BACK TO BASICS … BUILDING YOUR NETWORK

“It’s not what you know but who you know.”

We’ve all heard that phrase before attributed to being the key factor in getting ahead in all walks of life, and whilst this cliché is not strictly true, making more connections with peers and contacts in your chosen industry will help you to advance your career, increase your knowledge and your exposure and make you feel more part of a community than an individual.

This blog outlines key tips and hints to building your network. Firstly, we’ll look at why it’s beneficial to network.

WHY NETWORK?

  • Academia/research. Many academics share their studies and publications at networking events and conferences and also online. Not only does this help to share their knowledge to benefit their field and the world we live in, but it also prompts those interested to discuss it and share it. If you are interested in pursuing academia networking is a great way to learn from and interact with those who are esteemed in your field or those at a similar stage to you.
  • Getting a job. To go back to the cliché that opened the blog many people are hired through personal recommendation or through knowing the employer. If you have two candidates with similar experiences and who both did well at interview, but the employer knows one of them either through networking or through their online presence, then the chances are they’ll hire the person they know more about especially if they think they are a good character.
  • Promoting yourself/your product. If you run a business, sell a product/service (I’ll use product as an umbrella term for rest of the blog) or work as a freelancer then it does not matter how good you are or how brilliant your product is, if no one knows about it then no one will see/buy/watch/invest in it.  Networking is a great tool for reaching new audiences, increasing exposure and for your recommendations. The more people that know about your product and value the more others will hear about it, or will trust their recommendation.
  • It’s fun … yes it can be! Whilst standing in a room with a bunch of strangers talking about work may be some people’s idea of hell, networking can be a lot of fun and does not always involve talking shop. Many conversations will start with ‘what do you do?’ but by the end of the conversation you may be talking about the Line of Duty finale, your new hobby you took up in lockdown or the best places to eat in town … and have secured a new client or whatever it is you were after. People are still … people. Whilst work or business may be the opener to the conversation, if you have shared interests or a chemistry with that person you’ll enjoy the conversation and making new connections nonetheless. Also, networking doesn’t have to be at a conference centre. Some networking events take place in bars and provide a complimentary drink and food, some networking can be more informal. For example, if you work in the creative arts industry there are plenty of bars in Liverpool such as Liverpool Arts Bar on Hope Street in which new plays, films, poetry nights, art exhibitions are blossoming out of two like-minded artists stood at the bar with a pint of Mahou talking about what type of art they love to create. Be creative and think about where and how can I network asides from official events.

Now that we’ve gone over why it’s valuable to network. Here’s a few tips on how to. I’ll split this into ‘real world’ and online sections.

HOW TO NETWORK

Real world

  • Depending on what sector/industry you’re looking to network in there’s plenty of resources to find events. Following events page and companies within your sector on social media is a great way to find these, Facebook in particular will be good for posting events pages as will LinkedIn. Eventbrite is also a great place to search. And there’s always good old word of mouth. Check out websites of companies and most importantly venues.
  • Don’t be nervous! Might be easier said than done but you’ve had conversations before, you are interesting … ask questions, listen to the answers, give positive and open body language and you’ll do great.
  • Sometimes the hardest part is finding a conversation to join, especially if like me you’re always late and everyone’s already in full flow. Best to join a bigger group in which it’s likely the conversation will be more shared and you’ll be welcomed in and asked to introduce yourself. If it’s two people having a discussion you may be interrupting them and they may not wish another person to join right at that moment.
  • Get business cards. They’re an easy way for connections you meet to get in touch and contact you and also to remember you after meeting lots of new people. It also widens your network. Say, for example, you’re a graphic designer and you hand your card to someoen at an event, they may not need your services but someone they know might and if your business card is there to hand it’s an easy way to gain a recommendation. It also gives you a greater air of professionalism that shows your serious about what you do. they’re also really handy if you’re bad with names! Some networking events also do prize draws if you throw your card into a hat. This lucky blogger won a free cocktail making class for them and their colleagues at a bar in Chavasse Park off the back of one of these.
  • Exiting a dead end. This will happen. You’ll be stuck in a boring conversation that’s neither stimulating conversation nor is it actually beneficial to your work/study/brand. Don’t be rude – this is important as word will travel fast … but simply find a natural break in the conversation, smile and tell them it’s been lovely chatting and that you’re going to mingle or ‘work the room some more.’ We all know what it means but no one’s feelings will be hurt.
  • Be respectful of everyone’s boundaries. As we move back into social gatherings and crowds many people will be feeling anxious either due to safety concerns or from not being used to social interactions and gatherings. Before 2020 it would be deemed rude not to shake someone’s hand, now I would say it would be rude and imposing to force that upon someone. Greet with a smile or offer a friendly elbow bump. You both may feel more inclined to shake hands or even hug later on, but for that first interaction be sure to respect boundaries and any rules or guidelines that either the government has imposed or the event runners have outlined.

