How to guide: Completing CVs


Applying for endless jobs can feel in many ways soul destroying. You may have to spend quite a while perfecting that CV and long winded application form, so below are a few tips regarding CVs (application forms and interview techniques to follow), which will help to ease your strife.

CVs come in many formats containing; skills profiles, personal statements, personal details including height and weight, references attached, colourful, different fonts, pretty boarders and even with the picture of the candidate attached. My suggestion is to always keep it simple, but professional. Apply your judgement to gauge what effect your CV and the contents will have upon the potential audience. Put yourself in the employers shoes; what would you think of your own CV if you were them.

1)Your CV is all about the quick sale: You have to draw the employer’s eye to your CV; to do this you must have your skills and experience where they will see it within a few seconds of scanning the document. Bear in mind that on this document you have to let an employer know everything which is relevant to the job you are applying for. Therefore your skills or experience profile should match what they want from a candidate. To do this reflect back on what you have done, and what skills were required; use Google if you’re unsure where to begin IE ‘the skills required for clerical officer’. This should either provide skills profiles or job descriptions, to help jog your memory.

2) One size does not fit all for a CV: Every time you apply for a new job, change the details of your skills and tailor them specifically to the role. Ideally you want to be listing your most relevant qualifications and work history, not everything you have ever done. The remainder can be referred to under a separate section such as ‘additional information’. When it comes to listing your education and work history always work from the most recent backwards, and keep details of certificates and duties to the point (don’t ramble). You can always elaborate upon your most recent job by adding that extra bit of detail in, so they can get a feel for what you have done most recently in a more robust fashion.

3) Omit the personal details: Other than your contact and home address, because of equal opportunities it should mean that your age and ethnicity are not important; unless specifically asked for by the employer directly. It also saves important space. So too does not adding in your references; ‘references can be supplied’ is sufficient. Also check your contact email address; anything odd or rude and employers see  it as unprofessional.

4) Check and double check for errors: One grammatical mistake or spelling error will automatically discount you from the running. This has been said before I am sure, but I have seen so many applications without this care and consideration it seems the point is worth making again. Also, don’t ramble (as above). I may ramble when I am producing a post for WordPress, but this is not a job application. Employers want pertinent and succinct info which isn’t repeated in one form or another. Also, check the meanings of words if you are unsure of; sounds obvious but these simple errors won’t show up on spell checkers. Ensure to you have the dates of your employment and education matching up, so employers cannot question a huge gap between X and Y. You can account for any gaps in the ‘additional information’ section.

5) Keep it short and sweet: The CV is best when it is the max of 2 sides of A4 and printed out on good quality paper. I know it sounds impossible, but if I can do it with the amount of jobs I have had, anyone can. It is the case of being succinct; cutting out repetition and waffle, but keeping in the quality.

6) Include a cover letter: Cover letters should be professional and drawn up as you would a business letter; employers address and your address, date and Dear…….you get the picture I am sure. Also remember if you are addressing the letter to IE Mr Black, sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’ otherwise it is ‘Yours faithfully’. Keep this letter to the point too and match your skills to their needs. Highlight your experience in the letter and break down sections into bullet points to be more eye catching. Don’t repeat yourself here either; anything you have included within the CV IE skills and experience wise, don’t add into this letter. Make it fresh and include different, but relevant info. Also, don’t use any slang such as ‘thanks’; ‘I thank you for your time and consideration’ sounds better and is professional.

7) Oh, and to return to the inclusion of a personal photo upon your CV; it maybe something done quite frequently in certain sectors and also in some countries. I know it was the norm in Spain and also a few other EU nations too, but in the UK, we tend not to do this. Do some online research first though if you’re not sure. A CV is supposed to be in many ways about a sort of anonymity and equal opps, so whether you are a Greek God or not it doesn’t really matter. Employers should always be reading your application with a view to interview you based upon your skill strength; not your bodily strength. Also a photo can be the cause of a good laugh in the office; I know because I have laughed. If you do include a photo make it a professional one, not your Facebook profile pic or lazing outside in the sun (I have seen these photos on CVs); hence the laughing. It isn’t professional and it won’t illicit a professional response, again, hence my laughing.

Hope this helps give you some ideas to improve your own CVs. Any questions regarding your CV, ask and I am willing to tell all.

