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How to Sound Polished and Professional



Before heading off to job interviews it’s important to spend some time knowing what you actually sound like, to ensure you sound not only confident but also polished and professional. Listening to your own voice can be a little off putting for some, but hear us out on this one !


Grab your phone and record yourself having a conversation on a voice memo app, listen back and prepare to be surprised! If you are guilty of any of the below, it may be time to work on those bad vocal habits you’ve acquired. 



1. Lose the uptalk 


Do you speak as though every sentence is a question? It makes you sound unsure of yourself and to an interviewer, could be a little distracting. To practice speaking without it, here’s a little trick - grab a book, hold it at arms length and start reading out loud. Whenever you reach a full stop, drop your arm and your voice along with it. 


2. Speak slower


Rushing when speaking gives the impression you don’t value what you’re saying, and it doesn’t give people a chance to absorb what you’re saying. To practice slowing down, talk or read out loud to yourself and clap your hands at the end of every sentence to train your brain to stop for punctuation marks. This is a great one to practice as most people will naturally speed up their speech when they are in a nerve wracking environment, like a job interview. 


3. Eliminate fillers


We can hear our mums saying it now, “stop saying like after every word!” 

“Like,” “um,” “you know,” “sort of,”- they all make you sound like you don’t know what to say, like you need to qualify all of your statements. Replace these filler words with pauses, which allow you to gather your thoughts and think more clearly, while giving meaning to the next thing you say. 


4. Make yourself heard 


If your voice is barely audible, chances are whatever you’re saying will come across as equally unsubstantial. Unsurprisingly, speaking up will make you sound more powerful. Visualising your voice as a ball you can bounce off the walls will help you project without feeling unnatural or overdoing it. 


5. Work on losing the vocal fry 


This point is particularly aimed at the ladies! Vocal Fry is the technical term for the throaty, creaky sound of, for example, Kim Kardashian’s voice. Studies are showing that more and more women are mimicking it in their own voices without even noticing it. It causes people to perceive you as less competent and trustworthy, plus it’s terrible for you vocal cords. Simply being aware of it will make a big difference. 


Have Designers Lost Control Of Design?



Design is everywhere and more influential than ever. But that power has come at a cost, says designer and technologist Matt Webb.


Do designers have an ethical responsibility toward their users? It’s a question that designers struggle with, as the products and interfaces they help bring into the world can have unintended consequences, from spreading fake news to exacerbating mental health problems. Even tech luminary and Nest founder Tony Fadell has expressed regret about the products he brought into the world.


But for Matt Webb, managing director of R/GA’s IoT Venture Studio in the U.K. and founder of the now-defunct influential London-based design studio Berg, the conversation about ethics is focused on the wrong question: How can you talk about ethics if designers aren’t the ones making decisions about how products and interfaces work in the first place?


“The gap between what the designer creates and what the people who use it actually touch has gotten really big,” Webb says. That’s a problem because designers are trained to base their work on empathy for the user and the user’s needs. When products and interfaces are persuasive, engaging, and maybe even psychologically manipulative, they haven’t been designed with empathy. They’ve been designed to be so user-friendly that they take advantage of the user’s weaknesses.


This is a unique problem of the software age. Historically, design was about making physical things, whether it be office chairs or album covers. Now, designers are coders–or at least working within the constraints of code–typing inputs into a computer that conjure up an interface that lives across millions of screens.


That shift has occurred in tandem with a new design process. Designers create the parameters that dictate interfaces, which are then A/B tested and optimised based on how users interact with them. (Designers have always done user testing, of course, but it’s much harder to change a physical object than it is a piece of code.) Now, the constant tweaking of software creates a never ending design process, where every click is another piece of data to optimise. “The thing that generates the most money or that people use the most wins,” he says. “So who actually designed that?”


One example: the Amazon Echo ecosystem, which consists of “skills” that other companies and individuals can create so users can access their products through the Echo. Designers of these skills–which can do things like give you a recipe, guard your secrets, and even tell you about the flat Earth conspiracy–work within constraints so that their skill fits within the Echo interface. But there’s no guarantee of the quality or usefulness of any of the 15,000 skills that the Echo currently offers–the only measure is popularity. “It’s more like a scaffolding [where] loads of creators can throw an interface at the wall and see what’s most popular,” he says. “And then that’s what everyone uses. Who’s actually designed that user interface?”

