Are gap years good for your CV?

Can gap years actually benefit your CV? Is there a ‘right way’ to take one and is there an age limit on this sort of break? 

Today’s topic is inspired by this HR News post. Its headline states that gap years can ‘help applicants stand out.’

  • 63% of HR professionals think this is the case, according to YouGov.
  • As 44% of businesses rate ‘experience’ as more important than a degree, the gap year may also provide some valuable practical insights and skills.
  • This is all good news for the 88% of students who chose to take a gap year specifically to increase their employability.

There’s one important phrase that crops up several times in the post, however, and that’s the mention of ‘constructive’ gap years. This brings us to the following question…

Is there a right way to approach a gap year?

Of course, if you’re just looking to take a break from your studies or career (we’ll come to the latter shortly) you could spend your time doing whatever you please.

However, if you’re thinking along the lines of enhancing your employability, this is where the constructive bit comes into the equation.

The sort of break that looks best on your CV is one that features paid and or voluntary work. Each of which can increase your skill-set, confidence (alongside other attributes) and general experience in a variety of ways.

Is there an age limit on this sort of break?

Not when you consider that gap years can be referred to as ‘sabbaticals’.

Experienced professionals can also use this time to learn new skills and gain experience in sectors that they’re eager to pursue.

Is there a right way to feature your gap year on your CV?

Yes! Far from simply leaving a gap in your career history  – no pun intended! – you want to let prospective employers know how you used your time to their potential benefit.

Treat this as you would any other role. Provide the dates of your break, an overview of what you were doing, and real-world examples of your skills and achievements.

As ever, the specific details you provide should also be tailored to your applications.

Ready to send your CV? You can apply for individual jobs directly or upload your CV as a general applicant. If you’d rather email your CV, here’s what to include in your cover note



Parents & the success versus happiness debate

Why do some parents crave success over happiness for their children? Is there any science supporting their approach – and which careers do they want their children to pursue?

The parents prioritising success

Earlier this year (and as reported by the Independent), a survey of UK parents revealed that…

  • More than 1/5 of parents would like their child to seek success over happiness, kindness or honesty
  • 1/6 currently have a ‘career in mind’ for their kids
  • And a 1/4 confess they actively discuss this career more frequently than others
  • Over 1/2 try to steer their children towards particular subjects, with the intention of helping them to secure these jobs in future

The parental divide:

When it comes to the jobs themselves, mothers’ and fathers’ opinions commonly differ.

  • Mothers most want their children to pursue ‘engineering and manufacturing’ roles (27% vs. 21% of fathers).
  • Conversely, dads most want their children to enter the world of ‘computing or coding’ (33% vs. 13% of mums).

Why would any parent pick success over happiness?

A spokesman for Siemens (the study’s author), suggests that most parents truly ‘wish for their children to be happy’, yet some parents think ‘money can buy that happiness’.

Are these parents right? Let’s see what the science says…

Which comes first, success or happiness?

The London School of Economics and Political Science has a great piece on this topic.

  • They open by discussing the old adage that you ‘work hard, become successful, then you’ll be happy’. However, they go on to discuss multiple studies that suggest the opposite is true.
  • They conclude that ‘taken together, the hundreds of studies we reviewed…provide strong support for our hypothesis that happiness precedes and often leads to career success’.
  • Forbes also supports this notion, stating that ‘Neuroscience and studies of positive psychology prove that happiness is a key driver and precursor of success, with two decades of research backing this up’.

So, whether you’re at risk of becoming a pushy parent, think your parent steered you towards your career, or you’re just trying to work out the best job for you, it’s time to start asking what will make you and/or your children happiest!

Visit our jobs page for the latest openings. 



The most Googled jobs…

Which are the most Googled jobs of the past year?

There’s always something intriguing about the ‘most searched for’ lists and there’s something all the more intriguing about the most frequently searched for jobs. It’s not just because we’re recruitment specialists either! Rather, it’s that intrigue about the careers that other people want to pursue and how much these ambitions vary throughout the world.

