Ian Barber’s Story

Ian Barber

As part of Careers Springboard’s 30th Anniversary celebrations we’re sharing 30 stories of 30 members across our website, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

In June 1992 I was “let go” along with the whole of the European Head Office of Cray Research, who at that time were the maker of the worlds biggest and fastest “supercomputers”.

After a token job search course with KPMG, I handed back the BMW 525 in the first week of Sept 1992. A week or so later, Norman Lamont stood outside the Exchequer building in Whitehall and “confessed” that the UK was leaving the ERM.

As with all periods of major financial uncertainty, the economy slowed down almost immediately.

Little did I know it at the time but it took 6 months before I got my first interview!

In the November, my vicar mentioned that he had heard of “Careers Springboard”

The very next week, a near neighbour, also in the Computer industry and out of work, invited me along to my first meeting at Careers Springboard in the Church Hall of St Andrews in Gerrards Cross.

There was a warm welcome from the 6 Volunteers and the 7 Members, a friendly induction from David Tennant, one of the 3 Founders who had started “CS” about a year earlier, after which I was registered as the latest Member. Unfortunately, I have no record of how many Members there had been before me, but I would estimate at c. 100.

The 6 Volunteers I do remember as: David Tennant; Peter Bunn, Geoffrey Gudgion; (Founders and members of St James Church, GX) David McMullan; (First Chairman of CS and Hon Sec of St Andrews). John Wright; (Chairman after David Mc) and Tony Coleman (always organising charitable events in & around Gerrards Cross).

From November 1992 to December 1993 I attended almost all of the 40 sessions in that period.

Each of the 3 Programmes in the Year covered most of the essential topics of Job Search which I recall as:

  • CV;
  • Tell Me About Yourself (TMAY);
  • Direct Job Applications;
  • Recruitment Agencies;
  • Interview prep and awkward questions;
  • Networking.

Apart from the 6 Volunteers there were other Speakers who spoke on other relevant Job Search topics. Certainly there were former members who would talk about ‘how they got back to work’ and as I recall I gave a talk in Autumn 1994 on that very subject.

From my participation at Careers Springboard I learned, developed and shared an array of skills and learning that have stood me in good stead to this day.

  • Maintain a positive mental attitude; I believe in myself; I will get a job.
  • Network like mad, especially if, like me, I had never done it before; you never know when or from whom that opportunity will come; never give up.
  • Develop interview techniques; Research thoroughly; Listen, with Eye contact, Respond/ Present with interest, Smile & Breathe!
  • Remember its (at least) a two way meeting and have Your questions prepared and ready.

In Jan 1994, I started my new job as part of the Railtrack  Privatisation as Head of Finance for Railtrack Property.

After 18 months out of work imagine the joy in the Barber household, Marjorie and 4 children under 18,  my relief and that of our mortgage provider!

I had only been to 10 actual interviews since March 1993, but over 100 network meetings and several hundred phone ‘meetings’. Between September & December 1993, I received 4 offers, 2 of which in the same week at end November.

How To Improve Mental Health

mental health awareness week

Good mental health is a key influence on finding and remaining in a job. However, unemployment has a detrimental impact.

  • In January 2021, 43% of unemployed people had poor mental health. This was greater than for people in employment (27%) and for people who were on furlough (34%).
  • Moving into employment from unemployment helps reduce poor mental health. However, this is not true for all forms of work. Moving from unemployment into poor quality work can lead to a deterioration. (The Health Foundation – Unemployment and mental health. April 2021)

At Careers Springboard we recognise the impact that unemployment can have. Redundancy can be a shock, you can lose your sense of status, social network, financial security, confidence, self-belief and it can have an impact on your home life. This can lead to stress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week (10th – 16th May) is an annual event about starting conversations around mental health. This year’s theme is Nature. During the pandemic 45% of people reported being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health. Being in nature is known to be an effective way of tackling mental health problems and of protecting our wellbeing.

Ideas to increase your time in nature

What can you do to help others?

