Top Tips for Your FIRST Day
You did it! Amazing! Congratulations! You made it through the extensive interviewing process and stood out against everyone else – and you got the job, and it’s time for your first day! But hold on… all these questions spring to mind; what should I wear, how shall I act, should I take lunch, do I talk to everyone or keep to myself? Now, all of a sudden, what was very exciting has become a fiasco of nerves and dilemmas!
Don’t panic, as it’s always good to have some nerves! Here are our top tips so consider before your first day...
- Speak to your contact – these burning questions about what to wear, what to bring with and who to report to can be easily resolved through speaking with your contact, whether that is a member of the recruitment team, HR or who will be your new manager – no question is a silly question right now!
- Plan to arrive early – You should always plan to arrive to work on time, especially on your first day. Typically, you’d want to get in, make a cup of tea and settle at your desk ready for your actual start time. On your first day, make a good impression by arriving 10-15 minutes early but don’t arrive hours in advance! If you’ve not done the commute before, give it a practice run at the time of day you will be travelling in
- Look and play the part – At Pricecheck we dress for our diary, totally up to interpretation and down to each individual. So, ask the question about dress code, you don’t want to be dressed down in loungewear when everyone else is in office attire. Getting this wrong could create the wrong impression, you’ll want to show through your business attire and actions that you take yourself and your new role seriously, so aim for a smart, professional look.
- Be prepared to ask questions – We all expect our first day to be a lot of listening, and it always is but make sure you’re asking questions when you need some clarification. It’s a winner in showing you’re excited about your new role and ready to learn.
- Talk to your co-workers – Typically, you’re going to be spending 8 hours a day, five days a week with your new team. Try to make sure you speak to them on your first day, try to get to know them and establish that you are a friendly, approachable person from early on! It will only help as you begin taking on new tasks.
- Don’t turn down a lunch invitation – A great way to meet people across the company and get settled in is to accept lunch invitations when they’re offered. Our buddy scheme encourages off site lunch breaks to allow some down time between the information overload of being a new starter and just getting to know colleagues. It is usually a great way to meet people who you may not ordinarily work with.
- Be open to learning new things – Even if your new role is similar to one you have done previously, be ready to take on new approaches – all companies do things slightly differently. There may be things you can learn to be better and become more efficient. However, it’s not always the case, and we certainly encourage all new starters to come in with a fresh pair of eyes, learn our way – but make recommendations once you understand the reasons behind the method.
- Review onboarding materials – If you received onboarding materials, be sure to read these carefully. You may need to bring specific documentation on your first day such as identification or acceptance of general documents. Try to complete all form filling exercises you can ahead of your first day, this will save time in our induction meeting. If you do have any questions and want these answered before you complete the form(s) then reach out to your contact or prepare those questions on your first day.
- Observe company culture – You’ve probably learned something about the company culture based on your research and the job interview itself. But now you can see how everyone behaves when the spotlight isn’t on and it’s just a normal day at the office. Pay close attention to how people talk to one another, acceptable forms of humour, and admired qualities and people around the office. For starters, you will find natural friends and mentors this way. Additionally, you’ll learn something about what behaviours and qualities are especially valued within your team.
- Just be yourself – And finally, just be yourself. It’s hard but try to relax, have fun and enjoy being a new starter!
Top Tips for Video Interviews
Welcome to the new world of virtual recruitment. Even with restrictions lifting, it’s likely that virtual interviews will remain for some time.
So how can you make the most of the situation? Read on for our tip tips:
- Think about your surroundings. Working from home has really blurred the lines between home and work life and whilst we appreciate space may be of the essence think about your set up and backgrounds when hitting the video button. A quiet, well lit place which is free from possible interruptions should be the aim.
- Test the tech! This may be the most important point of all, but before you go in all guns blazing, be sure to do a pre-run and ensure your camera and sound are fit for purpose. Think sound, visual, equipment and positioning (we want to see your whole face, not just your forehead!).
- Timings really matter. Pause to allow for interviewers to speak if you feel you are going off topic, it’s harder to pick up on body language through video. Also, don’t be alarmed by any parts of silence, remember there could be a small delay.
- Repeating is fine. Don’t be nervous to ask the interviewers to repeat questions if you’ve struggled to hear or you need more clarity.
