Interviews: The Do’s & Don’ts

Going to an interview can be a daunting experience, especially if you’ve just left school or college and you’ve never had an interview before. We are here to help! We’ve gathered a few tips, tricks, the dos and the don’ts to help you on your way!

 

Step 1 – Prepare, prepare, prepare!

It’s crucial that you do plenty of research and preparation before you go to any interview. To make preparation easier for you, we’ve broke it down into 3 areas;

• The apprenticeship role

• The company

• Yourself

You need to have a think about what the role entails and why you feel like you would be suitable for the position. Have a go at matching some of your skills and experience to the duties you would need to undertake if your interview was successful. This would be a starting point when you’re telling the interviewer why you’re a good candidate for the role. It’s also a good idea to think about why you want to pursue a career in this area. The employer is looking for someone who has an idea of the career path they want to take and has explored their options in order to make an informed decision about becoming an apprentice.

Company knowledge is crucial!

Have a look into what product/ service they offer their clients and explain why you want to be a part of that. When looking into the company you don’t need to recite their entire ‘About Us’ section on their website. Just have a browse around and get an idea of who the company is and why they exist. Ask yourself questions like; what exactly does the company do? Who are the main clients/ customers? Employers will as you this so impress them with your knowledge! You’re taking a look at what you could be representing.

 

TIP – You will also need to consider how you’ll get to the employer’s office and how you will commute there everyday. If it’s unrealistic, don’t waste yours and the employers time!

 

What are you bringing to the table?

Along with researching the role and the company, take some time to research who you are and identify your key skills. Think about why you’re the most suitable candidate for the role, your strengths and development areas and any experience you think is applicable for the role. You’re selling what you can do so it’s important that you know who you are as a person and what you bring to the table. Think about your goals, ambitions, when you last worked in a team, how you motivate yourself etc.

 

Step 2 – The Do’s & Don’ts

Do:

• Plan your route in advance and allow adequate of time

• Arrive least 10 minutes before your interview

• Dress smartly

• Turn off your mobile phone

• Show energy, shake hands firmly and smile

• Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting

• Complete all application materials neatly and accurately

• Remain alert and listen attentively at all times

• Maintain eye contact as much as possible

• Make sure your strengths come across in a factual and sincere manner and give examples of when you’ve done something

• Be prepared to discuss what you consider to be your weaknesses, but be able to talk about steps you are taking to improve in these areas

• Prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview to gauge whether you would be a good fit for the company and that you want to work for them this is a  two way process after all. (E.g. where the employer sees the role going in the future, any development/training plans they have in place for their staff and examples of how successful previous apprentices have been with this employer)

 

Don’t:

• Forget to take your CV

• Panic or worry about being nervous – employers expect you to be nervous before an interview. After all, they were in your shoes at one point! Try and relax and use the interview as a two-way process to see whether the role is the right fit for you. While you want to portray yourself as the perfect employee during the interview, the employer will also want to portray themselves as the perfect employer to work for.

• Answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no” and provide details and expand wherever possible

• Ask about salary or benefits in your interview – there will be opportunity for this further down the line but this is always provided in the job advertisement so you should be aware of this in advance.

• Forget to take your CV

• Panic or worry about being nervous – employers expect you to be nervous before an interview. After all, they were in your shoes at one point! Try and relax and use the interview as a two-way process to see whether the role is the right fit for you. While you want to portray yourself as the perfect employee during the interview, the employer will also want to portray themselves as the perfect employer to work for.

• Answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no” and provide details and expand wherever possible

• Ask about salary or benefits in your interview – there will be opportunity for this further down the line but this is always provided in the job advertisement so you should be aware of this in advance.

 

Step 3 – The result

After you’ve been for your interview, its always nice to follow it up a day or two afterwards to get an update on how the interview went and to show you’re still interested in the position. You don’t want to follow up with questions like “Did I get the position?” You just need to remind them that you exist and express your enthusiasm for the job and thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule to speak with you. At this time you could ask the interviewer if they need any additional qualifications from you or any other information.

 

Pointers:

• Prepare what you’ll wear a few days prior to the interview so you’re not rushing around on the day you go

• Practice and prepare. Think aboout how you’ll respond to any questions

• Try to stay calm

• Plan your journey in advance – how will you get there etc?

