Career Change

Free online careers resources – part 3 – career change

Looking for a career change?

I have just had a very interesting time exploring a careers resource used in schools, colleges and universities, but which is also great for anyone seeking inspiration for a career change.  One of its unique features is the number of videos – over 1000 – of ‘real-life’ workers sharing their experiences about their career.

Transferable skills

The workers’ stories also help to dispel the myth that you need to have done certain things if you are ever to have a particular job – as their routes to their jobs are often anything but straightforward!  Of course, for some roles, you do need particular qualifications, but for many jobs it is the transferable skills that matter more to employers than your knowledge – examples of transferable skills being communication skills, leadership skills, teamwork, project management, problem solving, time management and so on, skills you develop as you progress through education, employment and training. So, if you are looking for a career change at 30, 40, 50, 60 or more, this resource would be an excellent place to start.

What job could I do?

I found it helpful to look up jobs by ‘Job Type’ (ie. sector) such as Energy and Utilities, Logistics and Transport, or ‘Subject’, such as Geography or Engineering.  This pulls up a number of videos for you to watch – around four minutes maximum in length. Information is also given on average salary, working week, male:female ratio in the UK, and any specific entry requirements. 

Where do I find it?

Explore Careers

My career coaching and advice sessions will help you identify your transferable skills and plan your career change route from where you are now to where you want to be.  It would be great to talk to you so please contact me for an informal chat and an idea of cost – no obligation and no pressure.  

Numerical reasoning test

Free online careers resources – part 2 – numerical reasoning tests

Numerical reasoning tests

I work at universities on a casual basis, helping out with careers work during particularly busy periods. I have come across students who are gutted because they have failed the numerical reasoning test which forms part of the recruitment process for a graduate scheme place.  The test is often one of a battery of tests required by the employer – others may be verbal reasoning or abstract reasoning, for example.  These tests tend to come early on in the assessment process, as a filter for applications, usually stage one or two of a six-stage process.  To be knocked out of the recruitment stage right at the beginning is a huge disappointment – and a shock – particularly if you have a high-grade maths GCSE or A level maths – and you weren’t expecting it to be a problem.  Jobs in engineering, data science, manufacturing and operations, and some management consultancy and city roles, are examples of when numerical tests may be used. 

What is numerical reasoning?

Numerical reasoning involves evaluating situations and drawing conclusions from the data provided. Topics could include fractions, decimals, percentages, algebra, graphs, charts, equations, averages, ratios – to show you understand numbers, can interpret data, are accurate and can read graphs and charts. You are generally given a time limit, and this is deliberately tight, which make the test challenging.

Practise, practise, practise

Even if you are good at maths or are doing/have done a degree with a lot of maths content, don’t assume it will be a walk in the park.  The chances are that you are out of practice with this type of maths and you will be slow. The thing to do is practise, practise, practise.  Your brain will become accustomed to the types of questions and layouts in different sorts of tests, your speed and accuracy will improve, and you will gain in confidence – this will calm your nerves.


There are many free numerical reasoning tests online – here are some links to get you started.  In addition, have a look at the employer’s website as they may give you information about the tests they use, some tips and some practice questions.  Good luck!

Numerical reasoning test

Job test prep

Assessment day

Practice aptitude tests

I can create scenarios similar to those used in assessment centres to help you familiarise yourself with the activities and build your skills and confidence.  Because you will attend the assessment centre knowing what sort of things to expect, it means you will present yourself well and have a much better chance of being selected.  

The one-to-one sessions I offer can take place remotely now (and/or at my home office when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted).   Clients find that booking three separate one-hour sessions work best as this gives time to discuss personal strategies for excelling in different assessment centre activities (for example, aptitude tests, inbox exercises, group work, presentations, interviews), practise their approach, get feedback and review how effective they have been – and repeat!  If you find you cannot fit three sessions in, then fewer will most certainly still be of value.  Look forward to seeing you!

Skills Matching

Free online careers resources – part 1 – career matching

Career skills matching

I’m doing a series of blogs on free online careers resources.  Today I have had a look at the Skills Assessment on the National Careers Service site. It is a tool suitable for generating ideas for your first, or next, job.  It takes about five minutes and asks you questions about how you like to work.  The results match you to a selection of roles in different industry or professional sectors, giving an indication of the salaries you might expect.

I have just had a go and these are my results:

  • you enjoy helping and listening to other people
  • you like dealing with complicated problems or working with numbers
  • you are sociable and find it easy to understand people

So how accurate is it?  

As my job is to help people with their careers decisions, I thought this was pretty much spot on.  I agreed with the first point:  being a careers adviser it is essential that I do enjoy helping and listening to people.  I also agree with the second:  I do like dealing with complicated problems – clients often arrive to see me with many factors to consider (and I do like working with numbers too!).  The final point is ‘you are sociable and find it easy to understand people’.  I think I am sociable, most of the time, although I do like some time on my own.  Do I find it easy to understand people?  I am not sure that I find it easy as I believe it requires a great deal of thought and skill, but it is certainly true that I am fascinated by how we make career decisions, what encourages us to do things and what holds us back, and the importance of learning why we might behave in certain ways.    