 

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Volunteering guide


Volunteering can often be a great way to get involved, boost your knowledge in a particular sector and gain more skills or training. It is also said to be a way to get your foot in the door. You will hear about any new vacancies first, and when you apply they already know who you are and what you can do.

However this being said, employers have begun using volunteers to fill the gap in their employee base; using volunteers more and more frequently to do the job of a paid member of staff. Also, it may be often the case that they are happy to take you as a volunteer as the love all your skills and what you bring to their organisation or company, but when you do apply for a job opening with them and undergo interview suddenly you’re not so good.

Below are my tips for volunteering, to safeguard you and ensure employers don’t take advantage; as they will if you let them.

  • Be choosy. Look at an organisation or company that meets your requirements. Consider what role you want to do, what skills you have to offer and also don’t forget what it is you want to learn and the training you hope to receive.
  • Consider their overall training, support and development package carefully. You would think that charitable organisations for example have invested in these things, however I have found this is not the case due to their funding restrictions. They may not even have meetings for you attend, information to provide to you or supervision meetings to check your progress; but then often they don’t have these for their staff either (so, go figure). In reality they may have very little to actually offer their volunteers in any of these areas, some might not even provide travel expenses and you may have to pay for your own DBS. Just decide what you are willing to give and concede upon before you jump in with both feet.
  • DBS, on this I suggest if you are considering volunteering or a job working with vulnerable adults, children and young people arrange your own portable DBS, via the update service. It costs £13 a year to update and is usable in any place you go. I suggest an enhanced disclosure as this covers the above areas. I do know some charities are super finicky though. For example; you may actually be in the education sector working with a portable DBS, but if you decide to volunteer in another educational sector they may insist that you undergo another disclosure. This will cost money, and can take some time depending on how many occasions you have moved home in the previous 5 years and where you have moved to. I recently had a small disagreement over this myself, as I couldn’t quite fathom why my potable DBS was good in one educational sector but not to become a volunteer at a school.
  • Many organisations now want a long term commitment from volunteers, and also guaranteed working hours per week. This is because the work often replaces what should be the role of a paid member of staff. This often goes against the flexibility of volunteering; most people cannot commit over long periods or to hours during the week, if they already work for example or have other commitments. I would always enquire whether they have short term project you can become engaged within, that way you won’t be tied down and feel bored in one role and area; you can also then do more volunteering elsewhere.
  • Again, check that the volunteer role you are applying for is the one you want to do. This can change depending on what they want and when. It is no good if you wish to raise funds in the community and you are stuck doing administration behind a desk. Volunteer posts are often unclarified from the start though, and although actual paid employment isn’t recruited to the best standard, volunteer recruitment can be even more badly organised and thought through.
  • In consideration to point 5, many places may not have a designated Volunteer Co-ordinator who is responsible for recruitment, or the one person in that role is part time and is expected to do quite a substantial role. It can be the case that as a result of having no Volunteer Co-ordinator or one who is stretched to their limit, recruitment isn’t up to the mark. The problem with many charities/organisations and business is that they don’t treat the recruitment of volunteers as central to their growth, and don’t really invest that much thought to how they usually recruit their staff; therefore you often have huge time delay in response from them regarding your request to volunteer, their processing of meeting with you to discuss, processing of your DBS and reference checks. Either be patient or chase them up, but of course you could go elsewhere. You are after all doing them the favour, and if they need someone ASAP they should be onto it ASAP. Harsh, no it is merely the truth.
  • If all else fails get something verbally agreed and drafted as a contract regarding your role and your duties, and of course the time frame to cover the volunteering. This is especially the case if you are going somewhere and they promise you a volunteer role will become a paid role after a trial period. Ensure they stick to this promise. This type of volunteering should always be carried out under strict timeframes; 4 to 6 weeks. Any longer and they are using you as free labour, and you won’t get that promised job.
  • Reflecting on point 7, watch out for this as often employers or organisations will use a vast amount of volunteers for short time frame; such as running up the Xmas period. They promise you the job at the end of that time period, but miraculously after the 6 weeks are up so too are you. They then move onto another free member of staff to take your place, with the same promise attached.

Hope this helps all would be volunteers out there; if you have questions please let me know and I am happy to help you.

The follow on topics from this post which I will be covering are:

How to guide – Applications and CVs

How to guide –  Interviews

A School Reunion


School reunions, the very words make me cringe!!!