Engagement becomes the chief metric, and just because something holds someone’s attention doesn’t mean it’s good for the user. Take the Facebook Newsfeed, which has arguably been optimised to hold your attention within an inch of its life. Facebook boasts that its users spend an average of 50 minutes on its various platforms per day. But the same algorithms that enable this incredible amount of user engagement also enable sensationalist fake news to spread like wildfire. The problem was so bad during the lead-up to the 2016 election that it may have contributed to Donald Trump’s win.


Call it a design paradox: More than ever before, designers are sitting on the C-suite of companies. Large corporations are investing in design because it makes good business sense, both through hiring and through “innovation labs” that have become a crucial part of how companies grow and adapt. But as design has become integrated into the heart of companies, Webb believes there has been–ironically–an unintended consequence. Designers themselves, beholden to business interests that demand the most optimised, most persuasive version of something as opposed to the most useful and helpful for the user, have decreased agency. In other words, with power has come less responsibility. “Designers have less control over what they put out, in some cases,” he says.


Webb likens this conundrum to how engineering as a discipline has evolved. Engineers used to be the only ones who made the devices and appliances that people used, but as more things have become integrated into the internet, engineers now also create the constraints of systems–whether they’re game systems or AI systems–and a fully optimised world emerges within. These engineers, who Webb calls “the debuggers, the AI whisperers, the people who know how to do the robot psychology of the future,” no longer code the systems. They code the code that builds the system.


Webb sees a similar trajectory within design. Design as a whole has greater influence over organisations–even as it has ceded agency over the intricacies of interfaces to optimisation and A/B testing. As Webb put it, “individual designers can wield the supply chains of China.” But that also has made it harder for designers “to deliberately create something which is going to have the effect that we want.”


What does this mean for designers? If they have little power in this ecosystem where A/B testing and optimisation are the kings of the hill, what is their true responsibility? What ethics should designers adopt, if any, if they don’t have the power to deliberately create things that will actually serve users? Can designers keep their position of power within organisations while maintaining their agency? What does a revised design process for the digital era look like? Do chief design officers have a role to play? How can organisations address this problem?


These are not easy questions and Webb doesn’t pretend to have answers, but we’d love to hear what you think.


Sourced from Fastco Design 

How to make yourself employable and a land a job as a graduate.



Fresher’s week has come and gone and before you know it summer exams will be creeping around the corner. The time will soon come to think about what you’re going to do after university. 


The immediate post-university period is crucial. Some who are on the ball may already have graduate schemes and jobs lined up, while for others the attention is focused on other things like festival season! But your future is worth thinking about, especially as figures released last year show that a third of graduates were working in unskilled roles after leaving university. 


There’s a number of things you can do to make yourself more employable, and some of them are a lot easier than you think. Here are our tips to help you land your first job as a graduate. 

1. Write your CV like a story 


Forget the boring templated CV if you want to land a top position after graduating. Tell recruiters like us your story, letting your CV answer questions which focus on


  • Why they should employ you?
  • What’s your experience? 
  • What makes you stand out? 


Always remember to tailor your CV to each job that you apply for, focusing on the skillsets required for that particular role. 


And don’t rush an application. If you don’t want to spend the time to land an interview, you probably don’t want it enough. 


2. Google Yourself 


More than 80% of employers research a candidate on google, so it's worth taking ten minutes to run a google search on your name to see what comes up. You won't want prospective employers seeing your drunken photos from your freshers week! Moving forward, keep those types of photos off of your social media, and think about deleting historical ones. 


We would suggest tailoring your online presence to your chosen industry, and make sure when someone searches you, what they see makes you stand out; look at it as an opportunity to impress. 


Thank about which social media channels reflect your interest in a subject and spend some time on LinkedIn building up your profile on there. 


Ensure your online presence portrays you as an individual with a keen interest and understanding in your field. 


3. Get Social 


Social media, when done properly, can help you to land interviews and showcase opportunities. 


Once you've built up your profile on LinkedIn, use it to connect with employers and recruiters as well as to showcase your expertise. 


For creatives, use channels such as Creative Pool and Behance to publish your work. 


Use twitter to engage with a company ahead of applying for a role. Showing a keen interest in them before an interview will always help your application. 


4. Network, Network, Network


Just like entrepreneurs must network to win work and generate leads, you must do the same to land your dream job. Use both online and face-to-face networking approaches, get to know as many influencers within your industry as possible both locally and nationally. 


Ways you can build these relationships include social media networking, attending career fairs, undertaking work placements and apprenticeships and volunteering. 