  • If you’ve not heard from someone for a while send them a message or give them a call. Listen to how they’re feeling. Just be there to listen. Here’s some great advice about how to listen using the acronym SHUSH which Samaritans use.
  • Do you live near to other Careers Springboard members? If so, arrange to go for a walk, or meet up outside for a coffee.
  • Help them to build connections. Our weekly webinars and coffee mornings are a great opportunity to build a supportive network of others who are facing similar challenges. Sometimes people need a nudge to attend, so send them a message beforehand asking if they’re attending, or saying you’re looking forward to seeing them.
  • Remind them that Careers Springboard funds counselling services for its members. Details can be found in the members section of the website. If you’re not a member please register for free.

Mental Health Resources

Every Mind Matters – includes a free Mind Plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.

Samaritans – Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Lindengate is a Buckinghamshire-based registered charity that offers specialised gardening activities to help those with mental health needs. Their approach has been shown to promote health and wellbeing, facilitate social inclusion and offer participants opportunities that can help them gain in self-confidence and self-esteem.





Morning habits: Start your day in the right way to get the best results

morning habits

One of our speakers Alison O’Dornan, a high performance coach and NLP practitioner, shares why great morning habits are so important.

If there was one piece of advice you’d give to people trying to adapt and thrive even, in this time of unexpected change, what would that be?

The way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Exceptional results and happy lives are the result of consistent daily choices and nowhere is this more apparent than in your morning routine! Even in the situation you find yourself in right now, there is a choice. I read a post on Linked-in just yesterday from a friend who had just lost his job. It was about how he remembered his father losing his job many years ago, and thinking it strange that his dad still got up every morning at 6am and dressed in his suit. He did this, not because he was pretending to himself or his family, but because he understood the importance of how he saw himself, how he visualised his future and how he felt deep down in his heart. He understood the importance of the small actions, of the routines and the morning habits he implemented each day.

What you do each morning is an indicator of how you will approach the entire day – and thus also your entire life.

Do you know those days when you just don’t seem to be able to get your act together?

You skip the shower, or your morning exercise routine. Prioritise checking the news, turn on social media, read an “important” article, tidy up a little, answer some emails, and before you know it, half of the day is gone. Now, you are too busy being angry with yourself, wallowing in guilt to get anything done. Then you become even more angry about being angry and so on… Once this negative feedback loop is initiated, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop it and get back on track that very same day….

The most effective way to avoid that problem altogether is a fixed morning routine because it gives your day a structure right from the start.

Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. – EARL NIGHTINGALE –

Adhering to a daily regimented morning routine reduces measurable stress parameters for the rest of the day and at the same time serves as a long-term benefit for your well-being.

Three of my morning habits, which I recommend to clients:

  1. Setting your mindset – for me this involves listening to some Isochronic meditative music, and then spending up to 5 mins visualising 3 things I want to get done that day that will make me feel good by bed time..
  2. Physical Movement. – I love an app called Seven, it’s a seven minute HIIT routine that really does only take seven minutes, it leaves you with your heart pumping, your endorphins flowing and a sense of achievement before you have even started your day.
  3. A cold shower – yup I did say that. Although before you now dismiss everything else I have said and label me as a ‘freak’. I am not hardcore, I do have a hot shower first, but then I gradually turn it down until it is on full cold. I start with it on my chest, then put my face in and then my whole head under. It is reputed to improve the way you manage stress, it makes you feel refreshed, gives you even more of those great endorphins and as an added bonus you will never leave the shower desperately hunting for your towel because you are freezing again!

Is this easy? Yes.

Can anyone do this? Yes.

Will everyone do this? No

You can connect with Alison O’Dornan via LinkedIn.

You might also like: How To Deal With Losing Your Job

If you’re not currently a Careers Springboard member you can join for free, to access job search advice webinars, coaching, counselling, mock interviews, networking and more.




Virtual Networking Advice – To Help You Secure Your Next Job

virtual networking advice

Virtual networking has become the norm for most of us over the past few months and it looks like it’s here to stay. However, it requires some different skills to face to face networking, so here’s our virtual networking advice to help you.

