The 9 ‘P’ Skills that Employers Love!

Once you’ve secured a graduate position, what is it that employers want from you?

Having recruited graduates for blue-chip companies I have worked for, and latterly as my own business for the past 10 years, there is a ‘theme’ of what employers expect and want from their new employees.

This can be summed up as the 9 P’s, that are easy to remember and simple for you to demonstrate in your new role from Day 1.

Once you’ve been through the recruitment process and secured the position, then the real hard work begins. You need to show that employer that they made the right choice in selecting you. There will be big expectations for you to fulfil their requirements. After all you are a graduate!

The 9 ‘P’ Skills that Employers Love

1.  Persistence

At university your time is ‘managed’ to a certain extent, however employers want to see that you can self-manage.

Self Motivation

  • You’ll need to show inspiration as well as perspiration!
  • Don’t wait to be told, get on with it
  • Don’t give up at the first hurdle

Self Management

  • Evaluate and monitor your own performance
  • Have confidence in your own ideas
  • Take responsibility

2.  Planning and Organisation

Businesses don’t bumble along, they have a clear vision and goal of what they are aiming for. Your plans need to reflect this too.

Self Planning/Organisation

  • Manage your time well
  • Use and manage all resources available
  • Establish clear SMART goals
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Realistic
    • Time-framed

3.  Participation

Be seen to be getting ‘stuck in’

Teamwork – You can participate in any number of ways, but employers want to see those great team-working skills you bragged about at interview, so remember to:

  • Work towards a common goal
  • Contribute but don’t dominate
  • Be aware that multiple talents make up the best teams (and that means you are all going to have different views). Be tolerant of everyone

Communication – Your communication skills are judged from Day 1 too, so remember communication is not only about the spoken word, it’s also expressed in the way you:

  • Listen, show body language, and write
  • Act and sound professional
  • Make every effort to network with others, formally and informally, virtually and face2face
  • Be curious about people, ask them about their role in the company, and find out how it impacts your role
  • Don’t wait to be introduced – introduce yourself!

4.  Problem Solving

Just because the company is new to you, it doesn’t mean you’ve not got the answers to their problems.

Show your initiative, never be afraid to throw in ideas for problem-solving. My favourite framework comes from what journalists use to write stories –   5 W’s and one H. Use this when problem-solving, writing reports, emails etc and you’ll always be certain to cover all the points needed.


  • What – do you want to achieve?
  • Why – did this problem arise/do we need a solution?
  • Where – does it impact?
  • When – do we need to act?
  • Who – needs to be involved/informed?
  • How – can I find out more?

5.  Proactive Approach

Employers like to see that you’ll take the initiative and as well as making suggestions, become a self starter on projects.

  • Get some ideas written down.
  • Who you can talk them through with?
  • Be able to articulate your vision/thoughts
  • Practice on a colleague and then work up to the boss!

6.  Phone/Presentation Skills

Our relationship with our mobile phone has changed over the years, but in some companies, it is not acceptable to have it as an appendage!

Policy – check your company handbook. What is the company policy on using your mobile in work time? Learn quickly and obey the rules – it could end up in a disciplinary if you go against the rules

Company Phones – answer it!! I’ve lost count of the time when a phone is ringing next to a graduate and they will do anything but answer it! Always take the opportunity to answer phones – you will not be expected to know the answers to all the questions, but you can help.

  • Taking messages (using 5 W’s and 1 H)
    • Who is calling?
    • Who are they trying to contact?
    • Where are they calling from?
    • What is their contact number?
    • When do they need a return call by?
    • How can you assist/help them?

Presentations – no-one ever did a presentation 100% perfect (and never will)

Even the most polished presenters can pick holes in their own performance so never beat yourself up. And remember, if you miss anything out, no-one knows except you!

Planning and Practice is the key to Perfection!

Use the 5 W’s and an H to structure your talk:

  • What is the aim/what do you need to cover
  • What timeframe/equipment is needed?
  • Where is it to be held?
  • When will it take place?
  • Who will your audience comprise of?
  • How big is the audience number?

7.  Punctuality

All the corporates I have worked for have been strict time-keepers. Time is money! There’s nothing more frustrating than people joining a meeting late, disrupting the flow and it’s irritating for the people who got there on time.

