Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 4 - The Hoops

What are we all doing with our lives?
What is our path?
What will be our story?

If only applying for a job was as simple as sending off an application, CV or cover letter. Unfortunately now a days not only may you encounter an interview, but there may also be tests, especially if you are applying for any graduate schemes. Tests, interviews, telephone/Skype interviews, assessment days, and group days are what I call The Hoops of the Great Big Job Hunt. Sadly you have to pass through all the stages of application and interview before you might get a job offer, but it's a game that must be played to succeed. But don't be disheartened I have some hints and tips for these pesky hoops.


These come in many forms. They may be given on the day of interview / assessment day or they may be taken beforehand online as a way for the company to sift through applications. They can come in the form of tasks related to the position you have applied for, such as conducting a short literary review, prioritising a fictitious workload, giving a presentation, or taking part in a role play. On the other hand they may be standard sifting test such as numeracy and literacy tests.

Key Tips:
  • If you have a disability that entitles you to extra time or other special arrangements - get in contact with the recruiter as soon as possible to seek adjustments.
  • Carefully read any instructions that you may have been given.
  • If you can, usually only if you are completing online tests for sift purposes, practise - you can practise for other test at interviews / assessments though it is not always clear before hand what these might be. There are books available and online sites to practise numerical and literacy tests.
  • Ask for more information if you are unsure or worried - recruiters and HR will help as much as they can.
  • Stay calm, you can only do the best that you can - if this doesn't work out, keep hope and keep striving because you will find your place soon


Interviews can be tricky things for some and wonderful things for others depending on your personality. I personally am not fond of interviews as I can become nervous, but the more I do it and the more practise I have, the more confident I become.

The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. An interview is not only to see whether you are capable and knowledgeable, but also that you would fit in with the team, so just be yourself.

As for questions there are many sites and books out there with interview question examples. You will never be able to prepare for ever question ever asked, but some good tips would be:
  • Go through the job spec and come up with examples for each aspect, that way if you get asked skills based questions you will be able to offer a good example of your skills.
  • Questions should be answered with a story like style beginning, middle, and end - some call this the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique - this makes it easier for interviewers to write notes - it is annoying sometimes, but all part of the game, especially if you are looking to work in a university or for the government.
  • Consider and have an answer ready for 'Why do you want this job?', 'What do you know about the position?' and 'Why do you want to work for the company?' These questions or equivalent come up frequently in interviews. They are looking to see you know what you have applied for and that you are passionate about it.
As well as being asked questions you will also need to have some questions prepared at the end of the interview, 1-3 should be sufficient. Things such as 'What is the work environment like?', 'I hear you are relocating soon, when and where might that be too?', and 'When might I hear from you regarding an outcome?' - Again there are websites and books that can help with suggestions for this questions' just Google 'questions to ask employers at interview'.

Finally, it important at interview to dress appropriately, and make sure you smell nice. I have heard of people being discounted due to their smell and future employers being worried about that being in the office.

Unfortunately as much as we would like to think that the an application is all down to our skill and experience, it is also down to our fit with the company and a bit of luck.

Telephone Interviews / Skype Interviews

These are similar to normal interviews except for you are not in the room with the interviewer. Prepare the same way, however,  also:
  • Find a suitable quiet location to take the telephone or Skype call.
  • With a Skye interview or other video interview make sure you are dress appropriately and that your background is suitable for the interview. Websites suggest to have a plain background behind you.

Assessment Days / Group Days

I have been to one assessment day which consisted of 3 tasks, 2 tests and an interview. 3 people were at the assessment day at once. rotating tasks.

Assessment/Group days can be slightly intimidating as you are competing for the same job or a limited number of spaces. Remember to be polite to everyone you meet including your fellow job seekers, and stay true to yourself, don't compare yourself or try and be someone different. Being you is the best plan of action to find your perfect job and right company fit.


Another hoop that you may encounter in chasing. You may have to chase up a response after making an application, or after an interview/assessment day. Usually employers will give you a window of time to hear back from them say 1 week - 6 weeks for application, a few days - 1 week after interview. If you have not heard from the employer within a suitable amount of time you can chase them either by phone or email.