• Line up questions you want to ask the interviewer

• Make the most out of the “Tell me a bit about yourself” question. Try not to ramble about anything or anyone but yourself. Talk about your qualities and hobbies. You could also talk about what you’ve done previously such as school, college, university or another job.

Learning Web Development From Scratch

Websites are ubiquitous. There are millions of sites that are viewed daily, with many businesses battling to attract more viewers than their competitors.

Naturally, coding has become an in-demand skill and Web Development is booming.

Being a Web Developer is a highly valuable, beneficial skill and although learning web development may seem intimidating, all you need is dedication and motivation.

There are two types of development, Frontend and Backend.

I would suggest beginning with Frontend development as it is more visual, interactive and a lot more forgiving when it comes to trial and error. Backend development focuses heavily on problem-solving and for working with the “server-side” of the site.

Below I have catered for you some of the most valuable tools and resources that I have come across for learning how to develop a website.

 

Patience Is A Virtue

 

Often we hear people who state that they could build their own website rather than pay for a Web Developer. Although this is true, anyone with a computer can begin to learn how to code, but it takes dedication to master and perfect coding.

There is a great documentary that shows the life and craft of chef Jiro Ono, called ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi’, directed by David Gelb. There are three apprentices that work at Jiro’s establishment who had to learn how to use their knives for 10 years before they became a ‘shokunin’ (Japanese word for craftsman/artisan).

One apprentice sushi chef tried over 200 times to make egg sushi that met Jiro’s standards. – Click Here To Watch Making Egg Sushi

“You must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work … You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success.” – Chef Jiro Ono

Anyone can learn the basics of a craft, but to progress in your profession, practice makes perfect!

 

Install A Theme

 

You don’t have to jump to code straight away; familiarise yourself with the structure of a site first. There are many sites that provide free high-quality templates, I wouldn’t recommend paying for anything yet if your purpose is to learn more about development.

This way you can start to mess around and explore the interface you are using, widgets, theme options and you can even look into the theme code and become familiar with what codes are commonly used.

 

Plugins

 

Sometimes your theme doesn’t quite complete the task, but don’t fret, there are many plugins that have got your back.

HTML, CSS and Javascript

Now if you want to delve deep into the coding of the site, these languages are a must! HTML is the foundation of the site, it determines the whole structure of your website, CSS makes your site look pretty and Javascript makes your site dynamic.

Don’t put a timer on yourself! You’re starting off Tabula Rasa. Learning should be a natural, unrushed process for you to efficiently learn your new craft. Learn at a speed you are comfortable with – too much code can hurt your head!

A great site for learning code from scratch is Codecademy

 

Immerse Yourself

 

Like any language, if you are taking courses and feel you are gaining a good grasp on your newly found knowledge, you are going to forget it straight away if you don’t put it to practice.

Don’t just right click and save that image! Inspect the element, look at the <img src = ” “> become familiar with what elements are used to create the page.

Join Stack Overflow and learn from an online community of developers.

Write down useful codes that you can save for another time.

 

Install Brackets

 

‘Brackets’ is a very good open-source editor that will allow you to write
code and preview the code onto a test site. Made by the same creators of Photoshop, Brackets primary focus is on Frontend development  and when first opened you will be provided with a HTML & CSS tutorial sheet that is great to mess around with and become more familiar with the structure of the files.

 

Be Dedicated

 

Your website is never, ever finished. 

Trends are evolving, audience preferences are changing, technology is advancing and your content & SEO needs to be constantly attractive.

After completing a site, there is no sitting back and sighing in relief – a site can always be improved and there are always arising problems to fix.

 

Google It!

 

Something that all developers do. Often this can be a double-edged sword as you may come across multiple solutions, some that may be the solution to somebody else’s problem and not yours.

There are certain problems that are easier to solve than others and honesty is a trait that is honed on heavily in this career pathway.
Honestly, “I don’t know” is common and as a junior developer you should start to feel comfortable with learning how to solve various problems on your way down the rabbit hole –  although albeit, not as quick as a more experienced developer. The skills that are gained through Web Development will help you to bring great value to your team.

You won’t do things perfectly at first, but every day you will become a little bit better with practice.

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp” Robert Browning.

 

Skills firm gets behind search for Sunderland’s best business in Portfolio Awards

A training company is putting its considerable backing behind the search for Wearside’s best businesses.

Bosses at JB Skills say they are delighted to sponsor the Exporter of the Year category at the Sunderland Echo’s Portfolio Awards.

