Make the most out of your lunch break and enjoy the nice weather

Friends During A Lunch Break

The majority of UK employees say they aren’t always able to stop work and eat lunch for 20 minutes. Whether you’re entitled to 30 minutes or an hour, having a proper break can not only improve your mood but it is also shown to increase productivity. With such glaring benefits, finding the time to get out of the office is critical and even more enjoyable now that the weather is improving.

Finding the time

The biggest challenge most full-time workers have is finding the time in their busy schedules to take a real lunch break. When you have a big workload and you strive to leave the office at a reasonable hour, it’s easy to eat at your desk while working away. Here are a few tips to help you find the time for a mid-afternoon break:

  • Plan! The simplest solution is to plan your day around your lunch break. Give yourself a timeline of activities to tackle each day and assess new tasks by their urgency as they come in. This means you shouldn’t be caught in the middle of task when hunger strikes.
  • Communicate with your team – whether you simply need to block the time in your calendar or pop your head over the cubicle, letting your team know when you are and are not available will make taking a break much easier. Remember, you’re entitled to a break so don’t be afraid to tell everyone when you’ll be away from your desk.
  • Experiment with different times. Taking lunch at the same time everyday might work for your schedule, especially if it works for the rest of your team as well. But often times your workload and meetings will dictate when you’re available. Try taking a break at different times of the day to determine what works best for you each day of the week.

Getting outside

Nearly half of employees say they rarely leave the office during their lunch break. Sitting in front of your computer while munching on a sandwich might seem like a more sensible use of your time, but there’s evidence to suggest that staying in during lunch can negatively impact your productivity and happiness. Here are a few ways to get out during your break, whether you work in a bustling city, quite town or empty business complex:

  • Walk – no matter where you work, you should be able to find at least one place to stretch your legs, even if it’s just the car park. Exploring the area will not only give you a nice break from the office but should give you a few shops or cafes to check out in the months ahead.
  • Eat outside. Often times bringing your lunch to work leaves you with little choice but to eat in the office. As the weather is warming up, find a nice place outside to sit and eat – a picnic bench, stoop or grassy patch will do the trick.

Remaining productive

It’s claimed that 2:55pm is the least productive time of day. By taking a break away from your desk during lunch you’ve already set yourself up for a productive afternoon. Still, there are steps you can take to boost your focus and power through the 2:55pm slump.

  • Picking a healthy meal for lunch can dramatically improve your energy levels. This doesn’t mean you have to force down carrot sticks and rice crackers, use resources such as Pinterest to explore healthy lunch options that will satisfy your taste buds and improve your afternoon focus.
  • Get some exercise! Whether you go for a stroll or hit the gym during your break, getting your blood flowing can have a massive impact on the rest of your day. A regular workout schedule, in addition to promoting good health, has been shown to reduce stress and increase focus.
  • Socialise – find a buddy in the office, or set up lunch meetings with people from across the business. This will force you to find the time for lunch and will give you a welcome break from work to socialise. By befriending your colleagues you could even give yourself a leg up in your career.

Make the most of the spring and summer months ahead by getting out and about during your lunch breaks!

 

Sources

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/11326076/British-workers-are-skipping-lunch-and-thats-hurting-productivity.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-successful-people-spend-their-lunch-hour-2014-3?IR=T

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Picking yourself up after a poor appraisal

Customer Service Evaluation Form With Tick On Poor

You probably don’t spend much time looking forward to your performance appraisal. Whether it comes once, twice or four times a year, it’s a stressful experience for most employees – especially if you’ve experienced a negative review before.

So how do you turn things around after receiving a poor performance appraisal from your manager?

Don’t react with emotion

No matter what, never react to the situation with emotion. While it’s natural to feel defensive or angry during a bad review, acting on these emotions can actually worsen the situation.  By the time you receive a negative appraisal it’s typically too late to try and explain your way out of it – your performance has been reviewed and now you must move forward.

