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What impression do you give when in the hotseat?

After three full weeks at BLT (and a little push from Emma), I’ve decided that it is time to get my first post on the BLT Blog. Looking at some previous posts, Catriona told us about one of her candidate’s slightly unusual experiences on interview.

As someone who only one month ago was running round London from one interview to the next, slightly flustered and overwhelmed, I thought this may be a sensible topic to start with. With so much to think about before, during and after an interview, what are the simple things we can do to make a good impression?

Research from has highlighted the top 10 turn-offs to employers when hiring. So here are some of the things they went for:

1) Failure to make eye contact – an overwhelming 83% put this as their number one turn off. Don’t take this to mean that you have to stare at them as if you were a trained hypnotist trying to get them to act like a chicken, but spending the whole time looking at the floor is a no-no. Eye contact shows you are listening and interested in what they are saying.

2) Failure to smile – Don’t think that you are not allowed to show any emotion in an interview, you have to show the potential employer your personality. 48% of the employers asked chose this option as their biggest turn off, so think of the Cheshire cat’s smile from Alice in Wonderland before you go in.

3) Playing with something on the table – This was chosen by 40% of employers in the survey. Just leave whatever it is alone. Better still leave it on the floor or in your bag, that way you don’t risk flicking a pen at anyone.

4) A weak handshake – In my opinion there is nothing worse, and quite honestly I’m surprised that only 54% put this at number one. You need the employer to be on your side within the first 30 seconds of meeting you. Be assertive and confident with your handshake whilst making eye contact with the interviewer. Bear in mind that it is equally bad if you are too firm and bordering on breaking their hand; as someone nearly did to me just this week.

5) Crossing your arms over your chest – Chosen by 41% and its easy to understand why. Anyone with a slight interest in body language can tell you that sitting with your arms crossed gives a bad impression as you appear closed and disengaged. Try keeping your hands on your lap or on the arms of the chair, this will make it much easier to support your words with gestures.

Aside from the above, other habits voted for included: bad posture, fidgeting too much in your seat and playing with your hair or touching your face.

Interviews are nerve-wracking even without beginning to consider all these points. The best advice I could give to anyone is to be prepared and be aware of what you are saying with your body language. You will always be less worried if you have done your research and feel and look well presented. Remember, an Interview does not mean an interrogation; it is a chance for you to get to know the employer too!

Tweet, tweet, tweet ….

he recent move from BBC to ITV of political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg (and her audience of nearly 60,000 followers on Twitter) produced much debate …..Is it right that she takes this following with her or should this remain the property of the BBC and she start from scratch again in her new role? As Twitter is designed for individuals to communicate, engage in a conversation and show some personality and character in doing so, then many people feel it is absolutely right that this following goes with the individual.

This brings some challenges for businesses where employees may leave and take key contacts with them ….you can have all kinds of restrictive clauses in employment contracts about non – solicitation of clients …but if you change jobs and send out a quick update on Twitter and Linkedin to all your contacts….then job done in the click of a mouse! I’m sure there’ll be lots of developments to this in the years to come.

P.S As a Twitter newbie, I’m building up my followers …sign up to follow me on Twitter, @catcookson to see what an exciting life I lead!?!

Push to have business taught at school.

Back in my high school days business wasn’t so much a dirty word, as an unspoken one. Sure, the careers master could point you at the CA qualification if you didn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer, but the fact that the majority of us would end up working in some form of commerce just didn’t register. So I was pleased to read The Aldridge Foundation’s latest report that now 90% of teachers think schoolchildren should be better prepared for enterprise and entrepreneurship. But the teachers themselves say they are ill-equipped to do the teaching. We should be teaching teachers to teach enterprise, says the foundation’s president Rod Aldridge, And in turn, he says, the National Curriculum should ‘embed the entrepreneurial mindset at the centre of school life’.

Full marks and a gold star, I say.

Successful careers; to plan or not to plan?

A recent report suggests that CFOs consider that young consulting and finance professionals don’t plan their long-term career properly.

But are careers better for being carefully constructed at the outset or is an element of serendipity important?

Have you noticed that when very successful senior people talk about their career they often say the same things?

1. Someone – usually a parent or close relative – said or acted in a way that spurred them on
• “My father told me that there was nothing a man could do that a woman couldn’t”

• “My mother wasn’t allowed to go to university”

• “I didn’t want to end up like my dad”

2. They remember a teacher or other adult authority figure who inspired them, supported them or simply stopped them from throwing away an opportunity.

3. They recall a particularly demanding manager who frustrated them, and reminds them how not to behave now that they are the boss

4. They believe it is ok to make mistakes; but to learn from them. And ‘fessing up is the only way forward!

4. They acquire and very much value a mentor

5. They admit they didn’t have a plan; it “just happened”.

These comments are crucially important because they evidence the self-awareness and “common touch” that is pivotal to senior level success.

However, the reality is probably somewhere in between; success didn’t really “just happen”. The person worked hard, raised their profile, found themselves “in the right place at the right time” and acted on it by taking up a challenge; be that a move to a role they are not sure they were fully qualified for, a significant relocation or cultural change, or investment in a new qualification or technical specialism.

All successful people mention the how important support, sponsorship and teamwork have been; that they are keen to “give back” by championing others coming up the ranks, and that they have learnt the value of personal reward beyond the financial or hierarchical.

Do you agree? If not, why? What is your experience?

How much do lap dancers earn?

How much do lap dancers earn? It’s a question I ask myself when I pass the local gentlemen’s club on Grays Inn Road. After a long day at BLT Towers I see the ‘glamorous hostesses’ checking in for their shift.

Well now I know. Thanks to a University of Leeds study for the Economic and Social Research Council, as reported in the Financial Times, it’s £232. But the lap dancers said earnings had fallen since they first started dancing, when they reported earning an average £284. “They call it a race to the bottom,” said Teela Saunders, lead researcher, in one of the delicious double entendres which pepper the FT’s report. The sub-editors will have a field day when the research findings are published in full in September

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