To be blunt, opting to reunite with school ‘friends’, is the sort of thing that evokes imagery of Hell. I can think of little worse than spending my free time with the fakes and phonies of yesteryear, in what would be a completely forced ‘pleased to see you’ situation. Let me be honest, these ‘friends’ are the very people I had to spend my school days with! Why then would I, via my own volition, decide to reunite with them, when I was more than content to never have to see them again???

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cynical about school and enduring friendships. I do have one good friend from my school days, just one, but we have been friends since we were eight years old and know each other better than most married couples do! So, I am aware that some friendships do last, However, I am in contact with the one and only school friend that I want to keep in contact with, I therefore don’t feel the desire to catch up and reminisce with those I have always deemed to be fake friends. The past is the past and for me it is best left there!

Although I may be unnerved by the thought of a school reunion, I can’t quite escape it either. This is because my good friend of too many years to count has decided to be in attendance, though I truly wish she would change her mind. I suppose I will then have to hear all about the night in blow by blow grim detail, yuck! I can understand why she longs to go though, as she likes to know what’s happening, I on the other don’t. I am disinterested beyond expression regarding the ups and downs of Joe Bloggs of yester-year. I couldn’t care if Joe Bloggs has walked on the moon or festered in vomit, just so long as I need never be troubled by any of it or any of them!

I have actually asked my friend the simple question of what exactly she expects from this school reunion. I mean what would have changed so dramatically about these past ‘friends’ that it would make a reunion worth having; in my opinion nothing near enough to make me willingly attend! Well, I know these ‘used to be’ kids may have grown up, but as far as I’m concerned, only in stature. My evidence to substantiate this accusation; I used to have a personal Facebook page. Those school ‘friends’ I did allow access to my page hadn’t really changed their outlook on life or other people. Unfortunately for them they still are petty, immature, self- obsessed, jealous, boastful, vile, disingenuous and nasty; bad character traits don’t necessarily diminish with age!

So, a school reunion is a euphemism. It’s really the renewed opportunity for these people to brag about how wonderful they are, to try and make others feel inferior to boost their already gigantic egos and for them to have the audacity to pretend as though we were all bosom buddies! Personally, I don’t need to waste precious time on validating myself or my life to complete strangers, to people that didn’t and don’t mean a jot to me! So, I am certainly not going to rent a limo, and buy an expensive dress to go and play let’s pretend we’re grown-ups!

School reunion is merely another chance for the arseholes you despised in school to try and take pot-shots at you and yours. It’s the time to reunite with the bullies, the bitches, the wannabes, the fakers and the phonies as they all clamour for attention and desperately try to gain approval to demonstrate how they are the number one, no-one!

So I ask, is life so dull that I would surrender myself to such masochistic acts? No it’s not, and even if it was, I’d rather sit at home and watch paint dry than suffer the action!

School reunions, in my opinion it is a disaster waiting to happen!

Things That Come To Test Us


Hay un problem!!!!

As though there is a time when there isn’t a problem!

But, why do problems always occur late at night, early in the morning, when you are alone and of course in a foreign country without a clue of what the Hell to do about it?!

So what is the problem exactly; bathroom and kitchen plumbing problems. No big problem I hear you all say! Well, I’d normally agree as such problems are not new territory for me, I’ve had these issues before, in the UK. Yet, I’ve never before experienced the hideous situation of discovering shit coming up, and out of plug the holes, and then that same shit filling up my bath and shower, in both my bathrooms!!!! NEVER!!!

What makes it worse, I’m the bottom apartment so the shit does literally stop here, and not my shit either may I add! Other bloody peoples shit, the whole buildings shit in fact, and this same shit is coming up through MY plug holes!!!

Great, superb, fantastic; just what I always wanted as a nice little surprise first thing in the morning.

4 bottles of bleach later and the problem still isn’t solved, oh, and I am on my own (did I mention that?); extra bonus shit for me!!

As I feel so annoyed by the situation I thought I’d share it with you all, because I’m generous that way. As I haven’t really posted on WP for what seems like an eternity, what better way to kick off my WP come back, but by talking about shit!

Anyway, to be serious this whole situation got me thinking. Since living in Spain I have realised that I can’t ever again take for granted the simple things in life, such as communication and knowing what’s what and who’s who. These things are priceless, and unless you can grasp them you are basically out of your depth in any non-English speaking country; and every time I have a problem, no-one speaks English!!! What d’ya know!!!