If you are chasing after an interview: make sure you thank the interviewers again for the opportunity and then enquire about when you might hear back from them.

If chasing an application: Give them as much detail as possible, your name, and when you applied for what job, and ask politely when you may hear from them, or whether the position has already been filled.


If you have any questions regarding any part of this weeks topic or anything else, feel free to leave a comment.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Raggy's Travels: A flying visit to Amsterdam

My dad I are had a flying short visit to Amsterdam this year to see the Piano Guys. They were due to perform in the UK on their tour, but we were on holiday over those dates. I had seen them before in Birmingham, but my dad had missed out due to work. He felt it would be a nice unique experience to see them in Amsterdam this year.

I had never been to Amsterdam. We weren't there very long but I really enjoyed my 24hrs in the city. The first thing I noticed flying in, was how flat Amsterdam and the Netherlands are. Due to this flatness, the other thing you will notice very quick into your visit is the popularity of cycling in the city, with thousands of bikes and lots of cycle paths and routes.

Cycle track outside Amsterdam Central Station

An Amsterdam residential street with pretty architecture and hundreds of bikes.

We landed at Schipol (Amsterdam Airport) which is a huge busy international airport, serving 50 million passengers a year, and an important transfer hub for many. From the airport we caught a direct train to Amsterdam central.

As we were travelling light we decided to explore a bit before heading to the hotel. My dad has been to Amsterdam before, so suggested we take a fee ferry to NDSM, an arty district of the city. The journey only takes 10-15mins but is a lovely way to see some of Amsterdam.

View from ferry looking back at Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam architecture 

Amsterdam Film Museum

Swings at the top of Amsterdam Film Museum

NDSM was once the largest shipyard in Amsterdam. Around 1984 it was abandoned, squatters moved in to the area which was in decline. To revive the area the City Council gave subsidies to artists, craftsmen etc who were settling there. The area is now rather quirky with a boat hotel, abandoned submarine, and crane hotel, but it also has cafe's and art studious.

The submarine, is an abandoned Soviet Zulu Class submarine, purchased after its decommission to be turned into a night club, but it has now been abandoned, presumably due to planning issues of a night club on a submarine.

Soviet Zulu Class Submarine, Amsterdam NDSM

Hotel boat, Amsterdam NDSM

Ship ramp remains, and tables from Europe's largest Flea Market

Abandoned Crane, Amsterdam NDSM

Crane Hotel Faralda, Amsterdam NDSM

Abandoned Tram, Amsterdam NDSM

Inside Large boat house where artists and startups based 

After catching the ferry back to the station we then took a tram to the hotel. We purchased 24hr tickets from the Amsterdam gift shop at the station, but you can buy tickets on the trams too.

We stayed in the Hilton Amsterdam, which was very nice. It actually is a bit of an attraction in itself, as John and Loko, staged their Bed-In for Peace in room 902 (now 702) between March 25th - 31st 1969. They knew that their wedding on March 20th 1969 would draw large press interest, so they used their honeymoon to promote peace. They invited the press daily between 9am and 9pm to discuss peace. The hotel has been refurbished since 1969, hence the change in room number, but guests can still stay in the John and Yoko suite, which is decorated with memorabilia.

Hilton Amsterdam

John and Yoko Suite, Amsterdam Hilton

In the afternoon we headed to the Rijksmuseum. We didn't have very long as it was closing at 5pm and we had arrived at 4:15pm. You really need a lot of time to really explore and appreciate the museum, as it has 3 floors and a basement, but I enjoyed what I saw on our flying tour round.

The museum is an arts and history museum, covering the Netherlands from the Middle ages to present day. It holds many fascinating objects and artwork including the famous Night Watch painting by Rembrandt, which was painted in 1642. It is a large painting  363cm x 437cm. As well as this world famous painting, the museum also holds such objects as a piano which King Louis Napoleon ordered to be created for his wife Hortense in 1808, an impressive Doll's house c. 1686-1710 which belonged to the wife of an Amsterdam merchant, and a Crown for the king of Ardra, gifted by the English in 1664, the crown never reached the King as it was seized by the Dutch who were expelling the English from Dutch fortresses on the African coast.