My results generated ideas for jobs and salary indicators in sectors including Hospitality and Food; Sports and Leisure; Teaching and Education; Science and Research; Manufacturing; Computing, Technology and Digital – lots of options for inspiration.

This activity gets you thinking 

It is ideal to break you out of that awful never-ending circle of indecision that can often befall us!  I hope you find it helpful.  

National Careers Skills Assessment

I will be trying out other free online careers resources soon.  When you are on social media, please like and share my page and set up notifications for my posts.

Returning from a break from work

Question: I have had a break from working for five years while my children were little. I would like to go back to work part-time now but feel that my skills are out-of-date. Do you have any suggestions?

Judith’s answer:

Many people lose some confidence after taking a break from work and it makes it difficult to present a positive image – on paper and at interview. One way to tackle this is to start with a bit of voluntary work – if you can find the time – as just a couple of hours a week will get you back into things and remind you of all the skills you actually have.  As far as the application form goes, you have a lot to offer from your time at home (and many things won’t have changed at all in five years!).  You will probably have developed excellent organisation skills, be calm in a crisis, have good time management, project planning, self-motivation, discipline, communication skills, budgeting and stamina.  All of these are skills and qualities which employers seek – no matter what the nature of the job.  So, it’s time to look at what you can do, not what you can’t.  Please get in touch if you would like some help.

Interview presentation

For my next job interview I have to make a five-minute presentation. Will it be OK to use notes?

Yes, it will be OK to use notes (unless you have specifically been told you must present without them) but they must be discrete (not a thick pad of A4) and you should be so well-prepared  that you should only need to refer to them occasionally.  The best way to prepare is to practise your presentation over and over again until you know it really well and you have the timing right.  If you are using Powerpoint, then the slides can act as prompts but don’t rely on this.  Always be prepared to present without any aids just in case the equipment fails or isn’t available after all. The best notes are probably still those little index cards as they will fit into your pocket or bag and can be held in your hand.  I suggest you punch a hole in the corner and fix them together with a Treasury tag – sounds really old-fashioned – but it works. If you drop them they won’t go out of order and you can also flip them over as you go.  I can help you structure and practise your presentation – using video if required – and we can make sure ‘the words, the music and the dance’ (content, tone and body language) are all at their most effective!

I am a sole trader and have just become a member of a couple of business networks.

I go along to these on my own but I don’t really make the best of them. Everyone seems to know each other and I feel like a spare part. How can I join in – without feeling like I am butting in – and promote my business?

Judith’s answer:

These events can be very off-putting.  You have had the courage to set up your business on your own so you will be able to find the courage to network more successfully –it’s just a matter of deciding what to say to people and how to find a ‘way in’.   I can help you develop some introductory phrases to use which are neutral (business-wise), friendly and welcoming and we can gradually work on techniques to get you involved.  Then it’s back out there to practise them and back to me to help you refine and improve them – and back out there again…  We’ll have you networking effectively in no time!

I don’t think I want to see myself on video when I come for a practice interview

Question: I don’t think I want to see myself on video when I come for a practice interview – it’s going to make me feel worse – why do you suggest it?

Answer: Using the video is entirely optional – some people go for it and some just won’t entertain it!  It is up to you.  I suggest it for some circumstances because I think it will help.  Don’t forget, we are not just looking for faults and areas for development – we also look for the things you do well and this can really boost your confidence.  I often like to show people clips to convince them of how well they are doing – because sometimes they don’t believe me when I tell them – they want proof!

Improving business proposals

I am trying to get work for my business but my proposals are being rejected even though I know we could do the job really well? Have you any advice?

It is difficult without seeing the proposals myself but a common problem that occurs is that businesses describe themselves and their products (ie. they write about their features) rather than supplying information about what they can offer to the prospective customer (ie. write about the benefits).  It may be that this is what is happening to you.  Please get in touch so that we can look at your proposals together and see how you could change them to get better results.

You offer practice interviews. How do you help me with technical questions and what are practice interviews like, generally?

Well, I obviously can’t be an expert in all subjects for university and college courses and all jobs – so I research the technical area and develop my own bank of questions.  This enables me to ask you technical questions and gives you practice thinking about how you would answer them, succinctly and with examples.  I can’t test the content of your answers (in other words whether you are technically right or wrong or have given a valid opinion), but I can feedback to you how you answer questions and the impression you are making.  You will also know yourself, from our dry-runs, whether you are as well-prepared as you should be and it will highlight areas to brush up on. I always encourage applicants to set up a separate practice with someone who is a subject specialist. More than anything, though, practice interviews are vital for developing confidence and managing nerves.  However ‘relaxed’ the interviewer tries to make it for you, you are still under the spotlight and are the centre of attention – and this can be uncomfortable. The idea is not to produce model answers but to help you become better at managing your situation, thinking on your feet and giving of your very best when you attend the real interview. The practice interviews I do are a great way to learn and also, believe it or not, good fun!    Why don’t you give one a try?

What do Admissions Tutors actually look for in a personal statement?

Generally, they are looking for applicants who are enthusiastic, motivated, passionate about their subject and keen to learn. Birmingham University has produced a very interesting and useful video with a number of Admissions Tutors for different subjects on it and they give a good insight into what they look for. (See the link on the right hand side of this page.)  There are common themes.  You will see from the video how much the content and style of the personal statement matters!