You can also have a look at their social media (Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn) to get a feel of the culture and what it would be like to work there. You don’t need to memorize every detail, but having a good understanding of your potential employer will definitely set you apart.

Many employers will ask why you want to work for them, and if you have an answer prepared with a few key details about their company ethos then you’ll definitely impress.

2. Dress to Impress.

Although in-person interviews are not as common anymore, it is equally important to dress smartly for a remote interview. Even if you are interviewing on the phone, dressing nicely is still a good idea as it will help you to feel more confident. Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed, that your shoes are also clean and that you have showered and brushed your hair. All of these are so important in helping to make a good first impression. A smart business outfit is always the best bet, however, if you know that the role is a lot more casual, then you can dress down slightly whilst still keeping it clean and smart.

3. Be Aware of Your Body Language.

Make sure that you sit up straight throughout the interview, and remember to smile and keep good eye contact. Try not to fidget as this lets the employer know you are nervous. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and hold an open posture. There is a lot more to good body language than can be described in a short blog post, so if you would like to learn more about this we would recommend you take our free two hour course on the subject.

4. Know Your CV.

If you applied for a job by submitting a CV, then this is what caught the employer’s attention and led them to interview you, so you want to make sure you know it by heart! It is very likely that they will want to question you more about the specific details on your CV that make you a good candidate for the role.

Go back and read the job description you applied for, make a note of the key skills and experience they are looking for and match this with the qualities you have on your CV. You should also consider examples of experiences where you have used the skills in practice. You can even make a note of these on paper and bring this to the interview!

For tips on developing and updating your CV, check out our ‘5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Improve and Update Your CV‘ blog!

5. Make a Note of Some Questions That you Would Like to Ask.

At the end of every interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer, and if you have a couple of great questions on hand, this will show that you are enthusiastic and interested in the role. Asking thoughtful and relevant questions will also benefit you, as it can help you gain a better understanding of whether or not you are a right fit for the position. Consider writing down a list of several questions on a notepad that you can bring to the interview, that way you won’t forget them if you get nervous. A good question to always ask is: ‘What would my day-to-day responsibilities in this job be?’.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Interview Skills’ course?

5 Useful Tips to Help You Handle Stress

Stress affects most of us at one point in our lives. Whether at work or in our personal lives, stress is a natural part of life. However, if stress becomes long term or overwhelming, it can have detrimental effects on your mental and physical health. Here are five ways that you can handle stress in your life.

1. Regular Exercise.

Exercise has great physical benefits, such as lowering your risk of health problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, or heart attacks; but also releases endorphins to benefit your mental health. It can also help you improve your thinking and learning skills, which will help you in the workplace. If exercise isn’t part of your usual routine, set fitness goals to keep you on track or try something new, such as Zumba or Pilates.

You can also make everyday activities more active. These include taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to your co-worker’s office instead of sending an email to them or incorporating walking into your commute.

2. Try to Relax Your Body.

You will often carry stress in your body, through tension headaches or a tense jaw. You may also find that long periods of either standing or sitting as part of your job give you physical discomfort. Make sure that you stretch your body, paying special attention to your spine and neck as these can become stiff if you are in the same position continuously.

Do things that relax your body, such as going for a massage, taking a long bath or shower, or going for a walk. If you suffer from continuous body pain, you can see your GP for treatment who may refer you to a physiotherapist or give you at home treatments to help relieve any pain.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep is key to functioning well during the day and managing stress. However, stress will often get in the way of you getting good quality sleep. Ways to improve your sleep are to try to go to sleep at the same time every night to encourage a routine. Adults need from six to nine hours of sleep a night, so find the amount of time that works for you and stick to it. Avoid catching up on sleep during the day as this confuses your sleep schedule and can leave you awake during the day.

If you are struggling to sleep, you need to try to wind down before sleep. Ways to do this include writing a to-do list for the next day or implementing relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or going for a walk. It is also important to avoid using electronic devices before bed, as the light will stimulate your brain and stop you from falling asleep. Scientists advise avoiding any electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, or TV, for an hour before bed.