King Louis Napoleon's wife Hortense's piano

Doll's House of Petronella Oortman

Crown for the King of Ardra

After the museum we heading back to the hotel to get ready for the concert at the AFAS Live venue. The security was very good at the venue, with bags being checked and everyone being patted down. Due to the security checks the show did start late, but it is better to be safe especially in the current climate of todays world.

The venue sells drinks and snacks by tokens which are silver, however some are blue which is a competition. The lady at the bar told us that with our blue token we were entitled to 2 free cocktails, which I took full advantage of in the interval.

The venue was very good, it was busy and at times difficult to get served, but everyone was friendly and helpful. The show was amazing as usual.

AFAS Live venue

The Piano Guys performing Fight Song / Amazing Grace with Bag Pipers

The Piano Guys enjoying life

I had a wonderful flying visit in Amsterdam, but I definitely need to go back and explore more sometime.

*Word of caution for any fellow hayfeaver sufferers, the Netherlands are known for their tulips. My hayfeaver was rather bad whilst I was there due to the pollen in the air, so make sure to pack any hayfeaver tablets before you go.

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 3 - The Application

What are we all doing with our lives?
What is our path?
What will be our story?

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 3
The Application

Hopefully you have been able to find 1, 2, 3, or more positions which you are interested in applying for. Application methods vary, but I will try to cover as many that I am aware of. Most of my experience is in sending CVs and Cover letters, and/or filling in application forms online and offline.

CVs and Cover letters:

This is one of the most common ways to apply for a job. I have included CVs and Cover Letters together because I was once told to always send a cover letter with a CV, even if not requested. The cover letter gives space to mention things that you can't in a CV, such as why this position, why this company. My tips for Cover Letters and CVs are drawn from a number of sources, from talks at careers fairs, speaking with a careers advisor at university, and through searching for advice on the internet. The method I use is not the only way to write CV and Cover letters, it is important to create your own style so your personality can come through.

Cover Letter Tips:

  • Write a new one every time - I find writing from scratch helps tailored the application for the position and company. You may be desperate for a job and applying to many positions, but if you don't tailor your applications it will show. If you were a hiring manager who would you prefer to interview; someone who has taken the time to research the company, or someone who has generically talked about their interest as they have sent the same cover letter to 10 other companies?
  • Layout:
    • Date: top right hand side
    • Opening: 'Dear Sir or Madam' if you do not know who to address it to, 'Dear {name}' if you are given a contact or have been able to find the name of the right contact
    • Reference number: (if applicable)
    • First Line: Explain why you are writing and what position you are applying for, include where you saw the position (don't lie)
    • Background: Explain a wee bit about your background e.g. if you have graduated, from where, when and what you are currently up to.
    • Main body: Explain why you are applying for the position and the company. Pick out some examples of your career and personal history that relate to aspects they are looking for, and refer them to your CV.
    • Closing: Say something equivalent to you are looking forward to hearing from them.
    • Sign off:  Yours Sincerely 
  • Save as a PDF (unless otherwise specified)- easiest format to upload 
  • Keep it short - no longer than 1 page

CV Tips:

  • Top: Name, Telephone number, email address 
    • You don't need to include home address
    • DO NOT include age, sex, date of birth, or a picture of yourself
  • Personal Statement: A short 1 or 2 sentence piece about yourself and what you are looking for (but don't worry if you can't fit this in, especially if you have a cover letter)
  • Educational Background: In reverse chronological order - if you have Alevels, Masters, PHD etc. you don't need to list GCSEs individual you can just put e.g. 10 GCSEs A-D 
  • Other Relevant Qualifications - eg/ if you have done an online course
  • Career History: list in reverse chronological order
    • Company
    • Job title
    • Time worked there
    • underneath highlight skills: with litttle examples
      • Refer to the job spec. to include as many of the skills they are looking for
  • Other Activities: that you feel are relevant eg/ Duke of Edinburgh - and an example/s relevant to the skills required
  • Hobbies
  • References available on request (you don't need to put this if ask for on application form already)

Speculative CV and Cover Letter:

This is an application to a company you are interested in, but that may not be currently hiring.