At Careers Springboard we emphasize the importance of networking as part of your job search. With 15 – 30% of jobs never being advertised networking is a great alternative to the highly competitive job application route.

Virtual networking advice

  • Attend as many free webinars, online conferences etc. as you can that are relevant to your sector.
  • Introduce yourself in the chat, mentioning your target job title and your LinkedIn url. It’s best to wait until everyone has joined the event, so you don’t miss potential contacts.
  • During the call engage with people in the chat.
  • If you’re put into breakout rooms engage fully, ask people questions, give advice, support or positive feedback. People will remember you as being helpful.
  • Suggest that people share their LinkedIn url’s so that you can connect with each other and benefit from everyone’s network. Remember to follow up. If you’re sending an invitation to connect via LinkedIn remember to personalise it with a message.
  • If someone mentions something they need during a conversation and you know someone who could help, connect them. You’ll be remembered by both parties for helping them solve their problem.
  • Join virtual sector based groups e.g. on LinkedIn, Facebook and engage in the group, commenting on people’s posts, or sharing content.
  • Sign up to a course and build rapport with the attendees. If you can connect with the tutor via LinkedIn do that and thank them for the course. Or write a post about it on LinkedIn tagging them.
  • Make sure that you have a great LinkedIn headline, as whenever you comment, or post on LinkedIn this is what people will see. A great format is “I help X achieve Y by Z”  You can then add some keywords that are relevant to what you do e.g. Project Manager | PRINCE2 qualified | Change Management

Practice your “Tell Me About Yourself” response

Tell me about yourself (TMAY) is one of the most common interview questions, but it’s also a question you get asked in everyday situations. Virtual networking is no different. At the start of a meeting, you’ll often be asked to introduce yourself. This is your chance to make an impact, so make sure you get it right.

At Careers Springboard we run free webinars on how to perfect your TMAY. If you’re not currently a member register for free now.




How To Deal With Losing Your Job

losing job

Whether you’ve been made redundant, or lost your job for any other reason unemployment can be difficult to handle. The fact that many people are losing their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19 on the job market doesn’t make the feelings any easier to deal with. Your mindset is a really important element of finding a new job, so here are some tips and resources to help you take control of your situation.

1. Become self aware

After losing a job you can go through denial, you may feel confused or in shock. This could turn to anger, frustration and anxiety about your situation. You might struggle to find meaning and not know what route to take next. For some people it may lead to depression, a feeling of helplessness, or being overwhelmed. Finally you may start to accept the situation and start to explore your options, putting plans in place to move forward.

You may not go through all of these stages and they are not linear, but it’s worth just being aware of how you may respond and being kind to yourself. All of these feelings are a completely natural and understandable response to losing your job.  We recommend talking to your partner, family and friends as they can be a useful support network. If you’re suffering with depression or anxiety please don’t struggle alone. As a Careers Springboard member you can access our free confidential counselling service. It’s provided by external qualified counsellors.

2. Take control of your situation

Assess your finances

Losing your job is tough, but it’s even harder if you’re in financial difficulty. To stop the problem escalating and becoming overwhelming assess your financial situation before you do anything else. The Money Advice Service has a checklist of things you should do if you lose your job.

3. Build your confidence by being job search ready

Understand what sets you apart from others

If you’re aware of who you are and what you can offer it increases your confidence. Before you start applying for jobs gain an understanding of your strengths, skills and values. You have a unique combination of these which set you apart from anyone else. It’s important that you know what they are so that you can articulate them in your CV and at interview. We run free webinars which cover how to identify your transferable skills, values etc.

Practice your elevator pitch

Once you’ve done this you can develop your elevator pitch. One of the most common interview questions is Tell Me About Yourself. It is also a question you might get asked by people you meet socially, or at networking events. So if you have a succinct, impactful response you can make the most of any situation to build your network.