It’s clear that there are some geographical differences. Yet there are also some common themes, as revealed by research from Brother UK.

The most Googled Jobs in the UK:

Starting with the UK findings, we see that the top Googled roles of the past year include…

  1. Teaching assistant
  2. Estate agent
  3. Project manager
  4. Prison officer
  5. Accountant
  6. Social worker
  7. Councillor
  8. Photographer
  9. And graphic designer

You can see the differences in search numbers via Recruiting Times. We’re interested to read that a number of these openings also appear on the UK’s ‘Shortage Occupation List’.

Elsewhere in Europe and beyond…

As mentioned, these findings differ by country. Spain sees the most results for translation roles, while visual merchandising proves popular in Germany.

Most people research mechanical engineering jobs in India, which also happen to top the global list.

The most Googled Jobs around the globe:

You’ll see that four of the seven roles also appear in the UK list…

  1. Mechanical engineer
  2. Accountant
  3. Teaching assistant
  4. Chemical engineer
  5. Civil engineer
  6. Graphic designer
  7. And social worker

Ready to search for a new job? Here are the latest local openings



Forced into side hustles

Why do employees opt to work in so-called side hustles? Is it by choice or is there something else forcing their decisions?

If you read our recent salary news roundup, you’ll know that more than 1/2 of professionals are finding it difficult to meet their financial needs on a monthly basis.

So, it’s of little wonder that the majority of people who undertake side jobs are motivated by the chance to earn more money.

The top motivations for side hustles are:

  1. To increase income (59.9%)
  2. For personal enjoyment (14.1%)
  3. To ‘improve a hobby’ (10.4%)
  4. For better job security (9.4%)
  5. Or to enter a new career (6.3%)

The fact that 67.7% of respondents could be willing to stop their side jobs if their employer increased their salary adds further proof of their financial incentive.

That said, the remaining 1/3 of respondents intend to eventually turn their side gig into their career role.

Should employees and/or their employers be concerned?

There are important considerations for all parties…

  • As the Onrec post suggests, employees should have a good look at their employment contracts before embarking on any side jobs. Many businesses place restrictions on work that can be completed out of office hours.
  • Naturally, employers need to promote productivity and will be concerned if their team members turn up unreasonably tired or distracted. There’s also the chance of competitive overlaps and even public relation problems.
  • Yet, as the piece also mentions, businesses need to do more to attract and retain their employees; particularly in a time of continued skills shortage. Where possible, increased salaries can help professionals to better balance their work and home needs.
  • Business leaders can consult their recruitment agencies for more guidance on achieving competitive and attractive salary packages. We’re delighted to assist local employers with their recruitment enquiries – please call the office on 01225 313130 for more information.
  • Employees who feel overwhelmed with balancing extra work alongside their careers should consider whether their day job is the right role for them. If they’re not able to negotiate a salary increase, they may find their earning potential is greater in a new role. Regularly reviewing local job opportunities can help you to gauge your salary potential.


No time for a holiday?

Are you one of the many Brits that’s too overloaded at work to use your holiday entitlement this year? Or perhaps there’s another reason you won’t be booking much time off?

This is something of an annual issue. 44% of British professionals opted not to use their full holiday allowance in 2018 – and almost 1/4 (23%) had 6 or more unused days by the end of the year.

What’s more, a new national survey suggests 54% of people won’t benefit from their full entitlement this year either. So, why are so many employees reluctant to book a break from work?

Why many Brits aren’t using all their holiday allowance…

  • 1/4 of people report that they ‘feel guilty’ to use their contractual allowance, blaming their employer’s culture for this. In addition, respondents identified some more specific reasons that could be at the root of their reluctance…
  • Top of the list was being ‘too busy’ to book time off (38%), followed by:
  • Having ‘nowhere to go’ (23%)
  • Not needing as much allowance (19%)
  • Enjoying their job too much (8%)
  • A disapproving boss (7%)
  • And ‘peer pressure from colleagues’ (5%).

The article also explores some related issues. From the prevalence of unpaid overtime to being contacted by work while on leave.