  • In these situations do your research about the company and possible positions
  • Be honest and straight forward - state what you are hoping to gain from this application
  • Find out who the best person to address this email to would be. In very small companies it will most likely be the director. If you are not sure who to address it too put 'Dear Sir or Madam', or phone to enquire.
  • If you are emailing the speculative application, use your cover letter as the email and mention that your CV is attached. 
  • As there is no job spec. have a think about the skills you feel the company may require or the skills a particular job may need.

Application forms:

These are very common things especially if you are not going through a recruitment agency. They can come in two forms; online or offline.

Many companies including Universities and Government Organisations will send you through an online system, that you do not have to complete all in one go, you can save and come back as long as it is all completed by the closing date.

Some companies will use forms but not an online system. You can send off for or download a word document or pdf which you can fill in on your computer, or print off and do by hand. With these you can send them by post or email them back. By post you will have to factor in the cost of postage and the time to deliver the item before the closing date.

Application forms are usually quite standard:

  • Job Information: Job title, reference number of the job you are apply for - this is especially if you are completing a offline application
  • Personal information: Name, phone number, address etc
  • Job History: Where, when, how long, why you left, and a short description of the duties you had
  • Educational History: Where, when, what 
  • Application:
    • May be upload CV and Cover letter
    • May be answer some questions eg/ Why do you want this job? Tell us about a time you have worked in a team.
    • May be write about your skills and experiences
  • References
  • Declaration and signature - Declaration that you have not lied - you could be let go or not offered the job in the first place if you are found to have lied in your application
  • HR equality form - you do not have to fill this in - the hiring team does not see this, but it is used by the company to monitor its employee makeup


  • Application forms can be repetitive, it may be worth keeping a file on your computer of reference details, previous employment and duties summaries, and qualifications so you can copy an past where necessary
  • Some applications will ask about your current salary or previous salary - you do not have to fill this in
  • When completing the questions sections some companies such as universities and government organisations like people to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method of answering, basically a story way (beginning, middle and end) of showing your skills with a specific example. 


The MOST important tip that anyone can ever give you, is to keep records of your applications. Print out or save a pdf of the job description on the site you saw it on, and on if applicable the job description from the company's own website. Also keep a copy of your application CV, cover letter, or application form (online application forms let you print a version). The more information your keep the more likely you are to remember what you have applied for (you may be applying to many things at once), also you then have evidence to check if the company decides to change an aspect of the job such as salary or the hours. The information is also handy to re-read before interviews to prepare for questions and questions to ask them.


If you have any questions regarding any part of this weeks topic or anything else, feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Raggy's Travels: Another Adventure in Wales

I love going on mini adventures with friends and family, discovering new things and having fun. My sister, a couple of her friends, and I took a trip to some castles in Wales. It was a bit of a chilly grey day, but still perfect for exploring and enjoying a picnic outdoors.

The three castle we visited were all free and all part of a collective known as The Three Castles. They were all founded by Normans around 1100, built to dominate this area of Monmouthshire. In 1201 all three were granted to Hubert de Burgh who rose to become the King's Justiciar (administrator of justice). They were abandoned in the 16th Century, changed hands a few times (including to separate owners), but eventually they all ended up in state ownership where they still are today.

1. Skenfirth Castle


Skenfirth Castle is owned by the National Trust but managed by CADW. It is located in the small village of Skenfirth in Monmouthshire, the village used as 'Upper Leadworth' in the 'Doctor Who' episode 'Amy's Choice'. The Castle is free to visit. It stands in ruins and open to the elements, but large parts of it still remain. Hubert de Burgh rebuilt much of the castle in stone in 1228-1232, replacing the earth and timber that originally made up the castle. 

