Category Archives: Blog

Soft Skills: Key to Securing the Job?


According to Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) one in eight graduates  found that time invested by graduates in their personal brands as well as flexible sociability was a key factor in their first-job success.

AGR’s stat covers a wide range of characteristics when concerned with the word ‘sociability.’ The explosion of the technology industry, the obligatory online applications forms when applying for a new job and an almost constant online presence via email, phones, and social media has both complicated and expanded the definition of sociability.

Futureboard’s previous articles  have covered the importance of maintaining a persistent and professional online presence when job-hunting. However there is a growing importance in the ability of interviewees and graduates to be able to demonstrate not simply their hard-skills (i.e. skill sets and competence in managing tasks and activities in a job role) but their soft-skills in the workplace. Emotional intelligence, also known as soft skills, is the skill-set most likely involved when evaluating likability or fit. As Miriam Salpeter quotes “Soft skills relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with co-workers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.” In those key moments in an interview these skills will be tested consciously and sub-consciously and the latter requires good practice to the point that it is habitual.

I am not referring to basic social skills so what do I mean by habitual soft skills? Firm eye-contact, the ability to regulate the pace and tone of your voice, good posture and self-confidence. Self-confidence does not come to us all naturally so practice and act it, even if you don’t feel it as perceptions are very important. Meditate if you have to and consolidate your thoughts. The 2,500 personality tests around will indicate (at a basic level for some of us) that not all of us enjoy, prefer or have the best soft skills. However personality of some kind and a likeable and workable one which allows you to engage with employers, would-be employees and customers will push you ahead of the running for top job even if someone is more qualified than you.

Why? Because you may be more eloquent, likable and professional and while employers employ online personality tests and online applications processes and are adamant (as to avoid legal issues) that someone doesn’t get hired because they weren’t liked, personality and soft skills are as essential as qualifications and skill-sets whether both parties like it or not.

Have a look at some of these links and fill in the chinks in your armour while evaluating your weaknesses and above all; strengths.

Strong Work Ethic:

Positive Attitude:




Time Management:

Communication Skills:

Matthew Williams

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Military Values in the Workplace

“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
Sun Tzu

Applying military values to the workplace and career works; it is from discipline and a combination soft and hard power that spontaneity evolves. “What is this guy on?!” you may ask, you may suggest “This is the era of ‘Soft Skills’ and ‘Digital Natives’! Military-style disciplinarians at the office are history, they were the worst!” Or you may even think “not another traditionalist.”

There are numerous articles on avoiding toxic workplaces and the invaluable lessons on ‘Soft Skills’ . There is an increasing focus on the needs of the emerging graduate workforce and employers are often expected to match graduate expectations. According to the Telegraph, “graduates are struggling to wade through generic company messaging to find their way to the right job…and the result is 1 in 4 graduates quit within a year of starting work.”

Hannibal Barca marched his Carthaginian army across the Alps. He lost half his army along the way to the winter cold. Similarly Alexander the Great marched his army from ancient Greece to India in the space of eight years. What did these men and their armies achieve by pushing themselves to the extreme? They won remarkable victories and they both achieved historical fame. How did the Roman Army become the best the world had seen in its time? It was disciplined, relentless and adopted new strategies and tactics to not just survive but evolve. The reward was loot, treasures, empire, fame, and being the subject of debate for military scholars and historians hundreds of years after they had gone.

What defined Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Brian Clough? They were ruthless and defeats were guaranteed to be few and far between. They got results, whatever the cost. However more importantly they got the balance right between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. They won piles of trophies in the footballing world. At the other end of the spectrum Paulo Di Canio had a mutiny on his hands at Sunderland in 2013 after he cracked the whip too hard whilst Arsenal F.C have been defined as a ‘friendly club’ and therefore easy to bully in the crunch games. With all the new trends emerging across the globe, the rise of the millennials and digital natives, the ever strenuous push for ‘world peace’, and the technological revolution you’d be forgiven for thinking that the past, particularly military history, has little to teach us bar substantial barbarity.