If you randomly apply to lots of roles without a clear strategy you’re unlikely to be successful, leading to self doubt. Before you start applying spend time thinking about what kind of role you’d like. How much do you need to be paid? Where does it need to be located? Due to Covid many roles are now remote, giving you greater flexibility. What kind of company culture is important to you? Do you want to manage staff? Think about previous roles you’ve had, when were you at your happiest? What were you doing? Were you working strategically or operationally? These kinds of questions will help you to focus your job search.

Review your CV

Your CV helps to get your foot in the door. It’s your first chance to make an impression, so make it count. Spending the time reflecting on your achievements to develop your CV can help build your confidence. If you’re not sure where to start, or are going around in circles don’t panic. As a Careers Springboard member you can access our free CV review service. Our advisors will help you to quantify your achievements and pull out your key skills. Find out how to give your CV the best chance of being shortlisted by applicant tracking systems.

4. Be efficient in your job search

Use the full range of job search options

Plan your time effectively so that you’re not solely focusing on applying via job application websites. In many cases you’re unlikely to receive feedback if you’re not shortlisted, due to the number of applicants. Mentally prepare yourself for the lack of feedback and try not to take it personally.

Apply for jobs using the full range of job search options e.g. direct application, via recruiters, using LinkedIn, networking. Make sure you tailor your application, CV and covering letter. Whilst sending off lots of applications may make you feel productive it’s better to apply for a few jobs and do it well.


There is a significant hidden job market, of roles which are never advertised. Particularly for more senior roles this is likely to be your most successful route into employment. As scary as it may seem it’s vital that you spend your time building and nurturing your network. If the situation was reversed you would want to help people in your network, so take a deep breath and give them a call, or send an email. The worst that can happen is that they can’t help you, so you’re no worse off than you were before contacting them. Don’t ask for a job though, this puts the other person on the defensive. We run regular free webinars about how to manage job search networking.


When you’ve lost your job it can be hard to think of yourself in a positive light. However, you are the solution to someone’s problem. When you buy a product you are often trying to solve a problem in your life. Companies recruit staff because they have a problem to fix. For example, they need someone to transform the way they deliver services, source new business, or sell their products. Think of yourself as a brand.

So when you’re posting on social media think about what skills and strengths you have that enable you to do just that. Promote yourself by commenting on relevant articles, sharing your own content, commenting in industry related LinkedIn groups etc.

5. Reflect and Review

Take time to critically review the actions you’re taking. Job hunting is hard work, so make sure you celebrate your small successes. Set yourself clear goals of what you want to achieve in a day or week. Reflect on what’s working and what’s not working so well.

Are you reading lots of job specifications and thinking they all sound interesting but not applying for any? Do you read the job description and discount yourself as you don’t think you match the full criteria? As a Careers Springboard member you can book free coaching sessions, which can help you build your confidence and focus on which direction to take.

Are you applying for roles but not getting shortlisted? Maybe your CV needs tweaking. If you’re a Careers Springboard member book a free CV review.

Are you being shortlisted but not succeeding at interview? If you’re a Careers Springboard member you can book a free mock interview to improve your technique.

By constantly reviewing your approach and making it better you’ll be increasing your chances of success.

6. Build a support network

When you lose your job you often lose friendships and social networks which were part of your workplace. By joining Careers Springboard job club you can build new friendships. Login to the weekly meetings at 7:00pm to meet people in the networking rooms, or join one of the free virtual coffee mornings.

Volunteering is also a great way of building new relationships. It will boost your confidence and help you to fill a gap on your CV.

Unemployment affects your whole family so keep talking to each other. Our members section of our website includes some advice for partners which might be useful to share.

It’s a tough job market, but there are roles out there. Make the most of our free services. We look forward to seeing you at our webinars.

What Are The Benefits Of A Mock Interview?

