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Back to School Safe Driving Tips

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It’s that time of year again when we return to our regular routine of chaos involving school runs, football training, dancing classes and swimming lessons to name but a few.  As the back to school rush begins, traffic volumes are known to increase significantly from late August into the start of September.  Therefore, it is important that we as drivers be extra cautious around the schools and on the roads to ensure the safety of everyone.  Here are a few back to school safe driving tips that will help you achieve this.

Know and Follow your School Traffic Systems: If you’re dropping off children at schools, familiarise yourself with the system in operation at the school.  Many schools have traffic management procedures in place to allow for a safe and efficient drop off system to operate.  It is important for the safety of the children that you follow these procedures.

Allow yourself plenty of time:  As the traffic volumes increase significantly when the schools return, you will need extra time to get to work or to school.  New parents dropping their children off at school for the first time will be dealing with the emotional trauma that this involves.  Therefore, they might take a little longer at the school.  Be patient and allow extra time for delays.  We were all first timers too!

Have Patience and show Courtesy:  When you are driving to work or to school, have patience with other drivers.  You just never know what sort of day the other driver is having or what challenges they are having to deal with in life.  Therefore, if we have patience and show courtesy to other drivers, it may cheer that person up.  Everyone appreciates an act of kindness!

Park Safely:  Unsafe or double parking at schools, or indeed in any busy location, can cause major disruption and delays to traffic as well as introduce major safety risks for children and parents.  Therefore, always park in a safe location, even if it involves walking a little further with your child to the school.  We all need the exercise!

Drive Carefully around Buses:  Drivers should always show extreme caution around school buses.  Children are very unpredictable and may jump off a bus and run across a road without realising the danger.  Remember many children are buzzing with the excitement of starting a new school year and seeing their friends again after the summer break.

If you have any further questions or queries don’t hesitate to call into to the Swilly Group office on Business Park Road in Letterkenny, give us a call on 074-9151212 or email us on info@swillygroup.com.

Driving Safely on Roundabouts

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A learner driver once asked his driving instructor to explain the roundabout lane rules to him.  His instructor said “It’s very simple.  “Think of the roundabout as a clock”.  “If you’re exiting before 12 o’clock, take up a position in the left lane”. “After 12 o’clock, take up a position in the right lane”.  The learner appeared confused and though to himself for a few seconds before saying “So in the morning, I take the left lane and in the afternoon, I take the right lane??”.

Motorist sometimes interpret the rules of the road in very different ways.  However, to drive safely on the road as motorists we need to firstly interpret the rules correctly and secondly be conscious of the fact that other motorist may have a different understanding of the rules.  Roundabouts are a traffic control that generates much discussion and debate among Irish Motorists.

In a recent publication by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) “Roundabouts, Using the Correct Lane”, the ‘golden rule’ is outlined to help motorists drive safely at any roundabout regardless of the number of exits.  The RSA state that motorist should think of the roundabout as a clock:

  • If taking any exit from the 6 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position, motorists should generally approach in the left-hand lane.
  • If taking any exit between the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock positions, motorists should generally approach in the right-hand lane.


If there are road markings showing you what lane you should be in, follow those directions. Traffic conditions might sometimes mean you have to take a different approach but, in the main, the ‘golden rule’ will help you to drive safely on almost any roundabout.

Motorists must be very observant and ensure they read the signs and observe the road markings on their approach to a roundabout (particularly if you are driving in an unfamiliar area). Local Authorities and the NRA have been using lane arrows and road signs to direct traffic into particular lanes and manage traffic at roundabouts.  For example, a very common change is to direct motorists travelling straight on (12 o’clock) to take up position in the right-hand lane.  This leaves the left lane exclusively for motorist turning left.  This allows traffic to flow more freely at roundabouts where the majority of motorists are leaving at the first two exits.

As motorists, we use our indicators to “indicate an intention” to make a manoeuvre to the left or right.  Therefore, it is important to use indicators approaching and when on roundabouts at the right time to inform other motorists of our intentions.  Remember an indicator does not give you the Right of Way.

The RSA leaflet “Roundabouts, Using the Correct Lane” outlines the following guidelines:

  • Making a left turn (First Exit), indicate ‘left’ as you approach and continue to indicate until you have taken the left exit.
  • Making a left turn (second exit), indicate ‘left’ once you’ve passed the first exit and continue to indicate until you have taken the second exit.
  • Going Straight ahead (12 o’clock), do not indicate ‘left’ until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take.
  • Making a Right Turn (exit after 12 o’clock), approach in the righthand lane (unless road markings say otherwise), indicate ‘right ‘on your approach to the roundabout and leave your right indicator on as you drive around the roundabout until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take. Then change to the ‘left’ turn indicator.

