Pet Hates about Personal Statements No.1

I rarely like to give advice but whenever we have a job opportunity at work I feel the need.  As I am a fond advocate for the Plain English Campaign;  I find there are certain concepts you can convey to people in very simple terms.  If you can use 5 words to make a statement, don’t try to use 10.  So my number 1 pet hate, the thing that really puts me off a candidate from the start is the word “believe”.

I don’t care what you believe about yourself, I care what you know.  However new to the job market you are, you know if you are hard-working, polite, professional or positive.  Let me give you some real world examples from some real world cv’s / personal statements.

I Believe that I am a very positive person

Well, for a start you have capitalised the “B” in believe, my most irritative of words but I can overlook that.  You are either positive or you are not, by saying that you believe it you are saying:  “You might not think I’m positive, but to hell with what you think!”

I love marketing because I believe I’m somewhat creative myself

I mean come on man, not only are you uncertain as to your creativity, you are uncertain as to whether you are slightly creative.  The statement, in plain English, is: “I love marketing because I’m creative”.

I believe I am a highly diverse individual

I’m not even sure what that means, if it means you are adaptable, say: “I am a very adaptable person”, if indeed adaptable is what you meant.

I believe I am a hard working individual

What? Surely, if you’ve ever done any kind of work ever, you compare yourself to those around you.  If you work harder than most, you are hard-working.  If you only believe you are hard-working you are using some standard of measurement that is independent of a standard social measurement of hard-working.

Now I know this is England and we don’t like to say good things about ourselves, but at the end of the day, you need a job.  Putting the caveat of “I believe” is not going to prevent you from getting the sack if you turn out not to be whatever it is you believe, and if that thing is hard-working then you’d probably get sacked anyway.  If you want to sell yourself, you need to make positive affirmations about your attributes, not wishy washy non-committal waffle.

There are of course, times when the word believe may be an asset, this is at interview stage where you may want to impress the interviewer with your ideas on improving company performance without being too insistent and denting his ego, but you need to get to the interview by saying what you know.

[rant mode off]

Good luck people.

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Writing to your MP, total waste of time…

I wrote to David Gauke MP, he’s my local politico and is supposed to represent his constituents.  I wanted to know if he shared my fears about HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) initiative.  I won’t go into details in this post, I’ve written about it before here and why I am concerned about it here.

David responded to my letter saying he had written to Mr Important at HMRC and will write back to me when he has heard back.  I got the next letter saying; “please find enclosed the response I got from Mr Important”.  The letter explained exactly what RTI was and why they thought it was a good idea.  I had explained to Mr Gauke that I knew a lot about RTI, I even took the time to explain to him the basics of the scheme.  I then asked him if he shared my fears that RTI was simply a disguised move towards the much more ominous Centralised Deductions, a point at which we basically all become employees of HMRC who get hold of our hard earned cash before we do.

He didn’t answer that very clear question.  I expect he thinks it’s a good idea that we all move towards a kind of communist slavery of the kind you see in dystopian films like Children of Men.

What a tit.

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Saturday Morning Damson Hunt

So, Saturday morning is Caiden and Dad’s walk time.  We sometimes just walk round the local area and sometimes go out of town and find a patch of woodland or a lake.  Last weekend I noticed Damsons growing over the fence of a nearby school, the tree was scrawny and looked only perhaps 10 years old.  I got to wondering how the tree got there; it was certainly not planted deliberately given the location of other trees in the playground area.

I’m thinking maybe a bird dropped a damson there, or a person discarded a stone as they walked along, it’s possible there’s a much bigger tree somewhere in the local area.  So that’s Saturday morning sorted, we shall find this older, bigger Damson tree and harvest it to make Jam and Wine.

You’ve got to love Damson’s, they’re so much tastier than Plums, and free…

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Car Boot Sale

In the UK we have these events we call Car Boot Sales, the verb is colloquially known as “doing a car boot”.  It’s where people go with their cars full of their old junk and try to sell it to people who want to buy said old junk.  We hear stories at work or in the pub of people who do a car boot and make a couple of hundred quid, that’s £200!

Well I’ve done 2 car boots in recent weeks, turning up at 7.30am and paying for my pitch £9, setting up my wallpapering table and unloading my various bits of tat for people to browse.  It’s amazing what sells, people will buy old teddy bears and purses, I even got a couple of quid for an old compass with a cracked face.  However the lucrative £200 for a mornings work escapes me still.  Last one I did was Chorleywood’s Big Car Boot sale, I took a total of 18.20 making my total profit £9.20.  For 6 hours work that’s £1.53 per hour!

Still, I’m doing another one on Sunday, still chasing the footfall and money generation of a perfect day car booting.  It is fun though, bartering, drinking coffee and having a natter with the other stall holders.

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Is there any value in online surveys?

Knowing your customers is, as they say, the key to providing great customer service and increasing the business you do over time, so recently I have conducted a number of online surveys, the last one being sent out to over 1300 current and past customers.  I wanted to know exactly what these customers were interested in after all; if they are just interested in price I can consider a specific deal tailored to the bargain hunter.  Likewise if they are interested in compliance with taxes and our unblemished 11 year track record, what I like to call the Waitrose customer, then again I can offer them a second to none, transparent service to rival the very best in the business.  You do, when all is said and done, get what you pay for.

In order to prompt the recipients of this questionnaire to actually complete it and click submit, a process that should take a little less the two minutes, I offered them a chance to win the latest iPad, in fact it is sat right here on my desk as we speak.

Of the 1300 recipients, only 86 responded, a statistic that should not have been as surprising as it was, I mean how often do you complete online surveys?

So, is there anything I can learn from these 86 submissions of valuable information?  I gave the options for what the customer is looking for in a supplier as follows:

  • Our Price
  • Loyalty payments
  • Compliance
  • Track Record
  • Online Services
  • Knowledgeable staff
  • Other

Most of the customers ticked every box, so most want the cheapest service whilst at the same time receiving the best and most compliant solution.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that although I dare say some of my competitors may claim it does.  How do you pay the salaries of the best staff, operate an adequate compliance department as well as offer the best in industry revenue streams at the same time as being the cheapest?  It’s like going to a Wimpy restaurant and asking for pan fried scallops followed by twice cooked pork belly with an onion and apple velouté; they’ll say: “Erm…we don’t do that”.

So I say again, as I do so many times.  Either be the best or be the cheapest, you can never be both so don’t offer both as an option, doing so can only lead to failure.

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RTI cost for payroll grossly underestimated says damning parliamentary report

See on Scoop.itThe System

An influential all-party parliamentary group says HMRC has grossly underestimated the cost of Real Time Information (RTI) to the payroll industry and suggests the project should be viewed as nothing more than a step towards centralised deductions.

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HMRC in discussions to stagger RTI start date

See on Scoop.itThe System

Exclusive: _Payroll World_ understands that HMRC may allow more employers into the Real Time Information (RTI) pilot than originally planned and stagger the RTI submission start date in a bid to avoid a calamitous launch for the initiative in April…

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