Posts by Eileen Cunningham

21 Days: The End… and the Beginning

7 February 2017

Now that the ’21 days to Career Success’ has come to an end you should be much better equipped to sort out your work-life. Hopefully you have learnt lots of new things about the world of work and maybe about yourself too? Whether you have followed the posts methodically or just dipped in to top up your existing knowledge we hope you have found it useful.

So here is a short recap of what you need to do:-

Take a look at yourself. What have you got to offer? What do you want? What is important to you? What do you feel has been stopping you from success so far?

Get to know the world of work. Be curious and proactive. Don’t just rely on the internet… get out and talk to real people too.

Make sure that your practical job-finding skills are doing your justice (CV writing, interviews, online presence) and if not, get help! read more

Day 21: Recovering from Setbacks and Keeping on Going

6 February 2017

Imperial War Museum, Salford Quays

Some of the graduates I have talked to recently have said ‘I didn’t realise it would be this hard to get a job!’ They feel frustrated and find it hard to keep on trying.

If you feel like that, even just sometimes, then today’s post will help you.

When the tough times hit hard some people crumble and yet others seem to grow stronger. But what makes the different between being a ‘hero’ or a ‘victim of circumstance’? And how come some people will be amazingly tough-minded in one area of their life and yet easily beaten in another?

This fundamental question has always interested me. How can we get over the hurdles we encounter throughout life? A key to this question is something called ‘RESILIENCE’. Let’s consider what resilience is and how you can get more of it. Improving your resilience means you can more quickly and easily ‘bounce back’ from disappointments which is good news for your happiness and your health. read more

Day 20: Taking Control of Your Career

5 February 2017

Do you believe that your future success and happiness is completely within your own control? Some people do.

Or do you believe that your future success and happiness is completely down to fate, luck, chance, god, serendipity or other people’s actions? Some people do.

In reality, whichever of those is right (and we could have a long philosophical debate about this) a pragmatic approach might be to suppose that the truth lies somewhere in between. There are probably things about your situation you can’t control and there are certainly things you can. Feeling that you have control, autonomy and agency over your own life can help to boost your self-esteem when things are going well BUT the flipside of the coin is that, when things go badly you may overly blame yourself. Similarly, if you believe nothing is within your control then when things don’t go your way you can easily blame someone or something else BUT this belief can stop you from taking action to make things happen! read more

Day 19: In it to win it – Assessment Centres and Psychometrics

3 February 2017

Eileen is a co-author of the book ‘How to succeed at an assessment centre’

SO… you complete an online application and then you get an invitation to do some assessments online or attend an assessment centre. What can you expect and how can you give it your best shot?

What is an Assessment Centre?

An assessment centre is not an actual physical PLACE but a format which is used in recruitment (though obviously it happens in an actual place). It is designed to get lots of information about job applicants so that the company can make well informed decisions and hopefully select ‘the right’ people for the job.

Why do employers use them?

They are much better at predicting future job performance than interviews alone. From your point of view a great thing about an assessment centre is that you can be sure you have had lots of chances to show your stuff! read more

Day 17: How to make your CV work for you?

1 February 2017

Do you have an up to date CV?

Is it a good one?

These are two questions I often ask students. Even those who answer an emphatic ‘yes’ to the first question often seem less sure about the second. And maybe their CVs are amazing but how would they know? It is also quite natural to feel slightly embarrassed having to write about yourself (and maybe even brag a little). So how can you make your CV as good as it can be? And more importantly how can you make it work for you?

I had a message from an ex-student the other day. He was frustrated because he felt he was being really proactive, sending his CV out to lots of companies he would like to work for. He wasn’t getting anything back, not even an acknowledgement. I asked to see his CV and I could see why straight away. It wasn’t bad. The basic information was all there and it looked neat. BUT it was just a little bit…. Bland. I explained that there was no point spending time and effort sending mediocre CV. We improved it and within a couple of weeks he had a new job.  read more

Day 11: What else could I do? Alternatives to the 9 – 5 job

26 January 2017

The world of work is continuously changing.