Online

  • Create an online presence. In recent times we have had to take our work, studies, social lives and even our yoga classes into an online world. For many of us this has been a challenge but it’s also a great opportunity to broaden your network and connect with people you may not have come across at an in-person event. Whether this is on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or even Tik Tok your ability to showcase your interests, ability, business model, product, knowledge and most importantly your personality will be key to gaining attention and finding new connections. Even on a site liked LinkedIn more and more users are posting content that not only promotes their product but also shows that they are fun, interesting and a ‘real person.’ Be creative with what you post, share articles that interest you, generate discussion and get talking!
  • Zoom. You probably don’t need many more tips on how to Zoom but here’s a couple for networking:
  • Practice your pitch. This goes for in person events too but it’s even more important online when the networking may be structured so that each person speaks to everyone on the call for say one minute. If your pitch is messy and not concise you won’t get your key points and message across.
  • Stay on mute. If someone else has the floor stay on mute. It’s respectful and you wouldn’t want the builders shouting over you when you pitch.
  • Share your contact info on the chat. Not everyone will stay on the call so this is a good way to write a quick blurb and post your email address, LinkedIn, Instragram, website etc so you can be remembered better and contacted. Also, simply due to the way zoom is you can’t guarantee everyone will be giving you their full attention. Whether it’s an important email that’s just popped up, a funny meme on twitter, the doorbell going or simply zoom attention fatigue.
  • Stay focused. On that point, if you are on a zoom networking call, try to keep the zoom on full screen if possible and do not multi task. One, it’s rude, and two you never know what you might miss.

Now that you have a greater understanding of why networking is vital and how to do it what’s stopping you? Whether it’s online or at an event make the most of the opportunity to connect, interact and engage with new clients, businesses and academic peers to advance your career prospects.

Back to basics – How to gain Work Experience by improving your CV.

What do I mean when I say ‘Back to basics? Well, I have a few points which could help brighten up your CV to make that work experience dream a reality.

For help and advice please contact the Careers and Employability team – careers@hope.ac.uk

  • Do not reinvent the wheel! At the beginning of your career. It is hard to when your CV is blank sheet of paper. My advice would be the check out some strong examples from your career’s advisers. The team would be happy to help and give you advice on how to make your CV stand out from the rest. Email careers@hope.ac.uk.
  • Include Keywords – Employers are attracted to this
  • Tailor your CV to each work experience or job opportunity
  • Do not forget to add all your achievements and internship, unpaid work experience etc. You need to show here the skills you must reach your dream job.
  • Keep it on one page!!
  • Do not get too creative with your CV. Keep it classy, nobody wants to see Bauhaus 93 text on rainbow coloured paper.
  • Do not title your CV document “CV.” This tip comes from Software Advice CEO Don Fornes writing on the Job Bound blog. “About a third of applicants name their resume document, ‘CV.doc.’” Don writes. “’CV’ may make sense on your computer, where you know it’s your resume. However, on my computer, it is one of many, many resumes with the same name…. By using such a generic file name, the applicant misses a great opportunity to brand themselves.
  • Get professional input – Get a family member or a friend to read over your CV. Its not shameful to ask for someone to proofread your CV. Be proud of your achievements, show them off!

For help and advice please contact the Careers and Employability team – careers@hope.ac.uk

Employer blog –

REDWIGWAM PARTNERS TO PROVIDE UPSKILL OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THEIR NEW SUPERPOWER UP CAMPAIGN

As the Covid-19 pandemic begins to ease, the outlook for workers promises to be better soon.  As part of a workforce upskill initiative, flexible working platform, redwigwam has partnered with other organisations as a sponsor for the new Superpower Up campaign.  The campaign promises to provide needed resources to help flexible workers build their CV, tackle job interviews, and improve their profiles by learning new skills that employers demand of their workers. 