4. Talk to Someone.

Again, employers often receive a huge number of CVs for any one role, and if a CV is too long they are very unlikely to read it. You want to keep your CV concise. Talking about your problems can be great for solving issues that are giving you stress. It is important to talk to someone that you trust, such as your close friends and family. Make sure that this person will support you and listen to you, without encouraging any bad habits or also discussing negative situations in their life as this is not helpful to either of you. You can also decide to speak to a counsellor if needed. You can do this through your GP or you can refer yourself to the NHS website, which will refer you to your nearest counselling services.

Talking about any issues that you might be having can physically relax you by allowing your body to stop holding any tension. As well as this, it can mentally allow you to work through your feelings by putting them into words.

5. Go Easy on Yourself.

We all tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than others would but putting too much pressure on ourselves can lead to increased stress and burnout. It is important to take a break and practise self-care to relax and reduce any stress from the day. Take time to stop and focus on what you have achieved, from five to ten years ago from now. Be aware of how much you have progressed and appreciate yourself for it.

Skills 365 is a provider of free online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from mental health, soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace‘ course?

5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Improve Your CV

Having a good CV is so important when it comes to applying for jobs, and sometimes it can be overwhelming not knowing where to start. This article will give you five quick tips to help get you started, and will hopefully boost your chances of getting into work or finding a new job that suits you.

1. Change Your CV to Fit the Job You’re Applying for.

These days employers may receive stacks and stacks of CVs for a single position, and you want your CV to stand out from the rest and demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the role! The best way to do this is to fit your CV to what the job advert is asking for.

Think about your specific skills and experience, and write down the ones that are best suited for the role. If you already have a basic CV, then you can go through and edit it slightly for each job you apply for. The extra work will be worth it.

2. Put Your Strongest Area First.

Following on from the last tip: make sure you advertise your strongest achievements first and foremost on your CV. If you haven’t had much relevant work experience, then maybe think about putting your education or skills first. If you have a degree, consider what specific experience and skills you have from this that would be relevant to the job you are applying for and write these out! If you have volunteered before for a charity or have a hobby that you are passionate about, again consider the same things. Maybe you have very good people skills? Are you good with computers? Don’t feel resigned to following the traditional format if that’s not what suits you!

3. Make use of Templates.

If you have never written a CV before or haven’t for a long time, it can be very difficult to know where to start, especially regarding the layout. It’s super important to make sure your CV looks professional and eye-catching, and luckily you don’t need to be a skilled graphic designer to do this. Microsoft Office and Google Docs both have free templates available that you can use to begin creating your CV. Google Docs has the Template Gallery; just search for ‘resume’ and you should find a selection of free templates. Office 365 also has plenty of templates available under ‘Resume and Cover Letters’, which are appropriate for a range of job sectors.

4. Try to Stick to One Page.

Again, employers often receive a huge number of CVs for any one role, and if a CV is too long they are very unlikely to read it. You want to keep your CV concise, and most importantly, relevant! Don’t feel as though you need to give your employers your whole life story, they just want to know what skills and experience you have that would benefit them. If you have had quite a long career history of relevant experience, then your CV can probably be extended to 2 pages (but no more than that!).

5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help.

Once you have written your CV, you may be a little nervous about sending it off, and may not be completely confident in what you have created. The best thing to do is to ask someone else to read it for you first! You can get a friend, family member or maybe a teacher to read through it and tell you what they think, they may not be an expert but they may at least be able to pick up on spelling or grammar mistakes. There are even professional CV coaches available, who will analyze your CV for you and suggest improvements. And of course, there are always our friendly tutors at Skills 365 who are more than happy to go over your CV with you when you apply to one of our free courses.

Skills 365 is a provider of FREE online courses for any adult in Lincolnshire over the age of 19.

We offer a variety of courses ranging from soft skills, to CV writing, to IT training and job specific courses.

For more information, why not enrol on our ‘CV Creation and Updating’ course?