But science says you need a holiday!

Research conducted on men found that those who took shorter holidays generally ‘worked more and slept less’. The post argues that this is perpetuating stress issues and the risk of burnout.

We’re assuming these findings would also apply to female employees, who last year missed out on even more paid leave than their male counterparts.

Perhaps it’s time to review your work-life balance and whether you’re happy with your current lifestyle. If you’re not, there may be better options for you.

Employers and managers should also look to create a culture that encourages everyone to use their holiday entitlement. Booking a temp to cover annual leave needs is a great place to start. Call us on 01225 313130 to discuss how this could work for your business.



The best work-life balance jobs (+ salary details!)

Exploring which jobs have the best work-life balance scores – and whether you’ll have to pick between your lifestyle or your salary…

As each Monday rolls around, you may find yourself wishing your weeks featured less work and more leisure. It’s a common wish and one that often appears to involve a level of financial sacrifice.

After all (and as Recruiting Times reports), this choice often entails a shorter working week and/or part-time hours, which often spells reduced pay.

Well, the latest research by Glassdoor has identified the 15 best roles for work-life balance, with 13 of these meeting or exceeding the national salary average.

The top 10 work-life balance jobs are…

Please note: the brackets indicate the standard national base salary for each role.

  1. Sales Development Representative (£27,000)
  2. Research fellow (£34,000)
  3. Customer Success Manager (£40,000)
  4. Marketing Assistant (£20,000)
  5. Engagement Manager (£48,000)
  6. Data Scientist (£46,000)
  7. Recruiter (£25,000)
  8. Copywriter (£29,000)
  9. Web Developer (£31,000)
  10. Audit Manager (£52,000)

The complete job list and associated ratings can be found in the original post.

Using these findings…

We agree with the positive sentiments expressed in the piece. These findings show that you don’t always have to sacrifice your salary level in order to achieve a more favourable working lifestyle.

What’s more, as Glassdoor suggests, the vast majority of the roles listed can be found in a variety of working sectors and industries.

As ever, we encourage you to do your research to gain more of an understanding of what’s realistic for you to achieve locally. Regularly visiting our jobs page will allow you to see the salaries offered in a variety of different roles.

Your career choices are also highly individual. One person’s ideal work-life balance may be quite different from another’s. Plus what suits you at one point in your career can change with time. Where possible, seek to understand what matters to you…and let your recruitment consultant know your job search priorities!



The latest salary news

Sharing four of the latest salary news findings. How many of these ongoing issues can you relate to?

1) The monthly money struggle

Source: onrec

  • The majority of people (64%) are working beyond their contractual hours. Yet more than half of employees (55.1%) are struggling to meet their financial needs at the end of each working month.
  • Respondents are working anywhere from £1,607.08 to £12,045.60 of unpaid overtime each year.
  • Still, most workers (61.8%) are entering their overdrafts before the month is out, while almost 1/3 of respondents (32.2%) are unable to clear their credit card on a monthly basis.
  • In addition, 74.9% of people think they’re currently underpaid for their job role.

2) Working in insecure, low-paid positions

Source: Personnel Today

  • It can’t help matters that 1 in 6 UK employees are undertaking ‘insecure, low-paid’ jobs.
  • This accounts for 5.1 million people; 2 million of which are working parents.
  • Younger workers are most affected. That said, 46% of those working insecure, low-paid roles are over the age of 35.
  • As a result, the Living Wage Foundation has launched a new campaign titled ‘Living Hours’. This calls for organisations to pay the ‘real Living Wage’ as well as committing to advance notice for shift workers, more accurate contracts, and minimum working hours.

3) The over-30s still require financial support

Source: HR News

  • With the above findings in mind, it’s little surprise that many employees aged over 30 are still asking for financial help from their parents.
  • This age group is the most likely to request financial support (45%).
  • 42% of parents also admit to diving into their ‘own savings and disposable income’ to provide support, even though this may affect their own financial security in the future.
  • We’re not talking small sums either. 1 in 5 parents has contributed more than £11,000, with 1 in 10 giving more than £21,000 to fund large purchases, such as cars and homes.
  • The top 10 purchases that are being funded by parents are listed here.