Prominently standing in the middle of the ruins is the remains of the main tower which was a stronghold and residence. The height of the tower allowed archers at the top to fire over the outer castle walls.

Not far from the castle are fragments of a huge dockyard wall set on the bank of the River Mannow. This dock and river would have supplied the castle and been a source of communication. Looking at the remains and river today it is hard to image this, as silt has built up over the centuries making the river no longer suitable for barges. 

Whilst we were visiting the castle their were some people having a picnic by the river and swimming in it. It is a lovely area, with space for picnicking, though there are no toilet facilities at the Castle.

2. Grosmont Castle


Grosmont Castle is situated in Grosmont, another film location though this time for the 2007 film 'The Baker' (also know as 'Assassin in Love' - USA), a British comedy thriller in which an ex-assassin retires to a Welsh village and opens a bakery. 

Grosmont town is described, on their town website, as having a 'vibrant community spirit and warm welcome'. It has a 13th century church which unusually has a eight sided tower, and the town is also home to Grosmont Castle.

Grosmont Castle, was also originally a defence earth and timber Norman structure, which was re-built in stone by Hubert de Burgh. It has a huge ditch around it. When it was completely rebuilt by Hubert, he created a rectangular hall-block and high curtain walls that remain today. In the 14th century more additions where made to the castle by other owners. The Earls of Lancasters influence can still be seen in the tall chimney that remains. They also extended the gatehouse including the drawbridge.

The village and castle are picturesque and a suitable place for lunch or picnic. The castle doesn't have any toilets but their are pubic facilities available in Grosmont.

3. White Castle


White Castle is the largest of the three castles, with perfect picnic spot within their outer ward walls (protecting you from any cold wind). This is actually where we stopped for our picnic, and others were picnicking too.

The Castle's name comes from a coat of white that used to cover the outer walls. The castle is made up of two parts, the Inner Ward which would have been the heart of the castle with the key buildings, and the Outer Ward which would have been suitable as an army base. 

We visited all three castles by car, but there is a long distance circular walk of 19.4miles (roughly 9hrs 20mins) that connects all three, and connects the Offa's Dyke path (White Castle) with the Monnow Valley Walk (Skenfirth and Grosmont). 

Just outside White Castle there is a sign for the Offa Dyke path that tells of how Hitlar's right hand man Rudolf Hess come to the area to paint during World War II, as he was allowed visits for health reasons to walk, paint, and sketch, whilst we was in prison near Abergavenny. 


Click to find out more about memberships: CADW Membership & National Trust Membership
Click to find out more about traveling in Wales: VisitWales

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 2 - The Search

What are we all doing with our lives?
What is our path?
What will be our story?


The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 2
The Search 

With an idea of what you want to do it's time to search...

Job Websites:

The Internet is an excellent way to search for positions as there are millions of adverts online, in every sector and all over the world. Job websites are designed to help you on your search, companies and recruitment agencies pay to advertise on them, and many of the sites pull ads from other websites too. It is great one stop shop for positions, although due to the scale of content, they can be a wee bit intense to sift through.

Tips for using job websites:
  1. Set up an account - Some site will not let you apply without an account, and some take application information and contact details out of the ads so that you click on the apply button. This can be annoying, as you may not want to give your details to a job website, but unfortunately this is all part of the Great Job Hunt game. However, there are some benefits, such as being able to create email alerts, save jobs to apply to later, and to see what you have applied for through the website.
  2. Set up email alerts - Email alerts, whilst annoying if you sign up to many sites and thus have a daily bombardment of emails, are very useful. If you know what sort of job you are looking for you can set up alerts, when a new job is uploaded that matches your criteria you will be emailed. This is a useful feature as you can be one of the first to find out about the job and thus be one of the first to apply (some companies start sifting through applications and contacting potential candidates from the first day their ad is out there).
  3. Find the right website/s - There are hundreds of job websites, some are very specific such as Charity Jobs, others are aimed at certain education backgrounds, such as Prospects, and others cover many sectors such as Fish4jobs and Indeed. Pick the sites that work for you, but don't just use one or just stick to a few, use as many that are relevant to you as possible and still use search engines. Advertising can be expensive so recruiters and companies may only advertise on one or two sites. 
  4. Be aware that information may be incorrect - As much as sites will do their best to provide you with the correct information, because many pull jobs from other sites the information can feed through slightly incorrect, and in some cases recruiters do not supply all the information necessary. Its best to take the information from the text itself as this will be wording provided by the recruiter/company. The other highlighted information such as hours, salary, and closing date, that can be found around the text can sometimes be incorrect. If you are unsure try contacting the recruiter, this can be done by googling them to find contact details.