Granted, a hard-core disciplinarian without a reward system, trying to impose their views forcefully on other and the lacking ability to be flexible is not a good leader. Balance between sacrifice and reward, balance between discipline and innovation, balance between compassion and discipline and timely daring and timely caution. These are the military qualities have served the best military commanders and the best businessmen. Generals and leaders have only failed when they got this balance wrong. The digital natives don’t want to be too nice for their own good. Field Marshal Hague technically worked from home in the First World War, dishing out archaic strategies and orders miles behind the trenches. The result? This reoccurred across Europe a century ago with the deaths of millions of young men.

Dramatic? Certainly, but why does this affect the new generations pouring into the workplace? We expect employers to accommodate our needs, expect success and above all we have instant expectations.  Everything that happened yesterday is largely forgotten and we operate at break-neck speed, preparing graduates for jobs and roles that have scarcely been invented or taken off as projects. The digital world dominates in its entirety in the workplace. There were there were 4.2 million UK home workers in the first three months of 2014, amounting to 13.9% of the workforce. . This was the highest since records began and according to Futureboard’s research this looks like a trend that is set to increase with the introduction of the ‘Millennials’ and ‘Digitial Natives’ into the workplace. The latter facts are disconcerting to some extent.

“Too many bosses still don’t trust staff to work from home and instead force them to trudge into the office so they can keep an eye on them,” said Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary. “Employers’ attitudes to new working practices must change to make a much better use of modern technology in all workplaces.” Since when has an email be more effective than a face to face discussion? I have learnt more in a conversation than I will in the content of an email. I have worked from home before, yet I find it restrictive, anti-social, and a monotonous experience. There is less reward from working from home and technology for its wonders and the capability of our generation to utilise it is merely technology, it does not improve human instincts which have served us so well now and in the past.

We might be known by future generations as ‘the Softies’ and our ancestors would likely brand us as such in a heart-beat. Why lose our ruthless streak when it has served the best of us so well in the past?

Matthew Williams

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Big Things Have Small Beginnings

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 Habits cut both ways; they are either good for you or they are bad for you. At both ends of the spectrum they are difficult to change, for example when you quit exercise, you notice the loss of tone and perhaps put on weight and when you decide to break a habit of laziness and begin exercise, the first few days is one of the pain of rusty muscles clicking into gear. The same can be said of applying yourself to jobs, long-term goals, and the workplace, how do almost microscopic life choices make the difference?  Each New Year brings the same question “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” The resolutions vary from the smallest changes in lifestyle to all-encompassing changes to a lifestyle. The smaller changes ultimately make a bigger difference in life.

Mastering the mundane, enjoying process, making important daily choices and operating comfortably outside the fabled comfort zone. These are crucial to making the average person stand out from the rest. Habits are an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioural patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways.

Success is achieved through inches, not miles, of progress. Making the small changes and consistently applying those changes whether it be eating breakfast every day, exercising daily, innovating and being creative at work every day will shine through. The Grand Canyon was not formed in a day, the Roman Empire wasn’t built in a day, love them or hate them Manchester United would not have dominated the Premier League for two decades unless they changed the small things we didn’t see behind the scenes in the late 1980s and Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t have created Facebook if he hadn’t had the cheek to create FaceMash from his room in Harvard and cultivated it overtime.

The modern-world is instantaneous and moves faster than at any previous time in human history. Instant results are expected, instant internet access, instant coffee plagues the workplace, we expect instant success, and even instant happiness. Habits distill themselves into finances, health, business, personal development, and relationships and these subtle differences often determine the difference between success and failure in an interview or the workplace and they are so subtle no one will ever notice them or see them until the crucial point. Thinking big without attention to tiny and at times seemingly insignificant details of life can undermine personal development and career. Changing habits requires conscious discipline and changing a tough habit requires discipline and strong mental strength against temptation to do something which is easy to do, but easy not to do. Patience, process, practice, repeat, balance, time; these are words that are not emphasized enough to undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates. Have a look at some of the links below and make those little changes that will benefit your performance in workplace and personal life.