Plus, what does it say about your personality if you are constantly late? It is bad mannners.

The rule when I ran meetings was if you are late, (even 1 minute) you were not allowed to join my meeting. And you would then have to reply on a colleague to brief you about what happened. I only turned someone away once, and no-one was ever late for any of my meetings ever again!

8.  Positivity

We have two choices every day. To be happy and positive or to be sad and miserable. The trouble is, they are both infectious! Do you really want to be dragging the mood down? Is that what the employer hired you for?

Take the lead and be the ray of sunshine that every environment/company needs. It pays dividends in the long run for your career as a whole. How many miserable people have you seen in envious positions?

9.  Professionalism

Imagine yourself as a brand. This is your face to the outside world and the one that your reputation depends on. It’s called Professionalism – protect it at all costs.

Show your professionalism:

  • On and off line!
  • Company etiquette – interacting with customers and individuals (behaviours, dress code, manners, written/spoken communications)
  • Introductions – handshake, smiles, eye contact
  • Be a Brand Ambassador for the company, and for yourself!



DISC Personality Profiling – The High C

My last article concentrated on the ‘S’ of D.I.S.C. This week we are looking in more depth at the ‘C’ – Compliance type.

High C’s are reserved and task-orientated. They are Competent, Cautious, Carefuland Conscientious. They are always in pursuit of excellence, and are very mindful of rules and regulations. They will be happy to sit in a room with a computer or a set of accounts, and enjoy being around other people who are outgoing as long as they don’t have to join in with the fun! Being competent they frequently research the facts and will enjoy investigative work. C’s will follow instructions to the letter and will enjoy reading manuals! They can stay on track with projects and enjoy seeing things fall into place step-by-step. Being lovers of detail, then will frequently write “To Do” lists and plan as much as they can. Other groups will write “To Do” lists, but the C’s will stick to them! C’s like to be correct and enjoy being right. If you challenge a C they are more likely to go away and check their facts and figures and then come back to you and present you with the evidence! They love to be accurate and produce work of excellent quality. But beware! Because they are always in pursuit of excellence, they will sometimes miss deadlines because their best is never good enough for them.

C-types can normally be found in specialist roles – IT, Accountancy, Law, Music, Teaching etc. Their analytical nature likes to ask “Why” questions. They are not risk-takers and would be unhappy if they were pushed into making quick decisions without having time to think. They respond best to a manager who is supportive and is detail orientated themselves, who works by the rule book and doesn’t change their minds on a whim. They like to communicate in writing so a back-up email/letter following a phone conversation would be very welcome. Beware that they don’t handle criticism well, as they have a strong desire to be correct – so if you need to be critical make sure it is handled sensitively!

Have you recognised your “type” in the past 4 articles? Most people will identify with 2 types and it is the combination of these two, that make you unique.

This subject is endless and if anyone would like me to address a specific issue, I will be happy to write further articles.

Questions for YOU to ask at Interview!

Your CV has been submitted for a role you really want, and you have been invited to interview.  Well done!

At the end of the interview, there’s always a section where the employer asks “have you got any questions for us”?  This is where most people’s minds go blank and they say no and get ready to leave.

Remember the interview is a 2-way process!  They are interviewing you for the role they think you can fulfill, but you are also interviewing them as a prospective employer.  You wouldn’t buy a house  without asking questions, so don’t take on a role without asking some key questions too!

Below are a few questions you can have up your sleeve to ask at interview.  Don’t ask them all, but choose a few that you feel would really give you the information you require to enable you to make the decision on whether to accept the role or not (should it be offered).

  1. What do YOU think is the best thing about working for this company?
  2. Why has the position become available?
  3. What can I expect from you in terms of support, development and motivation?
  4. What is the management culture like within this company?
  5. All companies have values.  What would you say is the number one value of this company?
  6. I like to use my initiative – would this be welcomed in this role?
  7. What opportunities are there for promotion within this company?
  8. Should I be successful in my interview, when will I hear back from you?
  9. What does this company do, to show it values its employees?
  10. Killer question:  What one thing can I tell you about myself;  that will convince you that I am the right person for the job?