If you have any further questions or queries don’t hesitate to call into to the Swilly Group office on Business Park Road in Letterkenny, give us a call on 074-9151212 or email us on info@swillygroup.com.

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Top 5 Tips to CV Writing

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CV writing is an art in its own right. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to CV writing.  No Generic CVs please! Your CV should be viewed as the golden ticket to securing an interview for your ideal job!  The way to do it is implement these top tips and you’re well on your way….

1). Get the basics right: make sure to use a clear and concise structure/format. Some key information to include is contact details, personal profile, work history and/or work experience, education/qualifications, relevant skills to the job, interests and references.  It is crucial that the time line is accurate with start dates and end dates for employment and education.  Potential employers want to get a sense of your longevity in a role or with a particular organisation.  Spelling and grammar are vitally important. If you get this wrong early on; your CV is at risk of being moved into the NOT shortlisted pile!

2). Profile: The profile section of your CV will be read and may determine whether or not the employer reads any further. A well written and focused profile should highlight your relevant experience and skills in a snapshot. Keep it short and concise (use the job description to help you select the key skills to focus on before writing your profile piece).

3). Don’t Undersell Yourself: This is your opportunity to sell yourself, your skills and your experience. Think of your CV as a Sales Brochure.  Ask yourself what selling points are going to attract the employer’s attention and call me for an interview? The best way to do this is to carefully read the job description and the person specification supplied by the employer/recruiter. Make notes on the key elements and attributes outlined.  Match your current skill set and your experience to the job description and specification.

Your Skill set should be customised to every job you apply for. There are some key skills that all employers look for in an employee. Some examples are: communication skills, people skills, team skills, organisational skills and problem solving. It is not enough to list these skills; you must provide evidence that you have demonstrated these skills in a work or personal situation. For instance: “demonstrated excellent communication skills and team working skills when you organised a family fun run for you children’s school”.

4). Interests/Achievements: Firstly stay clear of the word “Hobbies”, this is very much a term you will see on a CV of a teenager. As an adult pursuing a career the words “interests and achievements” read better and come across very professional. This section provides you with the opportunity to add some personality to your CV.  However there is a fine line.  While it is good to show some personality you must balance the act of professionalism too.

It is very boring to see a list of interests reeled off such as “watching TV, reading, playing computer games, keeping fit and spending time with family and friends”. Use the Interests and Achievements section of your CV to demonstrate attributes your potential employer is looking for e.g. team player – manage/train an underage football team for the local soccer club demonstrates organisational skills. Volunteering twice a week to read to the elderly demonstrates empathy and kindness, skills required is a Healthcare or Childcare position. Use this opportunity to sell and push your key skills one last time before your CV comes to an end.

5). References: Many CVs will state “available on request”.  This is one sure way of your CV to end up in the NOT shortlisted pile once again.  Remember you are seeking an interview; make it as easy as possible for the prospective employer/recruiter to find out good information about you. Provide at least two references, ideally from your most recent employment.  Make sure that you have permission to supply use someone as a referee. You don’t want a prospective employer/recruiter to contact one of your referees to find out that individual no longer works there or worse again does not remember you.  Make sure to call the referee and get permission and inform them of the role you are applying for and what it entails. By doing this when your referee gets the call they will be fully versed and in a much stronger position to give positive feedback about your work ethic and capabilities.

If you require more support and advice on CV preparation, please don’t hesitate to contact the Swilly Group Recruitment Division. Telephone (074) 9151212 or email info@swillygroup.com to find out more how we can help you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tara McAssey is an Employment Officer and Recruitment Consultant with Swilly Group. She has been offering career planning advice for many years.  She has supported many employers with candidate searches and has a wide network of employer contacts across a number of industry sectors.

image for the rsa towing a trailer information leaflet

RSA releases videos on Towing of Trailers

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The Swilly Group welcomed the release of an information booklet and a series of You Tube videos by the RSA on the regulations around towing of light trailers. The information Booklet “Road Safety Advice and driver Licensing rules for drawing light trailers” can be downloaded for free from the RSA’s website.

rsabooklet

The towing on trailer information also consists of a series of 6 short videos all relating to the regulations and best practice safety procedures on towing of trailers. The six videos are as follows:

  1. Licensing and Entitlement
  2. Roadworthiness
  3. Coupling a Trailer
  4. Uncoupling a Trailer
  5. Loading and Unloading a Trailer
  6. Driving Test for Trailers

rsavideos

Stephen Sweeney, Director of Driving Services said “There is still a lot of confusion around licences, weights and general safety requirements around towing of light trailers”. “We are delighted to see the RSA develop this booklet and the short videos”.  “Over the last number of years, we have had increasing numbers of drivers from the construction and agricultural communities taking the driving test in licence category BE (Car/Van and Light Trailer)”.