Matthew Williams

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Enter the Millennials and Digital Natives

“Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.”

Alvin Toffler



The rise of the ‘millennials’ and ‘digital natives’ will in the coming years produce a new and combustible working environment. The old-timers (so to speak) will have to accommodate the habits of the tech-savvy generation while the young (so to speak) will have to learn and retain some of the invaluable skills left behind by older generations. Naturally part of the problem is that people’s skills in the digital and technological domain will have to be honed and improved in the face of the momentum the world of technology is gathering.

Florence Broderick noted, “It’s fundamental that we understand that no social network, platform, app or technology will ever really help us with our soft skills.” These ‘soft skills’ in the age of a technological revolution are becoming an increasingly, if not an essential part of the workplace.

In Futureboard’s recent article two members of the technology community noted that while the pace of software and technology is moving fast technology; businesses require a mixture of individual’s and profiles, not simply introverts who love to code.

They need business leaders to manager technical projects, graphic designers to create memorable brands, business developers to sell their products and entrepreneurs to innovate and make bigger things happen. It is important to remember that not all millennials and digital natives will end up being cyber-robotic organisms, an extension of AI incapable of effective human communication staring at computers screens indefinitely.

By 2025 (10 years will disappear quickly!) millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. This 75% will have a different view of how work should get done and come into the workforce with a different set of expectations from their employers.

However on the flip side employers from Gen X and the Baby Boomers generations (despite being the minority) will and should in many aspects expect Gen Y and Gen Z to be able to adapt to certain attitudes and behaviours in the workplace. According to Futureboard’s Student Survey conducted in 2014, these would range from strong work ethics, the ability to engage effectively in a face to face discussion when required, and be competent by email and telephone when necessary. There are disadvantages to Skype as there are to email.

Perceptions between different generations are of equal importance. There are workplace assumptions that millennials need to be prepared to challenge. According to a survey of 6,361 job seekers and veteran HR professional in 2013, 86% of HR professionals described Millennials as tech-savvy with 1% loyalty to their employers. The reality is that 82% of Millennials describe themselves as loyal to employers and 35% would describe themselves as tech-savvy. This is one example and illustrates that narrowing the gap between workplace perceptions and expectations of employers and employees is important for companies.

What will the outcome be if the integration of a broad set of different generational skills is successful in the workplace? Particular companies will thrive if they are able to absorb ‘digital natives’ and ‘technoholics’ and make the transition from a predominantly hierarchical organisation to one that is predominantly based on networking, fluidity and constant evolution and adaptability.  The ‘digital natives’ are career multitaskers, they will move between businesses and pursue careers without boundaries and the millennials will prefer working with organisations, rather than for them and generally lead flexible lifestyles with an increased importance on work-life balance.

However the emerging workforce must learn and understand the skills and motives that drove previous generations as strong work ethic, the ability to communicate to large and small audiences in person, respect, loyalty and input, regardless of the changing working hours, remain an absolute essential in any working environment. Old and new have to merge so that markets can accommodate Gen Y and Gen Z in a comfortable manner.

Matthew Williams

(P.S: Happy New Year!!! Bring on 2015!)

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International Students: Do they have anything to fear studying in the UK?


The international student body is a crucial component part of university experience in the United Kingdom. Yet for various reasons according to BBC News education correspondent Sean Coughlan, more than half of overseas students in the UK say they have felt “less welcome”. Similarly the quantitative statistics point to a fairly gloomy outlook. According to the BBC, the number of overseas students taking up places at England’s universities decreased by 4,595 in one year – the first fall in 29 years. Yet is it sensible to measure quantitative statistics against that of individual student experiences?