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redwigwam provides the UK with the country’s largest flexible working community.  It has been busy throughout the pandemic, providing labour exchange services to over 4,500 employers and to thousands of flexible workers so they can meet workforce demand and provide temporary relief for regular employees who were forced to quarantine due to the virus.  These companies included Coca-Cola, Tesco, Kellogg’s, Burton’s Biscuits, Morrison’s, Proper, Simply Cook, and the Snaffling Pig Company.

The latest labour force statistics are fascinating.  As we move into this new era, the concept of building new skills and new employment opportunities is starting to take shape. The UK’s workforce understands that the concept of work is changing.  Check out these statistics just out from a recent redwigwam survey:

  • Four out of five workers surveyed (82%) are excited about learning new skills that guarantees a successful work experience when the pandemic is finally over.
  • The skills and training most desired and most in demand by those surveyed includes digital capability (59%), followed by Microsoft Excel training (49%), entrepreneurialism (45%), writing a successful CV (32%), and best practices for nailing the job interview (31%).

The composition of UK’s workforce also seems to be changing. The redwigwam survey found that 43% of workers described themselves as working with no dependents, and 20% are working parents.  Many of these are what we identify as “flexible workers” who often meet the demands of large corporations who need workers on-demand and with varied scheduled availabilities.

These findings match the goal of the Liverpool-based company’s Superpower Up campaign.  redwigwam is partnering with some of UK’s leading business experts to provide upskilling webinars for workers who are desperate to learn new skills that will make them more in-demand in the new economy. 

Some of the subjects of these webinars will include digital skills, marketing, and personal branding.  On April 21, redwigwam provided a LinkedIn training by offering social media expert Alex Low, who offered the redwigwam community with tips on how to use LinkedIn to build a better profile and to use it as a dynamic recruiting tool.  Important webinars such as these will be part of redwigwam’s contributions to the Superpower Up campaign. 

These Superpower Up resources, will be available to over 150,000 flexible workers who are currently registered on the AI-powered redwigwam website.  Thousands of these workers will have new opportunities to learn the skills they need to improve their job marketability.  

Lorna Davidson, Founder and CEO of redwigwam, said: “We believe this is a totally unique campaign in which some of UK’s foremost experts, in partnership with redwigwam, will pass on their knowledge and skills free of charge. As a business, our purpose is to change work for good and as part of this we believe in the importance of giving back.

Lorna stated that redwigwam’s goal is for “workers to have the opportunity to upskill, something our survey made clear is a major requirement as we start to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, and hirers will also benefit as the workers they need to recruit will be better equipped to meet their needs.”

Dan Parker, Digital Marketing Executive at redwigwam, said: “I’m extremely excited to be involved with the Superpower Up initiative. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our wigwamers to learn some invaluable skills and increase employability for the future.  I can’t wait to give back to our hardworking wigwamer community.”

Rachael Johnston, redwigwam’s Community Manager, said: “I chat to our workers daily and there’s definitely a need for flexible working. The skills our wigwamer will take away from the webinars will really help empower them to have the work/life balance they want.”

Please come back often as our blogs provide additional information about the Superpower Up campaign in the coming months and plenty of student jobs available. 

3 reasons why every student should be on linkedin

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals so you might think it’s for after university rather than for students but think again! It’s never too early to start building networks and LinkedIn can help you get ahead when it comes to gaining work experience, researching companies, staying up to date with sector news and connecting with others. So here are 3 reasons why I believe every student should be on LinkedIn

1. For building networks

LinkedIn allows you to connect with people within your current network and beyond. As a student it’s great to start building networks. You can start to connect with friends on your course, academics, careers advisors and alumni.

Hope have a Placement Year Group for current students searching for a placement year and an Alumni Group for anyone who studied at Hope where we share jobs and news and you can connect with your university network.

Is there any truth in the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’? Your network and connections probably can’t get you that dream job but they might share the job advert or be able to put you in touch with a mentor or friend who might share a few hints and tips that help you stand out in the recruitment process.

2. For job hunting

LinkedIn is a great place to find jobs – from internships to placement years, graduate jobs and beyond. You can even sign up to job alerts and let LinkedIn do some of the searching for you.

3. For research and information

Once you’re set up on LinkedIn your connections might share news, events, innovation and research so it’s a great way to get started with exploring careers and staying up to date with industry trends. You can also follow companies and join groups.

For anyone looking to learn a new skill there’s also LinkedIn Learning a paid feature with a free trial available.