- First impressions still count. All of the usual interview prep should be at the forefront of your mind, dress smart, do your research and prepare some post-interview questions.
My Placement Year - Elizabeth Walmsley
Name: Elizabeth Walmsley
Course: Business and Marketing
University: Sheffield Hallam University
How long is your placement? 12-15 months
Tell us a little about your role, what does an average day look like?
I applied for the Trading Placement, this involves a few different roles from Sales Support to Business Development Researcher and Business Development Executive. I have been part of all three teams. During most of my time at Pricecheck I've been part of the Sales Support team, working alongside International Account Managers and working closely with customers to deliver the amazing Customer Service that Pricecheck has helped me develop. Some of my daily tasks involved, creating tailored offers for new and regular customers, working with the Account Managers to negotiate and offer the best prices to our customers and talking with customers over the phone and via email.
What additional skills do you think you have gathered during your placement so far?
From working at Pricecheck I have developed my communication skills over the phone and via email. From working closely with Account Managers, I have improved my confidence whilst working as part of a team. Due to Pricechecks fast-working environment, I have developed my organisation and time management skills to ensure I can control my workload.
What’s been your Pricecheck highlight?
I have gained so much experience and thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Pricecheck, but the highlight of my overall time here would be working alongside a new Account Manager and seeing the territory he had grown from the hard work and dedication we both put in.
What advice would you give to students considering a placement year?
It is so important to find the right placement that fits your own personal skills and talents, there is no point in taking a year out to join a company who does not want to develop your knowledge and encourage you. Pricecheck provided me with the perfect work experience and ensured that every single moment was worthwhile!
What are your top tips for achieving a placement role?
Sheffield Hallam provides amazing support for students who are interested in placements, I would not be here without their support and help. I would highly recommend taking advantage of the support provided at your University.
Do you have any tips for making the most of your placement year?
Never say no, take on any challenge which is thrown your way! You are on placement for a year, this time will fly by. Take advantage of all opportunities to help develop your skill set and knowledge.
Things to consider when applying for your first job
You’re applying for your first role, that first step onto the career ladder and it’s an exciting time, but also a little confusing and scary! If you know what career path you want to go down, great! But how do you know what company to work for? If you’re still deciding on a career – how on earth do you go about choosing your first position?
Salary. Location. Reputation. These are all factors that frequently come up but what about workplace happiness? Here’s a few suggestions of things to consider:
Culture – this is such a huge thing these days and it’s only getting more focus. It’s essentially the personality of a company. It’s the mission, the working environment, the beliefs, employee treatment and overall goals of the business. Pricecheck is fast paced, it’s tremendously busy but we all pull together to get the job done. Plans can often go out the window but it’s fine, we muddle through together because we are all pushing towards the same wider goal, continuously looking to push forward and improve.
Values & Vision – to be passionate in your work, you need to believe in what you’re doing and what your contribution means to the business. If you take just one thing away from this blog – take this away; alignment to the values and vison of a business make a difference. It inspires you to be successful, to keep pushing forward and gets you out of bed even on those mornings you feel shattered!
Employee Expectations – every company is individual and therefore expect different behaviours and actions from their employees; often this can include things like; dress codes, socialising, how many hours you work, radio on... radio off… Consider, do you want to work in a strict working environment? A more relaxed one? What about a competitive one or a more creative environment? It can make a big difference to how happy you’re going to be.
Size of Company – company size can have a direct influence on the relationships you have with your employees, the opportunities you get within your role, and your chance for progression. There are pros and cons of all sizes. Weigh this up doing a pros and cons list.
Work/life Balance – huge deal! Very few people weigh this up before accepting a role and end up miserable for it. Often accepting a role which pays well but then finding they have little time in the evenings with working late and feeling exhausted at the weekends.
We're not saying choose the easy ride. If you love your job or you are pursuing a specific career path to get to the place you want to be, then working hard is vital and you should be prepared to put in every effort. You just need to decide what is important to you.
Transferable skills you don’t realise you have…
Whilst we hold work paid experience in high regard, we realise that everyone has to start somewhere!