Company and Industry Websites:

As much as job websites are useful one stop shops for applying and general information about finding jobs, if you have an idea about a company you want to work for, or an industry you want to work in it is always better to go to the source. For example if you know that you want to work in Accounting, but you want to work for a trusted and accredited firm why not go through the list of Chartered Accountants on the ICAEW website and research those firms to see if you like them, and if they have any jobs. The same can be done in other sectors too.

Furthermore, if you want to work for the Civil Service, NHS, a council, visit their job pages on their websites. Not all jobs will be advertised on generic job websites as this can be expensive. Companies like to use their own websites as it easier for them. 

Social Media:

As mentioned advertising costs. Many smaller businesses as well as large businesses use their own social media to advertise positions. Using their own accounts is free and their adverts reach people who are genuinely interested in their company, and know something about them. If there is a company you are particularly interested in follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. I do know of someone who gained a career through a company only advertising on social media.


I only recently set up for a LindedIn account so I don't know much myself but I know that some find it very beneficial. I occasionally check it, but only really to see what friends are currently doing. It can be a useful tool to see the career paths of individuals, which might help if you know you want to work in a certain position. The site also allows you to search for positions, like other job websites.

Recruitment Agencies:

I'm haven't had the best of experience with agencies, but I have recently found and am working with one that are very helpful. With agencies it is a bit of trial and error, but they can be a useful companion to your job search.

Key Tips:

  1. Little Information: Recruitment agencies tend to give little information in their ads because they need you to go through them and not go straight to the company to apply. It is how they make their money. It can be annoying as you are applying to a position blind. Though not all recruiters work this way, some give you lots of detail about the position.
  2. Don't get back to you: Recruitment agencies do not also get back to people. They are not the only ones as some companies do it too. This means you may apply for something and never hear back. If you don't hear back it is very likely you have not been shortlisted, but don't be afraid to phone up and check.
  3. Phoning for a chat: You may hear back from the recruitment agency, but they may say you aren't suitable for the position you applied for, then will discuss with you what you are looking for and your skills, and say they will keep you on file. Sadly this doesn't always mean anything, I am supposedly on file with a number of agencies, but have never heard back from them. However I believe if you are keen to work with them, it might just take a bit of pestering and chasing to get them on your side.
  4. Closing Dates?: I'm not sure about every agency but many I have interacted with have little information about a closing date. This is because they are usually hired by companies to fill a position quickly. If you see an ad that you are interested in that is advertised by a recruitment agency, I would suggest phoning up before you apply to check that the position isn't already shortlisted or filled, and to introduce yourself to the recruiter.
  5. Stay committed to yourself: Recruitment agency will try and offer you anything and they can be pushy. Stay true to yourself, if you know you don't want to do a certain job then don't do it. If they want you to do something on a certain day you can't tell them, and give them other options. Do what you think is right, don't be pushed. 
  6. Signing Up: Some agencies will make you fill in lengthy forms to sign up to them, others won't. This is part of the process, but don't worry if you are asked if you have signed up to others, you can sign up to as many as you like.

Dealing with recruitment agencies is a bit of a game. It took me some time to learn how they work and to find one that I like working with. Hopefully these tips will help you when interacting with them.