When our parents or grandparents left school they were quite likely to get a permanent job in a big organisation with a steady career structure. Perhaps this sounds great as it offers security and predictability… or perhaps that sounds a bit boring? The good news for you is that you are not necessarily faced with one big jump into a career, you can try out a few different things before you commit. The downside is that you may have to accept a certain level of uncertainty, some periods of unemployment or underemployment and you might even find that you need to start off on low pay in order to build up some relevant work experience. Building a career takes time so hold your nerve if you are frustrated about things not happening as fast as you’d like. read more

Day 6: What Should I Do? Decision-making Made Easier

20 January 2017

Eileen Cunningham

• Do you know what you want to do with your life? Or have you not decided yet?
• Are you feeling confused or even overwhelmed with the many possible career paths you could take?
• Do you have a couple of good opportunities and you are trying to decide which one to go with?
• Are you worried that you might take the wrong one?
• Or are you putting off making a decision until some later date?
• What are you waiting for? Do you think that there is one true vocation out there waiting for you and all you have to do is discover it? Or for someone to tell you what to do?

All of these predicaments are perfectly natural at this stage in your life (and you will quite possibly find yourself in them again at later stages). read more

Day 5: What Makes You Tick? Personality, Values and Interests

20 January 2017

Eileen Cunningham

Imagine going to work every day and feeling proud of what you achieve. You are doing something that is important to you and you strongly believe it is worthwhile. You feel at home in your workplace and it’s as if the job were made just for you.


Imagine going to work every day and constantly feeling that what you are doing goes against what you believe and think. It violates your personal beliefs and makes you feel uncomfortable – both mentally and physically.

Both of these positions may seem a little extreme. For most people there are good parts and not so good parts to their job. Finding a job which suits you can help to give you job satisfaction and feel happier.

There are at least four aspects* of yourself that you need to consider skills (we looked at this on Day 4), personality, values and interests. read more

Day 4: What’s in Your Toolkit? Skills for Your Career

19 January 2017

Eileen Cunningham

Knowing what you can do, that is, what ‘skills’ you have and being able to articulate them confidently in an interview or, even before that, on a job application is really important in helping you to get a job. Probably one of the questions you are most likely to hear at an interview is this…’What have you go to offer?’ A common follow up question might be ‘what is your greatest strength?’ or even ‘what is your biggest weakness?’

If you are thinking…

‘I don’t have any skills!’ 

‘Does serving coffee/being football coach/speaking Swahili/playing computer games count?’ 

‘What exactly are skills and why are they important?’

…then read on!

So WHY are employers so interested in your skills? Surely they will train you anyway on the job you will be doing? Well, employers are looking for bright stars with potential to perform well long-term and if you have already demonstrated that you can do something then you are probably a safer bet.  Our What Employers Want post explores what are the top skills employers look for. Many of these skills are transferable or soft skills such as communication and teamwork. read more

Find a goal you have a passion for; James Largey, director of Frontline Fit

19 January 2017

Meet James – a Salford graduate of  ‘Exercise, Physical Activity & Health’  – who I met five years ago when he started small with a fitness bootcamp in his local park. He continues to inspire me with his vision and his determination to make things happen in his life!

“Eleven years ago I had just finished high school with what you would call “below average GCSE qualifications”. I got a D in Maths, D in English and D in R.E., however I did get a C in Science, B in P.E and B in graphic design. Unless my semi professional football career kicked off I had no real serious regard or plans for my future education or working career.

Nevertheless I listened to my elder brother and sister and followed suit by continuing my studies in college – Hopwood Hall Sports College In Middleton. Hopwood allowed me to apply providing I resat and passed my English and Maths exams. I took both exams and obviously invested no time or effort into revising what so ever – so I failed yet again. read more