4) The fear of asking for a pay rise

Source: HR News

  • Despite the prevalence of financial concerns, more than 1/2 of employees are afraid to ask for a pay rise.
  • Some people don’t know how to phrase their requests (16%), others don’t want to appear greedy (15%),  or are ‘scared of asking the boss’ (12%) or simply worry they’ll be ‘turned down’ (12%).
  • Although, 37% of people feel so confident in requesting a pay rise that ‘nothing would stop them’ from doing so.

Salary tip: regularly researching local jobs in your sector will help you to gauge whether you’re receiving (and/or paying your team!) a competitive salary. 



Beyond 65: why will most people work at this age?

Do you expect to work beyond 65? Why this will be the case for most UK employees…

We now hear that 71% of people are on track to work after the age of 65. Furthermore, 2/5 of employees expect to still be working after they’ve turned 75.

This is according to research conducted by Canada Life Group, which also demonstrates a ‘long-term upwards trend’. In other words, the longer the research goes on, the more people predict they’ll be working in later life.

Why do so many employees think they’ll work beyond 65?

Some, but not all, of the top reasons comprise a clear financial component:

  1. An insufficient pension, requiring the employee to continue to earn an income (32%).
  2. Job enjoyment and an interest in ‘working for as long as possible’ (30%).
  3. No longer feeling able to ‘rely on a state pension/benefits’ (25%);
  4. Having saved for retirement but finding the ‘cost of living so high’ that additional income is required (21%);
  5. For other workplace benefits, such as social interaction (21%).

Considering the external financial factors:

Considering why finances bear such an impact…

  • 71% of respondents attribute this to the ‘rising cost of everyday necessities’
  • 63% say ‘rising inflation’ has chipped away at their savings
  • 62% blame a ‘poor return’ on savings
  • 58% put it down to ‘slow wage growth’
  • While 51% consider Brexit-related ‘economic uncertainty’ to be the cause.

The article includes recommendations for employers. Yet how can individuals benefit from this research?

Looking at reasons 2 and 5…

Let’s focus on the non-financial findings for now. It’s wonderful to hear that almost 1/3 of employees enjoy their job so much that they don’t want to retire. We recently shared the news that older employees report greater workplace wellbeing, so it wouldn’t be surprising if these feelings also increase with age.

What’s more, the social interaction element is also at the core of these findings. Workplace wellness is most affected by relationships with colleagues at every age.

So, perhaps the trick is learning how to get more out of your career over the longer-term. We say ‘career’ as we all know it’s rare to find one role that will take you straight through to retirement.

  1. Everything is pointing to the need to keep improving our transferrable job skills as the world of work rapidly transforms around us. Employers are already experiencing a skills shortage (struggling to find appropriately skilled employees for their existing vacancies), so the more you can do to refresh and update your abilities, the more valuable an employee you’ll be. Both now and in the future.
  2. Find ways to improve your workplace happiness – whether in your current or next role. Returning to the research on workplace wellness, it’s important that you understand your priorities. What makes you feel happiest and healthiest at work might differ from your colleagues and might change over time. It’s not always possible to tick every box, but taking steps towards this could increase your overall career enjoyment.
  3. Tap into local and industry experts. Going it alone in a job search can prove overwhelming; particularly if you know little about the employers recruiting in your field or area. A professional Recruitment Consultant is well-placed to advise on the roles that they’re recruiting for. Building a great long-term relationship with an agency also means that you can return for tailored advice at the next stage of your career.

Ready to find your next role? Take a look at our latest openings and/or upload your CV today



The employee experience: what matters now?

Employers should be more aware of the employee experience, suggests national research…

What is ’employee experience?’

Forbes defines this as “the sum of all interactions that an employee has with their employer during the duration of their employment relationship.”

This comprises an employee’s ‘feelings, emotions and perceptions’ regarding every experience they have along the way; starting right from the initial recruitment stage. It also includes daily interactions and the experience of eventually leaving an organisation.