”We have some incredible companies based in the region, delivering outstanding work both at home and abroad.” – Dave Macmillan.

JB Skills is an award winning company itself and it specialises in training solutions for organisations and for individuals.

It helps to boost the skills of existing workforces, can deliver bespoke training, or provide apprentices and pre-trained workforce.

It is based in Sunderland and the company has more than 15 learning centres across the UK.

And even though it is just three years old, JB Skills is growing into one of the leading companies in its industry.

It boasts a staff of more than 60 people and a turnover of £4 million and bosses said they were dedicated to the future of training and to supporting business in its home city.

Managing director, Dave Macmillan, said: ”We have some incredible companies based in the region, delivering outstanding work both at home and abroad.

We are keen to show support to all companies with a strong work ethic like ours, and hence as well as entering the awards, we have chosen to sponsor a category we cannot enter.

The level of exporting in Sunderland is of a high quality, so we wish everyone entering luck. We look forward to seeing many familiar and many new faces at the awards night.”

Make It Sunderland is again our headline sponsor and will sponsor our overall Business of the Year Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award, which is in the sponsor’s gift.

Make It Sunderland is also backing the contribution social enterprises make to the city in the Social Enterprise Award. Other sponsors are Northumbrian Water, TTR Barnes, BIC, Sunderland BID, The Bridges, Sunderland College, Wessington Dental, Gentoo, Station Taxis, Creo, The Fans Museum, Stagecoach North East and JB Skills Training.

The deadline for entries has now passed.

The next stage is for the judges to draw up a shortlist. Then it is on to the grand final at the Stadium of Light, on Thursday, October 26.

Getting to grips with the new GCSE grading system

As you’ve probably heard, thousands of pupils across the country received their GCSE results last Thursday, but what you probably didn’t know is that there is now a new grading system in place and pupils who sat their exams this year were the first to receive their grades under this standard. GCSE results day 2017 saw students pick up numbered results in Maths, English Language and English Literature only. New grades will be rolled out for other GCSE subjects over the next two years, starting with science in 2018.  But what does it all mean? We’re here to give you a roundup of what exactly has changed!

Between 2017 and 2019 GCSE certificates will have a combination of number and letter grades, but by 2020 it’ll be number grades only.

9 being the top grade and 1 is the lowest pass grade possible. Students will still be graded a U for an outright fail, however, each number doesn’t correlate with a letter under the old system.

  • A* – A is broadly equivalent to a new grade of 7,8 & 9
  • B – C are being replaced by 4,5 & 6
  • D, E, F & G are at the lower end of the scale and are equivalent 1,2 & 3

The change has been introduced as part of a new reform that was designed to improve the value and reduce the inflation of top grades, allowing schools, colleges and employers to differentiate better between candidates. It is said that many employers will only discover that the GCSE grades have changed once they begin receiving CV’s from pupils. So if you’re reading this, you are one step ahead of the rest!

It’s believed that some employers who don’t have much time on their hands or the knowledge of this grade change will opt for the CV’s they understand rather than the newer CV’s with the 1- 9 grading system on them.

JB Skills are here to help! Now you have an understanding of what has changed, it’s time to get searching for those talented individuals to make a positive impact on your business. Don’t worry, we can take out the hassle of sifting through candidates with the new grade change on their CV. Get in touch so we can get to work finding the perfect apprentice for your business!

If not university, then what next? Advice for Sunderland students on A-Level day

Thousands of 17 and 18 year olds across Sunderland will have got their results today.

For some it may mean and need a change in what they thought was their life’s direction.

If the grades don’t match the university offer and there is no place, then what are the options? Do you go into clearing and accept a place at a university or on a course that wasn’t really your choice, do you re-sit your exams or do you completely rethink?

At JB Skills Training Ltd, a leading training provider based in Sunderland, the 60 plus team is well geared up to help those who follow the ‘complete rethink’ route and decide to earn while they learn.

The provider has a raft of apprenticeship courses and positions within companies in the area that could be the route to kick starting the perfect career.

Courses offered include a range of levels in subjects including ICT, Social Media, Business Admin, First Aid, Lean Office, IT, Warehousing and Storage, Health and Social Care, Business Improvement, Kitchen and Food Production, Customer Care and many more!

Dave Macmillan, managing director of JB Skills Training, said: “Not passing A-Levels and going to University doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful career.

