Key Advice Blog

Archive for December 2009

When working virtually (as a consultant) and being part of team made up of other part-time consultants, communications can be real challenge. Tasked with finding a solution for one-such team I am on, I posted a Tweet asking for help. The replies were as varied as the options.

@criagmcginty advised checking Check what 37Signals has and Zoho

You should absolutely check out Basecamp, which I’d heard of but not participated in,, was  @philpowell ‘s recommendation. It looks quite thorough and built to spec.

For virtual teams, @fit_to_print and colleague  edit each other’s files via Dropbox.

Google Wave was recommended by @Swindon, who sounded envious adding ‘if you are fortunate to have it’.

Aside from private blog pages or IM, I will continue researching.

Have you used something that really works? Any ideas or testimonials welcome.

I invited Ben Tyson, job searching journalism graduate, to do a guest blog here to help him out. His message is strong and clear – and his strategy is paying off. Best of luck Ben! Kate


I used to have it drummed into me that working hard at school, heading off to university, and gaining a degree, enabled you to walk into the job of your dreams. Employers would fall at the feet of graduates; throwing projects and salaries at them in whichever direction they turned. Reality, however, is an altogether different story.

As the recession deepens, and unemployment rates soar to nearly 3 million; the job market is swamped with graduates – all vying for the same few positions available. That’s the biggest problem most graduates are faced with right now: for every job they apply for, 500 others are doing the same. And when every one of those 500 has a degree, no one stands out from the crowd.

Graduate schemes are a popular way of finding employment after university. Websites such as and advertise these in abundance – each one offering a fast-track route to management, or a high-up, important role. But again, with so many graduates fighting it out for the same position, it’s difficult to get noticed and remembered by the human resource team sifting through the stacks of application forms. The fact is; work experience is counting for a lot more these days, often more so than the degree itself.

I can’t begin to explain the amount of reply’s I have had which claim I “lack experience”. It’s about having that little bit extra on your CV that others don’t have. It makes it all the more difficult, however, to gain experience if no one is offering it! So how do you survive this period of uncertainty? This article on, offers some advice – some relevant, some not. The stand-out point for me is number 7 – Learn.

When a job opportunity does eventually present itself to you, an employer can only be impressed to see that although you haven’t been able to find employment, you have shown your passion and work ethic. Show them you want to be involved in this line of work – even if it is on your own time, and without being paid or thanked.

Another thing I have learned as a valuable importance is the value of having contacts. Keep in touch with old university colleagues. You leave university in exactly the same boat as them – find out what they are doing now. Have they found work? How did they go about finding it? Ask them to keep you updated if anything comes up in their company. Networking, and having plenty of contacts can be a very valuable source. My philosophy has been to keep my eyes and ears open.

I’ve applied for roles I never thought I would see myself doing – but I simply can’t afford to be picky at the moment. If I am offered a job doing something completely different to my degree, I believe it would be foolish not to take it. I always think it is easier to find a job when you are already in one. This doesn’t mean to say I’ll wave goodbye to my dream of being a writer. If I find myself doing something completely different to what I originally intended; I’ll still pursue that dream job I set out for when I set off for university.

And one final utterance: you wait months for a bus to come along, and then two come at once. This will probably be the case for a lot of graduates. You apply for so many jobs, hear nothing for so long, and before you know it – you’ll probably have to choose between two of them. But if one thing is for sure – a job isn’t going to knock on your front door, offering itself to you – you have to go out and find it.

My persistence may well be starting to pay off. Through a series of contacts, emails, and telephone conversations, I have been introduced to the Ulverston Business Alliance, and its Chairman, Paul Jarvis. I have been given the honour of helping to write a few articles and blogs, as well as apply some media to theUBA website. This is precisely what I have been hunting for: work, experience, invaluable contacts, and a professional-looking portfolio to show potential future employers.

With the expertise and guidance of Kate Harrison Whiteside, and the help and assistance of everyone associated with Ulverston Business Alliance, this could well be my first step on the path to success. This is a valuable message that all unemployed graduates should be aware of – that you must persist in chasing roots into your chosen career, and an opportunity could well arise when you least expect it.

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