Mock Interview

Does the thought of an interview make you anxious? Do you struggle to think clearly when you’re nervous? When you’re nervous your amygdala (the part of your brain which helps control your emotions) sends a warning signal. This prompts a release of cortisol and adrenaline, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. If you want to run out of the interview this is really useful. But it’s not so useful if you want to be able to think clearly about your answers! So how can we help? Keep reading to find out the benefits of a mock interview.

What are mock interview benefits?

Helps you to reduce your stress and anxiety

  • A mock interview helps you to answer typical interview questions, so you’re not caught out on the day, struggling to think of a suitable response. It gives you an opportunity to test out your answers and gain feedback.

Boosts your confidence

  • Our coaches are able to point out your strengths, giving you confidence which you can take with you to the actual interview.

Provides you with constructive feedback

  • A mock interview helps you to work on areas where you may have weaknesses. Our coaches are there to support you in moving forward to help you secure your ideal role.

Practice key interview skills

  • One of the most important interview skills is listening carefully to the question. In a mock interview if you go off tangent our coaches are there to guide you. They can explain the key elements of a model answer for that question.
  • Coaches are trained to notice body language and to pick up on what is not being said. Over 70% of communication is via body language and often we don’t realise what we’re doing, particularly when we’re nervous. So the coach can tell you whether you’re coming across as enthusiastic and confident in your responses. Just by taking some deep breaths beforehand or sitting differently it can make a real difference.
  • All our services are being provided virtually. It’s quite likely that your actual interview will be virtual, so it’s great practice. The coach can advise you on whether your lighting, environment and camera angle is right. All of these aspects are key in presenting yourself effectively.

So what are the cons of a mock interview

You need to prepare

  • Yes it’s best if you put in some effort but you need to prepare for the interview anyway, so it’s not wasted time. By preparing you’ll get the best from your session.

It takes time

  • I would argue that a mock interview actually gives you time as it helps you to focus on the key areas which you need to develop further before your actual interview.

It’s nerve-wracking. What if I don’t know the answers?!

  • Our mock interviews are run by supportive, skilled volunteers who have held many interviews in their careers. The purpose of the mock interview is to give you practice responding to questions which you may not know the answers to. They want you to do well in your actual interview, so they are there to guide you.


In summary, mock interview benefits far outweigh the cons. You have a great range of skills that you’ve developed throughout your life and you want to articulate these confidently to a recruiting manager. We can help you to do that.

As a Careers Springboard member you can book free mock interviews. You don’t need to wait until you have an actual interview scheduled. If you know what type of role you’re interested in we can interview you on that basis.

If you’re not currently a Careers Springboard member register now for free.



What Jobseekers Need To Know About Artificial Intelligence


Artificial intelligence is being used to automate parts of the recruitment process making it more efficient. Algorithms can filter and rank candidates in a fraction of the time it would take a human. This frees up recruiting manager time for the final interview stages. It also allows them to engage with a wider talent pool. So what do jobseekers need to know about artificial intelligence?

How is artificial intelligence used in recruitment?


Chatbots ask you a series of questions. The artificial intelligence interprets jobseekers’ responses and questions about the role. You’ll often see chatbots on the recruitment pages of company websites. They can help you determine whether a role is worth applying for.


AI searches through databases to source candidates. Based on the job requirements, artificial intelligent applicant tracking systems select the strongest matches. They analyse each candidate’s skills, education, location etc. If you tailor your CV you don’t need to be nervous of applicant tracking systems. We’ve shared some tips to help you: ‘How To Beat Applicant Tracking Systems’.

Interview scheduling

Interview scheduling software can automate the process of matching recruiter and candidate availability. This can speed up the process for you as a candidate.

Video interviews

Pre-recorded interview platforms sometimes use artificial intelligence. The AI analyses how your response fits with hiring criteria. In some cases the AI can also review the type of words used to determine your personality traits, for instance; openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Some AI relies on facial-scanning or vocal-inflection algorithms to assess emotion. However, this can cause problems as different cultures express emotion in different ways.

As with any interview it’s important that you’re fully prepared. There are a few other points to consider with pre-recorded interviews. Therefore we’ve shared some tips in our blog post: ‘How To Prepare For Pre-Recorded Interviews.’