There are plenty of other ways to show us that you have the right skills and abilities to work for us and highlight that you are the best candidate for Pricecheck. Think about including the following examples in your CV or covering letter:
- Were you part of a club or group at school/college/university where you had responsibilities? Have you helped to arrange any events? Did you have to keep records? Hold meetings? If so, these are perfect examples of being organised, working in a group, using your initiative and sticking to deadlines.
- Have you taken part in any Duke of Edinburgh awards or similar? These are also examples that you have worked within a team and followed instructions.
- Have you ever played a team sport? Think about the skills and behaviours you have gained: dedication, reliability (turning up for training/matches), motivating others (if you’ve just lost a game!), organising and leading others.
- Have you done any voluntary work? Unpaid work placement? Girlguiding? Local charity shops? Local elderly home? Helped at a local church group? Anything like this shows a willingness to learn
Ready to apply? Take a look at our current vacancies here.
Learning doesn’t stop when work starts!
Move over continuous training. Goodbye lifelong learning. It’s all about incremental learning at Pricecheck.
It’s more than just continuously learning for us; it’s adding to your skills and experiences over time. Incremental learning is a process, it’s a progression that keeps on going. Its not about moving from course to course gaining academic knowledge, it’s about learning through experiences and gaining skills that simply aren’t taught.
At Pricecheck, this is a key element of how our employees work throughout the company. The day to day is fast and we have to be able to respond to change quickly. Incremental learning is heavily relied upon to help us be the innovative, market leading company we have the vision to be.
What does incremental training at Pricecheck look like?
- It never ends. There’s no set start and end date, that just the Pricecheck way. People who have been with us five years, have just as much to learn as those who have been with us a week. That’s why skills sharing is such an important aspect of life at Pricecheck. Whilst a new team member may not understand our ins and outs, they bring new and exciting ideas we may not have considered yet!
- There’s no set venue. Incremental learning happens everywhere. It’s the development of your personal as well as professional skills. Simply, in day-to-day life, you’ll learn things which no training course or online workshop could teach you.
- Success is down to you. There’s not necessarily a certificate or award waiting for you once you’ve completed your learning. But there’s great potential for career progression, increased job satisfaction and improved job performance.
So how do we keep people constantly learning?
We promote continuous progression throughout Pricecheck, encouraging employees to try new things and ways of working. Giving the flexibility really helps people to understand where they want to go with their career – and helps them get there.
Supporting new opportunities is another way that we help employees to keep learning throughout their time with us. We encourage them to take on courses, go to events and speak to people around the business from different departments, in order for them to build their skill set.
Our managers support their team, utilising coaching and mentoring skills to enable self-discovery and keeping individuals learning.
At Pricecheck, you are responsible for taking control of your own learning and development – there is no point in waiting to be taught. Everyone is encouraged to be proactive and learn something new each day – in a way that best suits them.
Whilst incremental learning is what you make it, one thing is for sure – a career with Pricecheck will help you develop both personally and professionally.
Learning, growing and developing is never ending.
Having a friendly face, makes a huge difference!
Starting a new job is exciting but can also be very daunting.
At Pricecheck we try to make our new employees as comfortable as possible in their first few weeks, which is why we introduced our Buddy Scheme..
We will our new starters with someone who has been here a while, who will be there for them to talk to, ask questions, confide in, or even just have a catch up over a cuppa.
This gives a friendly face in the building and helps to build relationships from day one.
Everyone at Pricecheck is friendly, chatty and always happy to help – it's one of our key values – our management teams’ doors are always open, but sometimes it can just give a little extra comfort to have someone specific there for guidance.
On day one, a new starter will be introduced to their buddy and they will have some time to get to know each other and ask any questions that they may have and cover off the ‘nice to knows’ about a role.
After the first couple of weeks, the buddies are encouraged to go and have lunch together away from the office to have a catch up about how they are getting on.
Sophie Booth, in our Sales Support team, is a buddy to Lucy Ellis, our Marketing Assistant. Lucy said: “Getting time to sit down and have a chat with someone on my first day was really comforting and helped to settle my nerves! Since then, it’s been nice to keep catching up on how things are going and to have someone there that I know I can talk to about anything.”
Our buddy scheme is long term and we believe it helps to build relationships across different teams within the business.