Listen as best you can during the meeting and take notes of specific criticisms, ensuring you maintain poise throughout. Following the review, give yourself time to calm down and reflect on the feedback you received. Often times it is worthwhile scheduling a second meeting with your manager once you’re clear-headed, this gives you an opportunity to ask thought-out questions and request specific examples about your performance.

Remain calm, listen carefully and take notes.

Be honest with yourself

It may take a few days to soak in all of the information you’ve received in your review, and even more so if you requested a second meeting to discuss feedback in more depth. But once you’ve had time to reflect, you absolutely must be honest with yourself about the situation – honestly consider what you’ve been told and determine whether criticisms of your performance are accurate.

Often speaking with other members of your team about specific concerns and asking for honest feedback is a great place to start. Be sure to not put anyone in an awkward situation, but having their opinion will allow you to more accurately assess the situation.

If you can figure out what might be causing problems then you’ll be in a much better position to move forward.

Make a plan of action

The entire purpose of feedback is to help you grow and improve in your career, while negative feedback doesn’t make you feel good it can be a sign that you’re taking on new challenges. In order to succeed in anything, especially a new task, you must have a detail plan of action.

Make an initial assessment on what you need to do to improve – this could mean learning new skills, changing your behaviour or reprioritising your tasks. Agree everything with your manager in advance and set small, achievable goals that can help showcase your progress.

Make an honest apology for your poor performance and share your plan of action with your manager – simply showing willingness to improve will put you in good stead for the months ahead.

Staying on track

Now that you’re ready to make a change in your performance you must make every effort to stay on track. Here are a few ways to stay motivated to succeed:

  • Arrange frequent meetings with your manager to discuss your progress
  • Reassess your goals on a regular basis to ensure they remain attainable
  • Keep a record of your accomplishments and praise you receive for your work – if someone offers a verbal compliment, ask them to repeat it in writing!
  • Ahead of your next review share your journal of accomplishments with your manager to highlight your positive contribution to the business

Stay motivated to improve and don’t be afraid to highlight your accomplishments along the way to give yourself an advantage ahead of your next review. 

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Top Tips: Update your CV with a spring clean

Vector original minimalist cv / resume template - creative doodl Spring is in full swing and for many that means cleaning out the house and starting fresh for the warmer months. So why not extend this into your professional life? Now is the perfect time to give your CV a spring clean, but tackling an outdated CV can be quite the challenge.

Here’s an easy guide to help you spruce up your old CV.

First and foremost, how old is your CV? If it’s been 10 years since you were last on the job market it may not be worth trying to salvage such an old document. That being said, it’s always a great refresher to look back on your key responsibilities at previous positions, especially if your current role has changed over time. If your last CV was written in the last two years, then your best bet is to start with this version and begin updating.

Redefine the focus of your CV. If you’re re-entering the job market then you’re likely looking for something a little bit different, or new. Take the time to really define what the change is and consider how you might amend your CV to reflect your new career goal. This will allow you to set out they keywords, skills and experience that will be essential for your desired role.

Revaluate your old content. Now that you know exactly what you’ll need to include in your CV, you’re ready to go through all of the old content and decide whether it needs to be deleted, amended or if it can stay the same. Use different colour highlighters or the highlight tool in your word processor to colour code what you’d like to do with each section of the old CV. This will give you a visual idea of how much work lies ahead. Then you can sit down and start making changes with your new career goal in mind.

Add your most recent experience. The biggest change to your CV will be adding your most recent position. It can be tricky to boil down exactly what you do on a daily basis into a few sentences, so think about your position from a high-level – don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks and be sure to position yourself in the best light possible.

Consider the look of your old CV – does it need a facelift? Don’t be afraid to experiment with the layout and design of your CV, especially if the version you’re working with is quite old! Consider the best format to save documents for employers, often times a PDF is the safest option.

Finally, proofread over and over! Once you’ve made all of the necessary changes to your CV, take the time to read through everything and ensure it flows and focuses on your career goal, then it’s time to proof. It’s always advisable to have a friend or family member take a look as they’ll offer a fresh perspective.