Need help with your questions?  Don’t hesitate to contact me

DISC Personality Profiling – The High S

Are you a High S?

This is the 3rd of my postings about DISC Profiling and this week we are looking at High S’s – the ‘S’ traits are all about the Steadiness/pace of work. As you know some people work faster than others and from this trait we can assess your work rate as well as lots of other things!

High S’s are Steady, Supportive and Stable and desire a great deal of Security. Routine may be boring to some, but not to S-types. It gives them security to know that things are not going to change for change sake. S-types are “nice” people to be around – they will always try to help you no-matter what, and for this reason are sometimes seen as a soft-touch and colleagues may put on them. They look for ways to cooperate and help and rarely say no. They quite like being given orders and like to do a good job.

At home they can be very sentimental and have favourite films, memories etc. S-types are ideally suited to the service industry as they are the cogs in the wheel. If you manage any S-types then you will be lucky enough to have a work-horse that doesn’t mind repetitive jobs and will work their way steadily through any pile of paper. For those of you who are not S-types – don’t even think about trying to liven up their workloads by throwing them into unknown situations or changing things for change sake. The S-types hate this! They like security and fear change.

The way to motivate S’s is by showing them how much you appreciate them – smile and say ‘thank you’! If you are a manager of this type of personality then please use a coaching style. Encourage, motivate, inspire and watch!

More next week on the C-types in DISC – Compliance. If you like to work by the rule book and strive to achieve quality then this could be you!

Is Your CV Getting You An Interview?

job wantedAs a graduate, I know you will have had some help from your university about how to write a good CV. However, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting!

If your CV is not opening doors to interviews, then there is something wrong. And if you keep sending it out its like the equivalent of banging your head against a brick wall and wondering why you’ve got a headache.

When reviewing CV’s I can often see potential in what’s written, but it’s presented in such a way that I can see why recruiters put the CV on the ‘reject pile’. I was that HR Manager at one point in my career!

Or you might be scratching your head thinking, “I just don’t know what to write!” “How do I make my p/t sales role looking interesting enough to get a company to hire me as a graduate?” “How do I make myself look different from all the 100’s of other graduates who are also applying?”

These days you have to be different. You have to stand out and grab the recruiter’s attention. They have limited time to read 100’s of application for a single job so they may well be adopting the ’15-second WOW test’.

Here’s how you can do it, too …

Take your first page and fold the last third of the page backwards (so you only see 2/3rd’s of the first page). Read as much as you can in 15 seconds only.

Does it WOW you? Does it represent who you are and give the recruiter the impression that you are the right candidate for the job? If not, it’s time to go back and re-address the CV. Your front page should be like a ‘sweet-shop’ window – full of enticing information that mirrors and matches the job you are applying for.

If you are still struggling to get an interview, my DIY Graduate CV Writing Kit can help. Plus you get the added bonus of having me by your side to check it over once you’ve finished, so you know you are going to get a 100% result. Interested? Have a look and see what you get – it’s phenomenal value!

DISC Personality Profiling – The High I

Are you a High I – a ‘people person’?

If you read my last blog you will know that I’m working my way through the various personality types in DISC profiling – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. This week we are going to explore the Influence type.

High I’s are very people-orientated. Nothing matters more than people, people, people! They are Inspiring, Influential, Impressive, Interesting and Impulsive. They make inspiring leaders. When you are with them you will feel great – their cup is always half full! They make good sales people and make everything sound great. Optimism is their middle name!

They can influence you with their charming ways because they are good talkers. For this reason they make good ‘front-line’ people for any business. They also make good speakers, coaches, actors, comedians and teachers.

I‘s are not primarily interested in getting a job done – their primary interest is in how everyone gets along with each other during the job. Give them a project and they can visualise creative outcomes, endless possibilities and will be great at generating enthusiasm and getting a willing team together to do the work.

Relationships are paramount and they network very easily because they are naturally friendly. After you have been talking to them for a while you will feel like you have known them all your life. I‘s are compassionate people and would give you their last pound if they thought you needed it more than themselves. Be careful though – don’t take advantage of their generous nature!