Today is one of those days whereby I really wish I was able to fully fend for myself, and not feel as though I am an alien on a foreign planet. I really lament for not properly understanding Spanish people speaking Spanish, fast, very fast!

Also, I was wondering if this whole thing is more of a life lesson; why does the shit always stop with me (literally and metaphorically)?! Is someone trying to tell me something?!

Shit for thought people, shit for thought 🙂

Tips For The Unemployed – Who You Know Vs What You Know


I have often wondered whether ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you know’, helps people get on in life.

Nepotism, face fits scenario, utilising your networks and calling in favours doesn’t harm when it comes to applying for work for example.

Yet, this hidden ‘who you know’ isn’t something people are comfortable talking about openly, and I’m not surprised considering it is an unregulated form of discrimination (in my opinion).

Sometimes being intelligent, educated, experienced, interested, capable, innovative, and so on and so, isn’t enough. Well, not unless you happen to be best friends with the boss too. Cynical, maybe, but also true!

Surely I’m not the only one who has experienced an employer telling them that their application or CV has been unsuccessful………..no, I didn’t think so. It might then leave you wondering why, especially when you tick all the boxes they require. You might contact the employer and ask, why, but their response is vague and somewhat generic.

Of course we can’t all be successful in every application we make, but I know employers do favour employees they know either directly or indirectly. How do I know? I have worked in enough places, and with enough people to have witnessed this happening, albeit discreetly.

This ‘who you know’ is apparent if you look a little closer. Just because a job is advertised to the public, doesn’t mean it is available to the public. Any job is only advertised because it is considered a breech of equal opportunities otherwise. Not to forget the job vacancies that are only ever advertised internally within a company; consequently the ordinary Joe or Josephine Bloggs never has the chance to apply.

This I feel is a loss, not only for the prospective employee, but the employer, their business and their staff.

There is so much untapped, under utilised and unrealised potential going stagnant in the jobs market. Potential that could add a missing element to a company. It seems some employers aren’t willing to actually change their recruitment processes though. Refusal to take a chance, broaden their opinions and think outside of their box (which I will discuss later), might make their business less innovative in the long run. Another fact is that most employers haven’t a clue about recruitment either, and often outsource this aspect to the dreaded employment agency (which I will also discuss later).

There also remains two main hurdles which employers like to place in the way of job seekers; work experience or lack of and qualifications or a lack of. The frustration of can’t get a job because you lack experience, but can’t get experience without a job is still a parody most job seekers face. Which is bizarre in the current situation of mass unemployment! The same frustrations are also linked to qualifications. Either you need them, as on the job training is practically non existent or no sooner are you qualified, you then have to retrain to be au fait with the next big thing. In either position, need training or need retraining finding a suitable job can seem like an almost uphill struggle.

Do employers expect perfection; someone they know, all the right qualifications and experience and everything else they may require on a nice silver platter? No, I don’t think they do, but I’m not sure they always know what they want or know good job candidates when they see them! This is when the ‘who you know’ does defiantly come up trumps over any other prerequisite; it helps to have help from an insider to overcome the hurdles.

As I have mentioned already, I have worked in my fair share of places. I have gained plenty of transferable skills, expertise, experience and qualifications, including a university degree; yet I often find I struggle to really fit into the employment market. Am I a community development officer, a charity fundraiser, a volunteer manager, a PA, a tutor, a counsellor, an employment adviser, a researcher, a writer, an artist, a life coach? Well maybe! Yet in reality I don’t fit into any one of these categories 100% even though I have gained the relevant qualifications, and so on and so on to do these type of jobs.

This is where the employer and their boxes come into play. If you don’t fit into their narrow ideal and required person specification, then basically you might as well never have gained any qualifications or experience (regardless of how bright and dynamic you might be). What I mean is, there is little flexibility or thinking outside of the box! Recruitment is so staid! This is where the employment agencies fall down in their so called recruitment role too.

Employment agencies have a bank of regular temps they call upon to apply for any of the new job vacancies they have on offer. These new vacancies are passed on from businesses to the agency; most businesses want to save money by advertising work and screening potential applicants via the agency. The problem is that all agencies only deal in specific employment sectors, and deal only with specific skills for specific jobs. So for example; a secretary is required and your job title has always been business admin, and your CV reflects this, the agency can’t see how your skills, although no doubt an almost perfect match, could possibly fit with the secretary vacancy available. Also, they tend to stick to their bank of regular temp employees, limiting your chances of truly getting any work once you are signed up for work with the agency.