Reviewing previous applicants

Previously the job of scouring past CV’s kept on record, for matches, deterred most companies. Your chances of being called back for an interview are now higher. AI can quickly search a company’s database for suitable candidates.

How can jobseekers win against artificial intelligence?

Don’t see artificial intelligence as an enemy. Recruitment can be a lengthily process for candidates, causing frustration and anxiety. However, artificial intelligence is speeding up the process.

At Careers Springboard we can support you to tailor your CV for the role you’re applying for. In addition, we offer coaching and mock interviews, which can help build your confidence.



How To Prepare For Pre-Recorded Interviews

pre-recorded interviews

The use of pre-recorded interviews as part of the recruitment process is increasing. Lots of people don’t like seeing themselves on camera. As it’s a one-way interview this can add to the discomfort. However, there are lots of measures which you can take to make sure you perform at your best.

What happens in a pre-recorded interview?

As the name suggests it’s not a live interview with a recruiter, you are alone in front of the camera.

  • The company will ask you to login to the video interview platform.
  • When you login to the platform your interview will start.
  • You will have an opportunity to test your microphone and camera.
  • When you begin the interview you will be given a practice question to answer.
  • You may have a mixture of open questions, scenarios, multiple choice, or written responses.
  • There is usually a moments thinking time, then an allocated response time for each question.
  • When you have finished the interview the recruiter will be able to review your answers in their own time.

Whilst you may have become more comfortable with virtual technology as a result of Coronavirus it’s important that you practice.

Why are pre-recorded interviews used?

Pre-recorded interviews are a useful pre-selection tool. They are often used as an alternative to telephone interviews. If there’s a large number of applicants for a position they help the company efficiently decide who should proceed to the next stage of the interview. Whilst they can be a bit daunting for candidates there are lots of positives.

What are the benefits of pre-recorded interviews?

  • You will usually given a deadline by which to complete your interview, rather than a set time. This flexibility allows you to make sure that you are prepared and in the right environment, free from distractions.
  • In a telephone interview you don’t have a moment to think of your response, whereas the pre-recorded interviews usually allow you about 30 seconds.
  • Unlike a telephone interview, the recruiter can watch your interview more than once. This helps the recruiter catch the full impact of your responses. It also makes the process transparent and fairer.
  • Pre-recorded interviews allow the company to increase the number of candidates they shortlist. They don’t need to find time for a recruiting manager to fit telephone interviews into their schedule. This may enable you to be shortlisted for a role which you may not have previously been selected for.
  • 70 – 93% of communication is via body language. This is lost in a pre-selection telephone interview.

How can you perform at your best in a pre-recorded interview?

The standard best practice for interviews still applies, but there are a few other areas to think about.

Interview preparation

  • Research the company and familiarise yourself with the job description
  • Prepare a response to common interview questions, for example ‘Tell me about yourself.’
  • Have examples of your achievements to hand. We recommend using the STARB acronym to develop these. (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Benefits)
  • Practice answering questions on camera using a timer. To do this you can setup a Zoom meeting with yourself, or another Careers Springboard member. Use your phone timer, allowing yourself a couple of minutes for each question. Click on the ‘record’ button before you start. When you finish the Zoom call it will create a video which you can download and playback. It’s a great way of checking how enthusiastic you are when responding.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. It is important that your answers are clear even though you have a limited response time. Don’t be tempted to rush.
  • Practice demonstrating your motivation through your posture, by smiling and using hand movements. Try this before your interview, in front of a mirror, or by recording it on your phone or webcam.

Environment preparation

  • Make sure that your lighting is good. It’s best to have a light source behind your screen, facing you, preferably a window. If you can’t position your device in this way close any blinds/curtains and use artificial lighting. Otherwise the light from the window will create a glow to the side or behind your head which is distracting.
  • Free your background of clutter
  • Position your device so that your camera lens is in line with your eyes. You can use books to raise a computer.
  • Wear the right outfit. Whilst pre-recorded interviews are often at the early stages of the the recruitment process they are just as important. They are your opportunity to make a good first impression and move through to the next stage.