Immigration policy in the United Kingdom has become a hotly contested debate, particularly in the wake of UKIP’s rise to prominence in the EU Parliament elections. Subsequently, we’ve seen a shift in Conservative and Labour stances on their own views and policies on immigration. For example the Express stated that senior Tory ministers are believed to be pushing for an “emergency brake” on immigration from Europe, which could see UK borders temporarily closed to halt a flood of migrants into the country. Similarly, Ed Miliband has promised an immigration reform bill in the first few weeks of a new Labour government as he challenged the “false promises” of UKIP and the Conservatives.

Has this politicised atmosphere concerned or put-off students from other countries applying to study and find a job in the UK? Has this fear led to the concern that the United Kingdom is under threat from ‘brain-drain’ where foreign students are dissatisfied with the potential and/or lack of opportunities return whence they came to find a job and apply their set of skills in their home country?

The first thing to assess is whether the numerous downbeat statistics are reliable or contradicted by other sources. The survey of attitudes of overseas students in the UK, commissioned by Regent’s University in London as supposed to Higher Education, shows a contrasting picture

“While students feel that migration targets have made them feel less welcome, they have a positive account of their experience in the UK. About four in five of the students backed the quality of their courses and teaching and nine in 10 would recommend studying in the UK.”


My experience as a UK student studying at the two highly diverse institutions of Nottingham University and King’s College London certainly counters the notion that the UK does not want to ‘welcome’ international students. In one of my seminars the class comprises of American, French, Venezuelan, Kenyan, German, Swiss, and Chinese students. The course encompasses students from all over the world and the amount you enjoy and learn from different perspectives, cultures, and experiences is rewarding at a personal level and career level.

Similarly my experience at Nottingham was very enriching due to the University having campuses based in Malaysia and China. Diversity is a crucial strategy to every university in attracting talent and boosting both its credentials and financial resources. On an individual and institutional level, (international students are believed to worth as much as £3bn a year to UK universities and £10 billion a year to the UK economy) international students are a crucial, if not essential, part of university life.

This is still being emphasised by top government officials. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for overseas students to be excluded from immigration figures stating:

“I actually agree with Michael Heseltine … I also think the student numbers should be taken out of the net immigration figures….tough where it needs to be tough, but smart where it needs to be smart….we don’t just send them packing back home when we might actually want them to find their feet and provide input into the British economy…students are really not what people perceive as immigrants”


Nick Clegg’s speech made in India was likely a response to the drop in the numbers of Indian and Pakistani students in the United Kingdom (18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012/13 while these numbers in Pakistan stood at 4,580, in 2010-11 and 2,825 in 2012/13.) However, once again these statistics, though troubling from the BBC, overlook the fact that these are the only two countries which have seen a decline and should not encompass the whole international student body. The application figures for this year show rising rather than falling interest in UK universities. There have been drops from individual countries, but the overall figures from the admissions service UCAS, published last month; show that applications from overseas students are higher than last year. We also forget that we can flip the situation UK students may also have the same fears of not fitting into other cultures was , which was regarded as the greatest non-academic barrier to UK students studying overseas (the preference to study abroad dropped from 65% to 41%). Again from the numerous people (particularly language students) I have known who have gone abroad, I have rarely been given the impression of a negative experience from a range of countries be it the a year out in the United States, Canada, France or even Colombia!

Immigration is an issue and certainly statistics are important but it should not impact the value that international students still (and potentially will) bring to our economy and university experience, the latter contribution of which is nothing less than enriching.

In short I send this message to any international students considering studying here or graduates getting a job. We are here, we are waiting, come to the UK!


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The City’s Got Talent – How attractive is the City to graduates?




With a General Election scheduled for May 2015 I was asked to participate in a debate about what a potential change in government could do to the graduate marketplace, particularly within financial services.  As a way of tackling this large subject, I thought it would be worth comparing the market in 2001 (peak of Labour government) with current state of affairs and then point out any emerging trends that current employers should be aware of.