Again, often the ‘who you know’ comes into play when you deal with employment agencies too. They like familiar faces.

It’s complicated with an agency! I mean that too. I have found one job via an agency and that was when I was 18. After this point, they basically run out of use for me! I prefer going direct to the employer, as agencies are for me are gatekeepers who guard their vacancies and turn away good people.

So, how can you make that leap between having the qualifications, skills and everything all singing and dancing with whistles attached to actually getting a half decent job, without having to know someone who can help you step up or onto the ladder first?

Well you could try bribery, lies, deceit and of course pretence.

No, only joking – I’d never advocate such extreme and possibly illegal acts to secure a job, of any description, although it might work well for some people out there!

Regardless of the frustrations, to be forewarned is to be forearmed in any situation. So I have included a few tips that have worked for me when I have been job hunting, and have helped me overcome the hurdles that can be in place. Also, these tips helped me to not feel that ‘the job market sucks’, because I felt I was at least trying to be proactive:

1) Research the company you want to work for – before an application you need know what the company does! Yes, there are people out there who don’t do this, and fall flat very quickly. This research can also apply to speculative applications too. I’ve known people who have contacted companies on the off chance to enquire whether there are any vacancies available. Although there were no vacancies at that particular time, the people made such a good impression upon the employer via the telephone, they have been offered an interview on the spot.

2) Ask questions about the role you are applying for – often speaking to the Manager or even the admin team before you apply for a role can endear you to them. You can make an excellent first impression, which they will remember.

3) Tailor your application or CV to match their job requirements in every way possible. Generic CVs or answers to application questions won’t cut the mustard. Think about all those transferable skills you have and make them shout out at the employer! Ensure to include everything you think is relevant; if it isn’t on your application for an employer to see, don’t assume their psychic!

4) Remember that not every employer is an expert in recruitment or interview techniques. So, if an employer feels they have a rapport with you, they may feel more inclined to offer you a job. Make them feel comfortable, and show then you have everything they want and need in an employee.

5) Research possible interview questions – this helps as some questions will inevitably come up and doing your homework prior to interview makes you look like a pro. Also, know what the company does (as per my first point), they will ask what you know about them, be assured of that!

6) Don’t ask silly questions – enquiring about the fantastic salary, bonus or holidays, regardless of how tempted you might be to do so it will signify the end of your interview!

7) Rehearse – the presentation or any answers to questions, study the information you have about the company. Sounds self explanatory, maybe, but these points are often overlooked.

8) Feeling over confident – this can trip you up, so don’t ever think you’ll ace an interview, as being cocky isn’t prepared and isn’t endearing to an employer.

9) Ask to visit the company before the interview to meet staff. They might not accept this offer, but it shows willing.

10) If possible, become a volunteer – this can help you get a foot in the door, you can see first hand how the company runs, and get a feel for the place. Also, it will allow you to know whether or not you could see yourself working there. Plus, it’s added experience for your CV.

11) Ask friends and relatives if they know of any available jobs – ‘who you know’ can sometimes bring unexpected job opportunities. It isn’t always a bad thing to take some time and utilise your contacts.

12) Apply – don’t expect one or two applications a week to bring you success. The more you apply for the more chances you have in securing an interview.

13) Make an employer smile or laugh – during an interview it is OK to use humour to your advantage. Just don’t be rude or act like your high; they won’t be laughing with you in those cases.

14) Dress smart, but not too smart – this might sound like common sense, but the amount of people who don’t grasp this concept is unnerving. Tracksuits, leggings, jeans and OTT jewellery, for most types of interviews are a definite ‘no’. Also, if you are a fashionista going for an interview, which isn’t with Vogue magazine, dull down the fashion or face alienating the interview panel. You want them to remember you not your clothes. If they are left thinking ‘they were weird’, because employers will judge, as we all do; this won’t make them want to hire you.

So that’s it, and although I didn’t intend to give a ‘lecture’ on job seeking do’s and don’ts, I have somehow managed to slide off track! Anyway, I hope some of what I have included in this post can prove helpful for someone, somewhere. I hope it also highlights that although job seeking can be the most frustrating, and stressful thing to do, and the odds might seem stacked against you, you can achieve successful results. Nothing is impossible if you put the effort in, and get savvy with some of the simple rules.