Remember, it’s not what you know but who you know. 


5. Learn the Art of Selling Yourself


We understand that this doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but selling yourself is just like marketing yourself as you would a business. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of a recruiter and ask yourself whether you stand out from a crowd of CVs and applicants. If not, spend some time working out why. 


But never lie on a CV application to make yourself look better. Not even the little white lies. You will be found out and it won’t do you any favours. 


6. Boost Your Confidence 


Trust us when we say that a confident individual is a far more attractive candidate to employers than a shy one. Display your confidence by being prepared for your interview armed with good research about the company and the job role you’re applying for; be positive throughout and learn from your mistakes. 


By organising a few dummy run interviews with friends and family will really help you to prepare and allow you to speak comfortably and confidently in front of an interviewer without felling nervous. Just avoid coming across as cocky and over-confident, as it’s often seen as a mask for someone who is hiding something. 


7. Gain Industry Experience


Regardless of whether it’s paid or unpaid, an internship or a summer job, do all that you can to gain industry experience. Employers will want to see more than just your qualifications and are more likely to interview a candidate who has actively sought out previous work experience. It will help set you apart from those who have none. 


8. Research Companies Before Applying 


It’s really helpful to spend some time researching and getting to know companies that are of interest before applying for a job role there. Follow them on social media and subscribe to their company blog. This will give you helpful insight into the company culture, not just what service they provide and the clients they provide for. After all, you want to make sure you work for a company that fits your needs as much as you fit theirs. 


Never assume that you can research a company the morning before an interview. The candidates that really stand out are the ones who have clearly done their homework researching the company in detail. 


9. Never Stop Learning 


We know you have just finished your degree, and learning is something you’re hoping to leave behind. But in reality you should never stop learning. Knowledge is very powerful and the more you know in your chosen industry the more employable you become. 


It takes people years to reach the top of their game, and those that do have continued their learning and understanding. We suggest subscribing to relevant blogs, watching helpful webinars and attending conferences to help build on your knowledge. 


10. Believe In Yourself 


There’s a lot to be said for someone who believes in themselves. You’d be surprised how much this can impact your ability to sell yourself. Never doubt yourself and your ability to succeed in your chosen career. Negativity is never good and those who focus on positives will go further than those who don’t. 


Justify in your head why you should be selected for a role and you’ll find it far easier to convince recruiters and employers.


11. Be Flexible 


Whilst this is easier for some than for others, always try to be flexible. An application for one role may see you offered an interview for another or perhaps on a slightly lower than expected salary. Being flexible on specific job roles, salary and working hours will help you to get your foot in the door of the company you want to be part of. 


Heading into an interview or applying for a role with a fixed mindset is never a good idea, as things don’t always go just as you expected them to. 


Being flexible sets you apart from those who aren’t.



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The best way to answer “Why Should We Hire You?” in your interview.



Most hiring managers will close out an interview asking you point blank why they should hire you. If you’ve ever been stumped when it comes to this question, the painful truth is you likely failed that interview.


If you want to impress you potential employer and demonstrate your desire to work for them, you will need to have done your research on the company and position well in advance in order to close the interview on a positive note.


When you are prepared and have completed your research ahead of time, it will be easy for you to address the key reasons why you are perfect for the job.



Point out your skills.


When you have a solid understanding of the position’s job duties and requirements, this should be an easy sell to the employer. Take a look at what they want and need from the position you’re applying for. 


  • What are the key skills and requirements? 
  • Are there any additional experiences or skills that you have which would be a plus for the position? 


For example, if the company is searching for a finance manager for their global staffing company, it would be a huge bonus if your financial experience is on a global basis or in the staffing industry. This is something that you would want to point out to them as a reason why they should hire you for the job.


Being able to establish the connection between your skills and the job requirements is necessary if you wish to have a successful interview.


Establish your ability to learn.


As always, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have in the position at hand. You must also be willing and able to learn a new business, new processes, or even a new industry.


If you have had successful experience learning and picking up new skills in the past, be sure to bring this up during the interview. This proves that you not only have the key skills they are looking for, but that you also have the initiative and desire to learn more.


Don’t forget about the culture.


If you have done your research prior to the interview, you will be very familiar with the company’s culture. No longer is it satisfactory for HR to just find someone with the skills and experience to hire for a job. Today, hiring managers are searching for individuals who will transition smoothly into their company’s culture.


Make sure that you establish your knowledge of the company culture. If you have worked in similar cultures in the past, talk about this. State how your attitude and beliefs will fit in well with the company’s established culture.