From the late 90s – early naughties, external political and economic developments have meant positive and negative influences on graduates. You may remember Tony Blair’s (May 2001) pre-election pledge to invest in ‘education, education, education.’ Labour went on to win that election and cemented their goal of having ‘50% of young adults progressing to higher education by 2010′. Blair said: ‘Our top priority was, is and always will be education, education, education. We believe that this will prepare Britain for the knowledge economy.’ What is interesting to note is how the political and economic decisions of 2001 are affecting graduates in 2015 and beyond.

Since 2001, the number of graduates finishing under-graduate and/or postgraduate courses has risen by 56%, there are more degrees on offer at a wider variety of institutions.  We have experienced a boom in education in Britain and many graduate employers have noticed this as application numbers per vacancy have risen correspondingly.

The graduate job market in the City has suffered due to economic changes in the last five years.  According to data from the AGR, there was a decline in vacancies in 2009/2010 in investment banking by 14.5%.  During this time, most City graduate recruiters will tell you that they tightened or reduced hiring numbers and as a result expected fresh graduates to come into the workplace appreciative of the opportunity and that they should be “chomping at the bit”.

Research-The-Company-job-interviewDespite the economic crisis and muddied reputation, the City has remained an attractive place for graduates to work.  One of the downsides, for applicants specifically, to the decline in vacancies has been the increasing expectation of City recruiters on students.  It is not enough to be an Economics student from LSE; you need to be an Economics student that has a CV with internships, self-study, voluntary work, be heading up the Investment Society and so the list continues.

Most of the investment banks have introduced pre-internship programmes – these are taster internships aimed at students in their first year of an under-graduate degree.  JP Morgan state on their pre-internship site that for those graduating in 2017 or 2018, ‘past participants have gone on to secure internships and then full-time positions in London. These pre-internship programmes which will normally include spring programmes or weekly programmes can also reach as far down as A-Level students.  This offering is to help build a talent pipeline that starts several years prior to students graduating from university.

This puts an enormous amount of pressure on first year students to start making career choices that they are not realistically ready to make.  It also creates a huge barrier for students with an alternative degree background, e.g history, to enter certain areas of the City if they decide later on that this is a route they wish to take.

On a more positive note, the AGR Graduate Survey 2014 found that ‘banking and financial services’ predict an increase of 54.1% in graduate vacancies.   While expectations are increasing on graduates to enter the workforce with more rounded employability skills, the labour market generally is improving and the national average graduate salary has increased to £27,000 and the City average has increased to £29,250.

On to future trends what’s next and how should financial employers prepare themselves?  A change in government in 2015 is unlikely to change tuition fees, what we might see is an increasing pressure on universities to be accountability to the corporations that are starting to fund degree programmes.  In addition, we have a new generation of graduates about to hit the job market.  Many of us have spent the last ten years adjusting to managing Gen Y in the workplace, but now we need to prepare ourselves for Gen Z.  Those born in the early – mid 1990s; also being described as the ‘digital natives’ or ‘multi-generation’ (multi-family, multi-cultural, multi-media) and typified by debt, desire for security, distrust of politicians/CEOS and they will be the generation that will work the longest.

As a City graduate employer, you need to be thinking about your proposition to this group.  You shouldn’t assume what works for your current workforce will continue to be appealing for future generations.  What can you do to support this generation?  A more fundamental question is your leadership team aware of such potential trends?  What benefits can you offer that might appeal to ‘plurals’ – mortgage funds, pensions from the outset and technology that supports flexible working practices;  a career pathway that excites and engages for the long-term and a structure that allows people to pursue professional interests outside of work.

It might feel premature for employers to be thinking about Gen Z, but with increasing vacancies, increasing personal debt and expectations of graduates from a skills perspective, I think the very best students will differentiate between employers that want to genuinely ‘engage’ them very quickly.  In my mind, employers should at the very least be trying to meet this group in the middle.