Many thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour


Blog Tour:

A writing friend, Paula Read AKA Champagnewhiskey, tagged me in a blog tour. Paula is a writer and environmentalist, cloud gazer who is located somewhere in France. Her blog is diverse and interesting, of course it is also a great read! Just like Paula, I don’t usually comment on my writing via my blog, although I obviously do write, but lately it hasn’t been as often as is usually normal for me! Anyway, I will endeavour to write about my writing, so thanks for tagging me Paula!

Upon What Are You Working?

I have a habit of skipping from one project to the next. My writing habits match my reading habits actually. Generally I have to be in the mood for whatever it is I read, therefore I often have five or six books I switch between, so to it is the same for my writing!

I have been writing a ‘trilogy’ novel since I was 24, which could be categorised as horroresque, I suppose. I also write short stories, which again have the hint of horror about them, and of course the political press releases and columns I write currently for my work.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

Well, that I can’t answer! Every writer likes to think they are unique, yet, in reality we are all influenced by what we read and enjoy. I’m not so bold as to claim I’m new and fresh and funky! I haven’t reinvented the wheel here! In my case I know I have a good stock cupboard in my mind, whereby the words and styles of other authors linger as reference points. Authors such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, M R James, Robert Bloch, James Herbert, Shirley Jackson and so on and so forth, have been part and parcel of my reading and imagination process since I was tiny! I wrote because of these authors, which might seem sacrilegious to you folk out there, but horror was my first love. Horror made me enjoy reading, and writing, well before Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte ever did. Therefore, these horror authors laid the foundations of my writing style.

If I say one thing about my work or style though, I do like to think that I don’t write artificially, I.E, it’s not just regurgitation of other classic horror tales, regardless of the influence they have had upon me! I also like to remember that horror can be horror in any context, it doesn’t have to be some surreal and fantastical plot or circumstance to unnerve. My style/genre is true to me and what I know and feel; it is always my story, told my way.

Why do you write what you write?

Well, either I write short stories or have to live with a running commentary going on in my mind! I write because I hear, visualise and feel my characters. I can be out walking, and will pass someone or someplace, see something, and without warning I’m inspired and a story begins weaving its way into my mind. From this point I think about the characters and I flesh out the plot. In doing this the characters world becomes stuck in my world, so, I have to write it down or face hearing voices! Does that make me crazy?! Probably, but it works to inspire me, and it always makes the story/plot/character more real to me. If I can’t hear my characters speak to me, then I can’t write the story.

How does your writing process work?

Sometimes I finish a writing project straight through to the end, depends on the length of the story really. In the case of my trilogy novel, it has been some years of editing and rewriting, but amazingly, after what could be a year break from writing it, I can pick up the plot and carry on! As I have said, my characters talk to me! They are ghosts intruding in my reality, and they never shut up!

Usually I do a rough draft of a story on my laptop first, which I then edit until I am finally happy with it. I sometimes write in notebooks too. I love the written word, pen to paper, so often I will scribble an idea or even edit something whilst I am taking a flight somewhere (I’m never without one of my precious notebooks and favourite writing pens)!

I write anytime and anyplace, literally. I have woken up at 3 a.m and been struck by an idea, merely from looking out of the window at a car passing by! If an idea buzzes around inside my head, well, I have to write it down regardless of the unGodly hour or how inconvenient it might be. I must confess, I even used to write my stories whilst at work! No one ever knew, and it was a great way to escape the dull working day!

Who am I tagging?

Well, I’m tagging all of you out there. If you feel so inclined to participate in this Blog Tour Q&A’s then just do it! Please let me know though, as I would love to read what you answer! This might be the lazy option, but cut me some slack as I am writing this on my iPad, and you know I think it isn’t the best tech for long winded writing malarkey!

 

“Spotted”


I must admit, reading about “Spotted” in the news once again came as no surprise to me. Sadly, it seems everyday a new wave of internet indecency or nastiness becomes part of the norm.

And, make no mistake, the materials posted upon “Spotted” are particularly grotesque. But, I still have to question; aren’t such materials in many ways merely an expression of freedom, and of being human?

In truth, it is completely normal and part of everyday life – men and women will look at, talk about, fantasise about and trade lewd comments/pictures of the opposite sex. They don’t need the internet for this either.