The Dreaded Digital Burnout and How to Avoid It



Pretty much all of us are involved in the digital world to some extent, take work emails for example. We understand that sometimes it feels like it’s almost impossible to escape from them, and this can cause some real stress. This often results in ‘Digital Burnout.’ 


The dictionary definition of ‘burnout’ is “a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”


Everyone feels stressed from time to time, and we’ve all been there, it’s human nature;  for example when Monday rolls back round and all you want to do is hit the snooze button, hide under the duvet and ignore the world.  


But burnout is something more, and is identified through the consistency of feeling overloaded with work, dissatisfied and cynical about work and feeling stuck in a job rut without the power to escape, all of which can lead to physical and mental illness. 



So how can you tell if you’re just stressed or suffering from digital burnout? 


The key indicator is your motivation levels. Sure, stress can affect your energy levels, but burnout drains you of motivation and inspiration, leaving you with a sense of hopelessness. 


Traditionally it has been doctors and nurses who are thought of as the most common sufferers of burnout. The ‘always on call’ nature of their work, plus their average forty-plus hour working weeks places them in a high risk category. But digital burnout is increasing within the digital sector, as more and more people take their work home with them in the form of emails, social media and technology. 


What’s the best way of avoiding burnout? 


We’ve put together three tips below to help you adjust your outlook to help avoid a digital burnout. But if you do feel as though you may be suffering from burnout - please go and see your Doctor! Remember we’re just recruiters! 


Tip 1: Find and remove stressors 


With regards to your career and job, it’s important to focus on what is working for you, what inspires and motivates you and focus on that, whilst attempting to get rid of all the things that leave you feeling drained. 


And always be honest with yourself, ask yourself is your work fulfilling, or is it holding you back?


Tip 2: Find time to Unplug


If you can’t unplug then you can’t escape. Create rules that will allow you to completely switch off from work. Whether its just for an hour a day, an evening off a week or using the weekend to completely ignore anything remotely work related. Getting away from your job both physically and mentally and spending time with friends and family is like medicine. It’s important to spend your free time in your happy space, and not worrying about how much work you have to do. 


Tip 3: Focus on You


Looking after yourself should never been overlooked. Eat right, drink plenty of water, sleep lots and exercise. If you’re on the brink of burnout, take a big step back and look at how you’re treating yourself. Surviving on 4 hours of sleep and relying on caffeine and chocolate to get you through the day is not going to help you. 

Take small steps towards a big difference. Walk to work, or to the next bus stop along your route, keep a bottle of water on you all the time, swap out the junk for something more healthy. All these little changes add up to help make you feel 100 times better within yourself. 



All these ideas might be obvious, but its always the most obvious solutions that are the first to be overlooked. Being mindful of you mental health, even if you feel fine, will make you feel more productive, happier and energised. 

Does a creative's CV need to be creative?

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Getting a job has always been competitive and candidates are doing all they can to give themselves an advantage. So is there a need to get creative with your CV?

Let’s first consider the purpose of a CV; to portray important information in a concise and informative way which allows the reader to quickly scan and take in the relevant information. So how do you make yours stand out?

In the creative industry people want to show their creative potential, are making CVs their own by expressing themselves through their unique presentation and layout. But can this get in the way of the sole purpose of a CV? Is it not the job of the portfolio to show creative talent and potential?

I guess it can be quite subjective; one employer may be impressed with your creativity, whilst another may not be prepared to spend the extra time needed to actually find the relevant information on your CV. But it seems getting the balance right is crucial. If you can keep it easy to read whilst showing some unique creative flair, then it will probably make a good impression.

Have a look at these creative CV’s below. Which ones have got the balance right, and which ones seem to have forgotten the aim of a CV? Let us know what you think…

Back on the Market: Tips for Experienced Job Seekers



Whether you’re currently employed and dipping your toe in the job pool, looking for a change of scenery at work and at home or you were recently laid off from a long-held position, a job search can be a challenge for anyone who has been steadily employed for the better part of a decade or longer. It can be especially daunting if you haven’t yet established a digital presence and brand.


To this we say: breathe. Here at Agenda Recruitment, we recognise that many are dealing with similar obstacles, so we have put together some actionable tips for your job search:



Give your CV the love and attention it deserves. Don’t rush it, because this is the first impression employers will have of you when applying to new positions.