Why is this such an issue?

Few UK employers are discussing the topic. Which also means that few businesses are managing to meet their employees’ changing expectations.

We know that 48% of employees have even left a role due to a job not meeting their expectations, so this could be a costly problem.

How could an employer improve their approach?

Company owners, business managers, and HR leaders need to have a good look at things from their team’s perspective, considering:

  • Recruitment activity: everything from interviews to keeping the candidate informed throughout the process.
  • Welcoming new team members: who does this and how efficient are initial training procedures?
  • Solving any ongoing issues, with an approachable point of contact for any concerns.
  • Whether the company is making the best use of technology.
  • Creating a pleasant work environment.
  • How staff members are recognised and rewarded for their work.
  • Ensuring individuals are treated well right through to their final days with the company.

Recognising and rewarding the team:

This is a vital area – and one that forms the focus of the People Management feature. Research shows:

  • 90% of people deem ‘recognition and rewards’ to be important to their employee experience.
  • 62% ‘hardly ever or never’ feel appreciated, yet 72% would ‘work harder’ if they did.
  • 48% of respondents say a ‘simple thank you’ makes them feel valued.

The article also recommends a more flexible approach. Rather than offering all employees the same incentives, businesses can find ways to provide truly attractive rewards. Ideas include flexible working and time off for childcare needs.

We’re delighted to support the first stage of your employee experience. Helping to make applicants feel welcome from their initial recruitment experience, providing regular updates, and keeping in touch with candidates through to the start of their employment with you. Please call the office on 01225 313130 for further advice.



Does your job title matter?

How important is your job title – and should(/can) you change your job title on your CV?

Recruiting Times has recently released a list of some of the newest job titles appearing on business cards. You might already know a people partner, graduate brainbox, or conversion optimisation wrangler, without even realising it.

After all, many of these titles are playful takes on existing roles. With the idea being to help employers attract new team members. Those in favour of title changes see them as part of an increased focus on employees’ skills and strengths. Conversely, those against them perceive the titles as a way of making ‘mundane roles’ sound better than they are; while paying less for people to do them!

Does your job title even matter?

Margaret Neale (a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business) argues that job titles are a ‘signal both to the outside world and to your colleagues of what level you are within your organisation‘ and should embody part of your benefits package.

It’s something you might discuss and renegotiate in an appraisal context. Though you’ll want to carefully consider the way in which you approach this, as the above-linked post explains.

Think of your CV…

The Balance Careers also agrees that ‘job titles are badges of authority‘ and goes as far as to say that the wrong job title could ‘hinder your pursuit of future career opportunities’. So, it’s very much about obtaining the title that is most appropriate to your skills, experience and role wherever possible.

This all raises a number of additional considerations…

What if your job title doesn’t mean anything to outsiders?

  • Perhaps your title is one that’s exclusively used by your organisation and you’re now looking for a new role.
  • The simplest step is to state your role as it stands, then use two or three words to clarify your position to outsiders. For example, ‘Job Title: People Partner (HR Team)’.

What if your job title doesn’t even reflect your existing role? Or you don’t think it sounds ‘good enough’ to attract a new one?

  • Let’s not forget that embellishing a job title falls under the realm of CV fraud…and that CV fraud is a criminal offence!
  • You always want to make sure that what you state on your CV would be confirmed by your former employer on a reference.
  • Most of the time it would be best to simply state the title and then add further details to clarify the strength of your experience. You could also write a few lines to highlight your expertise in your cover email.
  • However, if your everyday role vastly differs from your title, you could highlight the organisation, team and duration, as per The Balance Careers advice. For example, ‘X Organisation, Finance Team – 3 years’. If you take this approach, tread carefully to ensure that you remain truthful regarding the details of your role. In other words, don’t make it sound as if you’re a finance manager when you’ve only undertaken entry-level responsibilities.
  • What’s more, be prepared to discuss your job title fully with your Recruitment Consultant and any prospective employers.

Ready to look for a new role? You’ll find the latest job vacancies here.