As a Careers Springboard member you are welcome to use our free Coaching service. The coaching is provided by qualified coaches with a range of expertise across different sectors. We offer mock interviews as part of this service.

You may also be interested in 10 Top Tips To Be AT Your Best In Virtual Interviews


How To Create Your Top 10 List Of Target Companies

target companies

Do you have a list of target companies that you’d like to work for? When you attend Careers Springboard webinars you’ll often hear us talk about the hidden job market. One of the most successful ways of job searching is via your network. Many employers don’t advertise jobs. They will ask employees, or their wider network for referrals. It avoids the lengthy and expensive process of open online applications.

So if you need to find a job via your network where do you start? By creating a top 10 list of companies you want to work for, you can target a company, then network your way in. When a position becomes available, or is created you want your connection to think of you.

So how do you create your target list of companies to work for?


Create a mindmap based on your knowledge initially. Who are the leaders within your sector? Which companies did your previous organisation do business with? Ask former colleagues or friends for ideas. Should any of these by in your top 10 list of companies to work for?

Best companies to work for

Organisations who care about their staff often apply for recognition via the Sunday Times ‘Best companies to work for.’ It helps companies benchmark performance against best practice. In addition, it’s good PR, helping to attract the right talent.

100 best:

Glass door also creates a list of the Best Places to Work in the UK, based on employee feedback.

Chambers of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce include a network of businesses committed to improving the local business environment and communities in which they work. If you’re looking for a role within a local business you can find your local Chambers of Commerce via the British Chamber of Commerce. Look at their Members Directory.

Professional associations, or professional bodies

Are you a member of a professional body or association which seeks to further your profession? Which companies are represented? You can find a professional organisation for your sector by searching the government list of approved professional organisations. By becoming a member or attending events you’ll gain access to a network of organisations who are committed to continuous improvement. Some professional bodies also have job boards and provide mentoring.

Social media groups

Join relevant LinkedIn groups or Facebook groups. Who is engaging in these groups and which companies do they work at?


Attend conferences related to your sector. As a result of Covid many conferences are being provided virtually at a much lower cost, or for free. Look at who is presenting and which companies delegates come from. Should they have a place in your top 10 target companies?

By attending conferences you also keep your knowledge of your sector updated. This is really useful for interviews. It also provides you with content to post on LinkedIn to promote your personal brand. You can ‘meet’ experts and influencers, form new connections and strengthen existing ones.


Using LinkedIn’s company search function you can find companies within your industry. You can filter this by location, size and whether you have connections there.

Are the target companies a good match?

Research each company on your list. Look at the company values on its website, are they aligned with yours? What are the company and employees sharing on social media platforms? Does it portray the right culture for you? What do employees think of the company? Glassdoor shows: company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.

Once you’ve collated your list of target companies you need to build connections. We regularly run webinars on networking and have advice on how to network in our members area.



9 Ways to Secure Your Graduate Job

young professionals

Are you looking for a graduate job? If you’ve recently graduated you might be feeling anxious about how Covid19 might affect your career. Here are our tips for securing your graduate job.

1.Decide which career is right for you

Having clarity around your career direction helps you to target your job search effectively, saving you valuable time. Linda Denny, a coach and Trustee at Careers Springboard recommends “Quality over quantity” when applying for jobs. Really focus on the right roles and then spend your time on the application forms, CV and covering letter. As a Careers Springboard member you can access free coaching to help you decide which career is right for you.

Look out for virtual events where you can chat with employers, postgraduate course providers, career advisers, and other organisations to discover the opportunities available to you. The UK Careers Fair is holding virtual events on 20th January 2021 for Greater London and 5th February 2021 for the South East. If you’re looking for events further afield take a look at their website for dates across the country.

The National Careers Service also offer free Careers Advice and regularly host question and answer sessions on their social media platforms.

