Careers Advice

Whether you want direction or a fresh start we can help you get your career off right with our articles and help from professionals and experienced veterans alike. Planning is the key and in the articles below you can find the best way to get ahead, whatever you want to do.

What Employers really want

Have you ever been baffled by the words in job ads, job descriptions and person specs? With all the talk of ‘stakeholders’ and ‘proactive self-starters’ it can seem like recruiters are talking in a different language!

Recruiters use language like this to sell their jobs as dynamic, cutting edge and interesting. They’re competing with other employers to make their jobs sound the best, so they get the best applicants.

At first glance it can seem difficult to figure out what these buzz words mean. However, if you cut through the jargon you’ll probably find that what they’re asking for is straightforward.

Here we take a look at some of the more common words and phrases in job ads and work out what employers are really asking for:


They’re looking for someone who’s confident when taking on new tasks and projects, and can solve problems and find creative solutions to improve things. They want you to be able to launch yourself into new tasks with energy and enthusiasm.

Proven track record

Employers want to see evidence of your experience. If you’ve taken a project from A to B, make sure you have the stats and documents to prove it. If you work in a creative field, you should have examples of your work in a portfolio.


A self-starter can see what needs to be done, and can take action without guidance and orders. The employer may want you to take charge of a project at short notice and trust you to get on with it.


Similar to self-starter (above), a proactive person takes positive action to bring about change without too many instructions.

Team player

A good team player can fit into the company culture and work effectively with different types of people. Employers will be impressed if you can give an example of a time you worked on task outside of your normal job role, to help a team achieve a goal.


This means they’ll probably want you to work evenings and weekends during busy times. You might also need to travel, stay overnight and work in different offices.

Competitive salary and benefits

This could mean the salary is in line with similar roles for other organisations. It could also mean they haven’t decided the salary yet and it depends on your skills and experience. If you’re looking for a certain minimum salary you might like to find out as early in the process as possible what the range is, to make sure it’s the kind of rate you’re looking for.

Fast-paced/challenging/demanding environment

This means that they’d like someone who can juggle many different tasks, work to deadlines and put in the extra time and effort to meet targets.


This means you should be able to put customers’ needs first and understand what makes them tick. You could think of an example where you dealt with a difficult customer or came up with an idea that would appeal to customers.

Ability to communicate at all levels

The employer wants someone who can get on with people at all levels of the company, from the people on the shop floor to the board room. They want to know you have the common touch and the ability to communicate with professionals. You could think of an example where you worked on a project with a wide range of people.

Core competences

These are the main skills you need to do the job. At all stages of the recruitment process try to keep in mind the top five skills the employer is looking for.

Commitment to equal opportunities

The employer wants to know you’ll treat everyone – colleagues and customers – equally. You could prove this by thinking of a situation where you took account of the needs of someone different from yourself.


Stakeholders have an investment, share or interest in a company or industry.

Fast learner

The company may not be able to spend a lot of time training you on the job, so you’ll have to be able to pick it up as you go along. This might appeal to you if you like learning by doing. You might like to find out what training is offered, so you know which skills you’re going to develop.

Sense of humour required

You should only need a sense of humour if the job itself is a joke, so steer well clear of this! The only job you need a sense of humour for is a comedian….


  • PA: short for ‘per annum’, this means for the whole year – usually in reference to wages
  • PW: short for ‘per week’, this means each week – usually in reference to wages
  • OTE: short for “on target earnings”, this means that your take-home pay will be part basic salary and part performance-related pay – be sure to ask about the targets at the interview and then decide if they are achievable or not
  • Pro Rata: usually written next to an annual salary where the job is part-time. It means ‘proportionately’. For example, if the wage is £10,000 for full-time (say 40 hours per week) and you are working 20 hours, then you will earn £5,000 in a year

What job adverts mean for your CV

Job adverts can be challenging to interpret but it’s essential so you can tailor your covering letter and CV to what the employer wants. You could break down the job advert by asking these questions:

  • what’s the main purpose of the job? What are the main tasks?
  • how is this role important to the company?
  • What will its impact be? What skills do they want applicants to have?
  • what knowledge or experience do they want applicants to have?