Applying for a Role - What You Need to Know
When looking at your next career move, the selection process starts well in advance of you walking into the interview room. Below are some tips to consider when you are starting to apply for jobs:
Build a network
You never know where your next opportunity may come from so make connections and build your network. Find those who have common interests, excelled in your field of interest or have inspired you in any way. Maybe consider finding a mentor - having somebody looking out for you professionally may also open your eyes to new opportunities you hadn’t considered. This network could make you aware of volunteering opportunities, seminars to attend or emerging trends in your area of interest – talk to as many people as you can! When you have whittled down the companies you would like to apply to, you could always reach out to some of their current employees for insider guidance.
Do your research
Before you even start to think about updating your CV, think about why you want to work for that particular company. Is it the prestigious name and reputation? Do their company values match your own? Does the industry and the opportunity excite you? Is it simply convenient because it is within walking distance? Find out everything you can about the company - sometimes the perception of working for a particular business or having a certain job title is far different to the Monday-Friday reality.
Never underestimate the importance of a cover letter
Once you’ve nailed your CV, the cover letter can start to feel like a chore. However, it can help to fill any gaps on your CV, explain a planned relocation and simply gives us an insight into you! Your CV will be quite fact heavy once all your qualifications, experience and achievements are listed but there’s so much more to you as an individual than listing what you have been up to for the last few years. Don’t let your dream opportunity slip away because you didn’t include a cover letter – it is so valuable.
Update and maintain your professional social media pages
At Pricecheck, we tend to take on a number of business related graduates but we do have some weird and wonderful backgrounds and achievements between us all too! We know that people’s aspirations and ambitions change over time, so make sure you are reflecting the current ‘you’ on your professional social media pages. For example, teaching may have been your ambition when you first set up your LinkedIn profile but after a couple of placements, you know it is no longer the right route for you. That’s fine. Reference it in your cover letter and update your profile to show that – we would hate to overlook your application because it is so tailored to an area you are no longer interested in.
Remember what you have applied for!
We understand how tempting it is to apply for aaaaall the graduate jobs on the portal, but keep track of what you have applied for and only go for the roles which you are interested in. If we’re ringing to arrange an interview, it is because we are excited by your application so it’s always uplifting when we get a similar response back!
'My Placement Year'
Name: Joanne Calver
Course: BA (Hons) Business Management
University: Sheffield Hallam
Role at Pricecheck: Buying Assistant
How long is your placement? 12- 15 months
Tell us a little about your role. What does an average day look like?
Each day is unique, the FMCG industry is extremely fast paced and dynamic making no day the same. This makes the job role very interesting, and day-to-day tasks include helping the buyers with product offers, researching and contacting prospective suppliers, creating presentations on new stock for the sales team to use and so much more!
What additional skills do you think you have gathered during your placement so far?
• Commercial Awareness
• Team Work
• Time Management
What’s been your Pricecheck highlight so far?
Organising the events for the Pricecheck Placement Challenge – I’m looking forward to working alongside my fellow placement students and seeing how much we can raise for our chosen charities. The Placement Challenge also gives us a great opportunity to learn and implement new skills
What advice would you give to students considering a placement year?
I could not recommend doing a placement year enough! The skills and experience you gain are invaluable, a lot of which can’t be taught in a class room. It betters your personal and professional skillset, making you so much more employable after graduation. I have also made friends for life.
What are your top tips for achieving a placement role?
Start early, you may get knocked back a number of times but keep persevering, in this time you are constantly learning and developing your interview skills so remember to ask for feedback. Make sure you are well prepared for any interview (research the company, the job role, and think of potential questions), the more prep you do the more confident you will feel, and this will make a good impression on the person who is interviewing you.
Any top tips for making the most of your placement year?
Make sure you get involved with everything you can, always put 100% into everything you do, try not to be shy, get to know as many people as possible to build good relationships with your colleagues.
Meet The Team - Demi-Leigh Fewkes – Customer Operations Coordinator
Demi joined Pricecheck in 2018 as our first apprentice! Since completing her qualifications, we’re pleased that Demi remained part of the Pricecheck family and joined our Customer Operations Team.
Daily, Demi is now able to use her Business Administration knowledge which she gained through her apprenticeship and as a key member of our reception team in her new role which is vital to the distribution of our products.
At Pricecheck, we’re keen to support the next generation and whether their education has taken them to college, university or apprenticeships we’re ready to help them with their first steps on the career ladder.