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Didn’t land that interview? Blame your Facebook page

Ostersund, Sweden - April 13, 2014: Facebook website under a mag

Wondering why you didn’t get offered an interview even though your CV was tailored to the job, your covering letter was perfect and you have the ideal experience? Perhaps it’s worth double checking your Facebook privacy settings.

Recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly turning to social media to pre-screen candidates before bringing them in for an interview and they’re looking at more than LinkedIn. If your name is connected to any social media account, a determined recruiter will find it! So what can you do to ensure your social life is employer-friendly?

Start with the privacy settings – if you can, make your pages as private as possible. If your page can’t be found, then you have nothing to worry about! Unfortunately when it comes to the likes of Twitter, having a private account is quite unusual and you may not be willing to make the change. If you’re keeping your profiles public, here are a few tips to keeping the content employer-friendly.

  • Delete the party pics and watch your language! If every other picture features a pint in your hand captioned with a slew of swear words, then you’re in trouble. Be cautious about which pictures you upload (and those you’re tagged in!) and ensure you use sensible language. No one expects you to have the perfect image on the internet, but don’t give a potential employer reason to think you’ll be inappropriate in the workplace. If you’re a recent graduate looking for your first job, it’s definitely worth reviewing your pictures and posts from your university days!
  • What you post is important, but how you post can matter just as much. Whether it was an auto-correct error or simply sloppy grammar, a potential employer will not be impressed by your mistakes. If your profile is public, make sure you’re using full sentences and proper grammar!
  • Share more of your employable qualities. Now that you’ve removed any inappropriate posts and pictures, think about what to share moving forward. Keeping your profile up to date with your more employable qualities will put you in good stead. For example, share photos from any volunteering you do and comment on industry news.

Remember that what you do online is never truly private – keep this front of mind when applying for your next job!

Register your CV with CV-Library for free.

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Three tips to employing an apprentice

LOW SIZE EMPLOY APP

Apprenticeship schemes are an increasingly popular way for young people in the UK to join the workforce. Through such schemes it’s not just the apprentices who benefit, they also bring advantages for the employers. Northern Apprenticeships are sharing their top tips on employing an apprentice:

1. Decide on what skills your business requires

Apprenticeships are real jobs that enable your employee to learn theory in the classroom and then apply it to their jobs in the working environment, whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification. This allows an individual to excel at their current job by developing the right specialist skills and competencies needed for the sector rather than just a generic set of skills.

Firstly you should begin by looking at what skills gaps are present in your current business, or anticipate what skills may be required in the future. You can then decide what type of apprentice you need so you can mould, train and develop him or her into the required role. If you need assistance, try using a specialist recruitment agency that has a free service for employers.

2. Take advantage of grants and funding

You may be entitled to grants, both nationally and locally, to help fund an apprentice programme which generally range from £1,500 to £14,000. You can find out more about the government’s Age 16-24 Grant by clicking here and viewing the employers’ fact sheet, but there may be other grants available to you depending on location, sector and type of apprentice. There are free recruitment services that can help you to identify the right grants for you.

3. Commit, support and empower your apprentice

According to the National Apprenticeship Service, a whopping 92% of apprentice employers believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce. The benefits extend far beyond satisfaction and into increased productivity, improved staff retention, reduced staff costs and improved bottom lines.

However, to achieve these benefits you must fully commit to the apprenticeship; provide a mentor to guide and support your apprentice in order to allow them to flourish in their role. You must motivate and include your apprentice in business activities and ensure they are acquiring useful skills in the workplace, not only to improve their experience, but to benefit your business as well.

By committing to, supporting and empowering your apprentice you will be rewarded with a loyal and motivated employee who will grow to become a vital part of your business.

 


This article was contributed by Dino Georgiou of www.northernapprenticeships.co.uk.

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Spring cleaning tips: UK Workspace edition

Window cleaner using a squeegee to wash a window

Spring has sprung, the house is clean, the sun is shining, and your desk is…a mess? Whether you work from home, in an office or in a shared workspace, how you organise your desk can have a direct impact on your productivity. So why not think about a little bit of spring cleaning for your workspace?