Katherine Travell, CEO, Futureboard


Futureboard Testimonial: Tom’s Story

Tom’s career was established straight from the onset of life at Nottingham University; he wanted to go into the technology industry and develop his career within the given industry. “It was always the plan from when I started university to use the computer science degree as a starting point to become established in the sector.”

Tom attended an evening event hosted by Futureboard (whom he had recently found on LinkedIn) which had been arranged by between Futureboard and Nottingham University‘s Comp Society in October 2012.  This is where he got a good feel for what the  graduate scheme that Futureboard discussed had to offer. While his career path was decided he believed the event increasingly focused his options in his final year of university and provided him invaluable insight into the scheme.

He said “The event wasn’t like the standard lecture that many other companies do, it was informal and down to earth where it was quite easy to ask current graduates on the scheme and Futureboard about the opportunities involved and how to apply.”

Leaflets and details were distributed to curious graduates alongside Tom and there was also the chance to chat with both Futureboard staff and BT graduates after the initial presentation with food and drink on offer.

A few weeks after the event Tom started the application process with Futureboard which included; an online application form with competency questions, followed by some online tests which helped filter out competition for the roles on offer. After passing the online tests he had phone interview with Megan which included background questions and questions about relevant work experience. This was followed by a video Skype interview with Nick the latter of which included job specific questions in software engineering and the role he was applying for.

Days later he was invited to an Assessment Centre. It included a group exercise, an individual interview and an analysis exercise.  Within a few weeks Tom had a job on the graduate scheme at BT after receiving a call from Futureboard! Afterwards, he was provided with positive feedback regarding the assessment centre process and his positive performance and tips in terms of improving performance and development.

Throughout, Tom described his experience with Futureboard as “Really useful! The team were extremely prompt and proactive, I didn’t have to wait for weeks waiting for responses which often the case when going through the processes of application and interviews” and “they got back to me in a matter days in both a professional and efficient manner in all areas including feedback” On top of that he also described the Futureboard experience as “very friendly and warm”. The team was helpful and answered all the queries and concerns he had while working through the process.

His role as Graduate Software Developer involves analysis, logical thinking, teamwork and a great attention to detail. Typically, his role includes designing and programming systems, which means he’s actively involved in talking to clients and colleagues to assess and define what solution or system is needed. His communication and technical skills are crucial to the role.

I asked Tom of his plans for the future and he replied that he was looking forward to completing the graduate scheme. “This role has set me up for the foundations on which I can build a great career within the technology industry.”

Futureboard wishes you the best of luck with your future in the technology industry, Tom!



Futureboard are working on a range of technology roles ranging from software development, to security to network engineering. Please do get in touch with us on 0203 179 4505 if you’re in your final year and want to utilise your Computer Science or Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree. We can help!


Here We Go Again: Futureboard are on Campus!

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

Milton Berle


Futureboard will be on campus at a variety of universities over the next 8 weeks and we hope to find you in good stead as university life begins (or continues) for many students across the country. The universities we will be at include:

  • Aston
  • Essex
  • UCL
  • Sheffield
  • York
  • Birmingham

Futureboard are working on a range of graduate roles across a range of sectors (including business and technology) and our campus tour 2014/15 aims to facilitate discussions with, and provide opportunities to, student groups, societies, clubs and individuals.

We are happy to work with any size of group to discuss graduate job search concerns and the challenges you’re facing, or perhaps how you can improve at assessing your own skills and applying these to different opportunities and ultimately, a job you love. Whether you’re a small committee or a whole society, we’re keen to flex our approach to aid your knowledge and progress.

Futureboard has the advantage of working in close partnership with graduate employers and so has a deeper level of understanding of what employers expect from candidates and as a result, what candidates need to do to tackle the graduate job market successfully.