In fact many people find apprenticeships a better way to start a career of their choice – you’ll become a valuable member of your new team, where you’ll be able to share your ideas and see them make positive improvements to the business.

92% of apprentices in work said their apprenticeship had positively impacted their career, showing how an apprenticeship could put you ahead of the rest.”

JB Skills, in just the last three years, has helped over 750 learners through apprenticeships to ensure their futures and enjoy successful careers. One of those apprenticeships is Claudia Bradford.

Having started a qualification on leaving school to follow a career in fashion, Claudia soon realised her prospects were going to be limited. And so she applied to undertake an apprenticeship at JB Skills in Business Administration Level 3.

Over the last 12 months Claudia has worked as part of the administration team at JB Skills HQ in the Software Centre, and has been fully supported through studying for her qualification. She has now been taken on in a full time role as compliance officer.

Claudia, however, wants to climb the ladder at the award winning training company that supplies bespoke training packages for employers and individuals, functional skills courses and apprenticeships.

“When I left school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Having made a false start into fashion, I then spotted the opportunity with JB Skills and now have a realistic and exciting career path all lined up,” She said.

“I’m delighted to have passed my qualifications and have a full time job, but now I want to train to be a team leader within the company, so I will be starting that qualification soon.

The best part about getting this permanent job is the team here. I would have hated leaving after my 12 months training – they are so supportive, it’s a nice environment and whilst we work really hard, we also have lots of fun.”

As compliance officer Claudia carries the responsible role of ensuring that paperwork is in ship shape for learners of all calibres from across the UK who are embarking on courses. The work is varied and busy, as JB Skills has trained over 2000 people in functional skills as well as apprenticeships, working with a whole host of funders and partners who each have their own paperwork.

Sunderland training firm JB Skills expands nationwide!

A Sunderland training provider is going national.

JB Skills Training Ltd is working with leading funders including HIT and Serco, and with the funding stream from the European Social Fund and now has fifteen skills centres across the country.

“We are opening new schools all the time, giving more and more people the chance to brush up on their basic maths and English skills, making them more employable and giving them more options in their careers.”  – Trevor Robinson

The organisation also partners with South Tyneside Council, Brooklands College, Steadfast and East Riding College amongst others meaning that thousands of people are either on or have completed an Entry level one to Level two Function Skills qualification in maths and English.

It now has centres in London, Slough, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Boston, Doncaster, Leeds, Bradford, Darlington, and Newcastle and this week has also launched in Gateshead, Washington and Hartlepool.

The JB Skills qualification is also delivered out of centres in the Midlands, Luton and Northampton, meaning in total there are more than 25 tutors working for the company.

The team is also in the process of expanding in to new areas such as Liverpool and Preston and will be also venturing as far as Southampton and Portsmouth over the coming weeks.

A mix of nationalities is signing up the courses to learn basic maths and the English language, including Polish, Romanian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Italian.

Trevor Robinson is Functional Skills Delivery Manager at JB Skills and travels the length of the country ensuring the schools are set up properly; learners signed up correctly and that delivery is of the best quality.

“Functional Skills is just one of the training options offered by JB Skills but is one that is growing in strength on a weekly basis,” he said.

“We have learners signing up in the hundreds across the country and by the end of 2017 should have doubled both our intake and pass rate numbers to date.

We are opening new schools all the time, giving more and more people the chance to brush up on their basic maths and English skills, making them more employable and giving them more options in their careers.”

GCSE Results Day: Where Next For Sunderland Students?

Thousands of 16-year-olds across Sunderland will have got their GCSE results today

For some, it may mean and need a change in what they thought was their life’s direction.

“Many people find apprenticeships a better way to start a career of their choice than traditional education routes” – Dave Macmillan

If the inclination isn’t there or your GCSE results aren’t good enough to go to A-Level or college, what are your choices? Resit, get a basic wage job or what about an apprenticeship, the best of all worlds?

At JB Skills Training LTD a leading training provider based in Sunderland, the 60-plus team is well geared up to help those who follow the ‘complete rethink’ route and decide to earn while they learn.

The provider has a raft of plus opportunities – apprenticeship courses and positions within companies in the area that could be the route to kick-starting the perfect career.

Courses offered include a range of levels in subjects including IT, Social Media, Business Improvement, Kitchen and Food Production, Customer Care and many more.