So, I have to ask – how far is too far on the internet?

And, has “Spotted” reached, breached and exceeded the limits?

For those of you who don’t know what ‘Spotted’ is, allow me to provide you with some shockingly foul-mouthed quotes which illustrates it clearly (warning – profanities follow);

That blonde haired girl who just walked into the 2nd floor of the library is fucking banging – ‘Spotted: Reading University Library’ (3718 likes).

To the dirty skank… for gods sake buy some new leggings!! jesus christ! i can see your minge! [sic] – ‘Spotted: Swansea University Campus’ (2407 likes).

To the girl talking about harry potter. i think your arse might be a horcrux, im gonna have to destroy it tonight – ‘Spotted: Kent Uni Library’ (4209 likes).

These comments are typical examples of what “Spotted” has to offer. Male university students and their velvet tongues, produce one disgusting comment after another, and it is shrugged off as a type of compliment that their female peers should enjoy receiving.

“Spotted” pages are in fact part of the Facebook family. They are pages that encourage students to write comments and messages about their peers, which are published anonymously by page administrators. Many of the pages target specific universities (each page supposedly run by a student at that institution), with hundreds of different pages appearing on Facebook. Many of the pages have been liked thousands of times.

The “about” sections of most of the pages innocent enough, they encourage students to share funny incidents, grievances or secret crushes, but the reality is very different. Many of the pages consist of heavily sexualised and offensive comments about students’ appearance and sexuality, and female students are targeted with particularly misogynistic comments.

To the stuck up slut who looked at me as if I’d just slipped a finger up her grandma… –‘Spotted: University of Portsmouth Library’ (7460 likes).

Some posts include images, seemingly uploaded without the subjects’ knowledge or consent.

A current post on the ‘Spotted: University of Essex’ page (3955 likes) shows a young woman sitting at a computer, apparently unaware of the fact that her underwear is exposed above the waistband of her trousers, or of the fact that she is being photographed from behind. The caption on the photograph reads: “Nice bit a crack in the reading room.” [sic]

Another picture featuring a female student, again taken from behind and apparently without consent, appears on the “Spotted: Coventry University” page (4097 likes), captioned: “Asian girls and their asses though.” Several of the posts nastily blend racism with sexism.

A post appearing on the ‘Spotted: Hotty in Hartley Library’ page (3493 likes), displays a picture of a female student from behind, and asks fellow students to identify her so the poster “can get on that”.

Many posts inform female students what their male peers would like to do to them, or are doing while watching them:

To the girl on the c+ floor with the red toshiba laptop… i was sitting next to you a few hours ago. I literally couldn’t take my hand out of my pants the whole time. [sic]

To the hot girl sitting opposite me on level 3, do you mind if I have a cheeky danger wank whilst looking at you?

To the sexy brunette on the 4th floor, will you be my girlfrien? I didn’t add the D because you’ll get that later.

 Others veer from sexual objectification towards bullying:

 To the girl in the floor 4 toilets, you’re not Niagara falls, at some point you’ve gotta stop flowing.

The fat bird standing by the printers on the first floor. Don’t want to shag, but could really do with a cuddle.

Is it all in good fun??

A National Union of Students study reveals that 68% of female students experience sexual harassment during their time at university, and one in seven are seriously physically or sexually assaulted. These statistics actually shocked me; I didn’t know this was the case, and I doubt many female students (current or future) would know either.

So, how harmless are such pages if they feed into a wider student culture which increasingly treats young women as sexual prey?

And, do such pages merely demonstrate, and ensure that sexual harassment infiltrates every part of the academic arena to the point that there are no limits?

I then wonder;

Does “Spotted” encapsulate a new culture of objectification, harassment and misogyny?

How can this freedom of speech be curtailed, or, should it be?

Is “Spotted” just boys being boys or is it more sinister than that?

If you or your daughter were on the receiving end of such grotesque comments, how would you react?

All I can say;

I am thankful “Spotted” didn’t exist when I was a student. It was daunting enough entering the new environment of a large university, leaving home, being frightened, unsure and anxious over everything. I certainly wouldn’t have appreciated contending with this form of bullying and harassment too.

“Spotted” is childish, dangerous, aggressive, soul destroying and cowardly; not the best way to demonstrate what a UK university education can teach you.

Perhaps, a little less lady spotting and a little more studying wouldn’t go amiss.