The Swilly Group offers driver training for Jeep and Trailer Licence category BE. If you require more support and advice on the towing of light trailers, please don’t hesitate to contact the Swilly Group Driving Division.  Telephone (074) 9151212 or email info@swillygroup.com to find out more how we can help you.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Interviews

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Doing an interview for a new job is probably one of the most nerve wrecking things you will do in your life (up there with the Driving Test). Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of interviews.  Follow them to secure your ideal job.

…the Do’s

  • Research the company and the position you’re applying for.
  • Research typical interview questions and practice your answers.
  • Be sure to dress appropriately and be neatly groomed. Personal Presentation is critical.
  • Make sure you have fresh breath, particularly if you are a smoker.
  • Plan to arrive ahead of time. Ideally you should be present on the premises 10 minutes before your interview.
  • Always have the company contact details with you, just in case you get delayed.
  • Bring all relevant documentation. Present the documents neatly. Ensure you have a few copies of the CV you submitted to this company.
  • Greet everyone and be pleasant.
  • Throughout the interview maintain good eye contact.
  • Be enthusiastic about the job, the company and the industry sector in general.
  • Listen carefully to the questions being asked. If you don’t understand the question, ask for further clarification.
  • Make sure to highlight your key skills, achievements and talents. Know your CV inside and out.
  • Always, answer cliché questions such as “What is your biggest weakness?” honestly and with a follow up that shows you are actively working on your weaknesses.
  • Prepare one or two questions to ask about the job, company or the industry.
  • Close by indicating that you want the job. Ask what the next steps are in the process.
  • Thank the interview panel for their time. Give a good strong handshake.
  • When you leave the interview, you should record some details.

….the Don’ts

  • Learn off your answers by heart.
  • Dress casually or inappropriately. Always wear a suit or smartly.
  • Be late. You don’t want to get off to a bad start.
  • Arrive Stressed. Take 15 minutes before hand to relax with a coffee in a nearby café. Practice your breathing.
  • Bring someone else along with you to interview. Not even in the car. Your spouse, kids and pets are definitely a No No!
  • Address your interviewers by first name unless invited to do so.
  • Slouch, fidget or yawn during the interview.
  • Tell jokes or speak about controversial topics or politics.
  • Be cocky. There is a fine line between confidence and over confidence!
  • Speak negatively about yourself, your previous employer or a previous work colleague.
  • Tell Lies.
  • Be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.
  • Offer one word answers “yes” and “no”.
  • Interrupt the interviewer when they are asking a question. Listen carefully and take your time when answering the question.
  • Discuss personal or family problems.
  • Bring your mobile phone into the interview room.
  • Act desperate.
  • Ask questions about salary, benefits, bonuses or holidays. The terms and conditions of the job are usually only discussed with the person who is offered the position.
  • Say you have no questions when asked at the end of the interview.
  • Call immediately after the interview for feedback.

If you require more support and advice on interview preparation and techniques, please don’t hesitate to contact the Swilly Group Recruitment division. Telephone (074) 9151212/1890 63 63 63 or email info@swillygroup.com to find out more how we can help you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tara McAssey is an Employment Officer and Recruitment Consultant with Swilly Group. She has been offering career planning advice for many years.  Tara has supported many employers with candidate searches and has a wide network of employer contacts across a number of industry sectors.

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Planning Your Career

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The average person changes jobs (often careers) multiple times over his or her lifetime! Often because they have never sat down and taken the time to map out a career plan for themselves or really assess what it is they want from their career. Some would ask does it make a difference. The answer is yes and here is why?

What is the difference in a Job and a Career? A job is a series of tasks concerned with making a living. A career is about having a more long term plan that allows the progressive growth of a person while at the same time making a life.

It is never too late to draw up a career plan. It’s also something that should be revisited on a regular basis to help keep you focused. It is not a task that should be put off or done half heartily, it should be liberating and fulfilling, mapping out the direction you want to take your career and the steps that you need to take to make your goals a reality.

career-planning

Knowing yourself is the first step in the process. In order to do this you need to be prepared to do some soul searching and reflection. I don’t mean dwell on the past, but to review and reflect by mapping your path to date examining your past roles and your levels of satisfaction in each of the previous employments.  You need to review and reflect on the reasons for why the path looks as it does today. There are four key questions you must ask at this stage.

1). Are you happy with how the path looks?

2).Could you have done anything better?

3).What might you have done differently?

4).What can you do differently in the future?

You need to reflect on your likes and dislikes, needs and wants, not just in relation to your job but your life. The simplest approach to starting this process is too draw up a simple two column list, likes and dislikes. Use the list to examine current job satisfaction or future career plans against these lists.  If you find that for the most part job activities fall into the like list and the balance between work and home life are what you want then you are well on your way to achieving your targets.