Next week we’ll be looking at the ‘S’ in DISC, which stands for Steadiness. If you are steady, stable and dislike change then this could be you!

DISC Personality Profiling – The High D

As a Licensed DISC Profiler, I’ve used this extensively, not only in my career coaching work but also for personal development with my clients. But how can you know yourself inside out? You can of course take the time to write adjectives about yourself also ask others to describe you too. That’s an interesting thing to do by the way, as people invariably see things in you that you don’t see yourself! You might get some nice surprises! However, there is an easier way. DISC profiling looks at your behavioural style and the assessment can tell you how you behave and perform in the work environment. How fantastic to have such an insight into yourself so when you are at interview, you can talk confidently about yourself with the back up that the DISC profiling has confirmed these traits. And, its fabulous information that you add to your CV! For instance it can reveal:

  • how you prefer to communicate with others and what’s the best method of communication for you
  • what types of work environments you like and what you need to be motivated and productive
  • how you go about achieving goals and what you need from others around you to support you to reach those goals
  • how you react under stress

So, over the next 4 posts I’m going to highlight the main behavioural traits of the four groups in D – I – S – C and I’m sure you’ll soon be able to recognise your primary trait!

DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Lets begin with ‘D’ (Dominance type) here. Is this you? Or do you know people around you that fit this description?

High D’s are very task-driven and outgoing. They are Dominant, Driving, Demanding, Determined, Decisive and Doers. They make dynamic leaders. They have masses of drive and seldom take “no” as an answer. They tend to take a position quickly and stick to it, unless they see a better idea or plan. If you work with a ‘D’ you may sometimes have a difficult time knowing what is going on in their minds. They are normally strong willed and independent. Because they are “bottom-line” orientated they can tend to be blunt and to the point in order to achieve their goal. They are not particularly into talking; more into doing. ‘D’ types make great leaders, but can have a short fuse and a hot temper. They can often explode over small things, but 10 minutes later have forgotten all about it, whilst the rest of you are still reeling from the outburst! They quite like conflict and can rise to any challenge. When two ‘D’s clash it can be a good spectator sport, waiting to see who will back down. If you have ‘D’s in your team remember that they need control – give them projects – but don’t give them step by step instructions on how to carry it out. Give them freedom to make their own decisions – they work best when you don’t tie them down. Just tell them what you want and let them get on with it. That way, you’ll get a good job done well.

Recognise yourself? Or someone you work with?

In the next post I’ll describe the ‘I’ in DISC, which is the Influence type. If you like to talk and love people this could well be you!

Your LinkedIn Profile is your Online Business Card

As part of my portfolio of work, I get to teach networking skills to students and I always encourage them to open a free LinkedIn account. It’s never too early to do that if you don’t already have one!

Filling out your profile can prove daunting, but not if you give it a little bit of thought first.

LinkedIn uses the information you give it, to help you make useful connections to others in the same field. It does this from the line immediately under your name, what keywords appear in your Summary section and the experience you have listed.

So you need to start thinking about yourself as a brand here. How do you want to appear on LinkedIn? The more specific the better, as you need to stand out against the other 330m+ users!

Hone it down to a sector to start with, or even the subject you are studying. It’s tempting just to put ‘Student at the University of XYZ’ when describing yourself. But remember when you try to connect with someone, your name and ‘Student of the University XYZ will appear like a business card in their inbox (see the example below). If they don’t know you, and your profile is bland  they are more than likely to delete or ignore your request to connect.

So be specific like the examples below:

Example before


Example after customisation


Don’t be a sheep – stand out from the crowd!

How to Target your CV

Target_123rf.FREEAs a former HR Manager, when one of my Heads of Department had a vacancy to advertise, we would sit down and write a job description and a person specification.

That exercise is very interesting because those documents will be written in such a way that is gold dust to the applicant.

If I asked you to describe yourself to me, the first things you’d tell me would be the absolutely crucial traits that you’d want to convey. If we did that exercise for 5 minutes, the things that you’d say in minute 4, would still be relevant, but not as pertinent as the ones you said in minute 1.

The same goes for the person specification and job description. The things that are the MOST IMPORTANT always appear in the top 3rd of the page, and that’s the exact skills, traits and competencies that you should be ‘mirror and matching’ back in your CV or application form.