Here’s Demi’s story.
Tell us about your average day?
“Every day is different as you never know what’s going to happen, but I always have the same routine. In a morning I get in for 8AM and have a look through my emails and answer any customers queries that have come in overnight/the weekend. Then I go through my reps orderbooks and have a look to see if any more stock has come in/orders can go out etc. Then I will just get on with my day, sending order confirmations, proformas, booking in customers delivery’s and everything else that comes with it in-between.”
What has been your biggest challenge? And how did you overcome it?
“My biggest challenge since starting my new role at Pricecheck would have to be going from managing one sales rep’s customers to two. It took me a little while to get used to it, with my team’s help and guidance it did get easier and easier. With time I just got used to balancing the jobs that were given to me and improved on my ability to priorities the workload.”
Have the skills you learnt in your apprenticeship helped you in the role you are in now?
“Yes, spending time doing the apprenticeship gave me invaluable knowledge about the company and how the business works. This has definitely helped me to settle in faster to my new role since finishing my apprenticeship.”
How has Pricecheck differed from when you started in 2018?
“The company has grown massively since I started, the team numbers have increased, and the product ranges have expanded. Looking at Pricecheck in 2020, I see a fast-growing company that has lots of opportunities for young people. “
How has your role changed since you first joined Pricecheck?
“When I first joined Pricecheck to complete my apprenticeship, I started on reception completing general admin tasks and being the first point of call for the office. I now work within Customer Operations dealing with customers directly and Pricecheck has helped me gain the skills to be able to perform my role effectively and efficiently.”
Would you recommend doing an Apprenticeship at Pricecheck and Why?
“Yes, definitely! It’s the best way to develop your skills and learn about how a company functions hands-on. As a company, Pricecheck were really supportive of my apprenticeship and helped me in every way they could.”
What has been your highlight while working at Pricecheck?
“My highlight of working at Pricecheck, has to be the Total Wipeout course we did for Pricecheck’s 40th Anniversary. It was so much fun and great to see everyone get involved! “
Interview Tips – How to Land Your First Graduate Role.
Landing your first role after graduation can be difficult, then comes the interview stage! Read on for our top tips on breezing through the process.
- Research the company. I can’t begin to tell you how important this is. Our business is fairly complicated when you first hear about Pricecheck, so we always appreciate it when a candidate has done their research and found out who we are and what we do. Think about our customers, our products and anything related to our industry. This demonstrates you have done your homework but have also considered the wider picture rather than just memorising facts.
- Who are you? Don’t be shy to reveal a little more about yourself in an interview situation. I always ask candidates what they enjoy doing in their spare time and what they’re passionate about. We always look at the personality and approach of a person, not just what’s written on their CV.
- Listen to the question. Yes, there are things you want to share about your past experience and skills, and these are definitely things we want to hear too. However, make sure you are actually answering what is being asked as opposed to getting across the points that you want us to know about you. Running through all the things you have prepared in anticipation for what might be asked at the interview, rather than answering the question asked will give the impression you’re not listening. Think about what is being asked – if you are asked situational questions (“Tell us about a time when…”), make sure you back this up with an example rather than a list of the skills you would bring to the role.
- Prepare relevant questions. This seems a little odd, but it’s something most managers and recruiters will look for. At some point during your interview you could be asked if you have any questions to ask. You should use this as an opportunity to ask about the finer details of the role you’ve applied for, the culture and the people currently working there. However, don’t just ask questions for the sake of it – keep it relevant.
- Be in control and relax. I don’t mean take charge and ask all the questions! This is more to do with confidence and taking ownership of your interview. Don’t rush your answers to a question. It’s fine to pause and think before answering and if you’re unsure, you can always ask the interviewer to clarify what they mean before you answer. A good tip would be to take a printed copy of your CV in with you, as this can act as a prompter for any details you may have forgotten about. Remember, at the end of the day the interviewer has a position to fill and want you to do well in your interview. Stay calm, relaxed and composed, and you will naturally come across as the best version of yourself.
- Be professional and honest. It goes without saying really, but most organisations will really appreciate and value you if you turn up in plenty of time, are courteous, respectful, polite and act professionally as soon as you enter the building – that is when your ‘interview’ starts and first impressions count for so much.