However, if you find they fall mostly in to the dislike column, then it is time to begin the process to search for a new job or career. It is really important to know what really drives you as an individual. What motivates you in your job or career? What exactly is your vision for your ideal career?  Examine your hobbies and interests too, these are important for life balance. In some cases, with careful planning, hobbies can transform into careers. Like the old saying goes “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”.

Explore your options. Ask yourself are you currently working in the right industry but perhaps just with the wrong company. If this is the case all you require is a job change. If you are not happy working in the industry, then it is a career change you need.

Examine your skill set.  Look beyond your current job or career.  Don’t focus so much on job titles held down through the years but more on the transferrable skills that you have developed in each of these roles.  By only examining job titles, particularly if you have a long history in one specific sector you are narrowing the scope of your search and this will prevent you from looking outside your current sector.  Focus on the transferable skills. This will allow you to look at a wide range of jobs, careers and industry sectors for which you can apply yourself.

Research the jobs and career trends in other industry sectors, particularly in the areas that you are interested. It is critical that you are aware of new industry sectors or those with expected growth.  This will have an impact on your decision making process.  Remember knowledge is power and it will help you strengthen your position, aligning your skills and identifying skills that may need further development.

Set achievable SMART Goals.  Both short (in the coming year) and long term goals (beyond a year) goals should be set. For example, when examining your skills set, you may have realised that you need to undertake a short course or a more long term approach to gain a particular qualification.  Setting goals breaks down the tasks into small manageable chunks which can make the process less daunting.  Remember make sure you set SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound) to help you achieve success. This is a process that will need to be reviewed regularly to ensure you are focused and also provides great satisfaction as you start to tick each goal completed, moving you one step closer to your overall targets.  During goal setting stage, highlight any potential barriers, look for creative solutions to overcome the barriers and don’t use them as excuses not to move your career forward.

Making Decisions.  This process will be a lot easier to tackle once you make the effort of reviewing and reflecting on your current status, researching your options and setting your goals.  You will find it a lot easier to take that leap because you are very well informed and will feel much more confident in your approach. You will be ready to Move On.

Moving On may take some time, however if you review and reflect and treat your career plan as a living document, reviewing and updating as you reach each goal, you will gain real satisfaction knowing that you are well on your way to personal fulfilment on the career path that you want for yourself., creating the life you want to experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tara McAssey is an Employment Officer and Recruitment Consultant with Swilly Group.  She has been offering career planning advice for many years.  She has supported many employers with candidate searches and has a wide network of employer contacts across a number of industry sectors.

Towing a Trailer – Are You Legal?

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The Swilly Group is running a number of FREE information evenings on the regulation around towing of Trailers.  There has always been a cloud of confusion around the requirements on towing a trailer with a car, van or Jeep.  “Am I legal?” is a common question thrown out by many a confused farmer, landscaper or construction contractor.  There are a number of checks that need to be carried out before you can be confident you are driving a legal trailer-vehicle combination.

The first check to be carried out is whether the driver has the correct licence category for the trailer vehicle combination?  A car licence (category B) allows a driver to tow a small trailer up to a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 750 Kg and in some cases slightly higher under certain conditions.  For heavier trailers the driver is required to hold a BE category on the licence.
The trailer size is then restricted by the manufacturers’ specification, which is up to a maximum trailer gross weight of 3,500 kg.

The second check is whether you are compliant with the Manufacturers Specifications regarding the weight being transported by the Trailer and Vehicle combination.  Am I exceeding the Trailer Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)?  Am I exceeding the Vehicle Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)? And finally, am I exceeding the Vehicle Gross Train Weight (GTW)?  The vehicle GVW and GTW will be marked on a small aluminium plate usually positioned inside the door frame of the car, jeep or van.

To find out more on the regulations around towing of trailer, why not attend one of our free seminars.  The Swilly Group is running a number of FREE information evenings on Towing of Trailers on Tuesday 24thSeptember and Thursday 3rd October 2013 at their offices on Business Park Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.  To book a place, call (074) 91 51212 or email info@swillygroup.com.

Driver CPC Training Explained

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Brian Sweeney from the Swilly Group summarises the Driver CPC Training (periodic training) requirement that bus and truck drivers must comply with in 2011.  Watch the short DVD on the Swilly Group YouTubechannel to find out more.

 

Driver CPC Periodic Training Explained (Click to Watch)

 

The Swilly Group has also uploaded a short blog on their web site (www.swillygroup.com) entitled “Driver CPC Modules – What Sequence?” outlining the importance of planning the sequence of driver CPC periodic training modules for drivers with bus and truck licences.

 

Call us now to find out more about how the Swilly Group can help you at 1890 63 63 63 (Dublin) or (074) 91 51212 (Donegal).

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