You want to get the recruiter to feel that you really ‘tick all the boxes’ so that’s why each CV needs to be tailored to each vacancy. That hopefully will get you on the ‘invite to interview’ list, rather than on the ‘reject’ pile.

The company gives you the clues … you just have to pick up on them!

Correct CV Headings

CV.123rfBOUGHTAll CV’s benefit from being broken down into sections, perhaps using shaded areas to break the page up so your eye is drawn to the various headings.

The types of headings you use may be different depending on your career to date and your aspirations.

Do not write Curriculum Vitae across the top.  Everyone knows what this document is, so it’s not necessary.  Use that space at the top to write your name in a large bold font.  In a smaller font underneath put your contact details.  Note it is not necessary to write the words ‘address’ ‘contact details’ or anything similar.  Keep this section really clean and clear.  If you have a shortened customised URL link for your LinkedIn profile, add that in here too.

Your first section should be your Profile.  No longer than 3-5 lines long.  You can call this a ‘Personal Profile’, ‘Profile’, or ‘Professional Profile’.  But don’t call it a ‘Personal Statement’!  That is reserved for when you are applying for entry into a university and you are past that stage!

The next section can be called ‘Key Skills‘ or ‘Areas of Expertise’ or ‘Key Strengths’.  Think very carefully what you call this section as it really does matter.  Key Strengths can be good when you have just graduated as you are working towards honing these skills.  Key Skills is good for when they are definitely under your belt, and Areas of Expertise is just that – when you feel you have the knowledge and experience in those areas, to match the skill set.

The next section lists your Employment History.  Again, the heading can say masses about you.  For instance does ‘Work History’ sound like you are a professional person or not?  What sort of image does ‘Career History’, ‘Career Summary’, or ‘Professional Career’ sum up.  Hopefully something on a higher level!

Next should come your Education and Qualifications section.  If you’ve just left uni ‘Education & Qualifications’ are fine.  If you have been on training courses and have more of a career under your belt then ‘Professional Qualifications, Training & Education’ might be a more appropriate header.

If you belong to any Associations, then consider ‘Professional Qualifications, Education & Memberships’ instead.

An Additional Information section is sometimes good.  Here you could put in your availability, that you have a clean driving licence, or any language or computer skills you have etc.

Hobbies & Interests should always be included.  You don’t need many – just 3-4 will do.  List them like Running  |  Ballroom Dancing  |  Charity Work.  Words with a | in-between.

And lastly, References.  With the line ‘Available upon request’ underneath.  You do not need to stipulate who your referees are at this point.  Unless you particularly want to brag/impress the recruiting manager!


As always, if you have a specific question you’d like me to answer, please do not hesitate to drop me a line


Are you a graduate doing a menial job?

Are you a graduate doing a menial job?

This article makes me weep – and is the reason I set up this business.  How disheartening for students to graduate and then end up doing something completely different just to pay the bills 🙁

Here’s the article that was published this week from The Mail Online

If this describes you, please don’t bury your head.  Help is at hand, and you can start with my FREE workbook ‘I’m a Graduate, Get Me Out of Here!’ available as an immediate download.

5 Ways to Hit the Ground Running

Got a new job?  Then you need to hit the ground running …!

The first few weeks in a job can be daunting.  You want to make a good first impression and you have a deluge of information, facts, rules and people’s names to digest.  So get yourself ready to hit the ground running with these 7 easy tips.

1.  Notebook – get yourself a small notebook and take notes.  Write down names, instructions – anything vital so it stops you having to keep asking people over and over again!

2.  Watch, Listen & Learn – don’t point out flaws or better ways of doing things in your first couple of weeks!  Just makes notes (in your notebook) and suggest them when the time is right.  Some people don’t like change and won’t appreciate the new person trying to change things from day 1.  Surest way to make immediate enemies that one …

3.  Cultural Fit – learn how they like things done.  What do they like in writing?  In what format?  Who do you have to inform/copy in?  How do people like to be addressed?  Are Christian names acceptable or do they like the full Mr./Mrs. bit?  This is no time to be treading on toes, so get it right.

