Career Dev Prompt #6: Record Keeping Prompt

Here in the UK we have what are known as Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks (formerly known as CRB checks). An employer can require you to have a DBS for certain jobs such as working with children, working with animals, working in health care, working in financial services, accountants, lawyers, working for a governmental body or working in the police force. Some volunteer roles also require a DBS check.

You can find out more information on the home office website.

I work in a role requiring a DBS check. I am currently due for a renewed check. This requires a lot of detailed information – some of which I had kept from my last check (but needed updated) and others that I could not find a record for.

To complete the DBS form you need to provide the details of your background and your previous addresses for the last five years. If you already keep a record of previous addresses – review and update yours today.

For those of you who don’t write your list now.

If you don’t own your own home and change rentals frequently this can be a challenge to remember so save yourself the time and keep a record in your career journal, your career development folder or even your household filofax.

Subscribers of our Career Development Prompts Premium Plan will be able to download our DBS Information Insert/printable which is available in both a5 and personal size.

Career Dev Prompt #5: Sign up with a Recruiter

Often the New Year brings with it thoughts of new starts, new challenges and new jobs. If you are looking for a new job (or simply want to see what is out there) why not sign up with your local or industry specific recruiters.

Contrary to popular opinion – a Recruiter works for the employers (not the job seekers). They are looking for the right individual to fill a specific role. They are not there to find you a job (unfortunately). That’s right – you still have to do the hard work.

However, all is not lost. Signing up with a recruiter and keeping in regular contact with them does have its advantages:

  • It gets your C.V. in front of them. Ideally you should approach them with a role in mind, or at least give a clear indication of what you are looking for. If they have nothing currently on their books, they will have your C.V. on file for when an opportunity arises.
  • You may get sent details of vacancies before they are officially advertised (or as soon as they are advertised). Particularly if your recruiter thinks you are a good match for the job.
  • Your C.V. is on file so you can apply easily and quickly.
  • A recruiter can advise on the job market and trends and give you an indication of when jobs will become available.
  • Some recruiters offer C.V. advice and Interview preparation while others may help you with insider knowledge regarding format of interviews or contract and salary negotiation.

Finally, where possible nab a face to face meeting with your recruiter. A face to face meeting provides more of an opportunity to get to know each other, learn more about how you can help each other and they are more likely to remember you when a job materialise.

Weekly Prompt: Sign up with a Recruiter.

Subscribers of our Career Development Prompts Premium Plan (which is only £30 for a 2014 subscription) will be able to download our Recruiter Info Pack which includes the Recruiter Sign Up Record (pdf), Recruiter Job Applications Tracker (pdf) and the Recruiter Evaluation Form (pdf). You will also have access to our bonus subscriber only article: “Why is it important to pick the right Recruiter (and things you will still need to do).” Access the Premium Content Now.


O is for… Organisation

What are Organisational Skills?

Organisational Skills are the ability to manage yourself (and/or others) and resources to reach a specific goal. The skill is a combination of planning and prioritisation (time management).

Why is this skill important to employers?

Individuals who are organised are usually more productive and more efficient at their job. Employers love organised and productive workers. Whether you are interviewing for a new job or hoping to impress your boss being organised is essential for progression, trust and confidence as well as your day to day job.

How can you show you have this skill?

If you are already in the job your organisation skills can be shown through your working practices: such as organising yourself or your colleagues to meet deadlines, prioritising (and reprioritising) your workload, and dealing with pressure. Even a simple thing like having a clean and organised desk can make a great impression.

At interview a few organisational skills questions nearly always come up. This could be straight-to-the-point questions like “How do you prioritise your time?” It would then be open to you to describe the levels of prioritisation that you use in your industry and why. Alternatively you may get a scenario questions which would start “tell me about a time…” or even a question about what tools you use to organise your time. The easiest way to answer this question is to have a system in place and use it.

Skill Development Plan – Get more organised (and deal with Pressure)

By being more organised you can remove a lot of bad unwanted pressure and stress from your job and the workplace environment.

DIY Action Points:

Here are two things you can do straight away to do this:

  • Declutter your desk (and create a filing system if you don’t already have one). Hours can potentially be lost looking for things or overlooking things that should have been readily available or accessible. Decluttering your desk and/or filing system can improve efficiency, save time and reduce stress.
  • Use one planner (ideally a calendar and to do list) for EVERYTHING work related so that information does not go missing, if you are given a job to do verbally make sure you write it down on your to-do list. If you already have an increasing workload, don’t be afraid of asking when work needs to be done by or asking about prioritisation. Again, monitoring and adjusting your priorities and workload you can develop great organisational skills, and feel less pressured/stressed because you are much more in control.


Interview Question: Do you work well under pressure?

 “Do you work well under pressure?”

I belong to the camp that believes that a little bit of pressure is good for us all. I find a small amount of pressure motivating and find that it usually improves performance. Of course to use ‘pressure’ to your advantage you need to avoid getting stress and channel the pressure into a productive energy. I believe I work well under pressure. 

However, my colleagues are divided and some believe that ‘working well under pressure’ is not a good thing although most agree that a bit of pressure will give them a bit of a kick-start (and help overcome procrastination).

Whatever side you support you can’t ignore the fact that at job interviews this is a popular question: “Do you work well under pressure?” particularly in high stress or high pressured jobs.

So how do you tackle this question at interview?

Well let’s identify what the interviewer is really asking? What they are really asking will depend on the job you are interviewing for but most employers will want to know:

  • that you can work effectively is fast-paced or challenging environment
  • that you can meet deadlines (and adjust to meet those deadlines)
  • that you are or can be competitive
  • that you are prepared to go the extra mile.

In answering this question you want to be able to display a wide range of skills such as: problem solving, decision-making, organisational skills, time management and your ability to work under pressure.

So how do you work well under pressure?

  1. Working well under pressure requires organisation and planning. You need to be able to analysis deadlines and accurately estimate and allocate time. Conflicting deadlines, prioritisation and adjustments to deadlines are keys considerations that should be part of your analysis.
  2. Things that you have not prepared for will happen. Interruptions will happen. Plan accordingly. Learn to manage them.
  3. This leads into understanding the importance of keeping calm. Whatever you do – do not panic – this helps no-one. Take a break, spend 10 minutes working on something else or enlist extra help. 

When preparing for this interview question show your ability to work calmly and efficiently whilst achieving results.