It’s often claimed that a messy desk is a sign of a creative personality, as Albert Einstein famously said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Despite this psychological link to creativity, there’s strong evidence that messy desks can actually hinder productivity in the workplace. Princeton University Neuroscience Institute has proven that your brain has a limited ability to process information, so being surrounded by clutter makes it difficult to focus on one individual task. In addition to a messy desk creating distractions, a cluttered digital life can also have a negative impact on your performance at work.

So here’s how you can tackle the tedious job of tidying up your desk, cleaning out your drawers and organising your email.

The desk

Your desk should offer enough space for a colleague to stop by without you having to create a space for their notebook. Take a look at everything you have on your desk and ask yourself what you need to use regularly throughout the day – phone, notebook, pen, anything else? Any excess items should be put away – yes, that means taking those 4 extra pens back to the stationary cupboard along with that ruler you’ve never used.

Next, ensure you have a system in place for documents that make their way to your desk. A good rule of thumb for dealing with paper build-up is to tackle every document as soon as you receive it – action immediately, file immediately or bin immediately. This should open up space on your desk and help you prioritise throughout the day.

Drawers

Drawers or file cabinets can be a daunting task, especially when you’ve been at the same desk for a number of years. This is where you should be really cut-throat about what is to be kept and what should be tossed in the (recycling) bin.

Take it one drawer at a time by filing any important documents and disposing of unnecessary paper. If you have a space for your personal items, make sure they’re nicely organised so you can easily access your stash from your desk.

Email

Email management is a challenge for everyone and it’s a very personal subject for many people. While there is no wrong or right way to organise your emails, generally speaking it’s best to keep the number of emails in your inbox under 100.This means creating folders than make sense for you and help you organise the hundreds of messages you could receive each day.

Don’t be afraid to delete old messages or set up rules that automatically send non-time sensitive messages straight into a folder. Just ensure you’re following any company rules on email management.

 

One final tip – spend the last five minutes of your workday touching up any mess created throughout the day. That way you can sit down in the morning with clarity and focus. 

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UK World Health Day 2015 – Make your workplace a healthier one

leg exercise durrng office work - standing man reading at tablet

While the theme of this 2015’s World Health Day is food safety, we’re honouring the day by sharing a few tips and tricks to help transform your workplace into a healthier, and hopefully happier, environment.

Use your desk as a gym

Fitness always seems to be trendy and recently in the UK it’s becoming prevalent in the workplace, with innovations in how we work with the likes of the standing and treadmill desks. If you’re fortunate (and brave!) enough to have these options at your office then you’re well on your way to improving your health at work. But for the rest of you there are still ways to get a good workout with your regular old desk and office chair:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift and you should have already given yourself a bit of cardio before sitting down at your desk.
  • Stretch when you’re on the phone – most of us are constantly typing on the keyboard, so every time you’re on the phone throughout the day use hands-free and take the opportunity to stretch.
  • And if you’re really comfortable around your co-workers, the best thing you can do is use your desk as a gym and get some strength training and cardio in, here are a few exercises you can do in less than five minutes.

Turn the conference room into a yoga studio

Find a shared space in the office, the conference room should do the trick, and set up weekly exercise classes. Whether it’s yoga first thing in the morning or aerobics in the afternoon, you’re bound to have a full room with such an accessible location. You don’t have to shell out money for an instructor, instead search YouTube for the ideal workout.

Start a club!

One of the easiest ways to encourage a healthier lifestyle in the workplace is to get everyone else on board. Start a club that encourages everyone in the office to do something healthy – try a walking club to stretch your legs over lunch or a five-a-side team to kick the ball around after work.

 

Tell us about your journey to a healthier and happier workplace in the comments below!

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Spotlight on Living and Working in Leeds

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Considering moving to Leeds for work? Well, you’ll need CV-Library’s ‘Spotlight on Living and Working in Leeds’ to get your research started.