Ready to get started? Check out this great LinkedIn resource and our next steps video and feel free to add the Hope careers team as connections

Anna Worsley on LinkedIn

Chris Biggs on LinkedIn

Clare Baker (Alumni) on LinkedIn

Jen Ratcliffe on LinkedIn

Mark Saunders on LinkedIn

Oliver Back on LinkedIn

Rebecca McCoy on LinkedIn

Back to Basics: cover letter writing

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a document sent alongside your CV when applying for jobs. It acts as a personal introduction and helps to sell your application. A cover letter is necessary as it gives you the chance to explain to an employer why you’re the best candidate for the job. You do this by highlighting relevant skills and experience; therefore you should always write your cover letter with the position you’re applying for in mind.

How to create a Cover Letter?

Keep your cover letter brief, while making sure it emphasises your suitability for the job. It can be broken down into the following sections:

  • First paragraph – The opening statement should set out why you’re writing the letter. Begin by stating the position you’re applying for, where you saw it advertised and when you are available to start.
  • Second paragraph – Cover why you’re suitable for the job, what attracted you to this type of work, why you’re interested in working for the company and what you can offer the organisation.
  • Third paragraph – Highlight relevant experience and demonstrate how your skills match the specific requirements of the job description. Summarise any additional strengths and explain how these could benefit the company.
  • Last paragraph – Use the closing paragraph to round up your letter. Reiterate your interest in the role and indicate your desire for a personal interview. Now is the time to mention any unavailable dates. Finish by thanking the employer and say how you are looking forward to receiving a response.

How to address a Cover Letter?

Always try and address your cover letter directly to the person who will be reading it. Bear in mind that you’re more likely to receive a reply if you send it to the right person.

Advertised positions usually include a contact name, but if not, it is worth taking the time to find out who the letter should be addressed to. You can do this by searching the company’s website for details of the hiring manager or alternatively you could call the organisation to ask who you should address your letter to. Don’t be afraid to do this, many employers appreciate you taking the time and initiative to do so.

If you’re struggling to find a named contact you can use a general greeting such as:

  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • Dear Hiring manager
  • Dear Human resources director.

However, general greetings should only be used once you have exhausted methods of finding a named contact.

How you sign off your cover letter depends on how you addressed it. If you include a named contact, sign off ‘yours sincerely’. If you use a general greeting, finish with ‘yours faithfully’.

5 tips for the perfect Cover Letter

  1. Tailor to the organisation – You should rewrite your cover letter every time you apply for a position in order to target the company. Sending out a generic letter for all applications rarely yields positive results and recruiters can spot your lack of time and effort from a mile away.
  2. Proofread – Never rely on a computer spellcheck program to pick up every mistake. Print off your cover letter and double-check for spelling and grammar errors before passing it to a family member or friend to look over. Also make sure that your own contact details and the company name are correct.
  3. Format – Presentation is important so you’ll need to format your cover letter properly. Make sure the document is as uncluttered as possible, use the same font and size as you use in your CV and if you’re sending it through the post or handing it in use good quality plain white paper to print it on.
  4. Identify your USPs – They’re your unique selling points. Be positive about what you have to offer and clearly outline how your skills and experience meet those requested in the job description. Demonstrate why you’re the perfect candidate.
  5. Include examples – Back up the claims in your cover letter with real evidence or examples that show how and when you’ve used your skills and experience.

Extracts taken from Prospects: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/cvs-and-cover-letters/cover-letters

A Career in Education

If you’re considering a career in education this blog post’s for you. Whether you’re thinking of applying for a PGCE, already undertaking initial teacher training or thinking about forging a career in Higher Education, Further Education or any other education-related role here are our top resources for exploring your options and finding our more about a career in education.

Get information and support to help you become a teacher Get Into Teaching

Explore Teacher Training & Education related careers on Prospects.ac.uk

Find a Teaching Job (for trainee teachers)

Current education and teaching vacancies within the Liverpool City Region

Study at Hope postgraduate taught degree courses includes PGCE and PGDE options

Education Alternatives information about education-related careers other than teaching in mainstream schools. It is a particularly useful resource for students and recent graduates drawn towards an educational role but not sure that mainstream teaching is for them or trainee and qualified teachers seeking to move to a different role in education.

We’re also running a series of events for Hope trainee teachers in January/February – keep an eye on communication from your academics for more details.

We’re still here to help!

As always, the Careers and Employability team is here to help. You can contact us via email careers@hope.ac.uk as well as book an online appointment or access resources via My Careers Centre