And if your maths & English results were poor, we can help with that preparing you for the world of work.

Dave Macmillan, managing director of JB Skills Training, said: “Lower than expected GCSE grades doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful career.”

“In fact, many people find apprenticeships a better way to start a career of their choice than traditional education routes – you’ll become a valuable member of your new team, where you’ll be able to share your ideas and see them make a positive improvement to the business.”

“Ninety-two per cent of apprentices in work said their apprenticeship had positively impacted their career, showing how an apprenticeship could put you ahead of the rest.”

JB Skills, in just the last three years, has helped over 750 learners through apprenticeships to secure their futures and enjoy successful careers.

One of those apprentices is local girl Sophie Elliott.

The teenager from Hetton has recently joined JB Skills as an apprentice, with the title of trainee recruitment resourcer.

In her role, Sophie resources suitable candidates for job opportunities and she also prepares CV’s ready to be sent over to employers.

Not only does Sophie work with the Business Development team ensuring JB Skills can deliver new contracts, and speak to prospective candidates, she also works with a fellow company, LMB Recruitment, updating all their social media and their website by creating job advertisements and posting them online.

Sophie said: “Ideally I would like to go into a HR role in the future.”

“There is a good chance of that at JB Skills and through my apprenticeship; I am learning many important aspects of working within a successful organisation.”

“I wouldn’t have got that grounding had I stayed in school, so I feel confident that my career is getting a good start and I will progress well.”

Intern Adds New String to Education Bow

JB Skills Training has expanded its standing in the world of education by introducing a new opportunity for graduates with an intern scheme.

The first to join the company under the scheme being run in partnership with Sunderland University is Lynsey Surtees.

The 22 year old from South Shields has landed herself the coveted position of marketing intern. The position will last for 12 months, and unlike many other intern schemes, is salaried.

Having graduated in business management Lynsey has a strong interest in marketing and social media and brings with her six months experience having worked for the business school at the university.

During her internship. Lynsey will be working closely with the whole marketing team, deputising for Kieron Hanlon, whilst he is assessing. The first challenge is to look at a rebrand and new website. Lynsey said:

“I am really excited to get this opportunity with JB Skills. They are a friendly and forward thinking team and are growing rapidly, getting a real strong standing in the training world.

I am really keen to have a career in the creative industry and this gives me a good opportunity at having that in my future – hopefully I will be offered a full time position at the end of the twelve months.”

Outside of her career Lynsey, who lives with her sister Jemma and their cat Taboo, is passionate about music and attends many gigs, including Glastonbury this year.

Dave Macmillan, managing director for the Sunderland based company that operates across the whole UK said:

“We offer functional skills, apprenticeships of most levels and bespoke packages for both companies and individuals, so add internships into the mix made perfect sense. Lynsey is challenged with some good marketing tasks and we are looking forward to seeing how she responds.”

Rebranding

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”- Henry Ford

Out with the old, in with the new. Today we are delighted to share our new brand transformation with you!

Our environment is constantly evolving and changing so it was time we moved with it. The refined new look shows how far we’ve come and sets us up for a bright future, but first let’s explain how our apprentices led us through this exciting new journey.

Apprentices are at the core of our business so it seemed like a no-brainer to celebrate their learning, skills and progress by involving them whole heartedly into this rebrand. We wanted to build our brand based on what we believe in, training and apprenticeships, and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.

We are proud of all of our learners and feel it’s important to showcase the amazing talent we have at JB Skills, especially in our own team. It is an intimidating task for any business to pull off a smooth rebrand but we were confident in the abilities of our apprentices to transform our image. A new website, new logo, new print material; just some of the major tasks our apprentices brilliantly delivered. We needed to encapsulate our growth through visual representation which our team threw all their ideas and energy into, and our outcome is a fresh, sleek and polished new branding. It takes great vision, creative flare and determination to execute a rebrand, all of which our apprentices have displayed so we commend them highly on their brilliant achievement.

Our website is now even easier to navigate around and full of valuable content whether you’re an employer or an ambitious learner. Take some time and explore for yourself!

Now you can see how much an enthusiastic apprentice can benefit your business, isn’t it time we find you an apprentice of your own? We offer various other training options for your business so discover more on our website or contact us today. Or if you’re looking to make a positive difference like our team of apprentices, you could be a business’ perfect fit, get in touch! Together we can achieve great things.

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