When looking for the ideal career choice amidst the all-consuming pressure of exams and dissertations, it can be difficult to stop, take stock and think ‘What are my priorities right now?’ but we can help! If you would like to have a chat about; CV’s, interviews or general career advice, send us a tweet/email and we can arrange a time to have a coffee! …/pub quiz!

Matthew and Nathan

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What can I do if a Graduate Degree is insufficient in today’s job market?


University is approaching fast and for many students, the prospect of entering the final year provides graduates with a variety of prospects and opportunities as they become available on the job market. The undergraduate degree is undeniably a component part in kick-starting a career in any given field.

Is the undergraduate degree enough anymore? Does it set you apart from other candidates? According to the Telegraph, ‘almost half of people aged between 25 and 64 will have a degrees or higher level qualifications within the next eight years.’ This is a ‘10 per cent increase which will see Britain rise from 11th in the international rankings to seventh.’ These statistics are an indication of the fierce competition that graduates should expect when applying for specific roles and jobs. If so many people are qualified, how do we set ourselves apart in the build up to final year or, from what many employers will see as another pile of CV’s from successful graduates?

Your Options

  1. Conjoined Study and Work Experience


Positives: The ability to juggle a job alongside your studies takes considerable organisation (particularly if you are already part of a society or sports club!). Potential employers like to see evidence that you’re actively developing core work skills and building your CV alongside your studies. A job outside of university would be a more ideal place to test, hone, and understand what your specific strengths are in the work place. It will also help you what makes you tick and what doesn’t as a career option.

Things to Consider: Testing your strengths and weaknesses is crucial. Go outside your comfort zone and once you find your strengths focus on them. Too often people tend to jump into internships, jobs and career paths that they unsure of doing. That or they may have originally thought that a specific career path suited them only to find out that it wasn’t their cup of tea. It is also useful experience in that you are less likely to be overwhelmed by applications, cover letters, interviews, and adapting to a particular working environment.

  1. Further Study


Positives: Undergoing a postgraduate or even a PhD is a significant way to bolster your C.V credentials and developing a more specific career path. Research carried out by LSE and Surrey University has revealed that those with a higher degree earned an average of £5,500 more a year. A postgraduate degree should be the chance to make internal and external connections (which you may have missed as an undergraduate) who can provide you with references, job links and opportunities through individuals, societies and specific institutions. A post graduate also allows you to focus your into academic studies relevant to a specific career path. I chose to do a postgraduate degree on the basis that it would bolster my CV, be more career orientated and would help give me an edge over other competitors and graduates in the market.

Things to Consider: There are naturally downsides to doing a postgraduate. The increase in student debt (already an excess of £30,000 – 40,000) to £60,000 is unappealing for anyone seeking to avoid extra payload on educational qualifications. Another consideration you should ask yourself when applying for a postgraduate or PhD is whether it is career relevant? Are you making the most of opportunities provided by your specific university institutions? Another question to ask of a postgraduate (much like an undergraduate) is whether or not they have a balanced CV with an array of work experience and activities to go alongside their educational qualifications. Have they maximised (within reason) their time outside course modules, exams and dissertation?

  1. A Year Out


Positives: Taking a gap year before or after university is a rewarding experience for anyone has the opportunity to do this. I took a year out after completing my undergraduate degree for various reasons. Firstly it gave me a necessary amount of breathing space to consider my options. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and lacked work experience. The gap year allowed me to develop a road map for the career that I really wanted to do.

Secondly I felt that my C.V needed development whereby I would use the year away as a ‘testing ground’ to find out what jobs and working environments suited me and which ones didn’t. Finally it helped me develop work skills that I lacked on graduation. Societies and clubs are useful, but they are no substitute to working in and gaining insight into a professional working environment.

Things to Consider: Have a strategy for the year especially if you are taking one after graduation. Make sure you actively develop your work skills and boost your CV in the ample time you have. Gap years can range from 9 – 18 months, rarely come around often and will be wasted if you haven’t used it advantageously to develop key skills employers will look for, work experience and dipping in and out of part-time roles and jobs. Be sure to have some time off but don’t lose focus of the big picture.