Go in with a strategy to market yourself. Ask yourself: How do you want to be perceived by potential employers, and which positions would you like to be considered for? This may mean “re-titling” yourself to catch a potential employer’s attention. For example, you may want to call yourself a “Production Manager” rather than a “Director of Production,” simply because there are more manager-level roles available. Most workplaces only have one Director, so those opportunities can be few and far between.


As you detail your previous experience in your CV, keep it clean, simple and try not to exceed two pages. No need for a photo on your CV–keep that for LinkedIn–and remove any experience from before 2000, because technology has made pre-2000 experience irrelevant. Creative and marketing jobs are not the same as they were in the 90s, therefore there really isn’t any reason to detail that experience.


Similarly, be sure to include up-to-date software skills and any new certifications you’ve acquired.



Create a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t yet already, as this will be a powerful tool to let recruiters and former colleagues know you’re looking for work. It helps bring opportunities to your inbox, and supplements your proactive efforts.


Flesh out your LinkedIn profile with recent experience and a professional photo, then connect with your business contacts to expand your network. As a tip, searching for LinkedIn profiles of professionals with similar backgrounds can help you find different ways of improving your profile through imitation (this, of course, does not mean plagiarism!).


If you work in a creative field, you must put together a portfolio of recent work. We highly recommend using a site like Behance, Creativepool or Squarespace to showcase your work online. A PDF will also work, but without attachment to an online network like Behance, it won’t bring you the inbound employment opportunities that these online portfolio sites provide. When updating your portfolio, be sure to drop anything too dated (the last 3 years of work would be most relevant), redundant or any pieces that doesn’t serve a purpose.




Don’t close doors before they’re even opened! Explore a wide variety of options, including those outside of your current industry or comfort zone. For example, if you’ve worked in ad agencies for most of your career, now could be a good time to look at corporate and brand-side opportunities. Remember, it’s just an interview – you’re not accepting the offer by simply exploring a job opportunity. Check it out and trust your gut. You may be surprised.


Furthermore, stay open to freelance and contract opportunities as well, which can provide income, build new skills and add diversity to your CV (which is especially helpful if you’ve spent a decade embedded in the processes and workflows of one company). Temporary roles can be very helpful in transitioning a creative or marketing pro into a new role.


It can also lead to something more long-term. At Agenda Recruitment, we’re seeing more and more temp jobs turn into permanent positions. Look at freelance work as a chance to prove yourself and earn a full-time seat.




If you haven’t interviewed in years, meeting with potential employers can be nerve-wracking. In our experience, the number one mistake made by those who have been out of the job market for a while, is simply talking too much; About yourself, about your last company, about your previous experience, about your pet… know when enough is enough and let others get a word in.


Mirror your interviewer, listen and answer thoughtfully with an emphasis on how you can help them accomplish their goals. Focus on the needs of the company you’re interviewing with, not your former employer’s needs – each company has its own unique business challenges, and it’s up to you to show how your skills adapt. It’s important not to come off as having blinders on.


And one more thing: Remember to check your ego at the door. You’re likely very accomplished at this stage in your career, but what got you to this point in your career may not be what gets you to the next level. Be receptive to new ideas and new ways of doing things when discussing a role with your potential new team.




If the search is taking a little longer than you hoped, don’t get discouraged. Remember your experience is valuable, and your gap-less CV speaks volumes of your skill set, loyalty and dependability. Stay positive and be creative as you go about your job search.


And, most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Working with a trusted recruiter who is specialised within your field can widen your network and the amount of job opportunities available to you. Recruiters can help make your job search easier and infinitely less stressful (we do the brunt of the work for you!).


To learn more about how Agenda Recruitment can help you find your next career opportunity, or to speak with an industry-specific recruiter, contact us today.

The Importance of Work Experience for Graduates
scroll-32278 640According to a recent article by the BBC and research by High Fliers of more than 18,000 university leavers - graduates who have had internships or work experience whilst at university are three times as likely to land jobs.
Job applications are at record levels with applications being sent earlier than ever. The research suggests that students will have submitted an average of more than seven job applications each before leaving university. This is the highest level found in 18 years of research into the graduate jobs market.
Researchers estimate that from the 30 universities involved in the study there will have been 427,000 job applications generated this year - almost double the number from five years ago!
The destination for these young job hunters is more likely than ever to be London. Half of all graduates now expect to work in London, with the capital the most popular location for students leaving 27 out of 30 universities. The only exceptions are Queen's University in Belfast and Strathclyde and Glasgow universities.
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