 

Population – 750,500

Travel and costs – Bus and rail card, central zones, per month – £107

Number of jobs in total (within 15.00 miles of centre, as of Feb 25th 2015) – 4000

Top industries based on job seeker activity – Administration, Engineering, Distribution, Manufacturing, Customer Services

Top industries with most jobs – Engineering, Construction, Administration, Education, Financial

Average salary – £20,768

Average contract day rate – £168

Average rent for a one bedroom flat – £496

Average rent for a two bedroom flat – £639

Meal, inexpensive restaurant – £12

Average gross disposable household income (GDHI) per head– £14,151

Search Leeds jobs

 

Sources: http://www.home.co.uk/for_rent/newcastle_upon_tyne/current_rents?location=newcastle_upon_tyne
http://www.cv-library.co.uk
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/nov/24/wages-britain-ashe-mapped
http://www.wymetro.com/TicketsAndPasses/MetroCards/BusZones1-3/
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_364960.pdf
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=United+Kingdom&city=Leeds
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Spotlight on Living and Working in Newcastle

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Considering moving to Newcastle for work? Well, you’ll need CV-Library’s ‘Spotlight on Living and Working in Newcastle’ to get your research started.

 

Population – 280,200

Travel and costs – Metro Nexus, Tyne and Wear. All zones, 1 month. £70.30.

Number of jobs in total (within 15.00 miles of centre, as of Feb 25th 2015) – 1,470

Top industries based on job seeker activity – Engineering, Sales, Administration, Customer Services, Manufacturing

Top industries with most jobs –Engineering, Education, Construction, Sales, Medical

Average salary – 17,943

Average contract day rate – £173

Average rent for a one bedroom property, per month – £546

Average rent for a two bedroom property, per month – £608

Meal, inexpensive restaurant – £9.99

Average gross disposable household income (GDHI) per head – £14,393

Search Newcastle jobs

 

Sources:

http://www.home.co.uk/for_rent/newcastle_upon_tyne/current_rents?location=newcastle_upon_tyne

http://www.cv-library.co.uk

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/nov/24/wages-britain-ashe-mapped

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_364960.pdf

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=United+Kingdom&city=Newcastle+Upon+Tyne

 

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Flexible Working: It’s Good for your Health

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This week is ‘Flexible Working Week’! Escape from your usual 9 to 5 (or 5:30) and find new ways of working. There’s more to life than work, after all!

 

Whether your company is taking part this year or not, the opportunity to choose your own hours to fit around your lifestyle is a widely sought-after benefit.

A recent CV-Library candidate survey found that of all the workplace perks made available to employees, the option for flexible working was rated as the most desirable benefit.

And, in a recent Bupa report, research showed that flexibility can be the key to retention and happiness in UK SMEs. So – how can flexible working improve your health?

 

Stress less

Stress can be so detrimental to your health, and when you’re working to a fixed work schedule it’s easy for that stress to mount up – from spending time stuck in traffic, to running late from dropping your kids off at school, to trying to cram that gym session into your hour-long lunch break. With flexible working you will find yourself stressing less, as your work schedule is tweaked to fit around your other (let’s face it, more fun) commitments.

 

Spend more time with your loved ones

Hanging out with your family, children and significant other is an important part of life. Time spent in the company of loved ones makes you happier – it’s chemically proven! Happier individuals are likely to live fuller, healthier lives as their mental state impacts positively on their physical wellbeing.

 

Get outside more

When you’re working full time, it’s easy to find yourself spending most of the day inside, particularly in the winter when you may be arriving at and leaving work in the dark. Flexible working can allow later mornings or earlier evenings, giving you more time to take part in outdoor pursuits or simply spend time in the sunshine (whilst soaking up some much-needed Vitamin D). In this way, flexible working can be helpful for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, too.

 

So if you haven’t considered speaking with your manager about flexible working – why not take this opportunity to discuss Flexible Working Week and see what kind of difference it could make to your work/life balance?

Visit CV-Library to search and apply for thousands of top UK jobs.

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