Breaking down the job advert enables you to put your finger on what the employer is after. You can then push your relevant skills and experience in your CV and covering letter.

Carving out a careers path

What do you enjoy doing?

You can browse through our job profiles to find a job to suit you. At this early stage you might like to focus on the sections that describe the main tasks in the jobs and the skills and interests you need. If you’re not sure where your skills and interests lie you can carry out our skills and interests assessment.

When you’ve found the types of jobs you’re interested in, you can start to narrow down your options by looking at the other sections on the job profiles. You can then check out which qualifications and experience you need.

Who do you want to work for?

Deciding which type of organisation you want to work for can also help you narrow down your job search. You could approach this by thinking about what you want from an employer and what you don’t want. Examples of what might be important to you are:

  • working for a large company where you can move roles
  • working for a small company where you get experience of all aspects of the business
  • working for a well-known and reputable company
  • having training opportunities the right company culture.
  • Once you’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for you can start to identify suitable organisations.

Job or Career?

There is a difference! Are you looking for a stop-gap job to pay off bills or have you got a detailed career plan? Do you want a similar kind of job to your existing one but just in a different environment? Have you done all you can in your current job and need a fresh, new challenge? Do you want to get promoted and take on more responsibility?

What pay and conditions are you looking for?

You’ll need to find jobs that suit your lifestyle and give you the hours you want. And how far do you want to travel and what kind of salary are you looking for?

Temporary or permanent?

It’s important to decide if you’re looking for temporary or permanent work because you can find them in different places.

You might want temporary work if you’re returning to work or if you’re trying to get a wide range of experiences. If this is the case you might want to consider using recruitment agencies.

Transferable skills

What is a transferable skill?

As the name suggests, a transferable skill is something that can be taken with you and applied to any new job. These are core skills that all employers value, and include:

  • People skills – your ability to communicate, motivate and lead a team, or successfully coach or train people.
  • Technical skills – knowledge of popular computer programmes, or more practical things like an ability to construct or repair.
  • Data skills – good record keeping, detailed statistical analysis, or research skills.

Think of your current role and how much of it is solely concerned with the industry you’re in now. Unless you’re a specialist working at a high level with complex information, much of what you do could easily be applied elsewhere.

For example, if you are a good trainer, that skill could be used in any role – every business could do with someone who can teach others how to work better. Likewise, if you’re a good organiser, any position that requires project management is up for grabs. Almost anything can be a transferable skill; it’s all about how you spin it to your prospective employer.

How to identify your transferable skills

For a start, look at job specs across a wide range of industries and see what skills they have in common. You can do this quickly and easily using Monster’s job search. Then map your findings back against what you are doing now. Go through your working day or week and do a quick analysis of what your tasks actually involve. How many are people related? How many have to do with data or technical expertise?

This will help you focus on identifying skills you may not have even known you had. Don’t ignore things that come as second nature to you and that you don’t necessarily see as key attributes – they might be of priceless value to a potential employer. As you go through this process, write each skill down and compare it to your findings from your job spec comparison. There’s a high chance that you will already have provable experience called for by virtually any job.

The ‘provable’ factor here is very important. It’s obviously not enough to say ‘I’m a great manager’ or ‘I’m really good with figures’. Make sure you identify specific achievements in your career that clearly demonstrate each of your transferable skills. By updating your CV regularly with each new success, you will improve your chances of landing the job you want when it’s time to move on.

Make sure your CV outlines your relevant skills somewhere upfront and obvious. They’re key selling points. As a career changer, the first task of your CV is to convince the reader why you are a better prospect than other candidates who have more relevant experience in the role or industry. Your personal statement is the ideal place to sell yourself with come clear and eye-catching statements.