2. Create your personal brand

You can start creating an online presence which shows your interest in the career direction you’d like to take. Before you start take a look at your social media accounts and ask yourself if they’re employer-friendly. Employers check candidates social media profiles to see whether they’ll be a good fit for the company.

  • Adjust your privacy settings if you don’t want recruiting managers to be able to see your profile.
  • If profiles are public delete posts that could damage your success.
  • Does your profile handle and email address sound professional? If not, change them.
  • Follow companies and professional bodies of interest.
  • Like, comment and interact with employers.
  • Post your own content, or share others content that relates to your area of interest.
  • Use relevant hashtags to ensure your posts are seen by the right people.

3. Build your experience

One of the biggest challenges when trying to secure your first graduate job is a lack of experience. Volunteering is a great way of building your experience and shows employers that you’re proactive. Take a look at our 6 great ways volunteering can boost your CV.

Studenteer connects recent graduates to good causes and charities-in-need, giving them work experience through placements such as coding, marketing or graphic design. They also provide mentoring and free training.

4. Increase your skills

One way of improving your graduate employability is to improve your skills. There are lots of free or low cost short, online courses available in a wide range of subjects. The course could be related to your chosen career, or a passion of yours. By doing a course you can demonstrate to potential employers that you are using your initiative and are committed to continuous personal development.

Take a look at FutureLearn, Coursera and Udemy

Graduate Coach is offering a free course ‘How to get a graduate job‘ via Future Learn, covering:

  • Understanding yourself and the graduate job market
  • How to master the job application process
  • How to become interview confident

5. Develop your network

One of the disadvantages of being young is that you don’t have such an established network to reach out to. Don’t panic. People are keen to help, as everyone remembers what it was like to enter into the world of work. So don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you do know. You might want to ask someone within the industry you’re interested in to be a mentor. There are some tips in our members area about how to start developing your networking list and how to reach out.

Take a look at the graduate networking opportunities offered by Bright Network.

6. Practice your online interview skills

A lot of employers are adopting virtual recruitment strategies and have said that these are likely to stay post-pandemic, so it’s vital that you are comfortable interviewing online. Take a look at our 10 top tips to be at your best in virtual interviews. If you’re a Careers Springboard member you can book a mock interview for free.

7. Learn how to be a productive home worker

The pandemic has profoundly changed the nature of work for many employees, with a widespread move to homeworking. In many cases businesses have surveyed their staff and discovered that the increased flexibility of homeworking suits them, so it may be here to stay, in some format.

Searching for a job, is a full time job. So use this time to build your skills in working productively at home. Learn how to schedule your time effectively at our upcoming Time Management webinar. It will help you to secure a job more quickly and help you keep it once you’ve got it.

8. Keep an eye on graduate schemes

The Bright Network has a list of graduate scheme application dates for over 300 partner firms. Graduate schemes can be oversubscribed, so make sure you know the application dates and respond quickly to ensure you don’t miss out.

9. Look after your wellbeing

Job hunting can be tough. Set yourself some clear goals and break tasks down into manageable actions. Plan in some rewards for yourself e.g. for when you’ve completed a particularly challenging job application, or reached out to X amount of contacts.

You will need to be committed to putting in the effort to achieve your goal. Be persistent in overcoming challenges. If you don’t get shortlisted for a role, or are unsuccessful at interview it can be disheartening. Look at it as a learning experience. Reflect back on what you felt went well. If you can gain feedback from the employer that’s great. Chat to friends and family about it and see how you can implement the learning for the next job application.  See your job search as an opportunity to improve your resiliency skills.

Look after your wellbeing by planning time into your week where you can relax. Even though you may not be able to see friends stay connected with them on a regular basis. Identify positive strategies to help you deal with stress, or anxiety. Regular exercise can be great for reducing stress and boosting your mood. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media checking the news.

If you are struggling please reach out to family, friends, your doctor, or make use of the free counselling service for Careers Springboard members. It’s confidential and provided by qualified counsellors.