Print Media:

It may be on the decline, but print media such as Newspapers and Magazines are still a useful tool in you Job Hunting belt. If you are looking for something in your area why not try the job pages in your local newspaper. Whilst online you can search by location, some clients do pay to advertise more widely and thus results can pull in positions not actually in your area. With paper adverts someone based in Scotland is unlikely to advertise their position in a Cornwall paper, especially as print advertising can be expensive.

As well as newspapers, magazines and career specific publications are great for looking for a job as they target a certain audience.

Socialising and Surroundings:

Whilst The Great Big Job Hunt can feel like a full time job in its own right, don't forget to make time to see people and get outdoors. Sometimes when you least expect it and when you aren't really looking opportunities can arise.

  • Windows: Many places still advertise positions in their shop windows and office windows. Keep an eye out when you are out and about for such opportunities. This is how I got my first job after university.
  • People in the know: Getting out of the house/flat and meeting people can help with your search whether planned or not. A friend of a friend might work in the business you are looking to get into and might help you with some contacts, or others might know of an opening at a company and might be able to recommend you. I went to some birthday drinks once and it turned out someone lived with some flat mates who worked in the industry I was looking to get into and they offered to pass on my details. Nothing may come out of such meetings but sometimes something might, and knowing someone in the industry or at a company can be a great first foot in the door.
  • People have ideas - It is important to not shut yourself away. Discussing things with others can be a great help. They may have ideas about what careers you could do, they may be able to help get work experience, and they may just be good to bounce ideas off. 


If you have any questions regarding any part of this weeks topic or anything else, feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Raggy's Travels: Picnic Adventures in Wales

I love going out doors and exploring. Day trips can be a great way to do this. I recently took a day trip in Wales for a picnic and explore. This is what I got up to:


A stones throw from Tintern in Wales is the picturesque Whitestone Walk, which offers not only 2 good walking routes with stunning views, but also a pretty picnic area, with barbecue facilities, and a fun play area. Unfortunately the public toliets are no longer in operation, but there are plenty of trees to hide behind if desperate, or public toilets in Tintern a short drive away. 

Whitestone is set in the Wye Valley. The shorter walking route of about 3/4 mile offers 3 view point opportunities, each with a bench unscripted with quotes from William Woodsworth's poem 'Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey'. The shorter walk is of an easy level, suitable in terrain and length to take children. It has a slight incline past the view points, then is down hill on the other side, mostly flat with a few bumpy bits at the end of the walk.

I had a lovely picnic with my sister and a friend, bringing our picnic box of treats. We also played in the play park, despite being not its target audience. 

It is a lovely picnic area and suitable for the whole family. 

Adult - £6.50 (*free if member)

Back in Tintern the main attraction is the ruined Tintern Abbey. Sadly on this occasion we were unable to find parking so did not visit it, but we have been before.

Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1131. It is considered the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. During the 13th century much of the abbey was rebuilt including the church which is the main focus of the ruins today. In the 1500s however as with other monasteries the Abbey was abandoned. King Henry VIII brought in the Dissolution of the Monasteries policy to take control over the church. In 1536 the remaining monks and servants surrendered Tintern Abbey to the King, and the abbey, now stripped of its roof and with smashed windows, was left to decay.

The shell of the abbey is set in a beautiful location. Now owned by CADW, the abbey has been preserved from further decay. It is a beautiful place to visit and accessible to the whole family. Apart from the shop, the site is open to the elements so do remember an umbrella or coat if the weather is to turn. 

3. Raglan Castle

Adult - £6.50

As Tintern Abbey was to busy we decided to venture further into Wales and visit Raglan Castle. Built in the 1430s, 150ish years later than most Castles. It was a large modern castle for its time surrounded by gardens, orchards and a moot. It was home to the Earl of Worcester until 1647 when the castle was stripped of its valuables and deliberately demolished by the Roundhead army, and left abandoned until the 19th Century. 