Be willing to work various jobs and some of them for free. This can range from internships to programming or to simply creating a weekly or monthly blog. If you cannot afford to travel or work abroad for that length of time make the most of applying for and securing useful summer jobs and opportunities. Sign up for courses that can help your development in areas you aren’t comfortable with in the work place.

The part-time work experience does not necessarily have to be a commercially orientated or a major company to utilise it.  For example if you are a sales assistant working in a shop but interested in finance- ask your manager to talk you through the accounts and reporting. If you’re interested in HR and work in a bar- ask the manager to talk you through the hiring process and see if you can sit in on any interviews.

If you find your passion in the duration of the year, work on it. However if you don’t exactly gauge what you want to do the average person taking a year out will have gained valuable life skills, developed some expertise in a working environment and diversified their CV by experimenting in various part-time jobs. This will make them more flexible in the eyes of potential employers as they are not always guaranteed talent through their company-run graduate programmes and internships.

Matthew Williams

The Alternate ‘Black Gold’


“I can’t imagine a day without coffee. I can’t imagine!”

Howard Schultz

The world is dominated by petro-politics and oil. Great powers and states compete to harness the ultimate energy source that we can get our hands on. Yet another form of energizing ‘black gold’ has absorbed mankind. If the world has been divided on beliefs, religion, politics and almost every other fathomable topic of contestation we remain united on our adoration and obsession with coffee. Since plausible civilisation began man has been chewing, ingesting and eliminating coffee cherries for more than 10,000 years. It’s expanded into a cultural phenomenon as well as a major global commodity.

Ten facts about coffee industry:

  1. Worldwide coffee is worth $100 billion, second only to the most valuable commodity on the planet; oil.
  2. According to the Guinness World Record the largest cup of coffee ever made contained 14,228.1 litres and was created by Caffe Bene (South Korea) in Yangju, South Korea, on 17 July 2014.
  3. Despite coffee only starting to intrigue American traders in the 19th century, September 29th is celebrated as ‘National Coffee Day’ in the United States.
  4. The rise of Islam popularised coffee. They couldn’t drink alcohol so they turned to coffee as an alternative for social and political discussions.
  5. On average worldwide, we drink over 500 billion cups of coffee every year and 1.7 billion cups are drank a day.
  6. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia. Legend says that the first coffee ever consumed was by a 9th-century Ethiopian goat herder after being perplexed by the excitement of his goats who had come across and eaten some beans from the coffee plant.
  7. Forget Lucozade and water before doing sporting activity! According to sports nutritionist Mayur Ranchordas (via Four Four Two) the caffeine content of coffee will power you up ahead of kick-off.
  8. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia all reside in the top ten biggest consumers of coffee per capita. Coffee consumers in the U.S.A reside in sixteenth place.
  9. The first European coffee house was opened in Rome in 1645.
  10. Coffee was prohibited in 1675 by King Charles II of England to dissuade people from discussing plots over the hot beverage.


These facts are several of innumerable reasons as to why coffee gains such traction to both individuals and companies across the world. The globes ‘coffee belt’ represents how coffee is inherently valuable to developing countries as a major part of their economy. It provides livelihoods for millions, excellent business opportunities for commercial coffee chains and whilst it is just behind oil in terms of value, coffee satisfies the customer more frequently (unless of course you give someone a bad cup of coffee!)

Futureboard is recruiting for a major international Coffee and Vending Solutions company. Over the last 40 years they have developed and changed to become Europe’s most renowned provider. The organisation concerned is a fast paced and dynamic organisation, serving delicious coffee and providing premium vending solutions since the early 1970s and currently over 5000 employees based in 11 countries. Think about it over a cup of coffee and contact us if you’d like to know more.

Matthew Williams

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