4.  Network – make time to get to know people.  Go over and introduce yourself.  Seize opportunities to visit other departments.  And when relationships develop, add them to your contacts on LinkedIn.  You might need them in the future!

5.  Show Willingness – start as you mean to go on.  Don’t become a jobs worth!  Be willing to go the extra mile for others (and ultimately yourself).  It builds your own self-esteem and confidence and helps others.

Enjoy your first few weeks!  It can seem hectic and you might feel like a fish out of water but things will soon become more familiar.  Promise.  🙂

4 Essential C’s for Interview Success

Ever wondered what recruiting managers are really looking for in candidates?  Well these 4 C’s should help remind you when you are next sat in the interview chair!

The 4 C's of Interview Success

1.  Capability – all those competency based questions are trying to find out whether you can do the job.  They want to hear how you’ve been there, done it, and got the T-shirt!  So give real examples following the CAR* framework.

2.  Confidence – do the words that come out of your mouth sound convincing?  Do you ooze confidence?  Are you filling them with the thought that you are just what they need – or filling them with dread?  Use your voice to convey your enthusiasm – pitch, pace and tone.  Match that with your body language too.

3.  Character – what does your personality say about you?  And more importantly what does your on-line character say about you?!?  Google yourself and see what comes up.  If you were a prospective employer, would you hire you based on what you read online?

And lastly …

4.  Compatability – they will be judging you for a ‘cultural’ fit.  You’ll see clues to their culture everywhere – online, through their company values, the people in their organisation.  Pick up on that culture and ask yourself ‘would I fit in here?’.  You can guarantee they’ll be asking themselves the same question!

CAR framework – Tell them about the Challenge you faced, Actions you took, Results you got!!


The Bank of Self Esteem

Having high self-esteem is one of the most important factors in your life, and in your success within your career.

Just like a bank account, it is important to keep it topped up with healthy deposits.

Everything you do, think or say can affect your self-esteem and that is what you say to yourself as well as what others do, think or say to you.  We’ve all seen people slowly die in jobs where they are under-appreciated, bullied or their efforts go unrewarded.  So it’s vitally important that your job fits in with your core values*.

If no one else is putting healthy deposits in your Bank of Self Esteem, then there’s no excuse why you can’t start to do so yourself.

Set yourself success experiences that are measurable.  Break your goal down into small steps and celebrate each milestone.  Reward yourself – something pleasurable like a nice coffee, a break or even a piece of chocolate.  (This part is MOST IMPORTANT, SO PLEASE DON’T SKIP THE REWARDS)!  It is essential that you mentally build up your self-esteem in this way, and your enthusiasm will all add to the deposits in your self-esteem bank account.

If someone pays you a compliment acknowledge it and bank it as a deposit.  Watch your balance (self-esteem) rise.

The formula:

1)  Set goals/overcome obstacles

2)  Recognise success

3)  Reward yourself

4)  Bank compliments

All too soon you’ll have a healthy balance and a new found confidence!


Note:  The Core Values Workbook has been added to the self-help products section and has had great reviews so far!  It’s great value at only £4.97 and can be worked through in a couple of hours at your own pace.

Banish Procrastination!

Procrastinate no more!

We all procrastinate at some point in our lives.  But why?  Perfectionists sometimes procrastinate because everything in place before they start, or they get paralysed by fear of not being able to finish anything perfectly.

Or the basis of procrastination could be fear.  Fear of being overwhelmed, criticised, laughed at.  All very well but all this leave you STUCK and not achieving.

Try this easy tip to get yourself moving and banish procrastination into the bin, where it belongs.

Take your task/goal and immediately break it down into 25 steps (imagine you were writing it as instructions for someone else to do).  If your task is larger then break it down in to say 50 steps.  Now, not thinking about tomorrow or the end goal, just pick one step you can accomplish today.  The trick is not to look forwards or backwards, just deal with the first step you have chosen to complete today.  In 25/50 days you will have achieved what today you might have thought impossible.

If I asked you to write a 365 page book, you’d probably say you couldn’t.  But if I asked you to just write a page a day for 365 days, I bet you would find that easier.

See how easy it could be to achieve your goals?  Go on, kick procrastination into touch and give it a go. You never know where it might take you!