The Castle is impressive with large windows, a five storey tower, ruined library, and arched bridge. There are lots to explore from basements to heights. The castle is owned by CADW and is suitable for the whole family. Whilst we were visiting there was a Scot event. Around the castle are activities aim at Children such as a musical instrument, chest, and cart. The site has a shop and toilets, and amble parking. It was also a film location for some of the BBC series Merlin. There is much to see, do and learn. Fun for all the family. Just keep an eye on any children as the moot does still have water.


N.B CADW memberships - Adult £44.00 (cheaper on renewal - second year free access to Historic Scotland and English Heritage, free access to Manx from year 1) 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 1 - The Path

What are we all doing with our lives?
What is our path?
What will be our story?

The Great Big Job Hunt: Part 1
The Path

I graduated university in 2015. Like many people I had no idea what I wanted to do. No clue what my path was to be. Like many I fell into retail. I got a part-time job in a bookshop, which I did really enjoy and it did wonders for my book collection, but as much as I enjoyed helping people find new reads and presents for friends and family, and as much as I like my colleagues, I missed having weekends to see my friends and family, I missed have regularity in my schedule, and I didn't feel as if it was my path.

Since my final year of university and since finishing. I have been on a journey. A journey of discovery, not only of what I want to do, but also discovering who I am outside of education. I am your very typical "middle class" girl. I went to school, got good GCSEs and A-levels, and went straight on to university with no break, no gap-year. I filled my CV with extracurriculars such as World Challenge, Duke of Edinburgh, and sports societies. So much of my youth was spent doing the right thing to get the grades to do what I wanted to do, and although I had ideas of career paths I had never really considered what exactly I would do afterwards. I left doors open taking a wide range of subjects that I was genuinely interest in, but I didn't really have a plan for the next stage in life.

Two years on since finishing university I thought I would share with you some of my job hunting tips and advice. I am currently in my second job since finishing university, currently working as a Sales Support Administrator. I sometimes have conversations with members of the public looking for jobs. Some not sure how to write CVs and some almost on the verge of tears at their frustration with trying to find a job. I understand their frustration, worry, and desperation. I know that the Great Big Job Hunt can be disheartening and frustrating, but don't give up. Although you may have a different background and education and obstacles in your way, I believe in you. I believe that we can all get to where we want to be. It may not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. You will get to where you want to be. 

In this series of blog posts I plan to share some hints and tips that I have picked up that might help you with the crazy game that is the Great Big Job Hunt. I will talk about how to search for a job, offering advice on using job websites, interacting with recruitment agencies, writing CVs and cover letters, and also I will discuss the recruitment process, the applying, tests, interviews, possible offer stage, and dealing with rejections. I may not have all the answers, I'm no expert, but I hope that this may help in someway. If you have any questions then don't be afraid to ask in the comments. I will try and help as much as possible, but if you too have any advice for others then do feel free to share it. The Great Big Job Hunt can be a scary frustrating place, lets help each other out.

Good luck everyone.


Part 1: The Path?

The hardest question of all is what do you want to do? What job are you looking for? This is an important question as it will help narrow down your search, but it is also a stumbling block for many. If you really aren't sure what you want to do, write down your interests, things that you think you would like for a career. Do you want to help people? Do you want to be creative? Are you curious? Do you want to teach others? Think about your personality and the things that interest you. Once you have some idea of things you would like to do, research possible careers that use/involve the traits you are looking for.

Researching careers may sound difficult, as there are thousands of jobs in many many sectors that you probably have never heard of, but don't be dishearten. If you search enough, googling key words and jobs that include what you want to do, things will come up. Furthermore there are many job sites that have pages about different career sectors, websites that are A-Zs of different careers, and if you aren't one for the internet, there are also many books, such as the A-Z of Careers and jobs. Don't forget to also ask friends and family for ideas, they know what you like and what are you like, and they may have an idea that you have never thought of. Remember what every you decide on is not the be all and end all. You can change your mind at any point, and if you want to try something first, try and gain work experience or an internship in that field, or try and speak to or contact someone who works in the industry to find out more.


If you have any questions regarding this topic or anything else, feel free to leave a comment.